Oubliette - Dark Fantasy Role-Playing, Second Edition
Your immortality is not in question. But what will you do with your new power now that you're trapped in the World of the Forsaken?
Oubliette. A dungeon with no way out. A place to put things to forget about them. A grand castle filled with destitute immortals. A world that is heaven, hell, or something in between.
Throughout the ages, the power of belief has waned for certain subjects. Forgotten, they disappear from our world. But where do they go? What do they do when they get there? Oubliette is the story of these forgotten beings and fell powers.
Oubliette is a dark fantasy table-top role-playing game and mythology. In it, players take on the roles of the long-lost, the forsaken, and the exiled, eking their way through a world built by hostile forces. Once in Oubliette, these beings find themselves unable to die, reincarnating whenever sweet oblivion would take them. But there are a few for whom this eternal life has not yet crushed.
The majority of the denizens of Oubliette have been ground down by endless hardships and emotional trauma. But there are a rare few that refuse to give up, struggling ever onward, scratching their way up from the dregs to rise to the highest echelons of Oubliette society. Heroes some, villains many, the Unbroken are the movers and shakers of the world of Oubliette. These are the characters the players take on, the toughest, most determined people in the cosmos: those that would stand against eternity itself.
The Unbroken come from many walks of life. Some were warriors in life, other arcanists or clerics, but all were skilled. They share only two common traits:
All are valuable. There is something about every single one of the millions of people in Oubliette that makes them special, useful, powerful, or unique. Many brought with them magic and other fell skills that no longer exist in this world.
All are lost. No trace of any of these inhabitants can be found in the World of Life. Many died in hopeless situations and were never found, or passed into anonymity after their deaths. Others were forsaken by all that knew them, leaving no record behind. And a very small few sought out Oubliette, closing themselves off and removing themselves from the world intentionally, in hopes of finding a way to the World of the Forgotten.
Once here in Oubliette, denizens are often confronted with brutal demonstrations of their new immortality. Oubliette is not a friendly place, particularly for newcomers, who are often seen as a source of steady income.
Some say that Oubliette is a sort of purgatory, or perhaps an hitherto unknown circle of hell. Others claim that Oubliette is simply the real afterlife, where concepts of good and evil play no part. The truth is far stranger.
The World of the Forgotten is a swirling maelstrom of energies and forces. From the moment a new denizen takes breath, they are assaulted by the caustic powers of the place. Whether the uninitiated endure, mutate, or internalize these powers, they are left changed forever. The Unbroken are notorious for using these energies, mutations, and powers to their advantage.
Castle Oubliette is a humongous agglomeration of thousands of years of decrepit buildings and ancient castles. Nearly a hundred miles from wall to wall, the Castle is divided into districts, wards, and cells. Over the eons, immortal hands have toiled away at rebuilding the city into something slightly greater than a rambling maze of enormous rubble. It's now possible to cross from district to district in relative safety, if one happens to have the coin to pay the innumerable tolls.
There are a great many factions and groups occupying Oubliette. In the absence of direct rule, great swaths of the Castle have been snatched up and are ruled as entirely separate lands.
Because of the undying nature of the denizens of Oubliette, the major factions, including the Draculeans, Coquille Roi, Thorns, and Ordo Sancti, have lasted a very long time indeed. But despite their tenacity, the districts and wards of Oubliette are constantly shifting.
Eternal life is a terrible curse, but it does provide one with ample opportunity. Over the eons, Castle Oubliette has been shaped by many hands, transforming entire districts with grinding progress. In Celeste, towers thousands of feet tall loom over the skyline, each one built brick-by-brick from the rubble of discarded centuries. In Mubigild, hundreds of square miles have been carved out from under the sinister surface, home to thousands of tribes of ancient netherfey. Even the comparatively safe confines of Grandhall are home to projects of ridiculous scale, the most famous of which is the Sumeilugrarion, a cathedral-sized organ connected to the entire district by sound tubes and echo chambers, constantly filling the wards with fugues of insane complexity.
