Companions’ Tale—an epic game of map-making & storytelling
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Companions’ Tale is a map-making storytelling game where you tell the tale of an epic hero, righting wrongs and saving kingdoms. The hero acts, and leaves others to tell the tale. You are those others: the hero's closest companions. Whose version of the heroic tale will become canon, and whose will be a footnote to history?
The Mentor will tell you that the Hero learned sorcery when they visited the High Hills together, in lands where maps are scarcely drawn.
The Lover will tell you that the Hero actually grew up in the High Hills, and knew by heart the solemn and slow songs of its people.
But listen to me: I was the Hero's Rival, and I knew them best. We stood together in the Southern Shores, blades in hand, as we encountered something truly unexpected…
Companions’ Tale is a game is for 4 players and takes approximately 2 ½ hours to play. It uses evocative world-building rules, a deck of inspirational themes and art, and a series of rotating roles for shared storytelling. Together, you’ll build the history and culture of the realm, fill in a rich and changing map, and reveal your companions’ tales.
Want to hear more? Listen to a session of Companions' Tale, as featured on One Shot Podcast.
What Inspired This Game
This game is inspired by fantasy epics about a hero that changes the world, but in Companions’ Tale that hero is a cipher, viewed through the opinionated lenses of the companions that the players create. The rules encourage you to embrace this uncertainty as you tell your stories.
Our inspirations include:
- Groundbreaking story games like The Quiet Year by Avery Alder, which used map-making and provocative cards to tell stories of post-apocalyptic communities in turmoil.
- Video games like Dragon Age: Inquisition, where the story is driven both by the hero’s choices and their relationships to a cast of companions.
- Novels like The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin, and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, where rich world-building is glimpsed through the perspective of opinionated narrators with an agenda of their own.
Companions’ Tale has been playtested extensively, and the rules text is complete. With your help, we’ll produce a high-quality version of this game, and bring Companions’ Tale to a broader audience.
What You Get
The game comes with the following:
- 32 theme cards, such as Pride and Prophecy
- 13 companion cards, such as the Mentor and the Rival
- 20 face cards with evocative illustrations
- 6 reference cards
- A rules booklet
Combine everything above with pen and paper for your map, and you’re ready to play.
Our HERO tier is a Print and Play PDF, and included in all higher tiers.
At the STORYTELLER tier, you receive both the PDF and physical game.
Our higher tiers - HISTORIAN, BIOGRAPHER and LOREKEEPER - give us a chance to collaborate with you to create custom game content, that is forever included in the game, making our game of Companions’ Tale truly unique.
Or perhaps you’re ready to become a COMPANION yourself? At that backer level, we’ll take your likeness and turn it into one of the game’s face cards. Your contribution will literally define the face of the companions in games to come.
Stretch Goals: Variants
Each Variant is a short variation to the core game, taking your story in a new direction.
- UNLOCKED - Lover’s Tale. The Companions are all people who have loved the Hero at some point in time.
- UNLOCKED - Two Player Variant. Guidance for playing Companions' Tale game with two players.
- UNLOCKED - Diaspora. Support six players with a single copy of the game. Start from a common ancient homeland, but then form two separate groups as you split apart and travel to a new home.
- UNLOCKED - Wicked Portents. As your hero's story grows, a terrible calamity - a war, a flood, a storm, or something else? - is brewing slowly, and no matter what, it will arrive. What will happen when it does?
- UNLOCKED - Creation Myth. Explore the creation myth of a people - and the creation of that myth.
How The Game Works
You begin the game with a Prologue, where the game offers a choice of provocative world-building questions, and you take turns drawing your answers upon the map.
You then take turns, rotating through many different roles, and drawing up on the cards and your map for inspiration.
Finally, in an epilogue, you’ll revisit your companions one last time before saying farewell to the game. In the end, you’ll have a map that shows the legacy that the hero—and your companions—have left behind.
In the coming weeks, we’ll post more updates that dig into the details of how the game works.
Want to hear more? Listen to a session of Companions' Tale, as featured on One Shot Podcast.
What Actual Playtesters are Saying
"Companion's Tale is a storytelling game that feels like you're discovering stories that have been there all along, just out reach of your memory. Every time I've played, someone will describe a companion or add something to the map and I get this feeling that's exactly how the story was meant to go all along. Every addition to the map or introduction of a new companion palpably energies the rest of the players to continue the story, and that is just so, so cool."
-Meghan Dornbrock, Modifier Podcast
"Finally, a game that understands how stories are told, that throws away "canon" and embraces the fluid, subjective, and personal nature of myth and history. Regardless of what happened in the narrative, everyone had a chance to speak up and share their perspective."
-Alex Roberts, Backstory Podcast
"Companions' Tale combines the fun of collaborative storytelling and combines it with the satisfying experience of drawing a map. It's perfect for story game lovers who want a new mythic experience, or families who want a creative way to spend the afternoon."
