This will be my last Steampunk Musha Weekly Design blog for 2016 for certain, possibly ever. Last week, Rick Hershey (The Fattest Goblin here at Fat Goblin Games) decided to refund the Kickstarter fully -- an action I fully support.
This is both good and bad for you, as a fan (or rather potential fan) of the Steampunk Musha setting. Bad because it means we're officially 'giving up on' the Kickstarter and its design for Steampunk Musha -- but GOOD because WE ARE NOT GIVING UP on Steampunk Musha in general.
Instead, we have freed ourselves of the design expectations and demands of the Ks, and this means we can start releasing the things we want, the way we want, when we want -- rather than trying to 'build up' to each full 350+ page release.
The Ks Campaign was promising the following (don't forget to read the unlocked milestones too!):
Steampunk Musha will be in full color and design by the Fat Goblin Team. It will include full details on 8 playable races, 8 new classes, new feats and skills, new magic systems, tons of equipment (including magic and steampunk gear), details on the setting, and tons of variant rules.
We will also be developing the Rosuto Shima Campaign Guide, which will give even more details on the 12 provinces, introduce numerous npcs, adventure hooks, and more variant rules for players. This is the ultimate guide to the setting.
And last, the Steampunk Musha Bestiary. Covering dozens of new creatures, spirits, oni, and mechanical creations roaming the world of Rosuto-Shima. And if we reach our goal we have a ton of amazing milestone rewards to offer! Bonus material to show our gratitude for your support!
To show our appreciation for supporting the Steampunk Musha kickstarter, we are offering some great milestone rewards for once we complete funding for our project. What that means is, after we reach our initial goal, we'll offer more incentives for each increment above the goal!
$4,000 (Unlocked!) World Map
If we reach 4k, we are going to throw in a poster size map of Rosuto-Shima. This map will be fully painted and details all the various regions and provinces of the island. This reward will be offered to all Ronin level backers and up in printed form! All backers will also receive a digital copy!
$5,000 (Unlocked!) 4 Bonus Classes
If we reach 5k, we'll provide a copy in pdf form of 4 new classes playable in Steampunk Musha. This pdf will be full color and provide the same level of details on the new classes as the core book. This will be available to all backers. If you are a Celestial Dragon level backer and we reach this goal, the new classes will be included in your Steampunk Musha Master Edition hardback.
$6,000 (Unlocked!) Juunishi-p'o Race
If we reach 6k, we'll unlock the Juunishi-p'o player race! This race offers 12 variants and detailed history and description. This pdf will be full color and provide the same level of details on the new race as the core book. This will be available to all backers in digital form. If you are a Celestial Dragon level backer and we reach this goal, the new race will be included in your Steampunk Musha Master Edition hardback.
$7,000 (Unlocked!) 20 New Creatures
We will add an additional 20 creatures to the Steampunk Musha Bestiary. This will be added to the bestiary book and available to all levels receiving the Steampunk Musha Bestiary. If you are a Celestial Dragon level backer and we reach this goal, the new creatures will be included in your Steampunk Musha Master Edition hardback.
$8,500 (Unlocked!) Intro Adventure
At this level we offer up a complete introductory adventure to all backers in pdf. This adventure will introduce you to the city of Shangti and have your players dealing with street urchins, nobility, clockwork children, insane inmates, shape-shifting birds, and a psychotic gaijin doctor! If you are a Celestial Dragon level backer and we reach this goal, the introductory adventure will be included in your Steampunk Musha Master Edition hardback.
$10,000 (Unlocked!) Short Story Collection
Reaching this goal gives all backers a pdf copy of the Steampunk Musha short story collection. This book will feature a variety of stories told by the many writers on the Steampunk Musha project. Expect stories from Alana Abbott, Rick Hershey, Joseph Wise, Mark Adams, and Jason Stoffa! If you are a Celestial Dragon level backer and we reach this goal, you will receive a limited edition printed version of the book.
$11,000 (Unlocked!) 2nd Adventure
At this level we offer up a complete 2nd adventure to all backers in pdf. If you are a Celestial Dragon level backer and we reach this goal, the 2nd adventure will be included as a separate book from your Steampunk Musha Master Edition hardback.
