Kickstarters We Like: Revolutionaries

Revolutionaries promotional art

American gamers—like all Americans, really—have been soaking in the folklore and history of the Revolutionary War all their lives. The struggle for independence is so suffused in our culture that it often takes profound study to separate the folklore from the history. It was an exciting time in the North American colonies, full of spies and secret missions—and the world’s mightiest military force against a literally rag-tag bunch of partisans who were often more elusive than effective.

The setting features small groups from all walks of life, bound together by a common goal. The dramatic stakes are high. The historical setting details are abundant. Yet for some reason, the Revolutionary War gets short shrift in gaming, with a few memorable wargames but not much else.

Enter the kickstarter for Revolutionaries—American War of Independence RPG. The crowdfunding campaign launched July 4 (of course), and $30 plus shipping gets you the boxed version of the game. Thirty bucks!

I’m honestly not sure how they’re making that price point work, because the game looks sharp, and the pedigree of the designers is top notch. It’s a big team, but I’ll highlight two names of interest to grognards like me: managing director Mark Rein•Hagen (he still uses the dot, right?), designer of seminal stuff like Ars Magica and Vampire: The Masquerade, and creative director C.A. Suleiman, who’s contributed to a ton of D&D and World of Darkness books (full disclosure: I think we may have contributed to some of the same 3E D&D books back in the day).

The game wisely focuses on the “secret history” of the Revolutionary War, using the real-life Culper ring as the inspiration for the default protagonists. (RPGs tend to work better with strong defaults for who the PCs are and what they’re doing.) If you wanted, I imagine you should nudge the game into the horrific (it’s New England, after all, home of Lovecraft and King) or magical (maybe into Seventh Son territory).

The other reason I’m enchanted with Revolutionaries is that the PCs are going to be fighting against an unjust authority. That’s something I think a lot of RPGs have lost along the way. In most games and in most genres, the PCs are agents of the lawful authorities—maybe technically independent, maybe not. The patron, boss, or other authority figure tells the PCs about a threat to the home society, and the PCs go out and quash it.

I for one am tired of that. I want more stories about sticking it to The Man. Early RPGs were replete with those sorts of adventure setups, but now they’re the exception, not the rule.

Side note: I realize this sounds like a Trump thing, but it’s been nibbling away at me for a good five years now. Not that I don’t have feelings about politics! But this ain’t about that. It’s more that I worry gamers are getting too heavy a diet of “agents of lawful authority,” and on balance it’s more fun and more dramatic to be the righteous underdogs, blowing stuff up in the name of freedom.

That’s why I’m all in on Revolutionaries (and why my own writing tends to have the PCs as rebels). You’ve got until August 1 to join the Kickstarter campaign, though it wouldn’t shock me if you saw a retail release for this game at some point, too.

Kickstarters We Like: Air Deck

If you travel a lot and like to play cards, you’ve probably gone through your share of decks. Paper cards wear out pretty easily, and with all the jostling that comes along with travel, it’s only a matter of time before you spill something on them. And even if you can avoid that, it takes up a lot of room in your pocket.

What I like about the Air Deck is particularly the way it’s compact. Usually, if you can find a smaller deck of cards, they’re made for people with tiny hands and perfect eyes—they hold a regular card shape, but at a fraction of the size, making them harder to hold. These, on the other hand, are of normal length, making them just as easy to hold as an average-sized card; it balances in your hand just as well, but is narrower for ease of transportation. In fact, the narrow design might in fact make it even easier to hold onto than wider cards—and easier for solitaire on an airplane tray table. The typeface is also nice and bold, so you don’t have to bring along a magnifying glass just to ready your compact cards.

Waterproofing and durability also make great design choices. Losing a beverage is annoying enough, but when you spill it onto your card game, it’s twice as disappointing. As someone who can manage to drop the most important of items into the most toxic of shit, I always appreciate durability—and in this case, the ability to wash the cards as well.

The Air Deck seems like it’d solve a lot of the most common travel deck problems, so if you frequently travel with cards, consider supporting this Kickstarter! You can grab a black or white deck for 10 euros (roughly $11), and it runs until July 2.

Kickstarters We Like: Inspiration

Inspiration Card GameI was wandering around Kickstarter’s game section the other day (like ya do), and I found a game called Inspiration. It’s quite a simple game, but I think that’s one of the draws—it’s a sweet little game that you don’t have to sit around and explain for 20 minutes before you can get started. All you have to do is tell a story.

You take three art cards and a subject card that contains a single word, and you have thirty seconds to connect all of these elements into something cohesive and compelling. The player who tells the best story (making the best use of their respective cards) gets a point, and the first player to three points wins.

This is great not only if you just love making up great, quick stories, but also if you’re playing with kids (though you may want to consider easing up the time constraint with significantly younger players). Many young kids love telling stories anyway.

As a writer, I see another advantage as well—even if you’re not playing the game, you can lay out three art cards and a subject card and just use that as a writing prompt.

If this sounds like the kind of thing you’re into, go check out Inspiration! The campaign runs until June 13, and for $25 you get the base game and some exclusive-to-Kickstarter art cards, so don’t miss out!