CRYPTIC EXPLORERS - Tabletop Tactics in the Realms of Death!
Explore, scavenge, battle, and survive in this asymmetrical sci-fi / horror board game for 2-4 players. Macabre art and deep mechanics.
Cryptic Explorers is a competitive, asymmetrical, sci-fi / horror tabletop board game for 2-4 players.
In Cryptic Explorers, 1 to 3 players take on the role of Cryptonauts (explorers of the unknown), tasked with entering the Realms of Death to steal occult knowledge, and escape back to Earth. Each Cryptonaut player customizes and controls their own squad of individual units.
Opposing the Cryptonauts is a single Deity of Death player, a malicious and powerful Goddess who seeks to kill all the Cryptonauts before they can escape with her Realm’s occult secrets.
Cryptic Explorers has all the depth and asymmetrical overlord-vs-heroes play of a dungeon crawler like Descent, combined with squad-based tactics and unit customization (similar to XCOM), all rendered in a malevolent sci-fi / death metal / horror aesthetic.
Cryptic Explorers is made from high quality materials, and comes packed with tons of content in a large game box.
- 1 Game Box
- 1 Core Rulebook (40 pgs)
- 1 Realm Guide (10 pgs)
- 4 Player Aids
- 4 Six-Sided Dice (black and white)
- 12 Plastic Stands (5 black, 6 white, 1 transparent)
- 1 Hall of Eternal Fire Game Board
- 1 Tomb of Ivory Sands Game Board
- 1 Cave of the Crystal Sultan Game Board
- 6 Mundane Door Tokens
- 4 Arcane Door Tokens
- 4 Monolith Tokens
- 15 Soul Tokens
- 4 Artifact Tokens
- 9 Cryptonaut Corpse Tokens
- 6 Destroyed Wall Tokens
- 5 Sarcophagi Tokens
- 3 Hoarfrost Statue Tokens
- 2 Bat Daemon Statue Tokens
- 2 Sultan Finger Tokens
- 1 Sultan Tooth Token
- 6 Status Counters
- 6 Retired Counters
- 6 Exhaustion Counters
- 6 Between Realms Counters
- 20 Vitae Counters
- 20 Stamina Counters
- 10 Power Counters
- 15 Health Counters
- 10 Rot Counters
- 4 Blood Counters
- 30 Cryptonaut Standees
- 25 Monster Standees
- 21 Gor'Kuk Deity Cards
- 24 Mycothis Deity Cards
- 24 Sk'Zaak Deity Cards
- 7 Trap Cards
- 30 Cryptonaut Class Cards
- 30 Cryptonaut Utility Cards
- 22 Cryptonaut Weapon Cards
- 10 Cryptonaut Spell Cards
- 20 Artifact Cards
- 3 Relic Cards
- 5 Knowledge of Death Cards
- 9 Cryptonaut Squad Sheets
- 3 Deity of Death Goddess Sheets
- 10 Deity of Death Monster Sheets
Cryptonauts Play Overview:
Deity of Death Play Overview:
Click the button below to download or view the full Cryptic Explorers Rulebook*:
*Please note that some aspects of the rulebook will change prior to manufacturing. We still have a little bit of editing to complete.
Cryptic Explorers reviewed by Undead Viking:
Cryptic Explorers and Tempest Tome at Conclave of Gamers 2016:
Cryptic Explorers has had many play testers and competitive sessions over the last 3 years of development. Here, we have listed some of our favorite impressions of the game:
"Everybody was really tuned in to see what horribleness was going to befall everybody... This is as Ameritrash as it gets!" ~ Lance Myxter, the Undead Viking, Tabletop Game Reviewer
"The most fun I've ever had killing my friends with demons!" ~ Peter Davis, Game Designer, Colorado Game Designers Guild
"A game that looks like NO other game out there... Dark, gorgeous, and unique art that sinks you into a game as thematic as it can be, backed up by solid gameplay that will keep you on the edge of the table. Go back it now!" ~ Vicente Sivera, Freelance Illustrator, Playtester
"Plunge into this brutal game of tactics and strategy... Countless ways to play, only one chance to win. Who's prepared for Death!?" ~ Chad Shotton, Playtester
Past the stars and material world lay the Realms of Death, a shifting multiverse of cessation and mystery. Mortals are strictly forbidden here, and no living creatures have ever gained access to this unholy domain – until now.
