A Grandiose Disaster is a live action roleplaying game where you play out your own character-centric disaster/horror movie! Using a set of structured scenarios, anywhere from 6 to 12 players play archetypical characters run through the wringer of the disaster. Who will you try to save? What choices do you make to survive?
Who lives, and who dies?
"Mike Young's been at the cutting edge of larp for over a quarter century. With A Grandiose Disaster he takes lessons from theater-style, Parlor, boffer, freeform larp, and tabletop games and in the process cuts several Gordian knots of larp design. What we get is a pick-up and play larp that works as a campaign series, cuts straight to the action and distributes the "plot" to give everyone their moment in the sun. And on top of that, it's different every time you play. Bravo!" - Emily Care Boss, Black & Green Games
There's more info about the game itself below - but we also have a preview of the rules available in our first backer-only update. Pledge any amount (even $1) and you can check it out and decide what you think!
This project has a direct, though grandiose, goal: to bring A Grandiose Disaster into the world so that you can play out your favorite disaster movies with your friends.
We will use your pledges to produce an easy-to-use all-in-one 8.5x11 color book and accompanying printer-friendly PDF containing all the rules for setting up and running the game, five disaster movie scenarios to play, and guidelines for writing your own scenarios. We're also creating a supplementary deck of custom cards to make it as easy and intuitive as possible to pick up the game and play.
Past the simple goal of production, we've recruited a number of fantastic game designers to write cool, bizarre and thrilling scenarios as stretch goals! They will be revealed as the project progresses.
The PDF will be a printer-friendly digital document. Since the larp happens in physical space, this file will be designed for facilitators to just print the pages they need for each instance of play.
The Book will be an 8.5x11 color magazine-style softcover. It will be roughly 1/3 rules and guidelines for making scenarios, and 2/3 character templates and five included scenarios, so facilitators have everything at hand for learning the game and referencing it in play.
The Cards will be a standard poker-sized deck of all the Angst, Info and scenario-specific character cards needed for the five included scenarios. These are things introduced during the game to increase tension, complicate characters and/or change inter-character dynamics on the fly. While print-and-play versions of all the cards will be included with the PDF, this card deck accessory will be an easy way to keep everything at hand and organized over multiple games.
But we're not stopping there! We've reached out to some of our favorite game designers and larpwrights to provide additional scenarios. These will be produced as standalone pamphlet-style books. The PDFs of these stretch goals will be included with most of the basic rewards (see reward descriptions for details), and the print 8.5x11 pamphlet versions will be available only through this Kickstarter!
Our current lineup of stretch goal contributors includes:
- Game Designer Kirt Dankmyer - GOAL ACHIEVED!
- Larpwright, Editor, Graphic Design & Game Designer Carol Johnson
- Science Fictional Girl & Game Designer Caitlynn Belle - GOAL ACHIEVED
- Game Designer, Podcaster & Publisher Megan Pedersen
- Game Designer and RPG.net columnist Sandy Antunes
Scenario Goal #4 ($4000): The Long Way Home
The little charter flight over the Dubanina Mountains had always been one of Northern Lights Adventure Tours biggest selling points to its clients - beautiful views of the snow capped peaks and a shortcut that shaved hours off the beginnings of their arctic exploits. That is, until this time. This time everything that could go wrong, did. You're not sure if surviving the crash was a blessing or a curse. Because it's cold.
There's nothing to eat.
And there's nobody coming to help you.
The Long Way Home is by Megan Pedersen. Megan is a game designer, podcaster and performer based in Chicago, Illinois. She is the co-founder of Wheel Tree Press and a host of the Jank Cast, a gaming podcast. Her game design work includes original titles like Time Cellist, Greenlight and Sparkle, Baby! as well as supplemental materials for The Name of God, Noisy Person Cards and Bully Pulpit Games' critically acclaimed RPG, Fiasco.
Scenario Goal #3 ($3500): Terror at Trinity - ACHIEVED!
