A century ago, radio transmissions from Earth passed through a strange ripple in space, causing rock music to fall upon the mystified ears of an alien world. For five glorious years, the aliens grew to love the magical planet they believed to be on the other end of that beautiful signal. When the music cut off as mysteriously as it began, the aliens embarked on a generational pilgrimage to discover the source of that music.
Nearly a century later, the aliens have arrived, but Earth is not what they expected. Humanity has taken a dark turn, silencing music, the arts, literature...any kind of expression they believed could inspire "dangerous" thoughts. The Ministry of Music looms large over the entire world, stamping out rebellious culture with steel-sheathed jackboots.
With nowhere to go but forward, the Starchildren descended, joining the few Earthlings still carrying a spark of rock and roll. They catalyzed a new rock & roll revolution that will break the Ministry's chains on the soul of humanity.
This is the Velvet Generation.
"One of the most quietly influential card-based RPGs ever...Starchildren: Velvet Generation, is back 1.6 decades after its original publication. And... um, it doesn't have cards any more, but that's okay. Regardless, in an age with concentration camps on US soil, it could not be more topical. Check it out." – Mike Selinker
"I was very impressed with the first edition way back when and it's only gotten better since then." – Kenneth Hite
Velvet Generation is the new iteration of 2002's Starchildren: Velvet Generation, a role-playing game unlike any other. The original 2002 creative team is back with a fresh look at the music-starved dystopia in which the Starchildren find themselves stranded. The new custom rules engine is tightly focused on group collaboration, intra-band relationships and musical performances that will take your band from the garage to global superstardom. The campaign rules let your band use their fame against the oppressive Ministry of Music, while those same authoritarian forces hunt them down for the crime of expression.
The Starchildren came on the scene in the form of dreamlike rock idols: luminescent, androgynous and mysterious beings that seem to float in an electric haze of glamour. They do their best to blend in with the drab creatures Earthlings have become since they lost the gift of music. Their very presence on the planet sent a shockwave through the collective subconscious, awakening something long since buried, and neither species will ever be the the same again.
Players portray the renegade rockers of the Velvet Generation, whether they be the alien Starchildren or the Earthlings pining for their lost rock & roll. Start your campaign out as unknown outlaw rockers, seeking out space to rehearse and play while evading the watchful electric eye of the Ministry of Music and spinning lies to get time off from your day job. Join the revolution by allying with the idealistic visionaries of Velvet or the violent hardliners of the Blue Army. Ascend to the leadership of regional and national cells as your band becomes a household name, finally toppling the Ministry of Music with the power of rock & roll.
This iteration uses a completely new rules engine from the 2002 original. The rules allow your group to riff off of one another onstage and off, and the revolutionary campaign system lets you build from game session to game session to fight back against the Ministry of Music to carry out a global rock and roll revolution.
A Little Help From Your Friends
In Velvet Generation, whenever your band is together, they're collaborating on their goals, whether that's to play a solid show, to sneak past a security guard or fighting off a gang of anti-rock yahoos. Each player rolls a pool of six-sided dice for themselves, trying to find matched sets (two, three or more dice with the same number showing). But every time you go, you either get to leave one of your dice on the table for your comrades, or you get to pick up dice that match the ones you're playing to do even better. If that's not enough, the social relations between band members help more. Give a die to your lover or your friend; steal a die from your rival...develop these relationships within your group to work together even better.
Hazy Cosmic Jive
The real action in Velvet Generation happens in front of crowds of underground fans, getting their rock fix wherever they can hide away from the Ministry's prying eyes. Your band taking the stage is the focus here as much as fighting or kicking down doors is in a lot of other games. Use the full range of your talents to create the show: vocals and instruments of course, but also dance, stage presence and the roadie's skills at setting up and running the tech. Everyone in the group has a part to play in the show; while the crowd may go home remembering the lead singer's wail or a shredding guitar solo, your rhythm section makes that possible by giving the leads something to build off of, and the techs are there to cover the occasional screw-up. Every show gives you a shot at hitting the next level of fame, until you really take off.
It's a dangerous game, though. There's always the temptation to grab a little more of that glory for yourself by upstaging your bandmates. While you're all working together onstage, someone is always the Star of the Show, even if different characters spend their own time in the spotlight. Rep-hungry rockers might build themselves up at the expense of the group itself. That can breed jealousy among the group, and that's a force that can tear apart the greatest of bands.
Rock the Planet
The Ministry of Music has plenty of ways to keep you down. They alienate you from the safe and sterile society of everyday life. They push propaganda against rockers and marginalized people. They use the full surveillance state to keep a close watch on dissidents. They try to subvert your allies and contacts. And there is always the threat of violence at the hands of the regime. But as your band grows in fame and recognition, you can strike back against the Ministry of Music with the new revolutionary campaign system.
The fight against the Ministry happens between game sessions over the course of your entire Velvet Generation campaign. As you grow in fame, the authorities target you with more extreme tactics of oppression, but you use your fame against them in revolutionary praxis of your own. Distribute illicit samizdat works of art and music. Build solidarity with allies in other marginalized communities. Create subsistence networks to provide aid and comfort for those outside polite society. Poison the regime's intelligence networks with disinformation. Or dazzle the public with a brazen spectacle so they can't ignore you anymore. Every blow you strike against the Ministry leaves the regime a little bit weaker, until the entire thing comes crashing down to the wail of electric guitars.
Join the Revolution
We need your help to bring this project to life.
The final product is still a ways off, but the game system is entering beta testing phase, and plans for the setting and fiction elements of the book are complete. We have budgeted for editors, artists, layout, sensitivity reading and publication management...everything that's needed to turn a great idea into a polished product. That's where you come in. We're planning to use a very open process, including a continuing dialogue with our backers during the project's development. When you contribute to Velvet Generation's success, you're going to be in the loop from the day you place your pledge until your copy ships.
