"Why is the game called Systems Malfunction?"
Because the best possible future is inherently much less interesting than one where everything goes horribly wrong.
"We're now up here alone; it's terror on the intercom, can someone save us. Systems Malfunction, blast it this damn machine; over and out, captain."
- Coheed & Cambria, "Delirium Trigger"
Add-Ons Now Available
Check out this update or scroll farther down the page to see the new add-on options, available for all backers!
Two stretch goals unlocked!
Help us unlock Systems Malfunction starships and starship deckplans next!
Maybe you look at this and you think that is generic RPG Kickstarter #3116 and why should you give half a frag? There are so many good answers as to why you should care that it's hard to restrict myself to just 20 or so. But let me try to limit myself to 3, while cheating egregiously.
The game doesn't take sides, but you must.
1. Your character. Hi character!
MAYBE you're one of The Fallen, "a domestic terrorist" with Extra Lives (CLONES!). Sure, they call you a terrorist, and of course, they would. Who's "they?" All the theys. The Colonial Confederated Republics (oppression, authoritarianism, nationalism - a "Confederation" ruled by a dynasty of Presidents for life). Great House Yamamoto, Great House Dresden, Great House Dallas (robber barons, one and all, just with different cultures and different colored war machines).
Don't agree with them? Fine, they know what to do with you. Are you a manufactured Replicant? Shut up toaster, you're property. Are you a transhuman Celestial? Shut up, you're just a sleeper cell for the GAIA. Are you an alien Xel? You don't even LOOK human.
It's a shitty world, and no, the arc of history does not either "bend toward justice." Justice comes out of the barrel of your gun.
And it just might work out that way - you've chosen your cause and you've got the inside track, the knowledge, and the firepower to make it happen. You've already decided to die on your feet, not on your knees. But even if the cops, the goons, and the agents can't stop you, you might tear yourselves apart when the quick decisions have to be made.
Good luck with that.
Except no, I FUCKING LIED. You don't have to be one of the Fallen, and in fact, you shouldn't. In fact, you should probably do everything you can to stop them, because they are omnicidial maniacs lead by an immortal posthuman monster, bent on destroying the Galaxy. As a matter of fact, maybe you're one of the "cops and goons" that are trying to SAVE THE GODDAMN WORLD(S). As a Republic Armada Colonial Marine or Jackhammer pilot, you don't care if the Fallen die on their feet or their knees as long as they die until they run out of clones. As an RIA Agent, you don't want them dead at all. You want them in cuffs and in custody... and you want them to flip. Except that just like you've got moles in their organization, you've got moles in yours.
Good luck with that.
As a proud partisan of Great House Dresden, Great House Dallas, or Great House Yamamoto - the inheritors of enormous cultural wealth and worldly power - you obviously don't want the Fallen to burn down the Galaxy around your ears. You also don't want to remain a client state of the Republic forever. The only other problem is the other two great houses.
Good luck with that.
And it's not a matter of which side you join. It's a matter of which sides you join - because very likely, you belong to more than one of the above factions, as a double or triple agent.
Good luck with that!
And then of course there are the Redeemers... (but more on that later.)
2. The Game Itself
It's called The Singularity System, I wrote it, and we published it in 2013. If you back this Kickstarter at any level in the double digit dollars, you absolutely won't need to buy it separately.
Just one thing to say, from which all the rest flows: this game has no safety net for plot, and no safety net for your character. Except the clones, that is, but those run out too.
The micro version is, of the core rules you roll a number of six sided dice equal to your Skill or Attribute. Every die that comes up a five or higher is a hit, unless something's Easy - then 4s count too - or Hard - then only 6s count. The more dice you have in a Skill or Attribute, the more hits you're likely to roll, the better chance of success in whatever you're trying to do.
PCs are special. They have Advent. This represents that they've been chosen by destiny to change the galaxy - it is NOT a guarantee that they'll survive doing it, not even with their "extra lives", but it is a chance to be BIG DAMN HEROES and to ACTUALLY CHANGE THE GALAXY, leaving the GM scrambling to figure out how to deal with the various factions' response to the fall out of your PCs destroying a fucking planet--or failing to prevent one from being destroyed.
Advent are not "FATE Points". They are not "Bennies". They are most similar to Edge, from Shadowrun, but they're not exactly that either.
Advent lets you post-hoc reroll all the dice on a test you failed. It lets you add a bunch of dice to a test before rolling. It lets you maximize your initiative in combat. It lets you declare a test to be 'Easy' before you roll it. It provides a ton of tactical options, but you have a limited amount of it. And the GM gets his own Advent pool too!
3. Experience the fractured future of post-diaspora humanity as you've never seen it before:
- Be a cybernetically augmented human, a human psionic, an assimilated psychic alien, or one of four choirs of posthuman "angels" perfected by the AI that has abandoned them.
- No matter what your Origin, you're not confined to a class-and-level system, but can construct your character freely: for those who don't feel like going into that much depth, there are package deals ready to go for augmentation, gear, or vehicles.
- The Republic struggles to maintain the Status Quo. The Fallen are out there waiting to burn the system down. The three Great Houses want to maintain the status quo, but not as much as they want to come out on top of each other. Any given party could nominally all belong to any one of these factions, while each member SECRETLY belongs to another faction. Your conflicting loyalties WILL cause you to betray each other. These betrayals WILL be made more complicated by the following.
- (Your first) death is not the end: YOU HAVE A FINITE NUMBER OF CLONES, I.E. EXTRA LIVES.
- Characters are made awesome by Edges. Edges are acquired during character creation by having Problems that complicate their lives, by taking on Secret Allegiances (see above), and by selling back Clones (i.e. extra lives).
- These awesome characters then engage in espionage, intrigue, and the most tactical, visceral, personal and/or vehicular combat you've seen in an RPG.
It is the year 556 R.T. (Republic Time) and humanity has long since fled a doomed Earth. A desperate exodus aboard a space station controlled by a mad Artificial Intelligence left humanity – along with the technologically enhanced “Celestials” and the alien Xel – stranded in a cold and empty galaxy.
Always resilient, humanity has survived, colonizing dozens of inhabitable planets, moons, and asteroids throughout several solar systems.
And all these worlds fall under the jurisdiction of the Confederated Colonial Republics.
A state of perpetual cold war exists between the three Great Houses, often erupting into small armed conflicts, large scale industrial espionage, and proxy wars. The Unificationist Church of Undying Faith, a monotheistic religious organization led by the living immortal messiah, Lady Mariah, draws in followers by the thousands each day to Bethlehem Sector.
Terrorist groups continue to plague the worlds of the C.C.R., including a violent anarchist/secessionist movement seeking to overthrow the Republic: The Fallen.
The destruction of the G.A.I.A. ended humanity's First Exodus: she was destroyed by one man, Armand Carter - forever enshrined as humanity's greatest hero - and one monster, Sigmus The Fallen, one of her Greater Celestials gone rogue. Armand Carter's descendants lead the Second Exodus to the Galactic Capital of Avalon, and have since ruled the galaxy in an unbroken line of democratically elected "Presidents For Life".
But men and Xel and Celestials and Replicants - the former two changed forever by Her, the latter two created by Her - have whispered in the five centuries since that the GAIA, fragmented into four distinct personalities, lives on. A secret high tech cult, lead by Celestials but including among its ranks men and Replicants and more, known as the Redeemers, bide their time and await Mother's return, to make the Galaxy whole. They know that in new forms they may not recognize that She is coming.
They are right.
Kickstarter, you said you want my story. You got it. It was a long time ago, in a universe far, far away. It was... College.
For three years and six scholastic semesters, from Fall of 2005 to Spring of 2008, I ran a live action science fiction roleplaying game called Systems Malfunction on the Campus of SUNY Purchase.
The game’s plot took the form of one incredibly long, incredibly complex, more-or-less cohesive story. Playing two nights a week, or more, each game taking between four and eight hours to complete (we started at 10PM). We almost never took a week off. We played around thirty games a semester, each of them five hours long on average, for six straight semesters with irregular and occasional bonus games and events on weekends. The central story with all its sub-plots was, all told, about a thousand hours long.
It would have been my honor and privilege and joy and great relief to assure you that the story of Systems Malfunction is over and done with forever, the end complete, so to speak. But then there would be no Kickstarter. The story isn't over. It's not even close. And that's where you come in. Help us make this epic science fiction universe come to life!
Inspirations are everything, there's no such thing as a 100% original story, and true plagiarism is vanishingly rare: instead, what does happen, is that everyone mines from the same influences that influence everyone else.
The Televator pitch: Systems Malfunction is: Aliens meets Akira meets Dune IN SPACE! (Yes, I do know that 2/3rds of the above are already set in space.) Throw in some System Shock 2 and the music of Pink Floyd, Coheed and Cambria, At The Drive In, The Mars Volta, Muse, AFI, and so on and so forth. You may also taste subtle notes of The Terminator, Firefly, Xenogears, and more.
With enough of your help, we can turn the thousand hour story that captivated the minds of a dozen people for three years into a million hours of stories that will captivate the minds of thousands of players for...who knows how long.
Please help me make the greatest science fiction roleplaying game and setting the world has ever seen into one big, beautiful, book, and you will get that book, and my eternal thanks!
Risks and challenges
Full color art is at least twice as expensive as B&W art. Full color printing costs twice as much as B&W printing, and can take 8 times as long, because you have to do it in China and then have them ship it across. Writers miss deadlines all the time for all sorts of reasons, ranging in legitimacy all the way from "I'm really sorry I missed the deadline, I was in a car accident" (note: he will never walk again) to "my dog ate my 10,000 words" (note: writer does not own dog, dog itself is a lie).
We're going to need to use an outside company to produce the Great House patches, so that might take some extra time to ship. We're going to need to use Chessex to make our Custom Dice, and they sometimes take FOREVER AND A HALF to ship their dice.
Most importantly, real life, at any moment, can strike, like a shitty, shitty cobra.
However. We are End Transmission Games. You may have noticed this is only our third Kickstarter. But...this is our twelfth print product. It is our sixth core rulebook in print.
We have the actual making of actual RPG books down to an actual science. We've gotten this far by making every expensive mistake there is to make in the industry. Twice. We've learned from every mistake we've made.
August, 2017 is a *long* way away. We *will* have this game launched by then. If we don't, just PM me on Kickstarter if you want your money back.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)