It was a sunny day for the tour of the Trinity site in New Mexico, a near perfect day for a little nuclear testing history lesson. Then an explosion rocked the government facility. Now people are trapped miles underground. What exploded? Who, or what, caused it? Where did the tour guide go? Where did all that sand come from? What is that sound? Like something moving...in...the...sand!
Terror at Trinity is by Carol Johnson. Carol is a professional editor and graphic designer who has been writing LARPs since the early 90s and has spent many years working in the RPG industry. Recent projects include a Glorantha LARP based on the Guide to Glorantha, freelance editing and design for RuneQuest, and content writing for Pelgrane's Night's Black Agents.
Scenario Goal #2 ($3000): Hatch Fever - ACHIEVED!
Hatch Fever was supposed to introduce a brief illness to the body that would help to fight off cancerous cells, then flush itself out of your system. Instead, it devoured people from the inside-out, liquefying their organs, thinning their blood, and burning off their skin. It made its way outside the compound, killing millions by the minute. Now, what's left? Just you and the other cancer-infected test subjects trying to make their way outside the lab. And then to what? What greener pastures lay ahead, around the rotting grass and choking weeds? Who knows, but you do know this - you may be doomed to die, but it sure as hell won't be here, and it sure as hell won't be now.
Hatch Fever is by Caitlynn Belle. She is a science fictional girl with a website full of tabletop games and larps, a Patreon full of weird little games and a video discussion show called Transcending Play.
Scenario Goal #1 ($2500): The Gates of Delirium - ACHIEVED!
A small town is about to experience a big event, the shattering of spacetime itself. Who will survive the hallucinations and the other-dimensional things that will pour from the Gates of Delirium?
The Gates of Delirium is by Kirt Dankymer. Kirt has been playing RPGs since the 80s, writing and playing LARPs since the 90s, and writing the occasional bio of himself since the turn of the century. He likes cats, science fiction, and things both disturbing and adorable.
As we hit each goal, a reward level will be added for those who want to receive the scenario in print, and you can simply upgrade your pledge to that level.
If we get to multiple goals, there will be multiple reward levels to choose from. You'll see "pick two," "pick three" and so forth, for those who are interested in only a couple of the unlocked scenarios in print. We will capture your choices at the end of the campaign. For now all you need to do is decide how many of the stretch goal scenarios you want, and upgrade to the appropriate pledge level. More details to come as the stretch goals are reached.
A Grandiose Disaster is a structured character-centric short-form larp. The organizer chooses one of the scenarios, which sets the genre and boundaries of play. Players use a set of archetypes to create characters and establish relationships before the disaster hits. Once it does, the game turns to a struggle of survival in the face of incredible, deadly odds!
Not every character will die, but some death in inevitable. Players whose characters die still participate in the game, whether by taking on narrator duties, playing side characters, or joining the "peanut gallery" to comment on this grandiose disaster as it unfolds!
The five scenarios included with the basic game are:
- Fire And Ice - A marvel of 1974 engineering, the hotel Fire And Ice nestles in a volcanic-heated geothermal pocket underneath the harsh Antarctic landscape. What could possibly go wrong?
- Golden Valley - In the dust-choked post-apocalypse, the only hope of survival lies in the rumored plenty of the Golden Valley beyond the Purple Mountains. Can your caravan reach the promised land in time?
- Space Station Omega - You're the very first crew on this deep space research station. The exoplanet has fascinating examples of alien biology to investigate; the fact that you're light years away from the closest emergency response team shouldn't be a problem. Right?
- The Love Craft - A sexy, horrifying, fun filled, sanity-draining voyage on the MS Honorary of the Pacific. What waits for you beneath the waves?
- Trapped In A Mall With Some Zombies - What more do you need to know?
