About this project
Dark Nova Games is a small game company based out of the Woodlands, TX dedicated to bringing innovative games to the oft-monopolized market. Pen-and-paper roleplaying games and miniature wargames that can stand alone or tie into the RPGs are our specialty.
About the Game-
Our flagship game- the Dark Nova RPG- is a table-top roleplaying game set in the early 24th century. It is an innovative game with nine races and thirty occupations to choose from. Rather than join in the homogenized D20 market, the DNRPG uses a unique system that hearkens back to the Golden Age of RPGs, described more in-depth within the FAQ. With a rich, in-depth setting and a realistic approach to advanced "space opera" sci-fi, the DNRPG creates a world for GMs and players alike that balances fun and adaptability with technology based on real-world cutting-edge theoretical science. The DNRPG main manual is a 2" thick, 8 1/2" x 11" hardcover game manual with extensive artwork by several up-and-coming artists that is 500 pages in length, and contains all of the material needed to run the game. A sample of the DNRPG main manual can be found here.
About the setting-
The setting of Dark Nova is based around the Terran Alliance of Nations. This swath of Human-settled space consists of dozens of major nations, including many independent systems and corporate or guild-run worlds. Central to the Terran Alliance are the Core Worlds. These worlds are the most heavily-settled planets in the human sphere, each having a population in the billions. The majority of these were the most habitable of the colony worlds settled during the first rush of settlement in the 22nd century. Some, however, are clusters of heavily populated capital worlds in distant territories such as the Andali Confederation and Tarsus Corridor Alliance, nations of Humanity born entirely among the stars. Core Worlds include the star system in which they exist, and are considered to be very safe and secure systems that are often the seat of governmental and industrial-economic power. Core World systems are heavily patrolled, both by law enforcement- local and Inter-System Police, the 24th century descendant of INTERPOL- and military patrols.
If the Core Worlds are the seat of civilization, the Fringe is its near-anarchic counterpoint. Defined by poorly equipped, oft-primitive, dangerous and sparsely-populated colonies, the Fringe is the outermost edge of human settlement. Some Fringe colonies are little more than shanty towns built from the freighters that landed the colonists there, while others are fortresses; armed camps that must repel constant raids from predatory aliens. Fringe space is dangerous, with diseases and ailments virtually extinct within the rest of the Alliance, and medical care is a century or more behind that of the Core Worlds. Adding to the dangers are the lack of terraforming on many worlds, the predations of pirates and alien raiders, civil unrest and uprisings, and many, many other challenges. With no Inter-System Police (ISP) presence, and military patrols measured in weeks rather than hours, colonial militias are often the only defense against these threats.
In between the civilized bastions of the Core Worlds and the Wild-West-like chaos of the Fringe lie the colonial territories. These areas make up the majority of the human sphere, comprising 88% of settled worlds. Like a sliding scale, the colonial territories vary in makeup from populous worlds with hundreds of millions of colonists to rough-and-tumble colonies only one or two steps up from a Fringe colony. The colonial territories are- as a rule- far more dangerous than the Core Worlds. Inter-System Police response is limited, usually reactionary rather than proactive, and military patrols are spread thin. In some ways, the colonial territories are far more dangerous than the Fringe. Great wealth exists within this region- both in the form of industrial and technological products and rich ores- and many factions exist who are more than happy to take it by force.
The universe of Dark Nova is populated with hundreds of races, dozens of which are starfaring species who have discovered jump technology (FTL). The players can choose races that are commonly found in known space- the genetically-enhanced Ahruga, lupine Garoudans, ubiquitous and adaptable Humans, the feline K’Thari, the arboreal Kyaren, the strange and charismatic Lyncrathi, the militant indigo Namaran, the Machiavellian Sarza, and the hyper-intelligent saurian Teek. Ahruga (“an Athrugadh” in their native tongue) are a race of genetically-engineered warrior-poets who descend from Gaelic settlers of human origins. They exiled themselves from humanity at the beginning of the 22nd Century, and made contact again during the Capellan War in 2258. They are boisterous, aggressive, yet also charming in a devil-may-care live-life-to-the-fullest manner.
One of nature's expressions of irony- like the platypus- the Garoudan appear to be large bipedal wolf-like creatures, similar in appearance to a werewolf in many ways at first glance. However, closer inspection and biological analysis shows that they are actually more feline than canine despite the appearance. Predatory hunters who evolved technology through intertribal warfare, they are still very feral. The Garoudan recently had a religious civil war, splitting them into two groups- the Garouja and the Angji. The Angji vehemently disagreed with the Garouja that it was acceptable to hunt and eat sentients, spurring a civil war that the Angji lost, forcing them into exile. Very religious, they hold the act of hunting as a sacred rite.
