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Zephyr: An Anarchist Roleplaying Game Of Fleeting Identities

Created by Federico Sohns

Travel across the wandering, sentient landmass of Ophoi on a strange journey to fulfill sacred obligations and find your way back home.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Zephyr Update #4 - Life-Giving Myths
over 1 year ago – Tue, Feb 07, 2023 at 07:49:32 PM

Hi kinfolk!

I hope you had a nice day! We are entering the lull period of Kickstarter now so to keep y'all entertained I gather I would write about one of the parts I like the most of Zephyr - that is, character creation!

A game of Zephyr beings when your Windfolk is born. But what does that entail?

Windfolk are conceived during the eve of a Maelstrom - a very special kind of storm that combines eruptions of the four colors of the Zephyr. These happen every few years: In preparation, lifespring traps are mounted specifically where the Maelstrom winds will blow.

At the beginning of the game, then, players get infused with color from the Maelstrom by grabbing nine Zephyr tokens each from a bag (without looking). These tokens will be used throughout character creation!

Starting off, they get to pick their clan, and can then start spending tokens on clan-specific traits (as you can see in the following Wind Clan and Frontier Clan example)

Players are free to spend any number of tokens in these options (knowing that Traits, unlike Technologies, are only available during character creation). Then, with their remaining tokens, the proceed onto the Windfolk Myths bit...

For this part of character creation, I wanted to echo some of the writing of anthropologist A. M. Hocart, specially The Life Giving-Myth, and make the mechanics speak about stories, about how stories make who we are and how we tend to see not just ourselves but the larger society and world through the lens of stories. Basically, the players will go through six different myths - each represented in a comic spread - that is told by an elder at the campfire. The first page of each myth tends to give the setup for the myth...

And then, players get six different "interpretations" or outcomes for the Myths finale to choose from. There are four finales that can be accessed simply by spending the right token...

...and then there are two "special" finales that are accessed either without spending any tokens, or by spending two tokens of any color. The former tends to come with a mechanical disadvantage...

...while the later tends to grant a particularly outstanding trait.

The cool aspect of this system is not just how players get to engage with the fundamental Mythology of the world, but also that they need to think what finales they wanna prioritize according to the colors they received from the Maelstrom, as well as their approach (playing more conservative and doing mostly single-token spends, or going more reckless and taking in large boons and banes from each story).

The stories cover anything from the why the Windfolk's faces are masks, to the origin of Ophoi, or the origin of customs (with their own mechanics) such as the Shedding, so they work really well I think as a gamified intro to the setting :) (I am actually working right now in finishing these comics, with about half of them done!)

Here's a sample of the one tied to the Origin of Ophoi:

And another one on the origin of the practice of Shedding, and Windfolk obligations to the other denizens of the living landmass:

That's all for to day! Hope these make you at least a bit as hype as I am for seeing them played with, and I'll be back again very soon to share more with y'all.

Best wishes,

Fede

Zephyr Update #3 - The Living Landmass
over 1 year ago – Sun, Feb 05, 2023 at 07:07:15 PM

Hi kinfolk! Hope you had a nice day!

The third day is behind us and we are now past the 60% line! We are on a steady course now and entering the plateau period of the Kickstarter. If my predictions are correct I'd say it's likely we will be funding in around 9 days (though I still have a couple of promotional levers to pull here and there). To give you an idea, we are raising about 30-40% more than Araukana's first game Nibiru, so numbers wise I'm pretty happy with the course, specially given the higher ambitions production-wise of the core experience of Zephyr :) 

Today I wanted to talk about one of the most exciting parts of the game, which is... Ophoi! The living landmass! The place you will be traversing in the game. There are differing tales about the origin of the creature, but the one that is front and center in the book is that Ophoi is the offspring of the four moons, born on the night of their eclipse. The first of the Stories players go through during character creation speaks exactly of this event:

The newborn Ophoi went on to wander endlessly across the salt flats that cover the world. Within its body are four lungs, each corresponding to a color of the Zephyr, each bursting forth in eruptions, maelstroms, rains, etc., mixing and giving shape to the landscapes and lifeforms that would soon spring from the creature's back.

