Turn: A Tabletop Roleplaying Game
Turn is a slice-of-life supernatural roleplaying game with quiet drama about shapeshifters in small, rural towns
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Sat, December 1 2018 4:59 AM UTC +00:00.
Turn is a slice-of-life supernatural roleplaying game about shapeshifters in small, rural towns who struggle between their beast and human sides in a quiet drama, while trying to find balance and community.
Turn is made for two to four players plus a facilitator in the Town Manager role, and is designed for multiple session play. Each session should take about 3-4 hours. Play is open-ended, and can continue as long as players find new elements to explore in their town and in themselves. While this RPG is designed for long-form play, with the Kickstarter we're releasing a convention play packet to help you create memorable one-shot play experiences.
Turn includes interlocking character sheets to represent your human roles and beast archetypes. You will also create your town map together at the table on the template we provide. The Town Manager will have their own checklists, references, and records sheets to make facilitating the game easier.
This Kickstarter will fund a print run of the already-completed game as a 6” x 9” book with visual art by Rhis Harris and John W. Sheldon, and poetry by A.J. Odasso. The game is a creation of Brie Beau Sheldon, with developmental editing by John W. Sheldon and Tracy Barnett. The Kickstarter is being guided by Tracy as a consultant, combining Brie’s experience with Tracy’s to help guarantee success.
Turn has completed its first editing pass with Tracy and John. The text has been available online as a beta (here) and playtested at conventions in the US and Italy, online, and face to face with Brie, John, and other GMs. The game has been in development since 2013, and we’re excited to finally get it into the hands of players and GMs.
In Turn, players will play out slice-of-life stories. This means that while they will encounter crises and drama, it is not often life-or-death outside the normal experiences of a human or beast. The overarching plot of a season of Turn may be something like a local town election with heated debates and threats to the land where the beasts roam, or maybe a family member of one or more shifters is struggling financially or with their health and the shifter players have to try to help them through it. There can be complicated relationships in these small towns, and players will have the opportunity to explore the skeletons in the closets of even the most secretive non-player characters. They even have to deal with the problems animals do, like finding food and mates, or keeping their homes safe.
Each session, players will encounter real-life stressors like aggravating phone calls and territorial threats while they struggle to balance their beast and human identities. They’ll also find opportunities to seek community with their fellow shifters and with mundane animals and people, and to enjoy the comforts of human life or the freedom of beast life. Their towns will provide opportunity to delve into their own shifter culture while finding connections to the roots of the mundanes around them.
Turn uses three regular six-sided dice (d6s) to determine consequences for player actions. Characters have low absolute value stats, special powers and abilities, stress tracks that represent how stressed out the character is in each of their forms, and exposure tracks that represent how well their identity is hidden. Two of the dice are the “base” dice, and the third is the turn die, which can be added to most rolls when players can refer to their beast powers or human abilities to activate it. When they do this, it interacts with the stress mechanic - two stress tracks that players can mark as consequences of actions or use of the turn die. When a stress track reaches the limit, players are forced to change form by the end of the scene. They never lose control or agency beyond the changing of their form, and there are multiple methods to reduce stress and return to their other form.
Players use struggles when they take action and the action they take conflicts with one of their forms. A cougar shifter in beast form might find resistance from their human identity when they try to hunt down a rabbit, but while in human form at a church social, they might struggle not to eat the entire ham! They’ll succeed at it, because you always succeed in Turn - it just takes time, and has consequences. When players roll struggles, they have scaling success that allows them to choose which consequences result from their actions. They roll, and add or subtract the appropriate Nature - a beast Instinct or Human Habit. If they fail the roll, they simply accomplish their task, but the Town Manager can bring more consequences to bear. This includes exposure, Turn’s relationship mechanic.
Exposure is tracked for each player’s connected non-player characters, for the town, and for any animal groups. Each instance can be positive or negative, depending on whether the player is positively perceived and whether what they do is hurtful or helpful...and sometimes, just on how the affected mundane is feeling that day! Exposure adds up, and will eventually lead to being reviled, revealed, or known - the reality of which is dependent on play.
Throughout all of this, players pursue their goals - human goals that happen once and, once accomplished, get replaced with new goals, and beast goals that respond to nature’s pressures and cycle with the seasons. Accomplishing these goals gives players new powers and abilities, and spurs narrative adventure.
