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A story-driven RPG about badass mecha pilots who combine into totally sweet ultimate robos and save Humanity from Big Giant Monsters.
A story-driven RPG about badass mecha pilots who combine into totally sweet ultimate robos and save Humanity from Big Giant Monsters.
160 backers pledged $6,246 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Final Form: RUMBLE!
Final Form: RUMBLE!

  

 "Evolution happens when the rider and his armor become one." - Eldorado Five 

This game is my personal RPG love letter to Gunbuster, Majestic Prince, Vandread, and of course, Voltron. It's a story of awesome mecha pilots who must learn to get along with each other long enough to combine their robots together and defeat Big Giant Monsters from Space (or wherever else your group decides they're from).

The root of the game is an open-ended collaborative story experience, with each player acting as both the guide to a single character and an architect in the creation of the world. There is a Game Master player as well, but in Gattaibushido the players have a good deal more creative authority than you might expect. Every new game world is built fresh by the group playing it, and the particulars vary so wildly that no two groups will ever likely be playing the same world.

The mechanics of this game are heavily inspired by my prior game, Motobushido, changed so the core rules more closely fit the new theme. The core tools are a couple of decks of playing cards (instead of dice) and a number of helpful (but not absolutely necessary) tokens of any kind. The cards create a constant awareness of continually-escalating scenario stakes; the more the team acts and causes trouble, the closer the inevitable Big Giant Monster gets to totally wrecking their day!

But you can see all this for yourself right now, as the current playtest rules are live and publicly available on my website: http://nathanaelcole.com/ag/gattaibushido/

And while you're at it, if you want some proof of my writing chops, check out the Motobushido free full-text edition here: www.drivethrurpg.com/product/121220/Motobushido-RPG-Frugal-Digital-Edition

And also check out two of my older games, both now completely free on Github:

I even started a Discord server where you can chat with me (and others) about my games, and even arrange some playtest discussions. Check that out here!

FORM BLAZING SWORD!
FORM BLAZING SWORD!

If you are familiar with the previous, the primary differences are: 

  • A new round-robin whole-team battle system, built for cross-team stunting and action synergy;
  • A new system for combining team actions, powers, and battle combos;
  • A new system for combining the whole team's robos into the awesome Final Form;
  • New "Harmony / Static" emotional stats that replace the former Ki and Stains mechanic;
  • A simple single-stat system of enemy threat management;
  • An additional world-building mechanic based on the use of Locations (and collateral damage!);
  • An updated "First Contact" built-in game tutorial and world-building system;
  • ...and a whole new array of character roles, styles, and gear.

And for those of you who really like lists, the currently-planned base game includes:

  • 8 Core Character Roles (based on color archetypes from genre classics);
  • 8 Core Giant Personal Robos (Lion, Panda, Rhino, and more!);
  • at least 8 (and more like a dozen-plus) Core Personal Power Weapons, and an open-ended build-your-own fighting style.;
  • 3 included default settings for those who want to skip the collaborative world-making;
  • and 8 sample Big Giant Monsters to throw against the pilots.

And the planned stretch goals (and even some backer tiers!) will only increase these numbers!

Okay, So What About the Mechanics?

GattaiBushido:FUSION! uses standard playing cards as the core mechanic. Action in the game is played out through a round-the-table, back-and-forth series of escalating "Pushes" and sweet synergy combos. Players in conflicts have the option of either pushing the action forward with their plays, or instead building teamwork combos with their allies to hit even harder.

Here's a TL;DR example from the current playtest document:

You wanna rough this jerk up and teach him not to mess with you and your sisters anymore. So you throw down a card and say "Dude, I'm gonna break your face!" And he downs down a card of his own and says "Bring it, bitch! I'm gonna humiliate the shit outta you in front of the whole school" Clearly, blood and bruises are on the line, so you're gonna have to work hard not to take Static.