The minimal mechanics are keyed to the character templates chosen and the scenes as the scenario progresses, making each play-through different. They concern special abilities, hard choices about the options available to the characters, and bending the outcomes of scenes just enough to create hope for the next one. The rules are just enough to create tension and push the characters towards the inevitable, without taking up time and mental overhead during play. Here's what some players had to say about it:
"As an actor I really enjoyed playing through this game! At times I forgot I was in someone's living room and felt my heart racing as I tried to escape. You really build relationships with people and in the end I survived because I/my character played the game well. It was really a blast! Mind the pun. Definitely worth playing again and again!" - Veronica S. Lowe
"It was bare bones in the best way. The rules got out of the way and let the players do the lifting." - Ian Ally-Seals
"Pound for pound, A Grandiose Disaster is one of the best LARPs there is for your investment of time and effort." - Susan Cohen
In addition to the five included scenarios and any unlocked by stretch goals, the game text includes guidelines for making your own that focus on your favorite disaster, horror and survival genres.
Want more details? There's a preview PDF available in the first backer-only update. Pledge $1 to check it out, then come back and upgrade if you like what you see!
The Designer: Mike Young
I have been designing larps since 1989. I started larping as a way to play a character without having to learn lines or be on stage. Over time I have come to love writing larps. I love interweaving stories and then giving these stories to a group of people and see what they come up with it. It is an amazingly collaborative, interactive artform unlike any other.
I had the idea to do a disaster movie larp for some time. Originally, I was looking at a one-shot but I couldn’t decide what scenario to write. It hit me in the middle of the night: instead of writing a single larp, I could write a larp system and then write many scenarios for it. The character creation concept was inspired by Fiasco and the runtime format was inspired by some of the Nordic black box larps I played.
I am very proud of A Grandiose Disaster. It has elegant mechanics and a great character creation system. I like watching the participants work together to create their shared histories and then agonize as to who they care about must die. I love watching the players react to the scenes in character, throwing every disaster movie trope in along the way.
My favorite moment from all of the runs was from the very first playtest where a player yelled at the rest of the group, “you’re asking me to choose [which should die] between my father and my best friend.” That really crystallized the decisions I wanted to see in A Grandiose Disaster.
The Publisher: Nathan D. Paoletta
I'm a dedicated small-press independent game designer and publisher. I've been in the business of making games for a decade, and it's currently a full-time pursuit. So far I've published tabletop games in a variety of genres (from gothic horror to Gilded Age hedonism to professional wrestling). When Mike approached me about A Grandiose Disaster, I asked him many questions to find out what he values about the game and his goals for publication. It turns out that they align with my values strongly, and thus this project was born.
What are those values? Passion for play, commitment to making the game the best it can be and insight into the unique qualities the game brings to the players. In A Grandiose Disaster I see the blend of my speciality (short-form, focused game design) with a tradition I've just started discovering as a player (character-driven, structured freeform live action). I think this game has a lot to offer fans of both styles of game in an approachable and easy-to-play package, and I am thrilled to stretch the self-imposed definition of myself as a publisher to make it happen!
Risks and challenges
Regarding the game, there are few risks. The system and its basic five scenarios are written and have been playtested with many different groups of players.
Regarding the publishing arrangement, this is a straight-forward project that falls within my comfort zone of a decade of game publishing. However, since this is the first partnership of this kind I've undertaken, communication and workflow is a top priority. Mike and I have an agreement that clearly demarcates who is responsible for what and when, including a road map for resolving disagreements or communication breakdowns. Based on our process so far, we won't need to use them, but they do exist.
I do have other publishing projects in the works, but they are all part of my publishing plan for 2016 and I see no reason that they will interfere with each other in terms of final fulfillment. I have a financial cushion available to cover emergency production expenses. In general, I am committed to clear communication with backers and have a good track record of communication and delivery with my previous Kickstarter campaigns.
Since we will be working with other authors for stretch goals, there is a risk of last-minute emergencies making them unable to meet their obligations; in such cases we will do our best to replace them from our wide network of qualified friends and fellow designers, or take the workload over ourselves.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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