Dragons Conquer America Interview with Carlos Gomez Quintana
  • A look at Dragons Conquer America with Carlos Gomez Quintana


    Burning Games Carlos Gomez Quintana, lead designer and co-writer of Dragons Conquer America, took a few moments away from preparing the launch of the DCA Kickstarter to talk to us about how the game came about and what we can look forward to. The Dragons Conquer America Kickstarter launched on Tuesday 13th March and runs until Thursday 12th April.


    We are a small group of four friends who make tabletop roleplaying games under the name Burning Games. We have made FAITH, a sci-fi ttRPG, and we wanted to take our unique game system to a fantasy setting. We were sure we didn’t want to make another medieval european setting, because there are plenty of awesome ttRPGs about it out there, and we felt there’s not much we can add to that subject that would make an original or interesting game. We considered several ideas, such as Mesopotamia, or the Old Testament, a bit like Aronofsky’s film Noe, but they were only brainstorming ideas, because my mind had already been caught by pre-hispanic America.

    My first trip to the South American continent was when I was around 12 and I went with my family to meet our new sister. My parents had adopted an 8 year old Colombian girl. While I don’t remember much of that trip, because we only saw Bogota and its surroundings, many years later I met my now wife while studying in Cambridge, who -coincidentally- is also Colombian. Since then, I have travelled to Colombia many times and last year we took the opportunity to fly to Peru to visit some friends and as many Inca ruins as we could.

    All of this, mixed with how much reading Aztec by Gary Jennings affected me as a kid, was an amazing cocktail of inspiration and the idea of Dragons Conquer America came to fruition.

    I admit my personal interest came from learning of the Mexica civilization as an outsider. I wouldn't have dared getting into this game, these subjects, without a Mexican writer (JC Obal). While he is not a historian but a game writer; his sources include the most respected historians in Mexico, such as Alfredo López and Miguel León Portilla… and his very own grandparents, natives to one of the cultures we are exploring who offered him first hand access to their lore and myths. Additionally, we share a strong anti-colonial thinking.

    The Inca, the Mexica, the Muisca, and the many other cultures in the area of that era were all so interesting. I am actually kind of sad that there haven’t been more ttRPGs written about them before (I know there are a few, but not enough!) as I would have played that to exhaustion in my teens!


    We decided to set the game during the very first years of the arrival of the Spaniards, because they were a disrupting force that completely changed history. The game also has fantasy elements, as you can figure out from the game’s title. Fantasy allows us to explore myths and religions. Fantasy turns fears into truths. The Mayan temple is haunted. The shaman is a powerful mage. Fantasy also allows for more freedom and experimentation.

    DCA is based on history, but it is not historically accurate. We have reinterpreted many historical facts and myths: Saint George did not kill the dragon, but instead converted it to Christianity. The Mesoamerican city-states are protected by guardian feathered serpents. The Catholic Kings of Spain have discovered the Fountain of Eternal Youth in the jungles of the Amazon and are now Immortal. Abandoned Mayan cities are now inhabited by strange beings, and haunted by their proud dead Kings. Priests of all religions hold formidable powers and their prayers are mighty spells.

    The way you play the game remains the same as in most other ttRPGs: You are a party of adventurers braving into the unknown and performing quests. Most parties will be composed of mixed groups of Natives and Europeans, and most of the time you’ll be fighting monsters and creatures of the mythological pantheons of Mesoamerica.

    To ease players into this setting, we have decided to write two short campaigns to accompany our Core Book, the Eight Omens and the Conquistador’s Gold.


    The Eight Omens campaign is a celebration of Mexica myths. Players will embody four Native characters who are experiencing different omens that take them to various points in American history. Their aim is to interpret the omens that will help them be ready against the Spanish menace.


    The Conquistador’s Gold is told from the perspective of four Spanish individuals that indirectly work for Hernán Cortés. Their main goal is to secure a huge bounty known as the Conquistador’s Gold, but the story might develop in a different direction depending on the player’s actions. The mechanics themselves promote tolerance and acceptance of the different, creating a natural arc towards tolerance for the players.


