27 May–2 June 2019: UK Games Expo; Unsafe Gaming; RPGs on screen

Welcome to Pride month, everybody! From our queer hearts to yours, we hope you have a safe and happy one.

This past weekend was the UK Games Expo, the largest gaming convention in the UK. Unfortunately, the big news coming out of the con is an incident involving distressing content in one of the con games.

There’s a lot of news this week about RPGs on TV and in computer games, with a few histories of old adaptations, and a few announcements of new ones.

And as always, there’s also some RPG history, some sneak peeks, a bundle of books, and a bunch of new kickstarters.

Help us live keep the air-con lights on and the champagne water flowing by supporting us on Ko-fi.

(Un-)safe gaming

Content Warning: This story contains discussion of sexual assault as a subject in RPGs. Although we have not linked directly to any explicit content, comments and replies are upsetting in places. Browse with care. If you’d like to skip to the rest of the news, click here.

The UK Games Expo took place this weekend, and the line-up of RPGs was marred by one particular game. An RPG event, run using Free League’s Tales from the Loop (though not organised by Free League), included (without warning) a scene in which the player characters were raped, to the distress of the players.

One of those players, Anjuli (a.k.a. GeekGirlBookWorm), tweeted about the game, prompting a wide outcry, and a discussion regarding player safety at the convention, and in RPGs generally. This caught the attention of the mainstream media, and the incident was reported on (sensationally and with errors) by a handful of national newspapers.

We were able to connect with Anjuli to get some perspective on the incident. Although some steps taken by the convention to ensure safe play seem to have failed (the GM running the game in question was the room officer, and other channels for communicating issues seem to have been unclear or unavailable), Anjuli was impressed by the way the incident was handled by the Expo’s directors once they became aware of it.

The GM’s games were cancelled, and he was expelled from the convention. As a result of these events, the Expo’s directors are reviewing their game submission process, as well as their safety procedures going forward. Anjuli is hopeful that these steps will yield a safer experience for players in future.

I am taking it as read here that it is a bad thing to unexpectedly introduce sexual assault at a table, where it is likely to trigger trauma for many players. Assuming that you’re willing to acknowledge the need to play games in ways which avoid psychological harm, there are a number of tools for enabling players to communicate discomfort safely: Breakout Con has a good list of some of the more popular methods, which they use at their convention.

RPGs on Screens

There’s an animated series based on Magic: The Gathering coming to Netflix. Although this is not strictly RPG news, it will be interesting to see what this could mean for certain other Wizards of the Coast properties…

CBR gives us a history of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, and calls for a Dungeons & Dragons TV show to replace Game of Thrones.

EN World gives us a list of RPG-themed episodes in cartoons.

Gamereactor gives us a history of the Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines computer game, and its oft-forgotten predecessor, Redemption.

Wizards of the Coast and mobile games developer, Ludia, launch Warriors of Waterdeep, a free-to-play turn-based RPG.

Laria Studios, makers of Divinity: Original Sin 2, might be hinting a new Baldur’s Gate game.

We get some details about the enhanced editions of Baldur’s Gate and other classic Dungeons & Dragons computer games coming to console later this year.

RPG History

James Ward discusses the history of the Deities and Demigods rulebook for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, a book which became the centre of a conflict over copyright for its use of material from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos and Michael Moorcock’s Melnibonéan mythos.

Game historian, Shannon Appelcline talks about the economics of manufacture in board games, focusing on the scarcity of Elizabeth Hargrave’s Wingspan. We don’t ordinarily report on board game news, but there’s some wisdom here that’s relevant to roleplaying games, and a glimpse at the near-collapse of RPG publisher, Chaosium, in the mid 90s.

Games Awards

The UK Games Expo gave out its awards for the best games of the year. These included several RPG categories, including:

  • Best Role-playing Game: Forbidden Lands, by Free League
  • Best Role-playing Expansion: Adventures in Middle-earth Bree-land Region Guide, by Cubicle 7 Games
  • Best Role-playing Adventure: The Cthulhu Hack: Valkyrie Nine, by All Rolled Up
  • Best New Accessory: Giant Book of Battlemaps, by Loke BattleMats

Meanwhile, self-nominations are now open for judges for the 2020 ENnies. Previous panels for these awards have drawn criticism for their lack of diversity: this year, for instance, the panel is entirely male.

If you know any women, people of colour or LGBT folk who should be judging, please encourage them to apply. We desperately need better representation at the ENnies.

Upcoming Products

Comicbook.com talks to Nathan Stewart, senior director of Dungeons & Dragons, about the recently announced Essentials Kit. The discussion gives us an interesting glimpse at company strategy. By collaborating with discount department chain, Target, to sell a product designed to introduce single players to the game, the company is clearly pushing to expand the game even further into the mainstream.

Cubicle 7 gives us more details about the rules of its Warhammer: Age of Sigmar tabletop RPG, Soulbound.

Last weekend was PaizoCon, and Paizo offered some sneak previews of Pathfinder Second Edition to drum up excitement for the game’s release in August.

Cubicle 7 announces a massive, 10-book collectors edition of its revised Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign, The Enemy Within.

Shadowrun Line Developer, Jason Hardy, talks about the development of Sixth World, the game’s sixth edition.

R. Talsorian details the Jumpstart Kit for its forthcoming Cyberpunk Red.

Deals and Bundles

Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of Fantasy Hero products.

Crowdfunding News

Closing Soon

Traveller Fifth Edition: this project has raised over $135,000 from over 1,000 backers. Led by Marc Miller, the original creator of Traveller, it is a reprint and tweak of Traveller5, which was originally published in 2013. This is not to be confused with Mongoose Publishing’s Traveller 2nd edition, which is also currently in print (after 45 years, the publishing history of a lot of the “classic” RPGs has now got extremely convoluted) — June 6th.

General Fantasy

The Dark Eye – Magic of Aventuria: A supplement for The Dark Eye, featuring new spells, as well as setting material and an adventure, by Ulisses Spiele (The Dark Eye, TORG Eternity) — June 18th

Savage Worlds

The After: A sci-fi, post-apocalyptic savage frontier setting for Savage Worlds Adventure Edition, by Jon Gibbons/Jade Monkey Studios — June 21st

Urban Fantasy / Horror

Quietus: A no-prep game of melancholic horror with rules inspired by the Forged in the Dark system, by Oli Jeffery — June 30th

This looks very interesting to me. Having just finished (paused) our latest Scum & Villainy campaign, also Forged in the Dark, I can see how the system could be skewed to a horror game. Plus, the production on this one looks very slick. — James

Film and Animation

JourneyQuest 4: The fourth season of the fantasy comedy series, by ZombieOrpheus (Attacking the Darkness, Strowlers Preludes) — July 13th

I feel a sense of nostalgic duty toward Zombie Orpheus, the production company behind amateur gamer-related cult films like Gamers: Dorkness Rising. The stuff they make is weird, low budget, kind of hammy, and a little cringeworthy at times, but I’ll probably be quoting them in my head until the day I die. Flaming hand of fiery doom. I seduce the priestess! — Amy

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