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By Rebecca Carlson and Michael Blackwell

*This article originally appeared in The Corsair on September 22, 2016.

Pensacola local Tanner Yea still can’t believe that the tabletop role-playing game (RPG)  he co-authored raised 860% of their funding goals on Kickstarter. Gamers have voted with their dollars, and they say it’s time for a new RPG.

Yea, an RPG fan and writer, had been with Grim and Perilous Studios for about a year and a half when Zweihänder: Grim & Perilous RPG made the front page of Kickstarter.com for successfully raising $61,743 in 30 days from 1,265 backers last month.  

The original $7,100 goal was “100% funded in 6 hours” according to the Zweihänder Kickstarter page. The game has since been featured on Forbes.com as well.

img_1826By Becca Carlson

“I didn’t think we would make it past $7000.00,” Yea said. “And then we busted through most of our stretch goals within a week.” Stretch goals are additional funding goals added by the company once the original goal has been met. “One of the big things about Kickstarter is that a lot of them [companies] get hung up on stretch goals. So we wanted to be very careful about that.”

 

German for “two-handed” and more commonly known as a great sword, Zweihänder (pronounced tsfai henda or zvai hander as the creator prefers) is an RPG by Grim & Perilous Studios. Somewhat like Dungeons & Dragons, Zweihänder is based more on the Warhammer RPG and has influences from The Witcher.

“Unlike [other games] which are very high fantasy, …this game is meant to portray low fantasy stuff,” said Yea. “It’s more aimed towards grittier fantasies.”

3a06df1324918a4e2148835a74f8f4b4_originalBy Grim and Perilous

New settings and characters are used to get around those pesky Intellectual Property (IP) issues and the protective nature of companies like Games Workshop.

“You’re not going to see “Sigmar,” but we had to have a name for the “God of Humanity.” Yea said, “We’ve talked to IP people—we are not infringing. Either way, we have nothing but respect for Games Workshop and the stuff they put out. If not, we wouldn’t have made this game.”

 

“There are common archetypes. We have to have the Orcs. We have to have the Lizard Men. We have to have the Rat Men. It’s more of an homage,”  Said Yea. The adaptability of gods and creatures is part of the versatility of the game. Simplicity in design is another part and a 10-minute basic walkthrough is all most players will need. As far as the overall playability— if the new edition of D&D is a 5 out of 10 Yea feels, “This [game] is a 6 or 7.”

play2By Becca Carlson

 

Yea met Zweihänder creator Daniel Fox through an RPG forum a few years ago. By that time Fox had been working on the project for about 2 years. Yea offered to help edit and write “a little flavor text here and there,” he said. “I just started writing more and more” After Yea contributed so much to the project, Fox then offered him a co-author’s title.

 

Despite deadline pushbacks, revisions, coming up with the mythology, and adding things, Yea and the rest of the Grim & Perilous Studios team persevered. Aside from Fox and Yea, the team includes art director Dejan Mandic, cover and interior artist Jussi Alarauhio, layout designer Milena Lakicevic, former editor Walter Fulbright, current editor Tim Earley, character sheet designer David Nadj and play test lead Adam Rose.

newcoverartBy Grim and Perilous

 

There’s been an “evolution of mechanics” in the RPG world said Yea, increasing in complexity throughout the years. Zweihänder has the aesthetic of the ‘80’s and 90’s style RPG’s but is “surprisingly deadly” including lasting injuries, infections, and mutations from evil energies. “Mental peril” is also a factor of this game said Yea.

 

A fully playable art-less PDF (published and printed through LuLu.com) has been released to backers. In addition, plans to release the game on Drive Thru RPG are in the works.

 

“What’s cool to see is that people who’ve got the book already are super responsive to it,” Yea expressed. “A lot of people seem to be really satisfied with it— which is great!” Late pledges are still being accepted on their CrowdOx page and late pledgers will also get access to the non-art PDF. Yea is hoping to tap into the faithful RPG buyers’ market with the low risk— try it before you buy it—strategy along with banner ads on some of the bigger RPG websites.

coverBy Grim and Perilous

What’s next for Zweihänder? “What we’re going to do is invest into future products,” said Yea. “We’re going to make new adventures, more supplements, that kind of thing.” Expansions and new products are coming in the near future including Liber Abyssia, a supplement that will explore more about demons and dark magic. Also, a possible Pensacon appearance is in the works.

As for the RPG drought, Yea put it best— “It’s all ogre now.”

—Michael’s Game Review—

Zweihänder is a refreshingly human take on the classic fantasy RPG. Its strength is that it goes through great lengths to make the players feel like they are real people, even the non-human characters, living in a fantastic world, you have to deal with lasting injuries, local politics, sleazy businessmen and more as you make your way through the game in addition to the more outlandish challenges you may face. The game is very down to earth and the problems you solve, or cause if that is your thing, affect the world immediately around you as opposed to the grandiose world saving adventures that ultimately end in a return to the status quo that are so common in high fantasy games. The difference is a welcome one and I look forward to seeing what the creators do next.