This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Thu, December 13 2018 3:00 AM UTC +00:00.
After the War is a tabletop science-fiction roleplaying game of memetic horror. Ten years after the galactic war, millions of survivors try to rebuild on the frontier world of Polvo. They seek to guard their new homes from internal strife and the psychic fallout from the war. In this game you are…
- Survivors of the galactic war, who refused to surrender to the horror.
- Protectors who shelter your fragile new community from danger.
- Believers, whose passionate hearts and fervent convictions drive them.
- Dreamers, with a vision of a brighter future lighting your way.
After the War is a collaborative, independently produced game that explores how we can rebuild in the face of trauma. It’s a game where players learn how to lead with compassion and build something lasting.
Want to know more? Download the free quickstart by clicking on the image below, and read on!
Ten years has passed since the War of the Song. So much has changed since then.
Humanity had been innocent and optimistic members of the multi-species Galactic Union. Our peoples, be they Terran, Martian, or Belter, were welcome members of the Fleet which explored the frontiers of known space. That was when we heard The Song.
It was a sentient melody encoded into atoms, a dark matter drum beat of intelligence and hunger. The Song stole our free will, enslaving our minds and using us to spread like a memetic virus. The unified multi-species Fleet became a battlefield, as humans aboard every ship and on every world were caught up by the Song. Entire nations of humanity rose, as one, to convert the rest of the universe to the holy choir. Each ship taken became part of the Chorister Fleet, a colossal, mobile transmitter array designed to boost the strength of The Song in any system it jumped into. Worlds sang. Worlds burned.
Humanity fought, and lost. We fled from the ruins of Earth, Mars, and the broken Belt. We developed Project Tormenta as our last most horrific weapon against the Chorister Fleet. The war started with a single voice rising from a trillion throats. It ended with the quiet, numb sobbing of the last humans standing. That was when the Chorister Fleet began calling for help in their own voices.
On Polvo, the graveyard of the past and garden of the future, life went on. The planet was affectionately nicknamed Dirt. The name, like the survivors who found their way to the world, stuck. It’s a junk world; a graveyard for secrets, ships, and dead ideals. The millions of survivors and refugees who made it dirtside are building new homes and new futures, despite the dangers lurking on this alien frontier world.
Welcome to Dirt. Everyone has to start somewhere. Everything will start here.
After the War is a science-fiction horror roleplaying game, set on the frontier world of Polvo, in the aftermath of a galactic conflict. This is a game about people who lost their homes and their families in the war and have come together to rebuild their lives on this rough, frontier world. It’s about diverse communities of Terrans, Martians, Belters, and Aliens, who come together to raise children in a brighter world. When the seductive Song or brutal Tormenta threaten your settlements, it's your job to protect your new world.
Your story is centered on the settlement that you now call home. You work to build, grow, and strengthen your fledgling community. You deal with internal disagreements and external threats, because you are the only ones who can and this is the only place you have left.
When you play the game, you take the role of builders, veterans, leaders, and scholars who try to build a new life on Polvo. Each of you will create a main character who endured hardships, maintains passionate beliefs, and strives for a better future.
You are Survivors. The war was a horror of galactic proportions. Worlds sang, screamed, and burned. Colonies were enslaved by the Song, while planetside cities were ravaged by Tormenta-Spawn. No one escaped the dark time entirely unscathed and everyone has their own traumas. The war tried to make you victims, but you emerged as survivors instead. You will never forget your ordeals, but you won’t let them destroy you.
You are Protectors. Polvo is a dangerous place where cruel ambition and memetic horrors lurk. Your settlements are vulnerable points of light in a sea of hungry shadows. You are the people who stand against the darkness and protect your home. You deal with ruthless corporations who seek to exploit your settlement. You calm the interpersonal drama within your community by mending relationships and negotiating compromises. You stand watch for the intrusions of the Song and Tormenta that seek to corrupt your home.
You are Believers. Only the passionate can change the world, and change is desperately needed. Your strong beliefs, as subjective and controversial as they are, give you the drive to make a difference. You argue in favour of your beliefs and try to convince others to agree with your vision of the world. When the world confronts you with evidence that contradicts your perspective, you struggle with the implications. You share your beliefs with others, and try to lead them to a wiser path. Your beliefs are at the core of your identity.
