Brandon Dixon’s Swordsfall Is an Afropunk Take on Dungeons & Dragons

In Dixon’s game, characters wear colorful, woven clothing, “king” is a gender-neutral term and deities are gender-fluid.

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."

Twogether Studios Wants to Make Role-Playing Games Even Your Dad Can Play

Portland Gamecraft's Upcoming Strategy Game Has All the Makings of a Huge Hit

Mt Caz Ranger Clubhouse Is an Artist Collective in Corvallis That's Created Everything From Poetry Games to Treasure Hunts Meant to Be Played at Enchanted Forest

Louie Mantia Updates Centuries-Old Japanese Playing Cards With Stunning Modern Designs

Designer Tony Miller's New Game Involves Sumo Wrestling Beetles, but It's Really All About Connecting With His Young Son

Brandon Dixon's Swordsfall Is an Afropunk Take on Dungeons & Dragons

Ami Baio's Card Games Are About Connection, Not Necessarily Competition

Pomegranate Has Been Making Artful Games and Puzzles Since the '60s. But 2020 Is the Year It Truly Blew Up.

It Took a While, but the Founders of Crafty Games' Lifelong Love of Role-Playing Games Is Finally Paying Off

Play Escape From Portland, a Board Game From Your Friends at Willamette Week!

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.