A modern fantasy RPG about the descendants of ancient gods and heroes, in a world with no room for hero tales. Based on the novels.
A modern fantasy RPG about the descendants of ancient gods and heroes, in a world with no room for hero tales. Based on the novels. Read more
About this project
What if the gods and heroes of ancient times were only human beings, just like you?
What if the faeries and monsters and spiritual beings of mythology, from every culture and nation, were actually people like you and me - but a little faster, a little stronger, a little wiser, than the rest of us?
What if time and history expanded the stories of their lives, transforming them into myth and legend - transforming them into gods?
What if such people still walk among us?
And what if you are one of them?
It's an urban fantasy trilogy of mythology, conspiracy, and meaning.
And it's a tabletop role-play game, based on the novels.
A little background:
I've always enjoyed inventing games. In my teens and early 20's I created my own video games on my Commodore 128. Back in 1996 I started writing my own tabletop fantasy role-play game. I would open the document every three or four months, write or edit a page or three, and then close it again for another few months.
The result of having done that for nearly twenty years is that I now have an almost-complete game, 286 pages long. It's time to finish the game once and for all, and let it loose in the world.
This summer, while writing the third novel in my Fellwater series, it occurred to me that with a few intelligent changes, the game could take place in the same world as the novels. All I have to do now is modify the rules to fit the story, and then publish it. I’ve got a network of wonderful people who are ready to help me illustrate, edit, design, promote, and test it. But I wouldn’t ask any of these people to work for me for free. Hence, I have come to you with this fundraising project.
What's unique about the game?
1. It's based on the world of a well-regarded series of modern fantasy novels.
Its heroes are caught in a conflict between rival factions of a secret society, whose members are descended from ancient gods. While dealing with their own personal problems, they also struggle to protect Fellwater Grove, one of the last remaining places on earth where the magic of the Mythic Age still survives. The 'Secret People' of the 'Hidden Houses', as they are called, compete with each other for control of such places, just as political factions in the real world compete for control of sea ports, oil fields, and markets.
Reviewers on Amazon and other places have favourably compared the novels to the work of Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin. The first book in the series was praised by Jordan Stratford, one of Kickstarter's top-ten all-time highest fundraisers in book projects!
2. The rules are designed to maximize character customization.
To create a new character in this game, players choose between one of five 'sources' or general world views, one of thirteen 'lineages' or cultural backgrounds, and one of seven 'paths' or occupations (comparable to "class"). This makes 455 possibilities - more, if players invent their own lineages. Furthermore, it's a skill-based system in which characters can advance in more than one path at the same time; in fact, characters can advance in all seven paths simultaneously. So, there's actually 3,185 possibilities! And characters advance in their path by learning talents associated with that path, like a skill tree, but in almost any sequence they wish. So the true range of possibilities for customization is almost impossible to calculate.
Why should you back this project?
Because you love mythology, heroism, adventure, fairy tales and weird science. You think that despite the rat race of modern times there is still a place in the world for imagination, discovery, heroic excellence, and childhood wonder. You want to explore and protect and indeed create that place.
If those statements ring true for you, then I've got a game for you. And a trilogy of novels, too. And some wonderful art. And a community of people who love these things just as much as you do.
What will my contribution pay for?
Your contribution will allow me to finish writing the text of the game, and it will pay for the work of a whole team of artists, designers, and contributors.
The artists include Morpheus Ravenna, Seb Barnett, Émilie Sonia-Boisvert, Kelfae Flowers, Heather Matz, Courtney Sciba, and Laurie Foster-McLeod. Many of the images in the video above come from their portfolios. 47% of the budget for this project is for art. So if games aren't your thing, you can support these wonderful artists!
For the design elements, I'll be working with Winter-Hebert, who also designed my "Clear and Present Thinking" project.
Kimberly Ross, a professional editor who specializes in academic and scientific writing, will work with me as editor.
Beta-testing and other system-related contributions will come from the team at Arcana Creations.
