About this project
Please go HERE.
Please note that all prices are in Canadian Dollars which is currently quite a bit weaker than the US Dollar (~27-30% less). I apologize for the strange pledge amounts, but the majority of companies and contractors I deal with are in USD.
July 28, 2016:
- Added a new Pledge Tier – Limited Collector’s Edition. All Creation Tier Pledgers may upgrade their book to the Collector’s Edition for free. Trailblazers that want to upgrade but also keep their Early Adopter credit, please see this UPDATE for more information.
- Added a new Pledge Tier - Book Lover: Get both the Collector's Edition and the Standard Hardcover.
Explore the forgotten remnants of a once Golden Age when mortals rose to challenge gods. Rediscover long forgotten ancient technologies that blur the lines between reality and wonder. Stride atop colossal mechanized machines of war from a bygone era. Embrace the discovery of new and exciting cultures in a scarred landscape full of secrets and hidden beauty.
In a world that teeters on the brink of apocalypse, become the dim light of hope that shines among a sea of darkness or take advantage of the chaos in the world and make your own mark. Whatever flavour of adventure you choose, you will have to work together to achieve it.
Unity is a tabletop RPG set in an epic fantasy world that’s infused with a dash of arcane powered technology. The game takes place in a realm torn apart by the very same God that created it. His children, the four races of Unity, were punished for their hubris and left for dead. Now they struggle to come together and unite against the grim horrors of a world on fire.
Mechanically, the game has been designed to blend narrative ease for telling spectacular stories with a robust combat system that facilitates deep and engaging tactical battles. The game emphasizes teamwork and allows players to combine their abilities and develop powerful synergies to overcome challenging encounters. Narrative mechanics are in place to encourage players to paint cinematic scenes alongside the GM and also provide an avenue for deep character development.
The Core Rulebook will be a beautifully crafted 330+ page hardcover book that will contain everything you need to start playing:
- Full Setting Guide
- Complete Rules System
- Foes to Fight
- GM's Guide
Unity has been built from the ground up with tuning knobs and dials so that you can tailor the experience to your group's tastes. There are guidelines on how to tweak a certain mechanic up or down and sometimes you can just remove it from play entirely. Unity as presented in the Core Rulebook will be the default way I would recommend you to play Unity, but I'm a big believer that there isn't "one true way to play." I wanted this flexibility to be a part of the design philosophy from the start.
The game draws upon familiar tropes and its characters, classes, and factions are inspired by traditional fantasy fare. These along with the carefully designed powers can be viewed as blueprints that can be readily reskinned for flavour and tailored to your liking. All the hard work and behind the scenes calculations and testing have been done for you. You may need to roll up your sleeves a bit the further your customization deviates from a high fantasy setting though.
The Age of Unity has long passed. For some half a millennia, four races have fiercely struggled to survive a world torn asunder by the very hand that created it. The Skyfather, Lord of Creation, has watched over and nurtured the world of Unity and all its inhabitants since time immemorial. With his Ivory Queen by his side, they created three children to inherit paradise from them: the Valla, the Furians and finally the youngest, Humanity.
Like the turning of the seasons, peace was a transient and fragile thing. A never ending war broke out between the Children of Unity. The unbridled savagery and countless deaths that resulted from it filled the Skyfather with great sorrow. A profound sense of failure overwhelmed him and one fateful day he left Unity and headed deep into the cosmos.
Unable to contain her grief over her children’s bloodshed and now the loss of her beloved, the Ivory Queen struggled to find a way to save her children and bring home their Father. The answer came, not of her own volition, but from a whisper deep beyond the void. The Ivory Queen could not resist the idyllic promise of harmony and the return of her beloved. In a desperate and misguided attempt, the Ivory Queen created all manner of fearsome beasts and creatures to set upon her children. Banded together under a blood red banner, the Crimson Horde assaulted all three empires relentlessly. A common enemy would unite the Children, the voice promised. It did more than unite them, it turned them into the greatest fighting force the world had ever seen. Combining their unique gifts, the Children of Unity beat back the Crimson Horde, scattering them for centuries to come.
Clouded by the intoxicating promise of a better and brighter tomorrow, the Ivory Queen lacked the foresight to anticipate the tragedy that would follow. Even as the decades passed and Unity was rebuilt to even greater splendor than ever before, the Children were still filled with anger and hubris. The fires of betrayal burning in their hearts would not be quelled until retribution was served.
They shattered the Throne of Heaven, a conduit to the divine, and took their fight to the Ivory Queen. Greatly weakened from having created the Crimson Horde, the Queen could not survive the onslaught from her own children. Her death scream reached across the cosmos and pulled the Skyfather back across countless stars to Unity. In his inconsolable rage, he struck the world, pulling back only at the last moment – a whisper of mercy still in his aching heart.
