How far will they push before you push back?
Gears of Defiance is a narrative-driven tabletop roleplaying game that explores the themes of oppression, resistance, and family set against an industrial steampunk background. This game is inspired by tales of revolution such as Les Misérables and The Last Exile.
Step into the hand-me-down shoes of one of the Empire’s second-class citizens, members of society who have had their rights limited and their privileges stripped away, and figure out your place in the growing resistance movement. Do you believe in peaceful protest? The idea that change can come from within? Or does the only path forward involve violence?
Characters will have to rely on the bonds they have made with their family as they walk the line between what is good and what is right during their struggle to bring change to their world.
Gears of Defiance will be 200+ pages filled with black and white artwork as well as the following:
- Rules for the Founding Session, during which the Empire and Family will be established.
- Over a dozen unique archetypes and traits, leading to countless character combinations.
- Rules for one-shots, short-term, and long-term campaigns, including maps to support each style of play.
- Rules for creating a customized steampunk setting that is completely unique for your game.
- Rules for controlling territory and reinforcing locations.
- The Alignment Matrix, which will track your character’s political and moral standing.
- Pre-made settings created by top talent within the industry.
The game will also feature illustrations such as those featured on this page, with more artwork unlocked through Stretch Goals.
Every campaign of Gears of Defiance begins with a Founding Session. During this time the characters, the world, the Family, and the Empire will all be created following an easy-to-use world creation guide included in the book, full of both real-life and pop culture examples.
Gears of Defiance explores serious topics, but the game is meant to be an entertaining experience: sometimes dramatic, sometimes sad, but ultimately moving and exciting. This is why we give the power to create the world to the players. The Empire will always oppress, and the Family will always be oppressed, but the how and why is up to you. Our goal isn’t to simulate events of real-world oppression and create uncomfortable situations; by giving the power to the players, you can create an Empire that feels right for your table.
The players at the table will decide the Methods of Control the Empire uses to keep the citizens in line. Do they rule with Fear by placing armed soldiers on every street corner and checkpoints at every bridge? Do they use Information Regulation to keep the citizens uninformed and pliable? These methods will also create the goalposts for the game. Information Regulation can be combated by printing illegal books and exposing the truth to the public. Armies can be disrupted by sowing chaos and disrupting the supply chain. The possibilites are endless and every campaign of Gears of Defiance will play out differently.
Gears of Defiance takes notes from some of my favorite roleplaying games, such as Blades in the Dark, Fate Accelerated, Apocalypse World, and World of Dew. The influences of these games will be obvious, but Gears of Defiance has taken them and turned them into something new.
The game takes place over two phases: The Action Phase and the Season Phase. During the Action Phase, players will form plans and carry out their actions to destabilize the Empire. During the Season Phase, the Empire will reinforce their locations, increase threats, and try to hunt down the characters.
Gears of Defiance uses an Approach system, where the GM will detail a conflict or obstacle and the players will build and roll a Dice Pool of six-sided dice by choosing their best Approach and adding relevant bonuses from their archetype, scene tags, boons, and spent Plot Points. Every 4, 5, and 6 is considered a success, and players can spend these to complete challenges, add points of narrative control, create their own boons or complications, or turn them into Plot Points to be banked for later turns.
These mechanics allow for a variety in pacing and action, as non-combat approaches are now as exciting and mechnically interesting as combat approaches and, by giving narrative control to the players, the players will have the power to change the direction of the story, even when their characters might not. Gears of Defiance also features a character advancement mechanic known as The Alignment Matrix.
This matrix will track a character’s political and moral compass from Liberty to Authority and Traditional to Radical. How a character is viewed by the Empire’s citizens will determine what actions they are allowed to take, how wanted they are by the Empire, and how willing others will be to join and help their cause.
If a character sways too far, they may end up radical, taking actions that deem them a terrorist in the public eye, or they may end up an Authority on their own, ruling with an iron fist. Finding the balance is key to Gears of Defiance, and the tension created by Family members trying to take opposite paths is a main source of drama for your campaign.
Every backer will receive a PDF copy of the quick-start rules PDF that was released at Gen Con 2017 in order to get an early look at the way the game is played!
Gears of Defiance is a game about hard choices, the bonds between family, and bringing change to a world of oppression.
Shipping will be charged after the campaign is ended as part of the BackerKit survey. We estimate shipping to be ~$10-15 depending on your pledge level and add-ons for US backers, and international shipping will cost around ~$25-35 depending on pledge level and add-ons.
If you wish to add more of a item to your pledge, simply increase your pledge by the appropriate amount. We'll sort it all out in the pledge manager. If you're in the US, there's no increase in shipping. If you're international, extra shipping for add-ons will be added in BackerKit after the project! (We try to keep it as cheap and reasonable as possible.)
The book will be a 6x9 size book.
- Additional Softcover $20 USD ($25 MSRP)
- Additional Hardcover $30 USD ($35 MSRP)
These beautiful custom dice for Gears of Defiance are only while stock and supplies last, and there is no guarantee they'll be available after the Kickstarter!
- 10 extra six-sided dice - $12 USD
These metal tokens are only being produced as part of this Kickstarter, and will be a brushed antique bronze look. These coins will be manufactured by Campaign Coins, known for their excellent products and reliable service!
- 10 extra metal Plot Point Tokens - $15 USD
We have many planned Stretch Goals to add more value to this book, including settings written by some of the top talent in the game design industry.
Each stretch goal is planned to make the book even better and filled with more artwork and quick start settings.
We will announce our mystery professionals as we unlock stretch goals, to show you what new settings you can look forward to. These settings will include pre-created Empires and guidelines to creating a family. Some of these will fit into the steampunk aesthetic, but some will offer unique worlds or playful settings to lighten the mood of a game.
We are excited to share our lineup with you!
Look for more information on our Stretch Goal settings in our updates!
Risks and challenges
Q: Can you guarantee fulfilment?
This is Ryan's third Kickstarter (his first solo project as Loremaster Games), but he is partnering with his publisher, Gallant Knight Games, who have run ten successful Kickstarters. Working with Gallant Knight Games and using their resources and knowledge will help ensure a great release.
Gallant Knight Games has an outstanding track record of customer service, publishing quality, and on-time (or early) delivery.
Q: What if the text or art isn't finished?
A: A mostly final draft of the text is completed and a preview of the rules was released at Gen Con 2017. The only text we'll have to wait on are the stretch goal settings, which will come to us after completion of the Kickstarter. We have a reliable artist on standby to complete the artwork, but we have a vast pool to draw from if there are any issues.
Q: What if shipping costs increase?
A: Shipping costs constantly rise, and while we've projected them to the best of our abilities, there's not a lot we can do if they change. However, due to the limitations on the size of our product, we're confident this won't be an issue.
- (30 days)