Kenoma Update 9: Plans after the Quickstart

What’s next for Kenoma now that the quickstart is out?

I’ve got three phases planned.

1. Outline The Core Rulebook

I haven’t duplicated the Quickstart content in the core rulebook yet, except for the few things that I copied from the core rulebook over to the Quickstart.

The purpose for this is that the porting process will encourage me to revise and streamline the text, though I don’t think there will be significant alterations to the text.

The Quickstart is divided into four parts:

  1. Intro
  2. Setting
  3. Rules
  4. GM

But in the core rulebook, this will be different:

  1. Intro
  2. Alcove
  3. Six faction sections, one for each major Coalition faction
  4. Spiral
  5. Black Grove
  6. Syndical Front
  7. Rules
  8. Character Stuff
  9. Gear
  10. Running the Game
  11. Threats

The Intro to the core rulebook won’t be a summary like it is in the Quickstart, but more of a setting-overview with the off-camera stuff like the history of the setting that doesn’t fit within the current world but will be important to know.

Alcove deals with daily life, technology, and political developments overall, as well as the geographical layout of things.

The intention for Alcove is to have it be the “must-read” part of the setting for players, who can then focus on their chosen faction’s setting section.

The faction sections are pretty self-explanatory. They cover the current leadership, historical developments, and political situation of each faction, as well as their philosophical or political underpinnings where relevant.

The Spiral section covers the way the world has changed since the Day, and introduces many of the ideas of the Spiral.

The Black Grove section covers the major antagonistic faction. Although they’re really more of a counterpart to the Heresiarchs and I had originally thought about putting them in as a splinter sect in the Heresiarch section, I don’t think that’s wise given that they’ve gained more distinctive characteristics over the course of the setting’s development.

The Syndical Front section gives details to the other inhabitants of Alcove, the Syndical Front. They’re the ostensible rival to the Coalition. They’re both a major threat and irrelevant, since they’re waiting for the Coalition to fall under its own weight rather than starting a fight, but the Coalition devotes enough efforts toward the Syndical Front to make them worth exploring. I might also make a supplement for the Syndical Front at some point.

Each setting section includes its own campaign framework. For instance, Alcove covers the sort of information you’d need to run a detective campaign, so it will feature hooks and ideas for those sorts of stories. Each faction section will talk about the things PCs might do for a faction, from the mercenary work of Knight Limited to the contamm scrapping crews.

And the threats have their own campaign hooks, from exploring the Spiral and its lenses to other worlds to being spies behind enemy lines in the Syndical Front’s territory.

Then you get into the rules sections, most obviously rules.

The idea here is to have the actual play content set apart so that you can jump between all the gameplay elements in one place without having to go into each faction’s section for their things, though I’d weighed doing the origins as part of faction-specific sections.

The rules section itself is pretty self explanatory. This is where I’m putting all the rules for how to play. In the final book, I may split this and combat, since they’re probably 50/50 given Kenoma’s very streamlined play and tendency to abstract things.

The character section will have five sub-sections:

  1. Character Overview (might fall under Rules)
  2. Talents
  3. Origins
  4. Character Creation
  5. Character Advancement

These are pretty self-descriptive, I think. The decision to make Gear its own section is a consequence of how it’ll factor into play. Most of the stuff on the character sheet is semi-static, meaning that it’s going to change via the advancement mechanic outside of regular play or as a consequence of stuff from the Rules section, but Gear is more likely to change during a session and also have a long-term home on the character sheet.

It’s basically the most-likely to be referenced as well because there isn’t room on the sheet itself for

It’s also partly because Gear has four sub-sections of its own: Armor, Weapons (+ Ammunition), Tools, and Cybernetics (which might merge with Talents due to how it works mechanically).

Gear also has some of its own rules in Kenoma, because instead of having a fixed currency players use an Acquisition system. This involves making a test (or bunch of tests) with a modifier based on a character’s social standing (this is the AM on the character sheet). This lets the character purchase things with a combined AV up to the tens-value (or hundreds + tens-values) of the result.

Then you have the GM section, which will go into overviews of both storytelling and balancing the game.

