A science fiction and fantasy tabletop RPG set in a near-future where the Americas were never colonized, created by a team of Natives.
Latest Updates from Our Project:
18 days ago
– Wed, Jun 02, 2021 at 02:30:32 AM
Things are moving at a break neck pace, folks. There’s so much happening that it’s hard for me to summarize it all while also conveying how cool and exciting each of these things is. So, I’m splitting this update into two parts. We’ll talk about the where we’re at with production of everything related to the Kickstarter as well as other news. Then we’ll jump in to more game development discussion.
But first! A quick note! We’ve locked down current orders. Don’t worry, you can still pre-order or make late pledges through BackerKit and we haven’t locked down addresses yet. We’ll do that much later. So if you’re moving or not sure yet where you need your personal book shipped to, you have plenty of time. Also, please fill out your surveys if you haven’t yet. There are still around 1500 of you out there. Don’t make me wag my finger.
The good news on the Kickstarter is that most aspects are running on time or ahead of schedule. There’s one wrinkle in there that I’ll get to a minute, but for the most part, I’ve got nothing but good news.
We currently have eight Native writers and a copy editor working hard on finalizing the written copy.
We’ve got more than two dozen play testers digging into the mechanics and game play
We’ve brought on a layout designer to start assembling the pages of the book and they’ve hit the ground running
We currently have ten artists working on pieces for the game (eight of them Native)
We’ve signed on with an app developer to create our mobile app (which includes the dice app) and they are going to be including some fantastic touches that we hadn’t originally planned on
Our web designer and conlanger are deep into the work for our online name generator, language wiki and game forums
We’ve just signed with a fantastic publisher who will be doing our first localized version of Coyote & Crow outside of North America in a foreign language.
We’re also working on some...stuff. I can’t be too specific yet as deals are not in place. But here’s what I can say:
We’re in talks with an established board game designer about pairing with a Native game designer who wants to break into the industry and the two of them designing a Coyote & Crow tabletop board/card game together.
We’re working out the elements for our next Kickstarter. Including signing on an artist that I’ve wanted to work with for awhile now.
...and other really cool stuff that is going to have to stay in the shadows for now.
Speaking of shadows, let’s talk about the one dark spot amongst all of this light. I’ve spoken about this in previous posts going back more than two years and the issue is rearing its head again. While it hasn’t broken our timeline, it’s a looming threat. That issue is getting all of the art assets we need in time to hit our production deadlines.
If this is all more detail than you need, feel free to skip down a few paragraphs after the image, where I’ll get to more fun stuff. But in the interest of overall transparency, I’d like to fill you all in on this process.
Any book with a lot of art – comics, rpgs, etc – often has its schedule dictated by the artists involved. Each artist has their own pace and process. Some of them have backed up schedules. Others have day jobs. This situation is magnified in Coyote & Crow because unlike some other games, we’re trying to work with as many Native artists as we can. Many of these who are amateur have day jobs or other responsibilities. The ones who are professional often have long leads. Compounding things even further is the fact that our budget changed radically last month.
So when the Kickstarter launched and we were looking at a tiny amount of art with a fraction of our current budget, December seemed pretty reasonable. You’d think with more money, there would be fewer issues. And trust me when I say I have an inbox FULL of artists from all over the world looking to work on Coyote & Crow. But there’s the rub. I don’t want artists from all over the world. I want Native artists. And I want good art. And I want it fast. And sometimes we don’t get everything we want. It's like that classic pyramid. You've got fast, cheap, and quality. You can only pick two.
Which brings us to now. Realistically, we don’t have much longer to get the art we need to finish the book if we still want to get you the physical books by December. And I really want that to happen. I’m pulling out all the stops to get it done, but I want you all to be prepared that we may not hit our original deadline. And look, I get it. How many Kickstarters actually hit their planned date? Most of them, awesome as they may be, hit snags. Especially in our current global environment where shipping, freight, and logistics are absolutely all in chaos right now. There’s probably a good chunk of our supporters who wouldn’t be shocked if this took two years to get to you.
