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The Godbound Kickstarter is Now Live

KS_TanHoSim_MAGICSPLASHThe Godbound Kickstarter is now live.

Godbound is a game of legendary heroes bound to the Words of Creation, budding demigods in a world that is crumbling around them. The chaos of the Former Empires has guttered down into a thousand years of slow decay, but now the Godbound have arisen to forge something more than an epitaph for a broken cosmos.

Godbound is built with a classic old-school framework, yet with Sine Nomine-style modifications to support truly mythic levels of power and influence. Familiar concepts are used to smooth the path to divinity and help GMs import material from existing old-school games to serve as challenges for PC heroes and building blocks for their own ideas. And of course, the whole thing is lavished with 40 pages of system-neutral Sine Nomine adventure creation tools and domain mechanisms to help a GM actually give a pantheon of demigods a genuinely challenging situation to handle.

Godbound is meant to give the GM and the players the tools they need to make their mythic heroism manageable. In its pages, you’ll find…

  • A complete game in one book, with everything necessary to fashion Godbound heroes and explore their impending legends. The deluxe version which backers will receive will also include rules for mortal heroes and themed Godbound, such as paragons of human capability, primordial shapeshifters, refugees from destiny, or elemental scions.
  • 25 Words of Creation and examples of the divine gifts they might grand those who bind them. Guidelines and details on how to create your own Words and gifts.
  • Low magic traditions to flavor mortal sorcerers, and the high secrets of theurgy to grace the mightiest of wizards and Godbound theurges.
  • Adventure creation tools that help you create interesting noble courts, ancient ruins, social challenges, and other obstacles with an eye toward giving even demigods a worthwhile challenge.
  • Flexible mechanics for creating major changes in the world by means of a Godbound’s powers and divine authority. Not only that, but tools and techniques for GMs to turn these changes into adventure grist and opportunities to challenge the PCs.
  • A lightweight domain system for handling the dueling of hostile nations, cabals, tribes, and cults, all arranged so as to interface smoothly with the heroics and powers of PC Godbound.
  • Monstrous foes fit to challenge the might of divinities, along with guides for converting existing old-school monsters into worthy opponents.
  • The example realm of Arcem, ready with foes and glories alike awaiting the mighty deeds of Godbound heroes.
  • Artifacts of divine might and how to create them, both for the GM and the PCs.

And that’s just what’s in the free version to be released in beta at the month’s end. At the end of the month, backers will get a draft of the deluxe version, which will be sold with an additional 40 pages that cover mortal heroes, themed Godbound, the supernatural martial arts known as Strifes, the clockworks and cybernetic augmentations of Vissio and the Bright Republic, the hulking theotechnical war machines known as Godwalkers, and more besides.

After four successful Kickstarters delivered either early or on-time, you can rest assured that Godbound is going to get finished. You can pledge right now and download the free beta 1.1 from the first backer-only update. I don’t launch a Kickstarter unless draft manuscripts are in place and ready to download, among other risk minimization techniques, so you’re going to get this book on time and to spec as long as I’m alive to deliver it by September’s end.

Recent Labors and Silent Legions

With the successful completion and delivery of the Scarlet Heroes Kickstarter and the release of Dead Names for Stars Without Number, I’ve been chiefly occupied in catching my breath. Well, there’s also been the very successful SWN Bundle of Holding offer that went up last month, and the Engines of Babylon gear-book that I wrote for it that should be hitting DTRPG later this month.

As Languorous Harbingers learned last March, I’ve also been working on a new SWN-compatible game of modern Lovecraftian horror, Silent Legions. The high-end backers of my last Kickstarter got the draft of the first few score pages of the game, and I’ve been hammering pitilessly on the next section ever since. It’s a particularly tricky piece of work, because Silent Legions is built to be a sandbox horror game. Instead of simply using traditional Lovecraftian gods and abominations, GMs are given the tools to create their own unique Mythos and their own hideous cosmic truths for the luckless investigators to discover.

This is hard, because handling the kind of extemporization that a sandbox requires is very difficult when the ad hoc material needs to hang together in a mystery. Most GMs worth their viking hat can run a random dungeon crawl if you hand them a blank map and a fistful of encounters, traps, and novelties. A random occult investigation is harder to confect out of a stack of NPCs, a sinister plot, and an eldritch MacGuffin.

Silent Legions tries to get around this issue by re-balancing the use of prep time for the GM. The comparatively commodious free time a GM has between sessions is structured toward the creation of adventure templates and regional sites of interest. The sites of interest are studded with Enemies, Friends, Secrets, Places, Schemes, and other elements familiar to those used to my tag systems, each one fleshed out lightly in a sentence or two by the GM. Then the adventure templates set down on top of that site, providing slots for the specific elements to fill.

For example, the adventure might need an Enemy pursuing a Scheme to culminate in a Place. The template was constructed with placeholders for these figures, with clues and timelines and all the fiddly little details of an investigative adventure sorted out during the convenient downtime between sessions. Then, when material is suddenly needed in play, the GM just takes out the template, fills the slots with the elements in the site, and takes five minutes to run some sandpaper over the rough spots in the join. Voila; the GM now has an evening’s adventure suitable for wherever the PCs find themselves.

Getting the Tags for the sites correct and building the template generation tools to be sufficiently crisp and versatile are both large challenges, and they’ve been consuming my time lately. Still, if all goes well, I’m hoping to Kickstart this effort at the start of November. You can expect to see more glimpses of the work in progress as I advance to the final draft that I’ll need before I can KS it in my usual manner.

Mandate Archive Collection and An Echo, Resounding

Heeding the plaintive cries of the estimable public, a softcover compilation of the free Mandate Archive PDFs is about to be sent off for print proofing. Those who prefer to have their materials in physical format may rejoice at the sublime ease of use which the codex provides. As a bonus for these patient souls, it will also include an exclusive Archive entry on the Judicators- the enigmatic heirs of the ancient Bureau of Rectification, once the remorseless internal security of the decadent Terran Mandate. Their specialized psionic abilities play off the victim’s darkest guilts and deepest social taboos, allowing the psychic to sense their expectations and control their actions through the spurs of shame and duty. Here’s a taste of the new discipline:

In Your Place        Level 1

The judicator has an instinctive awareness of the expectations of others around him. In ordinary social situations and when exchanging common courtesies, the judicator always knows precisely what social behavior is expected of him by his interlocutor, whether in action, appearance, or speech. He can even speak formulaic courtesies and make flawless small talk in languages he does not actually understand, instinctively making the sounds expected of him.

The judicator fails Culture checks related to common etiquette and ordinary behavior only on a natural 2 on the skil check, and can masquerade as a native member of any culture or social group, assuming his appearance makes it plausible. Activation of this power lasts for one conversation or social situation. If mastered, this power is permanently active.

Despite this brief detour to accommodate the format preferences of loyal readers, work on An Echo, Resounding continues apace. This guidebook contains great heaping piles of help for a Labyrinth Lord keen on adding domain management and mass combat rules to their campaign in the customary Sine Nomine style. The guide focuses on building domains into your campaign as a natural, organic part of the setting rather than a phenomenon that simply pops up at 9th level with a sheaf of fresh paperwork. These tools help you build city-states, princedoms, border baronies, and stubbornly independent allods into your campaign from the very start, using them throughout the game’s life to fuel new conflicts, new adventures, and new opportunities for your players to engage with your creations. Even those Labyrinth Lords with existing campaign worlds are shown how to retrofit the mechanics into their games, adding fresh life and activity into old favorites.

But the contents aren’t just for Labyrinth Lords. Players are introduced to Leadership abilities, special powers and knacks related to running a domain or fighting a pitched battle. Accomplished rulers start to acquire Leader levels after they reach a certain point in their heroic progression, their earned XP now raising their level in this parallel class.  As they grow in the arts of rulership, they acquire new abilities to aid their hard-pressed dominion or become more fearsome in the roil of a bloody battlefield. Behold a mighty fighter carve a red path through enemy legions, a master thief cut a general’s throat in the midst of his personal guard, or a dwarven clanmaster marshal his people to fashion wealth beyond the dreaming of less artful breeds. These levels can also be used to reflect the talents of less heroic rulers who yet retain a genius for battlefield command or the ordering of a state; the elderly general may have long since retired to his country estates and be hard-pressed to defend himself against a younger warrior, but put him in command of an army and may the gods have mercy on any foe that dares defy him.

Much of An Echo Resounding is finished, but the mechanical systems yet require the good sharp shaking that comes of careful playtesting. With luck, you’ll hear its onrushing hooves by the end of January.

Darkness Visible Now Available

Discover Sights of Woe

Rain-slick streets beneath an alien sky. Untraceable mail on a private terminal. A man in a shabby coat who is always watching. Poison in a glistening needle. From the distant ages of humanity’s dawn to the far end of the Silence, espionage changes only its tools. A useful lie is eternal.

With this book, GMs and players are equipped with everything they need to run campaigns of interstellar intrigue and covert action. New backgrounds, training packages and equipment options will kit out your starfaring spies, and the history and context of interstellar espionage will help you plan your adventures in a cosmos in dire need.

GMs are given special help in assembling an espionage campaign, with tools for the cooperative creation of enigmatic intelligence agencies and long-hidden Perimeter outposts. You’ll also find concrete, step-by-step techniques for building complex spy adventures and sinister plots, complete with detailed support material to keep your focus on the fun.

Look inside to find…

  • The history of interstellar spying in the Stars Without Number universe.
  • Details of the hideous maltech cults that threaten the very future of humanity.
  • A system for cooperatively creating intelligence agencies for your campaign and handling exploits against their nefarious rivals.
  • 36 new tags for flavoring your cults, all of which can be used as world tags as well.
  • Over 200 new adventure seeds, each one keyed to a different aspect of an espionage agency.
  • NPC, scheme, and method tables for fleshing out conspiracies and dark plots.

Get it now at DriveThruRPG!

Darkness Visible proofs and New Work….

