This American Indian Dungeons and Dragons lets you weave powerful stories
Ehdrigor, a game created by a black, American Indian game designer, gently reflects the Native experience, and how that approach to storytelling differs from Western narratives.
Ehdrigohr is nothing like those haphazard fumblings. Designed over the course of several years by black, American Indian game designer Allen Turner, Ehdrigohr filters Dungeons and Dragons-style roleplaying experiences through a distinctly Native cultural lens rather than a European one.
“Ultimately it came down to wanting [a game] that spoke to me, where I could see myself and my friends as characters or heroes, and feel like they belong,” says Turner. Although he’s a big fan of table-top roleplaying games, he made Ehdrigohr precisely because he couldn’t find anything that integrated Native culture into its play and treated Natives as equals.Dungeons and Dragons may have some Indian-inspired tribes in its expansions, but they are always treated as different or inferior. Indigenous weapons do less inherently damage than an equivalent weapon wielded by a dwarf or elf, not to mention the gross depiction of Natives using primitive clubs. In all cases, we’re treated as intrinsically lesser.
Ehdrigohr starts from the base assumption that there are no colonizers. There are also no dwarves, orcs, elves, or gnomes. It’s a world populated by nine nations of humans, inspired primarily by Native cultures and mythologies. They’ve learned to coexist with spirits and natural forces around them, but must also contend with monstrous creatures called “Shivers” that emerge at night from dark places inside the Earth. It’s a black-and-white mythos that reflects many of the values inherent in Native culture—at least as I’ve experienced it.
It’s an incredibly broad and flexible game, one where you can create almost any character imaginable, or even choose to play without any combat at all. You won’t need a vast array of multifaceted dice in order to play, and where Dungeons and Dragons has very exact and specific rules about how far you can move each turn or how many items your character can carry, Ehdrigohr lets you do whatever seems reasonable. Like Indian time, it sounds like a shortcut or a recipe for disaster, but in practice it allows people get deeper into playing their roles—to focus on the experiences in front of them, rather than externally imposed systems.