Interbellum is a tabletop roleplaying game that allows players to take the roles of soldiers, adventurers, deserters or even spies in a world of conflict and the symbiosis of magic and technology. The setting takes inspiration from the aesthetics of the First World War and interwar period.
The system is designed to capture a sense of close combat in trenches, ruins or even whole cities swept away by the total war. Be a small cog in the war machine, survive in military operations with tens of thousands of losses a day. Face the horrors of modern mechanized war, deadly, never-before-seen tanks, the airborne terror of biplanes, the experimental weapons of the future of warfare, forged in constant conflict.
However, this is not the world you know - It is a world of myth and magic, progressed to the diesel age. In other words, your squad can be composed of different fantasy races, where your sergeant can be a formerly enslaved orc or your comrade can be a cursed goblin marauder. In search of a means to break the stalemate of trench warfare, science returned magic from oblivion and tamed it. It changed everything.
The game locations are not limited to trenches on the frontline, this setting allows many types of adventures: be deserters and treasure hunters in the colonies, fight in city ruins or the shadow of tanks the size of a mountain, wage “rat war” in sewage networks and subways, or even be the hero of your assault squad in a suicide mission to destroy enemy secret weapons. Your fate is yours to decide: try to survive in war zones, on the frontline or behind enemy lines.
Interbellum uses a proprietary d6 based system, clearly separating the narrative and combat component of the game and encourages teamwork between sqaudmates.
We published our early ruleset for playtesting. The pack includes:
- Document with rules;
- Introductory lore document;
- Tables for rules and few samples of enemies and items;
- Art pack and test location map for your adventure.
Remember, these are simplified rules that will evolve and improve based on your feedback.
Character creation resembles that of the classic computer-based RPG’s of the late 90's. The choice of main attributes (Agility, Charisma, Intelligence, Perception, Strength, Vitality) and traits - is all familiar. But the choice of race and faction affects a lot - it determines the attitude of NPCs of other factions and races towards you, and can also give bonuses or penalties. The world is still struggling against slavery, for freedom and equality, therefore the influence of xenophobia and prejudice plays a big role in team building and gameplay.
Another important aspect in creating a character is the choice of his class, his profession. The range of choice is quite broad: Officer, Rifleman, Medic, Mage, Technician, Wild Card and others. Each class gives unique perks and the ability to develop class skills. During character creation you can distribute the starting skill points as you like, but during the game it will be limited only to class skills and only they can be developed to the maximum. Of course, there are also will be workarounds for developing skills and changing your class that depend on the narrative and your game master. Also, your selected class gives you a starting free kit of equipment. Depending on the circumstances, you can purchase additional equipment for bonus points. Levelcap limits the development of the character, so you should consider what the character will specialize in.
Having created the character and built your own squad with your friends, you will now choose one of the pre-prepared missions or one created by your game master. Since the game takes place in an era of rapid technological advance the time period of the mission significantly affects the complexity, the opponents encountered, and the available equipment. Do not forget - this is the era of the arms race, when every year the war brought new items to the arsenal. If you choose Great War - you can start with bolt action rifles in your hands, and finish commanding airborne tanks on airships. In your hands lies the choice of the battlefield: you can participate in another insane attempt to capture an enemy underground fort like Verdun, or try an adventure in the style of Lawrence of Arabia.
Each scenario has a map with the main locations. Moving between them, your squad will run into random encounters - some of them will be harmless, others carry danger or even an opponent. The use of technology provides you with a sense of security and fullness, but this is a very controversial pleasure. On the front line this technology is the hope of your detachment, but the first tanks are capricious, unreliable and very slow. Nevertheless, if your mission and the theater of operations allow, you can take a breezy ride on an armored car, which will support you. Combat uses typical turn-based game mechanics that are a bit similar to skirmish wargames.
Killing enemies and completing missions gives you experience points that allow your character to move to the next level. Each time the player gains a level, he receives several skill points to develop his class skills, and every three levels you can choose a perk. Perks provide an opportunity to further sharpen your character for a certain role in your squad or even acquire magical abilities.
Specifically, each action and every step in your character’s progress will be very important, the d6 was chosen because of our desire to follow the number 6 in the numerical parameters of attributes, skills, and so on.
An important nuance that brings an element of uncertainty into a conventional war is magic and its manifestations. At a camp deep in the rear lines near the forest, you can battle a gang of vampires, unconquered, and ghosts near the mass graves in place of the old battleground - all this is just the beginning. The select few who own the Gift can use the Words of Power, that is, spells. They are dangerous opponents, but their spells depend entirely on their intelligence and the benevolence of the Higher Powers. Much worse is meeting one of the Touched - a poor fellow who has touched by breath of chthonic chaos from outside of this world. These magicians are literally bursting from the eldritch energy boiling inside them, their bodies can mutate, and they themselves do not use spells, they directly try to control the flows of magical energy with random side effects. Where technology falls, magic creates incredible things.
