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We’re building a new fantasy roleplaying game system with a dream team of RPG designers—and then we’re giving it to the world for free. That’s the plan! Build an amazing new game and give it away to the world!

Not only is this our plan, but thanks to the amazing backers who pledged on Kickstarter the project is fully funded including a ton of incredible stretch goals!

Late Pledging and Pledge Upgrades

The fantastic team at Backerkit helped us to setup their new Late Pledge system! With this system you can join the campaign, even though the Kicsktarter is ended. Just click the button below, and you select the same pledges offered during the Kickstarter and you’ll get the same rewards!

All of the funds we generate through late pledges will be used to add incredible art by Russell Marks, get more time with our Consulting Designers to make the rules even better, and hire additional writers so we can get the work done even faster!

If you’re already a Kickstarter backer, and you want to upgrade to a higher pledge level, use your survey link to visit Backerkit! Once you’re there, you can change your original pledge!

Important Links: Get In On the Action

Here are some of the most important links you’ll need to get in on the action today:

There had been a lot of concern around the amount of control large proprietary companies potentially have over RPG system licenses and their restrictions. In the end, that problem actually worked out pretty well for everyone involved BUT many people were worried that their games—even their businesses and livelihoods—were at risk. As we said, it worked out okay in the end, but it got a few of us thinking.

What if there was another cool game system that wasn’t owned by a company? What if this system belonged to the RPG community instead? It wouldn’t matter if you were a publisher or a gamemaster or a player, you could create anything you wanted for this system for free and without asking anyone for permission! Together, we could create a fantastic set of compatible resources for gamers everywhere!

Join us as we make this dream a reality and demonstrate what is best in roleplaying games and gamers. Help shine a spotlight on our community’s collective creativity and camaraderie. Be part of a celebration of our hobby’s ability to bring diverse groups of people together to create magic.

We’re going to make a brand-new fantasy RPG system that is free for everyone. We’re not just talking about players and gamemasters. Game designers, writers, software creators – anyone will be able to use this system for any cool project they can imagine, and they can do so irrevocably, perpetually, and without paying a dime to anyone ever. It’ll be a game that belongs to the community.

One of the Cool Name RPG Consulting Designers heroically confronts a terrifying balance issue in the character creation rules!
One of the Cool Name RPG Consulting Designers heroically confronts a terrifying balance issue in the character creation rules!

How will we do this? To start with, we need you. Grab a seat at the table and join our adventuring party by backing this campaign. Throughout the design process, your feedback will guide us. Surveys, live chats, focus groups, and more will let you make your voice heard and influence the direction of the project!

We reached out to legends of the RPG industry and the most brilliant new creators, and we assembled a game design dream team to serve as our wizened mentors! Meet our team of game design legends!

  • MATT FORBECK, veteran game designer who is the writer and co-designer of the new Marvel Multiverse Roleplaying Game.
  • TOIYA KRISTEN FINLEY, who not only brings a wealth of experience designing both digital and table-top games, but literally wrote the book on writing effective game narratives.
  • OWEN K.C. STEPHENS, the co-creator of the Star Wars Saga Roleplaying Game and the Design Lead forStarfinder from Paizo Publishing.
  • ELOY LASANTA, an ENnie-Nominated designer and an instructor for Central Michigan University’s game design program.
  • CRYSTAL MAZUR, an exceptionally talented designer who has created content for Onyx Path, Third Eye Games, Apotheosis Studios, Black Void, Wet Ink Games, and Iron Bound.
  • STEVEN S. LONG, a veteran designer best known for his work on the HERO System but he’s written for more games that most of us have played!
  • MONICA MARLOWE, a Paizo RPG Superstar winner and the author of the highly rated Pathfinder adventure module, Down the Blighted Path.
  • DBJ, a multi-talented designer, author of the inspired Cinematic Environs collection, and host of the YouTube show, RPG with DBJ.
  • ROBIN D. LAWS, designer the GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying systemAshen Stars, The Esoterrorists, The Dying Earth, Heroquest and Feng Shui.
  • KENNETH HITE, author of Trail of Cthulhu and Night’s Black Agents role-playing games, and lead designer of the 5th edition of Vampire: the Masquerade.

From the minute this Kickstarter hits its funding goal until August 2024, we’re going to work tirelessly to build this system. Every two weeks we’ll release new material for you to read, review, and playtest. After you have time to take a look, we gather your feedback, and your input helps influence the design of the game.

In the final step, we take the fully armed and operational roleplaying game and release it first to you, and then, the world! From that day onward it’ll be free to anyone and everyone that wants to play it, share it, publish their own game with it, create a cool video game with it, or anything else they can imagine. Irrevocably, perpetually, and royalty free until the end of time.

