Beak, Feather, & Bone
Beak, Feather, & Bone is a collaborative worldbuilding tool as well as a competitive map-labeling RPG. Starting with an unlabeled city map, players are assigned community roles before taking turns claiming and describing locations. Players draw from a standard 52-card deck to determine a building's purpose and then describe its beak (reputation), feather (appearance), and bone (interior). As buildings are claimed, a narrative for the town and its inhabitants emerges, including major NPCs and shifting power-dynamics.
Inspired by map-making games like Avery Alder's The Quiet Year and archetype-focused RPG systems like Meguey & Vincent Baker's Powered by the Apocalypse, Beak, Feather, & Bone is a zine-length game including rules of play, 11 community roles illustrated by Austin Breed, a map by Jonathan Yee, and optional lore & GM tips for running games in a city populated entirely by ravenfolk (or kenku, tengu, etc.).
While default play is lightly competitive, rules variants for solo, cooperative, and character-focused play are included as well. Similarly, while the illustrations and GM notes provided will help inspire a ravenfolk city, the beak/feather/bone labeling system can be used with any map, game genre, or populace.
This purchase includes a digital copy of the game booklet optimized for both screen and home-printing. 300 dpi map files are also provided in PDF, PNG, & JPG for print and online use.
To Play You'll Need
- a stack of note cards
- writing utensils
- coloring utensils
- an unlabeled map (provided)
- a standard deck of playing cards
- a 10-sided die (extremely optional)
In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $5 USD. You will get access to the following files:
Beak, Feather, & Bone - Digital and Print.pdf 8 MB
BFB Map - High Quality Print.pdf 7 MB
BFB Map.jpg 5 MB
BFB Map.png 841 kB
- New Map AddedJun 01, 2022
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95 days ago(+2)
That’s where Beak, Feather, and Bone bleeds over from fantasy worldbuilding into the actual politics of cartography. The lines you draw in BFB assert a truth about the world, that your faction actually can and does enforce a claim on specific buildings and regions of the map. But in a game where your map is both objectively accurate and also designed by multiple factions with competing agendas, it makes me wonder how strong a particular crow-person’s hold on that nice duplex might actually be.
130 days ago(+1)
I bought this from you at GenCon and had the chance to play with friends recently. It was great seeing this little world stretch its wings in front of us.
I love it!! Can't wait to try this out :) great work!
In the Kickstarter you mentioned there'd also be a mode or rules added for drawing or designing your own cities. Will that still be added in the future?
Yes! That mode of play will be part of the Claw Atlas expansion releasing soon!
222 days ago(+1)
Would you consider making community copies available?
Possibly! If finances are ever an issue for someone, though, I'd always prefer they reach out to me directly so we can work something out!
278 days ago(+1)
What would you recommend for number of players?
277 days ago(+1)
There are enough community roles that you could play 10 with no repeats, and folks can always invent their own factions too—it's more just a matter of how long you want to play! Like, with a standard deck of 52 cards, 10 players could take 5 turns each without having to fetch a new deck, but 50 turns could take a long time depending on how detailed people want to be in their descriptions.
It's plenty fun with low player counts, but I most often play in the 3-6 range! That way you can get a full rotation in, clock how long it takes, and then play as many full rounds as you have time/energy for without worrying about running out of cards or any one round being TOO long. Especially since the math works best if everyone plays an equal number of turns.
Hope this helps!
My physical copy just came in the mail and I adore it! Haven't played it yet, but I absolutely will before a D&D Campaign in the future! Totally brilliant.
Anyone have any suggestions for playing BF&B remotely?
I'm planning on using Google Drawings (+ a digital card deck from https://deck.of.cards/ and voice chat over Discord), but I'm not thrilled with how Google Drawings doesn't really let us color in buildings. The best we'll be able to do is circle buildings with the scribble tool. Google Jamboard has a great highlighter tool that would work well, but it doesn't have enough colors!
Anyway I would love to know what solutions other groups have come up with :)
1 year ago(+5)
It's fairly easy to run in Roll20! Upload your map image to the session and then under the "Collection" settings click "Show, Playing Cards, 54." This will add a deck you can deal from directly to your playspace. Then, as long as you give all the players drawing privileges and assign them a unique color, they can draw shapes over the map to claim buildings! Coloring in the buildings is definitely more satisfying, but drawing a circle or square in your player color works just as well. I hope this helps!
Is there option to buy your new project on Kickstarter (POSSIBLE WORLDS: An RPG Subscription Box) and also add Beak, Feather, & Bone to this same order?
I'm living in Germany and the shipping costs might kill me so I want to combine it into one order ;)
Yes, there will be the option to add a copy of BFB to your order when we fulfilled physical pledges via BackerKit! You'd just need to wait until December-ish when the boxed set is delivered to get BFB too.
We've enjoyed the world building of this game. What systems have people used to make a narrative character based game in the town you created? I'm new to this and have only really played more formal role playing games like DnD, as well as Mouse Guard, but we have also dabbled in simple one-offs like Lasers and Feelings
I'm a big fan of Into the Odd, BUTCHERY, and the White Hack as far as rules-lite fantasy campaigns go! If you're looking for something that's purely community-focused, though, I'd check out "Belonging Outside Belonging" games on itch! It's a roleplaying game engine designed to tell stories about what happens when marginalized groups establish their own communities, just outside or hidden within the boundaries of a dominant culture.
