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Old-school sword & sorcery heroics for a single player and GM.
Old-school sword & sorcery heroics for a single player and GM.
1,001 backers pledged $18,140 to help bring this project to life.

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$18,140

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The crimson mist churns a hundred miles from shore, red with the blood of a butchered world. Here in the Sunset Isles the last fragments of humanity struggle to withstand the fury of the native Shou and the corruption within their own divided ranks. Hard-eyed men and women brood in the waterfront dives and shabby tea houses, selling their swords for a few bright coins or the promise of a dead man's treasures. In the wilderness, the lost cities of vanished empires and fallen races lie deep within the jungle shroud, and the desperate efforts of colonists and refugees strain to contain the horrors that threaten them on every side.

It is a time for legends. It is a time for fearless warriors and eldritch adepts to rise from this hard-pressed people and defend them from the nightmare that threatens to engulf them all. The wealth of ages awaits those steely souls with the courage to cast down the guardians and break the vaults of the festering dead. A new world struggles to be born from the red ruin of the old. It is in need of scarlet heroes.

Scarlet Heroes is an old-school tabletop role-playing game designed to provide classic sword and sorcery gaming for one player and one gamemaster. Unlike most other RPGs, Scarlet Heroes is built to support one-on-one play, with no need for a full-fledged party of adventurers to provide an evening's entertainment. Whether for a spouse, kid, curious friend, or just as an alternative to boardgames for those nights when only one or two friends can make it to the gaming session, Scarlet Heroes gives you the tools for good old-fashioned skull-cracking adventure.

Scarlet Heroes can be used both as a stand-alone RPG and as an overlay over your favorite old-school game to make its adventures playable for single PCs or very small groups. It shares the same classic statistics and basic game mechanisms as these old-school favorites, but by changing the interpretation of these numbers it makes it possible for a single courageous adventurer to dare perils that would otherwise threaten a half-dozen freebooters. With Scarlet Heroes, a GM can pull out a favorite module, grab a convenient friend, and a have a full night's adventure with no tweaking, alteration, or adjustment of the material needed.

Why This Game?

We've all had occasions where we'd love to run a session for a single person: maybe a spouse, maybe a kid, maybe a friend who's curious about this whole "RPG" thing. You can't always get a group together just to play a session with them, and even if you could the brutal mechanics and ruthless fragility of life common to a lot of old-school adventuring can put off a new player raised on different fare. Scarlet Heroes lets you run your existing content for them without spending lengthy prep time to adjust everything for survivability by a single hero. Furthermore, it lets a new player actually be a hero from the very first moment of play- a grim-handed adventurer who fears no petty evil, one who reaps a red harvest of lesser foes and leaves even great enemies wary of their blade.

The game's presentation is modeled on the classic editions of yore; a full ten levels of dauntless courage tucked neatly into 128 crisp black-and-white pages with line-art illustration. Short enough to be an easy read, yet long enough to contain the tools you need for your gaming. In particular, you'll find...

  • A full stand-alone RPG system that can also be used as an overlay atop most popular old-school games.

  • The Red Tide campaign setting as a default for the game, with a full bestiary of Southeast Asian-inspired monsters, suitable new magic items, and a full list of new cleric and magic-user spells for that setting.

  • Sixty new adventure tags of the sort beloved in Stars Without Number and the Red Tide Campaign Setting sourcebook. Mix and match to fashion your own perilous circumstance.

  • Solo adventure tools for genuine single-player RPG gaming. Mix your own creativity with table results to create a narrative for your own hero's adventure... or use them as inspiration in crafting something for a group.

  • Five crisp new maps by Dyson Logos, unkeyed and ready to be filled by your own creativity.

With so many old-school games already available, it's not enough to just put out another iteration of the classics. Scarlet Heroes is more- it's a toolkit to help you turn your existing games into a new style of play and a sourcebook for fueling your own demiurgic powers of creation.

Why Do You Need The Money?

Scarlet Heroes is text and layout-complete. I've written and edited it already and arranged it in the intended beta layout. The only thing it lacks is art and a proofing pass. I'll be releasing the low-art beta to all backers at the start of the campaign and I'll be integrating their comments and error finds as I wait for the last of the art to come in.

That art will be financed by you. I've gotten a stable of excellent artists together to work on this project, including Eric Lofgren, Earl Geier, Miguel Santos, Joyce Maureira, Luigi Castellani, Nate Furman, David Johnson, Ian MacLean, and the map stylings of Dyson Logos. They've been working for me for two months now, so the workflow is smooth and clean and the art is coming in on a daily basis.

Keeping it coming requires cash. That's where you come in. Your backing supports these artists and ensures that the project gets finished in a timely fashion. If the project doesn't fund, it clearly means that people aren't all that interested in this game and that I should just pay off the artists and try something else. I'm confident that your verdict will be otherwise.

What Are The Pledge Levels?

PDF Backers can pledge $10 to get the DRM-free Scarlet Heroes PDF when it's released, and the low-art beta immediately by means of a backer-exclusive update. Pledge now and you can be playing within minutes.

Self-serve POD Backers can pledge $20 to get everything the PDF Backers get, plus a code to buy either the softcover or hardcover print copy of Scarlet Heroes at-cost from DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, amounting to a roughly $10 savings as compared to waiting for its print release. Softcover copies can be expected to cost around $6 and hardcovers should be around $11.

