An Atlas of the Horizons is a product of my passion for tabletop roleplaying. It has gone through countless revisions, more playtest sessions than I can recall, and has been a pet project for over 5 years.
I am launching this Kickstarter to bring you a roleplaying game that focuses on unique, interesting characters in a world just coming into its own. Its citizens harness the power of aestus to cast spells and the laws of nature to build magnificent machines. Its cultures examine their values and goals, ready to be guided by new leaders. Its boundaries fade away as people once driven from their lands and others just arriving search for their place in this evolving world.
The descendants of ancient Mayagispar had spread throughout the charted lands, from the Masudi Mountains in the east, to the Teeming Sea in the west. From the barren expanses of Helenisian desert to the lush gardens of Bvortane. Under the protection of the gods, the culture thrived and expanded, but lived without meaningful contact with other peoples, due to the gods’ Decree of Isolation.
But the gods have left. They’ve sealed themselves in their temples and filled their sanctuaries with vicious beasts, searing fire, and toxic miasma.
Centuries later, the chosen people stand on their own. They are trading with new cultures. They are building machines to make life easier now that they must fend for themselves. They are debating new forms of government and law.
It is an exciting time to be alive—a time of blossoming ideas and frontiers both physical and metaphorical.
The game features budding technology and evolving politics in a fairy tale fantasy world. Armored knights square off against pistol-wielding ne’er-do-wells. Magi fan their internal magic to produce powerful spells, but must be careful not to consume themselves in the flame. Brilliant machinists construct never-before-seen wonders of engineering in a world populated with staunch traditionalists, cunning witches, political visionaries, and talking animals.
To the north, a mysterious autocrat, never seen directly, has conquered a collection of foreign peoples and rules them from a crimson-curtained palanquin. The newly-named Adainians struggle to integrate with the descendants of Mayagispar as revolutionaries seek to undermine their despotic new lord.
In the deserts, the clever Helenisians study the monolithic fragments of the moon Gadeos, which fell from the sky in splinters a century ago. The strange flora and fauna will need to be studied, and in some cases contained or eradicated before they upset the balance of the desert biome.
In the cradle of this empire, the temple-rich city of Fen Yashur is all but abandoned. The divinely-wrought monstrosities and disastrous magical aftershocks that erupt from the city’s hundred sanctuaries make the land uninhabitable to all but the bravest. Now the ancient metropolis is sparsely populated by those who maintain their devotion to the gods, and those who wish to remain undisturbed or undiscovered.
Each nation has its own unique agendas, problems, history, and motives, but all are poised to prove themselves and rise out of the shadows of the gods into their own glory.
Players have the tools to make highly customizable characters, without having to worry about what is or is not an optimal build. The game is designed to ensure that there are countless viable character builds, rather than rewarding attempts to stack as many bonuses as possible.
The basis of character creation comes in three parts. A player selects a nature for his character, like the trainer, the knight, or the magus. This determines what special rules and options exist for the character, and explains how he achieves his goals.
- The knight follows his three guiding principles, and overcomes and shirks off things that prevent him from pursuing them.
- The magus accumulates a whirlwind of magical energy called aestus. She can cast more powerful spells than those of any other nature, but the more magic she accumulates, the more likely it will slip through her fingers, backfiring catastrophically.
- The maverick is a paragon of skill. He receives extra skill points as he advances, and develops unique techniques to enhance his skills or utilize them in unusual ways.
- The trainer cultivates the capabilities of a companion, be it an animal, an elemental, a reanimated corpse, or his own shadow given magical life.
- The witch seals pacts with the urcrones, ancient witches who came before her. Her magic is slower and safer than the spells of a magus, and each pact offers flexible influence over a related set of concepts, rather than single-use spells.
- The innovator approaches problems from a technical standpoint. He builds machines and tools to assist himself and his allies. Each device has a branching network of enhancements that can be retooled on the fly or finalized into finished projects.
- The fury lets her anger wash over her. She becomes lost and primal in her rage, and enhances her preexisting talents with special effects whenever she encounters one of the sources of her anger.
The character then selects paths and the gifts that come with them. These determine how his nature is put to use, what tricks he has up his sleeve, and what general tasks he is equipped to face.
- The path of battles hones the melee abilities of a character, granting extra combat options or allowing characters to take better advantage of their chosen weapons.
- The path of elements contains spells for manipulating the physical world, as well as granting dominion over elementals.
- The path of fortune grants the character luck, and helps turn negative situations into positive ones.
- The path of nobility makes a character more fit to rule, and represents the perks that come along with social status and political power.
- The path of wanderlust is followed by those who have seen the world. It may grant contacts in foreign cities, technological vehicles, or familiarity with unusual customs and locales.