There are direct effects, as well. Inhabitants of Oubliette are changed by their time here, often bearing physical manifestations of their newfound powers. Those skilled in the Arts Arcane bear glowing eyes and secondary telekinetic activity and shroud themselves in floating glyphs and magical texts. The Blood Arts are also visible from an early stage in crimson eyes and alabaster skin, but as the power grows, denizens gain terrifying control over their bodies, growing fangs, claws, and even wings when necessary. Savage power begins as a feral rage but quickly progresses into one of the most visually striking of the Arts, leaving practitioner/victims with monstrous forms unique to each individual. These Arts existed in the World of Life, but only in Oubliette do their users find the time, power, and desire to develop them to this extent.
The scale of power found in Oubliette is just as astonishing as the variety found there. Most denizens arrive at the height of their mortal power, only to find themselves massively outclassed by their new neighbors. The Broken often slip further down the scale, their capabilities withering until they're barely able to find food to stave off the hunger. The Unbroken usually grab opportunity by the horns and push themselves further up the scale, carving out a greater tale. But the scale continues all the way up to the god-like beings that dwell in Celeste and Slair, who's ancient determination has carried them well beyond the reach of mortal power. And who knows how these fell leaders fare against the great eldritch things that lurk in the darkest caverns of Oubliette?
But the World of the Forgotten is more ancient than human memory. Deep below the darkest bowels of the Castle itself lie ruins of dark secrets from the gulf of prehistory. The Lovecraftian things that dwell there are of such staggering immensity and breathtaking age that they cause tectonic activity in the city above. They've lived here since long before there were people to even make castles.
Oubliette's timeline doesn't match up with the World of Life. The original castle itself dates to about 1000 AD, but has paradoxically existed in the World of the Forgotten for more than a hundred millennia. A further mystery, when the denizen departed the World of Life holds no bearing on when they arrive in Oubliette. The Castle is home to ancient Greek gods, renaissance-era revolutionaries, dragons from the yawning depths of ages past, and orphans from modern London. Some of the most prodigious minds in the cosmos have set themselves at the task of understanding Oubliette's place in the universe, only to come up empty-handed.
Because of this ubiquitous anachronism, all sorts of technologies and stories can be found in Oubliette. Prehistoric shamans rampage past forgotten Soviet era rockets. Soldiers from the Second World War find themselves trapped in an completely-intact early French sanitarium. Cultists of the Great Old Ones rub shoulders with Unseele shadowdancers at a bazaar selling smartphones, now only useful as mirrors. But in spite of all those who wonder, the answer to the question, "Why?" remains elusive.
First Edition was... rough. The artwork was amateur at best, and the rules were vague and arcane. The core ideas of Oubliette, however, were strong right from the start.
In fact, as a gesture of good faith, I'm going to put Oubliette First Edition up for free for all those who want to experience the cringefest. Just keep in mind that we're going to do a lot better this time around.
Second Edition is intended to fix the problems of First Edition. We're integrating a new role-playing system, revamping the artwork, and adding detail to the background source material. With your help, I'll be able to devote even more time to Oubliette beyond the base goal, enhancing the artwork, adding more new content, and even penning brand new adventures for the World of the Forgotten.
Oubliette uses a streamlined story-telling system called Brevity. This system is designed to support role-playing, rather than the other way around. Brevity is extremely flexible and free-form, but also allows for fast contest resolution. It's simple enough that we're going to teach you the basics right now.
In Oubliette Brevity, characters are composed of four types of statistics:
Sources are where the character's power comes from, for example, Mind or Soul.
Aptitudes are what types of activities the character is good at. Example Aptitudes would be Defense or Subterfuge.
Skills are what tasks a character has training or experience in, such as Magic, Shooting, or Tactics.
Arts are special powers that all denizens of Oubliette acquire over time. Arts include Elemental, Blood Magic, Onslaught, and Precision.
For any given task or action a player wants to accomplish, they select one of each: a Source, an Aptitude, a Skill, and an Art and roll dice equal to the total of all four, checking for successes. Successes are gauged against a chart (for non-competitive tasks) or another character's roll.
The flexibility of Brevity lies in the ability of the players to describe any action they can think of in terms of Sources, Aptitudes, and Skills. A character trying to unload some arcane drugs on the black market might choose to use Mind, Subterfuge, and Social, while a Draculean riding a wyvern might use Body, Speed, and Pilot. The Game Master is encouraged to set limits, such as requiring a puzzle to be solved using Mind, if only to provide the players with the opportunity to find a clever way around the limitation. Brevity's bread and butter is player creativity and problem-solving.
- $2000 - Base Goal: Rewrite all the rules of the game, refresh the art style, and expand some of the background and character material.
