The Kickstarter I bring you today has me about as excited as anything Dungeons & Dragons has since I found out that 5th edition wasn’t going to be anything like 4th. This campaign, which is currently in its final week, is a campaign setting that feels every bit as real and well-defined as any official release. The setting is called “Darkplane,” and it’s a bit Gothic horror, a bit Lovecraftian, and is filled with the kind of gritty reality that I’ve come to associate with White Wolf more than Dungeons & Dragons. And maybe that’s why I like it. As someone who always found the high fantasy of Dungeons & Dragons a little too… “happy,” this campaign setting combines the richness of D&D with a world that feels like a twisted version of our own.
The introduction begins simply, with a phrase that sort of sets up the tone for the entire setting. “God is dead, and the world’s been bloody ever since.” This simple truth is what sets up the religion and culture of the setting. The creator has been killed by her son, who began an endless war with his brother. It’s in this world, where religion is real, palpable, and often dangerous, that the characters find themselves.
The world itself is unlike what one is accustomed to in D&D. Magic is rare, and often dangerous. Humans are the dominant race, and while there are other races, they aren’t the traditional high-fantasy races to which D&D players have become accustomed. These races perfectly match their surroundings and add to the world in rich and diverse ways. They have histories, ideologies, and established places in the world. In short, it all feels real in the darkest and messiest of ways.
Because of this, it’s not the ideal setting for a quick one-off game. At least not the kind that’s supposed to raise spirits. It’s the kind of game you sink into. This is definitely the kind of game that is meant for a D&D group that is heavy on roleplaying. For that kind of group, this book shines.
The book itself, the physical collection of pages, is beautiful. It looks as professionally laid out and developed as any official book, and what I’m seeing is only the alpha version. I want to share some of the more visually impressive aspects, but I can’t. Because this book is an alpha draft, much of what I’m seeing is only representative of the artwork that will eventually be in the book, and there are rights issues with some of it. What I know I can show you is the map, which is high quality and shows how expansive and well-developed this world is.
If, like me, you’re someone who loves roleplaying and enjoys worlds that feel like darker and more fantastical versions of our own, “Darkplane” is the perfect campaign setting for you. Already having surpassed its goal and destroyed most of its stretch goals, “Darkplane” will come feature-packed and content-rich. You can check it out here.