Monsterpunk is a post-apocalyptic RPG of humans, monsters and humans becoming monsters. In it, Player Characters make life-binding pacts with magical creatures to survive in a harsh world dominated by monsters. It takes inspiration from many sources, primarily the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, but also Devilman and Drakengard/NieR.
Humans in Monsterpunk are subordinates, food or slaves of the monsters that have taken over the world. The Player Characters are humans who have made pacts with allied monsters for power (or have enough gear and technology to be equal to monsters on their own). But the power that PCs wield isn't easy to control and using it carelessly will transform them into the very things that are the oppressors of humanity.
The rules of Monsterpunk are effects-based and action-oriented. That means the focus is on what you do rather than how you do it, making it very easy to reskin characters. The roleplaying mechanics make every roll interesting and the combat rules are tactical yet have very little math.
It's simultaneously simple yet deep, easy to learn and difficult to master. Big claim, I know, but You can download the beta rulebook (via Dropbox or Mediafire) to check it out and see for yourself, no backing needed. Additionally, here are some Beta Character sheets (Dropbox & Mediafire) and Tech Cards + Feature Sheet. (Dropbox & Mediafire)
- Resisting dystopic oppression. Most PCs will either live under the thumb of brain-eating monsters or strike out in their own trying to live on their own across the Hellscape, the world's post-apocalyptic wastelands. The former act as glorified mercenaries for the monsters in exchange for privileges that other humans lack. The latter will have to fight back constantly against the monsters trying to eat, enslave or coerce them.
- Self-actualization and human bonds as a source of strength. The proverb says that power corrupts, and in the PC's case, it does so physically. The power that the PCs wield can and will physically corrupt them if they aren't careful about using it, warping their vices transforming them into caricatures of their old selves. To resist this they'll have to make an active effort to improve their skills, become better people and trust in their allies to help pull them back when their power goes out of control.
- Finding balance in a world of moral extremes. Most of the world is ruled by five factions, each more dystopic than the last. They are religious extremists, mad scientists, luddite ecoterrorists, emotionless cyborgs and brutal warlords. All of them love their soapboxes and would love to turn the PCs to their side, if given the chance. The grass is always greener on the other side, right?
- Making a home for yourself in an uncertain world. The state of the world brings more questions than answers. It would be nice to know what brought the apocalypse or where the monsters came from, but the truths may be forever lost to time and the answers that the monsters give provide only a cold comfort. If the PCs want to find a true sense of meaning and belonging, they'll have to make their own family units and think their own reasons.
- Success with Twist. Instead of a binary pass/fail system there are four possible results to any Skill Test: Twist, Success, Success with Twist and Success with Bonus. The most common of them is Success with Twist, in which the character, well, succeeds at what they were doing but they also suffer a complication of some kind: You sneak into a building avoiding the guards but get spotted by the cameras, then you successfully escape from the guards but take damage when they shoot you, then you get out of the building safe after your job is done but drop one of your items getting out. It keeps things exciting and makes every clean success feel that much more rewarding.
- Negotiation Skills. Every PC has at least one social skill that works not just as a way to avoid conflict but also during conflict. Negotiation Skills can inflict status conditions. (For example: Intimidation causes Fear) or end the battle much quicker but with a cost (For example: Bribery causes loss of Wealth). Some enemies are immune to Negotiation (mindless zombies, for example, can't be reasoned with), while others are especially vulnerable to it (any npc with a self-preservation instinct under half HP will likely surrender). These skills can also be used outside of combat in the same way that
- Status Conditions. The focus of Monsterpunk's tactical combat is less in doing damage and more in causing debilitating status conditions (and also their mitigation). You can draw enemy attacks to you by provoking them into a rage, silence them to stop their most powerful moves and restrain them in place while you move away from their effective reach. All PCs can cause one or more status conditions and have ways to cure or immunize themselves to them as well.
- Limit Breaks. Combat in Monsterpunk is hard and PCs will often win fights by the skin of their teeth, suffering long-term injuries in the process. Every PC has an ace in the hole to turn the tide of battle in their favor in the form of Limit Breaks, a surge of power that pushes their bodies beyond the limit of what they can safely handle, corrupting their minds and bodies in the process. Curing this corruption and keeping it from crossing the threshold of monstrosity is where the game's real difficulty lies. Sufficiently stubborn PCs can win, or at least survive every combat they're in, but they risk losing their humanity in the process.
My name is Juan Herrera and I'm the project lead of our team. I've been doing this game design thing for a few years now and my most well known game is Battle Century G. I've also been a teacher and IT guy in the past, both of which are more like game design than you might think - the former needs you to present information in a clear and concise manner while the latter needs finding simple and efficient solutions to problems. I prefer games that focus on interesting mechanics rather than lore and with a good dose of stylization or cinematic flair instead of realism.
