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Q & A on World of Alessia - RPG Setting for D&D and Starfinder

Geeks A Gogo chatted with Jaye Sonia of Storm Bunny Studios about their newest project, The World of Alessia, which is live on Kickstarter today:

1. At first sight, Alessia looks like an interesting mix of fantasy and science fiction with artwork that has something of an anime aesthetic. Are we on the right track? Tell us more about it.

Science-fantasy hits the nail on the head! The World of Alessia is a living world where dozens of species have evolved around a crashed space vessel. Over the last six millennia, the people of Alessia have blended their arcane, divine, psionic, and technological methodologies to create wonders they call magitech.

And of course, there’s magical AI, Skyships, Imperial Peacekeepers, Drifters, and a wide array of new armors, weapons, and technology, too. We’ve got a lot of fun stuff to work with in Alessia!

2. So, how did this idea come about? What’s the background of this project?

When Jere Manninen first brought his Alessia to Storm Bunny Studios, he was already following our work, specifically our first campaign setting, Rhune: Dawn of Twilight. It was sort of funny, to be honest, because Jere is Finnish and English is his second language. So, when he was first pitching Alessia to us, I didn’t realize immediately it was a pitch. We were chatting on Facebook (I’m pretty accessible on social media throughout the week) and comparing Alessia to Rhune – laughing a little about how he basically built a world around his homebrew, going so far as to have it professionally illustrated.

So when Jere finally sent me to his official website, I was in a bit of disbelief. For a few moments, I thought Jere had taken other professionals’ art and was passing it off as his. I gently explained to him that the art for Overwatch belonged to Blizzard and while it was nice, he couldn’t use it.

He immediately corrected me.

That was over a year ago. Last June, Storm Bunny Studios licensed the World of Alessia and set out to help Jere develop it fully. So far, I think we’ve done a pretty fantastic job of it.

3. What kind of player will most enjoy Alessia? Or, perhaps, is it a good entry point to gaming for fans of other genres?

That’s always a hard question to answer, because there are countless types of gamers with a multiplicity of ideas and interests. That said, I think this setting is going to appeal to gamers who would like to develop characters that don’t rely on traditional racial tensions to create social challenges and tension. In short, we completely tossed out the human-centric model for this world let the world evolve a little differently.

Species like the Gnoles, the Nemokata, the Pandrens, and the Velestrians predate humans, who evolved beside the Terrans and Djinnkin.

So, I think gamers who like heroic, nonhuman games are going to really dig this setting. I sometimes chuckle to myself when I describe Alessia to people… because in my mind it is a fun amalgamation of my favorite swashbuckling space-fantasy, but without going full blown space opera although you could do that, I suppose). To me though, it’s more Firefly, Eberron, and Spelljammer than, say, The Expanse, Numenera, or Star Trek.

If you could imagine yourself playing a dragonsworn fighting imperial marines with a flying cat as an ally, then Alessia will probably appeal to you.

4. Alessia looks to be set in a very diverse, but cohesive and highly-functional society. What sort of conflict might players encounter to drive a game?

While every storyteller (and group) will enjoy very specific types of challenges, we wanted to peel back some of the baked-in ideas from what is commonly associated with classic, Western fantasy. So while Alessia has elves, it has very few dwarves. And they don’t hate each other. In fact, we tossed out the base assumption that species had to hate one another and let everyone evolve a bit.

So when it comes to challenges, I think players will find a lot of the same kinds of problems in other games or forms of media, but without any pre-established narratives. Instead, we open the primer with a discussion about setting up the game space, talk about the themes expressed in the world, and invite the new group to determine their level of immersion, tension, and so on.

So in that sense, Alessia is definitely a polite society, but it isn’t perfect, either. There are still economic challenges, religious differences, national tensions, as well as three major external threats that help motive the people of Alessia to remain united.

In short, we decided you could play in a high-functioning society and still have all the same fun you had before. The only difference is there’s no more, “Well, I’m only doing this because my character is...” stuff.

5. What can we expect from the campaign book coming out of the Kickstarter? Classes, races, magic, maybe even some custom monsters?

The World of Alessia Campaign Primer will include 11 new species, 4 new classes, new armor, new weapons, and new vehichles, too! All of that will be included will sit side-by-side with a library of information about the larger world, as well.

And we might have a few monsters in mind, too.

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