The world of Asunder, a new dark fantasy RPG designed by Adam Lawson (Escape the Night), is dying. More accurately, the world is killing everything that lives on it in an attempt to violently resurrect itself. Perhaps that happens when the gods rip all of the metal out of a planet and then leave the inhabitant to make do.
Players in Asunder take on the roles of Seekers, individuals who have witnessed the effects of a coming catastrophe and can no longer ignore the threat. Lawson and his team have created a world that has adapted to life without any metal, which means no swords or armor as you might expect from a fantasy world. Instead the Asunderians learned to shape the natural elements - plants, beasts, insects and chaotic magic - in order to survive. Symbiotic tools draw life force directly from their wielder. Living ships cross the oceans on perilous trade routes. Biological mutations combat the myriad ways the land constantly tries to kill the people who live on it.
Brian Engard of FATE Core fame is designing the system at the heart of Asunder’s play, drawing heavily from Schwalb Entertainment’s Shadow of the Demon Lord, which uses a d20 and d6 for all rolls. It will prioritise throwing players into the middle of a conflict rather than introducing a sleepy hamlet where the local innkeeper seeks a solution to their rat problem.
Countdown dice keep the Seekers constantly on their toes during perilous encounters, giving them only precious moments before the situation worsens. Mirroring the broken, failing world in which they live, each Seeker harbours fatal flaws that will inevitably cause problems for the group, but it also awards a special resource they can use to escape certain death.
The world of Asunder is one already full of secrets, legends, evils and forgotten treasures that will exact a price for anyone who goes seeking them. The unique wrinkle on its world forces players to rethink basic assumptions of fantasy genre tropes, reflected in the game’s classless approach to character advancement. Paths, the alternative, are “woven into the narrative” and may change based on pivotal choices your character makes.
The Kickstarter campaign for Asunder runs until December 23rd. A PDF version of the books, which will ship before the physical edition, is available for $40 (£30). The physical edition is $50 (£38) and will begin shipping to backers next July.