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A card game and roleplaying game in one box, from Mike Selinker and the designers of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.
A card game and roleplaying game in one box, from the designers of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow's Walk.
A card game and roleplaying game in one box, from the designers of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow's Walk.
2,477 backers pledged $333,661 to help bring this project to life.

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The Apocrypha Adventure Card Game

$333,661

2,477

Hi, I'm Mike Selinker. I have this game buried deep in my brain. You can help me unlock the memories of the game. If you'd like to find out what it is, read on.

Box mockup. Image not final.
Box mockup. Image not final.

The Apocrypha Adventure Card Game is the next evolution of the gameplay from two games I helped create: the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and Betrayal at House on the Hill. It can be run as a fully cooperative adventure card game solo or in a group, or a gamemaster can take over and expand it into a full-blown roleplaying game. It's designed by me and my teammates at Lone Shark Games, with card text by authors like Jerry Holkins, Kij Johnson, Kris Straub, and Patrick Rothfuss.

Set on the precipice of a modern day apocalypse, Apocrypha is an hour-long game that immerses 1 to 6 players in a conflict with the most dangerous entities in the universe. Players play "saints," characters who can see the monsters lurking in every alley and school lunch room. These characters grow through multiple sessions of gameplay, unlocking repressed memory fragments that expand their powers and capabilities. You get a character card around which you can display these fragments in a card sleeve page, and can change the arrangement of your brain from game to game. A gamemaster can customize new content that leads the story anywhere she wants. Here are the playtest rules to the game.

The game is expanded by chapters of new cards, each chapter revealing a new type of threat and introducing new mechanics. All chapters in this campaign have been unlocked, meaning we'll have 1,300+ cards in the game. Each chapter has its memory fragments written in collaboration with a well-known author and friend of Lone Shark, so you can get inside their brains as well as ours.

You know, because that sounds completely safe.

For $66 plus shipping, you can get the Revelation Box, which includes more than 500 cards, including a 90-card first chapter called The Book of the Skinwalkers and a bonus chapter called The Secrets of Candlepoint. It also contains 20 dice, card game and RPG rules, and standup character pawns.

For $99 plus shipping, you can get the Revelation Box plus all the chapters we've unlocked during the campaign. There are eight chapter expansions with approximately 90 cards each in this set.

For $333 plus shipping, you can get the Master's Edition. That's a special upgraded version for the ultimate adventure card game player. With a beautiful embossed deluxe box in the style of Doctor Zeez's Aesculapian Journal (see below), the Master's Edition will be numbered and signed by Mike Selinker, have upgraded custom dice, an Apocrypha dice bag, and more! And of course it will have all the cards from the base set and all the chapters. The box will have an insert that will hold the cards in place, even if you put it on its side like on a bookshelf. The cover will be faux-leather with a strap to hold it shut. It will hold all the cards whether sleeved or not. It will look a bit like this.

Mockup of Master's Edition. Image not final.
Mockup of Master's Edition. Image not final.

 Here's a video of the inside of the Master's Edition.

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And if you want it all, then you need the Beast Box. For (ahem) $666, you get 1 Master's Edition signed by all the developers, 1 signed Revelation Box with all the chapters, 1 Ultra PRO character binder, 2 mission playmats, 18 deckboxes (9 of Hope, 9 of Doom), 1,300+ Ultra PRO sleeves, 5 more sets of dice so every player can have a set, 2 sets of promo cards, and printed stories and selections from the Apocrypha Bible.

Each copy of the game will ship with at least 10 promo cards. These are multicolor fragment cards and a special Day One card.

Shipping for any edition is $8 in the USA, $25 in Canada and the EU, $30 in Australia, and $45 elsewhere. If you want more than 1 copy, add up the costs of shipping all your games individually, then cut it in half. This game is EU-friendly, and will ship to EU residents from within the European Union.

You bet. They're from our friends at Ultra PRO. To order add-ons, just add their amount to your pledge. Your shipping cost stays the same.

You can order this awesome official Ultra PRO character binder. The "soulbinder" contains 20 sleeve pages for characters and their fragments, and you can keep your punched out pawns in there too. You can add this on to any level for an additional $17. No additional shipping is required.

Ultra PRO binder mockup. Art by Nick Kay. Image not final.
Ultra PRO binder mockup. Art by Nick Kay. Image not final.

And these amazing Ultra PRO mission playmats. Each is 13.5"x24". We recommend one for a 1-2 player games, and two for a 3-6 player game. They're an additional $18 each, or two for $33.

Two Ultra PRO mission playmats, side by side. Image not final.
Two Ultra PRO mission playmats, side by side. Image not final.

