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A fast-paced easy to learn new RPG in a fully randomized world so that you never play the same game session twice!  And no GM!
A fast-paced easy to learn new RPG in a fully randomized world so that you never play the same game session twice!  And no GM!
A fast-paced easy to learn new RPG in a fully randomized world so that you never play the same game session twice! And no GM!
132 backers pledged $4,693 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Pilgrims of Rao: Core Guidebook

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THE GAME

Pilgrims of Rao is a multiplayer tabletop roleplaying game for 2-9 players, featuring a randomized game world that provides a unique experience every time it is played. In the world of Pilgrims of Rao, humanity teeters on the brink of extinction after a failed attempt to usurp the gods millennia ago left only scattered pockets of survivors around the world. Players take on the role of humans, create and customize their characters, and set off on an epic quest to rediscover the legendary fallen human capital of Rao. Players will explore the world, encounter devious traps and wicked monsters, and uncover the secrets left behind by those who dared to face the gods. Players succeed in their quest and clear the game by surmounting the final, greatest challenge of Rao itself.

The cover.  A look at the city of Rao.
The cover. A look at the city of Rao.
  • Sessions: The game is played in sessions of varying length depending on the objective chosen at the start of each session, or at player discretion. This can be as little or as much time as you like. I recommend playing for at least fifteen to thirty minutes, with thirty minutes to ninety minutes being the ideal session length. Game sessions can connect to one another, as is the case when playing a campaign. Campaigns are a series of long term game play objectives interwoven with narrative, typically played with a persistent group of people. Scenarios are specific world states meant to be completed in a single session. 
  •  Starting play: Players begin a session by determining if they will play a long-term campaign or a shorter-term scenario. The campaign or scenario determines a “soft conclusion” for the game session. The game is intended to end once the stated objective is completed, but players can choose to continue playing in that world state if they wish. Players can choose to continue an existing unfinished game as well. 
Starting the journey.  A new game begins.
Starting the journey. A new game begins.
  •  Characters: Next, players either create a new character or pick up one that they have already created. Characters have many customizable fields to make each one unique. You have your class, abilities, origin, skills, vocation, and more.  Combine that with the wealth of items you can find in game using the procedurally generated loot drop system and the possibilities become almost infinite.
  •  Encounters: Player characters progress toward an objective by completing encounters. Encounters come in three varieties: combat encounters, communication encounters, and exploration encounters. Combat encounters throw you into the heat of battle to claim honor, glory, and loot. Communication encounters steer you into the dark waters of political intrigue, investigation, trade deals, and more. And exploration encounters pit the player against nature. It sounds innocent enough until you are climbing active volcanoes and leaping across shattering glaciers.
  • Encounters are fast paced and full of surprises.  Any one of them could be the end of your journey, or maybe the legend for which you will be remembered.  A critical hit could spell your doom in combat, a decisive reading of your senate opponent could sway the fate of a nation, or you might just be the first person to ever set foot atop the Stormgrave Spire.  Players must manage their resources carefully and master the advantage/disadvantage system to succeed.  All encounters require strategy, cooperation, and a little luck with the dice.
  •  Brand new engine! If you have ever played a game like Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder, you know what to expect from a roleplaying game at this point, but Pilgrims of Rao approaches the classic genre in a brand new way. Rao uses a game engine that I developed specifically for this project. This engine uses intuitively simple equations to randomly generate everything in a play session from the enemies to the entire region that the session takes place in. You will never play the same game twice!
  • Pilgrims of Rao forgoes the traditional d20 system in favor of a three dice system.  The game uses a d4, d6, and d8.  You want to roll high numbers to succeed.  Generally the better you are at an action, the bigger your die size and the more dice you get to roll.  Treasure improves with high rolls too.  Players will use the treasure chart in the guidebook to determine what they have won.
  • Legacy system: Rao separates itself from other RPGs in two major ways: players are supposed to hit the level cap and start fresh, and all scenarios/campaigns are made for adventurers of all levels.  When a player character has completed his or her objective set out at the beginning of the game, that character may retire, passing on certain items and other possessions depending on how many Feats that character accomplished in their lifetime.  The new character begins with Legacy bonuses to expedite their growth and to carry on the adventuring line.  
  • Using the Legacy system is entirely optional, but I recommend doing so.  Legacy keeps a feeling of progression beyond the maximum character level.  The generation that began the journey may not even be around to see it fulfilled.  The old heroes leave their work in the capable hands of the young.
  • Cycling back around to level 1 also resets spectacle creep, the psychological need to see bigger and bigger monsters to feel excited.  Scenarios and campaigns have different objectives available depending on the level of player characters taking part.  There will always be an appropriate challenge for your level to ensure that no content is locked away just because you leveled up a few too many times.  It also opens the door for a wholly different experience.  One player may boast how she bested the Hydra and cleared her campaign while another player retells how he saved a small town from bandits and became a local hero.
  •  No DM! There is no need for an additional player to serve as the dungeon master or game master as it will always be players against the game. The engine has been carefully balanced and play-tested to ensure that it is fun at all levels of game experience. I like to think of it as combining the freedom of a roleplaying game with the structure of a video game.

