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A role playing game where death not only makes you stronger, it defines who you become. From the creator of Gloom and Eberron.
A role playing game where death not only makes you stronger, it defines who you become. From the creator of Gloom and Eberron.
A role playing game where death not only makes you stronger, it defines who you become. From the creator of Gloom and Eberron.
1,117 backers pledged $67,284 to help bring this project to life.

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Phoenix: Dawn Command - a card based role playing game

$67,284

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THE GAME

The Dread began three years ago with the rise of the bone legions in the south. Since then it has spread across the known world, a waking nightmare that takes hundreds of horrible forms. Ghosts howl in the night. Skinchangers lurk in the wilds. Fallen soldiers rise to slaughter the living. Entire cities fall to a Chant that turns all who hear it into mindless killers. We don’t know why this is happening. We don’t know how to stop it. All that we know with certainty is that we are fighting a war and we are losing. Over a third of the Empire has been lost to the Dread, and each day brings new horrors. In this dark time we have one hope: Phoenixes are returning. Every citizen knows tales of the Phoenixes, champions who can face death and return stronger than before. In the centuries following our brutal civil war the Phoenixes have become legends… and now you are one of them.

Phoenix: Dawn Command is a card-based roleplaying game with a unique approach to character death. In Phoenix, players assume the role of supernaturally empowered champions bound together to defend a fantasy world under attack by threats that no mortal could withstand. These heroes face harsh odds every mission, and many won’t survive. But death isn’t the end of your character’s story; it’s the start of the next chapter. Phoenix is also a new fantasy setting, and you can learn more about the world of Phoenix here.

CARD-DRIVEN ROLEPLAYING

Phoenix is a story-driven roleplaying game that uses cards to resolve actions. Every player has a deck of cards that represent a character’s abilities. To accomplish an action, a player needs to lay down a set of cards with a total value that equals or exceeds the difficulty of the task. A player can get an extra push by using a trait - a card that describes a unique aspect of a character. If the player can explain how that trait applies to the current challenge, the value of the card is increased. This encourages cinematic storytelling, driving players to describe an action beyond the simple numbers. In addition, each player has Sparks - a pool of mystical energy that can be used to boost the value of an action. This allows a character to succeed at a normally impossible task… but when that pool of energy is exhausted, the character dies. You can see a video example of this system here.

While Phoenix has a gamemaster who drives the story and controls the challenges the characters face, the card-based system places a significant amount of narrative control in the hands of the players. Success isn’t based on the roll of a die; it’s a question of what a player is willing to sacrifice to make an action succeed. Because death isn’t the end of the story, character survival isn’t the most important part of a mission. Instead, the challenge is to make each death meaningful, and to achieve the objectives the Phoenixes are willing to lay down their lives for.

The Phoenix system is simple and flexible, and even someone who’s never played a roleplaying game before can master it within thirty minutes. The story and setting of the game give players a clear purpose and reason to work together, and the mechanics of the game encourage teamwork. While the options provide depth of play for experienced gamers, it’s very accessible to new players.

 DEATH MAKES YOU STRONGER

In Phoenix: Dawn Command, you don’t gain power by killing others; you gain power by dying. After each death, you add additional cards to your deck and new abilities representing the lessons you learned from your previous life. However, there’s a catch: you can only return seven times. So each death makes you stronger, but it also brings you closer to the end of your story. In addition, you don’t return right away and you don’t return in the place where you died. The fate of the world is in your hands and should you and your friends fall without completing your task, your mission will fail. Friends may be lost, regions may fall, and when you return you’ll have to deal with the consequences of your failure. Because death isn’t the end, the odds will often be stacked against the characters; to succeed, players must take risks and make sacrifices. 

We'll provide more information about the setting of Phoenix in updates, or you can read Keith's updates on Phoenixes and the Story.

What’s In The Box?

Phoenix: Dawn Command will include the following components.

