Is It a Plane!? is not just about playing comic book characters; you create the comic book as you play!
Protagonists must create actions to deal with Situations, from Bank Robberies to Alien Invasions!
Players must DRAW their intended actions, rather than describe them; you may have three minutes... or you may only have thirty seconds!
No artistic skill is required; rudimentary and simplistic stick-people doodles are just fine.
Play is fast and frantic, and player action is entirely simultaneous.
When complete, Panels are placed in a sequence of events across two Pages.
You might have been attempting to fireball a villain and launch them through a building... but what happens next is what the Editor (GM) thinks you were doing, based on your doodles!
Click the link here if you wish to see a five minute game-play video (many thanks to Richard Roberts for filming and editing, and Sian Roberts for being the Editor/Games Master, and gathering the player group).
If you mean that you are bad at drawing, worry not true believer! In the limited time to draw that all players will have, even artists will create hastily drawn images that may occasionally be misinterpreted. If you can draw crude stick-people and wonky squares that are supposed to be houses, then that'll do just fine.
GM playtester and backer Mike Hammond sums this up pretty well: "The funny thing about drawing skill is that it's actually tangential to the game! The real skill this game calls for is more like art direction - choosing a distinctive colour scheme and framing your scenes with enough simplicity to convey the action. If you can pick a consistent colour and maybe one good distinguishing feature of your character, then as long as you can draw a stick figure and write the word "POW!" then you can play as well as anyone."
The more you play, the more you will find easy ways to communicate what you are doing to the Editor (Games Master). You may also get better at drawing at speed when playing a campaign. This game could also be used to learn or relearn how to draw, and there is a potential draw for young players, and for people that may benefit from physical therapy.
If you cannot physically draw, then you could be the Editor. The Editor does not have to draw at all (though they have options to do so), and this is quick and easy to pick up, and far less complicated than most RPGs.
I am also working on adding in some additional optional rules to further aid players who are not confident at drawing or physically unable to do so in the way the game requires.
Impressions from players ...
“The comic book issue framing of the narrative is innovative and a great way to invite players to consider the overall story. The frantic nature of the drawing phase was great fun: especially once I’d gotten the hang of understanding the way you were likely to interpret the images! Is it a Plane!? features a truly innovative resolution mechanic that enables an immense range of character abilities. That you create a comic book issue in play is fantastic.” Sean Smith - designer of EXUVIAE and QUARREL & FABLE.
“Whilst initially Is It A Plane!? may appear frivolous, it offers some truly surprising opportunities for very serious and compelling role-play with real character and story investment. It is of course, a lot of comic super hero fun”- Brendan Foster.
"Is It a Plane!? is an absolute delight to play, the comic-styling naturally lending itself to player imagination and camaraderie, celebrating both in-game success and toasting the occasional oddities that occur when your beautifully formed artwork is misunderstood by the GM…Fortunately, there are ways to come back from that which are also splendidly in-tune with the comic book vibe which the system’s laced with... Coming to the game for the first time, playing with complete strangers and possessing limited artistic skills, I was still able to pick up and play the game with relative ease – the limit’s more creativity than artistic talent. If you have the former, then you’re probably going to have fun here!” - Matthew J. Tozer.
“I like the free-flowing nature of it, with everyone all playing at once. The use of different lengths of drawing time is good, adds a real sense of urgency when dealing with a situation. Personally I also like how there’s less need for stats” – Ruth Berry
“I think that it’s a great way of being involved in a game if you don’t always feel like talking and explaining stuff in front of people. A fun way to play as a group as you don’t feel like you’re not as good as other players as with the time limit everyone draws in.”- Nadine Haskey.
“The pace was good and was filled with action, I could see influences from the IltC (I Love the Corps) system.”- Tom Woodhall
Impressions of Games Masters and proofreaders ...
“When you boil the game down, it’s very straightforward to play and to GM. I believe if someone buying this game off a shelf were to sit down and learn the game, they could do so competently and be ready to play in a reasonable time”- Damien Jones.
“As a novice GM, and relatively inexperienced role-player, I can attest to the ease and simplicity of running and playing Is It A Plane!? if you can draw stick men and count to ten, you’re already half way there!”- Joe Down
“The game is staggering… I am caught up in the magnitude of it. As a game designer myself…and a player of several others, I can see how once you get…in gear, as an Editor, it would flow nicely!!!” - Philip Apostolakopoulos.
- This isn’t just a superhero game; you actually create a comic book as you play!
