Do you, your family, and friends enjoy games where you can play:
- A cybernetically enhanced mouse gang hired to protect the Dino Express from rustlers on the surface of Jupiter?
- Human space settlers protecting your Martian Moos from Terror Dactyls?
- Secretly sentient animals tracking down a lost village child in a Ghibli-esque countryside where anthropomorphic dinosaurs exist peacefully beside humans?
If so, Dino Wranglers may be for you!
Dino Wranglers is a narrative science fantasy game for families about overcoming obstacles as a dinosaur wrangler. The game uses a token-based action economy and focuses on narrating epic cinematic and video game style encounters as seen in Avengers movies and the opening sequence of Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
Wranglers might go by different names in other cultures, like Gaucho, Vaquero, Paniolo, or Charro, as well as nomadic herdspeople of the Massai or Mongol, but they all share one goal: tending to the safety and well being of the creatures in their charge. They are the brave, heroic actors of the story; slipping and struggling to gain Action Tokens, then spending them on hard hitting, high flying abilities to overcome the obstacle and ride off into the sunset. Wranglers adhere to a code of conduct which dictates they will act with honor, responsibility, ethics, and empathy in their actions and must use non-lethal methods whenever possible to achieve their goals.
Dino Wranglers zine contains everything you need to get started playing. It will be approximately 24 pages with a saddle-stitched card stock cover, and includes settings, adversary tables, two rule sets, a supplement on how to adapt your game to emulate old time radio shows, and guidance for playing with kids.
-Base rules: for ages 4-8+, one encounter that can be played in 30 minutes to one hour.
-Extended rules: for ages 8+, multiple encounters which supports longer games of 3-4 hours or 2-3 session mini-campaigns.
I designed this game after realizing I wasn't enjoying trying to play traditional roleplaying games with my kids. I started learning more about game design so I could design a short game that that is satisfying to play, accessible enough for kids and people with disabilities, and be metal enough your friends want to pick up and play, too. Since it uses a token-based action economy, slightly similar to Ryan Flomer’s FlipTales, Dino Wranglers is dyscalculia and neurodiversity friendly. There are no dice to add/subtract, stats to track and modify, or spells to remember and will be printed with a dyslexia friendly font.
Dino Wranglers character creation is fast and easy. To create your character, first select one Affinity. This is your Wrangler's natural talent. Next, select one Transportation. This is how your character gets around most of the time. That's it!
Dino Wranglers does not have a defined setting. The dinosaurs can be the creatures you’re responsible for, the antagonists, or just part of the world. You can use settings from your favorite media or use ideas from the provided lists and tables. Some of my favorites are:
- Martian frontier pulp fantasy.
- Weird worlds inspired by the sci-fi art and heavy and psychedelic metal music of the 70's and 80's.
- Post-technology barbaric world steeped in ancient magic.
- Radiated wastelands of the future with mutated monstrosities.
- Cattle punk weird west style worlds of the movie Wild, Wild, West.
Some things that will NOT be included in our settings and game: racist tropes and the harmful portrayal of indigenous, black, Latinx, and Asian people's cultures; slavery, sexism, and glorification of violence, and "evil races." That means no "cowboys vs. Indians," "Tonto," "Slavers," "Mexican banditos," etc.
I will be hiring at least two marginalized authors to write a section about these harmful tropes and how to avoid them in your games.
Dino Wranglers actual play/play test with Victory Condition Gaming:
In this game, the players were Teenage Steampunk Wrangler Bovines (later changed to brovines), protecting their herd from the nefarious plans of HassleHoof!
I was really nervous and didn't do the best describing things here, but everyone still had a good time. Thank you Doug for setting this up and the players for making such a fun story!
To celebrate Kickstarter's Zine Quest, this game will have two cover options.
