Funded! This project was successfully funded on June 6, 2012.

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curse the darkness is a postapocalyptic roleplaying game about identity, memory and hard choices.

curse the darkness is a roleplaying game set in a post-apocalyptic version of our world.

Updates!

EXCITING UPDATE! Mark Truman has launched his Kickstarter for his awesome world-saving RPG, Our Last Best Hope. If you back both his game (which you can do here) at $10 and curse the darkness at $15 (meaning you get the pdfs of both games; feel free to back either or both at a higher level!) you get a specially designed Our Last Best Hope playset for the curse the darkness setting! Go check it out!

We're going to be at Origins Game Fair this weekend. You can see our schedule here!

Just to spare folks who are watching this space scrolling down, I'll update our progress here:

  • We've made our first stretch goal ($6000). All backers get the rules for ghosts in curse the darkness before anyone else, and for free! (Hopefully that'll be ready alongside the game, but it might slip to September.)
  • We've made our second stretch goal ($7500)! That means we're doing a fiction anthology based on curse the darkness. More information, included how to submit a story, here.
  • Our next stretch goal ($10,000) is the curse the darkness companion. Details about this book below (and more coming soon).
  • You might notice we're offering the chance to write some graffiti for the book - only 1 slot left! If you want to know more, click here.
  • You can download a playtest packet and all of the necessary character sheets here. Feel free to take all that and run a game to try it out! If you do, message me and tell me how it went!

The World

In 2012, a mysterious, unnamed individual conquered the world, leveling cities and destroying institutions of finance, religion, nationality and other ideology. He demanded that the people of the world take care of each other, with no promise of reward in the afterlife and no monetary compensation. Anyone who dissented and tried to hold on to their ideological identity was executed. The man wielded a force that no one on Earth could match - the creatures from the Between.

The Between is the place behind shadows, and it connects every shadow on the planet. While the man who destroyed the world isn't the only one capable of accessing the Between (in fact, your character can be an Opener if you'd like!), He does seem to be the only one with the ability to control the monsters therein. He sent these monsters out after anyone still clinging to religion, national identity, politics or economics, and those people were either killed on the spot or dragged into the Between, never to be seen again.

It's been 10 years. Over the ensuing decade, His oversight has grown less stringent, to the point that expressing one's faith or beliefs isn't quite so dangerous anymore. The people living in this world gather together in small, often mobile communities, doing their best to take care of themselves and each other. But some people just aren't interested in helping, and seek to take what they need. Some people tempt fate by trying to bring back religious worship or commerce, or other overt forms of ideology.

And some people still feel, even after so much death and destruction, that it's possible to win back the world.

The System

curse the darkness uses an original game system based around playing cards. Unlike many RPGs, it doesn't have a skill list or a complicated system for resolving combat and other situations. Instead, players undertake two kinds of Challenge: Character and Removal.

A Character Challenge helps define the character, and resolves an action that doesn't carry a risk of death or removal from the story. Character Challenges are based on one of four Attributes, each corresponding to a suit of cards: Focus (Diamonds), Stability (Clubs), Stamina (Spades) and Humanity (Hearts).

A Removal Challenge happens when the characters enter a situation that might lead to one or more of them being taken out of the game. Removal Challenges aren't based on the four Attributes, but on the characters' actions within the context of the situation. Characters in curse the darkness can and do die, much more easily than in many other RPGs.

The death of a character, however, can spur the survivors on to accomplishing their goal. When a character dies or leaves play, the others can gain Memory Points from that loss, and use those to find the inner fire to finish the scenario. Of course, the players also each have the option to refuse to fight, to be simply swept along by events.

Everything in the game, then, comes down to this essential choice: light a candle, or curse the darkness?

What You Need

In order to play curse the darkness, you will need:

  • A copy of the book
  • Three standard decks of playing cards, jokers included
  • Copies of the Player Mat, Scenario Creation Sheet, Suit Assignment Sheet, Condition Assignment Sheet, and Character Cards (these will all be available for free download from cursethedarkness.net)
  • Two types of small objects to use as Memory Points and Between Points (glass beads, dice, coins, etc. - about 15 each is safe, and you need to be able to tell the two types apart)

What We Need

The funding we get from this Kickstarter will be used to pay for the art, graphic elements and layout of the book, as well as to physically print and ship the copies for backers. The writing portion is done, the book is edited, and the rest of the photos are in the process of getting digital effects (you can see the first few in our video, in fact). If you want have a sneak peek at how the game works, I invite you to download our playtest packet, which you can do here.

Above and Beyond

So what if we go over our funding requests? Well, we've got some ideas, but some of them require information we don't have yet, so I'll update as we go and add some other cool stuff that folks can get if we blow by our goals. For now, though:

If we hit $6000, I'll write a brief expansion that provide rules for ghosts in the curse the darkness setting. You can click here for more details. - YOU DID IT! You get ghosts! Everyone who backed the project will get the ghost expansion, hopefully alongside the book itself, but possible a little afterwards (depends how long it takes me to write it).

If we hit $7500, I'll produce a fiction anthology of stories inspired by the setting of curse the darkness. I don't know who's going to be involved yet (it's very difficult to approach talented authors and say, "Hey, I don't know if this will actually happen, but perhaps you could write a story for me?"), but Michelle and I will definitely contribute. - YOU DID IT! We've made this stretch goal, and you can see more details about the project here.

If we hit $10,000, we'll produce a companion book for curse the darkness. This book will have scenarios, characters, fleshed-out locations and story hooks, the ghost rules (which, remember, backers will get free and early), and some other expanded rules for curse the darkness (to be decided - we're still in the planning stages).

We've got some other ideas for related products. One is an art book that ties our photographs together with a running fiction piece, another is a modification of the system to simulate conflict resolution in the context of bullying in schools. But it's all moot unless folks pledge! So spread the word!

Retailers

If you want to order copies of curse the darkness for your store, we've added some backer levels to facilitate that! Please contact me and tell me about your store (where it's located, the website URL, etc.) so that I can promote your store on the curse the darkness site. Likewise, if you're a reasonable distance from Cleveland, Ohio, I'd be happy to swing in and run some demos (and I'll be doing some traveling this summer, so even if you're not close to Cleveland, it might be doable!). Non-US retailers, please contact me specifically about shipping costs, since they'll vary quite a bit.

Who We Are

curse the darkness is the first game from Play Attention Games, Inc. PAG is a new game company founded by Matthew McFarland and Michelle Lyons-McFarland. Perhaps you know us?

I'm Matthew McFarland, also known as BlackHat Matt. I've been writing and developing roleplaying games professionally since 1998. Most of the work I've done has been for White Wolf Game Studio, where I've contributed to almost all of their game lines (including both incarnations of the World of Darkness). I spent three years as lead developer for the Dark Ages game line, I wrote the Ennie-winning demo chronicles for Vampire: The Requiem and Mage: The Awakening, but the project I'm proudest (prior to curse the darkness, obviously) of is probably World of Darkness: Innocents. I've also done some assorted work for Green Ronin, Eden Studios, and Guardians of Order. In my day job, I'm a speech-language pathologist for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

I'm Michelle Lyons-McFarland (the McFarland is a fairly recent addition). I've been writing and editing roleplaying games professionally since 2000. I started out in-house at FASA Corp, working on Shadowrun, BattleTech, and Crimson Skies, then moved into freelancing after they closed. I've written for White Wolf, WizKids, Wizards of the Coast, Green Ronin, Guardians of Order, Catalyst, and a host of others in addition to editing for nearly everyone in the roleplaying game industry at one time or another. I was an editor with Wizards of the Coast before I moved into computer games, working at Microsoft Game Studios, and NCsoft on community websites, game fiction, and game dialogue. I'm one of the GenCon 2012 Industry Insider Guests of Honor. In my day job, I'm a 1st-year PhD student in English Studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.

FAQ

  • Because I am a ninnyhammer and I wasn't paying attention. Go by the biggest thing you're getting: if it's a book, add $7 for international shipping. If it's a Kit, add $12 for international shipping. Sorry that isn't clearer.

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  • Producing one Kit is *vastly* less cost-effective than producing 100, but producing 100 is bloody expensive. As such, my guess is that we'll produce X Kits (based on how many we sell in the Kickstarter vs. how much money the Kickstarter makes us and how many we think we can sell in other venues, like GenCon) and then not do another run after that.

    Short answer: You want a Kit? Pledge and get one now, because it's the only way to guarantee it.

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  • Suppose you do. :)

    Click the Updates link at the top of this page, and you'll find that Update #15 contains submission guidelines. If you have any questions, please send me a message and I'll be happy to clear up whatever needs clearing.

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  • Probably, but that depends on too many factors that are out of my control for me to promise. Tell you what: If you're an international backer and you're planning on coming to GenCon, include the extra money for shipping in your pledge. If it turns out that everything's ready for the con and I can bring Kits, books, shirts and everything (which is definitely the plan - I even have a bit of booth space!), then I'll confirm with you that you'll be there and I'll bring cash to refund your shipping cost. That way you get your stuff at the con, *and* you can, like, buy a beer or something at the Ram with cash you didn't know you'd have!

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288
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  • Pledge $5 or more
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    6 backers

    Patron: You'll be listed in our Special Thanks section and get a shout-out on the website the day we're funded. (All subsequent funding levels get this as well.)

