The ground shook with the sound of the titans' approach. As their heads crested over the horizon, I recognised their vanguard: Xeni, avatar of oceans, surging and coral-encrusted. I forced myself to stop a muttered prayer to the titans - they had betrayed the faith of my mothers. Instead, I activated my mech's systems and began charging weapons. Today, gods would fall.
Welcome to Harder They Fall, a game of final battles for the fate of the world. With a few friends, you’ll tell the story of a climactic battle between titanic foes.
You’ll decide what sparked the conflict, where the battle’s happening, and the weapons, motivations and doubts that define each fighter. Then you’ll play out the battle, setting up chains of dominoes that grow as your fighter gathers momentum and topple as titanic blows shake the battlefield.
As you place dominoes down you’ll make statements about your fighter’s impact on the world, their growing doubts, their fraying connection with their allies and growing alliance with their enemies. When all the dominoes are toppled and peace falls over the battlefield, will you be left standing victorious? Will it have been worth it?
Harder They Fall is great for telling self-contained stories of titanic confrontations, but can also be used to supplement a roleplaying game using another system. Use it to play out your campaign's final battle, a flashback to a legendary clash of heroes, or as a mass battle system representing the clash of armies.
Playing Harder They Fall is simple:
First, you set up your conflict. Who are the sides, and why are they fighting? What strengths does your fighter have, what oaths motivate them, and what doubts linger in their heart? Finally, what features define the map - settlements, forts, armies, hazards, sites of beauty? To finish setup, each player draws a domino from the pile and places it on the map as their fighter's starting position.
Then, the battle begins. On your turn, you have a choice:
Raise the stakes by drawing a domino and placing it on the battlefield. Depending on its value and where you place it, you'll ask your foes a question: how does your advance terrify them? How does your burgeoning power sear the battlefield? How do your doubts give you pause?
Or you can Knock Them Down by toppling your chain of dominoes. The more you knock over, the more damage you can do to your foes. And if you can knock over some of your allies' dominoes in a team-up attack, or knock over your foes' chain and send them flying, that's even better! Once all the dominoes are fallen, pick one to start your new chain, and let the battle continue.
You keep taking turns - setting up dominoes and knocking them down, describing your titanic struggles and their terrible costs - until one side is defeated or you're out of dominoes. The battle is over, and it's time for you to assess the aftermath. Each player asks the rest of the group a question about their fighter or the battlefield, the group considers potential answers, and all surviving fighters vote on the outcome.
Watch actual play recorded in Tabletop Simulator:
Or play it yourself using this module: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1434211114
About this Kickstarter
This campaign came along exactly at the right time for Kickstarter's Quickstarter initiative. The idea is to create a space for small, simple projects alongside the more traditional monolithic campaigns with 5-figure goals, endless stretch goals and multi-year delivery timetables.
For Harder They Fall, I'm offering a small form-factor game (~20 pages, 15.6 cm x 23.4 cm) that gives you everything you need to play, has been playtested, and already has a provisional layout and stock art illustrations. You can check out the current rules here.
Alongside the game itself - delivered in PDF or Print on Demand by DriveThruRPG - I'm offering some more rewards at higher tiers:
- At £25 and up, you get a set of 28 dominoes delivered to you, including two sets of action reference cards. These cards are also included in the PDF everyone gets.
- At £50 and up, I'll sign and send to you one of the dominoes I used to playtest this game.
- At £100, I'll work with you to make a fighter who'll be in the book as an example of character creation, complete with an illustration of them.
With the funds from this kickstarter, I'm hoping to:
- Commission some illustrations (hopefully including backer-created combatants).
- Flesh out the book with examples of play.
- Write rules variants including free-for-all and one-versus-many modes.
- Set up the game for physical printing.
What about shipping?
I'll be charging shipping after the Kickstarter via BackerKit so that we can adjust prices based on the final product and shipping rates at the point we pay them, and you can easily adjust your shipping location. To get an estimate of how much shipping will cost you, check this table:
I'm James Iles, the lead designer at UFO Press. I've been designing and publishing role-playing games, board games and LARPS for pretty much all my adult life, and really enjoy making storytelling games that people from all backgrounds can enjoy. You can see my work in Legacy: Life Among the Ruins, What Ho, World! and Wizards Aren't Gentlemen, Weave, or my one-page RPG patreon.
Risks and challenges
The game is written, laid out, and playable. I'd like to make it better with your feedback, but if the worst came to the worst its current state is something I would be proud to release.
I'm fulfilling through DriveThruRPG - as I have done multiple times before - so the distribution of PDFs and physical copies will be easy. For the dominoes and cards, I already have a reliable supplier lined up, and will be shipping through a company I have a good working relationship with.
This will be my 4th Kickstarter, and I'm intentionally keeping the scope restrained. If we fund, I guarantee you'll get your game.
- (14 days)