Worlds Without Harmony (Canceled)
A storytelling game about ideological conflicts, unanswerable questions, and the people caught up in them.
Worlds Without Harmony (Canceled)
A storytelling game about ideological conflicts, unanswerable questions, and the people caught up in them.
Some questions have no right answer. How can humans preserve the world without sacrificing progress and maintain humanitarian standards? What is the proper way for a government to relate to its people? How tough do things need to get before people should prioritize themselves over others?
No one answer satisfies everyone, because sometimes we can't have everything we want. Groups and parties and factions come together around specific beliefs about how to answer these questions, and those groups inevitably come into conflict. Amidst all of this conflict, some people don't know where they fit in. Worlds Without Harmony is a game about those people, who are going out into the world to learn other perspectives and hopefully find somewhere they belong. As they move, the world keeps changing and conflicts keep changing, often in response to their actions.
Worlds Without Harmony is a GMless tabletop roleplaying game for three to five players, telling the story of the Liminals, individuals exploring the world and changing it as they go. Each game revolves around a Tension, a specific irreconcilable ideological conflict. The game comes packaged with three Tensions: Natural and Industrial, Liberty and Order, and Survival and Decency.
Worlds Without Harmony's inspirations are broad, as diverse as the settings of the Tensions. They include Studio Ghibli films such as Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind, the Revolutions podcast by Mike Duncan, and Mad Max: Fury Road. In terms of roleplaying games, this game draws direct influence from both Swords Without Master, by Epidiah Ravachol, and Dream Askew/Dream Apart, by Avery Alder and Benjamin Rosenbaum.
Worlds Without Harmony is designed by Max Hervieux, designer of Legend of the Elements, a Powered by the Apocalypse game of Avatar: The Last Airbender-style action. LotE was successfully Kickstarted in 2015, and since then Max has been developing smaller games, such as Diadem, TITAN/child, Blood/Lust, and The Quiet Tower. He is excited to be returning to Kickstarter once more for a larger project.
Playing Worlds Without Harmony is easy, but requires a few supplies: green, red, blue, and another color of thread, some index cards and a hole punch, two six-sided dice of different colors, some scissors, and several distinct coins or clips. If we reach the Boxed Set stretch goal (see below), I'll be able to provide all of the supplies! Otherwise, all of this is easily found at any craft store for a couple dollars.
Play starts with the group choosing a Tension from the book. The Tensions will determine the tone and theme of the game, so everyone should be interested in exploring the topic. Once the Tension is chosen, write each of the Poles on an index card and tie those index cards with twine.
The Poles are the two ends of the Tension that pull against each other to create the unanswerable question. They are both desirable, but they are also mutually exclusive. All play will take place along this twine, called the Cord, which is the physical manifestation of the philosophical quandary.
Next, players will populate the Cord with Factions, groups who are of one mind about how the Poles should be balanced.
These Factions are the power players of the game, and though each player will be creating a Faction, they won't be owned by any particular player once they are tied onto the Cord.
Once the Factions are on the Cord, players will create conflicts.
These conflicts, represented by red threads tied between Factions, create the connections that the characters will travel along to explore the world. Players will be creating new conflicts, and severing existing ones, over the course of scenes.
With the world set up, players are ready to create their Liminals.
The Liminals are the players' personal characters, people who come from a Faction but have come to disagree with their position on the Cord. They are going out to explore the world of ideas, and as they move, they will be caught up in (and play a major part of) the dramas of the Factions' conflicts. The Liminals are personally caught between the Poles, and won't settle until the game is over.
Once setup is completed, players take turn playing Scenes from a list of Scene types to influence the world and travel along the Cord, watching their Liminal and the Factions evolve and interact. The above diagram is the level of difference in the situation after just a single round of play.
Worlds Without Harmony comes with three Tensions: Natural and Industrial, Liberty and Order, and Survival and Decency. Each Tension comes with special rules augmenting the base game. Some are simpler, while some are a little more complex, depending on the themes of the Tension.
- Natural and Industrial: How can civilization ethically make use of the world while still looking out for itself?
On the surface, this question sounds self-evident: humanity should respect nature and leave it intact. However, this comes at the expense of civilization, and its people. Is it acceptable to put human success over natural preservation? What about human lives? Human happiness? And what about trying to subvert the ways the natural world attempts to destroy or limit civilization?
This Tension takes place in a more fantasy-tinged setting than our own world. Spirits roam, and industry is only starting to pose a potential threat. The world is at a tipping point, ready for either side of the Tension to become dominant. The Scenes of this Tension pay extra attention to location and place, created a more grounded game in which to explore these environmentalist themes.
- Liberty and Order: How should a government relate to its citizens?
All governments tread the line of attempting to offer Liberty without anarchy and Order without fascism. Unfortunately, one cannot have both, so a compromise is struck. How should power best be utilized? Is it fair to limit freedoms to ensure peace? How can a society allow for private growth and prosperity without failing the less-fortunate? How ought a government compensate for minority voices? How does a government preserve the freedoms of its people without being overly controlling of others?
This Tension takes place mid-revolution, with no single power in charge. The world is much like ours, although with a fictionalized nation The Scenes explore the fragmenting and evolving ideological Factions seeking to come out on top.
- Survival and Decency: How much of our humanity can be compromised to live another day?
Sometimes there just isn’t enough to go around. When people don’t have what they need, but others do, they face a choice about what to do about it. Prioritize themselves, or sacrifice for the sake of others? What if there are dependents at stake too? Can trades be reached? And when the need is so great that drastic action must be taken, how far will they go?
This Tension takes place after something has gone wrong and some critical resource has fallen into scarcity. Its setting hits many of the same notes as post-apocalyptic or survival-horror fiction, and along with its more complex Resource Token mechanic it is likely to display much more cutthroat competition between Factions. However, the severity of what people will do to survive is entirely within the players’ hands, so it needn’t be incredibly brutal (though it can certainly go there too).
Worlds Without Harmony is a completed game, and has already been playtested extensively. The purpose of this Kickstarter is two-fold: to print the book in a beautiful softcover form, and to fill its pages with beautiful art.
For $3300, I'll be able to do both of those. Here's a breakdown of where the money is going:
What will the book look like? The book will be a compact 6" x 6" and perfect-bound. At the base price point, it will be on basic paper and will be printed at a professional printing company I've used before and been impressed by their quality (Gorham Printing).
I'd also like to break down the Tiers:
Supporter ($1+): This tier is for people who desire no actual reward for their contribution, or for those who would like to view the Full Preview document before supporting at a greater level. Supporter backers gain access to all backer updates, including the full preview, and get credited in the book.
Digital ($10+): This tier will give backers access to the final PDF when it is released, as well as credit and update access.
Analog ($25+): This tier will get you the book! Of course, you will also get the PDF, update access, and credit as well. If you are in the United States, I'm covering the shipping. If you are elsewhere in the world, it will require an extra $20. I'm aware that this is a steep price, but that's the reality of shipping internationally right now.
The Patreon versions of the Digital and Analog tiers are explained below.
For the past year, I've been publishing games every month on Patreon, and I wanted to tie that into the Kickstarter. My prices there are cheap: $3 per month for access to the most recent game, and $10 per month for access to the Backlog, every game I've released through Patreon, including Diadem, TITAN/child, The Quiet Tower, and Blood/Lust (currently more than a $35 value, and only improving over time).
Getting games for that price is nice, but I'm offering a discount for anyone doing both! If you back me on Patreon during the Kickstarter campaign, you can choose the Digital (Patreon) and Analog (Patreon) tier.
At the Digital (Patreon) level: If you backed the Patreon for $3, you're basically getting the game there for free! If you backed the Patreon for $10, you're saving $3 on the whole Backlog collection, and still getting the same Worlds Without Harmony product.
At the Analog (Patreon) level: The discounts are even better. If you back my Patreon at the $3 level, you're getting the most recent game while STILL getting the book for $2 cheaper than non-Patrons. If you back the Patreon at the $10 level, it's a great half-off discount on the Backlog access.
And you don't need to be concerned about supporting this campaign any less by doing this! I'll be putting the entirety of my Patreon earnings, before fees, in August into the Kickstarter, so you're supporting as much or MORE by getting more games!
The Patreon release during August is Bootstrapping, my emotional and philosophical card game about a seed AI arriving at sentience and growing and learning until it eventually reaches omniscience, and thus omnipotence, all seen through the lens of the humans the AI interacts with along the way. It'll never be as cheap as this $3 tier again!
I have a few stretch goals! To start with, here's what's coming:
Paper Upgrade at $3400! With just a little more, I can print the books on really nice paper instead of relatively basic paper.
Box Set at $4600! At this level, we'll unlock a new tier of product! I'll have enough to publish a box set of the game, packaging the book in a beautiful box with all the supplies you'll need to play the game, all put together at a top level of quality. This is the ideal way to present the game, and I'd love love love to get to this. And, of course, there will be a Patreon version of this Box Set tier as well.
If we start approaching this, I'll start revealing more stretch goals!
Max Hervieux: Designer and author of Worlds Without Harmony, I'm also the author of Legend of the Elements, Learning Pixel Art, and a growing array of smaller games. I'm a bisexual man living in Seattle with my collaborator and fiance Rebecca Gold and our two cats, Ruby and Python. Find all of my stuff at https://logbook-project.com!
Al: Al is a Seattle-based artist. By day, they are a healthcare professional for a nonprofit. Their art is heavily influenced by love of fantasy and sci-fi, with particular appreciation for the weird. Their art has been shown across the US and overseas. When not drawing, they can be found rolling polyhedral dice with friends. Find them at https://www.lukehartstudio.com/
More Artists: I'm still actually looking into which other artists I want to lock in with for the final product. I have plenty set aside in the budget to pursue some quality art, and I'm excited to explore who might be perfect. If you have any suggestions, or if you are an interested artist, I'd love to hear about it!
Orion Canning: A game designer, activist, and artist living in Olympia WA, he has worked as a photographer, editor, music composer, and film director. Much of his work can be found on his YouTube, or on other crowdfunding projects. As a Game designer he has worked on over a dozen titles, including contributions to: Fall of Magic by Ross Cowman (Stillheart Landing), Legend of The Elements by Max Hervieux (Shipping Moves), Second Skins by Jackson Tegu (The Firestarter). His most recent game is Dragon and Warrior. Find him at at his and Synthana's game podcast, All My Ideas Are Bad!
Additional Special Thanks: I'd like to thank Sythana Winterthorn for enthusiasm and equipment support, Justin Ford for aiding the initial design concept, and my parents Michael and Cheryl for their support.
Risks and challenges
Project delays are always possible, but I'm well-prepared. I've set the project completion deadlines at the long end of the process, and I have buffer money included to deal with problems. I have experience with this, and a great support network of local TTRPG Kickstarter creators to lean on if I need help.
The release of the physical product will be going out next year though, and there's no telling what will change with international shipping in the next year. I'm ready to deal with that though.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)