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Dragons Conquer America - RPG Core Book
Dragons Conquer America - RPG Core Book
Historical fantasy tabletop RPG with an intuitive system to control your luck set in Mesoamerica during the 16th Century.
Historical fantasy tabletop RPG with an intuitive system to control your luck set in Mesoamerica during the 16th Century. Read more
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
Dragons Conquer America is a CLASSIC ROLE PLAYING GAME, with high adventure, monsters, and epic struggle between the mortal and supernatural worlds.
It will allow you to play stories about ADVENTURERS who explore the Mesoamerican lands, hunt devilish monsters, and discover ancient ruins. Create your character from one of the 13 available orders, cast powerful faith based spells, safeguard yourself from corruption and curses, outgrow your prejudices, and unravel long-forgotten mysteries!
With gameplay inspired by video games such as Monster Hunter, and a setting that draws from fantasy sagas as The Witcher and alternate reality novels like Temeraire, the game offers an honest depiction of the Mesoamerican world, its people and their lore.
Dragons Conquer America takes you back to a warped, fantasy version of 1512 Mesoamerica, a few years after the first Europeans reached its lands. At that point in time, this region of central America is a melting pot of cultures and identities, bound by the might of the Mexica (a.k.a. the Aztec) empire and threatened by the terrible evils that lurk in the depths of the mossy jungle.
Rumors of foreboding omens seep through the grapevine and keep children up at night; dreadful monsters and decadent phantoms ignite fear and fury among peasants and monarchs alike; the promise of gold and glory forges the most unlikely hunting parties, as adventurers from different nations - and even continents - join forces to vanquish the darkness from the world. All this happens under the deceitful gaze of the Dragons, both American feathered and European scalebound, whose ultimate endgame - if they have any - is yet to be uncovered.
One of our most important creative goals when developing Dragons Conquer America was to draw an honest portrait of Prehispanic cultures and nations. Most accounts tend to be based either on the Mexica’s biased narrative, which needed to justify their oppression of the dozens of cultures that shared their territory, or the even more biased Spanish accounts, which needed to justify outright genocide. Our setting tries to unearth the true, forgotten qualities and meaning of Prehispanic history and mythology.
Other than the well-known Spanish reports of the war, and the less-known indigenous accounts of the Spanish domain, we went to the most trustworthy academic sources we could find, such as the work of Alfredo López-Austin and Miguel León-Portilla, to research the traditions, magic, symbolism and history not only of the Mexica, but also of the hundreds of virtually unknown tribes that populated Mexico in the 16th Century. This is not an anglicised, filtered, medieval fantasy world with ‘Aztec’ trappings. DCA is a setting rooted on the actual culture of the Mexica and their neighbours – such as we could barely glimpse, and often little more than speculate – as honestly as we could paint it.
Read more about the writing process of DCA in this ENWorld interview with JC Obal.
You will be able to create your character based on one of the 13 CLASSES available: sage, tomb raider, aristocrat, Mesoamerican priest, pochteca merchant, courtesan, temple guard, eagle warrior, jaguar warrior, conquistador, hidalgo, dragon rider, and Christian priest.
Learn more about classes in this update.
With these characters you may...
... cleanse cursed lands!
... kill the creatures that terrorize local settlements!
... protect common folk from Spanish and Mexica raiders!
... survive in the grimmest conditions!
The game is powered by the RPC Engine, a tried and tested, harsh and realistic core mechanic with a unique blend of luck management gameplay, player agency and tactical possibilities.
Secondary systems such as tolerance/prejudice - which pits you against your inners demons - and a faith based spirit/corruption mechanic work hand in hand to make you feel the gritty and dark nature of a evil-infested world and the unfathomable powers bestowed in you by divine providence.
Who is it for? This game is ideal for gamers who are looking for more player agency, an intensely flavoured setting and with a keen interest in combat, exploration, investigation, survival, and conflict resolution.
The Core Book presented in this Kickstarter (hardbound, 300+ pages) is the centerpiece of the DCA experience, and it gives you the tools to build your own adventures, PCs, NPCs, and places; which are exactly as varied as in any fantasy setting you’ve seen before. If you are familiar with our previous core book (FAITH: The Sci-Fi RPG) you’ll know that no expense will be spared to create a feast for the eyes, the brain, and the gaming table.
