Dragons Conquer America – Kickstarter Canceled

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Back in 2015 a company by the name of Burning Games took Kickstarter by storm with a brand new Role Playing Game, FAITH: The SciFi RPG. The concepts put forth by the Kickstarter were well received by fans of RPGs and critics alike. Set in a SciFi setting the game utilized a poker deck in a unique fashion to set forth a gameplay that was less based on luck and more so some resource management for players. I was certainly on board.

When the Kickstarter had run its course FAITH had been successfully funded and Burning Games had a success on their hands. It wouldn’t be their last either. Since then they’ve gone on to great success getting three other Kickstarters funded. So when they launched the Kickstarter for Dragons Conquer America, there was likely a lot of optimism, they’d been here before. A unique product, not much like what people have seen before (even in a gorgeous time of a veritable treasure trove of RPG concepts), with a touch of resemblance to FAITH by utilizing the same poker deck based system backbone, known as the “RPC Engine”. However, not far into its run backers started to stall and ultimately the creators decided to go back to the drawing board. What happened?

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It is evident by their offered Starter Set, The Coatli Stone (free to download by the way), that this game has been worked on, in depth, prior to the Kickstarter. So while you may shrug and say “at least they aren’t out much, good thing they had Kickstarter!” You’d be partially correct of course but I imagine plenty has already gone into this product already. It wasn’t just a concept like some companies are fortunate enough to be able to utilize. Blood, sweat, tears, and capital likely went into what they have now, and if you check out the download mentioned above they have a cool idea.

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In Dragons Conquer America you are transported to a fictionalized history of the 16th century invasion of the Americas. In this version all the trappings of fantasy are also prevalent. You have magic, from both the indigenous peoples of the Americas and a religious based magic from the European invaders, there are fantasy creatures to contend with as well, especially…well Dragons.  That’s not all though. The creators decided to try something a little different with the lore this time around. They want the community that plays this game to help guide that lore. A living game if you will. It’s been done before but this would be the chance to essentially be a part of establishing a game world from the get go. Even using the outcomes of the Starter Set adventure.

So as you can see, Burning Games has a pretty cool concept at play here. Obviously it didn’t grab the same level of attention as their previous games did though. I have a few personal thoughts.

One area I noticed was the high dollar figure they aimed for. With FAITH they went for €30k (roughly $35k). That’s no slacker of a ticket price but they ended up with €41k at the end of the day. Perhaps that’s what played into their decision to set the goal this time to €42k (nearly $50k). To me getting into numbers that high for a brand new game setting can be a tough sell to some, even if you are a company like Burning Games who has a proven track record of delivering very quality merchandise.

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Another potential issue at play might be the recent release of the revamped 7th Sea game by John Wick and company. It gives players a chance to run around a similar time period in an already established setting. Granted the loose system present in 7th Sea isn’t nearly as crunchy as the RPC Engine, so they are very different games, but it does provide another avenue to play explorer in an age of flintlock and boats. In this same vein, perhaps the core fans of Burning Games’ stuff just prefer Science Fiction.

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I think what might be affecting it the most though is how the game lands in our current world climate. In DCA you can play as either the invading Europeans or the Indigenous peoples, this is true, but considering how we are currently looking back on those times, how would you ever want to be a conquistador? There is even a sub system within the rules that takes into account a character’s personal prejudices. That is some loaded shit right now, no matter how you view “political correctness”. To me I would have concerns running one of these games at a con, expecting everyone at the table to treat their character’s in game prejudices in an adult fashion. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous that I would be concerned about something like that, but it’s an inherent truth that many in our hobby have trouble with this. Granted, this is your game and you can be as good a guy in game as you want or as bad. It just seems like adding in a system that expects you to roleplay a prejudice might be uncomfortable for many (as a caveat you are expected to build you “tolerances” over time and are rewarded for it).

Maybe I touched upon some problems, perhaps not. In my last paragraph I might have even gone too deep into the system and found something personal when it might just be some surface stuff they need to tweak. In the end I truly hope they work out the kinks and bring this back to the table, I do actually love the conceptual time period as an area to play around in. I also know that Burning Games knows how to produce very quality work with interesting lore and solid mechanics. I’m positive this is merely a setback and not a barricade to future work. I wish them nothing but success!

-Melvs

If you wish to weigh in and voice why you think things went belly up for the time being feel free to comment below! Also let me know if you think I’m completely off base!

