Did you miss the Quickstarter for Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland? It ws easy to do, since it was only a week long! But have no fear – you can pre-order the books and the card deck here on the Handiwork Games web store right now!
Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland has reached £14,000 and unlocked a new Silver Road setting to go with Maskwitches, penned by Malcolm Craig (Cold City, Hot War, a|state). It is called “The Burn”. All backers at a reward level will receive this in PDF. Very exciting!
At £16,000 we unlock another art print for everyone.
Which allows us, at £18,000, to open the Young Designer Fund, should we reach that level of funding. This will aim to find and commission an up and coming young RPG designer to write a scenario pack for Maskwitches or a new adjacent Silver Road setting, depending on what they’d prefer. This will be aimed at giving a new young talent an opportunity to reach a new audience and be involved with an established creative team. They will of course be paid properly for their work. We will publish the setting and share the proceeds with them.”
Click the image to head to the campaign:
In discovering, exploring and journeying deep into a painting cave, Maskwitches may win secrets from the painted stories they make together. They may also gain both the understanding of new amulets and the knowledge of how to make new masks. They may also break masks and amulets. Their amulets and masks may be transformed.
Placing stilled thoughts and frozen rhythms into the very guts of the earth. Paintings are sight which stays. Fixing ideas to walls with ochre and pitch and resin allows those ideas to become both stronger and weaker. Vision halted, captured, and placed into the forever darkness. Secret signs hidden deep in the earth where seeds grow and bodies rot. The source of the past and the future growing outwards like roots spreading and dividing.
Stories told in paint here in the secret places deep under the ground are true, where the past and the future are connected and the painters and the painted become one.
Unseen designs carved into the winding ice tunnels of the great ice walls are melting. The thoughts stored there released forever. The rivers are too full of old songs. Spirits rise. An eel mask or a spider mask for the dark seeing and sinuous weaving of grace in dark places. Navigating the sunless red insides of the earth. Emerging from the stone birth canal reborn.Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland
Huh. Jon here again, talking about Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland. So a little while back I spent the evening making images of drums for Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland. But you know what? I’m not going to use them. Which is kinda interesting.
Long post is long.
It’s very complicated, and would require too many words for blog post that anyone will read to the end, but I have some concerns about Maskwitches cleaving too close to real world Siberian shamanism (and we could throw in some other religious practices that one might call “shamanism” too) as an influence.
There’s a line on that I don’t care to cross.
Troubling echoes can be created when we take a religious practice first witnessed and recorded by non-indigenous peoples a few hundred years ago, and uncritically project it back the best part of 10,000 years into a gleefully “historio-gonzo”-but-attempting-to-be-internally-credible, fantasy game.
I’m reading a reference work right now which specifically falls into this trap, and I don’t wish to echo that mistake.
As it was being made, “Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland” walked a very precise line as the project developed, and I needed to trust its direction. Underneath the clear glee I have in assembling its range of fairly wild influences, and revelling in assembling the parts that “feel right”, there is a very deep well of seriousness in both a moral compass on appropriate or acceptable appropriation, and an honest creative process.
Creatively, I went looking for these drums in a self conscious way, and of course I found them. They did not find me, unlike all the other ideas in the book so far. And so they just don’t belong. They were made in the wrong way.
And in terms of moral compass, they’re giving me some bad vibes. Too on the nose, too lazy, verging on the unpleasant end of ethnography.
Contrast these with the “witch-knives” that came out of nowhere, feel really right, but don’t… take from anyone? It’s a very fragile sensibility but it matters to me as the creator. Making “right” things requires those fine-tuned delicate aerials, I think.
These drum images are however still enjoyable. And may yet find a use. But not in the panopoly of the witches for this project.
I thought this kind of curation and careful backward step might prove mildly diverting for you. Also: cool drum pics bro.
In Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland, the witches are defined by their masks. They begin the story with two masks, each of which allows them to do a thing well. The witches can trade masks among their number as needed, making them highly fluid and otherworldly as characters.
You’d be forgiven for wondering, as the sharp-minded person you are, if the things the witches are good at are defined solely by their masks, and they can swap masks with one another, who then are they? What is their inner character? Who is the person under the mask?
There are three possible answers.
The first is that that is something you will discover through play. How did your character become a Maskwitch? What was their training and what events shaped them into the person they are in this story?
The second is that the witches entirely believe in a self-creation story that we see in many so-called “shamanic” (see the reader’s notes in Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland for more on our approach to the difficulties surrounding the terms shaman and shamanism) or, more appropriately, “folkloric” tales. That they were created when a normal person was visited by a spirit, often in the form of a bird, which removed and substituted their eyes and possibly bones and internal organs with magical replacements, usually made from a material like copper or flint. This often happens at the bottom of the sea or a lake. Or at the peak of an unscalable witchmountain. Whoever they were before is forgotten, like a snake leaves behind its skin each year, or an elk leaves behind its antlers. A witch might have their own tale of this kind, they believe it, and for all intents and purposes it is true.
Or perhaps the secret truth is that the maskwitches themselves are as “real” as the spirits they are fighting. The spirits embody the problems of the community and must be dealt with ritualistically to resolve them. The witches are the personification of the community’s desire to heal. They are not people at all. ThIs does not stop a maskwitch from acting exactly like a real person, with feelings, hopes for the future, and relationships with the past. They are made from the very stuff of humanity: a care for others and an ambition for things to be better. Exploring this can make for deeply affecting tales.
Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland is a standalone storytelling RPG coming to Kickstarter as a week-long campaign this month. Sign up to be notified and don’t miss out!
We took delivery of a prototype Maskwitches book. In this video Jon takes a look through the prototype which we filled with full page Doggerland art, in advance of the final text being ready. And after a lot of rambling about the various aspects of this setting and the art we’ve been making, there’s a surprise delivery!
You can sign up to be notified of the launch of the Maskwitches campaign here:
While the game is a psychedelic fantasy version of the mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) period, it never hurts to put things in historical context. And so here is a section from the forthcoming book, detailing historical timeline of events before and after the setting of the game.
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You can also add this 7 page preview to your DrivethruRPG library by downloading it here.
Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland is about to go into layout. We anticipate a mini-kickstarter for the print book this month.
Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland will be an art book and sourcebook for a psychedelic Mesolithic setting for The Silver Road (as well as being a fine sourcebook for other RPGs)
The Maskwitches of Forgotten Doggerland use their masks and amulets to battle spirits from the land, arisen to embody problems faced by the fisher hunter gatherer community. By battling the spirits the community’s sickness can be healed.