Embrace the savage darkness of post-Roman Britain with Wolves of God, a semi-historical tabletop RPG from the creator of Stars Without Number, Godbound, Scarlet Heroes, and other best-selling role-playing games.
It is the year 710 of our Lord as brother Bede reckons it. The barbaric English have long since swept over Britain, their passage shrouded by the smoke of burning cities. For six generations they have been masters of the best part of the island, driving the native Britons before them with bloody iron or taking them as thralls and subjects, until the wretched heirs of the Roman kings can have refuge only in the western mountains or the cold northern lands. The magnificent Roman cities of old have been thrown down, the roads have grown wild and perilous, and even the kings of the English must live in thatched wooden halls and ride from one royal villa to the next merely to feed their companions. It is an age of darkness, poverty, and unsleeping war.
Four generations ago the English turned Christian under the ministrations of Roman missionaries and Irish monks. Scattered across their untamed lands are the minsters of these clergy, strongholds of learning and Roman civilization against the hard ways of the English tribes. Only in the minsters can stone buildings be found, with windows of glass and artisan-monks fashioning wonders to adorn their altars and reward the generosity of great lords. Brave abbots and wise abbesses rule these strongholds, always seeking to lift their kinsmen from their cruel ways and iniquities, and always in need of strong heroes to help them in their work.
Yet there are worse things in the dark than raiding warbands and embittered pagan remnants. The Roman sorcerers, the Artifexes of old, carved cysts into the world where they and their slaves could hide from the fury of the English. These Arxes were sealed until help could come, but help never did; now they canker and rot, old magic gone sour and strange, and those that dwell within them have been terribly changed. The Arxes burst open within the fallen Roman cities, monstrous beasts and twisted men going forth to scourge the innocent and take revenge for the crime of their conquest. The minsters stand fast against their diabolic power, but the abbots and lords need brave heroes to venture into the cities and purge these Arxes of evil before they can swell greater still.
You are one such hero. Whether a spear-wise gesith, a young ceorl of broad back and stout heart, a wild-eyed waelcyrige-maiden of battle, a charm-muttering galdorman, or even a blessed and pious saint, your ambition is to earn a deathless name of glory and an honored place among your people. Whether offering your aid to warring lords, plundering the riches of fallen Roman cities, delving the dark halls of a festering Arx, or acting as agents of some cunning abbot, you will dare great deeds with your brave warband of companions and win yourself a place in the songs of kings… or a nameless grave in some blighted earth.
Wolves of God is built on classic old-school gaming lines and is fully compatible with Stars Without Number: Revised. It requires only slight tweaking to be used with other Sine Nomine Publishing games or games derived from B/X or early TSR role-playing games. Yet like all Sine Nomine games, it's built to provide abundant system-neutral GM support for those who want to use their own favorite system to have blood-curdling adventures in the savage wilds of Dark Ages England.
Within the final version of the game, you'll get….
- Old-school character creation to build English heroes with destined wyrds and backgrounds that fit their society.
- Historically-informed magic for sorcerous Galdormen and suitable holy miracles for pious Saints.
- Systems to support not only conventional adventuring, but culturally-critical activities such as cattle raiding and ceremonial feasting.
- Descriptions of English society and culture written to focus on adventuring possibilities and game-relevant aspects of the world. Need a barbarian culture for your own world? Just reflavor the English and get the historically-coherent society you need.
- Special focus on building minsters and using them as home bases for classic adventuring bands, guidelines that can easily be translated to other fantasy worlds.
- System-neutral adventure creation tools for building culturally-specific adventures around noble intrigue, Roman caestercrawling, Arx-delving, and wilderness journeying.
- A bestiary of savage English monsters both historical and fanciful, with tools for randomizing their powers and presenting fresh mysteries for those who battle them.
- Guidelines for warband mass combat and barbarian lordship, where the might of a lord is fundamentally tied to the loyalty of his faithful hall-friends and the strength of their spears.
- A gazetteer of Dark Ages England, with a map of the land and a dramatis personae of historical personages who can fuel adventure for a brave warband.
And as mentioned before, all of these tools are compatible with Stars Without Number: Revised, allowing you to mix and match components to fit your own wild tales of lostworlder barbarians venturing among the stars or strange metal artifacts to find in the depths of some Roman Arx. The majority of the GM tools in the book are entirely system-neutral, so you can use the bulk of this volume with any game of your choice.
Backers can download the draft version of these rules immediately upon pledging, so you can see for yourself what the current rough draft looks like and decide whether or not it's something you can use for your own table. With the existing draft, you could be playing this very game tonight if you hit that pledge button now. Just check the first backer-only campaign update for the link.
