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A re-release of a classic role-playing game and supplement from the 1980s; originally released by Bard Games.
A re-release of a classic role-playing game and supplement from the 1980s; originally released by Bard Games.
97 backers pledged $6,105 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

$6,105

97

Before you pledge...

Please check out the updates! There have been some adjustments to the dice provided at certain levels due to logistical concerns. I do not want anyone expecting one thing and get something else...

First Preview Posted! Backers of this project can get a preview of the first part of Chapter 1: Character Creation. Check out Update #10 for more information!

Add-ons now available... Scroll down. Our first add-on is listed. More to come.

Stretch Goals Updated... Scroll down. I think you will like this...

A Note on PDFs... all backers of this project from the Gladiator level and higher will receive a PDF of the finished product. If you receive a physical copy of the book(s), you will also receive the PDF of the book(s). This was corrected in the FAQ (I cannot edit reward levels once someone has pledged at that level) yet this remains the most asked question. :)

Stretch Goals

Wow... I was not expecting to have to list stretch goals on the first day... this is an amazing and humbling honor you give me to be able to do this. Aug 13: Stretch Goals Updated!

  • << DONE >> Stretch Goal #1 [$1,000] -- If this project breaks the $1,000 mark, the number of animals and monsters in the book will increase from the approximately 50 that are being included now (essentially, the stats for every animal and monster that is given any mention within the book, be that within a spell's description, a profession's skills and abilities list, etc.) to a total of 100 animals and monsters. This will tighten my workload and time management a bit... but it will be worth it.
  • << DONE >> Stretch Goal #2 [$2,000] -- If this project breaks the $2,000 mark, the number of animals and monsters will again be increased -- this time to 150!
  • << DONE >> Stretch Goal #3 [$3,000] -- If this project breaks the $3,000 mark, the number of animals and monsters will again be increased -- this time to 200! (THIS USED TO BE A $4,000 STRETCH GOAL!)
  • << DONE >> Stretch Goal #4 [$4,000] -- If this project breaks the $4,000 mark, the number of animals and monsters will be increased to 250+ -- and the monsters will be moved into a separate book! This means that if your reward level states you get a soft-cover copy of the book, you will get a soft-cover copy of both the rules and the monster book; hardcover copies become hardcover copies of both books! (THIS USED TO BE A $6,000 STRETCH GOAL!)
  • Stretch Goal #5 [$5,000] -- If this project breaks $5,000 mark, it means we already have a two-book set (a rules book and a monster book); at this level, the monster book will also include a setting. This will mean that the two books will end up being about 256 pages each!
  • Stretch Goal #6 [$6,000] -- If this project breaks the $6,000 mark, I will add to the game a system reference document, an open gaming license, and a system trademark license (similar to the way the d20 system works) allowing anyone to write additional material, settings, or even derivative games, from the 30th Anniversary Edition of the Arcanum! So, if you want to write modules, new monsters, campaign settings, or other material... then this is the level you want to shoot for!

Add On Items

  • $20 -- Arcanum Game Master's Screen
  • $20 -- Premium custom dice bag from CustomDiceBags.com
  • $20 -- Packet of premium Arcanum Character Record sheets
  • $20 -- Packet of premium Arcanum Alchemical / Magical Inventory sheets
  • $20 -- Packet of premium Arcanum Grimoire sheets

Set the Way-Back Machine for 1983...

Back in 1983, a company called Bard Games released some books: The Compleat AdventurerThe Compleat AlchemistThe Compleat Spellcaster. These three books would later be combined into an omnibus called The Arcanum.

The Arcanum, in addition to repeating an edited and cleaned up version of the three previous books, added an entire game engine to the mix. The two follow-up books (The Lexicon, and The Bestiary) became a trilogy allowing gamers to explore The World of Atlantis.

The Arcanum had three editions. Bard Games released the first two; the third was released by Death's Edge Games. A new version of The Lexicon, combined with The Bestiary was released as well. Over time, this small press game was all but forgotten. The author, Stephan Michael Sechi, had moved on to write Talislanta. Then, after some more time, he left game writing to focus on his music career. He is truly a multi-talented man, and a fine human being.

