ELEVATOR PITCH: Across the Stars is "No Man's Sky" (the procedurally generated video game that recently came out) meets "Dune".
(There's also a touch of Star Trek in there...)
"Across the Stars" is a game that's all about procedural generation: players take on the roles of freelance agents hired by one of 13 "Chapter Houses" -- old royal families who survived the collapse of the Old Imperium -- and have joined together under the banner of a central organization that, while not declaring itself the new government, is very much operating in a "business as usual" sense, keeping the gears of industry and profit rolling along, often at the expense of the citizens themselves. This organization is known as the "League of the Buyers", and it's main branch of authoritative business, the Central Bank, is the real power throughout the terran regions. Much like it was before the collapse of the Empire, only now it's had to assume a more public role in keeping things moving along.
So nothing's changed in the day-to-day lives of anyone, even with the collapse of the Imperium itself. In fact, it's barely had an impact at all.
However, an outside alien influence -- an ancient, million year old alien race -- has been awoken by some blundering human treasure hunters, and now their massive starships -- planet sized gigaships that are powered by small, dying stars -- are slowly crawling through the galaxy, devastating star systems with their mere presence (and massive gravity wells). Where they appear, moons and sometimes planets are thrown out of alignment; they randomly launch "seed monsters" -- the massive "World Shaper" behemoths that devour a planet's flora and fauna and regurgitate new kinds of lifeforms.
Realizing these technological marvels are too powerful to either stop or even reason with, the League of the Buyers has done the only thing it can think to do to save itself and humanity: seek out new opportunities for profit.
And so a call has gone out, a new age of exploration, to press humanity into the Unknown Reaches, an area of space left unexplored but known to be dangerous and full of threats -- like Old Earth's ancient rogue AI, who elevated themselves to godhood before they were banished to the Unknown Reaches -- and other undiscovered menaces. Here though are new worlds, lush planets full of life and resources just waiting to be plundered, exploited, and stripped away.
Because the gears of industry must keep moving, and the League will make sure nothing breaks its perfectly well-oiled machine.
HOW IT PLAYS:
So players are free agents hired to explore and catalog these unknown areas of space. The game is built on tremendous amounts of procedural generation (currently in development by +Trevor Scott), starting with the star system and then "drilling down" to discover what's on each planet, moon, asteroid, or other stelllar body, what kind of minerals may exist, what kind of flora and fauna, etc. -- and depending on what they find and what house they are working for, the player's can earn "rewards" from their patron house, be that monetary or renown or both. But there are a lot of threats out there, and a lot of unfriendly creatures and plant life that will try to kill and maim the player characters. There will also be competing free agents working for other houses, pirates and criminals who've set up bases in the unknown regions, lost colonies, and many more recurring or random dangers. One of the recurring threats are the Glass Soldiers of Mankh -- Mankh is one of the Old Earth AIs; he was imprisoned in a diamond planet by Gaia, the hyper-sapient AI protector of Earth, and the only surviving AI from mankind's past, and banished to the distant, unknown regions of space. Prior to his banishment, and reason for it as well, he had forcefully uploaded the minds of a number of humans into machines...he had promised them immortality, but had not explained that they would be enslaved to serve his own nefarious needs. These "ghost machines" were downloaded into glass bodies, but with their master banished, they were thought to be lost and defunct.
They are, however, quite active in the unknown regions, and they are searching for the hidden diamond planet prison where their master waits patiently for their arrival.
A city of lost children. Mega-sized, vampiric sea urchins. The city sits perched over a toxic ocean, built on top of fragile soil composed of fish bones. You play one of the children, sent by your sea urchin patron to dig in the earth in search of strange and wondrous artifacts.
The Endless City sits at the edge of the world, its massive doors a gateway to the Infinite Imperium, the last and the first and the everlasting empire of the Shao-Akir. Here, bird-headed guardians protect the city dwellers from invasion above, by sea, and from far beneath, from the rumored deep dwellings buried beyond the layers of ageless cities that came before this one, each a testament of an earlier Shao-Akir empire.
The deepest, darkest dwellings are the resting place of the Sunken Dynasty, where foul fish men, the first rulers of a dark and sunless world, held power before the dawning of the surface dwellers and then coming of the empire of Shao-Akir, its majesty an affront upon the rule of the Sunken Dynasty.
The city utilizes a strict caste system, has gangs and divisions and pirates and clans and religious groups and schools and other ways of labeling and organizing people, and everyone is in competition, but rarely directly...everything is subterfuge and politics and conniving and plotting.
And there are secret societies and cults and some of these are the only means to gain favor or access with the higher courts or palaces.
And clay golem judges with shifting faces rule the courts, and they are difficult to bargain with.
Part art book, part game book, Waste is a fantasy-based, post-apocalyptic dreamscape, built from the dreams of a dead god.
The world that was known has been forgotten, and all that remains now is a vast stretch of shifting dreamlands, where those who remain struggle to survive not because they hope for brighter days, but because death in the dreamland is a worse fate than just surviving. It is a place where everyone fears sleep, because sleep brings dreams and here, dreams manifest in the real world as nightmarish mutations of thought. Only the blind wizard-prophets who roam the desert, known as cosmogaunts, can make sleep possible, selling a dreamless narcotic secreted by the parasite worms that build palaces in their stomachs.
Here too in the Waste live mindspiders, crawling unseen under the dead, waterless land known among locals as the Golden Thirst; they work tirelessly, stitching dead alien brain tissue into hills and folds and valleys, fighting against the malignancy of entropy as it tries to devour this reality and bring about its end.
Daytime in the Golden Thirst is an eternal green-grey haze, but the night sky becomes clear and full of a myriad of stars and many planets, that changes every night and is never the same assortment twice. Here is a place where doors have souls and locks have language and they must be soothed or charmed to be opened, a talent well known by the enigmatic cryptomancers, wizard-thieves who make a living in the few cities that dot the Thirst, selling passage across thresholds.
The only chance to survive is to sleep but not to dream, and to search, to always be exploring. Hoping to find some way to escape this dying land.
Featuring the Art and Writing of:
David Lewis Johnson
...and more contributors soon!
Ebon Star is a roleplaying game ruleset for SF/Space Opera games, modeled after classic SF RPGs from the 90's. Here's a sample from the game so far:
"...strange, withered, robed aliens with angelic halos traveling in vessels to alien worlds, delivering the word of the sacred text as they subjugate and influence populations, wielding science as magic. They are members of a collective vat-grown caste-based empire that conquers through conversion. These are Magistrates, wizard-judges who manifest courts to adjudicate situations based on the Sacred Word. Other vat grown species in the collective are Angels, a warrior caste, and Monarchs, who serve as bishop-kings over their respective domains."
Fuck U, Death & Delirium is a roleplaying game ruleset for deathmatch style play in a fantasy dungeon setting. Players are battling against one another along with various threats and hazards inside a dungeon, from deadly traps to diaboloical monsters. There are numerous options for "win conditions", including most kills, finding the exit, etc. Character design is meant to be fast and furious.
The Feargazers' Compendium
They came from a strange dimension, endless, vast and open. Lords of their domain, no one challenged their authority. Now they have found your dimension: your world. But they aren't alone. They've disturbed the sleep of deep ones in the Sunken Dynasty, beings from an aquatic dimension...and now they too have come to claim your world. And eradicate the feargazers.
This volume of work explores the strange place the floating orb of eyes and teeth known as feargazers come from; it features cults who worship them, unique magical items and artifacts, tools for battling them, new spells, and even playable varieties. There are also some details about the deep ones and the Sunken Dynasty.
A new zine featuring artwork from various artists done in an oldschool format, compiled with dungeon maps and "fill in the blank" adventure pages.
Richard Baldwin has written a wondrous body of work that blends Geoffrey McKinney's Carcosa with Star Wars, and the results are terrifying and epic.
Coming Soon. Art by David Lewis Johnson. Writing by Ariana Ramos.
Ultramassive & Unexplained
One of the grander plans I have in the works is to not only publish game products, but also comic books based on those products. I'm also interested in licensing other game products to make into comic books. This is something I've dreamed about for many years, and I'm finally getting around to pursuing that dream. Hopefully I'll be able to discuss this more soon!