Headspace is a cyberpunk game where the players are operatives fighting against evil corporations. You’ll need to make use not only of your own hyper-competence but also that of your teammates by way of shared mental and emotional consciousness: the Headspace. Using this technology, you can connect to your teammates' minds and use their skills as though they were your own. There's a catch though: Everyone's got emotional baggage and digging too deeply can pull a teammates emotions into your own actions. The Headspace is the edge you need to stand against the corruption of the world, are you and your fellow operatives ready to take up the challenge and make the world a better place?
Headspace is a role playing game that explores human emotion, memory, and personal identity. The world of Headspace is a dark future where technology has begun to alter not just our bodies, but how we feel and even think. In this future, an advanced neural networking technology, Headspace, has been developed. The Headspace allows a group of wielders to connect their minds directly to each other. But, jacking into the Headspace comes with a cost; there is no going back. Once your minds are bound together, every thought, sensation, emotion, and even dreams are shared over any distance instantaneously.
In the world of Headspace, world governments struggle to maintain law and order. Most have all but ceded their authority to gigantic Corporations that now fight for control of Earth’s remaining resources. In this future, few stand against the tide of corporate corruption and greed. Fewer still have the assets and abilities to make a difference. You could be that difference. You and your friends could be the ones to stand against the Corporations and make a better world for those left on the margins of society. To do it, you’ll not only need the latest weapons and cyber technologies, but also the drive to work together, seamlessly sharing your skills and abilities, operating not as a group of individuals but as a perfect team, within the Headspace.
The rules for Headspace are based on the award-winning Powered by the Apocalypse system developed by Vincent Baker and used in games like Dungeon World, Monsterhearts, Urban Shadows and The Sprawl.
The Headspace gives all of the Operators a shared neurological space inside which only members of their Cell are granted access. They can speak telepathically across any distance with any other Operator from their Cell (those who share the same network via a linked Headspace implant). This means all Operators can maintain conversations in all scenes whether they are all physically present or not. Everything that happens at the table is known by all Players and at all times. But it's so much more than that.
The implants didn't just network you together to speak at the speed of thought, mind to mind. It's allowed you to borrow the skills of the people who make up your Cell. It doesn't matter that you've never fired a gun or defused a bomb, as long as one of them has. You can reach out and access their skills, finely honed to razor sharp precision. When your mind connects to theirs to share skills, they can feel you. Every person in a Headspace finds they are now greater than themselves, because at any time they can reach out and assume the skills of their Cell. At peak performance, a Cell is like having a multiplicity of everyone in it. The Corporations were scared of any one of you. But now there's potential for five of you to exist. You can communicate in instantaneous real time, and you are never truly alone, even in the most desperate of situations. You can share your senses, and this technology-fueled telepathy may be what helps you save your city. Maybe it’ll even help you save yourself.
But it comes at a price.
Your connection to the Headspace has no off switch. Cell mates' dreams, nightmares, thoughts, memories, and emotions are all connected to the network. Privacy as you knew it isn't possible, and the emotional selves of the people you work with can bleed into your own. If one of you snaps under pressure, the stress careens through the system like a wild virus, unpredictably interacting with bodies and minds. It can be difficult to see where your emotions end and the others’ begin. This constant risk of emotional bleed can make intimate relationships that much harder to navigate, whether they’re with someone from your Headspace, or outside it.
Even death won't stop your connection to the rest of your Cell. Ghosts can accumulate in a Headspace. When an Operator dies, fragments of their consciousness will cling to the network. Their dying thoughts and feelings, wishes for redemption or vengeance, even the skills they used alongside you, can all appear in the Headspace. Before you did this, mourning someone was easier. Now even your dead don't know how to stay that way. When you go to sleep, their nightmares may become your own.
Human emotion is at the root of all Operator actions in Headspace. The rules rely heavily on the emotions experienced by the Operators over the course of play. Emotions are categorized into five core types: Rage, Grief, Fear, Need, and Ego.
These five emotions are referenced in play by an Operator’s Baggage, Discipline, and Stress.
