About this project
There is only one true city; a place of multiversal trade, cultural exchange, and mixed blood. A place where monsters come to scheme and gods come to die.
Sig is the nexus of the multiverse. It's a city connected to everywhere, a refuge for the oppressed and a prize for tyrants. It's a place where culture is at the forefront, with diverse faiths and tongues struggling for space in the crowded metropolis. It's a city of families, both whole and broken.
Sig is also a launching point, allowing fools and heroes to venture into the eternal planes of existence. Each plane is made of concepts, of elements, of ideals that resonate through the entire 'verse. The planes impose their own Beliefs on Sig and on the infinite primal worlds beyond.
Each of the planes is also home to unique peoples, from the Giants of the Elemental Plane of Stone to the Wyrms of the Ideological Plane of Destruction. The planes are home to mighty Powers: gods, demons, and stranger things which send their servitors to spread their faith into the City Between. The planes even offer resources to the bickering political Factions and warring guilds that control Sig's hungry streets.
Visit the Elemental Plane of Flame to test yourself in scorched wastelands of the Crucible. Seek answers to hidden secrets in the Umbral Delta of the Conceptual Plane of Shadow. Defend yourself in The Final Court, where the Seven Magistrates provide final remedy to any injustice.
Sig: Manual of the Primes is a cosmopolitan planar fantasy tabletop RPG. Like other games in this genre, it presents a diverse city and the challenges of culture clash. It's a setting that juxtaposes planar magics with urban drama. It offers players the opportunity to travel to the planes of existence and explore the prime worlds.
This is a collaborative and improvisational game, with rules that support creative contributions from the players. The themes of family, faith, and faction politics are woven into the mechanics so that you can tell emotionally-compelling stories together. The Manual of the Primes is complete tabletop game with a comprehensive setting and all the rules you need to explore it.
With your help, we’ll fund a full offset print run for a 240 page, 6”x9”, full-colour hardcover book. The cover will be durable enough to suffer whatever the planes can throw at you. The setting is vibrant, diverse, and beautiful, so the interiors will be printed on glossy 80# paper, like a professionally printed magazine.
The book is full of art and brilliant colour, with the evocative and diverse illustrations of Julie Dillon. Moustafa Chamli prepared a series of ink-sketches of the planes, the primes, and the City Between for us. Nathan Paoletta carved a series of razor-sharp icons that represent the various planes, shard realms, and prime worlds for you to explore. Last, but certainly not least, are the evocative and mythological illustrations from the illustrious illustrator Gustave Dore.
The book has been in the works for about a year, and it looks gorgeous. Don’t take my word for it though, when you can see some sample spreads below!
There’s a lot in this book to enjoy!
Chapter 1 presents all of the rules of play. This chapter, adapted from the Spark Roleplaying Game, describes the roles and responsibilities for players and the GM alike. It offers tools for collaborative scene framing, free-wheeling roleplaying, tense conflicts, and revealing interludes. It offers a series of mechanics that reward confronting Beliefs and changing your perspective.
Chapter 2 is all about creating compelling characters. Build your own freebooter, be they descended from planar heritages or immigrants from the prime worlds. Determine which urban Faction your characters work for, and which Power they worship. Declare the philosophical, subjective, and controversial Beliefs they wish to confront. Weave a web of connections and characters who bind the group together.
Chapter 3 describes the Eternal Planes of Existence, their inhabitants, and their supporters. Each of the three Planar Rings are represented here: the Elemental Ring (Flames, Waves, Stone, Wind, Ice), the Ideological Ring (Justice, Destruction, Tyranny, Order, Freedom) and the Conceptual Ring (Shadows, Dreams, Lore, Life, Death). Each plane has their own landmarks, native inhabitants, friendly Factions, and resident divine Powers.
Chapter 4 is the Atlas of Sig, describing the various neighborhoods of Sig and the important people who represent them. Discover the Hive, where the destitute and the desperate struggle to survive. Explore Tetherward, where countless souls toil to enable planar trade. Revel in Riverward, where the commerce of the city thrives. Admire the glory of Highspire, home of the mighty.
