13–19 May 2019: Trade War, D&D Live Announcements, Satanic Panic

This has been a busy week in the industry, and not unexpectedly: D&D Live saw three days of Dungeons & Dragons hype, with a host of product announcements. Another bit of news that we should have predicted: the US Trade War with China could hit the RPG industry soon, with a new wave of proposed tariffs targeting a number of RPG components.

There’s also a whole lot of news coming out of Cubicle 7, a livestream featuring Stephen Colbert, a moving essay on gatekeeping in the industry, and a retrospective on the Satanic Panic.

The Trade War could hit RPGs

The Trade War between the US and China could soon be hitting the hobby industry, as a proposed new wave of tariffs includes the core components of RPGs.

Polygon discusses the situation with the Game Manufacturer’s Association.

We’ll have more on this subject later in the week.

Want to help us weather the trade war with our incorrigible RPG habit intact? Consider supporting us on Ko-Fi.

D&D Live Announcements

This weekend saw D&D Live: a three-day streaming event in celebration of the release of Ghosts of Saltmarsh, which saw a whole series of new product announcements. There was too much for us to round-up ourselves, but one Reddit user has given a pretty thorough summary of the event.

Some highlights include:

D&D announces hellish Descent into Avernus

D&D Live gave us details of the next Dungeons & Dragons adventure: Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus. EN World gives us a round-up of everything we know about the adventure.

The D&D Essentials Kit

Wizards also announced the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit: an introductory set of rules for D&D. The product seems to serve the same function as the Starter Set, though it comes with a new adventure, and (excitingly) includes rules for one-on-one play. The product will launch at Target on June 24th, over two months before it arrives anywhere else.

Eberron hardcover is coming

After the PDF of Wayfarer’s Guide to Eberron, we’re finally getting a hardcover Eberron setting book.

Rick and Morty gets a D&D Adventure

Crossover comic, Dungeons & Dragons vs. Rick and Morty is being made into a D&D adventure. Given that a new Rick and Morty tabletop game seems to come out every week, we are exactly not at all surprised.

Other Upcoming Products

Cubicle 7 takes over Warhammer 40K from Ulisses Spiele

Cubicle 7 announces that they are taking over the license to create Warhammer 40K RPGs from German game publishers, Ulisses Spiele. This is Cubicle 7’s third Warhammer RPG, giving them the license to all three Warhammer settings: the high fantasy, Age of Sigmar, the grim fantasy, Warhammer Fantasy, and now the grimdark future of 40K.

James gives us some context:

It’s not entirely clear what has happened here. Cubicle 7’s announcement suggests they will stick with the Wrath & Glory system and continue a close working relationship with Ulisses Spiele, but Ulisses themselves have removed all mention of Wrath & Glory from their website.

The game certainly seems to have had a mixed publishing history. First announced in August 2017, the game itself appeared to be released in October 2018 but physical copies, in the UK at least, weren’t available in distribution until March this year.

Ulisses’ Wrath & Glory has been well-received, although Tabletop Gaming, while positive about the game itself, described the core book itself as “badly written” and singled it out for the number of mistakes and errors.

Cubicle 7 are apparently committed to producing a revised edition of the Wrath & Glory core book, but in their statement implied that they would be developing Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying games plural – suggesting we may see future releases focusing on more specific parts of the setting.

Two more Cubicle 7 Announcements

Cubicle 7 announces a second edition of its The One Ring RPG, designed to be backwards-compatible with the first edition. It is due to launch between Q4 2019 and Q1 2020. We ought to have predicted this last month, when the company was seeking writers for its Middle-earth books.

Not that we’re biased, but The One Ring is one of our favourite games (we’re about to resume a long-running campaign), so we’re pretty damned excited about this one.

Cubicle 7 has also announced the official name of its Warhammer: Age of Sigmar RPG: Soulbound.

