"Playing Comrades was a good reminder of what really matters…. If you too dream of a day when there are no more billionaires, then playing this game can help you keep your eyes on the prize." —Gita Jackson, Kotaku
Comrades is a tabletop RPG about life in the revolutionary underground. Based on the Apocalypse World engine, it pits players against a corrupt government, forcing them to fight from the shadows to free the people from their chains.
Playing as characters like the Soldier, the Student, the Propagandist, and the Worker, your comrades will mount rallies, stage coups, evade the secret police, and fight fascist goons. A campaign of Comrades can take place in any setting the players dream up—modern or historical, real or imagined—giving them a chance to create a revolution all their own.
Designed by the author of the bestselling Deadball: Baseball With Dice and the mystery novel Westside, Comrades has been in development since 2017 and is nearly ready for release. When you back this campaign, you’ll gain access to a 70-page preview of the final rulebook, complete with everything you need to start playing tonight. The final PDF will be available two weeks after the campaign closes, and the print book will follow soon after.
Your revolution is at hand. It’s time to join the party.
How Does it Work?
Two to five friends gather around a table. They create revolutionaries, imagine threats, and fight to make their country a better place. If they are lucky, they change the world. If not, they die as martyrs.
The players tell the story together. Sometimes they roll dice, but mostly they talk. A gamemaster, or GM, is there to keep things moving, but the players are the stars.
Inspired by games like Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts, and Night Witches, Comrades uses simple rules to tell complex stories full of hope, deceit, danger, and betrayal. Taught quickly and run easily, even by novice GMs, Comrades is as fast and dirty as revolution itself.
I created this game to remind the left that they are heir to a proud tradition of fighting, body and soul, for the cause of the working class. My hope is that playing it will give you strength, and that when the grind of real life politicking wears you down, you will remember your time as a comrade and take heart.
This 162 page rulebook includes:
- Ten playbooks embodying different revolutionary archetypes, including the Demagogue, the Mystic, the Artist, and the Brute
- A guide to the game’s core rules, which keep the action hurtling along at a breakneck pace
- Instructions for teaching the game and running the first session
- A guide to GMing Comrades and making your revolution come alive with minimal between-session prep
- A complete campaign setting, "Khresht: 1915," that will allow you to start playing immediately
- Countless examples of play
Comrades is a game about union organizers battling strikebreakers in Appalachia. It’s about Black Panthers staring down the police to feed children breakfast. It’s about the Parisian radicals manning the barricades of the Commune, ready to die for their red flag.
Because Comrades can take place any time, anywhere, the ten playbooks included with the core rulebook are based on archetypes found throughout revolutionary history. They are:
- The Artist: Creative, impulsive, and vain, the Artist has powerful abilities that support her comrades with her art
- The Brute: Proudly violent, the Brute joined the revolution partly because she knows it’s right and partly because it offers a wonderful opportunity to crack skulls
- The Demagogue: A rabble rouser, the Demagogue uses words to manipulate the masses, inspire his fellows, and gobble up as much power as he can hold
- The Mystic: Chief proponent of a mysterious new faith, the Mystic uses the language of religion to advance the revolution and dazzle the ignorant
- The Patron: A wealthy revolutionary, the Patron supports her comrades financially and emotionally, in order to shed her guilt at being born with money
- The Professional: A veteran of countless revolutions around the globe, the Professional has training and expertise the other comrades can only dream of
- The Propagandist: A master of spin, the Propagandist has the power to see through people, take advantage of their weakness, and turn lies into truth
- The Soldier: Scarred by her experiences in the armed forces, the Soldier has the deadly skill and tactical ability necessary to take the fight to those who put a gun in her hand
- The Student: Fueled by idealism, the Student knows everything a book can teach and absolutely nothing about how to put it into practice
- The Worker: The backbone of the revolution, the Worker brings much-needed technical skills to the group as well as the blue-collar cred no party can do without
Back the campaign to take a look at the full playbooks, each of which comes with a portrait, a guide to playing the character, special moves, and advances. They are only the beginning. You will bring them to life.
