"The sword inherits its meaning from the wielder. The wielder inherits his meaning from our testament."
Orthodoxy is a roleplaying game about the politics of rewriting a religion and reconstructing a city. Throughout the course of the game, players will contribute to writing a text that will unify the land under a single religious ideology. Each player roleplays the upper echelons of a religious sect consisting of up to 5 people, including the sect's Lector and his closest followers. Over the course of the game each sect will narrate chapters of the text in order to make their virtues the most prominent in the newly-written text, cementing their power in the reformed religion. To do this, they'll need to engage in intrigue, bribery, compromise, and maybe even murder.
While Orthodoxy's default setting is a pseudo-Roman Christian city, the system is designed to be entirely portable to another setting. Since the core system of Orthodoxy is designed to simulate intrigue and debate, the potential settings are limitless. It isn't even necessary for your game to have a religious focus. The first Stretch Goal will likely be a sample Cyberpunk setting in which a hacker (the scribe) needs to compose a new code (the text) out of a set of contradictory programs (the players). The more that we raise- the more sample settings will be included!
"The Gods gave us intrigue so that we may feint the irreligious."
Each player adopts the role of a religious sect, a deviation from the central religion which, in the past, governed over the city. Each sect is composed of two virtues, a Primary Virtue and a Secondary Virtue,which are selected during Sect Creation. Through the course of play, each sect will attempt to insert their virtues into the text by narrating a story or offering a law which supports their ideology. The players' goal is to ensure that their virtues dominate the creed of the new orthodoxy, and thus, the reformed city. Each sect will likely only share a virtue with another sect, encouraging both collaboration and competition.
The GM assumes the role of the scribe, an emissary of the central government, who is responsible for writing the official text and keeping the city from slipping into revolution. As each day passes, the situation in the city becomes worse. The scribe will need to barter the city's influence for the sect's wealth and power in order to keep the central government in power. If the city falls into revolution, the game is over. However, the Scribe has the most individually powerful role- the opportunity to craft the city's future. He walks a fine line, but as a shrewd negotiator, a proficient scribe can reunite the city and make the secular state stronger than ever.
The final role is the Governor, a 3rd party who is absent for the entirety of the Campaign. However, at the end of the campaign, the Governor reviews this newly-written text and judges the level of influence each virtue has upon the reconstruction of the city. After completing his review of the new orthodoxy, the Governor will return the text to the players, who will then take turns narrating the city's future from the perspective of their Primary Virtue.
There are optional rules for playing a campaign without a Governor, although it is highly recommended to include one in the game. Anybody with a half-hour on their hands will suffice to play the Governor.
"In the eyes of the scribe, ink and blood are only a shade apart."
The game uses a d6 dice pool system to streamline the flow of debate, inspired by games like Fiasco, Houses of the Blooded, and Beyond. Play proceeds around the table, giving each sect the opportunity to propose a chapter, oppose a chapter, and barter their influence for the inclusion of their virtues in a chapter. While luck and dice are used to control the process of debate,only crafty politicking, brute negotiation, and clever storytelling will ensure your immortality in the city. To facilitate this, each sect has an 8.5" x 14" screen, allowing the player to pass notes in secret, conceal their wealth, and reference the rules with ease.
"The only difference between a stain and a precedent is the dignity it is awarded."
The Liber Veritas is a blank book designed to record your newly created religious text with helpful information for the Scribe and the Governor throughout its pages. Two copies of the Liber Veritas may be added to any Patron or Sponsor order for $10.
"Conviction without writ makes a hollow sound."
In addition, if Orthodoxy RPG achieves 25 Likes on our Facebook page or 25 tagged Tweets on Twitter, I will include rules for playing as a Heretical Sect!
Backer credits will be listed in the PDF of Orthodoxy in order to conserve space in the print edition*. We are hoping to have PDF copies distributed in September with print copies to follow in November (or sooner)!
* Depending on the interest shown for a hard copy, we are considering ways to include backer credits in the print edition in addition to the list in the PDF. If you've ever wanted to see your name in print, this is a great opportunity!
Risks and challenges
Print issues and delays: I am working with DriveThruNow, which has a very strong print service. They are a well-known publisher of roleplaying games, and they have a reputation to uphold. DriveThruNow will also host the pdf and print versions of the book once the Kickstarter is completed.
Art issues and delays: A large amount of the pledge goals consist of customized art pieces for the setting. Although Leo is a fantastic and productive artist, there may be more demand than she can satisfy. If this is the case, I have 2 other artists on standby in order to pick up any additional commissions.
- (30 days)