Accountability disclaimer! This Kickstopper article’s going to be about a trio of projects run by UFO Press, owned by Liz and Jay Iles (with Jay being the lead designer on most of the material I’m about to discuss). These are friends of mine I know in real life, so if that makes you want to apply a grain of salt to my opinions and question my objectivity on the subject… don’t care, writing article anyway.
Anyway! This Kickstopper article’s going to be a little different from the usual one because I’m going to be reviewing a series of three linked Kickstarters – the first one being for the original edition of Legacy: Life Among the Ruins, the second for the 2nd edition of that game, and the third for The Next World – a set of additional settings for Legacy. These three Kickstarters chart the birth and rise of UFO Press from one small indie publisher among many to one which, to my admittedly biased eyes, seems to be punching above its weight in the industry, with Legacy getting widespread critical recognition – there’s currently a Bundle of Holding offer dedicated to the 2nd edition – as well as a crucial commercial leg up thanks to a distribution deal with Modiphius.
Jay’s been able to shepherd her game from a passion project reliant on DriveThruRPG’s print-on-demand arrangements to deliver hard copies to a series which gets traditional print runs and wide distribution via one of the industry’s current major players, and hopefully this article might highlight how that’s possible thanks to the combination of interesting content, delightful presentation, and excellent Kickstarter management that UFO Press has been able to bring to the table.
Usual Note On Methodology
Just in case this is the first Kickstopper article you’ve read, there’s a few things I should establish first. As always, different backers on a Kickstarter will often have very different experiences and I make no guarantee that my experience with this Kickstarter is representative of everyone else’s. In particular, I’m only able to review these things based on the tier I actually backed at, and I can’t review rewards I didn’t actually receive.
The format of a Kickstopper goes like this: first, I talk about the crowdfunding campaign period itself, then I note what level I backed at and give the lowdown on how the actual delivery process went. Then, I review what I’ve received as a result of the Kickstarter and see if I like what my money has enabled. Lots of Kickstarters present a list of backers as part of the final product; where this is the case, the “Name, DNA and Fingerprints” section notes whether I’m embarrassed by my association with the product.
Towards the end of the review, I’ll be giving a judgement based on my personal rating system for Kickstarters. Higher means that I wish I’d bid at a higher reward level, a sign that I loved more or less everything I got from the campaign and regret not getting more stuff. Lower means that whilst I did get stuff that I liked out of the campaign, I would have probably been satisfied with one of the lower reward levels. Just Right means I feel that I backed at just the right level to get everything I wanted, whilst Just Wrong means that I regret being entangled in this mess and wish I’d never backed the project in the first place. After that, I give my judgement on whether I’d back another project run by the same parties involved, and give final thoughts on the whole deal.
As I mentioned, I’m covering three Kickstarter campaigns in this post. The first one was focused on a single simple, goal – putting out the 1st Edition Legacy core book – and so set a modest target for itself, with a target of £3000 and a final total of £4246. Stretch goals and some bonus material got sensibly shunted into a separate supplement – Echoes of the Fall – rather than permitting them to delay the core book, and 1st edition also got an additional supplement, Mirrors In the Ruins, as a result of Douglas Santana Mota getting in touch with UFO Press with some hot ideas for expanding the game.
Although Mirrors wasn’t formally speaking part of the first Kickstarter campaign, it was important to the history of the game line; Mota is credited as Iles’ collaborator on Legacy 2nd Edition and two supplements for it, so his contributions aren’t to be sneezed at, and the 2nd edition of the game is largely an exercise in integrating Echoes of the Fall and Mirrors In the Ruins into the core, making everything work smoothly together, and then iterating from there.
The Kickstarter for 2nd Edition was correspondingly more ambitious, asking for £8000 and raising £62,259. This funded a plethora of stretch goals, perhaps the most significant being the Worlds of Legacy, a series of alternate settings for the game which took its key concept of generational play in a range of different directions.