But it’s important to me to convey to you that while we still aren’t going to sacrifice quality, we’re doing our damnedest to get it to you on time as well. I believe we’ve settled on a new lead illustrator who is going to pick up the bulk of the work between now and when we go to print. I’m excited about having them on board and hopefully I’ll be able to tease some of his work soon.
Lastly, I want to mention the roles we’re still hiring for. First, as I just mentioned, artists, especially Native artists are welcome to apply. If you think your art style is a fit for a science fantasy RPG, please do contact us, following the instructions in the link below. At this point, any artists we bring on will be for future Stories, expansions or materials beyond the core book.
We’re also hiring for a community leader. More than just monitoring forums, this role is about making how-to videos, leading streaming game plays, being a know-it-all on the rules and generally being the face of the Coyote & Crow RPG. We strongly prefer a Native candidate, but if none steps forward, well then, we’ll consider our options. Again, please refer to the link below for details.
And with that, just for fun, here’s an art tease for you of a Character using the Art Skill to create a mask. This is just a slice of the full piece. Art by Charles Utting.
Let’s talk about the game now! Last time I discussed the six Archetypes. This time around we’re going to talk about Paths. Paths are really exciting to me and one of my favorite parts of both the in-world game play as well as character creation. They’re somewhat like the traditional concept of clans, given a fantasy spin and turned up to eleven.
From both a Player perspective (while you’re creating your character) and from the character perspective (as they’re transitioning into adulthood), Paths are something that are chosen. There are many, many Paths in Coyote & Crow. They’re a social construct combined with a specific biochemical product introduced to the character at a key moment in their adolescence in a ceremony. The biochemical product is produced from the cells of the Adahnehdi taken from various animals. We’ll get more into what the Adahnehdi is and the details of this ceremony and its cultural relevance in later updates.
For now though, what you need to know is that when the time is right, people in this world choose a path based on an animal. It’s a permanent, one time choice. In the core book, we focus on the city of Cahokia. In that region there are fifteen common Paths that people regularly choose from and that your character will have access to. Each Path has two effects. The first is a bonus to two specified Stats. For example, the Path of the Stag gives a character a +1 to Wisdom and Charisma during Character creation.
The second effect is the granting of an Ability, which we’ll also talk about in detail in a further update. While only 20% of people who go through the Adahnehdi gain an Ability, all Player Characters do. Abilities can be thought of as mild version of a super power. They don’t allow anyone to be god-like or flying around with a cape, but they do let your character do things that a normal human couldn’t.
These Stat bonuses and Abilities are often tied thematically to the animal named in the character's chosen Path. When combined with Archetype, you can start to get a very rough sketch of what your character can do, but it can also give you some insight into who they are, which is far more important.
Paths aren’t just mechanical. Yes, they dictate a couple of Stat bonuses and an Ability. But they also say something about who your character is in the world, how they view themselves and how others see them.
As a social construct and a choice made going into adulthood, many people proudly display tattoos, jewelry or other adornments that announce their Path. Some families strongly pressure their children to go down one Path or another, either the same as them or intentionally deviating from them. Some Paths are looked upon more favorably or more suspiciously, depending on the kinds of Abilities that are commonly associated with those Paths. Some people want to socialize with others of their Path, even more so than members of their family or tribe. Others want nothing to do with other members of their own Path. Some cults, clubs and militant organizations require their members to be from specific Paths. While Archetypes are out-of-game mechanical labels to help build your character, Paths have in-game social significance and are often an important part of a person’s identity.
Currently, here are the Paths offered in the core book:
Path of the Eagle
Path of the Bison
Path of the Beaver
Path of the Coyote
Path of the Fox
Path of the Owl
Path of the Stag
Path of the Spider
Path of the Falcon
Path of the Snake
Path of the Crow
Path of the Salmon
Path of the Bear
Path of the Raccoon
In expansions, we’ll offer new Paths and Abilities based on geographical regions and cultures. There are also icons associated with the Paths that are also commonly seen around Cahokia in jewelry, tattoos, clothing, and on some business signs. However there’s no such thing as an ‘official’ in-world symbol of a Path and lots of folks don’t display their Path at all or find their own unique ways of conveying it.
