HC SVNT DRACONES is an exciting new post-humanity tabletop role playing game. Players take the personage of a Vector, a new species created near the end of human civilization that witnessed the demise of their fore-bearers and has struggled through 700 years of slow growth devoid of personal history to etch out a new existence for themselves in the galaxy. Ships, gene-splicing, implants and esoteric horror mix with environments ranging from urban cities a mile high to twisted forests grown from terraforming mishaps in this wholly new and original system.
The 8-10-12 system addressees an issue I always felt constricting about many check systems: a limitation in avenues of approach. Too often I found myself in situations that required a specific check that I simply couldn't make for lack of points, despite my character possessing alternate means of approaching the task. There was also the opposite problem: having to dump all you starting points into certain must-have areas, because without them survival wasn't going to be possible. This made it difficult to flesh out the areas of my characters that were more flavorful. It's particularly frustrating when the opportunity arises to make a roleplay check related to your character's background or field of interests, something they should be good at, and you fail utterly because you had to put those points into whatever it was that would keep you alive in the next inevitable fightscene.
HSD's system changes the DM question from "Do you pass?" to "How do you pass?" You can still fail, of course, but by using the system you can approach roleplay situations from a myriad of different angles, affording you the greatest probability of success by playing to the strengths of the character rather than the limitations of they system. Because the checks are narrative in their own way, the act of maneuvering yourself to take advantage of your build becomes part of the narrative.
The HSD combat system is awash with features intended to add a little more strategy and movement to your battles, rather than stack ways to increase damage. Every weapon is a danger in the right hands, and the system rewards using cover and terrain to your advantage. Additionally, the combat stats and proficiencies range across your entire statline, which rewards diversity in your character creation. through use of the command and support actions, even characters with no weapon-based skills whatsoever can be tremendous boons in a fight.
HSD takes place 700 years after the war that spelled the end of humanity, and follows the progression of their only surviving lineage: the race called Vector which emerged in the turmoil of mankind's twilight hours. The events leading up to this point span the spectrum from mysterious and supernatural, to violent and woefully human. What has emerged at the end of it all is a new race with no previous history to go off of but things they've heard in stories, and the shattered husk of a once beautiful world hanging overhead.
Vectors span the solar system from Mars to Venus to the moons of Jupiter. Their biological spectrum includes dozens of different species from Earth, as well as a whole host of mutations that cropped up during on of the stages of their initial development and have remained keyed in their genepool. Their culture is run by massive corporate structures that take the place of traditional government. Beauty can be purchased. Strength is an investment in hardware. Integrity is good marketing. and hiding just outside the borders of the flashing lights and busy lives of the children of mankind lurks a new threat that vector-kind is far from ready to cope with. Each encounter assembles pieces of the puzzle that is the fall of Earth, and what it is to live on the edges of the map.
Games in this system can range from space exploration to mystery and espionage to good old fashioned hank-n-slash to astral horror. There's a little in here for everybody. Best of all, the setting is crafted to allow for seamless transitions from one to the next. Its a great big web of lies out there. As soon as you start picking at one of the strings, you'll find a dozen others its attached to.
Just watch out for spiders.
HSD's character generation works in series of stages, each one increasing your variety in a simple but broad range. With over a thousand different possible permutations, it may seem a little overwhelming, but its all staged out in small, intuitive steps.
SELECT YOUR FAMILY
Each of the families in HSD possess unique perks and abilities that can help you craft the person you want to be.
SELECT YOUR SPECIES
Each family has a variety of individual species within it, which help further refine your appearance and function in the game world.
SELECT YOUR MORPHISM
During the initial Vector creation process, there were a series of errors that tossed a lot of random elements into the genepool. You can select one to add that touch of 'exotic' to your character. From color patterns to extra limbs, this section allows for a great deal of variety in your final build.
These first three sections deal with establishing your physical appearance. From here, you proceed to assigning abilities, motivations, equipment and unique characteristics, in similar stages. Reading all the information will surely take a while, but once you've gone through the process once, building characters in HSD is a snap, requires very little dicerolling, and can be completed in a matter of minutes.
So, where are we going with this?
HSD has no fewer than seven planned expansions already on its plate. Each of the major megacorps that play a roll in the setting and in character generation get their own unique book, written in their voice so you can really get a feel for the personality their society has.
Included in each are:
- New species
- New morphisms
- New abilities
- New equipment
- More corp-specific lore for people to really get a better feel for who they work for.
Risks and challenges
HSD has been a labor of love from its first paragraph, and there's still a long road ahead. I'm excited to report, however, that of all the challenges still in store, writing the book is not one of them. The HSD rulebook is nearly 300 pages long, and it is (mercifully) complete! That's right, content, copy, system and lore, all set down in nice, clear text. All that remains is layout, more artwork (always more artwork), and repeated editing and proofreading to make sure nothing is left behind from its numerous tests and adjustments. This system exists, and more than that, it has proven functional and exciting. We just need to get it off my computer and onto yours!
When you're an unknown quantity, large scale printing companies are pretty reluctant to set up the large and expensive lithographs required to bulk-print full color, double-sided pages at a rate affordable enough to sell them. With shipping considered on a book this size, the price per unit has to be pretty small or it will quickly price itself right out of the costumer's hands. Not a big deal to a large established gamehouse, but its a pretty big hurdle to a brand new franchise. To help offset this, HSD is going to begin its life as a digital book until it has enough momentum and support behind it to show up as more appealing to printers. Of course, the almighty buck is the bottom line, and if we can reach far enough in the funding stage to let our wallet do the talking, we can get those hard copies out that much faster. Until that point, only those who donate to the kickstarter in sufficient quantity to receive a printed copy will have one, made to order.
Digital distribution in the early stages of the game affords another advantage: It allows for corrections. HSD has been (and continues to be) extensively tested, but the reality of the small size of this startup means that no matter how far I reach, I can only communicate with so many people. The results of the dozens of test groups that have touched this game so far may not notice problems eventually discovered down the line when hundreds or thousands of people begin playing. By distributing digitally, should something critical emerge that was completely unforeseen, it can be corrected and new editions distributed without devastating cost. Naturally, the book will be complete and as robust and balanced as it can be before any edition at all is released, but I have to consider the possibility that something wholly unexpected will pop up, and be ready to fix it.
HSD isn't a one-time publication. This is the beginning of a new and exciting franchise with multiple expansions already planned and framed. Within its lore are possibilities for full vehicle and equipment books, books dedicated to exploring the community and lore of planets and megacorperations, additional families and species, even extreme and alien incursions. The success of this initial venture will dictate the speed and frequency of the following ones.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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