An easy to learn, infinitely variable tabletop RPG made for any kind of story.
An easy to learn, infinitely variable tabletop RPG made for any kind of story.
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Mon, July 22 2019 5:31 PM UTC +00:00.
Emberlord is a tabletop Role-Playing Game with all the chaff cut out. It is a highly streamlined, all-purpose system that delivers fast, exciting, subtle gameplay, and serves as a lighter-weight alternative to some of our more popular RPGs. Though the handbook comes with its default "Atem" setting guide, it is intentionally setting-agnostic: there are no classes, abilities are intrinsically context-driven, and the game's top-down design ensures it is perfectly at home in all genres. In short, Emberlord is a fun, easy-to-learn tabletop RPG for everyone!
You stand at a precipice of concrete and twisted steel, overlooking a landscape that could more accurately be described as the interior of a massive ship. White, cotton-ball clouds roam over the cool, spring landscape, passing over sparkling lakes, ravines of living concrete, and ancient citadels guarded by forgotten gods. Vast, megastructure trees support the ceiling hanging above you, and filter through the twisted landscape of impossible natural formations and warped space-time. Cliffs leading to other worlds gape below you, and in turn, clefts in the ceiling far above reveal another landscape, another world, which looks down on yours. The world smells fresh and new, yet the hint of damp, rusty architecture may be detected just underneath.
Whether you have lived here all your life, or have come from another, converging world, whether you seek power, fame, knowledge, or just the company of your friends beside you, this is your journey, for good or for ill. Welcome to Atem.
Atem is a limitless, tangled world, bound together by the multiverse-spanning megacity of the Ancestor gods. It is a world of terrible beauty. Light, color, fire – glorious Ember illuminates the vaulting halls of Atem, but as with all flames, its slow fading gives way to the cold, silent darkness of the Abyss, destined to consume all of creation. Gargantuan monstrosities slumber in Atem's depths; broken, unthinking machines fight the slow deterioration of its systems; would-be gods war over its fractured, mouldering throne. The Ancestors are dead, and in the world that remains, their children set forth to construct new meaning.
Though the overwhelming majority of Atem's inhabitants are mortal, an exceptional few are godlings – descendants of the Ancestors, bearers of an immortal, genetic soul. Players in the Atem universe will inhabit the role of these deathless heroes. Whether they are warriors, craftsmen, sages, or just simple hermits, godlings are endowed with incredible powers, ranging from inhuman strength to psychic abilities. Since Atem encompasses nigh infinite worlds, players may choose all manner of background, class, race, and genre to inhabit – swords, guns, magic and mechs can be found in equal measure throughout the world!
Atem is primarily a science-fantasy world, knitted together with a strong biblical/mythological lore, and spiced with a dash of post-apocalypse, surrealism, and cosmic horror, though it may dance between each of these themes fluidly. The Atem setting guide forms the second half of the total Emberlord booklet – roughly 40 pages in length, it contains information on locations, factions, races, languages, cultures, creatures, and items, as well as lore/histories for each of them. This setting guide is not a full adventure, but can give GMs everything they need to create their own stories in the Atem universe (or inspiration for their own games!).
All Emberlord characters are composed of six Primary Aspects, which are: Mind-Body, Law-Chaos, and Social-Personal. Each Aspect has three associated skills – Body for example contains Constitution, Dexterity, and Strength. Each skill has an associated die, which is rolled for all checks involving that skill. Unlike other tabletop games, Emberlord does not have a "central" die, but instead makes equal use of the full set of standard RPG dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20).
As in life, undertaking significant actions in Emberlord costs points of effort, though Ember may be used instead – one of the most valuable resources at a godling's disposal, Ember is both energy and currency that may be hoarded and spent at a player's will. When the need arises, this allows characters to undertake truly inhuman feats of strength or skill, and provides a simple, but infinitely scalable power system that adds layers of nuance to any game – especially if the enemy has more than you!
One of Emberlord's primary goals is to accommodate player creativity, which is why the majority of the gameplay beyond this point is player choice. Each player is allowed to come up with their own abilities, which can be anything from Pyromancy to Farming, and instead of a limiting class-based system, Emberlord lets players obtain (or even create!) powerful perks, upgrade/obtain more abilities, increase skill scores, and more. For GMs, the system is quite easy to modify. Pioneering Game Masters may adapt the rule system freely, without having to worry overmuch about exposing some hidden vulnerability in the game's engine. The minimalist design allows GMs to run combat very swiftly without having to look up extra rules or struggle with complex monster-management, but even so maintaining a depth that can be exciting for number-crunchers, strategists, role-players, and casual players alike.
The Emberlord rulebook will be roughly ~40 pages, which combined with the setting guide, brings the total book to ~80 pages.
