I’ve been backing a few different D&D 5e adventures on kickstarter, but the one I’m most excited about getting fulfillment on is Obojima: Tales from the Tall Grass. It’s so freakin’ beautiful that I had to hold myself back from getting the package that came with everything. But I’m not the only one excited bout it, I also read this article about it in Wired today. One of the points they make in the article is about how gamers and readers are moving away from Grimdark because there’s already enough of this in the world:
As the IRL world we grow into becomes harder to make sense of, and the fiendish grimdark analogues that dominated science fiction and fantasy over the ’90s fade from favor, it’s easy to see that nerd cultures are becoming kinder and more mindful. Entire tracts of gruesome Forgotten Realms lore has been identified by Wizards of the Coast as incompatible with modern tastes.
“The average person faces their own unique set of struggles and obstacles every week,” Crofton muses. “Throw in a few soul-crushing news items and something hateful online and you can imagine how an immersive character fantasy like D&D becomes an outlet for escape from that energy.”
Today, the found-family trope has its foot on the neck of tabletop role-play podcasts—the de facto canonization of how tabletop play is supposed to be—and it’s getting harder for developers to find a place for evil alignments. It’s as if the zeitgeist of millennial and Gen-Z thought has manifested nicer stories as a collective psychological self-defense to their circumstances. These days your average serial atrocity campaign about how, deep down, everyone is deeply awful and it’s naive to think otherwise just doesn’t read as profoundly as it did in 1992.Laurence Russell – Finally, a Cozy, Studio Ghibli-Inspired Way to Play Dungeons & Dragons
I’ve noticed the same trend in Science Fiction – for examples in Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer’s series. It also made it an easy choice for me. Some of the other campaigns I funded might be something I can only play with other adults, but this one seems like something I can play with the kids and which they’d enjoy and love.
The art style, which they describe as combining Legend of Zelda, Miyazaki, and Adventure Time also really calls to folks of my generation and younger. The founders of 1985 games are clearly somewhere around that age. Their main web page seems to have taken their aesthetic cues from the Nintendo Entertainment System. As an example:
And their VHS dice page is like falling into a time warp. It makes me very excited to see how the final campaign comes together.