Fragile Minds is a narrative tabletop roleplaying game for two players that pits the minds of a serial killer and his nemesis against one another in a battle to see who breaks first. The game is loosly based on movies like Seven and Zodiac.
One player plays the Detective character who struggles with his Obsession, Stability and Conscience while trying to apprehend the Killer. The detective character can be a true detective, a reporter or anything else that fits the theme. The second player plays the Serial Killer who utilizes his Cunning and Control to manipulate and elude the Detective character, all while battling his own Compulsion to kill.
Players take turns using a shared character sheet called the Framing Table, to help them frame scenes. Players roll six-sided dice on the framing table to determine which aspects of their characters must be incorporated into each scene and then choose from of a variety of scene types to narrate. The game mechanics are similar to those used in Paul Czege's My Life with Master with attributes increasing and decreasing based upon the success or failure of scenes.
Players take turns narrating scenes for their characters. Each character has 5 scene types to choose from that have different effects. The Detective can choose from Investigation, Personal, Compassion, Crossing the Line and Reflection, while the Killer can choose from Murder, Manipulation, Personal Kill, Misdirection or Flashback.
Fragile Minds has no Game Master, so players have free reign to narrate their scenes however they choose within the limits of the Framing Table roll. Players create the entire setting including Non Player characters (NPCs) who they maintain control of regardless of which player controls the scene. Players can also spend Plot Points to introduce their character, NPCs, or plot complications into each other's scenes.
The game continues until the Detective has collected enough Evidence to overcome the Killer's Cunning + Control, or the body count exceeds the Detective's Conscience + Stability. Players then narrate one final scene describing their character's fate which is determined by the final attributes of the characters. There are a dozen different outcomes.
So, that's the game in a nutshell. I have a lot of writing left to do though. I'll be including a great deal of information about how to build characters and "get in their heads". One of my goals is to make each game session a character study of sorts. I'll also be including a lot of advice on framing scenes and narrating on the fly, so players who are used to having a Game Master are not stymied by the 2-player format.
Donate as little as $1 and gain access to the play test version of the game that covers character creation and the basic rules. Just donate, then check the updates to get the access info.
Want a combination of rewards not listed, or just want to kick in a few dollars for something extra? Here are a few add-on rewards you might like. Add the appropriate amount to your pledge and when the Kickstarter campaign is over, you'll be asked which add-ons you want.
$5 - Get 8 pages of bonus material added to your print copy that
shows you how to play the killer as a monster like a werewolf or
vampire. If you are at the $25 level or lower, just bump your pledge
up to the $30 level.
$10 - $8" x 10" premium B&W print of a photo of your choice.
$12 - PDF copy of Kayfabe: The Inside Wrestling Game.
$20 - Print copy of the Fragile Minds.
$15 - 50 pack of 11" x 17" Fragile Mind framing tables
$50 - 16" x 20" premium poster print of a photo of your choice.
$50 - Bound art book with photographs used in the game
$3000 - If we hit this level, all backers getting a print copy of the book will get it in hardcover. Add the $5 Add-On and you'll also get 8 pages of bonus material that shows you how to make your Killer a supernatural creature like a Vampire or Werewolf.
$3500 - If we hit $3500, I will write up detailed "Case Files" matching the three created detectives with the 3 serial killers. These Case files will include a psychological profile of the serial killer, the detective's "official file", crime scene photos, police reports, pictures of evidence and whatever else I can come up with. The 3 Case files will essentially be pregenerated game sessions ready for play. Anyone already getting the print edition of the game will get these too.
The bulk of the money raised will go towards the artwork. As many of you may know, I am an aspiring photographer, so rather than using hand drawn artwork in the game, I want to use photographs that I take myself. I need money for special effects, props, costumes, models, make-up artists, and all of the other expenses that come with doing multiple elaborate photo shoots. I want to do at least 20 different shots throughout the Fall ranging from simple prop shots to graphic crime scene photos and character portraits. I want the game to be as visually stunning as the content is intense. I will also be using the photos to do a coffee table book for people that are into horror, but not so much into roleplaying games.
I don't have a lot of photos in this genre to show you, but here are some behind the scene shots I took from the film Golfing by Moonlight. These were taken very casually between takes, so they are not at the level the Fragile Mind shots will be.
As I mentioned, I still have a lot of detail work to do on the game. I'm not a serial killer or unstable detective and I'm hoping that none of Fragile Mind's future players are either, so I would also like to buy some criminal psychology textbooks and books about serial killers and forensic psychology so I can help players get into the heads of their characters. Some books are inexpensive, but the textbooks (which will be most useful) are pretty pricey. I obviously won't buy all of these, but here is my Amazon Wish List of some books I'm considering.
Back in the 90s, when I was in college, I visited a friend during summer break and we played a few sessions of the DC Heroes roleplaying game. It was just the two of us and it was amazing. Not so much because of the game itself, but because of the story we were able to tell with the focused one on one interaction. Ever since I've been hoping to find a good two player rpg that captured that kind of storytelling.
Jump ahead 10 years when I started getting involved in the indie rpg scene. I designed a little rpg about pro wrestling called Kayfabe: The Inside Wrestling Game. Kayfabe has one major flaw, finding a group of players that is not only into gaming, but also into wrestling's behind the scenes drama and politics. Tons of people wanted to play it, but finding a group was often a big barrier for them.
I felt bad for the people that bought my game, yet had no opportunity to play it. It was at that point I started thinking about how great it would be to have an RPG that was designed to be played with just 2 people. After all, finding ONE additional player isn't that difficult. I thought back to that DC Heroes game and how much fun a 2-player game could be, and I set out to come up with a two player game. Thus Fragile Minds was conceived.
For the past few years I have been playing around with Fragile Minds trying to come up with mechanics that would allow two players to tell a compelling story without a Game Master doing the bulk of the leg work behind the curtain. I discovered early on that without a GM, players would have to be good at scene framing and doing all the stuff that usually falls on the GM's shoulders – something not everyone is good at. It was a frustrating process, but I eventually came up with mechanics that worked and now I'm ready to introduce Fragile Minds to the world.
Risks and challenges
Though I am confident that this project will be completed on time, There are always potentials for problems. I'll be doing a lot of photo shoots which will require the cooperation of multiple other people who I have little control over. Being able to pay these people will help ensure their participation.
I'm giving myself 4 months to finish the game, which should be plenty of time, but I'm a little bit of a perfectionist, so I might decide along the way that I need more time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)