We Open With A Tragedy
Your brother is in a coma. Or your mother has fallen sick. Or the well that supports the village will only give black ichor when the bucket is lowered for water, and the drought has been going for three months now.
The point is, something has gone wrong, and it is not within your power to fix it.
Or at least, it's not within mortal power to fix it.
There exists a fish, known in local legend, that has the power to reverse this tragedy. It is a crafty creature, a denizen of grottos and sunless spots, rich with the wiles of hundreds of years of avoiding the sparkle of hook and the wriggle of bait. But if you can find it, and master it, your village will be saved.
Obtaining it will not be easy.
It lives at the heart of the Old Region, a wild, untamed place many days' journey from your village. There are animals there, and other anglers, that will vie with you for your prize.
But your courage is strong. Your will is true. The price of defeat is too great to pay, so you haven't even considered it.
Instead your cooler is packed, your line is straight, and a straw hat rests squarely on your brow.
Whatever challenges lie before you, you will meet them with Rod, Reel, And Fist.
Those Who Walk The Road Of Fish Walk A Road Of Conflict
Rod, Reel, And Fist is a tabletop roleplaying game in which the players take on the roles of fishers attempting to save their village. To do so, they must navigate the obstacles of the Old Region, catching fish and defending themselves against hostile animals, until they finally come face to face with the Fish Of Legend.
Guiding them on the journey will be the SWAMP BEING, or SB. The SB is a player too, but instead of taking on the role of one of the fishers they take on the role of the rest of the setting. The SB narrates the parts of the game-world that the players interact with, showing how they change and respond in reaction to the players' actions. To put it another way, the players take on the roles of the Fishers, whereas the SB takes on the roles of the fish, animals, anglers, and obstacles that oppose them.
The SB's goal isn't to be adversarial. They're not trying to win. Or at least they're not trying to win by beating the PCs. Instead, the SB wins if the story is interesting, the obstacles are engaging, and everyone has a good time.
Honestly, everyone wins if everyone has a good time.
Okay, But What About The Mechanics?
Gameplay in Rod, Reel, & Fist is a mix of storytelling and simple (though technical) combat, suitable for gamers of all ages.
Every new story begins with the group collaboratively creating a village, the tragedy that is to befall it, the fish that can avert the tragedy, and the mysterious region where that fish lives. This is all done by a process of "yes and...", where everyone contributes, adding details to the setting until the group has built something that everyone likes.
From there, the players create Fishers and explore the Old Region, catching fish and warding off aggressive animals through a "rock, paper, scissors, dice" combat system that relies on blind-bidding, reading your opponent, weighing risk versus reward, wisely managing your resources, and knowing when to step back and let your teammates help.
Outside of combat, whenever a Fisher encounters a particularly tricky challenge, they roll a small number of d6s to see if they get past it. If they fail, they take Exhaustion. The more exhausted a Fisher becomes, the less effective their rolls are, but the Fishers together can Make Camp to remove their Exhaustion and return to top shape.
The journey continues every time the Fishers break camp---ending only when the Fishers have gone reel-to-fin with the Fish Of Legend, caught it, and returned to the village triumphant.
This Game Is PDF Only?
My goal with this project is to keep my scope low, but I do want to produce a physical book a little further down the line. When exactly that happens depends partly on how this campaign does, and a very successful campaign will absolutely move the timetable up.
The major hazard of doing a print version is that it takes much longer to produce than PDF (especially because of print proofing), but a secondary hazard is that the length of the core book is going to change based on what you add to it. This in turn affects print costs, and so it would be hard for me to fairly price a print copy without knowing how much backer content is going to be created. Overall, it would be easier for me to deliver print copies if I wrap this campaign up first and then work on getting the book lined up for print, so my plan as it stands is to do that. However, if you're dead-tree-or-bust, please let me know. If my core audience wants a physical book ASAP, the responsibility is incumbent upon me to try and find a way to deliver that.
That's A Lot Of Backer Levels
You only need to pledge at the $10 level if you want a copy of the PDF, but my previous project, The Dawnline, taught me that I have a blast creating custom content for backers, so I wanted to offer more of it here.