Ambitious, exciting, and maybe just a little bit crazy, but we believe we can do something fantastic for our hobby by working together to make some real magic.

In addition to building the game, we have a few extra surprises in store for you.


Since you’re a vital part of this, we’re giving you an unprecedented view into the creation of our new game system. Every week we host a live Design Journal where we talk about what we’re building, the obstacles we’re facing, the puzzles we’re trying to solve, and everything else that goes into the creation of this game. Plus, we’ll share the feedback we receive from all of you, the advice of our consulting designers, and any tips and tricks we learn that you can apply to your own creative projects.


The game will be a blast to play, but we’re also building a system that supports the people who publish the books and resources we all love! The game will provide a built-in framework of design aids, tools, and resources that make it easier than ever for your favorite game designers and publishers to make new compatible content.

By backing Cool Name RPG you’ll be part of something really cool, but you’re also helping to show the world how cool this hobby and its people are. Not only that, we’ve got a bunch of other cool rewards planned for everyone that helps us pull this off. Remember! Even though the Kickstarter ended you can still pledge over on Backerkit today!


One of the main rewards you’ll receive are the PDF rulebooks we create. You’ll get access to the books before anyone else, and at some backer levels you’ll also get the Masterwork Upgrade and print editions.

  • Basic Rules (PDF): This Basic Rules make it easy for new players to get into the game. This subset of the Advanced Rules contains everything necessary to run an incredible RPG campaign. The Basic Rules also serves as a template designers can use to build quickstart books for their own products and settings.
  • Advanced Rules (PDF): This is the dragon’s hoard! It’ll contain rules for character creation, combat, advancement, adventuring, magic, and everything else you need to run the perfect fantasy adventure. Plus, it’ll contain a rich set of classic spells, adventurer roles, monsters, equipment, and treasures. And of course, all of it will be free for everyone to use in any way they like!
  • Masterwork Upgrade: Upgrade both the Basic Rules and the Advanced Rules to the gorgeous Masterwork editions. While the standard books are black and white with simple designs and a handful of illustrations, the Masterwork editions are full-color, illustrated books created by the team at Mechanical Muse.
  • Print Editions: We’re releasing print editions of both books with the Masterwork upgrade through DriveThruRPG. The Basic Rules comes as a full-color softcover and the Advanced Rules is a full-color hardcover.


When you back the Kickstarter you get a seat at the table for this incredible adventure. Depending on your backer level you could receive some or all of these rewards.

  • Early Access to Playtest PDFs: Get early access to all the playtest material we produce and release.
  • Surveys and Live Streams: Make your voice heard with access to special backer-only surveys and live streams.
  • Playtest Live Chats: Receive invitations to limited access live chats available only to a select group of backers and playesters.
  • Playtest Focus Groups: Get invited to small-group Zoom calls where you can discuss the project, ask questions, and offer ideas.
  • Premiere Games at Gen Con 2024: Join us for Cool Name RPG events at Gen Con in 2024, including a number of backer-only events run by the Cool Name RPG lead designer, Marc Tassin.


Publishers and designers that back the project gain access to a set of special publisher rewards.

  • Your Logo on the Industry Backers Page: We recognize your company by placing your logo on the Industry Backers page at the front of both the books.
  • Publisher Live Chats: Receive invitations to limited access live chats available only to publishers and designers.
  • Early Access to Designer Resources: Get first access to all designer resources, ranging from graphical elements to InDesign files.
  • Ad in the Advanced Rules: We’ll put an ad for your company and products (even if they aren’t Cool Name compatible) in the Advanced Rulebook.
  • Signal Booster: We’ll boost the signal on your first Cool Name RPG compatible product to all our backers and social media followers!
  • Publisher Focus Groups: Just like the Playtest Focus Groups but specifically for publishers. We’ll focus on the issues and topics that matter most to you.

Thanks to all the backers who pledged during the Kickstarter, we unlocked a host of incredible stretch goals! Check it out!

This last one got unlocked too, but it was LITERALLY unlocked in the last 30 seconds of the campaign, so we didn’t even have time to update the image!

But There is More to Come!

Every pledge we receive in the Cool Name Pledge Store between now and our release date will be used to add more art from Russell Marks, get more time with our consulting designers, and get more writers to help us get the books out as soon as possible! So don’t wait! Join the party and pledge today!

We’ve covered all the exciting stuff so now on to some details. We’ll also share more on how the project will run, what rules we’ll cover, and a host of other details in updates and live streams that we’ll post throughout the campaign.

“Where Does the Money Go?”

This project is not designed to “make money.” Every penny this campaign brings in goes to the costs of completing the project and delivering the rewards. It is, at best, a break-even proposition. Here are some details about how we’ll use the funds generated during this Kickstarter.


  • Paying Consulting Designers and Contributors
  • Legal Fees to Draft or Review a License
  • Layout and Design
  • Art and Illustration
  • Editing and Copyediting
  • Printing costs (for backers that choose those tiers)
  • Kickstarter and Backerkit Fees


  • WE’RE NOT PAYING MARC – Marc Tassin is donating his time for this project. This includes his writing, design, editing, and project management time.
  • WE’RE NOT PAYING Mechanical Muse Expenses – We’re donating our infrastructure to make this happen. None of the money earned in this campaign goes toward our day-to-day costs.
  • WE’RE NOT MAKING A PROFIT for Mechanical Muse – ANY money we get during this Kickstarter will be spent on this project in a way that benefits the project. Mechanical Muse makes ZERO profit. Nothing earned during this Kickstarter goes into the Mechanical Muse coffers. We’ll spend every penny we get making the rewards you receive even better.

WE BELIEVE IN PAYING CONTRIBUTORS A FAIR LIVING WAGE. This is non-negotiable and one of the core beliefs of Mechanical Muse (you can read our charter here). In fact, this is a big reason why we’re using Kickstarter — to ensure all the other contributors receive fair payment for their work.

We’ve Got Skills!

In case you’re wondering if we can pull this off, we’ve already published seven books for our World of Aetaltis setting. You can see them all on DriveThruRPG today. We’ve also successfully funded and fulfilled three Kickstarters, and for nearly 10 years we ran the Gen Con Writer’s Symposium. Over the years we aggressively expanded the event, and until each year we featured 80+ speakers, offered 200+ hours of programming, and welcomed 2500+ unique guests. We are absolutely up for running a project like this one.

And if you want even more proof of what we can do, we’re giving away the  World of Aetaltis Player’s Guide PDF for free for the duration of the campaign so you can see for yourself the quality of our work.

Add Ons

Looking to add on an extra copy of the book or a reward that doesn’t come with your pledge level? When you pledge in the Cool Name Pledge Store, you’ll have the chance to add extras like:

  • Additional Copy of the Basic Rules Softcover (Masterwork Upgrade) ⦿ $12 US
  • Additional Copy of the Advanced Rules Hardcover (Masterwork Upgrade) ⦿ $40 US


We’re working with DriveThruRPG and BackerKit to bring Cool Name RPG to your door (or screen). While we are experts at making great games, these two companies are experts at printing, shipping, and managing the reward fulfillment process.

DriveThruRPG has a fantastic system for downloading your digital rewards AND for printing and shipping books. They also help us keep shipping costs way down for overseas backers. In addition, for all of us who already use DriveThruRPG for a lot of our gaming purchases, it puts all the digital Cool Name RPG books in your DriveThruRPG library.

BackerKit offers a handy tool for keeping track of your rewards, paying for shipping, and even letting you add extras after the Kickstarter ends. BackerKit is built to make the process of reward fulfillment easier and more secure for you!

Your Shipping Costs in the United States

If you are receiving print copies, your pledge does not include shipping costs. We will calculate and collect your shipping payment when we’re ready to send you the books. We cannot guarantee how much shipping will cost, but on February 6th, 2023 the estimated DriveThruRPG cost to ship one hardcover book of a size similar to the Cool Name RPG book was  $5-$10. Note that this number is an estimate and it could change based on supply chain issues, DriveThruRPG cost changes, and the addition of extra content to the book through stretch goals.

Your Shipping Costs Outside the United States

If you are receiving print copies, your pledge does not include shipping costs. We will calculate and collect your shipping payment when we’re ready to send you the books.  As we mentioned, one reason we chose to work with DriveThruRPG is that they can ship around the world at VERY reasonable prices. On February 6th, 2023 we ran the numbers at DriveThruRPG to ship one hardcover book of a size similar to the Cool Name RPG book we’re creating to a variety of places in world, including South Africa, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Australia. The shipping cost quoted for each of these was roughly $10-$20 US except for Australia which was around $12-$25 US. Note that this number is an estimate and it could change based on supply chain issues, DriveThruRPG cost changes, and the addition of extra content to the book through stretch goals.

All of DriveThruRPG’s estimated shipping costs are available here.

Any additional costs incurred (import tariffs, VAT, other taxes, etc) are your responsibility, and we’re not experts on what these might be. That said, we’ll do our best to answer any questions you have.