Weekly Design Blog #45: Deconstructing a Player's Guide to a Setting (Shadows over Vathak as a Template)

Hello All,

Steampunk Musha is actually our second major setting (which, YES, they will technically be on the same planetoid and thus are different parts of the same world) from Fat Goblin Games. Our first is Shadows over Vathak.

Shadows over Vathak blends the Otherworldly, Cosmic Horror themes of New England's Lovecraft, the Macabre Mysteries of Poe, and the sensibilities of Victorian, Gothic Horror Adventure into an original fantasy setting for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
As players, your characters fight to survive in a land threatened with destruction by the rise of the ancient and evil Old Ones and their spawn. Your characters may represent points of light in the darkness or give in to dark temptations.  Most will fall somewhere in between — survivors struggling to eke out another day.
Though the followers of the One True God speak of divine providence while battling the Old Ones, the sins of the Church often rival those of their enemies. In the world of Vathak, your character’s perceptions of heroes and villains is a thin line drawn by their own personal morality and, of course, determined by the victor.

Now today's blog-post is really about the plans we have in place for the Steampunk Musha: Player's Guide BUT it will be pointing out the design we used in the now available SoV: PG, and how we're breaking down the various goals from the Kickstarter to make these books. 

Stats on the Shadows over Vathak Player's Guide

This 451 page tome is a one-stop shop of ALL the basic information you need to play in Shadows over Vathak, but everything in the PG is specifically presented as "spoiler-free" (or at least, as much as we could manage). The book is broken down into nine chapters that basically cover the following:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Vathak
    • A thorough introduction to the world of Vathak, a land and people struggling against ancient evils.
  • Chapter 2: Heroes of Horror
    • Suggestions and setting-specific mechanics to help you create and play characters in a horror game.
  • Chapter 3: Races of Vathak
    • Rules and options for the 9 playable races of Vathak, from the tribal bhriota, to twisted cambions, ghostly hauntlings, and much more!
  • Chapter 4: Classes of Vathak
    • Complete write-ups for 4 new classes of Vathak, with at least 2 archetypes for each of the 36 core and base classes, including the occult classes.
  • Chapter 5: Skills & Feats of Vathak
    • Detailed rules for crafting firearms and 50 feats to help you make your characters unique and suited for the horrors of Vathak.
  • Chapter 6: Equipment in Vathak
    • A rich selection of weapons and armor, new and old, with options for tools, alchemy, vehicles, and other gear needed to survive Vathak.
  • Chapter 7: Firearms in Vathak
    • An entire chapter expanding on both early and advanced firearms for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, the only thing keeping the horrors at bay!
  • Chapter 8: Religion in Vathak
    • A rich discussion of each of the major religions of Vathak, from the Church of the One True God, to the romni Court of Signs, and the cults and secret societies of the Old Ones!
  • Chapter 9: Magic in Vathak
    • Topped off with a discussion of magic in Vathak, with new options for divine casters, and a vast set of spells perfect for Vathak.

To read a more thorugh discussion of the Shadows over Vathak: Player's Guide, check out this review by ENDZEITGEIST -- 5 Stars + His Seal of Approval!

You see, this is a player’s guide and as such, it manages to portray the panorama of races, classes and lands in a captivating and SPOILER-free manner. Moreover, it manages to convey a mindset and the mechanical tools to back up it up; after reading this book, it is pretty much impossible to not have a HUGE amount of character concepts at one’s back and call. The massive selection of options is amazing – though I was kinda surprised to not find any of the glorious lineage feats in this book. It should be noted that crunch-fetishists will not find Interjection Games/Everyman Gaming/Dreamscarred Press level of complex classes here, but the options that are here sport evocative themes and some of them have the spark of amazing I am looking for in design. The most important factor, though, is that the cadre of authors have managed to craft Vathak’s tones into one concise whole. Where before, the tones seemed to clash, we now get a setting that feels concise and surprisingly medieval in its themes and the flavor conveyed; the excellent prose suffusing the book make it an actual neat read, in spite of the density of material provided…and frankly, it makes it the most ambitious player’s guide I have read so far. Handing this tome to players and telling them to go wild with it certainly is an experience I very much look forward to…and this book makes me exceedingly excited about the GM-book, hopefully to come.

Design of the Steampunk Musha Player's Guide

I don't have an exact page count, nor are we shooting for a hard goal, but were I forced to "expect" a certain page-length now, I would wager we'll be right around 350 pages (compared to the 450 of SoV PG), but there's every chance it could end up being 400+ pages as well.

Here is a comparable planned chapter breakdown:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Rosuto-Shima
    • A thorough introduction to the dozen , a land and people struggling against ancient evils.
  • Chapter 2: Heroes of Honor
    • Suggestions and setting-specific mechanics to help you create and play characters the Asian-inspired wold of Rosuto-Shima, with a detailed discussion of Honor mechanics, the traditional and new hierarchies of society, all with trait-based bonuses.
  • Chapter 3: Races of Rusuto-Shima
    • Rules and options for the 8 playable races of Steampunk Musha, from the demon-tainted jinteki-oni, to monstrous kappa, technologically-inclined keshou, and much more!
  • Chapter 4: Classes of Rosuto-Shima
    • Complete write-ups for a dozen+ new or alternate classes for Rosuto-Shima, with at least 2 archetypes for each of about half the existing core and base classes, including the occult classes (not every class "makes sense" for SpM, but all will be given a little discussion and are always gaijin-options).
  • Chapter 5: Skills & Feats of Rosuto-Shima
    • Detailed rules for crafting firearms and plenty of feats to help you make your characters unique and suited for Steampunk Musha.
  • Chapter 6: Equipment in Rosuto-Shima
    • A rich selection of weapons and armor, new and old, with options for tools, alchemy, vehicles, and other gear needed to live and die on Rosuto-Shima.
  • Chapter 7: Firearms in Rosuto-Shima
    • An entire chapter expanding on both early and advanced firearms for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, traditional firearms of the Lost Island vs. the modern, gaijin imports and much more.
  • Chapter 8: Religion & Philosophy in Rosuto-Shima
    • A rich discussion of each of the major religions of Rosuto-Shima, from the reverence of kami nature-spirits to ancestor worship, and even a new "Philosophies" component that overlays traditional "alignment."
  • Chapter 9: Magic in Rosuto-Shima
    • A decent discussion of changes to how magic 'works' on Rosuto-Shima, with new options for some spellcasters, and a vast set of spells perfect for Steampunk Musha.
  • Chapter 10: Works of Rosuto-Shima
    • Topped off with an all new "Works System" for designing, constructing, using, abusing, and destroying "mechanical wonders" that use steam, clockwork, or alchemical power sources!

So you can see how the SoV PG was in many ways "creating a mold" that we are hoping to follow for Steampunk Musha and even other, future lines as they are developed!

Lucus Palosaari, Editor & Project Manager at Fat Goblin Games (Like Steampunk Musha on Facebook! & Like Shadow over Vathak on Facebook too!)  



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