Survival of the Able
A Survival Horror RPG about People with Disabilities
Survival of the Able
A Survival Horror RPG about People with Disabilities
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Tue, November 19 2019 3:00 AM UTC +00:00.
You may not be the biggest or the strongest, but you don't have the plague. Yet. Do you have what it takes to survive?
The Black Death has come to your village. Everywhere around you people are succumbing to the plague. Quarantines are doing little to stem the tide of decay that is coming your way. Worst of all, you and the others in your almshouse have been left to fend for yourselves.
Oh, and did we mention plague victims are rising as zombies?
In Survival of the Able you’re a person with a disability living in a European almshouse when the Black Death arrives. Little is known about where the plague originated or how to stop it, but those who die from it are rising again—and they’re hungry for flesh. Since everyone else has succumbed to the plague, it’s up to a handful of you to make your way out of town and away to safety. You may not be the biggest, the strongest, or the fittest, but you're determined to survive.
In this game, you will:
- Play a character with a disability who lives in Medieval Western Europe.
- Encounter challenges such as disease, zombies, burning buildings, terrible weather, fatigue, and stress.
- Experience discrimination based on your disability, fears that you might have the plague, or both.
- Overcome incredible challenges against all odds, despite your disability. You probably won’t get much credit for your achievements, but at least you won’t be dead.
- Unless you do die, in which case you may turn into a zombie and try to eat your friends.
We set this game in Western Europe circa A.D. 1347 because we wanted to put you into a world where people with disabilities (PWDs) have few protections. There are no civil rights laws to ensure equal rights and fair treatment for PWDs, and most people perceived PWDs to be weak, if not helpless.
Many PWDs were sent to live in almshouses, which are church-run facilities where PWDs could be taken care of (as if they weren’t capable of taking care of themselves). The perception of PWDs was poor overall, and even people whose lives were devoted to their care didn’t often see them as fully capable human beings.
As a person with a disability in this setting, you wil be challenged to overcome peoples’ fears and judgments. You will have no choice but to survive during a zombie apocalypse. The only non-disabled people you know will be unable to care for you, so you must either overcome the stigma of your disability or join everyone else in a mass grave.
Meanwhile, you do not have the luxury of adaptive aids or accommodations that we might take for granted today. Braille and Sign Language have yet to be invented, let alone wheelchairs, elevators, talking computers, etc. You cannot simply rely on technology to overcome the challenges presented by your disability, so you must use your other skills to survive.
As if all that weren’t enough, you’ll be faced with surviving the Black Plague, armed with next to no knowledge of its symptoms or effects. You don’t have history books or lessons to tell you what to expect. You’ll need to rely on your own observations, wits, and teamwork to figure out the best way to avoid plague-ridden areas and how to kill zombies so they don’t come back.
If this all seems overwhelming, then you’re on the right track. This game should challenge your perceptions, your wits, and your courage. It may not be easy, it may even be uncomfortable at times, but you’ll come out a stronger person if you’re able to survive.
Survival of the Able is based on the Fudge RPG System, but it was written 100% from the ground up to deliver a specificexperience.
Players familiar with Fudge will instantly recognize Fudge Dice, the Trait Ladder, and Fudge / Fate Points. Newcomers may appreciate the simple and accessible game mechanics. Whether you're new or experienced, the game mechanics are easy to pick up and play. You can download the Beta draft for free to see what we mean.
Even if you're an experienced Fudge player, one of the first things we ask you to do is forget what you know about the system. Although it will seem familiar, we've designed a lot of new features which set the experience apart from other Fudge games you may have played. We recognize that the spirit of Fudge is to tweak the rules and make things your own, but we encourage you to try the game as it's written at least once so you can understand its intention.
So What Sets Survival of the Able Apart From Other Games?
Briefly put: there are no physical attributes in this game. Instead, we use the sliding scale of Fudge to illustrate how disability is a spectrum. At the heart of this system are the five Senses: Hear, Smell, See, Taste, and Touch. Each ranges from Non-Existent to Good (+2).
Using blindness as an example, we recognize not every blind person has a See Trait of Non-Existent. Instead, there are people with Terrible(-3) sight who can See to a degree, but not very well. Others might have Mediocre (-1) sight, which may represent typical near-sightedness or simply a lack of awareness of their surroundings.
Other character Traits include: Qualities (which represent personality and worldview), Skills (what a person can do), and Anxieties / Assurances (situations which cause or relieve Stress). Everything is designed to help you get a sense of who your character is, rather than how strong or tough they are.