That's all for now. I hope you're having a lovely Memorial Day if that's something you celebrate.
All my best,
(this post will also appear on our website as a development blog post)
Update #11 - Surveys!
about 2 months ago
– Mon, May 03, 2021 at 09:51:19 PM
Folks, they are here!
A few of you may have already received them and for the rest of you, they'll be sent out in waves over the next few days. If you're new to Kickstarter, you'll be receiving an email from BackerKit, the pledge manager we're working with. Here's what's in it and what you need to know.
If you pledged extra money over an amount for a pledge for an extra book, it should show as a credit in BackerKit. You'll be able to specify where you want that extra spent.
We'll be asking you a few questions, including: What products would you like to see from Coyote & Crow next, details on where you'd like donated copies sent to, questions about your retail stores, etc. Questions should only be relevant to your pledge.
We'll also confirm your shipping address, but don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to change this later as we'll look confirm and lock that information down shortly before shipping.
If you have issues or concerns, please email us CoyoteAndCrowRPG@gmail.com (and considering how many backers we have, please be patient, thank you!)
We're also going to have our next development blog up on our website, hopefully this weekend. So if you haven't signed up for our newsletter yet, now is a great time. Head over to our website: www.coyoteandcrow.net
Have a great weekend folks!
about 2 months ago
– Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 10:34:29 PM
With the campaign officially wrapped and the dust settling, we're finally in a position where we can give you all some news. Happy to report that it's all good stuff!
First, I want to thank all 16,269 of you that backed Coyote & Crow. It was more than just a vote of confidence in our game, it was a clear mandate for us to move forward with taking our RPG and launching a full fledged publishing operation.
Your enthusiasm and support has helped ensure that we're going to be able to not only put out fantastic accessories and expansion products for Coyote & Crow, but that there's a demand for other games and media set in the world of Coyote & Crow.
For now though, let's jump back to the product you backed. Currently, we're still holding to our estimated timeline.
We should have surveys out to you within the week.
For those of you who donated books, there will be a question in the survey about your preferences. Please provide as much information as possible as we want to do our best to honor your requests. At the same time, if you don't have information or preferences, we'll be making sure every donated copy finds a good home.
Late pledges will remain open for as long as we can keep them open.
We're already hard at work on some of the stretch goals, like the Kag Chahi Wiki and Character Name Generator. We'll release those as soon as they're ready and it makes sense.
We'll be working on organizing community support tools (website forums, Discord, Facebook Group, etc.)
We'll also be hiring some new folks, including play testers now that we're re-working our budget. We'll have a blog post about that on our site soon.
We're going to be doing Development Blog posts over the coming weeks and months covering various thematic and mechanical aspects of the game. So, if you haven't yet, sign up for our newsletter here: https://coyoteandcrow.net/newsletter/
Our plan is still to release all digital rewards by November and get physical rewards to you by December. We'll update that timeline as we know more. Obviously our timelines can be affected by development as well as shipping and Covid concerns but we're doing our best to account for those issues.
We won't be doing any media (interviews, streamed play throughs, cons, etc)for awhile as we want to stay focused on development. As we get closer to a retail release, we'll begin to schedule those again.
Until then, take care, be safe.
The Finish Line
3 months ago
– Sat, Apr 03, 2021 at 04:41:44 AM
We did it folks. In just 30 days we:
Smashed through our 18k original goal in just 45 minutes
Hit all of our original stretch goals in less than a week
Made waves across gaming media
Hit the $1 million+ mark, putting us in the top 6 RPG books of all time
earmarked 5000 books for donations to reservation and tribal libraries, schools and community centers (more on that below)
Those are just a few of the highlights. We here on the C&C team are all so appreciative and grateful for the incredible show of support and enthusiasm from Natives and gamers (and Native gamers!) alike. Now that the Kickstarter is done, we'll continue to be as transparent about our process as possible. Please bear with us as we're having to jump through a number of hoops to scale up our project from what we assumed would be 300-500 backers, to more than 16,000 folks jumping on board. But as we start the next leg of our journey, I wanted to share with all of you our goals and mission, both for this Kickstarter project and for Coyote & Crow going forward.
