Root: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game [KICKSTARTER PRE-ORDER]
A tabletop roleplaying game based on the award-winning Root: A Game of Woodland Might and Right board game.
Root: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game is a game of woodland creatures fighting for money, justice, and freedom from powers far greater than them. Based on the Root: A Game of Woodland Might & Right board game and officially licensed by Leder Games, Root: The TTRPG brings the tales of the Woodland to your RPG table!
In Root, you play vagabonds, outcasts from the normal society of the woodlands who have come to live in the spaces between, whether that's in the forests themselves or on the fringes of society. You are competent and skilled—you have to be to survive as vagabonds—and you aren’t tied down to any particular place or faction. You might be a badger arbiter, serving many sides in resolving conflicts and defending their interests. You might be a cat scoundrel, sliding on your mask before you sneak out into the darkness to cause mischief and mayhem. You might be a wolf ranger, at home in the wilds and the untamed places of the woodland.
Root is based on the Powered by the Apocalypse system used by tabletop RPGs like Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, and many of Magpie Games’s own games like Masks: A New Generation, Urban Shadows, and Zombie World. It uses the core framework of that system and provides a strong, simple way to tell your own stories of adventure in the woodland. You’ll create a character using one of several vagabond archetypes, and then you’ll take action, rolling two six-sided dice to resolve the outcomes of desperate situations.
Root creates stories like those you’d find in Redwall, Watership Down, Mouse Guard, The Warriors, and The Guardians of Ga’Hoole.
The Woodland is, first and foremost, a deep forest. It hides dark deeds, ancient ruins, and dangerous creatures. The land is not tame—the trees and those who live in them are not safe.
The closest a denizen will come to safety in the Woodland are the confines of the clearings, areas either natural or paw-made where the trees thinned out and the denizens of the Woodland built lives. They set up homes and shops and forges, and they found safety in each other’s company.
Of course, it took no time at all for others to try to take power over these clearings. The Eyrie Dynasties were the first, and oldest—the birds built their homes in the trees above the rest of the denizens, and soon enough believed themselves to be above those denizens in power and status, too. The Eyrie took control of clearing after clearing, until it was the reigning institution in all of the Woodland.
But the Eyrie's nobles and petty tyrants squabbled with each other over control and rulership. Until eventually, in the Grand Civil War (only "Grand" because it's the most recent), the Eyrie Dynasties tore themselves apart. They were left without enough support, armies, or resources to hold control over much of anything at all. And for a time, the Woodland denizens took charge of their own clearings.
Until the cats arrived.
Armies from the far away Feline Empire swept into the now uncontrolled and undefended Woodland. Some denizens of the Woodland fought back, but the invaders were well-trained, well-equipped, and too much for any civilian militia to turn back. The valuable resources of the Woodland would feed the bellies of the Feline Empire. Soon enough, the Marquise de Cat, dispatched by the Empire’s bureaucratic overlords, arrived to take control of the new colony, and the Woodland denizens found themselves under the paw of a new aristocracy.
As the cats were consolidating their rule and establishing new industrial buildings to tap the Woodland’s resources, the newly reunited and resurgent Eyrie Dynasties returned to the Woodland, seizing power from the Marquise’s forces to reestablish their hegemonic ascendancy. They rebuilt roosts in the treetops of the Woodland clearings, and opened up full war against the Marquise’s soldiers.
In the midst of the blooming conflict, the denizens of the Woodland began sharing secrets and new words in the shadows. Foxes began stockpiling weapons, and mice began stealing communications between officers on all sides of the war. Meetings in root cellars called to a war for freedom, and the fires of rebellion began to smolder. The name of “the Woodland Alliance” was whispered across the clearings.
The vagabonds have been a part of the Woodland for as long as anyone can remember. Outsiders and outcasts, criminals and ideologues, exiles and mercenaries—those who didn’t fit into the quieter lives of the clearings, who were hardy enough to survive in the spaces the other denizens avoided. Some dwelt in the forests themselves, completely eschewing the taboos against living in those most dangerous of places.
In times of peace, the vagabonds did what others would not, for a price of course. In times of war, the vagabonds found ample opportunity to fill their purses, from scavenging to sellsword work to straight-up thievery. In all cases, they would do what it took to survive, each one finding their own niche of safety and damn the rest.
But now, in the midst of this great war that threatens the whole of the Woodland, even the normally solitary vagabonds are finding it more and more difficult to survive by their lonesome. They are banding together, protecting each other, and forming into groups potent enough that even the great powers of the Eyrie and the Marquisate are taking notice...
The thick woods of the Woodland keep the denizens contained to the pathways and the clearings. To venture out beyond that safety is to risk running afoul of bandits, foul weather and rough terrain, and terrible things like bears. Fortunately, those paths between clearings are well-worn and patrolled by merchants and armed forces.
