One More Multiverse co-founder on helping give tabletop RPGs a ‘good nudge into the mainstream’
Sara Alfageeh talks focusing on indies first, helping designers make a living and giving players customisability.
Announced earlier this year, ambitious roleplaying app One More Multiverse wants to combine the versatile toolset of virtual RPG tabletops such as Roll20 with the familiar, accessible presentation of retro video games like The Legend of Zelda.
The upcoming platform will offer a digital editor for players to create content for roleplaying sessions, from character sprites and environments - represented by 2D pixel art with dynamic lighting and custom animations - to custom settings and gameplay systems. The free-to-use app will also feature built-in safety tools, the ability to take notes, communicate with in-game chat and stream playthroughs to platforms such as Twitch.
As well as supporting the ability to create content, One More Multiverse will offer a marketplace of user-made content, from artwork and assets to entire rulesets and homebrewed systems.
With One More Multiverse currently in closed beta ahead of a planned launch in December, we spoke to the studio’s co-founder and chief creative officer Sara Alfageeh about the app’s future, balancing its digital flash with tabletop heart, and how it plans to support creators.
Why is now the right time to launch One More Multiverse?
TTRPGs are right on the edge of going mainstream, and Multiverse is here to give it a good nudge. There's so much enthusiasm, nostalgia and curiosity from the broader gaming world and we think this is the right moment to try and make this medium, which we love, accessible to a much wider audience.
We want to preserve what's unique about TTRPGs, but take advantage of all the possibilities that can only exist in a browser.
What does OMM bring to players that’s currently missing from the likes of Roll20 and other virtual tabletops?
Virtual tabletops are currently quite literal, and focus on replicating an in-person experience. At One More Multiverse, we're looking to innovate, not replicate. We want to preserve what's unique about TTRPGs, but take advantage of all the possibilities that can only exist in a browser. For example, what do games look like if we aren't looking to simply make editable PDFs of character sheets, but creating an entire easy-to-use character sheet builder? Automating stats and HP is great, but what does it mean when players can explore a level and interact with each other outside of the GM? We're looking to explore these questions and many more.
OMM’s level editor is very impressive in terms of detail and presentation - what keeps the experience of creating content and playing true to a pen-and-paper tabletop RPG, rather than feeling like a fully digital video game experience similar to RPG Maker?
At the end of the day, we come back to the few core tenets of the pen-and-paper experience:
Focus on a unique, co-created experience that is specific to you and friends. Tools that support improv and GM storytelling, rather than holding it back.
Move at the pace of story. We're building a storytelling platform, and players and GMs share tools to hold the party's attention, and make important narrative moments stand out. Flashy visuals are here to supplement, not take over.
Will users be able to adjust how much they use OMM’s digital elements versus tabletop elements - for example, using OMM to handle the positioning of players and monsters, but resolving rolls with physical dice and inputting the results?
Absolutely! You can use as much or as little as you'd like. Right now for instance, in our testing, we're focused on using OMM as a visual collaborative sandbox, with paper character sheets on the side, while we continue to refine our features. Soon you'll be able to use OMM for everything in a true one-tab experience, but that doesn't mean you have to.
We want way more people to be able to make a living making TTRPGs, so putting maximum flexibility in the hands of designers is a major goal.
How customisable will the mechanical aspects be - will there be support for square grid versus hex grid, different map scales (in town versus travelling on an overworld etc.), less common dice systems or card-driven systems, and so on as required by different RPG systems and groups?
As customisable as we can make it! We're focused on supporting existing indie systems and ultimately on empowering creators. Our roadmap leads up to a creator-focused marketplace. We want way more people to be able to make a living making TTRPGs, so putting maximum flexibility in the hands of designers is a major goal.
Right now we do support different map scales (embedding many levels within a single big overworld map is a huge hit in testing) and basically any kind of dice system you can imagine. Card-driven systems are on our roadmap too. Hex grids are a little farther out but we'd love to support them eventually.
What plans do you have to support existing games and systems, such as Dungeons & Dragons 5E?
We're actually focusing on our favorite indie systems first, and in particular, indie systems that we think are a natural fit for OMM (visually-driven ones with big world-co-building elements, crunchy ones that could benefit from a computer doing the math for you, etc.). We're a huge fan of indie creators and want to partner with and support them first! But yes 5E is on the roadmap as well.
We want to partner with and support indie creators first.
Does OMM have any plans for its own RPG system/setting to showcase the platform, as with Roll20 and Burn Bryte?
Someday! We've made a bunch in testing for the internal team, actually, and there are definitely so many mechanics only possible on OMM that we want to show off. Early experiments have included very puzzle and escape room-inspired systems (OMM's visual elements and automation potential take these to a new level), as well as light-hearted systems that use mini-games to resolve checks instead of dice. Right now our focus is firmly on adapting existing systems, not making our own.
How will user-made content be handled - what cut will you take? Will creators retain the rights to their artwork, custom campaigns and so on? How will content for licensed games such as D&D be handled?
Licensing existing systems is something we're figuring out from partnership to partnership, every situation is different. We hope to work with not just our favorite TTRPG publishers, but even IPs that have not yet been adapted to the TTRPG world. We're a little ways away from having a creator marketplace so details are TBD, but we want to give creators the best economics we can. We have two very interrelated goals: massively grow the audience for TTRPGs, so many more creators can make a living in this space!