Apotheosis Drive X ( #ADX ) is a Fate-based mecha RPG. It's a high drama, high action game with a philosophical and humanist bent. It draws inspiration from various mecha fiction. Mobile Suit Gundam (Gundam 00 in particular) is a chief inspiration. Thematically, we have similarities to Xenogears and Evangelion.
Apotheosis Drive X explores what it means to be human, and the points where humanity and technology intersect. The factions of ADX believe that sufficient technological warfare will end war forever. They believe that nationalism, expanded to the superlative, will end human struggle. They place their faith in weapons. You're playing the pilots of those weapons. You're playing the target of that misguided patriotism. You're telling stories about humanity. Will they learn the necessary lessons before it's too late? Will you stop humankind from destroying itself?
"Through the auspices of the gun, man is relieved of responsibilities-placing his faith in sister machine gun, brother bomb." - Jim Marcus
"Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding." - Albert Einstein
ADX takes place around 2400 AD. Humanity has moved on to place colonies on the moon, Mars, and throughout asteroids and space stations. The shift to sustainable energy caused economic collapses in former energy-producing states. Earth went to war.
One faction, a private army of clones, fought for the highest bidder until the whole of Earth turned against it.
Another faction, an elite force of genegineered super soldiers, helped to fight them back.
After the war against the clone army, Earth's major powers banded together to create a single world government, with the intention of preventing further war. Another faction, a resistance movement of smaller governments and collectives, believed that a single government couldn't hope to represent all people from all walks of life.
Near simultaneously, all four of these factions developed robots, Titans, to fight their battles. When humanity introduced the Titans, technology grew out of control. We reached a singularity. Unfortunately, this growth tended toward greater machines of war. Eventually, our fate fell out of our hands, and into the hands of these godlike machines.
#ADX is powered by Fate Core. We've hacked, optimized, tightened, and tweaked Fate to fit our genre. If you're familiar with Fate, it should be a very quick transition. If you're not, we've compacted our rules and simplified them wherever possible. Most of our rules favor starting quickly.
We use a system of "generations" to reflect the scope and scale of the campaign. These generations represent vast technological advances that come quicker and quicker each time. As you play through Apotheosis Drive stories, the Titans become stronger by great magnitudes, until they're able to wipe out hundreds of enemies with a single impulse. The default game assumes you'll play through at least a few generations to tell an arc.
Most of our rules tweaks were designed to help our focus on epic mecha battles. This is not Fate: The Tactical Wargame. This is a game about high-tech, dynamic war machines piloted by the best talent in the universe. It's all about scale and escalation. If you have seven minutes, we have a video demonstrating how Titans (our unique mecha) take out massive swaths of infantry mechs in seconds.
We've also posted initial playtest notes that are technically enough to play the game. You can download those here.
Another important focus of #ADX is that we encourage ensemble play. Players can "buy" additional crew members that will support their pilots, and creating a full, interesting crew is a big focus of character creation. But if you want to just play the stoic, lone pilot on a rag-tag crew, you can do that, too!
#ADX will clock in around 160 pages, black and white, hardcover. It'll be about two-thirds setting, one-third rules. We want to give you a solid playground with which to tell your stories.
We have an amazing crew of artists lined up. We've been working extensively to support our artists with concepts by Jeremy Kostiew. You can see one of his concepts below. This is just the internal frame of a Titan.
And here's an Oya, fully armored. This is one of Nicole Cardiff's pieces.
This is our first supplement, coming out at the same time as the ADX core book. You get to tell us how big it'll be. It'll feature numerous stand-alone games. You can play these with just Fate Core (or #ADX's core rules), or you can mine them for ideas and rules for use in your other Fate and #ADX games. This supplement is basically "Fate Mecha".
It's a series of "alternate universe" mini-games. Each covers a different mood/theme. Once we hit our initial funding goal, every $2,500 will unlock an additional setting and system hack. We have some amazing pieces lined up. You can tell us how many of them you want to see!
Right now, if you pledge, you get:
Apotheosis of the Rose: Princess Drive
Guardians of Steel
UNLOCKED! - Apotheosis of the Rose: Princess Drive - by Topher Gerkey
Romantic shoujo-style adventure! Young girls fight off monstrous threats with their Princess Drives, fueled by their ability to love and their skill with a blade.
UNLOCKED! - Guardians of Steel - by Stew Wilson
A mysterious nanoplague infects machinery, first causing vehicles to misbehave, but then causing them to transform. It's like Cthulhu meets a kaijuu film, meets Transformers.
UNLOCKED! - Vimanakatha - by Geoffrey McVey
It's the grand scale of a Hindu epic, meets the grand tech of giant robots. It's a Southern Asia-styled world where mecha (vimanas) were created as images of gods, then became implements of war. It's a little war propaganda, a little Bollywood, and a whole lot of robot.
UNLOCKED! - Dragon Trinity Crash - by Chris Challice
Characters are possessed of dragon magic that allows them to summon forth dragon armor. Combined, they can form a mega dragon armor.
UNLOCKED! - Cyber Saber Ascension - by David A Hill Jr
With the $15,000 unlock, I'll commission a manga style intro for the anthology book, which will be a setting primer for my own hack, Cyber Saber Ascension. This will be a cyberpunk with power armor setting. I'll be drawing from Bubblegum Crisis and Ghost in the Shell for basic inspiration. Characters will be a team of mercenaries fighting in small battle suits against terrifying cyborgs.
UNLOCKED! - Wine-Dark Sea - by Bruce Baugh
After a massive devastation by martian forces, the people of Earth were driven underwater. Your characters exist in a sightless world, in the far deeps of the sea, where they use tech bioengineered from their enemies to defend themselves from a final end.
$20,000 - The Bones of Earth - by Tracy Barnett
The dwarves were always greedy. We knew that we'd have to face them eventually. We've got metal giants of our own, now. Even the elves fight, wooden warriors striding with their heads above the tree-tops. This is the world we live in, now. This is the world we fight to keep.
$20,000 - Crash Override - by David A Hill Jr
In the not too distant future, everything's connected. From traffic lights, to ATM machines, even to your microwave oven, it's all online. This is awesome, until viruses start attacking. In Crash Override, you're playing a team of young hackers that fight malicious viruses head on by programming "hacks," digital robots designed to battle malware. This one's a little .hack, a little Gridman (known affectionately to Americans as Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad).
This comes in addition to another manga bit in the expansion book.
$22,500 - Apotheosis: Hymns of the Ancients - by Chris Handley
An epic fantasy action story full of angst and melodrama, with clashing kingdoms and arcane mecha fighting demon hordes from beyond the stars.
$25,000 - Armor Hunters - by Dain Lybarger
Elite pilots are the best of the best. This story isn’t about them. It’s about grunts; infantry who hunt Armors. They’re the reason no pilot calls his Armor ‘Goliath’.
We'll announce more in the near future, but this should be a solid taste of what we're looking at.
This book will hit shelves at Gen Con 2013. We're going to get it in your hands prior to that. I have a July 2013 projection. Depending on printers, proofs, and shipping, this may bleed into August. However, you'll have the PDF as soon as I export it. In fact, you'll see preliminary versions and proofs prior.
Couple of things about rewards.
Dice: At the $250 level, you get dice. These are going to be custom designed, but I haven't designed them yet. I'm thinking transparent blue with a beam saber and the ADX X for the Fudge dice, and the d6, well, I don't know yet. There won't be a lot of these. I don't intend on selling them outside of this campaign.
Supplement Book: It may be hardcover. It may be softcover. If the campaign is very successful, it'll be hardcover. Otherwise, it'll be softcover.
PDFs: We'll find the best way to fulfill these. As of right now, I find a Dropbox link to be best, and offering DrivethruRPG complementary copies to people that can't use Dropbox for whatever reason.
#ADX, and all Machine Age Productions, will be licensed under a Creative Commons license. In particular, Attribution, Share-Alike, Non-Commercial.
Fate Core's content will (likely) be released under a Commercial, Attribution license.
This is to say, Fate content will be open for use with attribution. But our setting content can only be used commercially with our permission.
Risks and challenges
We've had some pretty major challenges in the past. Fortunately, every problem is a lesson learned. I'll go over a few issues right now.
Complexity: A lot of times, I see projects fall flat because they're too complicated. You'll notice with this project, we're striving to keep it simple. We don't have a huge staff. We don't have a ton of time to allocate to this project. So we need to work within realistic parameters, within realistic timelines. Our backer levels are pretty clear, and focused on delivering the game experience.
Deadlines: With past projects, we stretched ourselves thin by pushing out project dates with stretch goals. With this project, we're setting a single, hard deadline to complete the project. Our only major stretch goal, the New Report Anthology, is mostly written by others for this reason.
Shipping: I'll let you in on a little secret. Our dining room is not a shipping and receiving warehouse. We've had to use it as one before. We're game designers, not the post office. So we're not going to pretend to be. We're fulfilling through one of two methods, depending on how successful the project is. If it's lightly to moderately successful, we'll be going through DrivethruRPG.com's print on demand program. If it's highly successful, we'll be going through Indie Press Revolution's fulfillment service. Basically, we're setting things up through professionals that have done this for years, and are much more qualified than we are to get these books in your hands.
Text: The main book is my work, and that of Filamena Young. We've chiseled out a couple of months to work on it, and we've actually done bigger books in less time before. On the supplement, if we have an author fall out, I have a lineup of other authors ready to take the committed pitches and run with them. My estimate is that I want to have one "understudy" for every pitch I accept.
Art: I'm very fortunate to have found too many artists this time around. I have a small budget set aside for art, and plenty of backups. Right now, we're working with about six artists. That'll probably increase to about ten for the finished product. So if one or two fall out, that's not going to cripple the project.
Printing: Printing should not be an issue. I'll be printing with a printer I've worked with numerous times before, and on much more complex parameters. I'm simplifying the book this time in order to cut down on potential risks with printing. If they don't work out, I have two other printers in the same price range, with the same specifications, lined up.
Moving: There's some small chance I might be making a big family move in the next few months. If this occurs, dates may be moved back a month. Either way, I've worked in a rather liberal buffer zone, so books will be out to backers by Gen Con, hell or high water.
Other Games: I'm currently in the process of fulfilling a microgame project I did late last year. It was structured in such a way that it was something of a subscription; I regularly post new small games when they occur. I'm also wrapping up final shipments of our other games, Farewell to Fear, and Flatpack: Fix the Future. With those, it appears we're having to resend about 2% of the total products, because of things getting lost in post. That's why we're going with third-party fulfillment this time around.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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