You both flip cards and yours is higher, but shit, it's like WAY higher than his, outside of your Strike Range and then some, so you take a Dissonance token (this shit had better be worth it). Anyway, you think you got him where you want him, when he throws down a better card and kicks you square in the ribs, so hard you think they're cracking. You then thrown down your own card in response and grab his leg, pulling it down *hard* and snapping a bone. Not just that, though - you threw in your ***Gai Kee Gan Flare!*** and took it to the limit (delivering painful Static to your foe), almost ripping the asshat's leg right out of the socket! But your card was too high again, and that means another Dissonance token added to the count.

He relents. You have four cards in the final Pile, and put them all toward hitting this jackass with as much Static as you can. He crawls back to his dorm, crying the whole way. Thankfully he was just some pissant bully with no common sense and no real strength to back it up. The Static you took in the process was easy enough to soak, you're a tough gal and this was barely a fight worth remembering. But that Dissonance is gonna hurt your Harmony meter, because you just *know* the team is gonna be pissed at you for going off on your own and getting in another fight…

...Once and for All!!!!
...Once and for All!!!!

  

The most important game theme is Teamwork. The pilots are a team, yes, but they're also people, and they are practically guaranteed to not entirely get along. The stress of having everyone else expect them to save the world all by themselves can wear them down and cause no end of friction within their ranks. Putting this into play is the Harmony / Static system, which uses a "Roy G Biv" scale to eyeball how stressed out and/or hurting each member is, and how in tune they are with the "Team Spirit." 

That Harmony mechanic directly ties into their ultimate ability, which is the power to combine their personal giant robos into an ultimate Final Form. While the Final Form isn't absolutely necessary to defeat the bad guys and save the day, it certainly helps out a lot, and on top of that it's just really damn cool.

The game uses decks of playing cards to resolve conflicts, and also to provide pacing and escalation of tension. There are three core action mechanics, based on the three scales of action scoping: one for quick-and-simple one-off conflicts, one for extended fight sequences, and a final one for full-on Giant Robot Rumble Mode.

These pilots have to deal with more than just monsters, though. They have to struggle with their schoolwork, scout out military secrets, explore new worlds, compete in sports events, and ultimately struggle with trying to get along with each other. The Way of the gattai mecha Pilot is Stress (...and big giant monsters).

Open cockpits, open hearts
Open cockpits, open hearts

  

This Kickstarter project is to pay for professional editing, layout, and indexing. Fellow game geek Garrett Guillotte (Redemption, Villain Codex) will cover these tasks, and his prices are quite fair. The funding goal will cover those costs and a bit extra for unexpected "oops" costs and the inevitable ever-present Tax Man. 

As such, I've done everything I can to cut excess costs. Much of artwork is already done and paid for, and those costs are not included in this project. All the extras and "fun stuff" are also done and paid for, and are not part of the funding target. Any excess funds over the target will improve the product itself:

  • more art
  • more stories
  • just plain more cool mecha pilot awesomeness.

My artists and writer are on board and waiting for more work.

My other major goal here is to the raise the visibility of the project. I want to get more playtest copies into the wild, where others can playtest without my influence. Third-party, unaffiliated playtest data is crucial to a project like this. I hope that with more audience exposure, I will get more usable playtest results.

The prize!
The prize!

  

Gattaibushido will be released as a digital document, indexed, outlined, and internally linked. The layout will be of graphic novel proportions, suitable for Print On Demand at DriveThruRPG. By backing at Cadet level or higher you will receive the PDF version and the option of "at-cost" Print On Demand hardcopy. This is a popular method of delivering printed products for small-press designers. It saves both time and money, and keeps all shipping and customs accurate. 

By popular request, all reward levels from "Graduate with Honors" and above include another print copy I will autograph and ship to you - this one is hard-cover, too!