THE CORE RULES are an integral part of the book, but the RPC Engine system is lightweight enough to leave plenty of room for in-depth CHARACTER CREATION, including the 13 different orders (classes) you'll be able to choose from (brace yourself for dragon riders, tomb raiders, jaguar warriors, priests, and more). MAGIC AND SPELLS - mystical powers linked to the player's faith - will also be fully developed.
A dedicated section focused on the titular DRAGONS will be one of the coolest parts of the book, and it will explore into topics such as dragon HISTORY, how to TRAIN them, RIDE them, and FIGHT with or against them.
The game master will have plenty of other tools at her disposal. The GM'S GUIDE section of the core book will allow them to understand every facet of the game and a rundown of specific cultural traits that will make the gameplay unique. The complete GEAR and NPC breakdown included will be essential to plan and execute adventures, while the special TYRANTS chapter will describe big baddies who not only have advanced stats, but inflict a pervasive effect on their surrounding areas (villages, jungles...) and are pretty much all-in-one adventures in and of themselves.
The SETTING will be fully developed as well; the book will present a "current state of affairs" of Mesoamerica circa 1512, including all the relevant cultures present in the isthmus and their interrelationship. The lore (the folk lore: drowned deads, cipactli alligators, mixcoatl dragons...) will be factually presented focusing on their effects on local populations.
The Core Book will close with the Coatli Stone INTRODUCTORY ADVENTURE, a one shot adventure that introduces the basic concepts of the game.
The two campaigns featured in the Kickstarter are the perfect companions to the core book. Each campaign will focus on a different group of characters, from very different backgrounds, to introduce you to the sheer diversity of adventures you can experience in Dragons Conquer America.
THE EIGHT OMENS is the first of the two campaigns, and it will place you in the roles of a group of soon-to-be-sacrificed prisoners. Your mission will be to interpret the omens in the Netherworld and warn the Mexica Empire of the impending arrival of the Spaniards.
THE CONQUISTADOR'S GOLD is the second of the campaigns, and in it you will play as a group of Spaniards who must secure the bounty known as "The Conquistador's Gold".
Each campaign is designed to last for 8 to 12 sessions and includes everything you need to play it: pre-gen characters, a full rundown of NPCs and pieces of gear, and even a GM guide to help you track your player's progress.
THE DAWN OF A NEW WORLD is the print version of these two campaigns, a 160+ pages hardcover book containing both campaigns, rivaled in quality only by the Core Book. With a 2-page spread illustration per chapter, it will be the perfect tool to immerse your players in the story.
Please refer to the Shipping section for more information on delivery dates and shipping prices.
How to include add-ons in your pledge
Click « Manage my pledge » and add the amount corresponding to your add-on(s). You don't need to change your reward tier; just edit the amount you are pledging to account for any add-ons you may want. When we send you the codes for our pledge manager, you will be able to select exactly which add-ons you want.
You may select add-ons instead of a reward tier. For example, if you want the core book PDF, pledge 25€; if you want a single campaign in PDF, pledge 13€ and so on, in any combination.
DCA circles around an EXPLORATION/INVESTIGATION/COMBAT/SURVIVAL dynamic. Given the variety of classes available, you’ll be able to form all kinds of groups on a wild range of adventures, such as:
- Mexica heroes out to protect their land from European invaders.
- Tlaxcalteca rebels out to protect their land from Mexica conquerors.
- A band of Europeans lost in the jungle, surrounded by terrible creatures.
- Maya explorers looking for the ancient secrets of a spirit cave in their quest to free their village from a terrible curse.
- Mixed group of explorers from Mesoamerican and European origins, with equally disparate goals and backgrounds, trying to solve the mystery of disappearing children in a small village.
- Agents of a rich pochteca merchant-spy, out to learn the secrets of a rival city-state through intrigue and dark magic.
- And many more! These are just a few suggestions, and we are sure you will come up with even more interesting choices.
Dragons Conquer America is powered by the RPC Engine, a narrative-first, tactically engaging system that allows for agile, organic and versatile gameplay, and rewards effort instead of luck. A variety of subsystems add flavour to the game and merge it with the dark period it takes place in, full of prejudices, sickness, nimble weapons and an ever present demonic corruption lurking right around every corner. Everything contributes towards a gameplay experience that promotes combat, survival, exploration, and investigation as much as social skills and diplomacy.
Actions are resolved through CONFRONTATIONS between characters (or characters against terrible odds), in which COUNTERACTIONS can also be active attacks (the best defense is a good offense!) making the gameplay quick, dangerous, and always moving forward.
