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Into the Mother Lands: A Sci-fi RPG by PoC Designers

When Eugenio Vargas spoke to us on our podcast back in November about this Afrofuturist RPG, it was still months away. Now the game has hit Kickstarter, and has made over $100K in the first couple of days!


Imagine if African explorers had set sail for the New World long before Europeans did... but got transported to a new planet instead! This planet is developed by a civilisation of African descent.

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Choose from five cultures and several professions such as the Bio Priest or the Spine Ripper.

The team behind Into the Mother Lands is a group RPG designers, all people of colour, led by Tanya DePass, the founder of the non-profit group I Need Diverse Games.

You can pick up the PDF for $25 or the hardcover for $50, plus an array of dice, screens, maps, sheets and more.

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Ixal

Adventurer
I'd love to see more cultures used for inspiration in RPGs, as there's so much I don't know.

As a white Australian, I've grown up knowing very little about African cultures. An RPG based on some of these has the real potential to be new and exciting exciting me.

I do sit in the camp however of needing to know what system they'll use before backing it. I wonder how many others are in that space also?
I doubt that the culture of the Musalians will have much in common with the actual culture of Mali of that time.
As far as I understand it, Mali of that time was, also, defined be the split between the Muslim population and the one following the native religion which Musa tried, not to unite but to peacefully convert. As mentioned he was a devout Muslim and responsible for building many mosques including the university of Timbuktu (which was a religious school).

So Islam was part of their culture, yet from all I heard religion will not be a big part of this game apart except for the Bio Priest and they don't sound like they will follow a version of Islam.
So while the backstory is rooted in the real world I do not think this is intended to have any other connection to the real world. It is a pure fantasy (sci-fantasy) game.

And with 3000 years of separation it wouldn't even make sense if their culture would resemble the culture of Mali anyway.
 

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Grendel_Khan

Explorer
If you want an RPG more directly influenced by real African cultures, look out for The Wagadu Chronicles for DnD5e. Sadly, it is funded on Kickstarter as a computer game, but the RPG books were added in one of the goals, so may become available via DriveThruRPG Print-on-Demand.

Also, Jerry D. Grayson, has some interesting Afro-Futurism using the Open d6 System.
The Wagadu Chronicles looks like a great read, even for us 5e haters. If the printed materials wind up anything like what they previewed for the video game it seems like they'll get into some really cool ideas beyond the usual Euro-style murder-hobo-ing about.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
Supporter
I doubt that the culture of the Musalians will have much in common with the actual culture of Mali of that time.
As far as I understand it, Mali of that time was, also, defined be the split between the Muslim population and the one following the native religion which Musa tried, not to unite but to peacefully convert. As mentioned he was a devout Muslim and responsible for building many mosques including the university of Timbuktu (which was a religious school).

So Islam was part of their culture, yet from all I heard religion will not be a big part of this game apart except for the Bio Priest and they don't sound like they will follow a version of Islam.
So while the backstory is rooted in the real world I do not think this is intended to have any other connection to the real world. It is a pure fantasy (sci-fantasy) game.

And with 3000 years of separation it wouldn't even make sense if their culture would resemble the culture of Mali anyway.
Totally. Not expecting real world history. But using an inspiration from a source I'm unfamiliar with has the potential to be a fresh take in my mind.
 

Bagpuss

Adventurer
I doubt that the culture of the Musalians will have much in common with the actual culture of Mali of that time.
Wonder if they have done much research in that department at all. From the kickstarter and the little I've seen of the AP, it seems other than the idea of ships leaving Malie and a few of the names there it seems to ignore it's roots, to be just sci-fi fantasy.

And with 3000 years of separation it wouldn't even make sense if their culture would resemble the culture of Mali anyway.
It's only 1000 years on according to the Kickstarter.
 



Grendel_Khan

Explorer
Pledges flattened out in a big way. Wonder if they just hit a ceiling, once the stream's fanbase finished showing up to the campaign, or is the system question part of the problem? I don't really have any theories, but I think it's weird for them to hit $200k and still not sort out the system...and also this is flat-out bizarre:


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How are you going to include a dice set add-on and still not tell people what system you're using? What if the final system only uses one or two of those dice types, and needs lots of one kind? I realize you can use dice for whatever game you want, but still, this seems real silly to me. Show your support for our game by...rolling these dice when you play 5e....
 


Grendel_Khan

Explorer
All Kickstarters do that. There’s a distinctive U shape to the graph of every Kickstarter’s pledges.

Absolutely. But I have an unhealthy obsession with watching TTRPG Kickstarters, and this seems like a very precipitous drop to me. Way steeper than Auroboros or Coyote & Crow, for example.

It's obviously a super successful campaign already. I just thought it was interesting how much it's already slowed down.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Absolutely. But I have an unhealthy obsession with watching TTRPG Kickstarters, and this seems like a very precipitous drop to me. Way steeper than Auroboros or Coyote & Crow, for example.

It's obviously a super successful campaign already. I just thought it was interesting how much it's already slowed down.
Auroborous looks pretty similar to me. Coyote & Crow is an outlier - its graph is a lot less steep than most.

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Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
My two wargaming scenery kickstarters did that too. Strong start, calm seas in the middle and small rush at the end.

Still, I believe they sabotage themselves by not going with a system from the get go. Now people are waiting and many pledges could be cancelled if they don't like the system. System matters greatly.
 




How are you going to include a dice set add-on and still not tell people what system you're using? What if the final system only uses one or two of those dice types, and needs lots of one kind? I realize you can use dice for whatever game you want, but still, this seems real silly to me. Show your support for our game by...rolling these dice when you play 5e....
You seem tied into thinking the image is the specific set that you are getting, where it is likely you wouldn't get that set, as it isn't a special dice set nor does it show the choice of various sets.

It's a placeholder, not a commitment. If they go d12s the dice will be a set of d12s.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Yeah, the comment about not having "earth baggage" because the ships left before Europeans arrived is rather strange as, as it was already said, slavery was practiced in Mali way before Europeans arrived and the entire setting story is them colonizing a different planet with the only difference being that they can't do it from a position of strength. Still, that the Musalians use their own name for the planet instead of the name the natives have given it sounds like a very colonizer thing to do.
In itself it wouldn't be a problem if they were at least aware of it, but the baggage claim makes it sound that either they are not or they chose to ignore and deny it.

The time since the first arrival also gets longer with each iteration. In the kickstarter they say thousand years, in the podcast season 1 its 1500 and in season 2 they are already at 3000 years.
African slavery is certainly "baggage", but . . . European colonialism is on a whole other level. Slavery, under all circumstances, is a horrid practice . . . but Europeans took that to another place that has had profound and lasting impacts on Africa and other colonized regions to this day.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Wonder if they have done much research in that department at all. From the kickstarter and the little I've seen of the AP, it seems other than the idea of ships leaving Malie and a few of the names there it seems to ignore it's roots, to be just sci-fi fantasy.


It's only 1000 years on according to the Kickstarter.
If "Into the Mother Lands" ends up being just sci-fi fantasy . . . but one that springs from an African root rather than a European root . . . I'm down with that.
 

gss000

Explorer
You seem tied into thinking the image is the specific set that you are getting, where it is likely you wouldn't get that set, as it isn't a special dice set nor does it show the choice of various sets.

It's a placeholder, not a commitment. If they go d12s the dice will be a set of d12s.
What you say here - which no way reflects anything they have said or claimed - would be very bad marketing if it happens. When it comes to advertising, people naturally assume the image they see is similar to what they will get, especially as every pic of the dice on the KS looks like this. If it's not an accurate representation, they need to make that absolutely clear or else there will be a lot of claims of deception, which no group wants or needs.

Even with all the questions about systems, I'm glad this setting is being made no matter the system they land on.
 

Ixal

Adventurer
African slavery is certainly "baggage", but . . . European colonialism is on a whole other level. Slavery, under all circumstances, is a horrid practice . . . but Europeans took that to another place that has had profound and lasting impacts on Africa and other colonized regions to this day.
Colonialism and slavery are two different things (and Mali certainly colonized the areas it conquered which includes spreading Islam)
And while the amount of European slavery was unprecedented, the slave trade among Islamic countries was not very small either and Mali was part of that network as a source of slaves acquired by raiding which were then transported north to North Africa and east towards Arabia. And many African countries also participated in the European slave trade by hunting and enslaving others to sell them to European traders who could not penetrate deep into the continent on account if illness.
A big part of Malis economy was based on minerals, specifically gold and copper. And they were mined by slaves.
So Musa and the rulers before and after him were heavily involved in slave trade and fully used and supported slavery as a system, not at all different from Europeans. Does that mean he should not have been used as inspiration for the society in this RPG? Not at all. No historic person will be completely good according to modern standards.
But you should be aware of it that Musa was not any better than European slavers or rather kings that used and promoted slavery. And the comment about the baggage makes it sound like this is not the case. It is sadly a trend, at least in my eyes, to say that all the evils that plagued Africa arrived with the Europeans. And while they certainly had a big role in it this is historical revisionism, especially when it comes to slavery.

So when applied to this game, the baggage of Mali would be in no way smaller than the baggage of the Portuguese or Spanish, especially at this point in time before the triangle trade was established.
The people who arrived on the new planet in Into the Mother Lands would have brought all that "baggage" with them and would have been accustomed to and in support of slavery. But as I said above, without the chance to acquire new slaves which would mean Hyenale, Hathare and the other people of this planet, that practice would have died out eventually.
So nothing would change in the end, but this is such a hot topic that in my opinion you are doing everyone a disservice by spreading revisionist history to absolve some, long dead, group of people from their role in it. Everyone must be honest about this in order to resolve it imo.
 
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