The "Fun Stuff" reward is a collection of fun extras that I've put together for this project. This includes:

  • A set of awesome Paper Doll images drawn by Jake Richmond, which you can print and mix and match for fun.
  • Each story written by Isaac Sher, collected into a digital volume, including any new stories added with over-funding.
  • A collection of wallpaper images formatted for a variety of screen sizes.
  • Your choice of one piece of the game's artwork in full high resolution .psd format for printing of posters, etc (I'll collect your choice after completion)

And possibly more!

About the "Local Only" option: As I learned from my prior project and the years between, there are a lot of folks who would rather save on shipping costs and just arrange to pick things up directly from the creator when convenient. And it just happens that there are a lot of you wonderful folks right here in the Pacific Northwest, too. So this option is for people who do not want direct shipping, and instead want to meet with me personally here in the PNW, either at a store, a con, or a nearby bar.

Examples of Paper Doll images
Examples of Paper Doll images

  

Add-ons

At least as of launch time, I only have two planned add-ons. The first is a custom, limited postcard with my autograph and a you-only message, as thanks for your patronage and for adding a little extra to help me out. This will cost $7, and all backers at $100 levels and higher get one included already. These cards are only going to be printed for this project, and once gone they are gone.

The second is a limited edition "Flight Team" shoulder patch to represent your membership in the Athena Prime mecha team! The patches were ridiculously popular with the Motobushido backers, so I would be a fool not to have new ones for this project too. All Backer tiers of $35 or higher receive one of these automatically, but any level can add one or more to their pledge (see below).

NEW as of 10-25: Patch Pack Upgrades! The new six-patch full-team option has been unlocked! Now in addition to the basic Flight Team patch there will be a set of five new patches, one for each of the core robos in that very first promo image at the top of this project page. Show your team pride by sporting a new patch for your role on the squad! ALL reward tiers at $100 or higher are now getting an upgrade to the full six-patch set. And everyone else can add them on as follows:

  • For a single Patch: +$9
  • For two patches: +$15 (the fight team patch and one animal of your choice)
  • For the full six-patch set: +$25

Stretch Goals

Almost all "stretch goals" will enhance the core product itself. I plan on playing it safe initially, to see what kind of response this project gets without them.

The Goals:

  • UNLOCKED! $3500: Bonus Content Pack 1: An added set of "Gemstone Prism Team" Color Roles! Draw your team powers from the very crystals and metals of the earth, and fuze together to fight space invaders!
  • UNLOCKED! $4000: Graphic Story Booster #1 + Content Improvement Pack 1! New artwork and stories added to the core book! AND a new 4-page comic added to the text and the Fun Stuff rewards!
  • UNLOCKED! $4500: Bonus Content Pack 2: An added set of "Ultra Music Team" Power Weapons! Includes Guitar, Bass, Drums, and more! Defeat enemies with the awesome power of wicked music!
  • UNLOCKED: $5000: Ultimate Patch Pack Upgrade: An extended set of FIVE more patches, one for each of the core robos of Athena Prime. If this is unlocked, backer tiers at $100 and above (including retailers!) will receive the full six-patch set!
  • ...$5500: Graphic Story Booster #2 + Content Improvement Pack 2! Even more new artwork and stories added to the core book! Plus 4 new pages of comic added to the text and the Fun Stuff rewards!
  • ...$6000: Double Goal Bonus! Civ Defense Team! Bronwen the Dog! Comic Upgrade! An alternate set of rules for using a deck of special playing cards whose name is Spanish for "One!"

FUTURE Plans

  • An added set of "Civ Defense Team" Robos! Includes the Jet Fighter, Bulldozer, Sports Car, and others!
  • NEW: Bronwen the dog, the requisite "cute companion" added as a full all-in-one character option.
  • And more additional character roles, robos, and weapons added to the book as voted upon!
  • Additional full page artwork
  • Added comic art on a page-by-page basis, included with "Fun Stuff" rewards as well
  • Comic-format multi-page gameplay examples, also included with "Fun Stuff"
  • Additional Stories by Isaac, opening the sections of the book

Possible Additional Additions

  • Single tracks of thematic music, composed and recorded by Casey LaLonde
  • All-Mecha Pin-up Calendar! All your favorite Big Giant Robos, relaxing and posing just for you!
  • Additional free high-res art for "Fun Stuff" backers.
  • Print and play Art Cards, Playing Cards, etc.
Goooooooooo TEAM!
Goooooooooo TEAM!

