To the West is the Dark, swarming with Sirens and their kind.
To the East is the Light, armageddon to all that it touches.
Between them is civilization, scattered and hungry.
Welcome to the Dawnline.
What Is The Dawnline?
The Dawnline is a tabletop roleplaying game about a group of vampires protecting a nomadic village on a world where day and night are places--and where all of society lives in the twilight in between.
The vampires depend on their village for blood and companionship. Without the humans, they would starve in the wasteland--or forget themselves as they regress into feral states.
At the same time, the village depends on the vampires. The twilight they travel through is not safe. It is filled with strange ruins, desperate raiders, feral vampires, other villages, and creatures from the Dark ahead.
Only the vampires can protect the village, and only the village can shelter the vampires.
If their alliance comes apart, there will be nothing left of either of them but ash on the Dawnline.
What Is Gameplay Like?
The Dawnline is crunchy, tactical, and easy to pick up. Decisions play a bigger role than dice, and the core rules are straightforward, but there's also a lot of room for players to get deep into the mechanics and build strategies that fit their playstyle.
Gameplay in The Dawnline is broken into two phases. In the first, the players discover an opportunity or a threat to their nomadic community (such as a swarm of predatory Sirens from the Dark or a hypertech Ruin blocking their route) and journey out to face it. In the second, the players come home and manage their village.
For dice, The Dawnline uses d6s. Outside of combat, you roll them, add them up, and compare them against a target number. If you succeed, you achieve your aim. If you fail, the GM escalates the situation and your life gets interesting. If you don't like your roll, you can spend quick-to-recover Will Points to boost it, turning a failure into a success.
In combat, you can do all of the above, but you can also activate Powers, inflict debilitating Conditions, forgo some of your damage to regain Willpower, and decide how much of your Initiative you're going to convert into Actions and how much you're going to spend on going first.
As vampires, the players are hard to kill, and they can survive attacks that would obliterate mortals, but the village is also a character in the story, and growing, upgrading, and protecting it is the point around which gameplay orbits. If the vampires die, the village searches for new protectors. If the village dies, the vampires are left on their own in the wastes, without blood and companionship to preserve their humanity.
What's The Setting Like?
The Dawnline takes place in a land of deserts, steppes, and badlands, where water is scarce and food is hard to come by. Worse, every living creature must constantly migrate west to flee the obliterating Light, which lies on the other side of the Dawnline.
Pushing too far west takes a community into the Dark, where the alien Sirens dwell, but staying in the twilight is fraught with its own perils. Predatory fauna, spatial anomalies, bandits, raiders, feral vampires, and unfamiliar communities all dot the Twilight, making the same constant westward migration.
If that weren't enough, strange, arcano-science Ruins periodically come out of the Dark, crossing the twilight until they are ultimately lost to the Light. These Ruins can be explored for the unguessable treasures that they sometimes hold, but they are often death-traps, with still-functional defense systems and other, worse surprises for those who dare to set foot inside.
Oh, That Sounds Like...
Yes it does. The Dawnline is the result of a lot of different influences.
The setting is inspired by Vampire Hunter D and Pitch Black. The gameplay is inspired by Banner Saga, Oregon Trail, and Darkest Dungeon.
There's also some cross-pollination from the Japanese tabletop roleplaying scene. Games like Ryuutama and Dracurouge played roles in inspiring the Dawnline.
So It's Finished?
The text of the core book is in a stable alpha state, but there's always room for improvement. Playtesting will be ongoing throughout the kickstarter, but---barring a catastrophic meltdown of the entire internet---the game already exists and is playable.
The purpose of the kick is not only to distribute the book, but also to raise funding for art, layout, and to generate more content.
Specifically, in addition to our print run of The Dawnline, we are planning to release a fiction PDF called Tales From the Dawnline, as well as Feral States, a PDF of monsters and scenarios. Both of these will be free to all backers.
I Did Notice There Were A Lot Of Backer Levels
This is a game about community, and Kickstarting is a big process where an ad-hoc community pulls together to make a something they heard about on the internet become real.
It felt right to create opportunities for people to make their own mark on the game. The core rules will not be affected by this, and all stretch goals and backer-commissioned content will be made available to everyone.
Specifically, new Roles, Lineages, Powers, Example Characters, Snippets, Example Text, Artifacts, and Faces will all go into the core book.
New Stories will go into the Tales of the Dawnline PDF.
New Scenarios and Monsters will go into the Feral States PDF, as will any content produced by the Tweetstiary.
Introducing: The Tweetstiary
The night is more interesting when it's full of terrors, so in order to help people find out about The Dawnline, we've created a social media campaign called The Tweetstiary.
The way it works is this. If you're on social media, tweet a link to The Dawnline and use the hashtag #Tweetstiary
We'll track the tweets and add new monsters whenever we hit certain goals. All monsters from the Tweetstiary will go into the Feral States PDF, and on top of that the extra exposure will help us hit stretch goals, resulting in what will hopefully be an avalanche of free content to all backers.
