My name is Des Brennan, representing Grand Arcanum Games, and I'm the creator of the miniatures skirmish game The Roots of Magic - a tactical game of Wizard duelling set in the fantasy land of Mellorian.
It is a game in which each Wizard tries to eliminate their rival in order to prove that their magical style - known as a Root within the story - is superior in power. Even though each player may field just a single model if they wish, the game is extremely engaging and tactical, whilst retaining a great 'cinematic' quality.
I wanted to create a game that mirrored the scene in the film The Fellowship of the Ring in which Gandalf and Saruman are fighting in Orthanc. The combatants use their magic, their staffs/weapons, and will even resort to physical blows if they can land them. Whatever gets them the win! That is how The Roots of Magic plays; there is no 'mega-spell' that can wipe out a rival from across the game area. You have to get your hands dirty and do some work!
The game has been live for a year now with an existing range of models, rules and scenarios live on therootsofmagic.com. This content is all free so please take a look and see what the game has to offer.
This project is to fund the development and production for the second wave of miniatures - an apprentice (in game terms an Acolyte) Wizard to work alongside each of the eight faction Wizards that have been released so far. My goal is to expand the model line in an accelerated way via crowdfunding, allowing a large range of new model options in a short period, rather than via the more pedestrian manner of a few models released a year. I believe this is imperative to help develop an even more vibrant and expansive game community. My long term target is to be able to offer another version of the game - one with the exact same rules and models but on a bigger scale. Currently, The Roots of Magic is an excellent addition to your gaming night as you can easily fit in a game within 30-40 minutes either side of the other games you may be playing. All you have to do is add another model or two to your case!
Here are some examples of existing models so that you can get an idea of the quality we will be offering to you:
The scale of these models is approximately 30mm and they have been done in a 'true' scale to ensure the head and hands are proportioned properly for the model. There are no gorilla hands here!
There are many up and coming acolyte Wizards in Mellorian. Allow me to introduce eight of the most promising...
It would be difficult to imagine a more petty and supercilious person than you would find in Zhym, the Recorder of Truths. The faithful flock to hear the words of the Acedian Friars and lay-preachers, but they have little love for those who are sent throughout their number to collect the tithes that are due to the crusade. Zhym draws in revenue like no other, for his penny-pinching attention to detail and the obscure covenants of the church mean that his collection chest is always overflowing with sovereigns.
Zhym’s skills are not merely limited to irritating the faithful however, as he is also a wizard of great skill. Kanekos flows through him powerfully, though not in the way experienced by most Acedians with the second sight. Zhym cannot convince others to love him, nor to heed his words through respect, but he is gifted with the ability to be so irritating that his opponents find their very thoughts clouded and their actions impeded by his maddening presence.
This ability is so powerful that even his allies find themselves affected. As you would imagine, despite the great tactical benefits this gives Acedia, Zhym is loathed even within their own ranks. Friar Sarpeth longs for the day he can throttle the life from his apprentice, but for now he enjoys seeing his enemies confounded just that little more than he would enjoy killing Zhym. Nevertheless, Zhym is living on borrowed time…
In every generation, there are always those born without the slightest shred of compassion or mercy towards others. Those that are lowborn are found out soon enough, as their inability to integrate with society is writ plain upon their actions. For a highborn, however, the danger to Mellorian is so much greater.
They are trained to conceal their feelings and actions from an early age, to fit in and to present the appearance of a person that can be utterly at odds with their true selves. This is how Heston Graf hides the monster that lies just behind his masque of civility. As a child, he found enjoyment only in cruelty. As an adult that is still just as true as it ever was but he has long since moved on from strangling small animals. Serving maids, tavern wenches, and the daughters of middling nobles are wont to disappear when Heston is nearby. Few are found again, and those that are discovered are found in a state not fit for retelling here.
It was only natural for a person of his proclivities to gravitate towards the evil of the Diabolists. His sharp intellect and an addiction to risk have caused him to strike a bargain with a powerful demon, one that grants him good fortune in return for the shedding of blood and the taking of life. The price of the bargain was shocking; Heston paid for the deal with the soul of his own mother. She now serves the darkness mindlessly at his side, shorn of her free will and little more than a dangerous puppet to be used to further his schemes…
There are those born to greatness, those that find it in the grip of circumstance, and a rare few can inspire others around them to attain it. Mirella, Honour’s Shield, is one such individual. She has served House Durant with steadfast devotion ever since making the long walk up to the Chapterhouse on Tolven’s Roost.