This is amazing! I've played it about 3 times now and am exited to make my own, much larger (poster board), map!
This is a great game! I love it! I can see this working in tandem with a game like Icarus where your players build up a city and then participate in its downfall to set the tone for a future society built on the ashes. This is worth far more than I paid for it and I can't recommend it enough to my gaming associates for something different than the constant graphs, charts, and spreadsheet crunching we're all used to.
As an adjustment, I left Jokers active in the deck. I used this as a way to counter the face cards and add a little extra flavor. In the example, there were soldiers and mages going against each other. The soldiers drew a joker card and crafted a mage defector who made it their goal to bring the mages down with the help of the soldiers. While the joker idea might not be for everyone, I think it adds in enough chaos to make the game that much more thrilling.
Love it, love it, love it! It is in my world-building rotation, I guarantee!
Thanks so much for the kind words! I LOVE the Joker idea and hope to include it in one of my own games soon. We'll be running a game jam for BFB modifications and expansions soon, so I'd strongly urge you to consider typing it up when the time comes! And while I'm thrilled that you've enjoyed playing the game, the fact that it's sparking bits of game design in your own mind is the highest praise possible!
2 years ago (+2)
I loved the introduction of communities into this one, the idea for the rivalries is also really neat. But one thing that I thought could be expanded upon is the static nature of Seat of Power calculations - the alliances and rivalries don't really matter in the context of who ends up holding most sway in the city, it's totally random, which to me makes the whole concept less exciting. I had an idea about using the rivals created through Face cards as a mechanism allowing to take away a few power points of another player, naturally leading to more rivalries for the most currently "powerful" factions. One could also add an always present pssobility to create an ally when drawing a Non-Face card, and mechanically having it cause another player to also gain slightly less power points. I think this could be a very simple way to expand on the lightly competitive nature of the game, and create more lively entaglements between the players. I'm excited to give it a shot, thanks for the game and the inspiration.
2 years ago(+3)
This is a fantastic idea! The Seat of Power definitely adds more of a spin/flavor for the city's narrative than actual competition as is (and I like how a rival can essentially negate a draw's points by opposing that building's purpose too) but I love your idea of roping rivals into affecting other people's numbers! I'm planning on holding a BFB game jam for community hacks and expansions in early 2021 and would strongly encourage you to bring this idea (and more!) to the table when I do!
Where exactly are the cooperative play rules? I can find the variants for solo play and for character-focused play but when I search for "coop" in the rulebook nothing seems to be there.
It's what I'm alluding to in #2 under the Multiple Roles section!
- Give each player the same number of turns, but they must decide which community they’d like to assign each draw’s value and description to. Keep Seat of Power sums separate and total them by role, not player. For less competitive play, put all chosen roles in a single pool and allow players to pick and choose from any in play.
So instead of each player choosing "their" community, have as many communities as you'd like in play and decide who you want to assign buildings & points on a draw-by-draw basis. One community will still need to be given the Seat of Power at the end of the game—so it's important to track points—but it'll just be a community that's established as having the most influence in the town's story, not a player winning. Assigning draws allows you to pursue emerging storylines as a group rather than feeling locked in to "a Social building for the Miners" on your turn as well. Under these rules, if you're more interested in the Mages' social lives and building off what another player established the turn before, go ahead and assign your building and points to the Mages too! Just be aware that focusing on some communities more than others will be inherently be reflected in their influence over the town.
2 years ago(+3)
Got my physical copies today. Looking forward to reading it before bedtime. Thank you look forward to giving it a play!
Very few games are as invested in integrating art and design as Beak, Feather & Bone. It is one of the most beautiful projects to come out of zinequest, and in a lot of ways shows the future of a more collaborative, multidisciplinary indie RPG space.
Jayyyyyy! As an admirer of your work, this means the world. Thank you on behalf of Austin, Jonathan, & myself, and I'm so glad the emphasis on the art/artists as integral to the game as opposed to just flavor came through.
Missed the Kickstarter. Just realized i could grab it here. Rad. In for a book.
I apologize if I missed it somewhere, but, does the physical copy of the game come with a PDF download as well? Thank you
Yup! The zine PDF and map images come with every purchase. Buying at the $13 (US) or $20 (INT) price points just get you a physical copy as well. Thank you for your interest!
I love the physical edition of the game. Great quality paper used for the cover. The entire project is very imaginative and I can't wait to try it out with a group.
This game is a fun way to introduce worldbuilding to friends who have never done it before. It has helped me rethink they way I build detailed towns with an interesting and cohesive story. So far.....i absolutely love it! The art is also super neat.
I used this last night to build up a city for a short campaign and my players enjoyed it quite a bit (even with roll20 being a less than ideal interface!). I now have locations, story hooks, NPCs, and a much more flavorful world to work with. Thanks for a handy, charming addition to my GM bag of tricks!
Beak, Feather, and Bone is a great and fun game in itself, but even better as a tool for creating the flow and factions of a home city for an RPG campaign. If the provided factions don’t quite match what you would want to use, you could very easily create your own list of factions and still use the process this product offers. Truly, a “must” for any world builder.