Chapter 5 speaks of the infinity of prime worlds, those mortal realms we are so familiar with. These include rules for collaborative world-building and a list of exciting worlds to explore. More importantly, it includes 8 brand new prime worlds prepared by a roster of professional designers. Explore the following:
- Age of Scales, by Renee Knipe;
- Alucina, by Whitney “Strix” Beltrán;
- Crystalia, by Alex Roberts;
- Dimming Twilight, by Liz Chaipraditkul;
- Hex, by Kira Magrann;
- Iron Cities, by Emily Griggs;
- Royal Mountain, by Jason Pitre; and
- Whispering Sands, by Hannah Shaffer.
Chapter 6 provides other resources to help you run the game, including detailed examples of character creation and an example of play. This chapter also offers the Night Market adventure, exploring what happens when the Shard Realm of Empire binds to the City Between.
Sig uses rules to guide the conversation, and to represent certain kinds of stories. The mechanics are relatively lightweight and generally fall back on a basic pattern.
The game orders these discussions with a nested structure of systems that apply at four different scales: Series, Session, Scene, and Conflict. Each Series has one or more Sessions, each of which begins by advancing the schemes of the various Factions and Powers of Sig. which are established in a collaborative way by the contributors and can provide Influence to participants that confront their Beliefs. Each Scene may have one or more Conflicts, where people roll dice to determine what happens next.
The Series level of play is largely narrative, keeping track of the changing histories and relationships of the setting. Changes to character Beliefs and the Tethers to Sig will alter the context of play and lead to long-term evolution of the setting. The Series may have multiple Sessions of play.
The Session level of play deals with establishing the initial actions of the major Factions and Powers of Sig. Each person rolls their Smoke attribute die and compares the results to the other players. This determines which three people will be advancing the conflicting Agendas in play. One person will describe an Agenda that succeeded, one will describe an Agenda that failed, and one will describe a new character who was caught in the middle of both of those Agendas. At the end of the Session, players may choose to spend their characters’ Influence to change the Beliefs of another.
The Scene level of play focuses on individual events where characters are forced to make difficult decisions. Each scene begins with a Platform (where and when the scene occurs), a Tilt (why the characters need to act), and a Question (what you want to discover in the scene). Each person rolls their Smoke attribute die and compares their results; this determines which three people will frame the current Scene. The group roleplays freely until the Question is answered. When the Question is answered, Influence is distributed to participants who confront their Beliefs. While many scenes are collaborative in nature, they may contain one or more Conflicts.
The Conflict level of play only occurs when there are disagreements at the table, where two participants propose different potential outcomes. Both participants roll dice, adding in bonuses if they have Talents which would apply. The participant in the conflict with the highest score gets the outcome they desire and must pay the Price of Victory. Not every scene requires a Conflict, as the majority of play is a collaborative experience with everyone portraying their characters.
This is the second Kickstarter campaign for the Sig setting. Back in the fall of 2015, I launched a successful campaign for a 112-page book titled “Sig: The City Between”. That book was intended as a supplement for one of our previous products, the Spark Roleplaying Game. The last Sig Kickstarter was a rousing success, raising just shy of $10,000 with 308 backers.
This generous support allowed us to create a ton of excellent content, including
- PDFs for all the backers
- A limited digital print run of the book (soft-cover, full-colour, 112 pages)
- Seven stretch goals to hire contributors to create new prime worlds
- The Night Market adventure as a stretch goal.
- A detailed map of Sig as a stretch goal.
Since then, we’ve added more and more content to the book. We prepared Chapter 1 (customized mechanics you need to play), Chapter 4 (the Atlas of Sig), most of Chapter 5 (the stretch goal prime worlds) and chapter 6 (example/adventure). The book blossomed into a full, stand-alone product in its own right. This coincided with nearly selling out of the remaining copies of the original softcover print run.
We’re running this Kickstarter to raise funds for an offset print run of full-colour, hardcover books, containing both the old and new content.All backers of the previous campaign, and individuals who bought the PDF of Sig, have received the updated digital content (PDF, Epub, Mobi) via DriveThruRPG. There is a special tier, suited for those who backed the original Kickstarter.
The Visitor: Are you just curious about the game, or do you prefer PDFs? Back at the Visitor Tier, and we will send you the digital version of the game immediately. If the game isn’t your cup of tea, keep the PDF with our compliments.
