Indie tabletop RPG raises over $4.6 million on BackerKit in effort to create fantasy title 'unburdened' by Dungeons & Dragons

A party of heroic adventurers charges into battle
(Image credit: MCDM)

An indie tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) from veteran designer Matt Colville has raised $4.6 million on BackerKit, and intends to offer an experience that's "unburdened" by the legacy of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). The crowdfunding effort substantially exceeded its initial goal of $800,000. 

Led by Colville, developer MCDM Productions' project is currently titled The MCDM RPG and promises a "heroic fantasy RPG" experience. Dispensing with the usual twenty-sided dice for which D&D is famous, The MCDM RPG promises modern innovations. Though very much still in development, Colville has revealed that the game does away with attacks that can miss antiquated initiative rules. Instead, every attack hits, and players decide for themselves the order in which their characters act in battle. This is intended to foster a sense of teamwork and drama, without "wasted turns." 

Colville is known for his work on the Dune (2000), Star Trek (2002), The Lord of the Rings (2005) tabletop games, as well as his popular D&D Actual Play series, The Chain of Acheron

TTRPG juggernaut Dungeons & Dragons has become a household name in recent years, with D&D often being used interchangeably with TTRPG to describe pen-and-paper-based role-playing games. For good or ill, Wizards of the Coast's TTRPG titan has a huge amount of cultural influence, having inspired titles ranging from old-school Japanese RPGs to modern blockbusters like Baldur's Gate 3.

In a 50-minute-long video, Colville explained the thinking behind the project. It's a long watch, but well worth a look if you're interested.

The MCDM RPG is positioned as a direct competitor to Dungeons & Dragons. The latter is developed by Hasbro subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, which has been enduring some tough times recently, with layoffs reported at the end of last year (via Forbes). This follows the disquieting trend of games industry layoffs we saw in 2023, which saw companies from Ubisoft to Bungie cut jobs.

In what has been a tumultuous period for game development, it's gratifying to see an independent project raise substantial funds in this way. Personally, I can't wait to see the finished product, and I'm excited to see whether Colville's effort to breathe fresh air into the fantasy TRPG space proves fruitful.

Looking for new adventures that live inside of screens? Our lists of the best RPGs and best story games have you covered. 

Cat Bussell
Staff Writer

Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent. 


Before migrating to the green pastures of games journalism, Cat worked as a political advisor and academic. She has three degrees and has studied and worked at Cambridge University, University College London, and Queen Mary University of London. She's also been an art gallery curator, an ice cream maker, and a cocktail mixologist. This crash course in NPC lifestyles uniquely qualifies her to pick apart only the juiciest video games for your reading pleasure. 


Cat cut her teeth on MMOs in the heyday of World of Warcraft before giving in to her love of JRPGs and becoming embedded in Final Fantasy XIV. When she's not doing that, you might find her running a tabletop RPG or two, perhaps even voluntarily.