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Flying Circus - Core Rulebook
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Flying Circus - Core Rulebook

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A simple airplane.Flying Circus is an in-depth, highly detailed Powered by the Apocalypse-derived roleplaying game of aviation fantasy, set in a world of machines and magic inspired by the works of Hayao Miyazaki.

In the aftermath of a massive industrial war, the world is slowly pulling itself back together, but danger still lurks in the skies of Himmilgard. The only thing standing between the world and chaos are the brave pilots of the Flying Circuses, indepedent mercenary companies known for the bright and unique liveries of their salvaged aircraft. No mission is too bold, no monster too big, no foe too dangerous... if you can afford it.

Flying Circus uses a unique system for air combat, eschewing top-down maps and treating Altitude and Air Speed as currency to be spent in daring and realistic dogfights. Climb to gain the advantage, dive to regain speed, pull your plane into dizzying turns to get on their tail. But you also face realistic limitations, as your engine burns out, your wings crack and break, and you lose consciousness in a high-G turn.

In addition to the powerful air combat engine, Flying Circus has robust systems for battles and daring escapes on foot, for pilots to blow off steam in between missions, and for the financial and social aspects of running the company. Pilots always live on the edge: between excess and stress, between riches and ruin, between victory in the skies and impact with the ground.

Flying Circus features ten unique playbooks, with both strong hooks to get started immediately and considerable framework for customization and progression over the course of a long campaign. The playbooks also come packed with 48 unique aircraft, both historical and fantastical, to populate your games, as well as a variety of threats, mission prompts, advanced rules, and GM advice.

Content Warning

This game touches on mature themes regarding violence, sexuality, and drug use. There is a degree of illustrated nudity

A group of pilots, including a witch on a broomstick, rob a sky-train suspended on cables.

FLYING CIRCUS SYSTEM

Himmilgard: Core Book - Horror of the Heights - Whispers from the Deep

Himmilgard Planes: Core Planes - Flights of Fancy - Flight at the Museum

 
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Reviews (19)
Discussions (34)
Customer avatar
Itay H November 11, 2021 7:13 am UTC
This looks very interesting. I love the interpersonal moves. The air battles system looks too complex for my party's taste. Is there a simplified combat system which would still make it interesting and suspenseful but allow us to keep the emphasis on the drama between the pilots?
Customer avatar
Erika C November 11, 2021 3:35 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Nope, sorry! This game does what I want it to do, which is gay pilot drama -and- tabletop flight simulation. If that's not your thing, it's not your thing.
Customer avatar
Forest B October 10, 2021 8:57 pm UTC
Wish there was something similar to this for traditional RPG's, I'd buy it immediately! PBTA, sadly, no. Never really got into the handwaving of maps and playbook playstyle of narrative games. Any plans for a non-narrative version?
Customer avatar
Erika C October 10, 2021 10:42 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
There's a much more OSR-inspired version of this game coming in Flying Circus Historical, which won't have playbooks, but Flying Circus will never have combat maps. It's a game about air combat, a top-down map doesn't make any sense! The way it works with air speed and altitude indicators in increments of 10 kp/h and 100 metres altitude is more accurate and granular than any battlemap-based approach that make you measure turning arcs in degrees. Air combat is vertical and about energy management, the x and y dimensions tracked by a traditional battlemap are the least important element!

Flying Circus builds on PBTA because its trappings were useful for what I wanted to do, but it does not shy from complexity or simulations elements. Seriously, this game has a subsystem for assembling belts of specialty ammunition and an online tool for building engines using compression ratios and displacement. It's not a rules light experience!
Customer avatar
Forest B October 16, 2021 5:02 pm UTC
When will the historical version release? I'll keep an eye out for it! Might still pick up this version just for the setting, it is the setting you describe that I really like.

I am very visual in gaming, without the map, I'd be lost from the start (I play ALL RPG's with maps and minis, I just cannot do Theater of the Mind). Last two aerial games I've played were board games...so I could see X, Y, Altitude, direction and had velocity written down (Dawn Patrol, Blue Max). Without a frame of reference, I'd never be able to play anything.
Customer avatar
Erika C October 18, 2021 7:44 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
I'm very visually oriented too, which is why this game uses a mechanic of object impermanence to keep the cognitive load down.
Customer avatar
Jonathan J November 10, 2021 8:18 pm UTC
Do you _have_ to handwave maps in most PbtA games? I didn’t get that sense that it was a requirement. Certainly, there aren’t any rules that support using maps, but neither do they expressly prevent the use of them, IMO.

If you like the setting, I recommend checking out the setting of a comic called Skies of Fire by Mythopeia. Good stuff!
Customer avatar
Forest B November 11, 2021 1:27 am UTC
I do not know for certain, only played PBTA with 3 groups...but it has been my experience with PTBA players that they are vocally anti-map, anti-miniatures, and militantly pro-Theatre of the mind. Just my luck some of the neatest worlds end up under that system.

Am thinking about getting the game for the world and retrofitting the rules to the Hero system and replacing the air combat with Dawn patrol or Blue Max board game (because to me, maps DO make sense for air combat or any kind of combat).