The force of his abated strike tore the fabric of reality. The Drift, an immaterial world consisting of the spiritual, psychic, and emotional emanations of all living things spilled forth through the break.
The sundering of reality marked the dawn of the Age of Wrath. Due to the sheer amount of spiritual energy pouring out of the breach, the automatons of the Human Empire began to come alive with sentience, the dead were rising from their graves in the Eastern Kingdoms, and the scattered remnants of the Crimson Horde began re-emerging from the wilds in the north. The darkest hour was yet to come. From the deepest parts of the Drift, the parts that harbour the evil thoughts and vicious emotions of all living things, sprung a legion of demonic entities known as the Fell.
The Fell spilled forth from the breach and washed over Unity like a black tide of unending doom. Countless lives were given to stem the sea of the darkness. The price for their sinful pride was paid in full when the Children of Unity were cursed by the Skyfather -- his final judgement for their unforgivable crime of matricide. Their unique gifts were stripped from them and a plague was sent to destroy a third of Humanity, giving rise to the Afflicted, a new faction.
The world now teeters on the edge of oblivion. Apocalypse looms on the horizon as civilization is beset on all sides by terror and tyranny. Alliances are shattered as kingdoms lie broken and smouldering. Now more than ever is a time for heroes. It is a time for redemption. It is a time to find unity once more.
A World On Fire
Scorched deserts, smoldering ruins, dead gray forests, and steamy bog marshes dot the lands where the Drift has spilled through the cracks of reality and brought with it terrors from the dark. It has been difficult to find harmony when danger lurks around every corner. This has caused a shift in cultural consciousness from one of striving to merely surviving. With such a mentality, the world has become a darker and more dangerous place than it has ever been.
One of the core themes Unity promotes exploring is the question of morality. In a world that’s slowly devouring itself, people’s hearts become closed as fear and instinct overtake them. The imperative to survive can lead to actions that are questionable. Yet these situations can inspire reflection. Is it wrong to steal so that your child won’t starve? Is it wrong to kill a bandit who’s stealing from you to feed her child? Unity’s setting provides rich tropes to draw on, providing fodder for creating emotional stories and moral dilemmas.
An example are the sentient automatons, once mindless slaves who are now thoughtful living beings. Some seek to liberate their still entrapped brethren while others seek vengeance on their flesh wearing ‘masters’. Should they be free? Are they truly alive? What about the idea of a ‘good robot’? Do they exist? Can they feel?
Since the beginning of creation, the major races of the world have oscillated between apathy, tension, unity, and all out war. Throughout the ages, the Valla, the Furians, and the Humans have fought both against each other and together against a common enemy. Where our story begins, the Age of Unity has ended like the setting of a glorious sun, making way for the dusk of troubled times to come. The pressures of survival cause tensions to run high as fear conquers empathy. Each race points a finger at the other, blaming them for the Great Calamity and the darkness that is encroaching on their world.
As part of the new generation coming into a precarious landscape, will you be able to inspire hope and open doors again or will you take advantage of the prejudice and chaos for your own benefit?
Before the Skyfather became the Mad God, before the Fell spilled into the world, before the Children of Unity were brought to their knees, there was a time when the people came close to touching perfection. The Age of Unity was a golden era for all the major races. Working together as one united force, they knew no equal in the world. There was no enemy or power that could threaten them -- not until the Skyfather had returned full of wrath and vengeance to become the Mad God. During this glorious age, the Children of Unity combined technological ingenuity with arcane knowledge to create marvelous wonders.
Weapons and tools of vast power became common, robotic automaton slaves were a household item, and as if to affront the divine, the Children of Unity created mechanical constructs so large they could touch the sky. These Titan Rigs, along with a host of other incredible creations, are now long buried and lost to the sands of time. The knowledge to maintain and recreate such things is said to be lost, especially since the best and brightest minds were afflicted with the horrible disease known as the Phage.
Exploration & Discovery
Despite the bleakness of the world, there are hidden gems tucked away from the turmoil that besets Unity. Secret places untouched by the darkness lie in wait, ripe for exploration and discovery. These are places of beauty, places where folks have learned to work together, places where hope still lives on. There are large patches of the landscape that are still unexplored or have now been transformed so significantly that it is difficult to say what will be found by an intrepid adventurer.
Where will you go? What will you discover out there?
At its core Unity has always been about telling great stories while having a solid mechanical foundation to satisfy a certain gaming itch. The storyteller inside of me loved RPGs that encouraged sweeping and cinematic scene painting, while the gamer inside of me also enjoyed the tactical aspects of combat along with the excitement and anticipation of building a mighty yet flavourful character.