You are Dreamers. Everyone wants something better. Prosperity so that no one need go hungry or cold. Strong walls and vigilant guards who protect the vulnerable. Art and beauty, to replace what was lost. Families bound by love, who raise children into a brighter world. You dream of a better world you can build together. No matter the hardship and horrors, you are driven by your enduring hope for the future.
After the War is a ~240 page, digest-sized core rule-book. It's small enough to carry to game, but full of everything you need to build a new life on Polvo. The book includes...
20 Origins which represent where you came from. Were you a faithful Terran who was raised in an ancient city on earth? Were you a proud Martian Titan who served to defend Mars from all threats? Perhaps you were a Belter Transporter, or an alien Mercurio. Your origin gives you a foundation for your character.
20 War Stories, which represent key events during the war that shaped your characters. You might have been one of the first to detect the Song, forced to fight your colleagues for your survival. Perhaps you fought at the Oort Line, or participated in Project Tormenta. You might have even been one of the lucky ones whose true ordeal was in helping in the recovery efforts after the end of the war.
20 Professions, which represent the new lives you made for yourselves on this frontier world. Perhaps you work as a salvager, who digs into the wreckage of fallen dreadnoughts for priceless components. Maybe you continued your military service and work as a medic to tend to a vulnerable settlement. You might be a diplomat who solves conflicts between communities, or a xenobiologist exploring this alien world.
GM Tools, including comprehensive rules and advice to help you run a game. This includes everything you need to run a simple one-shot sessions, or a multi-session campaign. This includes a complete example of play to show you how character creation, setting design, and the resolution mechanics work at the table.
The mechanics for After the War encourage full participation in each session, with collaborative scene creation and a codified role for players whose characters aren't involved in the action.
If your character is present in a scene, you will be in Actor Mode and portray your character in the fiction. You get a chance to confront your beliefs during play and pull out the dice to resolve conflicts.
If your character is not present in a scene, you are in Audience Mode. You get to play NPCs and determine whether certain Traits are applicable in conflict. More importantly, you collectively determine whether the acting character's Beliefs have been confirmed or refuted in play.
Conflicts are resolved by building pools of 6-sided dice, with the highest total result winning. Whenever you win, or whenever you want to re-roll some of your dice in a conflict, you receive Strain. Each point of Strain negates the lowest face on the dice, so someone with two Strain doesn't add their 1's or 2's to their total.
The more conflicts you engage in, the luckier you have to be if you hope to succeed. Fortunately, you can reduce your Strain through quiet moments of character exploration and roleplaying between scenes. These Moments of Discovery allow you to learn more about the characters and their history.
Download the free Quickstart to see the mechanics in more detail.
Out of all of the funding received, approximately 10% goes to kickstarter and payment processing fees. 10% of the funding received will be divided between the co-creators of the game, Alasdair Stuart and Jason Pitre, as payment for the writing, design, and layout. The remaining 80% of the project funding will go toward the costs associated with art direction, printing the book, shipping the book, and fulfilling any stretch goals.and shipping the book.
At our base goal of 8,000 CAD, we can produce the game! Our base goal represents the bare-minimum amount to print the book and ship copies to backers. At this level, we are covering the development budget associated with art, writing, editing, and layout for the text.
We have successfully exceeded our original goal for the campaign, and we are excited to go even further. That’s why we have a number of brilliant stretch goals lined up, offering some small ways we can make the game even better for all of us. All of our goals are based on the number of backers, not the dollar value, so every friend you bring over is another step closer to the next goal.
(Unlocked) Stretch Goal 1 - Strange Gifts. We will expand the book to include discussion on strange gifts that are sometimes rumored in the dark corners of settlements. We will explain how cybernetics, psionic gifts, mysticism, Tormenta mutations, and songcraft can be used in play.
(Unlocked) Stretch Goal 2 - AI Song Archives. We will infect you all with the Song. More precisely, all backers will get a hand-curated collection of music composed by artificial intelligence to our exacting standards, perfect for your games.
(Unlocked) Stretch Goal 3 - The Covenant Yard Adventure. Jacqueline Bryk will write a sample adventure for the game, involving a murder, a mystery, and thing that escaped the Covenant Yards. It's an adventure that explores how trauma affects communities, and now we rebuild in the face of it.
