Step into a world of wonder with Storybook, the easy-to-learn literary Role-Paying Game. In Storybook you play characters from any book, television show, video game, or even your own imagination. With a streamlined system Storybook is easy for beginning players to learn, including children. Join friends in exciting adventures into worlds both familiar and strange. Play as a hopeful hero, a distressing damsel, a romantic rogue, a snarky sidekick, a mouthy mentor, or literally anything you want. Be Sherlock Holmes, working beside Gandalf the Grey and Elizabeth Bennet to stop the nefarious plans of Pennywise the Clown on an alien planet. Whether you stay in one genre or mix it all up, you are guaranteed to have a good time with Storybook!
Storybook is the fruit of a life spent playing and modifying role-playing games, combined with a devout love of story. It uses a simplified system to allow players to create any character that they wish, and to interact easily with any genre of fiction. Players will create a series of characters chosen from among five Genres of fiction and the Archetypes found within them. These characters are brought into an endless stream of stories set in worlds of Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Romance, and Science-Fiction. As the characters advance they become more powerful until the time comes for them to be written out of the tale. Every character that a player finishes gives that player more control over the Storybook world.
Since I was a child, I have enjoyed two things more than anything else: books, and games. I started reading early and was quickly drawn into the worlds of mythology, fantasy, and mystery. This passion has never left me, and to this day I consider my collection of books to be one of my most important possessions. While I do enjoy nonfiction works, my true love in literature is fiction. The stories that we tell each other, and how we choose to tell them, are the most integral parts of a culture. In the words of G. K. Chesterton: "Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity."
My father introduced me and my brothers to the world of role-playing games early in life. My first experience was with a 1984 tabletop game called Dragonraid, in which I played a grim, flail-wielding survivalist. Next came Dungeons & Dragons, Exalted, World of Darkness, Scion, and many more. I have never really stopped playing since then - only moved from one group to another as life took me to different places.
Although I enjoyed - and still enjoy - playing RPGs, I found true enjoyment in design. Building characters, cities, nations, and even worlds of my own creation has remained my favorite hobby. I altered the rules of several systems to create custom classes, clans, races, and even games. After decades of such work, creating my own RPG from scratch was the next logical step.
Storybook is based on my love of fiction. Its mechanics rest on the unwritten rules and archetypes that bind all of storytelling together, from the oldest myths to modern television shows. It is simple to learn, both to make it accessible to anyone and also to make it easier to mix and match characters of different genres.
After a long period of writing, consulting, and playtesting, Storybook is finally ready to be published. With your help this dream can become a reality.
When creating a Storybook character, a player chooses a Genre and an Archetype. There are five of each in the Core Rulebook, though more will be added in later supplements.
Genres are distinct categories of fiction. The five presented in the Core Rulebook are Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Romance, and Sci-Fi (science fiction). A character's genre determines some of the abilities that they have access to, as well as what actions can get bonuses or penalties. An action that fits well with the character's genre, such as a Horror character trying to outrun a monster, gets a bonus. Actions that do not fit well with the character's genre, such as a Fantasy character trying to build an advanced piece of technology, get a penalty.
The Story that the characters are a part of also has a genre. Like characters, a Story's genre makes certain actions easier or harder depending on how well they fit with the genre. If a character's genre and the Story's genre both grant a bonus to an action, it can become exceedingly powerful. This encourages the players to act 'correctly' for the genres that they are a part of, but does not prohibit them from doing some out-of-the-box thinking. In fact, some abilities will allow players to ignore the penalties for acting contrary to a genre's rules.
Archetypes are common types of characters that are found in all genres of fiction. The five presented in the Core Rulebook are the Damsel, the Hero, the Mentor, the Rogue, and the Sidekick. Each one has unique abilities that they can use to affect the Story and bring victory to the players. There are also three antagonist Archetypes for use with the players' enemies: the Henchmen, the Monster, and the Villain. Every Archetype has its own abilities, though players may earn the ability to build characters with abilities from more than one Archetype.
