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  • Sam Kennedy

Children of the Sun

It's been seven or so years since I first came up with the idea for Children of the Sun. It started as a simple concept that I wanted to explore, followed by a quick protype and playtest. Then it sat undeveloped for quite some time, drifting around in the back of my mind until the time for it to shine was right.

Last year, after the successful release of Lock & Spell, I finally let it loose. The game came crashing into my life, taking over my days and nights as every new, worthwhile project does. Now, after countless hours of designing, playtesting, planning, and dreaming, I'm thrilled to announce that the Children of the Sun Kickstarter campaign will be going live on Tuesday, July 2nd!

The final artwork for the game, including the player character dragons, is still in production. I'll be releasing those images closer to the Kickstarter launch.

The Game

Children of the Sun is a blast to play, and I'm so excited to finally be able to share it with the world. For a full run through of the gameplay, check out the Children of the Sun webpage. To sum it up, it's a two player strategy game in which players take control of the mighty dragon children of Ino'itl, the Sun god. The two were sent to Earth in order to create a beautiful landscape as an ode of love to Xochanama, the Moon goddess forever fated to be out of Ino'itl's reach.

Digital rendering of the game setup.

During the game, players draw elemental tokens from a bag and place them on a 6x6 board. Opponent pieces are jumped, much like in Othello. (Or Reversi, as some of you may know it.) For every token placed and jumped, the player gains corresponding Elemental Resources. These resources are used to craft Creation Cards, which represent the fantastic landscape you're building. Creation Cards come in five different types: Terra, Aqua, Life, Source, and Wonder. Each of these card types has their own unique scoring mechanic, on top of effecting each other through an ecosystem design that tightly balances the game.

Along the way, players can acquire and use Dragon Powers to try and get a one up on their opponent. These abilities include actions like creating additional cards on your turn, flipping tokens on the board, increasing your hand size, and even discarding an opponent's Creation Card.

Whichever player creates the most beautiful landscape wins the game. (I.e. Whoever scores the most points from all their Creations.) All in all, the game takes about 45 minutes to play once you're familiar with it. Each player gets fifteen turns, which feels just long enough to develop a gameplay arc without overstaying its welcome. It's not overly difficult to learn or teach. I'd say its a midweight game through and through. Yet even so, experienced players will find a good amount of strategy and tactics within its rules. I was trying to design something that people within the board game hobby would really enjoy, but casual players would also like. The gameplay feels fresh and new, yet familiar enough to not cause any headaches.

The theme of the game is a fun one to work with, and I think it's really going to stand out. I was heavily inspired by Mayan, Aztec, and Incan cultures, along with modern fantasy aesthetics, especially the Legend of Zelda series. It's a unique style and theme, so I'm excited to see how its received. My next Designer Diary is going to focus on how I designed the art from the ground up, so be sure to subscribe to the JVS Newsletter to read it!


Like many people, I'd become jaded to the whole crowdfunding scene. The amount of projects available to back is mind boggling, on top of the rampant materialism for fancy bits and pieces. I always told myself that I wanted to fund my projects traditionally with my own capital. (And I will someday!) But now that I'm an actual player within the board game industry, I've found crowdfunding to be a current necessity and nothing to be ashamed of. Indie companies are what places like Kickstarter and Gamefound were designed for. (Not top-dollar IP owners wishing to cover their costs before they even make a product.) I've humbled myself to the concept of crowdfunding, and honestly I've come to love it. A crowdfunded business model brings so much freedom to indie creators and startup entrepreneurs. And now that my dream is going live on Kickstarter, it's got me looking at all the other projects on there through a new lens. Each one is somebody else's dream too. (At least the good ones, that is.) Such an outflow of passion is really amazing when you think about it, and it's something I can totally get behind despite the potential flaws.

But hey, you're not here to read my ambling opinion on things. You're here to read about Children of the Sun! As I mentioned earlier, the Kickstarter is going live on Tuesday, July 2nd. It will run until Friday, August 2nd. That would put the potential landing date of the game at March or April of 2025. That's great timing for my goal of having a first time GenCon table in August of 2025!

