Step into the shoes of the faculty of Pigsmoke School of Sorcery, America's finest learning institution for the magically gifted. Teach classes, publish research, and try to navigate the cutthroat world of academia when the demons are real, the auditors are constructs of pure order, and imposter syndrome might just mean you're a doppelganger.
Students exist to make your life difficult. Your department head is an arch-conservative taskmaster who leans on you to make their department look good. The Dean's Office wants to ensure you're following all of their ridiculous rules. The bursar won't give you any money, your peers want their names ahead of yours on your latest paper, and your personal life is a garbage fire. Chase tenure, avoid burnout, and try to resist the urge to go adventuring: like all get-rich-quick schemes, it'll probably just end with a humiliating death.
Pigsmoke is powered by the Apocalypse Engine, as used in Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Monsterhearts, Legacy, Monster of the Week, The Sprawl, and many other successful and critically-acclaimed games. It offers quick character creation and simple rules which easily handle even the most convoluted schemes and escapades.
- Character creation is handled by choosing two playbooks: a role and a department. You might be a Rockstar in the Department of Foresight, or a Slacker who works ('works') in the Department of Life and Death.
- In Pigsmoke, time is precious. Research and other activities advance the calendar - but while you're plumbing the mysteries of your field, your rivals are working to steal your research! Or blow up the science block, or seduce your husband, or otherwise ruin your weekend.
- Pigsmoke the institution is only loosely defined, leaving plenty of room for you and the other players to model it on your favourite (or least favourite) educational institution. Guided questions are included to kick-start your imaginations, should you need them.
- Violence is always a bad idea. These are academics, not adventurers!
Roles and Departments
Pigsmoke presents six roles to choose from:
- The Git is ferocious and effective, getting things done at the cost of antagonising everyone who crosses their path.
- The Networker has everybody's number in their phone, and the uncanny ability to persuade other people to do them favours.
- The Politician is a hard-nosed careerist and an expert at using bureaucracy as a weapon.
- The Rockstar burns themselves out - body, mind, and relationships - in pursuit of cutting-edge research.
- The Slacker specialises in taking it easy, and cultivating the skills and dodges necessary to do that.
- The Fake isn't really a wizard. As a member of the teaching staff at a magical college, you can imagine that this causes problems.
And these can be combined with any one of the six departments:
- The Department of Life and Death are quick to remind everybody that they definitely aren't necromancers. Nope. No way.
- The Department of Mindbending can influence with a word or bend people's perceptions with a thought. They never get invited to the interdepartmental poker nights.
- The Department of Foresight receives visions of the future, scry distant locations, and meddle with Fate. They also do not get invited to play poker.
- The Department of Elements consists of everyone who channels the raw power of an arcane element: earth, wind, fire, water, thunder, lightning, light, or darkness. They spend a lot of time on internal rivalries and blowing things up.
- The Department of Alchemy specialises in changing things into other things, with a sideline in artificial life. They're known for being rich.
- The Department of Calling, Binding, and Sealing Away (CABSA) deals with extraplanar entities of various kinds. It attracts cool, edgy risk-takers and tediously boring lawyers in about equal measure.
And once you've created your academic you're ready to go! There are a limited number of tenured positions and a throng of merciless faculty between you and them -- get stuck in.
Why Play Pigsmoke?
Because it's not just children who go to magic schools to have adventures. Well, maybe it is just children, but adults also go to magic schools and they have to do all the work.
Because there are a million terrible mistakes to be made in the fast-paced, cut-throat world of academia, and watching the characters make them is going to be both dramatic and hilarious.
Because sometimes it's good to cut loose with a game less serious than maybe some others.
And because sometimes it's good to line up an obdurate bureaucracy, a thousand barely-educated students, the walking dead, and the forces of hell -- and watch the characters somehow, against all odds, scrape out some sort of victory against all that.
That's pretty cool.
And hey! The good folks at the Saving Throw Show have played a one-shot of Pigsmoke so you can see how it rolls!
Pigsmoke started life as an entry in one of Brent Newhall's Fantasy RPG Design Challenges, and I liked the idea so much that I expanded it into a fully-fledged game. Now it's written, and I want to publish it -- but for that I'm going to need your help.
Also, your money.
Pigsmoke is going to be an approximately 130-page digest-sized (6" x 9") book, with a full colour cover and interior.
The main rulebook is already written and will be accessible to anyone who backs so you can get an idea of what you'll be buying. This Kickstarter will cover the costs of art, layout, and editing.
My name is Chris Longhurst, you may know me from such products as Gods and Monsters (writer) or Legacy: Life Among the Ruins (editor). I've also done a number of other RPG and RPG-related things, mostly on the small side. On this project I'm the lead writer, the only writer, and the layout guy.
The book cover, which is pulling double duty as the beautiful Kickstarter image you can see at the top of this page, is by the fantastic Jacqui Davis. You can see more of her art in What Ho, World! and Belle of the Ball, among many other places.
I don't have any interior art yet because I need the Kickstarter monies for that, but if this funds I'll be hitting Jacqui up for more.
The editing is in the capable hands of Rebecca Curran. I've also hired Katherine Cross to consult on making Pigsmoke as inclusive as possible, since a) that's a goal of mine and b) I'm profoundly unqualified to do that myself.
The bulk of the money from this Kickstarter campaign will be going towards paying for art, editing, and some extra writing from Katherine. The remainder will constitute a buffer in case of problems and pay me for my time writing it and laying it out.
This is my very first Kickstarter project, so I'm keeping it simple: No stretch goals.
All fulfillment of physical copies of the book will be handled by OneBookshelf's print on demand scheme. When you back at the Professor (softback) or Senior Professor (hardback) tiers you'll get a coupon to let you print a copy of Pigsmoke at-cost through DrivethruRPG. This means you'll need to pay print costs and shipping on top of your Kickstarter pledge.
But! If you back at one of the more expensive tiers (School Spirit and up) then I'll absorb the cost of printing and shipping. All you'll need to pay is the Kickstarter cost.
According to DrivethruRPG's estimates that'll come to an extra £3.15/$4.50 in printing for a softcover, and an extra £6.70/$10 in printing for a hardcover. Shipping works out to more or less £5 or $5.
Fulfillment of electronic copies will be done through DrivethruRPG and itch.io -- you'll get a code for a free download from each site and can use either or both as you prefer.
Risks and challenges
This is my first Kickstarter, but it's not my first time writing and publishing a roleplaying book. I'm familiar with the process end-to-end, so no need to worry that I'm going to run into a knowledge gap that derails the whole thing.
That said, the main risk is that this is a one-man operation, so if anything happens to me it's all going to go sideways. I will try my best to remain alive and healthy for the duration. The game is entirely written at this point -- minus any backer-purchased extra playbooks -- and the unedited manuscript will be made available to everyone who backs, so worse comes to worst you'll get at least some of what you paid for.
Another risk of delay is any extra art and writing that the backer-purchased rewards require. To mitigate this I've limited the number of extra playbooks I'm going to have to make, there'll be deadlines for the backers involved, and I've built some extra time into the delivery estimates. If anything makes this project late, however, this is going to be it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)