Finally, the Legacy: the Next World Kickstarter aimed to put a capstone on the product range by funding the production of hard copies of some stretch goal supplements which had only had PDF incarnations in the previous Kickstarter. Free From the Yoke, one of the Worlds of Legacy, had a hardcopy print run scheduled as one of the previous Kickstarter’s stretch goals, but budgetary issues and the supplement being delayed by author illness meant that had had to be cancelled, with appropriate refunds going to those who’d paid for the hard copy – this project was going to put that right. In the case of the other two products involved, End Game and The Engine of Life, these two supplements for mainline Legacy had never had print copies funded, having only funded as PDF supplements.
This project set an asking price of £15,000, which is actually more than the previous project asked for but you have to bear in mind that the base goal here was to print three books, ideally with a level of quality which wouldn’t make them seem incongruous next to the products of the previous Kickstarter. The project ended up raising £28,254, about 45% of the previous Kickstarter’s total. That’s actually incredibly good going for a Kickstarter that’s ultimately for supplements rather than a core book. (Remember, supplements more or less always sell less than the core books for a game, because core books are the point of entry, but if you buy the core books and either don’t like the game presented there or are wholly happy with it as is and have no appetite for official expansions you don’t buy supplements.)
What Levels I Backed At
For the original Legacy Kickstarter:
Sentinel: Get the PDF of Legacy plus all unlocked stretch goals, your name in the credits, and a hardcover copy of Legacy. This tier will give you a code to get Legacy printed at-cost by DriveThruRPG when it’s done (approx. £6.90/$11), with shipping paid at that time.
For the 2nd edition campaign:
Elder: Get the physical book of Legacy 2. You’ll also get immediate access to the current draft PDF, a PDF copy when the game’s complete, a credit in the book, and all additional PDF content unlocked over the course of this campaign.
And for The Next World:
Remnant: Already have the PDFs of these games thanks to backing the previous kickstarter? Then this is the tier for you! Get one of the books of your choice, and add £15 for each extra book you’d like. Please note: you will receive no PDFs with this tier.
Delivering the Goods
The original Legacy Kickstarter estimated that delivery would take place in November 2015; as it happened, I actually got my voucher for my print-on-demand copy of the core rulebook (which is how print copies were handled) on the 13th July 2015. That’s impressively early by any standards, and obscenely early by the typically-a-bit-late standards of RPG Kickstarters.
With the 2nd edition of Legacy, UFO Press went for a traditional print run rather than the DriveThruRPG route. Whilst the delivery was a shade past the estimate (estimate was May 2018, I got my books 23rd June 2018), the delay was frankly trivial by the standards of most Kickstarters – especially when it comes to games – and so far as I can tell the delay wasn’t down to anything UFO Press did, the printing process just had some unexpected delays.
This was much the case with the Next World project as well, in which the delivery estimate was May 2019 and I actually received the books 6th July 2019. Again, this seems to have come down to issues with the printer. These are annoying for everyone, but ultimately unless you own your own press – which almost no game companies do – the print run is something which is never going to be 100% under your own control, and even if you add generous padding to the printer’s estimates it’s always possible that botches and delays at their end will add up to a delay to your schedule.
(Why don’t more game companies own their own press? From my understanding, it’s actually an enormous expense unless you are producing very substantial amounts of books – and if you don’t wholly know what you’re doing with it the end results can be disappointing. Mongoose Publishing, a few years back, experimented with owning and operating their own press to churn out RPG rulebooks; the period is largely remembered for the serious number of printing errors and other quality control problems as they struggled to get the results they envisaged out of the press.)
In each case, there was no particular reason for concern because Jay was updating the backers regularly; in particular, she’s on the short list of Kickstarter project owners who understand principles like “if you tell someone about a disappointing delay before any previously-established deadline or estimate runs out, it’s always going to come across better than if the delay happens and then you shamefacedly show up afterwards to mention it” and “if you’re going to tell someone that something is delayed, you’d better be transparent as to why that’s the case”. Part of the reason I think Jay’s projects have done well on Kickstarter is because Jay has an approach which fits Kickstarter, both in terms of the culture among backers there and in terms of the structure of Kickstarter and how projects tend to pan out (which of course plays a big role in shaping the culture in the first place).
