Do you want to protect the innocent villagers from the rampaging orcs? Rob the vaults of the East India Company on its secret island fortress? Get into a showdown with an ornery clan out by the corral? Hunt down terrorists in a failing Central Asian republic? Or seek out new planets and the new life that might be on them? These are all stories that can be told with Sword's Edge.
Sword's Edge is a light role-playing game system that allows players to create evocative characters while providing the gamemaster with the tools needed to quickly run games with very little preparation. A simple system of die roll plus modifiers against a target number means that all the rolling is done by the players allowing the gamemaster to focus on moving the story forward. The original Sword's Edge RPG powered the very popular Sword Noir and Kiss My Axe. This updated version runs faster while keeping the customization that was popular in its first incarnation.
The production of the game is complete, and copies of the Ashcan – a preview version/proof of concept that lacks professional editing and indexing – were available at Breakout Con in Toronto (10-12 March 2017). This Kickstarter will pay for printing, editing and indexing, and also for the cost of the stock art used in the book.
The Sword's Edge Ashcan is a 95 page, 6 inch X 9 inch book with a black and white interior. The final product will be of similar size, but the index will likely extend the page count slightly and editing may lead to changes that could also vary the page count. It will include the rules, a gamemaster section, and a section on genres. The gamemaster section will discuss running the game and creating narrative characters, adventures, and campaigns. The genres section will provide example characters, example opponents, and inspiration for you when you are building your story.
Characters in Sword's Edge are made up of Qualities, which are short descriptive words or phrases. These Qualities each have a rank which provides a bonus to die rolls when the player can explain how the Qualities apply to the action the character is taking.
When attempting an action which could have an interesting outcome, the player rolls two ten-sided dice, adds the bonuses from the character's Qualities, and then compares that to a target number to decide both if the character succeeded and how well the character succeeded.
The use of descriptions rather than set skills or traits allows for greater customization and flexibility. While characters are always better in their niche or specialty, that doesn't mean they can't succeed outside of that, allowing even a fast-talker to have some influence in a scene of combat.
Every backer will have access to a very short preview of the system. It lacks the explanation and examples used in the actual text to try to clarify rules and how they work, but will give backers an idea of what they are getting into, and if they don't like what they see, that can act accordingly. An update will be sent to all backers with information on getting this system preview.
Here are a couple of example characters. These are taken from "Lawless Heaven," a Sword's Edge adventure inspired by current South Korean action cinema.
Fraser Ronald is a game designer and fiction author. He has worked in the role-playing game industry since 2001 and has been publishing role-playing game products through Sword's Edge Publishing since 2004. Along with designing and publishing Sword Noir: A Roleplaying Game of Hardboiled Sword & Sorcery and Kiss My Axe: Thirteen Warriors and an Angel of Death, he did the same with the successfully Kickstarted and delivered games Centurion: Legionaries of Rome and Nefertiti Overdrive.
Fraser Ronald's fiction has been published in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination ("When She Was Five" Issue #234), Black Gate ("A Dead Pound of Flesh" Issue #15), On Spec ("For Simple Coin" Winter 2009), Forgotten Worlds ("Flotsam Jewel" issue 9), and “Gifts of the Elder Gods” in the Parasitorium: Terrors Within.
This section will include both media about the Kickstarter and also some media that might help you understand the game better.
Five Or So Questions: I completed a written interview over at Thoughty, discussing the Sword’s Edge Kickstarter.
"Example of a Test": This audio recording provides an example of running a Test in Sword’s Edge, including Initiative and Action.
#rpgnet Q&A session: This is a transcript of the Q&A session in which I participated the RPGNet chatroom, moderated by the Hardboiled GMShoe.
If the Sword's Edge Kickstarter reaches $4,000 CAD, the adventure "Lawless Heaven" will be released to all backers at the Minion level and above. "Lawless Heaven" is my love letter to the current golden age of Korean action cinema and the character examples presented above are taken from it. I ran it at Breakout Con in Toronto (10-12 March 2017) and it will be available for purchase after Sword's Edge is released. If this stretch goal is reached, unique character portraits will be commissioned for each of the six characters. If this stretch goal is not reached, "Lawless Heaven" will not include original artwork.
Innocent Bystander $1 CAD: You should feel good about what you've done, no matter what others tell you. I thank you for expressing your interest. If you think this is cool but can't back it, let your friends know about it!
Minion $10 CAD (approximately $7.50 USD): All Minion level backers receive a PDF of the Sword's Edge Ashcan edition on successful completion of the Kickstarter and will later receive a PDF of the final Sword Edge RPG.