Comrades contains detailed instructions for helping your players imagine a setting that works for them. Some players may wish to play through a historical revolution, taking to the streets of Boston in 1776 or Petrograd in 1917. Others may prefer to set a campaign in their own town, imagining comrades not-unlike themselves fighting oppression five years from now, next month, or today.
Comrades also works well in a sci-fi or fantasy setting. Stage an insurrection on a space station orbiting a far-off star, or at the palace of some mystical king. Wherever die-hard idealists take on a ruthless, oppressive government, Comrades is there to tell the tale.
For groups who want to dive right in, Comrades offers Khresht, a fictional Eastern European empire on the brink of revolution. Including a list of NPCs drawn from our very own Kickstarter backers, Khresht is perfect for a one-shot or extended campaign. The action starts in February, 1915:
You are in the city Khresht, on the river Khresht, in the empire Khresht. After 300 years’ rule, the Makharov dynasty is on its last legs. The army has been broken by the Great War; the economy is in shambles, and no matter how forcefully the police clamp down, political parties, secret societies, and revolutionary cells spring up like weeds.
You are a member of one of these cells. You have a chance to topple an empire and drag your country into the future. But what future will you choose?
Pathways to Revolution
Once you've chosen your setting, how will you attempt to take control? Will you take to the streets and scream until you cannot be ignored? Or will you plan a coup so meticulous that when you win, few even notice the change?
There are many ways to make a revolution, and this game embraces them all. Comrades includes an optional system, Pathways to Revolution, that reshapes the world according to your comrades' actions, ensuring that no session is the same.
The Pathways are five distinct tracks along which your players can advance at the end of each session. Each offers new advantages and obstacles as the comrades draw closer to victory, and each is based on a different approach to revolution. They are:
- Force, the preferred technique for parties that lead with their fists
- Organization, which gives parties an opportunity to take control through legal means
- Zealotry, which represents their ability to harness the passion of the mob
- Mayhem, which is open to parties who rely on indiscriminate violence for political ends
- Fellowship, which is ideal for parties who prize esprit de corps above all else
Not all of those approaches are pretty. The more powerful your party gets, the more likely they are to do things that are corrupt, immoral, or evil. Comrades does not shy away from problematic material, instead demanding that players and GMs address it head-on. Comrades is a game that asks what it would take to change the world, and helps you reckon with the answer.
Please note: Printing cost changes at DriveThruRPG mean that the printing estimates listed under "Rewards" are no longer accurate. The softcover is now slightly more expensive; the hardcover significantly cheaper. See below for new estimates.
I’ve been working on this game for two years. The rulebook has been written, edited, laid out, proofread, and proofread some more. I don’t believe in putting projects on Kickstarter that are years from completion. The revolution cannot wait, and neither should you. Back today and start playing tonight.
Everyone who pledges $15 or more gets the PDF of Comrades, along with all the stretch goals and digital supplements, which include ten full-color playbooks and printable guides to the basic moves and rules of the game. If you want to play the game but your financial situation means you can't afford $15, message me and we'll work something out.
Pledge $24 and get the PDF, plus a code to buy the standard color softcover book at-cost—that’s the cheapest I can make it—which is currently estimated at $6.64 plus shipping. Although I don't expect that estimate to change, know that it might.
Pledge $35 to get the PDF, plus a code to buy the premium color hardcover book at-cost—currently estimated at $16.92 plus shipping. Featuring lush colors and a sturdy, long-lasting cover, this book is a beauty, and worth every penny.
Pledge $40 to get the PDF and codes to buy two copies of the softcover book at-cost—that's $13.28 total.
Pledge $50 to get the PDF, plus codes to buy one hardcover and one softcover rulebook at-cost—that's $23.56 total.