Under her watchful eye, the soldiers of Durant are drilled in martial matters to her own exacting standard. She asks for nothing that she is not willing to give herself and will brook nothing less than the best from her charges. In battle, she is always to be found in the thick of the action, directing the flow of combat and leading the line through tireless example. For the men and women of Durant, her gleaming shield shines as a beacon of total commitment to their cause and it redoubles their efforts.
Luther Draxos has taken it upon himself to train Mirella in the arts of magic and she is no less adept as a student than as a teacher. Though the second sight has developed late in her training, she is determined to add her burgeoning skills to House Durant’s arsenal. She has never failed at anything before in her life, and it would be a foolish person indeed that would believe anything other than greater glory to be found in her future.
Will O’ the Woods is a quiet and solitary person who has made his home in the vast and dark expanses of the Glimmerwood. To those who meet him with fair intent on forest paths, or who patronise the taverns which border his homestead, he is a charming enough fellow with many a tale to tell. But those who cross him, or mean him or his beloved forest harm, find a very different man: cold, wrathful, and with the gleam of murder in his eyes. He is wide and strong, capable in his own right as a brawler, but when you consider his skill with the Root of Balance, he becomes very dangerous indeed.
For many years, Will and Mother Yulia have co-existed in the Glimmerwood, for it is large enough to ensure the two rarely meet. Both are as stubborn as mules and as friendly as mountain lions so it has been an uneasy existence. By recent command, Mother Yulia has reluctantly taken Will as an Acolyte, he being the only one who would enable her to stay in her beloved home. There is little love to be lost between them, their only common ground being their shared kinship with the forest which surrounds them.
Will has always been able to commune with the spirits of the Glimmerwood. By playing a tune on his wooden flute, he is able to rouse them to give aid or to cause harm to those who threaten the sanctity of the forest. The wood will come alive and assail his foes, dragging them back into the darkness where their blood can nourish the roots of the trees.
An Agent of the Order of Malleoch for over fifteen years, Bess Rohe has been blessed with an unusual magical talent – she can summon up a flood of celestial magic to aid her foes and confuse her enemies. Bess describes the feeling as drawing these gifts from down a deep well, and for this she has earned the epithet “the Fountainhead” for she is the source of many wonderful things.
As the owner of the Black Lion Inn, a famous watering hole on the outskirts of Pann, Bess is well placed to learn of the many discoveries from the ruins of Lem-Hloc and, more importantly, to discern the many House intrigues that such discoveries will attract. She is one of the principal spymasters of the Order and has provided useful intelligence on the transgressions of the Great Houses on many occasions.
Whilst powerful, Bess's magical skills are somewhat limited. Despite this, her work has earned her an assignment to Otremia Rathe, the greatest hunter in the Order. After the recent failed attempt to capture the arch-criminal Suleiman, it was decided that Rathe required some wisdom to temper her fury. Bess is to provide that balance, whilst learning to work magic in a more practical and useful way.
Bess can summon up many boons to her allies, such as healing energy or the ability to tip the scales of fortune in their favour. She can also call the powers of befuddlement upon those who stand against the work of the Order. When combined with the awesome might of Otremia, it is a combination that is certain to be the doom of Diabolists everywhere…
There are some events that occur in life that no matter how much we try, we cannot leave behind. For a thankfully rare few this crystalises into an obsession that comes to dominate all aspects of life, causing them to lose everything. So it is with Deidra, known in sadness as the Maiden of Sorrows. What happened to Deidra is a mystery, the details of which are perhaps captured in the small leather-bound tome she clutches so tightly to her chest. For whatever reasons, Deidra is broken, and in no state that suggests she will ever be mended.
When this happens to a mundane person, it is sad enough, but when it happens to someone with the second sight, it becomes a far more serious matter. The Root of Fear flows through her like a raging river – uncontrolled and irrepressible. Those who tarry long in her presence find their thoughts turning inexorably to melancholia and from there onto misery of the deepest and most inescapable kind.
