About this project
The Ruined Empire is a system-neutral campaign setting and source book set in a land of five nations in conflict, ripe with adventure and danger. It has a Final Fantasy-esque feel, a mind to social issues, and serves as a great idea-rich jumping off point to running your own games. This is not a campaign to fund a game still in development. The text is finished and currently in for one last editing pass.
Once the land held many nations, but recent decades have seen two great empires arise, each locked in a struggle to the death for supremacy. In the east lies the Imperial Dynasty of Azumi, the Iron Empire. Expanding ever westward, it absorbs all nations that lie in its path as it hungrily devours the resources of the land to fuel the engines of industry. In the west lies the Jahga Republic of Enlightened Peoples. Expanding eastward, it seeks to bring civilization and self-determination to nations that have not yet embraced the principles of enlightened rule that govern their empire. As it stands, only a handful of resisting nations remain even nominally independent, forming a scant buffer between these two implacably expanding forces.
On Jahga’s doorstep lies the Rinden Kingdom, a provincial monarchy devoted mostly to farms and herd land. Fiercely jealous of its independence, its citizens struggle against an occupying force they have no hope of defeating. The Jahgan Republic's occupational forces crack down harshly on the rebels whenever they can, frustrated by the resistance of Rinden's citizens to the improvements that the republic has brought to the small, backward nation. The rebellion, however, seems undaunted in the face of monolithic opposition.
To the Kingdom of Rinden's east, in the shadow of the Imperial Dynasty of Azumi, lies the Independent State of Horom. Horom is a wealthy trading nation, with cosmopolitan cities full of wonders from all over the world. Nominally ruled by the Grand Council of trade guilds that have ordered affairs in the small nation, the truth is that the Grand Council has no real authority. The Imperial Dynasty is the real power responsible for the day-to-day rule of Horom, with the Grand Council paying handsomely to be permitted to retain the illusion of sovereignty. In this way, the Grand Council retains its dignity and Azumi reaps considerable sums in wealth and resources as tribute.
To the south of Rinden and Horom, bordering both Jahga and Azumi, lies the ruined nation of the Dangoro Trading State. It was here that the armies of the two great empires met for the first time. It was a conflict great and terrible, one that eclipsed in scale anything yet seen in the land. In the end, the cities of Dangoro were left in smoking ruins. Its rulers were dead, its people scattered, either fleeing to the wilderness or to Rinden or Horom as refugees, and only a handful of her citizens remained. The great armies have since retreated, not wanting to spill further blood over a useless wasteland. The land is no longer known as Dangoro, for the people of the region now call it Nil, the Desecrated Lands. The Shinto priesthood has searched for anyone even marginally qualified to rule that would be willing to take on the rule of Nil, but as yet their search has been in vain.
I wrote the original setting for Andy Kitkowski back in 2012 as a backer reward for the Kickstarter of the English translation of Tenra Bansho Zero. Originally, this was done as work-for-hire, which meant that I got paid for my work and Andy was to retain the rights for future publication. The original intent had been to get this illustrated and published as an official Tenra supplement. However, for a variety of reasons, that fell through until now.
Many game publishers, upon abandoning a project done as work-for-hire, just say “to hell with it” and consign it to the scrapheap of history. Thankfully, Andy was generous enough to release the text of the Ruined Empire campaign setting Creative Commons (Share and Share Alike). The text is freely available for anyone who wants to use it, but it also means that I “got my rights back”, as it were.
This campaign is to fund an expanded version of that original campaign setting. Ruined Empire was originally written to be used with the Tenra Bansho Zero system, but the setting itself is a pretty accessible mashup of common anime tropes and Final Fantasy-inspired themes, and would work well with a variety of game systems.
This project will fund the creation of a book that will include:
- An original campaign setting, inspired by Final Fantasy and common anime tropes, written with an eye toward social issues
- Expanded commentary and campaign creation hooks
- Conversion guides and system hacks for use in starting campaigns with non-Tenra systems
This is far from final, but the likely specifications for the initial funding goal will be 7" x 10" trim size with black and white interior.
Additionally, I wanted to make this a high-quality sourcebook that draws on the rich visual flavor of the setting material. So I've enlisted some talented people to help make this a beautiful book that will be as much pleasure to look at as it will be to read.
Author and designer Anna Kreider: is a writer, game designer, and illustrator who spends a lot of time blogging about depictions of women in pop culture. She's also a veteran of the crowdfunding circuit, having been part of 2 successful crowdfunding campaigns previously.
Illustrations - Claudia Cangini: is an artist and illustrator who has worked on many high-profile RPG titles, such as FATE Core and FATE Accelerated, as well as a slew of indie titles. (You can learn more about Claudia on her website or by checking out her Patreon.)