$13,000 (Unlocked!) Game Master Screen and Character Sheet Pack
This milestone unlocks the Steampunk Musha Game Master Screen and a pack of Character sheets for all the classes. All backers get this product in PDF, all Provincial Warlord levels and up receive this in printed form.
In case that isn't all clear, it was going to be a player-focused base Steampunk Musha book, and a GM-focused Rosuto-Shima Campaign Guide, plus a Steampunk Musha Bestiary -- before the backers had unlocked bonus classes, fiction, introductory adventures, GM screens and a second, full length adventure.
If you read my blog from last week, you'll see how much work and effort, from more than just a few people I might add, went into creating the Shadows over Vathak: Player's Guide, over the past YEAR+ and we're already pooling time, energy, and resources to organize a new push for getting the Shadows over Vathak: GameMaster Guide (part of why I'm having to stop these as well, I'm hoping to pass future designer notes off on to another member of the SpM Team).
So, in retrospect, what was being promised in the Kickstarter was "ambitious" by my own reckoning (I didn't come into this project until years after the Ks had ended. to be clear). Having read the "500 pages" of notes from the previous leads and designers, I believe part of their hope was to rely on simple 3.5 conversions to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game of materials, but especially all these years on that would be a terrible design choice.
Additionally after all this time, I don't quite feel anyone has "cracked" the steampunk/builder ruleset, as its hard to make a class of tinkerers or steampunk tool makers still that isn't just a) an artificer by another name or b) modifying an exceedingly limited range of "toys" as if you can modify magic items etc.
The Future of Steampunk Musha, 2017 and Beyond
SO, this is all to say -- there was and is still a large amount of work to be done, but we also have already done a massive amount. If I had to guess, I would say that 6 of the 12 promised classes are 95% complete, just needing a few minor tweaks before being released. Of the other 6 new classes, 4 require us to complete and playtest and then revise our "Works" subsystem for making and modifying alchemically, clockwork, and steam-powered devices, and the other two just need to be revised a bit (so say 75% done).
Easily half of the races are "done" except for a few adjustments to fit setting matters, and the other half we just need to rebalance and adjust a few key pieces to "fit" with our new power curve (all the races are a little more powerful on Rosuto-Shima, for reasons).
As for 'setting material' -- we have things like full statistics for each of the cities, as well as extensive notes on the adventure and adventure seeds, but we need at least some of the "player-focused" materials out first.
And so, rather than push back release to some unknown point, we're going to redo our approach. By the end of the month, I'm hoping to push into Rick's hands for layout and art a brand new, redone Steampunk Musha: Explorer's Guide to Rosuto-Shima for release January 2017. This book will be a one-stop shop for all the core needed bits and pieces, like the map of Rosuto-Shima, with brief write ups for each city/province, but also the racial statistics needed for the core races, as well as a discussion of some of the ways to modify classes to fit the themes being explored in Rosuto-Shima. This book will, in theory, give you as both a player and/or a GM the minimum information needed to "start" a Rosuto-Shima game.
From there, we're planning to do releases of individual books focused on a single topic. We have an entire book about the Japanese-style blades prepared that just needs a little retooling (modeled on the successful Call to Arms line) and we'll have something all about new options for firearms on Rosuto-Shima. Additionally, we'll release each of the 12 classes as a CLASSified-like book, with all the statistics, a few archetypes, and the feats, equipment, etc. needed to play that class in Rosuto-Shima or your own similarly themed game. We'll also release CLASSified Option books with Rosuto-Shima-themed reworkings of classes like the samurai, monk, and ninja, with specific references needed to situate them into the setting. And then just as importantly, we're planning on releasing a book for each race modeled on our Astonishing Races line, which gives a single race the full treatment that each Core Race got in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide, with not just the basic stats but alternate racial traits, race-specific archetypes for fitting classes, favored class bonuses for all the classes in Steampunk Musha.
Meanwhile, I'm hoping to release other information too in regular blog posts starting again in 2017, like those city statistics or discussions of adventure seeds, new ways to apply the Honor system well be discussing initially in the Explorer's Guide, but further detailing in each additional release, etc. all to help you run Steampunk Musha games.
Over the next few months, until 2017, be sure to Like and follow our Steampunk Musha Facebook. I'll be posting relevant comments there, and often -- they just wont always be these full "blogs" about Steampunk Musha.