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The world is in ruins after the Darkest War. Nations vie for power and evils lurk in the dark. Now more than ever, Vathis needs heroes.
The world is in ruins after the Darkest War. Nations vie for power and evils lurk in the dark. Now more than ever, Vathis needs heroes.
The world is in ruins after the Darkest War. Nations vie for power and evils lurk in the dark. Now more than ever, Vathis needs heroes.
183 backers pledged $11,107 to help bring this project to life.

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Zodiac Empires: a Pathfinder & DnD 5e RPG Fantasy Setting

$11,107

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Zodiac Empires is a truly dynamic and interactive fantasy setting created for tabletop role-playing game systems such as Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. Designed from the ground up by long-term tabletop veterans Brad Diamond, Frank Albanese, and Rachael Withrow, our goal is to bring a new and expansive world to players around the world.

The realm of Vathis is a world in an age of early industrialization where the line between magic and technology is obscure at best, and oftentimes indistinguishable. Rich in history and lore, adventurers roam lands dotted with sprawling empires, devious hidden cults, and ruins shrouded in darkness. While revered heroes march headlong into battle, recently reawakened dragons take flight, transforming both land and sky into battlegrounds. Gritty realism and high fantasy come together in Zodiac Empires, a world built on the memory of great wars, political intrigue, and imperialism. 

 Notable moments in real-world history, such as the Age of Sail, Prohibition Era Organized Crime, and both World Wars, as well as media sources such as the novels in the ASoIaF series and video games such as Dishonored, have all left their mark on the setting. Expect to experience fierce nationalism, streets filled with pulp action, scenes of noir intrigue, evils lurking in the dark, and corruption both political and physical as you travel between nations.

The ZodiacEmpires Campaign Setting will consist of:

  • 5 Unique Races, each with their own history, culture, and rules.
  • 14 heavily detailed Nations, complete with history stretching back hundreds of years and relevant area information.
  • A highly detailed political landscape (and all the blood that goes along with it)
  • A pantheon of 17 deities, as well as 34 detailed vandiels.
  • Eldria, the magical resource that fueled our industrial revolution, and all of its relevant technology.
  • 10 Major Organizations, as well as 30+ minor ones.
  • Rules for playing Starcalled, and all of the background that goes with it.
  • Rules for creating custom airships, as well as rules for inter-airship combat.
  • Leyline Chronicles: A new web application for use with campaign tracking and making a GMs life significantly easier.

This 300 page full color softcover book will contain the rules for both Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition in a way that is easy to read and quick to navigate. 

We both hit our goal and our first stretch goal in one day. We have now hit our second stretch goal. So here's what we've earned.

  • The Campaign Book (printed versions) will be automatically upgraded to Hardcover, free of charge.
  • All $60+ pledges, will include a Printed version of an upgraded Player's Guide, which now contains 200 pages. 
We didn't win the Darkest War. We survived:   
The ruins of the past rise up around us like monoliths to a golden age whose name escapes us. The otherworldly forces of the Shattered Hand tore through the strongest civilizations of our day like a farmer through fields of wheat. Cities which stood for centuries were undone in mere months. In the end, we cowered behind our parapets while the actions of a brave few finally dissolved their vicious cabal.

The darkness has been dissipated, but a grey shroud still lingers: Our greatest threats are not found outside of our borders, but on our very streets as insidious shadows find their way into the hearts of men. The line between what is righteous and what is vile remains unclear. The rules of alignment hold no sway over the nature of men and beasts, it’s possible to find good and evil in all manner of creatures.

The Starcalled defy the shackles of fate, forging their own destiny: As the Zodiacs created the multiverse, they wove the threads of fate which all living creatures must follow. The Starcalled – humanoids who bear the marks reminiscent of constellations upon their skin – are not subject to the constraints of destiny. These sigils, gifted by the Zodiacs themselves, grant their bearers the power to choose their own path and the possibility to alter the future of Vathis. As these Starcalled dynasties carved out their own piece of history, the ZodiacEmpires were born.

An industrial revolution fueled by eldria, tying the world together: A radiant blue light weaves its way through all facets of life on Vathis, created by the world's magical crystal resource, Eldria. Eldricsteel frames have raised cities to heights unimaginable, while eldria fluid based ether drive systems grant us the ability to soar above the clouds. The crystals themselves birthed an entirely new race capable of exploring the world, and countless feral creatures capable of wild destruction. From lamps to airships, eldria casts back the darkness and allows us to chart the unknown.

Nations vie for superiority in the power vacuum left by the Darkest War: The most powerful nations sit back and lick their wounds, searching for weakness in the hearts of their old enemies. The void of power will undoubtedly be filled over time by the dauntless nationalists who rise to seize the opportunity. Which sovereign nations will rise to become the world’s next leading powers?

The airship of history sails slowly on. Take the wheel: As the captain of your own ship, you stand on the prow and watch the land beneath you stretch for miles. The realm may already be rich in detail, but you possess the ability to change the course of the world forevermore. Leave your mark on the pages of history like the great ones who came before you and drive this wounded land forward. Join a truly breathing living world, and let us decide the future of Vathis – together.

