About this project
Necropunk is a game and setting that offers a look into what it means to be human. It will be, in the strictest sense, a roleplaying game set in a fantastic future where science has become indistinguishable from magic and necromancy is the flavor of the day.
Our goal is to create an approachable, unique, science fiction setting that feels like a fantasy setting. We want someone who understands the dynamics of a fantasy game to understand the dynamics of necropunk. Because of boneskin, melee weapons have made a reappearance on the field of combat. While there are no “magic” powers, we have psychic abilities that, at least in part, function in a similar way to familiar magic-based concepts (scrying, anti-magic fields, use magic device). Space travel is designed to mimic overland travel (albeit on a larger scale) in a more medieval sense. Ship to ship combat in space is designed to mimic ship to ship combat on water. We drew direct parallels that allow a wider audience to comprehend the universe we are describing.
A few examples:
-Welshen Qu’em hearken back to monks or samurai. They have a heavy reliance on discipline, focus on martial arts, have a strong adherence to a tradition/moral/spiritual code, they are focused on master of the self, and employ different schools.
-Sentinels recall a warrior or ranger. They are strong generalist combatants who rely on training, versatility, and equipment selection.
-The Magdaleeno clan is heavily influenced by the concept of skirmishers, rogues, and ninja. They employ a number of surprising, disruptive, and even dishonorable tactics/weapons to achieve the same ends as their counterparts.
-The Necromancers Guild is very “wizard” like. Their companies are almost like wizard towers and their crafting of necrotech hearkens back to the creation of magic items (“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”). They have a never ending quest for knowledge and will go to great lengths to discover secrets that can grant them power.
We intentionally made all races human in origin. The only differences are political/social in nature. This is to keep the message and theme of the game focused on political/social issues rather than actual physical racial issues (“The dwarves fight the elves because the elves don’t have beards. They are too proud to apologize and the dwarves are too stubborn to stop.” has no place in Necropunk).
We do not intend to ever employ sapient aliens. The only aliens we intend to employ are “beasts” as enemies for the players. They will be our analogue to mythical creatures employed in traditional fantasy works. Our bestiary will draw heavily from mythological sources and where magic or mythological abilities exist- we will use technological/aberrant biological counterparts.
Necropunk aims to invoke a sense of “subtle horror” rather than slasher movie gore. Political intrigue and duplicity will play out against a backdrop of war and personal hubris. We have a vision of a cohesive aesthetic that will reflect this and be pervasive throughout all elements of the game (from font to formatting, linguistic style, stroke, color choice, and everything in-between!)
We intend to favor subtlety over direct overt action. The concept of M.A.D. (mutually assured destruction) will be front and center in combat. If full on large scale combat breaks out- even skilled players will not have a good chance of walking out without a few scars. We will be gearing our mechanics toward a more subtle approach. Players will be designed to excel at one on one/small scale combats, stealth, and political/social circumventing rather than going in guns blazing.
As the name of the game suggests, Necropunk employs a good deal of horror. This primarily comes in the form of body horror/psychological horror. However, we want it to be subtle. Something can be horrifying and not grotesque or disgusting. The difference comes in the reason something is horrifying. Things are subtly physically “off” (or in the uncanny valley sense of horror).
One of the greatest pitfalls of this project could be its degeneration into a “grim dark” setting. We would rather steer clear of that. We want to make a world where people can ask complex questions and find complex answers. In fact, we do not want this setting to be depressing at all. One of the primary factions, the Ewgee (and the Sentinels in particular) stand as a beacon of light against any sort of darkness. They are not corrupt, they are not ultra violent, and they do not “cross the line” often. They are cultured, explorative, and the defenders of what’s morally right. In the same vein we even have some humor with the Magpies. Improbably lucky, intentionally naive about the darker applications of their powers, and to be honest- a little silly conceptually.
We want the conflicts not to be “painful”, but to be bitter sweet & unfortunate. The fact that the Ewgee and the Welshen are fighting is basically the fault of the Necromancers Guild. The Guild pulls strings to arrange conflict to keep the Ewgee reliant on their necrotech. The Necromancers Guild is meant to be the only truly “dark” group (But come on, who doesn’t occasionally want to play the schemer?). Even the unaligned rogues (the Grave Robbers & Hackers) have a flare of romance about them.
The universe as a whole is generally in pretty good shape. It’s not really destitute or ravaged by constant war. The unfortunate conflict between the Ewgee and the Welshen breaks out pretty often, but the casualties are limited and the battlefields often isolated to the dark recesses of space.
We want to raise a number of unsettling trans-humanist questions pertaining to the definition of humanity and life itself. We want players to examine these questions and come up with answers on their own. There are no easy answers in Necropunk.
Example Ethical Dilemmas:
-“Where do you draw the line between human and post-human and does it matter?”
-“This ship feels, has a gestalt consciousness, and has biological processes. Is it alive?”
-”“This ghoul used to live. It still technically meets most of the qualifiers for human life, what rights does it have as a human?”
-”Is it ethical to sell body parts? Those with money will survive and those without will suffer.” (The “buying donor organs” debate)
At the core of our gameplay is the social/political aspect of the setting. All roles have a social implication. Qu’em are expected to behave a certain way and a b’Vague is expected to do certain things. Sentinels have a military code of conduct and Mothers of the Prime Bloodline are role models/spiritual leaders for their entire society. This is a game that is so much more then “roll to see who goes first and beat it with a stick”.