And these cool "Box of Hope" and "Box of Doom" character deckboxes. Each box holds a character or a mission's cards. They're an additional $3 each, or 6 for $16. You might want 6 because that's 1 for each player.

Indeed so. These:

The Apocrypha Adventure Card Game is based on a system we came up with in 2011 that would allow the feel of a roleplaying game with all the pressure of a great board game. Designed to play in an hour, an adventure card game has each player build a character that lasts through a year or more of gameplay, growing and changing as cards pass through her deck. The first example of this was the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, released to considerable acclaim in summer 2013.

Apocrypha is a card-based roleplaying game and a roleplaying-like card game in the same box. Here is the playtest rulebook for the game in both of its modes. Without a gamemaster, the game will run itself, and do its best to kill you before you beat it. With a gamemaster, you will decide the story and how the characters will evolve. This is not a permanent decision; you can play a campaign where some sessions are run by the game and some are run by a gamemaster.

Each player starts with a single character card among the 18 playable characters. Your character card shows your virtues (Mind, Body, Soul, and Rage, in some order), skills, powers, and what kinds and numbers of cards you have in your deck. Along the way you unearth repressed memory fragments that open up new powers, new cards, and a whole bunch of new problems. As your character grows, she becomes more powerful but more unstable, meaning an experienced character might want to adventure with a brand new one. You can place these fragments around your character card in whatever order you like, but the position of these cards—and your position around the table—matters a whole lot.

Character and fragment cards. Images not final.
Character and fragment cards. Images not final.
Chapter and mission cards. Images not final.
Chapter and mission cards. Images not final.

You will select a chapter to play. Each chapter has nine missions you can choose from. In the course of playing a mission, the characters cooperatively explore nexuses of great power and overcome the threats you uncover. Your goal in a typical mission is to track down a master and her minions, and thwart whatever evil they're undertaking. They may be altered by mutations, which make them stranger and tougher.

Nexus and mutation cards. Images not final.
Nexus and mutation cards. Images not final.
Master and threat cards. Images not final.
Master and threat cards. Images not final.

You will find good cards called gifts for your deck, You might be branded with tattoos of those you take down. A deck of omens looms over the game, and each turn, you'll draw an omen and decide whether to investigate your nexus. If the omen deck runs out, you lose. If your deck runs out, you gain a death card which will slow down your character's growth. Gain enough of them, and you're gone forever.

Gift and omen cards. Images not final.
Gift and omen cards. Images not final.

Those are the basics, but there is a lot more to it. We'll unveil a series of nine gameplay-focused videos over the campaign. Here's an overview.

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Here's a video on how characters work, with me and developer Liz Spain.

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Here's how memory fragments work, co-starring writer Jerry Holkins.

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Here's one on setting up and winning, with developer Gaby Weidling.

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 Here's another on investigations, with developer Chad Brown.

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And Chad and I continue to talk about gifts and dice rolls.

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Here's developer Tanis O'Connor and me on assisting and mutations.

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Developer Paul Peterson joins me to discuss threats and true threats.

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And here's the gamemastering video, where Gaby, Chad, and Liz go on a mission. You can see a full gameplay session in action here.

Those are all our gameplay videos. Watch them all before Doctor Zeez writes the cause of your death in his journal.

It's 2016, and the apocalypse is nigh. Because of a veil called the Paradigm, the world believes monsters aren't real. Nonetheless there continue to be outliers, creatures and events that don't make sense. Most people ignore the outliers, because it's a lot easier to make sense of the world if you do. But the saints, an often misapplied name for a group of oddly powered individuals who can see through the Paradigm, have formed choirs of defenders of humanity. These choirs will go out and try to stem the incursions of monsters into the everyday world.

A group of ancient and powerful entities called the Novem are at the height of their power, threatening to break the Paradigm. Each chapter of the game is about the forces of a Novem, and they all behave differently. One type of monster might be highly organized and plotting an all-out assault on humanity, while another might be hoping not to be discovered but be under a threat of revelation by another faction. Each chapter will feel very different, and you can move between them as much as you like. You can create your own stories in this world, which of course is your world with a few outliers. Because monsters don't exist.

