First Kings is a pen&paper roleplaying game that features a pretty unique setting, based on a Dark Fantasy uchronia that casts its own particular lights and shadows on the history and the mythology that permeates the legend of the foundation of Rome.
This new and highly immersive historical-fantasy RPG, with intense dark atmospheres, conceived by Matteo Sanfilippo, and designed & developed with Andrea Macchi and Max Castellani from Epic Party Games (previously on Kickstarter with Shattered Tower RPG), will throw you right in the middle of a raw, ancient Rome ..not the rich and glorious Imperial Rome of the splendors that you are used to see in movies, videogames or history books, though, but a nebulous and more bare Rome, where the mist and the darkness beyond the walls frighten even the most courageous of men, where the very streets of the nascent citadel can become dangerous and deadly at nightfall, where the howls and the shrieking cries of the Horrids of the woods fill the nightmares of every Roman.
(read more about the original setting down below, in the "An Old Dark World" chapter).
The modern and innovative game mechanics consist mainly of a high narrative component, which emphasizes the interpretation as the protagonist of the whole gameplay.
At the very same time it leans upon the solid foundations of an elaborate and very special D12System - the ZodiacusSystem -that unites narration, dice-pool, zodiac, numerology and lunar phases, in order to create a rule set and a character building system unique in their kind.
(read more about the system down below, in the "Game Mechanics" chapter).
[First Kings will be produced in both English & Italian Language]
- An Old Dark World (introduction to the setting)
- Of Gods, Wolves & Men (introduction to the story background)
- Game Mechanics (Character Creation, Scene & Tests, Zodiac Symbols, Rituals, Avernus)
- Stretch Goals
- Authors & Illustrators
- Shipping details
[First Kings content can be defined as moderate. read more at the end of this page]
In First Kings, you’re going to play your semidivine characters during the so-called Royal Age, in the Rome of the very beginnings: built on a land barren and swampy, grim, misty and often inhospitable, protected by rawboned walls erected to keep out unspeakable horrors and obscure threats of which the world has lost memory of.
Players take on the role of the Romuli, men and women of the few gentes (families) descended from the first king of Rome: Romulus, son of the God Mars.
Through their veins, drops of the divine blood still run deep, making them stronger, faster and tougher than common human-beings.
Also, their bloodline is blessed by the Lupercal Gifts the God Lupercus had transmitted to Romulus and his twin brother. These Gifts, supernatural powers, allows all Romuli to rely on extraordinary capabilities and enables some of them, born under a specific moon - and thanks to the influence of the Vibrantes Lumina (the reverberation of Mars through the moon) - to shapeshift, taking on the different wolfish forms and qualities that once made Romulus and Remus the First Werewolves ever existed.
You are the Cerberus Legion. You defend Rome from the corruption and the darkness that patiently wait outside the city walls.
Not only the ferocious and dangerous Remos, the thirsting-for-revenge descendants of Romulus’ twin brother, are to be feared. Many other terrible entities and creatures threaten the lands of the Romans: old terrible giants, murderous beasts and despicable monsters, deadly spirits from the underworld, Gods and demons of the forgotten folks.
Dangerous & Deadly is the Old Dark World.
Here's the story of Romulus and Remus, the story of Rome.
Born from the abuse thatthe God Mars perpetrated against Rea Silvia, a vestal - a virgin priestess of the Goddess Vesta – the illegitimate sons of the God of War were abandoned still in swaddling clothes in the perilous lands of the Cermalus and left to die.
However, the infants were miraculously saved and weaned by a she-wolf, who was actually nothing but an ancient Divinity of Nature, known as Lupercus.
Romulus and Remus grew up as extraordinarily capable men on one side, and as powerful beasts on the other. Their divine ancestry made them more than just men.. made them Gods among human beings.
Endowed with the supernatural power of Mars, which had made them as powerful as dozen warriors in battle, and of the Lupercal Gifts - which had made them able to shift their human form into that of wolves or werewolves - were the First Kings of a wild world that clamored for being shaped and guided towards its own, glorious destiny.
