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Doikayt is an anthology of short tabletop roleplaying games about Judaism or Jewish themes, written and illustrated by Jews.
For huge numbers of Jews throughout the world, childhood memories are tied to games. Be it board games played as a family on Shabbas, a local Purim carnival, or simply being taught the rules of the dreidel game, Jews have long relied on games to help pass down tradition, culture, story and song to the next generation. It is with this same earnest joy that we present Doikayt: A Jewish TTRPG Anthology.
In Yiddish, the word doikayt translates to “hereness”. While hereness can be interpreted in many ways, we take it to mean that a Jewish person’s ideology, practices and traditions are a product of their environment, and it is these differences in background and knowledge from sources around the world that make the Jewish people so stalwart.
These differences are what informs our anthology. Featuring games from Jews of completely dissimilar backgrounds, it is our goal to not only show how Judaism can be highlighted through play in a multitude of ways, but also to show that despite our inherent differences, despite our upbringings, we al share this same idea of doikayt. No matter where we are, we are all here.
Who are we?
JR Goldberg is a 35 year old game designer and writer who lives in Philadelphia. He has written about role playing and board games for publications such as Kotaku, Paste and Tabletop UK. He has had fictional work featured in multiple publications, and had a novel length work featured in the Salamanca Living Library.
In addition to his writings about the games industry, JR has also published multiple tabletop RPGs, including multiple games tied in to the Jewish experience. God of Vengeance, his RPG based on the Sholem Asch's Yiddish language play of the same name, was awarded "Best Adaptation of a Public Domain Work" by Tech Dirt. Other notable games he has designed include Cementville, a game about poor witches and wizards in the American rust belt.
Riley Rethal is a 20 year old biology student and game designer. She's spent three summers working as the tabletop rpg specialist at a Jewish science and technology camp (yes, that does exist and it's amazing) and loves being unapologetically Jewish, nerdy, and leftist.
This is Riley's third kickstarter, after Synthesis, a collection of mini-rpgs about meta, perspective, and creating meaning, for #zinequest in February and Dusk to Midnight, a gmless rpg about doomed mech pilots in a losing war, that ended not long ago.
Some of her other notable rpgs are The Riot Starts, a gmless game based on the musical Hadestown about revolution and community in literal capitalist hell, and איכה (ayekah), a two-player game about a Jewish relationship with God.
Kales (citadelofswords.itch.io, @citadelofswords) is writing IF YOU CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT, GET OUT OF THE RING, a game about wrestling with god (yes, actual god) in a hotshot match where neither of you know who's booked to win and the game could change at any time.
Marn (marns.itch.io, @corpserevivers) is writing Dybbuk Cup, a dinner party LARP about a family haunted for generations by an evil spirit, gathering together on the one-year Yahrzeit of the last relative to be killed by the curse. Will you discover and excise the spirit, or empty the Dybbuk's Cup and bring about a new tragedy?
Nora Katz (norakatz.com, @noraakatz) is writing Lunch Rush: A Geshmak RPG, a game where players take on the roles of employees in a noisy, crowded, and far from Zagat-rated Jewish delicatessen. Faced with customers with specific dietary restrictions, personality quirks, checkered pasts, and unreasonable demands, the deli's hardworking staff must sling reubens and black and white cookies as they use their chutzpah (audacity), gezunt (fortitude), Yidishe kop (cleverness), and tsuris (desperation) to grasp at greatness.
Lucian Kahn (necromancy.itch.io, @oh_theogony)is writing Grandma's Drinking Song, a role-playing, verse-writing, song-singing game for 4 players about a matriarchal family of bootleggers during Prohibition. The place is New York City; the time is 1930. Alcohol is currently illegal in the United States, but many immigrants sell it to feed their families during the Great Depression. Your characters are struggling Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who laugh, sing, flirt, and break the law. Strong feelings overflow as you argue, drink, and sing the song that you create together. The tone is melodramatic screwball comedy.
