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A sci-fi action roleplaying game, with background by popular gaming author Ben Counter.
A sci-fi action roleplaying game, with background by popular gaming author Ben Counter.
133 backers pledged £3,582 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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£3,582

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Project Completed

All of us at Death Spiral want to say a big thank you to everyone who took part and backed the project. We will be keeping everyone up to date with events as the project completes, and we look forward to hearing from you all once you have your books.

Thank you again, and thanks for being part of our journey.

  • The kickstarter funds will pay for the printing and distribution of the game's launch products.
  • Pledge levels include the core rulebook and the novella Baron, available in both hard copy and electronic versions.
  •  This project is to fund the printing and launch of a new roleplaying game, Sleeper: Orphans of the Cold War.

Sleeper: Orphans of the Cold War is a science fiction horror tabletop roleplaying game, taking inspiration from action movies, ultramodern military thrillers, and some of the darkest corners of 20th century history.

A typical day at the office for the players
A typical day at the office for the players

Players take on the roles of sleeper agents created by secret projects during the Cold War, placed in cryo-sleep in anticipation of nuclear war. Now they are waking into a 21st century that has forgotten them, a world imperilled by other long-hidden dangers such as weapons stockpiles, biowarfare experiments and other sleepers turned very, very bad.

The player characters, under the aegis of the secret organisation Obsidian, execute missions against foes ranging from crazed sleepers to the remnants of WWII’s bioweapons project and conspiracies within modern-day governments. They are assisted in this by the superhuman powers with which they were imbued by the projects that created them, and by an armoury of advanced gear that grows as Obsidian researches new technologies.

Sleeper’s rules system is written to facilitate fast, high-octane action scenes, with blistering gunfights and freakish superhuman powers. It is based around a d10 + Attribute roll, versus a target number (TN). This same system drives both skill resolution and combat.

Characters are defined by both a set of six attributes, and by Specialisms related to each attribute. Characters who are specialised in an area related to the test roll a d12 instead of d10. This makes Sleeper characters capable of specialisation while remaining competent as a full range of activities, appropriate for highly-trained elites.

Combat uses robust mechanics related to the basic test to model factors like automatic fire, injuries and the chaos of the battlefield. Sleeper’s rules de-emphasise bookkeeping and a multitude of unrelated mechanics in favour of rapid task resolution and intensity of action.

A Prototype of the book in all its glory
A Prototype of the book in all its glory

Sleeper: Orphans of the Cold War is a 300+ page core rulebook containing everything a games master and players need to run Sleeper. The game world and its various factions are fully described, beginning with Obsidian, the secret military organisation to which the player characters belong. Obsidian’s recruits come from various Cold War sleeper projects, the remnants of which make for potential allies or enemies:

MKJESTER, the CIA’s project to create sleeper agents with mind control powers.

• The KGB’s Last Light, which deployed sleepers who acquired powers after extensive experiments with exotic radiation.

Nectar V, the NATO sleeper project which used captured Nazi bioweapons to create its agents.

Grey Dust, the British intelligence program started to exploit alien technology from a UFO crash.

The world of Sleeper is also populated with plenty of hostile factions, each intent on exploiting or imperilling the world unless Obsidian can stop them.

SS-Werwolf, the surviving Nazi program that created the cryo-sleep technology on which subsequent Cold War projects relied, and which still survives to despatch its monstrous horrors against the world.

The Circus, a conspiracy within the British military and intelligence community dedicated to exterminating all remnants of the Cold War’s supertechnology, including Obsidian.

Octagon, a vast corporation exploiting long-forgotten technology to hold whole governments to ransom.

Deacon - Octagon Villian
Deacon - Octagon Villian
The Characters and Rules sections describe the workings of the game, including character creation, several pre-generated characters ready to play, and full task resolution and combat rules, followed by the rules for all the superhuman power possessed by sleeper agents.
Character Sheet - Pregenerated Character Orange Dart
Character Sheet - Pregenerated Character Orange Dart

The Campaigns section allows a games master to run an ongoing series of missions, including the means by which the players can help build and improve Obsidian’s facilities, and subsequently research new sciences and manufacture new gear. Two chapters of equipment follow, including a complete technology tree that runs from real-world ‘tier 0’ gear to the super-science of Tier 3.

