Mom Lands is a tabletop role-playing sport freed from slavery and colonialism

Tanya DePass, founder and director of I Want Numerous Video games, a not-for-profit advocacy group, has introduced collectively a proficient 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 sequence 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 be taught extra. They defined that the germ of the concept originated within the historic file.

“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 through 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, by way of a mechanism that’s but to be revealed throughout the narrative, have been transported to a different planet.”

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

Over the following 2,000 years, that small exploratory fleet turned 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 mentioned that the setting attracts its inspiration from each the Star Trek franchise and Marvel’s Black Panther.

“It’s an authentic Afrofuturist TTRPG,” Walters mentioned. “It’s a science fiction universe the place there isn’t any colonialism. There isn’t a expansionist rhetoric. That isn’t the foundation explanation for the motion.”

As an alternative, the Musalians and Vutoa’s present populations coexist throughout the planet, in high-tech city facilities in addition to unusual alien landscapes. When battle does come up, it’s usually about two or extra teams competing for scarce sources.

“We wished to do one thing totally different, the place variety was a foundational thought,” Walters mentioned. “Black excellence was a foundational thought, so we got here up with a premise that may enable a number of totally different sorts of individuals of colour to have a spot the place they flourish and are on the heart stage fairly than being along with, or as a ‘noble savage’ or one thing that was bolted on to the aspect [of a Euro-centric universe]. It’s 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 offers them extraordinary powers.
Picture: Mom 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.
Picture: Mom Lands RPG

One of the crucial 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 by way of 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 Vital Function.

“With an precise play, we will deliver our characters that individuals 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 will go, ‘Okay, properly, 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 will present individuals.”

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 Mom Lands takes place.
Picture: Mom 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 Cube 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 Want comedian sequence, is an skilled sport grasp 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 Mom 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 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 results in the e book, truthfully, it’s TBD.”

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

“It was a enterprise choice,” 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 may get us up to now. But additionally, if we sat down on the desk with the success of the Twitch stream and the concept, and likewise the proof of idea that 1000s of individuals have already purchased it, and likewise we don’t want your cash, then that’s a really totally different dialog.”

For DePass, nonetheless, what sort of cube gamers in the end 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 town of Ha-Linz. Based by Hyeanoles, it’s dwelling to an enormous library.
Picture: Mom Lands RPG

“That could 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 inform you 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 part.”

Coming from a background performing RPGs on-line, DePass is most enthusiastic about what’s going to occur as soon as her challenge makes it out into the world — and, possibly, even into another person’s precise play sequence.

“It will make me so comfortable,” DePass mentioned. “I’d in all probability 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 predicted by September 2022. The marketing campaign runs by way of June 20.

https://www.polygon.com/2021/6/10/22528001/mother-lands-afrofuturist-tabletop-rpg-tanya-depass-b-dave-walters-interview

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