The Freebooter: If you are one of those generous souls who already backed the Kickstarter campaign for Sig: The City Between, you already have the full digital version of the Manual of the Primes. You may be interested in the affordable Freebooter Tier, which offers a print copy of the new book, without any of the (redundant) digital content. Also a great value for anyone who prefers non-digital versions of games.
The Citizen: Excited about discovering Sig for the first time? Want to explore the city with a beautiful hardcover book, flipping through the glossy pages to learn about the ‘verse? Want to search through the PDF to find some of the hidden gems, and toss it onto your ebook reader? The Citizen Tier will give you both the physical and digital versions of Sig: The Manual of the Primes.
The Benefactor: Are you eager to spread the word in your local community? Back at this level and you get everything associated with the Citizen Tier, and we will also send a free copy of the hardcover book to a friendly local game store (FLGS) or local library of your choosing.
The Faction: Ready to start a campaign of Sig, but your group doesn’t have copies of the book? If you back at the Faction Tier, you can get copies for everyone! You’ll receive four copies of the physical book (and digital copies along with each of them) for less than the cost of each backing at the Citizen tier.
The Bizzare: Some merchants and other generous souls may desire many copies of the book. Back at The Bizzare level, and you’ll get 10 copies of the physical book at wholesale rates. Perfect for game stores, game groups, and clubs.
The base goal for this campaign is a significant one, and the highest base goal that I have had on any of my projects to date. The costs associated with a professional-quality offset print run are significant, and we need your help to raise $8,000 (Canadian dollars) to pay for the printing alone, the remaining fulfillment costs coming from the profits of the last print run.
Stretch Goal 1 - Sig Quickstart (FUNDED!)
At 250 backers, we will produce a free Sig Quickstart adventure for everyone! This will be a PDF that you can print and play, perfect for a convention game or a one-shot. This Quickstart will include a set of pregenerated characters, rules references, a tutorial section, and the Night Markets adventure.
We will also produce custom character sheets for the Roll20 platform. We will also collect the relevant sheets, illustrations, and pregenerated characters from the quickstart adventure, to make it easy for you to run the game online.
Stretch Goal 2 - Sig Reference Deck (FUNDED!)
At 300 backers, we will produce a custom deck of cards as a play aid. We will publish a deck of custom reference cards that describe each of the Heritages, Factions, and Powers associated with the various planes. This deck will make character creation easier, by putting a write-up of each of those groups on playing cards for your reference. There may even be information about the prime worlds and shard realms, hidden within the deck. It will also serve as a fantastic randomizer for the group to randomly determine which factions might be advancing their schemes, which powers might be meddling, and which community might be caught in the middle.
Stretch Goal 3 - The Deluxe Upgrade (FUNDED!)
If we get our 350th backer, I will make them even better. All of the books will be upgraded with additional features to make them both more attractive and more functional in play. We will include silk ribbon bookmarks with every book to help you navigate the shadowed pages. We will include printed endpapers at the front and the back of the book, so that we can include a couple beautiful maps of the City Between there for your use.
I will even work with the printer to see if there are any other shiny extras that we could provide. I want to pull out all the stops and make the book as ridiculously awesome as I can.
Stretch Goal 4 - The Origin Deck (FUNDED!)
If we reach 400 backers, we will design a second custom deck of cards for backers. This new play-aid will be known as the Sig Origin Deck, and allow you to create your characters quickly through a draw of the cards. The origin deck will contain Parent Cards and Profession Cards. Each character will have their talents defined by the combination of two Parent Cards and one Profession Card. It means you can quickly create your characters and their families on the fly, and the GM can also use it as a deck of NPCs during play.
Final Stretch Goal 5 – Freebooters (Funded)
Sig is a rough city. It’s a home for cutters and bashers, hungry for coin and glory. It’s a battlefield between the city factions as they fight over territory. It’s a city of gods, demons, and stranger things which lurk. No wonder that scoundrels flock to the city between.
If we reach 450 backers (was 475) in total, we will unlock this new product which adapts the Blades in the Dark system (from John Harper) for the Sig setting. This system will allow us to explore the criminal underworld and faction politics bound into Sig. It will enable planar heists, political maneuvers, and more cults than you can shake a stick at.
