Chicago Game Designer Brings an Indigenous Twist to the Fantasy Genre

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CHICAGO – Imagine a world that is completely multicultural, where traditions and physical characteristics of races across continents have melded together. All things are connected in this post-apocalyptic realm in which people of many tribes must work together to fight off enemies that only surface at night and are living nightmares.

This is the manifestation of game designer Allen Turner (Lakota, Black, Irish) in his tabletop role-playing game Ehdrigohr, released in 2013. Ehdrigohr is a non-traditional fantasy world that takes traditional storytelling elements to create fate-based adventures.

Most fantasy genres focus heavily on Western style folklore, Ehdrigohr instead incorporates elements of various worldwide tribal and indigenous myths and legends. After working with Chicago American Indian students, many of whom are multi-ethnic, Turner began to build a fantasy game that would be more relatable to non-white players.

Tribes-Symbols-Poster-small“Why aren’t there more games and fantasy [worlds] that have people who look like me?” says Turner, who sought to correct this oversight. Ehdrigohr goes a step further by addressing depression that plagues many American Indians, especially youth.

“One of the central themes of the game is the power of fear and sorrow to constrain us and diminish us. The game is an exploration of depression and how it whittles away at us,” says Turner. “The tides of darkness are overwhelming but this is not meant to be a game of nihilism. It is about hope. Your characters are the mythic heroes who do impossible things that push back the tide.”

In 2012, Turner began fundraising using Kickstarter with a modest campaign goal of $4500 for basic printing of the game book and other materials.  To promote the project and reach out to investors, Turner hosted many playtest sessions at local conventions and posted game updates through social media and his blog. By January 2013, nearly 500 backers pledged more than $18,000 to the campaign. Copies of the game are available and have even been sold internationally.

Currently, Turner is a game design instructor at DePaul University, was a lead designer at Disney Interactive Studios/Wideload Games, and has over 10 years experience in the gaming industry.  He has also been an active community member and has worked with various American Indian organizations throughout Chicago.

In January 2015, the Chicago Title VII hosted an American Indian Speakers Bureau (AISB) with Allen Turner to introduce and inform the urban Indian community of Ehdrigohr and his professional career. Participants also had the chance to develop their own character sheets and learn more about these fantastical lands. As a continuation event, on February 20th the Title VII Family Game Night featured a chance to  of Ehdrigohr at the St. Kateri Center.

To learn more about Ehdrigohr and Allen Turner, visit the Council of Fools Blog.

For event details, visit the Chicago T7 Blog.



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