Updated Playtest, New Publisher & Kickstarter Plans!

I am incredibly happy to reveal that the Wildsea has been picked up by Mythopoeia for publishing! Some of their original works were part of the inspiration for the sea itself, so this really is something of a dream come true.

So to celebrate, here are three new links for you to follow!

The first, to the Kickstarter Page – perfect if you’d like to be updated on our progress.

The second, an invite to our Discord. People do love to throw their worldbuilding theories out there, and we try to run a game for new players everey day if we can.

And the third, to an Updated Playtest that includes…

+ An additional post, the rough-and-ready Corsair
+ A dash of shipbuilding, enough to create a unique ship of your very own
+ More beasts and hazards to throw your crews against, including Jawthorn seeds, Tzelicrae Skin-Thieves and the dread Leviathan Squirrel
+ And a slice of The Foxloft, a pre-made area of the sea with its own factions and story prompts!

At the beginning of the year I posted here that 2020 was going to be the ‘year of the Wildsea’, and for a while there things weren’t looking so good. But, I can safely say, today has been a good day.

Thank you, everybody. Enjoy the waves.

Felix

Art Showcase: The Moss-Cloaked Pangoska

A pangoska variant living in symbiotic harmony with its envioronment, the pangoska’s precious scales are covered with a thick layer of moss and flower-bloom. Though placid by nature and subject to enviornmental preservation by several forward-thinking wildsea communities (partly due to their genial moods and supposed ability to bring good luck), pangoska can deliver a bevy of powerful punches when threatened, their highly muscled arms as useful for brawling as they are for brachiation.

The pangoska is an original creation of Shmeckerel, our new creature artist for the Wildsea! You can find more of her work Here.

The Wildsea is now less than two weeks away from our Kickstarter launch! Thank you to everyone that’s registered on the pre-launch page so far, we’re overwhelmed by the support.

The Wild Road to Kickstarter 1: Community

A personal, accurate and occasionally ugly accounting of the Wildsea TTRPG as it heads toward the looming make-or-break of Kickstarter crowdfunding. I’ll be focusing on a different aspect of the journey with each post, and I warn you upfront that I’m no expert on any of this – in fact, this series of blogs may be nothing more than a useful repository of things not to do. With that said…

I’ve gone through most of my life staying out of the realm of social media. It never felt like the place for me, because I didn’t have anything to offer – I had a small circle of real life friends scattered across the globe and a job that involved being stuck in a room for hours at a time with up to 40 energetic students. That was quite enough socializing for me. What did I have that might interest the wider world?

But over the last week, things have changed. I have something to offer now, in the form of the Wildsea, but also something a little more nebulous – a shared interest for a new community of people. All sounds a bit high-concept, perhaps, but watching it grow has been fascinating.

The Wildsea discord had been chugging along, quietly and happily, since about the beginning of August. People hopped in to contribute worldbuilding ideas for each other, ask questions about the first playtest release and sometimes even play a few games. We’d go days, sometimes weeks without an active post, and there were channels made in anticipation of content (‘Official Resources’ being the most notable) that remained pretty much empty. The Wildsea is still a small fish in the very big pond of narrative-driven indie TTRPGs, but back then it was essentially completely unknown, and the Discord reflected that perfectly.

It… Looks a little different now.

The worldbuilding channel is still there, but now receives several hundred posts a day as people discuss their own versions of the rustling waves, or speculate as to what future content might contain. There’s an art channel, newly made, for the artists to directly connect to the people that love their work. There’s a section for official resources still but far more active is the one for player-created resources – we’ve had short fiction, in-world audio drama, forest-based sea-shanties and several pieces of original music made to evoke the feeling of the sea, even an entirely new character option written by one of the early playtesters. Some of the more experienced players now run games for newer members, and for the past few nights there’s been a game almost every evening (with new members listening in on mute to get a sense of the setting and mechanics).

It’s a hell of a change.

And it is amazing.

In fact, it’s so amazing it’s surreal. The Wildsea is in bloom, bolstered every day by new people hearing about it and offering comment or criticism. It’s helped lift my spirits, spurred me to redouble my efforts in terms of marketing and outreach, and exposed some mechanical flaws of the game that can now be fixed. We even caught a few typos, the bane of any published product.

But even the most amazing developments have their downsides.

The first is a simple, mechanical concern – I need to work, but I also need to be as active as possible to engage with the people supporting my work. I owe them that in return for their interest, and I love doing it, but it takes time. And before last week, I had no idea how much time it was actually going to take up. Between comments on reddit, posts on discord, messages on twitter, listening to playtests and answering e-mails it takes 3-6 hours, split throughout the day, just to stay in touch with the community. I’ve thought more about the Wildsea, in terms of setting and mechanics, but I’ve written less. Far less, in fact.

Now we’re lucky to be in the position where 80-85% of writing for the core text is effectively done. It might need some revisions, some re-ordering, some cleaning up, but it communicates the rules and setting well enough. Listening in to new people playing the game (independent of me or any of the other experienced playtesters), their games run well and they use mechanics correctly. That was a big weight off of me when I realized.

