Far back in the mists of antiquity, a poet sings of great deeds wrought by mighty heroes—of monsters slain and justice restored, of wise counsel and devious strategies, of courage, valor, and daring—defiant of the gods themselves. In Agon, you create and play these heroes, crafting their epic tale into an immortal legend.
On their way back home from the war, the heroes have become lost among strange islands populated by mythical creatures, dire beasts, treacherous landscapes, legendary kingdoms, and desperate people—all somehow cursed or abandoned by the cruel power of the capricious gods.
It falls to you to seize this opportunity for greatness—to set things right in these lost lands, overcome the trials of gods, monsters, and people, prove the glory of your name, and win your way back home.
Agon is a game of fast-paced heroic adventure inspired by ancient legends. The Hero Players create heroes who wander from island to island, engaging in contests, resolving strife, appeasing the gods, and seeking their way home. The Strife Player presents each island—its strife, opponents, and other characters—by revealing the situation, asking leading questions, and judging contests.
Each session contains an adventure on a dangerous island. Every island suffers from strife which the heroes fight to overcome with their strength, courage, and wits. The gods watch and judge, granting favor or wrath, depending on how the heroes resolve the situation.
Each island takes approximately two to four hours to play through, depending on the size of the group and your desire to wax poetic or dive right into the action. When the heroes leave and continue their voyage, the gods light their way among the stars of the Vault of Heaven, leading them to the next island and closer to returning home.
This game is set in an ancient fantasy world of myths and legends. Here you’ll find titanic monsters, vengeful spirits from the underworld, ruthless marauders, conniving kings, vicious gods—and all the other elements of fables and epic poems of old. This setting is yours to play with as you wish. There is no call for historical or literary accuracy—it’s strongly discouraged, in fact. Let yourself be inspired by those enchanting stories, but make your mythic world your own.
The racism, sexism, ableism, and other bigotries of the past can be confronted head on or set aside as you see fit. A game of Agon is first and foremost an excuse for you and your friends to hang out together and have fun telling a rousing story—be mindful and include the elements that everyone wants to explore; discard the rest.
The first edition of Agon (which we’re now affectionately calling Agon 2006) was written by John Harper. It was a game of battle and competition, which pitted the antagonist against the band of heroes, and in turn the heroes against each other to win the greatest glory.
This new edition of Agon written by John Harper and Sean Nittner embraces the friendly competition of Agon 2006 while also rewarding heroes for the strength and compassion required to support one another, form bonds, and extol the virtues of their companions.
New to Agon? Here’s what to expect!
- Rules for creating your heroes of myth and legend, building the glory of their name, and forging their eternal legend.
- Divine favor, bonds, and pathos for each hero to call upon to reach further than a mortal could.
- Islands full of gods, monsters, and people to challenge your heroes.
- Guidance for the Strife Player, who presents the challenges on the island.
- The Vault of Heaven to record your progress towards returning home and the ire of the gods.
- A one-roll resolution system that determines which side gets their way, who is best, and who suffers.
- Contests and Battles that reveal the heroes' greatness and glory as well as what they care most about.
Played Agon 2006? Here's some changes you’ll notice:
- The Antagonist is now the Strife Player, and the role is designed to be easier for anyone to pick up and start playing, without the need for prep or extensive rules mastery.
- We’ve created a variety of islands full of monsters, people, and gods, each with their own desires for the heroes.
- The conflict system now rewards heroes based on the challenge presented. Whatever difficulty the Strife Player rolls on their dice will match the glory awarded to the hero who is best!
- Battle has been greatly streamlined and gets resolved in three contests. You engage your foe to outmaneuver them, clash to control the outcome of the contest and defend against their threats, and then enter the finale to find out who is the victor.
- The focus has shifted from replicating the myths of old to playing fast paced adventures inspired by the legends of the ancient world.
The Prototype PDF: As a backer of this project, you get immediate access to the current version of the PDF before the Kickstarter campaign concludes ([[click here]], or see the link under the video up top). We want to make it easy for you to decide if this game is for you, particularly if you're new to RPGs. The prototype PDF still lacks some art and a few other finishing touches, but there's enough there for you to get started playing right now.
The Completed PDF(s): Backers at $15 and up will receive the final, art-complete PDF as soon as it's ready. They will also receive all digital stretch goals (see below) which are unlocked during the course of this campaign.
The Hardcover Book: Those backing at $25 and higher will receive one (or more, depending) copy of the 6"x9" formatted hardcover book with approximately 144 pages and a matte finish on the cover. At our initial funding level, this will be a black and white book—but you can help us make sure it's in color (see below). The book will ship by April 2020. You can increase your pledge by $25 for each additional copy you want to receive. Backers at this level also receive PDF copies of the final book and any digital stretch goals which are unlocked.