After choosing a Genre and Archetype, players get points to purchase 'traits' and 'abilities'. Traits are the skill set of the character: how good they are at jumping over rooftops, swinging a sword, shooting a gun, or talking their way out of trouble. Abilities are special powers that can even include magic or psychic abilities in some genres. The infinite combinations available with these points mean that even two characters with the same Genre and Archetype can still be radically different.
Storybook uses dice to see if a character can succeed at what he or she wants to do. Players roll standard six-sided dice and hope for enough high numbers in order to succeed. Usually any dice that rolls a 5 or 6 will count as a single 'success', though some abilities will lower the required number. Doing something that works well with your Story's genre lets a 4 count as a success, while doing something that is contrary to your Story's genre only allows dice that roll a 6 to count as a success. This is part of how Storybook encourages characters to act in line with their Story's genre without making it mandatory.
Most easy actions will require only a single success be rolled. Harder actions require more successes, with nearly-impossible ones needing 8 or even 10. Some actions, like hitting somebody with a sword, are contested. For contested actions both characters involved roll dice and see who gets the most successes. In the case above, the attacker would only hit if they rolled more successes than the defender - otherwise, they would miss.
How many dice does a player roll? That is determined by their traits. There are 18 traits in Storybook, covering everything from Athletics to Conversation to Ranged Combat to Willpower. When a character is built they get points that can be spent on traits. Every point put into a trait is another dice that is added to the pool when that trait is used. For example, a character with 6 points in Conversation rolls 6 dice when they want to bluff, intimidate, or persuade anybody. Some abilities will grant additional dice as well. With the right combination of abilities and traits, players can be rolling dozens of dice for a single action.
What truly sets Storybook apart from other role-playing games is its innovative system for advancing characters. Rather that use 'experience points' that the characters gain for killing monsters or finishing missions, Storybook gives each Archetype a 'character arc' to follow. By following and finishing their character arc, a character gains more powers and eventually can grant powers to the player that controls them.
Characters move along their character arcs by accomplishing certain goals. What those goals are depends on the character's Archetype, but they all mirror the paths that those Archetypes take in fiction. The Hero Archetype, which focuses on bringing change to the world, has a character arc that is all about defeating enemies and overcoming loss. The Sidekick Archetype's character arc, on the other hand, is based on the character becoming more self-reliant.
All stories must end, and when a player's character is done - either by dying, leaving, or by finishing out their character arc - a benefit is passed on to their controller. Players receive points that they can use to buy special powers every time that they finish a character. They get more points for longer-running characters. Finishing a character's arc provides the most points, giving players an incentive to finish out a character and then start another one. Nothing prevents a player from going back and playing the same character again and again. They just will not get the same amount of points or powers as a player who successfully finishes a series of characters would.
The Storybook RPG Core Rulebook has been fully written. What remains is to have it illustrated and published. Justin Donaldson, of justindonaldsonart.com, has signed on to do the illustrations. I recommend that you visit his website to see the high quality of art that he is capable of. The finished book will have a combination of black-and-white sketches and full-color panels. One 'sketch' illustration has already been completed: the exemplar of the Fantasy Genre, shown below.
In addition to finishing the rest of the illustrations, we also need to print the physical copies of Storybook. We have planned an initial run of 400 quality softcover books, as well as 250 pads of optional Character Sheets. These will be distributed through Amazon.com and other online booksellers. We will also bring them to local game stores in the Madison, WI area through play events. A PDF version will also be available on the DriveThruRPG.com website for online purchases anywhere in the world.
Risks and challenges
Storybook is a low-risk investment. The final piece to completing the Core Rulebook (the illustrations) has already been lined up, and the cost of printing and shipping has been fully integrated into our goal. If we meet our fundraising goal then the books will be printed and all rewards distributed.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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