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Odyssey: A game of journeys

Explore the new tabletop game of storied journeys and ever-changing characters from designer Will Hindmarch and get the beta edition of the rules.

Stretch Goals

Let us talk a bit about stretch-goal style milestones for funding. We are now fully funded and the artists are already at work on the illustrations for the book — that's great! Stay tuned for updates showing off some of the sketches that have come in.

In the meantime, here's what happens if we pass select funding milestones:

At $3,000: Each artist gets a 20% raise on their pay rate in thanks for signing on with the project early. I also want to thank you in advance, contributors, in case we hit this threshold.

At $5,000: I write the sequel book for Odyssey, containing the complete game rules, a deeper look at how to play the game (and how to meddle with its components), plus a slew of new playset modes and mechanisms. This funding milestone helps pay for illustrations for that book, too.

If we draw near to the second milestone, I'll talk more about what this sequel contains and which perks get it. (Short version: The idea is that one could buy the two Odyssey books in any order and get the complete game, plus distinct playsets, mechanisms, and procedural content.) For now, one milestone at a time. 

Onward!

Intro

Odyssey is a tabletop game about characters on journeys. It's about how journeys change us and how the person who departs on a journey can differ from the one who arrives at the destination. As you play, your characters change. As they change, stories emerge. So Odyssey is a game about stories, too, set in our world, in outer space, in fantasy realms — anywhere you can imagine.

About the Game

Odyssey is a complete, introductory, story-driven game for 3-6 players that yields complete tales in about 2-3 hours. 

In Odyssey, characters are defined by six characteristics written in plain language, usually combining two traits — an adjective and a noun. For example, a character might be both a Nefarious Treasure-Hunter and a Reckless Archaeologist. As the character confronts challenges along their journey, they gain and lose individual traits as a result of their experiences, so that archaeologist might stop being reckless or give up treasure-hunting (at least for a while).

This process of changing characters during play provokes dramatic questions. How was the character changed? Why did he or she change in this way? What does it mean for them as people? How does it affect the player's portrayal of the character?

Over the past two years, I developed Odyssey to be playable quickly, in any fictional setting, without a game master, so that students at the creative-writing camp where I teach could play the game within the imaginary worlds they built together. The game helps players think about characters as multitudinous beings, as complex and faceted persons that change over time. 

It's also meant to be playable in a wide variety of worlds and styles without any experience necessary from other story or roleplaying games. The Odyssey beta edition ships with seven modes of play, including:

"Sojourn," in which characters journey across a fantastical desert in search of a fabled city of the wise.

"Hyperfleet" challenges each player to write and portray an ensemble of shared characters traveling across the cosmos in a ragged fleet of starships, fleeing from an alien invasion.

"Spirits of the Sea" offers an adventurous voyage across haunted seas with the players' characters as the crew of the sailing ship, August Lion.

"Passage of Years" follows a handful of characters throughout their lives, from childhood through old age, by looking at the moments when those characters reenter each other's lives over the years.

A catalog of optional game mechanisms makes it easy to tinker with and build your own modes of play, too.

About the Launch Edition Perks

As you might guess once you see the beta edition, the launch edition of Odyssey will be a 6-inch x 9-inch black-and-white softcover book or PDF.

To clarify the DriveThruRPG physical-copy discount: You'll get an email enabling you to buy a copy of the printed book at a steep discount (estimated cost is about US$5) and you'll also pay shipping. Please do check to make sure that you can order and receive shipments from DriveThruRPG before selecting the applicable perks. 

Journey

Three years ago, I sat down at my kitchen table and started sketching out notions for the game that would become Odyssey. Over the years, it transmuted into various interstitial forms — some of them funny, some of them overly complicated — but actual play kept guiding me toward something simpler and simpler. Years of play, like x-rays, revealed the bones of a fun, simple game within my original design.

So I made that simple game the heart of Odyssey and made everything else into a customizable, expandable, and optional toolbox.