Now that Darkness Visible has been entrusted to the tender hands of Lightning Source and I have another week or so to wait for the printed proofs, I can start work on the next project.

An Echo, Resounding will provide the tools and resources to help a GM run princely domains and sweeping mass combats under Labyrinth Lord rules. While specifically set in the devil-haunted world of the Red Tide, the tools in this book are applicable to almost any old-school game or retroclone. An initial chapter helps the GM build a sandbox region that both provides immediate outlets for adventure and embeds the necessary framework for future political machinations. Rather than having to suddenly retrofit everything in as soon as the PCs start to show an interest in influencing the local powers, these tools let the GM build those elements right into the sandbox. PCs that want to lead a village to victory over its oppressors or who are suddenly placed at the head of a city-state’s ragged militia can now effortlessly step into place without forcing a sudden rush of ad-hoc judgment calls and improvisations by the GM.

Many old-school domain management systems focus on simulating the strict details of a fantasy fief- gold income, population, peasant morale, food supplies, and other specifics. While this is a perfectly natural approach, An Echo, Resounding instead abstracts the fundamental elements of a domain into Military, Wealth, and Social values. These totals rise and fall depending on the types of locations held by the domain and the sort of special resources or advantages the PCs can bring to their homes. These totals are then used to support Assets, which reflect the military units, unique traditions, temples, schools, and other specific resources the domain has at its disposal. Outside threats and conflicts between domains then become focused on these Assets and the locations that support them. Struggles become specific, and every clash or sudden peril from the wilderness becomes a ready-made adventure hook for the redoubtable rulers. In addition to these domain rules, a mass combat system is provided that can flex to accommodate heroic PCs, massed troops, and special monstrous foes all on the same battlefield.

An Echo, Resounding is going to require extensive playtesting on the appropriate balance of location values and asset costs, so keep an eye on this space for playtest invitations over the course of the next month. And fear not, Stars Without Number fans; the lessons and playtesting data drawn from An Echo, Resounding are going to be directly useful for the project to follow; Other Dust, the standalone SWN-compatible game covering the post-apocalyptic savagery of Terra in the wake of Scream’s horrific devastation.

Darkness Visible Coming This Month

The sinister secrets of interstellar espionage are set to be revealed at the end of the month, as Darkness Visible makes its PDF and print debut on DriveThruRPG. Guidelines and tools are provided for forging your own campaign of star-spanning intrigue and trans-solar spies, complete with specific mechanics for generating both the agencies that employ these daring covert operatives and the vicious cabals that threaten all they hold dear.

In the customary Sine Nomine style, it is not counted satisfactory to simply give you dozens of pages of practical advice and specific pointers for emulating dashing interstellar agents. No, it is not enough. Darkness Visible provides page after page of specific, focused tools to produce concrete results for your game, along with step-by-step instructions for using them to generate the content you need.

You need a spy agency for your players? Follow these steps to build one. Your players want to break into a maximum-security prison satellite to kidnap an alien framed for war crimes? Take this template and fill it in from these tables. You need to dish up an adventure full of double-dealing and hidden actors but have no idea how to support the players’ investigation attempts? Use this adventure structure, lift the challenge rules from this chapter, and prepare these things for the session. Darkness Visible gives you the direct, specific guidance you need to get the job done.

Darkness Visible is written for the Stars Without Number role-playing game, but the guides and tools it uses are system-neutral and compatible with a vast swath of science-fiction settings. Expect it by the end of October.

Clippings: Online Sector Generator

Stars Without Number fan N. Harrison Ripps has produced an admirably handy online sector generator. One simple click produces a fully-mapped sector for Stars Without Number, complete with generated name lists for corporations, NPCs, political parties, aliens, and a list of different types of religion to be found as well. You can also download the sector as a TiddlyWiki file for offline use, where you can look at individually-generated world statistics and tags for each of the planets in the sector.

Give it a click here!

Stars Without Number: Core Edition now in PDF

The whirling presses of Mongoose Publishing now swiftly usher Stars Without Number to friendly local gaming stores throughout the globe. This new Core Edition provides a typo-cleaned copy of the current free PDF, but in consideration to the loyal fans, over forty pages of fresh new content has been added to the book, material exclusive to the Core Edition. These piping-hot additions include…

  • Rules and historical information on AIs and robots, including AI player characters. Assemble your artificial heroes with a point-buy character creation system and an array of armature hulls for them to use. Included information covers non-sentient guard bots and expert systems as well!
  • Rules and the historical context for mechs ranging from almost human-sized powered suits to hulking heavy assault mechs to the enigmatic psychic war machines that were the ancient psimechs. Strap in for those special occasions that call for the really big guns. Nine sample mechs are included, along with a design system for creating your own.
  • Society creation guidelines and generation tables to help GMs flesh out their worlds with vibrant, living cultures and their ages-old conflicts. Every culture comes with built-in struggles to fuel adventures on that world and give GMs a quick and easy hook for pulling in the players

For those GMs and players who prefer the electronic simplicity of a PDF, Sine Nomine is making available an electronic version of the book at DriveThruRPG. Grab it now, and revel in that new PDF smell.