I purchased the rights to all three editions of The Arcanum (text and artwork {1}); another company (which also ran a Kickstarter campaign for the setting) purchased the rights to The Lexicon and The Bestiary well before I first spoke to Mr. Sechi. In other words, these two books are in very good hands.

The 30th Anniversary Edition

The Arcanum was far from a perfect book. It had some editing and typographical errors, some issues with formatting, and so on. In other words, it suffered the issues associated with a small group of enthusiasts trying to publish an RPG in the days before desktop publishing.

I am working on the 30th Anniversary Edition {2} of this book; my goal is to make this the end-all, be-all of The Arcanum Role-Playing System. I am cleaning up the text, re-arranging items; breaking up the book into true chapters, and creating a cohesive flow making the rules easy to follow.

What I am not doing is substantially altering any aspect of the game. Some things are quirky. This is not a flaw, or an error -- it is a matter of style. To do this, I have to strive for two secondary goals:

  • This edition is setting free. The game will have reference to some things (certain classifications of higher and lower powers, types of undead, and so on). But no established setting is to be assumed. The Atlantean Setting is the property of Khepera Publishing. I have spoken with Jerry D. Greyson (great guy, by the way) -- he and I have a gentleman's agreement. Where the information in The Arcanum makes reference to The Atlantean Setting, I am free to deal with that as I wish. Anything strictly within the pages of The Lexicon and The Bestiary is off limits. This is a very fair arrangement.
  • I will have to develop a standard creature stat block and listing within the book. Since the animals, beasts, monsters, and other creatures are all described within the pages of The Bestiary, I will have to take every creature that has information or has references to it made within The Arcanum and flesh them out in some way. This adds a chapter (Creatures!) within The Arcanum that was not there before. Without this section, the RPG is sorely lacking as a stand-along system.

Why do you need money?

The money is needed to handle normal publishing expenses (e.g., ISBN, printing, layout, editing). To keep costs low (and to maintain the feel of the game), just about every piece of artwork from the original three editions of the game will be used (after all, I already own them). The rest of the art is going to be royalty-free and as close to the style of the original art as I can find.

I had to borrow some money to get the various software tools I am using (pretty much the entire suite of products from Serif) to handle desktop publishing and graphic manipulation. I will need to repay that money before interest gets too high.

Depending upon how much money I can raise, the quality of the book -- paper, binding, cover -- can be adjusted as we go along.

If you will look, several levels of donation include special 'Arcanum' dice. The funds will also be used to locate the highest quality of dice possible and have them manufactured in a quick manner to get them to you on time.

Who are you?

My name is K. David Ladage. I am the co-founder of ZiLa Games -- and this role-playing system is our first major project. As a freelance writer, I have written for Steve Jackson Games, Sword and Sorcery Studios, and others. I am a tinker of games and a natural game designer (meaning that I love coming up with games, and when I play games I begin looking at how I would have done things almost immediately). I have high hopes for ZiLa Games. I have a lot of ideas and notes that need an outlet.

OK... how much more is left to do?

I am actually nearing the end of the process. Most all of the text is rendered and needs just a little tweaking here and there for layout purposes. The largest portion of the time (and expenses) remaining are in the editing (getting a good editor is not cheap), and in the writing of the material that needs to be included to make this game whole (e.g., monster stats). This material will also need to be play tested.

My current working cover for the new edition.
My current working cover for the new edition.

A Word About the Dice

In several of the reward levels, there are dice I am working to have made. These dice will be exclusive to this Kickstarter campaign and will not be available anywhere after the campaign is over.

Please note that I have not finalized discussions with the people that can make these dice. The toughest one so far is finding someone that can do the custom d4s for me. I will make every attempt to ensure that all of the dice in the set are branded with the pentagram on the highest face. However, if any of the dice prove to be impossible, or cost prohibitive, I will let you know as soon as I know. The other dice should not pose a problem at all.

Update #1: as of update #6, I am discovering that this process, customizing all of the dice in a seven-die set, is cost prohibitive. I would need to commission a mold ($4k to $6k) before I can order the dice. I have spoken with Chessex and they can easily get me d6s and d10s with one custom face; the others would require a mold be made. Thus, I will be asking you, the backers, to aid me deciding what should happen with this particular element of the reward levels.