We want to deliver you an amazing core book, full of incredible content, smart game play, inspiring art, and Native imagination. We want to deliver it to you as quickly as we can but never by sacrificing the quality of the book.
We want to produce additional digital content that is accessible, exciting, and supportive of the core book. This includes all of our stretch goals and a number of other initiatives we're working on. Our digital tools should help make your game play easier and more immersive.
We want to reach beyond traditional RPG circles and bring new folks to the hobby, especially Natives. This means fostering organized play and bringing the game beyond the walls of hobby stores and out into the broader community. The donated books are wonderful but we also need to make sure they're played and that the people that want to play have access to all the tools and toys that we can make available.
We want to use your support and generosity to put more Native creatives in the spotlight. We'll do that by continuing to hire Natives for future C&C projects, but we want to do more than just that. We want this seedling to help foster a garden. Over the coming months, we'll hopefully have more news on exactly how that will happen.
We want all of our products to have a minimal environmental impact and to push our industry to do better when it comes to sustainable production practices.
We want to make sure that there's always a sense of giving in what we're doing. For me personally, that means helping ensure that I'm doing my part to preserve Native languages. Part of our website will be dedicated to a crowd sourced effort to translate Coyote & Crow into Native languages and to make those translated versions (in PDF or POD), free to educators.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to revisit what our plans are for all of the donated copies. When we created the pledge we were hoping for maybe one or two hundred copies and if it came down to it and we couldn't find a better way, I could handle delivering each of those books, one at a time, to the appropriate libraries. But with 5000 books, that's a little more than is practical to do that way.
We're currently working on partnering with a number of organizations, including the American Indian Library Association and the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries & Museums, and likely others. But more than that, with so many copies we're able to move beyond just libraries. We can now start getting the books into appropriate schools, community centers and more. Our goal is still the same, to get the game into the hands of Natives who might not otherwise have access to it. To build community through aspirational game play and story telling. To let Natives know that they have a valued space and voice in the gaming world.
When it comes time for the survey, we'll ask you all the usual questions, but we'll also be asking you if you have a preference for where you'd like your donated copy to go to and if you want it donated in someone's name. Once the books are out, we'll list their locations on our website along with any contributor names that you've offered.
Thank you all so much for not just proving me right but for doing so with a deafening roar. When I started this project more than two years ago, I was convinced that this world wasn't just interesting or fresh or unusual, it was something that was deeply needed. A million dollars in 30 days sends a powerful message to the world. If I have my way, this is just the start for Coyote & Crow and I'm so happy that you're all in on the ground floor with me.
Over the coming months, I'm sure we're going to have plenty more great news to share.
What About The Rest of the World? (And our next stretch goal!)
3 months ago
– Wed, Mar 31, 2021 at 04:09:33 AM
Today, I want to talk about a topic that a few people have asked about in a variety of ways. The essence of these questions really boil down to this. What's going on in other parts of the world outside of the Americas in this alternate future? In Coyote & Crow, we focus most closely on Cahokia, our starting city. We touch on the Free Lands and the other nations of Makasing and we'll even briefly outline the nations further south in what we call Abayang and Abazang (South and Central America).
But what about Asia? Africa? Islands in the Pacific? What's going on in the rest of the world and how were they all affected by this alternate history and by the Adahnehdi? The short answer is this: We're not going to address that in this book.
Here's the slightly longer answer. The people of this world are coming out of a mini ice age. They've been dealing with issues of survival for centuries. That survival isn't just about the elements. Much of it is about internal and external politics too. There was a devastating war that affected a good portion of both continents. This war led to many of the current treaties and recognized boundaries that you see on the map that appears on the Kickstarter page.