First, this beauty by Minerva Fox, which was inspired by the most metal art I could think of: Geoff Kern's cover for the album Gods of the Earth by The Sword:
And next, a Kickstarter exclusive cover by Skullfungus. I told him to go wild with it, and go wild with it he did:
Right about now you might be saying, “Wait a minute, I thought you said this was a kid’s game?” You’re right, I did say that! I don’t believe kids need cartoonish art to be interested in playing something. Kids are capable of appreciating more complex art, and when I talk to people who started gaming when they were young, part of what drew them into gaming was the art. Sometimes it was a little scandalous and serious for the time, but it felt exciting bringing out the red box their uncle or older sibling gave them and showing it off to their friends. They spent hours pouring over the illustrations of the monster manuals. I wanted to make a game that kids would feel cool pulling out of their backpack and saying, “Hey, do you want to come over tonight and play…THIS?” And, a game you wouldn't feel weird bringing out at a convention or on a break from your usual campaign.
The $30 reward includes one piece of art and stats for a completely made up dinosaur, fresh from the mind of two child paleoartists. Here is one example:
3/12 UPDATE: For all editors, scenario authors, and cultural sensitivity readers/essayists, I am adhering to paying at or above the Unified (QT)POC Standard Requirements. This was already the case, but I wanted to make it clear to anyone who may be curious. All scenario authors will be paid $0.10/word with a word count averaging 500-1000 words. The minimum pay is $50 even if the scenario ends up less than 500 words. I would love to do the scenarios as a separate zine so they could get royalties, and the cultural sensitivity essayists could get royalties on the main book, but I can't afford that unless the project goes bonkersville popular in the last two weeks.
I’ve reached out to more artists to commission interior art and if this game goes over funding, I will be able to get even more art pieces to spend hours looking through. All money above my goal will go towards more interior art, accessibility, and content.
$600-MET- I will be able to hire content specialists to write a section on harmful content inherent to the western and sci-fi genre, and what a game might look like without those things included. Update: I have selected a group of content experts to help make this a reality. Thank you all for helping!
3/11/19 UPDATE: Here are the sensitivity readers and harmful content essayists:
Cass has also started a resource hub to assist TTRPG communities who want to become more proactive in stopping abuse.
Cibby Iwa Acosta is a writer and illustrator from the Taíno nation. Her mother is from the Baracoa community in Cuba. She primarily works in children's media and knows more about dinosaurs than the people who made Jurassic World. Twitter, portfolio
Shomari is woman who can generally be found writing and reading for ttrpgs, film, and novels. Her fun ramblings on everything from magical thinking to food experiments can be found on Twitter.
Daniel Kwan, the developmental editor will be working on this, too.
$700-MET- I will be able to hire specialists to ensure I have the most accessible PDFs, website, and an audio version of the rules. Update: I have reached out to accessibility experts and will update once I hear more.
$800-MET- For every $100 above $800, I will hire an author to create a unique world or an author from a current or historical herding culture to write settings, encounters, obstacles, and treasures. Clarification: these authors are listed at the $100 intervals for their stretch goal For example, there aren't scenario authors in addition to the artists on the artist's stretch goals. That stretch goal money will go toward paying the artists.
WOW- PASSED THAT TOO: Update: in anticipation of meeting and (hopefully exceeding) the $800 stretch goal, I am delighted to announce two incredible authors and game designers who will be writing scenarios for the game, which is a world and setting that includes everything you need to get playing like adversaries, treasures, and world building questions.
- Brandon O'Brien, who is a poet, science fiction and fantasy writer, media critic, and teaching artist who lives and works in Trinidad and Tobago.
- Kai Poh has a lifelong passion for roleplaying games and runs the Role Over Play Dead blog with co-creator Elisha Rusli. Kai has written for computer games, magazines, the corporate sector and the Blue Planet roleplaying game. Kai's first micro-RPG is ECH0, created for the #sadmechjam.
02/28019 update: I can announce two more authors who will write scenarios for Dino Wranglers!
- Mabel Harper is a trans Filipina musician, writer, game designer, and digital artist. When she's not creating the stuff of nightmares, she's making queer pop music as Don't do it, Neil. Or she might just be vegging out on her bed and watching anime with her cats.