The Sword's Edge Ashcan is a complete game, but has not been professionally edited or indexed.
Regular $25 CAD (approximately $19 USD): All Regular level backers will receive everything from the Minion level but will also receive a print copy of the final Sword's Edge RPG. Shipping will be charged through Backerkit at its cost at the time the products are sent out.
Minion Plus $30 CAD (approximately 22.50 USD) All Minion Plus level backers will receive everything from the Minion level but will also receive a PDF copy of the five games offered as add-ons (Sword Noir, Kiss My Axe, Centurion, Nefertiti Overdrive, and Starship Commandos) on the successful completion of the Kickstarter. These will be delivered as detailed in the Add-Ons section.
Regular Plus $45 CAD (approximately $34 USD) All Regular Plus level backers will receive everything from the Minion Plus level but will also receive a print copy of the final Sword's Edge RPG. Shipping will be charged through Backerkit at its cost at the time the products are sent out.
Retailer $100 CAD (approximately $75 USD) All Retailer level backers will receive five (5) copies of the final Sword's Edge RPG. Shipping will be charged through Backerkit at its cost at the time the products are sent out.
I have published other games which might be of interest to those backing Sword's Edge. The PDFs of select games are available to backers at the Minion level and above as outlined below. Print copies of these will be available at a 40% discount from their cover price through Backerkit on the successful completion of this campaign. I am not including print copies as add-ons to the campaign as the target for the campaign has been very carefully calibrated to meet the minimum needs of getting Sword's Edge done, and the additional cost of printing and shipping these add-ons could mean that on a successful completion I found myself short of the necessary funds.
Sword Noir and Kiss My Axe print copies will not be available as these are queued up for their own update, meaning that backers might receive rewards that were outdated within a year of receiving them. This would make me feel bad. Those who purchase a Sword Noir or Kiss My Axe PDF will receive an updated PDF copy of that game when they are ready for release.
If you would like an add-on, simply add the cost of it to the cost of the level at which you back and then message me – the owner of the Kickstarter – with your requested PDF(s). Once the Kickstarter has successfully funded and payments have cleared, I will send you links to receive your add-ons through Drive Thru RPG. If this would cause an issue, please let me know and I can email you the PDF(s), however please remember that Drive Thru allows you to receive any updates to the PDF automatically. I will not be able to do so for those who receive PDFs by email.
The music for the Kickstarter video is "The Renaissance Man" by Little Glass Men from the album The Age of Insignificance, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.
Shipping and print add-ons will be handled through BackerKit.
Risks and challenges
Sword's Edge is complete and has been printed as the Sword's Edge Ashcan, however delays are still possible. There are three possible problems with moving the project to completion: sub-contracting delays, printing delays, and shipping delays.
The target of this Kickstarter is to gain funding for professional editing and indexing. Both of these are difficult and time-consuming. I will be seeking my publishing colleagues' advice on good partners that can help me with these tasks, but even the most professional of partners has events outside their control. I will be setting milestones and if a milestone is missed, I will communicate that with you. Both editing and indexing might delay the final delivery of the product, but this will be communicated with you, and if I need to change partners to facilitate completion, I will do so.
My intent is to have books printed through Print on Demand unless we reach a critical mass, which would be more than 250 print orders. At that time, I would be evaluating cost, quality, and timeframe for offset printing. Offset would likely provide a better quality product at a higher cost, and the threshold is something I would investigate when it looked like I might reach those numbers. Through experience – rather than humility – I have my doubts we'll get there, but it is a possibility for which I have planned.
Finally, shipping is always interesting. I have a shipping partner I hope to use again, and I also have recommendations on others should that partner be unable to assist. Depending on the destination, you might be looking at a long wait, and there is always the chance that the product either doesn't arrive or arrives damaged. Should this happen, you can contact me with the particulars and we'll find a way to make you happy with the product in your hand.
There are two further problems that could delay or stop you receiving a reward. It goes without saying that if your payment fails, I will not be sending along rewards. However, if that happens, we will find an alternative if you are still intent on supporting this project, and then you'll get your reward. Secondly, I can only send physical rewards to backers who provide the requested information. If you do not answer the questionnaire sent in advance of shipping print rewards, I won't be able to ship anything to you. I will remind you at least twice that I need this information, but beyond this, I will not be responsible for hounding you further. Following that, I will seek to meet my requirements when you have provided the information I need to do so.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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