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#RPGaDAY 2017

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AUGUST 1 – WHAT PUBLISHED RPG DO YOU WISH YOU WERE PLAYING RIGHT NOW?

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Frankly I’d love to be playing any RPG at any time but there is one published product line out there at the moment that I’d love to check out above the others. Tales from the Loop comes to us from creator Free League Publishing (aka Fria Ligan). The very successful Kickstarter is one I somehow missed out on and have been lamenting it ever since.  I find this project very intriguing because the art and concept for the world actually predate the roleplaying game, stemming from the excellent crowdfunded project by Simon Stålenhag.

The world is an alternate version of the 1980’s with retro type tech and stylistic choices reminiscent of Stranger Things and E.T. In fact I’d probably thank Stranger Things for playing at least a small role in making this project even more enticing to backers. I really want to dive into this world and see what kind of character or story-line I can drum up. Looks like you can now pre-order the paperback rulebook, set to come out in September. Here’s hoping someone notices it on my wish list! My birthday is August 14th after all!

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AUGUST 2 – WHAT IS AN RPG YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE PUBLISHED?

Harry Potter. Now, I know there are a few decent homebrew versions of a Harry Potter Tabletop RPG, but I’d love to see the real deal get published. Certainly some mountains would need moving, because it’s got to be wildly expensive to license anything out of that world, but I hold out hope that something official will come our way.

Inherently there are balance issues associated with any kind of combat system, but I’ve never exactly been attracted to the world of Harry Potter for its wand fights. I want to role-play in that realm and an official tabletop rpg would likely bring even more lore into the Harry Potter space. Maybe they start things out with rules for going to school at Hogwarts (or other schools) and expand into the world as a whole later, or maybe we are introduced to everything all at once. Just give me an official product to work off of!

AUGUST 3 – HOW DO YOU FIND OUT ABOUT NEW RPGS?

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Almost exclusively through twitter but I also have access to some great podcasts these days. Namely through my association with The RPG Academy Network. The RPG Academy Podcast itself is a great place to find new games, namely through listening to their excellent Show and Tell series.

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Another great Podcast for catching new stuff is She’s a Super Geek. They typically grab a new game for a one shot every episode so it gets you some great insight into games you might never of heard about.

 

AUGUST 4 – WHICH RPG HAVE YOU PLAYED THE MOST SINCE AUGUST 2016?

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Just plain ol’ Dungeons and Dragons 5e, nothing too outrageous. I ran a few games for my home group (namely Storm King’s Thunder) and, in turn they ran a game here and there. Even when my home group wasn’t playing a game I still had my monthly gaming with my library kids to count on. We’ve been playing through Horde of the Dragon Queen forever! What can you expect when you’re running a game once a month, AND for 15 Player Characters, it’s going to take some time ;P.

The Book

There have been a few dalliances into other product lines though. One of my favorites this year was running a game of FAITH: The Sci-Fi RPG, showcasing their excellent starter campaign A Garden in Hell, for a select group of my library teens. We even broadcast the event over twitch, to 10’s of people! I messed up and didn’t get an actual video recording sadly. I do have the audio, should probably do something with that sometime. I also got to play a few Dreamchaser games, and even a game of Bedlam Hall.

 

For me I would still say this was a slow year for gaming. Hope I can pick it up soem over the next few months. My buddy Mike is running a 4th Edition game at the moment. I’m pretty stoked about that!

-Melvs

Numenera: STRAND

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Numenera peaked my interest from day one. I loved that it was a bold new premise and that it launched an exciting new company of brilliant game designers with Monte Cook Games. I was on board from day one. I was a backer, I hit up the panel at Gencon (this was prior to me being the blogger you know today), and I played in one of the games that could’ve landed me in a game with Monte and Shanna themselves.

Ever since receiving my copy post Kickstarter I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every chance I’ve gotten to play, or run, the game. I’ve remarked a few times that Numenera is a game I struggle to run. The rules don’t get in the way, they have an endearing simplicity to them, I just have a hard time hitting the tone. I do feel I can play a character in that very well, one of the best con games I ever played was a Numenera game run by my buddy John at Acadecon 2015.

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My struggles with tone made me very excited for the topic of today’s article. Numenera STRAND is the realized work of Swedish filmmaker, and obvious Numenera fan, Joan Manuel Urquiaga Valdes. His Kickstarter run began a little less than a year ago, with the blessing of Monte Cook Games, and funded quickly. On January 3rd the fully produced short was finally completed. It is beautifully shot and has a weight to it that makes its short run time feel like double. For anyone, like myself, that struggles with tone something like this is an oasis. I can go on but you should really watch this yourself. That’s right, the finished product is not only for backers. The whole thing can be viewed on YouTube.

I hope you enjoyed the film as much as I did. It’s a great introduction to the world of Numenera overall. Kudos to MCG for assisting in the production and helping bring this into reality too. Loving most everything coming from them these days. Can’t wait to see what Invisible Sun looks like.

Tell me what you thought of the short in the comments below!

-Melvs

Kickstarter Review – FAITH: The Sci-fi RPG

The Book

To date the only cards I’ve ever used in a Tabletop RPG have been the poker cards used in Savage Worlds to determine initiative order.  I’ve become somewhat aware of a surge of games lately that have decided to forgo some of the traditional tools of Tabletop games though, Jenga Towers, non-numeric dice, and yes cards.  FAITH: The Sci-Fi RPG, from Burning Games, is a system built on the use of the latter.  The game is also set apart from its contemporaries by it’s choice of setting, fully sci-fi but not a sci-fi that prominently features humanity as one of the dominant species.  On the whole it is a very interesting game to delve into.

THE SETTING

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FAITH’s world is one where the common knowledge is that gods are real, they walk among us and war with each other in their own ways.  The concept of faith, this game’s namesake, seems to be derived from the faith one has that their god is the one to back in this world of conflict rather than having faith it even exists, because they are very real.  There are two dominant racial powers, the Corvo and the lz’kal.  Currently the details, provided by the Kickstarter, only reveal that these two forces are immensely powerful and embroiled in a Cold War of sorts after forming a truce upon realizing a full-out war may destroy them both.  Humans were discovered, near extinction, by the Corvo and were then drafted as soldiers in the struggle.  The gods take note of all of this and decide whom to back with their immense power.

THE GAME

Player Deck

Player Deck: Your standard poker deck…albeit with some excellent new artwork!

FAITH’s core gameplay mechanism revolves around the players using a standard 54 card poker deck, although the game itself provides a poker deck with beautiful in genre illustrations.  These card represent playable actions for the players that can be modified by roleplaying, number of cards played, and by pieces of gear a player may have.  Gear cards are not poker cards but contain information that can boost a player’s chances of succeeding at a task.  Typically a player will always be successful unless the GM actively attempts to cause confrontation, thus a battle of cards played begins.  The GM has access to their own deck of cards, called “NPC Cards”, and uses this deck of cards to pull interesting encounters out on the players. I can certainly see some interesting random encounters springing from such a deck, no more rolling on tables here!

NPC Deck

Gear Deck

Players also have a unique reinterpretation of the Character Sheet called a Character Board.  This cardboard cutout contains all of the pertinent skills a character may need to play the game and a collection of upgrade and numeric tokens are used to fill out said stats.  With those tokens the players are also able to pull from 12 character illustrations that cover species and gender so they can see if one of them matches the character’s look they are going for.

Character Board

THE KICKSTARTER

If you’ve found this game to be of interest to you check out the Kickstarter!  Burning Games is a London Based company but that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about us over here in the States.  There are conversions into the American Dollar on each pledge level and free shipping within the Continental USA.  The page is set up very well, they appear to have had their ducks in a row before going down the Kickstarter path.  There is a great layout of all the products available that showcases some of the excellent artwork you can expect to see, and a number of downloads that help explain the game and its story.  Namely, there are some solid quick start rules. 

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Whenever I look into these Kickstarters I’m always drawn to the price point for the actual game.  That is, what bid level would I have to choose to get the full game including everything you’d need to play and excluding excess perks.  For FAITH this comes in at around $65-$70 (accounting for conversion) and is aptly titled “The Game”.  This includes the rulebook, four player decks, a gear deck, an NPC deck, four Character Boards, and all the tokens needed for four players.  To me that seems like a reasonable (even a bit cheap for all it includes) price point, and I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that it includes every stretch goal. 

The Game

Another bid level intrigued me though, one of the lower ones.  For around $20 you can just buy a single deck of cards, any of the decks are available but let’s just say you’re drawn to the artwork and you’d like to get your hands on some of it.  Well, the player deck is a fully useable deck of poker cards outside of FAITH.  It’s be kind of fun having that around the house!

If you aren’t quite sold yet, check out their website and download their free Print and Play to decide if your group would enjoy it for yourself.  In the meantime head on over to the Kickstarter and check them out, the game looks awesome I hope to see it fund!

-Melvs