This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
This Kickstarter project is to fund the development and production of Hack The Planet, a tabletop roleplaying game that is Forged in the Dark, meaning it uses the Blades in the Dark system by John Harper of One Seven Design. While using the Blades' foundation, the setting is all about people living on the fringes of society in cyberpunk climate fiction, rather than scoundrels in an industrial-fantasy city.
What does that mean? Think of a novel like The Water Knife and short fiction like Loosed Upon The World, then marry the concepts with cyberpunk fiction—high tech and low life contextualized. The impetus of this design was reading Heavy Weather, a cyberpunk novel where a storm troupe pursues extremely dangerous storm fronts and tornadoes across an America scarred by this heavy weather (something like a futuristic Twister).
As our climate became radicalized, it resulted in more than just heavy weather—earthquakes, tornadoes, rising sea water, and the changes in rainfall, to name a few. This shift resulted in destabilized governments and banks, and the halting of technological progress on a massive scale (typically seen in the genre). The Internet was destroyed, causing huge amounts of data loss. The landscape was altered irrevocably and continues to be reshaped by nature, creating a future where technological progress was stymied. The only progression seen is to acclimate humanity to a new way of surviving.
In Shelter 1, a massive facility created for climate refugees, corporations and the superrich have slowly been changing the shelter into a megacity that serves their purposes.
You play a character who has had enough of the status quo in Shelter 1. What they do to change the norm is up to you and your crew. Will you fly beyond the shelter’s safety, dropping from airships to salvage valuables, or be mercenaries who destabilize the corporations by assassinating the emerging players in Shelter 1? Play to take control back because you want it, or to wrest control away from the corporations before history repeats itself.
In Hack The Planet you'll create a character that wants to see change happen. You’ll choose a playbook, containing a loose character archetype, that walks you through deciding what they look like, their background and heritage, and what they are focused on doing in the fiction.
At the onset of the Kickstarter, we have 7 playbooks ready to go with the possibility of more being unlocked via stretch goals. Blades in the Dark fans should have no trouble picking up and playing a playbook.
Cybernetics play a big role and can change a character's dynamic at a cost, as they can be used to substitute a starting pool of resources for a permanent increase in an ability—a whole new way to push your luck.
Once all of the players have their characters made, it is time to pick a crew. Each option shifts the lens on the setting fairly dramatically and telegraphs to everybody what you are interested in exploring.
Your crew gets its own separate sheet, just like your character. Your crew levels up and changes just as your character does!
After choosing a crew you'll also choose a starting option unique to Hack The Planet which describes how you interact with Acts of God; massive, extreme weather events. The climate hasn't gotten any better. Storms and tornadoes are just a few things that people have to contend with. So how will you deal with them?
Do you use tech to kill the weather? Have you created tech that enables you to outrun Acts of God? Maybe you hack them, extracting data or components for fuel or substances distilled for other more... nefarious purposes.
Using a unique clock as a timer reserved solely for Acts of God, you'll have to contend with various phenomena. Unlocking a unique mission when the clock is filled, your interactions and choices on these special missions will impact everyone in the fiction, not just you. Just like pulling off heists and scores, completing these events also yield your characters something worthy of the task.
Whichever crew you choose, the game is always centered around pulling off scores. In most Forged in the Dark games (like this one), and Blades in the Dark itself, scores are broadly categorized to facilitate all kinds of play. From deception and stealth to assault missions and making new social connections, each score is meant to get you something you want.
To do this, the game places you right in the action. No need to be bogged down in planning or hours of preparation. The system takes care of that with flashbacks in an effort to empower the characters and to show them as hyper-competent people of action. The characters have a stress track they use to help others and lead group actions, highlighting teamwork. They can resist the consequences of rolls and pay to do special actions, and they can push their luck. Stress is used in all sorts of ways to differentiate how you want to play your character and to spotlight them doing amazing things.
Welcome to The Reach. Welcome to Shelter 1.