    The Core Book itself is a classical RPG book, containing everything you need to play the game, from the core rules and subsystems, the character creation, gear and equipment, non player characters, the setting information itself and a short adventure to get you started.

    The mechanics of DCA are oriented towards bringing people together to take down dangerous monsters, find treasures and unravel ancient mysteries; and not towards playing a “colonizer” or to play part in big wars and things like that.

    What DCA as a ttRPG does is it focus its system so it works well when solving all kinds of issues, but it subtly rewards/punishes different types of gameplay to thematically guide the players into exploration, supernatural conflicts, teamwork, and overcoming one’s prejudices.


    So get ready to play dragon rider nuns, tomb raiders, pochteca merchants, temple guards, eagle warriors, Spanish hidalgos, Christian or Mesoamerican priests, and join forces to explore the dangerous jungles of ancient Mexico. We have great plans to develop this game further, and even make it into a series, but that is a topic for another day ;
    Comments 29 Comments
    1. EthanSental's Avatar
      EthanSental -
      Beautiful art in the article. Never heard of the Faith rpg or the mechanic mentioned above but never articulated. Looking at the scfi Faith game its card based? Not sure how that works and probably many readers here since it only had 687 backers for its Kickstarter funding. Looks like a good read for that setting that could be a gold mine of ideas...just not sold on the card mechanic aspect.
    1. Polyhedral Columbia's Avatar
      Polyhedral Columbia -
      That's some beautiful and evocative art. And a fresh focus on mixed Native/Euro adventuring parties.
    1. BrockBallingdark -
      Love the South American flavor (I have Spaniard and Incan blood in me), will check this out!
    1. Derren's Avatar
      Derren -
      I am a bit worried about the "anti-colonial thinking" part. Bringing a political agenda into games is usually not a good idea.
    1. LuisCarlos17f's Avatar
      LuisCarlos17f -
      In the movie "Stargate" the Northamerican marines destroy an alien ship and they are heroes. If this had be done by the fantasy equivalent of a modern Hernan Cortez, then they would give us, the Spanish, a piece of their mind (= we would be criticied hardly).

      * If we speak about uchronies... alternative timelines..what if Arthur Tudor survived the English sweating sickness, become king of England, and his heir (fruit of the marriage with Catalina de Aragon, is also the wife of the king of Spain and German Empire? Then the English reformation never happened because Henry VIII wasn't king.
    1. Zarithar's Avatar
      Zarithar -
      I wonder will the darker side of Mexica (Aztec) culture be looked at as well? I am of course referring to human sacrifice on a massive scale and the fact that the Mexica held most of what is now Mexico under brutal subjugation. The Spanish were certainly no better, as they brought death and disease not only to the Mexica, but also their Tlaxcalan allies (who were bitter foes of the Mexica). The podcast History on Fire gives an excellent accounting of the conquest and the aftermath and I highly recommend it for a balanced look at both sides of this bloody and tragic period in history.
    1. Zarithar's Avatar
      Zarithar -
      Sorry for the double post... but I concur with what others have been saying; The artwork is absolutely stunning.
    1. Eltab's Avatar
      Eltab -
      I'm still interested.
      If I never play the game, I want to read the cultural material and place what I can in home games. Terra Incognita, and the inhabitants are Cultura Incognita.
      (Hopefully the design crew resists the urge to preach at the audience.)

      I do wonder how their campaigns are going to deal with 'the shadow of the IRL Spanish Conquest'. Any wargame or simulation that is built to what-if an IRL outcome that looks like the <1% chance, has a hard time building a balanced meta-system that allows either side to prevail ... just because they want to AVOID railroading into that most unlikely result.
    1. Eltab's Avatar
      Eltab -
      Quote Originally Posted by LuisCarlos17f View Post
      * If we speak about uchronies... alternative timelines..what if Arthur Tudor survived the English sweating sickness, become king of England, and his heir (fruit of the marriage with Catalina de Aragon, is also the wife of the king of Spain and German Empire? Then the English reformation never happened because Henry VIII wasn't king.
      Another alternate timeline, branching off from IRL near yours:
      What if the House of Hapsburg had managed to (1) construct an effective governing bureaucracy in their many inherited provinces; and (2) marry into the Throne of France? The wobbliest-looking Universal Empire mankind has ever seen!
    1. Eltab's Avatar
      Eltab -
      Quote Originally Posted by Derren View Post
      I am a bit worried about the "anti-colonial thinking" part. Bringing a political agenda into games is usually not a good idea.
      Yah, that is the dark cloud that would persuade me (and my wallet) to stay away. Despite wanting to learn more about 1500AD-era Western Hemisphere cultures.

