I don’t think it would be a shock to say that the production side of roleplaying games has been turned upside down for multiple years. Anyone waiting for print runs to be fulfilled and shipped will likely see all their plans go out the window. The best thing we can all hope for is that all our favorite RPG companies can weather the storm as their product finally rolls in for them to sell.
But what happens if you have a project you really want to start, but you are also still trying to juggle schedules based on what can ship, and when. New projects will get pushed back further, while the promised current projects ship.
If that new project is just a neat idea, you might be a little sad about pushing it down the line until you can circle back to it. But if that idea is rooted in making a statement about the state of the world today, if that idea is about shining a light in the darkness, you may not want to push that down the road. Especially if you want to make that statement now when negative forces in society are seeking to put out the lights in the darkness.
The Twilight Accord is a 3rd party Dungeons & Dragons 5e setting that is being developed by Green Ronin publishing. It isn’t just any project, however. It’s a project that centers on the story of LGBTQIA+ people. In a modern world where trans rights are being eroded daily, and many of those that have been working to erode those rights have also signaled that the next step is to roll back societal advances like same-sex marriage, you want to project that speaks to this trend to be top of mind.
Well-known RPG designers Steve Kenson and Joe Carriker are developing the setting on Patreon, making sure that the project can move forward even in this era of chaotic schedules. The Patreon currently has three tiers:
- Gloaming–$2 per month
- Counselor–$6 per month
- Champion–$12 per month
Gloaming patrons receive updates on the projects, including documents that detail various aspects of the setting, monthly. Counselor patrons receive those same reports and documents, as well as playtest material, artwork, and cartography as it is released. Champion patrons receive a monthly boon award and champion level offers in a “boon shop,” as well as publishing rewards.
I’m currently following this Patreon at the Counselor level, because I want to support this project, and because I’m very interested in seeing the game mechanics as they develop. I haven’t used any of the material, although I’m pretty comfortable with D&D 5e at this point.
Because this is a Patreon, and there needs to be enough reason to get people to join, patrons are asked not to share the playtest material. I’m going to summarize some of what has come out, without spoiling too many specifics.
The setting revolves around the first city, a place that has been abandoned since the days of the First World, before the various worlds spiraled out into their separate existences. This city is surrounded by the Gloom.
LGBTQIA+ folk from across the multiverse are starting to hear the call to find this city. The Gloaming Gate is the gathering place for all these adventurers to stage their reclamation of the city. Some have been called because they are not accepted in their homes, while others that come from more accepting societies are called to share the culture of those societies with others.
The Gloom is a repository for the negative emotions of people across all of the material planes, and those negative emotions cause monsters to coalesce from the gloom. Humanoids are rarely the villains in this setting, as most monsters are aspects of the darkness of the multiverse.
Adventurers help others find their way safely to the Gloaming Gate, and as the Fires of Creation are lit in front of the gates to each ward of the city, adventurers can enter that ward and free it from the monsters that infest it. Each of the wards has its theme based on the spectrum of fires of creation used to open the gate to that ward.
I’m not going to give away too much, but I did want to make sure people know what kind of playtesting material has already been created. One of the things that hit me right off the bat is that the playtest material is formatted in a manner like WotC’s Unearthed Arcana releases. So far, the following items have appeared:
- Automa (stone constructs born of the city itself)
- Eidolons (shadows of prime humanoids that have their own lives now)
- Wildlings (people changed into fey by wild magic, with random fey-related traits)
- College of Dance (Bard)
- Liberation Domain (Cleric)
- Scoundrel (Rogue)
- School of Prismatics (Wizard)
Ideally, the best-case scenario for a 5e supplement is that the mechanical options work well in reinforcing the theme and story of the setting but are also portable to other D&D settings. I think what we’ve seen so far is promising when measured against these criteria. No offense to warforged or other more mechanical options, but I’m a fan of more stonelike construct ancestries (blame Shale in Dragon Age).
The standouts to me in the subclasses are the Liberation Domain and the Scoundrel. D&D 5e has already had a few passes at swashbuckling characters, one official, and multiple versions in different 3rd party products, and I’m pretty sure the Scoundrel is my favorite take on the swashbuckler archetype.
I think this setting already has a strong thesis statement regarding how people arrive at the city, and what they are doing once they get there, although I am interested to see if the “guide new people to the city” aspect of the setting gets more design space as the project rolls on.
There are lots of additional classes that haven’t received subclasses yet, and I’m interested to see the intersection of the design space between protecting and supporting LGBTQIA+ people across the planes, and playing into the core competencies of specific classes. What does a barbarian summoning righteous rage to protect people look like? What kind of temptation presents itself to a warlock that has found their way to the Gloaming Gate?
We also haven’t seen spells, magic items, or setting-specific monsters yet. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect to see all of these things yet. I’m pretty amazed at the amount of playtest material that has already been developed when this project just started in May.
Future Wishes The material we have seen is a solid proof of concept. I know they can deliver if they get the support they need.
I am very invested in seeing the line this setting walks. While Blue Rose wasn’t originally developed for D&D 5e, now that we have a 5e adaptation, it does show us one vision for a D&D setting from Green Ronin, and we also have The Lost Citadel, another D&D 5e setting that revolves around the final city left in a world fallen to undead corruption.
While Twilight Accord is about providing a home for marginalized people, its stated goal of shining a light in the darkness sets the standard that the emphasis will be on the progress that can be made, rather than the depth of the darkness that opposes the people called to the city. I also think this is likely to play much more fully into broader D&D tropes, within its theme, than Blue Rose.
I admit I want to support this project because I want to support LGBTQIA+ creators at a point in history where forces are trying to roll back any gains that they have made. I firmly believe that no one should interfere with who you love, and no one should get to define who you are when you know what your truth is.
While I believe in everything I have said in the above paragraph, Steve Kenson and Joe Carriker are talented designers with proven records. The material we have seen is a solid proof of concept. I know they can deliver if they get the support they need.
We need to do better in our support for marginalized voices in gaming spaces, and it should be an easy decision to make for anyone that is even remotely interested in D&D 5e to get in on the ground floor of this setting and watch as it grows.