COMMANDROIDS: A WORLD TRANSFORMED
The Tabletop Roleplaying Game of '80s Transforming, Combining Robots!
COMMANDROIDS: A WORLD TRANSFORMED
The Tabletop Roleplaying Game of '80s Transforming, Combining Robots!
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Mon, September 2 2019 1:00 PM UTC +00:00.
Midnight on a steamy street. Two cars redline down the highway, swerving and jockeying for a lead. In a flash of steel and a ratcheting metallic whine, the trailing car bisects, shifting and twisting into a bulky humanoid form. A towering robot blots out the hot summer moon and aims at the speeding hot rod ahead of it, firing bolts of neon-hot plasma at… nothing. The mechanical giant inspects the empty crater before being ambushed from above by another gleaming titan. Blades flash and lasers blast before the peal of distant sirens alerts the androids to oncoming humans… and the complications they bring. There’s another ratcheting metallic grind, and again fog fills the air, lit only by the blazing taillights of the disappearing vehicles.
This is their world, transformed.
This is the world of the COMMANDROIDS.
The rise of the Eighties brought with it so many things: music television, heavy metal fashion, Miami Vice, and a terrifying new chapter in the Cold War. But in the early part of the generation, pop culture turned its attention to a new movement out of Japan.
Voltron, Robotech, the Go-Bots, and the Transformers led a veritable invasion of robots into the public consciousness, and changed everything about how we perceive and interact with machines. At the heart of this phenomenon was the concept of the transforming robot. Suddenly, they were in disguise! The school bus, the airplane overhead, your own boombox... They could be anything.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what about the robots was the crux of their appeal: the fun, tactile nature of these puzzle toys, the thunderous presence in media, the strange relationships they had with the sort of machines that kids love… but one thing was clear. We didn’t just want to drive these big robots around. We wanted to be them. To fly, to fight, to rule the highways, the skies, and even the airwaves. We wanted to slip around undetected with a twenty-ton mechanical secret. To be robots in disguise.
As the generation grew, so too, did the mythology. There are literally thousands of hours of materials, from comics, to TV series, video games, and even some big-budget franchises based on this shared fantasy from the mid-80s. However the basis of the robots appeal are in the toys we loved and used to tell stories to each other. We snuck these characters into school with us, we grieved them when they broke, and manipulated and gave life to them. They joined us us in countless rumpus rooms and backyards for tales of courage and adventure. The stories we created in play, so long ago.
Let’s tell them again, together.
You’re a normal kid in a normal town, until things change.
Until you hear the Command Code Line.
Commandroids is set in the mid-80’s amidst the tensions of political turmoil at home and cold wars abroad, a time of unparalleled technological advancement. Into the traditional routine of American suburbia, an invasion begins, not of the land but of the technology. In the wake of a great comet, our machines begin to awaken and search for pilots. Some, known as the Symbitron Resistance, seek willing human partners. Others, known as the Nemesite Capacitors, are just looking for organic batteries to power their servos.
Commandroids: A World Transformed is our follow-up the the hit RPG Rememorex. It is an obvious love letter to things like the Transformers, Robotech, and Voltron, but also maintains a foot in the world of suburban 80s adventure. There's still a strong element of things like Short Circuit, Knight Rider, and the Iron Giant. In play, our villains, the Nemesites, developed a rather Cronenbergian element of body horror as they brutally meld flesh and machine. This brings the horror element into the game in the big way. Inour playtests, we deloped a world in which players take on the role of both robot and pilot, each one a fully-realized personality with hopes, dreams, ideals, and relationships.
The Commandroid is a sentient machine bonded to a human pilot, usually a human between the ages of thirteen and twenty. Together, pilot and machine act as one to seek out and battle the Nemesite Threat from their former home world. This war must be fought in the shadows; necessitating the need for disguise- as cars, planes, arcade cabinets and, yes, even boom boxes.
Sometimes, when one robot is not enough, you must form the mighty Shogun Configuration: a truly epic machine comprised of multiple Commandroids forming one great, legendary warrior robot.
Best of all, you are in command.
Our first Stretch Goal will be at the 15K mark, where we'll be adding another 25 Vehicle Mode options (Grand total 100!) to the book. There will be additional Vehicle Modes added at future stretch goals, along with other incentives like a default setting and optional rules for playing the evil Nemesite Capacitors!