The clearings play home to many, many different kinds of denizen, from wolves to badgers to squirrels to opossums. But the primary inhabitants of the Woodland are the birds, foxes, mice, and rabbits. The birds spread themselves out among all the clearings, but most clearings are dominated by a majority of one kind of denizen.
Some clearings will be open and friendly to any kind of Woodland denizen, from those who dominate their clearing to those who are from far away; other clearings will fear any strangers who come by.
As vagabonds, you can navigate the Woodland both on its paths, and by venturing into its forests, braving the dangers that no others will face.
In Root, you will travel from clearing to clearing, and you will take on jobs and missions from diverse sources, and in so doing you will reshape the Woodland as you change the course of the war between those who would rule it.
To do all that, the game uses the Powered by the Apocalypse framework to resolve interesting moments of uncertainty. The game has a set of moves, bits of mechanics that by and large say: “When you do [x], [y] happens.” Each move trigger—the “When you do [x]” part—is designed to help point at moments of uncertainty, when neither the players nor the GM know exactly what happens next. Some examples of such moments include:
- When you swing your sword at a towering buzzard Eyrie soldier.
- When you try to sneak past a group of bandits to plunder their secret stash.
- When you plead with the rabbit mayor to evacuate her clearing in advance of a major battle.
- When you try to trick a Marquisate guard post into giving you the food and supplies you desperately need.
And so on. When you trigger a move—when you perform the action described in the move’s trigger—then the rest of the move kicks into effect, most of the time requiring some kind of die roll. You’ll roll 2d6 (two six-sided dice) and add in one of your stats to find out what happens.
Every vagabond has five stats:
Each one is ranked between -2 and +3. You’ll add your stat to some rolls when you trigger certain moves. For example, when you clash sword-to-sword with a foe, you’ll roll 2d6 + Might.
On most moves, if you get a 10 or higher (10+), things will go your way! If you get a 7-9, you’ll get what you were after, but usually with some cost or complication. If you get a 6 or lower, that’s called a miss, and the GM gets to tell you what happens next—and you can bet your tail it won’t be good.
The Root RPG will have basic moves for all of the different common activities that the vagabonds are likely to get up to, along with special moves for traveling and battle.
Beyond those basic mechanics, the Root TTRPG features a slew of specific and carefully designed systems for some of the important, unique elements of the Woodland.
The Woodland is a big place with many different clearings. The paths between the clearings are safer than the woods themselves, but they’re certainly far from safe. And even though the vagabonds are brave enough to travel the width and breadth of the Woodland, it’s not any safer for them than for anyone else. It might even be more dangerous.
Your adventures across the Woodland will take you from clearing to clearing, using the paths or slipping through the forests in ways that only the vagabonds can. Every clearing has its own problems, after all, and that means every clearing is a bed of lucrative opportunities for enterprising vagabonds like yourselves.
To handle all that travel, the Root RPG features a set of moves designed to allow the vagabonds to move between clearings with ease at a player level, but with interesting complications and concerns at a character level. Will the vagabonds sacrifice their exhaustion to travel more safely along the paths? Will they spend more supplies and degrade their equipment to travel quickly through the forests? Or will they chance being waylaid by the many dangers of the Woodland—anything from bandits to squads of soldiers to BEARS?
Vagabonds are all very skilled and capable individuals—after all, they have to be in order to survive! To represent their capabilities, every vagabond has access to all the basic moves, their own special playbook moves, and weapon moves.
Weapon moves are the skills that the vagabonds use in combat to wield their weapons with unmatched prowess. Each vagabond will have access to a portion of the overall weapon moves, and as long as they have the right weaponry to then use those moves, they can perform incredible feats, from smashing through heavy armor with a single blow, to bouncing arrows off walls to reach an unreachable target, to taking out unsuspecting foes instantly.
In Root: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game, each vagabond has three tracks representing their wellbeing. Their exhaustion track represents how tired they are, how much energy they have left to give. Their decay track represents how much of their supplies they’ve used up. And their injury track represents how many major blows they’ve taken.
Using the three different tracks lets the Root RPG land consequences in different ways, pushing the vagabonds to take different actions to deal with those consequences. A band of vagabonds with all their decay boxes marked will need to seek more supplies or the aid of a blacksmith, and soon, while a band with all their exhaustion boxes marked needs to find a safe place to hunker down and rest. Filling in these boxes will ultimately lead to more stories as the vagabonds move from clearing to clearing to resupply and recover.
Root: A Game of Woodland Might & Right, the original Root board game, featured a Woodland at war, caught in a struggle between different, powerful factions. The Marquise de Cat and her industrializing armies; the Eyrie Dynasties and their bureaucratic structure; the Woodland Alliance and its insurgent revolts. The Vagabond was one of the factions in the original game, but its role was often of a single adventurer, slipping in and out of greater conflicts, helping one side, hurting another, all the while ready to tip the scales in favor of one group or another.
In Root: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game, that idea of a living backdrop for the adventures of the vagabond is crucial. Clearings will not sit, static and unchanging, while the vagabonds go on adventures. They will be taken or lost in the wars between the factions. Sometimes those factions might actually improve the clearings. Other times those factions will destroy buildings, take advantage of the populace, and take hold of any valuable resources.
And amid this ongoing war between the factions for control of the Woodland, the vagabonds will adventure and tip the balance. They will have reputations with different factions, allowing them to borrow resources or even lead forces from friendly factions, and leading to constant conflict with opposing factions. Their decisions will change the Woodland.
We’re excited to bring to you two different books through this Kickstarter, along with digital versions of both and deluxe, Kickstarter Exclusive editions!
Root: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game and Root: Travelers & Outsiders will both come in PDF form. We will distribute the PDFs through DriveThruRPG. Every reward tier comes with both books in PDF, along with all other PDF content unlocked through this campaign. All the content listed for both books below will be included in the corresponding PDF.
What's more, everyone who backs for at least $20 will get all the stretch goal digital PDFs, including:
- 4 pre-made digital clearings—Hookfoot Bog, Sixclaw's Stand, Limmery Post, and Coolclaw Mine!
- 2 additional digital maps—the Swampland map and the Woodland map!
- 6 additional digital playbooks—the Exile, the Heretic, the Pirate, the Prince, the Raconteur, and the Seeker!
- A digital version of the GM's Screen!
Root: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game will be a 6” x 9” hardcover full-color book of about 240 pages. The book will feature Kyle Ferrin’s extraordinary art throughout, along with matte pages and all the playbook and basic moves materials you need to play. The book will feature full color end papers. Inside the book you will find:
- 6 vagabond playbooks—the Arbiter, the Ranger, the Scoundrel, the Thief, the Tinker, and the Vagrant
- All the core rules for the game
- 3 factions—the Marquisate, the Eyrie Dynasties, and the Woodland Alliance
- A map creation system to procedurally generate your own Woodland
- Additional tables and randomized generators to make running the game even easier
Root: Travelers & Outsiders is a 6” x 9” hardcover full-color book of about 240 pages. This book will contain:
- 6 new vagabond playbooks—the Adventurer, the Champion, the Chronicler, the Envoy, the Harrier, and the Raider
- 4 new factions—the Riverfolk Company, the Lizard Cult, the Grand Duchy, and the Corvid Conspiracy
- More weapon moves, map mechanics, and Woodland details
- Example clearings for quick and easy play
- Additional rules on how you can integrate the board game into your campaign of the role playing game
Both Root: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game and Root: Travelers & Outsiders are available in a Kickstarter Exclusive deluxe version. Each deluxe book will feature an embossed cover with metallic foil and a silk bookmark. Furthermore, when you get the deluxe books as part of the "Deluxe Books & Satchel" reward tier, they will come with a hard slipcase featuring the cover art of the base edition books! And for those of you who like the base edition cover, not to worry—we promise that the gorgeous cover art pieces by Kyle Ferrin will be used within the deluxe edition books!
The Vagabond’s Satchel is filled with tools and additional materials to enhance your game of Root: The TTRPG. Right now, including stretch goals, the Satchel contains:
- Equipment Deck - A 54-card deck designed to make managing equipment easy while sprucing up the table with images of weapons, armor, and other equipment! The deck will include cards to make the special weapon moves easy to reference, as well as plenty of cards for equipment with all their special traits and stats ready for use!
- Denizen Deck - A 54-card deck designed to give you pre-made, instantly useful denizens of the Woodland! Each one will come with all the information you need to portray the denizen and to use them within the game mechanics. With the Denizen Deck, your Woodland will never be devoid of interesting allies, complicated enemies, and everything in between!
- Dice - A set of dice customized to match Woodland factions! Right now, the dice include an orange Marquisate pair of dice; a blue Eyrie Dynasties pair of dice; and a green Woodland Alliance pair of dice!
- Maps - Several different Woodland maps, laminated and ready for drawing upon with dry-erase markers so you can set up your own version of the Woodland. The maps will be 8.5" x 11" and include plenty of visual elements for inspiration. Right now, the pack comes with 4 maps—Autumn, Winter, Swampland, and Redwood.
- GM's Screen - A trifold GM's screen, each fold roughly 8" x 8" so the whole thing unfolded is about 24" long. It will have tools, tables, and information to help make running the game a cinch, while featuring awesome art!
We'll add more to the Vagabond’s Satchel over the course of the campaign, so stay tuned!
Estimated Delivery: September 2020.
Estimated Time of Arrival: December 2020.