I’ve spent the last 30 years playing roleplaying games with my friends, acting out heroic feats of enormous magnitude and well-crafted plots of strategic diplomacy. After a long career in the game industry, where I’ve both been able to create tabletop board games and contribute to the amazing RPG worlds I’ve played in for years, I finally got the chance to build something new. Well, mostly new.
Renegade Game Studios approached me with a magical opportunity: take the brilliant sets of already produced WizKids Wardlings miniatures (originally conceived and designed by Bryan Kinsella) and create a new roleplaying world in which they exist. If you aren’t already familiar, the Wardlings line features children and their animal companions, packaged together for players to use in their existing games. They are a hit among gamers of all ages, but I was told of a common and constant request: a place where these children can stand out and be the heroes. The guidelines I received were as follows: the game should be 5th Edition compatible; the Wardlings should not only fit into the world, but the children themselves should be the only ones with magical abilities; the Wardlings should not be able to die unless they are adults; and anything I write had to compliment the existing packaging already in print. WizKids provided the high-level world-building foundation, original illustrations and miniatures that we then did a deep dive and fleshed out.
A Whole New World
I began to envision a set of twin planets, ruled by twin gods who can manifest in various ways, but most often as an interconnected childlike being named DexMya. A history of the first planet, Or’Mya, began to unfold and become the focus of this book. Here, the people of the world began to abuse and take their use of magic, called Oor, for granted. As their planet started to develop from small villages into larger cities, so did the responsibilities of the people. Adults began to forget DexMya, the source of the Oor, which angered the twin gods greatly, so they took it away from the adults and gave it only to the children, who were blessed with the ability to manipulate the Oor once a familiar bonded with them at a very young age. These familiars would guide and guard the Wardlings, saving them with their own Oor if ever they should get into a situation that would cause them irreparable harm.
However, this came at a price: each time a Wardling was saved from death by their familiar, they would awaken one year older. Once a Wardling is 18 years old? Enter the haunting tune…As the world of Or’Mya began to fill out, so did new flora and fauna, cities and governments, and of course, races of people. But here, with the magic system aging-out at 18, I faced another challenge. How does a system like 5e, which features races that all age differently, fit in with these new magic mechanics? The answer is that they don’t.
My answer to this “problem” was to create a new set of human variants that would occupy the world of Or’Mya. While certain races like Orcs, Elves, and Dwarves exist there, they are not playable as player characters. Instead, Or’Mya is populated mainly by Humans, Finfolk (an amphibian variant who have mostly migrated to land), Snowcaps (a hardy group of mainly nomadic hunters who live in the snowy northern regions of Or’Mya), Squatch (a hirsute variant who live mainly in the forest treetops), and Midbari (desert tribesman with a resistance to heat and a penchant for navigating by the stars), all who resemble human children and age at the same rate as humans, and each with their own special skills and abilities.
All Classes are Magical
With the new magic system of Oor, characters also get to customize their characters and their abilities with many choices as well. Each character has a pool of Oor, represented as points, from which to draw to cast spells or spark other abilities, in addition to their normal spellcasting abilities. Even characters who are not traditionally spellcasters have access to Oor, which gives every Wardling some sort of magical ability. Oor is flexible, so that in any given situation, a player can strategically plot out how to best use of their resources. Certain classes can manipulate the pools themselves, by transferring Oor or converting them to hit points and other resources. Ultimately, the magic system gives a lot of power to our small heroes, who normally wouldn’t seem like they can face the challenges ahead of them. They are, of course, the only guardians of Or’Mya…and there are some great and powerful forces out there who wish to root out all of the Oor for themselves, destroying the planet in the process if they have to!
Not Just For Kids
While the characters in the Wardlings Campaign Guide are children, this campaign setting is not restricted to child players at all. The book is whimsical with gorgeous fantastical art, but the rules are still very much 5th Edition! The artists at Renegade Game Studios were able to take my new creations and blend them with the existing WizKids minis in a cohesive book with gorgeous illustrations, clean diagrams, and a fresh layout that I’m sure will entice players of all ages. I can’t wait to hear all of the tales that come from campaigns on Or’Mya. As an RPG designer, that’s the best part of all of this – the stories that others create from our small nudge of placing a book in their hands.
Wardlings miniatures are currently available at friendly local game stores, and The Wardlings Campaign Guide will be available in friendly local game stores in April.
Elisa Teague began her career in the game industry nearly 20 years ago and has worked with the greatest game publishers around, designing games such as Geek Out!, Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk, Apocrypha Adventure Card Game, Lions Tigers and Bears, Oh My!, and writing adventures and other work to various RPGS such as Dungeons & Dragons, Castles & Crusades, Kids on Bikes, and more.