5E World of Farland Now Embraces Asian, African, and Indian Cultures

The World of Farland has been online thoughout various iterations of D&D for as long as I've been running this website. So, about 20 years. It's a dark D&D setting, ruled by evil lords based on the Seven Deadly Sins, with an tmosphere a bit like if Lord of the Rings had gone the other way. The new Realms Under Shadow hardcover supplement introduces new locations which are not dependent on European mythology. I've been sent a few previews to share!

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The World of Farland, conquered by evil and ruled by the Lords of Sin, has been online for nearly 20 years. It's a best-seller here at DTRPG. But the setting has focused on European-style fantasy up to this point. That changes now...

The evil Wintervale has conquered the continent of Farland. But other lands lie south and east of the Wintervale. Some of these exotic realms are allied with the Shadow and some resist it, but either way, they have been affected by it. These are the Realms Under Shadow...

The Realms Under Shadow are fantastic places reminiscent of the medieval cultures of Asia, Africa (including egypt), and India. This campaign supplement allows you to play a game that is not in the vein of the traditional European style fantasy. Adventure in diverse and amazing places. Battle characters and monsters that are a far cry from your usual RPG experience. This book is compatible with the 5th edition of the World's most popular RPG and is a supplement to The World of Farland Campaign Setting, although it can certainly be used on its own.

This 235 page campaign supplement includes:
  • Detailed write-ups on many unique and diverse cultures
  • 14 new PC races
  • New player options, including 15 new class archetypes and paths; feats; and equipment
  • Calendars and gods
  • New Languages
  • Tons of adventure hooks
  • Important NPCs and locations
  • Seventeen new monsters
  • A full length adventure set in the Realms Under Shadow
  • Much more!
  • All exclusive new content that will never appear on the website.
This book comes with two maps of the geography, and it is now available in standard color hardcover and gorgeous premium color hardcover!
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
All criticism is welcome criticism. If you think we could do better somewhere, then let us know! :)
Just a PR thing, since the book isn’t out yet. “Our pseudo-Germans aren’t really Germans, likewise our pseudo-Koreans” isn’t actually a very good way of addressing concerns about representation.

The wording of your earlier post come across to me like you treated African inspiration as a grab bag of LEGO bricks to assemble something out of with little concern for context. Hopefully that is a false perception, but it’s what come across in what you said.

There are many creatives and critics of color in the TTRPG space. Did you consult any of them who are related to and/or expert on the salient regions and mythologies when working on this project?

Lastly, exotic as a term for non Euro-inspired cultures isn’t bad because the term is inherently bad, but because of the context of how it’s been used to fetishize other cultures within Western fiction. Pointing out that German stuff might be exotic to a medieval Samurai doesn’t change this.
 

RichCMidas

Villager
Ah, ok, I've got a better understanding now. Yeah, I can see why what I said is probably not the best way to answer that concern.

Well, I do not think it was not so much a grab bag as I made it sound, though there is certainly an element of that involved. I can only educate myself so much on all these things that I am ignorant of, and something will inevitably slip through the gaps. For that, I can only apologise. There was a lot of material that ended up being cut or pared down significantly even before the editors got hold of it, primarily due to quantity limitations - lion hunting traditions (not merely Maasai), folklore relating to spiders, the political mechanics of tribal affiliations, and so forth.

We averaged 7-10 pages available to devote to each area. Africa alone can provide 7-10 entire books, as I'm sure you know. I can only give you my word that it was not laziness which made us edit down what we had into what we got. As an author, I wanted everything I put together to make an appearance. I'm sure Farland can complain about the amount of data I plied him with over the course of the project.

When you say "creatives and critics of color", do you mean that these are people of color, ie. non-white; or do you mean that these are people who work with material relating to color in TTRPGs? Because if it is the latter, then I am pretty sure nobody I spoke with even knew what D&D was. If it is the former, you can rest assured I've had conversations with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds, such as a Zimbabwean-Afrikaaner and a self-admitted Turkish Bitsof ("I was born in Turkey and I'm a bits-of this and a bits-of that"). Though the person I consulted on Indian literary traditions was white British, if that matters.