Our first big unlockable will be familiar to fans of the G1 Transformers. The original boxes came printed with "Tek Specs" which included an obscured set of stats. Inside, a clear red plastic "Tek Specs Decoder Strip" would reveal the robot's stats. We'd like to include this gimmick in the book, and our first stretch goal will be unlocking this fun element in an RPG book!
Keep an eye on this space as we add more and more unlockables!
The game is already written and has been played consistently for almost two years! It requires only additional art, layout, and printing. If we’re lucky, we'd also like to attain a few really cool stretch goals. Commandroids is powered by the Omnisystem, a super simple and deeply narrative driven tabletop system that can be explained in as little as five minutes. As fans of Rememorex know, the Omnisystem allows for the creation of interesting and dynamic characters without necessitating a complicated character creation process. We will also be including rules for the FATE system, so you have your choice of system when running Commandroids: A World Transformed!
We have plans for this to be the first of an interconnected series of games examining the plastic mythology of that era, so future releases will be 100% compatible with Commandroids and include new elements like New Wave Holograms and powerful Space Princesses and Laser Barbarians. The Radical Shadows universe will ultimately be a 1980s that is superficially like our own, but one that contains many secret powers that have cosmic ramifications on the Earth and its' uncertain future.
Players create and control both a human pilot character and a giant transforming robot. The roles are fun and interchangeable, so while you will no doubt be caught up in redline robot races and giant mech-battles, you’ll also be be exploring the motivations and relationships of a millennia-ancient race of machines who have brought their civil war to our tiny world.
Balancing your daily life among your pilot’s responsibilities and your Commandroid’s duties to the cause will be part of your experience, and thanks to that binary bond, there’s always the possibility that you’ll flip consciousnesses. Then it’s up to your friends to help sneak you out of gym class while you have the relative mindset (and powers) of a heroic Spyplane, Bulldozer, Sports Car, or something even stranger still.
Creating a Robot is super fun and modular, and the core book contains over seventy-five cars, planes, motorcycles, and other machines to build into a character. Robot characters also have access to a wide variety of Functions, or programming sets: are you a high-speed spy? A saboteur? A powerful warrior? Lastly, determine your otherworldly Quazartech powers: do you have an animalistic Primatronic Core that lets you shift into a robot-animal form? Are you a wily Trinary Convertor with two Vehicle Modes? Or do you have access to the mighty and noble Source Code? Building a robot is almost as much fun as playing one!
Commandroid plays with the Omnisystem, a streamlined, narrative-driven game engine designed to be nearly invisible when the story gets going. Character creation is based on just three player-created stats and a simple chart of relationships will instantly form powerful bonds not just between the plucky kid pilots but the robots themselves. You roll your stats against a target number set by the GM, and that’s conflict resolution.
There are three innovative mechanics in the system that were introduced in Rememorex: The Tracking Error, the Clip Show, and the Montage. With a Montage, characters can collaborate on a massive project to achieve impossible results, like outfitting a Power Wheels car with an EMP device or rigging a stink bomb to go off in the vice-principal’s car. With the Clip-Show mechanic, players can do a short, rules-light storytelling game that explores their shared past. Omnisystem most popular mechanic, however, is the Tracking Error: a simple mechanic that lets players of characters not presently in the scene affect the story in major ways when the group splits up.
Now we’re introducing a new system: Shogun Configuration. All Commandroids are capable of reconfiguring their bodies to combine into a towering robot warrior. When the going gets tough, all of your players will be playing equal parts of a massive robot… a legendary defender.
Also, If you’re a FATE player, we’re excited announce that COMMANDROID will( along with the Omnisystem) have a full set of rules for FATE CORE system so you have your choice! Same 80s transforming robot action in FATE, so go with whichever system you're happiest playing.
The Writers and Creators!
Nerdy City has grown since Rememorex, and our well of talented designers and storytellers has deepened. Together we seek to bring our tiny little game company to the next level, and create to truly epic worlds for you to explore while staying grounded in the genres that you love.
RM Sean “Role Playing is the Right of All Sentient Beings” Jaffe (He/Him): Lead developer and head writer: Sean is an 80s metalhead who never grew up. A writer and designer with several years experience, Sean has developed games for White Wolf, Steve Jackson, and Eschaton Media. He’s done freelance work for everyone from Onyx Path to Warner Bros to Heavy Metal Magazine.
Megan “ The least likely can be the most executive.” Jaffe (She/Her): CEO, Editor and Writer: Megan is a New Wave queen and expert in fashion. She has worked on such diverse titles as Dystopia Rising, Chez Geek, and ExArcana, and boasts extensive experience as a word wrangler. She’s half the initial powerhouse Rememorex team.
Gia “Reach for the Stars, but never leave your videos” Grillo (She/Her): Content Writer: Poet and creator of the underground zine Sample Text, Gia Knows more about 80’s movies than Joe Don Baker and Curtis Armstrong combined. Creator of the VHS splatter-fest RPG Nasty, she’s a one-woman pop-culture powerhouse that can’t be stopped. Gia is also an accomplished poet who is credited in several publications.
David "Deadlines are made of the ashes of one's enemies" Groveman (He/Him): Writer and designer David was the author of The Summer of Arowak. His watchful eye (and arm mounted null-ray cannon) will assure on-time delivery of the goods... or else. He’s also been published in the short fiction anthology “Tales From the Grave” and remains the most prolific Rememorex creator. He is even hard at work on [MESSAGE REDACTED] for one of our stretch goals.
Casey “Be as unyielding as the ocean waves and your GM shall fall.” Edison (She/They): An integral part of “The Lucky Die” podcast, Casey is in charge of media and promotion for Commandroid as well as a vital part of content creation. Casey regularly guests on several different role-playing Podcasts and serves producer of the Rememorex “Not a Test” podcast. They’re truly, truly outrageous.
Craig "My character's got better things to do tonight than die" Page (He/Him): A writer, LARP runner, and real-life Jedi with years of experience, Page is tasked with content creation and development of RADICAL FATE, the FATE rules for Commandroid. Craig is a prolific writer and freelancer with credits in such titles as REMEMOREX and 7th Sea: Khitai.
We're also working with some great artists to bring COMMANDROIDS to life. We want these robots to leap off the page and make you long for the toys and cartoons that never were. To that end, we've rounded up some incredible talent.
Ana "Roll dice with style or don't bother rolling" Jaimes (She/Her): Ana Jaimes is an up-and-coming comic artist from Toronto. Comics, prints, paintings and dolls, she's always tinkering away at something, and if she's not being productive, she's binging on old anime, reading her comics, tormenting the cats, or talking about herself in the third person.
Eric "Strike where the GM isn't looking." Rossi (He/Him): A comic artist and giant robot enthusiast, Eric is from Seaside Park NJ. He's a huge horror movie fan, and did many illustrations for Nerdy City's last release, RPG Nasty. You can find more of his work on @Spacekook on Instagram.
Matthew "One shall stand; dice shall fall." Olson (He/Him): Matt is a slightly younger-than-dirt illustrator who enjoys gaming, being a dad, and vampire hunting. Find him on Twitter and Instagram at @flyingstylus.
Seb “Cries and screams are music to a GM”s ears.” Scola (He/Him): Seb Scola is a raccoon masquerading as a man. He lives in Rhode Island with an orb shaped toothless cat and spends his free time fondly remembering a decade he was way too young for. His past work includes art for tabletop games such as Dystopia Rising, D.W.A.R.V.s, and Rememorex.
Beyond these people, there’s wider array of artists and writers then we’ve ever brought to bear on a project before. Why? Well…
We’d like to bring Commandroid to the next level! The first book of a series of shared-world 80s Mythology, we want to go bigger and better: a beautiful, lavishly-illustrated full color book chock-full of awesome robot action!
The initial goal of $15,000 will give us the funding we need to make a baseline version this book happen. After that, we will start to reveal some of the many other awesome stretch goals for this exciting project.
Risks and challenges
This will be our third and largest ever crowdfunding campaign. We're trying to go bigger and better than we ever have before, including going full color. We've had incredible success with our previous capaigns, a fact we're deeply grateful for, and before that our team worked as half of Eschaton Media for 5 years. We put out over a dozen of books and games in that time. Since then, we’ve learned even more about Kickstarter and games and how to fulfill our rewards quickly and efficiently.
Commandroids was initially created in playesting session of Rememorex, and we've been playtesting it for almost two years! The basic rule book is complete, but in order to produce it the way we want, we need art and layout, and full-color art takes time. That said, we feel confident that even if the world throws hiccups our way on this, we’re well equipped to handle them.
There is always the possibility of unexpected troubles like artist delays, medical issues, file submission errors, delays in shipping (especially overseas) and other unforeseeable curveballs. We’ve budgeted for a degree of unexpected costs, but it’s of course hard to predict unexpected events. In the event of something like this, we’re going to be as up-front as we can with information as it comes our way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter