Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on February 11, 2014.
About this project
The Storyscape Kickstarter has been cancelled, but we'll be back! Read the update for more information, and come find us at www.slabtowngames.com to keep up on the latest news!
I'm Jake Boone, and hoo boy, have I got something cool to tell you about. It's called Storyscape, and it's been my obsession for the last year or so.
Storyscape is a significant step forward in the technology of roleplaying. It's a tabletop roleplaying game, you see, except that this one is designed to be played on networked tablets and laptops.
[We've added a detailed example of play as an update, for folks who want the long version. Click here to read it. We've also added additional material about adventure creation, which you can read by clicking here.]
It's got a full, multigenre roleplaying system under the hood, as well as all of the tools that you'd expect from a good virtual tabletop system. You can create your own digital miniatures and custom maps very easily, and if you're a gamemaster, you can do some amazing stuff with the tools we're including. And to top it all off, you can buy additional adventures, settings, and 3D models on our marketplace, or make a few bucks by selling copies of your own creations.
As you can see, it's an isometric top-down view sort of thing, and you can spin the view around, zoom in and out, etc. Informational panels, like your character sheet, maps, journals, handouts, etc., slide in from the edge of the screen whenever you want to look at them, but the rest of the time they stay politely out of the way, so that you can see what's going on.
Detailed Characters Made Easy
Traditionally, game designers have to choose a point on the spectrum somewhere between "crunchy" and "rules-light," and then design character generation to match up with that set of sensibilities. Well, handily, we get to use computers, so we get the best of both worlds.
- Completely customizable, class-free character system - you can design your character to be exactly the way you want it.
- Optional one-click templates - you can be ready to play in seconds, instead of hours.
Storyscape will include a suite of options and tools to make the gamemaster's job easier and faster. Things like:
- Tile-based mapping - make any map easily, with 3D map tiles.
- Quickmaps - Hand-draw battlemaps on the fly, during play.
- Behavior automation - You can set any NPC to follow preprogrammed directives so you don't have to micromanage them.
- Overrides - You can alter the outcomes of events to make sure the game stays on track.
I think this is the bit where I get to geek out over the fact that Robin D. Laws wrote a set of game mechanics for this project. Robin Laws! The Robin Laws! Woo!
Ahem. Sorry about that... I get carried away with the gaming fanboy thing sometimes.
We've got over two hundred print-length pages of game mechanic notes for this system, so I'll release some of the high points in updates. For now, though...
Storyscape is largely based around a complex concept we're calling "tags." Characters can have all sorts of stuff associated with them, including things that don't fall neatly into traditional lists of abilities. For example, if Callen Mithras performs exceptional service on behalf of Lady Fairfax, he might gain the tag "Friend of Lady Fairfax." Serious injuries, spell effects, and all sorts of other in-game events can bestow (or remove) tags upon a character, location, or object.
Tags can come into play in all sorts of ways. Callen might find himself getting a modest bonus when trying to charm one of Lady Fairfax's friends, or might find himself with negative reaction modifiers from her enemies. He might even get a bonus to recognize that the bandits who robbed the tavern were riding horses from Her Ladyship's stables...
Adventures are easy to use and to create in Storyscape. One weakness of the paper (or PDF) format is that when your players step into, say, the village tavern, you have to search through the book to find the section on the tavern. Then, when they decide to leave the tavern and look for an apothecary's shop, you have to search the book again. And every time this happens, it slows down the game.
In Storyscape, information about locations, NPCs, important objects, and other stuff is all right there, linked to the models in question. So when your players enter a tavern, all of the information about the proprietor, staff, contents, and customers of the tavern is available for your perusal simply by tapping the object in question, or by reading the text in the sidebar.
When you're creating your own adventures, Storyscape contains a number of fantastic tools to help you craft adventures that are balanced, challenging, and compelling for your players.
- Scene-based adventures - Easily build a flowing narrative featuring meaningful choices for the players in every scene.
- Challenge suggestions - Storyscape will remind you when a particular skill on a character sheet hasn't been used in a long time, so you can work it back into the game.