All of the limited backer levels involve custom material. This means that, as a backer, you can leave your mark on the game if you wish.
If you back at one of the limited levels, I'll be in touch with you as soon as the campaign closes. You'll pitch me what kind of content you want, I'll run it by you for review, and we'll add it to the game.
All custom content will have to fit the general tone and feeling of the game, and it can't be anything that'll get me kicked out of stores, but otherwise I'll do my best to meet you halfway on your concepts, no matter how outlandish.
Do You Have Any Other Games
If you want to check out my other work, Firefighter Sharks In Space is a free, all-ages microgame about creativity and shark facts. Travel space, bite fires, and save humans---regardless of whether they want to be saved.
The Dawnline is a 13+ adventure game about vampires trying to support and protect travelling caravans of humans on a world where the light is a place that chases you. It's inspired by console RPGs, and it has two supplements: Tales Of The Dawnline and Feral States.
Heroines Of The First Age: Holdfast is a 13+ adventure game about a divinepunk high-fantasy setting on the brink of ruin. It has a world-spanning prequel novel, The War Of The Prophecy, and runs off of Voidspiral Entertainment's excellent Heroines Of The First Age.
Tweetstiary II: The Tweetening
My previous game, The Dawnline, marked the debut of the Tweetstiary. Now, for Rodreel, it returns in a slightly altered format.
How the Tweetstiary works is simple. Go on Twitter and tweet me @SprintingOwl about Rod, Reel, & Fist.
I'll keep track of the tweets, and as they add up, I'll generate more custom content for the game.
And if you're feeling especially proactive, you can print off a campaign flier (scroll down to "Can I Help With This Campaign?" for the link), post it, and snap a picture of it in its new habitat. Tweet me the picture (or kickstarter message me, or talk about it in the comments) and I'll treat each flier as being 7 Tweets worth of unlocking power.
Tweet Total: 17 Tweets
- 1 Tweet (Unlocked): Panfish
- 5 Tweets (Unlocked): Waddling Porcupine
- 10 Tweets (Unlocked): Arctic Char
- 20 Tweets: Ancient Snapping Turtle
- 40 Tweets: Freshwater Sunfish
- 80 Tweets: Inquisitive Crow
- 160 Tweets: Burly Salmon
- 320 Tweets: Confrontational Mongoose
- $600 (Funded) - Basic Funding Level
- $800 (Funded) - Alternate Setting: Fish Of The North Star. Civilization has fallen, and what remains is ruled by those who are strong enough to wield rod, reel, and fist. Fishers, legendary warriors also known as Those Who Eat For A Day, travel from town to town rectifying food shortages and clashing with bandits and mutated fauna.
- $1,000 (Funded) - Alternate Scenario: The Ruby In The Mire. Delve into the forbidden regions of a flooded rainforest in search of the eponymous Ruby, a legendary fish purported to hold the key to civilization-changing pharmaceutical breakthroughs and immortality treatments. But beware the Mussurana, an ancient snake that has long cultivated the Ruby for its own benefit.
- $1,500 (Funded) - Alternate Setting: Skyhook. Due to a gravitic anomaly, earth has become uninhabitable. The only remaining civilizations are those that have taken to the air on floating islands. Unfortunately, the power source that keeps them aloft is not infinite, and Fishers are required to brave the depths of the gravitic zone in order to harvest the anomalous artifacts that will keep their island in the sky.
- $2,000 (Funded) - Alternate Scenario: Seasonal Migration Of The Transpacific Slaughter Eel. A unique animal is set to migrate through your village. You must find some way to turn it aside if anyone is to survive. Good luck.
- $2,500 (Funded) - Flopping Armful Of Fish: 5 fish are added to the game, bolstering the fishtiary.
- $3,000 (Funded) - Thrashing Armful Of Animals: 5 animals are added to the game, enriching the bestiary.
- $4,800 - Alternate Setting: The Dawn-line. We cross over Rodreel with my other game, the gothic migration science-fantasy Dawnline. Instead of a Fish of Legend, catch a feral vampire and adopt it into your village!
