"A sword is a tool with only one purpose:
To kill human beings."
Enter the world of Blade Bind as one of the Chosen — a character with dedication and purpose, bound to an ancient supernatural Blade. Your Blade grants you the power to defeat your enemies and achieve your goals, and none can stand before you save another of the Chosen. Yet power comes at a price, for should you falter on your path the Blade will not hesitate to seize control and use you as the instrument of its own vengeance!
The goal of this Kickstarter is to release a high-quality 78-page digital PDF and print-on-demand copy of the Blade Bind core rulebook, along with an optional custom deck of cards and other support material.
- All products will be distributed via DriveThruRPG.
- Physical rewards (book and cards) are supplied AT-COST, meaning you will pay additionally for printing and shipping once the Kickstarter ends.
I discuss the at-cost approach and my goals for the Kickstarter below.
Blade Bind is a GMless one-shot storygame for two to six players, and uses a deck of regular playing cards to resolve epic duels between Chosen warriors. Each game sets up a fresh situation and plays through it over the course of one or two sessions (around three to six hours). Several events can trigger the end of the game, resulting in a tragedy, an uneasy stability, or a rare glorious victory.
Blade Bind is about setting up a conflicted situation and seeing how it unfolds. It sets the Chosen at cross-purposes, which means the characters will be in conflict from the very beginning. The players, however, are not in conflict — they are collaborating to produce a rich experience for everyone at the table. Play hard, engage with the system, and build on the contributions of others to unleash melodrama and tragedy.
The system is built around two major factors: Will and Power. Will reflects a Chosen's determination to achieve their goals, and fluctuates depending on whether those goals are in progress, completed, or no longer possible. Power directly represents combat capability, and increases as the Chosen unlocks their Blade's potential. However, should Power ever become higher than Will, the Blade takes over — it fuses with its wielder and they become Bladebound, a devastating demon of battle!
When a Chosen sets their resolve to a task, only another Chosen can hope to stop them. If someone is trying to destroy or seize control of something you care about, you can try to talk them out of it — but if that fails, then you must either back down or take up arms against them. Duels are fought with regular playing cards, using HEMA-inspired rules that reflect real-world swordfights. The victor gets to either claim a prize that's at stake, or rewrite a goal belonging to one of the vanquished.
There's a more in-depth look at the rules below, after I discuss the Rewards.
NOTE: All Rewards will be fulfilled through DriveThruRPG and DriveThruCards.
If you don't already have a free DriveThru account, you will need to set one up to claim your Rewards.
Blade Bind PDF
A 78-page DRM-free PDF of the full-colour Blade Bind core rulebook in 6"x9", plus a printer-friendly A4/Letter-sized version, plus a print-and-play PDF of the custom Cards (see below), plus a separate form-fillable PDF record sheet.
Blade Bind POD Book (AT COST)
An at-cost code for a Premium Colour print-on-demand copy of the Blade Bind core rulebook, fulfilled by DriveThruRPG. 78 pages, 6"x9", in either Softcover or Hardcover. This is an AT-COST Reward, meaning you will pay for printing and shipping from DriveThruRPG separately. Estimated additional costs are as follows:
- Premium Softcover: US$8.32
- Premium Hardcover: US$13.32
- Shipping to USA, Canada, UK, or Europe: US$5.00–$9.00
- Shipping to Australia or Mexico: US$12.00–$14.00
- Shipping to Brazil: US$36.00–$38.00
(Shipping costs are based on Standard Shipping. For a full run-down on shipping options, please refer to this webpage.)
Blade Bind POD Cards (AT COST)
An at-cost code for a deck of 65 Premium print-on-demand cards, comprising a full deck of 52 regular playing cards marked with Quickstart Setup information, plus 13 Blade reference cards. The custom cards are not required to play; you can use regular playing cards and the record sheet. This is an AT-COST Reward, meaning you will pay for printing and shipping from DriveThruCards separately. Estimated additional costs are as follows:
- Premium Deck: US$5.53
- Shipping to USA: US$7.00
- Shipping to Canada: US$13.00
- Shipping to Rest of World: US$19.00–$20.00
Unfortunately, since the books and cards are printed at different locations, both shipping fees will apply. It is not possible to combine shipping on Book + Card Rewards.