The following is a recorded playtest session hosted for roughly 4 hours. It features 4 people, a GM and 3 players casually playing the Interbellum RPG system for the first time. The plot follows 3 soldiers in the Ecumenical Empire who are part of a subpar squad being assigned to a lonely rear echelon outpost in the town of Farbythe, which has been experiencing problems relating to banditry and possible other problems lurking within its territory. Crude language, violent subject matter and general idiocy and shenanigans is found within this video. Viewer discretion is advised.
Interbellum is a fantasy dieselpunk setting. or rather technomagic. What if the usual fantasy world met the era of the first mechanized wars? A world where magic was forgotten for hundreds of years, rediscovered and used to break the positional stalemate, this led to an arms race that spawned 1000-ton steel beasts on land and in the air, make fortresses airborne or devastate whole cities with a few bombs. A world that replaced typical Evil Lords with dictators, knights with armored vehicles, and guilds with corporations. In this world fears of a trench war can materialize, your neighbors can be werewolf infiltrators, and the ghosts of your fallen comrades in no-man's land terrorize the enemy.
Unlike other similar settings, here dieselpunk is dominant, but the fantasy elements serve to deconstruct stereotypes. Of course, magic can be used to create fireballs, teleport and other cool stuff, but the main difference is that magic is used for creating new technologies and machines. In fact, magic used as justification for the typical attributes of a dieselpunk - weird tech, giant vehicles, mutants, etc.
On Jule 7, in the year 1404, the Great War began. Beginning for trivial reasons as a conflict between the two superpowers and their satellites, in 9 years of hellish warfare it grew into a global slaughter between four geopolitical blocs. Hundreds of millions of people were involved, many of them died.
While the three superpowers were competing in the race for technical advancement, the fourth superpower collected magical knowledge bit by bit and united them with its own. From the very beginning of the war, the Sidhean Empire was able to surprise everyone by putting hundreds of combat mages on the battlefield. What was considered lost forever, had returned.
After centuries of oblivion, magic and many other fragments of the Old World rose again. Technology tamed the magic and this created a new leap in scientific and technological development, making the previously impossible now possible.
The playable period in setting will cover almost 30 years, including the Great War for lovers of epic conflict, and local wars in the post-war period. Your character can begin his story as cannon fodder in a world war, and after it become a revolutionary or a mercenary, if he survives on the battlefield.
- Coalition - a bloc created by one of the oldest and largest human states in the Interbellum world, called the Ecumenical Empire. The imperial interests lie in the domination of Hearthland and creating more satellites. The most industrially advanced faction of the setting, at the expense of the environment, resulting in decaying forests around their smoke-filled megacities. The rigid rule of law and severe punishments are combined with imperial chauvinism, which is a blight on the Empire’s diplomacy, but creates protectionism for their inner policy and trade. The Empire is dominated by materialism and atheism because of the old doctrine that "all gods are evil, and their priests are tyrants”. After the Great War, the Empire was mired in the civil war and disintegrated into several states during the revolution, but the Coalition remained. The Galrian Republic preserved most of the heritage of the Empire, but brought more freedom at the cost of devastation, bureaucracy, the political demagogy and corruption.
- Alliance - a union of conservative monarchical states clinging to domination in the central region of the world. A forced union of former rivals against a common enemy, compensates for its technological backwardness with a development balance between agriculture and industry. Having lost almost a quarter of its population in the Great War, in the post-war period it was almost split from within by crumbling empires and national liberation movements. Constant riots, insurrections and civil wars, mass poverty amid the luxury and wealth of untouchable despotic aristocrats all cast challenges on the young Alliance, which consists entirely of contradictions.
- Northern League - a self-isolated and mystic bloc of races, nations and countries, united as satellites around the totalitarian elven state, the oldest known race. Forged by constant conflicts with mankind and remembrance of old grudges, northern elves spent more than a thousand years studying artifacts and restoring the knowledge of the Forerunner race, multiplying their magical skills while in the rest of the world technology supplanted the magic. This is the most fantastical and magic-heavy faction of the setting, almost exclusively having full access to fancy magic stuff. Their lag in industrial strength is balanced out by enchanted weapons and technomagic devices, for example, they can raise old fortresses in the air. Dragon-bombers? Check. Trolls with hand cannons? Check. Troopers with magic rayguns? Check. Machines made of living metal, fueled by the dying person imprisoned in them? Oh, boy…
- Albian Commonwealth - a bloc of formally independent satellites ruled by the Albian Empire. It is an island-based colonial power, ruling the seas and controlling a large portion of international trade, as well as the development and exploitation of Aborigines in the colonies. Slavery, class and racial segregation are also flourishing in the Commonwealth. However, if you were born a free person in the Commonwealth, then you have many ways to find your place in life. Once in the past, Albia was just a distant province of the Ecumenical Empire, splitting from it during the Dark Ages. Separatists formed a political system around the union of guilds, traders, mercenaries and pirates, which allowed them to capitalize on their advantageous geographical position and control the main oceanic trade routes. They also started a era of great geographical discoveries.
