Mother Lands is a tabletop RPG freed from slavery and colonialism

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Mother Lands is a tabletop RPG free of slavery and colonialism

Tanya DePass, founder and director of I Need Diverse Games, a not-for-profit advocacy group, has introduced collectively a proficient group of creatives to launch a brand new tabletop role-playing sport. Mother Lands posits a world removed from our Earth that has by no means identified slavery or colonialism. What started as an precise play sequence on Twitch and YouTube has spawned a new crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. The final aim is to supply Into The Mother 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 thought originated within the historic file.

“We went back to the African Emperor Mansa Musa,” Walters stated, 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 history, who really existed and who sent a fleet to the New World. […] For our story, this fleet departed and, through a mechanism that is yet to be revealed within the narrative, were transported to another planet.”

A Black man with dreadlocks and leaves growing from his chest and upper arms.

A member of the Solanci, humanoid-plant hybrids residing on the planet Vutoa.
Image: Mother Lands RPG

A hyena humanoid with a sword strapped to its back.

A member of the Hyeanole, identified for his or her scholarship and magecraft.
Image: Mother Lands RPG

Over the subsequent 2,000 years, that small exploratory fleet grew to become the Musalians, a human civilization sharing an exoplanet referred to 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 stated that the setting attracts its inspiration from each the Star Trek franchise and Marvel’s Black Panther.

“It’s an original Afrofuturist TTRPG,” Walters stated. “It is a science fiction universe where there is no colonialism. There is no expansionist rhetoric. That is not the root cause of the action.”

Instead, 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 sources.

“We wanted to do something different, where diversity was a foundational idea,” Walters stated. “Black excellence was a foundational idea, so we came up with a premise that would allow lots of different kinds of people of color to have a place where they flourish and are at the center stage rather than being in addition to, or as a ‘noble savage’ or something that was bolted on to the side [of a Euro-centric universe]. It is an expansive sci-fi epic.”

A Black man wearing yellow and green vestments, his body marked with purple glowing lines.

Misajai ritually bind themselves to a symbiote that provides them extraordinary powers.
Image: Mother Lands RPG

A Black woman with a mechanical eye, strips of metal banding running through her hair.

A Mansegene, identified for his or her technological development.
Image: Mother Lands RPG

One of essentially the most attention-grabbing features of the Mother Lands universe is that it’s a residing, narrative house that’s actively being explored on a weekly foundation via an ongoing precise play marketing campaign. The solid 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 Master for Critical Role.

“With an actual play, we can bring our characters that people have gotten to know now over a season and a half, into the book, into the game world as [non-player characters],” DePass stated. “You can have him in your game […] and then, once the book is out, we can go, ‘Okay, well, maybe we wrap this storyline that we’re telling, do a new season, then we do all new characters. There will be a lot more to choose from, there will be a lot more that we can show people.”

A verdant blue planet backed by a blue white star. Ships rise from a bright city on the surface.

The planet Vutoa, the place the motion of Mother Lands takes place.
Image: Mother Lands RPG

This isn’t DePass’ very first play sequence. 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 Dice Society, one other Wizards-sponsored precise play sequence that explores the horrific world of Ravenloft. Walters, along with being the author of Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish comedian sequence, is an experienced game master in his personal proper.

One quirk of the present crowdfunding marketing campaign is that DePass and her crew haven’t settled on a sport system for Mother Lands. D&D, for example, makes use of the d20 system, which makes use of 20-sided cube to find out success or failure in-game. The motive for not but selecting a system, Walters stated, is pretty pragmatic.

“On the [Mother Lands] show the game is powered by Cortex,” Walters stated, referring to the gameplay system designed and constructed by Cam Banks and revealed by Fandom Tabletop — the identical firm that now owns D&D Beyond. “For the system that ends up in the book, honestly, it’s TBD.”

The lack of a set system of mechanics has delay some potential backers, DePass and Walters stated. But the choice to launch the marketing campaign with out mechanics in place was a strategic one.

“It was a business decision,” Walters stated. “The logic of it was actually quite simple. In these negotiations, if we sat down at the table just with an idea and the strength of the Twitch stream, that would get us so far. But also, if we sat down at the table with the success of the Twitch stream and the idea, and also the proof of concept that 1000s of people have already bought it, and also we don’t need your money, then that’s a very different conversation.”

For DePass, nonetheless, what sort of cube gamers finally get to position on the desk is basically inconsequential.

A floating disk of land connected to a Grand Canyon-like formation by willowy, slender bridges.

The metropolis of Ha-Linz. Founded by Hyeanoles, it’s dwelling to an enormous library.
Image: Mother Lands RPG

“That is a small part of it as far as I’m concerned,” DePass stated. “You get the overarching story, you get the setting book, and then when you sit down to play, the mechanics literally tell you you succeed or fail on a thing. And it’s the degree of success or failure. The mechanics drive how you play the game, but to me — at least as a player and a [game master] of other systems — that’s a small component.”

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, perhaps, even into another person’s precise play sequence.

“It would make me so happy,” DePass stated. “I’d probably burst into tears to turn on Twitch and see someone streaming our game.”

The Kickstarter marketing campaign for Into The Mother Lands is already profitable, having earned greater than $250,000 on a $50,000 ask. Delivery of the completed guide is predicted by September 2022. The marketing campaign runs via June 20.

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