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Minotaurs in a human civilization sundered by a surreal, trackless jungle. A wholly new RPG from the designer of My Life with Master.

Generations ago four infant minotaurs, a lost species, were pulled from the mud of the eternal river. Over centuries they develop a cultural philosophy to help them live among men: be contemplative, do not want, do not express your emotions, for breaking Silence in such a way is an expression of need. Be courageous. Act with wisdom. Work for justice. Do not use the names of women.

We employ them for menial and dangerous work. Pulling plows. Guarding wealthy estates. And for brutal entertainments.

An Immersive Game

I cut my teeth playing the same games you did. And I loved games that thwarted me, just like you.

Sometimes game mechanics skewed the play experience. Some game settings felt like they weren't created for player characters. But decades later all those games with rich settings and promises of immersive character arcs are still stuck in my head, all mixed in with fantasy novels by Paul Park and Gene Wolfe, sword & sorcery by Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber, pulp adventure novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and short stories by James Tiptree Jr.

So I've designed The Clay That Woke. And if you long for immersive character play in a richly imagined world, with game mechanics that inspire, I think you're going to like it.

Player characters are minotaurs, like these two discussing a social concern:

And like these three confronting a strange entity:

If you're a gamemaster, it's not more setting than you need. It's just the right setting elements so you're inspired, but not so much setting that you're overwhelmed. This, for instance, is the Tower of Heroes (and its human caretaker), where the ghosts of former residents sometimes return to re-enact for spectators great deeds from their lives:

Mechanics That Inspire

The core mechanic is a oracle system that uses custom tokens to guide the outcome of situations in play:

It's called The Krater of Lots. In certain situations the gamemaster and a player put some tokens in a bowl. The player draws out four and compares them to a menu of outcomes:

And then the players in the situation and the gamemaster roleplay to satisfy the indicated outcome(s).

So your tokens are how you achieve things. And you can take actions and roleplay certain interactions that replenish them -- one minotaur archetype, for instance, can replenish his mind tokens by having a conversation with another minotaur about a civic or cultural issue. If you deplete the ones that correspond to the minotaur philosophy of life conduct, Silence, you go frantic and run off to the jungle, where surreal and dangerous adventures and encounters with weird, supernatural entities replenish them.

You can get unique gifts that unlock different options on the menu of outcomes. You start out nameless and earn a name in play. It's immersive campaign-play roleplaying like no RPG you've seen before. It has character classes, an alignment system, character advancement, and adventures, just like the games that inspired me, but also not like them at all.

When Will It Be Ready?

Internal and external playtesting are done. The text is 80% written. And believe me, it's the definitive, immersive minotaur roleplaying game. There are only 18 RPGs profiled in Hobby Games: The 100 Best and I designed one of them. The actions of your minotaur will echo through the world if you're tough enough and lucky enough. It's one of the best games I've ever designed, and in just a few months it'll be ready for publication.

Why Kickstarter?

So, here's the thing. Gamers who play campaign-play fantasy RPGs already have a lot of options, shelves and shelves of fantasy RPGs to choose from, and they already have favorites. So any new campaign-play fantasy RPG that wants to get played has to figure out how to create an interested player base from those gamers, from lapsed gamers, and from non gamers. A new game has to do everything it can to be as inspiring of player interest as possible.

One thing this means for The Clay That Woke is a traditional offset print run (on presses that use ink, not toner), which means I need enough money for a much larger minimum run than I've done for any game in the past. An offset run for The Clay That Woke will give me access to more paper options, production options, and less quality variations in printing and trimming and binding than I've had in the past from short-run print-on-demand. The result will be physical books that try to feel in small ways like they're a little more worth your gaming time.

Another thing this means for The Clay That Woke is art. It's no secret that great art inspires player interest in a game. I think Nate Marcel is exactly the right artist for The Clay That Woke. You see his illustrations for the game in the video, and on this page. He's agreed to do every illustration for the game, so the world will have a coherent feel across all the art. But some of them are still just sketches. And some of them are just line art that hasn't been greyscaled yet. I need to pay him to complete them.

And then, with stretch goals for graphic design by Brennen Reece, and additional illustrations by Nate the book just gets better.

I know from playtesting I've designed a pretty inspiring game. Please help me fund the rest of what it needs to be as inspiring of play as I can make it.

There are some pretty nice rewards.

The Rewards

THE READER
You're a reader more than a gamer? You get immediate download access to the short story from the game book, in epub2, mobi, or pdf. And my thanks for finding a way to help me with the project. It's called "Silent As the Sun".

It's a minotaur's story of employment, dangerous encounters, and uncertain decisions. Here's his description of a wealthy estate where for a time he works as a rooftop guard:
"Though the Saemauug Empyreus had been dead for more than forty seasons, his estate remained. It was a cultural institution in Municipal Rhomoon before his passing and had only grown since. His talented wives were dancers and choreographers, singers and songwriters, musicians, actresses and playwrights. When one of them died the competition among young women to marry into the household was fierce. So the number of wives was maintained at exactly one hundred. And in the evenings people came to the estate from all around to see their theatrical and dance productions and musical performances."

 THE PDF GAMER
You get the PDF of the game, as well as PDFs for printing your own token stickers and character sheets and play reference sheets. You also get immediate download access to THE READER minotaur story as ebook files (see above).