Preset day Ophoi is, according to the Windfolk, divided into several regions that are mainly separated by the huge rifts that open on the creature's joints. While some of these regions are largely unknown, the most expansive ones are the Plaques (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) that correspond to the land that extends above each lung, as well as the Grand Valley at the geographic center of it all. Windfolk tend to live in the outernmost regions of the Plaques, while the Salt States - ever dependent on flatlands for their agriculture - populate the Grand Valley.

Naturally, one would be right to think that if you have land settled on top of a moving creature, earthquakes would be quite common. Indeed, they are a weekly occurrence - especially across the plaques. Furthermore, the seasons of Ophoi tend to revolve largely around the creature's breathing: When any given lung inflates at its maximum capacity, the land above it is pushed inwards, with entire mountain chain bowing, casting shadows and placing vast swathes of land into microwinters. Small streams turn into rapids and entire lakes dry up, flooding the lands closer to the geographic center. Animal herds follow the water, and also travel towards the center to stay close to their watersources. Huge gaps between rifts close, allowing kinfolk to cross previously separated regions. This is known as the Bowing Season. When one plaque is in the Bowing Season, the plaque opposite is in the Leaning Season, which sees water receding and animals returning to the innermost parts of the plaque. 

This dynamic greatly affects gameplay, not only due to our rules for Weather, but also because mountain passes, rifts, etc. may become usable/unusable depending on the season (which is determined at random at the start of your Zephyr game, on the first session). 

The thousands of scars, the constant seismic activity, and the jagged, irregular terrain of the Plaques might seem hellish to inhabit, but for the Windfolk, it's a blessing: The Plaques are what James C Scott would call a "Shatterzone of Empires" (which is why I call the home of the Windfolk by that term). The land is openly hostile to the advance of marching armies, the logistic chains they often require, and the establishment of permanent settlements. Salt States incursions can only happen during seasons in which the mountain passes are sealed in, when rivers are tranquil enough to take supplies up and down, and so it is that the Windfolk consider the Shatterzone, its mountains, roaring earthquakes, and capricious terrain as their greatest ally in keeping life peaceful.

There's plenty more to say about Ophoi, but I think that's a good rundown of some of the things that make venturing into this world so special :) I'll be writing the next update soon, and hope to see you around in our Discord (which I totally forgot to link to the last time!) to keep the conversation going.

Best wishes,

Fede

Zephyr Update #2 - Zephyr Tokens
over 1 year ago – Sat, Feb 04, 2023 at 04:45:01 AM

Hi kinfolk!

Day two is past us, as is the 50% line :) the Kickstarter is looking good and it's been really nice to get talking with y'all about the game!

For this update I wanted to start delving on the world of Zephyr, particularly with regards to the tokens and how they work in the game. 

Like I mentioned in the video and the story section of the Kickstarter, the Zephyr (this cyan, magenta, yellow and black matter) is what makes everything in Ophoi, from its landscapes to the beings that inhabit on top. You could consider them a bit like the primordial elements! In the game, each player will hold a number of these tokens (generally, between 1 to 8) on their character sheet, at the "bowl" that says Constitution.

When on your character sheet, you can interpret these tokens to be sort of your characters' life energy, so they not only track your health, but also are used for many other things.

The main use is to make Reveals, which are basically like dice rolls in other games. Reveals are very simple to make; say that you are jumping over a cliff. You take between one to three tokens from your Constitution in secret, you hold your hand out, and the Storyteller does the same. You reveal your hands, and if you have a different number of tokens, you succeed. The cheat list on the character sheet bit I copied above shows how different difficulties work :)

This is an interesting core for the system since it not only makes reveals tense and exciting, but also it allows the rest of the mechanics to really flourish in the way they affect Reveals. For example, if your character is very weak (say, they only have two tokens on their Constitution) they will only be able to use those two tokens for Reveals. Also, certain Conditions may affect particular colors of the Zephyr in your character's body.

There also might be particular creatures, like the Wheatfiend, that might be very aggressive against you if you have a lot of a particular color in your constitution, so on and so forth. This is to exemplify the number of really cool worldbuilding and immersive interactions that come to take part with the whole idea of your character constitution being made of Zephyr.

