[Kickstarter] Spears of the Dawn, cool african-themed D&D

Epic Cave Slime

Passed the TEST OF MEAT!
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Kevin Crawford's new project just saw the light of day on Kickstarter. It looks superficially similar to Green Ronin's Nyambe, which is impossible to get a hold of.

So I'm seriously considering getting in on this. I like Kevin's stuff.
 

Paul Watson

Active member
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Sweet! This is one of three new old-school games (for lack of a better term) that I've been watching and waiting for. I'll be jumping on this one for certain.
 

ResplendentScorpion

neither glitter, nor substance
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There are multiple reasons why I'm probably not going to kickstart this. From the obvious ripping off of older titles, to the disagreeable art, to the system they plan to use, to the insistence that they use untranslated names for too many things(it's like naming every class in traditional fantasy game with a Latin/Germa/Norse/Greek/Persian/Indian word for the basic concept), the politicaly motivated blurb, and the lack of anthropologists and African scholars in the team.
However, the region and the proposed genre are personal favorites, so I'm probably going to buy it sooner or later if it comes about(and I doubt it will have any trouble being kickstarted) and it's good(which I see no guarantee of, sadly).
 
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Spider Proletariat

Fascism At It's Basest
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On the one hand, I massively support the spirit of this Kickstarter and what it's trying to do.

On the other, I have less than zero interest in OSR rules, backed up by checking out 'Stars Without Number', so I quickly reconsidered my pledge. I hope it does well, though.
 

CardinalXimenes

Registered User
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There are multiple reasons why I'm probably not going to kickstart this. From the obvious ripping off of older titles, to the disagreeable art, to the insistence that they use untranslated names for too many things(it's like naming every class in traditional fantasy game with a Latin/Germa/Norse/Greek/Persian/Indian word for the basic concept), the politicaly motivated blurb, and the lack of anthropologists and African scholars in the team.
However, the region and the proposed genre are personal favorites, so I'm probably going to buy it sooner or later if it comes about(and I doubt it will have any trouble being kickstarted).
Why not make your own effort at it? As Mr. Samedi examples, there are plenty of people who are enthusiastic about the time and place but don't care for old-school play. There's no iron-clad reason why there shouldn't be as many African-flavored fantasy adventure RPGs as there are faux-European ones, and the speed at which the kickstarter is being funded suggests there are a lot of people who'd really like to see more of this sort of thing. You can fire up a word processor, write the sort of thing you want to see, and with a manuscript in hand you run an excellent chance of being able to scare up funds for artists- or to convince others of like mind to donate some pieces for free if you don't care for the ones I'm putting in the public domain. If you want to just share the resultant effort for free you can post it up that way, or you can very easily sign up for a publisher account at DTRPG/RPGNow and give the market a try. In either case, if you've got a different vision of how things should work out, it's to the good of the hobby if you share it around and see what kind of fun other people can have with it.

Honestly, even if you just want to scratch up a few blog posts or do an evocative sketch or two, I'd consider that good for the game as well. Modern technology is giving each and every one of us the kind of creative leverage that used to be reserved to TSR on a good day. A lot of people with great ideas that would never see the light of day ten or twenty years ago can now put them in a form that everyone can enjoy. Sure, Sturgeon's Law is not mocked and there's no doubt that a lot of egregious crap will be generated, but that's true in any time and place. Right now, the more that we create, the more likely it is that each of us can find the exact sort of fun we've been looking for.
 

David J Prokopetz

Social Justice Henchman
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Eh... yeah, echoing posts upthread, I like the concept, but based on the project description, it sounds like this is going to be a generically African game, in much the same way that a lot of older games would mush China, Japan, Mongolia, Korea and Taiwan together and call it generically Asian - or those games in the early 00s that tossed every First Nations tribe from Nunavut to Veracruz into a blender and called it generically Native American. That doesn't really grab me; I mean, issues of Eurocentrism entirely aside, game settings are generally a heck of a lot more interesting when their cultural influences are more focused.
 

CardinalXimenes

Registered User
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Eh... yeah, echoing posts upthread, I like the concept, but based on the project description, it sounds like this is going to be a generically African game, in much the same way that a lot of older games would mush China, Japan, Mongolia, Korea and Taiwan together and call it generically Asian - or those games in the early 00s that tossed every First Nations tribe from Nunavut to Veracruz into a blender and called it generically Native American. That doesn't really grab me; I mean, issues of Eurocentrism entirely aside, game settings are generally a heck of a lot more interesting when their cultural influences are more focused.
The issue is playability. My absolute favorite setting, the one I think is the splendid creative triumph in the hobby, is Tekumel. The smoking corpses of its burnt-out incarnations litter the hobby's past because too many people have seen what a great, sophisticated, flavorful setting it was and have neglected to actually make it approachable. A setting that reads beautifully can turn into a car wreck at the table if you can't get 4-6 random people to pick up on the necessary points to function in the fictional setting.

Ultimately, people are paying me for a game they can play with their friends, the ones who think the idea sounds neat but have no interest or patience in reading more than a page of setting. I have to build the game to be approachable enough that John Q. Gamer can sit down, read a page for the system, a page for their character's home country and background profession, and then start making a character. Yes, I've got thirty-odd pages in there for the GM to cover the more subtle parts of running the setting and extra writeup information on each of the nations, but the world-as-such, the world that the players interface with, has to be familiar enough that they don't get paralyzed with an inability to rationally shape their behavior.

But it's not the case that I've simply hashed the material together the way that D&D just chops together all of western Europe into Medievania. Each of the major kingdoms in the Three Lands is calqued on a different empire or culture- the Malian Empire, the Songhay Empire, the Kingdom of Dahomey, the Masai, and the ancient Egyptians, to be precise, with a general emphasis on West African cultures. I've lifted elements from each, reworked them into shapes that mildly-interested players can easily digest, and rolled from there. There are going to be variations and divergences, of course, and it's about as pure a historical game as B/X D&D was, but the goal is simply to show GMs and players some of the amazing stuff they can use for their own games. That's not going to happen if I go Full M. A. R. Barker on the game table.
 

pacalypse

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I'm definitely in... I support the direction and concept of the project, have wanted an Africa-themed D&D setting for a long time and have found I still enjoy old school rules for an occasional campaign. I also figure even if the rules aren't to my liking I can use the setting material with another set of rules.
 

Doctor Futurity

Camazotz the Death Bat
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Well, in defense of the Kickstarter they explicitly state in the first line that it's "African themed" which is different from being "an African historical setting." I'd actually love to see an historical take on Africa with an injection of fantasy, but that sort of book would be better suited to another system like Runequest or GURPS than D&D. Over the years I've come to accept (after much experimentation) that while D&D can do historical or quasi-historical, its much better suited to "inspired by historical" concepts that go for the flavor and feel instead of precise emulation.

I'm not too keen on the OSR/SWN connection....although I was impressed with SWN as a book, ultimately I felt the mechanics were hollow and dated in a fashion that detracted from what the game was attempting. If this were designed for D20 or Pathfinder, I'd be tempted to fund it.

To the OP: You can buy Nyambe and its supplements at SJgames.com or Paizo.com last I checked for $10 hardcover and $3-5 apiece for the two supplements. And Nyambe was pretty much spot on the same sort of concept (African inspired, but lacking any historical context).
 

That Other Guy

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I support the idea - I'm always interested in seeing more African-inspired settings (and I'm working on one of my own - albeit with a much more narrow focus - based around my ancestral homeland of Nigeria during roughly the 16th century). However, two things are really putting pause to my enthusiasm. First is OSR gameplay. I really, really don't like OSR rules. The other is the anachronism stew; having things like the Songhay Empire next to Ancient Egypt just really gets my goat. I know it seems petty, but having things a century or two either side of the 'proposed era' is fine by me, but such temporal gaps just irritate me. There are a couple of other reasons, but they would be unnecessarily confrontational.

But good luck and I hope things get off the ground.
 
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