Players take on the roll of extra-dimensional puppeteers who create and manipulate automatons in a shared environment. Backers is a creative game involving drawing, writing, and the playing of instruments.
Play consists of about five phases, called Objectives: Spiritual Amalgamation, Space Definition, Automaton Production, Dramatic Operation, and the Resulting Objectives. Via collaborative mechanics, the players create a map and characters which they then influence through a series of job rotations. Objects and characters are defined by motivations. Players may cause things and characters to interact in ways contrary to their motivations through the expenditure of points.
Backers: Amalgamations of the Spiritual Hinterlands is designed to facilitate and moderate the formation of collaborative playgrounds in a simple and comprehensive way with an eye toward personal extension balanced by a diminished role for the ego. Conditions for success are not listed in the rules and must be supplied, if necessary, by the players themselves. In the current edition, players must also provide their own musical instruments, art supplies, and, optionally, hats.