About this project
Unnatural storms and terrifying waves forced your ship to shore. Now you’re stuck here, in this dirt poor town, drenched in the smell of cheap whiskey and rotten fish.
As poverty and politics consume the town, and folklore tales come to life, you will face harsh realities and even harsher choices. You and your crew must make deals, find answers, and pick sides. But believe me, you won’t all pick the same one…
Alas is a story-focused tabletop roleplaying game about a ship’s crew navigating the remote British Isles. There, they face a world consumed with suspicion, sadness, and desperation. Struggles for power have deadly consequences; mysterious disappearances plague the region; and those who seem human may not all be so. Amidst all this, the sea sends forth strange messages. Will you be the one to listen?
Suspense, seafaring and the supernatural all feature in Alas. But they’re not what this game is about. We created this game to tell grim stories about the complexities of the human heart. Alas for the Awful Sea is about why people hate, and what they fear. It is about desperation and the havoc it wreaks. In this world, there are no easy decisions. Friends come at a bitter cost, and even defeating enemies can have terrible consequences.
To make Alas for the Awful Sea, we drew from the rich history of poor fishing towns in the 19th century. We also drew from local folklore, weaving in elements of the fantastical that mirror the beliefs, hopes and fears of the town. Based on the rich myth of the Scottish Hebrides, this folklore springs forth from the same desolate, coastal landscapes that dominate the world of the game.
Alas is grounded in the struggles of ordinary people, and is based on real tales that chart the fate and fears of their tellers. It is not a world of high fantasy where might and magic create superhero levels of power. Rather, the mystical is dangerous, unpredictable, and strange. This game is for telling stories like Pans Labyrinth, Whale Rider, and a grown up Secret of Roan Inish, in the setting of 1800s rural British Isles.
Alas is a game is for 3–5 players and a GM. The heart of the book you will receive is a self-contained adventure that takes four or more sessions to play. However, if you enjoy the game, Alas contains everything you need to create your own characters, encounters and adventure paths. If we reach our stretch goals, we will be able to provide even more tools for world creation and encounter generation, as well as additional adventures.
All backers of Alas for the Awful Sea will receive a draft copy of the game immediately after the Kickstarter concludes.
Any questions about the game? Message us here, or catch us on Twitter or Facebook, @storybrewers.
The rules of Alas have their origin in the award-winning Apocalypse World system. However, we have modified and stripped these rules down to their core to create a raw, narrative focused and unforgiving system, almost as harsh as the world of Alas itself.
In Alas, players influence the world by making moves, either from the core rules, or individual character abilities. Players then roll 2D6 to see whether they succeed. Every move is significant. Success gets the player what they want, while failure will turn the characters, environment, and forces of myth, against them.
Check out this live play video to see Alas in action:
When you back Alas for the Awful Sea, you’ll get a book containing three parts:
Part 1: Introduction and How to Play.
Part 2: Alas for the Awful Sea: A self-contained adventure that takes four or more sessions to play. This adventure showcases the world of Alas we’ve discussed above, and will force players to face murder, mystery, and hard choices. This is not a linear adventure—instead, we provide a storehouse of narrative content, so the GM and players can forge their own unique path through the story.
Part 3: Expanding Horizons: A GM’s guide to creating compelling and thematic stories within the world of Alas.
ADD-ON BOOK:The Wind & The Waves: Adventures For Alas for the Awful Sea - ($20 AUD/ Approx $15.30 USD)
Due to demand, we have now made our unlocked stretch goal adventures available as a softcover book. Details of the adventures included can be found below in the stretch goal section, or in our update here.
You can get a copy of the adventure book by doing the following:
1. Back the project at softcover level or above.
2. Add an extra $20 AUD to your pledge.
In Alas for the Awful Sea, story takes primacy over everything else. The needs, desires, and feelings of the player characters drive the action, and transform the narrative. The role of the GM is to create an emotional and immersive world for the players to interact with.
To keep the focus on story, Alas for the Awful Sea uses a flexible modular encounter system that fuses player agency and narrative depth. This system allows the game to be highly responsive to player attitudes and actions, while also giving GMs the narrative support they need to create compelling and multifaceted stories.
In Alas, GMs select encounter order depending on events, relationships, and character goals. While every story shares the same beginning, how it unfolds will depend entirely upon the players and their actions. However, the game’s storehouse of narrative content will allow GMs to weave a complex and emotive story with ease.
When you play Alas for the Awful Sea, you will pick from one of ten character types, each with their own unique strengths and abilities, to tell a story that is truly your own. Two additional playable characters were unlocked in the stretch goals (The Cook & The Stowaway).
UNLOCKED ($1250): More Art
If we reach this goal, we'll increase the amount of art in the book by 25%.