I'll look for the comic, sounds interesting! Thanks!
Customer avatar
Erika C November 11, 2021 3:42 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Flying Circus is not your typical Powered by the Apocalypse game. It very specifically and strictly doesn't have maps, because having maps makes air combat worse! Seriously, planes move and turn too quickly, and are too vertically dependent, for a top-down map to at all represent it fairly.

Seriously, this game has systems built-in to make running it without a map really easy. It's not just throwing you to the wolves and telling you to imagine, there are specifically structures and moves designed to cut down on cognitive load for the players and GM.
Customer avatar
Bill M September 21, 2021 10:40 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The softcover book arrived today and it looks great!

But, where are these "playbooks" mentioned after the credits on Page 2, with the printable instrument panel and component cards?

Looked through DTRPG and all I found was the free Aircraft Catalogue.
Customer avatar
Erika C September 22, 2021 1:31 am UTC
PUBLISHER
They should be downloadable through your files here, but if you didn't pick up the PDF through here or its just not working, they're free on Itch.io.
Customer avatar
Bill M September 22, 2021 2:59 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you! No, I just purchased the softcover color book, so those files didn't show up. Was able to finally find them on Itch.io as you suggested, but had to find a browser that didn't go "mismatched token" all the time on me.
Customer avatar
Luke W October 07, 2021 1:01 am UTC
PURCHASER
This is such a great RPG. Its a shame that the playbooks and airplane catalog weren't included in the book itself.
Customer avatar
Erika C October 07, 2021 5:12 am UTC
PUBLISHER
trust me, i tried! i worked out that doing it would add between 100 and 150 more pages to the book and I'd still have to sacrifice a lot of fun content.

Splitting out the planes also allows the plane builder system to be continuously updated, which was really important to me given how complicated it is. This has already paid off with the upcoming pulsejets, helicopters, and gyrocopters.
Customer avatar
Matt T May 28, 2021 2:13 am UTC
can this rule set be used to play WWI air like Dawn patrol?
Customer avatar
Erika C June 02, 2021 4:58 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Yes, with some hacking, but it is primarily a fantasy game with biplanes. A more historically-oriented (and brutal) version of the rules should be coming later this year.
Customer avatar
Tim O May 12, 2021 1:07 am UTC
PURCHASER
Are there plans for a Print on Demand?
Customer avatar
Erika C May 13, 2021 7:01 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Yes. Once I've shipped the kickstarter backer copies, POD will open up.
Customer avatar
Simon R July 30, 2021 12:10 am UTC
PURCHASER
Woo!
Customer avatar
Erika C August 08, 2021 1:49 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Print on Demand is up!
Customer avatar
Michael O February 26, 2021 4:52 pm UTC
Does this PDF contain the changes in the changelog you link to in Update #56?
Customer avatar
Erika C February 26, 2021 9:57 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Not yet, going to be going in very, very soon.
Customer avatar
Matti R February 21, 2021 10:02 am UTC
I am looking for a game system to play Porco Rosso themed game with. Would this be a fit in your opinion? How strong are the fantasy elements in this (looking for a more real world stuff I think)?
Customer avatar
Erika C February 26, 2021 9:58 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
There's fairly strong fantasy elements with several playbooks, but it is very possible to just pick from the playbooks and enemies which are less fantasy-oriented. It's entirely possible to play this game with absolutely no magic content.
Customer avatar
DIOGO A February 11, 2021 6:32 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi, I'm still waiting on the POD.
Customer avatar
Erika C August 08, 2021 1:49 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Wait no longer!
Customer avatar
Tavis L January 18, 2021 4:30 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Is there a discord channel or forum for rules discussions, plane builds, or actual plays? I'm really excited about this game and haven't been able to quite get my head around it so I thought some community help would work
Customer avatar
Erika C January 22, 2021 4:04 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Yes! https://discord.gg/XnPCWsxUZ5
Customer avatar
Kevin S December 09, 2020 8:38 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Anyway to download a high res version of the world map?
Customer avatar
DIOGO A October 13, 2020 2:11 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi, still waiting for the POD.
Customer avatar
Michael F October 07, 2020 10:13 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Does this come with the playbooks (the alternate settings mentioned on the kickstarter page), or is this just the core WWI setting?
Customer avatar
Erika C October 08, 2020 5:30 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
This is the core Fantasy WW1 setting with the two extra playbooks (Witch and Worker). Historical, Storm Divers, and so forth will be their own books.
Customer avatar
Sean L August 20, 2020 1:02 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I have to ask (because I don’t think it was answered below), what is the advantage of having two guns? Does it double the hits you cause at a given range?
Customer avatar
Erika C August 21, 2020 3:16 am UTC
PUBLISHER
It doubles your hits, and thus your damage, yes!
Customer avatar
Dmitry G July 31, 2020 5:35 am UTC
PURCHASER
Wow! An update! (Looking inside)
Oh! An awesome update in fact! I like the Aircraft book very much. As well as improved Corebook.
Thank you for your efforts, dear author!
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on April 15, 2020.