The goal of this kickstarter is to cover completing and releasing Emberlord for free, as well as put together and maintain its host website, emberlord.com. This $1,000 goal was carefully chosen to be the lowest workable amount it would take to get the Emberlord book into a semi-professional state – it would be completely formatted and include some minor sketches and aesthetic adornments (see the Full Illustration stretch goal). If Emberlord is funded, the book is scheduled to release online by April 2020, though backers of the Deathless tier or higher will be able to get it a month beforehand.
Emberlord is currently in Alpha, with the Beta-testing version set to be released early August. The rulebook and setting guide are in fairly decent stages of completeness as far as writing is concerned, and the majority of the work going forward will be revisions, playtesting (hopefully by you guys!) and artwork. Artwork doubly so if we make our Full Illustrations stretch goal.
1) Paying for the book to be completed - both the rulebook and the lore section will take time and resources to effectively test, edit, and finalize.
2) Paying for the art that will go in the book - at the base $1,000 goal, less money will be devoted to this aspect of the project, though more if we manage to reach our $3,500 stretch goal.
3) Paying for the book to be formatted - this is often overlooked, but a critical part of any rulebook is designing how it will look, feel, and be organized, and a large amount of time will have to be devoted to this end.
4) Supporting the website, emberlord.com - this domain and site will be maintained for everyone and anyone, and not only do I want to make this a place to share the free booklet, but hopefully other Emberlord materials and features in the future.
5) Shipping/paying for the physical books and dice - this is included in the price of anyone who orders the Godling plan or higher. Lower-tier contributors will not have to pay for higher-tier benefits.
In addition to the above, being able to generate more money lets me know that Emberlord is a game people are interested in, and will let me make more Emberlord material in the future.
- Your name/heroic title in the “thank you” section of the booklet – The Emberlord booklet has a credits section, where backers will be recognized for bringing this project to life. If you want, you can send me a heroic title/nickname (so long as it's appropriate!) and I'll write that down instead. Anyone wishing to opt out can send me a quick message.
- Access to the beta rulebook – The beta rulebook is a Googledoc containing both the Emberlord rulebook and the Atem setting guide, and will be shared in early August. The beta will not include any art, and will not have any fancy formatting – it's purely for those who want to start playing Emberlord before the final product is complete. Please feel free to message me with thoughts on the beta, or discuss the game in the public Discord server!
- Access to the beta character sheet – The beta character sheet is in a Googledoc, and will be shared along with the rulebook in early August.
- Receive Emberlord's pre-release (March) before official launch! – Emberlord is expected to be launched on emberlord.com by April 2020, but everyone with this reward will be invited to download the pdf by its finish date, early March.
The following is a list and description of physical rewards. Physical rewards can be shipped anywhere within the United States. This project does not currently support shipping outside of the US – if you live outside of the US and order one of these packages, I will try my best to get this to you, but I can't make any promises – it just may not be possible with the cost of shipping or country you reside in. Shipping is handled by me. Since I want my backers to have the book, the dice, and the character sheets, it ends up being cheaper to collect everything myself and send it out to you fine people!
- Physical booklet (softcover) – Emberlord is going to be released on emberlord.com for free, but many players enjoy physical books. It is softcover, perfect-bound, with full color and a glossy finish. Books should be delivered by early March, though if we meet the Full Illustrations stretch goal, the book will likely be two months delayed for work time, and be delivered mid May with an online release of June.
- Full set of dice – All the dice you'll need to play Emberlord. The set is composed of a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20. Though this die has no official purpose, a percentile die (d%) is also included, which is simply a useful extra for certain tasks. The dice are all of a set, and the set comes in a random color. If you have an overwhelming color preference let me know, and I will try to get it to you if I have enough.
- Spare pre-printed character sheets – Four blank character sheets included with the book for your convenience.
The following is a list and description of creative rewards, or rewards added with the Perpetual tier and up. I recommend you to look at the beta setting guide to get a sense of the style and presentation of the items/creatures/factions/etc. before getting set on one idea. Important: I reserve the right to review/edit any of the creative rewards, and I may have to workshop your idea with you to better wrap it into the rest of the world and book. That said, I will try to keep as true to your original idea as possible, and will let you know if there's a significant change that needs to be made. (Also please don't make your submission too long or complex, there's only so much space! Thank you! <3)
- Your design of 1 original item/creature/race added to the book! – You may design an item, creature, or race you would like to see added to the Atem universe, and send me an email or message with what you've thought up. If you would like to include its stats, a story, or a specific vision for your item/creature feel free – I can't guarantee I'll use it (I've only got a couple of sentences to fulfill your design), but more info helps me get the "spirit" of the idea! Also, I will be sketching my personal favorites, so put a lot of love into those designs!
- Your design of 1 original faction/location added to the book! – You may design either a faction or a location you would like to see added to the Atem universe, and send me an email or message with what you've thought up. I have about a paragraph to spare for factions and locations, so histories, legends, etc. are welcome, but understand that the description will have to be brief.
- Your design of 1 original character added to the book! – You may design a character you would like to see added to the Atem universe! This may be a famous hero or a villain, a god, demon, or just a regular joe. I have about a paragraph to spare for the character, though I will try to seed him/her/them into other parts of the lore as well.