Then I played the game with different options over a span of two years to see how everything held up in actual play. We've played Odyssey in homes, at conventions, and at writing camp — sometimes with rooms of 30+ players participating at once. It's been a terrific experience.

Now it's time for the final stress test. Now it's time for the game to meet a new audience. Now it's time to turn Odyssey's rules into a book.

See for yourself. Contribute to this campaign and you'll get the complete beta-edition rules of the game as a PDF file within a few days. Play the game, let me know what you think of it, and maybe impact the course of its design and production.

And Change

Your money changes Odyssey from a vision to a reality. Beyond beta testing the game, this campaign builds up an art budget for the final rulebook. Funds raised pay each artist for their illustrations and me for my writing & design time. A team of talents has already stepped up to illustrate this book, provided the funding comes through. This team includes terrific artists (though some portfolios may be NSFW):

  • Leah Huete has dedicated her powers to good (or at least to art) for almost a decade, as a photographer and illustrator, and has provided words, photos, and illustrations to various RPG projects including Technoir, Strange Tales of the Century, various Posthuman Studios products, One Shot, and Eternal Lies for Trail of Cthulhu. Leah lives with her three boys, and loves every cat. See some of her work.
  • David Lewis Johnson, a freelance illustrator, concept artist, painter, and tabletop gamer from Missoula, Montana. His finest stupid human trick is drawing while walking. See some of his work. 
  • Phil Reeves works in print and graphic design but focuses his free time on drawing and gaming. Influenced by Frazetta, Lovecraft and Critchlow, with classical training in paint and pencil, he has since moved into exclusively digital pieces. The importance of a visual narrative is a central feature of his work, combined with a predominate use of contrasting light.
  • Steven Sanders, a comic and concept artist living in Kansas City, MO. Among other clients, he's worked for Marvel (Infinity:The Hunt, Wolverine and the X-Men) and recently Kickstarted Symbiosis, an open-source world-building art book. See some of his work.

These artists aim to bring Odyssey to life with rich, vivid illustrations for each playset or "mode" of the game. A few, like Phil Reeves, have already begun work to give you a sense of the look they're creating for the game. Here's a glimpse at Reeves's progress on the illustration for the "Lost Continent" playset:


I can't wait to see what else they have in store for us!

The finished version of Odyssey will be about 8–16 pages longer than the beta edition, including additional advice and clarifications based on the feedback I get from advanced readers. That might even call for additional art!

With enough contributions — with help from these wonderful artists and that wonderful you — I can produce the finished edition of Odyssey for publication and release at DriveThruRPG as a PDF file and POD book. Extra funds make it possible for me to spend time designing additional games and books, such as an Odyssey sequel book featuring new mechanisms and modes of play. With enough money, I can increase the pay rate of the artists on this book, too.

If we don't raise sufficient funds, fewer illustrations get commissioned, based on what I can afford to pay. 

The look of Odyssey's first (or "launch") edition depends on you.

About Me

I'm Will Hindmarch, a freelance writer and designer. My recent credits include fiction or essays in The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities and Wonderbook. I've worked, either on staff or as a freelancer, with Atlas Games, White Wolf Publishing, Fantasy Flight Games, and Green Ronin Publishing. I co-founded Gameplaywright Press with Jeff Tidball and am an advisor and designer for Protagonist Labs's forthcoming online story game, Storium. I've been a full-time professional in the game sector for more than a decade. 

Most of my career has been spent making other people's games. To produce my own, I need help scraping together funds for art budgets, for design time, for production time. I've spent a lot of time on the game and the book already. Now I need help to pay myself and the artists who can make Odyssey as handsome as I've imagined it could be.

Spread the Word

It's a true fact that not everyone who wants to help always can, so I appreciate what you can do to get the word out about this campaign even if you cannot contribute to its funding. The more eyes that see this page, the more imaginations that get to play Odyssey during this beta, the better the game stands to be. Thank you for your time and attention.

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