A new Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition (5e) campaign setting has launched through Kickstarter that aims to bring the aesthetics of Studio Ghibli, The Legend of Zelda, and Adventure Time into the world of tabletop role-playing. Obojima brings a calming, wholesome milieu to a game that increasingly appeals to demographics in dire need of it.
“Growing up, Ocarina of Time and Princess Mononoke completely obsessed me,” Jeremiah Crofton, creative director and founder of 1985 Games, tells WIRED. “None of that childlike wonder has faded with time, so when 1985 Games started thinking about creating its own D&D campaign setting, tying all these influences into what would eventually become Obojima came naturally.”
The wild and wonderful world of Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition supplements is a deep dive of tabletop nostalgia and memes, often fascinating and provocative. Beyond the one-to-one re-creations of older D&D mechanics and power fantasies, passionate homebrew creators work at the bleeding edge of tabletop game development, dreaming up the future of how we imagine and engage with living narratives.
Obojima is a delightful jewel in that trove.
A World Beyond the Tall Grass
D&D is becoming softer.
As the IRL world we grow into becomes harder to make sense of, and the fiendish grimdark analogues that dominated science fiction and fantasy over the ’90s fade from favor, it’s easy to see that nerd cultures are becoming kinder and more mindful. Entire tracts of gruesome Forgotten Realms lore has been identified by Wizards of the Coast as incompatible with modern tastes.
“The average person faces their own unique set of struggles and obstacles every week,” Crofton muses. “Throw in a few soul-crushing news items and something hateful online and you can imagine how an immersive character fantasy like D&D becomes an outlet for escape from that energy.”
Today, the found-family trope has its foot on the neck of tabletop role-play podcasts—the de facto canonization of how tabletop play is supposed to be—and it’s getting harder for developers to find a place for evil alignments. It’s as if the zeitgeist of millennial and Gen-Z thought has manifested nicer stories as a collective psychological self-defense to their circumstances. These days your average serial atrocity campaign about how, deep down, everyone is deeply awful and it’s naive to think otherwise just doesn’t read as profoundly as it did in 1992.
“RPGs can be pretty dark in tone,” Crofton says. “I think I’ve seen too many grimdark, hyper-realistic fantasy games out there, even today, which is why I think we’re finding success. People seem to be excited to see more playful, lighthearted content, and there’s just not much out there in these circles.”
Why Obojima Is Boldly Different
Courtesy of 1985 Games
Obojima enables a more cozy, fulfilling story that makes room for whimsy while juggling the kind of enriching fantastical awe that Dungeons and Dragons always aimed to inspire.