Final Hour - "Magic Hour Achievement Bonus" is in effect. Check out Update #17
Final Stretch Goal Announced! The target is 110 Backers - See Update #16
UPGRADE: Custom Artwork Reward Levels have been updated. See Update #10 and #12 for details.
See Update #6 for details on the Flying Monster Sheet Stretch Goals
See Update #3, #7, #9, and #13 for details on the Creature Sheet Stretch Goals
What is Companions of the Firmament?
Companions of the Firmament is a roleplaying game 144+ page book that is compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game by Paizo Publishing. CotF is meant as a supplement for both game masters and players that focuses on creating adventures and characters that involve flying.
Why Companions of the Firmament?
I've been playing roleplaying games for over 30 years now. It's been a fantastic time of imagination, adventure, exploration and growth. Through all of those years I've always enjoyed being able to play characters that fly. That sense of freedom of being high the air, able to move wherever you wish, and see the world in a whole new way is something everyone has dreamed about in their life. Every kid who hops on their bike and then takes off down the street has imagined they were flying. The air flowing all around them, the bike gliding along the pavement, and a child's imagination to take them up in the sky. I know I experienced this as a child, even sometimes as an adult, and I bet you have too.
One thing that I've found curious over the years with tabletop roleplaying games is that while flying does come up, people don't jump for it as much as I'd think. For many years I've thought to myself:
“If we are all playing a game of pretend, and we all have dreamed about flying, then why not just spend more time pretending we are flying?”
Companions of the Firmament wants to fix that by helping support one of the most successful roleplaying games on the market right now.
A brief rundown of some of the material included:
- The Wyrm Rider archetype for Cavaliers to have a customized domesticated dragon as their companion
- The Sky Pilgrim archetype for Monks that focus on utilizing the element of air for exploration, offense and defense
- A printable "creature sheet" that has 20 pictures of a variety of mounts which you can cut out, mount on thick card/wood/plastic and use on a battle grid with miniatures to easily represent being mounted
- Expanded list of flying companions for Druids and Rangers
- Animal Companion structured for creatures such as the Pegasus, Griffon, and Giant Eagle
- Domesticated flying mounts and pets designed and scaled for any character regardless of class
- Gear specific for use in flight
- Elaboration and extended rules to cover where the existing ruleset falls silent in regard to flying
- Modular flying rules that fit the needs of the scene, adventure or playstyle of the group
- Creature sheets that includes all of the information for how it performs in flight on a single sheet of paper
- Advice and optional rules for dealing with flight in campaigns at any level and playstyles
- Consolidation of the exiting Pathfinder Roleplaying Game rules that pertain to flying so that everything is in one location for ease of reference.
Preview of Companions of the Firmament
Download a preview of what is in store in Companions of the Firmament. The Wyrm Rider is an archetype of the Cavalier that has been designed so that Cavaliers can watch the skies on domesticated dragons. Much like different breeds of cats or dogs, each Wyrm has a unique blend of draconic features, allowing the player to customize their Wyrm to fit their vision of a dragon rider, all while remaining within the balance parameters of the system.
Other Features to Expect from Companions of the Firmament
Humanoid's best friend? Why not put some wings on it! Actually, the Hainu is a Japanese mythological creature that now will be included among several new magical beast available to characters for their flying mounts.
The Sky Pilgrim is a new archetype for the Monk, who trades the broad range of martial and mystical skills to focus on mastering the element of air.
Companions of the Firmament will also cover new places to travel to and adventure upon and through.
And much, much more is crammed into this 144+ page book.
The Creature Sheets
The Creature Sheet is a single page with 20 different creatures and objects. You can print out the sheet, mount it on thick card, wood, plastic or just use paper. Over the years I have found the best way to represent being mounted on a battle grid is to just have a flat token that you can rest your miniature on. Rather than just rely on plain tokens, these are designed to be in 2x2 inch squares that let you clearly identify the creature. If you are up to it you can even color the line art in to customize your mount's look. The art is still under development, but a preview will follow when ready.
Artwork is so important to conveying a vision and Companions of the Firmament has been elevated to new heights because of the wonderful work from the following artists:
As custom artwork gets backed even more artists will be coming aboard to help shape the vision of Companions of the Firmament.
One issue that has come up over the years with third party support in the OGL market is the quality of the rules. I know that as a consumer of third party material I have to give it close scrutiny to try and spot design choices that can unbalance or disrupt play.
That is why when I design I try aim for very deliberate analysis of how the current system functions and then build within those parameters. Paizo has, for the most part, taken a rather conservative design approach to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game to try and avoid power creep plaguing the ever growing corpus of rules. Because of that I have spent a great deal of time breaking down their own design decisions so that I would have a better “design measuring stick” to use, rather than just eyeball my designs in comparison to Paizo's design.
An example can be seen in the chart below. To help create new class archetypes I went through all of the class features over twenty levels, breaking each element down into system factors. When all of these factors are added up and graphed you can appreciate how the different classes scale in power over twenty levels. By knowing this power scale it makes it far easier to tweak, adjust and introduce new material and have a degree of confidence that my designs fit within the overall design parameters of the system.