Roleplaying is a social activity that can be done over the internet and doesn't inherently cost money. When I was younger I spent many years socially isolated and economically distressed, they were difficult times that I'm not ashamed to say roleplaying helped me pull through. That's why I want to keep the rules of Monsterpunk free and release a System Reference Document with the content of Chapters 2, 3 and 4. Because if this glorified game of pretend with dice helps a single human being make friends and do something fun that they can actually afford, then this whole thing will have been worth it.
As I like to say: Games are meant to be played. All that said, selling rulebooks keeps me from being the cliched starving artist, so the lore chapter, the optional rules and the premade content will be in the proper completed rulebooks.
The one thing the game needs (besides, you know, artwork) is premade content ready to play and that's part of what this campaign is for. I want to add somewhere between 20 and 50 pages of content including an introductory scenario and unique monsters with puzzle-like abilities that need different approaches to defeat. This would add up to somewhere between 240 to 270 total pages. If we do get funded, you can expect to have your finished PDFs and printed equivalents by October 31 of 2019, in slightly less than half a year from the campaign's end. The bonus digital rewards will be sent within a month of the game's release.
$2500 STRETCH GOAL: Expansion Book. All backers will receive the equivalent digital and physical rewards to their core book pledge if we meet this goal. This book will let me experiment with weirder rules that break the mold of the core book's streamlined designs.
There will be extra classes designed around the idea of powering up and transforming your Monster in the middle of combat, being an overpowered monster with severe roleplaying restrictions (think Alucard from Hellsing or Frankenstein's monster from the book, not the movie) and a pacifist designed around expanding the Negotiation rules, among other ideas.
There will also be enough premade content to run a full campaign of Monsterpunk, exploring an abandoned Arcadian arcology that's been taken over by mad science experiments having escaped from their prisons. Should they succeed in surviving its perils and dealing with its denizens, the PCs could take over and make this arcology a city-state of their own.
I already have a lot of the art needed for Monsterpunk, but I don't have anything for this extra book yet, that's why it costs more than the core book. Release date TBD, tentatively between 6 months to one year after the release of Monsterpunk core.
$5000 STRETCH GOAL: PLAY AIDS ENHANCEMENT - BESTIARY AND MAP PACK. Everyone at the Boss tier ($30) and above will get a digital Monsterpunk Bestiary PDF and digital Monsterpunk Map Pack!
The Bestiary will have monsters of every race and every tier, each one including stats for all levels from 1 to 10. All monsters will get unique abilities to differentiate them from what you could make with the NPC builder. The Bestiary is extra cool because it simultaneously makes the game easier to pick up and play, lets me exposite about setting lore a bunch and is also a great excuse to highlight cool monsters from mythology. The bestiaries are always my favorite part of reading RPG manuals and making one for Monsterpunk is an exciting prospect.
The Map Pack is going to cover a variety of environments and setpieces, like "wasteland ambush with enemies uphill" or "arcology streets nocturnal shootout", all ready to print in square, hex and gridless versions. The maps will be made with Monsterpunk combat rules in mind so there'll be plenty of cover of varying heights and terrain hazards to dunk enemies into. They will also come with a pdf suggesting how to use them mechanically and potential plot hooks for using them storywise. You'll also get the maps in image format for easily importing them to your favorite online gaming platform of choice. I figure they'll also come in handy for other post-apoc or sci-fi games you want to run, too.
That's it for stretch goals! This is a small campaign for a small game and it's already way bigger than I ever expected it to get. More than this would be hubris.
All physical product will be delivered via DrivethruRPG's Print On Demand service. That means you get a coupon to print and ship the books at your convenience. Estimated costs are $6-8 plus shipping for the softcover and $11-12 for the hardcover.
So if you back the PLAYER CHARACTER level and only want to redeem the hardcover. You pledge $30 first when the campaign ends and then another $11-12 (plus shipping) in six months or later). You can find out the details in the FAQ at the bottom.
Additionally, the extra digital rewards for everybody at the BOSS tier and above will be thus:
* A Developer Commentary PDF with a gallery of the game's original artwork in color. Think of this as an artbook with added commentary about Monsterpunk's inspirations, development history and general rambling about what I'm trying to do with this weird game.
* Tokens of all the characters and monsters to use while playing online. Having access to the artbook you could make these yourself but I'll save you the time. Also I'll use the full resolution files instead of screenshots from a pdf so they're going to look nicer.
* A set of Lifepath random tables to create PCs and NPCs quick and easy. This is a set of 5-10 tables for every faction as well as independent groups, generating a character's history from birth to adulthood including life goals, key relationships and unique personality quirks.
How are you spending your budget?
I was going to do a fancy pie chart but then realized it's basically pretty much entirely art + processing fees. Like pretty much 85% to 15%. Overfunding means more time spent tweaking the rules and hopefully polishing the layout to make the book pop out more.
How does the Print on Demand delivery system work?
All physical product is redeemed through self-service print on demand via DriveThruRPG. What this means is that, at your own convenience, you can have your copies of each game printed at shipped at cost. As mentioned previously, this should be $6-8 plus shipping for the softcover and $11-12 for the hardcover.
Once the game is finished, the full process of getting your stuff goes like this:
1) You receive your electronic copies immediately via DriveThruRPG.
2) If you backed a physical copy you also receive a coupon to redeem the printed game.
3) You redeem your physical copies at the lowest possible price.
4) DriveThruRPG prints and ships the game to you.
This is cheaper for me because I don't have to handle all the printing and shipping myself. That in turn makes it cheaper for you because I don't have to inflate the upfront pledge costs, you pay the exact printing and shipping cost and nothing more. Everyone wins.
And speaking of shipping, DriveThruRPG has a list of estimate costs for various locations all over the world here.
Do you have a schedule?
Here's the broad strokes of the plan:
- April-May. This is the playtesting and polling phase where your feedback is most critical as it's when I figure out what needs to be changed and also how it needs to be changed. During this period I will also survey everyone about their commissions and plan out how to integrate them into the game.
- June-July. I'll publish two separate pdfs, one with a preliminary version of the new content and another with any changes made to the base game. These pdfs are for gathering feedback and figuring out how to further tweak or otherwise polish the game.
- August-September. The new content and the changes are integrated into the core rulebook and the final round of editing passes and polishing begins. Ideally I'd like to publish the extra digital rewards either during this period or at the same time as the finished game, but depending on how much work there's to do they may have to come out up to a month after.
What happens after that depends entirely on how much we raise. Rest assured, I have no plans to get ambitious and blow things out of manageable proportion. This is a small campaign for a small game, after all.
How will the Example PCs and Custom NPCs work?
Once the campaign ends I will send a survey out asking for details. The conditions are as follows:
- The Example PCs will be described in one paragraph and get a statblock as a Level 1 PC of any class. There can be multiple submitted descriptions for each class, but only one submission fcan be fully statted out for each class, so it's first come first serve for those. The surveys will be sent out all at once, but the priority for who gets to be statted out goes to earlier backers. I'll let you know if this happens, so you can change your choice if you'd like to.
- The Custom NPCs get at least one full page including description and rules. You can either submit a NPC based around a strong concept (Example: A time-stopping vampire) or around a specific gameplay gimmick (Example: An undamageable enemy that must be exhausted or trapped rather than defeated in combat). In the event that two or more backers submit monster NPCs that are similar to each other, I'll get in touch so we can either make a slightly different variant or can come up with something new altogether.
- I get back to you within 30 days with a proof of concept design or, if somehow the idea is not workable, we discuss personally what we could do instead.
- If your commission is something that was already going to be in the rulebook (Hint: Both of the above examples are already being worked on) I'll tell you about it and we can either come up with something new or I give you the credit for it, your choice.
The only other considerations to keep in mind is that the Example PCs should be on the easier side to play and the Custom NPCs should do something unique that can't be replicated with the rest of the rules, but those are suggestions more than hard rules.
Is there anywhere I can follow you for news and updates?
I have a blog that I update at least once a month with game design chat or game updates here and I run a discord server for my games that is a pretty chill and quiet place here. I don't do facebook or twitter because I hate social media as much as I apparently hate making money.
Risks and challenges
This is our second Kickstarted game, and the third book we're published this way. In the past we ran into some snags due to lack of experience, making the first of the two books be delivered a month late. We've learned from the past and the process is much more streamlined and there's less room for things to go wrong.
The game is, as you can see from the beta document, fully playable. All it is missing are the extra pages of premade content for ease of play. We already have art for every class and our main artist works fast enough that missing art won't be a concern. The layout is functional and useable as is, it could stand to be more polished but it's not going to cause a delay if that doesn't happen. The premade content is only a draft but I already know how it's going to work out and it's technically already been playtested as I already ran the scenario for a playtest, all that's left is writing it out in a way that is easy to use. I also make double backups of everything (I save things to a hard drive, flash drive, and to the cloud). We've worked with the folks at DrivethruRPG/OneBookShelf in the past and, as far as I know, all redeemed copies were delivered.
As for other risks, I guess accidents could happen but by their very nature they're hard to predict. I'll try my best to not be in a coma for half a year, to look both sides before crossing the street and to not speak with strangers offering me candy, Mom. I remember hearing about an asteroid coming close to Earth sometime in September or October so hopefully that won't kill us all and make me cancel the game as well. Would be a real bummer, that.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)