Reviewing the Swag
Legacy: Life Among the Ruins (1st Edition)
Legacy is one of several games out there which uses the system established in Vince Baker’s Apocalypse World. Baker is friendly about other people using this system, and various games have been produced using it – indeed, Dungeon World by Adam Koebel and Sage LaTorra is substantially more popular and widely-praised than Apocalypse World itself – and these games refer to themselves as being Powered By the Apocalypse.
The system is based on the realisation that tabletop RPGs are essentially an ongoing conversation amongst the player group, with most of the game-changing conversation taking place between the GM on one side and the players on the other. This being the case, all the bits where random chance may change the direction of the conversation are modelled as “moves” – system features you get to trigger if certain preconditions in the in-character action (as depicted in the conversation) are met which have specific in-game results.
For the players, resolving a move involves rolling two six-sided dice, adding appropriate modifiers, and seeing what you get. In some moves, if you roll 6 or less you fail horribly, if you roll 7-9 you get more or less the effect you wanted but with strings attached, and if you roll 10+ you get pretty much exactly what you wanted. In other moves, if you roll 6- you again fail, if you roll 7-9 you get the effect you were after, if you roll 10+ you get that effect plus some sort of bonus. (Moves tend to default to the previous scheme, with the latter only being applied in cases where a “partial success” doesn’t really conceptually work.)
All the player characters in a Powered By the Apocalypse game have certain basic moves available to them, and the selection and design of said moves can in and of themselves go a long way towards setting the baseline assumptions of the game. In addition, each character is defined by what is called a “playbook”. A playbook defines a particular sort of archetypal character for the genre and setting in question, offers some archetype-appropriate options for customisation, and provides a source of additional moves. (Experienced RPG players will realise that “playbook” is a fancy-pants, highfalutin’ way of saying “character class”.)
The GM does not trigger moves in quite the same way. The GM has a range of moves available by default, plus may have additional moves available based on the in-game situation. (For instance, if the adventure takes place in the vicinity of a volcano, the GM might have prepared a “volcano erupts” move.) The GM’s moves are triggered under three circumstances: if someone rolls 6- on a roll and a suitable consequence is apparent to the GM, if everyone at the table looks to the GM to see what happens next, and if something happens in-character which it has previously been established will have serious consequences.
To a large extent, all this is simply a matter of making explicit precisely the sort of process numerous referees and gaming groups have been using in their games since the hobby’s beginning – hence the success of Dungeon World in adapting the system to an old-school RPG genre. (In fact, Dungeon World is one of the few “indie games” out there which has managed to get traction in both more traditional RPG communities and amongst fans of more experimental work like the produce of the Forge.)
In practice, the Powered By the Apocalypse move mechanics are so simple and immutable that GM moves could happily be improvised on the fly by referees happy with such play – indeed, a group who had really good communication with each other and had done an excellent job of getting on the same page when it came to setting and atmosphere assumptions for the game in question could potentially get by without any formalised moves whatsoever, quickly proposing and resolving bespoke moves on the spot whenever they felt the need for one.
It’s perhaps because Powered By the Apocalypse strips down the tabletop RPG experience so much that previous Apocalypse World-based games have left me cold. In particular, I tend to find the whole “playbook” thing to be constraining, reliant too much on cheap drama class tricks to create connections between the player characters and holding the player’s hand a bit too much. (In Apocalypse World itself and some of its descendants you are even told to pick a name from a list rather than coming up with your own.)