HIDDEN CHECKS determine when to provide new information to players and when their senses will fail them. In a world full of magic, deceit, traps, and hidden treasures many things are kept in the dark.
The cards (or dice) that each player holds in their hands represent the STAMINA of the character. During confrontations, a number of cards (up to the amount allowed by the focus of the skill at use) must be tactically played, taking their VALUE and SUIT into account. The former will add points to the base Skill value while the latter will allow you to draw extra cards or dice. The GM may also play cards or roll dice representing non player characters or hidden checks; her values will be pitted against yours in order to resolve the outcome of the confrontation, counteraction or check.
We want you to experience and feel the setting to the fullest, and to achieve that we have added several layers of flavour to the base rules:
Magic is rendered through a SPIRIT AND CORRUPTION system by which your faith will allow you to tap into magic powers through divine intervention. If you overreach - thinking yourself holier or more powerful than you truly are - you might instead tap into forbidden and demonic power sources that will trick you down a spiral of evilness and corruption. Additionally, some orders allow SHAPESHIFTING into apes, eagles, or jaguars.
Social interactions are shaped by a TOLERANCE AND PREJUDICE system. We want you to feel like your character belongs to this harsh era, so they'll start flawed and prejudiced, but the upgrade of the Tolerance skill can be used to create a natural arc away from bigotry.
Combat is punctuated by two subsystems. One the one hand, INJURIES are handled in a realistic fashion so that the impacts your character receives have a direct effect on some relevant skill values. On the other hand, for advanced players who want to increase the challenge, the optional gear DETERIORATION system will add an extra layer of interest to campaigns. It is highly recommended when playing adventures based around the survival theme.
Character creation is an exciting part of DCA and, like in other RPGs, will shape the adventures that you’ll live.
In this section we'll take a look into the CHARACTER'S BACKGROUND and CHARACTER'S STARTING STATS, which will form the core of your starting PC:
Your character's CULTURE (i.e. cultural background) will determine the society they grew up in or that they identify with. In the DCA core book we'll give you the full tools to create Mesoamerican and European characters.
The selected cultural background will potentially have an impact on other aspects of the character, such as their FAITH. Each set of beliefs (either Mesoamerican or European) gives way to a unique manifestation of magical prowess, and branches out the SPELLS and RITUALS your character will be able to perform.
The character's SOCIAL STATUS is another core element of character creation. You may choose between slave, commoner and noble, and it will determine the amount of experience points and gold you start with and, even more importantly, narrow down the orders you may choose from.
The order is the DCA equivalent of a CLASS. They are the gateway to unique TALENTS, powerful abilities that relate to a specific Skill and specialise your character in something.
These are the ORDERS you may choose from:
- Sage: you can aid the party identifying information found in old temples or magic items, creating potions and drugs to magnify the characters’ abilities, navigating complicated social situations...
- Tomb Raider: you excel at getting what you want and surviving no matter what. You know there are better ways of getting your way than having to fight for it, and the best way is when no one else actually realises that you did.
- Aristocrat: you have what your servants - ahem, fellow adventurers- need. You can get into places where no commoner is allowed. You have contacts in the highest spheres and people respect you if they appreciate their lives. To be honest, everything is about you.
- Mesoamerican Priest: you can tap into the supernatural and use magic to protect, curse, change or adapt reality to what it oughts to be. Your party can count on you to push through what seemed impossible.
- Pochteca Merchant: you will grant access to your party to better and cheaper gear, information and contacts wherever you go, and anything else only a first rated spy could obtain.
- Courtesan: you are capable of making people do and think as you please. They’ll tell you their secrets and they’ll fall in love with you. Powerful enemies that would take several soldiers to take down will willingly become your puppets.
- Temple Guard: you have special synergies with spellcasters of your religion, and you are protected and rewarded by your Gods.
- Eagle Warrior: you can gain the attributes of an eagle and fly. You are an expert ranged warrior, capable of setting up the most deadly ambushes.
- Jaguar Warrior: you can gain the attributes of a jaguar and perform incredible combat feats.
- Conquistador: You are a mixture between a soldier with lots of tricks up your sleeve, and an explorer with a keen sense of direction.
- Hidalgo: you’ll be a fighting noble, capable of leading men into battle from either the front or the back line.
- Dragon Rider: you are tasked with caring for and directing a dragon and its dragon-crew into battle or adventure.
- Christian Priest: you can call upon miracles and bring all kinds of godly favours upon your party.
Other characteristics such as AFFINITY (the type of actions your character feels more comfortable performing), AGE (young, adult or elderly), or TRAITS (good, bad and neutral personality attributes) will further shape your character.
Your SKILLS will determine what you can do and how good you are at it. The available skills are Melee, Shooting, Crafting, Athletics, Stealth, Riding, Charisma, Knowledge, Rites, Survival, Medical, Perception, Discipline, Tolerance, and Profession.
During character creation, you must assign a set of values between 4 and 0 to different skills representing the character's core abilities, as well as a set of bonuses depending on your Order. You will then be able to expand your character's skills by developing TALENTS, unique abilities that relate to a specific Skill.
Taking into consideration how much money you have from your Status and your Talents, you can purchase EQUIPMENT before you begin playing. This is gear that you have before the campaign begins.
HEALTH, INITIATIVE (which will determine when you’ll take your turn during a Round), and SPIRIT (equal to your Rites skill and used to perform magic) round up the character's initial stats and equipment.
The lands of this Earth are full of superstition and religious warfare; the conflict between the forces of humanity and evil creatures is seemingly unending. For millennia, civilizations have been vassals to monsters to whom they sacrificed their children and their livelihoods.
In Europe, it wasn’t until the Romans that the continent became a land of the living; even then, as soon as this mighty Empire fell creatures thought dead surfaced again. The Christian Faith prospered against all odds, and it was with Saint George that it managed to gain back the reins of the continent: dragons, formerly the worst enemies of civilization, were now its mightiest weapon.
In America, the Mexica - one of the mightiest civilizations on Earth - have ruled over the land of the Fifth Sun unchallenged for nearly a hundred years, striking fear in the hearts of their enemies thanks to the divine power of their priests and the help of their Mixcoatl dragon allies, which terrorise and astonish the peoples under Mexica domain.
We place our looking glass firmly over the Mesoamerican region, and we take a look.
What do we see? We see a melting pot of cultures and identities, going about their lives unaware of the threats coming from within and without. At this point in time, European explorers are numbered in the dozens and they do not pose a threat - they are the leftovers of the first few expeditions, led by people who thought they were going somewhere else - but a few bloody skirmishes have already taken place. Locals, living a live full of hardships under the rule of the Mexica empire, try their best to survive in an evil world, a literally evil one: beasts, spirits, demons, giants, ghouls and other monstrosities infect the lands, hearts and minds of the people.
If you look beyond the awfulness, you’ll find plenty of reasons to discover this world: primordial jungles, left to be the nest of evil, are untouched, lush manifestations of Mother nature, warts and all; the long-lost temples, abandoned centuries ago, host forgotten knowledge and incommensurably valuable relics; the monsters, for all their prowess, offer the chance of glory to those who dare hunt them; the cities and villages, with Tenochtitlan crowning, are examples of advanced civic undertakings and offer; and, of course, the dragons: seeing a single feathered serpent fly overhead, sparkling a million bright colors in the sun, is worth all the hardships in the world. Just don’t get near one without proper equipment.
In this world, the monsters, angels and demons of medieval mythology are a daily reality for the peoples on both sides of the Atlantic. What the ancient peoples understood as gods or saints are ancestral spirits that share the world with mortals – and often compete with them for it. In the Anahuac, elemental spirits peek over the shoulder of mortals and influence every event, from wars and earthquakes to individual fortunes. Meanwhile, deathless vampire clans are taking over the European royal lineages, as troll enclaves and roaming chimeras still resist the onslaught of the Christian era.
The upper and lower spirit worlds, the two sides of cosmic balance, keep seeping into the mortal world between them, piercing the veil of what mortals perceive as reality. These two worlds have worn many names across history. Today, Mexica people know them as Ilhuicatl and Mictlan, while Europeans call them Heaven and Hell. When a human being dies and becomes spirit matter, she may become a terrifying spectre or a helpful spirit serving one of these two worlds. The mightiest of these spirits are known as saints, revered on both sides of the world as agents of divinity.
Dragons are living, breathing things, that exist in the same world as humans. European and Anahuac dragons are, for all intents and purposes, the same species – some have four legs, some have two or no legs in their snakelike bodies; some have wings, some can’t fly, and some fly without wings. Some varieties are more common in one continent than in the other, but all of them can be found everywhere.
