The road so far
A year ago, almost exactly to the date, we decided that Defiant was a game worth releasing. Here in Poland, we were entering into the first lockdown. Our lifestyle was suddenly changing; the whole world was in a state we have never witnessed in our lives. We weren’t sure what the future would bring, but we were set on showing our ideas to the world – to you. We felt that there might be a place for us and our games in the vast, diverse, and fascinating world of Role-playing Games. But of course, we knew it would eventually all come down to you and your response. Would you like the game? Would you be ready to risk losing a few bucks over a product brought to you by an unknown publisher, written by authors you’ve never heard of?
To release the game in 2020, we needed to make a lot of compromises. We knew there could be none when it came to the game’s design, that we needed to use all of our energy to deliver you a really well-designed product. Unfortunately, that meant we had to decide on releasing only an electronic version of the book. Believe me – it wasn’t an easy decision. We published two games in Poland before, and that awesome feeling of opening a printed copy of something you worked on is one of the greatest joys I know. But we knew we couldn’t pull that off if we wanted to release Defiant in the summer of 2020. And to be entirely honest – at that point, we weren’t sure what the future would bring. How would the world change in the upcoming months? What will happen to our company (outside game design, we are small business owners), to our employees?
So we went ahead with our plan. By the end of June 2020, Defiant RPG hit the virtual shelves of DriveThruRPG. And we found ourselves frantically hitting the “refresh” button on the DTRPG’s “publisher report” site. By this point, it was all up to you. And that’s when the magic happened. The numbers began to grow. The first sale, the second one, the first dozen, the first hundred. There was no marketing campaign before the release, no news on any of the major RPG-related info hubs. And yet, some of you took an interest in this strange new game with a Leviathan Aristocrat on its cover. Understandably, it took a few days, but the first reviews have slowly begun to appear. Apparently, you really enjoyed the game! We started getting emails and chats from you. Some of you had additional questions, and some just wanted to pat us on the back for a job well done. It felt (and still feels) amazing!
From the very beginning, we were asked about the printed version, and we always replied in the same way – at this point, we have no plans for creating one. But now, a year has passed, and it’s time to make new plans, to take the next step. As I write these words, we’ve already made deals with local publishers and licensed Defiant to be translated and released in Brazil, South Korea, Poland, and France. Furthermore, Kickstarter is now available in Poland (until the end of 2020, we could only back projects but could not create our own).
Into the future
We spent the last few months talking with logistics companies, print houses and educating ourselves on managing crowdfunding campaigns. Before announcing anything, we wanted to be sure we’d be able to deliver on our promises. As I stated before, we did publish games in Poland, so we do have some experience, but getting onto the international market, especially with all the complications that 2020 and 2021 have brought, was something new that we needed to prepare for. And we are now prepared for the next phase of the Defiant project. As you have probably guessed by now, we want to launch a crowdfunding campaign to bring you Defiant in a new, printed form. But that’s only a part of it. We want to expand on the game, change Defiant into a full publishing line, with new supplements coming out every couple of months. There’s so much more to the world of Defiant than what we were able to show you in the main rulebook, and we can’t wait to share it all with you.
Here’s the rundown on everything we plan to do in the near future:
Throughout the past year, many of you have asked for a possibility to get to know Defiant without the need to buy the game. Should you invest your money in a product that you know nothing about? Would Defiant be the right fit for you and your group? We tried to answer some of those questions by teaming up with streamers to bring you some Defiant RPG actual play streams. Additionally, we are starting a series of explainer videos, beginning with an episode about how Challenges work in Defiant.
However, we were aware that there’s no better way to show you the game than by creating a quickstart rulebook. It took us quite some time, as we were not satisfied with bringing you a simple, stripped-down version of the game, but we can now announce that our new book – Defiant Awakening, will be hitting the virtual shelves somewhere around late April / early May!
