The new RPG from Monte Cook. A game of surrealistic fantasy, secrets, and magic played both at the table–and away from it.
Well, here we are day two of the Invisible Sun Kickstarter likely hours from the project being kicked. Likely before you read this Invisible sun will have achieved its quest for $210,653 funding target. At the moment of this blog being written, they have just soared past 196k. This is not the first time that Montey Cook and Crew have shattered funding goals and Likely will not be the last. So what makes this different?
A number of things, Foremost the price tag. The buy-in for MCG Invisible Sun is $197+Shipping. This level garners you no stretch goals or input on the project. You just get it. That’s it ! Now I know how that sounds, buy you are getting a boardgame/wargames amount of stuff.
I will also point out that on the Kickstarter itself wargamers have commented that comparable projects have still come in within the low $100.00 ranges. So to see the price tag on this for the physical product was a bit of a shock to many. But not enough to keep it from being kicked. So far 173 backers have jumped on board. With nearly $37,000 dollars of their funding coming from under 20 backers! Astounding, Congratulations MCG.
So what is this game that has backers throwing down hundreds of dollars for all about? Well, that’s the secret, It’s a secret. Everything about the game thus far has been very mysterious. With the insistence that what we will experience is new and innovative. All of this is very compelling, but is it worth a risk of just under 200 dollars? That is going to be up to each of you.
But if you want the stretch goals you are going to have to up your game. Because $197 is the price of the ticket to ride. To unlock stretch goals you have got to be willing to shell out a staggering $539 bucks! WOW. So what do you get at that level of buy-in ?
- A copy of the game
- The Directed Campaign
- All the Strech Goals books and other items
- Sun-Based Secret
So.. um yeah what is all of this ? Well, the game is pictured above. The Medallions are nice and the Secret is different depending on what day you actually backed the project and what level you backed it at.. So Unless you Back at the $5,912 dollar level you will not get all of the Secrets of the Black Cube. Wait.. No, you only get one of the three unique secrets from this level of backing. So interestingly enough even the highest level backers won’t know all of the secrets. Good news the Secrets are not something you have to have for the game. But the theme of the game is Secrets. So the Pokemon trainer in you might be hard pressed not to try to learn them all.
The Directed Campaign is described for us as follows.
Those backing at the Control the Black Cube, Master the Black Cube, and Merge with the Black Cube levels gain access to the Invisible Sun Directed Campaign. For twelve months (starting when you tell us you are beginning your campaign, within one year of delivery of the game), Monte sends you new material, sometimes in electronic form and sometimes as a physical package. This includes adventure material, campaign advice, handouts, props, and special physical items. It’s like Monte himself is your GM coach, providing step-by-step advice and aids for your campaign as you run it. We’ll even send your players intriguing mystery packages tied to the campaign that are keyed to their character.
We’re very excited about this option. To summarize, you will get:
- Access to an Invisible Sun website with updates, forums, and other information.
- A year of monthly downloads with adventures, art, maps, player handouts, and new and interesting mysteries and secrets related to the setting.
- Four physical packages sent to you over the course of that year with props and cool stuff you can use in the game.
- Five packages sent to your players to get them more deeply invested and involved in the game.
So we could summarise this into for 342 dollars extra you get the stretch goals and a year-long “living campaign” Directed by Monte Cook.
Okay, So let’s take a look at some of the things we do know. We know the game will take place in three phases. We know we need the board for the phases and we need the hand I guess to hold a card ? And there are a lot of other bits and bobs that it looks like the game will make use of. We know that when the game is played has several modes. The Modes are as follows.
Action Mode: The first mode, called the Action Mode, is the one with the greatest focus on detail—it’s where everyone is sitting around a table (real or virtual) and the action is being tracked round by round so that every player gets a turn before anyone gets a second turn. This could be a fight, a chase, or a tense moment of negotiation. Most roleplayers are very familiar with this mode.
Narrative Mode: The second mode, the Narrative Mode, is also familiar. While no one is tracking things carefully in rounds or strictly managing turns, everyone’s probably still at the table and the GM is managing the actions and outcomes. The game might use this mode to handle travel, investigating an interesting area, resting, commerce, or casually negotiating with NPCs. There are still die rolls to be made, points to be spent, and so on, but probably not with the frequency of Action Mode.