Quickly becoming a megacity and diverging from its intended purpose, this melting pot city is filled to the brim with climate refugees. However, it is controlled by the superrich 1% that evacuated in time and corporations that managed to establish themselves in the city. Slowly but surely, the status quo that led to all our problems is returning.
If an arm were splayed out and placed atop the globe, the hand's grasp is where the shelter is. The rest, below the Shelter, is the current known world, peppered with settlements and people eking out their own existence.
The setting is cyberpunk merged with climate fiction, integrating factions that highlight various aspects of cli-fi. Recontextualizing certain tropes and staples of cyberpunk to breathe some fresh, new life into elements that might now be considered retro-futuristic.
Both within and outside of Shelter 1 are set pieces that touch on some of the more interesting notions from cli-fi. From gene-hacking farmers and engineers to communities building massive carbon sinks, there has never been a cyberpunk game quite like this one.
In Hack The Planet there are agents known as Tracers. Evocative of Blade Runner, these agents are complicit in the system that continues to benefit the rich. They hunt for those who may have contributed to the massive climate shift and who are still doing so. Judge and executioner, people who decide to become Tracers have cybernetics enabling them to be some of the few hooked up to what information and data was recovered. Of course, corporations and the rich are beyond such persecutions.
Only the privileged and well-off can afford to live in a hyper-efficient arcology. The rest of society deals with the scarcity of water by eating gene-hacked food modified to grow in areas once fertile.
The massive seed bank is treasured and is the lifeblood of Shelter 1. Capitalism has ostensibly fallen, but there are other, new commodities peddled as the times have changed. Powered by human labor, devices called Joules are imbued with energy that powers Shelter 1 and most technology.
Fishers and captains of titanic vessels now hunt for icebergs detached from the ice caps now melting. Harpooning them and using giant mirrored blankets to bring them into the city for currency before they melt, shrinking their profit.
Some sides of The Reach have water careening against it. The ocean grows taller, threatening to eventually pour over the constructed walls created to hold it at bay. Will the cisterns, funnels, and water plaza hold? It's a new world.
The book will contain a list of factions ready to insert into your story. As your characters achieve their goals and make their way through the fiction, they'll be getting in good with some of them and antagonize others. You'll have some notable non-player characters and locations to jump you right into the action, and you'll have the benefit of a realized setting with plenty of spaces to fill in.
Because this is some pretty esoteric fiction, the Blades in the Dark system where you have all of this at your fingertips is well-suited to Hack The Planet.
Hack The Planet is going to be softcover, approximately 400 pages, full colour, graphic-novel sized product with a wraparound cover. We almost always do graphic-novel size because it's the largest format that is still easily viewable from electronic devices such as phones and tablets.
With all of our Kickstarter projects we subsidize shipping and we make it cheaper than what the product will retail for after the Kickstarter. Without you we wouldn't have a product at all and to thank you for this, we give you the best deal possible and make sure you are the first people to get the book. Only after backers get their book do we make the book available for purchase. You get it cheaper, faster, and you get a credit in the book as someone who made this possible.
All the art will be done by Fabio Comin, who did the cover as well as the other artwork featured on this Kickstarter page. In the final product, please know that we are committed to having diverse representation and are utilizing Fabio's back catalog to give you an idea what to expect in the final product. Some of these pieces may not be used or need to be modified before being placed in the final product of the book.
After this Kickstarter our priority will be distributing a beta of the game in the form of an evolving quickstart until the final product is completed.
Some reward tiers include our previously successful projects funded on Kickstarter and published. The Veil and the supplement for it, Cascade, is also a cyberpunk game, and more information on those two products can be found at the Samjoko Publishing website.
YG Mitchell is doing the soundtrack for Hack The Planet. YG also did The Veil: Cascade's soundtrack. Click here to check it out! If you'd like this game's soundtrack, simply add $16 to any pledge level.