This is an exciting goal, but it will also be a great deal of work on my part. If we hit our ambitious goal, I will invest the time to make this awesome for all of you.
Now let’s drag more folks into Sig. There ain’t much time left till we lose the tether.
If this strikes your fancy, or you want to learn a bit more about Sig, there are plenty of resources at your disposal.
I ran a fantastic session of Sig for the One Shot Podcast, which you can find over at Episode 1, Episode 2 and Episode 3. This is full of actual-play goodness, including serpent cults, dragon pearls, and mythenders.
I had a lovely discussion on the Modifier Podcast about aligning settings to mechanics, where I do a deep dive into the mechanical elements of the game. Check out the Episode!
I recorded an episode on the Misdirected Mark Podcast where we chatted at length about how the system works overall, including the various narrative elements that are hard-coded into the rules. I also too the chance to discuss how I view System, Setting, and Situation as three distinct elements in game design. Check out the episode!
I also had a long discussion on the Ottawa Game Publisher's Podcast with my friend, Todd Crapper of Broken Ruler Games. In this interview, each of us explained our own publication processes and I spoke at length about Sig. Have a listen here!
I was also interviewed by Brie Sheldon during the campaign for Sig: The City Between. Brie is a great interviewer, and asked some pertinent questions about the setting. http://www.briecs.com/2015/10/five-or-so-questions-with-jason-pitre.html
Want to Play?
During the campaign, I will be running a number of 2-hour demos of Sig over Google Hangouts. If you are curious about the setting, want to try out the mechanics, or just want to play a game, please join me!
I will be making a number time-slots available over the course of the campaign for demos, and each game can handle 2-5 players.
Session 1 - Sunday, January 29th from 14.00 to 16.00 EST. 4 Spots Remaining.
Session 2 - Sunday, January 29th from 19.00 to 21.00 EST. 5 Spots Remaining.
Session 2 - Saturday, February 4th from 14.00 to 16.00 EST. 4 Spots Remaining.
More sessions will likely be announced in future backer updates!
The Primordial Architect
Jason Pitre is the game designer and owner of Genesis of Legend Publishing. He successfully published the Spark RPG in early 2013, the ENnie-Award-winning Posthuman Pathways in 2014, and Sig: The City Between in 2015. He has also written for companies such as Pelgrane Press, Dangerous Games, Evil Hat Productions, and Greenhat Designs.
The Conceptual Plane of Language
Jeremy Morgan is an editor extraordinaire who’s worked on projects including Bulldogs (Fate Core Edition), Headspace, and the forthcoming Noir World. This project wouldn't have been possible without his enthusiasm. Find him on twitter @TriskalJM.
Ève Corbin is my copy editor, whose keen eye has spotted some elusive errors in the text. Her help has been invaluable in honing the text for clarity.
Elizabeth Bauman is an indexer, a mom, a gamer, a copywriter, and the managing editor for @TheIlluminerdy. She made the index for Sig; a more elegant weapon for a more civilized age
The Conceptual Plane of Art
Julie Dillon is a freelance sci-fi and fantasy illustrator. She’s won two Hugo Awards, two Chesley Awards, and has been nominated for two World Fantasy Awards for her work. Her clients have included Tor Books, Penguin Books, Simon & Schuster, Popular Science Magazine, Wizards of the Coast, Llewelleyn Worldwide, and Paizo Publishing.
Moustafa Chamli, a Lebanese-born multi-disciplinary artist, is the head of his own video game development studio. He has provided a number of evocative inked pieces that show Sig and the 'verse as a whole. He is self-taught and has a love for functionally elaborate designs that tell their own stories. He is currently working on his first large-scale video game.
Nathan D. Paoletta is an independent game designer, publisher, and graphic artist living in Chicago, IL. Nathan has produced the various icons that represent the various planes of existence. You can see his work at ndpdesign.com and his hot takes on professional wrestling on twitter, @ndpaoletta.
The Infinite Prime Worlds
Alex Roberts is a writer, podcaster, and roleplayer of boundless enthusiasm. Check out her work at alexroberts.neocities.org or befriend her on twitter @muscularpikachu. She is also the host of Backstory Podcast, a member of the One-Shot Podcast Network.
