About this project
Rally your amigos, let’s tell a story.
Trouble For Hire is a tabletop story-oriented roleplaying game. You sit with your friends around a table, you each take a role, and you follow the rules to create a story that you wouldn't have made on your own. However, Trouble For Hire works in reverse of what you might expect: there's basically only one "player character" and everyone else is a game master.
The hero of your story is Ruben Carlos Ruiz, a smuggler, courier, and wheelman of the American southwest. A mold-broken loner in over his head and wholly unafraid, Ruben races through a world gone mad with modernity – a world where he mavericks his way out of tight situations with raw wits, stunt driver bravado, and the judicious application of violence.
Everyone who isn't playing Ruben has their own specific role, from a villain in Ruben's way to the road through his stylized world to strange supernatural forces...and more.
Trouble For Hire is quick to pick up (no character generation), quick to learn (about a page of core rules) and quick to play (all you need is some poker chips and two standard six-sided dice). Just grab an adventure, decide who wants which role, and you're ready to burn rubber!
Ready to rock? Check out the quickstart adventure for the game: Hollywood Brad Freeman's Special Delivery, right here!
We want you to join us on this phantasmagoric ride through Ruben's post-western world of adventure, danger and excitement! This Kickstarter will fund the creation of a full-color illustrated book containing all of the rules of the game, the different roles and options for play, and an array of replayable adventures that place you and your friends in the center of the action.
What's In It For You:
- The Book: We want the book to be as vibrant, durable and re-usable as possible. We're aiming for a square format full-color hardcover as the basic goal, about 100 pages in length. Additional success in the campaign will go towards commissioning more art and upgrading the book for all backers.
- The PDF: This will, of course, have all the content included in the book in easy-to-access digital format, plus if we end up with any digital extras you'll get those gratis.
- Pins & Shirts: We love merch and swag, so if you want to be part of cool kids club you can pick up enamel pins and limited-edition shirts available only through the campaign. Design previews coming soon!
- The Deluxe Package: Oh, you're a high roller? Here's everything you need to play the game in one package - the book, board-game style role boards and light tokens, poker chips and dice.
- Want to be part of the madness? Higher-level rewards enable you to add yourself (or someone from your imagination) to the game as a possible Compañero (or Villano), or pitch your own rad movie idea as an adventure for the game!
What's In It For Us?
Producing Trouble For Hire in the manner it deserves means we need to pay a chunk of change up front for a print run, as well as hiring great artists to bring the post-western psychotropic desert to life! We have plans for production and content upgrades if we do well, but basically all of the Kickstarter funds will go towards paying for art and writing contributions, printing, and production costs.
We have some ideas for special bonuses to reveal during the campaign. But the basic plan is that if we do great, that means more art and better books for everyone!
Speaking Of Art...
Oh yeah, this is the fun part. We're pumped to have the following talented artists on board to make Trouble For Hire a reality:
Alexis Ziritt is originally from Venezuela but has lived in Florida for the past decade. He's been published in Complex Magazine, Heavy Metal, BOOM! Studios and Dark Horse Comics among others. His kung fu is strong. Check the hell out of his comic Space Riders right now.
Amy Houser is a graphic designer, illustrator and product designer based out of Philadelphia. She's worked with an array of illustrious clients, from Disney to Evil Hat to Chuck Wendig. She very much enjoys drawing.
Amy has already provided the initial look for Trouble For Hire, as seen elsewhere on this page and in the Quickstart Adventure. Thanks Amy!
JB Roe is a Chicago-based artist & illustrator from Lakeland, Florida. He makes comics, shirts, zines, wrestling merch... basically, he's the king of the side hustle. You definitely want to check out Brainbuster 2019 and Danger! Villainous Monster!
Rachel Kahn is an illustrator with a love of heavy metal, megafauna, and mighty-thewed barbarians. She has a passion for diverse characters and cultures, and loves being given a reason to do research. Kahn is also a self-published cartoonist and exhibiting fine artist. She lives and works in Toronto, Canada. You should check out By Crom! ... if you are worthy.
Each time you play Trouble For Hire, you'll start by picking an adventure starring Ruben Carlos Ruiz. Is he delivering a mysterious package for underground pornography czar "Hollywood" Brad Freeman? Has he been paid to protect a minivan moving peyote across state lines? Is he seeking a remote hacienda deep in the desert that they say contains a horde of ancient Spanish gold?
During the adventure, players assume different roles involved with the story. You don't necessarily play an individual character; you could become:
- The Editor, pulling the story together like a DJ scratches a record.
- Los Espectadores, looking (and cheering!) on as Ruiz overcharges his trusty '68 Corvette to make his moves.
- Prefer setting the scene? The Road Through The World does just that, and puts environmental challenges in the way of our hero.
- Like weird stuff? La Extraño is the role for putting the supernatural into the story.
- Not to mention Los Companero, La Villanos, The Rider and Ruben Carlos Ruiz himself! Check out the Quickstart Adventure for the specs on all of the roles.
