Joshua A.C. Newman's The Bloody-Handed Name of Bronze is a tabletop roleplaying game of those who speak the secret Language of Names that spoke the world into existence. When you portray one such Namedealer, you will make treaties with anything bearing a name — and you will thrive and suffer from the consequences of those promises.
...And it is a game of fated heroes, driven by their long-dead ancestors — and their own great passions — to pursue their destiny for the benefit of the dead, and to die bathed in glory.
It is a game of passions and cunning, of tricksters and hard-found justice.
It is a game of pursuing what you desire. It is a game of getting what you want from your companion characters when you have no reason to trust them, and about using those you don't trust to aid you in your pursuits.
It is a game about flight from the consequences of your promises, and the power that comes from both lies and the truth.
It is a game about charging toward that against which you have been commanded, and the power one has to turn against an abuser.
The Codex Edition contains these rules, with additional examples, explanations, and commentary.
The World of Names
Above the World is the Vault of Heaven, holding back the Waters of Heaven.
Beneath the World flow the Waters of the Underworld.
Between them is the World, and all in it is made of clay, given being with names, spoken into existence with the first breath.
All that has a name, has a will. Every child, every river, every constellation, every fang of bronze discovered in the rib cage of a storm-revealed skeleton, scoured by the desert. Seek and explore, for in the quest lies your destiny and your doom; your redemption and your failures.
The Game Designer
Joshua A.C. Newman is bringing to The Bloody-Handed Name of Bronze the same passionate thought and curiosity that he's brought to Shock:Social Science Fiction, Human Contact, Under the Bed, and the µShock: series ongoing on his creative blog, xenoglyph. He’s also the codesigner and publisher of Mobile Frame Zero: Rapid Attack, and the designer and publisher of Mobile Frame Zero: Intercept Orbit.
This is his fourth game Kickstarter and fifth Kickstarter overall (having been closely involved with the TiGr titanium bike lock).
Joshua has been portraying the World of Names for years through his blog, xenoglyph. Some of those illustrations will appear in The Bloody-Handed Name of Bronze Codex, as will new ones!
Jabari Weathers is under suspicion of being a goblin prince from beyond the veil. They presently reside in Baltimore, Maryland, making fantasy and sci-fi art to keep up their glamor (and because it’s fun). In addition, they also design games, with their first release coming next year through Lunar Veil Press. Other things that they enjoy are pen and paper role playing games, singing in public places, and the thoroughly uncanny. If you would like to peep their work, you can find more of their illustrations at jmwillustration.com, or their game design work and news at lunarveil.press.
Shel Kahn was taught by the spirit of Conan of Cimmeria, which she documented in her webcomic, By Crom. She illustrates for, playtests, writes and educates in tabletop RPGs, videogames, comics and fiction. You can see her art in the upcoming Yellow King RPG, the Six Ages videogame, and in Strange Horizons. Shel Kahn also self-publishes small system-agnostic adventures in her Pocket Dungeons format, including The Corruption of Pelursk and Keep on the Shining Isle. You can learn more about her artwork at portablecity.net and pick up her games, artwork and comics like By Crom! at sorcererscatalogue.shop.
Wayward son of Vancouver Island, Simon cut his comics teeth in 2009 with Jan’s Atomic Heart, and has been vigorously gnawing ever since. His comics include Habitat, Tiger Lung, Prophet, and The Field.” You can see his work at Robot Blood, can find him on Twitter @Simonroyart and on Tumblr.
How to Play
The game uses pools of dice of Jet and Gold. Mortal Dice of Jet represent the mortal things of this world. They are the breath of life of a Namedealer and the body and reputation of a fated hero. They are the trophies won and brandished by the hero; the mastodon tusk wielded as a club, the bronze forked spear captured from the hero of the flying riders of the north, the conch shell from which ushers the River of Life.
Immortal Dice of Gold are the powers of names, great and small. A moth named Bu, beautiful in the moonlight, who heralds the arrival of an oracle to the City of the Moon. Kalab, the River of Life, itself — mighty, beautiful, ancient, and known to all, mother of a mighty hero and lover to her oracle. The feathered headdress Tibaruk, huge and mighty, ancient and inscribed, and known to all for beauty, who has adorned the line of god-queens of the city of Yahfad.