- 2 EXTRA books!; 2 EXTRA sets of dice!; Even more character sheets!; 4 MORE items/creatures/races of your design added to the book!; 1 MORE faction/location of your design added to the book! – Each exactly what they sound like.
- The book will feature a portrait of your character! – Feel free to send me sketches/physical descriptions of your character, and I'll try to incorporate all the details you want to see. If you would rather have a different picture included, such as of your location, item, creature, or race, I can do that too.
- Upgrade to signed copy of Emberlord booklet! – Your copy of the Emberlord booklet will be signed! By me (gasp)!
- Online Emberlord one-shot with me! – We will play a roughly 4 hour online game on roll20! I will get into contact with you about the adventure, and we can organize a time that works for all involved. This session will happen after the launch, probably sometime mid-June. Get some character ideas cookin'!
This is our base goal! If we can fund Emberlord, I'll be able to release the beta early August, and the finished ~80 page booklet early March, as well as have a reasonably nice (if simple) website set up at emberlord.com to host free downloads.
This is Emberlord, made as beautiful and visually striking as possible. For $3,500, the Emberlord release WILL likely have to be pushed back by two months to mid May, but I think the wait will be well worth the final product! This is the Emberlord booklet as everything I hope and dream it could be, chock-full of artwork. This will increase the page count a bit, probably to 100-120 pages.
The Ember Master's Enchiridion is everything an Emberlord GM needs to step their game up to the next level! Replete with items, creatures, locations, races, tips, tricks, NPCs, quest builders, deep lore, and more, this 60-80 page booklet will be fully illustrated, lovingly formatted, and guaranteed to enrich and inspire. Like the Emberlord handbook, the Ember Master's Enchiridion will be released for free on emberlord.com – if funded, it is scheduled for release September 2020.
The Forge of Stars is Atem's first official adventure! Seeking the ruins of the ancient workshop of Skothis, this 10-15 session-long adventure will demand courage, wits, and strength to survive. Players will delve through a long-forgotten valley at the edge of the world, scrabbling for supplies, power, and information as they fend off the forge's merciless defenses, whether they be guardians, traps, or the land itself. Forge of Stars is an adventure for all levels of character, will be released for free on emberlord.com, and will be fully illustrated. If funded, it will be scheduled for release late December 2020.
Hey there, and thank you for visiting my project! My name is Andy Mangham, and I attend the University of Virginia, where I'll graduate this year with a degree in Creative Writing and a double minor in Studio Art and Computer Science. I was born and raised on a sheep farm in Virginia, where long summer days like this one found me hiding from chores, reading fantasy stories and drawing pictures of aliens. I've always been a creative person – writing, painting, and drawing have been my go-to mediums for years, and I've known for a long time that I had ambitions to create on a semi-professional level. Some of my greatest inspirations have been Dark Souls, Kill 6 Billion Demons, the Black Company, and Blame!. My hobbies include video and tabletop games (of course), animal care, working out, reading and writing, and scheming my next creative endeavor :)
If you're anything like me, you know that our current big-name tabletop RPGs are great, but can often be... problematic. It's easy to become frustrated by the baggage big-name RPGs like D&D and Pathfinder bring with them (no offense D&D and Pathfinder), and nothing feels worse than inviting a friend over to play, only to have them get overwhelmed by the complex rules and lose interest. Other issues, such as constraining setting requirements, stifling class-based systems, and delicate, exploitable game design also plague the hobby.
My goal, when I started making Emberlord, was just to make a simple tabletop that solves most of the problems I found with other systems. But as this project has developed, I've realized that most of the complaints I had, other people have found as well, and that nobody had seemingly done anything about it. I've seen these games do incredible things. I've seen people of all ages, races, genders, sexualities, and political alignments sit down together and engage in exciting and animated discussions. I've seen people with terrible self-esteem issues, mental handicaps, and social or emotional roadblocks come out of their shells. On a more personal level, RPGs have given me confidence I didn't know I had, and friendships and leadership experience I am deeply gratful for. Tabletop RPGs are important, healthy, and terribly underrepresented experiences, which is why I want to do my part to bring them out of the dark. I believe Emberlord is the tool to do that.
A thousand thank you's for checking out Emberlord, and please help me make this game a reality!
Risks and challenges
If we reach minimum funding and Emberlord is officially launched, the greatest risk we will face will be the completion of all the artwork required in the allotted time. The expected completion set for Emberlord is February of 2020 - this is a fairly reasonable prediction, though in the event that Emberlord reaches its $3,500, "Full Illustrations" stretch goal the book's release will be pushed to mid May.
If time margins are getting tight, I will share that information with my backers and propose an extension. If almost everything goes wrong (i.e., this project makes a killing and reaches most of its stretch goals, and time margins are tight), I plan to be open in asking for more time, and if necessary hiring a staff member to assist in artwork/organizational needs.
- All gone!