We’ve got two tabletop games on Kickstarter to highlight today, on opposite ends of the awe and expense spectrum.
Invisible Sun: From Monte Cook Games (Numenera, et al.), Invisible Sun is arguably the most ambitious tabletop roleplaying product ever produced. It’s so ambitious that I’m having a hard time condensing it down into something intelligible as a blurb. Thematically, the characters are those who are no longer trapped by the Shadow (where we mundane folk reside), but inhabit the Actuality, where things are much more vibrant, and perhaps surreal, and magic is real (so maybe like Mage: the Ascension, but moodier and more adult and out there). The components are super-deluxe. But the ambitious part of the game is how it is delivered. You are not buying a game, you are “calling the Black Cube.” Your copy of the Black Cube will come with a special secret, but which secret it comes with depends on when you back. There are clues and secrets in the box and the components within the box – not secrets that characters are finding in-character, but secrets for the players. Characters can be anything, if the right secret can be found. Character creation and advancement can change. Advanced roleplaying techniques are required. And that’s just the basic level. If you not only Call the Black Cube, but Merge with the Black Cube, then you get to participate in a directed campaign, where for the following year Monte Cooke will continue to send out additional stuff – sometimes electronic, sometimes physical. Most of this will be sent to the GM. Some of it will be sent to individual players, keyed to their characters. An in-game letter to a character might show up in the player’s real-word mailbox, which the player can then bring to the next session, and the contents of that letter become part of that group’s world. So, like I said, incredibly ambitious, and sound just amazing. There are two barriers to entry here. The first and most significant is commitment. You basically need to have picked out your group and committed to playing this for a year, and then everyone has to stick with that (I’m moving next year, so this is out for me – I’m already jealous … but if you live in the Washington, D.C. area and need another player for your Invisible Sun campaign next year, let me know). The second, which I believe is largely defrayed by the first, is cost. Calling the Black Cube (buying the game) is $197. Controlling the Black Cube (with the directed campaign) is $539. That’s a significant barrier to entry, and is probably going to drive some prospective players off. To me, the cost is less of an issue if you’re doing Invisible Sun “right,” because a group of 4-6 players getting a year worth of amazing roleplaying out of $90 – $134 each is a bargain. Invisible Sun is currently funded, and the campaign lasts until September 16, 2016.
Carrotia: On the other end of the grandeur scale is Carrotia. This fully co-operative family/light game positions the players as allies of the brave bunny who is venturing out among the bird-filled wilds in search of carrots. Each game is played over three rounds, and each round begins by the players trying to construct a maze for the rabbit to move through, while on a short timer (with penalties if the maze constructed is not functional). Once the rabbit is let loose in the maze, players take turns moving the rabbit, trying to collect carrots and avoid the several distinct sort of bird circling over the maze. The players try to collect as many carrots as possible each round/maze, but the rabbit must get to the maze exit, or else the team gets no carrots for that round. Carrotia ends in about two weeks (September 12, 2016), and is fully funded, but only barely. The base pledge level is $25 for the game and an expansion.