It is so pervasive that even House Myrke Wizards are not immune to her powers. This makes her a danger and a prize both; one that only the most single minded of the House will dare to utilise. Hephescus Zantt has taken Deidra under his supervision, for he alone has the strength of will to resist her aura of sadness. Zantt has made great use of her power, though in truth he has had little success breaking through to her, and so he must content himself with directing her towards those he believes to be guilty, to better extract a confession. While his powers are like the surgeon’s scalpel, Deidra's are akin to a relentless hammer-blow. Between them, no dark secret may stay hidden for long…
Vanity, they say, is a most grievous sin. In the actions of Guang Jin, the sin is elevated to an art form. She is unashamedly self-absorbed, jealous, and calculating. She cares nothing for anyone other than herself or those whose favour she intends to secure, and is not subtle about gaining that favour. Loyalty is an alien concept to Guang Jin and all of her alliances last only long enough for her to obtain whatever she desires.
This kind of naked ambition and selfish attitude reminded Primus Ru Wen of a youthful Xiu Bao, though even he would not dare to state that openly. As the Lady Xiu Bao is unquestionably a threat to his position, it seemed wise to labour her with an apprentice to distract her from any machinations that went against his plans. Thus an edict was issued from the summer palace that put them together, though he was under no illusions as to the level of hatred and mistrust the women would no doubt feel for each other.
Guang Jin looks at her mistress through the lens of youthful arrogance, believing her to be too old and indirect to achieve great victories for Qing. Xiu Bao finds her charge to be ignorant and clumsy, without any shred of class or subtlety. Bao’s legendary paranoia is stoked by the possibility of assassination from Guang Jin, and this has made her even more mercurial and vicious. The other ‘Wizards’ of Qing look on, wondering who shall prevail in this battle and dispose of their enemy. Will it be youthful exuberance or will it be experienced subterfuge? Either way, it will be one less rival for them as they kneel and report before Lord Qing…
The mastery of Vaettim has long since been lost to the race of men, and no significant practitioner of note has existed since the first and the greatest: Kahlim, first of Mages.
Though over the millennia there have been some few humans born with the ability to call upon its awesome power, a number of factors have prevented their rise and domination of Mellorian. Firstly, none have been born with the strength to wield it without being immolated from within. Those that have had the talent and survived have only possessed the merest of sparks. This means that a talented Wizard of a single Root is still able to vanquish them.
Secondly, and most importantly, due to the excessive danger of one of these Wizards destroying a swathe of land and the population through loss of control, the Council of the Great Houses has long since decreed that any Wizards wielding Vaettim must be put to death. All Houses are responsible for enforcing this law and have been effective at rooting out those suspected to possess the forbidden talent.
The current Primus of Travium, Balavan Cek, has covertly broken this law and has hidden away a Wizard of unimaginable power. This fact is known only to the greatest masters of Travium, and is concealed under pain of death. Cek is gifted with limited foresight and has convinced his allies that this Wizard, known only by her given name of Qara, is the answer to the great quest of Travium. He claims that it will be Qara who unlocks the doorway between worlds. Cek has assigned her under the tutelage of his most loyal and powerful servant: Amara the Unfettered. Amara has taken great pains to train Qara to conceal her true might, though on a number of occasions the truth has almost escaped due to the bizarre and awe inspiring abilities that Qara can manifest.
The hopes of Travium, and of the world entire, now rest upon the narrow shoulders of a ten year old child. Though her loyalty to Balavan Cek is absolute, Amara watches this young Acolyte in her studies and secretly wonders if this great danger Travium is hiding will be the saviour of Mellorian or its undoing…
This project will allow us to sculpt, print, mould and cast these models. It will not cover postage - please see below for our streamlined postal prices. To support the release of these models, upon successful funding we will release an all-new scenario specifically to allow for their inclusion (though they can also be used in the earlier scenarios as well).
In Mellorian, magical energy is woven into the very fabric of the land, courtesy of the fabled World Tree. Humanity has long been stripped of its innate ability to perform magic but thanks to the World Tree, Wizards in Mellorian can draw up power from the earth via the Roots of Magic - different hues of the awesomely powerful Vaettim energy that the Tree absorbs from the Hallowed Heavens, realm of the Sleeping Gods.
No human may wield the Vaettim directly; it would disintegrate them from the inside out. However, over time the men and women of Mellorian have learned to draw different aspects of the power - Roots - from the ground.
There are more Roots than there are grains of sand on a beach but the process of cataloging them and understanding them is still very new to the minds of man. Groups of Wizards with a similar affinity for a particular and common Root have banded together over the last three centuries to form Houses of Magic. Though there are many Lesser Houses, only six have earned the right to be called a Great House of Magic. These are:
Acedians use Kanekos, otherwise known as the Root of Suggestion. It gives them the power to cloud minds, create illusions and to convince people to take actions that they might normally not wish to do. Acedia is at the centre of a religious crusade in Mellorian, one to supposedly wash away the sins of their decadent culture. In reality it is a ruse to take power for their own nefarious ends...
Wizards of Feylyn use Wyvvic, also known as the Root of Balance. It grants them tremendous powers over the natural forces of Mellorian; those that can bring life and bounty but also those that can take it away in an instant. Feylyn Wizards are waging a constant war against the forces of entropy and of progress, ensuring that no side can break the celestial stalemate and gain ascendancy, for that would bring a terrible fate to the world...
Durant Wizards use Aknir, also known as the Root of Protection. It grants them the strength of the earth - a wellspring of power from the ground of Mellorian. This ability extends to that which is drawn from the ground, so they are able to fashion and imbue weaponry with powers beyond that of any mundane smith. They also may use their talents to impair the armour or weapons of a foe by using their magic to weaken the materials.
Practitioners of Myrke use Shemk, also known as the Root of Fear. Shemk flows strongly closest to the dwellings of men, and it absorbs their hatred, anger, and fear. It is a dark Root but the Wizards of Myrke, lacking the skills to use any other, have tried to put it to the best of possible uses. Myrke acts as a force of law within Mellorian; their Wizards roam the continent acting as judge, jury, and executioner where guilt is proven and the crime warrants it. Shemk can stop the heart of a foe through the terror it can inspire, or in some cases can cause a guilty man to hang himself just to end the misery it can bring.
Qing is an enigma to the other Great Houses of Magic. None of them can discern what Root Qing use to draw power and thus cannot fathom how they are able to use magic so powerful it can take control over other living things. Qing has risen from nowhere almost overnight, and despite the constant espionage of their rivals, no one has been able to discover the truth: Qing are not Wizards at all. Their amazing power comes from a bargain with an ancient spirit. One that desires nothing more than to live again...
Travium Wizards use Ghyr, also called the Root of Power. It is the Root that is closest to the pure Vaettim energy of magic and so Travium Wizards are the most powerful in terms of raw magic. It is fortunate indeed for the other Houses that Travium have a goal that prevents them from using this advantage to take power over Mellorian. House Travium are engaged in a quest to save the world from total destruction. It is prophesied that they alone can open up a doorway to a new world, one where mankind will be safe from the coming catastrophe. Their Wizards research tirelessly into how this can be achieved and train without end. One day, they hope to create a leader of such potential that they can open the doorway and be the first to cross over to another realm.
Each Great House is given over to their particular type of Magic, which gives their Wizards unique abilities and attacks to use against their rivals. All Houses strive for dominance over the others, for the right to be the first Supreme House.
To add to these six factions, there are two more that have been released recently. The first is the fiendish Diabolists - worshippers of the darkness.
The Diabolists exist to further the aims of their evil god - the Great Wyrm of the Dark. They commit atrocities throughout the land, perpetrated by their hidden cultists and mages. The power of their magic comes from blood - the more they shed, the greater the effect. They alone of all the races of man still have access to direct magical power, bestowed by their terrible master. It grants them the power to cause awful, painful death, and they are overjoyed to use it...
Arrayed against this evil are the pious members of the Order of Malleoch - hunters of witches, demons and evil spirits.