On Earth, a strange organization called Nauticus has discovered a gateway into Death itself. Known as the Maw of Thanatos, this gateway is capable of transporting living beings from Earth into the Realms of Death.
Nauticus now prepares teams of human explorers, dubbed the Cryptonauts, to traverse the vast blackness of the cosmos and enter the Realms of Death, seeking to steal the forbidden occult knowledge of Death itself.
At its core, Cryptic Explorers is a game of tactical combat and unit customization, with a necro aesthetic.
Playing as the Cryptonauts requires caution, as your squads make their way across the hazardous Realms of Death, pillaging occult knowledge, fighting monsters, and surviving the dangerous environments.
Customize your Cryptonaut squads with different class and equipment card choices to change your strategies for combat, gathering, survival, spellcasting, scientific analysis, and more.
The ancient and malevolent Deities of Death are goddesses that rule over the Realms, collecting the energies of the living, and guarding the secrets of the dead.
The Deity player controls one of three included Deities of Death with her own unique abilities, cards, and monsters. As she plays Deity cards, she also plays game-changing Mastery effects, and summons monsters to hunt the Cryptonauts.
Victory! - Should the Deity of Death succeed in destroying the Cryptonauts before they can escape, she is victorious. However, if the Cryptonauts collect enough Knowledge of Death cards from their exploration, and return to Earth intact (at least one survivor), they win the game, having stolen some of the secrets of Death itself!
An elite group of soldiers, scientists, and occultists, the Cryptonauts serve their shadowy overlords Nauticus in searching the Realms of Death for occult knowledge.
The Cryptonauts are individually identical units, with the same attributes, but are modified by drafting a single class card for each Cryptonaut at the start of the game.
With 30 unique class cards available, and 6 different Cryptonauts each match, there are near-endless combinations of classes for creating custom squads.
A Cryptonaut player may draft a very combat-focused squad with a Veteran, Cyborg, and Bomber to destroy terrain. Or for a more cunning approach, they may draft the Occultist, Parapsychologist, and Wizard to disable monsters and manipulate the environment with magic.
The Cryptonauts also draft an assortment of equipment cards for their journeys into the Realms of Death, including Utility cards, Weapon cards, and Spell cards. These cards aid in killing monsters, disabling hazards, providing movement bonuses, unique abilities, and much more.
Note that for aspiring Cryptonauts who do not want to think of drafting equipment, and just jump into the game right away, the Rulebook contains a complete quick start section with pre-built squads and scenarios.
You can find a link to the full Rulebook PDF in the “How to Play” section above.
WARNING! - Cryptonauts, once killed, do not come back to life, having been fully consumed by the Realms of Death. Cryptonaut players must make sacrifices to gather forbidden knowledge, sometimes their own soldiers’ lives!
Ruling over their vast and unholy Realms with a necrotic fist, the Deities of Death are ancient Goddesses that guard the secrets of unlife from the prying eyes of the living.
Each Deity has three different passive abilities and a number of attributes controlling their steady gain of Power and Deity cards. The three Deities are completely distinct in their play styles, monsters, cards, and different possible strategies for killing the Cryptonauts.
Deities gather Power each turn passively, and by discarding Deity cards. Power is used to summon Monsters, play Deity cards, play Mastery effects, and activate Abilities.
Mycothis is the goddess of rot, decay, and fungus. She can summon plant-like monsters, flood the environment with spores, and root Cryptonauts to the ground for her monsters to devour.
Gor’Kuk is the goddess of murder, war, and barbarism. She can summon combat-potent monsters, enrage both her own monsters and the Cryptonauts to violence, and drinks her golden chalice of blood to bestow powerful effects on her cards and monsters.
Sk’Zaak is the goddess of ossuaries, crypts, and bone. She summons monsters from the environment to ambush the Cryptonauts, delays her monsters' deaths, and can transform any Realm into a crypt.
The Realms of Death are the macabre dimensions the Cryptonauts must explore and plunder, and the Deity of Death must protect with all Her power and cunning.
Each of the three Realms of Death has its own objectives to complete for Knowledge of Death cards, hazards to endure, and Realm-specific special rules. The Realms are each represented on 21” x 21” game boards with striking detail and unique environmental art.
