Former BioWare Developers Launch Kickstarter for Epic 'Dungeons & Dragons' Campaign

A team of former BioWare developers have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund an ambitious Dungeons & Dragons project. Earlier today, Arcanum Worlds, a new company founded by James Ohlen, Jessie Sky, and Drew Karpyshyn, launched their Kickstarter for Odyssey of the Dragonlords, a new campaign book made for Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons play. Odyssey of the Dragonlords is set in Thylea, a new world inspired by Greek legend and filled with class Greek mythological characters like minotaurs, medusae, and satyrs. The campaign is also notable for giving players the option to choose an "Epic Path," an optional background that provides powerful motivations that tie into the campaign setting.

Players got an early glimpse of the world of Odyssey of the Dragonlords earlier this year when Arcanum released a free players' guide showing off the Epic Paths and the centaur and satyr playable races. The player's guide was downloaded over 12,000 times, and Arcanum Worlds will release a revised version today that contains additional class archetypes for fighters and monks and some changes to the playable races based on player feedback.

The three founders of Arcanum Worlds should be no stranger to video game fans, as Ohlen was the lead designer of games like Baldur's Gate and Dragon Age: Origins, Karpyshyn was the lead writer of Mass Effect and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Sky was the lead designer of the Galactic Strongholds and Shadows of Revan expansions for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Speaking with via Skype last month, Ohlen and Sky explained that they transitioned from video games to pen and paper tabletops out of a desire to get back to the creative side of making games. "The games industry has changed so much," Ohlen said. "Teams have gotten so huge and budgets and expectations are so massive. I wanted to take a break from the games industry and get back to doing something creative."

One big goal with Odyssey of the Dragonlords is a desire to place characters at the heart of an epic story. "When you think about Dungeons and Dragons adventures, they have very little of that kind of epic nature to them," Ohlen said, referring to the usually humble origins and local scale of most stories. "It's usually much smaller scale, but we're a firm believer in trying to give players that epic feel."

"We're from BioWare, Ohlen continued. "BioWare's always been about giving that epic story, all the way back to Baldur's Gate where we made you the child of a dead god. We wanted to give backgrounds to players that would allow them to feel like they're a part of an epic story." Ohlen noted that the Epic Paths are intended to give players options and goals that are tied to the main story, but won't take away player agency or make them feel railroaded in any way.

The Ancient Greek roots of Odyssey of the Dragonlords are visible throughout the world of Thylea. In addition to playable centaur and satyr races, the publication will also contain a huge monster section containing monsters from Greek mythology that haven't been developed for Fifth Edition play yet. One example is the Cerebus, which can be seen below:


The new campaign is looking to raise $50,000 to finance their new publication, with backers receiving a digital version of Odyssey of the Dragonlords immediately after publication. Arcanum Worlds has teamed with veteran RPG publisher Modiphius Entertainment to help with the physical printing and distribution of Odyssey of the Dragonlords.

Stretch goals include nymph, minotaur, and medusa playable races, an additional digital supplement that includes 10 new monsters, and a mystery goal that will be revealed after the other goals are reached.

While Arcanum Worlds plans to keep creating D&D publications after Odyssey of the Dragonlords, this will likely be their only venture into Thylea. "We definitely want to continue to do these books moving forward, but I think each one of the books that we want to do is going to be a different world," Ohlen explained. We don't have to stay in the same setting and the same world, so we really want to use this as an opportunity to creative as possible, so I don't think you're going to see us going back to the same places now unless we really are inspired to." So, backers can be assured that they're getting a "complete package" by backing the Kickstarter instead of only getting one part of a bigger world.

The Kickstarter for Odyssey of the Dragonlords runs from today through May 16th.



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