- Any kind of comic book genre or character you can imagine is up for grabs.
- To give a fast-paced, frenetic comic book feel, players have between 30 seconds and 3 minutes to draw, and any players who want to take action do so at the same time.
- Players draw on Panels to create their intended actions. They have four sizes of Panel to choose from, and can draw as much or as little as they wish in the time given.
- This is a role-playing game. Most of the game involves as much verbal role-play as you wish, but when actions with chances of success or failure occur, the game enters the Visual Phase. You then get limited time to direct actions and other players with role-played speech.
- There are no dice rolls. When it's time for dramatic actions, you need to DRAW them!
- Characters can be in different geographical locations, or even time periods, and still get to act simultaneously.
- Players always have something to do: if your Protagonist is Out of Action or if you're choosing not to participate in drawing, you get to interpret the drawings the other players have created instead, along with the Editor.
- An RPG with absolutely zero maths in play for players.
- Characters sheets do have numbers and statistics, but these are just used to frame what your Protagonist is capable of.
- Skill-sets and power-sets derive from Specialities and Shticks, which let the players know what kind of actions they can draw to be successful.
- Struggling to get the Editor to decipher your drawings? Need extra time to draw what you have in your head? Earn some Story Points, and either of these options and more are available to you!
- Spend Story Points to trigger Stunts and Twists.
- If you need Story Points desperately, you can draw an event corresponding to one of your character's Setbacks, an earn what you sorely need.
- Story Points will be rewarded through any other means by the Editor during play.
- All players have access to the same Stunts and Twists, listed on the back of the character sheet. They also can use this to keep track of their Story Points, and any Harm they may receive from events.
- Editors (Games Masters) just need to be able to count to 10!
- The Editor must decide what happens based on how they interpret the players’ drawings, the Power of their Panels and the Situations they are up against.
- The Editor sees how the actions of Panels connect together and judges what a Protagonist is capable of based on their Specialities and Shticks.
- Everything in the game, from a Ticking Bomb to a Raging Fire or a devastating supervillain like Orgos the Destroyer, is a Situation that Protagonists must defeat.
- Editors don't have to deal with exhausting statistics, just a few words or phrases with attached numbers.
- Situations have Power, represented by a difficulty number between 1 and 9. The Power of Situations can be increased or decreased by the Power of Panels used. Panel Power is based upon size. The greater the size of the Panel, the greater its Power.
- The Power of a Panel may decrease or INCREASE the Power of a Situation, depending on how the Editor interprets drawings.
- Engage in close combat without the Close Range Attack Shtick, and you are likely to either increase the Situation, or takes its power as Physical or Mental Harm!
- The more Pages you use up, the closer you will get to completing a 22 Page Issue. The Editor keeps track of total pages used up during play.
- The largest Panels available are Splash Panels. They use up an entire Page, but have a Power of 5.
- Using larger Panels will reduce Situations potentially more quickly, but also give players less time to resolve all of the Situations in a scene before an Issue ends.
- If you fail to defeat all the Situations by the time an Issue ends, things will go badly for the Protagonists when the next Issue opens!
- Is it a Plane!? does not have its own inherent setting. However, the book will feature an adventure with a Silver Age 60s superhero mini-setting.
- There will also be plenty of advice on building your own comic book settings.
- There are several stretch goals intended for additional adventure books. These will each have their own very different setting and style. These tales are intended as reflections of a multitude of comic book genres, styles and eras. Everything from horror monsters to noir masked heroes will feature.
- The Kickstarter will fund the creation of a 8.25'' by 11'' soft-cover book, estimated at 164 pages in length. It is currently in text file form, so final edits or graphic design requirements could adjust the page count. Most of the major editing is complete, so page adjustments should be minor. An additional 12 pages could be added through the BRONZE AGE stretch goal.
- The initial funding goal will be used to pay for the colour covers and black and white interior art. 15% of the funding will be used for a combination of: paying Kickstarter fees, covering some promotional costs, allowance for additional art that may be required from possible design alterations and covering Paypal fees for overseas artists.
- This mighty tome will contain everything you need to know to play the game: creating characters, how to be the Editor (Games Master) and advice to create your own comic book settings.
- The book will also give you an adventure, Rise of the New Sentinels, which comes with a Silver Age mini-setting, six pre-generated characters and all you need to run a story arc that will last many Issues (and games!)