- $4000 - Expanded Background: Expand upon all areas, factions, and racial groups.
- $10,000 - Art Upgrade: Enhance art quality. More time per piece, and more of it.
- $12,000 - Adventure 1: Design, write, and illustrate a starter adventure module for low-caste characters.
- $14,000 - Adventure 2: Design, write, and illustrate an adventure for powerful central caste characters.
- $15,000 - Adventure 3: Design, write, and illustrate an adventure for divine-power high-caste characters.
- $27,000 - Castle Lost: An entire new book filled with source material and art about the distant Castle Lost, where the servants of the gods do battle.
- $39,000 - Castle East: A new book chronicling Castle East, the Asian counterpart to Castle Oubliette.
- $50,000 - Army Hunters: A brand-new source book about the most powerful entities in the Oubliette Cosmos. Our answer to the Epic Level Handbook.
In the interest of transparency and disclosure, I'm including a few charts. The first here is the game-plan for how I'll use the funding, on a per-goal basis.
You can also see our estimated ship dates on the chart above, as well, based on what Stretch Goals we reach. Please keep in mind that these are very, very rough estimates, based on a lot of fudge factors. I'm very likely to start working on the project while the Kickstarter is still running, so that may effect things too.
There may only be four Pledge Levels, but there are a bunch of Addons to choose from as well.
[Pledge Level $1] Eternal Thanks: Get your name (or handle or what have you) in the book for all to see.
[Pledge Level $5] PDF Download: Once the book is done, you'll receive a digital copy of it. We may even try to include an epub version as well. Stretch Goals not included.
[Pledge Level $10] B&W Softcover: You'll receive a black & white physical copy of the new Second Edition Oubliette book in the mail. At this level and above, all Stretch Goals we reach will be included as downloadable PDF, as well as the base version.
[Pledge Level $25] Special Edition Softcover: Instead of the standard Black & White version, you'll receive a color softcover book in the mail and all PDFs, as above.
[Addon +$10] GM Screen: A full-sized screen with an evocative illustration of the Oubliette sprawl on the front, and a host of useful tools for the GM on the back, such as a full map of Oubliette, a rundown of Brevity, and various charts.
[Addon +$10] Standard Dice x12: 12 thematic red and gold 12mm dice.
[Addon +$10] Custom Die x1: Custom dice available individually as well, for those who don't need many of them.
[Addon +$50] Custom Dice x6: A pack of special-edition custom Oubliette dice.
[Addon +$25] Character Entry*: Your character will be included as an NPC in the book, with stats and a block of background material!
[Addon +$100] Character Illustration*: In addition to a Character Entry, you'll get a custom illustration of your character! This portrait will sit alongside the stat block in the book, and you'll receive an 8x12 print of your portrait in the mail!
[Addon +$40] Design a Faction*: Have an idea for an interesting group? We'll help you write it up and include it in the Factions section of the book!
[Addon +$40] Design a Cell*: Want to create your own personal mark in Oubliette? With Design a Cell, you'll be free to detail out anything from a room to a whole building complex and have it included in the book!
* Note that there will be revisions and rewriting on the last 4, to make sure submitted content fits with in, style and quality-wise.
Addons aside from Character Illustration will be handled through BackerKit. Please add the addon amount to your Pledge here in Kickstarter.
Let's assume that we're pretty close with the numbers above, in terms of what's popular or not. From that, we can figure the rough average pledge and calculate where the funding from that pledge goes.
The above charts show an expected, estimated breakdown of how the funds will be used, based on the Estimated Populations found in the Rewards & Addons chart above, and some assumptions about how many backers will need what sort of shipping. It also assumes certain things about how long the art will take compared to the writing, and who our manufacturing will be through.
Friends of Oubliette
SPLINTER: Surprising Things is in a similar vein to Oubliette, make sure you check out this cool project by End Transmission Games too!
Risks and challenges
The main risk of this project is feature creep. I've set the estimated delivery date to January of 2016, but if (by some mystical and astounding movement of fate) we end up getting into the upper Stretch Goals, the project may take significantly longer than anticipated. I've given my best estimates on the Funding per Goal chart.
Another potential lies in our exploration of Backerkit, which I've never worked with before. However, given how responsive they are, I'm sure any issues that arise will be dealt with quickly.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)