Emotional Baggage represents the past of an individual’s experiences and memories of a particular skill and their link to another Operator. During Operator creation, Players will connect a leading question of how they used their skill in the past to one of the other Operators in the Cell; the emotion that best represents how their Operator felt during those past events is assigned as its Baggage.
Discipline represents an Operator’s present state of mind and measures their ability to control each of their emotions and prevent the Baggage of a skill from overwhelming their decision-making and influencing their actions.
Stress represents an immediate and dangerous accumulation of raw emotions within the Headspace. The GM tracks Stress during play with five common pools, one for each emotional type.
Characters in Headspace are called Operators. Operator creation in Headspace ties the team together by detailing your relationships to each other and your experience with your skills. All Operators have a dark regret tied to the Corporations of the setting you play in that drives you to change the world to become a better place.
No one else would deal with this shit. Even if they did, they wouldn’t actually do the job right. Managing talent and orchestrating the use of corporate or military assets is hard, and that’s why it’s your job. Some people are content with pulling the puppet strings of the world from behind a desk. But that’s not your style.. It’s easier to convince people to sell out, convert an enemy to a friend, or arrange for ass-covering contingencies when you’re not chained to a desk. You’re going to make your old corporate masters pay for everything they’ve done, because you’re the best person to make sure it happens.
Your family used to complain that you snuck up on them when you were a kid. You didn’t even mean to, it just kept happening. That natural ability for stealth has served you well. Sneaking past people without even trying made you wonder who you could sneak past if you actually applied yourself. It doesn’t matter who picked you up--or caught you--because you’re long past those days. The rookie either dies, or becomes a highly paid professional. Since you’re not dead, you’re making pretty good money. Or you were, until you bugged out of the system to try and destroy it.
You had a different team, once. You came up through the ranks, from soldier to commander. Despite the ugly things you did, your brothers and sisters in arms were your family. You protected each other. Struggling to do your job without losing your soul, you still suffered as bit by bit, assignments grew more dangerous, people died, and the truth of things reached you. Instead of going the way of your friends, you walked away, burning bridges behind you. The company made you a superior tactician, a fighter, a weapon. They’re going to regret letting you leave alive. Not that they had a choice.
Some people get confused if they take the wrong turn or walk a block too far. Not you. Whether driving or on foot, your memory of places and understanding of the urban landscape are as automatic as breathing. The city is as familiar as your own body. You know the rhythms of traffic and neighbourhoods. You can plan routes throughout your day that effortlessly shake tails and get you to your end location with time to spare. Being late is not a problem you suffer from. You're never late, because you'd never fail your Cell.
It’s not that you don’t understand people. You just understand them in a way that freaks them out. Through the lens of technology, you know how to take people out with remote weapons in the most efficient way possible. The security slip-ups of bad passwords and ill-advised cloud storage are second nature to you. Empathy is hard for you, because all you see are the horrific secrets they try and protect, and the violence they commit to keep them buried. People like you are essential to a Corporation’s ability to function because you can engineer anything they need. Now you’re going to engineer the ways to take them down.
The science of the human mind and body is the most fascinating field there is, and your diagnostic skills help you understand the very world around you. Few people can match you as a field medic, and the things you can do when given access to a lab would terrify anyone in their right mind. Which is a good reason not to work for people like that. Like a determined hound when you’re on a case, your intellect is unstoppable . You’re going to lance the corruption in the world around you before it spreads.
Each game of Headspace uses a Setting to tell its story, a distinct region or city of the world to explore, each with its own unique story to tell. Settings serve as the basis for tying the fiction of the Operators to the fiction of the world by connecting the stories of their skills with the specific events and issues that have shaped the setting.
A setting provides everything a GM needs to tell a story. It fills out the fiction of its region of the world and provides 4 ready-made Corporations each with its own Corporate Agent (NPC) and an initial story hook in the form of a Corporate Project.
Settings in Headspace are each treated as mutually exclusive from one another and don’t interact with each other. You are making your own version of Earth. Each setting has a different set of 5 Events, 5 Issues, and 5 Corporate Secrets that have changed the world into the dystopian future it is.
