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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

About this project

Welcome to Axon Punk: Overdrive!

Axon Punk: Overdrive, made by Wrong Brothers Gaming in conjunction with the Sugar Gamers, combines hip hop and classic cyberpunk to synthesize a tabletop Roleplaying Game where players improvise, collaborate, and develop a community together to oppose corporate oppression in the gritty megacities of 2085.

Gameplay like Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, but with hip hop and cyberpunk

We have been developing this game for the last two years. The project has expanded from a source of stress relief for two brothers (the Wrong Brothers, Colin and Cameron) to become a group effort involving a wide range of people. Because the team is so wide ranging, we are able to bring you an captivating experience with surprising depth and heart. To immerse you in the world of Axon Punk, we are offering a complete gamebook with everything you need to play, a collection of mini-stories commissioned from diverse authors in the RPG world, and (if we hit our Stretch Goal!) an EP compilation album of music to listen made by underground hip hop artists to listen to while you play.

Want a taste of the experience?

To cut right to the chase and check out how Axon Punk is played, you can download our Quickstart Rules Packet from DriveThruRPG (free for a limited time!). It has everything you need to run your first session of the game: the basic rules, 5 pre-generated characters, a Community with 4 Locations, and a pre-written mission to run with your friends. But, this is only a taste and you'll have to get the full Gamebook for the true experience (character creation, leveling up, community creation, more missions, etc.).

Because words on paper are difficult to translate to actually playing the game, we recorded a live session of the lead creator of Axon Punk running the demo mission in the Quickstart Packet with the Faculty from the RPG Academy Podcast. We know our rules are a little unorthodox and the best way to learn how to play is to just dive in!

We are raising funds to pay for:

  • printing and distributing an off-set print run of our gamebook through Third Act Publishing
  • commissioning authors to our short story collection (the Gonzo Documents)
  • hiring an editor for the text
  • final art for the books
  • commissioning an EP compilation album to go with the game from a group of musicians, including a music producer (Audio-X), rapper (Archie Red), and DJ (DJ Antillez)
Cover from the first playtest book of Axon Punk
Cover from the first playtest book of Axon Punk

The Axon Punk Team:

To create Axon Punk, we gathered a team from across the US. Because the project involves so many mediums and dimensions, we needed a group of people with a wide range of talents and perspectives. In addition to this core group, we have a group of contributing musicians and authors (more info about them below!).

  • Colin Kyle - Lead Writer and Designer • Living in Hyde Park, Chicago, Colin is an enthusiastic table-top role-playing game (RPG) designer, writer, and scientist. Colin and Cameron started Wrong Brothers Gaming together in 2015. Colin loves to introduce new people to storytelling-style RPGs. He earned his PhD in ecology and evolution from the University of Chicago. Colin also works as a free-lance social media manager for Keisha Howard’s marketing company, the Blaze Breakers (theblazebreakers.com). When not writing and reading sci-fi, Colin listens to music, plays a wide range of games, and spoils his pet rabbit, who is named after the astronomer Annie Jump Cannon. 
  • Cameron Kyle - Designer and Art Director • Currently living in Dallas, Texas, Cameron earned a BFA in photography and multimedia from the University of Texas at Arlington. He currently works for Richland college in their video game development dept. as well as an animator for Solar Purge. He has been an RPG gamer since he was 10 when purchased a D&D "red box" and taught his brother, Colin, so they could play together. When not working on art or games, Cameron likes to play guitar, djs (SoundCloud- D.J. Antillez), plays a wide range of video and tabletop games, and plays with his dog, who is a corgi mix named after the Deep Space Nine character Jadzia Dax.
  • Keisha Howard • Marketing Director • Keisha has been a video game enthusiast since childhood and is the founder of the Sugar Gamers. The Sugar Gamers started as a women's advocacy and networking group for consumers and professionals in gaming, but eventually blossomed into an organization that advocated for all demographics who were under served or not being represented (such as minorities, and people from the LBGTQ+ community). A native Chicagoan, Keisha studie psychology and communications at DePaul University and worked in corporate business for over a decade. In addition to gaming, Keisha utilizes the skills and the contacts she's made through Sugar Gamers to empower the women and teens of Chicago as an event organizer, mentor and speaker.
  • Jim McClure • Publisher and Project Manager • Co-owner of Third Act Publishing; a board game and RPG company. Avid table top player, podcaster, game designer, and eternal optimist. He spends his time making games and helping other designers publish theirs.
  • Matt Leslie • Technical Director • A Dallas native, Matt earned his BA in Arts and Technology from the University of Texas at Dallas and a general Associates of Science from Richland College (DCCCD). He is a video game developer by trade focusing on high-level concepts such as technical writing and tool building for production pipelines while also being an Unreal Engine Specialist. He started playing table-top games when he was a young adult, experiencing titles such as Pathfinder, D&D 3.5e, and Vampire the Mascarade. Matt brings his expertise in procedural generation techniques to the AxonPunk team as well as his artistic vision in the glitch aesthetic. When Matt isn't making games or writing technical documents, he spends his free time catching up on the latest HBO titles and showcasing his procedural visual systems at the Dallas Ambient Music Nights. He has two dogs and two cats named Lucy (dog), Parker (dog), Sterling (cat), and Franklin (cat).
  • Mika Talley • Lead Convention Rep Game Master • Currently adventuring around Australia without much direction or intent. She has been playing RPGs since highschool and is from the traditional school of Basement Dwelling before graduating to Con GMing. Mika enjoys beaches, strangers, and table top games; combining all three is difficult but desired. As an original playtester of AXON Punk she couldn't be more excited to be contributing and intends to spread the love during her travels down under.
  • Emily Reinhart • Lead Convention Rep Game Master • Full Time Bookseller, Part Time Belly Dancer, not often enough fighter for justice! When she is not performing, cosplaying, or gaming she enjoys writing, crafting, and painting. She is a recovering bookaholic, and a 2nd degree black belt in Kung Fu.

The Game:

In Axon Punk, you and your friends play as a team of hackers, AI, engineers, cyborgs, and others that are trying to be forces of change as the great war of global inequality rages on the streets around you. The game’s theme, rules, art, and pacing are heavily inspired by hip hop and classic cyberpunk

The Rules: Because we wanted an extremely fast-paced, collaborative, and improvisational game experience, we built our own rules system for Axon Punk from zero. Through rigorous public playtests at nine conventions, including GenCon, Metatopia, Dreamation, and AcadeCon, over the last two years, we have refined the system to only include components that fuel the cyberpunk and hip hop experience. We incorporated rules to help players improvise actions that are not on their character sheet, but are things their character should be able to do given the situation in the game. Players are encouraged to work together and actively rewarded by the rules for doing so with a game mechanic called "Rhythm," which allows players to roll dice together on difficult tasks. Axon Punk also includes a dynamic and flexible combat system designed and playtested by people with decades of combined experience in Kung Fu and other martial arts (Cameron Kyle, Emily Reinhart, and Jim McClure).

Community Creation in the Megacities: The complete game is tied together by grounding the story in the Community that the player's characters live in in the megacity. Players are able to add their own ideas to their Community and see how their choices during play cause the Community to change over time. Heavily focusing on the local community in the game gives play a grass-roots feeling that greatly enhances the hip hop flavor that is a vital component of Axon Punk.

We have constructed a simple, but highly engaging, Community creation process inspired by games like Lame Mage Production's Microscope and Kingdom as well as procedural environment generation in video games. Players in the game can build their own Community at the beginning of a campaign, or they can use the pre-made community the will be included in the Axon Punk Gamebook for one-shot games. Based on the choices the players make, their Community will produce missions, give rewards, and evolve over time – or it could be consumed by the chaos and anarchy caused by futuristic corporate oppression.

One of the Locations in the gamebook's example starting Community: the United Church of Tupac
One of the Locations in the gamebook's example starting Community: the United Church of Tupac

 The World of Axon Punk

In the gritty megacities of 2085, the streets are full of music. You can feel the pulse, the beat, the rhythm of people and buildings pressing in on you under the gray sky. Everything changed when affordable digital-neural interfaces became marketable to the public and humanity expanded into the Net, a globally accessible 3D, internet interface. Fueled by unimaginable new power and advertising access on the Net, international megacorporations called Zaibatsu have surpassed the power of national governments in most countries. After two brutal cyberwars ravaged the world, the corporations divided up the planet and built walled-off Corporate Sectors to protect themselves from future uprisings. Everything outside of the Corporate walls is considered a “Civilian Zone.” Comprised of overlapping and primarily anarchistic Communities, the vast majority of the world’s populace lives in some form of a Civilian Zone.

The Gonzo Documents Story Collection

The Gonzo Documents is a collection of first-person, mini-stories from people in the world of Axon Punk. We use these stories to directly add different ideas and perspectives to the setting of our game by commissioning of these stories to be primarily written by authors from marginalized communities, such as women, people of color, differently-abled people, and LGTBQ+ people.

For our Kickstarter, we will be first commissioning 5 stories from a wonderful group of authors assembled while developing our game. If we reach one of our stretch goals, we will expand the set of authors and commission 5 more stories.

Contributing Authors (first set of 5)

  • Keisha Howard - core member of the Axon Punk team and leader of the Sugar Gamers, Keisha is a natural storyteller and world builder. She has extensive experience writing cyberpunk after developing her own cyberpunk world the in the Sugar Gamers' Project Violatea.
  • Mika Talley - one of the first people to playtest Axon Punk, Mika has a brilliantly grounded imagination that has helped form the project since the beginning. Next to the Wrong Brothers, Mika is currently the most experienced Axon Punk Game Master.
  • Emily Reinhart - Emily took to Axon Punk like a fish to water from the moment she sat down at the table. Since then, she has applied her knowledge of kung fu, literature, dance, and many other things in her Axon Punk storytelling.
  • Elvery Tren Peters - an essential part of the Dallas playtest group since the beginning, Elvery is a multi-talented artist and art teacher. Elverly was one of the first people to introduce Wrong Brother, Colin Kyle, to the intricacies and importance of rap music over a decade ago.
  • Erika Chappell - known around the internet as open_sketchbook, Erika is a game designer of broad ranging RPGs including the gritty and emotional Vietnam War story game, Patrol, and the Buffy-esque Must be Tuesday. Cyberpunk is right in the middle of her wheelhouse and we can't wait to see what she writes!
The cover for the first edition of the Gonzo Documents, which the Wrong Brothers assembed for ConTessa's GenCon fundraiser in 2016
The cover for the first edition of the Gonzo Documents, which the Wrong Brothers assembed for ConTessa's GenCon fundraiser in 2016

The Music for the Game

To create to totally immersive experience of Axon Punk, we are hoping to commission hip hop musicians to put together an EP compilation album to go along with the game. To raise funds for this album, we are setting this as a Stretch Goal for the project. BUT, if we reach that goal, every backer above the $1 level will get a free digital download of the music!

Contributing Musicians:

  • Audio-X - Audio-X is a music producer originally from Florida that came to Chicago by way of Atlanta. He has years of experience making music and is currently honing his art at Chicago's School of Audio Engineering. Audio-X collaborative nature and futuristic vision are a perfect fit for the sound we want in Axon Punk.

Background music for our Kickstarter Video created by Audio-X! Listen here for the music track:

  • Archie Red - Archie Red is hip hop artist from Dallas with a sound unlike anything you’d expect from Texas. Focusing so hard on the art of his craft some songs have taken 2 years to write. He’s also a huge fan of video games and what they bring to society. Favorites include Fallout, Diablo, Metal Gear Solid, anything 2k, battlefield, Age of Empires, and we can go on lol. For more info on Archie Red you can like his band page on Facebook. Or listen to his music on his SoundCloud.

Stretch Goals

  • $6,000 - Upgraded Quality Printing of Gamebook: We will be able to upgrade our off-set print run from standard grade to premium level books.
  • $8,000 - EP Compilation Album: Because music is such a key part of the Axon Punk experience, we will commission a 5 track EP compilation album to listen to while playing Axon Punk. All backers above the $1 level will receive a free digital download of the EP if we reach this goal.
  • $10,000 - Extra Game Mission: We will write an additional one-shot Axon Punk mission to be included with all PDF and physical copies of the game.
  • $15,000 - Expanded Gonzo Documents: We will increase the size of the Gonzo Documents story collection and commission stories from and addition set of 5 authors.
  •  $20,000 - Expanded EP Album: This is the crown gem of our Kickstarter campaign. If we reach this level, we will have the resources to fund our dream music project to go with the game. The musicians working with us are hard working and passionate people who will create something wonderful with this opportunity.

Recent Media about Axon Punk

 

Risks and challenges

To ensure our books are high quality and delivered in a reasonable time, we are working with Third Act Publishing (http://thirdact.pub/), which successfully brought you Reflections (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/496783700/reflections-a-game-of-dueling-samurai…) and Satanic Panic (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/496783700/satanic-panic).

This is our first game and Kickstarter, but we have previously completed other large-scale projects prior to this. Colin completed his PhD from the University of Chicago and has published multiple articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Cameron has a BFA in photography and digital media, and has orchestrated numerous gallery shows and art projects. The other members of the team are experienced in their own wonderful ways and we are very confident we will deliver a great product you will really enjoy.

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    The Gonzo Documents

    A PDF collection of 10 gonzo-style flash-fiction stories set in the dystopian future of the Axon Punk world. The stories will be commissioned from by 5 authors in the RPG world (Keisha Howard, Mika Talley, Emily Reinhart, Elvery Tren Peters, and Erika Chappell), as well as the Wrong Brothers.

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    Digital Gamebook

    A PDF of the Axon Punk: Overdrive gamebook. The PDF will include embedded 3D models of weapons, equipment, drones, and other parts of the Axon Punk game experience. The art also features members of the Sugar Gamers community (www.sugargamers.com).

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    Physical Gamebook

    A physical copy of the Axon Punk: Overdrive gamebook. Published through Third Act Games, this will be an off-set print run of very high quality books. The book size will be 8.5 by 5.5in. Soft cover book with a color cover and black and white interior. The art also features members of the Sugar Gamers community (www.sugargamers.com).

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    Total Immersion and Online Game

    The Total Immersion package (printed gamebook, pdf of gamebook and Gonzo Documents story collection). In addition, backers will have a seat at a special recorded game of Axon Punk: Overdive. The game will be recorded by run by the game's lead author and designer, Colin Kyle, and recorded by Jim McClure, from Talking Tabletop and Third Act Publishing.

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    Personal GenCon Cyber-experience

    In addition to the Total Immersion package, the Wrong Brothers, Sugar Gamers, and Third Act Publishing will rent a room at GenCon and host a special, exclusive game of Axon Punk: Overdrive for you and your friends. This will be the ultimate Axon Punk experience, including cosplay, music, and much more!

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