Tier 0 Item page - Handguns and Shotguns
Tier 0 Item page - Handguns and Shotguns

The remainder of the book is dedicated to helping a games master run Sleeper. An extensive chapter of GM advice is followed by descriptions and suggestions for designing missions and campaigns, and a complete pre-written adventure, Operation Onyx, to act as the starting point for a new campaign.

Finally an extensive section on Hostiles includes dozens of statistics for enemies the player characters can face, including full statistics for some of the most dangerous major villains the world of Sleeper has to offer.

Baron is a work of fiction set in the world of Sleeper, an action-packed thriller with elements of science fiction, conspiracy and horror penned by Ben Counter. This 150 page/30,000 word novella is included in several of the project’s pledge levels, and provides a vivid insight into the corners of the game world.

Baron is written by Ben Counter, a popular author of game-related fiction, and is the first in a planned series of fiction set in the Sleeper universe.

What starts out as a routine mission takes a grim and unnatural turn, with devastating consequences for the Obsidian agent codenamed Baron.

The only thing Baron wants now is answers. But with limited time, no backup, and barely any semblance of a plan, the veteran Sleeper agent is in uncharted territory.

"Though Baron did not understand fully the nature of the organ implanted somewhere between his eyes and his brain stem (and did not really want to), he had practiced with its function often enough that it was little trouble to turn his perception inwards and wake that tiny knot of brain tissue even in combat. He felt the cold flood of its power pulsing through his brain, shivering up the back of his skull and down his spine, numbing his fingers and sending black spots flaring in front of his eyes. He focused on the space between the three security guards approaching him, and let it flow from his brain out into the real world.

The lines of the display cases and the walls behind them bowed and warped as if through a fisheye lens. One of the troopers caught in the distortion was flipped upside-down and thrown into the air, thumping against the wood beams of the ceiling. Another's arm was sucked into the distortion and forced into an unnatural angle, cracking sharply like distant gunfire as the bones of the forearm splintered and the elbow was wrenched the wrong way.

The third trooper was picked up as if by a huge invisible hand and thrown through the display case beside him. He crashed through four shelves of antique medical implements and illuminated books, sprawling onto the floor in an undignified heap."

Death Spiral Games was founded by a group of friends and enthusiastic gamers who realised that between them, they possessed the skills needed to create a game and bring it to the tables of fellow RPG enthusiasts. Its two directors are passionate gamers and professionals within their fields:

Ben Counter is a professional writer specialising in game-related fiction and RPG sourcebooks. He is best known for writing several novels for Games Workshop set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, including the Soul Drinkers and Grey Knights series, and two volumes of the hugely successful Horus Heresy series. He has also had work published for the Dark Heresy, Deathwatch, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and World of Darkness RPGs.

Tony Porrett is a professional project manager, who has under his belt a number of successful heavy engineering projects completed successfully to time, budget and to a high level of quality. These project management principles apply to a publishing project such as this, from good communication between artists and publishers, to prioritising the team’s workload and making sure that the critical path is always being worked on.

Death Spiral's team of six comprises five game designers and an artist, and includes a mathematician and system designer and a graphic designer. The game has been playtested by a worldwide pool of gaming groups, and at several demo games run at the UK Games Expo.

We believe that Sleeper: Orphans of the Cold War is the kind of game we would all want to play. We are confident it fills a gap in the current RPG market for science fiction horror and fast-paced action, as well as presenting a new and compelling game world to spark the imaginations of our fellow gamers.

The Sleeper kickstarter will allow us to print an initial run of the core rulebook and accompanying novella, so the game can be launched at the UK Games Expo in May 2015. Books will be sent to backers shortly after the launch using a print on demand model. The book is already written and in the process of revisions and layout – the kickstarter funds will provide us with the final push through the printing process to see our game become a reality.

Game being run at UK Games Expo
Game being run at UK Games Expo

£2,500 - Wallpaper - COMPLETE

All backers will receive a selection of artwork from the Sleeper core rulebook formatted as desktop and mobile phone wallpapers.

Wallpapers for Downloading

£3,000 - Background Story Vodcasts

The Death Spiral team will produce a series of videos in which author Ben Counter delves into elements of Sleeper’s background, full of GM tips and campaign ideas.

£4,000 - Counters

We will create a set of NPC artwork formatted to be printed out from our website and used as counters in the game.