(Unlocked) Stretch Goal 4 - Precursors Expansion. Alasdair Stuart will expand the book and explore the Precursors. They are the original architects of the Alexandria Archive, and those who last encountered The Song. Alasdair Stuart will tell us more about those who camp before, and perhaps even reveal information about how the Song was created…
(Unlocked) Stretch Goal 5 - Recordings from Earth. We will release the audio recordings of key elements of the game. Alasdair will narrate an introduction to the setting itself, explaining the history of the war and the realities of life on this world. Jason will explain how the rules and mechanics function, just as if he was running the game in person. These recordings can help teach the GM what they need to know, or can be played for the game group at the start of your first session.
Stretch Goal 6 - Polvan Cartographer. At 400 backers, we will commission a series of maps from Damien Holder for each of the settlement types, including the 5 other core settlements, and the three off-world settlements. Damien is the illustrator who created the excellent map we show for the goals section.
Stretch Goal 7 - Off-World Settlements. At 450 Backers, we will expand beyond Polvo, and provide three off-world settlements for your games. You will be able to play in the remnants of the Oort Line defences, live under the colossal plateaus of Long Fall, or explore the shattered planet of Sargasso.
Stretch Goal 8 - Associate Editor. At 500 Backers, we will hire the excellent Frances Rowat on as an associate editor on project for an additional editorial pass on the text. She will help clarify procedures, explain the setting in a more compelling way, and generally help us improve the game for everyone.
Jason Pitre is the the game designer, publisher, associate editor, art director, and layout artist for the project. This is his fifth project on kickstarter, having successfully funded and published a number of titles including the Spark RPG, the ENnie-Award-winning Posthuman Pathways in 2014, and Sig: The Manual of the Primes in 2017. In addition to a variety of freelance projects, he was a founding member of the Indie Game Developer Network and a judge for the first two years of the Indie Groundbreaker Awards. In his spare time, he also runs the RPG Design Panelcast which shares the best recorded panels and seminars about game design and publishing.
Alasdair Stuart is the lead writer and setting designer for the game. When Alasdair Stuart is not hosting PseudoPod and Escape Pod, or running Escape Artists Inc., he’s professionally enthusiastic about genre fiction on the Internet at places like Tor.com, Barnes & Noble, The Guardian, Uncanny Magazine, SciFi Now and MyMBuzz. He’s an ENie-nominated tabletop RPG writer for his work on Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space. His other RPG writing includes Star Trek, The Laundry Files, Primeval, Victoriana, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, N.E.W. and Chill, meaning he’s got a playbook for any variety of invasion you can name.
Alasdair's first collection of expanded podcast essays, PseudoPod Tapes, is available from Fox Spirit Books with volume 2, Approach With Caution, out in 2018. His short stories can be found in the Fox Pockets anthology series from Fox Spirit, among other places. He lives in the UK with the love of his life and their ever expanding herd of microphones. Follow him on Twitter as @AlasdairStuart, or at his blog, The Man of Words.
John Adamus is the lead editor on the project. He is a freelance developmental editor and game designer who specialises in story structure and helping writers finish projects. You may know him as an editor on countless roleplaying games, and as the designer of Noir World.
Claudia Cangini is a professional illustrator for the project, whose beautiful art has graced the pages of The Watch, 1001 Nights, Night Witches, Bacchanal, Gauntlet Codex, and Flotsam. Claudia has prepared each of the contributor portraits for the project and will be preparing a number of additional pieces for the book to show the world of After the War.
We couldn't build a new world alone. These are the brave souls who are making this project happen.
Alex Roberts is well known for her fantastic Backstory Podcast on the OneShot podcast network, and for her roleplaying game of romantic tension titled Star Crossed.
Dr. Katherine Inskip is assistant editor of Cast of Wonders, accomplished fiction writer, and an academic who teaches astrophysics at the University of Sheffield
Elizabeth Chiapraditkul, who you may know as the founder and creator of Angry Hamster Publishing and the creator of Witch: Fated Souls and Familiars of Terra. She has also worked with John Wick Presents on the development of the second edition of the 7th Sea Roleplaying Game.
