“You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of what happened on that fateful day. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal.” –The Amazing Criswell, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959)
THIS DEFIANT EARTH is a roleplaying game set in a universe inspired by the popular imagination of the 1950s: an Atomic Age dreamscape as envisioned by television, cheap paperback novels, comic books, and above all, movies. In this world, the American Dream is alive and well, but threatened by monsters from the deep recesses of the Earth, alien flying saucers, and sinister foreign agents pledged to destabilize the American way of life with super-advanced technology. Players take on the roles of America's noble defenders in these thrilling but dangerous times! It's up to you, dear reader, to stop the horde of gargantuan ants before they establish a colony in the heart of New York City. It's up to you to thwart the sinister plans of Kro-Gar, the conqueror from space. You will test-pilot rockets, fight monsters, challenge unknown landscapes, and make the world safe for freedom and democracy. You will stand a champion of…THIS DEFIANT EARTH!
Built using the same Lucky 6 System as designer C. Michael Hall's URBAN KNIGHTS roleplaying game, the mechanics of THIS DEFIANT EARTH are as simple as the pleasures of the genre itself, engineered to facilitate over-the-top sci-fi/horror action with a minimum of muss and fuss. All you need to play are these rules, a handful of six-sided dice, poker chips or other counters, and a few friends (the game plays best with 2-4 players and a GM).
Some theremin music is probably a good idea, too.
THE BASIC MECHANICS
THIS DEFIANT EARTH is rules-lite, so it's easy to learn and play. At the heart of the game's mechanics is a simple task resolution system based on rolling a pool of six-sided dice and counting the number of fives and sixes rolled. Each five or six is a success; match or exceed the required number of successes, and your action succeeds. Roll too few successes, and your action fails. It's as simple as that! There are some other variables to consider, of course--mostly situational modifiers--but those are the basics.
The dice do more than determine successes and failures. Along with every dice pool, players roll the Harrow die. If a one turns up on the Harrow die, it adds plot-thickening complications to the scenario! This can add nuance and depth to the players' successes and additional challenges to their failures. Don't think that players are totally at the mercy of the dice, though. They have pools of Luck they can use to front-load an action's chances for success, or to take some control over the narrative. The game allows players a great deal of freedom in interpreting character traits during play, too, empowering creative players to stack bonuses to their advantage as long as they can justify it all in narrative terms. The rules will feel intuitive and comfortably familiar to most veteran gamers, yet are simple enough to enable first-time roleplayers to dive right in with the vets and take on the horrors of super-science!
THIS DEFIANT EARTH is a rules-lite game presented in one self-contained book. It's a squarebound 8.5x11" paperback with black-and-white interior artwork, and will run around 200 pages (the final page count is still in flux). The book will retail for around $35, but we're charging only $30 for this campaign. We're after a real beer-and-pretzels gaming experience (or soda-and-pretzels, if that's more age-appropriate for your group), so we're keeping the book small-ish and inexpensive.
The book is quite comprehensive, though, boasting tons of character options, monsters (including tools for building your own), and plenty of setting-related material that will help your group capture the manic energy of 1950s science fiction movies.
Our funding goal is so small--only $4000--because, as was the case for our other tabletop games, we're able to do almost everything in-house, from the development to the art to the layout and graphic design (though we did enlist veteran comic book artist Kyle Hotz for our gorgeous cover, and a couple more of Mike's fellow cartoonists are contributing art as well). This $4000 goal will enable us to print the game, ship it to our storage facility, then package and ship it to backers, as well as pay our Kickstarter fees. We've got an excellent printer willing to do short runs for us, so we're able to produce a professional-quality book even in small numbers. Of course, if demand warrants it, we're ready to print mountains of these books, but either way, we'll be happy just to get THIS DEFIANT EARTH into your hands and on your table.
Here's how to get the game, either in print or in PDF format.