Code for At-Cost Print-On-Demand Softcover: We will also offer a print-on-demand softcover version of Agon, primarily for our international backers who don't want to wait for the physical book to circulate through distribution for sale at game stores local to their country. Backers at $15 and up will receive a special code to buy the print-on-demand (POD) version from DriveThruRPG at-cost (i.e., the cost of manufacturing the book) plus shipping. DriveThru has developed a number of print-on-demand partners outside the USA to help provide options that will ship locally, or at least from a country that often has more favorable shipping rates than the USA does. We've gone with this as softcover both to reduce the cost to you (it will likely still run between $11 and $12 USD not including shipping) and to make clear that the POD book is separate from the official-release hardcover version we're putting into distribution, rather than the same thing.
First Look with Adam Koebel:
Agon with John Harper, Sean Nittner, Tara Hynson, and Stras Acimovic on Actual Play:
Agon with Sean, Rev, Jake, Tass, and Teej on The Critshow:
Stretch Goal 1: Upgrades & More Islands ($20,000)
Our first stretch goal is all about adding some extra bells and whistles to the book as well as show gratitude to the freelance talent working on the project!
When we hit this goal at $20,000 the Path of Glory package (available to backers at $15 and up) gets its first new items:
- High-resolution digital wallpaper of the book's cover art to haunt your digital workspace
- Six more islands of adventure from the creators of Agon, to be included in the book
Additionally all who back at the Heroes of Legend package (available to backers at $25 and up), will receive these upgrades at no additional cost:
- Full color interior art for the physical book
- Beautiful endpapers and the signature Evil Hat spot gloss on the cover.
Stretch Goals 2 & beyond: New Islands! ($25,000+)
Beyond our first stretch goal we'll bring in other creators to devise new islands full of strife and glory. These will be delivered digitally, at no added cost, for all Path of Glory package backers at $15 and up.
Allison Arth ($25,000 UNLOCKED): Allison Arth is a poet and game designer who studied ancient Greco-Roman literature and language and literally kept a copy of The Odyssey in her glovebox for a decade so she could always find a way home. She is the creator of Gentleman Bandit and Moonblind (forthcoming), the first two installments of the Western Cantos series of poetry RPGs, as well as Gold & Girl: The Fabulous Grandmas RPG, a heartwarming hack of John Harper’s Lasers & Feelings. She is honored to be part of the AGON team.
Ben Scerri ($30,000 UNLOCKED): Ben Scerri is a Maltese Australian tabletop- and video-game producer, writer, designer, and community builder, living in Melbourne, Australia. Their work focuses on themes of diaspora, disability/critical illness, self-actualisation, and found family, often through the lenses of their ethnic and queer intersections. When not writer for or about games, they're liking talking about language, cooking, baking, folklore, and fashion.
Whitney Marie Delaglio ($35,000 UNLOCKED), aka @widdledragon, is a game designer, artist, and creator of the brand Little Wish Productions. Her aquatic roleplaying game, Prism ( https://www.littlewishproductions.com/games/ ), is about sensuality, relationships, and conflict resolution. As a support class in the gaming community, she is an advocator of providing a safe space for intimacy and emotional vulnerability.
Jeeyon Shim ($40,000 UNLOCKED) (she/her) is a roleplaying game designer from both coasts of the continental United States. She’s lived in Oakland, California for about a decade and the greater Bay area for even longer, where she teaches wilderness survival skills and land connection through larping. Her work focuses on bridging the alienation modern urban people often feel from the land and their roots, examining the overlap of race dynamics in land access and larp access, and immersion in the sacred aspects of (re)connecting with the land.
Kira Magrann ($45,000 UNLOCKED) is a tabletop roleplaying game designer, queer nonbinary cyborg, and snake friend living in Columbus, Ohio. She is known best for her most recent games A Cozy Den (about lesbisnakes in winter time) and Something Is Wrong Here (an uncanny emotional love letter to David Lynch's work). Kira has a Patreon where she designs experimental games. She is also the creator of #Aprilttrpgmaker, and the newsletter featuring marginalized creators More Seats at the Table. Follow her current projects at @Kiranansi on twitter.
James Mendez Hodes ($50,000 UNLOCKED) (he/him) is a writer, cultural consultant, religion scholar, classicist, and martial artist whom you might know from 7th Sea, Thousand Arrows, some essays complaining about orcs and racism, or his rap translation of Homer’s Iliad. His favorite Greek mythological figures are Atalanta and Asclepius. He lives in the greater New York metropolitan area on traditional Lenape land.