You can get involved at any level you'd like; literally any pledge helps us make this project a reality, and we can't wait to share it with you. Check the pledge levels below to see what comes with every tier. And even if you don't pledge yourself, if Velvet Generation sounds like your kind of thing, share the project with your friends.
Note: any physical items (books, stickers, maybe other good stuff in the future) will require a separate shipping charge that will be charged once the Kickstarter ends. We'll ship anywhere in the world, but we want to keep the cost to you as low as possible, which is going to depend a lot on how much we're sending to your corner of the planet. If you need an estimate, feel free to get in touch with us through this campaign and we'll get you a shipping estimate for your region.
- Velvet Generation PDF: this is the full game, in all its full digital glory, watermarked and delivered via the good people at DriveThruRPG.
- Velvet Generation Print copy: the physical book itself will be a softcover rulebook in US trade format (6"×9"), with a full color cover and black & white interior. The page count will depend a bit on whether your generosity takes us past the Bonus Tracks stretch goal (see below).
- Sticker Pack: three vinyl stickers that will look great on your amp, laptop or a restroom stall in your local venue. Get the logos for Velvet and the Blue Army, as well as one of the Velvet Generation game logo.
- Starchildren: Velvet Generation (2002): the original edition of Velvet Generation in full-size hardcover. These will ship with your print copies of the new edition.
- Shout-out: we're thanking all our backers by name; if you back at the Analog Addict level or higher, your name goes in the final print and PDF copies. Below that, you'll get a thanks in a special shout-out section of the Velvet Generation site.
- Create a Character: at the Recruiter tier, you can leave your mark on Velvet Generation. We'll write up a (player or non-player) character of your choice, whether they're a revolutionary ally or a reactionary villain. We'll work with you to make sure your idea fits well into the game, and we'll make any final edits or tweaks necessary to make sure it works.
- Backer Chat: we'll invite you to our chat instance (Discord or Slack), where the developers, freelancers and fans can hang out, share thoughts and ideas about Velvet Generation. (The unfortunately-necessary disclaimer: we want this community to be a positive and supportive one, so while backing the project will get you invited, you still might be removed from the community for bad behavior; racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and any other kind of bigotry won't be tolerated.)
Backstage Pass: for the people who want to support us in a big way, we'll bring you into the developers' circle and stay in close communication throughout the game development process (the above disclaimer about the chat community applies here as well, naturally). You get access to the VIP section of our backer/developer chat. We'll include you on most emails between the core team and our freelancers (with the exception of particularly sensitive communications). You'll get to see all the material submitted to us by freelance writers and artists, as well as every draft of the book as it gets sent to the editors. You'll have our ear for any comments or thoughts you might want to share (we may not take every bit of advice, but we want to hear what you have to say).
As we said above, all digital downloads will be fulfilled via DriveThruRPG.
For print books, we want to give you the lowest possible shipping costs, so we'll be deciding on how those are fulfilled once we know how many are ordered, though print-on-demand via DriveThruRPG will always be available for anyone who wants to use it.
At this level, we'll be able to create a larger, more fully-packed core game book at the same price as the basic goal. The extended edition will have around 33% more content, including:
- Expansions to the revolutionary campaign system, allowing your band to face off against threats including the mad scientists of Osterberg Industries, the Blackholes, apocalyptic UFO cults and others
- Rules for ensemble campaigns, allowing players to take on the roles of expanded members of your band's revolutionary cell
- Collaborative worldbuilding tools to help your group bring their little corner of the world to life
- An introductory scenario to help get your story rolling
- Extra supporting characters including revolutionaries and reactionaries.
- More details on allied and rival revolutionary groups fighting the Ministries of Culture including the Grangers, the Bombjacks, the Banshees, and more
This may come as a surprise, but freelance work in the roleplaying games industry isn't exactly a way to get rich overnight. Freelance writers, editors, sensitivity readers, and graphic designers work hard to produce the games we love, but they often put up with low per-word or per-page rates. If we're lucky enough to reach this stretch goal, we're going to fight that trend. This stretch goal isn't about extra material or shinier packaging, but it means paying higher rates to the freelance workers we're relying on to make Velvet Generation the best game it can be.
We have a few extra, secret stretch goals in mind beyond those listed here. Follow our campaign to be notified if/when they drop!
Origins By Night!
Origins was a blast; Ben and Rich were there, talking the ears off of anyone who'd listen about Velvet Generation of course, and handing out our super-nice stickers. The hosts of the Origins by Night stream were kind enough to bring Rich on to talk about the game a bit. Check out the interview below, and click through to watch recorded streams from the whole con for some great interviews and takes on gaming across the board!
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk is that this is our first Kickstarter campaign. That being said, we did successfully publish the first edition back in 2002. That was back when the fantastic small press tools we take for granted today – like on-demand printing and Kickstarter itself – weren't available.
Also, we're lucky enough to be part of a great community of experienced designers and publishers locally and across the world, which has already been very helpful.
Another challenge is that we're not going to quit our day jobs and dedicate 100% of our working hours to the project. Velvet Generation will not go from zero to finished as quickly as if a full-time design team was working on it for eight hours every day.
Be assured that we’re factoring this into our projected release date. Also, every backer of the project will have access our support community, where we’ll be in touch every step of the way, so you’ll never have to wonder what we’re up to.
Thanks for reading this far, and for hearing us out. We’re excited to bring you this game, and to hear all of your stories of stardom, heartbreak, and revolution to come, and we hope to see you at the show!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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