You can also read parts of the lore on our Patreon page.
This Kickstarter goes towards finishing the game and producing the Interbellum RPG as a digital product. Basically, the game will come out as set of two PDF books (Player’s book and Game Master’s book), 200+ pages in total. The player book will consist of a basic ruleset, character archetypes, equipment lists and introduction to the setting. The master's book will contain game mechanics for the wizard, adventure scenarios and the hidden part of the game's lore - various secrets of the setting that you can use to create your own adventures. Most of the illustrations will be black and white, only a handful will be colored. Also, as bonus will come downloadable and printable player’s lists.
Starting with the Officer tier, you can get an artbook that will contain canonical illustrations and sketches. All drawings will be supplied with signatures and a history of the origin and design selection, This will give a deeper plunge into the setting.
Since Kickstarter does not allow the editing of tier descriptions if they already have backers, we will announce the changes personally:
- At the request of the people, we upgrade the final tier, now it will contain the reward from the previous War Hero tier (using the backer’s appearance for a character in the book).
- Volunteer tier after the release of the game will receive a coupon to pay only for the printing and delivery of a softcover book.
- Officer tier and higher will receive a coupon for the hardcover book. This will be done through DriveThruRPG and their Print-on-Demand service.
$4000 - REACHED!
«Tank Warfare» expansion - a detailed ruleset for tank warfare and the tanker class, special scenarios of tank battles and mechanized warfare, with a wide range of additional armored vehicles for each faction. Also, cavalry!
$5000 - REACHED!
Campaigns as new game mode - a certain chain of scenarios associated with a meta-story, conducted on one large map and having elements of strategic game mechanics. Plus improved design of the rulebooks, with more detailed small countries and races.
$6000 - REACHED!
«Sky Crawlers» expansion - air battles, marine landing operations, airships, possibly flying islands, air bases and other air-related stuff. Also, new avian bird-like race
«Eldritch Arcana» expansion - tons of magic artifacts, new game mechanics with magical powers, fantastic beasts and where to find them. In addition, new scenarios for adventurers. Break into the pyramid and fight against curse of the ancient kings? Stop military experiments with summoned demons and legions of the undead? Meet dark gods and realize your own insignificance? Yes, all this will be here.
«Crimson Tides» expansion - naval operations, amphibious machines, new regions and scenarios for deserters and simply adventurers in colonies and remote places. New races too: amphibian Xsotls, Nagas and other reptiloid species. In addition, all or most illustrations will be fully coloured.
Since we understand that we are not big names in the gaming industry, our needs are very low. $3000 is the minimum required for the starter edition with minimal content and some simplified mechanics (tank battles for example). It is impossible to cover the entire large setting in the first book, so we are starting with a small goal. The game will be released in English and Russian languages.
Our calculations for the expenditure of received funds:
10% - commission expenses, KS and Stripe share.
15% - for editing of texts and formatting content into PDF books.
50% - for the artists work, i.e. creating illustrations.
25% - for game design.
Our team consists of many people who worked or somehow participate in game industry Some of us have already have a few released or still developed games. However, this is our first experience with tabletop games.
Our key team members:
Maxim Krylov aka Watcher - main author and game designer. Bio and details on Linkedin page.
- Connor Douglas aka Mindtraveller - young game designer who studies in Savannah College of Art and Design.
- Vasily Khazykov aka TugoDoomer - well known as artist for such projects as Insomnia: The Ark, Total Extinction and Hydrophilia tabletop wargames and etc.
If you have ideas, questions or business proposals concerning my work - just write to us or in comments section.
Risks and challenges
This is our first Kickstarter, but some of our team members worked on various games, and the game is already far along in development. We also have a fallback source of capital to cover things if real disaster strikes, ensuring we will deliver so long as civilization persists.
We certainly did not promise unfulfillable goals and rewards. It has long been known that there are some indie developers who promise too much, such as printed books or similar material awards, It is often difficult to calculate physical delivery obligations, so we only offer digital content. Perhaps, if we reach several stretch goals, then we will think about printing soft-cover rulebooks, but not earlier.
We expect that we will be able to complete the development in one year. Half a year will be spent on completing the development of rules and their testing, the next six months will be devoted to the creation of missions, scenarios, their maps, printed templates and other content, and their testing too. Of course, we can give more optimistic promises like “we will do this in 6-8 months”, but we look soberly at the development process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)