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created by Howard Tayler and Alan Bahr, and set in the universe of SCHLOCK MERCENARY
A tabletop RPG by Alan Bahr and Howard Tayler, and set in the Space Opera universe of SCHLOCK MERCENARY
A tabletop RPG by Alan Bahr and Howard Tayler, and set in the Space Opera universe of SCHLOCK MERCENARY
5,312 backers pledged $348,641 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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The Planet Mercenary Role Playing Game

$348,641

5,312

The Planet Mercenary Role Playing Game is a custom system designed for speedy play with rich storytelling. Combat goes quickly, and when it goes disastrously it's still a lot of fun.

The core product will be a hard-bound, illustrated, 240-page, full color world book, plus a deck of 110 cards used to steer your role play in hilarious directions. 

Our backers have also unlocked custom dice, armory pins, challenge coins, RiPP tokens, game screens, and an in-universe book, The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries. These are available at higher pledge levels, or singly as add-ons.

With the project about to close, you might be worried about getting your pledge right. You will be able to add funds after we close. If you're unsure, just get your foot in the door with a dollar at the "FORWARD OBSERVER" level, and relax for two weeks until the surveys go out.

WHAT COMES IN MY PLEDGE?

Let's make sure you're pledging for what you want. Note that when you pledge, there will be additional shipping charges for Canada and the EU above what's posted below. This should be clearly marked in the interface when you pledge.

  • COMPANY COMMANDER + $10 ($85.00 total) gets EVERYTHING: Pledge as a Company Commander, and add $10.00 for the RiPP tokens. EVERYTHING ELSE IS INCLUDEDexcept the autographs.
  • COMMODORE + $10 ($110.00 total) GETS EVERYTHING plus the autographs. Pledge as a Commodore, and add $10.00 for the RiPP tokens.

Those are our most popular pledge levels. Are you just here for the Maxims?

  • Seventy Maxims  ($20 total) That's all you need to know, really. If you want that book, this is the pledge. Ignore the noise of the MAXIMILLIAN levels. They're broken.

Now let's cover special cases and the broken things you can ignore (or un-pledge.)

  • ADMIRALS AND FIELD MARSHALS are spending $500 or more, and will get special treatment. If you're one of these lucky folks, email us. We'll take care of you.
  • RETAILERS get special treatment too. The Extended Mag is NOT included, and we can't offer a wholesale discount on it (it's already deeply discounted) but if you email us we'll work with you case-by-case based on what you want to re-sell.
  • Ignore MAXIMILLIAN. It's locked because it over-charges you (everybody pays $5.00 too much.) Our mistake, and with backers at that level we can't hide it or remove it.  
  • Ignore MAXIMILLIAN + AIR DROP because it under-charges you (EU saves $5.00). We locked it. If you can sneak in, we'll honor that price.

Let's look at the rest of the pledges.

  • FORWARD OBSERVER ($1.00):  If you're still unsure, or are waiting on money that will arrive after May 18th, stand pat at $1.00. You can add funds after we close, and the Backerkit interface will be more like a shopping  cart. You won't miss out on anything. This is true for all non-limited backer levels. If you're pledging when we close, you can add money and itemize later. 
  • AIR DROPPED GRUNT ($20.00): This gets you all of the PDFs we do. The Seventy Maxims book will NOT be a PDF, so you don't get that. Note that this pledge level has no shipping charges at all. 
  • SEVENTY MAXIMS book with an AIR DROP ($40.00): All the PDFs, plus the Seventy Maxims book.
  • SERGEANT IN MOTION ($45): The core book (now 240 pages,) the card deck, the Kickstarter Backer pin, and all the PDFs. 

Let's repeat something: If you're not sure about what you want, make sure you pledge at some level (any level, Forward Observer will do just fine) and you will be able to add funds in late May, and well into June through Backerkit. 

What Is In The Extended Mag?

"Extended Mag" items are extras above and beyond the core book, the cards, and the PDFs. 

  • Planet Mercenary/D6³ Challenge Coin
  • Two 3-die sets of custom six-sided dice (total of six dice)
  • Three in-universe manufacturer pins
  • A three-panel cardstock Game Chief's screen
  • The Seventy Maxims Book

These items are also be available as Add-Ons.  

If you want extras of things, or want to order stuff a la carte, here are the prices.

  • Dice—$8.00 for a set of 6: (two Mayhem dice, and four non-Mayhem dice.)
  • Planet Mercenary/D6³ Coin—$10.00 ea.
  • Pins—$5.00 ea, or $15.00 for the set.
  • Seventy Maxims hardcopy—$15.00
  • RiPP Tokens—$10 for a set of 20
  • Game Chief Screens—$5.00
  • Planet Mercenary books and MAYHEM decks—$45 per set
  • MAYHEM decks—$5

Everything except the RiPP tokens will be in the Extended Mag. That's $53 in goodies for just $30 over the core pledge. The prices above assume that you've already bid at a level that has shipping in the price somewhere. 