Humans are a bit of a mystery in the universe, as there are three parallel-evolution Human species- the Terrans, Khurians, and Naradi. No one has ever been able to explain how the same species could evolve separately on three different worlds, thus spurring speculation of genetic seeding or manipulation by a long-gone race. The large number of near-human species in existence- such as the Namaran and Kyaren- lend support to this argument, but it is still hotly debated in anthropological and philosophical circles. Humans are pretty much galactic average on most accounts, except for their incredibly stubborn wills, adaptability, and cunning.
Imperialistic bipedal felines, though much more human-looking than the Garoudan by far, the K'Thari are one of the first races humanity encountered, and the first they fought against. Now staunch allies of the Terran Alliance of Nations, they have adopted many Terranesque traditions and traits, especially those of the Nippon Empire, with whom the K’Thari share many philosophical, cultural, and political ideals.
Kyaren are semi-arboreal humanoids that closely resemble Humans, but with prehensile tails and some felinesque traits. They were rescued from the Capellans by the Ahruga during the Capellan War, and have become staunch allies and members of the Ahrugan Tribal Confederation. Thus, they often incorporate Gaelic art and design principles into their own native ones, creating some of the most beautiful works of art and architecture in known space.
Lyncrathi are a charming and exotic species, and one of only a handful of non-predator species to have achieved sentience. The weirdest race in the whole shebang, they are descended from an herbivore not unlike a horse or deer. Lyncrathi are the epitome of hedonist, being obsessed with (and oddly immune to the negative effects of and addictions to) every vice they encounter. They are also masterful diplomats, being able to bridge the gap between cultural divides and get disparate races to sit down and negotiate.
Warlike and aggressive, even compared to the Garoudan and Ahruga, the Namaran are noted by humans for their phenomenal beauty and their incredible military prowess, despite being primitive technologically compared to their enemies. Possessing technology roughly comparable to Terra during the mid-21st century, they nevertheless defeated invading forces of both the Khurian Empire and the Kraegarym, acquiring jump engines from the former and grudging respect and admiration from the latter. Their culture is a very militaristic one, similar in many ways to that of Sparta during its heyday. As a result, many Namaran not in positions of power try to flee the dictatorial culture they live in.
Of all the races out there, Sarza are the most like humans in their society and culture. Physically they are humanoid, but not altogether humanlike. While not exceptionally strong, agile, or tough, being roughly Galactic Average, Sarza are noted for their intelligence and their ability to understand complex social situations. Sarza are very similar to Humans in their social customs and organization, albeit a great deal more Machiavellian in their thinking. Sarza are very intelligent, perceptive, and cunning, always watching for betrayal or opportunity, and planning several steps ahead of an opponent, or possible opponent. While it has been said that the Sarza mind is one of the most paranoid, manipulative, and plotting minds of any sentient, it can also be said that Sarza are rarely taken advantage of or surprised in politics, economics, or battle.
Teek are a diminutive saurian race that hails from a world with continent-wide jungles. They evolved to sentience and tool-use in order to survive, and that drive has led them to become instinctual inventors and tinkerers. Obsessed with technology and machinery, they are masterful engineers and techs. Oddly, they have no true central government, but have proliferated throughout many other races’ territories.
The technology level of the game includes relatively fast FTL (average of 75 C/hr speeds for ships, but with limited flight time), advanced nanotechnology and genetic engineering, various types of energy weapons and systems, gravity manipulation, terraforming and other high technology descended from today's cutting-edge theoretical science. Starships ply the spaceways like trucks on long-haul routes, or ships of the 19th century (albeit faster, and with greater risks of pirates and alien marauders). The profusion of this technology depends upon where one is, however, so one can encounter worlds ranging from something similar to Coruscant to something out of Firefly, and everything in between.
The game was released in a limited local distribution within Texas in May of 2011, debuting at Comicpalooza- a sci-fi/comic convention in Houston, TX- to rave reviews. This initial print run was funded out of pocket at a loss due to the small amount of books we could initially afford to print. The larger the print run, the cheaper the books become per unit. We are seeking to do a second, far larger print run for national distribution, as well as to commission art for the next two expansions of the game- Fortune and Glory and WAR!