The roles govern what happens during each scene, and then rotate between scenes as the players choose, so each group can find their own rhythm. If you prefer to keep one player in Ruben's role that works great, or he can bounce around to whoever has the next great idea for him, or he can switch players at the dramatic mid-adventure confrontation - the game is built to fit to your preferences and style of play!
The game uses a token system, called RPMs, that modulates the story to match the players creativity. You need to burn enough RPMs to get to the end of the adventure, but the pace is up to you. The more you use the special abilities of your role, the faster the tale goes; or you can slow down and really take your time, playing a more languid, magical-realist kind of story.
Each adventure provides:
- The basic premise, and the goal for Ruben or the threat that he faces (or both!).
- Secondary characters and suggestions for locations.
- A breakdown of the scenes, giving each one a launching-off point or a goal to aim towards.
- A set of dynamic themes that help guide the story and keep your rubber on the road.
This is enough structure for everyone to decide what they want to see and do right now, without demanding certain outcomes or abandoning you in a trackless waste.
A Post-Western World
While each adventure sets forth a specific situation for Ruben, the overall sensibility of the game is what we mean by "post-western" - Trouble For Hire takes place in a sytlized pastiche of the American West. Take the pioneer spirit of old west cowboy stories, update it to the decade of your choice, add some magical realist blending of metaphor and reality and sprinkle in the cosmic imagination of psychotropic metal imagery; that's the post-western world.
Inspired largely by road and adventure movies from Convoy and Smokey and the Bandit to Buckaroo Bonzai to Drive, this world can be somber or silly, adrenaline-filled or languid, have a cast of thousands or focus tightly on Ruben and his closest friends and allies. But it's always moving, never at rest, and never ever boring.
Want More Details?
- See how it looks in the Quickstart Adventure PDF right here!
- Hear about it on this Misdirected Mark Podcast episode about Episodic Games.
- Kevin answers Five or So Questions about the game on the Thoughty blog!
- Check out Ruben's playlist on Spotify!
Make the World Your Own
The modular, dynamic nature of the roles and adventures means that this game is eminently hackable. You could construct new roles that go even farther afield, build adventures that go way off the beaten path, and play with all of the knobs and dials that go into each element without losing the core dynamic of play.
We don't just want you to play with what you're given, we want you to put it up on blocks, get under that hood and jam in your favorite parts to make sure you get the sweet ride you've always wanted.
Trouble For Hire is a joint venture of Kevin Allen Jr. and Nathan D. Paoletta.
The game is Kevin's brainchild. He is an art director, game designer, and photographer living in Montclair NJ with his wife and comic book collection. His hobbies include mountain biking, book binding, tree identification, playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons, and attempting to cook meals vastly beyond his skill level. Since graduating from School of Visual Arts in 2004 he has served a number of diverse clients, consulted on a variety of projects and crafted award winning games that are sold on 4 continents and translated in numerous languages. Kevin's boundary-pushing 2-player game Sweet Agatha was nominated for the 2009 Diana Jones award for excellence in gaming. Find out more about Kevin and his games at his website.
The game is being published by Nathan D. Paoletta under his design imprint ndpdesign. Nathan is an game designer, graphic artist and independent publisher. In addition to helping other game designers fulfill their vision, he creates thematic and genre-exploration games, including the award-winning World Wide Wrestling Roleplaying Game. This is the third time he'll be publishing another creator's game, after Dev Purkayastha's The Dance and the Dawn and Mike Young's A Grandiose Disaster. He has run 5 successful Kickstarter campaigns and has high hopes for this one.
Kevin and Nathan have worked together before, running the financially and critically successful Design Matters booth at Gen Con from 2008-2010, which brought together mutually compatible indie game designers under an inclusive profit-sharing model.
We both think this game is dope as hell and hope you're willing to come along for the ride!
Risks and challenges
The game system has been through years of revision and playtesting, but the text is still in process. Our reward delivery estimate takes into account text revision and editing, in addition to securing art and going through the print proofing process.
As with any creative partnership, communication and workflow is a top priority. Nathan and Kevin have a written 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 it, but it exists.
The exact specifications for the final rewards will depend on the success of the campaign. While we're building extra time into the estimate to account for upgraded features, it's possible that achieving these specs may impact final delivery time (for example, if we end up deciding to print overseas and have to wait for additional shipping and customs processing).
We are contracting with freelance artists and other contributors, so there is always a chance that we will have to make a replacement to our announced lineup. Between the two of us we have an extensive network of additional options to bring onto the project.
If any of the above items will impact the project or delivery times, that will be openly communicated in a timely manner.
ndpdesign has other publishing projects in the works, but they are all part of the publishing plan for 2017 and there shouldn't be any interference in terms of final fulfillment. There is a financial cushion available to cover emergency production expenses. As a publisher, Nathan is committed to clear communication with backers and has a good track record of communication and delivery with previous Kickstarter campaigns.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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