Vorpal Games

D&D combined with Civilization: Red Aegis is about dynasties of heroes descending through the ages

D&D combined with Civilization: Red Aegis is about dynasties of heroes descending through the ages

Red Aegis is a pen and paper role-playing game about lineage. It's a game about mysteries that span thousands of years. And maybe, if you want it to be, it can be a game about spaceship battlecruisers warring against a horde of dragon-riding techno-wizards.

In an effort to combine the classic gameplay template of Dungeons & Dragons with the grand, epic scale of Sid Meier's Civilization, a group of veteran designers are joining forces to build an RPG where you control not just one hero, but a line of heroes descending through the ages.

From the Stone Age to the far future, Red Aegis lets you shape your family and the world itself.

D&D Next

For eight years, Brian R. James was working his dream job as a game designer for the pencil-and-paper RPG, Dungeons & Dragons. He was a relatively well-known freelancer, creating scenarios for Wizards of the Coast, until Dungeons & Dragons Next threw a bit of a wrench in the spokes.

“Unfortunately, whenever there's a new edition of D&D the full-time designers at Wizards of the Coast hunker down and focus on the new rule set,” said Brian R. James, co-creator of Red Aegis. “Which doesn't leave a lot of room for freelancers to get in on the action. Usually freelancers get brought in after the core rules have been established and you work on supplements.”

“So I knew when they made that announcement that there was going to be some down time in my schedule.”

He and his brother set to work on Red Aegis, a different sort of game than what they'd been doing for Wizards of the Coast on the D&D series, but enlightened by the connections and experience they developed with one of tabletop gaming's biggest series.

The game was announced on Kickstarter two weeks ago and has already earned significantly more than its funding goal: $38,000 (from a $25,000 goal.) The professionalism of the Kickstarter is no doubt part of their success. They even had a professional cartographer create their game world for them, displayed in an animated gif that showed the stages of its creation.

They've also already hit a stretch goal which will allow them to hire legendary D&D writer Ed Greenwood, who created the most popular D&D setting, The Forgotten Realms.


Dungeons and Civilizations

“The thing that really sets Red Aegis apart is that I wanted to design a game where you actually traverse history,” said Brian R. James. “You start out in the ancient past wielding spears and bone clubs, but every time your group meets you advance one age into the future. So you move from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age to the Iron Age all the way through you wielding flintlock muskets and submachine guns in the modern ages.”

But just as your character is a malleable figure that you shape as you play, so too can the game world itself be shaped by the actions of the players.

“As the players progress, they're going to be able to advance what we're calling a 'Pillar,” said Matt James, co-creator of the project about the giant red objects you can see in the concept art.

“These pillars represent technology, the arcane, and the divine,” he continued. “And depending on what the players want to do, they'll most likely advance one of those above the others. This allows us to step out of the way and let people play the way they want to play. So if someone wants to play with magic from a traditional wizard in the early game to becoming like a techno-wizard in the future they can do that.”

How the players conduct themselves in the game and the actions they choose will shape the course of their society.

“When you move from one age to the next, the actions that you've undertaken in the game will determine whether your civilization becomes more magically inclined, or divinely inspired, or if you're focusing on science and technology,” said Matt James.

That will only affect your society though. The game includes template civilizations for players to use, and the ones that aren't being used by the players, still exist in the game world and are controlled by the dungeon master (a role that switches each session in this game.)

“When you get towards the end of the game, it's theoretically possible that if a neighboring country has advanced far in science and technology while you've advanced far in the arcane… this is wild, but you could basically have like the Starship Enterprise battling a group of dragon-riding arch-mages. How fricken cool is that? That's a bit humorous, but if a group wanted to go that route that could be one of the storylines.”

Finite civilization

Unlike most RPGs of this sort, Red Aegis is designed as a finite experience. Where most D&D-style games tend to go on-and-on until your group falls apart, Red Aegis is designed to be a 40-60 hour RPG. James said it would take 10 sessions of about 4-6 hours each to finish a typical story.

The idea of a finite role-playing game is one they hope will resonate with older players who don't have time to always gather their friends together every weekend for years on end, and just maybe, newer players who are intimidated by such a time commitment. It's just one of many interesting ideas that Red Aegis is bringing to the table.

Red Aegis is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.