There’s many interesting items to be found on Kickstarter, but these are the coolest ones this week.
The Yellow King RPG
Aser and I backed this kickstarter without even looking at all the details of the campaign. The King in Yellow plus Robin D. Laws? You know it’s going to be good. It features four setting books you can wind your campaign through as the effect the Yellow King has on the world is realized and people band together to fight back. The settings are Belle Epoque Paris as the play is first released, an alternate reality 1947 where soldiers fight in the ongoing WWII while the Yellow King and his daughters make things much more complicated, a 2017 that exists in the same reality as the 1947, where people are trying to rebuild their lives after a vicious civil war, and a 2017 more reminiscent to now, though reality isn’t quite as solid. The game uses the Gumshoe system, but expands some of the combat and health systems based on the recently released GUmshoe One-2-One. The books are going to come in a beautiful slip case, part of which will unfold into a GM screen. There are, of course, deluxe versions and even some super limited versions that you can get, as well as a sourcebook, a novel, and a gaming roll.
“Pelgrane Press is terrified to announce The Yellow King Roleplaying Game, an innovative new GUMSHOE core game written and designed by creator of the system Robin D. Laws. YKRPG takes you on a brain-bending spiral through multiple selves and timelines.
Inspired by Robert W. Chambers’ influential cycle of short stories, YKRPG pits the characters against the reality-altering horror of The King in Yellow. This suppressed play, once read, invites madness. Or a visit from its titular character, an alien ruler intent on invading and remolding our world into a colony of their planet, Carcosa. Four books, served up together in a beautiful slipcase, confront your players with an epic journey into reality horror.”
The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth
This PbtA game is set at Disne….err…Mouse Park. You play as employees of the park, but not everything is bright and happy here. I really like the brand of cartoonish horror that this game brings to the table. I think that a theme park is a great place to set this sort of horror game, the contrast of the bright, happy (and sometimes fake) cheer with the darker fears of childhood is a really interesting setting. Plus you get to build your own park! If you want to try something a little different in your next PbtA game, I think this is a great choice.
“Happiest Apocalypse on Earth is a tabletop roleplaying game that is part satire, part horror. Set in a fictional children’s theme park called Mouse Park, the game allows players to customize the attractions in the park, the dangers that lurk there, and their own Mouse Park staff member. Collaborative storytelling and customized character and narrator moves create a wide range of terrifying incidents involving ancient horrors, demonic magic, and a conspiratorial plot to keep a bloodthirsty ancient god appeased. Ghouls, monsters, specters, and cultists abound, but they only scratch the surface of the true evil that lies far beneath.
This game is for horror lovers, monster of the week enthusiasts, and that huge population that thinks animatronics are scary. It takes popular notions of innocence and cartoonish morality and violently turns it on its head. It is part satire of nostalgic pop culture and it is part deadly serious X-Files and Supernatural. The satirical nature shines through in its ironic approach and sometimes humorous take on characters, but the mysteries and plots that unfold are all but trivial”
Since the Yellow King is currently having his hay-day on Kickstarter, here’s a really gorgeous board game featuring the terrible Carcosa. I really love that Carcosa is built each time you play the game, I think that works really well with the shifting themes of the city. There are secrets hidden on the cards, and players can lie as they try to get control of the board. I also really love that there’s a sanity mechanic for your cultists, which would make me feel much more attached to my meeples.
“In Carcosa you must summon the city of the Tattered King, one tile at a time! Use your cultists to control ley lines, conduct rituals and explore the districts of Carcosa itself. If your cultists displease you, you can sacrifice them to the dark waters of Lake Hali for the pleasure of the King. Each time you play, you summon a different Carcosa. Each player must compete for their choice from a shifting display of tile stacks.”
Mother of Invention
A couple of my favorite authors have contributed pieces to a collection of stories about gender, AI, and robots. I’m really interested in a collection of sci-fi stories about this topic, especially one that focuses on gender, because that’s a viewpoint I have rarely seen represented. High level tiers also get you a custom tea blend, or even a robot (built from a kit) made by the creators! The campaign looks like a lot of fun, and I think it will be a great addition to anyone who loves sci-fi’s bookshelf.
“Mother of Invention will feature diverse, challenging stories about gender as it relates to the creation of artificial intelligence and robotics. This ambitious anthology from award-winning Australian publishing house Twelfth Planet Press will be edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Rivqa Rafael.
From Pygmalion and Galatea to Frankenstein, Ex Machina and Person of Interest, the fictional landscape so often frames cisgender men as the creators of artificial life, leading to the same kinds of stories being told over and over. We want to bring some genuine revolution to the way that artificial intelligence stories are told, and how they intersect with gender identity, parenthood, sexuality, war, and the future of our species. How can we interrogate the gendered assumptions around the making of robots compared with the making of babies? Can computers learn to speak in a code beyond the (gender) binary?
If necessity is the mother of invention, what exciting AI might come to exist in the hands of a more diverse range of innovators?”
Plush ConTessa Mascots
ConTessa is an organization I’ve admired from afar for a couple of years. They focus on making gaming more inclusive, initially supporting women who GM at conventions, and recently expanding to offer resources to anyone who belongs to a minority group. They get their support for their amazing GMs from merchandise, and this kickstarter is going to bring their mascots to life in plush form. You can get Tessa, the dragon currently, but there’s also plans for Bea, a the eyeball monster and Mimi, the Mimic, down the line as stretch goals are met. If you need more plush monsters in your life, or want to support a really great organization, checkout ConTessa’s kickstarter!
“For nearly five years, ConTessa has been changing the face of gaming through the awesome power of positive representation. To pay for all that, we sell ConTessa merchandise in the form of pinback buttons, magnets, lanyards, and t-shirts. Through these sales, we’ve been able to grow the program, allowing us to run bigger events at more conventions where we can reach even more people.
One of the most commonly requested forms of merchandise we’ve been asked for are plush versions of our adorable mascots, which we had commissioned years ago as illustrations for both merchandising and promotional purposes. Until now, that possibility was too expensive, but thanks to a combination of our growth, and the fine folks at Budsies, we’re finally able to offer up plush mascots – with your pledge!
We’ve set this Kickstarter up so we only have to sell 50 toys in order to create 100, so your purchase not only helps us create the toys, it also helps us build stock we can sell to fund our trips to conventions all over the US (and hopefully, someday, the world). ”