Other big uses for the tokens are for creating bonds - which are one of the main aspects that go into building you character. If you are familiar with how flashbacks worked in Nibiru, bonds are very similar. Basically, when making a Reveal, you can spend a combination of three Zephyr tokens (which determines the chosen feeling) and write down a new Bond - meaning that your feelings push you to succeed at whatever task you are attempting. For example, I'm trying to jump over that cliff from earlier to rescue my bro, so I spend one Yellow, one Magenta, and one Black token, I get the automatic success, and I get to establish a Love (1) bond with my bro. Bonds have several different uses, which we can check later :)

Reference for the tokens necessary to evoke each of the prime feelings in the character sheet

There is also another way to spend tokens, which is Effort (you can basically spend just one token to make the Reveal one step easier).

One question that you may have is "what does it mean to spend a token?" well, your character is technically spending this energy out into te world, and so the Zephyr tokens spent go to your Region (the map that is set at the center of the table during a game). This is the second place where your tokens can be in - making for the Regional Tokens. Regional tokens are basically Zephyr that exists in the world, in your region, and that can be used by the player in different ways - like to add details to the scene, trigger events, use as currents for gliding, as well as harvesting. There are several cool interactions with them, but the main crux of the thing is that the energy of the Zephyr is meant to be seen as a bit of a natural cycle, a continuum between the natural world and the body of the Windfolk.

There's a lot more to cover on the world so I'll leave it at that today :) I'll prep up another update pretty soon to keep introducing the systems and the world, but remember that if you feel impatient you can also look at the sample chapters I uploaded!

In the meantime, lets keep spreading the word about Zephyr on social media and take advantage of the weekend on that! Looking forward to the next~

Best wishes,

Fede

Zephyr Update #1 - First Day!
over 1 year ago – Thu, Feb 02, 2023 at 07:22:11 PM

Hello kinfolk! Welcome to the first update for Zephyr. It's good to be back here and finally taking Zephyr out the oven and into the wider world :)

This game has been on the works for about four years now, the last two of which have been of fulltime commitment to research, illustration, writing, etc. 

It's been a long trip, and so there's plenty to talk about. But first, I wanted to extend thanks given all the support we got! This project had a much bigger target for funding than my previous two, and yet we are already seeing -with only a day in- over 40% of the funds raised! Kudos to everyone and thanks for y'all help sharing and spreading the word on social media, it helps enormously.

On to the game itself, I wanted to take this first update as a chance to direct everyone who's new to a series of resources on everything that's been cooking for Zephyr. This game has been a pretty big challenge: only the mechanics of it entire system of it entails mean working with concepts I hadn't touched on before (and are rarely seen in RPGs). From mechanics of color token combination, to triangulating flights across a valley on a map, to drawing patterns on your character sheet, bringing all of these together has been super fulfilling, so any questions y'all have are more than welcome! Remember that there are three sample chapters I've linked in the Kickstarter page, that you can check out to get a feel for what the book will look like as well as how the rules operate...

Rule of Feel (where all the main mechanics are found)

The Technologies (where one of the key aspects of character and party building are found)

What We Found in the Woods (a peek at some of the other denizens of the Living Landmass)

Aside from that, I wanted to also direct you to the short stream we ran at the beginning of the campaign, going over some details of the state of the project and some impromptu Q&A we had, in case you missed it :)

Also, during the last year or so I've also had the chance to participate in several podcasts to talk about Zephyr, so if you are like me and love getting your info on audio form, I recommend checking these out.

Yes Indie'd Interview

RPG Academy Interview

WAIR Interview

Another way to get more info is to check out the Araukana twitter page, and to join in on our Discord - which is probably the easiest way to talk about the game at the moment.

My plan for these updates will be to start to introduce parts of the system, the world, and how everything integrates for Zephyr as we go along. The next update I'll be talking about the basics of Zephyr and the living landmass, and afterwards I'll talk about Character Creation and we'll go on from there. At any point, feel free to ask anything!

That's all from me today then. I'll go back to the trenches, promoting Zephyr everywhere I can and working to get us over the goal ASAP! See you soon,

Federico