Something Is Wrong Here is a Roleplaying Game of uncanny surrealism designed by Kira Magrann. In this game you'll play troubled humans who struggle with their dark pasts and inner demons in order to make meaningful, potentially healing connections with each other. At some small town diner with a neon sign, in a broken down car on the highway, in someone's wallpapered living room, at the old roadhouse down the way, unsettling scenes of Americana unfold as the game heads down it's inevitable nightmarish path.
This game can be played in one night, in the intimacy of your living room or a private convention room. The line between player and character is intentionally drawn thin, causing feelings to bleed from one to the other. This game is atmospheric, emotional, and personal. Don't worry though players, there's safety mechanics to guide you through these dreamy paths of the subconscious mind.
The game's themes and characters are inspired by the horrific surrealism of David Lynch's work, specifically the quirky and supernatural characters from Twin Peaks, the nightmarish identity confusion from Mulholland Drive, and the lurid truths that lie beneath mundane Americana in Blue Velvet.
PDF Print + Play
This reward level allows you to gain access to the PDF. It's only the pdf, which you can print out and assemble to be playable like a deck of cards. There is no shipping associated with this level, and will be available to download. The Discount level is the same, just more affordable for folks experiencing poverty.
Print Copy & Print + Play
This reward level is a deck of 54 cards in a tuckbox, designed and illustrated with many of the images you see in this campaign. The layout design isn't 100% completed, and will look a bit spiffier than what you see in these mockups. The art will remain the same! There is shipping associated with this level, please see the Shipping section for how I'm handling that.
Receive 10 copies of the decks of cards to sell in your retail store.
Prices do not include shipping or customs!
Shipping games can be expensive, and shipping and customs costs are always changing. I'm cautious about the possibility of overcharging some of you, so rather than set flat rates by country, I’ll be adding shipping costs when your package is ready, after the Kickstarter has funded, though Backerkit. This will get you the most accurate rate based on the time I send and your location.
If you need a specific guesstimate, please feel free to message me. It's pretty cheap throughout the US but gets higher when shipping outside of the US.
Dark and Dreamy
With the Return of Twin Peaks last year I became re-obsessed with the spooky dreamlike worlds of David Lynch's work. This game is an homage to those worlds, and is meant to evoke the same types of unsettling, horrific, and identity/reality questioning feelings. The characters struggle with their darker selves, the setting is surreal and Americana, and there aren't any satisfying answers at the end of the story.
Much like a David Lynch film, this game has postmodern references to breaking the fourth wall. It encourages overlap between real life feelings and a character's feelings. What this means is that it's likely players will feel a little vulnerable playing this game. There are safety guidelines included about how to play with intention, and how to debrief with aftercare for any troubling feelings that might arise while playing this game. This allows players to experiment with these feelings, and explore them in play, with a safety net built into the game.
What Play is Like
Everything needed to play Something Is Wrong Here is on a deck of cards. The only props needed are a mirror and a box. Character costuming is optional, but generic enough for thrifted or piecemeal wardrobe elements to work. A few songs are integral to mood making but can be played on any device.
Something Is Wrong Here can be played in a living room or any private room where you can control the atmosphere. While embodying your character in a series of scenes, you're encouraged to use the space either sitting or standing, since there's no dice involved. Cards are where the characters, roleplaying prompts, and instructions for play exist. Play is a series of scenes that the Facilitator of the game will guide players through, just like a TV show or movie.
I've designed this game to be as accessible as possible to new players, so I'm hoping that other David Lynch fans who have never played a game like this before can easily play, or gamers who've never seen a David Lynch gig don't have to worry about matching genre conventions.
The Facilitator is in charge of knowing the entire game, spoilers and all. Their job is to tell players of characters what scenes they're in, keep time for the game, and explain the basic rules of what the players need to do throughout the game.
Players will act the part of troubled characters in a surreal America. Each character has a personality, goals, and relationships with the other characters. There are six characters to choose from, each with their own specific issues to work through and personality quirks.
There are Two Acts in the game.
Act One establishes the characters in the surreal Americana settings. Their goal during play is to try and evoke a certain emotion in each scene together. They have a list of emotions to portray collaboratively in this series of scenes, and after each scene a corresponding card is drawn. This card gives them some narrative power over the next scene they're in, stealing this power from the auteur Facilitator.
Emotions are things like:
- The feeling of something new on the horizon
- A genuine closeness
Narrative Control cards are things like:
- In the next scene you’re in, you can’t quite hear what the other people are saying. Ask them to repeat things.
- In the next scene you’re in, take over any part of the facilitator’s role that you like.
Mixed in-between these scenes are surreal interludes called Mirror Scenes. They allow characters to monologue about where they are internally, how they're feeling, while looking into the mirror. Disturbing music plays.
Act Two takes a plot twist and contains a major spoiler, but it is reality changing for the characters. Scenes are then acted out with new sets of nightmarish cue cards that apply specifically to each character's psyche, with haunting music. This is where characters, and players, decide the fate of their relationships with themselves and the other characters. It's an internal emotional exploration, told on a supernatural stage reminiscent of red curtained stages and black striped floors.
The stats for this game are below.
Players: 5-6 + Facilitator
- Time: 4 hours
- Rating: 18+
- Materials: Character Nametags, Game Cards, Music, Box, Mirror (floor length if possible), Drinks & Costumes (optional)
- Keywords: Identity Confusion, Surrealism, Uncanny, David Lynch, Americana, Non-linear, Meta, Narrative Control, Unsettling, Emotional, Personal
Example of Play
Casey, Raven, Nicole and Jackie are sitting together in Casey's living room. The Facilitator, Fen, has just called for the next scene.