I do all of my online gaming and playtesting with The Gauntlet, a gaming community that has an inclusivity policy and tons of amazing people. Hundreds of games are played online with the community monthly (like, actually hundreds it's not hyperbole). Come check it out! They are on Twitter and the main way to interact with them is through their G+ community. Their website is also a good resource for folks learning about them for the first time.
In this first episode of this weekly actual play, I shake off some of the ol' cobwebs. I hadn't facilitated Blades since a playtest (1.4 or 1.5), please forgive the initial fumbling mentioned; we get into the fiction right away despite it and quickly tackle a giant tornado. On fire. Check out The Wired crew in Blue Oolong, a Gauntlet Hangouts actual play.
If we fund beyond our initial goal we will also be adding additional content:
Storm Speakers: These witches have kitted their own bodies out with mods that enable them to, more or less, psychically predict storms and changes in the weather. They've built a cult following who worship the storms themselves, and some believe they can merge their souls with nature's machines of chaos. The Crew leads the cult to help others and better themselves. Do no harm, take no shit.
Kira is a ttrpg game designer + queer cyborg + snake mom living in Columbus, Ohio. She currently has a Patreon where she designs experimental games and a YouTube channel where she talks about game design. With the support of her patrons, she recently released a game about Lesbisnakes in wintertime titled A Cozy Den. You can also find her over on Twitter.
The Crowlakes is a vast region of wasteland, once prosperous farms and bushland now turned to dust and withering shadows by the remorseless rising salt. The only living things that stalk this desolation are the Heckati Shades, a tribe of transhuman wanderers who have harnessed and outgrown the gene to become something beyond our understanding.
The Crowlakes and The Heckati Shades will be written by Ashton McAllan, designer of The Republic and In Which We Live And Breathe, merging her experience of ecological disaster in outback Australia with her radical queerness to create a dangerous and otherworldly space in Hack The Planet. You can find Ashton's existing work at her website or her Patreon. She's also active on Twitter.
Sappers are motley cells of revolutionaries and wreckers who'll stop at nothing to change the world. They come from the underground, burrowing into the foundations of Shelter 1 and preparing to bring it all down. For Sappers, Acts of God are a weapon like any other. There are no gods or masters - there is only the storm.
Melody Watson is a larpwright, games designer, cybersmut poet, and recent PhD graduate. Her research about how the Chernobyl disaster was narrated in the Anglo-American media is probably to blame for her love of climate fiction and posthuman landscapes. Links to her work can be found at her website, Other Worlds, and she talks incessantly about games on Twitter.
The Perfect: A manufactured being, made to the most exacting specifications, for whatever strange purposes occupy the whims of the wealthy. Whatever indulgences it was made for, it's finding a new purpose out on the fringes. Its uncanny beauty and inhuman precision, once commodities are now its chief tools to survive in the underworld.
Andrew is an RPG streamer, game designer, and queer human. You can find them, and all their design journals, games, and twitch appearances, via Twitter.
The Tidelands: what was once the edge of a coast is now completely underwater, tossed by violent tides and raging storms that sometimes bring hurricanes further inland. Fearless divers try to salvage things from cities lost beneath the water, and rumor has it they've seen people living down there, encapsulated in underwater shelters cut off from the rest of the world. Along the beach are the new coast guard, who try to hack the constantly forming hurricanes back out to sea.
At this level, Ashton is going to make a Roll20 sheet for Hack The Planet!!
At this level, Melody Watson adds some more factions to The Reach!
The Reclaimers: Driven by hope or desperation, the Reclaimers aim to salvage the world beyond Shelter 1 within their lifetimes - or at least enough to call home. They’re preparing some kind of expeditionary force, although the details are cloaked in mystery.
The Spiral Club: Wealth, safety, and power aren’t enough for the members of the exclusive Spiral Club. In search of excitement, these bored children of the rich adventure beyond the fortified walls of their arcology to compete in elaborate (and usually cruel) challenges with one another. When the Spiral Club meets, the streets of Shelter 1 become more dangerous than ever.
