Reflections is a two-player RPG about samurai that will duel to the death. The game begins with the two players setting the scene of their duel, then flashing back to play through the events that have led them to this moment. The game ends when one, or both, samurai are dead.
How to Play
To play Reflections, all you’ll need is an understanding of the system, a character sheet, a handful of d6 dice, and a friend willing to share the experience.
The story begins with both players introducing the scene, their samurai and the conflict that has brought them to this point. The players then flash back to their past beginning with when they were once friends, lovers, siblings, or whatever form the story takes. Each scene after builds upon these themes and highlighting the moments that have led to the final duel.
During these scenes, each player will select a secret objective at the beginning of a scene for them to achieve while playing. Objectives are based on trying to get your opponent to do something through roleplay. These include things like "Convince your rival to give you a personal item" or "Get your rival to draw blood". If a player is successful in their objective they gain dice to be used in the final duel. Fail, and they build up hatred towards their rival.
At the end of the last scene the players again arrive at the moment of the duel. They recount their accomplishments and failures and then must make a vital choice. Embrace their hatred and bring it into the duel with them, or let it go and enter the duel with a clean conscious. Finally one moment determines the outcome of the lifelong rival. Both samurai draw swords and at least one will not leave alive.
Following play, there is a brief recounting of the resolution of this moment, and a recognition of defeat by the slayed samurai.
At its core, Reflections is a game designed to allow players to tell the story of two samurai and how they came to this bitter conclusion. Beyond this, however, we have had other sources of inspiration throughout the development process which have given rise to these goals.
1. Support and encourage player dialogue and improvisation
Without this, the game does not become an experience. All mechanics are pushing this interaction, encouraging the give and take, the verbal sparring between players. Immersing yourself into your character and into this conflict that has embroiled these two samurai. Achieving the goals of your character through dialogue and improvisation are the only way to gather your thoughts for that one clear, solid strike that will end their life.
All the rules are in place to allow this dialogue and improvisation. There is little to no hindrance for a player to create the most involved, complex and fantastic tale of betrayal. As long as their opponent is on board, there is no limit to the heights of the potential for storytelling.
2. Require direct, interpersonal interaction with your opponent
While supporting and encouraging player dialogue and improvisation, another goal of this game is to create a mutual, shared experience between the two players. This can only be achieved by the players themselves, but we are making this a major point of focus while developing the rules. If the players buy into the system and enter in with a focus on aspirations over limitations, there is nothing they cannot achieve.
This concept of requiring a direct, interpersonal connection with your opponent comes from a concept that has a profound impact on game development. Ichi-go ichi-e is a Japanese concept that translates to ‘one time, one meeting’. This concept states that we are so quick to dismiss the time we spend with others as commonplace or mundane that we miss the true opportunity that exists before us. Each meeting, each time we share an experience with another person, we should celebrate that opportunity. Even if we see that person everyday, these shared experiences require our sincerest attention since they are truly one shared moment.
This idea is core to game play. This is a two player game and both players will enjoy themselves the most if they are devoted to the concept that they will share an experience over the next hour which they can take with them. That, to us, is the goal of roleplaying.
3. Make it easy to play but still engaging
We made it a point to develop a system that will maximize the storytelling while minimizing the time your face needs to be in a book. Although we are putting great care into the layout of the game and all artwork associated with it, we don’t want both players to interrupt their epic tales so they can thumb through an index, or argue over semantics for twenty minutes. We want you to be able to read through the booklet, reference the character sheet, grab some dice and spin up a story.
We see a great advantage in getting people to try new roleplaying games if you can simply hand them a character sheet, take three minutes to explain the rules, and jump right in play. The beauty of this game is how the mechanics interact and encourage roleplay, the experience, and the interpersonal connection.
Reflections has been developed with focus and intent. Inspiration for the game has been so great that we have not stalled since the beginning of this process. Once we were able to define what it was we are trying to achieve, we have not stopped working on it.
Known from his podcast, Talking TableTop, Jim is well known for being a vocal proponent of RPG as ‘the highest form of art known to mankind’. He is also known for his love of Legend of the Five Rings and samurai in general. Jim is the co-founder of Third Act Publishing, a publishing and game development company that highlights the potential of RPGs as a medium for storytelling. This is why Jim decided to go all out with Reflections, it is a game that captures the feeling of conflict between two players but does so in an environment that highlights the characters and the story, not the mechanics.
Jim Merritt is the other co-founder of Third Act Publishing, along with Jim. Web Jim (as opposed to GM Jim) has a background in graphic design, web design and development, illustration and content creation. Not nearly as avid a gamer as Jim, Jim really enjoys the potential for systems and experiences allowed through game play.
Jim’s influence on Third Act Publishing comes from the desire to treat gaming as a true opportunity for positive user experience. Coming to game development from a background in web design and development almost forces Jim to see the similarities between the mediums. Whatever the form of an RPG, the end goals are the same: creating experiences through interaction with one or more users. While GM Jim believes that ‘RPGs are the highest form of art known to mankind’, Web Jim knows that this lofty goal can only be achieved if the players are given a platform that does not hinder their ability to think and act creatively.
In addition to Jim and Jim from Third Act Publishing writing for Reflections, the project is being co-designed by Tobie Abad.
Tobie is the creator of A Single Moment, the game that inspired Reflections, and has come to work on this project as well. Tobie works at Indigo-Entertainment as game designer for mobile and online video games. He is also a tabletop and role-playing game designer and storyteller. He is based in Manila, Philippines and lives with the love of his life, Rocky, at a quaint little place they call Sietch Creare, which is filled with books, games, and other geeky stuff. He hopes to someday be able to legally marry his partner without having to leave the country to do so. He has written for 7th Sea second edition, Sound of Water, Girls Elsewhere, Queer Gaymers, Advanced Doll and other projects. He gives role-playing game talks and one shot demo games for Gamers & GMs Philippines and releases his own stuff under the banner of TAG Sessions, or Tobie Abad Gaming Sessions (https://www.facebook.com/TobieAbadGaming/).
The Art & Layout
Our illustrator, Pavonis Giron, is a freelance artist hailing from the dusty and dry desert region of Southern California. Pavonis tackles various forms of media, ranging from 3D art to digital and traditional painting. The rest of their time is spent crying over the terrible 80's fantasy films that inspired them to create art in the first place. Pavonis' portfolio can be found at www.prayke.com and they can be contacted at email@example.com.
Art Direction and Layout by Paulomi Pratap - Born and raised in Texas, Paulomi loves tabletop games and RPGs almost as much as she loves her dog… or Tex- Mex… or Star Wars… or puns. Oh man, she really loves puns. You can check out some of the other projects she's working on at paulomipratap.com, or get updates on twitter @PaulomiSP
$1 Friend of the Family.
This level is to show your support for the game even if financially you cannot back it at the moment.
At this level you get the PDF copy of the game book and any PDF stretch goals from the Kickstarter campaign.
At this level you get a physical copy of the Reflections game book and all stretch goals from this Kickstarter campaign.
At this level you get a physical copy of the Reflections game book, a PDF copy of the game book, and a pad of 50 Character sheets to play the game, as well as all stretch goals.
$35 Clan Champion
At this level you get 2 physical copies of the Reflections game book, a PDF copy of the game, a pad of 50 Character sheets, and all of the stretch goals. Everything you need for two dueling samurai to play the game.
$100 Imperial Court
At this level you get everything from the Clan Champion Level and Jim McClure will run a game of Reflections for you online.
$250 Emperor’s court
At this level you get everything from the Imperial Court level and your name (or a name of your choosing) will get used as an example character throughout the rule book.
$5,000 Visit from the Heavens
You get everything from the Clan Champion level and Jim McClure will personally deliver your game books to you, crash on your sofa for a weekend, give you an Iron Yoga lesson, run a game for you, order pizza during the weekend, and order pizza once again at some random time during your life (you will not know when it is coming).
$5,000 (Achieved!!!) Funded!
$7,500 (Achieved!!!) Tobie Abad the original creator of A Single Moment will make a bunch of additional settings for the game book outside the standard samurai setting. These will be included in all PDF and Physical copies of the book.
$10,000 (Achieved!!!) Ken Hite will write a gunslinger style western setting for the game that will be included in all PDF and Physical copies of the book.
$12,500 (Achieved!!!) John Wick will write a special PIRATE setting for the game that will be included in all PDF and Physical copies of the book.
$15,000 (Achieved!!!) Ben Woerner will write a special setting for the game with his own unique touch. This will be included in all PDF and Physical copies of the book.
By re-tweeting THIS POST on @GMJimMcClure's twitter account you can unlock the remaining splash illustrations and cover for the Reflections RPG booklet.
50 Retweets (Achieved!!!) - Act II Splash Art by Pavonis Giron
100 Retweets (Achieved!!!)- Act III Splash Art by Pavonis Giron
150 Retweets - Act IV Splash Art by Pavonis Giron
200 Retweets - Reflections Cover Art by Pavonis Giron
100 Followers (Achieved!!!) - All backers at the Wakashu level or higher will get a PDF copy of A Single Moment in recognition of the game that inspired Reflections immediately after the end of the Kickstarter campaign.
***That is right, thanks to Tobie's generosity everyone that backs Reflections at the Wakashu Level or higher will get a full PDF copy of A Single Moment on top of their game of Reflections***
250 Followers (Achieved!!!) - Jim McClure will write a professional wrestling style setting for the game and it will be included in all PDF and physical copies of the book.
500 Followers - A design podcast will be produced to outline how a game like Reflections comes together. Everything from inspiration, to art, to layout, to physical production, to running the Kickstarter project.
1,000 Followers - Jim McClure will produce an online game of Reflections with one of the special guest writers.
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges of this project come from it being our first ever Kickstarter, and our first ever game we have produced. There are a lot of aspects to producing an RPG book from the art, to layout, to writing, to printing, to fulfillment.
We have assembled a team of experienced people to handle this, and budgeted accordingly, but there are plenty of aspects that are new to us. The biggest risk is the unknown.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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