About this project
LISTEN UP PEOPLE
(EDIT: If mad, shouting enthusiasm isn't your thing, then we've prepared a professional pitch outlining what Unbound is and why you should back us. If you're into rampant yelling, read on!)
I’m Grant “Goblin Quest, Drunken Bear Fighter, Doctor Magnethands” Howitt and I’ve written a tabletop roleplaying game with a guy called Chris Taylor. Who’s Chris Taylor? I met Chris Taylor in 2005 and we immediately became BEST FRIENDS FOREVER so you can take my word for it when I say he’s a STAND-UP CHAP and BRILLIANT AT GAMES.
ANYWAY the game we have written is called UNBOUND and it is STELLAR. Here’s why: it’s a UNIVERSAL GAME, and before you say “oh Grant, we don’t need another universal game,” let me say NO, YOU DON’T, you need THIS ONE. It can run ANYTHING so long as it’s got FIGHTS in it, and ALL the best stories have fights in them so THERE.
Want to tell a story about CORRUPT CYBERPUNK POLICE OFFICERS in OVERCLOCKED POWER ARMOUR? You can do that. Princesses riding SOULBOUND UNICORNS? YUP, as long as you LET US PLAY TOO. Captains in charge of ELITE MILITARY UNITS, taking back a fractured city, BLOCK BY BLOODY BLOCK? 100%. BEARS, as in, everyone just plays a BEAR, and some of the bears are wearing HATS? A HUNDRED TIMES YES.
We designed the rules to be liquid, in that whatever space you create with the setting, they’ll FLOW NATURALLY IN to fill it up perfectly. (We are VERY PROUD of the rules.)
ALSO you make the world when you make the characters. How great is that? I’ll tell you - MANY GREAT. Gamesmasters, tired of having to spend HOURS slaving over a HOT NOTEPAD while your players SWAN UP every week like they OWN THE PLACE? We’ve written a system that lets you run with BASICALLY THE SAME AMOUNT OF PREP AS YOUR PLAYERS because they do MOST OF THE WORK and you turn up and TAKE ALL THE CREDIT.
(I’ve written a gamesmaster chapter, too, a companion to my 11 Ways To Be A Better Roleplayer that's helped just shy of 400,000 people improve their game, and it's FANTASTIC.)
What’s more, making a character is EASY and FUN AS HECK. Here’s the breakdown: a character’s CORE is their motivation, their story position. Every character in the group shares the same core - like WARRIOR or OUTLAW or DEVOUT - and it comes with SIX GROUP QUESTIONS that cement the WORLD and the PLOT into place in ONE FELL SWOOP. Okay, SIX FELL SWOOPS.
Next up is the ROLE- the particular way you rock in combat. DEADEYES are masters of shooting stuff; WARDENS are excellent at getting punched in the face; STRIKERS stab people and look good doing it; PROTECTORS heal and support their allies; and BRAWLERS generally get their teeth kicked in but take a few guys down with them.
Finally there’s the TRAITS, and traits are awesome stuff like MIGHTY WEAPON or SPIRIT or FIRE or THE UNNATURAL or RAGE, and they FLAVOUR your character and give them COOL POWERS. Want a pet swarm of bees? Want to become a werewolf? Want to teleport to the SHADOW REALM with one UNLUCKY CHUMP who GOT IN YOUR WAY? We’ve got that covered. And they all have QUESTIONS ATTACHED which BUILD THE WORLD, like: Who is your BEE SENSEI? How am werewolf happen? WHAT AM SHADOWREALM? Et cetera.
POP QUIZ, HOTSHOT. What’s the average intended length of a roleplaying game campaign? Yes, you at the back - that’s right, FOREVER. You get a bunch of people together and you pretend to be elves once a week until a) level 20 or b) you get bored, and AIN’T NO-ONE GOT TIME FOR THAT. Unbound works in LUMPS OF STORY called ADVENTURES which are FOUR TO SIX GAMES LONG. Loads of ADVENTURES make a SAGA.
