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$2,496 pledged of $6,000 goal
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By Hanford Harvey
$2,496 pledged of $6,000 goal
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About this project

Pulse Fantasy

The Pulse Fantasy game is a table-top RPG game using a core system developed by gamers for gamers to maximize immersion, customizability, and maintain smooth gameplay. The game is set in the world of Thodriel, a mystic fantasy world designed from its outset to serve as an ideal setting for nearly any fantasy campaign story.

The Pulse RPG Core System

I have been playing, running, and even working up home-brewed rpgs for about 30 years and played dozens of different systems and played with almost as many different groups. About a dozen years ago, one of my family members pointed out that I seem to enjoy creating things for a game even more than running or playing them, and I should start making them. So, I began ‘doing my homework’, I looked back at the games I had played already, and started to evaluate others as I tried them out, looking at what I felt was done well, what could be improved upon, and how I would approach things differently.

   Over the course of the next few years, I studied game design in college, and broke down my favorite table-top games, RPG video games, and even MMOs, as well as some of my less-than-favorites of the same. Then I sat down like a kid with the biggest set of Legos in the world and pieced together the basis for a system out of those things that were my favorite aspects, as well as those that were glaringly missing across the board. With the skeleton of the system put together, I approached a few of my family and friends who were also well-versed in table-top RPGs. Together we broke it down and tacked on new bits, tested them, refined the design, and nearly re-wrote the whole thing twice before we had the first draft of the system itself.

   The result is an RPG system that is designed to maintain smooth gameplay and avoid bogging down in endless streams of numbers and repeat rolls, provide a maximized level of customizability to players at character creation and throughout their progression through the game, and adapt easily to virtually any setting one could tell a story about. We lovingly dubbed it the Pulse RPG System, so named for the “heart-beat to heart-beat” flow of combat.

Pulse Fantasy and the world of Thodriel

Rather than just shuck out the core system and say ‘here, it can be fun in anything, try it’, we decided to first build a setting or two around it to really demo what they system could do. And so, we plan to implement a series of games, each a complete RPG in completely different settings, as well as put out the bare-bones system itself for others to create their own mutations. We decided to begin with a fantasy setting, then progress through the realms of cyberpunk, deep-space sci-fi, and modern or post-apocalyptic settings. The first of these is Pulse Fantasy.

   It’s important to note that we did not take ‘complete’ RPG lightly. The world of Thodriel is not by any means a phoned-in setting of a single peninsula or island whose geography and history are limited to enduring one adventure or locked into an already existing story. The world is massive (roughly 130% the total landmass of Earth) with its own mythology, long-running history, epic conflicts, strange creatures, and lost knowledge. Magical energies, demons, gods, monsters, everything has its own story for why it’s there or how it came to be, and we’ve left endless elbow room for new and stranger things to emerge and change.

   In many ways, the world of Thodriel is a tip of the hat to just a few of the endless storytellers, authors, screenwriters, and world mythos that have inspired us throughout our expeditions into fantasy realms. Many regions are designed to remind one of some of their (or at least our) favorite aspects of worlds and works from those such as J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, C.S. Lewis, and R.E. Howard. Others draw from Hong Kong cinema, and films and shows such as 300 and Spartacus. There are vast empires, cities gleaming from mountaintop to the coast and even under the sea. And yet, more than half the world is wild, untamed and unsettled. In short, it is a world designed to fit fantasy adventures of any sort and scale.

But what sets Pulse Fantasy apart?

There are many things in the Pulse System and the Thodriel setting that are different from games you may have already played. The most dramatic and key differences are:

  •  Customized Experience. The player truly has complete control of how to build their character, and how the character develops as they progress forward in their story. A wide range of origin, race, and ability choices are open to the player to create exactly the look and style of character they want to play, and these choices combine in a dynamic system that allows nearly unlimited adaptation. The choices don’t stop at creation, but continue throughout the character’s story, creating an endless number of possibilities for gameplay.
  •  No class restrictions. Gaining abilities does not restrict the character’s other abilities. A player’s choices enhance their existing abilities or provide new ones, but do not take away others. Simply because a character chooses to focus their training on magic does not prevent them from wielding a sword or girding on armor. Others who are more specialized in melee might show them up with a blade, but they are still capable of its use and can become skilled with them as well. 
  • Walk your own path. Pulse Fantasy does not have a ‘class system’. Characters begin as themselves, nothing more, nothing less. You may be a spoiled young noble out to earn a name for yourself, an orphaned urchin from the streets hoping to gain wealth and power, or a nomad from a band of gypsies who will keep travelling until he finds where the wind comes from. At different points in your character’s career, you will be able to choose to follow different ‘paths’ such as warrior, rogue, scholar, or a wandering vagabond, jack of all trades master of none. Each choice opens further, more difficult roads that you can explore, or walk another of those you passed by before.
  • Dynamic, intense, tactical combat. Combat in Pulse Fantasy is designed to flow smoothly from broad-sweeping mass combat, to intense individual duels, even flowing back and forth in the same encounter as the situation dictates. Even your front-line warrior must think about how he is going to fight; timing his strikes to land during a foe’s moment of error, and recovering quickly enough so no one else might return the favor. Combat style in Pulse Fantasy is more than picking a favorite weapon. One needs to decide how committed to offense they are, do they value mobility or armor? Characters do not have wells of hit-points to fall back on, but a limited number of critical wounds before they waver and fall, and every action taxes their reserve of energy, with those in prolonged battle searching desperately for a way to catch their breath before their legs give out beneath them.
  • Versatile and comprehensive crafting rules. We went to great lengths to develop crafting systems that were easy to use, but capable of creating just about anything the players could want, provided they have the skill and the desire to do so. As a result, all the items and belongings in the equipment chapter are equivalent to what a decently competent craftsman could make, rather than arbitrary values that correspond to little else. Likewise, nearly anything adventurers might want to build or storytellers might want present in the game can be built, from enchanted blades of untold power, to mighty airships and siege golems.
  • Dynamic spell-casting system. Pulse Fantasy uses a pool of twelve elemental energies and a list of dozens of different effects to allow players to create nearly any spell they can imagine. Those who don’t wish to delve too deeply can easily use individual effects to great result, while those who dig deep enough can create truly awe-inspiring spells. And for those who wish to dive even further into the realms of magic, the potent and risky field of ritual magic is always available.
  • Dual-Progression System. Characters in Pulse Fantasy progress along two axes. First, they progress in level, indicating how powerful they are growing and how great their individual legend has become. Second, they constantly build skills and abilities as they are used. This allows the player to have a constant sense of accomplishment, with additional boosts of power as they move to ever greater challenges.

So, where is the project at and what is the money for?

We have the core book in a complete draft form, meaning the rules and content are all there, but in basic text format and with few tables and no artwork to speak of. We have artists ready to create artwork for the book (some are willing to do a few free fan pieces, but the sheer volume needed requires that even the charitable charge), and are just about ready to format for a final print. We have tested the system and setting every step of the way up to the present over the last 2 years and change in development. However, we want to open up a broader round of alpha and beta testing before we call the game finished. We plan on this final round of testing and edit spanning about 6 months while we get the artwork added to the book. The majority of the funding will be to cover artwork and the printing of the first run of the core book. Additionally, the kick-start goal includes the funds to print several beta copies of the core book and bestiary for distribution to beta groups.

Expansions:

1. Art Upgrade I ($7500): The basic funding will provide cover art and essential art such as visual depictions of the different races and regional maps. If we can get a few dollars more, we can add chapter opening art, as well as concept and flavor art.

2. Bestiary ($10000): We have hundreds of creatures already created for the game ranging from real-world animals through renditions of creatures from mythos and lore, and of course many unique original creatures exclusive to Thodriel, but no artwork for them and would need to draft this book while the core book was finishing testing, but we would love to include this in the first run print, even expanding on the number and types of creatures.

