The Kickstarter for Exalted Vales: Region and Campaign Guide for Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition blew past its initial funding goal and multiple stretch goals. Coming from TheInkPlot out of Montreal, Canada, this tabletop roleplaying game emphasizes its fantastical style of worldbuilding instead of presenting another boring homebrew composed of cliché fantasy tropes. This campaign, as well as other innovative worlds, demonstrate the continuing draw of Fifth Edition settings. The book will be available in English or French versions, giving this campaign deep market penetration. Before it ends, William Martin, the coordinator and project manager for TheInkPlot, took time away from the crowdfunding campaign to answer my questions about their concept, the creators, and their free introductory scenario.
EGG EMBRY (EGG): William, thanks for talking with me about your Kickstarter. What is Exalted Vales?
WILLIAM MARTIN (WM): The Exalted Vales is a D&D 5e supplement. It includes, a region guide, a large campaign in said region, and player content (new classes, etc.)
EGG: What separates this setting from other fantasy campaign worlds?
WM: We want to explore mysteries, and the stories we discovered when we were kids, when our parents were reading us tales. The theme of the setting is a bit less "classic" than the usual; in this region the population can't dream, while there’s another in which something in the sky can only be seen by a part of the population. And for each of those strange phenomena, there are answers to discover.
EGG: Why create this setting for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition?
WM: For the large audience. We believe that players can shape their game the way they want no matter the system. We can have mystic/dreamy adventures in 5e.
EGG: What races, feats, etc. can players expect with the world?
WM: Mysterious, or tale-related ones. As an example, the playable race the "Faithborn" – these individuals are born from prayers instead of parents – put emphasis on the theme of the tale.
EGG: Mysticism is a big part of this world. On the campaign page you share Alizager's stall that provides wooden boxes that contain exactly what the buyer needs when they first open them as an example of what that mysticism looks like in this game. How many NPCs and hooks have been given for the city of Lusan in order to give the setting the right feel?
WM: A lot. The short answer is: We believe that to really give the right feel, the GM should have a lot of little details to give to the players, from the most impressive of things, to humble little details like Alizager's wooden boxes. And the book is there for that, a few nice ideas on each page to help the GM give life to the setting.
EGG: The campaign is written to “establish how the players are supposed to experience each scene (the intended emotional experience), and only then explore the details of the scene.” What’s your design philosophy?
WM: Our design philosophy is that if the GM has his goals (intended emotional experience) set, and all the tools to help him ready, then it is easier to improvise and answer positively to the player's input.
EGG: You offer a free introduction scenario, “Gate of Lusan.” What can GMs expect to find in it?
WM: What we just discussed in the previous question: A clear example of how our design philosophy translates into a concrete scenario. We first talk with the reader, explain what we envision, what tools we prepared to help us to put that plan in motion. Only then do we go into the details. Maybe it is not everyone's taste, but with that sample, then each GM can see if it fits his taste.
EGG: Beyond the core book, what else are you developing through this campaign?
WM: Online gaming is improving each year (with or without COVID ^^), so we developed a digital pack with everything a GM could need to play the campaign or other scenarios. Maps, but also a ton of tokens (PC, NPCs, Monsters). A way to save time as well as having sweet assets to look at while playing.
EGG: The writer, Renaud Bartens, and the rest of the team come from different kinds of games. Who is on the team and what is each creator bringing to the project?
WM: We wanted to be sure we got everything covered to deliver the highest of quality. So, along with Renaud Bartens, we have people from the printing industry, Karl Monnerais and myself. And then artists, Jonathan Lefaucheur, Karl Lagadec and Chloé Rondonneau. The full team has a foot in every domain of expertise, just to be sure we know what we're doing.
EGG: What else are you and the team working on?
WM: Nothing. First, because we are a small team. And secondly, because we don't want to rush anything. We'll do this project first, then we'll see. ^^
EGG: Where can fans learn more about the campaign and follow your work?
WM: The Kickstarter's page and our Facebook page are the two best places to learn more, and also to talk to us with questions, feedback, anything.
Exalted Vales: Region and Campaign Guide for D&D 5th edition from TheInkPlot
End Date: Fri, June 12 2020 12:08 PM EDT.
“A roleplaying supplement for 5E, centered around mystic phenomena. Includes new classes, and a campaign of intrigue and investigation. Exalted Vales is an elaborate campaign setting for D&D 5e. The book is about 250 pages, hardcover in full color, with a lot of illustrations. The book is written by Renaud Bartens, veteran of the video game industry, game design consultant and author, who has been running D&D campaign for more than twenty years. For players, this book offers new races, classes, archetypes, backgrounds and feats to create unique heroes, whether they were born in the strange lands of the Exalted Vales or are simply passing through. For game masters, it is a complete guide to the mystic region of the Exalted Vales: Locations, characters, mysteries and plenty of help to bring the unique themes of the Exalted Vales to life.”
Egg Embry is a freelance tabletop roleplaying game journalist writing for EN World, Knights of the Dinner Table, RPG News, d20 Radio, the Tessera Guild, the Open Gaming Network, the AetherCon Convention Magazine, GAMA’s Around the Table, and more. His areas of focus are RPG crowdfunding projects and RPG reviews as well as interviews with a range of gaming professionals from freelancers to CEOs. Beyond journalism, he dabbles in freelance writing and producing gaming zines for the roleplaying zine-aissance.
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