Zev Prahl (stinja.com) offers a game about two of the central parts of jewish life: wandering and torah. For your travelers to reach their destinations, you must be ready not only for an uncertain road but also any thorny questions of interpretation that arise on the way.
Eli Seitz (eliseitz.itch.io, @seitz_eli)is writing Christmas Day, a freeform larp about family and identity. It’s Christmas in New York City; the bustling metropolis sits empty, but in a small Cantonese restaurant in Upper Manhattan the Cohen clan descends for a once a year event.
Evan Saft (saftware.itch.io, @NamesEquipped) is writing Emet: You are Golem, mythic protectors of the Jewish people, formed from clay and given purpose through a commandment placed in your mouth. You were created to protect a community. Over time, that community will face issues that need to be solved. How will your community change in response to these problems? How will you interpret your commandment?
Adira Slattery (adira.itch.io, @AdiraSlattery) is writing The Wise Men of Chelm, an improvisational comedy game, based on the Yiddish folktales and jokes about a city of fools. Your townspeople hold multiple contradictory opinions about tradition, HaShem, and life in general. Try to work together though, since you all somehow have to solve the ridiculous problems and philosophical quandaries your town encounters.
Jaz Twersky and Mira Pitch are writing an urban fantasy game about a group of people starting a new synagogue, focusing on themes of Jewish community and continuity, change and stability, and negotiating the balance between practical realities and spirituality.
The project's cover image is by Never Angeline North.
If you choose to back Doikayt, there are many different backer tiers to do so, each with different rewards:
- PDF ($12): get a digital copy of the book, fulfilled by itch.io.
- PDF + donation ($19): get a digital copy, along with donating a PDF to someone who can't afford it. These donations will be on Doikayt's itch.io page as "community copies" to be claimed for free.
- Softcover book ($25): get a softcover book printed by mixam.com, as well as a PDF.
- Softcover + donation ($32): get a softcover book, a PDF, and donate a PDF.
- Hardcover book ($40): get a hardcover book printed by mixam.com, as well as a PDF.
- Hardcover + Donation ($47): get a hardcover book, a PDF, and donate a PDF.
- Retail ($90): for retailers, get 5 copies of the book.
- Dedication ($100): get a special dedication in the book as a thank you! We'll ask you what name to use when the campaign is over. You'll also get a physical book and PDF. There are only 18 of these spots available.
- Game with JR ($250): play a Doikayt game of your choosing with JR, either online or in-person if you're close enough! You'll also get a physical book and PDF. There are only 2 of these spots available!
Not enough for you? You can also add on additional softcover books for $25 each, hardcover books for $40 each, and donate additional PDFs for $7 each! *If you'd like to purchase more than one book and are outside the US/Canada, please message Riley to discuss shipping costs.
Where does the money go?
- $2,200 for paying the contributing writers. 11 writers, $200 each to start. This will go up as we reach stretch goals!
- $600 for our art budget.
- $600 compensation for the two of us.
- $450 for printing the books via Mixam.
- $450 for shipping the books out to all of you!
- $500 for kickstarter fees and $200 as a buffer.
- FUNDED! at $5,500 we can hire two people (TBD) to write extra content about playing Jewish games as a non-Jew and diversity in the Jewish community!
- FUNDED! at $7,000 we can pay everyone working on the project $50 more!
- FUNDED! at $8,000 we can hire Ell Schulman as editor!
- FUNDED! at $8,500 we can add an option for a hardcover book!
- FUNDED! at $10,000 we can pay everyone another $50 more!
- FUNDED! at $11,500 we can pay everyone another $50!
- FUNDED! at $12,000 everyone backing at a physical tier will get a sticker included with their book!
- FUNDED! at $13,500 we can pay everyone another $50!
- FUNDED! at $14,500 everyone backing at a physical tier will get a patch included with their book!
Risks and challenges
While we have done projects both on and off kickstarter before, this has many more moving parts than anything either of us has undertaken. We're giving ourselves plenty of time to get everything done, and our contributors have all already started working on their games, but organization is always a factor.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)