Stras Acimovic ($55,000 UNLOCKED) (he/him) is a game-designing cryptid found when rolling a 6 on a random encounter chart in Central Colorado. He has 2 levels of Programmer, 4 of Game Designer, and a d6 hit die. Stras was first encountered circa 2009 in indie gaming circles, but there are records of him found as early as the 90s. Stras' favorite foods are PbtA and FitD games—particularly Scum and Villainy and Band of Blades.
Misha B ($60,000 UNLOCKED) is a longtime gamer and GM and fledgling designer working on raising the next generation of geeklings. She's written for Chill: SAVE, Lovecraftesque, Misspent Youth, Dead Scare, Fate of Cthulhu, and served as an editor for #Feminism. You can find more about her at https://blackgirlgameworks.com/
An Age of Myth and Legend, here and now!
We've put $10,000 of our own money into getting Agon to this point. With your help we'll cross the remaining distance and get this off to press as soon as possible.
We already have the preliminary layout done ([[backers can take a look at that]] right now—check out the linked graphic right underneath the video, up top), which includes some of the art. We'll need a few months to finish up the rest of the art, the islands, and making any adjustments based on feedback as folks start playing the prototype edition. All of this will start once the campaign concludes in October, if not sooner.
Then it's off to the presses for manufacture. One advantage of Kickstarting is that it allows us to size that print run like Baby Bear’s porridge—just right. Our printer usually takes 2-3 months to turn around a book, although that timeline’s dependent on their availability. We’ve added some cushion to our delivery estimates, and we’re confident that we will ship this on time. We hope to beat that estimate, of course, but when it comes to book production it's best to put a buffer into your schedule.
You can be confident that we'll ship on or before our estimated delivery date, because that's been our consistent track record across a dozen other campaigns in the last seven years. Just ask our backers; we keep our promises. Our two most recent campaigns, Uprising: The Dystopian RPG and Tachyon Squadron, shipped within four months of conclusion. We've got a bit more to do here on the artwork front, but we're still very far along in the process, and we're confident we have all the remaining time-factors well in hand. For Evil Hat, it's not so much Kickstarter, as Kickfinisher.
Stretch goals from contributing authors have a separate production timeline. We consider them truly extra content, and that means we don't start production on the stretch goals until after they fund. We may adjust the planned goal order behind the scenes as we learn what the backers are most interested in.
We're excited to see what you unlock! Once the campaign concludes we'll put together a plan for getting the funded goals done. There are a lot of moving parts to coordinate (writing, system development, editing, layout, art direction, and artwork), but since these are digital-only they're not vulnerable to any manufacturing hiccups.
After the campaign is over (possibly a few months down the road) we'll launch a BackerKit for this campaign and invite the backers to set up their rewards.
BackerKit is a pledge manager: a separate website that gives you (and us!) greater control over what happens after the campaign than a simple survey would.
Based on our average shipping cost scenario in the USA, we've set up shipping costs like so:
- For book-only shipments we're charging a flat $7 shipping fee (media mail + handling costs) for USA addresses.
Here’s the sad part: we’re only able to offer shipping to the USA. Our shipping options outside of the country would cost more than the actual book in most cases (and would badly distort the funding model we're using for this campaign). However, every reward offered in this Kickstarter will be available to our international fans.
If you live outside of the US, here are your options:
- Back the KS at $15 to get the stretch goals plus a special code to purchase the print-on-demand softcover version of the game at-cost (plus shipping) from DriveThruRPG once available (see Your Rewards, above, for more details).
- Back the KS at $10 to get access to the prototype version of the game. Later, buy the physical book via your Friendly Local Game Store when it hits distribution (we sell to a variety of international distributors in Canada, the UK, Europe, and Australia). Buy any stretch goals you’re interested in separately.
- Wait and buy the physical book via your Friendly Local Game Store when it hits distribution. Buy any stretch goals you’re interested in separately.
- Better yet, contact your local game store and make sure you're put on a preorder list so they know there's demand for the game that they're being asked to fill. Without this kind of communication, the chances that a store will order enough quantities for you to be able to get a copy from them go down significantly.
- If you don’t mind the high shipping costs, use a freight forwarding service that can give you a US-based shipping address and then get packages delivered to it, to you. Those costs will still likely be below what we could offer!
- Game Design, Writing, Graphic Design, Layout, and Illustration: John Harper
- Game Design, Writing, Developmental Editing, Project Management: Sean Nittner
- Consulting Designer: Jason Morningstar
- Editing: Karen Twelves
- Indexing: TBD
- Marketing Manager: Tom Lommel
- Operations and Production, Kickstarter Manager: Fred Hicks
- Kickstarter Video Animation: Ryan Dunleavy
- Kickstarter Video Music: Allison Arth
- Sensitivity Reader: TBD
- Primary Playtesters and Consultants: Allison Arth, Andi Carrison, John LeBoeuf-Little, Karen Twelves, Nadja Otikor, and Stras Acimovic.
