Champions of the Earth: The RPG Zine
A 3-issue tabletop RPG zine about power suits, giant kaiju robots, and massive teenage angst.
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Mon, March 4 2019 11:00 PM UTC +00:00.
Champions of the Earth is an original tabletop RPG game that lets you play as a team of teenage disaster children with the ability to summon power armor, giant mecha steeds, and even elemental magic—none of which may prove to be any help when it comes to asking your crush to homecoming.
It’s monsters, mecha, and massive, massive feels.
SO: We’re kickstarting the first public release of the system with a series of zines that will be mailed over the next few months. Each volume scales the adventure up, from Teenager to Champion to Mecha to Ultimate Champion, and comes with everything you need to create your own Champions and play a 4-5 session intro game.
For the past 18 months, we’ve been developing and playtesting a new RPG system called Champions of the Earth. It’s a mix of teenage angst, giant robots, magical treachery, and Y2K bubblegum that takes Power Rangers, Voltron, and Sailor Moon tropes and then runs them through the gauntlet of modern teenage delirium to make a game that’s equally about mecha dragons threatening your town and the seemingly equal specter of coming out to your parents.
The game is powered by an original engine we call Op20 that merges the crunchy numerics of dice-heavy systems with a story-forward peer-to-peer streamlining intended to keep the action and mega-feels rolling forward without pauses to do heavy arithmetic.
That system’s been steadily playtested and refined by a core team of world-class roleplayers. If you’d like to know what the game’s like to play, you’re in luck! We record our sessions, put them through heavy post, and then release them as a 24-track audio drama podcast on the Nerdsmith network called, fittingly Champions of the Earth.
You can also watch see some of the mechanics at play in the live prequel mini-campaign we did in early 2018 in partnership with Saving Throw Show’s Twitch channel.
Revisions are still coming, and we’re working up to a full hardcover release with all the bells and whistles in the future, but it’s time to open the game as it is now to a few more players.
Rather than do an online PDF-based beta, we thought we’d make it a little more special and release it as a series of zines.
Backers become the very first players to lay their hands on the system and create their own team of heroes.
Much of the text and rules are already laid out. We’re raising a little money to reimburse our place of work for copier toner and to get a few extra nice touches and surprises in place, as well as commissioning a little art so we can inspire GMs and players with a peek at a few things that haven’t been seen in fan art or heard about on the show just yet. If this gets big, we have a printer lined up to keep things on schedule.
You can expect at least 3 A5 issues of the zine (each 20ish pages) to show up in your mailbox by the end of the summer. If this Kickstarter goes well, we have a few fun stretch goals planned as well that might mean an extra issue or two appears in your mailbox.
Roughly speaking, issues scale up the system from:
- Teen -> Power Suit
- Power Suit-> Mech
- Mech -> Combined Mech (Ultimate Champion)
Each issue will feature a collectible cover (potentially with a secret embedded) and come saddle-stitched and bound in a semi-durable cardstock cover. Plus we're going to arrange for some pack-ins and bonuses along the way.
Most tiers come with a few little surprise pack-ins, including the coveted stickers we give out at fan meet ups and conventions.
UPDATE 1: FUNDED!
That's right. This is happening.
Now that the zines are definitely in the chute, we're exited to announce what we always hoped was in the cards: a massive art upgrade for the zine and for the game in general.
REACHED STRETCH GOAL #1 - Art Upgrade
Creator Collin Kelly and his writing partner Jackson Lanzing (also he's Nico on the show and a brilliant GM and designer in his own right) are in another life comics writers. They've been reaching out to some of the stunningly talented artists they've worked with, and with an expanded budget, our next goal is being able to pay some of those artists to create some new work for Champions to inspire your games and set the mood.
STRETCH GOAL #2 - 4th Zine
At $5000, a fourth zine gets added to the series, focused entirely on enhancing your adventures. Part monster manual, part setting guide, this zine adds":
- Details and stats for a number of the foes featured in the Champions of the Earth series, perfect for jumpstarting your campaign
- Maps and locale breakdowns for the fictional town of Beach Bay, CA
- NPCs and story hooks for Beach Bay and a second adventure
...and a few additional secrets.
STRETCH GOAL#3 ???
This one's a doozy.
"Champions of the Earth is delightfully weird, and full of a surprising amount of heart. Its system takes the best parts of a TTRPG and adds love, soul, and guts. The result is an action-packed adventure about a group of outcasts who discover just how strong they can become together. It's the off-beat anthem we need. " - Nick Bragg (writer, The 100, VAST)
"I've been waiting to get my trash-panda paws on this one! The Champions of the Earth system is as zippy as a Saturday morning cartoon, and these rules deliver both high school drama-feelings AND thrilling mystically-powered mecha combat! What more could an RPG feelsgoblin ask for?" - Sam DeLeve (Co-Writer/Creator & Performer: Callisto6, Performer: Shield of Tomorrow, Tempting Fate, Plunders & Blunders, Vast)
"Not only creating a fun and exciting game, but also something that has replay value on a platform like Twitch is a feat in and of itself, and the Champions team pulled it all off with aplomb." - Dom Zook (Executive Producer, Co-Founder, Editor: Saving Throw Show)
"Having worked with Collin, Jesse, and the entire Champions crew, I can say without a doubt that they are top notch professionals with an incredible flare for the creative. Champions of the Earth is an inspired step forward for Podcasting and brings a delightful whimsy to audio dramas that scripted shows can't capture." - Logan Bryce (Director, Nerdsmith network, GM/Producer: Countless Heroes)
Risks and challenges
Honestly, the biggest fear we have right now is that the zine goes out with typos. For a bunch of professional writers and game designers, we’re sure bad at proofreading. We’re hoping to use some of the money we raise for this release to mitigate this with a professional copy editor.
In the happy disaster scenario where demand exceeds our expectations and we find ourselves hand-stitching far more books than we expect and waiting a long time in line at the post office, we’ll be upfront and figure out a solution to deliver the product as-promised but taking into account the increase in scale.