But here’s the deal; you change characters when you change adventures. You find some interesting part of the world and explore it through play like a GENIUS. You play the BAD GUYS. You play the KIDS of the previous characters. You play ALIENS landing six thousand years in the future, skimming through the wreckage. You play the CHUMPS left behind to defend the city while the HEROES went off on an adventure. You keep playing, you keep changing focus, until you want to make a new world. And that’s UNBOUND.
What else? The battle system is CRACKING and we’ve got an INNOVATIVE STAMINA SYSTEM that means, every round, you’re judging whether or not to press on or fall back. We use cards, rather than dice. OH YEAH, NEARLY FORGOT, you and all your players will be SCRAWLING THEIR PERMANENT WOUNDS and MAGNIFICENT GLORIES on a deck of playing cards that BEARS THEIR HISTORY and is also ALL OF THEIR HITPOINTS. It’s CINEMATIC and TACTICAL at the same time and we’re so BLOODY HAPPY WITH IT.
We've got our GAMES DESIGN FRIENDS and HEROES to write TOUCHSTONES in the book to help YOU generate WORLDS and PLOTS. Who do we have? How about GAV "Inquistor" THORPE? ROB "13th Age" HEINSOO? JASON "Fiasco" MORNINGSTAR? MERRITT "Lim" KOPAS? MEG "80 Days" JAYANTH? FROG "Happy Birthday Daniel Barker" CROAKLEY? CARA "Dishonored 2" ELLISON? SEAN "Cons Prial" SMITH? They're all on board, and we have more besides. Merritt's touchstones are all based on Morrissey lyrics so GOOD FOR HER.
We’ve got FIFTY ADVERSARIES in the book and drop-dead GORGEOUS art from Adrian Stone. We’ve made the WHOLE DAMN THING with an eye to GENDER EQUALITY and BODY EQUALITY and we’ve point-blank refused to have any SEXY ELVES or CHAINMAIL BIKINIS or ANY OF THAT TOSH IN IT.
We’re tall, debonair, devilishly handsome and can hold our drink. We are going to KNOCK THE GAMES INDUSTRY OFF ITS AXIS with our BEAUTIFUL IDEAS and you will have to attach yourselves to us with SKYHOOKS to KEEP UP WITH US.
SOMEBODY BRING ME A MIC SO I CAN DROP IT
NICE THINGS OTHER PEOPLE HAVE SAID ABOUT UNBOUND
"Mate. Unbound. Bloody excellent. [...] We've never had so much fun building and playing in a campaign world together." - Anthony Stiller, games designer and artist
"Unbound has a great combination of action and drama - it's tactical enough to get your teeth into, but cinematic enough that you don't get bogged down in the mechanics and always have a chance to do something cool." - Joanna Piancastelli, winner of the 2015 Golden Cobra live games award
"I think UNBOUND might be my favorite RPG, for serious. I had fun with it before, but we played again tonight with the newest rules, much changed, and it's badass. One guy had never played an RPG before, asked if his character could be "basically Swamp Thing" and it was great to be able to say yes. And have it be true! I've been playing and GMing a lot of new RPGs lately and this one was by far the most fun, right out the gate." - Andy North, livegames designer and improv genius
"Unbound is so awesome. Building a world out of stories is super satisfying - it's like creating a mythology. A whole damn mythology!" - Ed Croft, comedy musical pirate and games designer
"The hierarchy of adventure-building tools is very very elegantly put together." - Laura "Smith" Loolaid, writer and playtester
We’ve assembled a FANTASTIC-LOOKING and HIGHLY-SKILLED TEAM of EXPERTS to make this happen. WE ARE:
GRANT HOWITT, maverick indie writer and games designer, author of all those games he mentioned above and also One Last Job, Warrior Poet and several others. He ran the Kickstarter for GOBLIN QUEST last year and it went PRETTY WELL, and he's part of the team that won Threeforged in 2015 with FIELD WORK.
