Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

River of Heaven Kickstarter now live!

Recommended Posts

The Kickstarter for River of Heaven, our Sci-fi RPG based on OpenQuest has now opened for 60 days until March 8th.

Here's a quick breakdown of why I'm using Kickstarter to raise money for it.

This project is to raise money for the art for River of Heaven, a science fiction game set in Earth’s far future written by John Ossoway the author of Cthulhu Rising for Call of Cthulhu. The game manuscript is ready to be laid out, I just need the art.

D101 Games could fund the art, but it would severely restrict our release schedule for the next year. If this project funds we will avoid this situation. Also the more money raised the more art I can commission and it can be in colour (these are stretch goals 1 & 2 respectively). Also if this project successfully funds, further money will go via a series of stretch goals to produce the first book of adventures. (stretch goal 3: Binary Deep )


Include early access to the current draft once the Kickstarter funds and ends, Pdf copies, PDF+Softcover, PDF+Hardcover and a special Guildmaster level where you can work with the author to include a game artefact (NPC, piece of tech, place etc) within the game.

About the Game

River of Heaven uses D101 games' OpenQuest rules engine; a sleek and streamlined D100 rule set that enables you to maintain the tempo of your stories whilst keeping the rules simple and in the background.

In the 260+ page core rulebook you will find:

The OpenQuest Rules Engine

Tailored to a hard sci-fi setting.

Simple Character Generation

Enabling you to go from concept to fully finished character as quickly as possible.


Humanity has found many ways to improve upon what nature created. Quickly augment your character with the latest biotech/nanotech upgrades.


All the weapons, armour and other types of equipment your character might need to go adventuring in the 28th century.


Information on how to get around the River of Heaven universe, be it lowly pack animal on a frontier dirt farm or an interstellar trader equipped with an exotic stellar-tap drive.


In addition to a timeline spanning 1000 years of future history, River of Heaven includes an introduction to the Bright Age, the default play setting for the game. It also includes a campaign setting – the Kentauran Hegemony – and information about all the colonised star systems at the start of the 28th century.

An example adventure

Reunion is an introductory adventure designed to get you up and running River of Heaven as soon as possible. It can be played as a one-off, or as the start of a campaign.

Adventure Seeds

Ideas for adventure ideas set in the River of Heaven universe, covering a wide range of styles and themes.

Friends and Foes

An A-Z list of lifeforms that may be encountered by the player characters during their adventures. It includes humans from the various divergent cultures and castes, mundane animals encountered on many worlds of humanity, and some more exotic creatures too.

Finally here's Jon Hodgson's amazing cover


Edited by Newt

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Quick update to let you know that in just over 24 hours the Kickstarter has met its basic goal for the art.

Now onwards towards the Stretch Goals :)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the backers had a few questions for me about the game. Here's my answers to them, which hopefully should give a bit more insight;

1) How would you describe River of Heaven RPG to potential players? What blurb would you give them to hook them in?

Its an easy to pick up and play game of high adventure in the far future, where man and society has been changed by technology but not beyond recognition. i.e. Mankind hasn't passed the Singularity Event where technology is almost indistinguishable from magic and society is a lot more hive like. It riffs off novels like Dune and Alistair Reynolds Revelation Space. There's mercantile houses that control interplanetary trade, along star lines which plied by vast Guildships that move people and goods via wormholes. Its a time when Humanity is generally optimistic and happily exploring the mysteries of the bigger Universe they find themselves in. The system expresses chances for success as percentiles and is quick and easy to play.

Note that's what I would give a player uninitiated into the wonders of D100 gaming

2) While I understand the game is based on BRP sort of, how much of the mechanics are modernised and what sort of modernisation along these lines exist in the game?

This page lists the main features of OQ and compares it broadly against BRP/RQ of old.


2a) Along these lines, what would you consider the strengths of the game mechanics? What about the weaknesses?

Strengths are that its quick to play, ridiculously easy for the GM to improvise NPCS and items, and blends into the background while retaining enough 'game' to engage the players when the dice are rolled. Character gen is fast and advancement quick and focused because the skill list is simplified.

Weaknesses is that players who like more detailed and crunchier game rules may be put off. For example OpenQuest doesn't do fiddly small modifiers, that the players gradually build up and negotiate with the GM, but instead gives a flat +25% to +50% modifier if the character has a significant or exceptional advantage in a given situation.

3) Do the players have the option of playing any alien, non-human races in the game? If so, how many of them are available?

Of the top of my head there's about 10 different Human subspecies, the result of genetic engineering. All are available to play and have different abilities. Truly Alien species are the antagonists of the game and are in many cases completely of stage.

4) I understand that characters have Augmentations. Is this primarily cybertechnology and that sort of thing? If so, how pervasive is it? Can that element of the game be minimised, or is it an inherent and central part of the game framework?

Its nanotech, the less clunky step up from Cybertech. Its a central part of the game, in that all the players being troubleshooting adventurers have some at the start, usually to do with their profession. Normal folk and minor characters will be less tooled up. Your version of the game could easily minimise its use, making it the preserve of the rich for example.

5) Is there any form of psionics in the game? If so, how prevalent/common is this?

None. I think John felt that he had done Psionics enough in Cthulhu Rising (his previous game) and while the rules he came up for Psionics for BRP were functional, their application in play was problematic (take a telepath on an Investigation and you'll see why). Also apart from Dune, psionics don't really play a big part in the fiction the game is based on.

6) One of the things about broad-scope science fiction rpgs is simply a matter of the scope, especially in games that span galaxies. So, the biggie, for me: What do the player characters *do* in the game?

This was my initial question to John when he mentioned it to me. Both us had memories of being befuddled by Transhuman Space The big answer is that the period is rich with opportunities for the characters to explore Human space. John also keeps the focus quite tight on the time of expansion and exploration known as the "Bright Age" and as well as a full adventure provides a whole chapter of adventure seeds.

Edited by Newt

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the backers had a few questions for me about the game. Here's my answers to them, which hopefully should give a bit more insight;

Saw this on Kickstarter this morning and it was pretty helpful, as I often forget the exact differences in the various BRP/RQ/OQ/Legend etc.:tu:

I hope we make the mini-campaign stretch goal, as I always look for contextual/setting & cultural details or ideas when it comes to far-flung, future games.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all,

Hurrah we’ve passed the first stretch goal of £2000 !

This means a lot to us (Me, John and artist Peter) since it means that we don’t have to be stingy with the art and Peter can really go to town in defining the visual look of the setting. So thanks to our backers for making this possible.

To celebrate I’ve added the following:

Two new Backer levels. Galactic Merchant (aka Retail Backer £100/around $164) and Cryogenic Colonist ( aka River of Heaven Companion Backer £50/ roughly $80 USD).

First Contact Addons. Two Pdf bundles our Games, if you either haven’t got a complete collection or this is the first time you’ve come across us.

OK here’s the new options in detail

Galactic Merchant (aka Retail Backer level, £100 roughly $165 USD)

If you are a shop this Backer level is for you. If you know a shop that would be interested in stocking River of Heaven, please point it out to them.

Six hardcover copies, at roughly 55% of usual cover price. P&P free within UK, other countries to pay shipping costs, I’ll provide quote upon request, which I’ll sort out at the end of the campaign. eta June 2014.

Cryogenic Colonist (aka River of Heaven Companion Backer. £50/ roughly $80 USD)

I’ve had a some queries from people who would like to back the campaign with some more money and get some additional content for the game. I thought about this for some time and had a quick chat with John and the obvious answer would be to do a “River of Heaven Companion”. This hundred page book would have additional scenarios, rules and background articles written by John and other D101 writers. While this content would not be exclusive to campaign, backers at the new Cryogenic Colonists and the existing Guild Master level would have exclusive access to the work in progress drafts, and final pdf way before general release which would be Nov/Dec at the earliest. Backers at the the Cryogenic Colonist and Guildmaster level. would involved in the creation of the book (see details below). The Companion will not be offered as a stretch goal.

At this level you will receive the Deep Space Explorer benefits + a pdf/pod version of the River of Heaven Companion. You will be involved in the creative process, we will ask all Cryogenic Colonists what they want to see in the Companion, and your feedback on the draft will be asked for. Backers of this level will get early access to the work in progress Companion. Work in earnest will start on the Companion after the Core rule book has shipped. Page count will be around 100 pages.

Please note the Guildmasters now also have the benefits of this level.

First Contact Add Ons

If you’ve not come across D101 games before, or only have a couple of our titles, the following pdf bundles are an excellent way of supporting the RoH campaign and also getting a bargain for yourself.

These Add Ons are available to purchase at any backer level. All you need to do is go to “Manage my pledge” and add the cost of the Add-on, do not change your backer level unless you want to. At the end of the campaign I will check with you which Add on you've purchased.

Standard First Contact (£10/ roughly $16 USD) This gives you the other two games that are part of the OpenQuest family: OpenQuest Deluxe (260 pages Full Colour art book of the Fantasy Game that RoH is based on) and The Company (Modern Warfare RPG). Normally these two games would come to £18.

Expanded First Contact (£50/ roughly $80 USD) You will be sent a pdf copy of everything that D101 currently produces (13 titles) for £50 ( for just under £100 worth of Pdfs)

Includes: OpenQuest 2 Deluxe, The Company, Hig 1-5, Gloranthan Adventures#5, Book of Glorious Joy, Crypts and Things RPG, Tomb of the Necromancers, Blood of the Dragons, Monkey, Worlds of Wordplay, Ye Little Book of HQ Fantasy.

More information about D101’s range of books can be found here:


Edited by Newt

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all,

Sorry for going dark on you all, been a bit pre-occupied getting the yearly tax return in to Her Majesties Revenue and Customs for the last week. Now that's done and I can breathe again, I'll be updating a bit more regularly.

In five days time we will be officially half-way through the campaign. I'm preparing a big info-burst for when we hit that point; more preview material and a new video that goes into more detail about the game. If you are an existing backer get ready to help out by spreading the word. If you are sitting on the fence hopefully this will tip you off it.

I'm feeling overwhelmingly positive about the campaign, which was funded in just over a day and whizzed past the first stretch goal a couple of weeks ago. This means that when the campaign ends in six weeks time all backers will receive the current draft of the rules and D101 will already be cracking on with producing the game with money in the bank to pay for it. I'm also sure that we'll have gone beyond that point, we are half-way towards getting all the stretch goals I've already revealed and there is more in my mind if we go beyond that.

A big thanks to backers who have come in at Guildmaster level, you really are the foundation of the campaign. Only two Guildmaster rewards left and when they are gone they are gone! Remember Guildmasters also get the River of Heaven Companion, that was announced in the last update, in print along with the Binary Deep Campaign in print , if we reach that stretch goal.

This is not to say that I don't value people who have come in on our PDF reward level. I'm meeting with John next week and one of the things I'll be discussing is how we can give that level a bit more of a thank you.

Right more next week, until then I'll leave you with the full pager that Peter Frain did for his River of Heaven try out. You can see more of Peter's art over at his 77 Studios Blog ( http://77studios.blogspot.co.uk/ )

Onwards and Upwards

;O) Newt


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Update#8 Nice things our backers have said about the game.

Here at D101 Games we like River of Heaven, we wouldn't be putting long hours into getting it published if we didn't , but what do our backers think after they've seen the current draft?

River of Heaven, here's some cool stuff our backers have said...

"Thoughts on the "River of Heaven Sci Fi RPG": My initial impression of the game (& the reason I decided to become a supporter) is that it has a firm hard science fiction foundation, but within that chitin of chemistry & physics beats a warm heart of humanity...the wonder of discovery, the desperation of conflict & the fascination of innovative technology. I believe that my group I'll clamor to play it, & that it will find a place of honor on my bookshelf in close proximity to the other greats of Sci Fi gathered over a lifetime of gaming an collecting." Ken "Professor" Thronberry via email

"Reading through the vehicular (including space) combat - I can almost see the final battle from The Wrath of Kahn!" Vaughan Cockell on G+

"I'm really enjoying the draft! I like the way transhumanism is handled; the universe is very engaging--great writing style. I think this is the sci-fi rpg I've been waiting for for a long time. Looking forward to more!" John Gardner on Kickstarter

"This game is looking incredible. Reading through the "fluff" now, and getting strong vibes of Dune from it (which to me is a great thing), as well as shades of Revelation Space (also a great thing to me). I'm really digging the "harder" sci-fi aspect of the setting. No anti-grav, no "space fighters". I also really appreciate the authors comparison of space flight/detection/operations to submarine operation/warfare. My Dad was a career Navy man (USA) and spent over half his career in submarines, which means I've had an intense interest in them pretty much all my life. I have thought many times that space travel/warfare would be most like submarine operations, so this setting really clicks with me. I can easily and happily envision ships hunting each other through the void, "listening" intently for any hint of the opponent, and when they detect the enemy, dropping into their "baffles" and angling for the perfect shot with their "torpedos" (which I envision as more like "smart" missiles with limited robot brains and tipped with advanced active sensors to "ping" their targets). Fantastic."

Christopher Sigmund on Kickstarter

"I’m a backer and have looked over the early release PDF, and I find a very high quality product. Folks who haven’t backed this yet should consider doing so, as the game appears to be in an advanced state of development and the wait for a finished product should not be long. The writing is clear and rock solid, with a surprising amount of good advice for good gaming."

Lemnoc on Basic Roleplaying Central Forum.

"I had the assumption that this game would be like Mongoose’s Traveller book; big on rules, brief on setting, with supplements to flesh things out later. There is a ton of backstory, information on planets, stars, etc. included in the book. I would say that it takes up the majority of the space."

Ned Leffingwell from a blog post,"Things Iam excited to see in River of Heaven"

Read full post here: http://sphereofannihilation.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/things-i-am-excited-to-see-in-river-of.html

Only Two weeks of the campaign left at time of writing, with more excitement yet to come :)

If you are a backer please help spread the word. If you are not currently a backer please feel free to come and check out the campaign :)


;O) Newt

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please take some time to consider where the River of Heaven Kickstarter is up to:

  1. About to enter its final week, if you miss out it will be a good six months to you getting the core rule book + other goodness the campaign unlocks.
  2. Talking of goodness, we hit stretch goal 2 so all backers get a pdf of the forty page Last Witness Adventure.
  3. If you are a backer you get early access to the 293 page no art pdf.
  4. If you like OpenQuest/D100 you’ll like this, its D100 in Spaaaaaaaaaaceee!
  5. We’ve been getting good feed back from the backers, see what they say about the game.