In Unity, characters are not constrained by a mess of rules when they tempt fate with an outrageous or heroic action. In our adventures, it is the ludicrous and impossible moments that we remember and cherish. At the same time, the rules aren’t so lite that character progress becomes nebulous or combat is reduced to a fanciful conversation of improvised sword strokes and footwork. Let’s have some mechanical heft and defined evocative powers to play with as well!
It is my hope that there are others out there who are looking for a similar blend of streamlined narrative mechanics that promote telling interesting stories and embracing the impossible, while still having a robust mechanical framework for fantastic character building and deep tactical battles.
Unity’s system encourages strategic teamplay through the development of synergistic powers and a combat engine that facilitates the execution of these tactics. Simultaneous resolution, diceless GMing and the dissolution of individual turn orders combine to increase player engagement and speed of play.
My final guiding philosophy in developing Unity is to not just create a "game". Whenever I pick up a tabletop RPG rulebook, I become excited at the wonderful possibilities ahead. New lands and cultures to explore. Evocative and breathtaking artwork. A rich history that transports me out from the mundane and provides me with a few precious moments of being immersed in an entirely different world. I can feel myself begin to care about a made up place and its people. Then I can take all of that to the table and bring my friends along with me. That's powerful.
Unity will be more than just a game. It will be a story book, an art book, and a game book. It will strive to be like the books that I happily lost my youth to -- and now some of the quieter parts of my adult life as well.
There is a FREE 43 page Sampler available on DriveThruRPG complete with artwork containing various snippets from the Core Rulebook. These include an introduction to basic rules, write-ups on the playable races, combat and combo examples, full Tier 1 power list for the Dreadnought class, examples of enemies you’ll encounter and more. Click the image below to grab it.
Character Creation Video
Click on any of the following sample spotlights to take a quick look at some of their powers and gain a bit of insight into the design intention and tactical possibilities.
Six rounds of combat from an early playtesting session for Unity.
Creation Tier PledgesA big part of this Kickstarter for me is to provide the opportunity for collaborating with the community and fans to really make Unity an indie RPG built upon the spirit of our hobby.
From it's initial public inception, Unity has been constantly shaped by feedback from the public and you can see a lot of the design tweaks from the mechanics of the game to layout suggestions actually make it into the product, some of which are in the free sampler already. All of this I believe from the bottom of my heart, has made Unity that much better and I'm so very grateful for the community's help.
The Creation Pledge Tiers are a continuation of this tradition and will provide an avenue for creative expression from backers who would like to see their ideas come to life in a polished premium quality product.
Creation Tier Pledges receive FREE shipping and the option for a FREE upgrade to the Collector's Edition of the Book.
Copyright and Content
Please note that Zensara Studios will retain full copyright of the work. You will have non-commercial rights to your creation and the artwork for it. What this means is you can absolutely use it for personal usage, but it cannot be used commercially or for profit. I also reserve the right to deny any suggestion.
A few examples of why a suggestion might be denied:
- Fails to be compatible with the theme and setting of the game
- Is considered offensive
- The concept you suggest has copyright issues with existing content out there currently
Scheduling and Timelines
Shortly after the Kickstarter ends, all pledges at the Creation tiers will be sent a template and information package tailored to their Creation category. The template will help you shape your concept and also provide a springboard for discussion when it comes time for us to collaborate together.
Priority for scheduling will be given to the highest-priced pledge tiers first. Once the schedule is in place, I will engage with each Creation tier pledge and help you bring your vision to life as part of Unity's world.
All backers at the Basic Digital tier and upwards will receive an Early Access packet that will contain:
- The Core Rules
- All 9 classes to choose from
- A handful of monsters/NPCs to contend with
- A GM's Guide
- A brief introduction adventure to get the ball rolling
The Early Access packet will be fully laid out with artwork and you can expect the same level of quality found in the Free Sampler. The packet will be made available by November 2016 or earlier.
Those backers that provide significant feedback will receive a credit at the front of the book.
Unity has been a work in progress for 2 years. I’ve taken it as far as I possibly can and now I need your help for the home stretch. I’ve seeded about 50% of the artwork required to fill the 330+ page book and put in hundreds of hours creating and testing the lore and the rules of the game.
I don’t believe in asking others to invest in something unless I’m willing to invest in it myself. Everything I've put into the project up until now is considered a sunk cost (it's not going to be recovered with this campaign) and the funding goal for the Kickstarter is solely to complete it, get it polished, printed and out there.
Artwork, Printing and an Editor
I’m asking for your patronage to help me take this game the rest of the way to the printing press. Funds will be used to fill all the remaining artwork slots, fund a print run, and hire an editor.