This approach, along with many other uses of spreadsheet analysis, has been very helpful in channeling my design work. Combining that with follow-up playtesting and feedback-driven refinement gives me an assurance that what I will offer to the public will make their games more enjoyable, rather than cause new problems.
Notes on the Backer Rewards
Kickstarter is about reaching out to the wider community to create something special. Every last backer is deeply appreciated by me. Every backer, regardless of level will get patron credit in the book, along with something signed personally by me giving my thanks. Every book, no matter the level I'll be signing with a note of thanks. I'm not sure yet how, but that will include the PDFs!
- Aerialist: For those who just want to make a quick jump into the project, my deepest thanks. You'll get a thank you card with wonderful artwork from the book, digital wallpaper and and credit as a patron, plus the "creature sheet" for use with tabletop miniatures.
- Wingmate: You've got my back in the aether. This level is all about picking up the PDF version of the book.
- Dogfighter: You're ready to get mixed in, up close and personal with a physical copy of the book. This level is about getting a softcover copy of the book.
- Aeronaut: You're above the fray and want something a bit more refined. This level focuses on getting a hardcover version of the book.
- Outrider: You're a digital kind of person, but you still like the idea of having some great artwork to hang in your gaming den. This reward level is all about getting a PDF plus the limited run art print.
- Navigator: You've got your eyes on the stars to ensure the course stays true. This level is all about getting a hardcover copy of the book, plus the limited run art print.
- Sky Merchant: You're eager to follow the trade winds up into the sky to bring these fine wares to distant lands. This is a retailer package that gets down to business, focusing on getting several softcover copies of the book.
- Eagle Rider, Griffon Rider, Pegasus Rider and Mystery Rider: Each of you are unique individuals who will make your presence known throughout the sky. Each of these rewards are focused on working with Geek Industrial Complex to create a custom half-page piece of artwork that will be put into the book. UPGRADE: You will also get the limited run art print. In addition you will get an art print of the piece of art you are helping to commission.
- Champions of the Firmament: Tales are told of legendary conflicts in the sky and some are even permanently recorded for the ages. This is meant for a whole table of gamers to pool their money together and create a full page piece of artwork of one of your memorable moments at the table. Everyone even gets a book. Surprise an old gamer buddy with a fully realized depiction of one of a memorable battle from your old school days of gaming. UPGRADE: You will also get the limited run art print. In addition you will get an art print of the piece of art you are helping to commission.
- Lords of the Firmament: The greatest tales require the greatest space to depict. Is a single page not good enough? Do you want to boast of your 17 inch piece? Pick this one for a huge double page spread of artwork that will go into the center of the book. No one will be able to miss it and that extra space will let you make a truly epic piece of artwork. UPGRADE: You will also get the limited run art print. In addition you will get an art print of the piece of art you are helping to commission.
- Angel Investor: Descending from on high, you cast mana to the earth so that those below may prosper and multiply. I've looked at many, many RPG Kickstarters and often there is a “hail mary” reward to finish off their funding levels. However most are so broad and opaque in what the money is used for that it doesn't surprise me that they are often not funded. I felt that this being the first large endeavor for Geek Industrial Complex, and Kickstarter being very much about patronage, that it would be appropriate to make a specific request for funding. If there is any one particular item that will help Geek Industrial Complex “level up” as a publisher it would be getting an Adobe software suite. This particular one costs $1300, so in a kind of matching-style funding opportunity, if you give me $800 then the software price will come within the far more reasonable reach of $500 on my end. It's the little things in life that are usually what ends up counting the most. If I'm spared the innumerable small frustrations of getting disparate pieces of publishing software to work with each other then I'll be thanking you day in and out for years to come.
Because getting the artwork completed will generate some time before publishing, after the Kickstarter campaign is completed all backers will have playtest material made available to them during part of the production period so that you can provide additional feedback on rules before the final book goes to the printer.
The Art Print Reward (the Outrider, Navigator, and Angel Investor)
For those selecting the print reward you'll be getting a 24x20 art print of Justin McElroy's cover artwork in its complete form, signed and numbered by the artist. This Kickstarter will be the only print run of the cover artwork as an art print, showing all of the detail that can't even be crammed in to the actual book cover. It's a gorgeous piece that will leave you lingering on it as you discover all sorts of wonderful detail that Justin packed into this picture.
What will the money be going towards?
More artwork! As can be seen in the reward levels, artwork is something that is being emphasized in CotF. Beyond those custom artwork pieces that are being targeted smaller supporting pieces are intended for the book.
Printing and shipping rewards to backers.
Help with other layout and design costs, including fonts and supporting software.
Helping to defray the initial costs put into the project. One element that I think is vital to a roleplaying book is to use artwork to convey a vision. It helps guide the reader and is a wonderful springboard for the imagination. So it was important to begin by investing in some of that vision ahead of time. As the artists have all been compensated, it would be a tremendous help to recover some of the initial investment in the project.