What, then, did Legacy bring to the table that made me interested in the fjrst place? Well, rather than taking the Dungeon World route of adapting Apocalypse World to a different genre, Legacy instead revisits the post-apocalyptic genre but this time around gives it a different emphasis. Instead of playing through the adventures of a single party, in Legacy the players steer the fate of an entire post-apocalyptic community (termed “Family”, though a wide range of potential arrangements are possible and implied).
Campaigns begin with a group brainstorming session in which the players and GM collaborate on coming up with the fantastic, futuristic state of technology humanity attained before the fall, the nature of the disaster that has reduced the world to ruins, and a major threat to the long-term viability of the Families. Each player then gets to pick a Family to play over the course of the campaign, adapts them to the setting, and gets a Playbook for the Family in question. Just as individual-scale activities are resolved using character playbooks, organisational-level action is resolved with the Family playbooks.
The last ingredient is the turning of the ages. You kick off the game by having each player create a character from their Family to join the collective effort to face down the threat you came up with in wasteland generation. Once that threat is done and everyone’s satisfied they are done with this era, the timeline progresses, everyone gets to make rolls to see how their Family fared in the intervening time, and a new generation of characters gets to tackle whatever the next crisis is. Whilst the initial setup tends to assume co-operation between Families (and there’s a system for Treaties which allows you to call on favours you owe each other across generations), the future of the wasteland could see the Families marching side by side towards a common utopia – or fighting a brutal war of attrition to see who really gets to rule Bartertown. It’s all down to how the players choose to lead their Families and how they solve the various crises that pop up from era to era. (Part of the GM’s Agenda – the “best practice” principles the GM is advised to abide by for optimal results – is, in common with many other Powered By the Apocalypse games, “play to find out what happens”, so predetermining the timeline in advance is decidedly against the spirit of the game.)
To me, the Family structure and the focus on the campaign as multigenerational saga is the missing ingredient that makes the whole structure of the Apocalypse World system make sense to me. Whilst I would find the Playbook format constraining in a traditional game where I expected to play the same character for the long haul, at the same time it feels like a very good way to handle transitory characters you only intend to play for a few sessions, and likewise the Playbook format works well for handling organisations.
In addition, the multigenerational assumptions of the game seems to put a somewhat more optimistic spin on the game than is typical for the postapocalyptic genre, mainly because it does assume that there will be future generations rather than this one being humanity’s last gasp. This is reflected in the artwork, which (as well as being pleasantly diverse in its choice of subject) has a slightly more optimistic tone than the grim and grimy aesthetic of Apocalypse World. Mad Max is fun and all, but sooner or later even the angriest of Maxes has to calm down and think about how to raise crops in the long term, you know?
By providing a model for generational play in a postapocalyptic setting, Legacy doesn’t just offer something which Apocalypse World didn’t; it also goes places where, to my knowledge, no previous postapocalyptic game has ever gone. Previous major postapocalyptic RPGs have tended to make baseline assumptions about how long after the fall your campaign takes place; in Twilight: 2000 things went to shit mere years ago and all the player characters lived through it, in Aftermath! it’s assumed to have happened long enough ago that older player characters remember the world before but younger player characters were born after the fall happened, whilst in Gamma World the fall happened generations ago. Legacy is the only postapocalyptic RPG I am aware of which allows you to run a campaign taking in all three of those time periods.
When you take all this together, you find that Legacy has not only carved out a specific niche for itself in the postapocalyptic subgenre in tone and aesthetic, saving itself from being redundant next to other such games, and adding a truly unique selling point that previous offerings in this subgenre have lacked.
Echoes of the Fall
This slim supplement provides a random grab-bag of things to enhance your Legacy game. Two new culture playbooks and one new character playbook fill in conceptual gaps; a selection of ideas for wilderness locations is of some help in adventure design, as does a grab-bag of old technology. It’s handy to have if you want extra options, but doesn’t expand the overall scope of the game very much; ultimately, it’s the sort of grab-back of extra bits and pieces which tends to result when you dump a bunch of stretch goals from an RPG-related Kickstarter into a single book, which is pretty much exactly how Echoes of the Fall happened in the first place.