Cryptonauts know which Realm they are invading before the game begins, and must draft different equipment and class cards to effectively prepare for each uniquely hostile environment.
The three Realms of Death game boards included in Cryptic Explorers are the following:
The Cave of the Crystal Sultan is an icy and rocky Realm containing the gargantuan frozen corpse of a daemon sultan, statues that freeze with their gaze, and dangerously open areas.
The Tomb of Ivory Sands is a complex series of rooms and temple walls, filled with corpse-eating sands, cursed sarcophagi, and randomized traps.
The Hall of Eternal Fire is an ancient chamber of rooms and pits surrounding a massive, undulating, necromantic fire.
To add an Add-On to your pledge, simply increase the pledge by the cost of the Add-On, and we will send a Kickstarter Survey at the end of the campaign asking what you have ordered.
For example, if you pledge at the Cryptonaut level for $59, you would simply pledge $69 instead for the Language Pack Add-On.
We have some really awesome stretch goals planned, all of which add more content to ALL copies of Cryptic Explorers, at no additional cost to backers.
However, our first and most-important goal is to fund the game!
More stretch goals will be revealed as previous goals are unlocked. Check back here after we've funded!
Shipping will be calculated and charged after the Kickstarter campaign has been completed. This ensures we can charge the lowest possible prices to each backer for shipping based on the volume of units we are mailing, and where our backers are located.
Games will ship from within the USA to anywhere in the world that receives mail from the United States.
We are also shipping many copies from within the EU and those backers will not have to pay for customs.
International Shipping Customs Note: We are able to offer free shipping on applicable pledge levels (for example, Squad Leader) but backers outside the USA or EU will be responsible for their own customs fees.
Here are our current shipping estimates:
Rest of the World: $30-40
If you have any questions about shipping, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment on the campaign!
We’ve crafted Cryptic Explorers from the ground up, tested it thoroughly, and refined it as a competitive and thematic experience. The art is all complete, and the game is ready to be manufactured.
As a game studio inspired by extreme heavy metal, horror, Lovecraft, and many sci-fi sources, Tempest Tome's vision has always been to create interesting, aesthetically novel, and mechanically robust board games for those looking for something off the beaten path.
Kickstarter and modern independent publishing methods allow us to create these unconventional games without a publisher choosing something “safer” or more "mainstream" for the sake of mass appeal. However, as a result, we can’t manufacture this game without your help.
Join us in making Cryptic Explorers a physical reality, and enjoy a truly challenging and interesting experience for the sci-fi horror and dungeon-crawling gamer in you!
Our first Kickstarter was called “Necronauts” in 2015. Cryptic Explorers is the same game as "Necronauts", but has been streamlined to significantly lower costs and risk.
If you'd like to check out the old "Necronauts" campaign, it can be found here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tempesttome/necronauts-miniatures-mastering-the-macabre
Tempest Tome Games is a game studio in verdant Colorado. We focus on making games with unusual themes and a lot of mechanical depth, inspired by extreme heavy metal, sci-fi, horror, and the unknown.
Cryptic Explorers was created over a period of 3 years by Maher Sagrillo and Elisha Seely as the game's designers, and with many different artists contributing to the aesthetic and images found in the game.
Our primary artists are Brandon Geurts, a Florida-based traditional artist of the macabre, whose black and white horrors give Cryptic Explorers its unique and grim aesthetic, and Jessica Slevin, a designer and artist also residing in Florida, who designed the booklets, card frames, and much more.
You can find more information about Tempest Tome Games on our website: www.tempesttomegames.com
Risks and challenges
This is our first release, so there are always associated risks and situations that may arise. As many Kickstarter board game backers know, some of the most common issues are delays, usually in shipping or production of the game from China.
We are confident we have prepared as much as possible for any delays and issues in production, and created a game that is fully developed and ready for release. Our partnering with Shanghai board game manufacturer Magicraft (after researching and receiving quotes from many manufacturers) has only increased our ability to fulfill Cryptic Explorers without hiccups, and with confidence in the quality of the game’s materials and speed of shipping.
Additionally, Cryptic Explorers is a complete, finished game. It has been thoroughly playtested, all art is complete, and we are ready for manufacturing.
Any stretch goals or additional content added to the game will be balanced with the current core game before being released.
Should *any* issues arise, major or minor, our backers will know immediately, as well as our plan of action for resolving said issues.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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