I make games and I write stories. I also run games, and have sometimes wished that I could capture the spontaneity, fun and excitement of tabletop RPG sessions. Inspired by some podcasting friends, I started recording games while testing out an all-new setting and rules engine. I'd like to make those recordings available through the miracle of podcasting.
The phrase "termination shock" refers to the outer reaches of a solar system, but it could (of course) also indicate the terror of a sudden ending. The setting for the game plays on both meanings.
In the late-mid 21st century, the humans of Earth have passed the Singularity but it is (with a nod to William Gibson) unevenly distributed. The technologies that make the exhumans of Earth and Venus inscrutably advanced, and which allow rogue AIs outside the orbit of Saturn to constantly improve their attack strategies, are forbidden to the "stock human" settlers of Mars and the asteroid belt. They live hardscrabble lives, pinned between killbots that want them extinct and repurposed, and Earthlings who don't really care but who are too smart to argue with.
Then something happens. I'm not going to put up spoilers here but... let's just say things get really, really interesting.
The new engine for TERMINATION SHOCK is meant to be simple but robust, and capable of giving flavor to every action without raising handling time or slowing down resolution. Every roll not only tells you if you succeeded, but how, and even when you fail, you know why. It's a fast, easy system with a consistent mechanic that carries over between physical, emotional and intellectual conflicts.
I had a setting I liked and some rules I was felt good about, but the players I got definitely made a mark on the game. I presented Jose Garcia and Lochlan Sudarshan with the gritty life of imperiled Martians, and they immediately felt that what it needed was a real Frasier vibe.
That's right. The protagonists for my game have wound up being half Han Solo and half Niles Crane. Does it work well? No.
It works brilliantly.
But you don't have to take my word for it. You can hear the first podcast for free, right now, at https://soundcloud.com/greg-stolze/termination-shock-1-frasier-crane-and-the-spiders-from-mars.
The money from the first phase of funding goes to cover making the reward patches, paying for hosting on SoundCloud for a year, the sound recording software I already bought, giving Kickstarter its cut, and paying me for the many hours I spend clumsily editing the recordings. If we go over? Well, there's lots more I'd like to do with TERMINATION SHOCK.
I have three podcasts edited and ready for listeners. There's another nine recorded--probably more by the time I launch this. If we hit our base goal, I'll commit to releasing the first four podcasts and keeping them available for at least a year, along with all the other sessions I can manage to get edited.
THE STRETCH GOALS
Here's where the rubber really hits the road. If you're interested in more than the podcast of us playing, funding can get you more. Here's what we can stretch to!
$800 - FIRST CONTACT. If you're a fan of my short stories (which you can find a big load of here) you might be interested in a story I wrote for the TERMINATION SHOCK setting. It's between 2-3000 words, and if we hit $800, I'll send a copy to every backer. Hell, I might just stick it up on the fiction library for everyone!
$1500 - PRODUCER ROSS. Have you heard RPPR or The Mixed Six? They both benefit from the sound production skills of Ross Payton. If we hit this goal, I'll hire him to edit the next seven episodes of TERMINATION SHOCK, something I'm sure he'll be able to do faster and better than me.
$3000 - SOMETHING VERY ROUGH. It makes sense that if you want to listen to a game podcast, you're probably interested in games, so if we hit $3000, every single backer gets a rough, very rough, oh-so-rough PDF of TERMINATION SHOCK, the RPG. Currently the rules are at about 23,000 words.
$3500 - CAPACITY. Another short story in the setting, sent to backers and (maybe) eventually up in the fiction Library.
$4000+ I WOULD BUY YOU AN ART. If we hit this level, in addition to fanning myself I'll hire professional artists to do pieces related to TERMINATION SHOCK.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE
I'm not going to lie to you: You know when you're making pancakes, that first one is always a little globby and weird? The first podcast is a bit like that. You can hear it OK, but it's not squeaky clean. The second podcast sounds better, because I dropped coin for a better recording program, and the third is when I started using headphones and split-track recording.
If you don't like the quality of the first podcast, believe me when I say it only gets better. If you think the first one sounds OK, then... wow, later ones are just going to blow you away.
Risks and challenges
Almost all the work for the basic project is done. The recordings are made, edited and exported. The patches were ordered before the KS went live and I've been printing out linocuts. The stories are written, as is the rough cut of the game. I could put them online tomorrow.
The biggest threat to fulfilling stretch goals would be having someone fail to process the next nine podcasts. That doesn't seem like a very big threat to me: Ross has a reputation for being reliable and thorough. But if something kept Ross from doing the work, I would look for someone else, possibly the producer of the MASK OF THE OTHER audiobook. Worst case, I'd have to do it myself, which I could. It would just take much longer. But if it came to that, I'd be obligated.
-G.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (15 days)