An Interactive Campaign Setting.

We all play games for one of two reasons: we either have our own stories to tell, or we like getting together with other members of the gaming community and having fun. Why can’t we do both? 

ZodiacEmpires was created to fulfill two primary goals. The first is to print a physical copy of the campaign setting, which will include accompanying wiki content and pdf document. We have found this format to be the most convenient way for players to gather information regarding our world, and all copies of the book – printed and digital – will come with full access to the wiki’s content for ease of use. 

The second goal is to create a truly dynamic and player-interactive campaign setting. The future of the ZodiacEmpires is open for development. Vathis will not remain a static world, giving players the power to shape the universe while simultaneously interacting with other groups in the community. In turn, the community at large will decide the fate of the world during a reoccurring event known as the Court of the Zodiacs. 

During these meetings, the community will be able to vote on a variety of topics such as voting on major plot points, known as Divergence Points. As well as their adding their own canon additions to the game, allowing groups to have their campaigns becomes a permanent part in the world. 

We may have survived the Darkest War, but without your aid our moment will be lost to history. We need your help to build a community of fellow gamers and create a truly shared world. Without your assistance our dream of a printed ZodiacEmpires dies before its inception. Our artists have already churned out an impressive number of pieces, our histories have been written, and our empires stand waiting. The only remaining wall to scale is funding printed copies of the physical book.

By donating to our project you will play an active role in supporting a community of shared stories and adventures anyone can participate in. Everything ZodiacEmpires does is with the players in mind.

The ZodiacEmpires team was brought together by chance and fate, linked together to create an entirely new gaming experience. At its core, the world was built by three key players with decades of combined tabletop experience and a shared dedication to good story telling.

Brad Diamond, Creative Director

Brad has been with the team since inception, and much of the world of Vathis is derived directly from the strange expanses of his mind. Brad’s contributions to the team have been varied, invaluable, and constant (except for that one time). He directly deals with the core history of the world, the cartography, and the development of the state of international affairs. His greatest achievements are escaping from New Jersey, and rolling a natural 20 on a d6.

Frank Albanese, Lead Designer & Music Director

Frank is a real life bard and a pretend adult, born in New Jersey but raised in Vathis. A tabletop RPG gamer since high school, he has been a lead designer for ZodiacEmpires since its inception. Always a player at heart, he aims to create things that connect with and are fun for all players dipping their toes in the world of Vathis. A large portion of what Frank works on directly involves far reaching story arcs, the great evils of the world, and painting lesser known races into a more prominent light.

Rachael Withrow, Lead Designer & Editor

Unicorns. Dragons. Koalas. There’s not much left to say about one of the lead designers and primary editor for ZodiacEmpires. She’s a wordsmith with a quick wit whose 1,700 hours in Binding of Isaac is only rivaled by her ability to convince the party to follow her through any dangers. She’s been playing tabletop games for a quarter of her life and she’s talented at creating intricate stories and unforgettable characters.

Otherwise, ZodiacEmpires consists of the dream team as a supporting cast. Ashley Parsons is our Project Manager, keeping everything and everyone in order and running smoothly. Joe Ho is one of our senior designers, who primarily handles module design and a certain seafaring elven nation. Justin Packwood and Max Paige are the brains behind the software that supports the setting and develop all of the great tools we’ll need to make this lofty affair a reality. Andrea Clark handles all software testing to riddle out the bugs and John Nannarone handles all of the community facing activities, such as Twitter, Facebook, and the point of contact for local gaming stores.

The team of ZodiacEmpires would like to throw a huge thank you out to VNV Nation, both for the inspiration in the setting itself and for allowing us to use their music in our video. We, of course, couldn’t have brought this world to life without our awesome team of artists. Helen Mask, for the limited edition cover art, race images, zodiac sigils, and holy symbols. Rockey Chen, for the impression images for the nations. Robert Ryminiecki for an extensive list of work, from airship design to Uryllgrad, as well as for the final cover art. Tia Jasmin and John Poh for propaganda posters and travel posters. Susan Broderick for providing our voice over, and AJ Viana for our musical talent. And last but not least, Patrick Beavers for his work on our Starcalled comic. You brought our dreams to life and gave a depth to our world we would have never found on our own.

VNV Nation - http://www.anachronsounds.de/
Helen Mask - http://helenmask.com/
Rockey Chen - http://rockeychenart.blogspot.com/
Robert Ryminiecki - http://robertryminiecki.blogspot.com/
Tia Jasmin - http://www.nightowltiajasmin.com/
John Poh - http://johnery.com/
AJ Viana - https://www.facebook.com/SylarSound
Patrick Beavers - http://www.arfenhaus.com/

Risks and challenges

We have one main risk facing us, the unknown. Since we have all the art work done, all the writing done, and all the logistics priced out and planned the only risk would be if something unforeseeable and outside of our control makes it so we can't print. That being said, you have our guarantee that we will still print if we reach our goal. In the event of such an occurrence delaying us, it will be just that, a delay. We will still inevitably print the setting and make sure we get it into your hands.

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    Darkest War Survivor

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- (30 days)