Update #2: OK... I have spoken with Chessex. The dice sets will be 10 dice each: 1d4, 4d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d00, 1d12, 1d20. They will be black with red numbers. All four d6s will be custom with the encircled pentagram replacing the '6' face of the die. Each set will come with a dice bag from Chessex as well.

In addition, I am looking into getting some custom dice bags made by CustomDiceBags. These would be black bags with the red encircled pentagram design. These will likely be within the price range I can afford (since these would not be coming from the funds accumulated here for printing costs).

===

{1} -- I own the rights to all of the text and artwork for all three editions of The Arcanum. However, one exceptions was made: one of the races in the book became a major part of Talislanta -- Mr. Sechi maintains the rights to that one element of the game.

{2} -- The original material was published in 1983. The combined book (the actual Arcanum releases) came shortly after. Thus, the 2013-2014 time frame is the 30th Anniversary of this RPG classic.

Risks and challenges

The rights are secured. ZiLa Games owns the text and art -- so this is already taken care of. As indicated above, most of the scanned text is completed (sans some tweaking for layout).

The biggest hurdle will be in the editing. I need to hire at least a couple of good editors that can aid me in locating errors from the original text that managed to escape my notice and become a part of the new book; and I need them to locate any errors I have introduced myself -- nobody should ever try to be their own editor.

Printing expenses can be handled through Lulu or CreateSpace if I cannot get a good price on printing otherwise. My personal preference is to use a local printer here in Cedar Rapids, IA. They do great work.

I know of several places I can get custom dice. Locating a high-quality, quick-turn around laser-etched custom dice may cause delays depending upon who can give me the base quotes. All such delays will be reported immediately. Also, see the A Word About the Dice section above.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Charlatan -- a heartfelt thanks from a game designer and small-press publisher trying to get a great game back into the public eye.

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    Astrologer -- my eternal gratitude. In addition to my thanks (and the warm feeling you get when you help your fellow man), your name will be included in the appendix 'The Hall of Heroes' as a contributor to this project.

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    Gladiator -- my eternal gratitude. You will get your name included in the appendix 'The Hall of Heroes' as a contributor to this project. You will also receive a copy of the PDF version of the finished book.

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    Sorcerer -- my eternal gratitude. You will get your name included in the appendix 'The Hall of Heroes' as a contributor to this project. You will also receive a softcover copy of the finished book.

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    Assassin -- my eternal gratitude. You will get your name included in the appendix 'The Hall of Heroes' as a contributor to this project. You will also receive a hardcover copy of the finished book.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    Bounty Hunter -- my eternal gratitude. You will get your name included in the appendix 'The Hall of Heroes' as a contributor to this project. You will also receive a softcover copy of the finished book, and a set of custom role-playing dice that use a Pentagram as the highest value of each (d4, d6, d8, d10, d00, d12, d20).

    The exact color and other considerations for the dice will be decided once I complete some talks with various dice manufacturers. I will keep everyone posted on this. These will not be available as an add-on.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Necromancer -- my eternal gratitude. You will get your name included in the appendix 'The Hall of Heroes' as a contributor to this project. You will also receive a hardcover copy of the finished book, and two sets of custom role-playing dice that use a Pentagram as the highest value of each (d4, d6, d8, d10, d00, d12, d20). The exact color and other considerations for the dice will be decided once I complete some talks with various dice manufacturers. I will keep everyone posted on this. These will not be available as an add-on.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Thaumaturge -- my eternal gratitude. You will get your name included in the appendix 'The Hall of Heroes' as a contributor to this project. You will also receive a softcover and a hardcover copy of the finished book, as well as three sets of custom role-playing dice that use a Pentagram as the highest value of each (d4, d6, d8, d10, d00, d12, d20). The exact color and other considerations for the dice will be decided once I complete some talks with various dice manufacturers. I will keep everyone posted on this. These will not be available as an add-on.

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    Wizard's Tower -- this level is for Brick and Mortar stores only; I will be checking! Seriously! The store's contact information will be included in the 'Hall of Heroes'. The store will receive four copies of the softcover and one copy of the hardcover.

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Funding period

- (30 days)