Twelve Hundred Words is a series of five tiny tabletop RPGs; each one is exactly two hundred words and then all the other words in this 12-page zine add up to exactly the titular value. Despite their particular length, these games were not submitted to the 200 Word RPG challenge. You see, I was too anxious to pick which two of the five I had written to submit and then the deadline came and went. These games represent, in the abstract, my experiences with having OCD and Anxiety.
The five games included are:
- You Have Many Thoughts, and Your Thoughts Beget More Thoughts wherein your inspirations, goals, and anxieties spiral out of your control.
- Upon Thy Bardsong wherein action and conflict are resolved with singing.
- Deceiviest wherein you lie to others and to yourself.
- Love, Foundational wherein you can only act on love and its ties.
- All A Game wherein anything and everything can be made into a game.
Mercedes "Cibby" Acosta provides beautiful and rich illustrations that frame each game, employing subtle symbolism and drawing from personal experience. All the art you see on this page was created by Cibby and is included in Twelve Hundred Words.
This collection is already written, illustrated, and prepped for print. All we have to do is print them, which I will do locally as I've done for other projects. The funding of this project pays for printing and shipping, plus the miscellaneous fees that come with campaigns.
The rest of this campaign is a play-by-post analog roleplaying game. The playable character options are represented by the otherwise identical pledge levels (a physical and a digital copy of the zine). The comments section is our open world RP. Out-of-character questions are absolutely welcome in the comments; just start your post with @WhimsyMachine and I'll be sure to answer. DMs are also always open.
Some Updates explore the story and setting further, as well as create space for character creation, off-topic talk, and other sorts of things you might see on a play-by-post forum. Stretch goals, if we meet them, will unlock more playable character types, in-game events, and similar content. To be clear: Twelve Hundred Words won't change or expand from where it is right now. It is complete as is.
Do you have to play along? No. Not at all. Games are fun because they are optional—because we've chosen to play and we know that we can choose to stop.
- Familiarize yourself with the setting by reading below.
- Select a character option by backing at that tier.
- Roleplay by posting the Comments, Updates, and anywhere else.
- Get your friends to come play with you.
The best way to start depends on you! If you want to take it slow then I recommend commenting on the Character Creation Update to get a good feel of your character and to break the ice. If you want to jump in and do whatever you want then start in the Comments area and just start posting about what your character is doing here. If you want to jump in with focus then head to the first adventure Update and have your character join along—they can catch up no matter where we are, no explanations necessary.
This game is not player versus player (PvP), it won't have big combat scenes, or characters deliberately bringing harm to each other. Let's make goals that are productive/constructive, not destructive. Characters can certainly have many and conflicting goals and be at odds with each other, but us players can work together to create a satisfying narrative—even if our characters occasionally struggle, break hearts, or have moments of weakness.
We have all arrived at a nexus, whether intentionally or by opening a strange door that was never there before and wandering in. Perhaps you turned a different corner on your walk home or perhaps you've been searching for this place your whole life. You are here now, at this convergence.
Our Comments section is the nexus, a place somewhat outside of space and time, where asynchronous conversation can occur with whomever happens to be there—regardless of where or when they might've otherwise been. This is our excuse to take advantage of the play-by-post system; post as frequently (well, within reason—don't spam please) or as seldom as you wish and it's okay by our setting.
The world at large is a beautiful product of the people who live within it. In some places, the clouds swirl through the canopies of massive forests; in others, implausible buildings of mineral and crystal cluster in bustling cities. The roads between are subtly surreal: physics and reality is just a little bit softer than our own. It can respond to intention, to emotion, to action. Each step and breath in the world, it's said, has an impact on existence.
There are a great many peoples, intermingled and collaborative. There are monsters and creatures, sweet or vile, that roam the land. Magic exists and is as second nature to those who practice it as breathing; magic also lives within the world, dripping from the air and infused within the atoms and forces of energy.
The nexus is a parlor, comfortably furnished and infinitely stretching. There are snacks and drinks on the tables, warm lamps, and a vaguely familiar song echoing in from somewhere unseen. Any character is able to pass through the nexus whenever their player wants. From here, groups may mingle or embark on journeys to the strange, far reaches of the world, newly linked by this peculiar parlor. These specific adventures will occur in the comments of Updates: if players are fixing to embark, an Update goes up for them to do so.
Character creation is simple: back at the pledge level with the character option you like best. All pledge levels offer the same rewards if the Kickstarter funds, which is a physical copy and a digital copy of Twelve Hundred Words. If you'd like to develop your character further, head over to the Character Creation Update.
The character options are inspired by the art and games featured within Twelve Hundred Words, but are not explicitly a part of the collection itself. They are:
Tenacious, gentle, blooming, branching, beautiful, dangerous. Flowerfolk are beings of symbolism, as flowers and colors compose a deep, meaningful, and abstract language.
The Flowerfolk are humanoid beings made, at least in part, of flowers. Whether a bouquet instead of a head, a woven body of blooming vines, or covered with a fine coat of petals, Flowerfolk bodily represent the symbolism of their nature.
The magic of Flowerfolk is focused on the force of life and is aspected by plants and nature. They have been known to create and restore life, shift and grow plants into perfectly suited shapes, and commune with the essence of all that lives.
Masked beings with words that twist and tangle even themselves. They blend and shift, they fall in love readily, fear easily, lurk constantly, and panic occasionally.
The Obscureans are peculiar in that they hide even from themselves and it's uncertain how many masks they truly wear. They are far more human than any would admit, but their subtle magic of perception and deception has created an illusory narrative that is now indistinguishable from reality.
The magic of Obscureans is focused on the nature of reality and is aspected by light and shadow. They have been known to conjure mirages, conceal that which they wish remain unseen, and speak in ways that aren't truthful but are to be believed.
Those who build with the bits and pieces of the world, who shape the intangible and ethereal into something to grasp. Beings who weave thought and emotion into action.
The Abstracteers appear as human, in our many myriad forms, but have the unique gift of abstract engineering. The mind of an Abstracteer is able to perceive space, matter, and the incorporeal such that they may craft with ideas, emotions, and the soft things of the world and form solid mass from them.
The magic of Abstracteers is focused on the substance of matter and is aspected by art and construction. They have been known to paint beautifully with only emotions on canvas as their medium, materialize matter from thought and simple tools alone, and see into the feelings and intentions behind and within solid mass.
Storms made manifest, their bodies composed by will alone which, if any weaker, would betray their form and burst into a tempest, a squall, a light breeze of joy, of sadness, of rage.
The Stormhearts exist as a core of solid lightning, intensely bright, and surrounded by tangible cloud in the approximate shape of a human. Having a powerful heart on display can be both a vulnerability and a strength. Their emotions echo through their form, crackling with anxiety or roaring with thunderous passion.
The magic of Stormhearts is focused on the power of emotion and is aspected by weather and sound. They have been known to shift the sky to reflect their whims, send their words and intent rolling and echo across the land, and become far closer to others than emotionally or bodily possible for other forms.
Use the below verbatim, as inspiration, or create your own totally unique prompt that fits within this magical world. Feel free to invent lore, regions, and other characters as necessary. I'll help the first few adventures get started, but our goal is to be very player-driven. If there's a journey you want to undertake, introduce it in character and I can make an Update to set the stage.
"I've always wanted to see the ancient, inner machinery of the floating city. Who would like to join me in getting there, navigating the bustling city (perhaps making friends, enemies, or lovers along the way), find the secret pathways inwards, and inspect the mysterious engine?"
"I would like to set up a library to serve my community. Who would like to help me gather as many books and as much knowledge as possible, speak with members of my community to plan for how best to serve their actual needs, and then build something as beautifully ostentatious yet still as accessible as possible?"
"They say there's a leviathan who swims through the aurora at the frozen, northernmost tip of the world. Who would like to join me in preparing for the voyage, braving the extreme elements, being awestruck by the amazing aurora, and finding out the truth of the leviathan?"
- There are no dice, rolls, or luck. If you would like your character to do something you think they would be capable of doing, they may do so. If you'd like them to struggle and fail, that's up to you too!
- Be considerate, kind, and conscious of how you can contribute to everyone's experience.
- Do not act directly against another player/character.
- Keep posts under about sixty words.
- Characters can only accomplish one "significant" action per post. E.G., a character crosses a room, waves to a friend, eats a snack, and then opens the mysterious box of secrets; only opening the box is considered significant because it meaningfully contributes to the narrative and leaves a prompt for someone else to continue from.
- You, as a player, can discover and introduce aspects of the setting and story. To do so, end your post with an open-ended question for someone else to definitively answer. E.G., a character opens the mysterious bejeweled box, so the player ends their post with "What was in the box and what made it glow so loudly?" When the next player answers, that answer is canon.
- Side characters may be controlled by players. For short interactions, responses can be included in the interacting player's post. Longer or more significant responses are handled by asking open-ended questions to be resolved by other players.
- Again, do no harm! Do not introduce, via post, question, or answer any elements that inescapably harms another character. Saying a dangerous beasts lurks ahead is okay because the next player may attempt to circumnavigate or befriend the beast; saying a dangerous beasts wounds a character is not okay. However, a player may choose if their own character comes to harm.
- A player can only answer one question per post. Previously answered questions may be extrapolated on so long as the established answers aren't contradicted.
- It's okay if things don't go the way you planned or expected.
- Have fun.
Twelve Hundred Words is a collection of five short tabletop RPGs. The reward for backing this campaign if it funds is a copy (both physical and digital) of this already completed zine. The play-by-post game is a part of this campaign and, though inspired by the art and writings of, are not included in the project this campaign funds. All art on this page is included in Twelve Hundred Words.
Risks and challenges
People may not like playing this game and that might be a little embarrassing, on top of being disappointing. I've never run a play-by-post game before, but I have played in them.
If the project is not funded, these zines will be printed in a significantly smaller run. Either way, printed versions of Twelve Hundred Words will be available to purchase online (at a higher price than the pledge levels here). This campaign helps bring a larger run of Twelve Hundred Words to more folks who may be looking for an abstract, interactive version of mental health.
This project could be delayed. There are so many unforeseeable reasons projects are delayed. I've cut out most of the variables that caused my last campaign to be delayed: everything is 100% finished before launch, no stretch goals that affect the book itself, only one more vendor to rely on. Shipping has been responsibly accounted for in the goal.
I currently sell physical copies of my games at whimsymachine.media/store, which is facilitated by Seattle-based White Squirrel. If this project is exceptionally successful, I already have a working relationship I can rely on. A great success would also bump printing from local to a printer I've worked with before.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (17 days)