Godbound is a tabletop role-playing game of newborn divinities awakening to unimaginable power. These men and women find themselves bound to the Words of Creation, the primal powers of a fallen cosmos where the Throne of God stands empty.
The world is shattered, its scattered realms racked by the aftershocks of the Last War and the final terrible struggle of the Made Gods who strove to replace the vanished Creator. Some realms have been reduced to nothing more than blasted wastelands and silent bones, while others still endure in faded splendor and growing hardship. Their natural laws flicker, for the great engines of Heaven have begun to fail from lack of care. Their angelic guardians were long ago dispersed by the Made Gods and now nurse a bitter hatred of humanity's usurpation.
There are heroes still, and shining cities, and peaceful villages where a son may grow old in his father's trade, but these things darken with each new year's passage. The world winds down by slow inches. Into this twilight age have come the Godbound. Some say that it is the decaying husks of the Made Gods that give them their power, gobbets of divinity falling like rot to congeal about the souls of humankind. Others believe that it is the work of the Creator, reaching out from Their silence to touch Their creations with new light. Most do not pretend to know why it is that a common peasant girl should ignite with the sun's own brilliance, or a grizzled old soldier should suddenly find half an army falling before his notched blade.
The Godbound bring hope and terror in equal measure. Even the freshly-awakened among them have incredible powers, able to hurl thunderbolts like lesser men throw stones, or spit curses that kill five generations of their enemy's kin. They are burnt to ashes, and rise anew. They are buried under hillsides, and shout the stones apart. They sing up gold from barren earth or pour out an autumn harvest from their saddlebags. They work miracles, and men tremble.
Yet they are men and women, with the dreams that men and women dream. Some are saviors, determined to lift their people from their hardships and lead them to a better day. Others are mercenaries, lending their aid to whatever lord or sorcerer-prince can pay them in suitable coin. And some, of course, are blind fools who wield their powers with the recklessness of children, building their dreams on the bones of the poor mortals around them. There are few who can gainsay a Godbound's will.
Even so, such terrible powers do exist. In the wilderness the wretched parasite gods swell on stolen celestial power, sucking the world's blood from its wounds. Grim eldritch adepts plumb nameless secrets and forge pacts with the monstrous Uncreated for power enough to tax even a divinity. Hulking Misbegotten shamble from the darkness and bring their numberless spawn behind them. These and other foes can force a Godbound to flee or perish if the newborn wielder of the Words hasn't the help of a faithful pantheon of allies.
The heroes of Godbound are hurled into a world unprepared for their coming. They will shake the pillars of fallen Heaven and scar the thrones of the kings of earth. Some will seek adventure, others the pleasures of rule, and a few no more than the small and homely things that fate would conspire to deny them. Yet what they will find, in the end, only you can say.
What Does Godbound Offer?
Godbound is a tabletop role-playing game from Sine Nomine Publishing built specifically to support the tremendous deeds and realm-changing ambitions of demigod PCs. Forget zero-to-hero; characters in Godbound start off as legendary powers. From the very first game session they have the gifts and abilities necessary to fulfill their role as throne-shaking wild cards in a world that is slowly crumbling around them.
Yet this support isn't just for the players. Godbound is built in the classic Sine Nomine Publishing style, fabricated from the very start with the tools, techniques, and resources a GM needs to actually support demigod PCs and their doings. Godbound doesn't leave you alone to guess at the sort of things these heroes might be challenged by, or invite you to handwave the results of their deeds and ambitions. It gives you solid mechanics and clear tools to make a GM's job a pleasure rather than a grim test of ingenuity.
Godbound's mechanics are inspired by the classic old-school role-playing games of the early eighties, streamlined in ways informed by more modern design trends. While the single core book contains everything you need to play a campaign, you can also pull in content from these other old-school games and slot it swiftly into your campaign. You won't run out of content for your far-faring heroes when you can draw from forty years worth of creative effort to flesh out your campaign world or divert your players.
Even those GMs who don't actually want to use the mechanics that Godbound provides can get value from the book. The faction system that handles PC interaction with kingdoms and cabals and the change-creating system that manages their efforts to induce large-scale alterations in a place are both easily lifted and exported to other gaming systems. There are dozens of pages of GM tools for building noble courts, perilous ruins, or interesting obstacles to a goal, all system-neutral as well, and all meant to be slipped in conveniently into almost any fantasy role-playing game.
While I'm proud of the playability and flexibility of Godbound, I recognize that some GMs will want to use other systems with the tools I provide. In the traditional Sine Nomine Publishing fashion, I've made a point of building the book so it's still useful to people who prefer to use other systems, and still gives them their money's worth in resources and toolkits.
The funds raised with this Kickstarter will support the creation of a free PDF version of Godbound containing everything necessary to play the game, much as I have done with my award-winning Stars Without Number sci-fi RPG. This free version will help ensure that you have an easy time picking up additional players for your table. Beyond this, there will be an additional deluxe version that backers will receive as part of their pledge. In this deluxe edition are about 40 more pages of content, including:
- Rules for creating mortal PCs, both common men and women struggling to survive and those heroes who can threaten even the Godbound.