-James D'Amato, One Shot Podcast
"Each Hero's Journey crosses the paths of daring beloveds, cunning allies and chilling villains. I often wish the story could linger with them--and Companion's Tale made that wish come true. I loved the shared map when I played. We tracked their course and the people they interacted with throughout the world. Making changes and creating layer after layer of peoples and places. There was a symbol that got associated with our Hero, it showed up all over the map and morphed as followers used it for their own purposes. The world takes on a life of its own. One of my favorite things about the games is the way the Hero takes shape in the empty spaces you create as you play--how did they save the dancer? Why did they leave the hunter to die? And getting to flesh out the lives of the people around the hero helped us focus on the how these adventures affected the world, seeing how the epic tale rippled outward. So much fun."
-Emily Care Boss, Game Designer, Black and Green Games
About The Team
Sweet Potato Press is our game design imprint. We've been doing game design for years and have published in the past. This is our first big Kickstarter project, and we’re excited to bring it to you!
Companions’ Tale is designed by Laura Simpson. The project combines her experience has a lifelong gamer with the design sensibilities and process from her day job as an UX designer. Laura’s other game design work includes a freeform LARP (Driving to Reunion, published in the #Feminism anthology), scenarios for Quinn Murphy’s Underworld, ParacosmPress' Noisy People Cards, thePrince Valiant RPG and a custom scenario for Thorny Games' Dialect.
The project also has the help of several noteworthy companions:
Dev Purkayastha (Collaborator) is the author of The Dance and the Dawn and Love Commander (Spring 2017). Dev’s work draws upon a variety of inspirational source material, such as music, melodrama, space opera and video game culture.
Michael Miller (Game editing) has designed and published the superhero role-playing game With Great Power. As an editor, he has also helped to cultivate the best versions of great games like Serial Homicide Unit, Ganakagok, and Companions' Tale. He currently writes and self-publishes fantasy fiction. You can follow him at ipressgames.com and elsewhere on the Internet.
Daphne Hutcheson (Illustration) is a freelance story artist and illustrator who graduated in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in Sequential Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design. http://paperwick.tumblr.com/
Rainne Wu (Illustration and Brand) is a user experience designer and graphic designer with experience in the worlds of illustration and animation. Follow her work at: http://rainnewu.com
Nathan D. Paoletta (Product design) is a graphic artist, game designer and independent publisher hailing from Chicago, IL. He publishes his own games, including the award-winning World Wide Wrestling RPG, in addition to helping other creators make their visions a reality. He makes bad jokes about pro wrestling on twitter @ndpaoletta and obsesses over The Rockford Files @TwoHundredPod. Find out more at ndpdesign.com.
Jonathan Walton (Card and book layout) is a graphic designer and game designer currently based in Southern California. His recent projects include the forthcoming RPG/card game Restless (a Night Games selection for IndieCade 2015) and the charity game anthology zine Indie Mixtape.
Angela Bankhead (Videography) is an interactive media designer, filmmaker and marketing manager.
Banana Chan (Video Editing) is one half of Game and a Curry, a game/food review website and a company that helps game designers with their Kickstarter needs, from videos to buttons. She is a videographer, larp designer, and media host for Talk with Board Game Designer. Currently, she is working on a new health, wellness and travel vlog. You can find her personal channel here: Banana Chan
Avonelle Wing (Project Manager) is the Senior Vice President of the Double Exposure, and a mastermind of its popular gaming conventions (Dreamation, Dexcon and Metatopia), the Envoy Program, and several other efforts at creating a better gaming community.
About The Process
The game’s development began in 2013 at Metatopia, a premiere convention for game designers. The game was further refined based on feedback, culminating in external playtests of rules without the designer present. Each game has resulted in a unique and engaging story, and we feel that the game text is ready.
Want to hear more about game mechanics? Listen to Laura's Interview with Meghan Dornbrock on the Modifier podcast.
The interior art is 60% complete, with the remainder underway.
We’ve identified a partner for manufacturing the game and have discussed the initial logistics with them. We have a budget for producing the game successfully, accounting for different levels of backer support. In making our plan, we’ve tapped into the advice of game design colleagues who’ve done similar products, so we're confident in our ability to produce a great game for you to enjoy. Seriously, we asked for a lot of advice.
We have recently partnered with Backerkit to handle post-Kickstarter logistics and multiple orders, which many of you have expressed interest in!
Companions' Tale is really important to us, and we are excited to bring it to your table.
We hope that you have as much fun playing the game with friends as we do.
Risks and challenges
Delays in art or layout could delay the project overall, but it would not prevent us from completing it.
Printing and fulfillment could always come up with some surprises. However, we’ve researched and budgeted extensively, and our budget should be able to handle any new expenses.
In designing our higher backer tiers, we made sure that creating and fulfilling that content won't block the production of the core game.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)