But it doesn’t change the fact that I miss the writing. Talking to people about the things coming down the pipe in the future is great, but it’s no substitute for creating those things in the first place. And it’s not that I can’t do it – there are enough hours in the day – it’s that I’ve never had to manage my time like this before. It’s a steep learning curve.

The second is an equally mundane concern, but an important one.

I’m *tired*.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired. Over the past week I’ve shifted my sleep schedule from its usual GMT to something closer to either EST or PST, because it’s those hours when most of the discord’s members are active and playing games. I get a couple of hours of sunlight a day, and work and chat and play or run games throughout the night, relegated to the living room to spare my housemates from the worst of the noise as they sleep. I took part in a twitch stream with the lovely people over at Flail Forward the other day that ended just past 5AM my time. The last game I ran started at 1AM. I eat breakfast at midday. After years of either a 9-5 or no job at all, it’s a shock to the system.

So is it all worth it?

Yes, emphatically. I’m more tired than I’ve ever been, but I’m also happier. We passed 200 followers on the pre-launch Kickstarter page this morning, which doesn’t seem like a bad show for a week of activity (not that I really have any metrics to measure it against, but I’m happy). I’m excited about the future, I’m absolutely in love with my community and the support they give, and despite the worry and the schedule changes and the constant half-awake feeling, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

And now I’m going to take a nap.

Felix Isaacs

Interview with Flail Forward: The Mechanical and Narrative Design of the Wildsea

Just a quick update, the stream I guested on for Flail Forward is now up on their twitch page. If you’re interested in some game-design reasoning or juicy behind the scenes truths (and there are a few), feel free to listen in here.

– Felix

The Tzelicrae

(Original post can be found on reddit, here… https://old.reddit.com/r/worldbuilding/comments/j0pwu5/the_wildsea_culture_and_history_of_the_tzelicrae/)

Perhaps the most curious of the core four bloodlines, the tzelicrae hail from within the leafy darkness of the sea itself. Beginning as self-organized colonies of spiders, a tzelicrae is truly ‘born’ when it develops a functioning hive-mind and becomes capable of acting as a single individual.

Biology

There are two important fronts to tzelicrae biology, those being their internal and external forms. Internally an individual tzelicrae is made up of thousands of spiders, constantly shifting and crawling over each other to puppeteer their external skin. Some tzelicrae reinforce their internal structure with a skeleton of driftwood and animal bones, but most prefer the fluidity that comes with a completely boneless structure.

Externally, tzelicrae create a ‘skin’ for themselves from silk, bandages and the general flotsam of the sea, often incorporating articles of clothing, gear or salvage into the whole. Masks and hoods are common, as the precision needed to accurately animate the likeness of a face takes many years to learn. It’s also commonly observed that old habits die hard, with many tzelicrae fashioning themselves additional limbs or warping their bodily dimensions to better suit their needs, unconstrained by traditional biology.

Some lucky tzelicrae win the lottery of skin, coming into possession of a donated, bartered or stolen covering taken from one of the other three major bloodlines, or from an animal or insect of the wild waves. These individuals can often pass for years as members of that bloodline, occassionally acting as spies or informers in hostile or developing settlements.

Culture

As the only one of the four common bloodlines to have been created as a direct result of the Verdancy, the Tzelicrae can trace their history back to its earliest moments with startling accuracy. Their oldest settlements are oftne built around a Huskpa, an immense living monument of silk containing spiders from all of the tzelicrae that have ever lived there. These huskpas are repositories of history and tradition, and are protected at all costs.

Due to being the best-equipped to reach the depths of the wildsea, the tzelicrae tend to adopt the cultural mannerisms and building styles of pre-verdant civilizations lost to the darkness of the roots. Scholars often have a particular reverence for their efforts, marvelling at the way they dredge and lift entire buildings from the depths to the surface.

The tzelicrae also have their own common language, Knock, created to be spoken in a variety of ways to suit the differing body shapes and capabilities of their kin. Some versions of knock are entirely oral, others signed with hands and fingers and yet others rapidly tapped out in something akin to morse code.

Tzelicrae A: A three-armed dredger of ancient and forgotten things, crawling below the surface to salvage from wrecks and ruins.

Tzelicrae B: A travelling bard with a beast-skull accordion, their clothing styled after a civilization long-lost to the roots.

Tzelicrae C: A char, a ship’s cook that has fashioned their body to better perform in the kitchen, with multiple limbs to handle food preparation and a headpiece that doubles as a makeshift table.

Art by Omercan Cirit for the Wildsea TRPG – Discord invites available on request.

The Mantid Colonies

Overview

First found within the shadowed groves of Rao Ze, the mantid colonies represent both a remarkable opportunity and a growing threat to trade and travel. Built below the waves to keep them hidden from casual travellers, the colonies have developed in both construction and complexity at a rapid pace (testament to the ingenuity of the mantids they house).