- Cassidy Webb is a writer, editor, and rapper/singer/lyricist living in Philadelphia. They co-author the ultra-queer switchblade-and-sorcery web serial Form and Void and are co-developing a techno-fantasy TTRPG setting tentatively titled Sins of the Sun God, due out from Exalted Funeral Press in early 2020.
I have some more messages out to other designers and authors, I can't wait to see who else we can get on board with this!
MET-$1600-MORE MinervaFox art!
$1900, Skullfungus is going to let me raid his stores for even *more* of his mind-melting creations.
I've also talked to Luka of Wizard Thief Fighter studio about maaaaaybe doing a PG UVG scenario the family can explore. I just love UVG so much. That might be my $2000 stretch goal. Did you know The Ultra Violet Grasslands is on Kickstarter right now? Check it out! It's a place I want to get lost in and will keep coming back to.
$2100 Tikal will write a scenario. Tikal is the author of the Afropunk Sci-Fantasy setting and TTRPG Swordsfall. He's a philosophy major and lifelong omni-nerd who aims to bring his vision to tabletop and novel worlds alike. AND! His Kickstarter for Swordsfall is dropping on Monday, the 11th at 8am pacific!
$2200 Lucian Kahn will join in scenario writing, too. Lucian is the designer of Dead Friend: A Game of Necromancy, Grandma’s Drinking Song, and Same Bat Time, Same Bat Mitzvah. He is currently developing Visigoths vs. Mall Goths. He is trans, Jewish, and a gay-coded villain.
$2200-$2500, I'll ask if Shomari and Cibby want to write some, too. Daniel will be helping me get some other areas of the game fine tuned for young facilitators.
$3000: Stickers! I really want some Dino Wrangler Stickers. Can we make that happen?
Anything above $3000 will go toward pay increases for the sensitivity readers, authors, artists, and other contributors!
FULL DISCLOSURE: Dino Wranglers has gone through alpha play testing, and is ready to move into beta play testing with other families. After a few months of beta play testing and feedback, we will be able to release the game in July of 2019. I will post a link with the beta play test information and appreciate your help making this the best game possible!
SUGGESTION SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:
If you pledge for one of the submission tiers, for every $2.00 over you pledge you will be able to contribute to the following list:
Surveys will be sent out after the campaign ends to collect your submissions!
- World building: One sentence describing a world they may explore. “A jungle planet where sentient dinosaurs have evolved and developed advanced technology,” or “Brutal and desolate barbarian landscape overruled by warring chaos wizards.”
- Setting: Where the game will take place. “A dude ranch in an underwater biodome,” or “A military style encampment overgrown by vegetation.”
- Encounter: This is the set up for the problem they need to solve. It can be specific like, “Farmer Mara called to say the storm blew a tree into their barn, and now all their nuralagus rex have escaped!” Or vague like, “The players are in the city for a stock sale today. A rival operation is trying to pass the player’s raptors off as their own.”
- Obstacle: The actual thing they must overcome. It could be facing down the rustler Greely and their gang, a purple worm that erupts from the ground during a roundup, a ghost, cultists, etc.
- Treasure: Things that may have value beyond novelty. Shiny new pistols, an iconic purple hat, A book with ancient incantations, an ornately decorated saddle.
- Novelty item: Something neat that, may not have monetary value. A pet rock, fossil, beautiful flower, a bottle cap collection, books, patches, and pins.
- About promotional product and prizes (for use with the radio/TV show supplement): Kiddie serial radio and television shows were sponsored by products that were promoted during the show. Adult radio shows also maintained this tradition, though shilled different products. Kids could send in box tops for prizes like: a membership pin, decoder rings, and patches. Adult shows would promote stuff like soap and flour brands.
- Promotional products: “Fizzpop’s cereal. It’s the one that turns your teeth green!” or, “Soyvaltine. Moms love it for its nutrition, kids love it for the taste!”