Furthermore, at the end of the campaign, whoever tweets the most will receive an in-book credit as The Harbinger Of Tweets. We won't be in the running for this, so the winner will either be a backer or for some reason a highly-motivated non-backer.
Tweets will be tallied daily, so you can follow the campaign's progress in (semi) real time.
- ✔ 1 Tweet: New Monster (Chullah Outrider)
- ✔ 5 Tweets: New Monster (Coronae Kiln-Haunt)
- ✔ 10 Tweets: New Monster (Ambassador Wasp)
- ✔ 20 Tweets: New Monster (Coronae Candessa)
- ✔ 40 Tweets: New Monster (Emburrowed Strongarm)
- ✔ 80 Tweets: New Monster (Tyrant Chullah)
- ✔ 160 Tweets: New Monster (Vespidary Falconer)
- 320 Tweets: New Monster (Blightfly Meatswarm)
Print Flyers and Spread the Word
✔ $2000 - Basic Funding Level
✔ $2300 - New Monster (Wayfarer Dreadcluster)
✔ $2700 - New Role (Bulletknack)
✔ $3200 - New Lineage + Power (Seraph, Dreadlight)
✔ $3500 - New Monster (Simulacral Insidiant)
✔ $4000 - New Scenario (Chaos At The Grand Bazaar)
✔ $4300 - New Monster (Child of the Glass Coffin)
✔ $4700 - New Role (Echo Dowser)
✔ $5200 - New Lineage + Power (Primarial, Vice)
✔ $5500 - New Monster (Deepnight Dunereaver)
✔ $6000 - New Scenario (Upon Steeds Of Iron)
✔ $7000 - Village Complexity Upgrade (deep upgrade trees and unlocks)
✔ $7300 - 3 New Supply Items and 1 New Quality
✔ $7600 - 3 New Gear Upgrades and 1 New Quality
✔ $7900 - 3 New Gear Upgrades and 1 New Quality
✔ $9000 - Core Rules Upgrade (Ruin-generation system)
$11,500 - The Shattered Steppe PDF: An Oregon-Trail-style campaign with Fate Checks for travelling from point to point, an adventure/encounter/randomgen Ruin at each point, a branching campaign map, and an overarching plot.
$14,000 - The Duskline PDF: A full game conversion that takes place on the other side of Janus, where the more moons the PCs can see in the darkness that chases them, the more they transform into their aberrant selves.
Joe Bush (Publisher, Artist, and Layout) is a game designer and artist known for Heroines of the First Age, Oubliette, Summoner's Grimiore, and Wasuremonogatari. He works almost exclusively in digital art, favoring stylized work with a distinct anime and manga feel. Joe's projects range through fantasy, science fiction, horror, and Japanese themes. He is the owner of Voidspiral Entertainment where he works full time on game development and commissions.
Richard Kelly (Designer and Writer) is a writer and designer whose interests run towards weird and gothic fiction. The game lines he has written for include Oubliette Second Edition, Heroines of the First Age, Pathogen: Unclassified, Wicked Pacts, Splinter, and Golden Sky Stories. He has been interested in Japanese-style tabletop ever since discovering that it exists, and his writing is occasionally infested with owls.
Enmanuel Abarca (Artist) is an artist from Venezuela living in Colombia. He has been a freelance artist for about 7 years and a full time artist for about 3 years now. He has been drawing since he can remember, and it has always been his passion and his hobby, but it never came across his mind that he would been doing it for a living. He studies graphic design and, although it’s not directly related to illustration, he did learn a lot of color, composition and how to use most of the programs that he uses today. Illustration has been mostly a self taught process, and he has worked mostly on small independent publisher projects, book covers, and a lot of stockart. Here you can find his online portfolio.
Miguel Santos (Artist) is a freelance illustrator for RPGs, tabletop/card games, and magazines. He is also an indie comic book author. His favorite themes are Sci Fi, Horror, Fantasy, History, and Politics. His dystopian webcomic is here, and his online portfolio can be found here.
Zachary Card (Artist) is a fantasy enthusiast that spends his days writing software and his nights playing games and practicing art. He tries to understand what makes things unique and uses that to inform his art. As a gamer, he enjoys fiction with big worlds that are larger than the characters they contain, and games with mechanics in a tight, interactive meta. He finds inspiration in the works of HP Lovecraft, hidden secretly in lines of code, and in spaces between leaves. He hopes one day to figure out how to be a real boy, and NOT a wooden puppet or a donkey.
Fulfilled by DriveThruRPG
Q: In the backer levels I see 'design a Role', 'design a Lineage', etc. What do these things mean?
A: Being featured in a snippet means that you (or a character you choose) stars in either a piece of example text that shows off how the rules work, or in a piece of lore text that gives a little bit of insight into the setting.