The hands of the two Kings rose from the swamps of the Velabrum to seize the sky from which their godly father watched them, and laid the foundations of the largest and most great Empire that the history of man would have ever known.
Unfortunately, ambition, power, and the enormous differences of opinion about their place in the world, their nature, and about and humanity itself, made them enemies and finally led to an infamous, cursed epilogue: the fratricide.
The progeny of the defeated Remus - the furious and savage Remos - swore bloodthirsty revenge against the First King, his entire race and Rome itself.
"Vindicta Comitatur Remos"("revenge accompanies the sons of Remus") was the cry with which they left the city howling, to take refuge in the darkness of the wildlands outside the city borders. Their lands, the lands their father considered the true Kingdom the Gods would have wanted him and his brother to rule upon.
That very sentence, shouted at every ambush, every raid, and every massacre they perpetrated against the Romans from that moment on, gave them the name "Remos".
The Romuli, however, swore to defend their father's kingdom from their blood-cousins and any other earthly, divine or infernal threat.
That's how the Cerberus Legion was born: a silent army, an occult brotherhood. All the descendants of Romulus, every single man and woman endowed with part of his supernatural powers and extraordinary abilities has the sacred duty to fight the darkness, wherever it arises, to protect human kind from those dangers that from deep darkness try to seize them and devour them, and to face the Remos, as well as death, with courage and honor, in the name of Rome, in the name of Quirinus, in the name of the Moon and Mars.
This whole revisited legend, function as a background to the endless, exciting and terrible adventures of an original setting where REAL history and mythology merge with horror and and fantasy, to give the best of themselves, thanks to a unique, modern, fun and successfully play-tested system.
First Kings is a narrative RPG with a modern system that involves numerology and moon phases during the character creation, and that drives the players to use narration, storytelling, zodiac, and brains (along with a pool of d12 sided dice when necessary!) to approach and solve the scenes that the Game Master creates for them.
First of all, set an "off game" date of birth of the player/character (you can invent it, you can choose your own date of birth, your mother's, your favorite sport player's, the date of a particular event, etc.).
Now, adding the units composing the date, one after the other, you can determine your Guide Number, a number that defines - on a specific list - your character's Lupercal Gifts (special abilities & talents).
The Moon under which your character is born (again, you can arbitrarily choose one, or look up the moon phase corresponding to the date of birth you previously chose) determines which kind of Romulus (singular for Romuli) is your player character.
- A character born under a Full Moon is called Lupus Rex.
- A character born under a Perfect Half Moon is called Lupus.
- A character born under a Waining or Waxing Moon is called Falx.
- A character born under a New Moon is called Obscuratum.
The first three types of Romuli all gain, thanks to the heritage of Mars and Lupercus, a Superior Strength, Animal Senses (human senses improvement) and the Howl (with the howl, like wolves, Romuli can communicate with each other, in disguise);
then - through the conveying of the Vibrantes Lumina - a Lupus Rex is capable of changing into a Werewolf Form, a Lupus can instead turn into a Wolf Form, while a Falx can't shapeshift as the others, but possesses the Will of the First King that makes him naturally intimidating against the Remos, naturally inspiring for humans, and more versatile and better skilled than the rest (more Attitude Points* available in the Zodiac*).
The Obscuratum - even considered a cursed one between the Romuli - has got nothing in common with the others. Not a "wolf", not receiving the influence of Mars through the riverberation of the moon, receives instead the influence of Hecate, a dark Goddess which guarantees the Obscuratum powers beyond imagination: this type of Romulus can change into everything he wants, but a wolf or a werewolf. He could change into any other animal, person, vegetal, or element thanks to the spell of Hecate.
SCENES & ATTITUDE TESTS
When the Game Master unfold a scene that involves a challenge for the characters, players have to face it, narrating their act as protagonists of the Scene, and including an Attitude Test.
First Kings is focused on role-playing and storytelling. The first thing you need is to create a dynamic Scene, which manages to convey all the sensations and the purpose you have in mind.
In this game there are no pre-established turns, initiative rolls and other traditional stuff, everything happens dynamically and coherently, so if you pass an Attitude Test, just let yourself go and let your imagination flow: the Scene is in your hands, and you can pick at it in the most spectacular, glorious, normal, dramatic, epic or moving way.
A Scene is a short narrative arc without a specific duration (it can last a few minutes, like a few hours), and within it, players can perform one or more Attitude Tests:
Once the player has described his intentions and how to put them into practice, the Game Master declares the value of the Difficulty Class (DC) of the Scene andthe Zodiac Symbols involved and/or needed to solve it. At this point, the player can evaluate whether to change strategy or optimize the current one, continuing the narration and counting how many Attitude Points (AP: points assigned to certain symbols during the character creation) his character would score, based on the chosen Zodiac Symbols and their related AP.
If the Attitude Points reach the DC, the test is passed, and the narration is totally in the hands of the player until the end of the current scene.
the other way around, if the Attitude Points are not enough, then the player has to force the action using the Attitude Roll, which consists in throwing 6 twelve-sided dice (d12), where each number of the dice corresponds to a Zodiac Symbols (as indicated on the character sheets):
- If the player rolls and obtains one or more numbers corresponding to the symbols he chose for his act, filling the missing points to reach the DC, then he passes the forced test.
- If, on the other hand, an Attitude Roll fails the narration goes back in the hands of the Game Master who tells the consequences and dynamics of the failure. If the character's state of health gets involved in the scene, in any way (from a fight to a danger related to the environment), the player compares the difference between the Points of Failure and the DC and determine how many steps towards the Avernus (hell, or underworld) the character takes. (The use of protective equipment and/or the temporary use of Aries Points reduces the gap)
From the beginning, the players have 6 Attitude Points available to be assigned to various Zodiac Symbols, thus giving shape to their type of character.
Through Zodiac Symbols, players can approach the various Scenes and Attitude Tests that the Game Master puts on their way. Based on their AP, players can act most appropriately and consistently, impersonating their characters.
Depending on how the players decide to take a test, the GM stabilizes the difficulty of the scene and suggest which Zodiac Symbols make sense to be involved.
There are no lists of skills, talents, features, etc. All these series of information are managed in the game by the Zodiac Symbols that represent different general attitudes, and divide into three branches:
- Corporeum: Taurus, Aries, Pisces, Gemini.
- Res Militaris: Leo, Sagittarius, Cancer, Scorpio.
- Doctrina: Virgo, Libra, Aquarius, Capricorn.
The Corporeum branch represents the physical attributes such as strength, resistance, agility, senses, etc.
The Res Militaris branch represents tactical attitudes such as close or ranged combat, the use of the environment, stealth, equipment, military knowledge, etc.
The Doctrina branch represents the relationship with the Gods of the archaic Capitoline Triad, with the Dark Gods, the knowledge, the political art, diplomacy, etc.
RITUALS TO THE GODS
Rituals in the game can have the most different effects, but to officiate a ritual, it takes time and concentration. They have to be officiated in advance, and if well executed, they offer gifts that can to be used quickly.
In First Kings, rituals are fully created by the Players who have characters with at least 1 AP in Virgo or Capricorn.
Rituals require ingredients, which serve as a narrative cue to create the effects of the rite. ingredients serve to stimulate the imagination and to always put the narration at the center of the game.
DISTANCE FROM THE AVERNUS
The distance from the Avernus can be compared to the state of health of the character. The Steps from the Avernus are 3:
- "Far Away" from it,
- "A Few Steps Away" from it,
- "At the gates" of it.
After that, players fall "into the Kingdom of Pluto". (Taking steps towards the dark doors of the Avernus implicates malus, both narratively and mechanically, that gets heavier the more the character gets near the Avernus.)