Erika Chappell is the brilliant mind behind the fighter plane game, Flying Circus, recently successful on kickstarter. She has has published a number of other excellent games.
Frances Rowat a contributor and assistant editor on the book. Her work has appeared in a variety of speculative fiction magazines and anthologies including ON Spec, The Weird Wild West Anthology, and the anthology titled No Shit, there I was.
Fraser Ronald crafted the expansive example of play in the book. You may know him for his other role-playing game projects such as Nefertiti Overdrive, Centurion, and Sword's Edge.
Jacqueline Bryk has worked on titles for Onyx Path including Half-Damned (VtM) and Night Horrors (DtD), as well as continuing to work on games like Changeling: the Lost, Fading Suns, and KULT: Divinity Lost.
Jay Iles is a scientist, roleplayer and designer dedicated to creating games that are innovative, weird and welcoming. She is best known as the designer of Legacy: Life Among the Ruins, by UFO Press.
Kate Bullock is a host on the Gauntlet Podcast, one of the founders of the BreakoutCon convention in Toronto, and her upcoming game Crossroads Carnival is available from Magpie Games.
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali is a mother of three, breast oncology nurse, co-editor of the Podcastle fantasy fiction podcast, and a brilliant fiction writer in her own right.
Kira Magrann a prolific game designer, jewellery maker, and queer feminist cyborg. She has been making games since 2012 including Mobilize, Selfie (#Feminism), RESISTOR, A Cosy Den, and Something Is Wrong Here.
Lexi Trip is one of the organisers behind BreakoutCon, tabletop designer, and the larpwright who loves games about relationships, emotional bleed, and fighting games.
Mary Rose Valentine is a new creator, and Shakespearean actress in training. This may be her first major publication credit, but won't be her last.
Dr. Melody Watson is an academic, fiction writer, and rpg designer who might be best known as the designer behind the one player game "LAIKA" which pays tribute to the first dog to orbit the earth.
Sarah Richardson is one of the designers of the horrific and beautiful game Bluebeard's Bride, and has contributed to many other projects both in terms of writing and illustration including the forthcoming game Velvet Glove.
Sarah Saltiel is a short story writer who has contributed to several literary magazines, a spoken word poet, and completed a paid internship with with Magpie Games as well as winning the 2018 IGDN Metatopia Sponsorship.
Other illustrators on the project include Eric Quigley, Tithi Luadthong, Damien Holder, Toma Feizo Gas, Juan Ochoa and Jeff Brown.
The Expanse, by James S.A. Corey is a major inspiration for the setting. The series presents a solar system with tensions established between the Earth, Asteroid Belt, and Mars which are similar to the ones presented here, and Cibola Burns shows another barren alien world being colonised. Be sure to check out the new licensed Expanse Roleplaying Game by Green Ronin Publishing over here!
Star Trek, by Gene Roddenberry, presented a utopian galaxy where a United Federation of Planets brought dozens of alien species together in peace. The Union and Fleet, which were lost in the war of the Song, were inspired by this hopeful vision of the future. Be sure to check out The Star Trek Adventures RPG by Modiphius!
Mass Effect, by Bioware presented the Citadel and the the mind-twisting corruption of the Reaper which inspired the memetic horror elements of the game. Mass Effect Andromeda had a great influence in particular, with emphasis on building colonies on the golden worlds.
The Belle Dame Apocrypha by Kameron Hurley are three of the nastiest and the best best books you’ll ever read. A female bounty hunter struggles to hold her team and herself together on a planet ripped apart by institutionalised war.
Firefly, by Joss Whedon. Everybody knows that the war is over. Everybody knows that the good guys lost. Firefly presented of a rag-tag group of folks trying to live on a frontier while dealing with their trauma from the war.
I have run a number of kickstarter campaigns before and have a proven track record of completing them successfully. That means that I have a strong plan for how to proceed on the project, but all plans might go awry.
Development: The timelines I present for reward goals are conservative ones. They main text of the game is complete, though stretch goal content and editing may slow the text finalisation process. Our internal goal is to get this printed and shipped by summer 2019 if possible, but we recognise that publishing is very much dependant on luck.