Designing an example Artifact means you commission one of the "treasures" that vampires and villages sometimes pull from Ruins. Artifacts can be unlocked through tinkering to provide a village with powerful bonuses, but they impose a penalty instead if the tinkering fails.
Designing an example Face means you commission one of the mortals who represents a village to its vampires. Faces aren't just socially important people. They're anyone the vampires empathize with and relate to.
Designing a monster means you get to commission a specific nasty and set it loose into the twilight to terrorize other villages.
Designing a Role means you commission one of the out-of-combat roles that PCs can play. Each Role comes with a small set of persistent bonuses for niche situations.
Designing an example character means you get to commission the canonical vampire that represents one of the book's existing Lineages.
Commissioning a short story means that Richard writes a Dawnline story for you, based on whatever prompts or instructions you give him.
Designing a Lineage means you commission one of the broad types of vampires that inhabit the twilight. Each Lineage also comes with a new Power, which is a set of four in-combat abilities that all vampires can learn.
Commissioning a Scenario means that Richard writes a Dawnline Scenario for you, based on whatever prompts or instructions you give him.
I AM THE BLOODLORD is self-explanatory. You become the Bloodlord.
All of these commissions are subject to some limitations. The scope of the commission must be within reason, and the content mustn't torpedo the setting. Short stories and Scenarios will generally be in the 3,000 to 10,000 word range. As for content, Richard will work with you to make what you're commissioning fit in the setting.
If you've got an idea that you think might be too outlandish, or that you think would need more than 10,000 words to do it justice, just message Richard and he'll be happy to greenlight it.
Q: In detail, how do the dice work?
A: When you're confronted by meaningful opposition, the GM gives you a Target Number and you roll 3d6 and add your relevant Skill. If you at least tie the Target Number, you succeed. If you beat the TN by at least one point, you also generate temporary Success Points, which you can use to power different Effects. If you fall short of the TN, you fail, and the GM escalates the situation.
To keep you from being at the mercy of the dice, you have a pool of Willpower points that you can spend whenever you choose. By spending Willpower, you can turn a failure into a success.
In combat, or in any situation where you're opposing another character, the dice are a little more complicated, but not by much. When you oppose another character, you both roll 3d6 + Skill. Then, in secret, you each decide how much Willpower you're going to spend. Finally, you reveal your bid, and the person with the highest Roll + Willpower spent wins.
Things can get a little bit more complex than this, especially when Powers and other game elements get involved, but this is the core of it: roll some dice, read your opponent, risk your resources, and make a decision.
Q: How about the Villages? How do they work mechanically?
A: Villages in The Dawnline are made of three things: Resources, Qualities, and Faces.
Resources are a Village's Hit Points, and there are three kinds: Morale, Sustenance, and Distance. If one of those Resources drops below zero, the Village breaks apart, starves, or is lost to the Light.
Qualities are like special abilities for Villages, and they include things like Supply Wagons (which let a Village store more Resources) and Tinker's Lab (which lets the vampires take better Gear out on missions).
Finally, Faces are the people that represent the Village. Each player (and the GM) designs a Face, and then the group adds details to each Face. When the vampires interact with the Village, they do so through the Faces.
Over time, Villages' Resources dwindle. However, at the end of every scenario, the vampires have an option to either go scavenging, improve themselves, or tinker with an Artifact. If they scavenge, they can help keep the Village alive a little longer---at the cost of missing an opportunity to grow a little stronger, or to unleash powerful temporary bonuses.
Risks and challenges
The core game is written, a portion of the art is complete, and testing is in progress. The bulk of the work to finish The Dawnline will consist of creating more art and writing game material that is generated during this campaign. This will be followed by editing, layout, and distribution.
Voidspiral has had seven successful Kickstarter campaigns before this, four of which were games, and we have delivered what is now a very small library of books to our backers.
For any level that involves a backer commission, we will be in touch and starting fulfillment on those as soon as the Kickstarter campaign ends. The categorical exception to this rule is THE BLOODLORD, where we will be in touch right away to make sure that a) you're serious, and b) the game that you want is something we are able to deliver.
Voidspiral Entertainment's previous Kickstarters have tended to slightly over-deliver on content, and this has slowed fulfillment, but we have neatly sidestepped this being an issue for The Dawnline's core book. Since the core game for The Dawnline is already feature-complete, our development process will be much quicker, and we will be able to get it into your hands faster.
The supplemental material will take longer to deliver, but, because we won't have to write the entire core book first, the entire production schedule will move that much more swiftly.
Like any other game with a small design team, The Dawnline *is* vulnerable to disruptions such as the catastrophic and final collapse of all known human civilization. However, even in a scenario like this, protocols are in place to ensure that the feature-complete beta still gets released to whatever post-man creatures inhabit the ruins. Also the pledges would get refunded, briefly enlivening whatever remains of the global economy.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)