The idea for the setting and the game system of First Kings was conceived by Matteo Sanfilippo, a cook and an unpublished Italian author. He met Epic Party Games last summer (2018) while looking for game designers and/or publishers to take part in his project.
Andrea Macchi and Max Castellani (Epic Party Ltd founders) studied and play-tested the game in its rough first draft, and immediately knew that, yes, they should have worked a lot to bring that draft to become a tested, bug-less, running game, but the premises were nothing but extraordinary! The depth of the setting, its extreme originality, and particularity, not to mention the winning intuition that was already palpable about the game system mechanics, although it would have required lots of late-night design sessions to make it entirely work at its full potential!
Andrea & Max are the Authors and Designers of a previously successful campaign here on Kickstarter for the Myth Punk RPG Shattered Tower (delivering this summer).
They founded Epic Party Games last year, after that success, and hope First Kings RPG will be their consecration into the Role-Playing Game Industry! #FingerCrossed :P
For First Kings we knew we needed the right artwork.
The Dark-Horror vibe of the setting suggested us to work with black and white illustrations and the need to get simple but highly evocative images, pushed us to call up an old friend (the main illustrator for Shattered Tower RPG): Daniele Solimene
We're really proud to have him on this project too, and we hope we'll reach those goals that will allow us to make him upgrade the current artworks and to add tons and tons of new and gorgeous ones!
First Kings content is moderate in impact and could be classified as Mature.
The Game contains fiction content of moderate impact. Anybody can have access to this material, however, games of fiction may include classifiable elements such as violence, nudity, slavery (in the historical epoch in which the game takes place, slavery was largely practiced.) and other themes of moderate impact that may be not recommended for people that could find themselves uncomfortable roleplaying with those tones.
Obviously we do not personally approve, endorse or promote - in any way - any of these themes or practices, in real life.
Fees will be collected with BackerKit survey. Once we'll have a precise number of copies to ship, we'll make a deal with a shipping company and we'll be able to set the final Shipping costs list.
Estimated shipping costs
(please note, the following prices may be subject to changes in line with the final product/products specifications and the destination of arrival)
Mars' Spear pledge | IT: up to 6 £ | EU: up to 13 £ | USA: up to 20 £ | Others: up to 26£
Jupiter's Lightning pledge | IT: up to 8 £ | EU: up to 15 £ | USA: up to 22£ | Others: up to 30£
Hecate's Sorcery pledge | IT: free* | EU: free* | USA: free* | Others: from free* up to 10£
Quirinus' Legacy pledge | IT: free* | EU: free* |USA: free* | Others: from free*up to 15£
[*may be subject to little adjustments in case of extra physical stretch goals, other than the Kings Compendium Set]
Risks and challenges
First of all, w may not be total beginners, in fact we've got a successful Kickstarter Campaign behind us, but still we think that every different game is a whole new adventure!
By the way, we're EXCITED indeed!
This time we wanted to get to the crowdfunding campaign with an RPG mostly developed in terms of game design, mechanics, background, setting, and storyline, with almost two years of playtesting on its back, and maybe less developed on the graphics side: we currently have just a few of the illustrations we'd like to put into the finished game.
With the stretch Goals, we called up friends and influencers from the Italian and American RPG scene so to try to bring on a very interesting supplement with the Kings Compendium!
Me (Max), Andrea and Matteo (the creator of the original idea for the game) - we already worked a freakin' lot to the basic game setting, background, and mechanics.
We've already designed the main layout and published a 60 pages starter guide of First Kings called "The Red March" (you'll be able to download it from the first paragraph of this campaign), that includes all that has to be expanded in the final core book.
Now, what we need is funding. The purpose of this new KS Campaign is in fact to raise enough funds to increase the quantity and quality of the material to make FIRST KINGS the best game we could even try to conceive!
thank you <3Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)