Namedealers and fated heroes may both coerce, but their concerns differ, as do the rest of their abilities. When a companion — a Namedealer or a fated hero — takes one of those actions, they roll all of their dice together. In addition to telling the players the consequences of their actions, they also inform They, who Know the Will of the Names of the World (or their opponent, if they face a fellow companion) of their options.
No choice is made without compromise.
The Feel of Play
Play it over coffee with one friend in an hour, or with up to three over two hours.
Sew your short stories together into a collection, developing the character forward or flashing back to the characters’ origins as suits your curiosity! Any continuity that calls to you will add to your tale, but you are its master; it is not yours.
For surely this tale will be told in many ways by the its witnesses and their children’s children.
The game works well with two to four players, total. They alternate roles between that of companion — their fated hero or Namedealer — and the role of You, who Know the Will of the Names of the World.
When you portray your companion, follow their will and their whim. When that leads you to take action according to your nature as Namedealer or fated hero, your friends at the table will instruct you to roll the dice and accept the choices they give you!
And as You, who Know the Will of the Names of the World, you will tell the schemes, passions, and will of all the world except for the companions.
The Codex Edition
This is not the first time The Bloody-Handed Name of Bronze has fought and compromised its way into the world! There were three tiny nanogame publications — Lover of Jet & Gold (2015), Heart of Bronze (2015), and The Apocrypha (2016). I followed them with the Pulp Edition, written more explicitly and bound into a set of pulp-sized, 16-page books.
But the Codex Edition is what it's all been working toward. I've taken feedback on the game for three years and am hammering it into a hardback book full of examples, illustrations, vignettes, and explicit rule explanations, while retaining the game's florid, Robert E. Howard-inspired prose. It's to come into existence in a form inspired by the Codex Sinaiticus — a chumash, or codex Torah — found in the Sinai Desert, as well as the parallel text form of the Talmud.
It is my intention for it to be beautiful, for it to reward rereading, and for you to enjoy the book, itself, as much as you enjoy the game.
ART THAT FLOWS FORTH LIKE A RIVER
Fill this codex with art of the ages! If we defeat the project's goal by $5000, then $1000 of that will be split among the artists to fund the creation of more original art from Jabari Weathers, Simon Roy, Shel Kahn, and me!
Give us the opportunity to draw more bloody, sexy, beautiful, weird stuff!
What will happen if gold flows forth beyond our expectations?
REWARDS for THOSE whose MAGNANIMITY and TASTES will make them IMMORTAL
SUMMON FORTH the MIGHTY and the CUNNING
The artists joining me for this project can draw from more imaginations than their own, or even mine! Commission them to draw your fated heroes in their moment of glorious death; your Namedealers as they find themselves friends with the wind; your mighty, ancient, and beautiful artifacts as you would have them remembered!
Commissions will be immortalized in the codex itself and upon your wall!
INSCRIBE upon PAPYRUS your will!
No act would bring me greater pleasure, greater honor, than to inscribe for you in brushed ink on papyrus, illuminated with glittering leaf, a treaty with the name of your choice!
At your discretion, the final piece will be either be a belly band for your Codex edition of The Bloody-Handed Name of Bronze, or as a bookmark.
Consider carefully if you wish to use your true name, or if you even know it!
Risks and challenges
I've run four Kickstarer projects before, of which all have funded and delivered. They all had their unique challenges, but here are some that I'm very deliberately overcoming:
• Rising shipping costs. Moving objects around costs a lot, and it increases at the whim of the ruling party of the US Congress. The party currently in power has induced enormous changes in the past, so I assume they will this time, too. The project budget accounts for that.
• Team projects. I am working with three illustrators and an editor for whom I have enormous respect. But communication halts at bottlenecks caused by as little as a bike accident or a layoff at a day job. I can't promise that everyone will be in sync the whole time, but I can promise that we all want to do a great job!
• Game design flaws. Some backers playing during the Kickstarter campaign of a previous project discovered a critical flaw in the game that needed testing and research. The fix was simple, in the end, but was emotionally expensive and time consuming to handle. The Bloody-Handed Name of Bronze, though, has been thoroughly shaken out over the course of three years of convention play, and the text is informed by many independent playtests. The game is good. It shines, in fact.
• Work outside of workflow. I have offered signed copies to some backers in the past, but that induces a separate workflow for their books, which means that the backers who are supporting the project the most are receiving their books last. That doesn't sit well with me. And that's why the custom work, the papyrus Namedeal, this time is a separate object that will be sent when it is complete, so you'll have the game, itself, as soon as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (23 days)