Thanks to the influence of things like Dungeons & Dragons and The Lord of the Rings, most fantasy is colored with a very distinct, very European take. But tabletop role-playing game Ehdrigohr takes a lot of the trappings people like about Dungeons & Dragons and its ilk and gives them an entirely different perspective: an indigenous, predominantly American Indian one.
That has some huge effects on Ehdrigohr, making it distinct from what most people think of when they think of tabletop RPGs. Writer Daniel Starkey, an American Indian himself, describes Ehdrigohr in a fascinating feature at Boing Boing’s Offworld blog. It’s not a game that focuses on huge dice-rolling battles or exploring dungeons; instead, Ehdrigohr reflects a number of Native cultural ideas and myths, and translates them into gameplay systems that focus on connecting with other players and characters and interacting with the world on a mental and spiritual level as much as a physical one.
Starkey spoke to Allen Turner, the game’s creator, about making Ehdrigohr over several years, specifically because Turner struggled to find games in which Native peoples and perspectives were on equal footing with European cultures:
”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 & 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.”
You can learn a whole lot more about Ehdrigohr by reading the rest of Starkey’s feature at Offworld.