- Prizes: gags like fake vomit, buttons, poorly made replica weapons, an outfit item for a main character.
Any item submitted to a list must be PG and cannot include harmful racial tropes or portrayal of indigenous, latinx, black, or Asian peoples or suggestion of any singular “evil” races.
I wanted to bring this game to Kickstarter for two reasons.
First, I really wanted to participate in Kickstarter’s Zine Quest! I set the goal and challenged myself to get the game included and thus submit myself and my game to the horrible, crushing social pressure of crowdfunding.
More importantly though, to raise enough money to have enough to pay experts to write a section on harmful content inherent to the genre and make the game as accessible as possible by hiring ally experts to advise me on an audio version of the rule book and accessibility optimized PDFs. It would be nice to get enough to hire diverse authors to create worlds, settings, and obstacles, too.
This will also allow me to provide copies of this game to any school, shelters, hospitals, mental health and substance use facilities or programs or programs serving the public in those capacities. I will also provide copies to any correctional facilities and have included alternative rules to use two decks of playing cards for facilities that do not allow the use of dice.
I've made an attempt to cover as many disabilities and intersectional diversities. There’s always more that can be done, and I’m always looking for ways to be more proactively inclusive! Don’t hesitate to contact me via Kickstarter, Facebook @dinowranglersrpg or my twitter @pashka_d if you have suggestions or to point out any omissions.
Game Design: Rachelle Dube. I’m a novice game designer who loves tabletop roleplaying, heavy metal, old time radio shows, and coffee. I have a husband and two amazing kids who love playing games, staying up too late, and watching anime. You can find me on Twitter via @pashka_d, Facebook
Developmental Editing:Daniel Kwan is a podcaster, game designer, and professional GM based in Toronto, ON. He hosts the Asians Represent podcast on the One Shot Network, writes for GnomeStew.com, and designs games through Dundas West Games. You can find him on Twitter @danielhkwan, learn more about his work at danielhkwan.com, and buy his games at dundaswestgames.com.
Layout/Graphic Design: J.L. Householder is a non-binary tabletop roleplaying game designer and visual artist from Athens, Ohio. Their work includes layout and illustration featured in the CODEX zine for The Gauntlet RPG as well as the character-driven collaborative storytelling rpg, VIGOR. You can find them on Twitter via @jakehouseholder, or email them at email@example.com.
Minerva Fox is the artist for a new comic called Stringer, and will be at Anime Central 2019 and Wisconsin Comic Convention 2019. A sampling of past projects includes the comic Heavy Metal Sailor Moon, Paranormal Minstrels in the zine Codex - Bone, and Dark Designs in Verdigris found in Codex – Emerald. You can find her on Twitch, Instagram and Twitter via @blue_troller, or Her website mfox151.artstation.com.
Skullfungus is an artist who likes to draw dungeons, their inhabitants, and everything in between. Past projects include his game, Rad-Hack, the Twitter hex map Fungithrill (I’m 3.3!) and the adventure Spores of the Sad Shroom, all of which are available on Drive Thru RPG. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter via @Skullfungus.
Other Consulting and Thanks:
Jason Cordova, Michael G. Barford, and the rest of the Gauntlet RPG Community, Nathan D. Paoletta, John Harper, play testers, and the contributors above for putting up with my terrible ADHD.
Risks and challenges
This is my first Kickstarter, but I've reached out to folks more experienced with crowdfunding to help me better understand the risks and costs of Kickstarting my zine.
I'm working with a local printer, and your pledge is only to cover the cost of printing the zine and shipping. Editing, layout, and art costs have already been accounted for.
Though this project is small in scope, I am asking for more feedback for this game in a final playtest, and, any feedback I receive will need to go through editing and layout. Keeping that in mind, I've put the delivery date to July of 2019 to give ourselves a little more time in case of emergencies.
I'm committed to delivering this project on time and keeping you all updated. Thanks for making this possible!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)