Regarding the use of the word 'exotic', good points, well made. I'll keep them in mind for the future.
 

gyor

Adventurer
Hi Celebrim! Believe me, we were sensitive to the issues you bring up. We struggled with the word choice you mention and definitely hope it’s not offensive to anyone. The “influenced by evil” phrase, though, is just a reference to the fact that the evil Wintervale tried to put its grimy hands on the realms described in this Campaign Supplement... and failed for the most part, as the majority of the cultures rejected the evil. But that rejection, of course, involved a struggle and thus “influenced” each place and culture. We hope that if you pick up the Supplement, you’ll find that we strived to represent a nuanced, respectful (albeit fantasy) version of these cultures. We tried hard to make these cultures/societies places you’d like your PC to come from, and places you’d like to adventure in! We’ve gotten positive reviews so far, so hopefully we were at least somewhat successful. Thanks for looking!
Being offended by the term Exotic makes no sense to me, it's not insulting, all it implies is an exciting uniqueness to something. I'd love to be called exotic, but I'm Canadian and no one finds Canadians exotic 😞😞. I want to be exotic for once!!!
 

RichCMidas

Villager
Being offended by the term Exotic makes no sense to me, it's not insulting, all it implies is an exciting uniqueness to something. I'd love to be called exotic, but I'm Canadian and no one finds Canadians exotic 😞😞. I want to be exotic for once!!!
Well then, speaking as a Greco-Brazilian whose experience with North America was limited to subtitled* Friends reruns for the first twenty years of my life, you, gyor, are exotic!

Hey, someone wants to be considered exotic, who am I to deny them? :)

*Poorly subtitled, I was to find out later...
 

gyor

Adventurer
Well then, speaking as a Greco-Brazilian whose experience with North America was limited to subtitled* Friends reruns for the first twenty years of my life, you, gyor, are exotic!

Hey, someone wants to be considered exotic, who am I to deny them? :)

*Poorly subtitled, I was to find out later...
Yeah! I get to be the exotic one, thank you!!! 😁
 

Celebrim

Legend
Being offended by the term Exotic makes no sense to me, it's not insulting, all it implies is an exciting uniqueness to something. I'd love to be called exotic, but I'm Canadian and no one finds Canadians exotic 😞😞. I want to be exotic for once!!!
No one finds Canadians exotic only because everyone just assumes you are American.
 

gyor

Adventurer
I think instead of Fantasy Counter part cultures like fantasy Japan, Fantasy Celtic, Fantasy Egypt, it'd be cool to have fabtasy fusion cultures, like Fantasy Hawaiian-Greek cultural, Fantasy Roman-Japanese Cultures, fantasy Cree-Norse cultures, fantasy Zule-Mongolian, fantasy Ghanian-Celtic Cultures, fantasy Punjabi-Inuit cultures.
 

RichCMidas

Villager
No one finds Canadians exotic only because everyone just assumes you are American.
Ouch. Funny, but ouch. :D

I think instead of Fantasy Counter part cultures like fantasy Japan, Fantasy Celtic, Fantasy Egypt, it'd be cool to have fabtasy fusion cultures, like Fantasy Hawaiian-Greek cultural, Fantasy Roman-Japanese Cultures, fantasy Cree-Norse cultures, fantasy Zule-Mongolian, fantasy Ghanian-Celtic Cultures, fantasy Punjabi-Inuit cultures.
I'll bear that in mind for whatever next big project I do.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Ouch. Funny, but ouch. :D
There is a fine line between the truth hurts and it makes you laugh.

If you are ever travelling overseas, and you tell people you are from Canada, when they give you funny look, just say it's near Texas and they'll be put at ease.

Because they watched reruns of Dallas, and now they assume that they are in the know.

Weirdly, this used to work within the United States as well. When I first moved to the North, everyone assumed that where I moved from was like the Dukes of Hazard. I'd get a lot of, "Are youse yokel or are youse from da coyege? Youse from da South? Wey, youse don't sound like youse from da South. Youse don't even have an accent!"

"I'm from near Texas."

I also got a lot of, "Youse gonna love da faw up here! These leaves on da trees turn coyors! Bet ya ain't got nothing like that down dere!"

"No, kidding? That's amazing."
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Ah, ok, I've got a better understanding now. Yeah, I can see why what I said is probably not the best way to answer that concern.

Well, I do not think it was not so much a grab bag as I made it sound, though there is certainly an element of that involved. I can only educate myself so much on all these things that I am ignorant of, and something will inevitably slip through the gaps. For that, I can only apologise. There was a lot of material that ended up being cut or pared down significantly even before the editors got hold of it, primarily due to quantity limitations - lion hunting traditions (not merely Maasai), folklore relating to spiders, the political mechanics of tribal affiliations, and so forth.

