Author Topic: Spears of the Dawn, a DnD retroclone set in a faux medieval Africa  (Read 941 times)

Don Coyote

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http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1637945166/spears-of-the-dawn-rpg
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Spears of the Dawn is a new African-inspired fantasy role-playing game built with the free Stars Without Number game system. It contains all the tools and guidance players need to sample a pastiche of rich, delicious African-inspired fantasy gaming. From the very start, players can don the roles of praise-singing griots, holy marabouts, sorcerous ngangas, and cunning warriors, with these aspiring heroes banding together to face the innumerable perils of the Three Lands in search of glory and shining gold.



So this is a rather fortuitous find for me as I was thinking about making an medieval Africa based campaign.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2012, 02:54:30 am by American Jackal »
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Don Coyote

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Re: Spears of the Dawn, a DnD retroclone set in a faux medieval Africa
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2012, 03:05:02 am »
Alpha playtest rules just got released to backers. The brief read through of the mechanics leaves with the impression of oDnD, as is intended, with some minor extras like skills.
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Miley Spears

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Re: Spears of the Dawn, a DnD retroclone set in a faux medieval Africa
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2012, 06:09:38 pm »
This should have been called, "Britney Spears of the Dawn."  :lulz:
« Last Edit: October 26, 2012, 06:12:13 pm by Miley Spears »
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The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Spears of the Dawn, a DnD retroclone set in a faux medieval Africa
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2012, 06:24:27 pm »
This should have been called, "Britney Spears of the Dawn."  :lulz:

Thread split on request, Coyote.
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Re: Spears of the Dawn, a DnD retroclone set in a faux medieval Africa
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2012, 12:20:46 am »
Alpha playtest rules just got released to backers. The brief read through of the mechanics leaves with the impression of oDnD, as is intended, with some minor extras like skills.

I've always liked the idea of running an African DnD game, but I've never known enough about medieval African culture and mythology to do it. I'm glad this game's getting made.
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Don Coyote

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Re: Spears of the Dawn, a DnD retroclone set in a faux medieval Africa
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2012, 01:13:10 am »
Alpha playtest rules just got released to backers. The brief read through of the mechanics leaves with the impression of oDnD, as is intended, with some minor extras like skills.

I've always liked the idea of running an African DnD game, but I've never known enough about medieval African culture and mythology to do it. I'm glad this game's getting made.

I'm a bit on the fence as far as this game now, considering the devs didn't think including historically accurate types of grain was important, but yet going out of the way to specify that CORN is used to make beer in some nations. Makes me take their ideas as far as setting with a larger grain of salt. To my thinking, the less service you play to history and culture when doing something not Western, the more likely it will just up being DnD in black-face. The reasoning given behind it (the inclusion of anachronistic grains) seemed slightly insulting to the intended player base, as there was this expectation that making players deal with millet or sorghum instead of something like corn, would cause some kind of paralysis caused by setting information overload.
Also, corn, beer? DAFUK? Only shitty American "beer" uses corn to my knowledge.

That being said, I do think that it is important to support diversity of roleplaying settings.



This should have been called, "Britney Spears of the Dawn."  :lulz:

Thread split on request, Coyote.

Please, even though I know the asshat got canned.
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Don Coyote

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Re: Spears of the Dawn, a DnD retroclone set in a faux medieval Africa
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 01:14:06 am »
Got my physical copy of the game today.
it's got a list of recommended reading, both fiction and nonfiction, along with a disclaimer saying that Africa is freaking huge and things that are true for one realworld culture are true other realworld cultures. It has some nice setting related stuff in it that might get lifted for my summer PF game.
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Don Coyote

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Re: Spears of the Dawn, a DnD retroclone set in a faux medieval Africa
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2013, 04:15:08 pm »
Friday night I ran a game of Spears of the Dawn for my wife and two of our friends. Amidst large amounts of sarcastic commentary on all of the pictures being “white-washed” because they were uncolored illustrations etc (which is an in joke because one of my friends got hassled by socialjustice for not shading in characters she had sketched on white white paper). We noticed that out of the 5 starting cultures available in fantasy not-Africa only one was made of people with tightly curled hair. They are also the culture that comes from the jungle. Which lead to the comment of “the only group with curly hair is the most stereotypical black group what the fuck”.
The five culture are:
Quote
The people of Kirsi (“KEER-see”) are warriors, the sons and
daughters of the hard border lords that rule what was once the
eastern frontier of the Nyalan Empire. Their armored lancers are
famous throughout the Three Lands, and their iron-shod cavalry
thundered through seas of Eternal soldiers in the days of the Long
War.Even the least Kirsine peasant knows something of how to
hold a weapon, and even the lords of Kirsi do not dare attempt to
take the swords from the hands of the common people.

The Kirsi are very dark-skinned, as dark as the Lokossans to the far
southwest. Their features are straight and sharp, and their straight
black hair
is worn long by both men and women.