Layout - Brennen Reece: Is an artist and designer who excels at RPG layout, among many other talents. (He describes himself as a transdisciplinary autodidactic polymath - you can learn more by visiting his website.)
Your pledges will help cover Claudia and Brennen's fees, logistical costs like printing and shipping, KickStarter fees, as well as a reasonable return for myself. Here's how the pledges will be allocated when we meet our initial funding goal:
You'll notice that "shipping wiggle room" is a budget expense. The unfortunate reality of KickStarter fulfillment is that shipping costs are incredibly hard to predict. I've done my best! But my first crowdfunding saw shipping costs eat heavily into my profits, a mistake I'd prefer to avoid. If the campaign comes under budget on shipping, I'll split the extra money evenly between myself, Claudia, and Brennan.
It's also worth noting that backers outside the US and Canada will need to pay an extra shipping charge to be determined when the book has gone to press. I know this is a nuisance, but international shipping rates are increasing so unpredictably that it's impossible to budget for what they might be a few months from now.
JUST THE BASICS
$3: SCAVENGER - Wallpaper & Credit
At this level, you'll be able to follow progress updates as they are posted. You'll also receive a digital wallpaper of one of the finished pieces of art, as well as a thank you credit on the website.
$11:RONIN - PDF, Wallpaper, & Book Credit
As a Ronin, you will receive The Ruined Empire PDF in addition to the digital wallpaper and website credit. You'll also get a thank you credit in the book.
$25:SENATOR - Print + PDF, Wallpaper, & Book Credit
At this level, you will get it all! The Ruined Empire in Print & PDF, as well as the digital wallpaper and thank you credits.
BOOKS WITH EXTRAS
$47:MAGICIAN - Print + PDF, Wallpaper, Credit, and B&W art (LIMITED!)
As with the Senator, you'll receive The Ruined Empire in Print & PDF, as well as the digital wallpaper and thank you credits. You'll also receive a one-of-a-kind black and white sketch card drawn by the author. (You can find the author's portfolio here.)
$50:CYBORG - 2 Print + PDF, Wallpaper, & Credit
Want to share with a friend? At this level, you will get it all, times two - two copies of The Ruined Empire in Print & PDF, as well as the digital wallpaper and thank you credits.
$63:MAGICIAN - Print + PDF, Wallpaper, Credit, and Color art (LIMITED!)
As with the Senator, you'll receive The Ruined Empire in Print & PDF, as well as the digital wallpaper and thank you credits. You'll also receive a one-of-a-kind color sketch card drawn by the author. (You can find the author's portfolio here.)
$70:CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY - Retail level! 5 Print + PDF
This level is for retailers. At this level you will get 5 Print copies, plus download links for PDF copies, and a thank you in the book and on the website.
If we exceed our initial funding goal, there will be stretch goals! These stretch goals will go toward increasing the quality of the final product that gets produced. Now that we're just about halfway funded, let's take a look at the stretch goals planned so far...
$7260 : COLOR INTERIOR ILLUSTRATIONS - LOCKED
This funding level will cover the additional printing costs for color interior illustrations, as well as the difference in fees for Claudia to do illustrations in color rather than black and white.
$9100 : COLOR INTERIOR ILLUSTRATIONS + MORE ART - LOCKED
This funding level will cover even more color interior art by Claudia - if we reach this level, Claudia will double the number of character illustrations.
$11,000 : FULL COLOR INTERIOR + MORE ART - LOCKED
At this level, we'll get tons of beautiful full-color art by Claudia, and Brennan will get to go crazy creating a gorgeous full-color interior for the entire book!
$12,600 : FULL COLOR INTERIOR + MORE ART + PAY BUMP - LOCKED
At $12,600, I'll be able to give Claudia and Brennan a pay bump for all the hard work they'll be doing on the above upgrades to the interior. They're going to be working super hard to make this book gorgeous, so it's only fair.
$14,000 : FULL COLOR INTERIOR + MORE ART + BIGGER PAY BUMP - LOCKED
Crazy awesome interior plus generous pay for the artists who are helping make the book crazy awesome? Everybody wins!
Risks and challenges
KickStarting a book is a huge challenge! There is a ton of work that goes into creating a polished product, and a lot of things can fall through. But I've done all this before and been able to deliver on time and on budget for backers on previous projects.
I've also chosen very carefully who I'm working with; Both Claudia and Brennan are artists with proven track records of excellent and reliability, and the suppliers I'll be using for printing and shipping are companies that I have worked with in the past.
It is possible that delays will happen; I'm a Canadian publisher working with American suppliers, and that has caused problems for me in the past. It's also possible that running this campaign at the end of the year will mean the end-of-the-year holiday season might cause delays as well. I've built extra time into our schedule for that reason, and will stay on top of things to make sure we deliver on time. I have past experience in taking a book from document to dead-tree product and know what pitfalls to look out for.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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