Mirrors In the Ruins
Another small expansion, Mirrors In the Ruins is primarily Douglas Santana Mota’s idea, with some help from Iles. The basic concept is to provide support (including playbooks) for Families of an entirely inhuman origin, representing entities that either caused the apocalypse or arose in its wake – uplifted animals, alien invaders, machine swarms, that sort of thing.
This won’t be tonally appropriate for all Legacy games, of course, but it does offer an interesting new dimension to the game. Depending on the nature of the disaster that your campaign is set in the wake of, the material here could be interestingly used to set up a conflict between survival for survival’s sake on the one hand and midwifing a new future into existence on the other. Is humanity’s time better spent desperately scrabbling to survive in an environment which has become comprehensively hostile to it, or would we be better off helping our successors establish themselves in a world more suited to them? And if we take the latter route, what (if anything) do our successors owe us in terms of remembering and maintaining our heritage, our footprint on the world, our… damn it, there’s some word beginning with L which is perfect for this concept which is eluding me.
Anyway, what also occurs to me is that Mirrors In the Ruins is a supplement which you could equally happily fully implement from game start, or add into the game in a drip-by-drip fashion depending on decisions made as the game progresses. For instance, you could start out the campaign with the visiting aliens/AI machine swarms/uplifted beasties defaulting to being antagonistic towards humanity, but then if the players take appropriate action to alleviate that you could make the relevant Family playbooks available for use in later generations.
Legacy: Life Among the Ruins (2nd Edition)
This chunky little hardcover, which somehow manages to have even nicer art than 1st edition and its supplements, effectively collects together all the additions to the original game from Echoes of the Fall and Mirrors In the Ruins, polishes everything up, and incorporates extensive advice and support to help people get their heads around the game’s concepts.
Recognising that not all the Family and Character types offered will work well together or fit particular settings, all the playbooks in the book are labelled with icons; those with the Ruins icon are appropriate to the baseline assumptions of Legacy, those with the Echoes icon tend to involve wondrous survivals from the time before, whilst those with the Mirrors icon represent very unusual and often outright non-human peoples arising in the aftermath of apocalypse.
As far as the advice for actually playing the game goes, it’s pretty solid. An entire chapter is given over to a fantastic idea – a truly epic extended example of play, with commentary noting particular techniques used by the referee and players as they come up. The book also comes with a worked example – a partly-developed setting complete with pregenerated Families and Characters, ready for groups to pick up and run with so as to provide a way to test drive Legacy with minimal prep.
On the whole, then, as glad as I was to support the original Kickstarter I would advise newcomers to Legacy to start with the 2nd edition. Not only do you get way more material in the core book, but it also has the intervening years of actual play and feedback informing and refining it. In other words, it’s exactly what I believe a new edition of a game should be – a refinement of the game which further focuses on and teases out what’s best about it, rather than an abandonment of the core system and setting principles of the original game.
Worlds of Legacy
This is a run of supplements for Legacy delivered to backers in a handsome slipcase set. Each one offers an entire alternate setting for the game, offering a different riff on the whole “generational play” conceit. As such, each one is largely dominated by an appropriate selection of playbooks, accompanied by notes on how the setting and rules differ from baseline Legacy and additional details on the world presented.
Primal Pathways by Laurence Phillips is, as you might have guessed from the cover, full-on psychedelic mayhem – the sort of thing you might see as an animated science fiction movie from the 1970s adapted from an avant-garde French comic or something. Instead of Families, you have species that have been adopted by particular flavours of otherplanar quasi-deities, and who evolve rapidly from generation to generation, so as the game progresses your creatures get weirder and weirder as they are progressively shaped to better suit their patrons’ purposes.
Worldfall by Katherine Cross offers a multigenerational tale of interstellar colonisation; a species (probably, unless you choose otherwise, humanity) have landed a colony on an untouched planet, and your players control the Cabals (political blocs) that will come to shape the political life of the new world. It’s effectively Legacy in reverse – rather than beginning in the ruins of our world and then building something new on top of that, Worldfall offers a genuinely blank slate for the Cabals to mould as they see fit.
One interesting idea deployed here is how at the end of the first age, before you advance time to the second generation, there’s a Constitutional Convention where the parameters of the planetary government get set; it’s already the case that the later generations in a Legacy game are going to be shaped, moulded, and in some respects constrained by the action of earlier generations, so having something as fundamental as the Constitutional Convention happen in play at the climax of the first generation really plays into that. It’s also a good way to establish a major point of distinction from Legacy: whereas in Legacy the Families tend to be accountable to nobody but themselves, in Worldfall society at least starts out substantially more cohesive. Getting to the point where you can establish a rule of law which binds all equally would be a major long-term achievement in baseline Legacy: here it’s where Worldfall kicks off.
Aaron Griffin goes to a similar science fictional well for Generation Ship, in which the Families are groups of people aboard the titular ship; they weren’t supposed to be defrosted until the automated ship reached its destination, but accidents will happen and now you have to survive, keep the ship viable, and maybe fix it. The interesting thing about this one is that, unlike baseline Legacy and many of the Worlds of Legacy, Generation Ship has a specific, defined endgame: if you end a generaiton with all the ship’s key systems operational, you get to do the Planetfall action, play out one last generation, and then see what sort of planet you land on and what challenges face you there. (I feel like this concept screams out for Griffin and Cross to put their heads together and come up with guidelines for transitioning a Generation Ship game into a Worldfall game.)
Jay Iles’ own Rhapsody of Blood unabashedly riffs on Castlevania and Bloodbourne to offer a horror-fantasy setting highly reminiscent of both – particularly, to my eyes, Castlevania – whilst still having its own original spin. The basic concept is that once every generation an accursed castle and its dark lord threatens the world, and heroes must arise from the mystic Bloodlines that have been reshaped by the castle’s interventions in the past to defeat it. The big experiment here is that, rather than obliging the referee or group to cook up a new challenge for each generation to face as in baseline Legacy, in Rhapsody of Blood you’re basically doing repeated riffs on the same basic challenge – with the outcome of previous raids on the castle adding wrinkles to the later generations’ challenges.
To my mind, the wildest departure from baseline Legacy offered here is Godsend by Khelren, in which instead of a Family each player has a Divinity, a god of a pantheon in a fantasy world where the End is coming within four generations, and each generation you play one of the Avatars who act as the Divinities’ agents in the world.
There’s two exciting twists here. The first is that the default assumption is that each player will play the Avatar of a different player’s Divinity, opening the door for epic disagreements between the two. This is a massive shift in dynamic compared to all the other Worlds of Legacy and baseline Legacy itself, which work on the assumption that whatever individual-scale character you are playing is associated with the Family-scale group you also control.
Whilst you could choose to play a character who was disloyal to their Family if you felt like a challenge, it feels like the assumption is that this will be the exception, and certainly for a more contentious relationship between transient one-generation-only character and the multigenerational group/entity that sponsors them, the sort of setup you have in Godsend not only makes working at cross-purposes easier, should the Avatar’s player choose to go rogue, but also means that your Avatar can betray you in ways you’d have never thought of yourself.
The second major distinction in Godsend is that it offers a diceless variant on the Legacy system, in keeping with the epic nature of the entities you are dealing with; this proves to be as simple as providing Moves with have no chance of failure (though depending on your stats some types of deed might come with additional benefits and/or complications).
Lastly, there’s Free From the Yoke by Fyodor Kasatkin with support from Jay, a product which bridges two of the Kickstarters (the writing of it was a stretch goal in the second, the production of hard copies a goal of the third). This adapts Legacy to a fantasy setting based heavily on Slavic folklore and fantasy literature, which casts the characters and their families as the victors of a struggle for liberation from an occupying Empire; now they must rule the land for themselves and their people over the coming generations. Perhaps the biggest tweak to the system here is the inclusion of the Arbiter, a role for the referee representing an authority figure who sets the agenda for a particular generation; this can be an actual king or despot, or represent the consensus of some ruling council or Parliament, or even be something as nebulous as “the will of the people”.
