Digital Dragons, Synth Wave & neon lights – Enter the Retroverse D&D Campaign Setting
By Jacky Leung Twitter
There’s a certain appeal for neon lights, electro/synthetic wave music, and the sound of dial-up: all were products of a bygone era. Those who grew up during this period or even shortly after that may often develop nostalgia for the brightly colored and often futuristic aesthetic. The idea to bridge iconic fantasy elements such as Dungeons & Dragons and this retro-futuristic style leads us to the Retroverse, a D&D 5e compatible campaign setting. Created by Chris Lock (@snickelsox) and Lluis Abadias Garcia (@LluisAbadias), the Retroverse is primarily inspired by the music, games, books, movies, and fashions between the 70’s and the early 2000’s. Narratively, the Retroverse is a world where old memories of poorly remembered songs, lost childhoods, terribly cheesy styles have gone to be forgotten. While utilizing many of the core aspects of the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition ruleset, it does possess a series of unique core classes tailored to the feeling and style of the setting. Currently, the Retroverse is undergoing development and test trials, with a recent sample of the game on YouTube. According to their website, the Kickstarter for the Retroverse is expected to launch on April 10th, 2018.
I was granted a sneak peek into this nostalgic yet unique world, include some playtest material which showcased some of the new races and classes players could use to create their heroes of the Retroverse. The playtest materials add new rules and mechanics, along with creatures, items, and even a short campaign to sample. Some of the iconic races included the wolf-like Wo’nari, the anthropomorphic dinosaur Cerans which range from Tri-Cerans, Sty-Cerans, and Pa-Cerans. Dragonborn receive new variants available only in the Retroverse which are separated by four types: Neon, Laser, Xenon, and Tesla.
For the playtest, the De-Fragger, Goreangyr, Holo-Knight, and Synth Weaver were available to be reviewed. The De-Fragger is a champion against digital corruption. They are a half-caster class that shares mechanical similarities to a Paladin but with the durability of a Barbarian. You may attribute this class to be the system antivirus software for your computer. The Holo-Knight is another half-caster warrior class that can create holographic weapons on demand, if you’re a big fan of Green Lantern or the Fate/Stay anime series, you will feel right at home. The Synth Weaver is a blend of bard and rave music, calling up the flavor of being a roller-blading disc jockey rhythm enthusiast. Thinking back to the 90’s, one cannot forget the nostalgia of Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which was an Americanized adaptation of Toei’s Super Sentai series, and we are presented the Goreangyr class. Combining the notion of a familiar or animal companion with a class that becomes empowered with a real costume change, and a tremendous sized mechanical robotic ally, this particular character class hits all sorts of nostalgia buttons for me.
One of the new mechanics implemented in the world of the Retroverse is the breakdown of digital matter called corruption, and it causes effects that resemble code decay, dissemination, and just an overall unpleasant experience. The playtest also featured new spells that thematically fit within this vibrant universe, including spells such as party ball or Mom’s spaghetti to name a few. A short campaign was included and hits all the buttons of nostalgia with callbacks and references from the 80’s and 90’s. The monsters in the Retroverse are diverse and exemplary such as pizza cubs or even karma chameleons (yes, I kid you not).
The Retroverse is a love letter to some of the favorite time periods of the many gamers and players within the tabletop RPG community but also an excellent introduction for newer players to a world of bright colors, cheesy puns, and fantastical combinations like laser velociraptors. As the Kickstarter campaign’s launch date approaches, more material will be unveiled by Chris and Lluis, along possible playtest streams. Interested backers can currently sign up on their website Lasers & Liches for a newsletter.
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/ilEursS85R8
Lasers & Liches Website: https://www.lasersandliches.com/