Pledge $55 to get the PDF and codes to buy two copies of the hardcover book at-cost—that's $33.84 total.
Pledge $60 to add a character of your design to the list of NPCs included with the Khreshti campaign. You can be a hero of the working class or a soulless plutocrat—just give me the name and an idea of the character, and I’ll write a one-sentence description that brings it to life.
This is a limited offer—there are only 40 slots available in the book—and I’ll need you to get your character name and info to me within 48 hours of the close of the Kickstarter, in order to keep delivery of the book on schedule.
Everyone who pledges $60 or over will get codes for two copies of the book. After the campaign closes, you'll get to choose whether you want two hardcover, two softcover, or one of each.
Pledge $200, and we will design a custom playbook together, creating an entirely new character class to add to the game. Whatever revolutionary archetype you dream of, we will make it real—including custom art and special moves. Because these aren’t going in the main rulebook I’m less worried about balance, so it’s all right if these get weird. I’m only making five of these rewards available, but if they sell out and you have an amazing idea for a playbook, message me and we might be able to add more.
Retailers and gaming groups: pledge $75 to get five copies of the softcover book mailed to you or pledge $150 to get five copies of the hardcover book mailed to you. This includes the cost of printing.
As always, the game does not come with dice, but thanks to the effortless simplicity of the Apocalypse World system, you only need two standard six-sided dice to play. Buy them at any corner store or, in the spirit of redistributing wealth, steal them from an old copy of Monopoly.
At $5,000 (UNLOCKED & FINISHED!), I’ll release a one-sheet GM’s aid, featuring NPC names, spurs for conflict, core principles and anything else that might help you run the game.
At $10,000 (UNLOCKED & FINISHED!), I’ll release a printable guide to the Pathways to Revolution, outlining all the bonuses your players can expect as they advance along each track.
At $15,000 (UNLOCKED & FINISHED!), I’ll release a printable guide to Khresht that gives a handy overview of the empire and its key players.
At $20,000, I’ll release a short guide to an alternate setting, "New York: 2025," that chronicles upheaval in the boroughs after their secession from the fascist United States.
At $25,000, I’ll release a bonus playbook: the Muckraker, who fights oppression with the power of journalism—either high-minded, or yellow as hell.
At $30,000, I’ll release another playbook: the Crusader, a social reformer who would die to help the poor, but who doesn’t necessarily enjoy their company.
At $35,000, I’ll release a third bonus playbook: the Child, a revolutionary youth who’s far less innocent than he appears.
At $40,000, I’ll release a fourth bonus playbook: the Mastermind, who intends to win the revolution by ruling the party—and the comrades—with an iron fist.
If we get past that, well, heck—I might have to come up with some more.
Risks and challenges
Everything I’ve done in preparing this project has been with an eye to ensuring the completion of a successful Kickstarter. The PDF is nearly finished—all it needs is the names of the Citizens of Khresht to complete it.
Once the Kickstarter closes, I’ll add that content and have the final PDF ready for you the instant the Kickstarter paperwork clears—exactly 14 days after the campaign wraps. Barring an act of a vengeful god, the PDF will be ready on time.
I first sent the files for the print book to DriveThruRPG in December. As of now, I’ve done two rounds of corrections on the proof. The book is largely finished, but there are a few pages where printing errors linger. I’m working with their staff to iron those problems out, and expect to have a finished softcover book ready for sale by six weeks after the close of the campaign.
Because I’m not 100% certain of that, however, I’ve chosen to give myself a six month deadline to deliver the softcover, just in case those printing errors prove stubborn.
While I’ll be rushing to finish the PDF and softcover as soon as possible, I intend to take my time with the stretch goals materials, testing everything relentlessly in order to make sure it’s perfect. Because all of the stretch goals are digital, requiring only myself and my computer to deliver them, once the print book is finalized I see very little risk at all.
I have put a lot of sweat, wit, and love into this game. I will do everything I can to make sure you like it as much as I do.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)