The Kickstarter campaign is not even close to being over and the first Eyrewood Adventures game – Thornwatch has already proved to be a massive success. Thornwatch is a unique choose-your-own-adventure game for players to experience an RPG without having to spend lengthy prep time. Thornwatch can be pulled off the shelf for 60 minutes of fun, or can provide hours of epic role playing adventure. It’s your choice.
Thornwatch is developed by Lone Shark Games and Penny Arcade who have joined forces to create a new type of game. Thornwatch is described as a “graphic novel adventure that bridges the gap between RPGs and board games”. Thornwatch takes place on one of many maps including forests, swamps, and villages, basically each location of the Eyrewood. One player takes on the role of the Judge, who enacts the will of the Judging Wood. At the start of each session, the Judge selects a storyboard. Each other player plays as one of the Thornwatch classes: Blade, Greenheart, Guard, Sage, or Warden.
Each player has their own decks of cards which give them unique skills, actions and outlook on the world. They roll custom dice including hero dice gained by manifesting their traits. Thornwatch characters do not develop new skills or pick up new trinkets over time. Thornwatch is streamlined situating each character at the peak of their abilities to keep the shorter playtime which is what separates the game from other RPGs. Instead, players have an opportunity to gain knots. These knots grant their wearer small bonuses that last for the single game.
The core engine is the momentum system. This system tracks turn order, notes the health of individual monsters, encourages players to work together, and creates dynamic combat scenarios with priorities that change turn-by-turn and round-by-round.
Thornwatch is around halfway through its Kickstarter campaign seeking $78,000 and they already have the support of over 3,300 backers pledging a whopping $400,000. Pledging $78 will net you a base copy of the game.This includes 24 double-sided map tiles, 15 storyboards, 8 custom dice, an illustrated rule book and all the necessary cards and tokens required to play. Pledging higher amounts will grant you access to collectable pins, art cards or a gorgeous signed wooden Thornwatch box.
If the idea of a shorter RPG doesn’t entice you to pledge or if you are still unsure for any reason, Lone Shark Games are offering a free print and play version of Thornwatch for you to test out. You can find out more on their Kickstarter page.
Michael Vane is a freelance journalist and co-editor of PN2. He’s on Twitter @DrVane