There are two settings built into the core game with more to follow as stretch goals:
by Lillian Cohen-Moore and Mark Richardson
A massive tsunami rocks the American Pacific Coast, 6 months later the city of Vancouver is on the edge of collapse. Vancouver continues to be plagued with earthquakes and flooding, continually setting back operations to recover the most shattered parts of the city. Vancouver's least affected areas were quietly taken over by corporations, who pled that "re-stabilising business will help the economy recover sooner." The people they forced into Devastation Zones and Quarantine areas have a vastly different perspective. Vancouver's barely contained mayhem, choked in corporate corruption and government failure. If something isn’t done, things will only get worse.
Day Zero in the Promised Land
by Shoshanna Kessock
It began with the devastating water shortage in 2066. NGOs and allied countries brought in what aid they could, but it was never enough. Many people lost their lives in the ensuing years. Everyone believed that the country would annihilate itself. All that changed in 2069. A group of scientists from around the world, along with the greatest Israeli and Palestinian thinkers from across the country, had come together to build a water reclamation centre.It was hailed worldwide as a miracle breakthrough, just in time to save the ravaged country from self-annihilation. That made the tragedy all the worse when the plant exploded in an act of terror that destroyed any chance of providing water to the country.
The loss of the water reclamation plant was devastating. The entire country lost hope in salvation and destabilised as the world watched on the news. In the end, the United Nations was invited to step in before the country collapsed and its people died of thirst. United Nations troops took control of the region under a provisional government in January 1, 2070. The idea was to shore up the country and then give it back to its own people. To ensure that remained the plan, the charter for the provisional government had a time limit: within seven years they must stabilise the region or leave. That was six years, eleven months ago, give or take a week.
“Running Headspace is a breeze because by the time you hit the game you have a really strong goal as a group AND emotional connections to both your fellow players AND big bads in the world.”
-Senda (She's a Super Geek Podcast)
#RPGnet Q&A Chat Session
A 2 hour Q&A session with members of the RPGnet community. The transcript is now online here.
Going Last PodcastThe Going Last duo of Kenna Conklin and Richard Malena talk about current RPG's on Kickstarter including a nice shoutout to Headspace RPG.
Going Last Podcast Kickstarter Roundup
Accidental Survivors PodcastChris and Fraser interview Mark Richardson and discuss the genre of Cyberpunk and what is going on the Headspace RPG.
Accidental Survivors Headspace Interview
Misdirected Mark PodcastChris Sniezak
and Phil Vecchione dive deep into the design of Headspace with Mark Richardson. This interview is great for anyone interested in learning more about how Headspace works and it's development.
Misdirected Mark Headspace Interview
Talking TableTop Podcast
Jim McClure has a detailed interview with Mark Richardson as they talk through his brand new game, Headspace, the art of Co-GMing, how Mark got into tabletop and game development.
Talking TableTop Headspace Interview
She's a Super Geek Review
After playing through their live play (see below) She's a Super Geek shares some commentary on what it was like to run as a GM.
GM Corner Review of Headspace
She’s a Super Geek Podcast
She’s a Super Geek hosts a live play through of the current Kickstarter Quickstart along with Jim McClure and Rob Abrazado for an actual play 2 parter:
She’s a Super Geek Podcast Actual Play Part 1
She’s a Super Geek Podcast Actual Play Part 2
One Shot Podcast
In the not too distant future, the governments and civil powers of the world have been eclipsed by corporations in terms of scale and influence. Even in the freest of places, the wide, white north of Canada. However, there are a few who cling to the last vestiges of freedom and individuality. These men and women risk their lives by performing missions on behalf of a counterculture that won’t be ruled by corporate influence. Their one advantage is the Headspace, a mental link that binds them into a single entity. …the irony is pretty lost on this particular group
Episode #26 features Mark Richardson, the designer behind a new game called Headspace. Headspace uses a modified version of Apocalypse World and features some great new, innovative mechanics. This episode has a lot of talk about mechanics, game design, and advice on writing adventures and worlds!
