The Next Vicious Crucible

Today, I want to talk with you about Josh Roby’s latest Kickstarter, the Vicious Crucible of Villa Argentate.

He’s doing something with Kickstarter that’s a bit different than most: he treats it like the Ransom Model, looking to collect a certain amount in order to make the game free for all. He’s done that with the previous Vicious Crucibles, which you can check out right nowThe Vicious Crucible of Verdigris Valley and The Vicious Crucible of the Eburnean Tower.

The design premise is refreshing: the core rules take up four pages, with a layout designed to be printed front-to-back. Rules modules get two pages, and each new Vicious Crucible comes with a new module. Verdigris Valley came with Combat, Eburnean Tower came with Sorcery, and as far as Villa Argentate…well, that depends on the backers. Because among other things you’ll get in the Kickstarter, you’ll get to vote on which rules you’d like to see Josh develop:

The character of the Silver City will determine which rulesheet gets used with it.  If the vote goes to the scheming and dealing, the Influence rulesheet will be included.  If the backers want the underworld, the Theivery rulesheet will ship.  And if you fine folk want to see artisans, well then, you’ll be served up a hot cup of Crafting rulesheet.

Each rules module works with the other Vicious Crucibles. I love these games, because they take a Lady Blackbird approach to situation design and with a die system reminiscent (but lighter than) Cortex Plus. Each has a set number of six possible protagonist characters, a few NPCs with agendas, some opening scenes, and useful descriptions of places.

If you’ve played the Smallville RPG, this will feel familiar…because Josh designed Smallville.

So if this sounds remotely up your alley, check out the free stuff. And if you like supporting people making small, interesting games and releasing them for free, back the campaign. If nothing else, check out the page and see what he’s got planned — since it’s reached funding, it’s gonna happen!

– Ryan