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One Child's Heart is a tabletop roleplaying game about empathy, hope, and human connection in the face of childhood crisis.
One Child's Heart is a tabletop roleplaying game about empathy, hope, and human connection in the face of childhood crisis.
507 backers pledged $13,872 to help bring this project to life.

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There are pivotal moments in every child’s life that shape who they become. One Child's Heart is a tabletop roleplaying game that invites players to take the role of child welfare professionals participating in a new mental health care memory exploration experiment. The Central Limbic Engagement Recovery System (CLERS – pronounced, “clears”) brings characters into the memories of these key moments to give support and guidance to a child who needs both.

Professionals help create connections and teach resilience to children who desperately need someone to care.

This is not a game about trauma or an invitation to tragedy tourism. One Child’s Heart is intended to be an empathy-building experience with a message of hope and human connection. It’s a game where the characters’ only goal is to support and love an imaginary child who is struggling with their life circumstances.

I wrote this game as a love letter to the child I was, a message of hope for my own children, and a reminder of the power of empathy to everyone that plays it.

The heart of this game centers on the power of a conversation. People that have a willingness to reach out to another human being in need have the power to effect real change. In this game, as in life, connections start by being brave and having a conversation. That can begin by simply asking, “Are you OK?”

During the Memories, the Professionals interact with the child through conversation, finding ways to get the child to open up and hear the support the professionals are offering. The Professionals walk into the middle of a memory that they don't have any context for, especially in the beginning of the game. They need to move beyond the surface of what's happening to discover why the experience is so impactful to the Child find way to build trust and get them to open up before the memory ends.

One Child’s Heart is like many RPGs where players roll dice to determine success or failure. They're trying to meet or exceed a target number set by the game facilitator, the Advocate, at the beginning of the memory. The outcome shapes the Child's reaction to the connections the adults try to make.

With each success, the Professionals gain a Therapeutic Token. If they gain enough Tokens during the course of the Memories, they will have a lifelong impact on the child for the better. If they earn extra Tokens, that impact will ripple out, and the child will touch other lives in a meaningful, healing way the same way the Professionals helped them. 

If they're not able collect enough Tokens by the end of the game for an optimal outcome that doesn't mean the Professionals have failed the child. During the epilogue portion of the game, where the players describe the Child's life after the experiment, there are additional struggles or unrealized dreams added to the story.

You don’t need to have experience with children, social services, or mental health care to play this game. It only takes talking, being vulnerable enough to reach out to an imaginary child, and a willingness to tell that child’s story with your friends. The game doesn’t ask you to be perfect, just to not give up even when things don’t work out how you hoped.

Because the Professionals are entering a memory and not traveling through time, it’s important to know they cannot change the circumstances of the child’s life. This game has been designed to help combat the idea of the savior complex. Regardless of the number of Tokens earned during the game you cannot save the child from realities of their life. You can help the child start to acquire the tools that they need to reframe the memories and make healthier decisions moving forward.

That’s powerful enough to change a life.

 One Child’s Heart contains five playable Professionals. All Professionals have equal power in helping the child reframe their memories, and each is among the best in their field. They are people that work with children, have seen what life can do to them, and don’t have the luxury to look away from painful situations.

The Child Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in working with children and adolescents in mental health crisis. With years of training and experience, the Child Psychiatrist is confident in their skills and knowledge. This is a chance for them to help guide the future of mental health care and directly support a child out of the hospital environment.
The Child Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in working with children and adolescents in mental health crisis. With years of training and experience, the Child Psychiatrist is confident in their skills and knowledge. This is a chance for them to help guide the future of mental health care and directly support a child out of the hospital environment.
The Clergy is a person of faith, a community leader, and widely respected for their work with children. Beyond their spiritual training from their chosen faith, they have a professional foundation in mental health care as a counselor. They’re here for their ability to provide comfort, empathy, and strength to people in crisis. They’re not here to judge.
The Clergy is a person of faith, a community leader, and widely respected for their work with children. Beyond their spiritual training from their chosen faith, they have a professional foundation in mental health care as a counselor. They’re here for their ability to provide comfort, empathy, and strength to people in crisis. They’re not here to judge.
The Law Enforcement officer is well-known for their ability to help children feel safe and protected. Maybe they’re a talented rookie or a seasoned veteran, but either way they’re here for the kids because they see the power of intervening before things go wrong in a child's life. They’re looking forward to making a difference before the legal system gets involved.
The Law Enforcement officer is well-known for their ability to help children feel safe and protected. Maybe they’re a talented rookie or a seasoned veteran, but either way they’re here for the kids because they see the power of intervening before things go wrong in a child's life. They’re looking forward to making a difference before the legal system gets involved.
The Social Worker knows the child welfare and mental health system inside and out. They are a consistent contact for families to make sure children get the treatment and service that they need. Social Workers continue to work long, stressful hours because in the end, being there for the kids is what truly matters.
The Social Worker knows the child welfare and mental health system inside and out. They are a consistent contact for families to make sure children get the treatment and service that they need. Social Workers continue to work long, stressful hours because in the end, being there for the kids is what truly matters.
The Therapist works with children every day in their practice. They provide pro bono therapy as often as their busy schedule allows. The Therapist joined this project to help ensure the mental health and safety of the child involved. Every child deserves care, advocacy, and support. The Therapist here to make sure that happens.
The Therapist works with children every day in their practice. They provide pro bono therapy as often as their busy schedule allows. The Therapist joined this project to help ensure the mental health and safety of the child involved. Every child deserves care, advocacy, and support. The Therapist here to make sure that happens.

Book - One Child’s Heart will be printed in a beautiful 6” x 9” matte cover book. With stunning interior black and white art from a variety of talented artists and a gorgeous color cover by Jabari Weathers, the book will feature all you need to play the game, navigate play safely and inclusively, and advice on each Profession. 

The book includes a thoughtful section on being the Advocate (GM), with guidance on creating your own Memories which are the scenes you play out, and advice on topics that marginalized children face every day like homelessness, what queer and trans children undergo, and the ways children of color experience the world. These topics are written by our brilliant team and include focused memories on these important issues.

Dice - Each time a Professional attempts to connect with a child, they roll the dice. We’ve worked closely with Chessex to create beautiful dice just for One Child’s Heart. Each die has a wonderfully rendered anatomical heart where the six would normally be. Our dice are in Chessex’s Vortex blue and gold with gold hearts and pips. The game requires you to use 3d6 during play, so each of our sets include three of these wonderful dice.  

Tokens - During game play, the Professionals will be working to earn therapeutic tokens. These are handed out whenever a Professional succeeds at reaching the child. We’ve found a company that does beautiful tokens made from high quality plastic. These tokens will have our signature anatomical heart stamped on each side and will be printed in stunning red. A full game will require 20 tokens, so each of our sets comes with 20 lovely tokens.

Why An Anatomical Heart?

One Child’s Heart is a game about genuine connections. The Professionals go beyond comforting a child to impact the person inside in a real and profound way, to go deeper to the true heart of the matter.

All stretch goal memories and physical products will be finished and produced after the core book is complete. They will not ship with the main book.

Jonaya Kemper (she/her) will join our amazing team and bring three new memories with her! She is an activist, educator, narrative designer, and games scholar who looks at roleplaying as a means of liberation for people of marginalized identities. Her projects include writing for Avalon Larp Studios and Atropos, Orun, JWP’s 7 th Sea second edition setting, and for #feminism.
Jonaya Kemper (she/her) will join our amazing team and bring three new memories with her! She is an activist, educator, narrative designer, and games scholar who looks at roleplaying as a means of liberation for people of marginalized identities. Her projects include writing for Avalon Larp Studios and Atropos, Orun, JWP’s 7 th Sea second edition setting, and for #feminism.
Whitney M. Delaglio (she/her) will join the creative team and contribute three memories! Whitney is a lawful evil game designer, artist, and creator of the brand Little Wish Productions (LWP). She recently finished her first game, Prism, which is an aquatic RPG about sensuality, relationships, and conflict resolution. She is an advocator of providing a safe space for intimacy and emotional vulnerability.
Whitney M. Delaglio (she/her) will join the creative team and contribute three memories! Whitney is a lawful evil game designer, artist, and creator of the brand Little Wish Productions (LWP). She recently finished her first game, Prism, which is an aquatic RPG about sensuality, relationships, and conflict resolution. She is an advocator of providing a safe space for intimacy and emotional vulnerability.
Emily Care Boss is an analog game designer and conservationist from western Massachusetts. She independently published the Diana Jones Award-nominated Romance Trilogy through her publishing imprint Black and Green Games. Emily is a co-founder of the Golden Cobra Challenge and has contributed fiction and game materials to books by Pelgrane Press, Green Hat Designs, Evil Hat Productions, Ginger Goat Press and more.
Emily Care Boss is an analog game designer and conservationist from western Massachusetts. She independently published the Diana Jones Award-nominated Romance Trilogy through her publishing imprint Black and Green Games. Emily is a co-founder of the Golden Cobra Challenge and has contributed fiction and game materials to books by Pelgrane Press, Green Hat Designs, Evil Hat Productions, Ginger Goat Press and more.
A full set of tarot sized cards will be produced designed by the epic Tim Rodriguez! This will include all core memories from the main book and all unlocked stretch goals. Cards will be delivered via an at cost coupon code for print on demand, plus shipping, through DriveThruCards. We will add a new tier if we reach this goal and they will also be available as an addon.
A full set of tarot sized cards will be produced designed by the epic Tim Rodriguez! This will include all core memories from the main book and all unlocked stretch goals. Cards will be delivered via an at cost coupon code for print on demand, plus shipping, through DriveThruCards. We will add a new tier if we reach this goal and they will also be available as an addon.
Misha Bushyager (she/her) will join us as one of the writers behind three new memories! Misha is a longtime gamer and GM and epic designer working on raising the next generation of geeklings. She’s also one of the founders of New Agenda Publishing and a curator for More Seats at the Table.
Misha Bushyager (she/her) will join us as one of the writers behind three new memories! Misha is a longtime gamer and GM and epic designer working on raising the next generation of geeklings. She’s also one of the founders of New Agenda Publishing and a curator for More Seats at the Table.
Elizabeth Chaipraditukul (she/her) will join us and create three new memories! Liz is a game developer and writer who lives in the Netherlands. She is the owner of Angry Hamster Publishing and is currently working on a new game Afterlife. She was the lead developer of the Crescent Empire book for 7th Sea by John Wick Presents, and has written for Magpie Games and Gallant Knight Games.
Elizabeth Chaipraditukul (she/her) will join us and create three new memories! Liz is a game developer and writer who lives in the Netherlands. She is the owner of Angry Hamster Publishing and is currently working on a new game Afterlife. She was the lead developer of the Crescent Empire book for 7th Sea by John Wick Presents, and has written for Magpie Games and Gallant Knight Games.
Camdon will write official rules for playing the game with one Professional and one Advocate and we'll include them in the main book! Playing the game one-on-one is a very intimate experience that requires some adjustments to the rules and you'll get a fully playtested version.
Camdon will write official rules for playing the game with one Professional and one Advocate and we'll include them in the main book! Playing the game one-on-one is a very intimate experience that requires some adjustments to the rules and you'll get a fully playtested version.
We're going to create an expanded selection of character sheets for the Professionals. Currently planned are traditional format, large print sheets, and fillable PDFs. Is there an adjustment to character sheets that would make the game more accessible to you? Let us know and we will see what we can do!
We're going to create an expanded selection of character sheets for the Professionals. Currently planned are traditional format, large print sheets, and fillable PDFs. Is there an adjustment to character sheets that would make the game more accessible to you? Let us know and we will see what we can do!

 10 additional memories for One Child's Heart! We are excited to announce two brand new writers to the team!

Agatha Cheng (she/her) is the co-author of Hearts of Wulin, a PbtA game of wuxia melodrama, as well as the co-host of Asians Represent is joining us to write three new memories! Agatha was featured on the upcoming One Shot Podcast actual play of One Child's Heart.

Laura Simpson (she/her) is the game designer of Companions' Tale and Driving to Reunion. She is half of the game imprint Sweet Potato Press. Laura is amazing and we're so excited to have her bring her voice to the project.

 10 more memories from amazing writers! I am constantly amazed at the level of talent that we have on the team.

Cass Reyfield (she/they) is game designer, writer, and trauma therapist who focuses on making games that foster emotional connections between people. She is passionate about making games hospitable at the table and in their design, and also works as a sensitivity reader for media with Native American themes. She's the creator of Tides of Gold, a game of magical pirates becoming a found-family as they survive dangers on the sea. 

Joyce Chng (she/her, they/their) lives in Singapore. Their fiction has appeared in The Apex Book of World SF II, We See A Different Frontier, Cranky Ladies of History, and Accessing The Future. Joyce also co-edited THE SEA IS OURS:  Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia with Jaymee Goh. Their recent space opera novels deal with wolf clans (Starfang: Rise of the Clan) and vineyards (Water into Wine)respectively. You can find them at http://awolfstale.wordpress.com and @jolantru on Twitter. 

Lucian Kahn is the designer of games such as Visigoths vs. Mall Goths, Dead Friend: A Game of Necromancy, Grandma’s Drinking Song, and Same Bat Time, Same Bat Mitzvah. He is gay, trans, and Jewish. Follow him on twitter at @oh_theogony. 

At $20,000 every backer at the Profession level and above will get a free at-cost coupon code, plus shipping, for a printed book of all stretch goal memories. We will layout out the book, commision a new cover, and additional art.
At $20,000 every backer at the Profession level and above will get a free at-cost coupon code, plus shipping, for a printed book of all stretch goal memories. We will layout out the book, commision a new cover, and additional art.

Creator

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Art, Editing, and Layout

Contributing writers:

Risks and challenges

This is my first Kickstarter, so the largest risk is that I find myself unable to deliver physical products to you due to financial mismanagement. To mitigate this risk, I have been receiving help from friends and colleagues with extensive Kickstarter experience. We have carefully budgeted and set a realistic goal, and the game itself is fully playtested, complete, and in the editing process.

We are partnering with well-established and trusted companies like Chessex, BackerKit, DriveThruRPG, and Indie Press Revolution for manufacturing and fulfillment.

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    Show your support, follow along with the project, and be part of the team bringing One Child’s Heart to the public. Thanks for joining us on the journey!

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    Researcher (PDF)

    You get the PDF of One Child’s Heart plus any electronic stretch goals unlocked during the campaign. You have the option to be listed in the credits of the game. All stretch goals will be delivered after the core book is finished.

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    Professional (Print)

    Do you prefer physical books? This level features a softcover printed copy of One Child’s Heart, a PDF copy of the game, and all electronic stretch goals unlocked during the Kickstarter. You have the option to be listed in the credits of the game. Shipping will be charged after the Kickstarter campaign via BackerKit. Stretch goals will be delivered after the core book is finished.

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    Advocate (Print, Dice, Tokens)

    This is for the person that is looking for the full One Child’s Heart experience. You get the printed book, PDF, a set of 3 custom dice, and 20 custom tokens. This includes all electronic stretch goals unlocked during the Kickstarter. You have the option to be listed in the credits of the game. Shipping will be charged after the Kickstarter campaign via BackerKit. Stretch goals will be delivered after the core book is finished.

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    Retailer Level

    This level is for retail game stores only. You get four copies of the core One Child's Heart book. Shipping will be charged through BackerKit after the campaign closes.

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    Memory (Print, Dice, Tokens, Cards)

    This is for the person that wants everything One Child's Heart can offer. You get the printed book, PDF, a set of 3 custom dice, 20 custom tokens, and a coupon code for the Deck of Memories at cost plus shipping. This includes all electronic stretch goals unlocked during the Kickstarter. You have the option to be listed in the credits of the game. Shipping will be charged after the Kickstarter campaign via BackerKit. Stretch goals will be delivered after the core book is finished.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Technician (Private Game w/ Kate)

    You get everything from the Advocate level plus Kate Bullock will facilitate a private game of One Child’s Heart for you and up to three friends. This game can either take place online, in Toronto or surrounding area, or at a convention Kate is attending. You have the option to be listed in the credits of the game. Shipping for physical products will be charged after the Kickstarter campaign via Backerkit.

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    CLERS Project (Private Game w/ Camdon)

    You get everything from the Advocate level plus Camdon will facilitate a private game of One Child’s Heart for you and up to three friends. This game can either take place online, within 75 miles of Buffalo, NY, or at a convention that Camdon is attending. You have the option to be listed in the credits of the game. Shipping for physical products will be charged after the Kickstarter campaign via BackerKit.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    Memory (Print, Dice, Tokens, Cards)

    This is for the person that wants everything One Child's Heart can offer. You get the printed book, PDF, a set of 3 custom dice, 20 custom tokens, and the Deck of Memories. This includes all electronic stretch goals unlocked during the Kickstarter. You have the option to be listed in the credits of the game. Shipping will be charged after the Kickstarter campaign via BackerKit. Stretch goals will be delivered after the core book is finished.

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    Lead Advocate (Custom Memory + Advocate)

    You will get everything from the standard Advocate level plus an opportunity to work closely with the designer to create a Memory for One Child’s Heart. You have the option to be listed in the credits of the game. Shipping for physical products will be charged after the Kickstarter campaign via BackerKit.

    The Memory must be completed by June 30, 2019 for inclusion in the main book. If the contributor is unable to meet that deadline the Memory will be released separately as a PDF and included with any stretch goals unlocked during the campaign.

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    Child's Heart (Everything)

    You'll receive everything from the Advocate Level and Camdon will work with you to create a custom Memory to be featured in the stretch goal PDF. The memory must be completed by June 30, 2019 for inclusion in the main book. If the contributor is unable to meet that deadline the Memory will be released separately as a PDF and included with any stretch goals unlocked during the campaign.

    Camdon will also facilitate a private game of One Child's Heart, featuring your custom memory, for you and up to three friends online, within 75 miles of Buffalo, NY, or at a convention that Camdon is attending. You have the option to be listed in the credits of the game. Shipping for physical products will be charged after the Kickstarter campaign via BackerKit.

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Funding period

- (30 days)