The Kickstarter Backer pins will be included for Sergeants on up, and we'll be sliding one or two of those into each retailer package as well.

If you're not sure, don't add money yet. As long as you're backing at some level by the time we close, you'll be able to add funds afterward to ensure you get what you want.

Your pledges have unlocked everything. Wow.

 Seriously. Wow.

The Planet Mercenary RPG is set in the Schlock Mercenary universe. Howard Tayler has been publishing Schlock Mercenary to the web since June of 2000. This science fiction setting is tooled up for those with a sense of humor and a sense of wonder, and the comic has been capturing reader imaginations for fifteen years now. The Planet Mercenary RPG is designed to let readers and non-readers alike exploit that depth as they role play stories of their own creation.

The Planet Mercenary book is an in-world artifact. The R&D team at the galaxy's largest independent reseller and distributor of weapons and materiel created this "old-timey" role playing book as a sneaky way to educate their clients' grunts, who are often unwilling to read briefing materials, let alone actual reference manuals. With this book those grunts will "accidentally" learn about their weapons, their enemies, and the places where they may draw their last breath. 

The body of the book is written from the point of view of writers in the Planet Mercenary corporate office, and the margins are sprinkled with comments from the CEO, who was assured that the book absolutely would NOT go to print until the comments had been stripped.

Early draft of a page from the Sophonts section
Early draft of a page from the Sophonts section

The cards in the game will inform your role-play, flesh out your story, and add the Schlock Mercenary universe's ubiquitous humor to your game. 

(Not an actual MAYHEM deck. Thank you, Photoshop.)
(Not an actual MAYHEM deck. Thank you, Photoshop.)

They're drawn at random following roughly 25% of the player characters' successful skill checks or combat rolls. Here's a sample:

Those cards are from the "good, permanent" and "good, temporary" categories. There are also "bad, temporary" and "bad, permanent" cards which you will learn to love just as much.

  • Howard Tayler is the lead writer, canon-checker, and art director. He has fifteen years of writing and illustration experience in this setting, and countless hours of RPG play and GM experience in a dozen different settings and systems
  • Alan Bahr is the game designer, and he both coordinates and runs the play-testing. He is intimately familiar with numerous RPG systems, though large portions of his resumé remain redacted due to non-disclosure agreements.
  • Sandra Tayler is the operations chief, editor-in-chief, and production lead. She has overseen the packaging and delivery of tens of thousands of packages shipped to all seven continents.

This is not our first book. Howard and Sandra have published eleven print collections of Schlock Mercenary comics, plus XDM: X-Treme Dungeon Mastery (by Tracy and Curtis Hickman), two children's books, and more. 

This is not our first Kickstarter. Howard and Sandra funded and delivered a very successful project back in 2013, which you can read about here. One deliverable was significantly delayed, but all the paid rewards went out on time.

If you're looking for crunchier information about the game, start with the Game-Play Primer page at schlocktroops.com, home of the Planet Mercenary RPG development team. 

A particularly popular post has been Howard's explanation of our design principles. For extra crunch, check out Howard's post on the D6³ Mayhem engine, and Alan's description of character generation

If you need still more, the schlocktroops.com site has an RSS feed so you can stay apprised as we talk dice, stats, game theory, and post lots of samples from our work in progress. That site will be updated regularly long after this project closes.

Howard can draw, yes, but just because he's been drawing Schlock Mercenary for 15 years doesn't mean his art style is right for this book. We have already begun contracting artwork, and Howard's job is to work with the artists and ensure that what they create fits the setting and the spirit of the book. 

If you're familiar with the comic, think of it this way: The art in Schlock Mercenary is a caricature of the universe described in the Planet Mercenary RPG. The comic is a comic, the RPG is reality.

Here are just a few of the pieces that have already come in.

Captain Murtaugh, by Rodolpho Langhi
Captain Murtaugh, by Rodolpho Langhi

We'll post more samples here as the project progresses, but the majority of that stuff is going to go up alongside our development notes at schlocktroops.com.

The Seventy Maxims book is a project that has been close to Howard's heart for a decade now. He's always meant for it to be an in-world artifact, and with this Kickstarter we can make it correctly.  

The book will be a hard-bound, saddle-stitched, 80-page volume with nice, sturdy paper. Seventy of those pages will have maxims on them, one per page, with some editorial commentary from the scholars working at the company responsible for creating the 3001CE Special Edition. The remaining ten pages will be front matter, introductory text, and stuff Howard hasn't thought up yet. 