      I don't play any game because I want to be preached or sneered at.
    1. Jhaelen -
      Incredible artwork!

      I've just been checking the kickstarter page: no mention of the artists?! Unbelievable. I'd guess if this thing gets financed it will be mainly because of the artwork. So, that's a rather strange omission.
    1. Tahyer's Avatar
      Tahyer -
      Quote Originally Posted by EthanSental View Post
      Beautiful art in the article. Never heard of the Faith rpg or the mechanic mentioned above but never articulated. Looking at the scfi Faith game its card based? Not sure how that works and probably many readers here since it only had 687 backers for its Kickstarter funding. Looks like a good read for that setting that could be a gold mine of ideas...just not sold on the card mechanic aspect.

      Hi! One of the game creators here
      FAITH is card based only. DCA can be played with cards or with dice. The whole point of the system is to grant more player agency and allowing players to manage their luck (if they play smart they can choose when to succeed at the expense of probably losing at something else later on — the trick is to know where to put their energies).
      You can watch a pretty comprehensive video on the system here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIWrtf6QptE
      Card mechanics are really off-putting to most RPG players we have meet, dice seem intrinsic to rol-playing to many people. So we have had to carve our way into people’s attention almost one at a time in conventions. I know that from my mouth it has no value, but most people were surprised in a good way and realised that RPGs can work with cards just as well.
      But again, you can play DCA with dice too
    1. Tahyer's Avatar
      Tahyer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Derren View Post
      I am a bit worried about the "anti-colonial thinking" part. Bringing a political agenda into games is usually not a good idea.
      Quote Originally Posted by Eltab View Post
      Yah, that is the dark cloud that would persuade me (and my wallet) to stay away. Despite wanting to learn more about 1500AD-era Western Hemisphere cultures.


      I don't play any game because I want to be preached or sneered at.
      Hello, I am Carlos Gomez Quintana (the one speaking in the article).
      I Apologise if my words were misleading, I do not have a political agenda for this game, what I meant to say with anti-colonial thinking is that I do not automatically take the side of the Spanish just because I am Spanish. Many, many people have accused me of just that so much while making this game that I just try to get that out of the discussion straight away (we had a huge controversy late last year with a VICE article written about us by someone who accused us of colonialism without reading the actual game).
      The fact that I condemn the exploitation of people for any reason in real life (and even more for such a puny reason as race) does not mean I cannot write a game in which that is represented in a non-preaching way. If I saw the typical D&D heroes in real life I would think they are a bunch of blood thirsty psychopaths, but hell, it is fun when you forget about that and play within the game's fantasy. I simultaneously think that Hernan Cortes was a cruel conqueror who stopped at nothing to obtain gold and glory, and that he was one of the bravest men in human history who achieved a feat with no equal. If he lived now I would rally to stop him, but he lived 500 years ago when men were very different beasts to what we are supposed to be today, and at that time his enemies thought he was a monster and his allies thought he was a hero. I want to write a book in which you get both reads.
      DCA is a pre-colonial game anyway, which means that it takes place from the moment the Spanish arrive until before the actual conquest of Mexico by Hernan Cortes. Could your own adventure stretch further into those events? Sure, do as you wish. Help one side or the other, or stay away, that is your prerogative.
      We will show all cultures (from both Continents) as nuanced and complex things with moral codes based in their beliefs in the XVI Century, not ours. So, yes, the Mexica perform ritual sacrifices and engage in ritual cannibalism, and yes, if your character does these things he'll gain powers from it. The Spanish get their divine rewards from converting or killing non-believers. Are these things bad? Well, to us yes. To them? No, it was just, fair and made perfect sense.
      EDIT: autocorrect fail.

