4.3.14

Flintlock flipping, rock eating dwarves sail on coal-fired steamships in new Kickstarter campaign

Sean McLain, Karl Hien and Xaviar Perez says this is pretty much how they envision their Pathfinder setting, Olabbor. Image by Ognian Bonev 

UPDATE: Olabbor Games has become an officially registered Pathfinder Compatible game! Behold...


You can see it yourself at http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/compatibility/registry as well.

The Olabbor design team is gathering steam for their crunchy clockwork and coal tar fantasy setting. Sean McLain, the writer for the setting says that "Olabbor was created to appeal to the sense of wonder which many of today's settings seem to ignore." McLain says the Kickstarter campaign is primarily for purchasing some high quality art to illustrate this vast setting. Based on the way he describes the world, great would be oozing with wonder.

Clockwork boats sailing the Ether
Olabbor has been the homebrew setting between Sean McLain, the Olabbor mechanics designer Karl Hien, and the graphic designer Xaviar Perez for past four years. Karl Hien is a 27 year old fantasy buff and self-proclaimed nerd from Fairbanks Alaska, with 13 years of playing and running everything from D&D to Warhammer 40k under his belt. Xaviar Perez is a creative consultant from New York and a veteran of computer and console RPGs. McLain is a published author, with stories published in the Alaska Quarterly Review under a different pen name.

Olabbor's geography centered around a multi-planar universe similar to, well, every other fantasy RPG on the market. The catch here though is that each plane outside of the prime material plane (called Olabbor) is effectively an island of reality, and separate the prime material from the other worlds is a network of Jetstreams, describes as hollow tubes of water, with atmosphere within them, that are colossal in size. A ship sailing the prime material plane's ocean can enter these tubes through a whirlpool, which brave adventurers can attempt to sail into without the help of pansy magic. 

McLain says that he was inspired by the old Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition Spelljammer Setting by TSR and the Disney film Treasure Planet (one of Disney's more inspired fare) when creating this setting, explaining "What we want is for Olabbor to be a hub world, capable of containing 1st through 20th level campaigns, but also a place where you could leave it behind entirely for a long while, sailing to other worlds for treasure, glory, or on a quest for a lost magic of ancient myths." 

Clockwork technology, which is a trope that many steampunk fans will love, features prominently in the world, from pocket watches to massive centipedal construct cities ambling across the planes. McClain says that in Olabbor "You may be fighting pirates in the skies over a city in one adventure, only to land and take on a hoard of Daemon Worshiping goblins in crude coal fueled mechs as your next adventure, all the while still using the fantasy tools and spells you love, with some new ones along for the wild ride." That's the kind of stuff that deserves to be drawn.
McLain promises mechanics for these things. Must get this game now.

Olabbor will feature rules for the creation of machinery and integrating steampunk machines with magic, as well as slightly tweaked firearms rules for hackbuts and pistols to keep them from making bows and crossbows obsolete (mostly in requiring firearm attack rolls to exceed normal AC, rather than touch AC within the first 5 range increments as in standard Pathfinder). McClain says that the ability to craft magical armor has also helps prevent guns from overtaking the bow in Olabbor.

New Races
There are literally a dozen playable races in Olabbor, some familiar and others quite unusual. Olabbor's Dwarves for example are your usual underground living, gruff talking, mechanically inclined humanoids, except that they eat rocks, soft metals and gems to sustain their skeletons of living stone. They also have a big handle on the global economy due to their construction and control of the Underroads, a labyrinthine network of trade routes built underground throughout the prime material of Olabbor. It’s fairly unusual for dwarves to feature that prominently in a setting, so this setting should fit well for the dwarf enthusiast who wants to get away from the Gimli stereotypes.

The dwarves have a steadfast ally in the Cee-kra, Olabbor's ant-like race that also live underground. Cee-kra have a hierarchy that borrows from their RL counterparts, with mindless Drones serving the svelte Nobles who are protected by the combat-ready Champions. Unlike the bloated little Queens that sit and pop eggs all day in RL however, Cee-kra Queens and scouts, colonists and adventurers who find new resources to feed the colony. A full color printout of the Cee-kra (available to backers at $150), described as "somewhat elven appearance, lightly covered in red or black chitinous plating, gossamer wings held on their back like a cape, large compound eyes and slim antennae" would look smart on my wall.
The Breakdown
McLain says they will spend $2,000 to $3,000 on high quality artwork, assuming about $150 per image at the max for 20 images. Another $2000 go to printing the paperback reward copies of the Olabbor Encyclopedia, the complete setting guide. Another $2,000 for hiring a publishing company and advertising. The final $3000 will take care of legal fees and supplement funding for future projects, such as an Olabbor Jetstream Supplement, adventure modules, and Olabbor novels from McLain. 

Pledge levels
$0-$5: Honorable mention in the Encyclopedia credits.
$10+: All the above, plus first access to play testing materials and your comments will be integrated in by the playtesting team.
$25+: All of the above, plus you can add a character to the Olabbor canon, generated with playtest materials and a PDF copy of the finished Encyclopedia.
$50+: All of the above, plus a SIGNED copy of the PDF and a copy of the DM Toolkit from LVL99 games (Windows only).
$100+: All of the above, plus an exclusive, Kickstarter backer only PDF supplement full of unique items, classes, spells and more.
$150+: All of the above, plus the paperback version of the Olabbor Encyclopedia, full size digital copies of the race artwork and one autographed, spiral bound print copy of the final book. Only 40 pledges in stock.
$200+: All of the above, plus a poster of the world map.

The Bottom Line
Talking with McLain, I have gotten the impression that the flavor text is going to be pretty damn beautiful. At Bluefield State, his alma mater, his story "A Rescue for Two" so impressed his Creative Writing professor that she let him take the course without the prereq. Not to mention I don't think it’s all that easy getting printed in the Alaska Quarterly Review. With that kind of writer’s “street cred”, I anticipate that by the text alone that DMs and Players will get plenty of inspiration from the setting. The setting itself is imaginative and consistent without being so weird that it feels like Salvador Dali the Role Playing Game.

The main weakness here, of course, is the art. A great setting like this deserves some real art, the kind of stuff you would be proud to have on the coffee table.

Thus, bottom line is that I profoundly recommend to my readers to look into this game and see if you would like it on your shelf one day. Check out the project at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1443943482/project-olabbor-a-pathfinder-rpg-setting?ref=live , and tell em Murky Master sent ya!
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