This preorder is for the digital PDF edition of Yonder, estimated to be released no later than August 2021.
Every step a journey...
Yonder is a tabletop roleplaying game where you play people who are driven from a mundane land, spoiled by blood and war, into a magical one.
There, each human is transformed as they reveal their nature. Acts of bravery or daring, cunning, or cowardice are catalysts that physically and magically change a person.
You, the players of Yonder, decide what acts as a catalyst in your world and in what way a person is transformed, creating your own, unique mythology for your world through play.
Your group will create universal truths, which apply to everyone in the world, and individual truths, which apply to one specific person only.
Does every human who is consumed with greed become a dragon? Will all people who believe or behave a certain way become elves or dwarves or will every individual come to obtain any number of traits associated with those fantasy species?
How does one become long-lived like an elf or develop tougher skin like a dwarf?
Can people change so they move faster than everybody else, walk on snow, or other traits we see in the fantasy media and literature we consume?
Are there moral absolutes in your world? Do people ever stop changing? If someone has committed monstrous acts, do they remain what they become?
It's a simple notion that engages all the players at the table and creates investment by asking that people confirm the elements of fantasy they enjoy and want in their game and what they'd rather avoid.
Yonder uses a tweaked approach tree system that I originally conceived for my previous Kickstarter project, Retropunk.
Some people at the table play characters. One person is the Referee, who plays the world itself and all of the people the player characters meet in their journey. They describe what is happening in this collaborative fiction everyone is participating in, describing what the player characters see, taste, feel, etc.
However, everyone at the table engages with the mechanics of the game, not just the Referee. The rules that tell you when to stop and roll the dice to figure out what happens next.
Referees arbitrate the rules of the game to make sure everything is fair. But players in Yonder actively participate in rolls, working with the Referee to decide what is at stake for their character by trying to do something that triggers a roll.
Simple Dice Pool Rolls
When you're rolling the dice in Yonder you always use six-sided dice. Players put together a dice pool and look for the highest die rolled to gauge their success. It is a tiered success system. A 1-3 means things aren't going to go the characters way. 4 or 5 means they do the thing, but there's a complication as well. They get their way...but it's not an unmitigated success, like when a 6 is rolled.
Players add dice to their pool by using the approach tree system, which looks and acts kind of like a skill tree in a video game. Rather than a very specific skill being chosen for a roll, though, the starting approaches all characters begin with are broad and designed to encompass any situation. This allows for players to describe how they want to go about something in a lot of different ways. They don't have to use a specific approach for a specific problem.
To add some complexity, a broad approach also has 3 additional slots within its tree for focused approaches to be added. The more of these that apply, the more dice get added to the pool, and the odds of success increase.
A player always starts a roll with one die when attempting to do anything in the game that requires a roll—meaning when it's interesting to find out if the character succeeds at what they are trying to do or not, a roll is called for.
This die is called the context die.
Players give the context pertaining to their character relating to what they are doing in the fiction. They then choose a broad approach that applies to what they have described.
If what they describe also applies to a focused approach that is within that broad approach tree, they add a die to their pool for each one before rolling.
It is an intuitive system with a lot of flexibility.
Focused approaches are created as the player character grows in a collaboration between the player and the Referee. This reinforces the agency of the player, the tone of the game agreed upon by everyone at the table, and the evolving target of what you want your game to be "about" because approaches can be grim and dark, focused on combat, or they can be focused on getting better at resolving things peacefully.
The starting broad approaches are:
- Violence, Precision, Velocity, Compromise, Establish, and Uncover.
As player characters advance they fill in approaches below them (see the graphic mock-up below). Eventually, they are also able to link (a limited amount) of trees together. As they play their character, they start to see what kind of person they are and how they approach overcoming the obstacles they face. As they do, they can develop their approaches to fit that vision for their character.
There is also an optional blank approach tree that may be developed by the player (in collaboration with the Referee). If these broad approaches don't quite line up with how a player envisions their character approaching obstacles, right from the jump at character creation they can choose to develop a whole new approach.
Each player character also has a tree to develop reserved entirely for the class they choose at character creation. They can choose from: Seeker, Believer, or Guardian. Each helps to define a character's role within their group.