- Many more paths exist—24 in total. With up to three paths per character, that’s over 16,000 unique combinations of paths and nature. Even more flexibility and customization is offered by selecting what unique gifts each path grants your character.
Finally, the character assigns attributes and skills, detailing the raw potential and training she has accumulated.
The basis of the mechanical system is simple. Each player has a rating in seven attributes (like agility, intellect, and will), and in 16 skills (like composure, fighting, and artistry).
To make any roll, a single twelve-sided die (or skill die) is rolled along with a number of six-sided dice (degree dice) equal to the attribute. If the twelve sided die is equal to or lesser than the skill, then the roll is a success! If it is greater than the skill, the roll is a failure. A degree is then selected from the degree dice to illustrate how much the character succeeded or failed. A higher attribute means more dice to select from, and a better chance of rolling a higher number to select for a greater success, or a lower number to select for a minimal failure. Degree can be the difference between just scraping by with collateral losses or easily overcoming obstacles without breaking a sweat.
Combat in An Atlas of the Horizons is designed to be mutable and ever-changing, with flexible turn orders and each character bringing a unique handful of options to the table based on their character build and weapon of choice. Some weapons will make precise called shots that can turn the tide of combat, others are able to knock an opponent down or stagger them backward.
In general, combat is not a race to kill your opponent before they kill you, and most fights will end without fatalities. The combat and forfeit system creates a milieu where the losing party in a conflict may escape or surrender, but will rarely die unless there is something on the line that they are willing to lay down their life for.
The victors may snag one of the belongings of the fleeing character, discern the answer to a question based on clues left behind, or even inflict a grievous wound, such as a severed hand or missing eye, that will never heal naturally.
The plan is to publish An Atlas of the Horizons as a 6in x 9in book. I have written over 225 pages of content, and my illustrator is providing me with beautiful color illustrations.
The physical book will be a full-color paperback. If we are able to raise $9000 dollars, every copy will be upgraded to a hardcover at no extra charge to backers!
Funds raised though the Kickstarter are predominantly going toward printing and shipping costs, as well as to pay for the remainder of the art.
If you would like to have multiple copies of the book, additional copies are available as an add-on for $23 each. Whether you're receiving a signed copy and would like another for personal use, or you'd like multiples for your table, or you'll be giving a copy as a gift, this option will allow you to stock up on a few extra copies of the original offset print run.
This option is only available for tiers that already include an offset print book ($31 and up), and is only available within the US.
Print on Demand Availability for Backers Outside the US
If you back at the $12 dollar level, you will receive a voucher for a PoD copy of the book at cost through DriveThruRPG. The standard color version (which has a lower paper weight and less vibrant colors) is estimated at around $9, and the premium color version (which should be of comparable quality to the offset print book) is estimated at around $26.
You will need to pay that printing cost and the cost of shipping to DriveThruRPG when redeeming the voucher.
DriveThruRPG ships internationally.
Benjamin Williams, Writer
"I have been playing tabletop roleplaying games since I was in elementary school. Between the colorful characters I can bring to life as a player or a game master and the way that game rules and mechanics fit together to create a cohesive whole, nothing engages my mind quite like our weekly game nights. Since I first cracked open a Player's Handbook in 1995, I have seen this hobby and community grow, and have known that I had something to contribute. I am proud to bring my 20+ years of tabletop RPG experience to this project, and am humbled to have access to a community that can help fulfill what has been my dream since childhood. Thank you for taking the time to read about my project, and happy gaming!"
Eleanor Barto, Illustrator
"Someone told me in third grade that my drawings were “pretty decent, I guess”, so my artistic ego just became uncontrollable after that and has carried me to where I am today. Talents include juggling, consistent low rolls during D&D campaigns, and shamelessly chasing after dogs. When I can plant myself in front of my sketchbook, I love designing characters and focusing on ways to make media more diverse and inclusive for everyone!"
You can reach Eleanor at email@example.com. Benjamin can be reached through Kickstarter. You can also follow An Atlas of the Horizons on facebook for updates and information.
Risks and challenges
The body of the text is already written, and my illustrator has a head start working on interior art.
Risks still do exist, however. Of course, personal injury, illness, or tragedy could slow down my ability or my illustrator's ability to work on this project.
This Kickstarter alone, however, has been over a year in the making. I have talked to an accountant and read about other project creators' experiences, and I consider myself reasonably aware of the costs and methods of completing this project. This is not something I rushed into, but rather have methodically planned out, making spreadsheet after spreadsheet to calculate the costs of fulfilling orders of various sizes, at different goals and tier prices. I've taken into account not only printing and illustration, but taxes where applicable, shipping (including the costs of packaging), and Kickstarter's fees.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)