Leviathan Rising: An enlightenment-punk role playing game
A tabletop RPG of 17th-century rebels fighting for fraternity, equality and liberty.
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Thu, March 28 2019 10:30 PM UTC +00:00.
“Brothers and Sisters! We have seen Leviathan rising. That beast comes to wash away all hope and liberty in this weary land. We will stand against the corrupt noble as they raise this beast to consume all! Here we stand, and upon my oath, we shall fight to our last breath for freedom, equality and justice!” – Brother Lucas Stonemiester, Chainer.
Leviathan rising is a high action table top role-playing game about 17th century rebels fighting for equality, fraternity and liberty against a sinister cabal of nobles.
Characters in Leviathan Rising are chosen by the Rebellion to represent them and spearhead the fight for freedom. They can expect to move across Europe, fighting corrupt nobles, defending the innocent, freeing the enslaved and wrongfully imprisoned, opposing tyranny and stirring the hearts of the people towards liberty.
In this they have been aided by the magic of the rite of the champion. This rite has fused a spirit with the soul of the character, meaning that when they are acting to further their righteous beliefs they are able to manifest supernatural powers from the spirit.
Opposing the heroes are the Peerage, A secret society of corrupt nobles who have found the power of ritual magic and now use it to more fully oppress and subjugate their people. The Peerage has the eventual goal of elevating one of its number to the very heavens as a dark new god.
Leviathan rising is a game about outcast heroes. The characters have been chosen to represent the Rebellion because they embody the ethics that the Rebellion is fighting for. Every character in Leviathan Rising is more powerful when they are actively striving towards their ideals, as this righteousness is what allows them access to their supernatural powers for the scene. As such, the game is centred on characters who are acting for worthy goals. This idealism is a key part of what makes the characters heroes. They have chosen a righteous position and will put themselves on the line to defend it.
The characters are drawn from the dregs and outskirts of society, however. The world is ruled by nobles, kings and dukes. These people have often formed the very heart of the villains of Leviathan Rising, long casting off any pretension of protecting their people to more fully exploit them. Living in luxury unimagined by the peasants whose toil they used to grow rich, they no longer care for the common man.
The Rebellion, however, is usually drawn from those who are far enough from the mainstream in society to not be caught by the propaganda and foul rituals of the Peerage that demand submission. As such they are the outcasts from polite society, instead living amongst the people they are fighting to free.
The world of Leviathan Rising is similar to mid-17th century Europe. This is a game of alternate history, and almost any detail that you think would be interesting from history can be moved across. This is a time of great unrest in Europe, which can be used profitably in your games.
The English are fighting a civil war against the idea of a divinely appointed monarch, and the Rebellion and Peerage are supporting their respective sides.
The Dutch have just finished fighting their war of independence from the Spanish Empire, and now a fierce debate has begun over if the new country should have a king, or if the people should rule.
The Holy Roman Empire has been torn apart by the thirty year war. This has reduced much of its heartlands to a burnt out wreck, with the peasants huddling from the ravages of the armies. This conflict has broken down law and caused chaos all through the empire.
The Spanish are subjugating the conquered people of the Americas and are beginning the slave trade that will wreck such a terrible legacy.
In France, all the fears of the Rebellion have been realised and the king is a member of the Peerage. Here the rite of the dominion has spread over nearly the whole kingdom and erodes the will and freedom of all who live in the benighted country. Unless the Rebellion can break the power soon, all those who live there might be doomed to servitude.
All through Europe, the old ways of the feudal lord are dying. The people of the world are coming to an awakening of nations, the idea of a country independent of it's king or lord. The nobles are fighting this realisation, even as they fight against their greedy king's pull towards greater and greater central control. The Rebellion believe that this could be the thing which changes the world. Avoiding the greedy desires of the powerful, now could be a time to forge newer, fairer societies.
Europe and her empires are undergoing a period of profound change. The ideas of feudalism are dying, and a new world order is being born. The characters have a chance to make sure it is one where the people can breathe free.
The world of Leviathan Rising is a low magic world, for the most part. The people live in suspicious ignorance of what magic can do, and some do not believe in it at all. The masses have been whipped up into a fury of witch burning, with the Peerage hoping to catch the Rebellion and their supporters in the superstitious fear of the mob. Even as they direct the fear and frustrations upon the helpless and outcast, branding them as witches, the Peerage wields its sorcery in back rooms and hidden towers, using every ounce of magical power it can find.
As the flames of witch pyres build on the continent, the inquisition and the witch finders start to look for anyone who might have the power to oppose their masters' sorcerous goals. The Rebellion are gathering those who follow old ways of power, or are willing to learn new ones and use them in defence of the people.
Leviathan rising is an enlightenmentpunk game. The characters are outcast heroes who are fighting against a corrupt establishment. The game is suspicious of the powerful and actively contemptuous of the idea of nobility. Instead the heroes are those who society has failed and rejected who have decided to fight to save the common man.
The Rebellion is fighting for the ideals of the enlightenment, which they define as a rejection of noble rule, a belief in fundamental human rights and striving towards equality for all people.