While some dragons may travel between the spirit and material worlds, they are not spirits or saints, but mortal creatures. In fact, European dragons accepted Christ as their saviour and converted to the European church after Saint Sabine subdued the Silene beast a thousand years ago. With a few exceptions, European dragons cooperate with mortals, and have largely agreed to the role of living weapons in human wars of conquest. Anahuac dragons, on the other hand, convinced humans of their divinity millennia ago, and have now adopted the role of deities, accepting worship and sacrifice from terrified mortals, and acknowledging no equal but their own kind.
"DCA positions itself as a narrative-first game that offers just enough mechanical granularity to remain tactically engaging." -- Dylan C., DrivethruRPG
"I have to say, given that I only had access to the Preview Episode Zero, I was quite impressed. The setting is interesting. The system encourages player agency, and you have to love the artwork." -- John Sharp, It's More than Just Gaming
"Simply put, these lavish depictions of Aztec society might be the best art in the business. All you need do is look through the pages of this PDF and you will instantly be sent into the wilds of the Aztec Empire, hear the clanking of Spanish armor, and smell the pyrrhic breath of dragons flying overhead. There is no overselling how beautiful and thematic these pieces are." -- Gaming Trend
"The game shows both sides of this conflict with historical references, and is written by parties on both “sides” of the conflict (writers and producers are from both Mexico and Spain); we don’t get that “savage” feel promoted in the work that we see in others. I’m also a fan of it being historic fantasy with that spark of hope of changing history." -- LibrariaNPC, Sticky Bunton
"Dragons Conquer America is an ambitious mix of history and fantasy, using a proven RPG engine to guide your path to adventure." -- Maurice Fitzgerald, Moe's Game Table
Note: the quotes below have been submitted by private message by various members of the RPG media community and playtesters. Reviews, news and actual plays are to follow during the Kickstarter.
"DCA has a uniquely intriguing world and mechanics which stand toe-to-toe with the best RPGs out there today. It's infinitely playable and enjoyable to experience for both beginners & veterans!" -- Will Jones, Encounter Roleplay "
"Dragons Conquer America is innovative, engaging - and very well written!" - David Crennen, Saving Throw
''Historical and Magical. Colonial and Native. Thoughtful and Immersive. Plus, dragons. I like what I am seeing here; I want to see more!'' -- Antonios S, RPG.net
"Dragons Conquer America looks to be an impressive follow up to FAITH from Burning Games. I’m a fan of card based mechanics that allow you choose how much effort you put toward a task and am happy to see this ported over from FAITH, but the inclusion of a dice based alternative is a great idea. The setting is unlike any I’ve seen before and I’m looking forward to giving this game a Trial for our show in the near future." -- Michael, The RPG Academy
"The creators of FAITH are Delving into a Fantastical take on the 16th century. Filled with Myth, Magic & Dragons! The New Take on the RPC system is fast and fluent & the relationship between Magic and Religion is a natural fit." -- Shane, Runkle Plays Games
Taking into account our past experience and because this campaign has quite a few add-ons, we will be charging for shipping through our pledge manager after the Kickstarter campaign concludes based on its actual costs. We want to be fair to all our backers, and charge as little as possible to each of you.
We will ship the games to our fulfillment centres in the US and the EU at our cost, and you will receive your reward from one or the other depending on where you are in the world. Find below the approximate cost of shipping to your country if you pledge for a single book:
- USA: €10
- Western EU (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, United Kingdom): €11
- Eastern EU (Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovenia): €14
- Canada and Australia: €16
- Rest of the World: €20
- SPIEL Pickup: free.
Our pledge to you is to not charge you more than what is stated above in EUROS for a single copy. If the costs end up being higher, we'll pay for the difference, and if they are smaller you'll get to save a few bucks, which is always nice. Please keep in mind if you pledge for additional copies or many add-ons, the final shipping costs will end up being a little higher.
Risks and challenges
This is our fifth Kickstarter project as a company after successfully delivering Faith: the Sci-Fi RPG, FAITH: A Garden in Hell, Ether Wars, and the FAITH Core Book and miniatures.
We are prepared to deliver a quality game again. We know many things we should do again, and more importantly, plenty of mistakes we shouldn't repeat.
Dragons Conquer America is being developed right now in order to minimize waiting time after a (hopefully) successful Kickstarter. We have a talented team of artists lined up to finish it as soon as we fund, and for that, we need your help.
As with any other printed product that needs to be shipped, there are always delays that might happen, whether they happen during the manufacturing, freight, customs clearance or final shipping.
However, we have done our best to ensure a minimal risk and we will continue to do so until this project is finished and your rewards are delivered to your doorsteps.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter