3 One-Hundred-Thousand-Dollar RPG Kickstarters You Should Back – The Expanse, The Fantasy Trip, and Your Best Game Ever/The Cypher System

On Kickstarter there are three RPG campaigns that have surpassed $200,000 in pledges with over a week to go as of this writing. Let’s look at the heavy hitters like The Expanse, The Fantasy Trip, and Your Best Game Ever!/Cypher System Rulebook!

 

Unfortunately, this goes live just a few hours before the $100,000 Atlas Games’ Over the Edge: A Roleplaying Game of Weird Urban Danger Kickstarter ends (Tue, August 14 2018 2:00 PM EDT) so I did not cover it, but the RPG is worth checking out.

 

The Expanse Roleplaying Game by Green Ronin Publishing (DriveThruRPG or OpenGamingStore)
Ends on Wed, August 22 2018 9:00 PM EDT.

“The Expanse Roleplaying Game brings James S.A. Corey’s award-winning series of science fiction novels to the tabletop.

Check out the free Quickstart PDF right now!
Check out the free Quickstart PDF right now!

Venture Into The Expanse!

The Expanse Roleplaying Game brings James S.A. Corey’s award-winning series of science fiction novels to the tabletop. Using the Adventure Game Engine (AGE) rules found in Fantasy AGE, Blue Rose, and Modern AGE, The Expanse takes players to a far-future solar system where humanity is divided: Martians, Belters, and the people of old Earth struggle for political power and resources, but even older, alien, forces are stirring in the universe, and human history is about to take an unexpected new turn. The Expanse applies the fast-playing and action-based AGE rules to spaceships, solar colonies, and adventure and intrigue in the far-future, where the actions of the characters may change the course of history!

As long time fans know, The Expanse was a roleplaying game campaign long before it was a series of novels or a TV show. We are delighted to bring it full circle with this game! And here’s the best thing about The Expanse RPG: we’ve been working on this for well over a year and rules are done! They’ve been through multiple iterations and playtesting, and we’ve worked closely with Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham (together, James S.A. Corey) throughout to ensure we are getting The Expanse right. Now let’s hear from Daniel and Ty themselves!

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Want to check the game out RIGHT NOW? Download The Expanse RPG Quickstart today! This is a 40-page PDF that includes stripped down rules, pre-generated characters, and an adventure you can play right away. The download is free.

The Expanse RPG Features

The Expanse is based on the exciting new Modern AGE rules-set, and includes many of its features, such as customized character building using Backgrounds and Professions, Drives for character engagement, and an abstract resources system. It also makes use of the Modern AGE approach to action, exploration, and social encounters, complete with stunts and systems for all of them. To get a closer look at Modern AGE, you can download the Quickstart here.

The following are some of the unique features of The Expanse in comparison to other AGE games:

  • Fortune: Rather than Health, characters have a Fortune score that measures lucky near-misses, close scrapes, and trivial hits before the character takes serious harm. Fortune is also useful for modifying die rolls and offering players some narrative control but, watch out! Spend too much of it and your luck could run out when you get caught in a crossfire!
  • Conditions: In addition to a running Fortune total, characters use various conditions to measure things like injuries and fatigue as well as tactical challenges like hindered movement or sensory abilities.
  • Interludes: The interludes in between encounters are given their own treatment, allowing players to make use of their “down-time” (including long hauls between destinations in the System) to recover, do maintenance, build their connections with others, or pursue their own projects.
  • Spaceships: The Expanse RPG features a system to model and create spaceships and its own system for space combat, including the assault on Thoth Station as an example of the system in action!
  • The Churn: The Expanse also offers something for the Game Master with the Churn: A ticking counter that measures the crew’s progress through a story and just when things are going to suddenly go sideways and become even more complicated!

Two Editions to Choose From!

We are offering the core rulebook of the Expanse RPG in two formats:

The Standard Edition is now (thanks to unlocked stretch goals) a 224 page full color hardback with a poster map of the solar system. This is the version that will stay in print after the Kickstarter has been fulfilled.

The Special Edition is a deluxe version of The Expanse RPG. It features the same beautiful full color interior of the Standard Edition with a black leatherette hardcover and a ribbon bookmark. This version is a Kickstarter exclusive, so it will not be available after the close of this campaign. Thanks to an unlocked stretch goal, the Special Edition now includes a dust jacket featuring the game’s gorgeous cover art!

The Expanse Game Master’s Kit

This Kickstarter also includes The Expanse Game Master’s Kit, which will ship alongside the book. It currently includes the following, but may expand with the unlocking of stretch goals:

  • A three-panel landscape format GM Screen with vital game system reference tables on one side and three panels of Expanse art on the player-facing side.
  • A set of game reference cards, including an initiative tracker, stunt references, and action references useful for players at the table.
  • Now includes pre-generated characters after a stretch goal unlock!
  • Now includes an adventure after a stretch goal unlock!