Adventures take place in our exciting in-house settings... or settings you create yourself. And to make Storyscape even better, we're currently in talks to bring classic tabletop settings to Storyscape!
The Storyscape Marketplace is an integral factor in the long-term growth and fun of Storyscape.
Now for the good stuff! If you back this project (and we hope you will), you can get some seriously cool rewards.
Some definitions are probably in order before we go any further, though:
Storyscape - This is the basic game software, and it will allow you to participate in Storyscape games as a player. It also includes a short tutorial adventure, so you can easily learn how to play Storyscape without much trouble.
Genre Pack - Adding any Genre Pack to Storyscape will allow you to run Storyscape games as a gamemaster. These contain a huge array of 3D assets, rule extensions, digital miniatures, map tiles, and other genre-appropriate stuff. They each also include a full adventure and six optional, pregenerated characters, so you can get right to playing.
This Kickstarter will fund the production of Storyscape and the Fantasy Genre Pack. Additional Genre Packs lurk in the Stretch Goal list. Every backer at the $35 level or above will receive every unlocked Stretch Goal at no additional charge!
Got it? Read on, and pledge at will!
For a single dollar, you get a tasteful and attractive Kickstarter Backer badge on the Slabtown Games forums, to prove to your children and your children's children that you were there at the very beginning.
For $10, you get everything from the previous levels, plus your name in the credits as a First Player. You also get the Storyscape app, which will allow you to participate in other people's games.
For $35, you get everything from the previous levels, plus your name in the credits as a First Gamemaster. You get one Genre Pack to go with the Storyscape app from the previous tier, which is what you need to run games as a gamemaster.
For $60, you get everything from the previous levels, plus codes for three additional copies of the Storyscape app. This will let you kit out a small gaming group. The first exclusive, Kickstarter-only adventure for Storyscape, set in the Last Empire setting.
For $75, you get everything from the previous levels, plus codes for two more copies of the Storyscape app. (This means you'll have everything you need for one gamemaster and five players.)
For $100, you get everything from the previous levels, plus access to the Storyscape closed beta (this portion of this reward will be available before the full release date). You also get a seat on the Storyscape Council, with access to a special developer's forum, where you can participate in discussions with the development team and vote on new genres, campaigns, and expansion kits. As a Storyscape Councilor, you also get an in-game hat with which to flaunt your status, and, as your dignity demands, your name will occasionally show up on the Storyscape splash page for players worldwide to gaze upon in adoration and wonder.
For $150, you get everything from the previous levels, plus we'll take your name (or that of your character) and work it into the random NPC generation tool, so that you can occasionally show up in other people's games (or even your own) in almost any role. (We reserve the right to reject inappropriate names.)
For $200, you get everything from the previous levels, plus access to the Alpha test versions of the game. (This will be the earliest anyone -- who isn't either on the dev team or physically standing next to one of us -- will get to mess with the system.) You also get access to monthly Google+ Hangouts with members of the development team, and early review of art and adventure drafts.
For $250, you get everything from the previous levels, plus you or your character (whichever one you *didn't* use for the Spy level above) is put into Storyscape as a major character in an upcoming adventure or setting (we'll work with you to figure out whether you're going to end up as royalty, a famous historical personage, a villain, etc.).
For $500, you get everything from the previous levels, plus you will receive all Slabtown Games-produced Storyscape Genre Packs for free, forever.
For $750, you get everything from the previous levels, plus you will receive all Slabtown Games-produced Storyscape adventures and campaigns for free, forever.
For $1,000, you get everything from the previous levels, plus you will receive all Slabtown Games-produced Storyscape content whatsoever (including 3D models, maps, and everything else) for free, forever.
For $2,500, you get everything from the previous levels, plus you will be invited to visit the Slabtown Games offices in Cottage Grove, Oregon. You will get to see behind-the-scenes development stuff, be treated to a sumptuous meal at one of our local eating establishments, and get to play in a Storyscape game run by Brian J. Underhill.