THE PHYSICAL BOOK AND PDF

You get a softcover book, as well as all the PDFs from THE PDF GAMER (see above). You also get THE READER minotaur story as ebook files (see above). Price includes shipping within the USA.

THE BOOK AND TOKENS (limited to 170)
You get everything from THE PHYSICAL BOOK AND PDF (see above), plus a set of 90 die-cut professionally printed stickers with a durable commercial grade top coating and 90 wooden tokens for them. It's everything you need for starting your campaign. And I sign your book. Price includes shipping within the USA.

[Note: I'm told that because of the tokens EU backers of this tier may be charged VAT by their local post office.]

A TRUTH (limited to 20)
You get everything from THE BOOK AND TOKENS (see above), and when I sign your book I also write a truth extending the game world in a unique way just for you. One of the outcomes from a Krater draw is the gamemaster telling you something about the game world or about a situation that you otherwise wouldn't know. Certain minotaur archetypes use these truths in conversation with each other to regain lost tokens. Ordinarily a minotaur doesn't start play knowing a truth; but as far as I'm concerned, if you have one of these 20 copies of the book and we ever play together, you start out knowing your truth. Price includes shipping within the USA.
[Note: I'm told that because of the tokens EU backers of this tier may be charged VAT by their local post office.]

THE HERD (International)
Four copies of the softcover book for folks overseas who want to combine to save on shipping costs. You also get all the PDFs from THE PDF GAMER (see above), and THE READER minotaur story as ebook files (see above).

THE PAINTED MINOTAUR (USA) (limited to 1)
You get everything from A TRUTH (see above), and you also get the original (large) 3' x 4' unframed acrylic on masonite cover painting by Nate Marcel (without titling, see photo below). Nate wanted to do a painted cover and I let him convince me. I think he wanted to channel his inner Frazetta. He said, "You won't be disappointed." Painting will ship separately. Price includes shipping within the USA.

Nate Marcel's acrylic on masonite cover painting for The Clay That Woke, seen here in his studio.
Nate Marcel's acrylic on masonite cover painting for The Clay That Woke, seen here in his studio.

The Stretch Goals

There are just two stretch goals:

GOAL MET! : $11,000: Graphic design and layout (character sheets, play aids, and the whole book) by Brennen Reece for an improved play and reading experience.

GOAL MET! : $13,500: Twice as much interior art by Nate Marcel. In the video you see eight of the ten illustrations encompassed within the $8500 funding goal. If we hit this $13,500 goal, Nate will do an additional ten illustrations.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

I evaluated quite a few options for the tokens, including laser engraved and laser printed wood and plastic options, and it's clear from some erratic communication and unmet promises that one risk to the project is unreliable sources for tokens. But I've done prototypes with the sources for the die cut stickers and wooden tokens, and they look great, and both providers are responsive and solid businesses.

I've never done graphic design and provided files for an offset print run. But the printer I've chosen takes new publishers through the process all the time.

Nate Marcel is a professional who has delivered art for other games like Dungeon World, and Atlantis. He prides himself on never having missed a deadline.

FAQ

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    THE READER: You're a reader more than a gamer? You get immediate download access to the minotaur short story from the game book, in epub2, mobi, or pdf. And my thanks for finding a way to help me with the project. (Kickstarter won't let me set a delivery date that's before the end of the campaign, but THE READER is available now. Please check the first backer update for download instructions.)

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    THE PDF GAMER: You get the PDF of the game, as well as PDFs for printing your own token stickers and character sheets and play reference sheets. You also get immediate download access to THE READER minotaur story as ebook files (see above).

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    THE PHYSICAL BOOK AND PDF: You get a softcover book, as well as all the PDFs from THE PDF GAMER (see above). You also get THE READER minotaur story as ebook files (see above). Price includes shipping within the USA.

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    158 backers Limited (12 left of 170)

    THE BOOK AND TOKENS: You get everything from THE PHYSICAL BOOK AND PDF (see above), plus a set of 90 die-cut professionally printed stickers with a durable commercial grade top coating and 90 wooden tokens for them. It's everything you need for starting your campaign. And I sign your book. Price includes shipping within the USA. [Note: I'm told that because of the tokens EU backers of this tier may be charged VAT by their local post office.]

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $12 USD to ship outside the US
  • Pledge $84 or more
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    20 backers All gone!

    A TRUTH: You get everything from THE BOOK AND TOKENS (see above), and when I sign your book I also write a "Truth" extending the game world in a unique way just for you. Price includes shipping within the USA. [Note: I'm told that because of the tokens EU backers of this tier may be charged VAT by their local post office.]

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $12 USD to ship outside the US
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    THE HERD (International): Four copies of the softcover book for folks overseas who want to combine to save on shipping costs. You also get all the PDFs from THE PDF GAMER (see above), and THE READER minotaur story as ebook files (see above).

    Estimated delivery:
    Add $20 USD to ship outside the US
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    THE PAINTED MINOTAUR (USA) You get everything from A TRUTH (see above), and you also get the original (large) 3' x 4' unframed acrylic on masonite cover painting by Nate Marcel (without titling, see photo in the reward description at lower left). Painting will ship separately. Price includes shipping within the USA.

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    Ships within the US only
Funding period

- (30 days)