Tanya DePass, founder and director of I Want Various Video games, a not-for-profit advocacy group, has introduced collectively a gifted group of creatives to launch a brand new tabletop role-playing sport. Mom Lands posits a world removed from our Earth that has by no means identified slavery or colonialism. What started as an precise play collection on Twitch and YouTube has spawned a brand new crowdfunding marketing campaign on Kickstarter. The last word objective is to supply Into The Mom Lands, a sourcebook that may clarify the setting and outline the sport’s guidelines.
Polygon sat down with DePass, the creator of the brand new setting, and lead designer B. Dave Walters to study extra. They defined that the germ of the concept originated within the historic document.
“We went again to the African Emperor Mansa Musa,” Walters mentioned, referring to the chief of the Mali Empire, an Islamic West African state which Musa I dominated in the course of the 14th century. “He was arguably the wealthiest man in historical past, who actually existed and who despatched a fleet to the New World. […] For our story, this fleet departed and, via a mechanism that’s but to be revealed inside the narrative, have been transported to a different planet.”
Over the following 2,000 years, that small exploratory fleet turned the Musalians, a human civilization sharing an exoplanet known as Vutoa with a number of different humanoid alien species — Hyena-like humanoids, transhuman cyborgs, human-plant hybrids, and highly effective mind-reading symbiotes. DePass mentioned that the setting attracts its inspiration from each the Star Trek franchise and Marvel’s Black Panther.
“It’s an unique Afrofuturist TTRPG,” Walters mentioned. “It’s a science fiction universe the place there isn’t a colonialism. There isn’t a expansionist rhetoric. That’s not the foundation reason for the motion.”
As an alternative, the Musalians and Vutoa’s current populations coexist throughout the planet, in high-tech city facilities in addition to unusual alien landscapes. When battle does come up, it’s typically about two or extra teams competing for scarce assets.
“We wished to do one thing totally different, the place range was a foundational thought,” Walters mentioned. “Black excellence was a foundational thought, so we got here up with a premise that will permit a number of totally different sorts of individuals of colour to have a spot the place they flourish and are on the heart stage reasonably than being along with, or as a ‘noble savage’ or one thing that was bolted on to the facet [of a Euro-centric universe]. It’s an expansive sci-fi epic.”
One of the vital attention-grabbing facets of the Mom Lands universe is that it’s a residing, narrative area that’s actively being explored on a weekly foundation via an ongoing precise play marketing campaign. The forged contains DePass in addition to Eugenio Vargas, Krystina Arielle, Deejay Knight, Michael Sinclair II, and Aabria Iyengar — who was not too long ago revealed as the brand new Dungeon Grasp for Important Function.
“With an precise play, we are able to convey our characters that folks have gotten to know now over a season and a half, into the e-book, into the sport world as [non-player characters],” DePass mentioned. “You possibly can have him in your sport […] after which, as soon as the e-book is out, we are able to go, ‘Okay, effectively, possibly we wrap this storyline that we’re telling, do a brand new season, then we do all new characters. There can be much more to select from, there can be much more that we are able to present individuals.”
This isn’t DePass’ very first play collection. She is a founding member of Rivals of Waterdeep, set within the Forgotten Realms and sponsored by Wizards of the Coast, publishers of the Dungeons & Dragons TTRPG. She and Walters are additionally members of Black Cube Society, one other Wizards-sponsored precise play collection that explores the horrific world of Ravenloft. Walters, along with being the author of Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Want comedian collection, is an skilled sport grasp in his personal proper.
One quirk of the present crowdfunding marketing campaign is that DePass and her group haven’t settled on a sport system for Mom Lands. D&D, as an illustration, makes use of the d20 system, which makes use of 20-sided cube to find out success or failure in-game. The rationale for not but selecting a system, Walters mentioned, is pretty pragmatic.
“On the [Mother Lands] present the sport is powered by Cortex,” Walters mentioned, referring to the gameplay system designed and constructed by Cam Banks and revealed by Fandom Tabletop — the identical firm that now owns D&D Past. “For the system that leads to the e-book, actually, it’s TBD.”
The shortage of a set system of mechanics has postpone some potential backers, DePass and Walters mentioned. However the resolution to launch the marketing campaign with out mechanics in place was a strategic one.
“It was a enterprise resolution,” Walters mentioned. “The logic of it was really fairly easy. In these negotiations, if we sat down on the desk simply with an thought and the power of the Twitch stream, that will get us thus far. But in addition, if we sat down on the desk with the success of the Twitch stream and the concept, and in addition the proof of idea that 1000s of individuals have already purchased it, and in addition we don’t want your cash, then that’s a really totally different dialog.”
For DePass, nonetheless, what sort of cube gamers finally get to position on the desk is basically inconsequential.
“That may be a small a part of it so far as I’m involved,” DePass mentioned. “You get the overarching story, you get the setting e-book, after which once you sit right down to play, the mechanics actually let you know you succeed or fail on a factor. And it’s the diploma of success or failure. The mechanics drive the way you play the sport, however to me — a minimum of as a participant and a [game master] of different programs — that’s a small element.”
Coming from a background performing RPGs on-line, DePass is most enthusiastic about what’s going to occur as soon as her venture makes it out into the world — and, possibly, even into another person’s precise play collection.
“It could make me so joyful,” DePass mentioned. “I’d most likely burst into tears to activate Twitch and see somebody streaming our sport.”
The Kickstarter marketing campaign for Into The Mom Lands is already profitable, having earned greater than $250,000 on a $50,000 ask. Supply of the completed e-book is anticipated by September 2022. The marketing campaign runs via June 20.