  • 280 Tarot-sized cards, including Action cards, Lessons, School cards and Challenges.
  • A softcover book (approximately 120 pages) containing the rules to the game, a guide to the fantasy setting, and a seven-mission story arc.
  • 32 Health tokens and approximately 70 Spark tokens.
  • Condition tokens to track temporary effects.
  • Player booklets will be provided as a free PDF download. These provide an overview of the setting and the rules, giving each player easy access to everything they need to know to get started.

All together, this is sufficient to support a gamemaster and a group of four players. The missions provide an initial story arc, and the manual provides all the information a gamemaster needs to develop new stories.

All materials shown in these images and the video are prototypes and may change in the final product. Please see our FAQ about the red counters used in the video as well as the player books. We will update backers before going to print with the final design of game components.

Game Play Videos 

Get a feel of what game play is like in this video where Keith takes a wing of Phoenix adventurers through their first battle: 

This is a great short video from Richard Malena that explains how the card mechanics work in more detail:

Stretch Goals 

We’ve assembled an amazing team of writers and designers to create additional challenges for Phoenix as well as a new mission. Each writer will create a unique supernatural threat, complete with lore and hooks for building an adventure around the challenge. Grace Allison and Rich Ellis will create artwork for these expanded Phoenix Challenge cards. Late addition: At 68K we will add a Challenge from Javier Grillo-Marxuach!

Who Are We?

We (Jenn Ellis & Keith Baker) started Twogether Studios as a way to bring ideas to life that may not have a place elsewhere. We don't have aspirations of becoming a huge game publishing company. Our focus is to make things we love for people who will love them too.

Keith has been designing games professionally for over two decades, and has developed card games, RPGs, computer games and more. He's best known for creating the Eberron campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons; this world has been used as the foundation for two computer games and dozens of novels and game supplements. He also created the card game Gloom, a casual storytelling game. Phoenix: Dawn Command is a convergence of these styles - an innovative roleplaying game set in a compelling world, with accessible rules that encourage storytelling. Keith is designing the game, along with Dan Garrison.

Jenn has built a career on solving complex problems in creative ways. She's consulted for Fortune 100 companies on product development, helped make healthcare at the Olympics go digital, and once started a summer camp. She is the producer of Phoenix: Dawn Command and co-owner of Twogether Studios.

Dan Garrison is a lifelong gamer and gamemaster with a long history of developing unique systems and game settings. Phoenix is his first commercial game product. Dan is co-designer along with Keith.

Grace Allison was born and raised in Iowa, much like Captain Kirk. She now lives in Portland and is a member of Periscope Studio. She is an avid gamer, a horror movie enthusiast, and a supporter of animal rescues. Grace’s best known works include WANDER: Olive Hopkins and the Ninth Kingdom for MonkeyBrain Comics, as well as her color work for projects by Marvel Comics, IDW, Dark Horse Comics, and Thrillbent.

Rich Ellis is a cartoonist, illustrator and storyboard artist based in rainy Portland, Oregon. Rich is a self professed ninja enthusiast, guitar lover, and D&D nerd. Rich is best known as a co-creator of IDW’s Memorial and his work on Operation S.I.N. and Superior Foes of Spider-Man for Marvel Comics.

Veronica Ewing is a board game enthusiast who works as a Graphic Designer in Portland, OR.

Shipping

There is no additional cost for shipping within the US including APO,FPO, and US territories.

Rewards bound for Canada will be shipped from within Canada. You will not pay customs charges. There is a $5 shipping charge to Canada to offset our additional costs of shipment and import.

Rewards bound for the EU will be shipped from within the EU. You will not pay customs charges. There is an $18 shipping fee for the UK and a $20 shipping fee for the rest of the EU to offset our additional costs of shipment and import.

Rewards bound for Australia will be shipped from within Australia. You will not pay customs charges. There is a $20 shipping charge to Australia to offset our additional costs of shipment and import.

