During our recent Kickstarter for Amaranthine, we initiated a neat little project called Guestbook. It's a quirky little collectible game you can play in a few minutes, made for convention lines, quick meetings, weddings, LARPs, corporate team building, party games, and whenever you have a few minutes with a fellow player. The response was overwhelming and exciting. So, we're going to see if the response is indicative of a potentially bigger project.
For the Amaranthine goal, we offered Series 1, five collectible character sheets, to some of the backers. We also offered a unique, special character for those backers. That sheet is still exclusive. The only way to get it now, will be to play and trade with a backer. We're releasing Series 1 at Gencon. That's all settled and awesome.
For this Kickstarter, we're looking to release Series 2 and beyond. We'd like to do Series 2 for Gencon. We'd love to have ten or more characters prepared for the convention. This'll take a little extra budgeting, and we'd like to see what the interest level is like.
This isn't the huge, ambitious project Amaranthine was. That's intentional. Instead, we're experimenting by straight-up announcing a few goal levels we may or may not hit. We're also offering some neat options for retailers. We're also offering some neat incentives for people interested in their own characters.
For this particular Kickstarter, we're offering another exclusive sheet. This is not the sheet we offered for the Amaranthine Kickstarter. If you were involved in the Amaranthine Kickstarter preorder phase, you ordered Series 1.
$400 - Series 2 Goal
This is the basic goal. If we hit this level of funding, we'll release Series 2 at Gencon. No bells. No whistles. If we hit this level of funding, all backers will receive an exclusive Kickstarter Guestbook character sheet.
$800 - Series 3 Goal
At this level, we'll do a Series 3. It probably won't occur at Gencon, but the possibility exists we will have it there. I'll pitch a handful of genres for that kit (cyberpunk, romance, fantasy, ninjas, whatever,) and the backers at the time we cross that threshold will be able to vote for which they'd like us to do.
$1,200 - Series 4 Goal
If we hit this level, we'll do Series 4. This will almost certainly occur after Gencon. We'll do a Series based on either Maschine Zeit, or Amaranthine. We'll do five of the signature characters from those game lines. We'll let the backers at the time we cross that threshold vote on which we do.
$1,600 - Series 5 Goal
At this level of funding, we'll do Series 5. It'll be the other Machine Age Productions game line. We'll do a second exclusive sheet, and give one copy to every contributor. This sheet will be for one of our signature characters that won't make it into Series 4 or 5.
Why We Chose Those Levels
It's a simple choice. We have to print a minimum of 50 of a sheet for it to be worth our time. A Series has 5 sheets. Printing five runs of 50 costs us about $200. Our art will cost us about $25 per sheet, for another $125. Shipping and other assorted costs will be about $25. So, at $400, with Kickstarter fees and whatever, we break even, and any leftover sheets we sell make us a few bucks each.
In the grim dorkness of the far future, there is only wargaming, video gaming, and alternative reality gaming. The wells of roleplaying stories have dried up. Really, how many times can you reskin Tolkien and Lucas and call it a new release? In the future of gaming, nobody has the attention span for “campaigns.” Gamers have kids and jobs, laws keep players from neglecting either of those things. Story games must be played in thousand word bursts, lest the gods of real life interrupt and ruin narrative flow. The gamers of Guestbook take the roles of normal people in extraordinary situations, and they tell these stories quickly and away from prying eyes.
Guestbook is a little tongue-in-cheek, a little social media, a little traditional roleplaying, a little writing exercise, a quick diversion, and a whole lot of fun. Guestbook characters are brochure-style, and fully contained with all necessary rules to play. You just need two players, each with one character. A game of Guestbook is quick, easy, and takes only your brochure and a free hand to play rock-paper-scissors for a deceptively simple resolution mechanic.
During a game of Guestbook, you give a story seed from your sheet to your partner, then with their help, you put your character through that story. Their character sheet has available a number of complications they can throw at you. The goal isn’t to win or lose, but to tell a very quick story, and force two people to be creative. After the game, you each sign the “guestbook” section of your character sheets, then trade. Play enough times, and you’ll see a number of characters, and you’ll see the traces of the community you play in. It’s like a time capsule, only cool!
When to Play Guestbook?
Any time! But Guestbook acknowledges the reality of adult gaming, so it’s made to be convenient, quick, and requiring little investment. It’s great for conventions, when you don’t have time for a full pickup game. It’s ideal for LARPs, when you have to stand in lines or wait out-of-character. It could even be used for a gamer-friendly speed dating setup.
What does a Guestbook Character Contain?
A Guestbook character is a full-color brochure with six distinct panels. The panel most visible to the partner is your character’s picture. This is a full-color bit of art depicting your character in all their glory. One panel has all the major rules for play. Another gives a primer on Guestbook, along with a short fiction piece to give a feel for your character. Those are the “partner panels.” The “player panels” are on the other side. They include The Guestbook, which is a list of all the players that have played this character in the past. Also, there are ten Adventure Seeds, offering options for your character to play through. Then, the last panel is a list of Complications you can play when telling your partner’s story, along with a unique rock-paper-scissors sign that can mix up the game a bit.
While the individual character sheets are products unto themselves, Guestbook is less a product, more a service. Machine Age Productions will provide social media support in form of a Twitter account (@GuestBookRPG) and a Twitter hashtag (#GBRPG) so you can discuss your exploits, you can talk about who you’ve played with, and you can keep track of which characters and scenarios you’ve played through. Did you play Guestbook with a microcelebrity? Tweet about it! Are you looking to trade for a specific character? Tweet about it! The beauty of the brochure-style game is, you can easily mail character sheets wherever you want. Yes, you can get Guestbook characters in PDF and print them to your heart’s desire, but the point of the collection is to see who and where a character has been played.
Collectible Release Model
At first, we intend to release “Set One” which consists of five basic characters. This is more than enough to play, since with ten seeds each, and ten complications each, you have near-unlimited play options already. However, we’re going to aggressively introduce new characters to the community, and in weird and fun ways. For example, the first exclusive character is coming as part of our Kickstarter campaign for Amaranthine. If you want that exclusive character, you can only get it by contributing. We have plans for a Gen Con exclusive character. We’re considering exclusives for charity bundles, for certain LARP groups, and we’re keeping our eyes open for more opportunities. No one player will be able to get every release directly. This means you can only get these character sheets by playing and trading.
This exclusive model allows us to cater characters specifically to the audiences we’re writing for. Do you want to provide a Guestbook character to people attending the Ren Faire you organize as a part of their goodie bags? We’ll totally give you a Ren Faire exclusive. Are you planning to use Guestbook to enhance your wedding festivities? We’ll cater exclusive characters to the bride and groom. Talk to us, we’ll even try to cater the layout of your character sheets to your event.
Money Where Mouths Are?
As part of Guestbook, any member of Machine Age Productions that has a Guestbook character available will play with you and trade with you if at all possible. If you’re at a con, and you want Character X, and you have Character Y, talk to us. Challenge us to a game. In fact, this method might be the only way to get super special exclusive character sheets.
Expect to see a full release at Gen Con 2011. Check us out in the dealer’s hall. We’ll be selling Guestbook directly through Machine Age Productions, we’ll sell at conventions, and we’re going to try to get our grubby game designer mitts wherever we can. We’re going to try a few slightly more traditional channels, but really, Guestbook is all about guerrilla interactions. So if you’re interested in carrying it, drop us a line. We will make it happen. Not only that, we will support you however we can.
- (30 days)