For a full run-down on shipping options, refer to this webpage.
Blade Bind Print-and-Play Cards PDF
A PDF of the 65-card deck for you to print and cut out at home. Included in all Reward levels.
The Game in Detail
Blade Bind can take place in any setting where ancient Blades make pacts with those who are driven to achieve greatness. The world is but a backdrop for melodrama writ large, so the setting only matters insofar as it supports that aim. Two setting outlines are provided in the book: the modern-day Shadow War, and the fantasy King of Swords.
Characters are defined by their personality, relationships, and goals. Each also has a unique Blade, which comes with a set of special powers. Each Chosen creates a Knot, which can be anything they think is worth fighting for. It may be a non-player character, an item, a location, or something weirder. Knots are basically MacGuffins that create motivations for conflict.
Each Chosen also creates three Threads, which are goals linking them to various Knots and Chosen. Threads are rigidly-worded, and include things like:
- "I will destroy [KNOT]"
- "I will control [KNOT]"
- "Nobody will destroy [KNOT]"
- "I will defeat [CHOSEN]"
- "[CHOSEN] will control [KNOT]"
...and so on. Each Thread may be Loose (yet to be achieved), Secure (achieved, even if temporarily), or Cut (impossible to achieve). Each of these states grant the Chosen points of Will: the more complete the Thread, the more Will it is worth. Will represents the Chosen's determination to succeed, and control over their Blade. Chosen also start with 3 points of Will not associated with any Thread.
Each Blade has Enmity towards one other; a hatred forged into its very essence. Once everyone has defined their Chosen and selected a Blade, you randomly find out whose Blade yours wants to destroy!
The Blade grants its wielder points of Power. All Chosen start with 2 Power, and may increase it voluntarily at the start of a Duel. You must increase it if you cross swords with your Blade's Enmity. There's also no way to reduce your Power once it increases. At the start of a Duel you draw cards equal to Power, so it's very important for winning fights. However, should your Power ever become higher than your Will, you become Bladebound (see below).
While fighting, Blades sometimes smash together with equal force, locking together in a Bind. This generates Resonance — each Blade has three special powers called Techniques, and you must spend Resonance to activate them.
Players take turns framing scenes for their Chosen. This usually means trying to complete one of your Threads, but you can also try to convince another Chosen to take a particular course of action. If nobody opposes you, then you achieve whatever it is you set out to do. However, if another Chosen decides to stand in your way (or refuses to go along with your plan), and neither of you are willing to back down, then you must Duel to decide who gets the final say.
Conflicts between Chosen are resolved using a deck of regular playing cards.
At the start of the Duel, each player draws cards equal to Power. They then play and reveal a face-down card, with the high card seizing initiative. Whenever you have initiative, you may choose to attack or disengage. You attack by playing a card face-up, and your opponent must play one or more cards in defence. If they cannot defend themselves, they lose the fight and are Vanquished.
There are three basic defence options.
- Playing a card higher than the attack is a Parry, which allows the defender to seize initiative.
- Playing an equal card is a Bind, where the Blades lock together; this leads to a special play called a Wind which decides who gains the advantage. Binding also generates Resonance, which powers your Blade's Techniques.
- If you need to play multiple cards to equal or beat the Attack, it's an Evade; you disengage and get a chance to catch your breath. However, Evasion means you are spending cards faster than your opponent, and eventually you'll be unable to mount a sufficient defence.
There are a few other defence options based on matching suits. You can also use a Joker for any play — you draw another card and then play one from your hand to replace the Joker, but the suit is wild.
The Victor gets to claim a prize:
- Decide the fate of a Knot that was at stake
- Rewrite a Thread belonging to one of the Vanquished
- Rewrite one of their own Threads
The Vanquished are not killed or permanently injured, but their Blades take this moment of weakness to seize greater control. In addition, the Victor's prize could cause people to gain or lose Will, which may create one or more Bladebound.