Early Access Feedback
Furthermore, I’m hoping your interest and investment in Unity will motivate you and your gaming groups to provide feedback during the Early Access phase of the game (November 2016 or earlier) to help tighten the numbers on Class balance and help identify any potential exploits or power loops. My local testing groups are absolute champions, but they can only do so much. Those that provide substantial or significant feedback will receive a credit at the front of the book, and my deepest thanks for your diligence.
Should the Kickstarter exceed its initial goal and start tapping into certain Stretch Goals that add more content to the product, these excess funds will be used to hire additional writers to ensure we meet our deadlines.
One of the things I'm most excited about for this Kickstarter is getting a chance to embrace the spirit of our beloved hobby. When we sit down at the table on game night, we're all collaborators in weaving a fantastical tale together. I see such a beautiful parallel in the platform that is Kickstarter and the opportunity afforded to both myself and you as a potential supporter to create something wonderful.
I've included pledge tiers for those with a creative itch to immortalize their ideas as a part of the Unity tapestry. I get excited at the thought of a backer sitting down at the table with their friends and opening the book to a monster that they created or a weapon of renown pulled from their imagination -- or if we want to go big, a truly epic Titan Rig built to their specifications.
Working together with backers at the Creation pledge tiers is something I'm very much looking forward to.
We will be collecting shipping after the Kickstarter campaign ends via PledgeManager to ensure that we've secured the best prices for your location. Do not add shipping to your pledge here on KS but keep in mind the additional shipping cost that will be collected after the Kickstarter ends using the table below.
Here is what you should expect roughly for a single hardcover book:
All Creation level pledges will receive FREE SHIPPING.
*Please bear in mind that these prices might go up or down by a small amount due to exchange rates. I will continue to look into shipping rates as the campaign progresses and I get a clearer picture of the geographic distribution of pledges*
I am working with fulfillment companies that have ensured they can provide US, EU, and Australia friendly shipping in writing to me. This means there should be no surprise charges on your end when you receive the product.
I apologize in advance that some countries are stuck with higher shipping prices. Shipping seems to get more expensive everyday and is a significant cost in any campaign where physical goods are concerned.
To my fellow Canadians: I feel terrible I can't guarantee a customs/duty free experience just yet. I know this pain all too well. I'm currently working on this aspect, but a lot of this is based on the amount of Canadians that will be backing at a physical level to make a freight shipment to Canada actually be feasible (and therefore alleviate any chance of customs/duties). Even if we aren't able to make a freight shipment feasible, my fulfillment company has told me that it's extremely rare that they've had a Canadian customer report customs/duties payment on the shipment (5%).
Let's work together to give Unity a signal boost and get some cool stuff while we're at it.
- Digital Wallpapers
- A form fill-able Quick Reference Party Sheet.
Video edited by: Karlo Marković
Musical Credit for Video: If I Lose Myself Tonight by Danny Olson.
Risks and challenges
Scheduling: There’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to publishing and while I’ve done extensive research and laid the groundwork for this project, (reaching out to freelancers, printing companies, shipping companies, customs brokerage etc.) I’ve learned that the smallest thing can cause a large delay. There’s a cascade effect that can happen i.e. your proofing process takes longer than expected and you miss your freight shipping window -- that’s an extra few weeks tacked onto the timeline for possibly a word or two misspelled or a picture slightly off center in the layout. With a 330+ page book, there is the strong potential for these kind of hiccups. I’ve baked these risks into a pessimistic deadline for delivery in order to give us some breathing room. The PDF version of the game will be completed ahead of time and sent to backers while they wait for the hardcover. I feel it's always better to under-promise and over-deliver.
Project Delivery: The rules in our latest iteration are at a place I’m happy with and are mostly written, minus some more testing and finalization for the Titan Rig mechanics along with the completion of the GM’s Guide. Due to Unity’s design, class balance will be an ongoing effort with regards to tuning numbers and ability pruning where there’s redundancy or exploitable mechanics. This part of the design process should be significantly bolstered once the Early Access packets go out to backers (please provide feedback!) With 50% of the artwork finished already and a pen of artists to draw upon, it is unlikely artwork commissions will hold up delivery. Editing will be the final piece of the puzzle. Barring being struck by lightning or afflicted with a terminal illness, Unity is getting made and finding its way into your hands.
Finances: I’ve spent a lot of time forming relationships with my contractors, printing, and fulfillment companies. I have quotes in place for each part of the process. However, quotes can change over time and there are other risks like fluctuations in exchange rates to be wary of in my situation. I am aware of these risks and am prepared to cover any additional costs that might be incurred.
Experience: While this is my first Kickstarter project, it’s definitely not my first large scale project that I’ve tackled. I have a background in Project Management and 5+ years of experience implementing successful projects across large scale organizations and multiple hospitals in the healthcare industry. I’ve done this as a member of a team and also by myself. I am fully committed to bringing that same rigor and attention to detail for Unity.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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