Hidden Houses: The secret descendants of the gods.
A dice-and-paper RPG where A Game of Thrones meets the Brothers Grimm. Based on "Fellwater", the urban fantasy series by Brendan Myers.
The gods and heroes of ancient times were only human.
But a little faster, a little stronger, a little wiser, than the rest of us.
Time and history expanded the stories of their lives, transforming them into myth and legend-- transforming them into gods.
Perhaps their descendants still walk among us.
Perhaps you are one of them.
“The Hidden Houses” are the modern-day descendants of the gods of every mythology and culture on earth. Calling themselves the Secret People, or the Hiddenfolk, their ancestry gives them extraordinary talents and magical powers, but also an ancient struggle to control the last remaining places on Earth where the Mythic Age survives.
It's a fairy tale. Your characters live in the 21st century. Yet they also live in places where cupboard doors open to magical gardens, fantastic creatures still stalk the night, and wizards invite people on adventures. Hidden in forests, mountain tops, caves, and even big city neighborhoods, the Freeholds, as such places are called, preserve what the world was like when the gods still walked among us.
It's a political thriller. Just as nations and corporations in the real world compete for control of sea ports and oil fields, your characters must struggle to protect their Freeholds from rival houses. The Hidden World has a "Secret Commonwealth" with democratic parliaments and an informal constitution; but the Lords of the many Freeholds still fight a "cold war" among themselves to protect and increase their territories. For without the Freeholds, your characters lose touch with their ancestral sources of power. They become ordinary mortals, or they die.
It's based on the Kickstarter-funded fantasy fiction series Fellwater: The Hidden Houses, written by the same author. The game thus takes place in a rich and full world, with a long history for players to explore. You don't need to have read the books to enjoy the game. But the novels are included in some of the backer rewards. Reviewers on Amazon and other places have favourably compared the books to the work of Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin. These books are completely finished, and will be delivered immediately after the campaign succeeds!
The rules are designed to emphasize character customization, and mythology-inspired storytelling. Players create characters by choosing one each of the following:
- Four Sources: each is a wellspring of magical power and also a philosophical world view. Choose from The Earth, The Elements, The Mind, and The Divine.
- Twelve Lineages: the character's cultural background. Become a Kami, a Deva, a DeDannan, a Manitou, an Orisha, a Djinni, and more!
- Seven Paths. Play as an Agent, a Fighter, a Mystic, a Scholar, a Rascal, a Ranger, a Jack, or as any multiclassed combination!
- Four Seasons of the Soul, from the adventurous and innocent Spring, to the wise and battle-hardened Winter.
This makes over 1,300 possibilities for your character's basic identity. Once the game is underway, the player can multi-class in as many Paths as she wants, and learn Talents for each Path in almost any sequence. So the possibilities for unique characters are nearly endless.
Finally, you can join (or opt out of joining) one of the Hidden Houses themselves-- the hundreds of sub-lineage family dynasties that rule the Freeholds of the Hidden World. Take this quiz to find out which House from the novels you should join!
The game's in-house engine is a skill-based system where players "level up" by raising their skills to certain thresholds, and learning Talents that belong to their chosen Paths. The rules take less than three minutes to learn, and are designed to keep as much dramatic tension and surprise in the game as possible. Moreover, the game will come with compatibility rules for popular game engines like Pathfinder, Apocalypse World, and d20. Download the 118-page preview document here to find out for yourself right now!
The game is finished. But it's not yet ready for release.
The text of the game is complete, and runs to more than 250 pages-- and that's without illustrations! But as an independent game designer and publisher, I know that players expect and deserve a professionally made product. Your contribution will allow me to pay for editors and proofreaders, hire experts to write compatibility notes for other game engines, as well as hire layout designers and artists. In fact more than half of the budget is for art and design. If the campaign is successful, I will bring in more artists, and if we reach our stretch goals we'll make as much of the art as we can in full colour.
I'm the author of sixteen books, and a TED speaker, and twice a successful Kickstarter. By day I'm a philosophy prof at a local college. Having an M.A. and Ph.D in philosophy means that I understand logic, algorithms, cosmology and metaphysics, political theory and strategy, and the principles of mathematical game theory – perfect for designing an RPG system, as well as the larger world views and conflicts in which the characters find themselves. I've invented several games for use in my college classroom as teaching tools, one of which, Iron Age, my students encouraged me to publish. Check the backer rewards-- you can get that game here too! (In fact, if your backer level allows you one of the novels but you'd rather have this game, I'll be happy to send it instead.)
At the same time, from my B.A. in drama, I also understand narrative arcs and dramatic tension– perfect for world building, character design, and the like. On top of that, I’ve also undertaken a lifelong study of mythology and folklore – I’ve published several books on the topic – which is helpful for all those things I've mentioned here, and more.
A final note: Games are good for us.
Games help us develop all kinds of skills, from hand-eye coordination to strategic planning. They help us build empathy with team-mates, and they can encourage the kind of competition that leads to excellence. Games can even be used to explain social justice issues, or to assist people recovering from illnesses. And, of course, games are fun!
I also think that storytelling games like this one are important because it's through storytelling that we explore and experiment with answers to life's most important questions. Therefore, I've crafted this game with a few philosophical dimensions. But the philosophical side is mostly in the background. There's also giant gorillas with four arms.
Bet your intro philosophy books didn't have those!
So, come and play in my back yard!
I've had a lot of fun writing this game, and I want to share that fun with you. And thank you for your support!
Risks and challenges
From my other Kickstarter campaigns, I learned how cost over-runs and time requirements always go higher than predicted. But I'm prepared for that; as you can see in the FAQ, the total budget is a bit higher than my Kickstarter target because I'm financing about 1/3rd of it out of pocket. "Investing in myself", as the saying goes.
I don't anticipate any problems of a technical nature. For my previous Kickstarter project, and my self-published novels, I used Amazon Createspace as the printer and distributor. I'll be using it again for this project, too. I also have an account with Library & Archives Canada, so I can issue my own ISBN's, and so I anticipate no delays there. But if anything of a technical nature were to interrupt the project, I have scouted some excellent local printers and bookbinders who I can work with instead. (Of course, if Amazon were to fail, it would be because the entire internet has failed, and we will all have bigger problems.)
I will keep the backers completely informed about the production process at all times, and with complete transparency. If anything really unpredictable happens to slow down the project (internet failure, alien abduction, or a shortage of coffee), you'll know, and you'll know what we're doing about it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)