Abzu’s Bounty

Abzu’s Bounty is the first campaign for The Expanse  Roleplaying Game. This series of six linked scenarios will let you kick off your adventures in The Expanse in style. All six parts were unlocked as stretch goals so the full campaign is a go! Best of all, if you back the Kickstarter for $30 or more, you get a PDF of Abzu’s Bounty for free!

Design Team

We assembled a great team to design The Expanse Roleplaying Game. Steve Kenson is the lead designer. You may know Steve from our Blue Rose and Mutants & Masterminds RPGs, or from any of the dozens of RPG books he’s worked on over the last two decades. He had the able assistance of Seth Johnson, Ian Lemke, Rich Lescouflair, Rob McCreary, Jason Mical, Neall Raemonn Price, Zack Walters, Nicole Winchester, and of course James S.A. Corey!

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

 

James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse, the book series and TV series [with poorer pacing than the books (call it what it is)] started life as a homebrew game. With this Kickstarter, it’s coming around full circle using Green Ronin Publishing AGE System (Dragon Age, Fantasy AGE, Blue Rose, and Modern AGE) as the engine (I enjoy the system overall). Add to that, there are stretch goals to let fans get their characters written up by James S.A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) and even include a fresh short story (reported on here). This campaign is well worth checking out.

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here or at the OpenGamingStore here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

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THE FANTASY TRIP – Old-School Roleplaying! by Steve Jackson Games
Ends on Fri, August 24 2018 6:05 PM EDT.

 

“Help us bring back Steve Jackson’s first tabletop RPG.

In 1977, Steve started work on his first roleplaying game, The Fantasy Trip. It was published by Metagaming, and for a brief time it even rivaled D&D for popularity. The Fantasy Trip (TFT) was published first as a series of microgames and, later, expanded with full-size books.

Steve’s TFT works, published between 1977 and 1980, included:

  • Melee (1977): A microgame of fantasy combat and the first release in the series. At $2.95,Melee was inexpensive and formed the core of the line.
  • Wizard (1978): Spellcaster battles! Wizard, the second TFT game, was originally slightly more expensive at $3.95 and provided the line’s magic rules.
  • Death Test (1978): Steve’s first solo adventure — ever! — and designed for use with Meleeand/or Wizard. To learn more about solo adventures, see “Writing a Solo Adventure” atthefantasytrip.game website.
  • Death Test 2 (1980): A sequel to Death Test and a chance to explore a second dungeon using only the Melee and/or Wizard microgames.
  • Advanced Melee (1980): Originally designed as part of the TFT boxed roleplaying game,Advanced Melee was split by the publisher from its planned format and released to a separate book of expanded combat rules.
  • Advanced Wizard (1980): Also snatched from the never-released TFT box set, this title presented more magic rules for use with the series.
  • In the Labyrinth (1980): The roleplaying rules for TFT and what would have been the core of the planned box set, In the Labyrinth included character rules, GM advice, monsters, and more.
  • Tollenkar’s Lair (1980): An adventure for TFT.

Steve left Metagaming after completing his work on In the Labyrinth and the other titles that were planned as parts of a never-to-be-published TFT box set. After his time at Metagaming, Steve published The Space Gamer magazine and founded Steve Jackson Games.

The Fantasy Trip continued at Metagaming, under the guidance of line editor Guy McLimore (author of the excellent Grail Quest TFT solo adventure) and others. Several adventures were released . . . then Metagaming closed its doors, and The Fantasy Trip was unavailable for nearly 40 years.

Fast forward to 2017. Steve regained rights to his work! He’s now working on the Legacy Edition . . . what TFT should have been when it was first published 40 years ago.

The Fantasy Trip is an “old-school” RPG, with easy character design, realistic tactical combat, and an emphasis on story. It is unabashedly focused on dungeon crawls and arena battles. It’s a great introduction for your friends who are new to roleplaying, because it’s so easy to get started.

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

 

I was *briefly* GM’ed (in a round robin) by Steve Jackson at Dragon*Con in the 90s and met him again, briefly, at Origins 2018. Like that event in my life came around for me, Steve Jackson is returning one of his original properties to the players after decades. This is worth checking out for that old school nostalgia and a still-original game. Check out the philosphy of the game here – easy character design, realistic tactical combat, and an emphasis on story – then head to the campaign and back it!

 

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

 

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Your Best Game Ever! [Cypher System] by Monte Cook Games
Ends on Fri, August 24 2018 8:00 PM EDT.

“A tool book for tabletop roleplayers. No matter what game you play or how long you’ve been playing–have your best game ever!

Your Best Game Ever is not your typical RPG sourcebook. It’s not a book with adventures, spells, creatures, or magic items. It’s not a book for characters at all, but a book for players! If you play or run roleplaying games, this book is for you. Inside this gorgeous hardcover book, suitable for your coffee table or your gaming table, you will find advice and suggestions for enhancing your RPG experience at the table and away from it. This is an insider’s look at everything that goes into the hobby—finding a group, making a character, running a game, creating adventures, finding all the right ideas, hosting a game…and that’s just for starters.

If You’re an Experienced Gamer
You’ve been gaming for a while now. Maybe even years. You get the concepts, and you understand the rules. No one needs to explain the dice to you. Your Best Game Ever embraces the hobby you love, and provides real tips, immediately usable advice, and hands-on pointers you can use at your game table. You’ll find everything here from enhancing immersion, tips for running games online, creating characters with depth, worldbuilding, designing rules, dealing with personality conflicts that arise at the table, and more!

If You’re Fairly New to Gaming
Your friends play RPGs. You’ve maybe watched some streaming games, or given it a try a few times. You get the general idea, but where do you go from there? How do you really get into this hobby the way so many others have? This book will give you everything you need to learn how to choose the right game, how to fit into your game group or start your own group, and get you going on the fast track to being a great gamer.

Not a Rule Book, But a Tool Book
Your Best Game Ever is divided into three major sections: general game topics, being a player, and being a game master. There’s even a section on designing your own game, and getting it published. And this isn’t just a stuffy book on theory, either. You’ll find actual suggestions you can use to create better characters with character arcs, real recipes you can make for game night (and even spruce them up for your genre of choice), specific suggestions for music and ambiance depending on genre, plot ideas, character ideas, and other ready-to-use material.

This 224-page book will enable you to become a better gamer. You’ll find ways to create and manage a great game group, tricks for game prep (and what to do if you haven’t prepared!), understanding and managing game balance, and taking everything around you and incorporating it as inspiration for your game.

Monte Cook, the principal author, has been playing RPGs for 40 years, and working on them professionally for 30 years. The MCG team, all of whom will be contributing, are an extremely seasoned group with a combined total of over 250 years of RPG experience. But we wanted to get an even wider and diverse set of experiences and points of view in this book, so we’ve recruited a team of folks that will provide feedback as well as their own contributions for the book. This dream team of consulting experts includes:

Eric Campbell
Matt Colville
Luke Crane
Stacy Dellorfano
Tanya DePass
Ajit George
Jennell Jaquays
Eloy Lasanta
Tom Lommel
Matthew Mercer
Susan J. Morris
Alina Pete
John Rogers
Monica Valentinelli

The book will also feature comics and cartoons from:
John Kovalic (Dork Tower)
Vickie Lee (Dungeons and Doggos)
Aviv Or (Up to Four Players)
Brian Patterson (d20 Monkey)
Len Peralta (Geek-a-Week)
Alina Pete (Weregeek)
Stan! (10x10Toon)

(Scroll down for more details on Your Best Game Ever)

In 2011, Monte created Numenera, and with it, a game system called the Cypher System. This game system has won awards and has been lauded by gamers everywhere as a wonderfully different way to play games of any genre. In 2015, we created the Cypher System Rulebook (CSR) to help gamers use the system for any type of game they wanted to play—fantasy, science fiction, horror, superheroes, and so on. You can get a copy of that book in this Kickstarter campaign, but we’re also Kickstarting a new version that will come out in 2019. The new version will incorporate lots of new options for players, but perhaps best of all it will take the concepts from Your Best Game Ever and apply them directly to the Cypher System. These two books will work hand-in-hand to create the best Cypher game ever!

(Scroll down for more details on the new Cypher System Rulebook)

If you’re new to the Cypher System and are curious about how it works, you can download the free Cypher System Rules Primer for an idea of how the game plays.

Now that the Kickstarter has funded, our stretch goals will focus on the development of various genre-focused books that will take the concepts found in the new CSR and take them one step further, with specific examples. Each of these additional books will include an entirely new and original campaign setting as well as lots of material and advice for making your own in the realms of science fiction, fantasy, and more.

You’ve read the effusive descriptions above. Is Your Best Game Ever really for everyone? More importantly, is it for you? Maybe it would be better to just show you what’s in the book. Here’s a brief listing of some of the topics we’ll cover:

Click here for a closer look! 

Our goal with this book is to make every game your best game ever. But we know–as GMs, players, and designers ourselves–that every game and every experience is unique. What’s the hardest struggle you have with creating great games, either as a player or as a GM? Looking for some GM or player advice? Let us know at this link. (Once the KS is complete and we’ve started working on the book, we’ll look through your comments to make sure the book covers players’ biggest issues and concerns.)

When we were finishing the new Numenera books, Discovery and Destiny, one of the first things that playtesters asked us was, are you going to incorporate some of the cool new material in these books into the Cypher System?