Fen (Facilitator): "I'd like the next scene to be at the Roadhouse, watching a friend's band play. Who wants to be in this scene?"
The players debate for a few seconds then decide Casey and Nicole will be in the first scene.
They glance at the list of emotions they could potentially portray in this scene. After debating for a few seconds, they choose number 1: the feeling of something new on the horizon.
Casey and Nicole sit closer to each other so they can act as though they're at the roadhouse. Casey decides to mimic holding a beer and a cigarette. Casey is playing the Jaded Creative, and Nicole the Troubled Romantic. Casey wants to help Nicole's character regain some level of self respect, and Nicole wants to help Casey to feel inspired again (these are the relationship connections on their character sheets).
Casey: "I feel like this fall I'm finally gonna make a break through on my book. It's like, I can sense my inspiration is gonna come back, y'know? Do you think that's weird? Like, some kind of fortune telling bullshit?"
Nicole: "Yea, no, I think its good to have some hope. I mean, you've been working on it since John and I got together last year, so, it's been awhile right."
Casey: (frowns) "Yea, it's been awhile. How are you and John doing though?"
Nicole: (fake smiles) "Oh we're great! We haven't gotten into an argument in like, a few days, so y'know things are good today. He just got me a car so I don't have to worry about getting rides to the diner anymore."
Casey: (glances down at card they picked up from the last scene. The card reads "In the next scene you’re in, you can’t quite hear what the other people are saying. Ask them to repeat things." Casey decides to use it here, and responds in character.) "Sorry, what'd you say?"
Nicole: (confused, doesn't know what Casey's card says, so responds in character how it makes sense in her mind, much louder) "Oh, we're great basically! He just got me a car!"
Casey: (looks skeptical) "You've been getting to work just fine on your own though, I mean, you've always been so independent. Do you really need another way John can control you?"
Nicole: (visibly upset) "John doesn't control me. He... takes care of me."
Casey: "He does what? Sorry I can't hear you?"
Nicole: "HE TAKES CARE OF ME."
Casey & Nicole: (both awkwardly silent)
Nicole: "Well hey, how bout you tell me what's goin on with those weird characters in your book. Last I remember Shay was on a bender and Trist was hearing some kind of supernatural whispers from the ocean?"
Casey: "Yea..." (takes a pretend swig of beer) "Yea I'm not sure if I should make the monster in the ocean real or just a figment of her imagination though. What do you think?"
Fen (facilitator): "Cut! Let's move on to the next scene. This scene will take place at the Diner, and you're grabbing breakfast before work."
Casey and Nicole decide who gets the next card when their scene ends. Two other players will decide to be in the next scene, with different relationships at play. As these scenes stack up, a story about the character relationships forms, and the cards they draw at the end of each scene introduce dark setting elements that will come up in their conversations.
What Everyone's Saying
"Something Is Wrong Here is a hauntingly beautiful experience that touched me deeply. It's simple, elegant design makes it enjoyable by David Lynch fans and neophytes alike." - Anna Krieder, author of The Watch and other great games
"This is an exciting and intensely immersive game. Dark, layered, and emotional, it is uncanny how deftly it reproduces the curiosity, dread, and otherworldly nature of a David Lynch tale. I love it!"- Jeromy Hastings, twin peaks fanatic
"Two months after the game and I still feel uneasy about Something is Wrong Here. If David Lynch were teaching a method acting class, I think it would be this game. Kira's work is so good, it's eerie." - Sean Nittner, organizer of Big Bad Con
“Something is Wrong Here looms closer and closer, like the feeling the we collectively forgot something important: where our keys are, what we really are, who we have chained to the roof of our car. Kira provides such a great game for players to take pride in how thoroughly jarring an experience they’ve created together!” - Kitty Stoholski, designer of the Hydra Artist's Masterpiece
Something Is Wrong Here captures the feel of a David Lynch movie by seamlessly injecting uncanny and vicious elements into a setting that resembles our world, creating an eerie space to explore. It delivers a creepy, dangerous, and alien experience that is unforgettable. - Jeremy Tidwell, more of a twin peaks fan than me!
About The Designer
Kira Magrann is a tabletop roleplaying game designer, queer nonbinary cyborg, and snake mom living in Columbus, Ohio. She currently has a Patreon where she designs experimental games, a YouTube channel where she talks about game design, and she blogs a few times a month at Gnome Stew. More Seats At The Table is a bi-monthly newsletter she co-curates that features marginalized designers. With the support of her patrons she recently released a game about Lesbisnakes in wintertime titled A Cozy Den. See her body of work here.
About The Artist
Elissa Leach’s art is like a cryptid singing The Sensual World in a karaoke bar just before last call - it’s beautiful, mysterious, and you’re not really sure if it’s actually happening, but you’re too obsessed to care. She has organized and contributed to Veil and RESISTOR - two kickstarted zines that showcase a host of talented artists and writers that focus on death, care, and queerness. She brings you love and deeper understanding.
Me talking about some of my process and inspiration while I was making Something Is Wrong Here. This is an early stage of game creation and many of these mechanics are different, but it's a neat look inside my thinking:
Thanks so much for taking a look at this weird, personal project of mine. If you can't support, even just spreading the news on social media is a huge help to me, in order to raise awareness and trick the algorithm! Appreciate you!
Risks and challenges
This game has already been designed and playtested, so really the only risks from this point on are printing and shipping delays! There is a potential for life events to occur that delay the projected timeline. A printer may take longer than their estimates to deliver, shipping times guesstimated are incorrect due to unforeseen circumstances.
This is a reality of publishing and with 3 projects and years of experience behind me, I believe there will be minimal issues. I believe in good communication with my backers as events are unfolding, so I'll keep ya updated if there's any delays.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)