Rebel Crown Quickstart

Rebel Crown is a Forged in the Dark game of courtly intrigue, feudal ambition, and perilous conflict.

As we did with Goblinville, we’re sharing a Quickstart of the rules that folks can check out and play from day one.

I wanted to share this with the Gauntlet community a little early and open up a space to talk about the design and answer questions that might come up for folks that read or play it.

Design elements of note:

  • Asymmetrical Playbooks designed around character motivations and dynamics.
  • A player-driven campaign driven by seizing feudal holdings and forming alliances.
  • A set campaign structure with epilogue rules for victory and defeat.
  • A scars system (replacing Blades’ trauma rules) with shared authorship of these conditions and more player choice in how they manifest in the moment.

Here’s the link to the Quickstart, I’d love to hear your thoughts and field questions.

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One element I’d like to highlight: Rebel Crown has assymetrical playbooks. One player must be the Claimant, former heir to the throne who was betrayed by their family and robbed of their rightful titles.

This playbook is at the heart of the campaign, but we didn’t want to make a game that follows the story of one player character at the exclusion of the others. So we made the Claimant’s player explicitly responsible for spotlight sharing and reinforced this responsibility through their XP triggers:
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The result has been that the Claimant is constantly pulling other characters into the scene to ask their advice, to request a sacrifice, to reward their loyalty. The other playbooks have XP triggers that reward them for taking initiative, to not wait until the Clamaint asks for their advice or intercession. Here’s the Devoted:
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The flow from these rewards has been really satisfying, and character motivation and relationship is constantly at the center of play. This was probably the part of the system we were most worried about, and these XP triggers have gotten a lot of workshopping, but we’re happy with the result so far.

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Our Kickstarter preview is now up and I’d love any feedback on the page itself, especially:

  • How clear is the premise of the game?
  • Are the tiers easy to differentiate?
  • Any details feel missing or unanswered questions?
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Hi, here’s my feedback : the content is very clear, but the lexicon could get laxer once the key words (sortie, retinue) have been introduced and explained.
The “what I get” and KS frame are well in hand, and I wish you luck in your endeavour.

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Thanks, @DeReel. I appreciate your taking a look and will go back and make sure that rules terms don’t impede the clarity of the KS page.

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Rebel Crown Playbooks are now in the Character Keeper.

Added an embedded die roller, though the results are unique to the user, so you have to call them out.

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This is a very clever use of Google sheets, kudos!

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You can check out a duet actual play of Rebel Crown on the Party of One Podcast.

It was neat getting to put in some tweaks to make a game focused on character dynamics work with one player. (Give them a levy to command, investigate the relationship with the Claimant but keep them mostly offscreen, etc). I also always appreciate the deep focus you can have on one character in duet play.

I know duet actual play examples are in high demand right now, as a lot of folks can’t meet up with their regular groups. If folks have questions about the system based on the episode (or on FitD duet play) I’m happy to answer.

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The game clicks quick. For the rolls in the tavern, do you tick a unique Sortie clock ? or multiple clocks ? and what do clocks look like “behind the screen” ? It seems to flow freely from start to finish, but I don’t think a FitD game gives anything free :wink:

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You can check out the sheets we used here.

I created a clock based on the player’s intent (spur the crowd to action) and progressed it based on his actions. The threat clocks were created on the fly based on the consequences of specific rolls.

The quickstart has some guidelines on creating and managing clocks, but we’re developing more support around this for the full release.

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Excellent ! It’s similar to Blades in the Dark, and “yet” there was not an hint of slowness in the pre-roll negotiation. Jeff Stormer is building up high drama quickly for a character that will succeed or crash trying.

It seems that your games are made for the improv crowd : “Yes and” + accepting hard losses make them sing. What third ingredient do I overlook ?

Jeff Stormer’s downtime move of “resting” in a cell is at odds with what I perceive of the character. I think it was triggered by the harm taken. Has the game got a harsh death-spiral ?

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I think the third ingredient to make Rebel Crown sing is a willingness to invest in the characters. A lot of the challenges and compromises will be tied to character beliefs and drives, so you have to care about the character to appreciate the narrative payoff.

Your observation about the downtime actions is spot-on. Bogran had ambitions but they were stalled by a slightly over-harsh recovery system. This is something that’s changed in the past month (when we recorded). Rebel Crown originally had a recovery system much like Blades’, but with less disposable characters it wasn’t matching the intended pace of play. Here are the new recovery rules:

Recover
Recovery is a long term project with a four-segment clock. To progress the clock, any character may spend a downtime action and roll the retinue’s Tier. This represents the quality of rest and treatment you are able to obtain. Another character may spend stress to assist with the roll. Completing the clock shifts all harm down one level (level 3 harm becomes level 2, etc). Additional successes are immediately applied to your next recovery clock (unless completely recovered).
The Idealist’s Physician special ability allows them to progress recovery clocks (theirs and others’) using their Prayer rating rather than Tier and grants +1 to all recovery rolls.

This requires fewer rolls and tends to be more intuitive: instead of choosing to get a doctor or tough it out, you just roll your Tier.

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In a recent update we shared the rules for mass battles in Rebel Crown. The goals of the design are:

  • Provide clear, player-facing tools for pacing battles
  • Reward player preparations and make scale and Tier meaningful to the stakes
  • Provide meaningful choices at the army/ strategy level (in the Field clock)
  • Provide meaningful choices at the character level (in the Foe clock)
  • Reinforce themes of consequences and reflection (in the Fallout clock)

I’d love to hear what folks think.

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Field and Foe evoke images from both a Song of Ice and Fire and Tolkien. The text is dense but it works. Fallout is harder to grasp : could disease, upheaval or poverty spreading after the battle be part of it ? Can one advance Fallout with a Devil’s Bargain ? or how ?
I am also wondering how the same 3 categories could be made to inform an Otherkinded battle move.
Good work !

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Thanks! The fallout clock is meant to be immediate: the wraiths that rise up from dead infantry, having to patch up / triage the wounded to get back on the move again, critical structural damage (if defending) or establishing control of captured assets (if attacking).

After a sortie, the retinue gains a variable amout of unrest, which models those longer-term consequences. Since the retinue can quell unrest each downtime, they may cope with that level of consquence over many in-game months.

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