In the build up of hype for our next Kickstarter campaign, probably the biggest question is going to be “What does it include?” The broad answer to that is that the products will be Maps of London and the Saurids Sourcebook. By nature of the products, most of the discussion for content in the coming weeks will be on the latter, for reasons that I’ll get into in a moment. But, I did still want to take the chance to give you a general overview of what’s in store, so you have an idea of what you’ll be getting.

Maybe it’s just how my mother raised me, but you’ve got to have the chance to snoop at what’s in the present before you unwrap it.

Maps of London is a box set of, well maps of London, historically accurate to circa 1880, scanned and digitally restored to legibility (yes, you can actually read the street names). We have landmarks listed important to the game line, though most are general enough that the maps could be useful for any game taking place in London in this time period. There are maps for each of the boroughs of the city (all 29 of them), an overall map showing how they fit together, two maps showing the north and south suburbs just outside the city, and charts showing the distances and travel times between the main transport centers of each borough. The maps are folded, 18 inches by 12 inches, and full color. Given that this an almost entirely visual product, I can’t do a lot of images of the maps without giving the product away. However, since everything is done and we’ve gotten sample proofs back, I can share some of those pictures to give you an idea of what it will look like.

Naturally then, almost all the discussion in these blog posts leading up to the release will be on the Saurids Sourcebook, and that I do have more room to talk about without giving everything away. The first half of the book is mostly on culture and world building. We’ve got a chapter for the Plains Patriarchs, the Mountain Matriarchs, the Forest Egalitarians, an Other Cultural Groups chapter which includes primarily the Kistalmi and the Aquatics (or at least what is known of them). The second half gets more into the mechanical end of things, with a general Game Mechanics chapter covering Professions, Skills and Knacks, and Spells, a Creatures chapter, a large Spirits chapter with some really expanded info there, and a Tribal Societies chapter, which is essentially their equivalent of Secret Societies. We also have a final chapter for an index and lexicon of terms from the Saurid language, which covers both ones from previous books and a lot of terms added in this one.

I could spend entire posts just talking about individual items from any of these chapters (and will in the coming weeks), but for today, I wanted to go over more in broad strokes for the book as a whole. When writing the Saurids, we wanted to avoid creating a monoculture, as well as to avoid the sort of ‘noble savage’ stereotype that was typical of Victorian views on non-industrialized cultures (and in fact we do quite a bit to actively combat that view, though of course it’s still going to be held by some people in-game). The Saurids are a complex people, just like any other, with diverse cultures and general ways of doing things. The three primary cultures are just the start of that diversity. With this book, we had the chance to do a deeper dive and show even more complexity and nuance with different tribes, and even then there are further differences within the tribes. We give several examples of notable individuals within the various tribes and groups, characters that your players could go out and encounter in a campaign, to give you a direct personality to anchor to. While many of them follow most general trends of their tribe’s attitudes, most have more subtle nuances to those beliefs to help flesh them out further, and by fleshing out the individuals we hope to flesh out the tribe itself.

No, we haven’t given the Saurids abilities with memory manipulation. At least not that I can remember.

There are several points where we allowed ourselves to go a bit wild on the weirdness factor. This is of course a culture entirely alien to our own, that came about on an entirely different world, and what’s normal for them is going to be far from normal for us. The aquatics are one in particular that have some truly crazy things going on, with some strange tools and weaponry they employ and some just flat out weird creatures they make use of (have you ever seen how weird some of the creatures get in the deep oceans on Earth? Combine that with being on an alien world). They have an extremely xenophobic and insular culture, as well as being very brutal in their combat tactics. As a result, we played up the creepy going into terrifying factor in the items developed for them, making it clear these are not people you want to mess with.

While the focus is on providing materials to help flesh out the Gruv and of course the Saurids specifically further, we tried to keep the game mechanics more open so that items from this book could be used either directly or as a basis with slight modifications for other cultures from Earth. For example, we’ve included a new Profession from the Plains tribe that focuses on fighting unarmed, as a display of bravado and skill to take down an opponent without needing to kill them, particularly useful since they fight and raid among one another as part of their politics and territory disputes. This same Profession could very easily be used for an Earther pugilist or street brawler. While Queensberry Rules introduced in 1867 put an end to bare knuckle brawls as part of gentlemanly conduct, it was still an open secret that the more brutal anything goes type of fights were still practiced – not to mention gambled on.

Fisticuffs! Pugilism! The manly art of self defense. Come on! Isn’t this all wonderfully barbaric?

The Spirits chapter has some really interesting things that I’ll delve into in more detail in its own post. Of particular note for this quick overview, we have Fey spirits – yes, the Fey do show up in the Gruv as well, basing themselves off of the Saurids’ culture for the forms they take. They Saurids have a heavy shamanic basis for their magic use, and spirits play a particularly important role in their lives, so we have given a large expansion of the types of spirits they make use of to allow for more nuance and particular focuses. Also worth noting that, while we hide little easter eggs in pretty much every piece of material we put out, there are quite a few in the Spirits chapter that you may need to do some dot connecting to find, so if you enjoy looking for those, this is one you’ll want to focus on.

There’s a lot more I’ll be delving into, but I think it would be best to save more of the details until I can get to those particular subjects. Are there any of these that strike a particular interest for you? Any predictions or hopefuls on what might be included? Let us know in the comments below and on Discord, and we’ll see you next week!