Ariadne: Any visit to Ariadne, a notorious avant-garde bar, is likely to result in an encounter with its proprietors. The gang of eccentric queers, cultural theorists, and other weirdos who call Ariadne home are disciples of subversion. Using performance art and private exploration, they experiment with new ways of being, sabotage conservative causes, and watch over their turf.
The Gone: Gone, as in too far, as in over the deep end. Whatever human thing was there once has long been replaced with carbon, firmware, and vat-grown flesh. What could a consciousness stripped of the flesh it was born into, stripped of its humanity, possibly yearn for?
The Expired: The world changed. We didn’t evolve fast enough. We got sick. We got hungry. We got hot. We got thirsty. And then we disappeared or died. Those of us who vanished were taken away by med-evacs to safe places where they could treat the Dying World Disease. Those who died before they go there went to the Bio-graveyards to be processed. No bodies. There are no more graves, no more hospitals, no more memorials. After all, the earth is too full for us. Where do we go when there is nowhere left to die? What do we need to become to survive?
Kate Bullock is a weirdo Canadian gamer from Toronto. She’s one of the co-hosts of the Gauntlet Podcast and one of the organizers of Breakout Gaming Convention. You can read her blog, Bluestockings Organic Gaming, or find her work in The Veil: Cascade, Codex, the Atla Animalia, or the Dust, Fog, and the Glowing Embers.
Play brand new Tracers getting their instructions from the Corporate Council in Shelter 1. Recruited to perverse civility and ensure that those responsible for Acts of God in the first place, and those people who would still contribute to the problem be punished. Instead of rebelling against the system, you are a part of it; whether you know it or not. You're the Blade Runners of Hack The Planet.
The Svaltun Hold is hidden amongst the storm-scarred Paratonnerre Mountains. It is inhabited by a sect of highly trained military scientists, charged with the collection and protection of genetic data. They patrol the mountains jealously, protecting their stronghold and send parties out to collect new samples.
Each crew will get a full, two page spread by Fabio and each playbook will get a full page spread. Increasing the total amount of art in the book and the overall page count.
Rangers are military scientists who collect and preserve genetic diversity. They roam shelters and wilds searching for samples and specimens, using cyberbiotic technologies to dispatch any obstacles in their way. As their library grows, they harness it to develop new utilities.
As we get closer to these stretch goals more will be added!
Fraser Simons of Samjoko Publishing is the writer and designer of Hack The Planet. He has Kickstarted and published two other roleplaying games, The Veil and a supplement for it, Cascade. He is a cyberpunk enthusiast and blogs about it frequently over at Consuming Cyberpunk. You can find him on Twitter and G+.
Kyle Simons is a developmental editor as well as the creator and founder of Samjoko Publishing and has Kickstarted quite a few projects, from his language learning roleplaying game that teaches players how to speak Korean through play, Magicians, to his superhero Powered by the Apocalypse game, Worlds in Peril. Find him on G+.
Lauren McManamon is the editor of this project, as well as The Gauntlet's monthly zine, Codex, and The Veil: Cascade. She is also a game designer, is an editor by day, and has a Bachelor of Laws and a Master of Science in Psychology, analysing gender discourse in the courtroom during sexual violence cases.
Fabio Comin Fabio Comin is a self-taught digital artist working as a freelance illustrator. His artwork has an emphasis on digital futurism and science fiction. You can see more of his work at Artstation.
Jason Cordova is a developmental editor on Hack The Planet and is the organizer of the Gauntlet gaming community, hosts several popular roleplaying game podcasts, and is Editor in Chief of the Codex zine.
Risks and challenges
There is a potential for life events to occur that delay the projected timeline. A printer may take longer than their estimates to deliver, shipping times guesstimated are incorrect due to unforeseen circumstances. As more stretch goals are unlocked and more content is added there is a greater risk of delays introduced by other contributors' life events.
This is a reality of publishing and with 5 projects and years of experience behind us, we believe we can adhere to this timeline. Our previous projects were delivered on time and we believe in good communication with our backers as events are unfolding.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter