STRAYS RPG: WHAT IF YOUR PET WAS ONE OF SANTA'S SECRET HELPERS?
Strays are Santa's special pals, semi-magical animals who were once pets or friendly neighborhood critters.
When we were kids, lots of us loved a puppy, kitten, or kit. Eventually, our dog, cat, or rabbit got old, sick, or hurt. They never stopped loving us, though, just like we never stopped loving them.
When the time came, they went to a big farm in the country, where a nice old couple took care of them, and they had plenty of room to play with other animals just like them. Dogs had big fields to sniff and scamper though, rabbits laughed and raced their friends, and cats got to climb all the trees they wanted and hide in cool dark shadows. They were all happy and warm, and they got just a little bit chubby from all the table scraps they got to eat.
Their stories didn't end there, though. They were just getting started!
Santa Claus himself -- the protector of kids and their dreams -- needed their help, after they got better. Sent deep undercover, far from their old homes, their mission was simple: live a happy life, love the humans around you, protect the Nice from the Naughty...
...and never, ever, trust a squirrel!
Strays are the thin furry line that protects our children and their dreams. It's dangerous and vital work because the Naughty have agents, too! Every kid knows, there's all kinds of bad stuff out there. Mean people, spooky haunted houses, thieving animals who search through trash and make big messes, unstoppable metal juggernauts who honk real loud, and terrible black-and-white monsters who stink up everything around them! There's a lot of scary stuff when you're a kid!
Luckily, Strays will always be there to protect us. Young and healthy forever, beloved by the new families they touch as they move from home to home, Strays will do whatever it takes. They'll bark and growl and bite if they have to, but they're also great at just watching and listening, giving kisses and snuggles, and soaking up all the belly rubs and treats we can give them!
STRAYS RPG: THE PITCH
Strays is a kid-friendly role-playing game, powered by the fantastic Fate Accelerated Edition game engine.
From The Fox and the Hound to Watership Down, Homeward Bound to Heathcliff, Lady and the Tramp to Oliver and Company, many of us grew up on great movies, tv shows, and books, full of lovable, brave, animal characters being heroic and adorable in equal measure. We shivered in the cold with Balto, we watched Benji escape from the bad guys, we all knew Lassie would somehow save the day, and we sang along with the Aristocats. These classics have been joined more recently by plenty of neat animals in modern films, too, so there's a new generation of kiddos that love the same types of stories.
Strays wants to combine the timeless appeal of those great stories with role-playing games. With Strays, you can introduce children (or adults!) to the RPG hobby with a fun, light-hearted, game focused on the cutest heroes ever, your pets!
Get your kids into gaming with an RPG based on pets, it's way easier than trying to get your pets into gaming with an RPG based on kids!
STRAYS RPG: THE--HEY, WAIT, WHAT'S AN RPG?!
RPGs, "role playing games," are sit-down games where you and a couple other players gather around a table and tell neat stories together. Most of you get to run one character -- a Stray in this game, one of these cool critters! -- and one of you runs the whole entire rest of the world (kind of like a movie director, when everyone else is playing one character in the story).
Strays is mostly using an existing RPG game's rules, Fate Accelerated Edition, which is handy because that way Wordsmith Games didn't have to make up a whole new game from scratch! The rules of an RPG tell you when a character succeeds or fails at something tricky (like fighting a mean dog, or jumping really far), almost always by rolling some dice and doing a little bit of easy math.
Every character has their own sheet to say what they're good at, what they struggle with, and what they need their buddies to help them with.
That adorable blonde puppy in our cover artwork? That's Ranger! She's new to being a Stray, which means she's built just like a normal starting character (you can even play her yourself, if you want to!). This is a look at Ranger's character sheet, to show you what a finished Strays character looks like.
We're also gonna interrupt the character sheet with lots of stuff in [brackets], to try and explain what a few of these things mean. Normally, a Strays character sheet is really pretty short and quick to read. Don't worry, we explain all this stuff waaaaay better in the actual book (that's what it's for!).
High Concept: Good-Natured Puppy Dog
Trouble: Easily Excitable
Other Aspects: I Love Playing; Pick On Someone Your Own Size!; We’re A Pack
[A Stray's Concept, Trouble, and Aspects are all the key things that describe that character, and that give you some bonuses or hindrances in gameplay. Your High Concept should say what kind of animal you're making, because that also says a lot about your character and tells folks kind of what to expect. A Trouble is a downside, and in this case it's that Ranger is still pretty young and eager, and she can go a little crazy. Her other Aspects round out her character, showing you how energetic she is (which can help with all kinds of running, jumping, and catching), how she knows she's way bigger than Vixen or Mittens, and describes her protective, loyal, nature.]
[Approaches are how a Strays character tries to do stuff! Are they being Forceful and trying to bash a gate open by ramming into it, Quick by trying to nimbly hop over it like a free-running doggie, or Clever by figuring out how to work a latch? Every character has the same Approaches, but they assign the numbers however they want to, to show what their character is good at!]
Careful: Average (+1)
Clever: Fair (+2)
Flashy: Average (+1)
Forceful: Good (+3)
Quick: Fair (+2)
Sneaky: Mediocre (+0)
[So here, we can see that Ranger's a big lovable mutt, as graceless and tough as a retriever, as smart as a border collie, as eager as a puppy, and as loud as an elephant.]
[Stunts are neat things that your Stray is extra good at, or tricks they know, that help them do things better than their buddies.]
I Know Who’s A Good Girl!: Because I Know Who’s A Good Girl, once per session I may declare that I clearly understand what a human is trying to say.
Big Loud Barker: Because I am a Big Loud Barker, I gain a +2 bonus to Forceful attacks when I’m being loud and intimidating.
[Who's a Good Girl? Ranger is! She's really good at figuring out what humans are trying to say, and she can do all kinds of tricks. Most Strays don't understand most humans very well, but Ranger's got a real knack for it. Also, she's super loud and enthusiastic when she's warning her friends about danger, or trying to scare away a nasty squirrel or something! She gets a bonus when she barks her fuzzy head off, and most of the time she can even win a fight that way instead of having to bite anything.]
[Tangles are one of the new things we're adding to Fate Accelerated Edition, some optional rules that make it a little more complicated, but add some unique Strays flavor. Most of them offer a situational bonus and a situational penalty, kind of like a Stunt but with a downside.]
Family Stray: Because I was a Family Stray, I suffer a -1 penalty on scavenging rolls on my own, but gain a +1 bonus on begging rolls towards friendly humans.
[If you want to take a Tangle to show it, your background can affect your character in lots of different ways. Right now we're just showing off one Tangle for Ranger, and it's a pretty straightforward one. She's used to having a family of humans look after her (and vice versa!), so she's still not that used to having to pick through trash or anything gross like that. She's really good at looking adorable, sitting, and shaking paws, though, so she gets a bonus at trying to get most humans to give her a treat. Bacon's her favorite!]
STRAYS RPG: THE PLEDGE REWARD TIERS
LITTLE HELPER: Our purest reward is a heartfelt thank you, and us adding you to Santa's official Nice List for the year (right there in the book, letting everyone know you helped us out). No matter how little you're able to contribute, every penny helps, and we really appreciate your interest in the project.
ELECTRONIC HELPER: Our first product-based reward is going to be the PDF copy of the Strays RPG book. You'll get the full Fate Accelerated Edition rules-set we're using (with a few tweaks), along with plenty of awesome artwork, the fluff and background of the halfway-magical Strays world, and info on how to build a character, get a campaign going, design your own Strays neighborhood, and all that fun stuff.
ADOPTION PAPERS: Next up is a physical copy of the Strays book. It's just like the PDF, but real enough you can smoosh a spider with it if you really have to. It's gonna be a "digest" sized text, 6" by 9", featuring a gorgeous full-color cover, gloss film laminated on, and #60 paper for all the juicy interior goodness.
HIGH ROLLER: This tier gets you everything included so far -- our thanks, a pdf, and a print copy -- and also folds in our custom Fate dice! You'll get a set of four blue Fate dice (minus sign, blank, pawprint-for-plus-sign) in the mail along with your print copy of the book!
Also, from any reward tier from ADOPTION PAPERS on up, you can add a set of custom Strays Fate Dice for just $12. The HIGH ROLLER tier just adds the dice on for you, badda-bing-badda-boom!