Critical Role and Stephen Colbert stream for Red Nose Day

Critical Role is teaming up with The Late Show host, Stephen Colbert, for a one-on-one Dungeons & Dragons adventure, in aid of Red Nose Day. Those donating to the campaign can vote on key aspects of the adventure, which will air on May 23rd.

More Vampire adaptations

White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade gets another adaptation, this time a narrative RPG from Big Bad Wolf.

Paradox Entertainment does seem to be playing rather freely with its IP here. This Vampire’s second upcoming computer game, and we’ve seen several board and card games announced. With several overlapping editions (the 20th Anniversary line, Chronicles of Darkness, and this fifth edition), the World of Darkness is already punishingly hard to keep track of, and it looks like it’s only going to get more confusing.

Some game previews

Catalyst Game Labs gives us some details about Shadowrun’s 6th edition.

Chaosium gives us updates on their Down Darker Trails weird west series.

Pinnacle Entertainment shows us the proofs of the Savage Worlds Adventure Edition.

Fantasy Flight Games gives us a preview of its Courts of Stone supplement for Legend of the Five Rings.

Minis for Cyberpunk and The Witcher

R. Talsorian is teaming up with Monster Fight Club to produce miniatures for its Cyberpunk and The Witcher games.

RPG History

The National Library of Scotland has launched a retrospective collection of essays and multimedia focused on the 1980s. Included in the first run of essays is a discussion of Dungeons & Dragons and the Satanic Panic, and how it resonates with our modern day experience of fake news hysteria.

Tales of Mystara gives us a look at the Japanese-language translation of the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia, from 1994.

A Brazilian commercial for Renault uses a live action version of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. The mysterious teaser for something coming 23-05-2019 has some wondering if this might be more than a car ad… We’ll find out soon enough.

On the subject of the cartoon, what’s the bet that we see a reboot in the next few years?

Andrew Logan Montgomery talks about the significance of Chaosium’s Pendragon RPG.

Goodman Games republishes Bill Owen’s tribute to the late Bob Bledsaw Sr. of Judges Guild, on the 76th anniversary of Bledsaw’s birth.

The State of the Game

Gatekeeping, Race, and Roleplaying Games

Nick Masyk discusses gatekeeping in Roleplaying Games, particularly as it relates to racism at the table. We liked author N.K. Jemisin’s take on it: “early D&D’s racial essentialism still oozes through the groundwater of fantasy even today.

Kickstarter refuses to recognise union

Kickstarter has announced that it will not recognise Kickstarter United, a labour union organised by its staff.

It’s worth keeping an eye on platforms like Kickstarter, which have had such a profound impact on our hobby.

Martin Ericsson leaves White Wolf

Vampire: The Masquerade 5th edition (V5) creator Martin Ericsson has announced his departure from White Wolf Entertainment/Paradox Interactive by setting up a blog to chronicle the next chapter in his life as a freelance writer and designer. 

As lead storyteller and creative director at White Wolf, he presided over the development of V5 and its rocky launch in 2018 that resulted in Paradox restructuring White Wolf to focus on licensing, while handing the development of the World of Darkness RPG line (including Vampire) to Modiphius Entertainment.

Despite the controversy surrounding V5, Ericsson is confident that he will be rehired by Paradox to consult on the World of Darkness IP. He has also launched an actual play podcast for a new Vampire chronicle which he will be games mastering (in English).

Fantasy Grounds releases new stats

Fantasy Grounds releases new statistics about the games played on its platform.

Third-party Publishing

SyFy discusses DM’s Guild and third-party publishing in RPGs.

A view on the Russian RPG Scene

EN World interviews RPG designer Gleb Igumnov about the RPG scene in Russia.

D&D and Social-Emotional Learning

MindShift discusses the ways in which Dungeons and Dragons can contribute to children’s Social-Emotional Learning.

Deals and Bundles

Bundle of Holding repeats its bundle of A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying Game products. Note: this one closes shortly after we go to print, so if you want it, hop to it!