Between them, the various Worlds of Legacy not only offer a set of interesting alternate settings but also present a rich pool of experiments undertaken with the system. These departures from the baseline rules follow the underlying Powered By the Apocalypse philosophy – often stated, but not always followed by game designers – that the system should yield to the fiction, rather than the fiction being bashed out of shape to fit into the system: all of the rule changes in question are adaptations which better reflect the conceits of the fiction presented in the different Worlds than baseline Legacy would. As such, even if you aren’t interested in using the settings as written the Worlds of Legacy series is still potentially useful as a rich source of alternate rules and worked examples of how the system can be tweaked in this fashion.
Legacy: The Engine of Life/Legacy: End Game
These two supplements by Iles and Mota very much feel like capstones to the game line – whilst more Worlds of Legacy may emerge (and indeed the Legacy framework is being adapted to Mythsea as I write), the tone of the introductions suggests that these books represent, if not the last components we’re going to get for Legacy itself, then at the very least the last major components of the present wave.
The two books are basically mood filters for baseline legacy; The Engine of Life brings in a bunch of new family and character options which reflect an optimistic outlook, suitable (for instance) for a setting where the Fall either happened long enough ago that the work of rebuilding has had a chance to properly get underway, or was of such a nature that serious rebuilding could begin quickly, or for any game where you want to express a positive view of human nature and our capacity to collaborate and bounce back in extremis.
End Game takes Legacy into darkly pessimistic terrain, suitable for games where the Fall didn’t represent rock bottom and the survivors are going to find it gets yet darker before the dawn, if a dawn even comes at all. Perhaps the Fall was just the opening onslaught of a continuing disaster, perhaps people are still carrying around the grudges and mistrust that made it happen in the first place, perhaps the collapse of social restraints has been a boon to the worst of humanity’s impulses – however you want to spin it, in a campaign making heavy use of End Game things are going from bad to worse and human extinction is very much on the table.
You could even end up with a campaign that uses both. For instance, I reckon you could have both books sat there in effect as a promise and a threat: if the Families and Characters of your Legacy campaign successfully steer the world towards a brighter future, then in the next generation and for as long as the future seems to be continuing on a broadly upward trajectory you can bring the options in The Engine of Life into play. If they steer the world towards the pit, the options in End Game may become available in the next generation, which would of course tend to reinforce the downward spiral just as the options in The Engine of Life help reinforce the progress that the past generations made.
I have no problem with having my name showing up in the credits for these games at all, and probably wouldn’t even if I didn’t know Jay and Liz and other UFO Press contributors in real life.
Higher, Lower, Just Right or Just Wrong?
I’d say Just Right on each of them. For the 1st edition and 2nd edition Kickstarters, whilst the books themselves are gorgeous items in their own right, I don’t feel like I particularly needed dice or my own ideas added into the game or whatever. For the purposes of The Next World, it was nice to have a no-frills reward tier covering just the new stuff from that campaign without any overlap with the previous Kickstarter.
Would Back Again?
I think it’s obvious from the fact that I’ve backed three of these things (and they’re not even the only UFO Press Kickstarters I’ve backed) that the answer is “Yes”. Backing one Kickstarter to give a friend a helping hand breaking into the industry is one thing, but I’ve not backed 100% of the Kickstarters that Jay’s done (I sat out on the domino-based RPG she did because the concept didn’t appeal to me). I would, however, give close attention to any Legacy-related Kickstarter, regardless of who was running it, because I genuinely think that, even accounting for the extra helping of generosity we usually give to work by people we know, it’s one of the best new RPGs of the past decade.