RETAIL HELPER: This tier provides multiple print copies of Strays, all in one deal. It's intended for brick-and-mortar stores who might want to dedicate a little shelf space to the game, because brick-and-mortar stores are awesome and a brick-and-mortar store that wants to sell Strays is even awesome-er. Nothing fancy here, just five copies of the book, all bundled up and offered at a discount!
Now, on to the fancy options! Some of that artwork I've mentioned? It's gonna come from you guys and gals, the pledgers! You can immortalize one of your pets (or a neighborhood critter, or your buddy's pet, or whatever) as a Stray right here in the official book! If you pledge at the appropriate tier, send us in a photograph of your pet, and we'll add it to the book. Be sure to tell us their name, too!
PHOTO ADOPTION PAPERS: At this tier, we'll take your pet photo and run it through some manipulation/filter programs in order to give it a black and white illustrated look. This is a little easier, so it's a little cheaper, and is the affordable option to get your furry friend into the book.
ILLUSTRATED ADOPTION PAPERS: This one's our deluxe option, where one of our professional illustrators will use your submitted photo as inspiration, and then will draw up your furry friend doing something adorable, awesome, or both at the same time. It'll be sketched up, inked, finished, captioned, and slipped into the text (and the lore!) in order to immortalize your pet as a Stray, and let everyone know how awesome they are.
You can see some samples of these pieces -- along with the photographs that inspired the illustrator, Jason Kerr -- right here on this Kickstarter page (psst, the finished products won't include the photograph the way these sample pieces do, we just wanted to show you how the inspiration piece translated to the final picture)!
PET PORTRAIT: Alternatively, we've got an extra option for folks who might not want their pet to take on airs and start acting like snooty models, but who still want some neat artwork. Instead of submitting your pet's photo for illustration and being added to the text, you can shoot us a picture and we'll have it drawn up as a PET PORTRAIT by Chelsea! She'll draw up a sweet 5" by 7" piece of full-color pencil artwork, and we'll just tuck that mamajama right into your print-copy book before we mail it to you. This one won't be on the pages of every Strays book out there, but instead you'll get to keep a gorgeous piece of artwork (perfect for framing).
ICONIC HELPER: our last, but certainly not least, tier. There's some space on the back cover of our book, and we've got a fourth "iconic" sample character to build! Right now you can see our cover trio, Ranger, Vixen, and Mittens the Destroyer (you'll learn more about them later in the Kickstarter). But if you're really excited about Strays, and you really want your pet to be a rock star, we've got an option for that. With our top tier reward selection, you can sit down with Wordsmith Games and help us design our fourth iconic, who'll be in full color on the back cover of the book, and scattered in several pieces of artwork on the inside. Submit a few photos of your pet, or make up your perfect pet-buddy and talk us into it! Either way, this one's the deluxe model of our interior-art rewards, and anyone picking this pledge also makes it to the top of our Nice List and basically gets everything else we can possibly give 'em, the print copy, pdf, and a set of Strays Fate dice.
So whether you want your pet added to the rolls of Strays or would prefer your very own private portrait to hold onto, we've got you covered with our team of professional illustrators! And remember, any tier with a physical copy of the book included, you've got the add-on option to also order a set of custom Strays Fate dice for $12 (see below, under "add ons").
There's a reward tier just for you, so take your pick and click away!
STRAYS RPG: THE GOAL/BUDGET
Right now almost all our initial artwork is in, we've got about 2/3 of the text written up and done (though writing it is on hold while we all panic and run around in circles for the Kickstarter month), and we're eager to really move on to the next steps. That's where you guys and gals come in!
Some of the main expenses we've faced and/or are facing soon are:
$300, misc legal fees (LLC creation, legal mumbo-jumbo, bank paperwork stuff to keep it all professional).
$1200, initial artwork (including the cover and logo, just a minimal amount of interior stuff)
$600, layout, editing, proofing (this is super cheap right now, but we'd really like to be able to spend more)
$400, start-up print run, add-on dice manufacturing, shipping (to HERE, shipping to YOU is part of your reward tier)
???, Kickstarter and assorted payment fees (variable amount, since they're a percentage)
Now, this won't all TOTALLY be paid for by this initial budget, but it's the part that Wordsmith Games LLC -- Russell Zimmerman and his gracious and lovely and enormously supportive and long-suffering wife -- can't afford to pay out-of-pocket. We've gotten the ball rolling already, but $2,500 would let us get this book out there for folks to have fun and tell stories with.