UNLOCKED ($2000): Folklore Bestiary and Tales
If we reach this goal, we’ll include a dedicated chapter on expanded folklore elements you can use in your game. We’ll turn old tales and sea stories from the British Isles into original creatures, places, and mysteries ready to weave into your story.
UNLOCKED ($2750): Exclusive KS Adventure by guest writer Alex Robinson (PDF Only)
If we reach this goal, all backers at the PDF level or higher will receive a Kickstarter exclusive adventure written by author and GM Alex Robinson.
An old fisherman is missing. He left, muttering, obsessed, to find the biggest catch of his life. Now you must find him. Face the things that lurk below the surface to bring back a man before the sea claims him as its own.
With parents who formed a Tolkien Appreciation Society and played D&D, being a nerd is in Alex’s DNA. When not writing and running their own games or editing for Storybrewers, they make a living as a nurse and enjoy taking amateur photos of food.
UNLOCKED ($3500): Historical Happenings and Mysteries
If we reach this goal, we’ll add a chapter on historical happenings and mysteries from around the 19th century British Isles, adapted to be easily integrated into your game. We’ll hand curate a selection of powerful stories, including big picture events like political struggles, as well as local miracles and murders.
UNLOCKED ($4250): Exclusive KS Adventure by Storybrewers' Veronica Hendro (PDF Only)
You've been given shore leave as elections get underway. For the few that can vote, there are few good choices. For the rest of the working people, there's nothing. But a fire is building, the passion to change, to raise a voice in rage. What will you do when the fire starts to burn out of control?
UNLOCKED ($5000): Even More Art
If we reach this goal, we will increase the amount of art in the book by an additional 25%.
UNLOCKED ($7000): 12+ New Custom Moves
If we reach this goal, we'll include a new character creation option that will add over 12 new custom moves to the game. These extra character creation options will allow your character to choose a description that defines them, such as lover or clansman, and take the corresponding custom moves.
UNLOCKED ($11,000): Quick Start Video
If we reach this goal, we will produce a video overview for the game, introducing the theme and setting for new players and explaining how to play. This video will help groups get up and running faster, with minimum fuss. We think it will be especially useful for newer players and GMs.
UNLOCKED ($14,000): 2-Player Adventure by Storybrewers' Hayley Gordon (PDF Only)
If we reach this goal, we will provide an additional adventure, designed for smaller groups with one GM and two players. We're not putting the teaser for this adventure up just yet, as it may soon be coming to an actual play podcast for your listening pleasure, and we don't want to spoil anything.
UNLOCKED ($17,500): 2 Extra Character Types
If we reach this goal, we will provide two extra playable character. Even better, we want you to help us pick. When this goal is unlocked, we'll be setting up a poll to see which characters will make it into the game. The five options are the Carpenter, the Cabin Whelp, the Cook, the Chaplain and the Stowaway.
If we reach this goal, we will give existing Figurehead backers the option of changing to one of these new character types, with earlier backers having first priority. Depending on our artist, this may also unlock room for two new Figurehead backers.
UNLOCKED ($20,000): KS Exclusive Adventure by Veronica Hendro and Hayley Gordon (PDF Only)
Do you sharpen your blade, and think it makes a hunter of you? It is not the keen edge or careful aim that you need to hunt this quarry. Without conviction in your heart, you will surely fail. But when the bellowing in the night comes, will you really wish to succeed?
UNLOCKED ($25,000): The name of every backer on a thank you page in the book.
Storybrewers Roleplaying is made up of Hayley Gordon (twitter: @storybrewers), and Veronica Hendro (twitter: @rocketeer_vee). We are two Australians with a passion for roleplaying and also snacks (preferably together).
We have been working on Alas for the Awful Sea since 2015, and are so excited to finally be able to share it with you! You can check out some of our other work on the storybrewers' website.
For backers at the Figurehead Level:
At the end of the KS funding period, we will send a survey to Figureheads to list character preferences in order 1 to 10. In the order of backing, we will match you up to your highest preferences.
The art we used for our Kickstarter image and book cover is MacCodram and his Seal Wife by the talented Kate Leiper. We purchased the rights to use this picture for our game.
The art within the body of the Kickstarter is by our regular artist Steph Lam. She has done all the interior art for the game, and with your help there will be more from her to come!
Risks and challenges
We’ve front loaded as much of the work as possible to make sure this Kickstarter is fulfilled before the deadline. Alas for the Awful Sea is nearly all written, and all of the art for the book is complete (excluding stretch goals of course!). All backers will have access to a draft PDF copy of the game once the Kickstarter ends, so you won’t need to wait to enjoy it.
Our team includes a professional copywriter, a professional artist and a lawyer, so we’re all experienced in meeting deadlines and working late nights! We’ll keep you updated and informed every step of the way from stretch goals to fulfilment.
We will be fulfilling all physical rewards using DriveThru RPG and Ingram to reduce your shipping costs, and ensure fulfilment reliability.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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