Tanares is a new tabletop RPG setting compatible with Dungeons & Dragons 5E that raised seven figures on its first day crowdfunding and boasts a writing team stuffed with established talent from several parts of the triple-A publishing space.
Publisher Dragori Games wants to produce three core books that players will use to explore their bespoke high fantasy world: a player’s guide, campaign sourcebook and module called Adventure in the Realms of Madness. Highlights include eight new classes, half of which will be “hard-to-master” challenges for experienced players, dedicated chapters on time travel and resources for tracking what seems to be a sprawling and involved campaign.
Front and centre on the Kickstarter page, before even a description of the world, is a list of the tabletop veterans Dragori Games has working on Tanares. Creator of D&D’s Forgotten Realms setting Ed Greenwood joins Bruce Nesmith, who worked as Bethesda’s design director on the explosively popular video game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Also on the team is writer and professional dungeon master Amy Vorpahl, Savage Worlds RPG creator Shane Hensley, and author Jeff Grubb.
Adventuring in Tanares means living as part of a powerful empire that straddles a world beset by natural calamities, monstrous uprisings and magical instability. The fragmented world has been beset by the Avatar Dragons and their influence, which extends beyond death. A primary portion of the campaign outlined in the books concerns tracking down these immense lizards and dealing with them, either through diplomacy or violence.
The game master can choose which of the five dragons are currently dead or alive at the beginning of a campaign, radically altering the stakes and conditions of Tanares in distinct ways. It thus follows that any group who chooses to put down an Avatar Dragon will have to live with the far-reaching consequences.
Plenty of high-resolution artwork paints a well-realised portrait of Tanares, which seems ready to please anyone with an appetite for the brand of sword-and-sorcery at the heart of Dungeons & Dragons 5E. The heroes will become deities in their own right, ushering in changes to the world that will leave none untouched. It’s classic tabletop power fantasy in slightly different clothing.
The Kickstarter for Tanares RPG launched on August 31st and managed to rake in over $1 million before the end of its first day, promptly placing it high among the most successful tabletop RPG projects on the crowdfunding site. This success follows a general trend of increased money pouring into analogue games on Kickstarter, which is on track to eclipse 2020’s figures both in board games and tabletop RPGs.
That said, it should be noted that the writing team assembled for Tanares is decidedly white. Last year saw a push to recognise marginalised voices in the tabletop space, leading to a few standout victories - both Coyote & Crow and Into the Mother Lands showed a hunger for RPGs designed for nonwhite stories, and Aabri Iyengar and Orion Black created well-received campaigns for Critical Roll and Dimension 20, the two largest actual play shows currently running.
The homogenous composition of Tanares’ creators isn’t a preemptive knock on the quality of the setting and books, but it does illustrate how tabletop RPGs imagine their shared history and the voices who shaped it. The success of the Tanares Kickstarter campaign further reinforces that narrative, and it’s worth interrogating who gets touted as a selling point and who is denied by omission.
Dicebreaker reached out to Dragori Games for comment but did not receive a reply by time of publication.