- By pledging, you will also be able to order official Is It a Plane!? Panels to play the game with. Available printed Panels come in three sizes, each with a different Power, from 1 to 3. These can be used to make your drawings in game, and are also part of the game mechanics. You can use pieces of paper or card, or use post-it notes, but without laminating what you use, an extensive amount of materials will be used, so Panels will be a handy resource for players and Editors.
- Unfortunately, DriveThruRPG doesn't provide A4-sized cards that are suitable for use as Splash Panels. These can be represented by scrap paper or card and laminated for reuse.
- The December 2018 deadline given with the Reward levels is an estimate for the production of the main book. If additional adventures are made possible from stretch goal funding, these will follow later.
- The current estimate is to take an additional three months per adventure book to make those available for PDF download and printing.
- DriveThruRPG will be used to provide backers with their PDFs, books and Panels (via DriveThru's card printing facility).
- PDF codes will be sent to backers to download the IIaP book for free. For printed books, codes will be provided so backers only need to pay for their own printing and shipping. Pledges will be discounted accordingly, in comparison with intended book sale prices.
- At the current estimated page size, the estimated print cost for the Is It a Plane!? book is £4.01/$5.45.
- If any books are unlocked by the WHEN ADVENTURE CALLS stretch goals, their print cost is estimated at £3.08/$4.29. Rewards will be created for access to these books, if they are unlocked.
- The recently added SOLDIER reward level gives you access to Psychic Cactus Games's first published RPG, I Love the Corps. You'll get print codes to pay for only the print and shipping costs of the Marine Training Manual, Classified Materials and Mission Dossier. You will also be given codes to download the PDFs for free (so if you don't want to pay for additional books, but want to see this other game in action, this reward is still highly worthwhile). This game is already released, so these codes can be given as soon as funding is achieved. The codes will also be given to those with rewards levels higher than SOLDIER.
- See http://www.ilovethecorps.com/ for more information on these books. You can also check out the page for the Kickstarter that was launched and funded in 2016. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/222832406/i-love-the-corps-an-action-horror-and-military-sci
- The print costs for the I Love the Corps books are as follows: Marine Training Manual ($7.42/£5.56), Classified Materials ($8.65/£6.48), Mission Dossier ($6.98/£5.23).
- DriveThru's shipping costs are laid down via the following links (and average around $5 for North American and European backers). http://support.drivethrurpg.com/hc/en-us/articles/209936893
- DriveThruRPG has card printing facilities, so backers that want them will be able to choose pledge levels that include Is it a Plane!? Panels. These cards will be suitable for dry wipe eraser pens, and have one blank side for drawing and an IIaP logo and Power rating (for use in play) on the back.
- There will be 48 Power 1 Panels (print cost- £3.07/$4.32), 30 Power 2 Panels (print cost- £3.63/$5.10) and 12 Power 3 Panels (£2.13/$3.00). It is recommended that all three sets are printed to play the game.
- SILVER AGE (£6700): the interior art for the Is It a Plane!? book will be presented in colour.
- BRONZE AGE (£7220): images be will be added to the backer page to look like a comic book character roster, with appropriate heroic mugshots representing the name of each backer level. This will unlock the RAMPAGING MONSTER pledge level, which will allow a limited number of backers to pledge to get a mugshot image to their specification.
- DARK AGE (£11060): the narrative text story running through each of the six chapters of the Is It a Plane!? book will be replaced with full colour comic book pages. There will be a 22 page comic book story running throughout the book, with an additional 'front' and 'back' cover image for the story, split up so there are four pages per chapter of this comic book tale. Backers who back at the GLOBAL PROTECTOR pledge level to have characters included in the story now get to see their submitted characters in full artistic form.
- MODERN AGE (£11535): backers of the INNOCENT BYSTANDER level and above will receive a 22 page PDF entitled Heroes of the Day. The PDF will feature 10 heroes, based on the Archetypes in the book. Whereas the Archetypes are written for players to choose from statistical options and create their own Protagonists, these characters come with fully assigned statistics, personalities, backgrounds, skill-sets/power-sets and each has a unique full page image for the character, as well as an appropriate stick figure in the Appearance box. This will unlock the INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTAR pledge level, which will allow backers to have their own personalised character and image featured in the PDF. Every backer who backs for PDFs or books will get this PDF for free.