This all culminates in the “Humanity Symposium”. If the battlefield is the stage for combat characters to excel, the floor of a symposium is the stage for social characters to get their time in the spotlight. Part political knife fight, part scientific trading hall, the symposium is reminiscent of open court.
Weapons and technology are going to play a large role in what a character can do. As a design team we have dreamed up some of the most bizarre and wonderful necrotech equipment. We can’t wait to do a robust equipment section. We want players to feel like a kid in a candy shop when they are buying all this amazing technology. Necrotech (and other equipment based roles) can change not only the way a character fights, but interacts with the world at large. Cognitive boosters, anti-psychic metal plates attached to your head, powerful magrail sniper rifles capable of firing miles accurately, chaos rounds, temporary organ transplants, sub-dermal thought radios, bone chain whips made of spines, shoulder-blade hatchets, life-detecting eye replacements, magrail cannons that throw super-heated slag at enemies, and so much more!
Characters like the grave robbers and necromancers will almost be defined by their equipment. They will have easier access to normally limited equipment. We intend to employ the vaguely defined “resource” as currency rather than hard dollars and cents (or gold). This is done to allow for things like social influence, owed favors, discounts, availability, bartering, and other socioeconomic factors.
Artistically we will be drawing heavily from cyberpunk/steampunk aesthetics. Art and design should be in lockstep so design will adventure into themes related to it. During a design meeting we made the joke, “So this is like if Dune had drinks with Rainbow’s End, Shadowrun, Star Trek, and Neuromancer while playing a game of 40k in a cyberpunk rave club?”
Necromancy is the flavor of the day. Everything is organic. Even thing that should be technological are actually, in some way, organic. (Self-repairing cloths that “heal”, surfaces with germ repellent surfaces, brain-based computers, information enzyme veins, cameras that use synthetic corneas, etc) We want to use a lot of “undead” terminology (“ghouls”, “Necromancers Guild”, “Zombie” (a drug), the reliance on bone, and season 2 introduces “Lich-tech” as examples) We also are keenly aware that certain terms can be overused, so we strive to come up with fresh phrases.
Necropunk will be so much more than a campaign setting however! It's our intent to build a community and brand around Necropunk by exploring new ground and engaging players in a way they haven't been engaged before!
We want to launch an extensive integrated fiction line in tandem with the roleplaying product in a fashion similar to the digital living campaign settings that publishers have previously explored. Each subsequent release after the core rule book will include fiction and material related to the fiction included within it.
Every aspect of the setting is designed to work with a living setting. Yearly “tech tree” updates (designating how far off in the future certain technologies are and how difficult they are to create) and fiction are planned. Storylines, able to be influenced by a player community, are constructed and ready to release. We want to develop and grow a strong player community with an almost totally digital environment.
Note: All artwork used with permission and will be in the finished core rule book Please check out these awesome artist's pages! We will be talking a great deal more about the people here so keep an ear (and an eye) out for them!
- Ash (http://banished-shadow.deviantart.com/)
- Nolan (http://thecosmicgoose.deviantart.com/)
- Ian Field-Richards (http://zilla774.deviantart.com/)
- Emile Espinosa (http://loupdragon.deviantart.com/)
- Roger Handelsby (http://barfly1976.deviantart.com/)
- Lee Hyun Seok (http://u-ra-cil.deviantart.com/)
- Jesper (http://jesperloveus.deviantart.com/)
- Aerenwyn (http://aerenwyn.deviantart.com/)
- Leon Tukker (http://tryingtofly.deviantart.com/)
- Carrie Eli B (http://carrieli.deviantart.com/)
- Israel Llona (http://isra2007.deviantart.com/)
- Michaël Zancan (http://zancan.deviantart.com/)
Video shot and edited by the amazingly talented Justin Gagen (justingagen.com/).
Art Direction by Andrew "Viking" Bortinak (http://zenithdelunaris.deviantart.com/) with help from Deanna Roberds (http://xite91.deviantart.com/)
Risks and challenges
Little Red Goblin Games LLC was founded in April of 2011 by a group of talented & crazy individuals from the University of Advancing Technology's game development program. We are driven by their passion to make games!
We have left our mark on the hobbyist industry with games like the Legendary Levels line (Epic level play for Pathfinder), Doodle Dice Monsters, TV the RPG, and many (30+ and counting) 3rd party source books! We have maintained a 4/5 rating on DriveThruRPG since creation and have had books on both the top 100 small press and general press lists.
Like clock work we produce a new PDF every 15-20 days with high quality in-house art work, extensive public & private playtesting, and a whole lot of novelty!
We've developed inroads with some of the largest distribution sites in the industry (Like DriveThruRPG, Paizo.com, Indie Press Revolution, and now the d20PFSRD.com store!).
All of our designers are classically trained, degreed game development professionals with experience under their belt. Our artists are equally as outstanding with work being featured in a number of existing products.
That's only the hobbyist game team! We also have a 2nd branch that does video game development for casual & mobile devices! We've done games like Desert Factory, Super Goblin Cannon Deluxe, and all the gaming tools you see on LittleRedGoblinGames.com!
We hope you'll support our Kickstarter so we can really bring our creative force to fully focus on the creation of this universe.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
- (60 days)