The proposed budget and production timeline can be seen in the FAQ, below.
What will the finished product be?
A tabletop fantasy role-play game, with over 60 awesome illustrations and a professional design. The game will be produced in two volumes:
• A "Basic" rulebook with most of the core rules, an introduction to the world of The Fellwater Tales, and some notes about how to adapt the rules to other fantasy or sci-fi environments.
• A "Complete" rulebook with all the core rules and all the optional and expanded rules, a complete descriptions of all the talents, powers, and spells that characters can use, a full account of the world of the Fellwater Tales, and a bank of NPC's, adventure scenarios, and other resources with which to build a full campaign.
• A small web site will be created, to allow people to explore the world of the game, and its system.
• We will also create a few accessories, such as character sheets, quick-reference pages, and compatibility notes for popular game engines such as d20,and Pathfinder.
I know about writing, gaming, storytelling, and publishing. Here's why.
I am the author of thirteen books, mostly nonfiction titles, including the Fellwater novels, and "Iron Age", a tabletop strategy game of power, honour, and democracy. I'm also a professor of philosophy and humanities at CEGEP Heritage College in Gatineau, Quebec. This is my second Kickstarter project: my first was the highly successful "Clear and Present Thinking" project which created a free college textbook in logic and critical reasoning.
The interesting thing about having an M.A. and Ph.D in philosophy is 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. For example, characters in my game must choose a “Source”, from which they draw their powers, and from which they gain a large part of their sense of identity. It may look at first like a D&D-style alignment system. But the Sources are not just five stations on a spectrum between good and evil. Rather, they are five different world views: five competing models of human nature, good and evil, truth and beauty; five equally-strong answers to all the big questions.
At the same time, from my B.A. in Drama, I also understand narrative arcs, dramatic tension, imagination, performance art, and free creative play – perfect for world building, character design, and the like. My fiction writing is inspired by the playwriting and directing work I did as a drama student: I apprenticed for a short while under a playwright who won the Governor General’s award for literature. So I know about storytelling.
On top of that, I’ve also undertaken a lifelong study of mythology and folklore – I’ve even 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. (I tip my hat to developers like Jane McGonigal and Brenda Brathwaite here.) And, of course, games are fun! I've invented several games for use in my classroom as teaching tools, one of which, "Iron Age", became so popular my students encouraged me to publish it. This project is a continuation of my pedagogical games, but on a larger scale.
I also think that storytelling games like this one are important, too, because it's through storytelling that we explore and experiment with answers to life's most important questions. Here I'm thinking of philosophers like MacIntyre and Ricoeur.
I've had a lot of fun writing this game over the years, and I want to share that fun with you.
So, come and play in my back yard!
And thank you for your support!
Risks and challenges
At this time, I've put together an excellent team of artists, designers, and contributors. But they live in far-flung distant corners of the world, from Canada to Australia, and various places in between. And as you can see, they all have slightly different artistic styles and interests. Similarly, some of the backer rewards allow backers to participate in the creation of the game. I will have to navigate the project in a field of multiple influences and voices - a challenging task, indeed!
From my first Kickstarter campaign I learned how cost over-runs and time requirements are hard to predict, and always go higher than predicted. All the members of the team, including me, have regular jobs and lives, and we'll have to work on this project in our spare time. So it's always possible that unexpected events in life will get in the way.
My job will be to act as a kind of "director", as one might find in theatre or in film, ensuring a smooth production process, and ensuring the artistic integrity and completeness of the final product.
I also have a list in my back pocket of others who I can call upon to work with me, if anyone from the current team is unable to participate any longer. For instance, in my last project, a contributor backed out in the middle of production because his wife had a baby. Back then, I didn't have anyone to replace him but myself; I have a few more people now. But there's also a lot I can do on my own, if I have to. Having self-published the novels on which the game is based, I have all the resources I need to do my own interior layout and design, for instance. (Although I'd rather bring a professional into the project to handle that part of the work.)
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.
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
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