Pledge $1 or more: DOOMED BYSTANDER
Hey, we'll take all the help we can get! This reward level earns you our hearty thanks and a mention on our website and in the book. Estimated delivery: July 2017
Pledge $15 or more : PLUCKY RESEARCHER
This level gets your name on the website and in the book, and gets you a PDF copy of the game, plus PDF copies of any stretch goals we hit. Estimated delivery: July 2017
Pledge $30 or more : INTREPID SCIENTIST
This level gets your name on the website and in the book, and gets you a PDF copy of the game, a print copy of the game, and PDF copies of any stretch goals we hit. Estimated delivery: July 2017
Pledge $40 or more : MONSTER FIGHTER (Limited to 50 backers)
This level gets you the PDF and print versions of the rulebook and your name on the website and in the book, PDF copies of any stretch goals we hit, and a limited-edition set of printed collectibles available only through this campaign: a color 8.5"x11" mini-poster (featuring an alternate version of the game's stunning cover art, with art by comic book vet Kyle Hotz and color by Dustin Evans) and a three-pack of beautiful 5"x7" black-and-white art prints. These are EXCLUSIVES, so act fast! Estimated delivery: July 2017
Pledge $100 or more: MAD SCIENTIST (Limited to 10 backers)
You get to design a monster for inclusion in the rulebook, illustrated by the game's creator, C. Michael Hall! And of course, this level gets your name on the website and in the book, and gets you a PDF copy of the game, a print copy of the game, and PDF copies of any stretch goals we hit. Estimated delivery: July 2017
If we pass our $4000 funding goal, we've got some great stretch goals in mind. Each stretch goal in this first batch will be added to your reward at no additional charge as we cross its mark! If the campaign is a runaway success, we'll be offering additional, add-on stretch goals as the campaign progresses, but here are our first three...
$5000: Fold-Up Miniatures! We've designed dozens of fold-up minis depicting monsters and heroes to help bring your action scenes to life...what you see here is just a small sampling of what we've got planned! If we cross the $5000 mark, all backers at the Plucky Researcher level and above will get the whole set for free!
$7000: Creature Feature Scenario Book! This PDF sourcebook includes four full-length adventures (including maps, creatures, PCs, and NPCs) for your THIS DEFIANT EARTH game, created by C. Michael Hall and some of his favorite indie game developers, including J.V. West (Rabbits & Rangers), Cynthia Celeste Miller (Spectrum Games), and Michael Murphey (Grim). If we hit this goal, all backers at the Plucky Researcher level and above get this book for free!
$10000: In Shocking Color! If we hit this mark, we'll upgrade the book to color interiors at no additional charge to backers!
Oh, do we have some wonderful add-ons for you!
First is our unique Harrow die, custom-created by industry giants Chessex exclusively for this campaign! This die is available to all backers at the Intrepid Scientist pledge level and above for an additional cost of $3 for a single Harrow die, and $5 for two (one for the players, one for the GM). If you want to add this to your pledge, just use the "Manage" button to add to your pledge amount (limit four dice per customer, please). For one die, add $3; for two; add $5; for three, add $8; and for four dice, add $10.
We are also producing a custom-printed Game Master's screen with all the charts, tables, and quick-references a busy GM could need to run the game. The screen will also boast brand-new art created exclusively for this campaign by comic book legend Karl Kesel (of Superboy, Harley Quinn, Section Zero, and about a million other things)! Unfortunately we don't have preview pictures yet--Karl's a busy fella, and the art won't be done until after the campaign--but we know it's going to be gorgeous. You can purchase this add-on (limit one per customer, please) by adding $8 to any pledge at the Intrepid Scientist level or above.
THIS DEFIANT EARTH is the creation of designer, writer, and artist C. Michael Hall, who recently transitioned from the comic book industry to indie gaming with three successful Kickstarter games, Vampyslvania, Pickle Pickle Pepper, and Urban Knights. He lives in Portland, OR.
Connect with us on the THIS DEFIANT EARTH Facebook page!
Risks and challenges
We're not attempting to create some 500-page monster of a hardcover gamebook. Those are great (we've even backed some right here on Kickstarter), but that's just not what we do. We're a producer of modest, niche-audience indie games, and we like it that way. THIS DEFIANT EARTH is a standalone product, affordably priced, and absolutely no bigger than it needs to be. This campaign makes no hard-to-live-up-to promises. You pledge your support; we'll deliver a quality gamebook. No reinvention of the wheel here!
The best thing about THIS DEFIANT EARTH (apart from its general awesomeness) is that it's already just about complete. Because Mike generates all the art and design in-house and doesn't have to finance an art and design team, there's no need to hire freelancers. The visual aspects of game publishing are among the most expensive, but for us, that's not an issue. Literally all we're funding with this campaign is printing and delivery costs.
This is an easy-to-produce self-contained game, so we're not faced with any unusual manufacturing challenges. We've sourced our exclusives from a manufacturer we've used before, so there shouldn't be any surprises there, either. Though every game runs the risk of complications during the manufacturing phase, we're as prepared for that as can be, having built lots of "cushion" into our production/release timetable. We've already run three successful game-related Kickstarters, so by this point we feel pretty confident we've got a good grasp on what we're doing. We are mindful of the risks of ANY production run, and take them very seriously, but our experience has prepared us to deal with those risks. It's not the first product we've published (Mike's comic book publishing experience goes back almost 20 years).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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