As a longtime fan of Hyper Light Drifter, I was intrigued when I came across a Kickstarter project that combined that vibrant world with another one of my passions – tabletop RPGs! With 10 days left in the campaign and less than $5,000 to raise, we figured it was a great time to showcase this exciting project in case any of you were on the fence!
Project founder Andreas Walters took the time to answer a handful of questions for us. Enjoy!
What inspired you to launch this Kickstarter project? A love of HLD, the current popularity of tabletop gaming, or a little bit of both?
We love both tabletop and video games, and we’ve been advocating for a long time the benefits of video games crossing over into the tabletop space. In addition, one of the projects we’ve been itching to make has been one that featured full-pixel art in its most beautiful form. As a backer of the HLD Kickstarter, I was very familiar with the game, it’s development, and the evocative soulisan-esk lore that it created (something also that we love). We came to a point in our development schedule where there was an opportunity, so we reached out to Alx and the team to see if they were interested in letting us make a HLD tabletop RPG and here we are, creating a new continent of the HLD universe.
One of the things that made HLD so interesting and unique was the lack of text/dialogue. Moving from that medium to a platform where it relies a lot more on the written word, how do you preserve that particular “magic” of the HLD world?
This is a question I hear quite a bit, I think the choice of no text/dialogue worked very well for HLD in reinforcing its mood and tone, these are great choices that play into the strengths of the visual medium. Though when you come to Tabletop RPGs, the medium relies on narration as the primary vehicle of its delivery. This means we have to work with other aspects of the medium to ensure we can maintain the magic that HLD created. This is a big focus for us and so far we see it in three parts, providing the narrator/GM with resourceful narrator tools and guides to create these moments, open-ended world-building and descriptions that allow narrators to build off ideas and create a unique story for their players, and finally, evocative art that inspires everyone at the table.
Tell us a little bit about the classes and builds in this game – what’s the general premise? Is it based on 5th edition at its core? Or is the system a freshly designed take on the tabletop experience?
This is a brand new tabletop RPG, built upon its very own system which we’re currently calling, the Drifter system. Many would consider it a rules-light system that features, a partial-success dice mechanic, resource management, and light tactical combat, all combined which invoke the fast-paced action and exploration aspects of HLD.
There are 4 classes (so far) in Drifter, the Warrior (good at fighting), the Delver (good at surviving), the Versifier (good at social interactions/deceptions), and the Wielder (good at working with past tech), you can read all about them in the Codex or playtest PDF.
The visuals of HLD were obviously one of the standout elements when the game came out. How is the pixel art being integrated in the tabletop game, and who’s working on it?
Pixel art is a very big focus of our development and we aim to make the entire interior of both books in full, stylized pixel-art. As you may know, Hyper Light Drifter is rendered in 480×270 resolution, which is then scaled up to your native screen resolution. For the books, we’re doing a similar process but modified for printing, so our illustrations are made in a 455×297 resolution canvas, then scale those images up to the final print resolution, this way we don’t run into any weird interpolation or compression weirdness. To bring these to life, we actually engaged in quite the artist hunt. All of the work you’ve seen so far has been made possible by the amazingly talented Eka Pramudita Muharram (Instagram.com/snowkie51). Once we ramp-up to full production on the product, we do plan on bringing one more artist into the fold who also has extensive pixel-art experience.
Something that elevates any tabletop game is music/sound effects. It’s no coincidence that Disasterpeace’s work on HLD was superb. Are you envisioning some unique pieces to go hand in hand with this game? Background music? Battle music? Maybe not by Disasterpeace, but in the same vein?
For music, we will likely put together a playlist of what we think is most evocative for the setting, pulling from a variety of sources. As to creating music that can be a very expensive endeavor, which is a little outside of the scope of what we’re looking to create for this project. That said, we were fortunate enough to partner with Disasterpiece to repurpose and build out some of the musical pieces and ditties that were created and unused during HLDs development. We plan on releasing them as a Fragments EP and putting them to use in our new world.
Besides backing the Kickstarter (which everyone absolutely should), how else can folks support this project? Will there be a presence at any upcoming conventions, like PAX Unplugged?
Of course, your support in backing the Kickstarter would be the best way in helping enable us to make the best product we can. If you can’t support the project for whatever reason, the next best thing to support the project would be to check out and provide feedback on the playtest. The basic rules are out there for free on the Codex and as a PDF download from our website, then just head over to our #Feedback channel in Discord and let us know your thoughts. For conventions, right now we’re focused on the playtest and collecting feedback from everyone to ensure its the best game it can be. We have typically only made a concrete presence at GenCon, but we’re looking to slowly expand our convention presence. As to PAX Unplugged specifically, we won’t be able to make it due to scheduling, though you may find some of our products there.
Any final plugs?
First and foremost, please check out the Kickstarter and the Basic Rules (in the Codex or the PDF from our website). We also have a great discord where everyone has gathered to chat about Drifter (you can join here).
Also if you’re curious about our past works, you can check out the Baby Bestiary (a book of adorable fantasy monsters and how to raise them), Atlas Animalia (a book of creature diversity) or, Embers of the Forgotten Kingdom (our take on bringing the Soulsian style of worldbuilding and storytelling to tabletop RPGs).