    1. Tahyer's Avatar
      Tahyer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zarithar View Post
      I wonder will the darker side of Mexica (Aztec) culture be looked at as well? I am of course referring to human sacrifice on a massive scale and the fact that the Mexica held most of what is now Mexico under brutal subjugation. The Spanish were certainly no better, as they brought death and disease not only to the Mexica, but also their Tlaxcalan allies (who were bitter foes of the Mexica). The podcast History on Fire gives an excellent accounting of the conquest and the aftermath and I highly recommend it for a balanced look at both sides of this bloody and tragic period in history.

      Hello, yes, we won't shy away from showing all facets of all the cultures presented in the book. You can read a bit about my thinking on this subject in my previous comment just above this one. We do not want to adjust these cultures to our Westernized standards and morals of today.

      Playing a DCA character is therefore a bit more challenguing (you have to adjust your mindset to fit in), but also a very rewarding experience.
    1. LuisCarlos17f's Avatar
      LuisCarlos17f -
      How talking about this but avoiding bad vibes?

      This is an entertaiment fantasy product based in a age from past History. This is about the conquest of America, and matters linked to this, like the anti-Spanish black legend. We, everybody, know some horrible things happened but also there are a lot of lies told by the enemy propaganda by rival powers. We need self-criticism but not being manipulated by feeling of guilty. How to explain it better with an example? Let's imagine a comedy movie where a grumpy mother tells time after time about the annoying actions when you were a child. She says the truth, but her attitude isn't helping to fix and improve the things. We need a more asertive tone

      We must notice about the syndrome of the tall poppies, when somebody stands out from the other, but he doesn't recieve respect, but hostility by rivals and envious. If we talk about the Spanish History, let's remember we are not forgiben because we, the people with "dirty blood" (Jew and Muslims ancestors) and a "lucky break", discoverd the new world, and become Catholic faith. And now the current USA is suffering the same fate, your own black legend created by enemy propaganda by rival powers. We need to get the right balance between self-criticism and faith in oneself, to know when to listen and when say no to the words by the toxic people and to say no to be manipulated by way of guilty feeling for things happened generations ago.

      The hipotetical controversy about this tittle isn't only about its links with the sad facts from real History, but the Hispanic identity. The main powers want to controll the culture, and the WASPs (Protestan Anglosaxons), Communist China and (born again Christian?) Russia are fighting for the domain of the enternaiment industry (including sci-fi and fantasy fiction) to tell masses about how they have to think. (Didn't you know Hollywood works for the "Ministery of the truth"? You should notice the difference among the true freethinker who explains the reasons of his point of view, and the toxic people who try punish with psichological abuse againts who dares to disagree). The fiction, also the fiction about the conquest of America may be a tool to try hurt Hispanic identity, because powerful groups don't want to allow old members of Spanish empire to dream about to be a new great American again. Not if we aren't controlled by them. Henry Kissinger said: "When Spain wants to be important, becomes dangerous". Empires rise and fall, but Spanish one aren't wanted to get back up, worse they are still being too loyal to Vatican. Then the strategy is breaking our wings, our spirit, our willpower and faith in ourself to convice us we need help and guide by people from out to progress.

      * What if that setting the Western Coast of America are "visited" by Chineses and Japaneses explorers with their own oriental dragons? (Macaus was Portugues and Taiwan ruled by Dutchs).

      * What if the game master would rather to tell other type of stories? For example the fantasy equivalent of (year 1582) Cagayan battles, (Toledan steele againts samurai's katanas, Spain won), the battle of Lepanto (we should thank us that!!, we saved Europe!), Spanish rebellion by the folk againts the new king, the brother of French emperor Napoleon (everybody notices this last is an anachronism, but we can allow this in fantasy rpg, don't you remember Xena the warrior princess and the historical characters?), the siege of Cartagena de Indias (1741), an Irish trying to survive in the age of Henry VIII and queen Elisabeth, the 1589 Drake-Norris Expedition againts Spain, Calvin's teocracy in Geneve (do you remember the antagonists from the videogame "Far Cry 5"?) or a story about a vampire cult controlling secret masonenry lodges conspirating for the martyrdom of saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen?

      ( I hope my tone to be enough soft for this thread)
    1. Derren's Avatar
      Derren -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tahyer View Post
      So, yes, the Mexica perform ritual sacrifices and engage in ritual cannibalism, and yes, if your character does these things he'll gain powers from it. The Spanish get their divine rewards from converting or killing non-believers. Are these things bad? Well, to us yes. To them? No, it was just, fair and made perfect sense.
      To be honest, that sounds like a trainwreck waiting to happen with massive criticism from all sides. Still good luck with that. It would be a shame for the project to fail because of that.
      I would like to see the additional content you hinted at. Both other parts of america like the Inca but also Europe, the Middle and Far East.

      Did the Temeraire novels not serve as inspiration for the game? I would be quite surprised as that scenario is very similar except that they have no magic in them and are set in the 19th century. Still I found their deviation from traditional fantasy and dragon rider concept very refreshing.

      As for cards vs. dice. I find cards to be too much of a hassle. You constantly have to shuffle, they are more deterministic (card counting) less durable when an accidential coke spill happens and its much more easy to lose the occasional card when packing up than losing dice.
    1. Eltab's Avatar
      Eltab -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tahyer View Post
      Hello, I am Carlos Gomez Quintana (the one speaking in the article).
      Thank you for stopping in and addressing my concerns. I appreciate your effort - and now I am more inclined to buy the finished product.
    1. Tahyer's Avatar
      Tahyer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Derren View Post
      To be honest, that sounds like a trainwreck waiting to happen with massive criticism from all sides. Still good luck with that. It would be a shame for the project to fail because of that.
      I would like to see the additional content you hinted at. Both other parts of america like the Inca but also Europe, the Middle and Far East.

      Did the Temeraire novels not serve as inspiration for the game? I would be quite surprised as that scenario is very similar except that they have no magic in them and are set in the 19th century. Still I found their deviation from traditional fantasy and dragon rider concept very refreshing.

      As for cards vs. dice. I find cards to be too much of a hassle. You constantly have to shuffle, they are more deterministic (card counting) less durable when an accidential coke spill happens and its much more easy to lose the occasional card when packing up than losing dice.
      I sure hope not ^^ TBH, it appears that people on paper (without having read of played the game) focus a lot on the conflict between new and old world, while the gameplay tends to direct players to fight mythological monsters and everyone seems to make intercultural parties of characters when they actually get to play.

      The gameplay is heavily inspired by The Witcher and Monster Hunter, and that is what we aim most people will engage with. Although it is also great when players step up to defend an unaffiliated village from Spanish slavers or Mexicas looking for sacrifices. The system is prepared to support personal personality and tolerance struggles, but not for mass battles nor conquests - it is classic role-playing after all, in abandoned mayan pyramids instead of dungeons.

      Yes, Temeraire was an amazing inspiration for me. I only read three of them, but the setting was so very well done. It felt real and everything seem to make sense. Their dragons are a bit different, and we have used ours as a social, political, and religious reason for creating important roles for women in mass for the age (in our setting, since the first dragon rider, only women can tame and ride dragons).

      Cards sure play differently, but because we understand many people only want dice, DCA can also be played with dice. The experience is similar, a bit more random, but that is good, because that is what dice do that cards can’t
    1. Derren's Avatar
      Derren -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tahyer View Post
      [/FONT][FONT=Verdana]Yes, Temeraire was an amazing inspiration for me. I only read three of them, but the setting was so very well done. It felt real and everything seem to make sense. Their dragons are a bit different, and we have used ours as a social, political, and religious reason for creating important roles for women in mass for the age (in our setting, since the first dragon rider, only women can tame and ride dragons).
      You might want to read till book 7 as that one takes place in South America (even though book 6 is kinda dull).
    1. Tahyer's Avatar
      Tahyer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Derren View Post
      You might want to read till book 7 as that one takes place in South America (even though book 6 is kinda dull).
      Mmmm, that's tempting. I'll think about it, thanks!
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