Created by penny lantern

A tabletop fantasy adventure RPG centered on a village community.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Spring bursts forth and books get covered
about 1 year ago – Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 05:48:39 PM

Long before the assassination of a certain emperor, the Ides of March marked the first full moon of the new year, which was considered a harbinger of the coming spring. At the start of each new season during a game of Stonetop, one of the player's rolls dice to set the scene:

In this excerpt, you'll see that when spring bursts forth upon the land, whichever character is most hopeful gets to roll. I can't say who among Jeremy, Lucie and I is the most hopeful, but whichever one of us rolled the dice this Ides clearly got a 10 or higher and chose unexpected bounty as our seasonal gain: we're nearing 70k in funding, which is twice my most optimistic estimate at the outset of this campaign. Our gratitude for this great fortune is boundless!

Book covers

This morning, when I came down into my freezing-cold basement studio and laid eyes on my work table, I made a noise between a sigh and a chuckle. This mess is a perfect visual summary of both the inside of my head and the promise of our game.

On the left are some test prints for some of the maps that we plan to offer as add-ons. And at the lower right there you can see a printout of a recent cover draft.

Developing the covers for these books, trying to communicate the "vibe" of the game via clear graphic design, is the kind of challenge I really enjoy. Here's what the progression has looked like over the past four months, as Jeremy and I have gone back and forth on the subject:

After we settled on a final look, I assigned the cover illustrations to Lucie. She delivered them this past Friday, and they are beautiful. I couldn't resist working them up into what will be very close to our final design. You can click through to see them if you wish, but BE WARNED that you may want to reserve the reveal for the moment you hold the actual books in your hands.

At the end of the week we'll announce our final stretch goal. It's an exciting one!

Until then, may we all be among the hopeful as spring bursts forth upon our lands. Right now in Vermont that still looks like three inches of ice and snow, but a guy can dream, can't he?


Introducing: The Fox
about 1 year ago – Sat, Mar 13, 2021 at 08:48:41 AM

Time for some more content! 

Last time, we got to see the Lightbearer, one of the "magic" classes in Stonetop. This time, we get to meet...

Click for a PDF of the Fox playbook

The Fox fills the "rogue" or "thief" niche in this game. They're clever, skillful, maybe charming, often a bit shady.  They're a perennial favorite.

One of the design challenges with this playbook was reconciling the cosmopolitan, worldly rogue archetype with the isolated iron-age village of Stonetop. After all, it's not like a farmer's kid in the middle of nowhere would have much cause to take up lock-picking. Choosing the right backgrounds was the key to making it work. The Fox might be a local who's just quicker and cleverer than everyone else. Or they might be a new arrival who fled a life of crime in a bigger settlement. Or they can be a Stonetop native who's been off seeing the world, making friends and enemies, and now they've come home. 

If I had to pick a favorite move from this playbook, it'd be Danger Sense. I find that granting the Fox's player the right to always ask "is there a trap or ambush here?" works very well in play. It's a great model for handing any sort of "extraordinary" sense, because it takes the burden off the GM.   

I think my other favorite thing is about the Fox is their Tall Tales, and the rather elaborate escapades that every Fox seems (or claims) to have had.

What about you? What strikes your fancy? If you were going to play Fox, what would they be like?  What tall tales would you tell?


Foundry System & Lucie's Art Online
about 1 year ago – Fri, Mar 12, 2021 at 01:39:21 PM

Phew! We just cleared 60k. I don't even.

It's super exciting to see our numbers climb like this, but also just a little bit nerve-wracking. The addition of the slipcase has added some complexity to the logistics, but more money means we'll be cushioned against any unforeseen costs.  And more backers means more people we have to please! Luckily, we're confident that Stonetop is up to that task.

Today I come to you with two announcements of interest:

65k stretch goal: Stonetop system for Foundry

If we hit 65k, we'll produce a full "system" for the Foundry Virtual Tabletop. Unlike the online play aids we'll be offering, which can be ported onto various platforms, this will integrate Stonetop's mechanics, components, and setting material into Foundry's platform, allowing for a comprehensive online play experience. A fan of the game came forward and offered to do this work (don't worry, we're paying them!), so Jeremy and I can keep our focus on writing, editing, and layout of the books. We are hoping to have this system ready to go by October 2021, the same time the physical books ship.

Lucie Draws Things

She certainly does. And there has been a bit of a clamor from backers over all of the lovely art we've been able to share so far. Enough of a clamor, in fact, for Lucie to set up her own web shop in order for people to get their hands on prints and original art. Lucie will be adding to this online portfolio as she continues to create art for the game, so if you're interested in nabbing an original or two as they become available, you may want to bookmark it.

Work continues apace as we focus on polishing the material that will comprise the playable preview we'll be sharing with all of you at the the close of the campaign. More news soon!


Introducing: The Lightbearer
about 1 year ago – Sun, Mar 07, 2021 at 09:33:53 PM

First of all: holy cow.  Less than a week in and we've blown through our stretch goals, over 1,000 people have backed this project, and more backers are continuing to join. It's humbling. I can't really express my gratitude, nor my excitement at welcoming you all to Stonetop.

As Jason mentioned in the last update, we're going to be extremely cautious about adding new stretch goals. I know the excitement of seeing goals get posted and then knocked down, but we need to beware of over-commitment. 

You all are putting a lot of faith in us. Our primary goal is—needs to be—delivering on the core promise of this campaign: the two game books and associated materials. 

Speaking of faith...

Click for a PDF of the Lightbearer playbook

The Lightbearer was the first "spellcaster" playbook that I created for Stonetop. This is a lower-magic setting, and the magic that's there is meant to be mysterious, often subtle, very often dangerous and costly and creepy.  The challenge was to create a playbook with access to magic that wasn't particularly dark, but that still fit

The Lightbearer doesn't exactly cast spells. Rather, they consecrate a flame to the sun god, and then invoke power through that flame. This means that the Lightbearer needs to bear light; they need a lit candle, torch, or lantern at hand to use most of their magic. This gives them a very real, very practical limitation. In play, it often makes their magic feel tenuous and truly mystical. 

I also wanted a "divine" class that reflected what I see are the best parts of faith: kindness, hope, mercy, a sense of purpose and connection, inspiring without being arrogant. You can make your Lightbearer an overbearing, overzealous jerk if you really want to, but I hope that the playbook mostly leans away from that. 

You'll probably notice a very "Gandalf" feel to this playbook, with some hints of Gnosticism and Sufism, and just a pinch of Johnny Cash. It was one of my favorite playbooks to write. I hope you enjoy it!


Stretch goal update
about 1 year ago – Thu, Mar 04, 2021 at 09:16:04 PM

Dear backers,

We have the great good fortune of finding ourselves in an unexpected and wonderful position—raising far more funds than we originally anticipated. Before launch, I thought we stood an outside chance of hitting 35k and as I type this we are approaching 40k. Thank you all for that!

We are currently discussing the best ways to take advantage of this position without overextending ourselves. We're excited to add more stretch goals, but they need to be meaningful and manageable, so they're going to be spaced further apart. We're also excited to get paid for all of our hard work, which your generous support now makes possible!

Today we're adding 4 new stretch goals. A couple of them won't require any stretching, since their funding levels have already been met, so maybe those are more like "surprise achievements." In any case, here's what's in store, with more to come as we sort out details behind the scenes.


[SURPRISE ACHIEVEMENT!] $40,000: Slipcase. A sturdy, lovingly-designed container for both books. This had been on my wishlist from the moment we decided to break Stonetop into two volumes. Here's a very rough idea of what it might look like:

Slipcase mockup; design subject to change

[SURPRISE ACHIEVEMENT!] $42,500: Hand-drawn map of Gordin's Delve. A bird's-eye view of Stonetop's closest neighboring settlement, drawn by Lucie.

$45,000: Hand-drawn map of Marshedge. A bird's-eye view of the bustling town down east, where Brennan and his Claws hold sway, drawn by Lucie.

$47500: Annotated Actual Play. Hobbes LaGault, a longtime resident of Stonetop, will produce a series of annotated actual play videos with Jeremy running the game. Annotations will highlight GM moves as they are made, rules being referenced, player choices, mechanical interactions, and any missteps noticed in retrospect.

As mentioned above, we're being very cautious about what stretch goals we choose to take on. We only have about 5 months left before we need to get the files to the printer, so our focus needs to be on finishing the books. That being said, there are a few more stretch goals in the works!

In closing, I invite you to rest your eyes on the page spread from The Wider World and Other Wonders that I just finished laying out this morning:

Click through for larger image