The first two modes go hand in hand, with play naturally moving from one to another. The group might travel to an enemy sorcerer’s citadel using Narrative Mode, and then switch to Action Mode as they enter the citadel and deal with her magical wards and strange guardians. Both modes can be thought of as “table play,” because they take place, obviously, with everyone gathered at the game table.
Development Mode: The third mode of play is a bit different. It’s called Development Mode. It doesn’t take place at the game table, but away from it. It can involve one player or many. It can involve the GM, or it might not.
Development Mode usually just involves a single turn of a Sooth card. You don’t use dice in Development Mode. Even character sheets probably aren’t really necessary much of the time. This mode might involve the player(s) sitting down with the GM, or it might be handled through texts sent back and forth, perhaps using the feature in the Invisible Sun app designed exactly for that. The app also makes it possible for the GM to turn a card and send it to the player(s), indicating how any interpretation inspired by the card influences the outcomes of their proposed actions
So let’s take a closer look at Development Mode. This is the new feature where the game is integrating play away from the table via an app. So that you can virtually continue to play anywhere. With or without your GM by the sound of it. This is also being touted as one of the revolutionary aspects of this game.
Jump to 2:08 for an example of how this would play out in one scenario.
But for the Dubbing this as “A New Way to Play RPG’s” Might be a big of a stretch. I think I can site RPG group after RPG group that would be willing to come forward and attest that they have been running their games this way for years. This is just the first game that openly tells you to do this. ( I may even be wrong on that)
So in reality what we should be talking about here is the App. Because it is the App, that you use in the away from the table portions of Invisible Sun. So looking back on MCGs experience with Apps brings up some concerns. First off the Numenera Character Creator App is not without its flaws. And only comes in at a 3-star rating. But I will tell you as one has had this App since the beginning. It started off on very shaky grounds. And for many GM’s and Players was useless for the first year it was out. Not until recently by many, it was even considered worthless.
Why do I bring this up ? Well, much like the vaunted Trapdoor Tech was creating an electronic App for all things D&D. The Implication here seems to be that the App will hold your Character sheets, Game Notes, Sooth Deck (that also acts as Dice ? ). I bring this up because at 3:14 were told.
Sooth Cards: In side-scenes, Players dont need their character sheets or dice. Everything is handled with the app.
What’s more is the video goes on to tell us that with these rules, and the specific functions of the app. Players can play in traditional mode with everyone around the table or away from the table, and online play sessions are not only viable but the specialised rules greatly enhance the entire experience? The players play whenever and where ever is convenient.
BECAUSE NOTHING SHOULD STAND BETWEEN GAMERS AND THE GAME.
WAIT A MIN !!! ?????
Hold up rewind… let me get this straight. You want me to back your product at 197 dollars because you want to make a beautiful Delux product. And you don’t want to offer a PDF version of this product. Because most people have assumed that all of these things much like board game components are needed to play the game. Yet in reality, all that is needed is the rulebook and the sooth deck.
If you doubt me watch the above video again. It is even spelt out for you. The Players will be able to play anywhere in Traditional, Development or narrative modes.
I HAVE UNLOCKED THE SECRET OF THE BLACK BOX.
The secret of the black box is the only things standing between gamers and this game is 197 dollars.
Notes: I am a HUGE fan of Monte Cook Games. I can line up scores of people that will tell you that I am one that stands from the rafters and shouts praise at this company. They are good people and they make quality products. I am happy for them that they have crushed their goal.
I will never argue that the proposed product is likely worth $197
I was one to echo their statement of Groups should by games together. It is a good for everyone and makes life easier on the GM.
I just am baffled why this product has no PDF level of backing. Why it has such a backward message. The last part of the video says it all. MCG wants gamers to play games. But they have turned a blind eye to their fans that seem eager to flock to their newest product but either can not afford it or would be crushed by overseas shipping of the Cube.
This was posted a few days later in the in response to the questions of PDF on the Project.
Unlike other products, a big part of this game goes well beyond what you can put in a PDF—all the components and secrets in the game are physical. However, the game does come with a PDF of important setting and rules information for easy electronic searches (this PDF is not intended for an initial read-through, but rather to be used as a handy reference tool).
Also, it’s worth noting that the Developmental Mode is designed so that it requires nothing but the app (or the Sooth Deck). The rest of the game is designed around the other cool components to help convey the difference between the modes. So play at the table revolves around the components—the cards, the Testament of Suns, the Path of Suns, the tokens, and so on. They aren’t “extraneous” in the Action or Narrative Modes.