Tabletop Torch Podcast
We have loads of amazing stretch goals (every $2,600 CAD after funding) lined up for Headspace with some top RPG talent to help us write and publish dystopic future settings for use in your Headspace games. Each setting will feature a full-page colour map designed by Mark Richardson that provides a detailed background, a geography, and 4 unique Corporations. Everything you need to set your game in this vision of the future!
FUNDED! - Neo-Tokyo Pleasure Dome Ultra 2070 by Adam Koebel
A Japanese cyberpunk future, living and breathing the technological dream of the 90s - where Japan never suffered the economic crisis that broke its stride and now, cut off from the muck and blood of a post-war world, glitters on the horizon like a weird jewel. It’s Xanadu, it’s Shambhala, it’s Vegas, baby.
Inside the Neo-Tokyo Empire, corporations battle to provide the next new thing - a high pumped straight into your cortex. A sex-bot with skills tuned in from a million virtual beta-testers. Some new drug, some new song, some beautiful new mutilation not yet imagined. In meat-space, darker trades take place - the Tonarigumi, those cut off from the excesses of Cyberzone, patrol the cold streets to keep order among the junkies, burn-outs, and tourists. They say the next new thing will be the one that leads to enlightenment, breaks the barrier codes of Cyberzone, and starts the next step in human evolution. What’s your poison? First one's on the house.
FUNDED! - Paraiso Amazonia by Encho Chagas
South America 2070
While the world hungers, a few can enjoy the remaining natural resources of South America in the Paraiso Amazonia resort. After the sea level rose and sank most of the beaches around the world, what is left of the Amazon forest and its surroundings have been transformed into a huge leisure venture. Wild rain forests, great beaches, and air-conditioned environments, all equipped with the best technology and comfort money can buy. The greatest and last peaceful tourism destination in the world.
But while corporations try to keep control over their properties, at the expense of forgotten and cumulative population in slums around the enterprise, a few try to disclose the truth behind their doings. Misdemeanor advertising, raids, sabotage. Everything goes to fight the unrivaled power of the corporations.
FUNDED! - 100% Pure by Hamish Cameron
New Zealand 2070
They used to say you’re always prepared for the last disaster. That’s bullshit. When Christchurch got flattened in ‘11, quakes were on everyone’s mind, but the idea of disaster preparation vanished faster than the Civil Defense budget to feed the offshore accounts of the smiling corporate assassins. Short term profit ruled: buy low, sell the guts, discard the carcass.
So when the Alpine cracked in ‘50 and set off just about every fault in the Shaky Isles, no one was ready. The tidal waves and liquefaction sunk the Hutt and half of Wellington and slid most of the rest into the harbour. After sixty years of corporate globalisation, the government could do nothing but relocate to Auckland and sell what little of the country they still owned. A spreading halo of industrial wasteland encloses Auckland. Everyone with money and contacts fled to Nelson and the Coromandel. The corps took everything flat and green for their agri-factories and everything near the harbours for industrial sprawl and slum housing. Freedom lives in the bush with the cluster bombs and chemical agents, or in the cracks of the cities with the gangs and the ghosts and the Net. 100% Pure? Yeah, right.
FUNDED! - Hieroglyph of the Whale by Emily Care Boss
2087, Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone, Soleri Arcology, Beryl Zone
The mineral rush of the 50s meant boom-times for the Solerans. They crafted a spiralling city of terminal resilience and ultralux. But all that changed when their newly uplifted Tursiops and Megaptera laborers rose up. Thirty three years have gone by since the day the Bottlenecks pierced the nape and the Humpbacks crushed Corporate. After decades of silence a signal has emerged from Beryl Zone. Survivors call for a rescue and promise untapped riches in newly explored suboceanus troughs. Your team goes below to find the survivors, assess their claims and also investigate the possibility of reclaiming Soleri Arcology. At least, those are the questions you begin the adventure with...
FUNDED! - Carteles Unidos by Jesse Scoble
The US/Mexico Border 2060
The most frequently crossed border in the world - the US/Mexico border - is all hostile territory. The twinning border towns, San Diego/Tijuana, El Paso/Ciudad Juárez, and Brownsville/Matamoros, all vie for the title of "murder capital of North America." From the pernicious desert that straddles the militarized "Great Wall," to the bloody back-alleys of the border towns, the Narco Cartels have extended their grip and terror throughout the southwest. Narco-corridos are sung praising the sly rogues and brutal killers of the cartels, while cursing and damning the drones and armored personnel carriers and black helicopters of the Border Patrol. Caught between those two implacable forces are those trying to eke out a living, from the destitute who rummage and dwell in los dompes, to the cunning coyotes smuggling weary bands across the line, to the desperate citizens trying to take back the night.
$20,800 CAD - New Motor City by Kira Magrann
The architectural carcasses of old rust belt Detroit still haunt these neon streets; art deco theatres and car manufacturing plants preserved in spectacular ruin amidst fields of urban wasteland. Not far from these relics are the shiny new skyscrapers and lush urban farms that mark the revival of Detroit’s industrial landscape. New Motor City industry is a temple built to speed: fast cars, fast music, fast fame. It’s always been about transportation here, and corporations thrive on electric hybrids, vehicle mod trends, and the bio fueled superhighways that support the New Mobility. Detroit Techno has made a comeback in the form of massive local Street Burns that draw latex and dayglo clad ravers who race for pink slips. New media creates and destroys reality stars in a matter of days and tech start-ups with questionable morals support this culture. The urban farmland provides ultra-local paleo-genetic veggies and fish bioengineered to mimic natural foods inaccessible to all but the super-rich. There’s a distinct disparity between the downtown biotech revival and the shamefully neglected neighborhood sprawl. Beneath the success of the new tech and a renaissance of culture, race and class tensions are still prevalent, and the people grow restless.
$23,400 CAD – A Bloody Thaw by Will Hindmarch
The Arctic Ocean, 2044
How quickly can a city grow up? How fast can it fall down? Ice-melt in the Arctic Circle has created new pathways for commerce, revealed new resources to fight for, built up new fortunes, and made new magnates rich. The thawing coastlines opened turf and gave traction for new frontier ports, some of them hiding submersible smugglers and all of them teeming with black-market dealers looking to siphon their share from the planet’s last big oil boom. But as swiftly as they rose, these cities are coming apart. Even with half the ice, it’s cold on top of the world — and a storm is surely coming.
And many more!
We’ve got a bunch of great rewards for you: everything from softcover and hardcover books to stress track playmats with tokens and dice. Regardless of your reward level, you'll receive all our digital stretch goals as they release and get access to the Quickstart PDF allowing you and your friends to play right away! Domestic shipping is included, and we’re proud to say that international shipping is free!
Yup. You heard us right. There's no additional cost for international shipping. We're working with a new program called FedEx International Mail Service that greatly reduces our costs internationally, and we're excited to share those savings with you!
$13 INFILTRATOR: You get a PDF copy of Headspace, as well as any other PDF stretch goals we unlock throughout the campaign
Estimated Delivery: May 2016
$33 RUNNER: You get all the PDFs, including stretch goals. You also get a 6" x 9", SOFTCOVER, black and white copy of Headspace (approx. 200 pages).
Estimated Delivery: June 2016
RONIN: You get all the PDFs, including stretch goals. You also get a SOFTCOVER copy of Headspace, along with a colour laminated Stress Track and 6 Stress Track tokens.
Estimated Delivery: June 2016
$65 TECH: You get all the PDFs, including stretch goals. You also get a 6" x 9", HARDCOVER, b/w copy of Headspace (approx. 200 pages). Estimated Delivery: June 2016
CORPORATE (Retail): This tier is for retailers to get extra copies of the book. You get everything at the RUNNER level, plus two additional copies of the book to sell at your store.
Estimated Delivery: June 2016
$100 HANDLER: You get everything at the TECH tier, along with a colour laminated Stress Track and 6 Stress Track tokens and a pair of Headspace Dice.
Estimated Delivery: June 2016
THE CELL: Get your whole group equipped! You get 5 copies of the softcover b/w 6" x 9" Headspace book, all the PDFs,along with 5 colour laminated Stress Track and 30 Stress Track tokens and 5 pairs of Headspace Dice.
Estimated Delivery: June 2016
$325 (Limit of 4)
THE 1%: You get everything at the HANDLER tier. In addition, you’ll have the option to send us a photograph (yourself, a family member, a good friend) and Brian Patterson will transform it into an awesome Cyberpunk character. We’ll add these images to the core game and you’ll get the hi-resolution file to use however you like. (Please note that you must get permission from the subject!)
Estimated Delivery: June 2016
Add-ons are for adding some extra goodies to your order. To add one of the following to your order, increase your pledge by the appropriate amount. After the Kickstarter is over, you'll select exactly what add-ons you want using Backerkit.
Additional Dice Set - $7 CAD -Backers who have pledged at least $33 CAD or higher can add additional dice to your pledge for $7 CAD. No additional shipping.
Extra Softcover Copies of the Book - $33 CAD - Backers who have pledged at least $33 can get extra softcover copies of the Headspace book for $33 each. No additional shipping.
Extra Hardcover Copies of the Book - $65 CAD - Backers who have pledged at least $65 can get extra hardcover copies of the Headspace book for $65 each. No additional shipping.
The shared consciousness touchstone for my game is John Wyndham’s The Chrysallids, and I would credit Neuromancer, Blade Runner, and Akira (Manga) as major influences on my love for Cyberpunk. I wasn’t a Shadowrun kid growing up, but instead got my RPG punk from Cyberpunk 2020 and CyberGeneration by R. Talsorian Games.
Design-wise my biggest influence is the work of Vincent Baker’s Apocalypse World and the countless great games based on this work: Dungeon World, Monsterhearts, The Sprawl, Saga of the Icelanders. Additional design inspiration came from Penny for my Thoughts by Evil Hat Productions, Dread by The Impossible Dream and Mage: The Ascension by Onyx Path.
Media touchstones include the Akira and Ghost in the Shell manga, Blade Runner, Serial Experiments LAIN, The Bourne Series, The Matrix and most recently Sense8 (while representative of many ideas present in Headspace, this show was released just this year and didn’t affect my ideas much).
Headspace exists because of a team of amazing professionals who have brought their A-game to making this game a reality. Brian Patterson’s artwork perfectly captures the cyberpunk vibe with a splash of heroic manga. Mark Diaz Truman has provided invaluable guidance to the Kickstarter process and his company Magpie Games will be providing fulfillment services. Jeremy Morgan’s keen eye for details with copy editing has made the Quickstart text extremely tight! And a huge thank you to all the contributing authors who have provided exciting cyberpunk prose for the final game.
Kira Magrann is an artist, game designer, and queer feminist cyborg living in Columbus, Ohio. Her influences include Aubrey Beardsley, Anais Nin, and Masamune Shirow, and she has a particular love of cyberpunk and Victoriana. The roleplaying games she’s created are Crash Into You, Strict Machine, Game of Thrones (Play the Cards), and Twilight Dames (a FATEcore hack). She’s also contributed to the Fate Cortex, Game Chef, and Annalise. She is a co-organizer of Indie Games on Demand at Origins and Gen Con, and contributor to the Ennie award winning international feminist blog Gaming as Women. You can find her jewelry at Anima Metals on Etsy.
Will Hindmarch is a writer and game designer whose works include the cyberpunk-action escapade, Always/Never/Now. His writing and designs appear in numerous books, magazines, comics, and games, both analog and digital.
Risks and challenges
This is my first game design and first Kickstarter which is why I’ve brought on Mark Diaz Truman to help with the management of both the campaign and with final fulfillment. Mark Diaz Truman have a long history (seven Kickstarters including the ongoing Masks, Our Last Best Hope, Urban Shadows, and many more for other folks (Wicked Fantasy, World of Dew, etc). Which has given me tremendous confidence in my ability to budget and ultimately deliver on this game.
The largest problem most Kickstarter campaigns experience is delays. All the creative work that goes into a book like Headspace is tough to keep on schedule, but a great deal of the core text is already complete, and we promise to keep you updated and informed. Our commitment is always to the quality of our work, but nothing makes us happier than shipping books. Mark has been hard at work since 2012 on Headspace, and we’re excited to get to editing, layout, and printing on time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (26 days)