Malleoch Wizards use Vanathar, also called the Root of Sanctuary. It is the sister-Root to Aknir and so grants immense strength from the earth but also draws vast power from the Celestial Heavens. Of all the Roots, it is the greatest proof against the evil powers of darkness, and the blood-magic of the Diabolists. Servants of the Order give up their normal lives so that they can devote themselves to hunting down the followers of the darkness. Few live long enough to see old age but it is a price they will gladly pay to defeat evil. Vanathar grants them many unique powers and abilities, ranging from wards and defences to offensive magic that can rival House Travium. Diabolists cower in fear when a hunter of the Order rides into town...
FYI - you can download the full game rules and game cards for released models from: http://therootsofmagic.com/game/download/
Here are some brief "how to" videos that hopefully will give you an idea of how to perform some fundamental actions in the Roots of Magic:
Generating Action Points -
Determining Initiative -
Performing Actions -
An Example Game Round -
For those of you with more time on your hands ;) there is a full game play video here:
It is a very long video (sorry, we are old) but covers a full game and there is a lot of talking through rules and the scenario.
[Please note that postage is not included in these rewards. Please see the postage section for details on costs.]
In order to further tempt you into backing this project, there will be a limited number of Stretch Goals that will add the ability to obtain additional models for the game. These will range from existing models (to allow new players to pick up all that they need to start playing from a single location), scenario models, and, if things go well, new Freelancer models to assist in your fights against rival Houses.
You can now add two the Roots of Magic Power Dials and a Roots of Magic Token set (1 30mm Orb of Rannellos marker, 2 40mm Nexus Markers, 13 separate Condition Markers) to your pledge by adding an additional £10. This will not affect your postage costs and will be added to the models when delivered.
At £7000, we will soon be adding a new character - Taleshar the Pledgereaker!
And who knows what else....
I thought it would be interesting to show you where the money will be going to if we can hit our funding target. Based on the agreed prices I have with the suppliers and artists who contribute to the game, I can reliably determine the costs involved and also the breakdown of those costs.
As you can see, the greatest costs come from where you might assume - sculpting and casting the products. For me this is an important point, as when I back something, I like to know that the artists and skilled workers are the ones receiving the lion's share of any funding. These fine men and women do the hard work that ensures that you and I have lovely models to use in our games.
I have added a slight buffer to deal with any problems that may occur on these expensive areas (or others) but I hope you will agree that it's not excessive and doing so is a sensible measure to prevent any additional delays creeping in due to under-budgeting.
Just to give some additional confidence here is a list of the individuals/organisations involved in getting you beautiful tRoM models and rules:
Graphic Design - Little Robot Design
Art - Shane Cook & Daniel Kamaruddin
Sculpting - Laslo Forgach, Matt Clarke (and currently looking for others of a similar quality)
Printing/Moulding/Casting - Hysterical Games & Zealot Miniatures
Background and game design/rules - Me!
To give you an indicator of the values, I have added the below chart, which corresponds to the postage costs associated with rewards. I selected resin as the material for the models in order to reduce weight, and as the majority of these models are 'truescale' 30mm, they do not take a huge amount of space in a parcel. Therefore the costs should be able to remain low.
Risks and challenges
They say that the devil is in the detail. My 'day job' is a QA manager so I am totally on board with that...
As I have already spent a year releasing a number of miniatures (9) without recourse to crowdfunding, I have an established UK-based production process that mitigates many risks. I have an existing relationship with the sculptors, the casting companies, and various artists and graphic designers who all contribute to making the game look as good as it does. I do not order any deliverables from overseas and so avoid the delays involved in remote manufacturing and shipping.
That being said, there are still potential risks!
Any part of the existing chain could develop a supply issue for whatever reason. This is why I tend to work with multiple people at each stage so that there are always fallback options. However, if any problems also affect the 'fallback' then there would be delivery delays. I keep in contact with my suppliers in order to make sure that any problems are visible in advance, and to give enough time to find alternatives.
If the project is wildly successful, beyond even my ambitious dreams, then success can certainly add strains in terms of meeting delivery targets. I have planned well, I hope, so that the impact will not be too onerous, and I will of course be marshalling mitigation options on a daily basis to reduce any delays that do occur.
Other than that I will just be doing what I have already done successfully, just on a slightly larger scale and in less time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)