- Additional Playtesters: Alice Grizzle, Amber Dean, Andy Munich, Arturo Rubio , Aryana Wills, Ash McAllan, Banana Chan, Ben Scerri, Blake Hutchins, Brit Weisman, Caroline Hobbs, Christian Griffen, Clayton Grey, Colin Jessup, Daniel Wood, David Gallo, DC, Doug Bartlett, Dylan Green, ET, Gabriel Ricardo Freeman, Isaac Thummell, James Mendez Hodes, James Ritter , Jeeyon Shim, Jenn Martin, Jerry Ozbun, Josh Neel, Kaitlyn Fox, Ken Davidson, Kimberley Lam, Laura Fredriksen, Luke Jordan, Matthew Gagan, Misha Bushyager, Morgan Ellis, Noella Handley, Patrick Brannick, Paul Riddle, Philip LaRose, Ross Cowman, Sam Ashwell, Sam Day, Sandy Jacobs-Tolle, Skylar Wall, Sophie Lagacé, Tara Hynson, Tomer Gurantz, Tony Dowler, Tracy O’Brien, Van Magnan, Venn White, Yoshi Creelman, and many unsung heroes from Conlorado, KublaCon, Gen Con, Origins, Go Play Nortwest, The Game Academy, Secret Orbit Game Nights, and private gatherings.
Risks and challenges
We have a great team on this project. Evil Hat is an experienced RPG publisher. We've run over a dozen successful Kickstarter campaigns and we've printed many roleplaying games in a variety of physical formats over the past few years. John Harper (OneSeven) is a veteran game designer, writer, layout artist, and illustrator. He has made over a dozen games including Blades in the Dark and Agon (first edition).
This puts us in a fine position to take on the risks and challenges that will arise. Experience tells us that things don’t always go as planned.
Here's what we can anticipate as potential problems.
Kickstarter Itself: Kickstarter management has recently come under fire for undermining efforts by their employees to unionize. Evil Hat unequivocally stands with the employees of Kickstarter United (the intended union) on this matter. At this time the union has not called for boycotts, and has encouraged creators to go ahead continue to run projects. If the union organizers call for a boycott prior to the conclusion of this campaign on October 25th, we will respect the boycott and immediately cancel the project. If they say now is the time for action, we will take action - even if it means leaving pledges on the table. This also applies if a majority of KS employees vote to organize and KS management refuses to recognize the union.
After October 25th, if the fundraising concludes successfully, we will honor our commitment to produce and ship the game. You can read more about our position at https://www.evilhat.com/home/a-further-word-about-kickstarter/
The Text: While Agon is largely done aside from the art and other polishing touches, it's possible backers will identify some glaring issue that we need to address before we take this fully to publication. That can add time, for sure. Luckily we have several talented writers available if we need a fix, as well as layout and editing people on standby, so any necessary changes should proceed quickly.
Printing: We have a strong, established relationship with our printers. We’ve got them on tap to print the books in whatever quantity we end up needing. But printers can run into problems all the same: supply shortages, unexpected delays due to company holidays or industry events, shipping problems, printing errors, and so on. We’ve got the experience to stay atop those potential problems and the flexibility to pivot and address them promptly. In the event of defective product, we will send a replacement at no cost to you. We print our books in the USA, so there's less of a chance the economic policies of the current administration will suddenly cause the cost of the book to skyrocket.
Shipping: Packages get lost. We'll send replacements. Shipping can take longer than expected. We won't put the book on sale until all backer copies are shipped out. Shipping costs can end up higher than expected. We'll absorb the overage.
Finances: While Evil Hat has seen some leaner months more recently, we've made the necessary cuts to our expenses to make sure we can sustain the company throughout 2019 and 2020. Also, we've already invested time and money to get Agon to this point with no pending expenses on the project outside of the ones we're funding here. Our bank account continues to look plenty healthy. If an unexpected cost arises, we've got the cushion to take the hit.
We often run two or more Kickstarters per year. This is a carefully planned process based on our 12+ successful Kickstarters in the past. Because Kickstarter fulfillment takes time, these campaigns can overlap. When it happens, that's something we plan for extensively. We make space for each Kickstarter, fulfillment, and distribution release in our schedule, and we work to ensure that resources are available to take each of our projects across the finish line.
If there's any risk or challenge YOU can think of that we haven't mentioned here, please write in and ask. We love to answer questions, and we do our best to provide an unparalleled customer service experience whenever possible. We intend to impress you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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