With around half of the main rulebook’s opacity, Defiant Awakening is a guide that will let you start your adventure with Defiant RPG without paying a dime. It comes with its own separate rules on creating Player Characters (of Angelic and Daeva Origins), an introduction to the world of Defiant, and a rundown of all the important game mechanics. Defiant Awakening is all you need to play out a couple of Episodes and really get to know the game.
What we’re most proud of (and what took the most time to prepare) is the new Province chapter. In Defiant Awakening, you will still play in the city of New Hethlon, in the Bridgewood Boulevard Province. However, the mini-Chronicle is set a whole year before the events from the main rulebook. This means you can create your Characters using the Awakening rules, play a couple of Episodes, and if you grow fond of your Defiant group, continue playing using the main rulebook. The “old” Bridgewood Boulevard can also be used with the main rulebook as an alternate starting setting.
With Kickstarter now available for developers in Poland, we can take Defiant to the next level. In June, we will start a crowdfunding campaign to bring to life the printed version of the game. Click here to get the notification on launch. We’re aiming for a hardcover, two-column, around 300 pages long, A4/Letter-sized, full-color book that will be great for reading and will look awesome on your game shelves. The new book will have all the material from the electronic version and more! You can read more about it below.
We see the Kickstarter campaign as more than just a way to publish Defiant in print. We really want to “kickstart” the project – use the crowdfunding campaign as a means to gather enough resources and fans to launch a whole Defiant publishing line. There’s so much Defiant material just waiting to be edited and published! We’d love to dive into it, but the harsh reality is simple – we need to know there are enough interested people around for it to make sense. If we are to start publishing regularly, we need to commit to this and hold ourselves to high standards. And this means it would have to come at the expense of some of our other projects and ventures. Hence, the Kickstarter campaign. This way, we can see how many of you are willing to join us on this wild, new adventure.
If you’ve already bought the game
After the release of the electronic version of Defiant, some of you asked about the printed edition. We told you there was no chance for that in the foreseeable future. We understand that some of you might not have bought the electronic rulebook, if you knew, you could get a printed copy in the future instead.
This was not an evil scheme. We really had no plans to create a printed version at the time; we were not trying to trick you into buying Defiant. Still, some of you might feel misinformed, and we understand that. We will try to address that issue as best we can. We will be changing our pricing strategy in the upcoming weeks, and then we can explain everything in detail. But right now, we can already promise you this: Everyone who bought the electronic version of the rulebook on DriveThruRPG will also get the Kickstarter electronic version at no additional cost. We are also working on a few additional bonuses, to be able to say “thank you” to those of you who supported us in the early days by buying our game. We’ll announce them later when we’ll be sure we can deliver on our promises.
New layout and illustrations
While all of the rulebook’s original content will make its way to the Kickstarter version, we are changing the layout to make it a better fit for print. The current version of Defiant was made for reading it on a phone/tablet or a PC. We know that when it comes to a physical copy, different rules apply. We will be switching to a two-column layout for easier reading; the font will also be smaller as well, of course.
We are definitely sticking with the current style of illustrations, but we will add many new pieces. For the past few months, we have also been working on improving some of the illustrations we found not quite as good as we wanted them to be.
The additional Chapter of the rulebook will focus on two new game mechanics, currently called “Perks” and “Achievements” (the names are subject to change, though). They will both come in the form of optional rules.
“Perks” are additional bonuses and backgrounds that you can pick during Character Creation. It might be a venture in the city, a friend who’d do anything for the Character, someone owing you a debt, etc.
“Achievements” also present you with new shiny things for the Player Characters but are obtainable only after you manage to meet a unique requirement. You might think of them as the closest Defiant will get to traditional experience mechanics.
While both the “Perks” and “Achievements” will spice up your game from the get-go, you’ll be able to see how they unfold with every new Defiant supplement. We want to include the basic mechanics of “Perks” and “Achievements” in the main rulebook, so we can expand upon them in future releases without the need to explain how to use them in each new book.
