A tabletop roleplaying game of costumed heroes and villains where you create your own comic book universe!
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Wed, November 21 2018 5:00 AM UTC +00:00.
Spectaculars is a tabletop roleplaying game of comic book heroes and villains where you create the setting as you play the game. When you open your copy of Spectaculars for the first time, you are standing at the heart of an entirely new comic book universe, one which will grow and change and become filled with memorable heroes, engaging villains, and stories of the clash between them. Best of all, you and your players are the ones who create all of those things!
The game comes as a boxed set, with all the game materials needed for an entire gaming group to start playing. Spectaculars is designed to be easy to start playing, even on a moment's notice. Once all of the players are familiar with the rules, it takes only minutes for one player to read through the scenario while the other players quickly choose or make characters.
Spectaculars uses the 100AC dice system, the same system used by Dusk City Outlaws. Consisting of percentile dice (used to determine success or failure) and custom advantage and challenge dice (which are used to represent advantageous or detrimental circumstances surrounding the roll you are making), the 100AC system produces a whole spectrum of possible results in a simple, easy to read, and easy to adjudicate way. You roll percentile dice for success and failure on any roll, determined by your percentage chance of success (listed on your hero archetype and identity); if you roll boons, you get some additional positive benefit, and if you roll drawbacks you get some additional negative benefit, meaning you can succeed on your task but have some negative consequence, or fail your roll but still get something good out of it, and every other permutation of success, failure, upside, and downside. The system allows for easy improvisation, quick modification of a roll by the Narrator, and creating interesting twists and turns without the need for advanced preparation.
Each box set of Spectaculars represents a unique comic book universe, one that the players craft and evolve during play. There is no assumed setting for the game; instead, Spectaculars provides materials and guidance that help players craft the universe these comic book stories take place in. Each copy comes with a book filled with pages of important, iconic elements that make up the foundational elements of the setting. These include entries for your setting's powerful, alien artifacts, your setting's supervillain prison, your setting's government agency that deals with superpowered conflicts, and important background characters like the head of your setting's most important news media empire. As you encounter these elements for the first time in the game's scenarios, you and your players will define these elements, and then from that moment on they become a permanent part of your setting.
Spectaculars is a game that is focused on episodic campaign play, playing out like issues in your favorite comic book series. However, Spectaculars also uses its included components to make it easy to play a campaign without requiring anyone to do any advanced prep work between sessions. There's no need for one person to spend hours crafting materials in advance of the session; each scenario includes all of the information the Narrator needs to run the game.
The game comes with four series pads, which include the heroes, villains, and scenarios of your setting. Each pad contains 40 double-sided sheets arranged in a tear-off paper pad, and includes a storyline in a particular comic book subgenre. As you play through the campaign, you tear off sheets that contain the individual issues (scenarios) that you are going to play through, and sheets for villains and minions (which the Narrator creates at the start of the session, adding to your setting's growing cast of unique villains). Additionally, the first few sheets in each pad contain hero archetypes appropriate to the series pad's theme, and a few team roster sheets, to create the team of heroes that will be playing through the campaign. Additional hero archetypes occasionally appear throughout the series pads, becoming available for players to play after certain events in the campaign.
The series pads can be played in any order, and you can jump back and forth between the series at any time. You can create new teams for each series, or play some or all existing heroes when you change to a new series. The series pads included in the base game contain over 50 total issues among them, each one aimed at two to three hours of play, meaning that there is over 100 hours of comic book adventure in the Spectaculars box.
The four series pads included in the base game are:
- Clash Among the Stars (a cosmic themed series)
- Eldritch Mysteries (a sorcery themed series)
- Explorers of the Unknown (a super-science themed series)
- Streetlight Knights (a street-level vigilante themed series)
The core game box set comes with everything that a group of 5 people need to play. The box set includes:
- The 44-page Rulebook
- The 60-page setting book, in which you record the decisions you make as you create the setting
- 4 different 80-page series pads, containing teams, hero archetypes, heroes, villains, minions, and scenarios; each series pad is themed based on a different comic book genre, including street-level, super science, sorcery, and cosmic series.
