In a great Crucible built to temper souls to enlightenment, moral choices are the key to power. The world's primal forces were once unchallenged, but the dross of their own creation now eats away at their good works, offering a darker path to ascension.
With six customisable species to play and a host of story-driving dramatic options, Crucible is a world brimming with possibility.
The Crucible is a hemispherical bowl of enormous size, with the known lands occupying the inside surface. Suspended above is the Lumen: by day it casts the lands in golden light; by night it dims to a silvery glow.
Crucible was created by the Primes as a vessel for bringing sentient beings to Enlightenment. The Elemental Primes – Fire, Air, Water and Earth – were intended to build the world, and the Fundamental Primes – Fate and Flux – to guide it. Flux would bring change to allow the surprising and impossible to occur, while Fate directed the results toward the greater purpose of creation.
Early on, each of the Elemental Primes adopted a species as their own: Fire, the passionate Drake; Air, the innovative Skirr; Water, the changeable Ïakshai; and Earth, the craft-born Kalatur. Later, for reasons known only to itself, Fate abdicated its guiding role and adopted Humans. With the balance of the Crucible at stake, Flux also entered the world and shaped the self-modifying Akrasi from trees.
As each species reached toward Enlightenment, they shed their imperfections: their selfishness, greed and cruelty. But Crucible, without the Fundaments overseeing it, became a closed spiritual system and the effluent had nowhere to go. Over the aeons it has accumulated into a seventh Prime: Dross.
Dross seeps in at the edges, seeking to steal back the souls it was stripped from. It is a part of everything and, as individuals evolve, they must confront the fact that every step towards ascension adds more of the worst of themselves to the world. Alternately, they can embrace it and become a vile thing, enslaved by harmful desires.
Crucible has been shaped over aeons by the Invested: god-like heroes, mighty rulers both benevolent and tyrannical, malevolent entities stripped of compassion. In the current era most sentient beings regard stories of the Invested as legends, and go about their lives without challenging the status quo. Some discover the capacity for enlightenment within themselves, and realise that they too can change the world.
To play Crucible all you need is pocket change, tokens or even-sided dice. For coin enthusiasts and gamers keen on immersion, however, we offer seven custom coins designed by our artists and manufactured by the lovely folks at Campaign Coins.
Coins in Crucible aren’t just for mechanics, they’re also an integral part of the game world. They are sacred tokens, reservoirs of energy that allow those journeying toward ascension to focus and extend their capacities, enchant relics, and boost their potential to superhuman or even godlike levels.
Coins are also used to invest power into accoutrements of legend. Like Gandalf's Glamdring or King Arthur's Excalibur, the most important relics in a character's possession remain with them over their lifetime, growing in power and renown as the character does.
The tail-sides of the coins are important in Crucible, for it is in them that the creation of the world is described. We call this the "Tale-side", and this aspect carries through into gameplay where characters select stories that add drama and interest to their development instead of traditional advantages and disadvantages.
The game system for Crucible is based around concepts of philosophical alchemy, metallurgy and numismatics. We wanted to represent this physically as well as in the text and images of the game, which is why in our system players throw handfuls of coins rather than rolling dice to determine outcomes.
The simple version of the Gambit system is this:
- Grab 12 coins from your change collection; we recommend the Australian 10c or $1 coin, the US Quarter or small dollar, or the 50 Eurocent or 2 Euro coins; any coin that you can comfortably shake 12 of in your hands, and still get them tumbling around rather than stacking, is the right size.
- Shake them in your cupped-together hands or a foam-lined can holder, and throw them down (gently) onto a tablemat.
- Heads are successes, tails are not. You have to get more successes than a Threshold number to succeed.
- You can flip over a tail to a head, but that coin is gone from your Hoard (the total number of empowered coins you can carry; characters have a Hoard of 20). Do this too much and you'll start losing coins from your throws, reducing your chance to succeed.
- Modifiers come in the form of Credit (extra successes), Debt (successes subtracted), Free Flips (Flips that don't lose a coin), Bonus Coins (throwing more than your pool normally allows) and so on.
