Friday, May 24, 2024

‘going rogue’ Designer Releases New Sci-Fi Combat TTRPG ‘Planet Fist’ Alongside Crowdfunding Campaign

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Jess Levine, author and designer of games like I Have the High Ground and the award-winning going rogue, has announced the release of her latest tabletop roleplaying game, PLANET FIST, alongside a 3-month fundraising campaign to raise money for the game’s further development.

The 3-5 player TTRPG combines the narrative flexibility of the Powered by the Apocalypse framework with a lightweight tactical layer reminiscent of 4th edition D&D or a pared-down traditional wargame. The result is a system that’s less about victory—no one wins in war, soldier—but rather about the war stories of cloned cannonfodder soldiers who live every moment of their unending, unsleeping lives on the battlefield. In the words of Caleb Zane Huett, designer of Triangle Agency and a PLANET FIST playtester:

“It’s a game of high-emotion, low-consequence combat, for when you’re wondering what the infinite Master Chiefs are thinking during Halo multiplayer. PLANET FIST is ‘war never changes’ said with the same inflection as ‘it’s all made up and the points don’t matter.'”

PLANET FIST is a total-conversion hack of FIST: Ultra Edition—a paranormal mercenary roleplaying game by CLAYMORE—and the winner of the SUBSTANCE category in the FIST: Ultra Jam. While PLANET FIST is strongly influenced by FIST: Ultra Edition (which itself has raised $60,000 in a currently ongoing Kickstarter for a box set) this far-future scifi hack is a standalone 60 8.5”x11”-page game that does not require a copy of FIST: Ultra Edition to play. 

Every hour of every day on Sixaura, the soldiers of each empire are killed and reborn in an endless loop. Their dead bodies derezz, the bonds between their nanos dissolving—just in time to be reassembled elsewhere, fresh with the memory of death and ready to kill once again. These clone commandos do not die and do not rest. They are duplicated forever, frozen in the same unchanging unaging body. This is the only life they know. It is a meatgrinder without meat—a bloodbath without blood. And it is also, soldier, your life.

Inspired by Starship Troopers (1997) and the video game Planetside 2, players take on the role of clone soldiers owned by in the service of three ruling empires on the isolated planet Sixaura: the corporate libertarian New Committee, the orthodox fascist Tyrat Council, and the techno-supremacist Velian Ascendancy. Assembled out of nanobots, players are built for war—they do not die, do not rest, and do not age. War is the only life they know; the battlefield their only home. It is a meatgrinder without meat, and a bloodbath without blood. This particular dystopia results in a darkly comedic satirical game with three principles:

  • DEATH IS LIFE: Don’t fear death, soldier. Pain is temporary, but war is forever. When the enemy blows your body to bits, you “derezz”, dissolving into dust cloud of spent nanos before being reassembled again. In PLANET FIST, 0 HP is only an inconvenience. That stupid idea that would either get acharacter killed or be really fucking cool? Do it, every time.
  • SHOOTOUTS ARE STORIES: PLANET FIST is combat heavy, but that doesn’t mean it’s just a turn-based combat wargame with some wordbuilding as set dressing. For Sixauran soldiers, not even sleep comes to relieve them. They live on the battlefield, and must learn to make a life out of it—it’s where they chat, hang out, make people laugh, get revenge. The place to show their crush that no one can operate a jetpack like them. They might pass a joint with their best friend while they hold the objective, waiting for the inevitable enemy charge. They must learn to live life as fully as they can manage—just do it with a gun in their hand.
  • FICTION FIRST: Don’t let the rules fool you, the story precedes them. PLANET FIST is not a video game with a list of preset actions—at that point, one might as well play Planetside 2 or XCOM. Players are instructed to express the fullest extent of what their character would want, and the GM will fit it to the game’s mechanics—“you miss 100% of the trickshots you don’t take.”

The game is also itchfunding: each sale on itch.io raises money for additional game content and PLANET FIST-related projects. It has already passed the $1000 milestone to add a new mission and double the THREATS to the base game. Milestones include:

  • $2000 – PLANET FIST WEST MARCHES-STYLE ACTUAL PLAY PODCAST: An actual play podcast series in which dozens of cast members play in different groups week-to-week, sharing PCs from a platoon of randomly generated PLANET FIST characters on a persistent map. Some regulars and guests already on board include: Jeff Stormer of the Party of One Actual Play Podcast, Caleb Zane Huett, designer of Triangle Agency, and Seamus Coneely of the ENnie-nominated blog, Cannibal Halfling Gaming.
  • $3000 – NEW MISSION WITH A NEW ORIGINAL BATTLEMAP
  • $5000 – A SECRET FINAL STRETCH GOAL

Throughout the itchfunder (from September 1st to November 30th) the $10 game will be on sale for $8—20% off. Backers can also purchases $30 bundles with 10 free community copies, and a $100 tier with 50 community copies and an acknowledgement in the rulebook.

The game features multiple invaluable contributors. CLAYMORE, the creator of FIST: Ultra Edition itself, created a unique PLANET FIST print character sheet based on the original FIST sheet. satah (sic)—the creator of games like hook, line, & cyb3r—served as PLANET FIST’s editor and design consultant. Finally, Viktor Sych illustrated an original battlemap for the game’s sample mission.

Images via Jess Levine

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