Emily Griggs is an author, illustrator, game designer, and general nerd. Her game writing credits include work on the New World of Darkness line, Chill 3rd edition, and Good Night Fairy Theatre (Game Chef 2015 English-language winner.) She also writes and illustrates her own webcomic, which combines her love of blood-sucking monsters with her love of floofy dresses. You can find her online at sweetingenuity.com.
Hannah Shaffer is a feminist game designer and writer based in western Massachusetts. Credits include Questlandia, 14 Days, and a silly little game about birds. Find Hannah at makebigthings.com and on twitter @hanbandit.
Kira Magrann creates jewelry at Anima Metals, writes game critique at Gaming as Women, organizes Indie Games on Demand at Origins and GenCon, and creates sexy, feminist, queer, and cyberpunk games. Some games she's recently designed are Strict Machine, Twilight Dames, and Game of Thrones: Play the Cards. Follow her on Google+ or twitter @kiranansi.
Liz Chaipraditkul is a game developer and writer who lives in the Netherlands. She owns Angry Hamster Publishing and works as a staff writer for ConTessa. She has designed her first game, WITCH, which successfully funded on Kickstarter earlier this year. When not in her own imaginary world, Liz keeps busy with crafting and walking her dog.
Renee Knipe is a freelance writer and game designer living in the greater Detroit area. You may have seen her work in Vampire: The Dark Ages, The Warren, or the award-winning Sorcerer supplement, Charnel Gods. In her spare time, she edits audiobooks, produces short movies with puppets, and obsesses over horror films. You can follow Renee on Google+.
Whitney "Strix" Beltrán is a gaming academic, writer, and designer with an advanced degree in Mythological Studies. She works with both digital and analogue games, and specializes in world building and dialogue/character development. She especially loves developing content around minority experiences and settings. Check out her article on the subject over at Tor, and catch her at StrixWerks.com or on Twitter @The_Strix.
Every creative project is inspired by works that came before, and this is certainly no exception. Here are some of the more significant inspirations that led to this book.
Planescape, a setting for AD&D 2nd edition, published by TSR. This original planar fantasy setting is one of the strongest inspirations for Sig. It presented a cosmopolitan city in center of a multiverse filled with philosophers with clubs. Check out this mind-blowing original setting, beautifully illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, now on DriveThruRPG.
Saga, comic series published by Image Comics. A comic set in a space-fantasy setting, focusing on the importance of family, relationships, childhood, and parenthood. It’s a wild tale of distinctive (odd) cultures and social commentary, and one that will bring a tear to your eye. You can find it at Image Comics.
Planarch Codex: Dark Heart of the Dreamer, published by J. Walton. Jonathan did a fantastic job of interpreting the Planescape setting through the lens of cultural diversity in the multiplanar melting-pot city of Dis, which is literally assimilating the rest of the universe. Freebooters, heritage moves, and all sorts of other goodies abound in this fantastic supplement for Dungeon World. This is available as a free download at DrivethruRPG.com, and rumour has it that more is on the way for the City of Dis.
Kill Six Billion Demons, a comic series published by Image Comics. This is a fantastical and mythologically rich comic that reveals the city of Throne, Domain of Kings, Kingdom of God, and center of the Omniverse. Demon-kingdoms and mystic orders fighting on the fossilized bodies of the massive angels. This will absolutely captivate you and you can check it out at http://killsixbilliondemons.com/ or check out volume 1, published by Image Comics.
And many more: Projects including Polaris, Mythender and Don’t Rest your Head also contributed to the richness of the 'verse.
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 three successful campaigns: the Spark Roleplaying Game (2013), the ENnie-Award-winning Posthuman Pathways (2014), and Sig: The City Between (2015). Those Kickstarter campaigns successfully delivered all rewards to backers on time.
Almost all of the work is done for Sig at this point. The electronic version of the game is complete and ready to go to press. There may be challenges with the printers. I am currently planning on using a well-regards, 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.
There is one other major challenge associated with this campaign, and that is the minimum goal. In order to produce high-quality, full-colour 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
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