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The Whispering Road: A Miyazaki-inspired Tabletop RPG's video poster
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A story game designed to evoke the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on February 12, 2014.

A story game designed to evoke the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.

About this project

What It Is

How would you like to play through a Hayao Miyazaki movie with your friends? That's exactly the purpose of The Whispering Road, a tabletop role-playing game I built. It not only mimics the stories of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, it's also a simple story game that anyone 8 years old and up can play, not just traditional role-players.

I've already playtested the rules, so I know the game works. But this game deserves more than a plain PDF release. It deserves a beautiful, full-color art book.

To be clear: this is not a licensed Studio Ghibli game. It's an independent project inspired by Ghibli. No Studio Ghibli artwork or content is used in the game.

The Basics of the Game

The players begin by defining their heroes. Each hero is composed of a few pieces:

  • An Archetype (a little like a class in D&D) -- Ordinary Hero, Special One, Mentor, or Rascal. Each archetype has a general goal, so Special Ones protect someone, while a Rascal needs to prove himself or herself.
  • A Need -- Something that the hero wants, but is prevented by someone else.
  • 5 Traits -- Special abilities that your hero possesses. The game comes with over 30 traits, including Amazing Durability, Burst of Courage, Calm in the Storm, Fiercely Protective, Insatiable Curiosity, Pacifist, Shapeshifter, and of course, So Cute!

The game comes with a story framework that makes it easy to tell a Miyazaki-like story. It includes scenes and ideas for traveling to an alternate world, meeting allies and enemies, and resolving the problems you face. You can follow this closely if you want that structure, or be creative and develop a completely original story that goes on for as long as you want.

When the heroes get into a conflict, the players first figure out how that conflict applies to the heroes' Needs. Each player can then tap his or her hero's Traits to satisfy the hero's Need or someone else's Need. Each tapped Trait gives you a d6 for a normal trait, or a d8 for a highly applicable Trait (like using Pacifist to argue someone out of fighting). If any of your dice roll 5 or higher, you satisfy the Need you identified.

However! What you roll is added to your Good Karma if you were helping someone else's Need, or added to your Bad Karma if you were helping your own Need. If your Bad Karma overwhelms your Good Karma, you will not leave this alternate world.

What This Kickstarter Funds

This Kickstarter will fund full-color art drawn by the amazing Kaitlynn Peavler (a.k.a. thedandmom). She draws precisely the style of art that fits this project, and will illustrate each part of the game.

If the Kickstarter funds, I'll make an 8"x8" paperback rules book (and a PDF version, of course). I've chosen this format specifically to make it straightforward to produce and easy for people to carry around. It's an ideal size for slipping into a backpack or a binder without smashing it up, and it'll be very lightweight.

What You'll Get

At the $5 level, you'll get the full-color PDF, formatted as a square.

At the $20 level, you'll get the PDF plus the full-color, glossy paperback. That includes shipping around the world. And yes, I've checked my prices. :-)

At the $35 level, you'll get 2 copies of the paperback, plus the PDF. This also includes international shipping.

At the $75 level, you'll get 5 copies of the paperback, plus the PDF. This also includes international shipping.

Also, because the rules are already done, when the Kickstarter funds you'll get a no-art PDF of the rules the very next day.

Stretch Goals

$4,000: Play sample ACHIEVED. I'll include a sample of game play in the rule book. You'll get to read about three players trying out The Whispering Road and working their way through the rules. This will add a few pages to the rule book, but will only increase cost by about 50 cents per copy, so I can definitely handle it.

$5,000: 4 sample heroes ACHIEVED. I'll include a page that stats out 4 different heroes, accompanied by a full-page, full-color drawing of all of those characters. This will also be included as an extra page in the rule book. This will also increase cost slightly, but at a reasonable amount.

$6,000: Quick Start Guide ACHIEVED. I'll produce a separate PDF that introduces the game, summarizes the rules, and includes the play sample (which might be edited down). You can hand this to anyone to give them a solid understanding of the game and how it plays.

$7,000: Sample Fantasy Worlds ACHIEVED. I'll produce a separate PDF that describes a handful of fantasy settings that you can use as inspiration for the game. I'll seek out other artists to draw art for this, so I don't overload poor Kaitlynn, but I may not be able to get art for this one. Again, don't want to promise too much! Either way, this will be delivered in June of 2014.

$7,500: Archetype Cards and Trait Cards. I'll produce a separate PDF that contains print-and-use poker-sized cards for each Archetype and each Trait, with custom art for each card by Kaitlynn Peavler. That's 34 unique pieces of art. This will be delivered in June of 2014. I'll also offer the cards as a purchasable deck on DriveThruCards (or a similar site) by the end of 2014.

When You'll Get It

The full-art PDF and paperback will ship in April of 2014, along with any stretch goal material.

What Will Happen Afterwards

I'll release the PDF on DriveThruRPG and the softcover will be available on MagCloud. Prices still to be determined.

Thanks!

Risks and challenges

Kaitylnn may not deliver the artwork on time. That would delay shipment.

If, for some reason, Kaitlynn cannot deliver the artwork at all, I know several other artists who want to work on the project.

The paperback will be printed and shipped through http://www.magcloud.com. That service may increase its prices or no longer provide the 8"x8" form factor when I'm ready to ship. In that case, I have several other printers I can use, though they would increase costs.

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FAQ

  • Yeah, I was shocked at the cost when I first checked it out, too!

    Here's why this works: I'm shipping out only one single thing: a thin, flat, lightweight book of only a few dozen pages. I'm also shipping it out through the publisher, which can take advantage of automated shipping and bulk postage rates. That keeps shipping costs very low. If I were shipping out a hardback, or dice, or anything with any weight, the shipping cost would skyrocket.

    I've checked prices even in countries with expensive shipping, like Brazil and Japan, and the prices are still reasonable.

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    PDF and Print -- You'll get a full-color, glossy, 8"x8" copy of the rulebook shipped to you anywhere in the world. We'll also send you a PDF of the same, and list your name on the site as a backer.

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    5 Person Print Pack -- You'll get 5 full-color, glossy, 8"x8" copies of the rulebook shipped to you anywhere in the world. We'll also send you a PDF of the same, and list your name on the site as a backer.

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Funding period

- (21 days)