"Turn neatly subverts the tropes of the shapeshifter genre and offers insight into community and the meaning of difference. The rules are tight and lead straight to interesting and satisfying drama. We had so much fun playing Turn!" - Jason Morningstar, Bully Pulpit Games
"If you grew up in a small town, and ever felt like a bit of a weirdo or an outsider there, you know this game already. It's brings both the love and the trouble that comes with that experience." - Kit La Touche, Transneptune Games
"Few games so beautifully synthesize the conflicting desires within each individual. Brie’s game creates a world filled with the multifaceted character of small town life from its tenderness to the pressures that threaten to fragment it. Turn gives you the tools to dig deeply for the hidden moments of roleplaying that give it such beauty. Playing Turn left me longing for a community that had never been." - Vivian Paul, Riverbed Games
"Turn is both introspective and pushes hard on the relationships between characters. Everyone must juggle between their human and their beast sides, making the hard choice of which part of their identity to value over the other in any given moment. I loved the simplicity of the mechanics and the detailed world-building that ties everyone together. Definitely the game to play when you want to explore tough emotional dynamics between characters and within oneself." - Karen Twelves, Improv for Gamers
"There was so much to love about the game, but I was most impressed by how well it captured the slice-of-life feel that was part of the game pitch. [...] it was so super rewarding to still take it slow without worrying about finding a plot or piece of action. Even with characters we'd never played before and a group who hadn't played together before, we immediately found our groove with some good-natured bickering and mischief.
Not only is there some really smart physical design to the character sheets, the marriage of these two identities [human and beast] within one character provides more depth and variation than any other system I've played where characters are made from a playbook-style sheet. [...] This layered personhood also speaks so strongly to my experiences as a queer and disabled person who has played and designed games for years, and I can't wait to dive deep into it."- Alex McConnaughey, Behind the Masc
"Rules-wise it's elegant. You weave the town, place the PCs in it, entangle them in a web of secrets, obligations, expectations, loves, trust and distrust that is very compelling. I love the apparent whimsiness of the beast halves. I live in a small town, and as a queer man, I'm very familiar with what it means to have different identities in different circumstances, to be careful about my exposure, to calculate who to trust and with how much of my life. So I love that the game gives you this big strange secret, and leaves you to navigate your life around it.
Can you keep it all together? And if not, what can you let go? The people closest to you are going to help you? In the end, there is nothing more wonderful in life than finding someone with whom you can truly be yourself, wholly yourself. Turn is about the search for that holy grail. Isn't it a grand adventure?"- Mario Bolzoni
"There's a harmony between the thematic and mechanic that I absolutely adore, particularly how it models the struggle between man and beast in a way that you feel in the dice. Even the character sheet(s) are designed with that friction in mind, putting your human and your animal identities at odds.
Of particular note is the small town where the game is set. This town will be your home, your friend, your foe -- and the set dressing you figuratively and literally chew. As much a part of character creation as the characters themselves, the town is everything I love about leaving a mark on a setting before play even begins." - Jeremy Kostiew, con-cryptid
There are eight backer levels in Turn, so here is a brief description of each. For clarity:
- All backer levels get access to Kickstarter updates and our dearest thanks!
- Every level Raccoon and up includes the PDF of Turn plus PDFs for any stretch goals achieved.
- Every level Raven and up includes a Print copy of Turn, a PDF copy of Turn, and PDFs of any stretch goals achieved.
The friendly Bear is our Thank You level, where backers get access to any updates. We truly appreciate any support for the game, and understand that many people have financial limitations. You’ll get access to any bonus materials released with the Kickstarter, and that’s the good stuff.
The tech-savvy Raccoon includes the PDF of the final game and PDFs for any stretch goals, plus any Kickstarter bonus materials.
The clever Raven includes the print and PDF versions of the final game and PDFs for any stretch goals, plus any Kickstarter bonus materials.
The community-focused Bison includes Print & PDF copies of the final game for the backer AND for a marginalized individual identified by the backer or Brie. It includes any stretch goals in PDF format, plus any Kickstarter bonus materials.
The territorial Cougar includes the Print & PDF versions of the final game and PDFs for any stretch goals, plus any Kickstarter bonus materials. It also includes a custom town map that Brie will collaborate with you to create, as well as a 300-word essay about the town to help guide play. They’ll also create two custom NPCs for your town! A great way to get a kick-start on play.
