Tales of Xadia, a new tabletop RPG setting drawn from the world of Wonderstorm Studio’s The Dragon Prince, is offering a public playtest ahead of pre-orders opening on February 9th.
The playtest materials include an abridged version of the full rulebook, which uses Fandom Tabletop’s Cortex RPG system, and a sample adventure meant to introduce the mechanics, tone and general feel of play. Both documents feature plenty of character art, landscapes and sketches in the style of the Netflix animated show and are written for the perspective of relative tabletop beginners.
The Cortex system (also used in the upcoming RPG adaptation of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe) equips players with five dice - from the dreaded d4 to the objectively superior d12 - for what it calls “tests, contests and challenges”. These dice are drawn not only from a standard array of abilities (called traits here), but also character-specific values, distinctions, specialities and assets. The definitions for each get a little muddy, but the short of it is everything that differentiates one player character from another has an associated die value, which can be called upon to solve all sorts of problems.
In the course of adventuring, characters will gain stress from emotional or physical ordeals and act as negative assets, being rolled against characters when engaging with foes. Stress comes in many flavours and affects the flow of the game differently - unchecked anger will take over your motivations, while exhaustion can knock you unconscious, or worse. Balancing stress means taking time off between adventures, encouraging groups to engage in different types of play in order to keep their characters healthy in the long term.
Tales of Xadia prompts the Narrator (its version of a game master) to play sessions like an episode of a television show, keeping the camera on the players and helping them feel like they accomplished something important, even if only to one other person. It actively discourages prolonged planning in order to give player characters more agency over the story’s direction.
The sample adventure, Lost Oasis, provides tips for roleplay and enjoyable adventuring: how to ask leading questions, a flowchart of the branching paths through the adventure’s story and narrative hooks to keep the group interested in moving forward.
Tales of Xadia says it has designed its world and rules to provide an experience that feels like it could take place as a seasonal arc in The Dragon Prince, even if none of the main cast show up. It emulates themes of growing up and finding purposes in a world at the brink of all-out war where magic suffuses everything just below the surface.
Prospective players can receive the playtest rulebook and Lost Oasis adventure from Tales of Xadia’s official website and pre-order copies beginning February 9th.