Exodus is a role-playing story game about being on the run in a society that has turned against you. It's a story of angels on the road, making community as they go, and trying to find somewhere better. It's a game rooted in a time, an autobiography and a plan and a dream and a fear all in one. Too many people, today, can imagine having to pick up one day and leave your life behind, to go on the run from a world that has no place for you. Exodus tells that story.
Based on Avery Alder's Belonging Outside Belonging system, Exodus is inspired by Ezra Furman's 2018 album Transangelic Exodus, itself a "queer outlaw saga". The game is for 2-4 players, with no dice and no GM, and takes usually 3-4 hours to play. Players will create characters, draw a road map of their journey as they go, and take turns playing setting elements (known as Situations) as they travel.
I'm Erika Shepherd, a games designer living and working in Vermont. I write sad gay games at fadingroots.itch.io. My other games include Wreckage in the Ring, about post-apocalyptic teenage mecha deathmatch wrestling, and Divinity, about learning to love your body (when your body is an immense heavenly machine of war). In the first half of February, I'm also hosting the Felonious Fauna 2k19 game jam.
Exodus has been available as a digital download in the past, but by fundraising the book through Kickstarter, I will be able to create physical copies to share and to play with. I will be creating a discounted digital version exclusive to Kickstarter backers at the $5 level and above, and creating a zine for Kickstarter's Zine Quest to get books in people's hands! By selling via Kickstarter, I will be able to print, assemble, and ship the right number of copies at the most effective prices - I am currently a full-time games designer, so Kickstarter's model of sales allows me the flexibility to produce the game in the most cost-effective way possible.
Exodus uses the Belonging Outside Belonging system, as seen in Dream Askew, a game about a queer enclave after the apocalypse, and Dream Apart, a game about a fantastical Jewish schtetl in a time gone by. Also described as "no dice, no masters", there is no GM and no dice-rolling. Instead, players can choose to make a weak move from their playbook whenever they think it's right, to gain a token, which they can spend later to make a strong move.
Play as one of four playbooks:
The Guardian: When they came for yours, you had the plan, the escape route already mapped. Your bags were already packed. You knew that this world is no place for a creature like you. And when the time came, you hopped in your vehicle and you tried to get the people who matter to you to safety.
The Traveler: You've done this before, a dozen times, a dozen ways. You've been fleeing your whole life, ever since you could fly. This is the last time you'll run, if you have the strength for one last journey. You may never reach a promised land, like the one you tell stories about, but you'll find a home, if you can make it one.
The Dreamer: For years you've dreamed of wings. One day you'll spread them, you say. Other angels, they know, they recognize their own, but they would never presume to carry you skyward before you're ready to fly. But you couldn't stay where you were, could never spread your wings there, and when the time came, the angels had a seat for you, too.
The Artist: For a while, your art and your charm kept you safe and commodified. But when things started to get bad, you knew whose side you needed to be on. But you couldn't just give up your creativity - you took it on the road with you. You'll need art, where you're going, but more importantly, you need to show the world what this is you're going through, even if some people won't understand.
As you travel, the players draw their journey's landmarks on their Road Map, and, when the story calls for it, take over one of the four Situations: Locals, The Road, Supplies, and Authorities. By making moves from the situation sheet, whoever holds that Situation pushes the rest of the group on their journey and presents challenges along the way, and then puts it down when their character needs to interact with that Situation.
The exclusive Zine Edition of Exodus will include the full game and all four base playbooks, in a limited-edition black and white 24-page 5.5"x8.5" booklet. It will include everything you need to play (even including space for a Road Map if you want to draw in it), with layout by Jay Iles of UFO Press.
Exodus is funded! We did it in just ten hours!
So now: lets talk stretch goals!
If we hit $500, I'll be able to offer a limited run of screenprinted Exodus t-shirts! [MET]
If I can raise a lofty $2000 i will be able to commission additional art for the book! I have two full pages, a back cover, and several half-pages that have room for art, that I would love to commission an artist to provide art for.
If I can raise $3000, I will be able to commission some bonus playbooks! I've already spoken to a few designers about contributing, and would love to be able to include work from some of my favorite game designers as bonus material.
Everyone who backs the project will receive the bonus art and playbooks! Please keep spreading the word, and help make this zine be all that it can be!!
I am absolutely thrilled to announce that Emil N. Tót will be doing the art for Exodus! I am very excited to share the finished product with you all, and thank you all so much for the support that got us this far! Since we've already hit 1000% of our goal (and are less than $500 from being able to get bonus playbooks for the book!), I'm going to share a preview of the art with you all!
In addition to announcing our artist, I am also very happy to be able to announce our stretch goal playbook authors! If we are able to reach $3000, you can expect to see:
Nora Blake, with The Fallen: You remember flying. You were grand and powerful and you leapt to the heavens and soared without a care. That was a different time. Before the guns and the walls and the armored patrols. You fell a long way when you lost your wings.
Sasha Reneau, with The Ophan: You make a joyful noise. You don't match what an angel is supposed to look like--by anyone's standards. Wheels encircle your ribs where wings might sprout; eyes, painted or blinking or lensed, peer out where feathers ought to be.
Riley Hopkins, with The Present: You hit your hand against the dashboard in rhythm to the song. The windows are down, your friends are singing. This moment is all you need. The past doesn't have anything you want to answer and the future can be dealt with tomorrow. This might not last long, but you're all here for now.
The playbooks are still being written, but everything so far says that they will be an incredible supplement to the game!
Patches are back!
As we approach $3000 (!!), I've decided that we have the overhead and the capacity to open up another run of patches! I was going to save it for a stretch goal, but doing the math, I think we can afford another print run for those already and I want to pass that along to the backers!!
The patch colors are still being confirmed - we should be doing more test runs this weekend - but rest assured they'll be great. We may be able to offer a few options, even, at the risk of some people having to settle for their second choice on colors? Expect more details as we have them!
Risks and challenges
Unless the project significantly exceeds expectations, I will be printing, assembling, and mailing the finished zines myself. I have access to a community print shop, where I can print copies, and have set aside adequate time to fulfill orders after the Kickstarter closes. If the project is particularly successful, the overhead from the orders will be enough to cover larger bulk printing options, reducing margins but ensuring fulfillment.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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