Bladebound and the End-Game
If your Power becomes higher than Will, you become Bladebound. The Blade takes control, fusing with you and using you as a ruthless puppet to exact vengeance on its Enmity. It will first force you to destroy everything you still care for, and then do the same to the wielder of its Enmity. Once you are both Bladebound, the Blades can face off in their true forms in an ultimate battle! The loser is utterly destroyed and the Chosen slain, bringing the game to its tragic conclusion.
Yet there is always hope. It's possible (though unlikely) to achieve a state of equilibrium, or for one rare individual to rise above the others and claim the title of Champion.
The full pre-release PDF will be made available at the end of the Kickstarter. In the meantime, you can download a free demo PDF that details the core of the Duelling system.
Why At-Cost Fulfilment?
Basically, I want to keep things as simple and manageable as possible for my first Kickstarter. It also has the added benefit that I don't have to inflate the prices to cover any potential production or postage hikes, so I can offer items below RRP and you pay the best possible price!
If you don't want the hassle of paying twice you can always wait until the products are available on DriveThruRPG, but you will end up paying a few dollars extra.
I would like to work with the Kickstarter Backers — you! — to help make this game the best it can be. By crowdsourcing feedback on the next-to-final draft, I hope we can catch as many errors and unclear explanations as possible. That way, I can avoid having to revise the print version once the files are uploaded — because getting additional proof copies sent to Australia causes painful delays.
Since I work as a freelance RPG editor, I would also like to pay for a professional editing pass. I'll look into hiring an editor if the campaign reaches $2000.
Oct 2016: The Kickstarter
- During this time I'll be working to complete the final illustrations.
Nov 2016: The Review Period
- I'll send out the pre-release PDF to all Backers at the end of the Kickstarter, to give you a chance to read it and try it out. I'll collate all the feedback and implement any changes by the end of the month, including any final illustrations (such as those involving Backer portraits).
- I'll also be finalising the card art, sending out the print-and-play version, and arranging for the POD card proofs.
Dec 2016: Digital Rewards & Print Proofing
- I'll update the PDF to the final version, and submit the POD files for approval and proofing.
- While I'm waiting for the proofs, I'll also set up the printer-friendly version and distribute it when ready.
Jan–Feb 2017: Print Release
- Hopefully the POD books and cards will pass muster on the first proof, but I've factored in two proofing runs just in case. Once the proofs are satisfactory, I'll send out the POD codes!
- Once all Backer codes are sent, I'll make the product available to the general public.
Who Am I?
Apart from my wonderful playtesters, Blade Bind is a one-man production. My name's Craig Judd, and I'm a professional graphic designer. I'm currently doing freelance work from home — mostly on RPG-related projects — while I care for my chronically-ill partner.
I released my first RPG in 2015, as a solo project — the generic action toolbox PowerFrame RPG (and several supplements), so I am familiar with DriveThruRPG's publishing requirements. I do my own art and layout work in-house, so I won't be delayed waiting for outsourced work to be delivered.
I've done layout work on Narosia: Sea of Tears, Fear the Living, and several games still in production. I've created logos and graphics for Bulldogs!, Mistwardens, and a few RPG-related websites. I've drafted character sheets for Narosia, Fear the Living, and Godbound. I also edit RPG manuscripts. Please see my website for more details.
Risks and challenges
The game is already fully written, playable, and laid out. There are a few outstanding illustrations (which I'm doing myself), but apart from that I could release the PDF on DriveThruRPG today. I'm delaying because I want the opportunity to make changes based on feedback from Backers before I release the PDF and POD versions to the public. So barring a total catastrophic disaster, you'll at the very least have access to a fully-playable game in PDF form.
Printing proofs take 3 to 7 weeks to reach me here in Australia, so that might cause some delays for the POD version. I've built two proofing runs into the schedule, but I want the game to look awesome so it might push things back a bit if I need to order a third proof.
I haven't ordered POD cards before, so there may be some unforeseen hiccups or delays. However, I'm an experienced graphic artist and I'm used to setting things up to meet production specifications. At the very least I'll be able to send out the print-and-play PDF.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)