Bundle of Holding launches a bundle centred around Alderac Entertainment’s 900-page megadungeon, The World’s Largest Dungeon.

Crowdfunding News

Note: See news about Kickstarter’s employee union above.

Noteworthy New Projects

Good Society: An Expanded Acquaintance: Four new expansions for the Jane Austen-themed Good Society RPG, bringing magic, swashbuckling, political intrigue, and the lives of servants to the game, by Storybrewers Roleplaying (Good Society, Alas for the Awful Sea) — June 9th

James recommends: The first Good Society Kickstarter delivered an attractive, unique product. This project seeks to build on it by producing four alternative expansions, two of which build on previous stretch goals, which can be mixed and matched. A very strong first week for a story game.

Fungi of the Far Realms – a fictional fungal field guide: An illustrated encyclopedia of, and system-neutral sourcebook to, fictional mushrooms, by Danil Sell/Melsonian Arts Council (TROIKA!, Crypts of Indormancy) — June 12th

Amy recommends: Everything about this charms me utterly, from the unusual concept (not yet another bestiary, but mycology for your game), to the illustrations (delicate watercolours that remind me of children’s books). The project happens to close on my birthday, and I’m taking it as a sign. What a lovely project…

Closing Soon

Fate of Cthulhu has raised over $76,000 from over 2,100 backers thus far — despite Evil Hat encouraging people from outside of the US who want physical copies to get them from their local game stores instead. Not merely another game using the Call of Cthulhu setting with a different system, Fate of Cthulhu promises a game where you play people who have survived an apocalypse caused by some Lovecraftian monstrosity travelling back in time to prevent it from happening in the first place. A standalone game, it introduces a corruption mechanic in place of the standard Lovecraftian game reliance on insanity. Ends May 21st.

Closing Soon Extended

Kingmaker 10th Anniversary has had its campaign extended by two weeks, now set to close on June 4th. A successful campaign so far by most standards, it nonetheless still has 5 unlocked stretch goals at the time of writing, suggesting that Paizo had hopes that it would have done slightly better than it has. It’s unclear to what extent using Game On Tabletop as opposed to the more familiar Kickstarter has impacted this, or whether other factors at play. A reboot of a classic Pathfinder campaign for that game’s second edition, the Kickstarter also includes add-on items to enable people to run the revised campaign with both Pathfinder 1st edition and 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons.

5e & Pathfinder

GeneFunk 2090: A biopunk/cyberpunk game about mercenaries specialising in investigation and violence, based on the 5e Open Gaming License, by CRISPR Monkey Studios — May 30th

Ultramodern5, a 5E universal sci-fi sourcebook: The second edition of a set of rules for playing sci-fi games in 5e, by Chris Dias (Amethyst – Fantasy & Technology Collide) — June 13th


Dark Trails RPG: A weird West RPG based on Dungeon Crawl Classics, by Stiff Whiskers Press — June 16th

MÖRK BORG: An OSR RPG and art book described by its creators as a “spiked flail to the face”, which is a description that makes me want to have a cup of chamomile tea and play Mouse Guard, but the art sure does look cool, by Johan Nohr — June 16th

Sci Fi & Cyberpunk

Hard Wired Island: A retrofuture cyberpunk game, set in the distant future of… 2020, and inspired by 90s anime, by Paul “Ettin” Matijevic (Retrocausality, Breakfast Cult) — June 14th

Powered by the Apocalypse

Hearts of Wulin: A Powered by the Apocalypse game of wuxia melodrama, by The Gauntlet Gaming Community (Codex RPG Zine, Volume 1 Hardcover) — June 17th

Film & Animation

Tales of Alethrion – Season Two!: A fantasy webseries, including an accompanying roleplaying game, by Mikkel Mainz (Tales of Alethrion – Season One, The Reward – Tales of Alethrion) — June 7th

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