What We Need-
We need an additional $3,250 above and beyond what we have already invested in order to meet the minimum printing costs for regional distribution. Any additional money beyond this goal will go towards the printing costs of the two expansions coming up until they, too, have reached the minimum for regional distribution. Our hope is that we will at least double our goal by the target date so that we can do a full distribution print run of both the RPG and the first expansion, however the more we manage to get pledged, the larger we can make the print runs and the greater market saturation we can achieve.
The core system of the game is a dice-based random generation vs. a target number that is adjusted according to situational modifiers. This takes three key forms in the game, combat resolution (which uses a more familiar d20 roll vs. a modified target number), skill, resist, and other similar checks (which use a roll of 3d10 vs. a modified target number), and percentile checks for various situations and generation tables.
Combat- Combat in Dark Nova is turn-based, using initiative to determine who attacks when. Attackers roll a D20 versus a target number for a hit-or-miss adjudication. If an attack is successful, damage is rolled on varying dice depending on the weapon type and applied to shields first, then armour, and finally the soft, squishy parts of a person, vehicle or ship.
Attributes and Ability Scores- Dark Nova utilizes three overarching attributes- Physical, Mental, and Social- with three ability scores in each category. Physical encompasses Strength, Agility and Endurance, Mental encompasses Intelligence, Willpower and Perception, etc. Attributes are determined by finding the average of the three subsidiary ability scores, and are used for a variety of purposes, but most specifically skills.
Skills- Dark Nova is a very skill-oriented game. Much of the success or failure of a character's non-combat career is determined by what skills they possess and how proficient they are at them. Similar to skills are weapon proficiencies. Unlike skills, which require a skill check with various modifiers to determine success or failure, the level of proficiency with a weapon can grant bonuses to Targeting, additional attacks, etc.
Characters are created by rolling 4d6 and adding the highest three dice for each of the nine ability scores (assigned as the player wishes). These raw ability scores are then used to determine what races are available. Since many races have ability score minimums, not all of them will be available to a player based on what he or she rolls. Once a race is chosen, ability score modifiers are applied. All races modify ability scores to some extent, as none of us have ever been fans of Humans being the throwaway race with no benefits. This will then create modified scores between 1 and 30, with 3-18 being the "Galactic Average" range. After race comes the character's occupation. Dark Nova contains thirty loose occupational classes divided up into five categories- Combat Arms, Adventurer, Tech, Academic, and Socialite. Each of these five categories further adjust the aspects of the character- hit point modifiers, resist modifiers, attacks, etc.
Combat is turn-based, but fast-paced, with the average combat situation being resolved in seconds of game time, and only a few rounds of attack rolls in real time. Most single combat scenarios last under a minute, barring complications or the use of creative tactics, heavy armour or the like. This keep the game fast-paced and prevents it from bogging down into a marathon session of dice rolling, while simultaneously allowing for a great deal of strategic and tactical cunning on the part of both the players and the GM.
There are thirty occupations, six each in the categories of Combat Arms, Adventurer, Tech, Academic and Socialite. Occupations are based around many professions, ranging from military and mercenary combatants to diplomats and courtesans, with everything in between. Most of the occupations are adaptable, giving a great deal of flexibility for GMs and players alike to modify and shape the character to a predetermined idea. No two Freetraders are alike, for example, and even more professionally lock-step characters such as Soldiers will have a wide range of adaptability available.
Many games are developed as a response to another successful predecessor whom the developers wish to simultaneously emulate and usurp. Dark Nova is built around a setting-first, system-second principal, and as such the universe of the game was the focus of the system's development. We built the game to stand on its own merits rather than in order to compete with existing games. It was never intended to be fair, and there are no such Utopian concepts of class balance or the like. As in the real world, there are inherent pros and cons of just about everything- the Ahruga are undisputed masters of combat (especially close-quarters), but are probably not the best diplomats or negotiators, for example. The game is built around the pseudo-realism concept of "how would this work in the real world?" in everything from characters to technology.
Our system is complex enough to allow for a great deal of creativity on the parts of the players and GMs, while at the same time remaining simple enough to allow for quick and easy play. The basic system is adaptable to just about any genre, and I have already started writing background material for an urban fantasy setting that is planned in the future. Though not as adaptable as a truly generic system such as GURPS, it is much more so than many other systems. Above and beyond the system- and the most popular thing about the game with those who have purchased it thus far- is the rich, comprehensive setting that it was built on. The first eighty pages of the main manual is purely history, setting and background material, with dozens more pages of setting spread throughout the remainder of the book. This brings the universe of Dark Nova to life for the players, and gives the GM a huge universe with a lot of detailed and blank-slate environments to work with.
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