Shipping: This is the bane of all kickstarter campaigns, and the current geopolitical instability at the time of this campaign is not conducive to stable planning. I have included a minimum expected amount for shipping in the reward pledges themselves, and I will do my level best to work within these budgets. Should there be major upheavals in shipping prices or currency exchange, I reserve the right to add a small shipping premium via Backerkit after the campaign concludes. With luck, it shall not come to that extreme.
Retailers: We love retailers and the communities they support. Any friendly local game story can back at the $1 retailer tier. This will get your store listed on the page, and and allow backers to pick up their kickstarter pledge rewards from your store. Your store will also get a free copy in thanks for your help. When the product is ready to ship, you will be able to purchase additional copies at the standard wholesale price. Backers who choose to get their reward shipped to their friendly local game store will get a little special bonus for their troubles.
The current retailers signed up include:
Tyche's Games, in Athens, Georgia
The Adventure Game Store & Dragon's Lair, in Davie, Florida.
Jim Likes Games, at a number of conventions (DexCon, Conneticon, Queen City Conquest, BostonFig, Metatopia, Con on the Cob and Anonycon)
- The Comic Hunter in Charlottetown (PEI), Moncton (NB), and Fredericton (NB), Canada
- The GameShelf in Thunderbay, Ontario, Canada
Trollune, in Lyon, France.
Sphaerenmeisters Spiele, in Hezogenrath, Germany.
- Leisure Games, in London, UK.
Dragon's Hoard Games, in Silverdale, Washington State.
- Fandom II, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
On the RPG Design Panelcast, I discussed community mechanics in games with the excellent Phil Vecchione. We explored this exciting area of design where we discuss what communities and settlements bring to games, the stories they let us tell, and the mechanics which represent them.
On The Lounge podcast, we discussed how I design games and explored some of the core design principles behind After The War.
On the Curiosity in Focus podcast, Daniel Kwan interviewed me to discuss speculative zoology and fictional ecologies. This was a wide-ranging discussion that covered off everything from artificial ecosystems to real-world conservation biology.
On the Victory Condition Gaming youtube chanel, I was invited to run a session of After the War and have a recording to share with you folks to enjoy.
I was also lucky enough to run a session and record an AP for the Oneshot Podcast. Part 1 of the session explores how we can create Polvo together, and start to play, while Part 2 shows the the system in action.
The fine folks at the She's A Super Geek podcast ran a brilliant session as well on the mikes. Part 1 includes all the introduction and setting creation content, and Part 2 will be released before the end of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Alasdair has been hard at work writing some essays about elements of the game. He explores the various inspirations and the dramatic tensions that underlie the game.
In his first essay, titled Starfleet's Worst Day he discusses some of the science fiction inspirations for the game.
In his second essay, titled Hope and Horror, he explores those two dramatic poles of hope and horror and the interplay between them.
Risks and challenges
I’m happy to report that I’m no stranger to running Kickstarter projects, and I’m taking all the standard precautions. I’ve previously run four successful campaigns with the latest being for Sig: Manual of the Primes. Those Kickstarter campaigns successfully delivered their rewards to backers on time.
The main text for After the War is complete at this point. If personal emergencies prevent our artists from contributing, we have backup options. We are doing the layout in-house after the campaign ends but are able to hire other professionals if the need arises.
There may be challenges with the printers. I am currently planning on using a well-regarded, professional and experienced printer, but I have several backup options, just in case. Anything that goes through the mail system can go astray, but I will replace any missing copies at no cost.
One significant risk associated with this project is currency fluctuation. This project is set in Canadian Dollars, but the majority of the backers will be paying in other currencies. I have no way of predicting the accurate exchange rate at the end of the campaign but I will cover any budgetary shortfalls that might occur within reason.
Shipping is a perpetual challenge, and there is uncertainty on future postal prices I will continue to work with key fulfilment partners to reduce these costs as much as possible and do my best to work within the shipping added to your pledge. Shipments to retail partners may mitigate these risks somewhat.
There is one other major challenge associated with this campaign, and that is the minimum goal. In order to produce high-quality, hardcover books, I need to raise approximately $8,000 Canadian. If we don’t manage to gather a big enough audience in this campaign to fund the print run, I will seek out alternative print-on-demand options. I am working with podcasters and other sources to promote the Kickstarter, and depend on word of mouth to get people excited about the project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- All gone!