Suffer a blackened birth into a desolate land of surreal horror. A world wounded by psychic warfare, mind-controlled cities, interdimensional labyrinths, and wasteland tribes. You are the alien here; the last survivor of your species. Your existence must be earned.
The greatest inspirations for this world are Cormac McCarthy's The Road, satanic black metal, and ancient Mesopotamia. This is not another dark fantasy of Tolkien's, Lovecraft's, or Martin's influence. This is a survival horror game at its core.
When the story begins, the characters wake up naked in a dark maze of intersecting dimensions, spawned by the nightmares of dead psychics. After emerging from ground zero, they must face the ash-laden wastelands as scavengers clad in rags and bones. Eventually, they may become rulers over small settlements, gladiators in one of the slave cities, or explorers that unlock the mysteries of psychic powers.
This game is designed with a hardcore mentality to challenge the players in all aspects. You play against the system, like a board game, and your success is up to you. This is not easy. Either you play intelligently, or the game will destroy you.
Strain is a hybrid system that blends narrativist story-telling with simulationist combat. The combat is not quite crunchy, but it has a bite to it. Combat is modular, so if you prefer a purely narrative system, you do not have to use the combat rules.
There are two primary mechanics, Doom and Stress. Players can press their luck to succeed at actions, but risk gaining Stress and Doom. Doom is the character's internal death clock, and Stress is rolled against to avoid Failure.
There is no skill list. Characters are made with 5 randomly rolled background words. The background words are the rank 1 skills of the character, applying to a broad range of situations. You don't increase skills, you learn new skills that are higher rank, but more specific. High rank skills would be very specific.
Character advancement is not handed to you, you will have to choose your abilities wisely. There are straightforward options for simple abilities called Masteries, and difficult options for more powerful abilities called Inner Powers, which come with drawbacks. These are heavily inspired by Path of Exile, where theorycrafting character builds through clever use of mechanics can allow for powerful characters. Xas Irkalla is intended to be very difficult, and eventually impossible, if you do not optimize your character carefully.
The Strain system itself is not chained to the setting, and can be used to play any scenario where characters must struggle against their stress scores, insanity, and a ticking death clock. The system has been broken up into optional systems for different types of games.
Backing at any reward level gets you instant access to Strain Basic, the narrative core mechanics of the Strain system - useful for any dark or gritty setting, utilizing the signature Stress and Doom mechanics. Digital format in PDF and EPUB. Click here for instant access.
Modular rules to make combat more intense, complete with adversary templates, injuries, and equipment options. Digital format in PDF and EPUB. Will be available immediately after funding goal is reached.
Aberrant character options and bizarre creature/object generators. Intended for Strain Basic, but useful for any system. Digital format in PDF and EPUB. Will be available immediately after funding goal is reached.
The complete Strain system as intended, though it is removed from any setting. It is the generic version of the full core ruleset. A hybrid system of narrativist storytelling and simulationist combat, including a guide for Game Masters. Digital format in PDF and EPUB. Will be available shortly after this campaign ends.
Comments from reviewers and players of the early release version of Xas Irkalla:
"Dark as shit. And better than Fate." - Davae Breon Jaxon, Critical Hit Publishing (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9SXLowwmU4FEBNCStdFCtw)
"[Xas Irkalla] was so arresting in terms of its fiction, and left a real impression on all three of us." - Brendan Carrion, Full Metal RPG (http://fullmetalrpg.com/)
"Difficult to play against the game, like a board game. Makes you feel really good when you are successful." - Edward B., player
"...all the details are incredible. Never seen darkness and horror incorporated on such a high level as this.. especially in a game. It gives off a truly genuine feeling.." - Melinda F., player
"Just wanted to say I ran a game of this for my friends for the first time at the weekend, we all had a blast. Thanks so much for this great system!" - Ryan P., player
(REACHED) $7500 - Artifacts of the Azerate: 11 anti-cosmic artifacts will be included in Xas Irkalla with artwork, history, adventure sites, and world-changing effects.
(REACHED) $11000 - Throne of the Plague God: An additional adventure included in Xas Irkalla with 3 iconic set pieces that can each serve as a setting for countless scenarios.
INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMS AND DUTIES:
The purchaser is responsible for all customs as when we send out the product as we are not always informed that there will be customs to pay on the purchaser's end. Please be aware of your country's laws on shipping.
Risks and challenges
Xas Irkalla is created by James Vail, with management help from his wife, Mina Korzan. James has worked on Xas Irkalla for 4 years, and there is already enough content for the print release, though he would like to add more artwork. James is able to draw and paint very quickly, but he is designing, writing, and illustrating this project by himself (the only exceptions being logo, border, and layout design). If something were to happen to James, the artwork would not be completed, but Mina would make sure that the book is completed with the layout designer, using all of the material James already created.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (40 days)