CHRIS TAYLOR, writer and maverick indie games designer, creator of Zombie LARP and this NEW HOTNESS you might have heard of called UNBOUND; Chris has been playing and breaking roleplaying systems since the AGE OF NINE and was GRANT’S FIRST GM.
ADRIAN STONE, heroic glistening art god, and GOD DAMN have you SEEN HIS DRAWINGS give us MONEY so we can get him to DRAW MORE OF THEM.
ALINA SANDU, crackerjack layout and design professional, who made GOBLIN QUEST look good and who once let us CAPTAIN a PRETEND SPACESHIP in her LIVING ROOM and we ALL DIED.
HARRY GOLDSTONE, straight-shootin’ freelance copywriter and proofreader and noted pedant, who’s been CORRECTING GRANT’S BLOG POSTS for YEARS for FREE and so now we decided to PAY HIM to do it because we’re SPLENDID.
MARY HAMILTON, producer; certified goddamn genius, executive editor for audience at the Guardian, Grant’s wife, and possessor of many other fine achievements - has done BRILLIANT STUFF with her BRAIN and SPREADSHEETS which means that this project will WORK.
£22,000 - FUNDED. You are the ACTUAL BEST PEOPLE and things are only going to get BETTER from HERE ON IN.
£24,000 - MORE ART. Look at that GORGEOUS ART. You want more of it? OF COURSE YOU DO. We’ll commission more art from Adrian Stone and WHACK IT IN the book for everyone to see.
£28,000 - GENRE PACK COMMUNITY VOTE: TWO-FISTED ROAD WARRIOR VAMPIRES. We want to write more rules for Unbound, so this is basically a reward for EVERYONE, including us. We’ll commission a piece of art and write a new core, 52 touchstones, a new trait and a hierarchy of adversaries for one of the following background genres, as voted on by YOU, the backers: URBAN HORROR, POST-APOCALYPSE, or PULP ADVENTURE. We’ll release the rules as a PDF.
£33,000 - NICEST BOOKS. We’ll upgrade the paper and binding quality of the physical book, making it as nice as we possibly can.
£36,000 - GENRE PACK COMMUNITY VOTE: CYBERTHULHU AND DRAGONS. Time to have your say on what we write rules for: LOVECRAFTIAN HORROR, CYBERPUNK, or CLASSIC FANTASY.
£39,000 - GENRE PACK COMMUNITY VOTE: MAGICAL GOBLIN TEA PARTY. Time to have your say on what we write rules for, again. THIS ROUND: JUNK MAGIC, REGENCY LADIES, or GOBLINS!
£42,000 - GENRE PACK COMMUNITY VOTE: SILVER REMATCH. Get back in there, SLUGGER, it’s time for the SILVER REMATCH. We’ll round up the three genres that came second in the three previous votes and give them a FIGHTING CHANCE to make it into RULES-HOOD.
£45,000 - LET’S GET PHYSICAL. Every stretch goal will be printed in the ACTUAL BOOK, both SOFTCOVER and HARDCOVER, which is EXPENSIVE but also PRETTY EXCITING.
£46,000+ - STAY TUNED.
Risks and challenges
First things first: this book is WRITTEN. All the words are in the RIGHT ORDER and it’s a GREAT ORDER. All we need the money for is to COMMISSION the ART, DESIGN the BOOK, and PRINT the whole KIT AND KABOODLE and get it into your WONDERFUL HANDS. As a crack squad of GAMES DESIGN HEROES we have run the numbers on this one and we can DO IT.
This isn’t our first rodeo, either - we did a kickstarter last year that finished at over 1000% FUNDED. We’ve got relationships with printers and distributors in place, so once the book is done, we can get it out to you as soon as HUMANLY POSSIBLE.
The only delays we can envisage are if some of us, as FANTASTIC as we are, get ILL or DIE or something. Which would be a shame, but we can work around that and HIRE OTHER, EQUALLY FANTASTIC PEOPLE to do it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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