- Guidelines for the theotechnical cyberware of the Bright Republic and the enchanted clockwork augmentations of Vissio.
- The terrible godwalkers of the Last War and the rules for building and running these titanic humanoid engines of sorcerous war.
- The dread Witch-Queens of the Ulstang Skerries and their draugr thralls, both as opponents for your Godbound PCs and examples of how to create major enemies.
- The True Strifes, divine martial arts patterned on the primordial conflicts of nature and passion. A half-dozen styles are described for the use of PCs and enemies, with each style trimmed with a premade NPC nemesis for easy campaign use.
- Rules for building divine Paradises as citadels and soul-refuges for the Godbound and their worshipers. Defend your heavens against the machinations of your immortal foes!
- Themed Godbound, for campaigns and settings that have particular flavors and styles to individual types of Godbound. These rules help you build your own types for your campaign, or use pre-made varieties for heroic paragons of human capability, primordial shapeshifters, refugees from hostile destinies, or elemental scions.
What Do I Get For Backing Godbound?
The Godbound Kickstarter is meant to finance the admirable work of artists like Tan Ho Sim, Aaron Lee, Joyce Maureira, Maxime Plasse, and other noble wielders of the digital brush. In exchange for your support, I'm offering these pledge levels.
At the WORD OF CREATION backer level, you'll get the Godbound Deluxe Core PDF for $19 USD and any stretch goals that are unlocked in PDF. While a free version of Godbound will be offered to the general public, backers will get the deluxe version, which includes about an extra 40 pages of material to further flesh out the game and provide additional options to the GMs and players.
At the ARCHITECT OF HEAVEN backer level, for $25 USD you'll get the above, and an at-cost print code for purchasing either a standard-color or premium-color hardback of the game from DriveThruRPG. Your name will also appear on the backer credits page in the PDF and print versions.
Note that at this level, you'll still have to pay for the print cost, which is estimated to be around $13 for standard color and $30 for premium color. You'll also need to pay shipping, which is currently around $5 for North American or European addresses, and more for other destinations.
Why am I giving backers at-cost print codes instead of shipping the books myself? Because DriveThruRPG is a more professional, reliable, and experienced printer and shipper than I could ever be. With their printing plants on multiple continents, you're guaranteed the lowest possible shipping cost and a decade-plus of operational experience put behind getting you your book. You also get to keep the money until you're actually ready to have the book, ensuring that I cannot possibly spend it on scotch and terrible decisions.
I've used at-cost print codes for my latest three successful Kickstarter campaigns, and every time it has proved an enormous benefit to my backers. It's safer, it's surer, and it keeps your money in your hands until you're about to get your book.
For the patrons of the MADE GOD backer level, I offer the benefits of the prior two levels for $100 USD, plus I will use DriveThruRPG's ordering function to order them a premium-color Godbound hardback for delivery to any address that DTRPG can reach, allowing them to pledge once and then forget it until their book arrives. I've limited this level to 100 backers at most, however, to ensure that I don't have too many of these pledges to fulfill personally through DTRPG's ordering interface.
MADE GODS also have permission to simply hand the deluxe core PDF to other players and GMs at their table, whether they're meeting virtually or in the flesh. Want to get your friends together for a game of Godbound, and want to use options that aren't in the free PDF version? Go ahead and email them the DRM-free PDF, and if anybody sasses you, just point to your name on the backer credit page.
In addition, noble MADE GODS will be given access to the book's InDesign source files and art along with permission to use these files to create their own private Godbound editions for personal use and distribution to players in your game. Go ahead and edit in your house rules, change the cover, print it out to PDF and stick it up as a private Lulu printing for you and your table. Don't have InDesign? I'll include the file in .IDML format as well, so you can use the free Scribus desktop publishing software to edit it. Note that some expertise on your part will be needed to edit the file, but I'll try to make it as painless as possible.
Yet beyond this there is a final tier, a tier possible only through the mad alchemy of modern print-on-demand technology. The glorious ENTHRONED is singular, and this noble-handed patron of the arts shall receive a bespoke edition of Godbound in addition to the rewards of the earlier levels.
For $2,500 USD I will commission a private cover for them to their specifications. I will include a personalized encomium to their high-minded patronage of the arts in the book's text. I will make up to a page worth of house rule edits and changes in the text, layout allowing, and these rules will be canonical in their games. The book will be given an ISBN specific to it and a subtitle including their name, if so desired.
Once the print proof checks out, I will send them a hardback copy of this magnificent work through DriveThruRPG. I will then give them the private code which allows them to order further copies of the book at-cost for their personal use. No one else will be given this code. The book will be theirs, alone and singular, and no copies of it will be sold to anyone else.