  • The Secrets of Candlepoint is the base set chapter which features an invasion of a small city called Candlepoint, Wisconsin. It's recommended for starting play before beginning all the other chapters.
  • The Book of the Skinwalkers is about the fractured legions of the werewolf lord Keiros. His shapechangers have balkanized into street gangs defending minuscule turfs against each other. When the 80th Street Griffons clash with the Bronx Jackals, silver hollowpoints will fly.
  • The Book of the Deathless features the Novem Ereshkigal seeks to expand her army of flesheaters, spooks, and bloodsuckers. What they lack in creativity, they will make up in sheer numbers. Numbers which might eventually include you.
  • The Book of the Fae has a tripartite Novem named The Morrigan. The Phantom Queen appears as three bickering sisters, each trying to trick the others into doing her bidding. The fae are more than just enemies; maybe you can trick the faeries to your side.
  • The Book of the Animus depicts the spirit of the earth, Mother Gaia. She has a decidedly anti-human bent; nothing humanity has done for millennia has sat well with her. Gaia's spirits inhabit every animal, river, and blade of grass. You wouldn't want to make Mother angry. 
  • The Book of the Dreamers introduces the Novem Nebuchadnezzar, whose sorcerers are unlocking their subconsciousnesses and loosing them on the world. What you see as nightmares, they see as weapons. So don't sleep, and you've got a chance. 
  • The Book of the Damned is the province of the teacher Abramelin. The Damned truck with things they call demons, but whether Hell is on their side is quite unclear. The demons sure are in a foul mood about doing their bidding, and the Damned sure seem oblivious to that.
  • The Book of the Golems centers on the chosen of Aleph, the original Golem of Chelm. Aleph has few living followers; his creatures were once limited to animated clay and walking rock piles. Now science has given him robots and computers to work with.
  • The Book of the Serpents has a Novem who no longer answers his adherents. The dragon Quetzalcoatl is buried under a Mesoamerican ziggurat, or so his cultists say. The nagavanshi Princess Kuberanaga has taken the dragon's place among the Novem for now.
  • The Book of the Physicians caters to the Novem Celsus, the first surgeon amongst the Greeks. The Physicians believe they are healing the world, but their obsession with perfection through fleshcrafting is most definitely non-Hippocratic.

The Lone Shark Games creative team and friends have come together to create a sweeping new world of gameplay for you. Here's the team.

I'm the co-designer of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Lords of Vegas, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Unspeakable Words, and many other games. I'm the author of the books Puzzlecraft, The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design, and the interactive puzzle novel The Maze of Games, which we launched on Kickstarter. I co-designed the core of this game with Rian Sand, who came up with the world in which Apocrypha is set.

The development team is Lone Shark's adventure card game team: PACG lead developer Chad Brown, puzzle ninja Gaby Weidling, Smash Up designer Paul Peterson, PACG class deck designer Tanis O'Connor, PACG developer Keith Richmond, and Incredible Expeditions designer Liz Spain. Art director Mike Vaillancourt is crafting the artistic look. Former Playroom Entertainment design and development director Elisa Teague is our production manager. 

Our other team members are just as important. Lone Shark chief operating officer Marie Poole will be handling our distribution, and Geeky Hostess Tara Theoharis is co-managing our campaign. You will see all these fine folks throughout the campaign. And more.

Novelist and game designer Matt Forbeck is building our story bible and leading our Remembrance Team. Here's the list of our memory authors:

  • Keith Baker, creator of the card game Gloom and the RPG Phoenix: Dawn Command. See what Keith wrote about Apocrypha here.
  • Wolfgang Baur, publisher of Kobold Press, and creator of books like Deep Magic, Courts of the Shadow Fey, and The Free City of Zobeck. 
  • Bruce Cordell, game designer for D&D and The Strange RPG, and author of ten Forgotten Realms novels.
  • Erin M. Evans, author of the novels The God Catcher, Brimstone Angels, and The Adversary.
  • Jerry "Tycho" Holkins, writer of Penny Arcade and Thornwatch, and co-founder of PAX. See what Jerry wrote about Apocrypha here.
  • Kij Johnson, Hugo- and Nebula-winning author of The Fox Woman, Fudoki, "The Man Who Bridged the Mist," "Ponies," and "Spar."
  • Mary Robinette Kowal, Hugo-winning author of Shades of Milk and Honey, Glamour in Glass, Without a Summer, and Valour and Vanity.
  • Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind and founder of Worldbuilders. Read what Pat wrote about Apocrypha here.
  • Kris Straub, cartoonist of the webcomics Starslip, Chainsaw Suit, and Broodhollow, and co-creator of the game Machine of Death.

The art of this game is courtesy of artists Oscar CafaroNick Kay, Kristen Plescow, Serg Souleiman, Shane Tyree, and many others. You can see their work in this creepy teaser video, released before the campaign.

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I wouldn't worry about it. But while we're here, I'd like to introduce you to Doctor Zeez, one of our playable characters in Apocrypha. 

He's a saint, but as you can probably guess from his plague mask, he's not exactly all that saintly. Nonetheless, he tries to prevent the monsters from bringing about the apocalypse, and if he gets to dissect a few of them along the way, so much the better.