As an in-universe artifact, this book will be the copy that Karl Tagon received as a gift when he was a young enlistee. His handwritten notes will appear in the margins, as will the notes of various other people through whose hands the book has passed. Have a look!

Mockup of the page for Maxim 4
Mockup of the page for Maxim 4

We do not plan to release this as a PDF as part of this Kickstarter. We realize that this may disappoint many of you, but the margin writing is an important part of the book's story, and we don't want to design that for both PDF and hard copy at this time. We might do a PDF or eBook at a later date, but that's not part of this project.

What Does the Rest of This Stuff Look Like?

We're still in the design phase on the dice, but we've got suppliers lined up who can give us SIX custom faces rather than one. The current Mayhem die design is purple with bullet-pocks for pips and the MAYHEM text on the six. The non-Mayhem dice will probably be green with manufacturer logos on the six, and we might even do something to distinguish the two green dice from each other if you want to go house-rule crazy with permutations.

Here's an early draft of the RiPP tokens. The $10 RiPP add-on gives you twenty of these. They'll be aluminum, anodized for color, and will be about the size of a US quarter (25mm in diameter, 3mm thick).

Early RiPP Token draft by Howard Tayler
Early RiPP Token draft by Howard Tayler



Here's what the pins and coins will look like (though there will be some tweaks, like the addition of the missing hyphen.)

Pin and coin proofs by Joey Visser, Signature Coins
Pin and coin proofs by Joey Visser, Signature Coins

  Joey is the designer who did such brilliant work on our coins two years ago, and I'm happy to be entrusting him with the design work again this time around (though not for quite as many pieces of metal.)

  We don't yet have images for the Game Chief Screen or the "All The Ships To Scale" art. The screen will be 6.5"x26", tri-fold. It's smaller than most screens, but it will have everything you need just a glance away.

Here's a conservative take on our schedule. If it goes faster, that's nice. These are dates we're confident that we can hit while delivering a product that we'll be proud of and you'll be thrilled to own.


April-May 2015: Project launch! In the 34 days this project runs we'll be updating this page, polishing some rule text, and writing furiously.

Mid-May 2015: After we fund, we start contracting art. Writing and editing continues in parallel.

August 2015: By August all of the commissioned art should be turned in, and the final writing should be done as well. At this point we begin editing and layout in earnest.

November 2015: At this point the core book will be ready to be sent to the printer, and all other materials will ready for manufacture (some may have already been completed, but the book is the big one.)

February 2016: All product components have been manufactured and delivered to us. We begin building packages to ship to you.

April 2016: Your stuff arrives! 

That's a twelve-month schedule. A year is a long time to wait, we know, but we'll keep this page updated as we plug away on this. 

We want to create something that remains engaging for you and your players for years to come. Depending on the success of this project, that engagement will almost certainly include Planet Mercenary community pages for sharing your adventure designs, swapping custom equipment, and of course regaling each other with stories of grunts who beat all the odds (or who beat none of them repeatedly.)

We are also considering producing some of what the RPG industry calls "splat-books." These would be additional source books that add playable races and additional equipment along with a collection of pre-made adventures in a set of new locations. We don't have a schedule for these yet, let alone pricing, but if this game works as well for you as it has for our play testers, we will all be wanting them.

This section might best be described as the "we are not doing miniatures" section. 

If there's one thing we've learned over the last several years of making stuff, it's that a focused project is a more successful project. Here is a list of things that will not be included as stretch goals:

  • Miniatures
  • Clothing
  • Computer games
  • Mobile games
  • Bags
  • Drinkware
  • Replica Weapons
  • An MP3 Soundtrack
  • Kitchen Sinks

We might do T-shirts at some future date, but they're not part of this project. Similarly, while Sandra and Howard do have plans for more Schlock Mercenary themed items, like steins, shopping bags, and major appliances, those are not going to be bundled with this project. 

Planet Mercenary needs, first and foremost, to be a fantastic role-playing book. We are going to spend all of our energy making sure that's what you get. 

Risks and challenges

There are three principal risks associated with this project:
1) Team Complexity
2) Print Complexity
3) Unknown Unknowns

TEAM COMPLEXITY: We're working with over a dozen illustrators to create this book. Each of those individuals plays an important role, and is creating things that we want to include. Any team this large and complex is going to run into schedule problems--computer failures, illness, etc. Our April 2016 delivery date accounts for some of this, and makes allowances for rotation of team members if necessary.

MANUFACTURING COMPLEXITY: We're printing thousands of copies of the core book, 50 different cards, and if we hit our stretch goals we'll be making some other things as well. We will be working with at least four different manufacturers. Fortunately, we've worked with each of these manufacturers before, and are confident in their ability to deliver. There may still be schedule issues depending on the size of the final project, but these manufacturers have scaled way up for us in the past with minimum slippage.

UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS: In the field of military intelligence, this is the stuff that sits outside of what we can make contingency plans for. All we can do is set aside time to make those contingency plans if the truly unexpected happens. We know that things we cannot plan for might happen, and we're prepared to adjust in order to deliver the project in spite of hurricanes, earthquakes, or alien invasions.

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    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    FORWARD OBSERVER
    You have our thanks! Also, as a backer of the project you will be party to all backer emails, and you will have the option to pick up project rewards at "Add-On" prices after the project has funded.

    (Rewards purchased by FORWARD OBSERVERS will be delivered on the schedule used by the tiers for those rewards.)

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    AIR-DROPPED GRUNT
    You get full-color PDFs of both the PLANET MERCENARY core book and the associated card deck.

    If shelf space is at a premium, and shipping is problematic, this is the option for you.

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    MAXIMILLIAN

    You're just here for the Maxims. You get Commodore Karl Tagon's personal copy of THE SEVENTY MAXIMS OF MAXIMALLY EFFECTIVE MERCENARIES. This 80 page hardback features all seventy maxims, editorial commentary, and handwritten notes in the margins.

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    MAXIMILLIAN (corrected shipping)

    You're just here for the Maxims. You get Commodore Karl Tagon's personal copy of THE SEVENTY MAXIMS OF MAXIMALLY EFFECTIVE MERCENARIES. This 80 page hardback features all seventy maxims, editorial commentary, and handwritten notes in the margins.

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    Seventy Maxims Book

    You're just here for the Maxims. You get Commodore Karl Tagon's personal copy of THE SEVENTY MAXIMS OF MAXIMALLY EFFECTIVE MERCENARIES. This 80 page hardback features all seventy maxims, editorial commentary, and handwritten notes in the margins.

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    MAXIMILLIAN with an AIR DROP

    You get the hard copy of Commodore Karl Tagon's personal copy of THE SEVENTY MAXIMS OF MAXIMALLY EFFECTIVE MERCENARIES.

    You also get full-color PDFs of the PLANET MERCENARY core book and the associated card deck.

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    SEVENTY MAXIMS book with an AIR DROP

    You get the hard copy of Commodore Karl Tagon's personal copy of THE SEVENTY MAXIMS OF MAXIMALLY EFFECTIVE MERCENARIES.

    You also get full-color PDFs of the PLANET MERCENARY core book and the associated card deck.

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    SERGEANT IN MOTION:
    You get the PLANET MERCENARY core book and the accompanying card deck, plus the PDF editions of both.

    This is the perfect set for the hard-core gamer on a budget. You've already got dice, right?

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    COMPANY COMMANDER:

    You get the PLANET MERCENARY core book, the accompanying card deck,and PDF editions of both. You also get all of the EXTENDED MAG items at no extra charge.

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    COMMODORE:

    You get everything the COMPANY COMMANDER gets, including the EXTENDED MAG items, plus your core book will be signed in the inside cover by game designer Alan Bahr, principal writer Howard Tayler, and chief editor and layout designer Sandra Tayler.

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    RETAILER PACKAGE

    Ten copies of the PLANET MERCENARY core book, and ten copies of the accompanying card deck (MSRP $49.95 for each paired set) plus back-channel comms (we'll swap contact information with you to ensure proper delivery, and arrange for additional wholesale purchases and possible promotional opportunities.)

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    GENCON FIELD MARSHAL

    Play the game with Howard at GenCon in 2015!

    This reward includes everything at the COMMODORE level, plus a pre-release PLANET MERCENARY games session with Howard at Gen-Con Indy 2015. The date and location of the game will be announced immediately prior to Gen-Con Indy, but will likely be in an adjoining hotel on Thursday or Friday night.

    (Gen-Con Indy membership, travel, and lodging is NOT included. COMMODORE rewards will be delivered on the COMMODORE reward schedule.)

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    REAR ADMIRAL

    You get the autographed book and the EXTENDED MAG like the COMMODORE, plus you get all the add-ons.

    Additionally your name will be turned into Schlock Mercenary canon as one of the LOCATIONS or NPCs in the book. Please refer to "Pledging as an Admiral" for more details.

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    HIGH ADMIRAL

    You get the autographed book and the EXTENDED MAG like the COMMODORE, plus you get all the add-ons.

    Additionally, your name will be turned into Schlock Mercenary canon as one of the CORPORATIONS featured in the book. This will include a logo, but not a caricature. Please refer to "Pledging as an Admiral" for more details.

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Funding period

- (34 days)