Wolves of God is being offered in three formats. While I've conducted a half-dozen successful Kickstarters thus far, this game is my first venture into offset printing, and so I'm making a special edition available here for the first time ever.
The PDF edition of the game consists of the Wolves of God PDF file and the EPUB and MOBI format versions if that stretch goal is achieved. On the successful completion of the book, backers will get codes that will allow them to add the PDF and other files to their DriveThruRPG account.
The POD edition of the game consists of a 5.5x8.5 inch digest-sized hardcover in DriveThruRPG's standard color print format, printed by Lightning Source and shipped via DriveThruRPG. All POD pledge levels include the PDF and other electronic files as well. Both PDFs and PODs will be shipped as soon as the book is finalized.
The deluxe offset print version is currently planned to be a luxurious 5.5x8.5 inch digest bound in burgundy faux-leather with debossed gold leaf titling, a rounded and backed spine, and raised banding on the spine. Brother Bede himself could not object to the classic look of this codex. As with the POD version, all offset print backers will get the PDF and other electronic files. While I expect to sell some print overage on the order through my webstore or Amazon, this print run is not expected to be repeated, and if you don't grab this now I wouldn't bet on being able to get it later. Deluxe edition books will be shipped as soon as they are printed and delivered to my fulfillment house, which is apt to be about four months after the PDFs/PODs are released.
Note that while I am doing my best to accommodate international backers, the price for shipping these books outside of the US is brutal. The POD version can be printed by Lightning Source in the EU, thus controlling the shipping costs for those countries, but the offset book needs to be shipped from Traverse City, MI and there is no cheap way to do that. In some cases, there is not even a price-feasible way to do that.
To keep things simple, I have restricted the number of pledge levels down to a bare few.
Ceorls will receive the Wolves of God PDF and any associated electronic formats. They'll get these rewards in the form of codes that will add these books to their DriveThruRPG account, ensuring they can re-download them later and be kept up to date on any updates to the files.
Walhas will get the PDF and an at-cost POD print code. This is a code that will let them order a POD copy of the book from DriveThruRPG at its minimum print cost, currently estimated at $16.28. They will be responsible for shipping costs. This pledge level is for backers who think they might want to get a paper copy of the book, but prefer to postpone the decision for later. It's also for those backers who live in countries that are not practical for me to ship to, allowing them to shoulder the shipping costs if they really do want the paper book. These at-cost print codes will not time out, so they'll have plenty of time to think about it.
Gesiths will get the PDF and a POD print copy mailed to them. This level folds in the shipping costs so no additional payment is required; as a consequence, however, I can only offer it to certain countries. Those of other lands who want a print copy are advised to pick the Walha pledge level.
The generous Ealdorman gets the PDF and the deluxe faux-leather-bound offset print version mailed to them, along with their name in the backer credits page. The base pledge level includes shipment to a US address. Shipping to Canada, the UK, and the EU is also available for an additional shipping charge. Unfortunately, shipping elsewhere in the world is sadly impractical at this level of volume.
Lastly, the venerable Bisceop gets everything the Ealdorman gets, but also an at-cost POD code that will let them order the print book from DriveThruRPG for its printing cost plus shipping. This pledge level is for backers who want the very best quality of book, but also don't want to have to wait the extra time for it to be printed before they can get a paper copy to read or use at the table. This level lets them get it for considerably less than simply buying it at retail once it comes out.
After the campaign is over, the book is complete, and all rewards have been shipped, the PDF and POD will be sold through DriveThruRPG. The offset print version will have the leftover copies sold through my website and Amazon, but there is no guarantee there will be many of those and I have no plans for an additional print run. If you want to be sure of getting that splendid artifact you'll need to pledge now.
At $35,000, I'll release all art commissioned for this project for royalty-free use, both commercial and personal. I've arranged to pay the artists for full rights to the pieces specifically so I can share it with other small RPG publishers and backers for their own use. I make this a policy on every Kickstarter I can work it for, as the hobby has given me so much that it seems ceorlisc not to give something back to other publishers.
At $45,000 I will create no-art EPUB and MOBI versions of the PDF as stripped-down, tablet-friendly files for easy table use. This is going to be a considerable challenge given the sidebar notes in the book, but if the backers want it this badly, I'll grit my teeth and do it.
Those are the only two stretch goals. No t-shirts, no dice sets, no commemorative drinking horns, no supplementary products. Stretch goals can kill, and I don't need to be getting fancy on my first offset print project. I succeeded in my last six Kickstarters because I concentrated on delivering what I had already promised to deliver, not by trying to wring a few extra dollars out of people.