Doctor Zeez keeps a journal. And every few days during this campaign, he'll share an entry with you. Well, maybe not "share," per se. He's not the sharing kind. But there may be something you can derive from each of his entries. Along the way, you might pick up a few fragments of your own. 

Here are journal entries #1#2#3#4, #5#6#7#8#9, and #10. If you find something hidden, send it to us via the manner on the update and you'll get one of our Apocrypha virtual badges that you can use as your Kickstarter, Facebook, or Twitter icons. 

Watch for more from Doctor Zeez in the coming days. While we still have days to come, that is.

Risks and challenges

This game is big. We've been on projects that big for many years. We know how to write complicated and interconnected rules, commission hundreds of pieces of art, and send a massive game to production. Our team is one of the most experienced in the world at making these types of games, and we feel confident about this one.

On Kickstarter, we've created and fulfilled two big projects, The Maze of Games and its audiobook. Backers have told us that they are very happy with the results.

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    Pledge $66 or more About $66

    REVELATION BOX: The Revelation base set and first chapter of the Apocrypha story. This box contains at least 500 cards, 16 dice, dividers, and character tokens. (You can add additional boxes for $66 more apiece.)

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    Pledge $66 or more About $66

    REVELATION BOX (CANADA, EUROPEAN UNION): The Revelation base set and first chapter of the Apocrypha story. This box contains at least 500 cards, 16 dice, dividers, and character tokens. (You can add additional boxes for $66 more apiece.) This will be shipped from the region of origin, and will be EU friendly.

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    Pledge $66 or more About $66

    REVELATION BOX (AUSTRALIA): The Revelation base set and first chapter of the Apocrypha story. This box contains at least 500 cards, 16 dice, dividers, and character tokens. (You can add additional boxes for $66 more apiece.) This will be shipped from the region of origin, and will be EU friendly.

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    Pledge $99 or more About $99

    REVELATION BOX AND ALL CHAPTERS: The base set as above and every 75-card chapter we unlock starting with the Deathless. (You can add more boxes for $99 apiece.)

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    Pledge $99 or more About $99

    REVELATION BOX AND ALL CHAPTERS (CANADA, EUROPEAN UNION): The base set as above and every 75-card chapter we unlock starting with the Deathless. (You can add additional boxes for $99 more apiece.) This will be shipped from the country or region of origin, and will be EU friendly.

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    Pledge $99 or more About $99

    REVELATION BOX AND ALL CHAPTERS (AUSTRALIA): The base set as above and every 75-card chapter we unlock starting with the Deathless. (You can add additional boxes for $99 more apiece.)

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    Pledge $333 or more About $333

    THE MASTER'S EDITION: The deluxe edition of the game, with all contents of the Revelation Box and all chapters, plus a gorgeous case, custom dice, a dice bag, and other amazing accoutrements, signed by Mike Selinker. (You can add more Master's Editions for $333 apiece.)

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    Pledge $333 or more About $333

    THE MASTER'S EDITION (CANADA, EUROPEAN UNION): The deluxe edition of the game, with all contents of the Revelation Box and all chapters, plus a gorgeous case, custom dice, a dice bag, and other amazing accoutrements, signed by Mike Selinker. (You can add more Master's Editions for $333 apiece.) This will be shipped from the country or region of origin, and will be EU friendly.

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    Pledge $333 or more About $333

    THE MASTER'S EDITION (AUSTRALIA): The deluxe edition of the game, with all contents of the Revelation Box and all chapters, plus a gorgeous case, custom dice, a dice bag, and other amazing accoutrements, signed by Mike Selinker. (You can add more Master's Editions for $333 apiece.)

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    Pledge $666 or more About $666

    THE BEAST BOX: 1 Master's Edition signed by all the developers, 1 signed Revelation Box with all the chapters, 1 Ultra PRO character binder, 2 Ultra PRO mission playmats, 18 Ultra PRO deckboxes (9 of Hope, 9 of Doom), 1,300+ Ultra PRO sleeves, 5 more sets of dice so every player can have a set, and printed stories and selections from the Apocrypha Bible.

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    Pledge $777 or more About $777

    RETAILER CRATE: 10 Revelation Boxes with all the chapters, 10 copies of the 9-card promo pack, an exclusive retailer demo kit including a version of the game for your store with demo play instructions and giveaway cards for demos, promo signs for your store, and mentions of your store on our site and social media. Shipping is free to the US, Canada, and the EU, and $75 elsewhere. This is for retailers and distributors ONLY; we will not fulfill this level direct to consumers.

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    Pledge $999 or more About $999

    YOU APPEAR IN OUR GAME: Everything at the $333 level, plus you will be artistically portrayed inside the game itself. You will provide us with references and we will paint you into the game. We cannot guarantee you will be human.

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Funding period

- (29 days)