A Threats section features pre-made Threats to handle the various environments of Kenoma. Some of these may also feature in the setting sections (e.g. the Fume features in the Spiral section), but I will duplicate those here so that there’s a one-stop reference (I normally hate duplication, but given that I can probably fit 10 Threats on a page given the format I set for the Quickstart, I think it’ll be fine).

There might be some tweaks and alterations to this as things go along, but I think this will be highly functional.

My goal is to have a prototype of the core rulebook in early access by the end of March, though it might not take that long.

At this point I’ll be selling the core rulebook for $2-4. It’ll be Microsoft Word output so that I can continue distributing updates instantly (once things solidify I’ll do formal layout).

The early bird price will be on the lower end as I go through and do the version of the Quickstart that will debut on DriveThruRPG, then I’ll bump the price to $4 as revisions and alterations are made. This will be a way to buy into the full game experience before it’s out, not a finished product.

All purchases will include support for all versions of the rulebook. The only reason it won’t is for an entirely separate launch, like a second edition or a core rulebook under an alternate system, but I don’t see that happening soon.

2. Quickstart v1 and Core Rulebook v0 (DriveThruRPG)

At this point I’m going to do a formal v1 launch of the Quickstart. There will be minor adjustments, of course, but also more significant alterations like the addition of new maps.

I’ve always found DriveThruRPG to be a very different market than itch.io. It’s less update friendly, though I think they’ve gotten better about that.

The fundamental issue is that DriveThruRPG is home to a lot of really mediocre products that it assertively markets toward you, so I don’t want to post the really WIP version of the core rulebook.

$5: DriveThruRPG release. By this point my maps should be done (since the ones for the Quickstart will also be applicable to the Core Rulebook), and I’ll have them as part of the release package. Still no official art or anything like that, but the text will get premium layout.

3. Core Rulebook v1 and Tools of the Trade

After the first Core Rulebook release I’ll continue monitoring feedback and making alterations to the content while also working on Tools of the Trade.

Tools of the Trade (WIP title) is the advanced GM’s/player’s guide, which features loads of options for alternate play. If you like Kenoma but wish that there were more crunchy features, like support for play on a grid, advanced injuries, and crafting, that’s what this book will cover.

It will also cover all the rules for adding new Gear to Kenoma, though there are a lot of things (like Talents and Threats) that are always just up to GM discretion (ideas for working with these will be part of the GM section of the Core Rulebook). What I’m doing right now for the Core Rulebook is making weapons based on the initial draft of Tools of the Trade, so there will be a high degree of consistency.

Tools of the Trade is a paid supplement, probably $3-4, that will help me get a feel for the market.

Right now I don’t have plans for other stuff in the Kenoma product line, though if there’s demand I might do more content. I might also write a fiction piece or two and publish them, though I’m not sure how I’ll go about doing that as far as size, distribution, etc.

I want Kenoma to be a living testament to my ability to make games and develop a product line. That way, when I have future projects I can honestly go to people and ask for crowdfunding with the understanding that something will materialize.

Kenoma and Licensing

I’m going for a weird licensing arrangement for Kenoma, where you can do basically anything you want with it on three conditions:

  1. You don’t say we endorse it (unless we do) or that you’ve made official first-party content (unless you did)
  2. You don’t copy our first-party content (except in small snippets)
  3. You don’t break any laws

This includes making and selling third-party adventures, rules expansions, fiction, and really anything you’d like. It’s somewhat of a radical proposition, because it’s even more aggressive than the OGL (because we’re not reserving any IP as brand identity), but it’s compatible with my philosophical views on IP.

Likewise, we don’t care about small-scale sharing. We’re asking that you not print your own copies (except for reference) and that public repositories and marketplaces not host our content, but if you buy our game and want to send the PDFs along to your group, we’ll be honored instead of offended.

This is because I consider this sort of thing (what we might call commercial prima facie infringement under the current laws) fraud, since people might think they’re getting the full experience from a third-party when in fact you’ll be getting support from us as updates and additional content (like form-fillable character sheets).

Plus, one thing that ticks me off is that when I worked on Degenesis: Artifacts, a bunch of the pirate sites actually nabbed my old homebrew version instead of the official SIXMOREVODKA one that took the name from it, and I’m sure someone somewhere has been really upset by that (though both are free in digital format, so the harm is minimal).

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