Why go with self-serve POD instead of conventional shipping? Because it's cheaper for you, cheaper for me, and fairer to everybody. People who want print copies can get them through OneBookshelf's partnership with print centers around the globe, including international printers that can get books to Europe and further parts at much cheaper rates than anything an American shipper could provide. It also lets you choose your preferred shipping mode, paying for the delivery you want instead of the delivery I choose to offer. International buyers don't have to subsidize each others' shipping rates and nobody has to pay a percentage of their shipping fees just to handle the Kickstarter cut of the take.

From my perspective, it also eliminates one of the most murderous threats to successful Kickstarter execution- the shipping monster. By handing it off to the professionals at OneBookshelf, you're now served by an expert group of people whose entire business revolves around getting you the books you want. By going with self-serve POD, you can have confidence that the money for printing and shipping is not going to magically disappear somewhere between your bank account and my balance statement because it is still in your pocket.

Munificent Patron Backers can give $30 or more out of sheer noble open-handedness. In addition to getting everything with the two earlier levels, their names will be included in a special backer's page in the book as a thanks for their encouragement and help.

Languorous Harbingers can spend $80 or more to display their satisfaction with my humble offerings and their distaste for the grubby matters of mere commerce. At this level, they receive everything from the earlier levels, save that I will go to the trouble of ordering and shipping a hardcover copy of the game to their address through OneBookshelf, sparing them the association with tradesmen. The $80 price tag is because I'd much rather be writing than doing shipping work, and also to cover me in the case of shipping to some $50 destination. But in addition to this service, because patrons of this level have displayed a very keen and enthusiastic interest in my work, I'll give them a special sneak peek at the draft pages of Silent Legions, my upcoming modern Lovecraftian horror game built to be a standalone companion game to Stars Without Number. While the game is but partial and extravagantly beta, it's still 50+ pages of playable material heretofore unobtainable by conventional means.

What Are the Stretch Goals?

At $3,000 you've demonstrated that people want this book and that it's worth my time to finish it. You get all the goods you've backed.

At $5,000, you persuade me that enough people are interested in this game that I should cut the book down into a free 32-page quickstart you can hand around to interested friends, along with a link to buy the print version of the quickstart at cost- which is probably about $2 a copy.

At $8,000 you have demonstrated open-handed generosity, and I reciprocate by releasing all the art I've bought for Scarlet Heroes into the public domain. I made a point of negotiating full rights with the artists so I had the ability to offer this giveback to the community.

At $12,000 your munificence compels me to rework Scarlet Heroes for .mobi and .epub, creating versions usable on tablets and ereaders. Don't expect wonders here, as this level would fund my education on the topic, but you can at least expect something readable by the deadline.

Why Should I Trust You?

Because I've done this before to great success. In my prior Spears of the Dawn Kickstarter the rewards for many of the backers started shipping months early. I know how to manage product development and get a book out the door on time. Backers will have proof of this completion sitting on their hard drives within minutes of pledging.

For further reference, you can check out the Sine Nomine Publishing offerings over at DriveThruRPG, including the free Stars Without Number sci-fi RPG. I wrote, laid out, produced, and published every one of those games and supplements myself over the course of the past three years, learning more with every new book. There are certainly finer game authors and more elegant publishers, but I execute like a Jacobin- because getting a job done on time and to spec is its own special sort of beauty.

Risks and challenges

The biggest risk relates to my status as a sole creator and publisher. If I get hit by a truck or otherwise rendered hors du combat, the project stops cold. I've mitigated this worst-case situation by ensuring that text of Scarlet Heroes was finished before I started the Kickstarter. If I pop an aneurysm at least you'll still have the text-complete, fully playable game in hand.

The other risk results from my dependence on the artists who've signed up for the work. I need to rely on them to produce the art to fill the slots and get the book in condition to go to the printer. If they flake or get eaten by life difficulties then I'm going to have to shift the work elsewhere at an additional cost in time. Fortunately, the artists I've got have proven their reliability thus far and I've arranged the art production workflow to automatically put more of the work on the shoulders of the fastest artists. I've also had them working for me for two months now, so the shakedown period's over and they're all working artfully in their respective grooves.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    PDF REWARDS: Get a DRM-free PDF copy of Scarlet Heroes. You can mmediately download the low-art beta, which is text-complete and ready to play. Yes, you can be playing the game before the KS even funds.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    SELF-SERVE POD: Get the PDF rewards as above. Get the chance to buy softcover or hardcover copies of Scarlet Heroes from DriveThruRPG/RPGNow at-cost, saving approximately $10 off the cover price and ensuring the lowest possible shipping thanks to multiple printers worldwide.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    MUNIFICENT PATRON: Get all the rewards of the self-serve POD level. In addition, your name goes on a special backer thanks page in the book, along with receiving my earnest gratitude for your enthusiastic aid.

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    LANGUOROUS HARBINGER: Overcome by lassitude, you command that these treasures be brought before your opalescent throne. At this level you get everything from the prior levels, plus I take care of the ordering and shipping of a hardbound copy to any location that the printer can reach at no additional shipping cost. You also get a 50-page sneak preview of my next game, Silent Legions.

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Funding period

- (30 days)