a ttrpg about psychic cyborgs, identity, and finding yourself through fighting for what you believe in.
ASCENDANCY

goal: $14,000 / ends: monday, april 6, 2020 12:00p pst. / created by ruby measom

a game about fighting for what you believe in, brought to us by a queer designer and team. this is what i live for.

set in a futurist, cyberpunk world, in the war-torn city of mooncore, players take on the roles of ascended: psychically and technologically augmented servants. revolution has ravaged the setting prior to the game beginning, and now there are power vacuums, civil unrest, technological wonders to explore and exploit…

ASCENDANCY is built with the RESISTANCE TOOLKIT, providing a simple mechanical core but the framework to explore complex ideas like “change, identity, and resistance.” character archetypes are built by combining two playbooks, from a selection that include some real treasures: the shadow, able to assume new identities on a whim; the memory, able to shatter their identity by altering their own memories; the data, able to process data and invent spontaneously. the game boasts over 100 moves and advancements, which will likely grow with stretch goals, supplements, player input, hacking!

the city of mooncore sounds rich, enigmatic, and ripe with possibility: on the outskirts, a forest of computers growing over a giant mech; overhead, a floating city of decadence. the now-free citizens of revolution fight for survival, for what they love, for who they are. there are so many allegories of corporate greed, the exploitation of labor, the collateral damage of war. it’s really amazing to see projects like this, tackling important issues through the medium of social/imagination-theater gaming.

from the perspective of the kickstarter itself, it’s the first created by the designer, but it’s put together thoughtfully. there are stretch goals that bring on new contributors, writing and drawing up new character content. there are videos and interviews the discuss the game, its design, and playthrough. they already have ~200 backers, putting them half way to funding. i’m sure we’ll see this game hits its goal and fulfill!

a kaleidoscopic rogue-like dungeon crawl analogue rpg zine
THE TREASURE AT THE END OF THIS DUNGEON

goal: $500 / ends: saturday, march 14, 2020 8:26a pst. / created by riverhouse games

i didn’t anticipate backing more zinequest projects into march, but i finally looked into THE TREASURE AT THE END OF THIS DUNGEON and couldn’t resist. from a specifically queer/lgbt+ studio, riverhouse games, we have a kaleidoscopic, rogue-like, gm-less, dungeon-crawl rpg.

the base game features a variety of room types, each with their own ruleset, and 4 asymmetrical character archetypes: the mage, the the muscle, the thief, and the healer (there are stretch goals for additional classes that sound awesome, like the goblin and the saint). characters, called selves, will die, constantly, and evolve, while the dungeon morphs as well. each death of the self results in profound changes to the ruleset. for example, when the mage dies, they lose the ability to cast one of their spells, permanently, but return from death with the arcane ability to combine any two of their remaining spells into a more powerful one. with another death, another spell is lost forever, but now you’ll have the power to combine three spells into one; and so on.

the rooms, similarly, fractal as they are entered and changed. elements in each room are highlighted (such as sharp rocks, blunt sword, claws, a glimmer of hope, or subterfuge) and must be engaged in order to escape; each entry into the room highlights yet another element, and requires engaging more and more components in the narrative.

the game is finished, but the stretch goals grow the game in exciting ways. at each milestone, a new artist is brought on to design a room and a character archetype, kaleidoscoping the dungeon more and more.

i love how endlessly hackable this game will be, not only for the designer but for us, as players. writing a new character or room is an experiment in themes, narration, and flavor. this is what roleplaying games are designed to illicit. this is on my shortlist of games around which i will build a play rotation at my local game shop: easy to pick up, easy to drop in and out, but with the power to spark conversation and critical ideas.

it’s already funded, and hit several artist stretch goals, but here’s to hitting them all!