About this project
The Queen's Cavaliers is a tabletop roleplaying game set in an alternate fantasy France, circa the early-to-mid 1600s. Inspired by the Three Musketeers and other swashbuckling stories, TQC's combat system is flexible and designed to be entertaining, with more options than simply doing damage from round to round. Want to swing on a chandelier to gain advantage over your foes, or recite an epic poem to build style points? These are all valid and effective strategies in TQC.
Mechanically, TQC uses a dice pool system based primarily on your three attributes: Verve, Affinity, and Guile. Skills and specialties grant you extra dice, as do weapons and tools. Charmwoven apparel is unique to the setting -- your clothes don't just make you look fashionable but also enhance your dice pools ... assuming you don't violate the Laws of Fashion and end up garishly attired.
Clockwork devices are also common in the setting, with mechanician characters able to build or even invent useful gadgets ranging from repeating crossbows to flying airships.
Your TQC character is built by combining together two classes to create a unique role; with over 20 classes, that gives hundreds of combinations such as Duelist/Virtuosa, Brigand/Chirurgeon, Charmweaver/Witch, or Mechanician/Visionary. These class pairings give you a structure that speeds character creation while allowing for creative combinations to express your character's uniqueness.
Located in the middle of western Elara, Gallinea considers itself the heart of the world. With fertile farmlands throughout the Gallinean valley and abundant natural resources, the queendom of Gallinea has become a major power in recent centuries. Gallinea, like most of the continent of Elara, was once part of the ancient Qartan Empire.
Gallinea has a long history as a matriarchy, and in recent centuries has become known for its very egalitarian and inclusive views – a philosophy which has been tested since the former monarch, Queen Elisse, was assassinated. Her youngest daughter, now Queen Mariana, has tried to maintain her mother's policy of tolerance in the face of increasing clamor for a less open society.
Gender equality is usually a given in Gallinea, and freedom of religion is enforced by law – although only Asrianism is broadly accepted. Heterosexuality is the norm, but pansexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality are all embraced and supported by society. Gallinean inheritance passes along a matrilineal path, so most heads of noble families are female.
Note: When you back our kickstarter (even at the $1) level, you get instant access to our playtest documents. (If you find a problem in the playtest packet, you can post about it in the bug hunt update thread.)
We've published several previews on our design blog which help explain features of the game.
The dice pool mechanic allows a single, opposed roll of multiple dice to determine whether you succeed, and if you do, how many success points you can spend. See TQC Basics: The Dice Pool System for a full explanation.
Character creation in TQC is fast and easy, based on class templates built over a skill-based framework. Read this example to follow the creation of Marcile, a duelist/virtuosa, and then view her character sheet (PDF).
Features of the swashbuckling-oriented combat system include:
- At the start of the fight you generate Initiative Points which you can spend to protect your allies, re-do a failed attack, or act before your foes.
- You can choose to inflict temporary Yield on your opponents, or deadly Wounds. Rabble take one Wound to drop, while major opponents can take up to Four -- just like your player character.
- Other options besides simply doing damage include disarming your foe, increasing your Advantage, or gaining Style Points which power your impressive Style Maneuvers.
- Besides the Dueling, Defense, and Military skills, you can use your other skills during a fight -- such as enraging your opponent with Banter or persuading them to give up with Negotiate.
- Combat takes place on a "map" composed of abstracted Areas, usually represented by 3x5 cards or a simple sketch. Movement, drawing swords, and reloading pistols are combined actions which can be used at the same time you take a combat action.
See our two-part Sample Combat blog post for more details. Part One covers the basics of rolling Initiative, Area-based positioning, and spending Success Points. Part Two introduces spending Initiative points, using non-combat skills in a fight, and dealing with Drop penalties from Wounds.
Finally you can learn more about the influences behind The Queen's Cavaliers in a 2013 interview on the Really Bad Eggs blog by Black Vulmea!
Caoimhe Ora Snow, Game Designer: Caoimhe has been playing and running roleplaying games since elementary school, and is the designer of the ENnie-nominated Wandering Monsters High School, along with several other games.
"In The Queen's Cavaliers, I want to produce a game which is full of fun, sexy swashbuckling but which is also inclusive of everyone -- gay, straight, transgender, male, female, people of color, and so on." --Caoimhe
Joanne Renaud, Lead Artist: Joanne Renaud, who earned a BFA in illustration from Art Center College of Design, has been writing, drawing and painting as long as she can remember. She went to college in a variety of places, including Northern Ireland and Southern California, and enjoys history, comics, children’s books, and cheesy fantasy movies from the ’80s. She currently works as both an author and a freelance illustrator in the Los Angeles area.