The base game will have an MSRP of $49, and the basic pledge reward will be just that. I'm not quite ready to reveal all the details of the backer rewards just yet, though I've got a few fun things planned which I'll be announcing in the next few weeks.

For a full list of the game's components, check out the CotS game page. The contents are pretty simple, with the bulk of the game being the Creation Cards, the plastic Elemental Tokens, and wooden Elemental Resources. But there's also a variety of cardboard tokens, including the Dragon Powers, Sun and Moon tokens, and Flourish tokens. Of course there's main playing board too, which will fold out to 20"x10".

Once the Kickstarter is successfully funded, the game is going off to Panda Game Manufacturing for production. They've been in the board game business for 17 years and are known for their reliability, communication, and quality. I'm looking forward to working with them, and I'm glad to let backers know they can put trust in the producer behind the game.

I encourage anyone who wants to stay up to date with Children of the Sun and its Kickstarter to please sign up for the JVS Newsletter. It's an occasional email that I send out with project updates and exclusive content. You can also follow the game on (Along with showing Lock & Spell some love on there!)

Playtest Events & The Future

As a final way to polish the game and gain some momentum, I'll be planning a few public playtest events in June. I've 99% of the component designs complete. I'm only lacking the artwork that will go on the cards and powers. So it won't be the finished experience per se, but players will get to see what the gameplay is like, while also providing me with some always appreciated feedback.

Jupiter Valley Studios is based out of Indiana, so these events will all take place in the Indy region. I'll post more info about them when available!

I'd love to provide print and play copies for people to play, but with all the work I've got going on just to finish the game, I don't think I'll be able to come up with the format for it. But if anybody is interested, please feel free to reach out and maybe we can see what we can come up with!

I'll have lots of updates for you all in the coming months, so be sure to stay tuned! I've also got my work cut out for me, seeing as I'm the sole person responsible for every aspect of Children of the Sun, from design and artwork to production, fulfillment, sales and marketing, I've got a million and one hats to wear. It's admittedly daunting and oftentimes stressful, but it's also incredibly rewarding. I've grown so much thanks to my work here at JVS, and everything I've learned is going to help me succeed far into the future.


While CotS isn't landing until early next year, JVS does have one project planned for release in 2024. It's something I'm really looking forward to, and I'm sure it's going to become a lifelong staple for the company.

Callisto Magazine is in the works to be published in the fourth quarter of this year. It's going to be printed on high quality magazine stock at 8.5x11 size. It's going to come in at around 28 pages of short stories, comics, games, and art. The planned cover price will be $8.99.

It's going to be a lot of fun to work on, and a nice counter-project to go along with wrapping up CotS production. A lot of the work will be writing, editing, illustrating, and layout design, all of which are really creative processes that I enjoy. My goal is to someday get the publication on a quarterly schedule, with 4 issues each year. But for now, I'll release Callisto Magazine No. 1 this year, and in 2025 I'll be printing the next issue.

As I mentioned above, subscribing to the JVS Newsletter is the best way to stay up to date. After the CotS Designer Diaries are done, I'll be writing some Callisto Magazine ones. Outside of the newsletter, you can always follow me on Instagram too.

Speaking of which, it was on Instagram that I announced TW%GETHER, a donation initiative that I'm starting as a foundation to Jupiter Valley's business model. 2% of sales will be donated annually to organizations that help make our world a better place. I haven't yet announced any charity partners yet, but I will have more info by the end of this year.

While the Children of the Sun Kickstarter is launching in July, Kickstarter prohibits its funds to be used for donation purposes, so no part of the money raised can go to it. That means the first sales going to the initiative will be from its retail release, as well as from Callisto Magazine. The first donation will happen at year's end 2025.

Check out the TW%GETHER page here!

As if I hadn't repeated myself over and over again enough, please be sure to subscribe to the JVS Newsletter so you can stay up to date with all that JVS has going on! As a thank you for subscribing, I'll donate $1 per subscriber at this year's end to the 2025 TW%GETHER donation fund. It'll be a great way to breathe life into the new program, along with hopefully grabbing your much needed attention to make Children of the Sun and Callisto Magazine successful.

It's through the people that champion independent businesses that endeavors like mine can succeed, and I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who has and will support Jupiter Valley Studios.

Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for more updates soon!




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