STRAYS RPG: THE STRETCH GOALS
So what happens if we get over that initial $2,500 hump? Well, things just get even cooler!
$3,250: More Art! If we hit this stretch goal, we're pouring it back into the book by doubling our initial interior art allotment per illustrator (not counting fan-submitted options from rewards). More pictures for you, more money for illustrators. Win/win!
$4,000: More Better-er! The next $750 brick is gonna increase our editing and layout budget. We'll bring in some old pros at this sort of thing, buy some software upgrades, and get additional sets of hands and eyes working on making this the best book it can be.
$4,750: More Money! We've got some great artists lined up, and, having been a freelancer ourselves, we want to "give back." This will mean bonuses for all our great illustrators.
$5,000: More Helping! If we can double our initial goal, Wordsmith Games wants to help the real "Strays" out there, the animals who haven't quite made it out to a magical farm. Our donation might go to the ASPCA, it might go to a local no-kill shelter, it might go to K9s For Warriors -- we'll take suggestions from pledgers when the time comes -- but if we get here, we'll give 5% of our Kickstarter profits to a worthy cause, helping animals somewhere, somehow.
...and maybe more to come!
STRAYS RPG: THE ADD-ON
Who'd like an awesome set of custom Fate dice for just $12?
Made by the master craftsmen of www.customdice.com, these 16 mm dice are high-quality, available in an easy-to-read blue and white color scheme. Fate dice (sometimes called Fudge dice) are six-sided dice made with two plus signs, two minus signs, and two blank sides (more on the dice in the book, honest!). Finely etched, these dice replace the "plus" sign for Fate gameplay with a big pawprint, the Strays mark (so it's like your character is giving you a high five every time you roll well)!
These dice are available for $12 per four dice, and/or as part of our HIGH ROLLER reward tier. You can include these dice as an add-on to any reward tier with a physical/printed copy of the book, with no additional shipping cost (just increase you pledge amount by $12 for every set you want and you're good to go!).
[Fate™ is a trademark of Evil Hat Productions, LLC. The Powered by Fate logo is © Evil Hat Productions, LLC and is used with permission]
[This work is based on Fate Core System and Fate Accelerated Edition (found at http://www.faterpg.com/), products of Evil Hat Productions, LLC, developed, authored, and edited by Leonard Balsera, Brian Engard, Jeremy Keller, Ryan Macklin, Mike Olson, Clark Valentine, Amanda Valentine, Fred Hicks, and Rob Donoghue, and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).]
Risks and challenges
Our number one challenge? This it the first time we've done this! That said, we're going to make this whole process as transparent as we can, to help account for that (including, for instance, sharing our stretch goals up front).
The risks we're facing are those every new would-be RPG company does, especially here on Kickstarter. Missed deadlines, unreal expectations, getting carried away with hype, and overlooking all the little things that trip up a new game.
However, we've run the numbers and we're confident we'll be able to power through those difficulties. We're using the awesome Fate Accelerated Edition game engine, with just a few tweaks, in order to leap one big hurdle. We're confident that Fate Accelerated Edition is a game engine we can trust, and that leaves us to focus our attention elsewhere with this initial foray into Kickstarting.
We've got solid estimates on production and distribution costs and timetables. Furthermore, we're doing our best to keep stretch goals and add-ons to a minimum, to keep from cluttering up our Kickstarter with extra stuff. All too often, that often gets first-timers in over their heads or cuts into production quality by adding production quantity. We've established a very conservative basic goal, and we're trying to maintain realistic expectations on our end.
Layout, proofing, and editing have built-in failsafes with other freelancers who are ready to step in and fill the gap if extra work is needed, when the size of the project and the Kickstarter budget demand it.
Finally, our delivery estimates are pretty conservative. They were reached through the utterly scientific method of writing up our actual estimates, then doubling them (to account for things going wrong), and then rounding up to the end of the academic semester.
Kickstarters can miss deadlines and be disappointing, or they can rock your socks off by putting together a finished product and getting it to you earlier than you expect it.
We want to be sock-rockers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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