Quote
The grim Lokossans (“low-KOH-sah”) dwell in the thick southern
jungles of the Green Land, standing fast against the constant
incursions of the bestial Night Men from across the Akpara River.
Their warriors are armed for battle by their mighty ngangas, and
the greatest of these sages is enthroned as the Ahonsu, the sorcererking of Lokossa. No other land is so wound about with witchcraft
as is Lokossa, and even the greatest of the Nyalan emperors could
not overcome the sorcery of its mysterious lords.
The Lokossans live bleakly regimented lives. Commoners farm
patches of cleared land within the jungle or harvest its fruits,
game, and fish. Every village is the property of a noble clan, and
its inhabitants are little better than slaves to the will of their lords.
Some are literally so- slavery is more common in Lokossa than
in any other land, not least because of the grim yearly rites of
human sacrifice required by many of the most powerful ngangas.
The Lokossans are a very dark-skinned people, with dark eyes and
tightly-curled hair that is often cropped short or kept in elaborate
braids.
Their features are more lush and rounded than those of the
other Five Kingdoms

Quote
In the golden seas of grass that cover the southern Yellow Land the
Meru (“MAY-roo”) are the masters of the land. Their great herds
of cattle tread paths laid down by their forefathers in generations
past, pausing only until the pasture is depleted. Their villages are
temporary affairs of thatch, sticks, and piled thornbush walls, but
these people maintain many secrets long since lost to others.
The Meru did not exist as a people until the start of the Long
War, when their Sun Faith ancestors fled the kingdom of Deshur
after the martyrdom of their prophet. They refused to bow to the
Gods Below and preferred escape to the savannahs to the forced
worship that was demanded of them. Once on the plains, the indigenous tribes recognized their need for allies in the war to come,
and taught the Meru’s ancestors how to herd and live in their new
home. Intermarriage and assimilation of the far-fewer indigenes
was swift, and now their culture exists only in a few isolated families and a small strain of Spirit Way faith among the otherwise
uniformly Sun Faithful Meruans.
The Meru resemble their Sixth Kingdom ancestors, with coppery, golden-brown skin and features less severe than their Kirsine
neighbors. Those families with strong native influence tend to be
much darker-skinned, though they usually retain the straighter
black hair
of other Meru.

Quote
The northwestern corner of the Three Lands is a rich and fertile
domain of rolling hills, broad-leafed forests and well-watered
meadows. The griots tell of many ages long past in which men
fought over this good land, but in the age before the Long War it
was the home of the Nyala (“nn-YAH-lah”) and the throne of their
mighty empire. It was their inexorable advance that finally drove
the Deshrites into the eastern mountains and goaded their king
into pacting with the powers he found there. Their neighbors remember this, and the Nyalan Empire is not praised in their songs.
When the Eternal marched out of the black deserts of the east, the
Nyalans were cast into confusion. For generations, they struggled
more to hold their querulous provinces to obedience than to drive
back the Eternal, and it was only in the reign of the final Emperor
Kaday that their efforts to regain Kirsi and Sokone were abandoned and diplomacy was tried instead. The last emperor bound
together an alliance that broke the Eternal at last, but he died in
its doing, and since then the Nyalans have only dreamed of what
their ancestors once ruled.
The Nyalans are slim-featured, tall, and straight-haired, with skin
the color of polished mahogany.

Quote
Between Nyala in the green northern hills and Lokossa in the hot
southern jungles dwell the merchants and tradesmen of Sokone,
(“so-KOH-nay”) thick along the banks of the mighty Iteru River.
The Sokone are the richest of all the Five Kingdoms, and their daring pursuit of gold and precious trade has made them exemplars to
every merchant in the land. Those who have no hope in their own
land come to Sokone to find riches. Some even succeed.
Sokone’s cities teem with artisans and traders, chaffering beneath
dyed canopies in the shadow of domed buildings painted in reds
and blues and golden yellow hues. Pungent spices from the hill
plantations are heaped high on woven mats, and the cattle of Meru
are sold next to exotic birds from the deepest Lokossan jungle. All
things can be found in the cities of Sokone for those who have a
discerning eye and a bulging purse.
The people of Sokone share traits of all the Five Kingdoms.

So not only does only one group of people in a land that is heavily, and explicitly, based on African cultures and folktales, have hair that I would assume is the norm for Africans, but it also the most savage and oppressive kingdoms. I'm extremely disappointed in this, and upset that i didn't notice this until I sat down to play the game.

Interestingly though is that all but one illustration has kinky, curly, braided or dreaded hair. Sadly the outlier is the cover illustration. I feel mixed about this game, primarily because of the actual “white washing” of hair in the game. The were few other things like non-indigenous crops being grown in a world were there is no not-Europe or not-America or trade with any thing like that.

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