The Risks section below has my disaster plan in case this project completely blows up in my face, but it's also worth laying out some basic fallback plans I have in case this thing turns out to be a hairier ride than I planned.
My current printer is in China, via PrintNinja as an intermediary. Given the exciting economic situation right now between China and the US, it is not totally inconceivable that getting printed books from there to here might prove suddenly impractical between now and the KS's due date.
If it becomes impossible to get the deluxe version printed as planned by the Chinese printer, whether for logistical reasons or economic changes, I will seek to have it printed by a US printer. This US printer may or may not be able to provide all the features that are planned for the deluxe version; the faux-leather cover, the rounded and backed spine, the raised banding, or the gold foil debossing. I will do my best to provide all the features possible within the budget of the Kickstarter, but I cannot guarantee them if I have to switch printers mid-stream.
If the US printer cannot provide a book that is fundamentally superior to the POD version at a price I can afford, I will regrade Ealdorman pledge levels to Gesith, sending them POD books instead and refunding them the difference in their shipping and pledge levels, less Kickstarter's cut. I would greatly prefer not to do this, of course, but I note it here as a possibility.
In the same vein, I may need to make alterations and changes to the specifics of the offset book based on unforeseen eventualities and process requirements. I've never done an offset print run before, so I'm expecting there will be exciting, expensive new things to learn along the way. I pledge to do my honest best to give you the same or better book than the one described in the pledge level.
In all cases of alteration and adjustment I will explain the economics or rationale involved to all backers and give them the numbers that justify the choice. This is very much an experimental Kickstarter for me, but it's only fair that you all see the same numbers I see.
Risks and challenges
Wolves of God is highly experimental for me in that it is the first book I will be printing with offset printing rather than as a print-on-demand book. While I'm confident I've scouted the potential problems adequately and given myself enough time for completion, it's only common sense to have an explicit wind-down procedure recorded in case of unrecoverable disaster.
If the campaign is not completely fulfilled by one year after the designated deadline, or if the situation changes such that its completion seems impossible, then the campaign will be considered a failed campaign and the following wind-down procedure will come into effect. If the print books and other rewards exist at that time but have simply not completed shipment for some reason, the campaign will continue unless that shipping appears wholly impractical for the foreseeable future.
First, if sufficient funds remain by the time failure seems inevitable and the book itself is completed, all backers that would normally receive deluxe offset-printed copies will receive POD versions shipped to them. Digital rewards will be fulfilled as normal.
Second, if insufficient funds remain for the above but the book itself is completed, all backers that would normally receive printed copies will receive at-cost POD coupons for purchasing the printed book through DriveThruRPG. Digital rewards will be fulfilled as normal.
Third, if the book is incomplete or not print-ready, all backers will receive digital copies of all content as it stands at the point of campaign failure. If all I've got is an unedited, scruffy file, then you'll get that unedited, scruffy file.
Fourth, all remaining funds after the above steps will be refunded to the participants on a pro-rated basis.
Fifth, a full accounting will be provided indicating where the money went and why the campaign cannot be completed successfully.
The primary failure point in the campaign is in the book printing and fulfillment. If I spend a great deal of money to get the book printed, but those books are lost, pulped, or fail to be shipped without timely refund of the money, the campaign may not have the funds to repeat the process. If that's the case, I certainly won't be able to afford sending more-expensive POD copies to everyone, and will have to fall back to distributing at-cost coupons for people to purchase their own. In order to minimize this risk, I would prefer to keep enough money in reserve to do two separate print runs in case the first one goes up in flames, or enough to risk a print run while keeping back enough to do a POD shipment to backers in case of disaster. The practicality of this, of course, depends on how successful the campaign is and how much money I can raise up front.
The current printer for the project is in China, and prudent management requires recognizing that the situation with Chinese prices and shipments is somewhat volatile at present. As a backup, I am looking for a US printer to handle the print run in the case that China ceases to be a viable option between now and the fulfillment deadline. Ideally, I would prefer to keep enough funds back to handle an entire second print run with this printer in the case of catastrophic failure, but again, that will depend on the success of the Kickstarter. In addition, printer failure may require the revision of the deluxe version and the elimination of certain elements such as faux-leather covers depending on the US printer's capabilities and the campaign's available funds.
I've handled a half-dozen Kickstarter campaigns and roughly $300K in backer funds without being so much as a day late on fulfillment. I'm confident I can manage this campaign as well, but part of managing it requires that I have a clearly-explained process for when reality decides otherwise. Hopefully none of the procedures above will have to be invoked, but they're there so you can see that the possibilities have been considered and contingency plans have been made.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)