The Wolf level is a pack... of print copies of the final game for retailers. It includes four copies!
The changing Snake includes the Print & PDF versions of the final game and PDFs of any stretch goals, plus any Kickstarter bonus materials. It also includes a custom Beast Archetype or Human Role designed by Brie. You define the Beast or type of Human, one appropriate to a rural small town, and Brie will create it with powers/abilities, stats, goals, and a description. These will be released to all backers as a PDF, as part of the Kickstarter, and made available publicly when Turn is released.
The playful Otter level includes the Print & PDF versions of the final game and PDFs of any stretch goals, plus any Kickstarter bonus materials. It also includes an up-to-4-hour Discord one-shot session of Turn run by either Brie Sheldon or John W. Sheldon for you and up to three friends, scheduled to accommodate all parties fairly.
$12,000 - In Zion's Outstretched Stakes
by Anders Smith
Anders Smith (he/him) is a long-time RPG fan who believes that love is love is love. He was raised as a fifth-generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, serving in the China Hong Kong Mission from 2002 to 2004, before leaving the church over a conflict of conscience. His stretch goal for Turn will explore the distinct culture of small Mormon towns and their place in the world, and what it means to turn.
We're so excited to have Anders on the team to explore this type of community!
$14,000 – Giro d'Italia
by Ezio Melega and Lavinia Fantini
Ezio Melega (he/him) is a humanities college dropout. He collaborated with several authors, writing historical essays for Montsegur 1244 and Sagas of the Icelanders. He collaborated with the Italian editor Narrattiva as a consultant, revisor, translator, demonstrator and booth baby, helping in translating and localizing, among others, Apocalypse World, Bacchanal and Monsterhearts. He has a long held and cultivated interest for history and stories, international, national and local and would talk forever about his town history, folklore and people if you don't stop him. He can cook a mean carbonara.
Lavinia Fantini (they/she) is a tabletop rpg enthusiast. They worked with publishing house Narrattiva as a translator, copy editor and proofreader, contributing to the Italian editions of Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts, Dungeon World, Shahida, and Emily Care Boss’ Romance Trilogy. They also helped spread the love for many other games by holding demos, offering advice on Italian forums and giving a hand with convention organizing. When it comes to game design they’re not much of an “idea guy”, preferring instead to aid others in understanding what the heart of their design is, bouncing ideas off and refining them. It's a less glamorous work, but someone has to do it! They’re very excited about getting the chance to work on this project and help make the game more accessible to an Italian audience.
Ezio and Lavinia will be developing a collection of Italian small towns, along with updating and/or creating new archetypes and roles! These will explore how Italian towns and people work, and how they can cause shifters unique stressors and risks for exposure, while providing a window into what community means in Italy. Both of the above stretch goals will include essays on the cultural experiences.
And more stretch goals to come!! Support the project to help us reach these goals and upcoming ones from Gerrit Reininghaus, Jaye Foster, and Meguey Baker!
Brie Beau Sheldon (they/he) is a queer game designer, journalist, and editor and is a genderfluid nonbinary-masculine person. They are the creator of Script Change, Let Me Take a Selfie, and a number of other small products, and have worked on larger professional projects like Firefly Smuggler’s Guide to the Rim and Bubblegumshoe. They have managed the Thoughty Blog for over 5 years to include game theory, interviews, and free games released through their Patreon. They have also created Leading with Class, a leadership show teaching through games. Their passions are asking questions, selfies, and exploring identity and community through games. Brie is the designer of Turn.
John W. Sheldon (he/him) is a multi-disciplinary visual designer and game designer. He's worked on Kickstarter videos for Bully Pulpit, done logo design for Purple Aether Games, and created a gallery of Creative Commons illustrations through Patreon. He's also Brie's producer and videographer for Leading with Class, and a working design professional. John is doing layout, visual art, video production, and art direction for Turn, and he helped with early stages of editing.
Tracy Barnett (they/them) is a genderqueer game designer (School Daze, Iron Edda Accelerated) and podcast producer (TheOtherCast). By working with other publishers and producing their own content, they hope to make game design and podcasting their full-time work. They are the developmental editor and consultant for Turn.
Rhis Harris (they/them), otherwise known as DeerintheMoon, is a 20-year old Studio Arts major with a passion for art rooted in animal life and mythology.