Upcoming Defiant supplements
This is where we need to distinguish between what we know will happen and what we hope will happen. There are many different aspects of Defiant that we’d love to expand upon – from in-depth descriptions of all Defiant Origins (along with new Houses), through a complete guide to the city of New Hethlon, expert GM rules, books focusing on different aspects of Defiant life, to some ideas we’re still not ready to share as they go far beyond the current scope of the game. There are currently more than a dozen named supplement ideas, each with its own outline and notes. We spent over two months discussing the material we want to publish and distributing it between future releases.
But all of these are projects that we hope will come to fruition. We really want them to, sure. But we have no way of knowing if it will be possible. The crowdfunding campaign will be the first step to establish how interested you are in seeing more Defiant material out there. However, we have decided that no matter the situation, we will publish the following two supplements. They are both mostly ready. At this point, it’s hard to say whether they will be available in print or only in electronic form. The same goes for the number of illustrations, pages, etc. – it all depends. But we can promise that they will become available for Defiant Players and GMs alike.
The first Defiant Supplement will focus on politics, supernatural power brokers, and the Defiant Lords and Ladies’ royal duties. You will learn about different positions and titles within the Provinces and at Courts, Defiant factions, and secret societies (and how your PCs can become a part of one or create a secret society of their own). The book will also include rules for using factions as the major plot elements in Chronicles (alongside, or instead of the Story Arcs), new Activities that can be used to design Threads, and a few GM expert rules regarding the supplement’s topics.
The Players will find a few new Perks, Achievements, Personal Themes to choose for their Character, new Court Themes, and brand new Court Challenge rules that will let you dive more into the life in your Holdings by picking favorites, assigning additional roles, etc.
Finally, Defiant Reign will introduce Group Themes. You can choose them together for your Characters, making them more than just neighbors, giving them additional goals, bonuses, and new problems to tackle.
After you learn more about Defiant intrigues and politics, it’s time to dive into the topics of family life, young Defiant upbringing, royal marriages, balancing between one’s duties and desires. Ever wondered how a Defiant stag party might look like? Or, what problems may arise when your Character tries to mold their successor into a true future Royal? If you have, you’ll get your answers. If you haven’t – we’ll show you just how interesting those topics might be.
Additionally, in Defiant Legacy, the GMs will find new Activities to be used in Threads and extended rules on including the topics of love, relationship, and the Characters’ progeny in the Episodes.
The Players will be able to choose from a couple of new Perks, Achievements, Personal and Court Themes. Furthermore, new Marital Themes will enable them to play as unmarried Royals, or even take on the roles of Royal Consorts, married to a Lord or a Lady, with slightly limited power, but brand new ways to influence the world and further their agendas.
As we stated before, we have way more material and ideas ready to be put into additional supplements. If you’re willing to support the game, new books will be coming out regularly. Defiant Crusade, Defiant New Hethlon, Defiant Arcana, Defiant Delights, Defiant Origins, and many, many more are waiting in line!
Last but not least, we’ve also been busy designing and developing an online platform to help you manage your Characters, Chronicles and make both online and offline play easier. As this is a time- and resource-consuming endeavor, the platform’s final shape will depend on the level of your interest in the Kickstarter campaign. We want Defiant Online to be a useful GM tool for keeping all your notes in one place and easily designing Episodes.
The players will be able to create and store their Characters online, either on their own or together with their group, as a part of a Chronicle, which would later enable them to see basic information about the NPCs they already know, etc.
Every user of Defiant Online will be able to register all the Defiant books they possess, giving them access to additional materials. If you own Defiant Reign and register it on the platform, you will be able to create a Character using the Themes from the supplement, design Threads with additional options that came with the supplement, and so on.
Here, you can see some basic designs from the platform (note that they are all currently optimized for full-screen PC viewing and might not work as designed on phones and tablets):
The login screen:
Example GM’s NPC list:
One of the Character creation steps: