By Christopher Helton
The Bundle of Holding is an ongoing, curated collection of PDFs and digital formats (with no DRM on any of the files) of tabletop role-playing games. Writer and game designer Allen Varney started the Bundle of Holding project in September 2012. Inspired by the book-bundle site StoryBundle, he commissioned web programmer Laura Dean (a fellow juggler in the Texas Juggling Society) to create the site. After decades in the adventure gaming hobby, Allen knew many designers, and more than a few who had written novels. Ten designers contributed their self-published novels to the first Bundle of Holding, which had a successful 18-day run in February-March 2013 and was recently resurrected for a four-day encore.
The Bundle of Holding site has run nearly three dozen offers. Two September offers were each record-breakers. The November 2013 Indie Cornucopia offer raised $28K, and the December 2013 Family-Friendly RPGs collection drew praise from Wil Wheaton. More bundles are already lined up almost continuously through spring. One of the best parts of each Bundle of Holding, besides the games, is that 10% of the money raised from each Bundle is given to charities picked by the designers/publishers whose titles are in the Bundle. For the Bundle of Fate, ten percent of each purchase goes to the Somaly Mam Foundation and War Child International.
The total retail value of the games included at launch is over US$80. Pay what you want (minimum $7.95) to get the core collection of games; if you pay more than the current threshold (average) price, you also receive all the bonus games. (All purchasers also get the free Fate Core and Fate Accelerated rulebooks.) When games are added after launch, all previous purchasers receive them automatically. There will also be surprise additions to the Bundle of Fate which will be announced before the Bundle ends. These additions will automatically be given to anyone who pays an amount over the threshold.
Back in January of 2013, Evil Hat Productions ended a successful Kickstarter to launch a new edition of their Fate system, which had previously appeared from them in their Spirit of the Century and Dresden Files RPGs. Asking for $3000 to fund art and layouts, the project ended up raising $433,365 and funded a series of additional books in the line, including the Fate Accelerated Edition and two volumes of Fate Worlds. Released under the open game license and a creative commons license, the Fate system has been used by a number of designers as the engine for their own games, many of whom are also in the Bundle of Fate. One of the great things about this Bundle is that there are games covering a wide variety of genres from science fiction to Victorian super-heroes to fantasy to pulp adventure.
In the core collection (for a minimum purchase of $7.95), there is Fate Core, Fate Accelerated Edition, Spirit of the Century, Bulldogs!, Full/Moon and Ehdrigohr.
Where Fate Core is the robust, full-flavored current version of the game, with all of the bells and whistles, the Fate Accelerated Edition is a streamlined version of the game that strips down the rules to their bare necessities. Both of these games are generic and allow for play in any number of genres. Spirit of the Century is the previous edition of the rules, customized for pulp adventure in the 1930s and 1940s. Fans of Warren Ellis' Planetary comics, or Kings Watch or any of the pulp comics published by Dynamite Comics will find Spirit of the Century to be a roleplaying game that would pique their comic reading interests.
Bulldogs! is a rollicking science fiction adventure game based on the Spirit of the Century rules that should appeal to fans of Flash Gordon or Mark Millar's Starlight. Star Wars fans will probably find Bulldogs! to an interesting game as well.
Full/Moon has probably the most focused of the settings of these games, dealing with prospectors and others on a Moon base. Fans of Duncan Jones' Moon will probably be able to see how the movie inspired this game, and may find it an entry into roleplaying. Full/Moon uses a streamlined version of the Fate rules that appeared in Spirit of the Century.
Ehdrigohr is dark fantasy game that draws inspiration from the myths and legends of the Lakota people to create a fantasy world that is startlingly different from those of more traditional fantasy games. Fans of comics like Jason Aaron's Scapled may be interested in the rich mythology behind this game and its setting.
If you pay over the threshold, you receive the following DRM-free PDFs as well: Diaspora, The Kerberos Club, Starblazer Adventures and Legends of Angelerre. The threshold is determined by coming up with the average price that people are paying for the bundle. Those who pay over the threshold also receive the mystery PDFs that are going to be announced on Monday and Tuesday.
For fans of British comics, the name Starblazer should be familiar. This game, based on the Spirit of the Century rules and extensively expanded to cover a number of science fiction genres, is based upon the D.C. Thompson comics magazine of the same name. A number of British comic writers, including Grant Morrison did their early works for Starblazer. This behemoth of a game allows you to play in any of the worlds that were brought to life in the pages of Starblazer magazine. The Legends of Angelerre game is the fantasy version of the game, inspired by the many imaginative fantasy setting that appeared in the pages of Starblazer magazine. The Bundle of Fate is also the last place that you will be able to get these two games, because at the end of the month publisher Cubicle 7 will end their licensing agreements to publish these games.
Diaspora is a harder science fiction game than the previous Starblazer Adventures or Bulldogs! games. Everything that you need to create characters, solar systems and spacecraft can be found in these rules. Fans of Star Trek or Firefly will find that Diaspora could be the gateway to gaming in those worlds for them.
The Kereberos Club is a super-hero roleplaying game setting in the later Victorian era of English history (although there are some nods to other parts of the world in the write-ups) that can easily be hacked into super-hero games for almost any time period. This game is also based upon the rules from Spirit of the Century, like many of the games in this Bundle. Fans of steampunk literature and the Legenderry comic from Dynamite will probably find The Kereberos Club contains things of interest to them.
The Bundle of Fate lasts until Wednesday, March 26rd after which the next Bundle of Holding will be launched.
Christopher Helton is a blogger, podcaster and tabletop RPG publisher who talks about games and other forms of geekery at the long-running Dorkland! blog. He is also the co-publisher at the ENnie Award winning Battlefield Press, Inc. You can find him on Twitter at @dorkland and on G+ at https://plus.google.com/+ChristopherHelton/ where he will talk your ear off about gaming and comics.