What is the Geek Industrial Complex?
Geek Industrial Complex was created as a growing repository for RPG designs and articles that I had been building up for many years. As development continued in different products it was time to move from just a geeky website to something that can grow and get the resources behind it to make some really cool and interesting things. With the rise of crowdfunding as a potent force in allowing creative projects to flourish, I decided to take one of my projects and build it into the kind of book that I really would want for myself.
To make sure I was going to pull off a successful Kickstarter campaign I began to research other RPG focused Kickstarters. This curiosity snowballed into a massive data gathering endeavor and analysis eventually resulting in a multi-part report on 150 RPG Crowdfunding Projects.
Hopefully the lessons I learned from that process are worthwhile and that I'm doing an effective job communicating my project to you and that it's something you find compelling. Enjoy!
About the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Compatibility with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game requires the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game from Paizo Publishing, LLC. See http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG for more information on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Paizo Publishing, LLC does not guarantee compatibility, and does not endorse this product.
Pathfinder is a registered trademark of Paizo Publishing, LLC, and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility Logo are trademarks of Paizo Publishing, LLC, and are used under the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility License. See http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/compatibility for more information on the compatibility license.
Learn more about the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game at paizo.com.
No problem. If this is a concern for you then just let Geek Industrial Complex know that you would like your name withheld and we will keep it out of the book. If you would like to use an alternative name then we can include that in the credits instead.
The aim is for November of 2012. A lot of the rewards are built on the idea of customized artwork and so the release date of the book depends on how quickly the artwork is developed and created. So a conservative estimate is November, but this is an estimate on when all of the work and layout will be complete. I would hope it is all completed sooner, in which case I can surprise everyone!
The Mystery Rider Reward gives extra customization because not only do you get to describe the character riding the mount, but you also get to choose the mount that is being ridden from the following list:
Bixie (imagine a Lynx with wings)
Leonardo da Vinci style glider
Why a list? The artwork is also meant to help support the text and all of these creatures will have some treatment in Companions of the Firmament.
We want to work with backers to create images that they will be happy with, and so we see this as a collaborative process between the backer, Geek Industrial Complex (GIC) and the artist creating the art. Part of the vision of GIC is to hold to certain standards with artwork that it publishes. In addition, the artist needs to be able to exercise a degree of creative freedom to do their work within the time and budget they have to work with. Because of this GIC will retain complete editorial control, ownership and copyright over the artwork and backer submitted content, but we will be working with you to make it the best piece we can that makes everyone happy.
Certain style standards are being aimed at with the artwork:
These pieces are set within a general fantasy setting, as is generally depicted in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, or in previous editions of the world's most famous fantasy roleplaying game. All of the depictions have to comply with the Open Game License and general copyright and trademark laws. Unfortunately this leaves out creatures, such as Beholders, as something that can be depicted due to licensing issues.
Generally a PG-13 rating in regard to content. Many of these pieces of artwork include battle scenes and we want to depict them with a lot of energy and action, but without gore or other images that are too excessively violent, sexualized or offensive as deemed by GIC.
Traditionally women are often depicted in geek culture in very sexually suggestive poses and attire. This is to be avoided in GIC artwork. While a backer's character may indeed have been a “stripper ninja” in their campaign game, in a GIC depiction the ninja part will get depicted, but not the stripper part.
Artists have their schedules and workload and so we will be working with you and the artist to reach the best effect within those constraints. Does your original battle scene have a cast of thousands in it? This might not be able to be depicted in the work. The general idea is an adventuring party confronting opponents in what would be expected in a roleplaying game session. Likewise, the setting of the scene can expected to be depicted with reasonable detail, but exacting detail might not be possible.
Timing is another major factor in the production of the artwork. GIC will establish a work schedule so that the backer can provide their initial input on the content of the artwork, and then a second opportunity will be given to the backer to provide input once the initial sketch is provided by the artist. We will provide a reasonable amount of time for the input to be given by the backer, but after that period the work needs to move forward without the backers input.
Overall, we all want really good artwork and this will be a collaborative process to find the right balance for the needs of the book and stakeholders in the project.
Shipping will be done with the United States Postal Service and is included in the price for domestic addresses and will include delivery confirmation (domestic only). For those outside of the US please add $10 to the backing level for shipping, or $15 if the "Sky Merchant" retailer reward level is selected.
For reward levels of $250 or more there is no additional shipping charge for international backers.
All of the rules introduced in Companions of the Firmament will be open content under the OGL license.
Yes! By all means.
The funding level is the minimum to help get the book published and to recoup the costs of bringing it to print. The more that is raised the more artwork and additional material can be invested in Companions of the Firmament, along with future projects and support.
The $1 pledge is there for anyone who just wants to help and be a part of the project. I'm happy to have all the support possible. It isn't just financial support that helps, it is also having a group of people, regardless of their own particular situations in life, standing behind you cheering you on. I probably should have called the $1 backing the "high five" backing, because it's like walking down the street and having someone put their hand up for a slap and saying "good job!"
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