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    0 backers

    Memento Mori: You get a 50-sheet Character Pad shipped to you! International buyers please add $5 for shipping.

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    44 backers

    Witness: You get a copy of the PDF of the finished product, and a 50-sheet Character Pad shipped to you. International buyers please add $5 for shipping.

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    112 backers

    Voice of Dissent: You get a copy of the PDF, and a physical copy of the book itself, as well as a 50-sheet Character Pad. International buyers please add $7 to cover shipping costs. Sorry, can't ship these through the Between!

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    13 backers All gone!

    Rabble-Rouser: You get the PDF, a copy of the book, 50-sheet Character Pad, and you get to compose a section of graffiti to go in the book. Graffiti subject to approval and cannot contain any copyrighted material.

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    Light the Way: You get a copy of the pdf of the game, and a print of the candle (you can view the artwork here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/playattentiongames/curse-the-darkness-a-roleplaying-game/posts/223794). International buyers please add $5 for shipping. If you have already backed and want to add this print, just add $40 to your existing pledge (and don't sweat increasing the shipping for international buyers; it'll equal out at that point).

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    3 backers

    Community Organizer (Retailers Only): Got a store and want to sell *curse the darkness*? Awesome! At this level you get 4 copies of the physical book and a poster for your store! If you want additional copies of the book, you can add them for $10 each. Shipping to the US is covered. International retailers, please contact me about shipping.

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    4 backers Limited (16 left of 20)

    Raised Fist: You get a copy of the PDF, a physical copy of the book, 50-sheet Character Pad and a deck of cards with custom *curse the darkness* backs. You pick which back you want: the Symbol or the Candle. International buyers please add $10 for shipping.

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    Safe Through Shadows: You get a copy of the pdf of the game, and a print of the Symbol (you can view the artwork here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/playattentiongames/curse-the-darkness-a-roleplaying-game/posts/223794). International buyers please add $5 for shipping. If you have already backed and want to add this print, just add $55 to your existing pledge (and don't sweat increasing the shipping for international buyers; it'll equal out at that point).

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    69 backers

    Resistance Fighter: You get the Kit. The Kit includes two copies of the game (one PDF, one physical), three decks of cards (two Candle and one Symbol), five laminated Player Mats, a laminated Condition Assignment sheet, a laminated Suit Assignment, a 50-sheet Character Pad, 20 Between Points, 20 Memory Points (each in a stamped muslin bag) and a pad of Scenario Creation sheets. Everything you need to play *curse the darkness*. International buyers please add $12 for shipping.

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    10 backers All gone!

    Counted Amongst the Fallen: You get the pdf, the Kit, and you get to be (or name) an example character for the text of the book. Warning: Example characters tend to have a rough time of it.

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    11 backers All gone!

    Epitaph: You get a Kit, and you get contribute a section of graffiti to the book, just like in the $35 reward level. Same rules, restrictions, and international shipping (for the Kit) apply.

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    5 backers

    Resistance Elite: You get the Kit, plus an official curse the darkness t-shirt (details and pictures forthcoming, but they're gonna look cool).

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    1 backer

    Supplier to the Survivors (Retailers Only): If you own a store and you'd like to sell Kits (which, remember, probably won't be available after the Kickstarter ends), then you're in luck! With this level, you get two Kits, three copies of the book and the poster. If you want additional copies of the book, you can add them for $10 each. If you want additional Kits, you can add them for $35 each. Again, US shipping is covered, contact me for international shipping.

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    3 backers Limited (3 left of 6)

    Apocalypse Profiteer: You get a Kit, a t-shirt, and a full-page ad in the back of the curse the darkness book.

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    3 backers

    Resistance Planner: You get the Kit, a t-shirt and I'll write you a custom scenario (I'll be asking for a little input about where you'd like it set and so on).

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    0 backers

    Navigator of the Between: You get the Kit and a t-shirt, but if you're within a driveable distance from Cleveland (or you can arrange to get here, or you can arrange to be at a con I'm attending), I'll hand-deliver it and run your scenario for your group.

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    0 backers

    Master of the Between: As above, but I'll cook you and your gaming group (up to six people) dinner as well. Just provide me a kitchen and the necessary equipment, any dietary restrictions, and I'll do the rest.

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  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    0 backers

    Shaper of Worlds: You get a Kit and a t-shirt, and I will also write a setting for you using the *curse the darkness* system. We can include magic, tech and any other specifics you like, just as long as your proposed setting lends itself to what *curse the darkness* does well and is not based on anyone else's copyrighted material. I will also run you a scenario using your version of the setting (again, provided that we can arrange to be in the same place). Any settings thus produced will be published in pdf for all to enjoy!

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Funding period

- (42 days)