Nathan McCoy, Additional Artwork: Apart from being a role-playing game junkie for 26 years, Nathan McCoy is a animator & illustrator that works in both traditional and digital mediums living in the Los Angeles area:
"Personally, I really liked being able to help out with The Queen's Cavaliers. It's a fresh, exciting take on role-playing games and I've enjoyed hearing about the setting, and the characters that make up this politically charged world full of subterfuge and swashbuckling heroism!" --Nate
Robert Altbauer, Cartographer: Robert is a professional cartographer, living in Salzburg, Austria. He is a life-long addict of science fiction, alternate history and fantasy, and became a cartographer in 2010, when a stroke of genius hit him and he decided to buy a graphic tablet. Although he had drawn and painted as child, this talent was nearly forgotten over college and university, when he had to learn for his law study and had no time for drawing. Luckily, he rediscovered his skills and started to draw maps. His portfolio contains continental, regional, city and dungeon maps in every setting you can think of, together with coat-of-arms and flag and even small illustrations here and there. He made numerous maps for RPG publishers, novels, PC and tablet games and even TV.
jim pinto, Layout: jim pinto is a nearly 15-year veteran of the gaming industry, with numerous credits in about a dozen categories, including writing, design, development, art, and editing. He’s written everything from gaming adventures to board games to comics to screenplays to hot tub catalog copy. His latest fiasco involves a gondola, 87 conspirators, and a 19th century Masonic voting box. jim pinto is a multicultural savant. He knows ‘hello’ in twenty languages, as well as most of the world’s capitals. His first book in the gaming industry was about Japanese culture, favorite novel is French, favorite movie is Chinese, favorite country is Romania, favorite food is Indian, and favorite wife is Korean. He might have also won a few ENnies, an origins award, a player’s choice award from Inquest magazine, and $50 from a college fiction contest. He’s not sure. He has no children, pets, or lice. jim pinto is allergic to capital letters.
Rachel Tolliver, Playtest Coordinator: Rachel is an experienced roleplayer and enthusiastic evangelist for The Queen's Cavaliers. She has two kids, Noah and Alana, both of whom also love TQC.
Kykotsmovi, Cat: In addition to being the model for Guardian Ferrazin's pet cat (see the picture directly above), Kyko provides moral support and encouragement to our team.
"Mrowl! [Translation: more treats now.]" --Kyko
The purpose of the kickstarter is to pay for additional artwork (besides that which you see on this page), a map of the lands of Elara and Ifran, and the editing and layout.
We're planning on the game book being roughly 200 pages, 8 1/2 by 11 size, with both softcover and hardcover versions available in addition to PDF.
Assuming we hit the $4,000 goal of the project, here's what our estimated budget looks like:
- $400 - Fees and such
- $1,000 - Additional artwork
- $1,000 - Layout and design
- $350 - Maps
- $1250 - Printing and shipping of backer rewards
- $4,000 (achieved!) - Project Funded!
- $4,500 (achieved!) - Maps I: We will commission an additional full-page map from our cartographer that details the internal structure of Gallinea's provinces and towns.
- $5,000 (achieved!) - Heroes of Elara I: We add a 30-page PDF-only supplement detailing the lands surrounding Gallinea and offering new rules, items, and classes, available free to everyone at the $15 backer level or higher. (Estimated delivery date February 2015.)
- $5,500 (achieved!) - Art Upgrade I: We'll commission additional artwork by doubling our art budget, making the game look even more spectacular.
- $6,000 (achieved!) - Maps II: We add on an additional map, of the capital city of Lutetia. All maps will be included in the game book and also available for free download from our site.
- $7,000 (achieved!) - Art Upgrade II: Yet more art budget -- all of those little spot illustrations that make the world seem that much more real. Like what are all these different types of shoes, anyway?
- $8,000 (achieved!) - System License: We will release a system reference document for The Queen's Cavaliers under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, and the setting under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license for community use. (Estimated delivery date June 2015.)
- $9,000 (achieved!) - Adventure by Sam Chupp: Sam is an Origin-award winning game designer, best known for his contributions to the OWoD (Book of Nod, Werewolf: the Apocalypse, Mage: the Ascension, Wraith: the Oblivion and Changeling: the Dreaming). He'll be writing a 16-page adventure which will be available in PDF to all backers at the $15 level or higher.
- $10,000 (achieved!) - Charmwoven Sails by Berin Kinsman: Game designer Berin Kinsman will write a 32 page supplement, "Charmwoven Sails: Seafaring Adventure in the World of Gallinea" that deals with seafaring action -- politics and intrigue, naval battles, swashbuckling boarding actions, and of course charmwoven sails.
- $12,000 (achieved!) - Compiled Stretch Content: We will be incorporating our stretch goal content directly into the core book for The Queen's Cavaliers, both softcover and hardcover. This will expand the book to approximately 300 pages, at no extra cost to you. Additional content from future stretch goals will also be included in the core book!
- $15,000 (achieved!) - Success Reference Cards: We will create a deck of 52 cards with the success tables on them for quick and easy reference -- which can also be used as a normal playing card deck as well! The face cards will feature notable NPCs from the setting. The decks will be a $10 add-on ($15 outside the U.S.) and all backers get a free print-and-play PDF version!
Risks and challenges
We've already completed one successful kickstarter (for Wandering Monsters High School: http://kck.st/t64h5Z) and we learned the importance of setting realistic schedules and transparency to our backers through responsive communication and regular updates.
This game has been under development for over a year and playtest extensively. The game mechanics are complete (although we may tweak a few things based on backer feedback) and a good portion of the text is written. Artwork, editing, and layout will follow, and then the game will be ready for you.
Delays may happen because life is unpredictable, but we promise to keep you informed and be responsive to your inquiries.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Nope! The woman with the sword who fights in red dresses is Martine Deveaux, a former Cavalier turned mercenary spy. She was the first character designed for the game by our artist Joanne Renaud, and we loved her so much that it took a while to realize that we were putting her in nearly every picture! She's our iconic NPC for this game (and yes, her stats will be appearing in the book).
The Queen, Mariana, is the woman in the pink dress, standing next to her husband, Prince-Consort Carolus. (His dog is named Sir Fluffington, as the result of a fan poll on Facebook last year.)
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