- $6,000 - Microgame: Trauma Sturgeons, the Firefighter Sharks sequel that no one asked for! Space is dangerous, dude! And sometimes people get hurt! Man the only fish-run medical center in the galaxy, saving humans from unfortunate happenstances like space-fires and sharkbites!
Can I Help With This Campaign?
Yes? Yes please?
Obviously please don't feel an obligation to, but if you like this project and want to help push Rodreel towards its next goal, feel free to spread the word. You can also print some of these fliers and take them to local spots. Just make sure you've got permission to post them before you put them up.
Custom Content Guide
NOTE: Any backer level reward that involves custom content (i.e. me designing something for you) is subject to the following limitations. I will contact you right away when the campaign ends. From that date, you have 30 days to tell me what you want for your content. If you haven't given me anything to go on by the end of those 30 days, I cannot guarantee I will be able to get your content into the book. I will happily still design your content and send it to you if I'm not able to get it into the book, but there has to be a cutoff for content if the book is to deliver on time.
SECOND NOTE: If you pledge Fish From Another World or higher and I design a microgame for you, all backers will get a basic-layout, art-free pdf of it for free, and I'll aim to add art and bundle the microgame into an anthology in the future. If you'd prefer the custom game not be distributed to backers or featured in an anthology, this is okay too, just let me know.
THIRD NOTE: If you've got any questions or requests or anything like that, you can message me or ask me about it in the comments. Unless I get absolutely deluged, I should be able to respond to everyone pretty quickly.
Absentia dMorte (Artist)
Absentia is an artist whose work can be found on Instagram at @absentia_dmorte
Joe Bush (Cover Artist, Artist, Graphic Design, Video Editing, All-Purpose Wizardry)
Joe is a game designer and artist known for Heroines of the First Age, Oubliette, Summoner's Grimiore, and Wasuremonogatari. He works almost exclusively in digital art, favoring stylized work with a distinct anime and manga feel. Joe's projects range through fantasy, science fiction, horror, and Japanese themes. He is the owner of Voidspiral Entertainment where he works full time on game development and commissions.
Richard Kelly (Designer and Writer)
Richard is a freelance writer and the designer of games like The Dawnline and Firefighter Sharks In Space. He has also written for Oubliette Second Edition, Heroines of the First Age, Pathogen: Unclassified, Wicked Pacts, Splinter, and Golden Sky Stories.
Tristan Yuvienco (Artist)
Greetings from the bustling metro of Quezon City, Philippines. I'm Tristan Yuvienco and I make illustrations and designs for publication, animation, games, and agencies. I've worked with Cartoon Network, Scholastic Inc., Arthur A Levine Books, Lemonade Illustration Agency, TBWA/SMP, The Phillipine Daily Inquirer, among others. When I'm not drawing, I try out food, play games, watch shows, and pet the family dog. I am very fond of animation, video games, traveling, and stories. More of my art can be found at trisketched.com
- September 2019 - Kickstarter campaign runs.
- October 2019 - Create custom content. Custom backer content creation window closes at the end of the month. As long as a request is in before then, it'll make it into the finished project (see the Custom Content Guide for a more in-depth breakdown of how this works).
- November 2019 - Testing of custom content and stretch goal material. Final editing pass. Layout begins.
- December 2019 - Delivery.
- January 2019 - Buffer in case of overruns.
Fulfilled By DriveThruRPG
Risks and challenges
Rod, Reel, & Fist is designed as a low-risk project. The scope is constrained. The core game is written and tested. Key art has been sourced. Plans are in place for layout and distribution, and those same plans shall remain in place should tragedy befall my village, forcing me to trek into the old region in search of a fish that can save my people.
While this is my first solo kickstarter, it's essentially just a case of the training wheels being taken off. I have worked on a number of previous kickstarters for Voidspiral Entertainment and The Polyhedral Knights, and while I'm still learning the ins and outs of layout and distribution, I have funding set aside to call in strategic support should I get stuck on anything.
No project is fundamentally immune to risk and disruption, but I will communicate any delays, overruns, or scoping issues before they can snowball, and if you can think of an issue that I don't have a plan for, let me know and I'll make sure I have a strategy in place to address it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)