- The 80-card Deck of Powers
- The 60-card Deck of Identities
- 10 Team Role cards
- 40 initiative cards
- Tear-off pad of character tracking sheets, used to track the evolution of heroes
- 5 sets of percentile dice
- 4 advantage dice
- 4 challenge dice
- Cardboard token sheet, containing hero points and continuity tokens
- Plastic component tray by GameTrayz
Additionally, as the campaign continues, if we exceed our funding goals, there will be opportunities to add to or improve the components in the base game. More information on that below in the Stretch Goals section.
Campaign Coins Metal Tokens
The fine folks at Campaign Coins have once again partnered with me to produce another amazing upgrade in the form of metal coins to replace the tokens that come with the game. It's a lot more coins this time around, and while the designs are being finalized, I do have rough counts (subject to change) for the coins included with this upgrade:
- 24 time tokens
- 24 hero point tokens
- 4 continuity tokens
You can get this Campaign Coins upgrade, plus an extra set of advantage and challenge dice, by backing the game at the Cosmic level.
I'm Rodney Thompson, creator of Spectaculars. As a game designer, I've been creating tabletop games professionally for over 15 years, including being a member of the design team for both the Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition and Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition during my nearly-a-decade's worth of time at Wizards of the Coast. I am also the co-designer of several board games, including the award-winning Lords of Waterdeep, Tyrants of the Underdark, and Thornwatch. My most recent roleplaying game, Dusk City Outlaws, is my first project for my own imprint, Scratchpad Publishing, and, like Spectaculars, is a box set game designed to be played with no advanced prep time. I'm proud to say that Dusk City Outlaws successfully funded on Kickstarter and shipped to backers, receiving glowing reviews.
For Spectaculars, I've recruited a team of talented designers, editors, artists, and graphic designers to help make the game a reality, including Noah Adelman, Danny Araya, Logan Bonner, Michele Carter, Daniel Gelon, Jordan Grimmer, Daniel Helmick, Brigette Indelicato, Peter Lee, David Lojaya, and Des Taylor.
Want to see how the game plays? Of course you do! Below you will find a video containing an actual play session of a single issue of Spectaculars (specifically, Explorers of the Unknown #2: Sky-High Ambitions), including an abbreviated version of initial setting creation, team formation, and a full session of play.
Additionally, I have the following livestreams scheduled for throughout the Kickstarter campaign, with more to be added later:
- Watch the replay of the Spectaculars game played on LoadingReadyRun's Dice Friends
- Watch the replay of a Q&A with Rodney Thompson from Kickstarter Live
- Watch the replay of Spectaculars on the High Rollers channel
- Watch the replay of Spectaculars on the Penny Arcade channel
- Thursday, November 15 at 6:00 PM Pacific (The final Q&A of the campaign with Rodney Thompson on Kickstarter Live)
- Sunday, November 18, at 5:00 PM Pacific on Adam Koebel's Twitch channel
You can also check out the video tutorials I am producing for the game for a brief deeper dive into different aspects of the game's mechanics:
Everyone that backs the game gains immediate access to PDF files that can be printed out to start playing the game today! This print-and-play package includes a PDF preview of the rulebook, a preview of the setting book, a team sheet, six hero archetypes, and 2 issues (scenarios) along with villains and minions necessary to support them. All you need to provide is dice and you can be playing the game immediately.
If you've backed the project, you can scroll all the way down to the very first Kickstarter update, which is Backer-only. In that update is a link to DriveThruRPG that you can use to access and download the print-and-play preview.
As of the launch of the Kickstarter, the rulebook, setting book, and all cards are in editing. The four series pads are in final development. All graphic design is complete. Unlike the last Kickstarter, for this project all art has already been commissioned and is in-progress. In all, the game is well into the production process, and is ready to go to the manufacturer in late December, putting us on-schedule for an August 2019 release.
The only content that is not complete is any stretch goal content, which may ship separately if those stretch goals are achieved and they would delay shipment if included in the box set. If they do ship separately, it will be at no additional shipping charge to backers.
That said, playtesting and editing continues through the duration of the Kickstarter, and we will be eagerly accepting feedback from anyone who downloads and plays the print-and-play rules. As such, some design tweaks will likely be made to individual game elements, though we don't anticipate any large-scale rules elements changes. You can be of huge help to us by reading through the rules and playing the game, then sending us your feedback; any opportunity we have to clarify rules or make the game more awesome is an opportunity we want to take advantage of!
The more backers that Spectaculars get, the more guest designers we will bring in to create scenarios for the game! Every time we hit a new backer threshold, we will reveal another guest designer, drawn from the ranks of comic book and roleplaying game creatives of all stripes. These guest designers will help create an issue, plus any villains, minions, or other elements associated with that issue.
Guest Designer UNLOCKED—Steve Kenson: Steve is the co-designer of the Neon City Outlaws setting hack for Dusk City Outlaws. He also has an excellent pedigree as one of the most prolific superhero roleplaying game designers out there. Steve is the primary designer behind both Mutants & Masterminds and ICONS (both excellent games), so it's fair to say he knows his way around roleplaying in a comic book universe.
Guest Designer UNLOCKED—John Rogers: John is a multi-talented writer and creator, and is one of the creators of the TV show Leverage. John also has an excellent comics pedigree, with a great run on Blue Beetle and The Flash for DC Comics. John also was a guest contributor to the Dusk City Outlaws campaign, and he helped create The Funeral Job, which is included in the box set.
Guest Designer UNLOCKED—Seanan McGuire: Seanan is a prolific author and gamer and, now, comic book writer. Her work appears in X-Men Gold Annual #2, X-Men Black: Mystique, and Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider for Marvel Comics.
Guest Designer UNLOCKED—Cam Banks: Cam is a storied game designer of tabletop RPGs. Currently the RPG Director at Atlas Games, Cam's game design history is too long to list here, but his contributions include helping to create the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game for Margaret Weis Productions .
Guest Designer UNLOCKED—Eric Trautmann: Another guest designer who has a foot in the world of RPGs and a foot in the world of comic books, I first met Eric when he was working on the West End Games Star Wars RPG. Since then, Eric has gone on to work on a number of comic books for the big comic publishers, including a run on Checkmate that I particularly enjoyed. Eric has penned titles for DC, Vertigo, Dynamite Entertainment and Image Comics, ranging from superhero fare like JSA vs Kobra, military drama like the original graphic novel, Shooters, and horror and fantasy titles including long runs on Red Sonja and Vampirella). Eric's contribution will be unlocked at 800 backers.
Rob Donoghue—Unlocked at 900 Backers: Rob is a tabletop RPG designer and the co-founder of Evil Hat Productions. His tabletop RPG pedigree is exceptional, with some greatest hits (at least in my book) including Fate, Sprit of the Century, and the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game. Rob is an excellent designer with a good eye for interesting stories, and I'm so excited to have him onboard. Rob's contribution will be unlocked at 900 backers.
While my first priority is funding the project, I know that lots of folks want to know just what is in store for stretch goals. As with the Dusk City Outlaws Kickstarter campaign, all stretch goals improve every backer's copy of the game. This means additional components, expanded rulebooks, higher-quality components, and web supplements.
All stretch goals will come in $5000 increments, so the first stretch goal will be achieved at $70,000 funding. Additionally, the next stretch goal (the $75,000 goal) will be revealed when the project funds.
$70,000 — Digital Creator Pack! For the first stretch goal, I will release for free to all backers the digital creator pack for the game. This stretch goal will give backers access to digital files used in the creation of the Spectaculars game, making it easier to produce new material that looks just like the contents of the boxed set.
The digital creator pack includes:
- Digital files for all artwork used in the game
- Adobe InDesign templates for all cards, the rulebook, the setting book, and series
- Any digital templates and artwork produced for stretch goals
- License to create and distribute for free Spectaculars content
I want you to take this game and make it your own, make your own content for it, share it with others in the community, hack it, and get as much out of it as you can. This pack should help you do so, and help make the material you create look as close to the original game as possible.
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk to the project is delays that would push us past our expected August 2019 ship date for the game. We are mitigating risks by using the same manufacturer that we used for Dusk City Outlaws, and using the same company for shipping and fulfillment.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter