Founder: Brandon Dixon
Year launched: 2018
Game type: Tabletop role-playing game
Flagship game: Swordsfall RPG, a semi-utopic, Afrofuturist Dungeons & Dragons.
When Brandon Dixon initially launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his role-playing game Swordsfall, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to reach his $2,000 goal. He ended up raising 60 times more than he asked for.
"I got to watch it go up," says Dixon. "It was wild."
Due out later this year, art and lore book Welcome to Tikor will give a comprehensive summary of the fictional world where Swordsfall is set. On the fictional planet of Tikor, Swordsfall uses pre-colonial African mythology to construct a futuristic, semi-utopic world. Like an Afropunk take on Dungeons & Dragons, Swordsfall players can choose from premade characters or create their own, and move through each adventure by rolling dice.
Though the game is something of a culmination of short stories Dixon has been writing since he was 18, Swordsfall didn't begin in earnest until 2018, when Dixon came up with the name and started researching pre-colonial Africa. Instead of focusing on a specific region, he made a point of learning about cultures across the continent.
"There's so much fantastic source material that's never been touched," he says.
Swordsfall highlights conventions that are often taken for granted in fantasy, a genre that's overwhelmingly Euro-centric. In Dixon's game, characters wear colorful, woven clothing. "King" is a gender-neutral term and deities are gender-fluid.
Though Dixon still hasn't released a central rulebook—right now, there are only a few books for individual campaigns—releasing the core guide to the world of Swordsfall will be a major milestone for the game. And besides, the RPG is just a small part of what Dixon hopes to accomplish. He's already published both a Swordsfall comic book and a graphic novel, and is even working on a Swordsfall anime to be released by Powerhouse Animation, the studio behind Castlevania.
"I'm not going to be doing just one thing," he says. "You'll see my anime. I've had movie studios sniffing around, so we'll see what happens there. I just want to do whatever I can."
What game are you really into right now? "I just recently fell back in love with Warframe."