A valid question. And it got me (Monte) really thinking about the Cypher System Rulebook as a whole. I didn’t want to change the rules—I love the Cypher System, and wouldn’t touch the mechanics. But developing Numenera Discovery and Destiny showed me that there was a lot we could add in terms of player abilities and flexibility, and what the CSR really needs is flexibility. The idea that you can create any campaign in any genre is fundamental to the whole idea. And I realized we could take some steps to push that idea a lot further.

So we’re Kickstarting a brand new, revised 416-page Cypher System Rulebook. Before I go any further, though, let me say right now, if you’ve got the existing Cypher System Rulebookand you’re happy with it, great! These new ideas don’t change the way the rules work. You still roll a d20, you’ve still got difficulties 1⎼10, you’ve still got characters with descriptors, types, and foci. NPCs have levels. PCs use effort to decrease the difficulty. Everything is still fully compatible with everything Cypher-related that we’ve ever published. You’ll be able to play a game with half the characters from the original CSR and half from the new CSR all at the table at the same time. The difference isn’t in how the game is played, but in the choices players get to create and run their characters.

What I’m most excited about are the ways I’ve thought about over the last few years to make things more customizable so that you could even more easily use these rules in any setting. To that end, in this book we’re dramatically streamlining the chapter on character focus, so that you can customize your character’s focus to perfectly match the setting and your character concept. So if you’re making a starship pilot, a superhero, or an occult investigator, you don’t choose the one that fits best from a list of foci—you take your character concept and tailor your focus so that it really fits what you want to do.

Based on player feedback, we’re also making what we call subtle cyphers—cyphers that aren’t tied to a specific object—the default for all genres, and we’ll be including way more of them. (You’ll still be able to have cyphers as objects too.) This will make applying the concept of cyphers, which is obviously core to the system, easy no matter what kind of game you’re playing.

And of course, there’s all those new additions from Numenera Discovery and Destiny that add a lot of new options that just make the game better. They’re not really changes, they’re additions—new character abilities, more choices, player intrusions in addition to GM intrusions, and more. These will all be incorporated into the new CSR. And let me say again, it’s still all entirely compatible with existing Cypher System material, whether it be from theCSR or one of our settings like Gods of the Fall, Predation, or Unmasked (and of course, Numenera and The Strange).

Further, we’ll also be incorporating suggestions from Your Best Game Ever directly into this book. So, for example, Your Best Game Ever will talk about creating character arcs to enhance play, while the specific material for creating Cypher System character arcs as a mechanic will be included in this book.

Lastly, we’ll include even more genres you can use, in addition to fantasy, horror, and so on. We’re going to break science fiction into hard sci-fi and space opera/science fantasy, and we’ll add coverage for romance, historical gaming, and more! Learn more about the changes we’re planning to make here. 

Your Best Game Ever: This 160-page beautiful hardcover book is suitable for your coffee table as well as your game table! Decades of gaming advice and insight all in one tome. If you love RPGs, you need this book. Also available as a PDF.

Cypher System Rulebook: This 416-page, lavishly illustrated, hardcover corebook is fully compatible with the original Cypher System Rulebook, and all Cypher System products like Numenera, The Strange, Gods of the Fall, Predation, and Unmasked! It contains everything you need to play a Cypher System game of your own. Also available as a PDF.

 

Egg’s Thoughts:

Your Best Game Ever! is going to be an epic tool dealing with something that is not always covered in gaming, philosophy. When the rules are covered, the setting is immaculate, the game is scheduled, then this book deals with the connecting tissue between those elements, what will take them from a checklist of needs to a fun night of dice slinging. And it is written by some amazing writers!
I’m a fan of the Cypher System. Over on EN World, I write reviews for the Cypher System Creator Program (Monte Cook Games crowd sourcing RPG option that allows creators to produce and sale original content for the Cypher System) so I am eager to see the changes/non-changes coming in the revised Cypher System rulebook.

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.

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UPDATE 2018-08-14 2:00 PM:
Ends on Fri, September 14 2018 2:00 PM EDT.
“Contributing authors James Ward, Lenard Lakofka and more share some of their pro tips on how to create your first fantasy RPG adventure”
Looking for advice on how to create your tabletop RPG along with stock art to get you going? Learn from ” industry greats and legends James M. Ward, Lenard Lakofka, as well as exceptional talents such as Johnn Four, Rick Hershey, Lucus Palosaari, Kevin Watson, Bobby Nash and Egg Embry.” I’m excited to be a part of this project and offer my insights into the world of crowdfunding!
Check out the campaign here.
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Disclosures: This article contains affiliate links.

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™
Freelancer for EN WorldKnights of the Dinner TableOpen Gaming Network, and the Tessera Guild.
Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Want to share news? Press releases? Rumors? Sneak peeks? Deals? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

About Egg Embry

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press.
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