Content Warning: While I cannot tell you what the game is about, it is my responsibility to let you know The Tower deals with mature subject matter involving deadly violence and its consequences both physical and emotional. Anyone who might not find this to their liking might not want to back this campaign.
Some ideas are a hard sell. They may have an important message you want to share with the world but there's something about the idea that's controversial or risky. Particularly when it comes to making a game about a terrible event that will spiral out of control in ways we never imagined until it becomes a part of modern life. You know you may never be able to share it but it never truly goes away. Until you see a sign and the opportunity suddenly presents itself.
The Tower is a mature tabletop roleplaying game about a terrifying moment that changes the lives of the people involved. And you won't be able to play it until I'm dead. In the spirit of Break Kickstarter, this campaign will provide you with a password-protected PDF of the finished game by the promised delivery date. The password will only be provided by me in the event of my death by natural or accidental causes.
Is This A Joke?
No. Let me be very clear with this project. The Tower is a real tabletop roleplaying game. It will be available exclusively in PDF and is expected to have a page count between 18-24 pages in an 8.5”x11” format for home printing. Maybe more, maybe less. This game is very real but I'm keeping the subject matter of the game a secret because it is controversial. There will be people who will find the very existence of this game offensive and the message behind it can easily get lost in the furor of instant outrage. And maybe that outrage is warranted, maybe it's just redirecting that anger in a direction that feels achievable compared to the current state of things. So I'd rather not be around when it happens. It's a project I've had in mind for decades and only recently has it become clear I can present it in the form of an RPG.
Are You Dying Or Something?
Not that I know of. I'm 45 years old and I still eat like I'm in college, but there's nothing telling me I won't be walking this earth for at least another 20 years. So, yeah, be prepared to wait a while.
Can At Least You Tell Us What The Mechanics Are?
Yes.The Tower is a story game featuring a single Facilitator/Gamemaster and a group of 2-5 players taking on the role of fictional characters in a historical event. After an introductory scene presenting a day in the life of these characters, a life-threatening event begins and the game will end after exactly 96 minutes of play.
Inspired by the core mechanics of Powered by the Apocalypse games, players will trigger moves from a list on their character sheets by making specific physical actions at the table as they recount how their characters attempt to survive this event. For example, a player places their hands over their face and describes how their character is Hiding From Danger while another holds a pair of imaginary binoculars to indicate their character is Searching For Help. Some of these moves will also feature GM triggers, like when a player removes their hands from their face while using the Hiding From Danger or as a player makes the gesture to Run For Cover to augment the danger looming over them for the next 96 minutes.
After every 20 minutes of play, the players must remove a move from their list; for the rest of the game, it is no longer available. As the game progresses, the characters start running out of options and must try to make the right choices in order to survive this ordeal.
The game concludes with the players discussing the effects of the event on their character's future and an open real-world discussion on the subject matter based on their experiences playing this game.
Is This Some Kind Of Marketing Stunt?
Yes. And no. First, this is what Break Kickstarter is all about – breaking the rules for crowdfunding while still complying with the core tenets of Kickstarter. And Broken Ruler Games' tagline is “breaking all the rules.” This is what I do. But it's the Kickstarter that's the marketing stunt, not the game. The Tower itself will be very real and while it is not yet written I will write it if this campaign is successful and deliver it to you by the promised date. (See the answer about stretch goals below if you're going to be a Professional backer.)
How Are You Planning On Selling This Game?
I'm not. The Tower will only be available during this Kickstarter and the only way people can get it once this campaign is over is if someone else sends them a copy. Once this Kickstarter is over, your window is closed.
Will There Be Safety Tools Included In The Game?
Yes. Definitely. The Tower will take the same approach as my previous Kickstarter, The Deal, when it comes to safety tools. Lots of them.
What Backers Levels Are There For This Game?
Not really. But also yes. Right now, all I'm asking for is $100 CDN to make this official and add it to my current workload. If it raises any additional funds, I will use that money to “step up” the quality of the final PDF version of the game. If you back The Tower at the Basic level, you'll only get a text-only password-protected PDF file. If you back The Tower at the Professional level, you'll receive a more professional looking version of the file and that PDF's presentation will be based on the total money raised. I might use it to pay for original artwork, I might use it to hire an editor that I can trust with this game's secrecy, you never know.
Are There Any Stretch Goals Planned?
There are now! At $500 CDN, I will hire a safety editor to assist me with implementing safety tools for The Tower. This will a bit more challenging than simply coming up with a list of the standard safety tools because this game hinges on confronting harsh subject matter head on. Yet the specific event it discuss also allows for some build-in lines and veils. I have someone in mind and we're in discussions right now. [UNLOCKED]
At $700 CDN, I will hire a content editor to make sure the text is crisp and precise. I have someone in mind for this as well, someone I can trust to keep this game's content under wraps for... however long it takes. [UNLOCKED]
At $1,000 CDN, the Professional version of the game will include black-and-white interior artwork by a personally selected artist. Just like the editors, this artist's name may never be published by their request and I'm not going to tell you who they are unless they choose to publicly add their name to this project. [UNLOCKED]
At $1,250 CDN, the Professional version of this game will include visual images depicting how players can use each of the moves. These will be duplicated on a "character sheet" for the players to reference during play. [UNLOCKED]
At $1,600 CDN, I will hire an accessibility advisor/editor to help create additional rules for people with physical limitations or restrictions and a trauma consultant to review the final material for both versions of the game to ensure all necessary precautions have been made for those with PTSD. [UNLOCKED]
As this Kickstarter continues, I'll post updates on my current plans with the final Professional version of the game. It is possible any additional stretch goals will alter the delivery date of the Professional version and I will do my best to keep those backers informed about any changes to final delivery.
What If I Crack Your Password?
Go for it. My goal is to release this game in a PDF format that's password-protected and that password will be based on the content of the game. If someone figures it out before I'm gone and wants to share it with the other backers, that's the risk I'm taking. What everyone does with this game once they have unlocked it is up to them. If you want to share it with others for free, go for it. If you want to list this game as being the 21stCentury's equivalent of FATAL, that's your right.
(Note: There will be a Creative Commons license attached with this game to allow you to share it for free but don't you dare try to make any money off my work.)
There may be a time when I decide to provide the password before I'm dead. Things may change and it may feel like the time is right to share it with all of you. But no promises. If anything, The Tower is about the message, not the messenger. Without someone to be mad at, my hope is that removing the messenger from the equation will reduce the distractions from what this game is trying to say.
Risks and challenges
This project has been set up to minimize all forms of risk. There's no printing involved, no shipping, only the creation of a game in a text-only and full layout PDFs that will be password-protected. So let's get into the real risk for you as backers: when do you get to play this game? I cannot tell you that. The odds of this thing actually remaining a mystery until my actual death are not as high as it may seem and there are very good possibilities something may come along and force me to unlock it or I may simply chose to do so out of the blue one day. But this part is important if you're going to back this Kickstarter.
WHEN YOU RECEIVE YOUR COPY OF THIS GAME, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ACCESS IT, READ ABOUT IT, OR PLAY IT.
This game also contains difficult subject matter that will be handled with the deepest respect and care for the material. If you are uncomfortable or triggered by extreme violence in any form in any media, do not back this project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)