NeverEnding is a small startup. We don’t have a lot of money (understatement). We don’t have a lot of followers (yet). What we have is a big dream to change the face of tabletop roleplaying games by creating the tools that allow players and dungeon masters to see themselves in their games and better share their stories.
Allowing players to see themselves in their games has been one of our goals since the beginning. We’re working hard to make it a reality with our character builder, scene builder and video animator.
We realized early on, that if we want people to be able to create characters that looked like them, the character builder would be a critical first step. Being able to have a character with naturally curly hair and choosing from a variety of skin tones needs to be a given – but there are other aspects that get missed beyond hair and skin tone. Little things like glasses or freckles can make a difference. Having different body types that are maybe more average or curvier than the typical superhero can make the game better for many. Having a variety of ways someone can feel represented helps them enjoy the game more.
So, we’re doing all of that and more. It’s important you feel like you’re reflected in your game – if that’s what you want. But it isn’t just so you can feel represented. A diverse character builder might be a virtual way of exposing more people to others who look different from them. For example, one of the reasons we included prosthetics in our builder as a base feature is to dispel the idea of disabled people as inherently weak or helpless or broken.
We’re also creating hairstyles and clothing options that reflect non-European cultures as well. There’s nothing wrong with the traditional knight in platemail that we’ve come to expect in the typical medieval tropes of many TTRPGs. But those tropes don’t have to preclude us including options based off of the beautiful beaded coats worn by the Baggara warriors from northern Africa in the late 18th century or the spiked armor of an Indian executioner from the same period. There are many, many rich and gorgeous cultures around the globe. We want to explore them with you. One of the places we’re consciously pulling inspiration from right now is the variety of cultures and peoples of Africa. For too long there’s been this idea of Africa and her people being “less than” or a monoculture. Nothing could be further from the truth. We want to work with artists and experts to reveal and display the myriad gems of splendor available from those storied lands.
This is a huge undertaking. Exhausting and sometimes scary. There is a LOT of art to be created in our platform and a lot of programming work still to be done. We have high hopes. We have plans. We won’t get there all at once – and we hope people have patience with us along the journey.
I recognize now that, even though we’re small, we also have opportunities to lift people up as we try to do something amazing. We have a Kickstarter June 12. We’re planning stretch goals. Initially, I was hoping to connect with some bigger name established artists. I realized today that all those artists started off small and became big, because more people saw their art. With that in mind, I am putting out the call for artists of color who’d like to help us develop and fulfill stretch goals for the character builder and the scene builder (both critical components for our animator). We only have 9 days to plan things out, but we can work together on figuring some specifics as the days go on.
A shortlist of what we’re thinking includes backgrounds and props reflective of different areas and environments around the world, hairstyles and facial hair as well as clothing and armor inspired by West Africa, Thailand, and other places, monsters from other mythologies. The list could go on.
We do have a certain art style. We have always planned on expanding it, and that can be part of the discussion as well. We will put some priority on artists who think they can fit within our style and help us expand our options – but we want to hear from anyone with ideas for how we can make this bigger and better.
Send portfolio links to email@example.com
Let’s change the face of TTRPGs together.
Jamie Van Doren
PS: No, this will not be the only opportunity for black creatives and others to work with us. The road ahead is long. There’s plenty of room for us to walk together later.