Additional Information

If you'd like to see more of the game, here's a few things to check out.

The OneShot Podcast has posted a playthrough of a session I ran with the OneShot crew and Will Hindmarch. It's in two episodes: Part One and Part Two.

Playtester Richard Malena has created a series of videos that go through different aspects of the game. So far he's posted one on Character Creation and one on the Skill system.

Risks and challenges

Although Phoenix: Dawn Command is our company's first product, Keith has over 20 years of experience in the game industry and Jenn has extensive experience in product design and development. We've been reaching out to seasoned game publishers, retailers, and players for advice and input from the start of our project.

We've mitigated a large number of risks by completing the bulk of our development before bringing the game to Kickstarter. The system has had over a year of testing with hundreds of playtesters. Approximately 90% of our art assets are complete and in hand. We have sourced manufacturing and fulfillment partners. The work that remains ahead of us involves finalizing the missions that will accompany the game and continuing to add depth to the game setting.

There are always things that can go wrong. Natural disasters. Manufacturing problems. One of the designers could have an unexpected accident. We can't anticipate every possible hazard. However, given the current state of development, the assets we have in hand and the groundwork we've done on production, we believe that we have set realistic goals.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    FLAMEKEEPER. We appreciate your support! You’ll receive access to backer-only updates, your name in the supporter credits, and a personal Dawn Command thank you note from us.

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    T-SHIRT. A backer-exclusive design, this is a black shirt with the Dawn Command symbol on the front and the Phoenix logo on the back.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    EARLY PHOENIX. You receive a copy of Phoenix: Dawn Command. Packages sent to the EU, Canada and Australia will ship from within those borders.

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    PHOENIX. You receive a copy of Phoenix: Dawn Command. US Shipping is included. Packages sent to the EU, Canada and Australia will ship from within those borders.

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    SHROUDED PHOENIX. You receive a copy of Phoenix: Dawn Command. In addition, you get access to our backer-only online workshop series with Keith Baker and Dan Garrison. An initial session on World Design will take place before the release of Phoenix; sessions on Playing Phoenix and Gamemastering Phoenix will take place after the game is released.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    TRAGIC BACKSTORY. You receive a copy of Phoenix: Dawn Command and invitations to the online seminars. After you provide crucial details, Keith and Dan will create a unique backstory integrating your character into the world of Phoenix. You’ll get this story in a PDF, and your character will appear in future Phoenix materials.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    TRAGIC PORTRAIT. In addition to everything described in Tragic Backstory, artists Grace Allison and Rich Ellis will create a portrait of your Phoenix. You will receive a PDF and print of the image. Your character’s signature weapon will appear in the core game, and your character & their image will appear in future Phoenix materials.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    TRAGIC PORTRAIT 2. In addition to everything described in Tragic Backstory, artists Grace Allison and Rich Ellis will create a portrait of your Phoenix. You will receive a PDF and print of the image. Your character & their image will appear in Phoenix materials.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    PORTLAND ADVENTURE. You and up to three friends can join Keith Baker & Dan Garrison in Portland, Oregon for a meal, after which either Keith or Dan (your choice) will take your friends through a custom Phoenix adventure. We’ll cover the meal - you’re responsible for your travel to Portland and lodging costs. In addition, you’ll receive a copy of the game and an invitation to the online seminars.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    NORTH AMERICAN ADVENTURE. Keith Baker will travel anywhere in North America to run a session of Phoenix for you and up to three friends. We’ll cover Keith’s travel expenses. You’ll also receive a copy of the game and an invitation to the online seminars.

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    Pledge $8,000 or more About $8,000

    INTERNATIONAL ADVENTURE. Keith Baker will travel to your location anywhere in the world to run a session of Phoenix for you and up to three friends. We’ll cover Keith’s travel expenses. In addition, you’ll receive a copy of the game and an invitation to the online seminars.

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Funding period

- (30 days)