- As you grow in power, you can make use of higher denomination coins without risk (you can use them before this, but it has consequences). A Head on such coins counts as a number of successes equal to its denomination. So being able to use a 100 denomination coin would make you 100 times better at a task than someone throwing a 1 denomination coin! This is where the mortal-to-godhood power curve of character growth comes into play.
- You will throw between 2 and 12 coins for pretty much everything you do.
- Characters' abilities are described by scores in 12 Endeavours that cover everything you want to do. As Invested heroes, you can almost always throw coins to attempt something, even without training.
- Your special abilities are described by Birthrights (things you were born to), Vocations (things you have learned through experience) and Legacies (things that the power of the coins have revealed to you). We'll talk more about each of these in updates throughout the project.
In Crucible, issues of morality are the main method for character advancement, and they change in response to the decisions you make. With numerous paths to enlightenment or corruption, players explore the values they adopt as their characters grow, responding to the events of the game in individual ways while still being rewarded for taking action.
The peoples of Crucible are diverse in their cultures, ethnicities, gender identities and sexualities, and there is space in the world for everyone's stories to be told. The game system also explores access and ability without lumping them under the traditional game category of ‘disadvantages’. If you want to play a character missing a limb, a sense, or who experiences mental health issues, we want to give you room to do that in a way that doesn’t brand your character as less ‘heroic’ than others.
In Crucible, characters grow from talented but mortal adventurers to phenomenal beings with the ability to reshape the world. As characters demonstrate their commitment to a moral code, the world rewards them with greater power.
Challenges that would entirely confound a group at the start of the game become effortless, but new obstacles arise, and the perspective gained through experience allows characters to affect issues that were earlier outside the realm of possibility. The game also becomes more about why and how the group chooses to act, and less about whether they can succeed at all. We’ll be writing a whole section on how to maintain drama and tension even at godly levels of power.
So what makes playing in Crucible different from other games?
In a game about morality, it’s easy to fall toward assumptions of good and evil, black and white. The Bad Guys are Bad because of Badness, and the Good Guys are Good because they fight (and often kill) the Bad Guys. There’s certainly room for that in Crucible, but we want to delve into the grey, into the Why of good and bad, the individual and intimate stories of the people affected by the decisions of the powerful. Those who descend into Dross along the pathways of corruption probably weren’t born evil. To quote Good Omens, they ‘sauntered vaguely downward’, making selfish or rash decisions, and then failed to deal with the consequences in a healthy or kind way. And once Dross has its hooks in you, it takes someone special to climb back out of that pit. It takes, perhaps, a hero.
Each PC is someone who discovered their potential to ascend by taking a stand, making a choice or putting an ideal above the status quo. Perhaps they knew all about the ancient Pillars of Enlightenment already, but acting just to gain power isn’t what lets you climb upward, it leads to darker places. The Invested are more likely accidental heroes, and even at the beginning have to wrestle with their increased capabilities and the risk of abusing them.
In Crucible there are vile fiends, arch necromancers and greedy warlords aplenty, and you can fight them and defeat them and feel good about it. But there are also workshop owners who turn employees into wage-slaves, orphanage managers who put children to work and reap the profits for themselves, and religious or political organisations that put their platforms and victories over the well-being of the people they represent. Overcoming institutionalised injustice in a city, nation or culture is something even mid-powered characters can engage in. Why they do it is an interesting story.
In short, then, Crucible offers these options:
- In the early game, characters are coming to terms with a world where being complacent means being powerless, and they risk losing the edge they've found every time they fail to make a meaningful moral choice. They are discovering who they want to be and what makes striving for that worthwhile. Games can address the increasing distance between the characters and the people they know and love.
- In the mid-game, characters have established the path they wish to follow and are committed to it. Now, what do they do with their supernatural power? At this stage of the game, PCs become essentially untouchable by normal threats, and opponents who present a challenge might be ancient, monstrous or backed by entire nations.
- For the end-game, characters are on the cusp of ascension. With the power of gods, they have the perspective to see even the smallest injustice, suffering or hope in the world. Do they save the world or change it utterly? Where do they start? One homeless waif at a time, or systemic change that normal folk will never perceive? And what about those who came before you; why have they not chosen to stay and act?
We are fortunate enough to have some very talented and experienced RPG artists on board for this game, and the more we raise the more their amazing work can fill the pages. We also offer some pledge levels for original art!
From superhero comics to the illustrations of Frank Frazetta, Matt has always had an interest in fantasy. The first book of Matt's work, 'The Art of Matthew Stawicki', was published by Cartouche Press. His work has also been showcased in books including 'The Masters of Dragonlance Art' and 'Dragon Art' published by Flame Tree Publishing. In 2001 Matt won the Silver Award for Advertising in Spectrum 8.
When not painting Matt enjoys playing guitar and wood working. Matt currently resides in Delaware with his wife Cathy and their two dogs and three cats.
Speaking of Cathy Wilkins
Always drawn to horror and the dark side of fantastic art, Cathy enjoys working with mysterious things that 'bite, claw, shock and intrigue'. She works both digitally and traditionally with her traditional choice being acrylic.
Cathy has been working professionally for over fifteen years. Her work includes book covers and interior illustration as well as gaming art, concept design and sculpture. Her work has been influenced by contemporary illustrators including Frank Frazetta, Gerald Brom and Donato Giancola. Her more traditional influences include N.C. Wyeth, Norman Rockwell and Zdzisław Beksiński.
Melissa Gay is a critically-acclaimed, genre-spanning artist of the Imaginative Realism style. Melissa started her career as a scientific illustrator doing ink drawings for botany manuals and later doing black and white line art for roleplaying games.
In recent years her award-winning work has appeared on the covers and interiors of games, books, magazines, academic publications and even a tarot deck, while her original paintings are in the hands of private collectors around the world. Whether depicting criminal masterminds, comic book heroes, historical fiction, eldritch horror, child mermaids or sentient bugs, Melissa tries to imbue her scenes with a sense of dreamlike wonder.
Melissa will be offering a series of sketches over the course of the project to a limited number of backers, who will receive both the Crucible book and PDF and the original art to hang in their homes. If we reach her stretch goal, below, we will compile these sketches, and other art funded by the project, into a Crucible-scholar's sketchbook supplement complete with notes and story, that will make a rich in-game resource.
[Since several of these are available, when you pledge on the right for one please send us a message telling us which one you want, so we can take it down.]
The Masquer crab survives by being overlooked, thanks to a subtle psychic emanation that puts minds at ease. They seek out creatures higher up the food chain, approach them quietly, and wrap around their head, rapidly establishing a permanent connection and physically shaping and hardening their shell to conform. Their legs lock around the head and fuse together, and the tail inserts itself into the major veins of the neck connecting their blood supply, making crab and host a single, mutually dependent organism. The effect of this bond is to make the host constantly happy, and motivated simply to seek out food and flee danger. The host loses interest in their lives, which is convenient since nobody can now recognise them.
A secret society exists who turn this symbiosis to their own use. Hardening their minds, they willingly take a Masquer crab and co-opt its psychic ability to make people see them as a friend, or simply overlook them. They make excellent spies, thieves and assassins, if you can find them.
Nightberries are a useful commodity in the Settle, for the juice can be alchemically treated to form a stable, long-lasting source of light. Many varieties have been bred, and enthusiasts cultivate them to compete for the finest glow, most striking berries and most unusual colouring.
Z'krrl’s vulture (Anzud izi), also called the Rock vulture, is a small avian scavenger found in dry areas of the Settle. The contrasting red and grey underwing pattern and V-shaped tail make it a distinctive sight as it soars on thermals. Rock vultures feed mainly on carrion, but will prey on small mammals, birds, and reptiles if available. They also feed on the eggs of other birds, cooking them in seconds with their scorching hot talons.
The Arrowthorn 'heads' track movement and heat, and launch barbed seeds through explosive dehiscence, to be carried in fur or lodged in skin to be spread elsewhere. Larger specimens' seeds are the size of crossbow bolts and can mortally wound a target, giving the new plants lots of nutrients to grow in. Because of the way their seeds spread, they are often found alongside game trails or paths, where wounded targets have died fleeing the original attack.