As you build your characters in this world, it's helpful to remember that their world is changing around them. The weather is improving, technology is exploding in capability and reach. Governments are carefully watching their neighbors and weighing the strength of their alliances and treaties. It's in this context that people are beginning to explore out beyond their borders. We're going to let individual Story Guides decide for the time being what's out there. We may give you all some vague clues, but we don't want to box you in too early.
But there's a longer answer to the kind of question this is that I want to address. It's not that wondering what people in Japan are doing during all of this is a problem. It's not. It's natural curiosity. But behind some folks questions, I'm detecting a hint of something else. I think some folks have a mindset that if you're intelligent and advanced and capable than the world must inevitably look and behave something like it does now. Maybe with different art or architecture, different music or food, but that there would a fundamental 1:1 analogy to our real world. That the people of this world, if they could fly to Japan, necessarily should have by now.
I reject that idea wholeheartedly and I'll tell you why. Expansionism is complicated and it is a reflection of a lot of sociological factors. As a generalization, people tend to push outward when they're in need of resources. While there is something to be said for humans innate drive to explore and search the great beyond, our species as a whole tends to spread out in a way that either keeps us in balance with the world around us or, if we're consuming too much, forces us to continue to spread further.
It's important that I emphasize that the people of Coyote & Crow aren't living in a utopia or any kind of Iron Eyes Cody bullshit fantasy land. But I do believe that most Indigenous cultures around the world are pretty good at finding a sustainable balance between their needs and the physical world around them. So take that basic idea and apply it to the people of Coyote & Crow. You had a population in the hundreds of millions that was brought low by a climate disaster, starvation, and war. Hundreds of years later, as people are recovering, their concepts of expansion or travel aren't going to be the same as we see in our real world.
North America alone is 10 million square miles of territory. Even with the population rebounding significantly in the last 100 years, with roughly 40 million people living in Makasing, can you picture how vastly open this continent would be? It's basically the equivalent of the current population of California spread out over the entire US.
There's flight in Coyote & Crow. They have sunwings (which are small personal aircraft) and yutsu vehicles (yutsu is a form of technology that allows for hovering vehicles). They understand astronomy and physics. These folks can get into orbit if they want to. The question isn't can they or even have they. The question you need to ask is why would they want to go there. I don't mean individuals, I mean societies. During your sagas and stories, you may invent reasons to take those trips. And that's part of what the game is about, the mystery of exploration.
So once you've had a chance to read through the book and all of the ancillary materials, maybe you'll want to tell a story about a group of explorers who sail to Africa. That's great! I know what's waiting in Africa in terms of how I've built out this world and there will be plenty of clues in the book, but I want to hear what you think is there. Maybe down the line we'll canonize what's going on over on other continents. But for now, we have so much rich material to tell stories in Makasing. We'll build that world out first, because to me, it's the most important location. When we do branch out, our first stop will be to focus on Central and South America which have such amazing potential for stories and settings.
On to other things! We have our final stretch goal and is it a doozy. We're going to partner with Native and award winning author Rebecca Roanhorse to write a one shot adventure for Coyote & Crow. If you haven't read her books, I highly suggest them. You can find out more about her on her website: https://rebeccaroanhorse.com/
To unlock this stretch goal, we'll need to hit $1 million. That might seem like a lot but our research tells us that many Kickstarters receive to up 25% of their funding in the last 3 days. I think that means we can do it. When I started this campaign at $18,000, I thought I was being practical and reasonable. The lesson of the last three weeks is that you all have given me a sign that it's okay to dream big for this world we're building. So if I'm going to dream big, I think this goal is the right kind of aspirational. To me, this goal is about sending a message to the gaming and RPG industry. It says that representation and diversity isn't just the right thing to do, it also brings a much needed freshness of perspective and ideas to our hobby that the public obviously wants.