Such a bespoke edition would have been quite impossible in older days, when thousands of books were printed at a time. Even more recently, publishers have attempted to woo backers with the promise of ornate and costly volumes done as short-run specialties. Yet now, with the coming of print-on-demand technology, it is possible to commission a game designer to make a book specifically for you, and you alone. What the mighty ENTHRONED receives with their backing is not simply a book, it is the hired services of a designer, his artists, and his publishing edifice to place a singular work of creation in their hands. To my knowledge, there is no other option like it presently on the market.
What Are the Stretch Goals?
I have very firm feelings about stretch goals. It's my standing policy that no stretch goal should be offered that requires substantial additional uncompleted creative effort. Far too many otherwise-successful Kickstarters have crashed on the rocks of t-shirts and unwritten supplements, and I have no intention of sabotaging myself with excess success. With that in mind, here are the stretch levels for the campaign.
$8,000 will see the campaign a success. Combined with the money I've already laid out, it will fund the color art for Godbound and allow me to get the free PDF to the multitude and the deluxe PDF and print versions to backers.
$11,000 will invoke the Sine Nomine tradition of releasing the project's art for free personal and commercial use. I've arranged with my artists to buy full rights to the pieces I'm commissioning so that I can ultimately share them with you. With this addition to my existing free art packs, it would make roughly twenty thousand dollars worth of art that I've given to the use of the public and other small publishers to encourage them in their own products.
$14,000 would bring about Sixteen Sorrows, a sourcebook of woes and calamities for Godbound and other fantasy games. This thirty-odd page supplement has already been written in draft, but these funds would let me apply proper black-and-white line art and get a good cover made up for it, the art being included in the $11,000 release level. Of the sorrows in the book, you'll find two-page spreads with Sine Nomine style tag tools for building appropriate Antagonists, Friends, Things of importance, Places characteristic to the trouble, and Complications to tangle the situation. Every backer level will get this supplement free in DRM-free PDF.
$17,000 will have me bow to the appeals of those backers who want .mobi and .epub no-art versions of the game, ones they can download onto their ebook readers and page through at their leisure. I will make these versions for the free game, the deluxe game, and Sixteen Sorrows, bundling them along to each backer.
$20,000 will be acknowledged as the market having spoken; you want more Godbound. Beneath this level, it means the market is a little soft for this game. If we earn this much, however, it's a clear indication that the backers are serious about wanting more Godbound material to fuel their divine ambitions, and so the next for-pay Sine Nomine project will be another supplement for Godbound, of a nature to be determined. I don't dare include it as a free bonus at this level because I don't promise anything I haven't already written, but I do promise that I will try to write it next.
Why Should You Trust Me?
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I am extremely good at Kickstarting RPGs. From Spears of the Dawn as my first effort, to Scarlet Heroes, to Silent Legions, to Starvation Cheap, I've set up and executed four RPG Kickstarters, with their rewards all arriving either on time or months early. I don't do it with some ineffable natural gift, I do it because I run my Kickstarters like actual business projects. For details, check out my methods in the freebie Sandbox #1 available at DriveThruRPG.
The free version of Godbound is already text-complete and soft-set in layout. When you pledge, you can download it immediately from the first backer-only update and see for yourself where it stands. The text for Sixteen Sorrows and the deluxe pages of the Godbound core book are also complete in draft, and will be handed over to all backers immediately once the campaign closes out, assuming the stretch goal for Sixteen Sorrows is successful. With the complete free beta rules, however, you'll be able to download a playable game within moments of your pledge.
Risks and challenges
The chief risk springs from the fact that I'm a one-man publishing house. While I've already completed four Kickstarters either on-time or early, I'm still vulnerable to being taken out by some random calamity. I try to minimize this danger by completing as much of the creative work as possible before starting the Kickstarter; after a successful Kickstarter, all I need to do is pay the artists, put the art into the layout slots I've designated, and run the print proofs. I can do that with three broken limbs and a terrible sadness, so I should be good barring a terminal affliction.
The second significant risk is art completion. Both the Godbound deluxe core book and the Sixteen Sorrows stretch goal supplement are draft-complete and soft-set in layout, but the art slots are currently only about 1/3rd complete, and funding the rest is what this Kickstart is about. While I've worked with many of these artists before and I have perfect confidence in their ability to fill the slots on schedule, it's something I don't have the power to personally guarantee. Fortunately, due to the fact that the book's already soft-set in layout, I can add in additional artists on short notice if the monthly progress audits throw up a warning. In the absolute worst-case scenario, I can turn art slots into sidebar fills and place extra text on the page in their place.
Shipping is not an issue, fortunately. The great majority of print backers will be using their at-cost codes with DriveThruRPG, an industry leader in RPG book fulfillment. Even Made God-tier backers will be getting their books ordered for them through DriveThruRPG, ensuring that a truly professional outfit will be arranging the printing, packing, and shipping of their just deserts.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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