In fact, your characters aren't designed to be strong or tough. In this game, you're not playing a heroic adventurer or a stout warrior. You're just an average person with a will to survive.
For more about the game mechanics:
If Survival of the Able sounds a bit unconventional, then we're doing our job. This game is designed to test your fortitude by plunging you into a setting where you will be ridiculed, demeaned, and patronized just for being yourself.
Our goal is to help teach people empathy for people with disabilities. You'll have fun fighting zombies, but hopefully you'll learn a thing or two about yourself and the people around you along the way.
To be clear, we're not out to teach people what it is like to have a disability. The only way to truly understand that is to live it. Instead, our aim is to help you learn to empathize--to feel anger toward injustice, to feel frustration over inaccessibility, and to feel the joy of overcoming adversity.
We believe that when we understand each other, we communicate more openly and clearly. We can help one another thrive, rather than tear each other down. Most of all, we can shatter our assumptions and reconsider the way we've treated each other in the past.
This game isn't just about overcoming the Black Plague in the 14th Century. It's also about overcoming the plagues of misunderstanding and indifference in the 21st Century.
Survival of the Able is completely written. In fact, you can download a complete first draft of the manuscript from our website.
We're raising money to pay for art, editing, and layout. It's important to us that this game be well-presented, because the uncomfortable reality is that people judge books by their covers. If we want to get this book into as many hands and onto as many tables as possible, it needs to look great. After blowing down that barrier, we know the game will stand for itself and touch a lot of lives.
That's why we have selected some incredible talent to work on this project. We're working with several disabled and underrepresented illustrators, as well as a layout professional whose award-winning game, High Plains Samurai, is the most accessible RPG PDF to date.
All that talent comes with a price. We at Accessible Games are committed to paying fair wages to professionals, because another uncomfortable truth is that people who work in the RPG industry are ludicrously underpaid. We've built fair wages into the campaign's funding goal, but our first stretch goal is also a raise for our team. More on other stretch goals in a bit.
Finally, the campaign is here to start a dialog. Accessibility in tabletop games is something we've been advocating for since 2010, and we've seen huge growth in the 9+ years we've been doing this. We hope that by running a successful and high profile campaign, we can bring awareness of accessibility to the hearts and minds of people who perhaps hadn't considered it before.
Survival of the Able is a complete RPG. Its rules are based on the Fudge system, but everything you need to know is in this single book.
We're producing the game in a 6"x9" format with full color illustrations. Both hardcover and paperback options will be available via DriveThruRPG.
Todd Crapper is handling layout for this project, and he's committed to accessible PDF design. He has experience using layers to create various low-vision and color blind-friendly versions within a single file, and he'll be giving that treatment to Survival of the Able.
Jacob Wood (Designer and Publisher)
Since 2010, Jacob has been advocating for accessibility within the tabletop games industry. He started Accessible Games as a way to draw attention to the challenges people with disabilities face in our hobby. After publishing Psi-punk in 2013, he decided to take the things he learned and begin educating others about how to produce games that everyone can access. He has since released Accessible Guide to RPG Layout and Game Publishing Lessons, which have both been read by hundreds of publishers and potential publishers. Now he's setting his sights on educating players as well.
Todd Crapper (Layout and Graphics)
Freelance graphic designer, award-winning game designer, indie RPG publisher, and someone who just can't say no to really cool projects. After his very first publication in Dragon Magazine in 2001, Todd became hooked and has since gone on to publish over 50+ RPG products. In addition to his own work at Broken Ruler Games, he is also the Marketing & Design Manager for Third Eye Games and is currently working on nearly a dozen or so additional projects.
Aser Tolentino (Copy Editor)
Aser is a blind game writer and actual play podcaster. He is also an assistive technology instructor and licensed attorney. You can find his podcast at redactedfiles.com and more about his other projects at asertolentino.com.
Fantillus, aka Dylan, is a self-taught, disabled illustrator who resides in the Northern California Bay Area. He loves illustrating fantasy scenes, stylized wildlife, and dabbles with watercolor paints in his free time. When he is not drawing or painting, he also enjoys cooking meals for friends and exercising at the gym. He is very excited to be helping out with Accessible Games' illustration needs!
You can find Fantilus' portfolio at https://www.fantillus.com
Amy Ashbaugh (Illustrator)
We're not going to overpromise on this project, because it's important for us to be able to deliver everything we say we can. With that said, there are a few things we'd like to be able to do if we can reach far enough beyond our initial funding goal.
$12,000 - Raises For The Team: After recouping some of our Kickstarter fees, we're going to devote some of our extra funds to the creative people who helped bring this game to life. They deserve it.
