Advanced Search

Backchannels: Quickstart Guide & SRDClick to magnify
Quick Preview
Full‑size Preview

Backchannels: Quickstart Guide & SRD


Currently funding on Kickstarter!

Step into a bizarre, post-apocalyptic America with a new standalone book in the Backwards: American Gothic Horror universe. 

The Backchannels Quickstart Guide & System Reference Document includes character creation rules, essential rules for gameplay, basic setting information, a one-sheet adventure, 4 pre-generated characters, and a blank character sheet. It’s 73 pages and includes monochrome versions of original art for the core rulebook.

Welcome to the southeastern corner of the American Lands or what's left of it.

When the smoke cleared from the cataclysmic event called The End, major port cities and naval bases had sunk into oblivion leaving a bevy of small ports along the southeastern seaboard to meet the fishing and shipping needs of a fledgling, re-emerging nation. Since then, the brave and reckless seafarers of the Gulf have faced the horrors of the deep, quickly adapting to the dangers that have emerged in the wake of The End. Mariners who scrape a living in these overwhelmed and unregulated ports have earned themselves a romantic and dangerous swashbuckling reputation among the rest of the American Lands, and indeed the line between sailor and pirate in the Gulf is razor thin, changing day by day. From the gator-filled swamps and the open sea to the coastal low country and Caribbean islands, the Heartlands' bureaucrats hold little sway in the Gulf. Laws were made to be broken, sure as ships were built to be sailed. Grab your freedom by the gills, sailor. It's time we shove off and explore the backchannels.

Backchannels is one of several books in the Backwards tabletop roleplaying game series. It describes Backwater’s neighbor the Gulf ward, which spans from Alabama to Georgia and includes the coastal low country and several Caribbean Islands. This standalone book focuses on nautical adventure and presents a new angle on southern-gothic horror. It includes new setting information, as well as new gear, animal companions, and monsters. It also provides new character options, including archetypes, origins & ideals, traits, and ability modules. 

For a preview of setting, content, and archetypes, download the Backchannels demo.

One-Sheet Adventure: Dead Men Don't Bite

“Dead Men Don’t Bite” tells the story of mysterious pirate raids occurring between St. Augustine and the Jacksonville Crater (i.e. the remains of Jacksonville, FL). A messenger arrives in St. Augustine on behalf of the local Gendarme Master seeking several sea wardens or adventurers to aid local authorities in their investigation. The adventurers are told that two small, rural fishing villages have been attacked by pirates in the night, occurring almost exactly one week from each other—on a Saturday after midnight. Boats were sunk, houses were left topsy-turvy, and the townsfolk who didn’t flee were killed, and yet nothing seems to have been taken. The authorities fear that the pirates will continue to move up the coast, attacking the next town to the north on the upcoming Saturday evening. 

What the authorities have not said is that witnesses claim these were no ordinary pirates but pirates of the skeletal variety, and they seem to have been looking for something. As the adventurers will discover at Sawgrass Center, the next town to the North, it is a large and magical orb of dressed stone that a fisherman dredged up in a cast net. The orb’s powers are unknown, but it seems to attract the attention of supernatural evils, including the undead pirate crew of Billy Bonnet, who was once the owner of the orb.

Built with Backbone

Backchannels uses the same original system that Backwater uses, now called the Backbone Tabletop Roleplaying system. In addition to its unique setting, Backchannels includes all of the core rules for the Backbone game system, so you do not have to purchase another book separately. However, each book has distinct options for character origins, archetypes, ideals, and items, as well as its own unique setting and characters.

The Backbone game system is original. It uses a 20-sided die for everything except damage. It is intended to be intuitive and streamlined. The foundation of this system are four basic attributes that provide both a modifier (which you add to rolls) and a goal score (which others roll against). When you attempt a skill roll against another character, you simply roll against one of their attribute goals, for example:

  • When you threaten or deceive a character you roll against its Intuition goal
  • When you hide from or sneak by a character you roll against its Vigilance goal
  • When you attack a character you roll against its Reflex goal
  • When you shove or trip a character you roll against its Build goal

Characters have both Health Points (physical stamina) and Resolve Points (mental fortitude), and they are relatively low to reflect human fragility. Combat scenarios are consequential and can move quickly as a result. One especially unique element of the system is its Health rolls and Resolve rolls. Players must try to roll under their current Health or Resolve with a d20 to avoid suffering a condition, like the Bleeding condition. The more damage or duress that a character receives, the more likely it may suffer the condition. To learn how to play, try our solitaire game. You can also check our Actual Plays.

Character sheets for the Backbone game system are form-fillable PDFs. The Backbone system also has its own GM sheet for note-taking and tracking.  Backbone also has a character sheet on Roll20; see "Roll20 Character Sheet for the Backbone Game System."

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (0)
Discussions (0)
Browse Categories
$ to $
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsSign in to get custom notifications of new products!

Product Information
Rule System(s)
File Size:
27.83 MB
Original electronic Click for more information
Scanned image
These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher.

For PDF download editions, each page has been run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to attempt to decipher the printed text. The result of this OCR process is placed invisibly behind the picture of each scanned page, to allow for text searching. However, any text in a given book set on a graphical background or in handwritten fonts would most likely not be picked up by the OCR software, and is therefore not searchable. Also, a few larger books may be resampled to fit into the system, and may not have this searchable text background.

For printed books, we have performed high-resolution scans of an original hardcopy of the book. We essentially digitally re-master the book. Unfortunately, the resulting quality of these books is not as high. It's the problem of making a copy of a copy. The text is fine for reading, but illustration work starts to run dark, pixellating and/or losing shades of grey. Moiré patterns may develop in photos. We mark clearly which print titles come from scanned image books so that you can make an informed purchase decision about the quality of what you will receive.
Original electronic format
These ebooks were created from the original electronic layout files, and therefore are fully text searchable. Also, their file size tends to be smaller than scanned image books. Most newer books are in the original electronic format. Both download and print editions of such books should be high quality.
File Last Updated:
October 02, 2023
This title was added to our catalog on October 03, 2023.
Backwards Tabletop
Publisher Average Rating