KICKSTARTER PROJECT

The roleplaying game community on Kickstarter is fantastic.  Projects that just five years ago never would have been possible because publishers called them too risky, now have the support to make innovative new products, new games that let us play in ways we never thought of before.  I brought Pilgrims of Rao to Kickstarter to harness that creative momentum.  My funding goal is relatively low and easily achievable with your support.

Mockup of book pages in development.
Mockup of book pages in development.
  •  The goal: Create and distribute a 100 page, 8.5x11 (inch) illustrated core game guidebook in digital and softcover print formats.  The book will be independently published utilizing Amazon's Createspace and rewards will be distributed by me.  Using Createspace's print on demand functionality combined with Amazon's shipping infrastructure lets me provide the most high quality content possible with the lowest risk.  In turn, I can keep prices low and create even more content for my players.
  • Stretch goals: These are additional bonus materials created and provided to backers in a FREE digital format.  They will not be included in the book itself.  Print formats of some materials will also be created and provided to some higher backer tiers.  The further we go beyond the minimum funding level, the more bonus content I can create for you.
  • Post launch support: I plan to release several supplementary materials for FREE, host community game sessions and discussions, and otherwise provide assistance wherever it is needed.  Expect a short delay to shipping after the product is available online (Amazon store - if you are a backer, do not purchase this until you have received your reward copy in the mail from me) as I review it personally before sending it to my players.

THE BUDGET

These amounts are based off of the minimum required budget for successful funding.

  • 60% Editing, Distribution, Fees
  • 20% Art (plus any money raised over minimum)
  • 10% Kickstarter share
  • 10% Taxes and other Miscellaneous costs

TESTING

Pilgrims of Rao has been in development for over a year now and it underwent months of extensive public alpha and beta testing with dozens of participants.  I compiled all relevant materials into a single document for your convenience.

Follow the link below to the official facebook page to try out the beta for yourself.  Keep in mind that most of that information is now out of date and inaccurate regarding final balancing.  A primer of final information can also be found on the official page.  These are found in the group "files."

https://www.facebook.com/groups/887472881333594/

Dryhten, the bound god, sits on his throne in Grimwinter Fortress.  Do you dare challenge him?
Dryhten, the bound god, sits on his throne in Grimwinter Fortress. Do you dare challenge him?

 STRETCH GOALS

The following bonus materials will be awarded when the corresponding amount of funding has been reached.  Rewards come in three forms: digital, additions to the book in all formats, and physical.

$3,000 (USD) = Funding goal

  • 3,500 = Pets New rules and mechanics for mounts, battle companions, and creature interactions (add 10 pages to the book) - REACHED!
  • 4,000 = Housing New rules and mechanics for camps and permanent housing in towns (add 10 pages to the book) - REACHED!
  • 5,000 = Set Sail New mechanics for naval combat, new vehicles, new items (add 10 pages to the book)
  • 10,000 = Encounter Manual Everything you need to know about the monsters, people, and environments of the world (separate 100 page book, expect release several months after Core Guidebook, counts as a digital stretch goal and physical for certain backers)
  • 12,000 = Love and War New rules and mechanics for NPC interactions, loyalty, and family.  New rules and mechanics for large scale battles and fielding armies (add 20 pages to the book)
  • More? = ???
BACKER GOALS

The following bonus materials will be awarded when the corresponding number of backers back the project.  These are digital only.  Spread the word and be rewarded.

  • 20  = Digital collection of book art   REACHED!
  • 50 = Novella: Dragonmarch   REACHED!
  • 100 = Scenario: Old Aram   REACHED!
  • 200 = Campaign: The Roaring Legion
  • 350 = Campaign: Civil War
  • 500 = Campaign: Gravelord
Gather your friends for an epic adventure in Pilgrims of Rao!
Gather your friends for an epic adventure in Pilgrims of Rao!

Risks and challenges

Third party art:
The nature of this project requires collaboration between myself and numerous other artists over a period of several months. Occasionally there are hang ups in communication or in an artist's individual schedule, but to date I have not had any serious issues that we could not work out. I have accounted for any unforeseen hiccups by pushing the projected release date back. I anticipate delivery well before that date.

Other than that, this a low risk project. Most of the major hurdles have already been overcome. Most of the art is complete and the writing is coming along well. Editing, distribution, and support are taken care of.

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    Starting Gear

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    Guildmaster Bundle

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    - Your guild in the game world and illustrated by our artists (two characters and symbol), starring in future content, and your own personal campaign (I will discuss this with you to ensure it is world-friendly)
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Funding period

- (30 days)