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$39,865 pledged of $10,000 goal
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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

By Timothy Kleinert
$39,865 pledged of $10,000 goal
backers

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

About

[!! Important !!] EU shipping prices have not been finalized! I still have to work out the actual costs, but I wanted to let everyone know the option has become available. I'll will update the reward description as soon as the details are known.

Help fund The Mountain Witch second edition, a critically acclaimed tabletop RPG that combines elements of of Japanese mythology, horror, and film noir in a tale of trust, betrayal, and confronting one's fate.

What is The Mountain Witch?

The Mountain Witch is a self-contained role-playing adventure in which players take on the role of ronin in mythical medieval Japan. Outcast and unemployed, these samurai accept a job that no one else would take—to assault and kill the dreaded O-Yanma, the Mountain Witch of Mt Fuji. But can these individuals—who are haunted by their pasts and by dark fortune—be trusted? Can they overcome their differences and move together against the Witch? Or will dark fate overwhelm them?

Though moment-to-moment play is much like other role-playing games, this otherwise typical fantasy adventure quickly becomes complicated by character fates. At the start of the game, each ronin is given one of six dark fates. While these fates are generally described by the text, their details are left open to the imagination of the player. These fates pull the samurai's former lives into the adventure, creating ulterior motives for the characters.

At the same time, the conflict rules of The Mountain Witch uniquely revolve around the use of trust between characters. At designated points throughout the adventure, players must rate how much their character trusts the other members of the company. Then, based on that rating, the rest of the company may choose whether to help or betray the trusting ronin.

It is this dynamic between fate and trust that shapes the central tension of The Mountain Witch: the samurai must trust one another in order to survive, but can't trust one another because they all have ulterior motives. Make no mistake—this is not a game that all the ronin are going to survive...

Dark Fate: Unholy Pact
Dark Fate: Unholy Pact

What Others Have Said About the Game

"I gotta say, playing The Mountain Witch has changed my future game designs. Like, other games have shown me how to do things that I thought were impossible; The Mountain Witch shows me something I didn't know about before." —Vincent Baker, co-author of Apocalypse World

"The Mountain Witch is an important game in the history of tabletop roleplaying. Tim Kleinert's delicious combination of wide-open player agency and murderous constraint, all wrapped up in a mythic blood opera of honor and betrayal, blew a lot of minds, including mine. I have died on the slopes of Mt Fuji many times, at the hands of O-Yanma or my worst enemies or (often!) my best friends, and I can't wait to do it again." —Jason Morningstar, author of Fiasco

"For a game so full of distrust and betrayal, [The Mountain Witch] somehow helps strangers to become friends and friends to be closer... An outstanding effect of 'Wham, Story' shared by everyone in play." —Ron Edwards, author of Sorcerer

"I played a game of [The Mountain Witch] with several others back in '05 and the experience still sticks with me to this day." —Robert Bohl, author of Misspent Youth

"The Mountain Witch ascends to the pinnacle of story-centric RPG design, while also being a sheerly beautiful physical artifact." —Kenneth Hite, author of Trail of Cthulhu

Dark Fate: Desperately in Love
Dark Fate: Desperately in Love

Want to See the Game in Action?

Eric Vulgaris has a stream of the first session of play, covering character creation and the opening "chapter":

The Jank Cast has an audio recording of the entire game, played over three sessions: part #1, part #2, & part #3.

Dark Fate: Worst Fear
Dark Fate: Worst Fear

My Story with the Game

Hi, I'm Timothy Kleinert, also known as "timfire" across the web. 

I originally wrote The Mountain Witch for the Game Chef RPG design contest in 2004. Though my entry did not win, upon its broader release the game was met with immediate critical acclaim. In the years that followed, The Mountain Witch proved itself to be a major influence on the indie RPG movement, and to this day is still regarded as one of the premier games to have emerged from The Forge play and design culture.

Over time, as I interacted with players, I developed new and more streamlined methods for explaining the game. This fostered a desire in me to write a new edition, but every time I attempted to do so, my life was interrupted with various hardships and personal losses. It began to feel as if The Mountain Witch—much like the characters within it—might be haunted by some sort of dark fate. So despite pleas from fans, I let the book fall out of print.

Of course, time heals all wounds, and my life did level out. With things back in order, I was finally able to finish my long-awaited revision of the game. Only, this is where I need help from you all...

Dark Fate: Revenge
Dark Fate: Revenge

Why this Kickstarter Campaign?

I am asking you all to help me fund the production of The Mountain Witch second edition. I am very excited about this new draft that I have completed, but I still need to send the text through the process of editing, layout, and—the big one, of course—printing. For this, I have set a base campaign goal of $10,000 [Achieved!].

With that amount, I will be able to publish the instruction book: a half-letter sized (5.5 x 8.5 in), perfect bound softcover, with full-color illustrations and around 150 pages.

I will also be able to produce the game cards: an 18 card, poker sized deck of dark fates and zodiac signs, for use in character creation.

As a special offer for this Kickstarter campaign, I will also be producing a deluxe boxed set of the game: in addition to the instruction book and game cards, this set will also include color coordinated dice and trust tokens, as well as character and reference sheets.

Lastly, these funds will also help me produce a player introduction video: a 10-15 minute video that will outline all the major rules that new players need to know to jump in and start playing. No more need for the GM to spend valuable playing time explaining the game!

Dark Fate: True Motives
Dark Fate: True Motives

Stretch Goals

Since per unit costs go down as production numbers go up, I will be able to bring in collaborators to contribute new and additional material as more backers join the project.

[Achieved!] At $15,000, I will be able to bring in a number of writers to contribute additional mini-chapters:

  • Kira Magrann is lined up to write a piece on role-playing "the outsider" in feudal Japan, with a focus on gender and sexuality. Kira is a tabletop RPG designer, Youtube content creator, blogger, queer NB cyborg, and snake mom living in Columbus, Ohio.
  • Rafu is lined up to write a mini-primer on various topics related to traditional Japan. In addition to his gaming pursuits, Rafu also holds a MA in History of East Asia.
  • I will also put together a digital supplement that contains alternate settings and rules variations conceived by players of the game.

[Achieved!] At $20,000, I will be able to produce a short series of additional videos focused on GMing the game.

Dark Fate: Past Alliegance
Dark Fate: Past Alliegance

Other Contributors

I want to recognize Joshua A.C. Newman (Mobile Frame Zero and Shock: Social Science Fiction) who will be reprising his role as layout and graphic artist for the second edition book.

Thank you for all the support, I am deeply grateful!

Risks and challenges

As with any printing project, delays or unforeseen costs may arise as I bring in contributors, send the text to editing and layout, or wait for the game components to be produced. These hiccups may also affect shipping costs, which fluctuate as time goes on.

But this project will be the fourth time I've gone through the printing process, and I've made a point to discuss timeline and cost estimates with everyone I will be working with to ensure that I have a realistic expectation for how long the production of this project will take. Should anything arise, I will quickly update you all on the progress.

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    "Blood"-Splattered Ensō

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