Intentionally, the characters of Leviathan Rising are heroes. First they are heroes in that they can be expected to do great feats. The characters are both mundanely and mystically very competent and can expect to be the sort of person who legends and folk tales are made of. They will be the movers and shakers of the Rebellion, and opposing the might of the peerage will often fall squarely upon their shoulders.
Secondly, the characters are heroes in that they stand for a heroic ideal. When generating a character, one of the aspects that the player is obliged to choose is a heroic ethic in line with the goals of the Rebellion. The characters are fighting for the Rebellion because it is a cause that they believe in and that believes in them. As such, the characters become more powerful when they are acting in service of their beliefs and ethics.
The characters of Leviathan rising are placed into a world of great injustice, and given the means of fighting for a better world. The idea of this is to make games easy to plan for and run. Since the characters should be seeking to right wrongs and defeat the power of the Peerage, there is always an assumption of heroic action. The heroes of your campaign can expect to be rescuing slaves taken by the peerage in one session, then dueling with the inquisition the next. They might be early modern robin hoods, stealing the ill-gotten gains of the rich and giving them to the poor, or deadly assassins seeking to remind the powerful that death comes for them, too.
Leviathan rising uses the fate rules. Fate is a generic, narrative focussed open source system. It is an excellent system for Leviathan Rising, since it lends itself to a fast paced, cinematic playstyle.
Leviathan Rising has some modifications to fate core, which include a suite of changes to make the game’s mechanics play slightly faster and allow more heroic characters. The game also includes systems for the supernatural powers of the Champions.
A key addition to the core rules for fate is the escalation system. This is designed to make sure that the characters become more powerful as their situation becomes more important or desperate. When characters are striving towards a goal that directly serves their core beliefs, or when they are fighting to preserve the life or liberty of the innocent they gain access to more powers. When the characters are wounded, or their allies seem close to death, they can also gain surges of power to allow them to succeed in desperate situations.
Another system that the game adds is for tracking the characters progress in opposing the Dominion of the Peerage. This system facilitates and supports campaign play by giving an obvious and mechanically significant goal for the characters to work towards, and helps suggest ways for the story to move forward in play.
The backers will be getting a hardcover, black and white book. You will also receive a copy of the book in pdf format.
Since I have always loved them, I have commissioned some comics to make up the examples of play in the game. I am also hoping to use comics for the chapter fiction, since I think it gives a great idea for the feel of the world if it is done properly. I have already commissioned some of the comics as art for the book, and will look at commissioning more.
There are two axis for stretch goals. The first is on money raised. The second is based on how many share this page gets on social media.
Some of these stretch goals are going to be me providing extra content. This will generally be delivered in a pdf format, with a coupon for print on demand. This is because I don't want this content to slow down the production of the core book, and I certainly do not want it to add to my cost for shipping.
Money based: This will generally be used to improve the quality of the product or add more things to the core book.
£5000: Extra art. the art budget currently stretches to a half page or quarter page illustration every four pages. If we can hit this level, then we can increase that a little, and generally pay for more art in the text.
£6000: Comic supplement. Backers of the game will also receive a comic book of the example characters on an adventure, so that players can be given a quick feel for the world. This will be delivered as a PDF on drivethrurpg, with the option of at cost print on demand.
£7000: To be unlocked
Social media shares: Help me get Leviathan Rising in front of more eyes! Helping me by sharing the game's kickstarter page costs you nothing, but can help you get even more stuff!
100 shares: The adventure "the sins or Turensburg" will be added as a pdf for all backers who get a copy of the core book. This will be a complete adventure to give an idea of things for what a starting band of champions can do.
200 shares: A big list of NPC villains will be added to the back of the book. This will contain a range of characters ready to be dropped into any adventure. This will include both named NPCs and unnamed characters to populate your scenes.
300 shares: A campaign guide for a sample campaign. This will give a list of short scenarios to take the characters through an arc. This will both be intended to be fully playable and to help backers with ideas for their own campaigns.
400 shares: A second scenario will be added, available to all backers who also get the core book.
I intend to deliver the game in March 2020. While the text is complete barring any stretch goals reached it still needs to be ordered, edited together and proofread. I also need to give the artists I have been working with time to create the art for the book. Once all of this is done, the game needs to go into layout. I believe that this can be completed in a year.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions you don't want to send by Kickstarter. Thanks!
Risks and challenges
Funding and budgeting risks:
If we fund at £4000, the cost breakdown looks a little like this:
£1000: art budget. I need a lot of art, and so I have to set aside a lot of the money to fund it.
£800: professional editor. This is what I have been quoted as the costs of editing the text.
£700: printing this is the quote I have had for the hardback books
£700: shipping. It should be less than this for the 140 copies to back, but moving things can be expensive.
£400: money that Kickstarter takes.
£400: things-going-wrong money. I want a fund to cover any problems.
Shipping. I know it can be difficult. Especially, I am concerned that Brexit is going to ruin everyone's days for shipping out of the UK to the rest of the world. I have been talking to the fulfilment company, and they are confident that there will be methods in place by the time the books need to be shipped.
Art: I am already finding artists who are providing good work on time (as can be seen all through the page) but I know building relationships with artists and getting good work can be difficult. I hope to minimise this by commissioning as much art as possible early and from a small range of artists so that one becoming sick or letting me down won't ruin the whole project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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