- WHEN ADVENTURE CALLS, ISSUE 1 (£14245): I will create a roughly 50-60 page adventure book, called Midnight Watch, which has already been drafted and tested. All backers who pledge at INNOCENT BYSTANDER and above will receive this adventure as a free PDF. This will unlock the GOVERNMENT AGENT pledge level, which will allow backers to get codes for printing both this adventure and any other books gained from unlocking the WHEN ADVENTURE CALLS stretch levels. Midnight Watch is a World War 2 noir tale, presented in a Dark Age style, where there are no true super powers, but gadgets and enhanced chemicals are available.
- WHEN ADVENTURE CALLS, ISSUE 2 (£16955): I will create a roughly 50-60 page adventure book for an adventure, whose setting backers will be asked to vote for. All backers who pledge at INNOCENT BYSTANDER and above will receive this adventure as a free PDF. This will unlock the GOVERNMENT AGENT pledge level, which will allow backers to get codes for printing this adventure, or any other adventure books gained by unlocking further WHEN ADVENTURE CALLS stretch levels.
- WHEN ADVENTURE CALLS, ISSUE 3 (£19665): As WHEN ADVENTURE CALLS ISSUE 2, except backers now get to pick a third adventure to be turned into a book.
The additional adventure choices for the WHEN ADVENTURE CALLS stretch goals are:
Warmonsters (a Bronze Age tale of horror featuring military monster superheroes).
Death is a Shambles (follow a group of human survivors in a post-apocalyptic world where you cannot truly die).
Spears of Sandarr (a fantasy tale on an alien world; journey in search of the salvation of your city).
Spin-Riders (designed as the grittier adaptation of a colourful 80s action adventure cartoon, where the heroes fight in powered armour against the forces of Doctor Contagion).
A.V.A.T.A.R: Hero Hunters (a Modern Age tale of a team of ex-criminals employed by the government to capture murderous vigilante 'heroes.')
- The book text has been proofread. Minor adjustments may be made otherwise from continued playtesting and any feedback.
- Additional information will be added to the text based upon backer pledges that affect both the narrative running through the book and the How to Play examples in Chapter 1.
- The game has been repeatedly tested by both players and GMs, as well as through exposure to new players at conventions. The rules are entirely functional.
- I will be working on the graphic design and art direction, which is intended to begin once the Kickstarter funding period has ended. I have experience in this from my previous Kickstarter RPG, I Love the Corps. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/222832406/i-love-the-corps-an-action-horror-and-military-sci
- The colour covers for the book have already been produced (as shown on this Kickstarter page) and I currently have a team of three artists who have produced promotional art and are ready to work on more interior pieces.
- Christopher Dean, as Psychic Cactus Games, is a one-man game team, working with both freelancers and volunteers to complete Is It a Plane!? He's written, designed and tested the game. He also works on promotion, project management, art directing and graphic design.
- Debbie Jackson is an official trading card artist and fantasy illustrator, based in Aberystwyth, Wales. She also produced art for Psychic Cactus Games' previous RPG, I Love the Corps. https://www.facebook.com/FineArtsAberystwyth/?fref=ts
- Daniel Wood is a Virginia based illustrator with several years of drawing orcs, trolls, space pirates, and various other fun things. He is a firm believer that even the smallest drawing has a story to tell. He produced art for I Love the Corps. http://www.danielwoodart.com/about/
- Nathan Nelson is a freelance illustrator based out of Richmond, VA. Some of his clients include Upper Deck, Cryptozoic Entertainment, Rittenhouse Archives, and Room 209 Gaming. He does concept art, logo design, sketch cards, and product design. http://nelsonillustrations.tumblr.com/
- Nial Prince, Jane Winter and Philip Apostolakopoulos are proofreader/editing volunteers.
Risks and challenges
I've already completed the text. The game has been played by dozens of playtesters, and by many more people at conventions. I am confident it is fully functional, though aspects of the text may be tweaked due to editor and playtester responses. As this is my second Kickstarter project, I have past experience with the main issues that are likely to occur, and in resolving those problems and delivering the intended products.
When producing I Love the Corps, one of the early problems was losing several freelance artists due to various issues affecting them. I managed to find several new artists who worked quickly and efficiently in producing art, and I now have more contacts to call on if necessary. I have enough artists that I have worked with already to produce the concept and promotional art, and I am confident in their professionalism. All of the artists involved have produced art shown on this page.
DriveThruRPG has an excellent reputation and I have worked with them before. I Love the Corps was delivered a few weeks later than intended due to some uploading issues with files created in Scribus, so I will be using a new program for graphic design. I also have a contact I can call on for assistance if need be, who has repeatedly and successfully uploaded books to DriveThruRPG.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)