Approaching Our Redsky 5E Conversion Book
Ken here. Project head, lore master, general team player. Content is important. As we gear up for the launch of our 5th Edition Conversion Book, I wanted to take a quick moment to explain what’s unique about our approach here to tabletop RPGs.
Design and Mechanics
There’s one big change that should stick out to those familiar with pen and paper settings. This is a conversion of 5e without one of its key elements - Magic. I’ve found it really interesting to re-imagine a fantasy RPG without any science-defying fantasy elements. Instead, we’ve been working to create a sci-fi world that makes it seem like a low fantasy-esque world instead. Almost like if Game of Thrones was in a sinister and more sociological version of The Truman Show.
Brandon and I have worked together to develop the mechanics. Together, we’ve been wrestling with that core limitation of no magic. Redesigning classes and abilities to make sense without the excuse of, “magic lets me do it!” is much more difficult than it seems. In addition to reworking fantasy into something scientifically plausible, we have been tinkering with two new mechanics that bring the world of Dema to life through the players’ characters.
The Element System is the key aspect of Redsky. It is the part of the world we want to shine through in all of our projects (wink wink) and there is no exception to this conversion book. Replacing the alignment system, a character’s Elements are foundational to how they will be played. Not only will it help guide players on how their character will act, it will also affect their ability scores and grant a unique ability that reflects that element’s outlook on the world.
Each species is inspired by one element, but players will have the freedom to choose any combination they wish. I hope that this system is as well received as Gary Gygax’s alignments as it is just as fundamental to the world.
The other new mechanic we are developing is a whole new type of encounter - the social encounter system. This is an expansion on what would previously have been one charisma check. Now, players can duel the wills of characters they encounter without blades or blows. The world of Dema has plenty of room for political and social intrigue, and we really wanted to emphasize it with this system.
This project has come a long way from how it started - from the discussions of college roommates to a storied world waiting for players to explore. Each pass we make on lore and game rules grows our understanding of Redsky, making a better experience for you all. I can’t wait to share it with you and hear what adventure you have in the world of Dema.
Influences and Thoughts on the Hobby
It’s hard to tell what in nerd culture has influenced me, and by extension, my work on this project. I’ve been a nerd since I was born: my parents are huge nerds themselves and I practically grew up reading the DnD 3.5 rule book and watching my dad play Battletech. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience several tabletop RPG systems in addition to DnD, like Fantasy Flight’ s d100 system, FATE, and Powered By The Apocalypse from a formative age. I’m never one to turn a good idea away from the project.
Space Opera is the largest influence on my creative vision. I think it will shine through on what I’ve contributed to Redsky, even though this setting isn’t a space opera per se. I am certain that fans of Star Wars and Mass Effect will find something to love here just as fans of more traditional fantasy will.
Regarding the general hobby of tabletop gaming, I am glad to see that it is still persisting through Covid-19. Discord, Tabletop Simulator, and Roll-20 have been blessings to the hobby during this trying time. It's heartwarming that games can still bring people together despite the distance. They’ve been invaluable to us by allowing us to test the “alpha” rules (and totally own the others with a Cave Horror).
It’s been interesting to watch how tabletop RPGs have been changing, Covid withstanding. There’s been a shift towards more “DMless” games like Gloomhaven and “escape room” styled games that have been gaining traction. Even within DnD, it's exceptionally interesting to see how streamed games like Critical Role and The Adventure Zone have made the game mainstream. I’m curious to see how this all will affect the game when all us nerds can finally return to conventions and our regular games.
All in all, I’m very excited to see how we are received. DnD is shifting towards a more modular state with all the extra source books that exist. I want our book to fit in snugly with those source books and be more than just a set of alternate classes and species to play with. I really hope you all like the world of The Redsky Cycle and enjoy spending time there.