“I've basically been creating art since the moment I could hold a pencil, and that's never really changed. It wasn’t until recently that I even referred to myself as an artist and believed it. I was always "that kid who draws" and I was proud of that, but I never had real confidence in myself to even consider myself an actual artist with a capital ‘A’,” says Harris.
Harris transforms ordinary creatures to holy figures with use of celestial imagery and paints imaginary beasts with such precision that they appear ready to leap off the canvas. “I use my art to understand how and why things in life do what they do, and why I feel or think the things I do. It’s a way for me to analyze and explore things in a way that makes most sense to me,’” says Harris.
Harris’ work—no matter the style—is steeped in magical realism, grounded equally in geometry as it is in full-blown fantasy.
A.J. Odasso (Poetry ’16) (they/them) is the author of two poetry collections from UK-based Flipped Eye Publishing: Lost Books (2010), which was a finalist for the 2010 London New Poetry Award and for the 2011 People’s Book Prize; and The Dishonesty of Dreams (2014), which had the honor of launching at the Grolier Poetry Book Store and Porter Square Books. A.J.’s third collection, an expanded version of their BU MFA thesis, was shortlisted for the 2017 Sexton Prize under the title Things Being What They Are and will be published in Summer 2019 under a new title, The Sting of It, by Tolsun Books. A.J. continues to serve as Senior Poetry Editor at Strange Horizons magazine, where they have been part of the editorial staff since 2012. A.J.’s recent prose publications include a short story, “We Come Back Different” (in the Winter 2018 & Spring 2018 issues of Pulp Literature) and a personal essay, “Being the Dictionary” (in Knowing Why: Adult-Diagnosed Autistic People on Life and Autism, an anthology from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network launched this October). A.J. is the poet for Turn.
Alicia Foster-Scales (she/her), also known as The Writ Witch, is a passionate feminist and a PoC - for her, the acronym stands not only for "person of color", but also "Pagan of color", placing her solidly at multiple intersections of oft-misunderstood and societally-mistreated minorities. As a student of the Reclaiming tradition of witchcraft (a modern path specifically about the importance of fighting against social injustices upon the marginalized) and practitioner of hoodoo/rootwork (ancestral African-American folk magyck practices), Alicia's omnist and pantheist perspective on spirituality and life itself is grounded in the importance of Story and Myth in understanding not only who we are and who we've been, but also who we have the potential to be.
An avid writer, belly dance performer, doula, and activist for comprehensive sex education and reproductive rights, Alicia strives every day to embody the importance of being unapologetically yourself in a world so often built to sell us ways to fix what isn't broken. She is the essayist for the race essay and the sensitivity reader on race issues for the game.
Thank you to Brennan Taylor for helping us get set up for our Kickstarter!
The money will go to pay for editing ($~1,200), visual art (~$1200), poetry (~$400), layout (~$1000), consulting fees (5%), Kickstarter fees (5%) and printing (minimum ~$10/book). It will also pay Brie for game design and testing (minimum $300 plus any overages), and includes a minimum 10% buffer for emergencies and unforeseen costs. Any stretch goals will include the funds to pay any contributors and for additional printing expenses, plus a small buffer.
We also plan to get an ISBN for Turn, so it can eventually go into libraries!
Risks and challenges
Between the members of the team, we have a number of successful projects that fulfilled in a timely manner under our belt. Brie recently fulfilled the Behind the Masc project on their own, and Tracy has significant Kickstarter experience. Our artists and poet are all skilled and experienced with good track records.
The game is complete, just pending final edits and layout. The visual art and poems are reliant on the Kickstarter’s success, but we are confident they’ll be completed on schedule. The schedule does have buffer to accommodate any crises. The budget also has buffer to account for any major issues.
Shipping and printing both have their own risks with timeliness that we’re trying to address by choosing a good printer and by sticking to reliable, simple shipping and currently only pursuing US shipping. Brie is disabled, so there can be delays, but they’ve ensured they have a team to support them in getting this work done and meeting the goals we set.
One thing to note is that Brie prioritizes the wellbeing of the team above all else, which means if there is a health crisis, the project will come second to the people. This is a caring-focused ethics model and we hope that anyone backing a project for a game like Turn will understand and respect that. We promise to put forth our best effort, but there can’t be a best effort if the people aren’t in a good state. Thank you for understanding!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- All gone!