3. Art Upgrade II ($12500): This would allow us to add extra pictorials to the Bestiary and add flavor art such as signature characters and scenery to the core book.

4. Compendium ($15000): Already in the works, but back-burnered to the core book, the compendium will expand on the setting of Thodriel, providing more detailed maps, racial profiles, dozens of expanded factions, detailed history of bygone ages, added plot hooks and adventure sites, as well as expanding magic to include demonic and draconic magics.

5. Adventure Pack ($20000): This book will contain pre-packed adventures based on the campaigns used to test the game, it will include the Avan Civil War and Demon Tide turn of the age adventures that were used to test the rough alpha version, as well as hand-picked adventures from the beta test groups.

6. Super-thorough testing ($40000): Though we have tested extensively with basic and advanced characters and varied groups of players and player-characters, a thorough play-test of the game from starting level through maximum level to exhaustively search for any remaining bumps in the system in need of sanding down requires more time than we can get a testing group to dedicate for free. This will cover a minimal core beta group to test the game back-to front during the beta phase.

7. Pulse RPG Core System ($45000): The core system in a concise book without setting modifications and ready to plug into the setting of your choice. We will put this out eventually anyway, but it’d be nice to make it part of the first run printing.

8. Master Art Upgrade and Art Book ($50000): Add flavor art, character sketches, and sub-race pictures to the books, as well as compile and print a book of all the artwork included in the core book, bestiary, compendium, and adventure pack.

9. Miniature Madness ($65000): Pulse Fantasy includes many unique races and creatures, and having accurate miniatures to portray them would be grand. This will cover the purchase of modeling software and a 3D printer for creation of figurines. As a special thanks, all Transcendent and higher contributors will receive the model files both of the opening set of miniatures later sets to include complete bestiary and alternate character models. All contributors of Divine Avatar tier and higher will receive a set of the 12 racial models that comprise the first set.

Risks and challenges

Many of the larger risks and challenges have already been overcome throughout the development process. The long design and development process has already been finished and we have worked out how long it takes to edit and reprint a version of the text, as well as already having had the development group grow and shave off those that are not committed to finishing this project regardless of obstacles and challenges. That being said, the foreseeable challenges and delays we have already considered are:

Fickle Artists:
We have run into more than one artist that has seemed interested, only to wander on to other interests and leave us with incomplete sketches and little or no useable art. To overcome this, we have managed to gather 5 artists dedicated to the project that are able to contribute to it. Their art styles are complimentary and feed into different aspects of the world setting as well, and so their compiled efforts will help ensure we have all the artwork we need and more (the more will be added to the art book if we hit that extended goal).

Printing Delays:
There is always the risk that our printer will not deliver the books in a timely manner. To help prevent this from interfering with delivery to our backers is one of the reasons we will be printing test-run copies of the beta draft of the book for the beta testers, allowing us to gauge the time-frame needed for delivery and set our deadline for the final print order as early as possible before the backer copies are due. We are also going to delay the first-run print until the books for our backers arrive, allowing us to go with an alternate local printer and send out backer copies on schedule and wait for the ordered copies to fill our reduced first-run.

Beta Group Communication:
By expanding our tester circle to several groups, it will be crucial to maintain communication with the beta groups to gain collaborative progress toward the common goal of a finished, polished project. For this purpose, most of the beta groups will be local, or run by members of our development staff that is already in regular contact with us. We will maintain a development website for regular feedback and distribution of changes to the beta draft, and also have alternate contact information collected for each beta group.

The Unforseen:
We try to ensure against the unforeseen, backing up our working documents regularly and using separated storage, keeping scheduled hours and committing extra time to each step in the event of delays. In the end, there's always something you didn't think of or that happens in an unusual way. For these situations, we plan on dealing with them as we always have. Our team's creativity and determination are not just focused upon the project itself, but also upon anything that has, or will get in our way completing it.

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Funding period

- (30 days)