In honor of Black History Month, The Know Direction Network’s Michelle Jones reached out to noteworthy black RPG industry creators.
I am Michelle Jones, and I am a Black game designer and RPG writer. While I normally take more of a behind-the-scenes role on the Know Direction Network, this Black History Month I wanted to shine a spotlight on some amazingly talented Black creators in tabletop gaming. Below are just a few folks whose efforts I want to draw attention to. If you would like to see more articles like this in the future, please let us know.
Navaar Jackson is a lifetime lover of fantasy, a love that has catalyzed into a passion for TTRPGs. In July of 2021, he joined the content creation sphere with his show Secret Nerd Podcast. His goal is to highlight the amazing diversity of the TTRPG space, and to let others know that they are welcome in the community.
Across nearly forty episodes, he has interviewed PoC and LGBT+ game designers, voice actors, actual play performers, cosplayers and more about their journeys into tabletop gaming. I was recently lucky enough to count myself among his guests, and his earnest and sincere enthusiasm makes him a joy to speak to. Navaar knows how to give his guests the spotlight while his own insights into tabletop shine through. Interspersed between interviews, Navaar also GMs Pathfinder 2e one shots using his own homebrew adventures.
Recently, Navaar put his philosophy into action by taking the leap into game design. His one page RPG, The Last Detective, is a noir thriller about a disgraced investigator hunting down a killer. The Last Detective is a fantastic example of what a micro RPG can be, providing an evocative starting point to build a wide variety of stories around.
You can find Navaar on twitter @secretnrdsocial (https://twitter.com/SecretNrdSocial) and listen to Secret Nerd Podcast on your podcasting platform of choice. Check out The Last Detective on itch.io (https://navaarsnp.itch.io/the-last-detective). If you’re reading this before February 25th, you can get The Last Detective as a part of the Huetopia Creator Day Bundle (https://itch.io/b/1295/huetopia-creator-day-bundle).
Afrofuturism is a philosophy that has been gaining momentum in recent years, and Trey Joiner’s Field Guide to Mfecane continues to drive it forward. This absolutely incredible Lancer RPG supplement provides 90 illustrated pages worth of setting and worldbuilding info, new equipment, NPCs, and brand new mechs. It also includes the adventure Kal Tur’s Golden Eye, which looks amazingly fun and just the kind of thing I want out of Lancer.
Field Guide is not only gorgeously illustrated, but the mechanics are inspired. In my opinion, the most exciting part of this supplement are the four new mechs inspired by African history and folklore. These mechs offer great utility and explore design that options in the Lancer core rulebook don’t quite touch on, but are still a great complement to mix and match with the base mechs.
As fantastic as Field Guide to Mfecane is though, it is still just a step in Trey’s larger mission to fight for equity and justice both personally and professionally. The anti-capitalist and anti-colonialist themes of Lancer are a large part of its appeal, and part of what drew Trey to the game. Those themes shine brightly in Mfecane, making bold statements about the history of our own world – and its future.
You can get your own copy of Field Guide to Mfecane on itch (https://nhp-shaka.itch.io/mfecane-field-guide). If you’re as excited as I am to see what Trey has in store for the future, be sure to follow @StationUkawa on twitter (https://twitter.com/StationUkuwa)
Ponyfinder is quite possibly the most prolific third party product line on the market. With dozens of products currently available, it rivals the catalogues of major publishers. With several successful kickstarters under his belt, CEO David Silver has certainly made his mark on the RPG industry. Despite the obstacles in his path, David has never given up on creating the kinds of games he wants to see in the world.
The Ponyfinder core book provides all of the lore and rules options you need to play the My Little Pony inspired Everglow setting in Pathfinder 1st Edition, and there’s even a 2nd Edition conversion guide. If you’re a fan of the show, or even if you’re just looking for a new flavor of fantasy to change things up, chances are good you’ll find something here for you.
You can find the entire Ponyfinder line on Drive Thru RPG (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/5559/Silver-Games-LLC). For updates and news about future projects, be sure to follow Silver Games on twitter @SilverGamesLLC (https://twitter.com/SilverGamesLLC).
Kandi Jeanne is a comic writer, web designer, and narrative writer for Cosmic Mirror Games, the creators of Confluence RPG. She is also the executive producer and GM for Dicey Amazons Entertainment, a nerdy Twitch channel that centers on women of color and queer and nonbinary PoC. The Dicey Amazons stream TTRPG actual plays, video games, chat shows and more each week. As a GM, Kandi creates brilliant narratives that hook the audience right from the start, while still giving each of her players opportunities to step into the spotlight.
Over the last year, Kandi has started to focus more on creating her own games. She wrote her first RPG, Cutthroat, in just under 7 hours for Huetopia’s 2021 BIPOC Vampire Game Jam. In this unique take on a vampire drama, the goal is not to devour the guests you lure into your domain, but to entertain them. As employees of The Ages Entertainment Complex, you strive to put on the best show you can to impress your boss, the centuries old vampire Merc. Or, failing that, sabotage the other players so their shows are worse.
I am incredibly excited to see more from Kandi, especially the highly anticipated Kids on Hoverboards game that I got to play in a demo of. This Kids on Bikes hack puts a fun spin on the retro genre with time travel adventures and bizarre future tech. If that sounds like something you need, be sure to follow @kandi_jeanne (https://twitter.com/kandi_jeanne) on twitter for updates when it becomes available, as well as @diceyamazons (https://twitter.com/DiceyAmazons) on twitter and twitch. Cutthroat is available now on itch (https://kandi-jeanne.itch.io/cutthroat). Cutthroat is also available in the Huetopia Creator Day Bundle.
Quinn Murphy is a certified veteran of the industry with over a decade of game design experience across numerous TTRPGs. Quinn has written blogs, editorials, and articles for Dragon and Kobold Quarterly. He has freelanced on D&D 4th Edition, Fate Core, Trinity, Pathfinder, Starfinder, and more. Quinn is also the author of Spoken on the Song-Wind, a Pathfinder Adventure Path volume that takes place at the Magaambya magic school. Quinn is also an experienced GM who has crafted several beginner friendly adventures, as well as variant rules for running Pathfinder with a single player (currently in playtesting).
But to me, the most impressive thing about Quinn is not an extensive list of credits or his skill as a writer. It is the effort he puts into making TTRPGs a more welcoming and inclusive hobby for everyone. Obviously I have plugged the social media accounts of everyone in this article, but if you care at all about improving your craft or your community, you need to follow Quinn Murphy on twitter. His insights into game design, GMing, and TTRPGs as a whole are invaluable. If you can meet even a single digit number of people who are as gracious and patient about sharing their knowledge, you would be lucky.
So when you go to follow everyone here on twitter, double check and make extra sure you are following @QH_Murphy (https://twitter.com/qh_murphy), because you do not want to miss out on what he has in store next.