Art for Into the Motherlands

The Into the Mother Lands Kickstarter Is Set to Provide an Afrofuturistic TTRPG Experience

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Yesterday, the Kickstarter for Into the Mother Lands was launched, and as I write this, it’s already been funded by over 18oo backers and is nearing its 150K stretch goal.

What can I say? We crave diverse storytelling, especially when it comes to the world of TTRPG (Tabletop RPG).

Created by game designer/streamer and Hugo-nominated editor Tanya DePass, the founder of I Need Diverse Games, it’s meant to be a TTRPG experience where she no longer had to alter the narrative to see herself represented. DePass said in a press release, “RPGs have always meant retooling the narrative for me to exist, but this game lets me exist without forcing me to flip the script.”

While it’s true that TTRPG is all about using your imagination, there’s something to be said about having to imagine yourself included in the story because your race and/or ethnicity isn’t always represented in campaigns that come equipped with dragons, elves, and other fantasy creatures. The lead developer of Into the Mother Lands, B. Dave Walters, expressed similar sentiments: “I love D&D, but there’s more to life (and gaming) than Eurocentric power structures and fantasy settings. I’ve never seen a game where Black excellence was a guiding design principle. We wanted to create a place where People of Color could take pride in ourselves; our skin, our art, our cultures, and our joy.”

Walters, who is also a game designer, filmmaker, and comic writer (Electropunk, IDW’s Dungeons and Dragons) has brought up a good point. Creating something that highlights us is more than just having characters who share our skin color. Our stories are an experience, so when you say you’re telling a story that centers us, that should include our culture and (I cannot stress this enough) our joy.

“Over the last year, we’ve told awesome stories in a POC-developed world where slavery and colonialism aren’t baggage for our characters,” said Eugenio “DMJazzyHands” Vargas, the storyteller for the streamed show.

The Mother Lands RPG Show has been going on since October 2020. Taking place over at DePass’ Twitch channel, the broadcast features DePass alongside an amazing cast, including streamers DeejayKnight, Michael Sinclair II, Aabria Iyengar, Eugenio “DMJazzyHands” Vargas, and Krystina Arielle, who Star Wars fans will recognize as the host of Star Wars: The High Republic Show.

Honestly? Thank you for actually letting us have a fantasy story that doesn’t just remind us of the painful realities we often use fantasy to escape from. It’s always kind of a bummer when fictional stories full of magical, supernatural elements decide to only have us face the brutalities of slavery and things we don’t necessarily want reminders of in a fantasy RPG. Vargas went on to say, “We’ve had so much fun telling these stories, but I know people at home also have stories to tell, and I can’t wait to hear all about them.”

Before we get into the Kickstarter, here’s a description of what Into the Mother Lands is all about:

Into the Mother Lands tells the story of a lost expedition, sent to find a “new world” that never materialized. Centuries later, these explorers live on an adopted homeworld called Musalia. Players can play as descendants of the alien culture that called this planet home, or as one of the cultures that evolved from the blending of human and alien technology. Solanci are plant-humanoid hybrids. Hyeanole are hyena-humanoid in appearance. Gameplay focuses on exploration in a world that appeals to fans of Wakanda and Star Trek, and characters’ abilities focus on their skills and values.

Wakanda?

Yes.

Hi.

Hello.

via GIPHY

The Kickstarter is for the Into the Mother Lands sourcebook. This means that instead of just watching the show (but, um, do watch the show), you can now host your own campaigns in this beautifully diverse world. You can pledge to get digital or hard copies of the book, and since this is a TTRPG, there are nifty add-ons like a special edition dice set, character sheets, and a map of the world you and your friends will be exploring.

To the entire team of Into the Mother Lands (which also includes Gabe Hicks and streamer Jasmine Bhullar, AKA ThatBronzeGirl), I want to say thank you for creating this kind of TTRPG. Seeing a game where the default cultures I get to choose from look like me is wonderful. There are so many times in gaming—and many other spaces—where we’re treated as being outside of the default, so it leaves such an impact to see us as the main option at the very start.

Be sure to check out the Kickstarter here.

For more details about the game, check out the website here.

And follow Into the Mother Lands on Twitter here.

(Image: Nikki Dawes)

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Author
Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)