I have scaled my Kickstarter activity way, way down over the last few years. But this one really grabbed my attention and I felt the need to back it: Nahual. (For clarity, I have no association with this project or its creators.)
Nahual is a tabletop roleplaying game of Mexican urban fantasy. In Nahual you play as shapeshifting nahuales that hunt angels to make a living. You run a changarro—a business—together and sell the angels you hunt as different types of products. Caught in the middle of an ancient feud, you struggle to find your place in a world of fantastical and overwhelming forces.
Nahual builds upon the Powered by the Apocalypse system used in Apocalypse World, Urban Shadows, Dungeon World and more. When your character’s actions trigger a move, the move tells you what happens in the fiction or you roll two six-sided dice to find out. Moves are designed to push the fiction forward, building tension and taking the story in unknown and exciting directions.
This really checks a lot of boxes for me. While I love Tolkienesque fantasy as much as anybody, we have a tendency in fantasy roleplay to go to that particular well a bit too often. This game goes in an entirely different direction – and one that appeals to me in particular. Without delving too far into my personal life, I’ve never made a secret of the fact that my spouse is a Mexican immigrant. I myself speak fluent Spanish and care deeply about my family, friends, and neighbors who live to my south (including the rest of Central America). This game represents those cultures by their own artists and writers, and I strongly support that.
Additionally, I’ve talked before about how much I like that core mechanic common to most (all?) PbtA games: roll 2d6 and add a modifier. On 10+ you succeed; on 7-9, you succeed at a cost. Each “class” (or whatever a game chooses to use) gives you moves that let you do some things particularly well, but everybody has a baseline level of competence. And failure is a primary source of experience, just like in real life.
I do have a few concerns about this project, mostly around the fact that they’ve added a lot of stretch goals. Stretch goals, in my experience, create a risk when they end up expanding the work involved in delivery and impact timelines. We can’t just say that the additional revenue will speed up creation – as the old engineering adage goes, nine women can’t produce a baby in one month.
In Nahual‘s case, I worry a little less: writing new playbooks doesn’t take a huge amount of extra time. The additional load comes from new art orders and potentially playtesting. Still, that’s something I consider.
The project has already funded several times over (15x at the time of this writing). By any measure, it has succeeded thus far. I hope for the best out of it, and would love to run a game or two of it in 2019. This Kickstarter campaign closes in about a week, so if that’s something you want to do, better move quickly!