Lancer is a mud-and-lasers tabletop roleplaying game centered on modular mechs and the pilots who crew them.
Ten thousand years after the climate crash that ended the Anthropocene, a survivor humanity rebuilt itself and spread to the stars. Numbering now in the trillions, they are a polyglot, cosmopolitan people, organized under a central hegemon: Union. The galaxy is vast before them, and humanity is its mirror. For some, it is a golden age of post-scarcity utopia. For the rest, that golden age remains a dream to be attained.
Into this roiling galaxy you take your role as a mech pilot — from cold-blooded mercenaries to honor-bound Baronic cuirassiers, hardscrabble Union regulars to professional Constellar Midnights, Far Field teams at the uncanny edge of known space to the ever-wandering Albatross. Operating with a wealth of licenses from one of the galaxy’s Big Five fabricators, you and your friends play a tight-knit squad of pilots on campaign — comrades together in a galaxy of danger and hope. Will you fight for Union, working to rectify the crimes of previous administrations? Will you run contracts for a corpro-state, working to advance private interests while lining your pockets? Will you fight to liberate your people from all masters, human or otherwise? Or will you fight only for yourself?
Lancer features a mix of military science fiction and mythic science fantasy. In the setting, conscript pilots mix ranks with flying aces, mercenary guns-for-hire brawl with secretive corpostate agents, and relativistic paladins cross thermal lances with causality-breaking entities.
In Lancer, there is promise in the potential, but the hard-won gains of humanity are under serious threat. From the internal: ruthless corpro-states, bitter anthrochauvinist reactionaries, and ponderous oligarchs, to the external: MONIST 1, or RA, an anoriginary being with unfathomable power and unknowable goals; the Aunic Ascendancy, the unbroken heirs of Old Humanity; and more.
Having only begun the project of recovering from its own internal political revolutions, Union now scrambles to reassert its control over a galaxy that would fall to chaos otherwise.
Who will you fight for, pilot?
What is Lancer?
Lancer is a tabletop roleplaying game that prioritizes four pillars of play:
- Rules-light, fluid, narrative play while outside of the mech.
- Tactical mech combat that promotes creative tactics, teamwork and explosive moments of action.
- Modular, progression-based mech customization where narrative, setting, and character is imbued in the gear, systems, and equipment your character chooses.
- A play loop that encourages narrative advancement.
Lancer offers deep, modular mech customization, a wide range of player backgrounds to prompt storytelling, and a system and setting with room for any narrative you and your group want to tell. It’s best with a group of 3-5 players, and can be used to run a one-shot session or persistent campaign.
Lancer draws thematic inspiration from various media: The lived-in, cosmopolitan, working class CRT retrofuture of Aliens, Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Akira, and Cowboy Bebop; the science fantasy of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos, Bungie’s Destiny, Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, Moebius’s The World of Edena and Arzach, and Anne Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy; the soldiers-on-campaign tension of The Thin Red Line, Band of Brothers, and Platoon; and the subjectivity-fraying uncanny of Tarkovsky's Stalker, Cronenberg’s Videodrome, and Evangelion’s Angels.
Mechanically, aspects of Lancer’s play owe particular thanks to existing media for inspiration: Schwalb Entertainment’s Shadow of The Demon Lord for its Accuracy/Difficulty system; the Armored Core series for its modular mech customization; and to John Harper’s Blades In The Dark for its downtime systems.
While we have a significant number of finished art and lore in the book already, we imagine the final product to be part setting book, part ruleset, and part art book — a rich resource for not only roleplaying tools, but narrative-inspiring art and worldbuilding.
What Does Lancer Do Differently?
There are clear, differentiated rules for narrative play and tactical combat.
Narrative play and tactical combat demand different rule sets and scales of play. Whether you want the game to move at a fluid, narrative pace in order to zoom in or expand your story, or jump right into tactical mech combat, Lancer establishes clear guidelines for when and how to implement differing styles.
Lancer offers systemized downtime and brings narrative-enhancing structure to the play session.
Lancer has a clear play structure making it easy for game masters of any experience to run a dynamic campaign. Players can take downtime actions with defined outcomes to progress story beats, work on projects, or get access to resources. What they do during downtime impacts how their missions begin, progress, and end. This structure prompts clear goals, stakes, and personal involvement from the characters that will help your table to bring storytelling, role-playing, and consequence to every game.
Lancer’s character system is classless, modular, and encourages deep customization.
When you progress in Lancer, your pilot permanently gains licenses that grant them access to parts and gear from a mech of their choice. Unlike other games, however, you are not locked in to a set character path - instead you will create your own personalized mech. Your pilot can mix and match any parts you like, creating a system where players define their own roles by the choices they make. Build broad or deep — your pilot is your pilot, and your mech is your mech.
Flavor, characterization, and setting drive every aspect of Lancer
Nearly every gear option has lore attached to it, further defining the history and tone of the setting as well as acting as hooks for deeper player characterization. When you take licenses from the IPS-Northstar Raleigh, the gunslinging mech with the MJOLNIR chest cannon, you know exactly what you're getting.
You can already play the pre-release version of LANCER here (the link or clicking on the title above will take you to our itch.io page where you can download the game) and download a fully working version of our companion app, COMP/CON, here. This is the full game, totally free and currently being played by dozens of groups, but without a lot of the art, layout, and editing that's the goal of this kickstarter. Even after release, we will always have a free version of LANCER available on all platforms.
After nearly two years of development, play testing, and community building, we wanted to take the next step and finish Lancer’s first edition core book in proper form: hardback, with full color, professional editing and layout, and packed with art by some of the best illustrators working in comics and concept design today.
Lancer is a large project. Roughly 560 pages of finished text — rules, setting information, lore, generators, NPCs, and many more tools for Game Masters — almost 20 artists, and millions of possible gear combinations. We’re asking for a fair amount to fund this project, but we think it’s just that — a fair ask.
One of the things we want to make clear is that we don’t want to keep anyone from playing Lancer. Despite the campaign to raise funds necessary to create a final product, we mean to keep a version of Lancer free — always. We've gone almost two years in public development of this game and intend to keep the game available for the community to play and enjoy.
Massif Press is a new publisher made up of Tom Parkinson Morgan and Miguel Lopez. Lancer is Massif’s first offering.
For more information, please contact us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), come hang out in our fan-made and fan-run Discord, or @ us over on our Twitter account, where you can also find more art, lore, and links to relevant materials.
Tom Parkinson Morgan — Tom Parkinson Morgan is the artist and writer of Kill Six Billion Demons, published by Image Comics and on the web. He also wrote the RPG Broken Worlds, and is Lancer’s lead rules designer. Tom is a co-founder of Massif Press.
Miguel Lopez — Miguel Lopez is a co-founder of Massif Press. He writes fiction, and is Lancer’s lead narrative designer.
Jay Iles — Jay Iles is the head and lead designer at UFO Press, and the creator of Mythsea: Legends From The Borderlands, and Legacy: Life Among The Ruins. Jay is based out of the UK, and is Lancer’s layout designer.
Melody Watson — Dr Melody Watson is an editor, historian, analogue games designer and mech-loving science fictionist. You can keep up with her on Twitter at @magicspacegirl or check out her writing and design at melodynova.com and magicspacegirl.itch.io. Melody is Lancer's editor.
We have a phenomenal art team for this book. Aside from the art of Tom Parkinson-Morgan (the cover and all core mech art), we have a number of other artists confirmed for the project:
Aurahack — Aurahack is an Osaka-based illustrator that draws cute girls, imaginary worlds, and technology symbiosis--usually at the same time.
Jan Buragay — Jan Buragay is a freelance artist based out of the Philippines with a passion for science fiction
Farel Dalrymple — Farel Dalrymple is the author of the comics Proxima Centauri, Pop Gun War, and It Will All Hurt. He is also known for his work on Image's Prophet reboot.
Connor Fawcett — Connor Fawcett is a freelance illustrator based out of New Zealand, who enjoys fantasy, sci-fi, “big coats, and navigating via compass”.
Cosimo Galluzzi — Cosimo Galluzzi is an illustrator and concept artist based out of Los Angeles.
Peyton Gee — Peyton Gee is an illustrator and concept artist who's been fascinated by giant robots for as long as he's been able to draw. What they represent, what they embody, what they inspire, and also just how cool they are.
Lee Yeong Gyun — Lee Yeong Gyun is a freelance concept artist based out of Seoul, South Korea.
Gabriel Johnson — Gabriel is an Indiana-born character artist and animator with a love for gardening, sports, and modular mech RPGs.
Sloane Leong — Sloane Leong is a cartoonist and illustrator who loves exploring complex stories through science fiction, horror, fantasy, and slice-of-life stories.
Simon Roy — Simon Roy is a writer and illustrator. He is the author of Habitat, Jan's Atomic Heart, and more. His work has appeared in Prophet, Island, Cayrels Ring, and elsewhere.
Robert Sather — Robert Sather is a freelance merchandise designer, full-time brand manager, and intensive lore-nerd living in the southern United States. Inspired by dreams, world history, and occultism, he constantly aims to introduce new, unconventional concepts that surpass the modern consumer's expectations.
Cameron Sewell — Cameron Sewell is a freelance illustrator who specializes in science fiction and mechanical design.
James Stokoe — James Stokoe is a comic book artist and creator of Orc Stain, Godzilla: The Half Century War, and Aliens: Dead Orbit.
Olympia Sweetman is a comic book artist and illustrator specializing in mechs and science fiction.
Guy Warley — Guy is a illustrator based in London with an interest in science fiction. He draws intricate and detailed sci-fi inspired landscapes, architecture and technology.
Calum Alexander Watt — Calum Alexander Watt is a concept and storyboard artist specializing in design for costumes and film. His previous work includes costume design for Alien: Isolation, Oats Studios’ ZYGOTE, and more.
Jake Wyatt — Jake Wyatt is the creative director at Moonbat Studios and the author of Necropolis. He makes comics for Marvel, DC, and Image, and makes cartoons for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network (you might also know him for creating Peni Parker).
Daniel Warren Johnson is a Chicago-based comic book writer and artist. His creator-owned title, EXTREMITY, was met with popular and critical acclaim, netting him an Eisner Award nomination for Best Limited Series. He first came to the public's attention with his own web-based comic, SPACE-MULLET (since collected by Dark Horse Comics). This led to work with publishers including Marvel, DC, BOOM! and Image. Other works include THE GHOST FLEET, GREEN LEADER, and his current series, MURDER FALCON.
Our rewards for backing are pretty straightforward:
- Everyone who backs this campaign at the PDF tier or higher will get a code that grants them a copy of the Premium PDF.
- Everyone who backs this campaign at the PDF tier or higher will have access to any and all digital stretch rewards.
- All backers at any level will receive the Long Rim mech supplement .pdf as part of our social stretch goals. These are four (five???) mechs not included in the core book. This supplement will be available for wide release some time after our campaign concludes, but we are including it early and for free with all pledges.
- Everyone who backs this campaign — at any level — will have access to any additional social stretch goals we unlock, as soon as we can deliver them.
What are social stretch goals? Pretty much what they sound like: they're unlocks tied to social engagement, not money raised.
We're going to include some additional simple social stretch goals attached to how many backers we have. Here's the breakdown:
- 300 Backers: Iconic Mech Wallpapers (for desktop and phone) - ACHIEVED!
- 400 Backers: Logo Wallpapers (for desktop and phone) - ACHIEVED!
- 500 Backers: Company Catalog Wallpapers - ACHIEVED!
- 1000+ Backers: Access to CLOCKMAKER'S BARDO, a sealed Union Intelligence Bureau report. - ACHIEVED!
CLOCKMAKER'S BARDO Report unlocked. Transcript follo-- ?+TRANSCRIPT)^CORRUPTED.>>/???? >[hello. you/we made it here already. you/i are/am fast, yes, that is why you/i are/am dangerous. outstanding] >[well then, for you/me, a gift: a maze, a puzzle, a winding Twine that bends and twists and may, if you/we discover the end, elucidate] >[go once more/first into DHIYED. see why i ordered CORRECTIVE]
Well, we've hit a thousand backers! Expect a Twine game to be delivered no later than the physical copy's launch date.
As we gain in backers, we will release the art and details for the four Long Rim mechs above, so stay posted!
We amazingly blew through our first stretch goals in the first 6 hours of this campaign. This means all backers at the PDF tier and up will receive digital copies of No Room for a Wallflower, Lancer's first official campaign module, and three Field Guides, setting and lore guides for the various areas of the Lancer canon. Delivery for these digital-only rewards will be some time in 2020.
Since we're predicting our physical book will be ready to ship no later than March 2020, and shipping quotes are only good for a brief window (comparatively speaking) we're going to hold off on charging shipping fees right away; we don't want to under charge now and then have to charge you again when it comes time to fulfill your pledges!
As soon as we're ready to ship, we'll send out a notice via BackerKit — that way we can ensure you'll have the best possible price on shipping. So, for right now, you don't have to add anything to your pledge beyond the stated pledge level!
In the meantime, here's an idea of what we're projecting for shipping costs (subject to change, of course, all prices in USD):
- Domestic shipping (US) will run a flat $12.00.
- Canada, UK, EU, Australia, China, Hong Kong, and Japan is a flat $25.00 USD.
- Shipping to New Zealand is $27.00 USD
- Shipping to Switzerland and Norway is $45.00 USD.
- And shipping to the rest of the world is $51.00 USD.
Note that these are all subject to change. If you're snagging a physical book, be on the lookout for further communications via BackerKit.
Risks and challenges
We know backing TTRPG campaigns from new developers can be a risk, but we want to assure you that Lancer is a safe bet. While this is Massif Press' first campaign, we are confident in our timeline and our product.
The text for the Core Book is done save for a final copyedit and layout, has been available in progressive editions for free since July 2017, and has a robust play and homebrew community. If you're new to Lancer or on the fence about backing, you can check out the full game for free, request a PDF of an older edition, or come chat with the dev team and homebrew/fan community on the Discord. We're passionate about this project, and intend to use the funds raised by this campaign to pay our layout artist, editor, and general artists to polish this book with the finish we feel it -- and its fans -- deserve.
So, to that end, here are the risks we face:
Deadlines. As soon as the campaign wraps and we can pay our team, they'll get working on art, editing, and layout. As long as they stick on deadline, we'll meet our final PDF fulfillment date. We don't anticipate any delays as long as we are able to get deliveries from our art team on time.
Printing. Once our final PDF is sorted out, we'll be working with our printer to get the first run of books on time. As soon as the final product is proofed and the first run is printed, we'll get physical copies sent to the backers that pledged for them. Time and shipping are the risks here -- we'll be communicative and up front with all backers who come in at this level, and expect physical fulfillment no later than March 2020. In the meantime, you'll always have access to the free PDF, and the Premium PDF as soon as it's finished.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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