We averaged 7-10 pages available to devote to each area. Africa alone can provide 7-10 entire books, as I'm sure you know. I can only give you my word that it was not laziness which made us edit down what we had into what we got. As an author, I wanted everything I put together to make an appearance. I'm sure Farland can complain about the amount of data I plied him with over the course of the project.

When you say "creatives and critics of color", do you mean that these are people of color, ie. non-white; or do you mean that these are people who work with material relating to color in TTRPGs? Because if it is the latter, then I am pretty sure nobody I spoke with even knew what D&D was. If it is the former, you can rest assured I've had conversations with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds, such as a Zimbabwean-Afrikaaner and a self-admitted Turkish Bitsof ("I was born in Turkey and I'm a bits-of this and a bits-of that"). Though the person I consulted on Indian literary traditions was white British, if that matters.

Regarding the use of the word 'exotic', good points, well made. I'll keep them in mind for the future.
What I was primarily referring to was actually going out of your way to hire editors and artists, invite play-testers, and otherwise involve various professionals in the actual production of the thing, who are people of color.

But consulting people of color with ties to the actual cultures you’re drawing from is also important.

Thanks for listening, as well.
 

Connorsrpg

Adventurer
I think instead of Fantasy Counter part cultures like fantasy Japan, Fantasy Celtic, Fantasy Egypt, it'd be cool to have fabtasy fusion cultures, like Fantasy Hawaiian-Greek cultural, Fantasy Roman-Japanese Cultures, fantasy Cree-Norse cultures, fantasy Zule-Mongolian, fantasy Ghanian-Celtic Cultures, fantasy Punjabi-Inuit cultures.
My expanded Elsir Vale campaign is set in the lands of the first people there that are a bit of a mash of First Nation Americans and Celtic people. I try to blend influences too.
 
The word exotic is not a good word. It is a word of othering, and it is a word that turns things into spectacle without the weight behind them.

Don't get me wrong. I love seeing stuff inspired by other cultures. But your posts have proven to me that you're writing a lego-grabag of a book. You say Asia, but you're doing 30-40% of Asia, as per your own admission. Why not just name those countries? Or why not just say inspired by different cultures? Japan is very different from Iran which is very different from Mongolia which is very different from India, but all are Asian. All you're really telling us is that you're using a bunch of cultural stuff, mix-and-matching it, and saying "Hey, we included Asia in our game!"

There's no need to that. If you want to virtue signal, you can do it better. If you want to do actual representation, you can do it better. Here's some methods:

  1. Don't reference entire, extremely diverse geopolitical areas as one single thing.
  2. If you mix-and-match, do so intelligently, instead of grabbing what just looks cool.
  3. If you're using influences and aesthetics, be clear on that, instead of referencing things as psuedo Korea, etc etc.
  4. If you're going to have scorpion men from Babylon be in a Japan-aesthetic area, make sure to properly recontexualize what you're doing.
Simple stuff.

None of this applies to your homegames btw. Only to retail products claiming to be representative.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
As a rule.

IF EVER using a real name, then make it as accurate as possible.

If creatively borrowing and reinventing, then dont use a real name.

For example, if the setting has something inspired by but disresembling an Oni or a Djinn, then dont use these names. Invent new names for them.

Gygax violated this rule all the time. But we dont have too. We can make an effort to respect the traditions of other cultures. (And our own cultures.)
 
I'd be leery to place distinct rules on creativity. I also question the idea that there is a clear formula with regards to respecting other cultures. I personally don't think mixing it up is inherently disrespectful - it can be, especially if it deals in pejorative stereotypes, but doesn't have to be. I mean, "vanilla fantasy" is a mixture of European Medieval, literary, and media influences, and most don't seem to take issue that it isn't properly differentiated into Germanic, Scandinavian, Angro-Saxon, etc.

There's always going to be a wide range of responses, both from people within and outside of a given culture. But as far as I can tell, a product like this one isn't intending to accurately characterize historical cultures, but is instead a syncretism intended for entertainment purposes. I would think that the "inspired by" part is assumed and implied.

A further point: some cultural forms have different variations, so there isn't necessarily an "official" version of the djinn, for instance, which developed over thousands of years. The genie of Arabian Nights and the jinn of Sufi philosophy are rather different--not to mention the pre-Islamic roots.

Part of the fun of D&D is that it is a "kitchen sink" of different ideas, which each of us gets to use how we want. As far as I can tell-from an admittedly cursory glance--this is Farland's version of Asian-inspired cultures, no more or less.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
I'd be leery to place distinct rules on creativity. I also question the idea that there is a clear formula with regards to respecting other cultures. I personally don't think mixing it up is inherently disrespectful - it can be, especially if it deals in pejorative stereotypes, but doesn't have to be. I mean, "vanilla fantasy" is a mixture of European Medieval, literary, and media influences, and most don't seem to take issue that it isn't properly differentiated into Germanic, Scandinavian, Angro-Saxon, etc.

There's always going to be a wide range of responses, both from people within and outside of a given culture. But as far as I can tell, a product like this one isn't intending to accurately characterize historical cultures, but is instead a syncretism intended for entertainment purposes. I would think that the "inspired by" part is assumed and implied.

A further point: some cultural forms have different variations, so there isn't necessarily an "official" version of the djinn, for instance, which developed over thousands of years. The genie of Arabian Nights and the jinn of Sufi philosophy are rather different--not to mention the pre-Islamic roots.

Part of the fun of D&D is that it is a "kitchen sink" of different ideas, which each of us gets to use how we want. As far as I can tell-from an admittedly cursory glance--this is Farland's version of Asian-inspired cultures, no more or less.
Artists can mix-and-match as much as they want.

The problem happens when there is misrepresentation.

If something is NAMED something from a culture, but isnt it, that is when the problems begin.

Invent a new name, and there is no problem.



Heh. If there is a fur-clad, horned-helmeted, barbarian, then dont call it a ‘viking’ or a ‘Norse’. But perhaps it is some kind of ‘berserkr’ participating in some variant of a pre-viking shamanic initiation ritual.
 
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Artists can mix-and-match as much as they want.

The problem happens when there is misrepresentation.

If something is NAMED something from a culture, but isnt it, that is when the problems begin.

Invent a new name, and there is no problem.



Heh. If there is a fur-clad, horned-helmeted, barbarian, then dont call it a ‘viking’ or a ‘Norse’. But perhaps it is some kind of ‘berserkr’ participating in some variant of a pre-viking shamanic initiation ritual.
Fair enough. I mean, there's actually a practical reason for doing what you say, which has nothing to do with representation or anything political: just to avoid confusion.

It is tricky, though, as a lot of these cultural ideas have a lot of variations, sometimes across thousands of years (see what I said about jinn/genie/djinn). Accurate representation may or not always be possible.

p.s. How about a furbarking? ;)
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Fair enough. I mean, there's actually a practical reason for doing what you say, which has nothing to do with representation or anything political: just to avoid confusion.

It is tricky, though, as a lot of these cultural ideas have a lot of variations, sometimes across thousands of years (see what I said about jinn/genie/djinn). Accurate representation may or not always be possible.

p.s. How about a furbarking? ;)
If the designer picks a reallife specific time and place, then it is possible to have an accurate representation for that time and place. Or at least be consistent about what details are known about it.



When dealing with variant traditions.

Sometimes it helps to add a descriptor to invent a name. Like when D&D refers to a ‘high elf’, it is talking about a specific kind of elf. It is ok if this species of elf is extremely unlike a mythologically accurate Norse elf.

A descriptor requires a judgment call, but it sometimes works.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Plus, it is cool when D&D and other rpgs explore other cultures.

I would rather this be an opportunity to learn about other cultures, as opposed to getting hopelessly disinformed about those cultures.
 

MGibster

Adventurer
IF EVER using a real name, then make it as accurate as possible.
Is the world worse off because we have a race of minotaurs instead of a single Minotaur in Crete? Is it a problem that D&D has medusas instead of just the three Gorgon sisters in Greek myth?

Gygax violated this rule all the time. But we dont have too. We can make an effort to respect the traditions of other cultures. (And our own cultures.)
I'm not quite sure borrowing elements of another culture and changing it to suit your needs is automatically disrespectful. Are Japanese people offended when they hear about American media with oni, samurai, or ninja that don't match their own ideas of what these things are?
 

Connorsrpg

Adventurer
Holy crap... will people ever be able to release a product for roleplaying games that draw on some influence of some real world mythology or culture without this constant questioning? Man. Before people have even seen it. This could be the downward spiral of our game where people are going to be too scared to release bloody good ideas just b/c it is not based on Euro-medieval. Kinda funny given that was a constant complaint; other cultures not being represented. Damned if you do damned if you don't.

I just want to know if it is a good gaming product.
 

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