ALTERNATELY, if you're a 2015 Gen Con attendee, Brian will run a game for you and up to three of your friends. Later, you'll be invited to attend the exclusive (and equally sumptuous) Storyscape Dinner with Jake, Brian, and Robin D. Laws (and any other dev team members who may be in Indianapolis that weekend). We'll all jaw about Storyscape, gaming, or whatever other topics suit your fancy. (Either way, though, you're responsible for your own travel costs, hotels, etc.)
For $5,000, you get everything from the previous levels, plus ALL Storyscape Marketplace content for free, forever. This includes user-produced content AND any future licensed content.
For $10,000, you get everything from the previous levels, plus honorary Storyscape development team membership, so we'll send you t-shirts, hats, and all that kind of stuff. You'll also have Jake's direct email address and phone number, and you'll be invited to drop in at the Slabtown Games offices whenever you see fit (though you're responsible for your own travel costs, hotels, etc.). We'll also list your name in the big font with our own in the Storyscape credits, and you or your character will be one of the six pregenerated player characters that come with the tutorial adventure in the basic Storyscape app (subject to tweaking for play balance, etc.). This means just about every Storyscape player will see your character at some point, and many will end up adopting your character as their own. Forget "American Idol" or "Britain's Got Talent"; this is the epitome of fame! :)
You can purchase Add-Ons at any backer level of $1 or above. Simply select your backer level as normal, and then add additional money to your pledge to cover your desired Add-Ons. At the end of the Kickstarter campaign, you'll get an email where you can tell us which Add-Ons you want to receive.
You'll receive a code for one more copy of Storyscape.
You'll receive a code for one Genre Pack. This will be the Fantasy Pack by default, but if we unlock certain Stretch Goals, you'll be able to choose from all available Genre Packs!
You'll receive a code to have 50 Marketplace Gold added to your Storyscape account. Marketplace Gold can be used to purchase additional Genre Packs, adventures, settings, 3D models, etc.
All unlocked Stretch Goals will provide additional benefits to all backers at the $35 (Freelance) level or above. This means that the better this Kickstarter does, the more free stuff you get, so tell your friends!
This new stretch goal has been added by popular demand!
When unlocked, a video chat feature will be added to Storyscape. Got a player traveling to Des Moines on business? As long as she can get connected to the Internet, she can make game night! Wanna get the old gaming group back together, but your lives have taken you to different corners of the world? No problem!
Storyscape Video will add a slide-in panel where you can see and hear your fellow party member(s). (Or you can put 'em on mute, if they just won't stop with the Monty Python quotes.)
The Storyscape Fantasy Genre Pack comes with one adventure. When this Stretch Goal is unlocked, that adventure will be extended into an entire epic campaign. I won't tell you all the details now, because your players might be reading. But it's gonna be really, really cool.
This Stretch Goal will allow us to program an additional feature into Storyscape. In traditional paper-and-pencil roleplaying games, certain aspects of the game world are difficult to simulate effectively. One concept that's very difficult to get right is that of information asymmetry - the idea that some players will have access to information that other players do not. For example, if the players are making their way through an alien jungle on some distant planet, and one of the characters happens to spot a dangerous life form lurking in ambush, the entire group knows what's going on the moment that creature's miniature hits the table, even if their characters were distracted, looking the wrong way, or otherwise unlikely to be aware of the monster's existence. To avoid this problem, gamers often resort to passing notes or whispered conversations away from the group, but that interrupts play and makes the other players painfully aware that something is up.With Fog of War, information asymmetry is built right into the system. If only one player spots an enemy, that enemy is visible on that player's screen, but not on anyone else's. It's up to that player to decide what the character does about the threat. Does she warn her companions? Does she open fire? Or does she keep quiet, and let the group's commander walk into an ambush?
Elves and dwarves are all well and good, but in the Last Empire setting, the island of Crete is home to the race of Minotaurs. Massive, bull-headed creatures, Minotaurs have become known throughout the Known World for their strength and combat prowess.
In the Byzantine Empire, it is a mark of great status for any noble to have a unit of Minotaurs to serve as bodyguards in time of war. With this Stretch Goal, Minotaurs will be added to Storyscape as a playable race.
We've got no shortage of Stretch Goals. From graphical improvements to new settings, creatures, and even entire new genres, we've got plenty of added incentives for backers of Storyscape.
As we meet our Stretch Goals, we'll reveal new ones here and in project updates. So stay tuned, and keep talking about Storyscape!
Risks and challenges
Setting aside all of the stupidly unlikely stuff like "a killer asteroid could hit the planet and kill us all," there are some risks all potential backers should be well aware of, and what we plan to do to mitigate those risks should they come to pass.
We're a new company. While we've all got plenty of individual experience with software creation and production, we're not established producers as a company, and Storyscape is our first product. There are a hundred ways we could turn out to be completely wrong about what we're doing.
To mitigate this issue, we've been doing a huge amount of talking to game creators on both the tabletop and electronic sides of the coin. We're very fortunate and grateful to have had the guidance, friendly reception, and hugely useful information we've gotten from (shoutout time!) Joe Maruschak (Garage Games), Damon Slye (Mad Otter Games), Todd Edman (Lunar Logic), Simon Rogers (Pelgrane Press), Mike Pondsmith (R. Talsorian Games), Ed Healy (Gamerati), Rob Heinsoo (Fire Opal Media), and many, many others. They've all been crucial in allowing us to stride boldly forward without treading on too many of the land mines.
Here's another risk: something catastrophic (death, injury, extended illness) could happen to one or more members of the team. We don't expect this to happen, obviously, but we're planning for it anyway. Whenever possible, we're coding in pairs. That way, every bit of code has a second person who knows all of the details, and can bring everyone else up to speed more quickly if the unthinkable happens. Still, if something like this does come to pass, there's a better than even chance that we'll be delayed to such an extent that we miss our intended delivery date... but we'll get it delivered as soon as we can.
But here's the biggest risk: as with any software development project, we could find that we simply didn't ask for enough money. If we burn through 100% of the money but the game is only 75% complete, that's a Very Bad Thing.
Luckily, with a successful Kickstarter proving that there's a market for Storyscape, and a mostly-completed product in hand, venture capital shouldn't be too difficult to come by.
We'd prefer to avoid that eventuality, of course, because we'd much rather retain full control of the company than let some outsider stick his/her oar in (I'm not sure what the odds are that a given VC also fully groks roleplaying games in the way that we do, but they probably aren't all that great). Still, if we've gotta, we've gotta.
In short, this thing is going to take a ton of work. It's not just a tabletop roleplaying game, it's also a massive computer game project. But we're all fully committed to this thing, and we're determined to make it work.
After all, we want to play it too!
[Video music selections from "Battle of Kings," courtesy of MachinimaSound. License: http://goo.gl/ZSoZf]Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Storyscape will support iOS, Android, Windows, and OSX for sure, and we'll roll out a Linux version as well if more than zero backers want it.
My gaming group has a mix of devices. Will Storyscape work that way, or do we all have to have the same OS?
They'll all play together just fine as long as they can all get to the Internet or a local WiFi network. (Bluetooth networking is also on our long list of "stuff to eventually add," but I can't promise it'll be in the initial release.)
If you pledge at Sergeant level, you have four copies of Storyscape in total; one from the Mercenary level and three more for the Sergeant. If you pledge at Captain level, you get two ADDITIONAL copies of Storyscape to go with those other four.
Thus, you end up with a total of four copies at Sergeant, and a total of six copies at Captain.
I've tried to make this more clear in the backer reward text as well.
Can people play remotely from each other? And if so what are the chances of integrated voice and/or video?
The default assumption is that the players are sitting around in the same place (otherwise, it's hard to share the snacks). However, as long as all parties are connected to the Internet, there's no reason you couldn't play remotely.
UPDATE: Voice/video chat has been added as a Stretch Goal! Check out the Stretch Goal list for more details!
Storyscape has its own complete set of game mechanics, designed specifically for this sort of play, baked in. You can turn on or off various parts of the system that you don't want to play with, and adjust the heck out of almost everything, but it's always going to be Storyscape.
- (34 days)