So go on what are you waiting for?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading though the book right now having backed it this morning... only critique so far is Size instead of Mass. I really think that calling the trait Mass helped with the flavor of Ringworld and it might or might not be an easy tweak. Definitely would be as a GM so it doesn't matter much, just felt like I'd provide that feedback here. That said, I'm happy I invested in the project!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Final Update from me before the campaign ends:

OK the end is nigh, lets quickly review what's already been achieved.

The Basic goal of raising enough for a basic level of black and white art was achieved within 24 hours and the first stretch goal funded more art, which means I have a big enough art budget to go to town and give the 290 page book the art it deserves.

A week ago I added an extra stretch goal as Stretch Goal 2, which is the Last Witness scenario - a 40 page standalone adventure which all backers will get as a Pdf. Within about half a day of me announcing it we reached it :)

So this means the core rulebook has funded + everyone gets a FREE Pdf adventure.

We can do better than that ;)

Currently Stretch Goal 3 at £4000, which is the core rulebook in full colour, is currently just £520 away from being achieved.

To get there's a variety of routes that can be taken.

If you are an existing backer, think about upgrading your pledge to Cryogenic Colonist. We only need about half a dozen of such upgrades and that takes us to Stretch Goal 3. Also to sweeten the deal I will add instant access to the Binary Deep campaign in draft to Cryogenic Colonists once the campaign ends, since if we don't reach the heady heights of £5000 where it would be released as a standalone book will be included in the RoH Companion instead.

Please consider the First Contact add-ons. Even if you have the pdfs in the bundle already I will happily pass them on to someone else you nominate as a gift. If you haven't, note that this is excellent opportunity to get these games at a greatly reduced price which I won't be repeating.

Also if you have a blog please let people know what you think about the game. This sort of feedback really helps get backers in. Even if you take the time to point out that we are in the final stretch this helps too.

Finally if you are sitting on the fence about RoH and are considering backing, check out what other backers have said (in Update 8 ) and note that you'll be getting early access to both the game and its first adventure at a discount a good 5-6 months before it goes on general release. Over to you. Lets hit Stretch Goal 3 and see RoH in glorious colour :)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Congratulations Newt on reaching your Kickstarter goal! :) I am looking forward to seeing River of Heaven. I really liked Cthulhu Rising by John Ossoway (and the Savage North, come to that -- I am currently running it in my campaign.)

Good job.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Final Update from me now that the dust has settled, originally posted on Sunday to the KS backers.

Good morning Glorious Backers (and curious onlookers),

Well we've done it. The Core Rulebook is successfully funded, and the stretch goals that have been funded means that the book will be copiously illustrated in full colour :)

In addition all backers will be getting the first adventure, The Last Witness, FREE in Pdf and at cost Print if you were a Print Backer :)

Also the Campaign partially funds the starting development work on the River of Heaven Companion, where the Binary Deep Mini-Campaign will end up (so that's not lost in space because we didn't hit the stretch). If you were a Cryogenic Colonist or Guildmaster I'll be contacting you in a couple of weeks time about this.

Honored Guildmasters again I'll be in touch in a couple of weeks to put you in touch with John start the process of immortalizing you in the rulebook :)

Many thanks to all the backers, especially those who helped us get over the Colour Art Stretch Goal right at the last moment.

What happens next?

Kickstarter has now started collecting funds from you, a process that will take up to two weeks to see the money in my account. When this process is over I will send out the backer survey to check which add-ons you've paid for and issue any vouchers for first contact add ons and early access to Last Witness draft.

If you missed out on the opportunity to add-on extra copies of the rule-books or wanted to upgrade your reward from Pdf to print to take advantage of the fact that print rewards now get The Last Witness in print, because really I did make the announcement about it at the 11th hour when most people would have been asleep, please paypal me the extra money to mrnewt@gmail.com with a note letting me know what its for. See Update 12 for details

Other than that its heads down for me and the artist Peter Frain. I've already started on layout and I'll be talking to Peter in the next day or so about art direction, with the aim of getting the core rule book in your hands as quickly as possible.

Maximum thanks to everyone who backed.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Any news after 1.5 months?

I've been posting public updates and backer only updates over at the Kickstarter campaign since the campaign ended.


I was about to say that Newt has been doing that. Now, I think you have to be a backer to get email notifications of those, but he's been doing them fairly regularly.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this