An insectoid aerial predator, about the size of a cat, the Lumen Hawk hovers high over potential prey, putting itself between the daytime Lumen and its target. When the prey is alone or exposed, they dive and inject anaesthetic venom from a long, slender stinger; the attack is so swift that the prey may not even realise they’ve been hit. The hawk then returns to hovering and follows the prey as the toxin spreads, finally descending to lay eggs once they collapse. The paralytic wears off after a few hours, and leaves sentient prey with no real memory of what happened.
Jessi J is a fantasy illustrator specialising in the surreal and beautiful with touches of the macabre. She currently works freelance for Ivory Dragon Studios and is always looking for new endeavours to expand her creativity.
As well as the rewards offered in the pledge levels on the right, you can pledge extra to get more copies of the books, coins, and other offers only available as add-ons. We'll collect the details of what you've added in a survey later, so write it down somewhere in case you forget!
These may be added to any pledge level of $20 or more. Please note that adding physical items to a digital pledge will incur a shipping charge!
Collector Set: +$15 AUD [~$10 USD, €9.5 EUR]
One of each of our 7 custom coins
Additional Book PDF: +$15 AUD [~$10 USD, €9.5 EUR]
An extra electronic copy of the game, at a slight discount to encourage folks to buy it for friends.
Additional Art Collection PDF: +$25 AUD [~$17 USD, €15 EUR]
A collection of high resolution images from the book, suitable for printing.
Additional Hardcover: +$70 AUD [~$49 USD, €43 EUR]
An extra copy of the printed hardcover edition of the game.
Low Power Coin Set: +$60 AUD [~$42 USD, €37 EUR]
This set contains 20c1, 20c2 & 15c5, and is designed for gamers who want to own their own coins for the lower end of the game's power curve but might share a High Power set between the group.
High Power Coin Set: +$50 AUD [~$35 USD, €31 EUR]
This set contains 15c10, 10c20, 10c50 and 5c100, and is designed for groups to share between them if they want to save a bit on coins but still want a playable number of each denomination represented by our custom designs
Pennypincher Coin Set: +$60 AUD [~$42 USD, €37 EUR]
This set includes 12c1, 12c2, 9c5, 9c10, 6c20, 6c50 & 3c100. If you want the minimum number of coins to play with and are happy with bookwork or mundane currency for the rest of your Hoard, this level is for you.
Complete Coin Set: +$100 AUD [~$70 USD, €62 EUR]
This is the complete set of coins needed to play the game across an entire campaign, and can be pooled for a whole group or, if you don't want to share your stacks of loot, for an individual player.
Everglass Treasury Upgrade: +$60 AUD [~$42 USD, €37 EUR] to any pledge that includes the Complete Coin Set
Upgrade the complete 95 coin set to a majestic twenty of each denomination. That's 140 coins, enough to play the game forever, and roll in piles of coins while laughing maniacally.
[NEW] Drake Custom Costume Set: +$180 [~$130 USD, €117 EUR]
Only two sets available!
We're offering three sets of special costume options by our Lead Artist, Alice Bittisnich. Check Update #6 for all the details!
[**UNLOCKED**] $18K - Free drawstring bag with each Complete Coin set!
[**UNLOCKED**] $20K - The Crucible-scholar's notebook will be added as an appendix to the book and made available as a separate PDF for printing as a prop. This will be compiled partly from the original art we post every few days during the project by our Feature Artist, Melissa Gay, and include a journal and notes inspired by Darwin's Origin of Species, Michelangelo's notebooks and the journeys of John Mandeville and Marco Polo.
$25K - Adventure Hook supplement PDF will be added for free to every pledge of $20 or more. These hooks will cover the spectrum of the game's power curve and highlight secrets of Crucible's past, as well as providing ideas for adventures and example NPCs.
$30K - Codex of Seven Stars, a PDF describing seven titanic beasts of Crucible, and the myths and mysteries surrounding them, along with art to match. Added free to every pledge of $20 or more.
$40K - The Vault of Lihuri Almat, the great floating artifact that lies at the centre of the lands of Crucible, will be sculpted in metallic resin by Delphes Desvoivres, the artist behind the sinister Sedefkar Simulacrum project, and made available as a premium pledge. For those wanting a smaller piece, designer Britt Duenyas of Dice of Awesome will produce the Vault model in miniature.
$50K - [SEALED UNDER WRIT OF THE BONDKNIGHTS OF ESTECORM]
SHIPPING & FULFILMENT
All shipping costs will be charged just before we send your rewards out to you. A lot can change in shipping prices in 14 months, and we don't want to predict costs now and fall short, or overcompensate and charge more than we should. The fairest solution is just to wait.
Fulfilment will be via BackerKit, who have an excellent and established track record with Kickstarter projects, and with our manufacturer.
We are also proud contributors to the Kicking It Forward movement.
Gareth Hodges, Cosm Games' founder and lead developer, wears many hats. He is Lead Editor for Metal Weave Games, sits on the Editorial Board for Monte Cook Games and runs a crowdfunding consultancy business on the side. He has taken 30 years of deep passion for the creativity and imagination that roleplaying allows, tempered it with experience teaching postgrad business communication and project management, and recruited a talented team to make Crucible the kind of game he'd want to play. He's also a passionate mental health advocate, feminist and LGBT ally.
Lea Jeges, our art director, is a genderqueer game designer and artist with a keen interest in representation and diversity in designs and stories. For best results, allow to sit with coffee and bikkies.
Rick Haseman, one of our senior developers, is an actor, writer, software developer and proud geek with absolutely no free time thanks to his love of all things gaming. He co-runs Geek Mountain, a shrine to this affection.
Adrian Melchiori, senior developer and the source of many Eureka! moments, has a PhD in Astrophysics and uses it daily by running LARPs, cosplaying and board gaming. When we call him Doctor, we accompany it with evil laughter just as he instructs.
Andrew James is both senior developer and morale officer, and uses his vast knowledge of horticulture to keep the Cosm team trimmed, watered and fertilised. He is also our excuse to call the team 'international', as he hails from Ol' Blighty.
Emily De Rango, Cosm's operations manager, is a professional social justice warrior who comes to RPGs through a love of storytelling, mythology and theatre.
Andrea Lovell, our Media Manager, is a qualified makeup artist with a love of LARPing. When she's not running around as a Viking, or writing for Geek Mountain she's home working on projects with cuddles from her beautiful Staghound Mini.
Alice Bittisnich, our lead artist, does costuming, special effects make-up, digital and traditional art, many types of gaming and still finds time to study for her Masters in Animation, Gaming and Interactivity. She has been quarantined several times due to infectious enthusiasm, and her superpower is the ability to ricochet at high speed between thirteen projects at once.
Scott Vandervalk, our lead editor, is interested in stories, games and education, and in the ways they can be connected together. A freelance editor, his work on RPGs includes Nefertiti Overdrive and Costume Fairy Adventures, both of which funded through Kickstarter. Scott also dabbles intensively with gardening and cooking. He has an awesome hat, but doesn't wear it enough.
Willow Buckley, our design manager, has an extensive background in computer game design and development, and a sense of humour (and fashion) darker and more bitter than coffee. Other teams have motivational speakers; we have the terror of knowing Willow will be judging us when we die.
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk in running a project from Australia for an international market is changes in exchange rates. Right now the Australian Dollar is doing fairly poorly against the Greenback, Pound and Euro, which is good for backers from those countries. Our manufacturer deals in AUD, which is a predictable amount, but if we decide to go with a US-based printer we have to face that exchange again. We have built in a margin of error to make sure we can cover those costs, and in the case where the exchange rate favours the Aussie Dollar more, we actually win in terms of deliverables internationally.
If we do end up with our currency closer to parity, we'll put all that extra buying power into improving our products.
Despite this being our first Kickstarter project, we are no strangers to crowdfunding with almost a 1000 projects backed across the team. We can also call on a community of successful project managers and gamers for advice and assistance if hiccups occur. Our allies include people and companies with multiple successful kickstarters under their belt, as well as the community of gamers we're part of here in Melbourne.
Our coin manufacturer, Campaign Coins, has established processes and numerous fulfilled projects to their name, and we are physically based in the same town so communication and collaboration is straightforward and we don't have to struggle with factories in other countries and overcome a language barrier.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)