History

The first colony discovered was a re-purposed wreck, a relic of a bygone age gutted to make room for simple living and sleeping spaces. The inhabitants were hostile, unintelligible, but fiercely protective of their little kingdom. They were left alone, their location marked on maps and charts as a place to avoid. And in truth they were largely forgotten for a time, at least until the first mantid ship was sighted – a bizarre semi-sentient hybrid of wood and chitin dragging itself through the waves with oversized foreclaws, loaded with curious goods and heading for the nearest trading port.

The mantids, in their years of isolation, had been busy.

Culture

Mantid culture is an intriguing area of study for the braver sort of Wildsea scholar. Highly formal and densely ritualistic, visitors are rarely welcome in their now-grand homes. Those that are bring back reports of staccato poetry, wordless duels and impressive alchemical metal-working.

The true danger of the colonies is a familiar one – the desire for expansion. More and more often in recent years their ships have pulled themselves up to the surface on missions of pillage and war, setting up blockades and raiding settlements for their metal and stone.

And there are rumours, now, of something being built in the shadowed tangle of the lower waves. Something jade and white. Something that snaps its claws. Something that moves like a newborn god.

Shadow & Bone, the Culture of the Hunting Families

Overview
A powerful presence across the rustling waves of the Foxloft, the Hunting Families are a collection of semi-nomadic groups working toward a singular purpose; the conquering of the Wildsea’s most dangerous beasts. Family kin are often found trading pelts, bone and meat at ports, or encountered sailing the canopy in pursuit of whatever quarry has caught their attention.

Despite their name, the blood-bonds of the Hunting Families have as much to do with co-operation and challenge as they do direct lineage. Anyone can become a member of one of the Hunting Families if they’re driven enough, regardless of their species or origin, and those born into the families do not attain the title of kin merely through circumstance. To become a recognized member you need to provide the meat for your own induction feast – a prodigious task, as the feast requires every existing member of the family be fed and the hunt to supply it must be a solo venture.

Hunting Family settlements are nebulous, consisting of a single solid port (traditionally built onto the carcass of a leviathan) and a huge network of widely-spread outposts that shift with the tides of season and prey-migration. Each of the central solid ports contains a throne, a ragged affair of skins and bones from a variety of kills. Each inductee into the family sets a trophy into the throne, but in the absence of recognized leaders it remains empty by tradition. In this way the throne is a symbol of what has been conquered, not of who conquered it.

Culture & law
Though each of the families has their own traditions, laws and cultural quirks, some traditions are universal.

  • The hunt is a thing of glory, but also practicality.
  • Providing food and trade materials for the family is a duty, but you take the first cuts of whatever you kill or capture.
  • Post-induction, effort is rewarded almost as well as success – a member that has provided for the feast has nothing left to prove.
  • Scars and injuries are a cause for celebration, both of the hunter and their quarry.
  • Your choice of target is your own, but it must be something that can challenge you. An easy hunt is no hunt at all.

Sun-Divers and the Bravest Few
The moment you judge yourself as too old for the hunt, your place in the family is in question. Some elders, those that were particularly skilled in their early years, are allowed to remain to train the younger generations of hunters. Most, however, take the sun-dive – a final feast provided for by blood-relatives or friends, which ends with a fatal leap into the nearest rift holding a piece of the sun (represented by anything which glows under its own power, such as a firefly bulb or luminous shroom-cap). The sun-dive is a raucous occassion, a celebration of skill and passion.

Some, however, choose to take the path of the Bravest Few. These elderly hunters dress themselves as in pelts and horns and slip away into the waves without a ship, believing (perhaps) that this act will allow them to live as a quarry for their fellows, a continuation of the great circle of predator and prey.

Leviathaneers
The most venerated of the Hunting Families are the Leviathaneers, those driven to dash themselves against impossible odds again and again. Leviathaneers hunt the largest creatures of the waves, squirrels and wolves and serro-squid grown to impossible sizes. While the successful kill or capture of such prey is almost unfathomably rare, leviathaneers operate under different metrics of success – the snagging of a feather or tooth is cause for massive celebration, and counts as a successful hunt.

Weapons
Every hunter is expected to carry a knife, traditionally carved from the bones of their first official kill. Most hunters use it to strip and butcher prey rather than as a true weapon, relying instead on whatever they feel most comfortable with. For some that’s sabres and axes, for others bows and carbines. Much like choice of quarry, the weapons a hunter uses are for them to decide.

Hunting Family Ships
Though most Hunting Family ships are made of bones and wood, this is due more to practicality than tradition. Hulls made from the skulls of larger beasts, or the chitinous shells of monstrous insects, are common. Many of the ships are powered by chemical engines, mechanisms that can take their fuel straight from the waves. The most confident hunters outfit their ships with an iron heart, a quasi-living engine powered (it is said) by the love of the hunt itself.