  

Our team consists of: (add details later) 

N. Phillip Cole (Writing and Design) is the sole operator of Alliterated Games, and the writer of previous small-press games Motobushido, Cannibal Contagion, and the cheap-as-free QUAD, as well as the upcoming Motobushido: Crimson Blossoms official Savage Worlds campaign setting for Pinnacle Entertainment. He resides in Portland, OR, and spends most of his waking time thinking about dragons, pizza, and bulldogs.

Juan Ochoa (Core Art): Gumshoe whistleblower reporter hero? A narcissistic antagonist out for blood? Fall-guy for a horrifying nanite invasion? Sleeper agent for extraplanar feline intelligence? The FACTS: He is a straight-dealing, smooth-lined, grit-teethed artist, twainsplit mirror-master-magician-carouser-cavorter, and noted wizard, with knowledge bilingual, exotic, and esoteric, who theoretically does most of his thinking in Español.

Gremlin Legions (product identity) is an independent illustrator, graphic designer, and gamer with too many ideas, and too little time to do anything about them.

Isaac Sher (fiction) has been an avid fan of Japanese pop culture since he first saw STAR BLAZERS on UHF television back in 1979 when he was home sick from kindergarten. He's been the Master of Ceremonies for the convention ANIME CENTRAL for over a decade, and has finally figured out that maybe, just maybe, he could write about his years of experience with all this wonderful weirdness. He resides in Chicago with his wife Gretchen and his son Elijah.

Garrett Guillotte (editing, layout, indexing) has been hacking at words and pages in RPGs for years, most notably as an editor and designer for Paizo's Pathfinder RPG lines and as editor and layout artist for Silent Spirits Games's Redemption RPG. Also based in Portland, Oregon, he likes his systems streamlined and settings gonzo, and his characters always write checks that his dice can't cash.

A.D. "Graypawn" Henderson (Sheets, Cards, Printables, etc): A laughing dreamer and pulp fiction wizard intent on adding more beautiful chaos to the world of shared imagined spaces. Visit Graypawn.com for more confusion.

Renee Knipe (video production): For her eighth Christmas, Renee received the Mentzer red box from her grandmother (best grandma ever!). Not quite able to puzzle out the rules on her own, but fascinated nonetheless, she immediately began designing her own dungeony games... and never stopped. Today she's a game designer, freelance writer, video and audio editor, and assistant developer with Jeff Tidball's Left Justified LLC. She's worked with Adept Press, Onyx Path, Atlas Games, Bully Pulpit, Genesis of Legend, and others.

Casey LaLonde (music composition) helped out with a track of his for our Kickstarter video, and has offered to compose new unique pieces for this project as inspirational tunes fitting the game's themes, should they be unlocked as stretch goals. He is a fellow Pacific Northwesterner, and you can find more of his tunes on his Bandcamp site.

 

Risks and challenges

The core art that I want is complete. Contracts with involved parties are ready. I have only limited, small-scale printing requirements, already covered by existing funds.

My biggest challenge is getting more playtesting. Until now the playtesting has all been local, at home and at local gaming events. It's time to get more external playtesters and their feedback. I've allowed over a year to get this information so I can make the best game possible.

Should something terrible happen and I be made physically unable to finish the project (death, dismemberment, etc), I commit all of my design code and project files to git repos. My chosen inheritor will have my passkey ring for all of my files and work. It's a horrible thing to have to think about, but necessary.

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Funding period

- (31 days)