Example Images of Counters
Example Images of Counters
£5,000 - More Fiction

Ben Counter will write a Kickstarter exclusive short story of approximately 7,000 words/40 pages, set within the Sleeper universe, which will be sent to all backers whose pledge includes the Sleeper novella or the core rulebook.

£7,000 - Operation Onyx Tactical Maps

We will create new versions the maps for Operation Onyx, the sample mission in the core rulebook, so they can be downloaded from our website and printed out at full scale to be used on the tabletop.

£9,000 - Playable Baron

The character Baron will be created as a fully playable signature character in PDF format, and sent as a Kickstarter exclusive to all backers whose pledge includes the novella or rulebook. This character will not be available again after launch.

£15,000 - New Novella

Ben Counter will write a new novella set in the Sleeper universe, to be sent as a PDF to all backers whose pledge includes the novella Baron or the core rulebook.

For further information we recommend our website, deathspiral.co.uk. We post regular design articles about the game’s progress, along with reports on the conventions we have attended to demo Sleeper. The site also houses a trove of short fiction covering many of the dark corners of the Sleeper universe.

The site will be used to further support Sleeper with gaming material when it is released, characters sheets for example.

We can also be followed on Twitter (@deathspiral) and Facebook for more updates, sneak peaks and additional short stories, and reading your feedback

Why should I kickstart this project, instead of waiting for the launch and ordering it afterwards?

The kickstarter will let us fund the book launch, so the game being released at all relies on your pledges. In addition, a pledge that includes the core rulebook will avoid postage and packing charges if you are in the UK. Perhaps above all, the funds from the kickstarter will both allow us to release the book, and to make future releases such as game sourcebooks and more fiction a possibility.

What if I create a new character via the Director or Supreme Commander pledge level? Can I create whatever I want? Will they be in the book I receive with my pledge?

The Death Spiral team will work with you to turn your ideas into a complete character, including writing a background and rules for your character. The resulting characters will need to fit into the game’s existing background, including naming conventions, theme and so on. These characters will be released some time after the book’s release – they won’t be finished by the time the core book is released. They will be released either on our website as a web exclusive, or in a future expansion.

How will I arrange a game with you with the High-Value Target pledge level?

The game will be held at the UK Games Expo 2015, in the open gaming area on Friday or Saturday evening. Death Spiral will contact you to arrange a time for the game. You will be responsible for entry into the Expo, travel, accommodation, and so on. See the UK Games Expo for dates and other details of the expo.

What are the Overseas / Worldwide postage and packaging costs?

So that there are no surprises, we have put the price of overseas delivery to £3 per physical product. While this is slightly under the typical price, we wanted to make sure the additional P&P costings wouldn't put people off

What is UK Games Expo / Why are you launching the book there?

The Death Spiral team have been attending the UK Games Expo for many years, and they have been kind enough to allow us to playtest this system with a large selection of players. We will be launching our very first product at this year's UK Games Expo, and we encourage everyone to come along and talk to us at the event. for more information, please see http://www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk/

What will the book look like / What’s it specification?

The book is a premium paperback, size A4 (which is taller than the standard US letter). We have chosen a perfect bound paperback so it is more durable for the gaming table. The cover is colour, as shown in the image above and the internal will be black & white.

Can I have a hardback version of the book?

The book was designed to be printed as a paperback, but with the sheer number of questions requesting this to be an upgrade / add-on option, the Death Spiral team is now investigating the possibility. We will update you all very soon 

Risks and challenges

The principal risk to the project is the Sleeper: Orphans of the Cold War core rulebook’s completion being delayed. Both the core book and the novella Baron are written and illustrated, and are in the process of being edited and laid out. This is a complex process with several stages and while the project planning has taken many variables into account these processes may still fall behind.

The timeliness of project fulfilment also depends on our print on demand partners. As printing is handled by these partners instead of Death Spiral games, solving any unexpected delays or problems may be out of our hands.

These risks concern the time of the project’s fulfilment, and are not substantial risks to the project being completed. With the text and artwork completed it is very unlikely that the books would not be produced at all once the project is funded.

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    You will work with the Death Spiral team to create a new villain character, along with complete rules, background and illustration, to be released either via the web or in a future expansion (see FAQ). You will also receive both copies and PDFs of the Sleeper: Orphans of the Cold War core rulebook and the Baron novella.

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Funding period

- (30 days)