$16,000 - Audiobook: We'll partner with Russel Collins of Robot Claw Entertainment to develop an audiobook format for the game. This accessible audio file will be completely DRM-free, so you can copy it to as many devices as you need. It's great if you have trouble reading printed material or like to listen to books in the car.
$20,000 - New Setting(s): Survival of the Able is set in Medieval Europe, but that isn't the only time and place where people have experienced hardship and discrimination.
We'd like to produce new settings for the game, and we have a few in mind. To be completely transparent, these have not been written yet. For your trust, your patience, and your patronage, we'll make sure you receive these new settings as they are produced. If you back at the $20+ tier, you'll get them at no additional charge.
1980s Aids Epidemic. There was a time, not so long ago, when AIDS was on everyone's mind. Misinformation and mistreatment of people were rampant issues. In this setting you won't be fighting zombies, but there are different menaces to face--hatred, bigotry, and injustice. (To be clear, we're aware these are still issues people face today. That's why this setting is so important.)
Depending on your reward tier, you may get...
- An electronic PDF of the complete book
- A code to order the print version at-cost in whichever format you prefer
- An online game with Jacob Wood.*
- A character of your own creation, including an illustration, to be included in the core book.**
* An invitation to join an online game of Survival of the Able, run by designer Jacob Wood. We'll work with backers to schedule times which are convenient for the most number of players. We'll run as many sessions as is necessary to make sure everyone gets a chance to participate. After each session, there will be time for Q&A with Jacob.
** Your character design is subject to final approval. There will be a hard deadline for submissions, which we'll communicate to you after the campaign. We've learned it's important not to let anyone hold up the project for everyone else, so it's up to you to meet the deadline. Don't worry, we'll work with you if you get creator's block.
Ready to show your support? We appreciate every dollar you can spare.
Choose the reward level that fits your budget and your needs. In the right-hand column of this page, you'll see a complete list of pledge levels, the minimum cost to select the level, and what you'll get for your pledge. Click on the reward you want and follow the instructions.
Your payment method won't be charged unless this campaign successfully funds, and it won't be charged until after the campaign ends. That means you don't need to wait to pledge if you know you'll have the appropriate funds after the campaign end date.
Survival of the Able is more than just a fun game to play with your friends. It's a tool used to teach empathy, particularly for people with disabilities. If that's a cause you can get behind, we'd appreciate some additional help with spreading the word. Here are a few simple things you can do:
- Pledge on Day 1. Hype is real, and software ranking algorithms know it. The closer we get to our goal on Day 1 of the campaign, the better chance we'll have of showing up in certain search results and suggestions. Remember, your card won't be charged until the day the campaign ends, so you don't have to wait for your paycheck to pledge as long as you know you'll be alright by the closing date.
- Share on social media. Kickstarter makes this really easy for you. After you've pledged, you'll be presented with buttons to share on sites like Twitter and Facebook. You can also use any other social buttons you see, or you can copy and paste the link to your favorite sites.
- Talk about the game on forums like RPGGeek, RPG.net, Reddit, ENWorld, etc. Please don't spam. People prefer organic discussions, so talk about your thoughts on the game, the campaign, etc.
- Run a game at your FLGS. You don't need to wait for the campaign to end. Download the Beta PDF and go from there.
Risks and challenges
This is our fourth Kickstarter campaign, so we're pretty comfortable knowing what to expect and how to handle things that go wrong. With that said, there are always risks associated with any campaign. Here's what we're doing to mitigate them.
First, the core text for the game is already completely written. If zombie outbreaks reach each of our geographically dispersed team members the day after the campaign ends, you'll still have a fully usable game.
Second, we've learned our lesson about hiring just one person for any given role. Psi-punk was delayed a few months because of that, but we haven't been late on a book since. If Todd is devoured by a flesh-craving cretin the day after the campaign ends, Jacob is still a proficient layout artist who has handled dozens of projects. He'll take over the duties and still deliver a stellar PDF.
We have multiple artists on staff for this project, so we won't be dependant on just one person to get that job done either. The same goes for our editing team.
Fulfillment is being handled by DriveThruRPG. We aren't going to risk losing our shirts on shipping costs because you'll pay those at the time you order your printed copies. We also aren't getting sidetracked by offering extras, so you can rest assured every dollar raised will be efficiently put to use toward the project.
The biggest risk, then, is with the new setting stretch goals. We recognize that not having the material written means those could potentially fall through. We're a talented bunch though, and most of us have several years of experience in the industry. If we raise enough money to reach those stretch goals, we promise we'll deliver on them.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter