9–15 September 2019: D&D History, Consent in Gaming, Carnival Row

We are beginning to see the news pick up again after the lull of the last few weeks.

There are rumblings about Kickstarter’s anti-union practices, and we see one publisher considering whether to continue using the platform. We could see a call for a boycott in the near future, and we will be interested to see how publishers respond.

We see a few more tidbits of RPG history, which focus on the contentious ways in which early industry figures are remembered: Chaosium founder, Greg Stafford, is memorialised; TSR CEO, Lorraine Williams, is villainised; and Dungeons & Dragons co-creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, battle over credit from beyond the grave.

The RPG present is also contentious this week, as a publication on consent stirs up a hornet’s nest of angry comments.

There’s also some eye-raising marketing; another community content program; and a bumper crop of crowdfunding projects.

Featured Image: Consent in Gaming cover art from Monte Cook Games. Artist: Mirco Paganessi

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The Business End

Crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter has come under fire for anti-union practices. In May, the platform refused to recognise Kickstarter United, a trade union of its employees, and now, Slate reports that the company has fired two union organisers. At the time of writing, Kickstarter United has NOT called for a Boycott, but Evil Hat publishing has delayed an upcoming Kickstarter while they assess whether to continue to use the platform.

Wizards of the Coast is hiring an Executive Producer.

RPG History

Benjamin Riggs presents an anecdote about how Lorraine Williams, then CEO of Dungeons & Dragons publisher, TSR, passed on the license for Lord of the Rings RPGs.

In a certain kind of Dungeons & Dragons hagiography, Williams is villainised: simultaneously conniving and imbecilic, she is the businesswoman who steals Gygax’s company from him, and then drives it into the ground for personal gain. Gygax is the genius artist, these narratives have it, and Williams is “the Man”.

We’re a little sceptical of this anecdote because of how easily it fits into that simplistic narrative, and how little detail it gives about what the deal was, or why Williams felt the need to pass. It is quite possible that this was simply a blunder on her part. But we recommend that you take this story with a pinch of salt.

Chaosium announces #WeAreAllUs: a campaign to play games in memory of Greg Stafford from October 10–31.

Michael Tresca gives us the contradictory histories of Dungeons & Dragons written by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in Heroic Worlds.

Jonathan Tweet details the creation of the Ars Magica RPG.

Upcoming & New Releases

Monte Cook Games releases Consent in Gaming, a free guide to handling mature content in games.

This has been a polarising product, and comments and reviews have become heated and toxic. We are very much in favour of books which help gamers play safely and kindly, but it has been interesting to see how many people see this product as an affront. There’s a strange cultural war going on over consent in gaming, and this book sure did kick it up.

Nerdist Industries release a free RPG based on the Carnival Row fantasy TV show, based on the Cypher System.

What an interesting piece of promotion! Nerdist is a part of Legendary Entertainment, who are co-producers of Carnival Row. We wonder if we’ll see more of this from Legendary, Nerdist, and Geek & Sundry, which is also part of Legendary.

Paizo releases Torment and Legacy, a demo adventure for Pathfinder 2nd Edition.

Wizards of the Coast reveals the new cover for Eberron: Rising from the Last War.

Chaosium announces the Jonstown Compendium community content program for the Glorantha roleplaying games.

We have been seeing a lot of community content programs launching this year.

D&D Game Designer Adam Lee talks about the scene in Mad Max: Fury Road that inspired Descent into Avernus.

Bundles & Deals

Bundle of Holding offers a bundle of Torg Eternity products.

Crowdfunding News

Closing Soon

The Book of Unusual Potions is a systemless book of ideas for, ahem, adding a bit more fizz into the potions in your games. It has been moderately successful, with almost 1,400 backers raising over $51,000. This is creator Philip Reed’s sixth roleplaying-related project and he has developed a fair track record producing practical player aids and zines. Sometimes simple ideas can punch above their weight. Closes September 16th. 

Fantasy 5e & Pathfinder

Ghoul Island: A campaign for Cthulhu Mythos 5e, Sandy Petersen’s Lovecraftian hack of 5e, by Sandy Petersen/Petersen Games (Cthulhu Wars, Glorantha: The Gods’ War) — September 20th

Given Sandy Petersen’s CV (he is the creator of Call of Cthulhu), it isn’t much of a surprise that this short Kickstarter campaign has been an instant hit, raising over $53,000 from more than 1,800 backers. Unlike a lot of Petersen Games’ board games, which have been notorious for delays, this project promises to be fulfilled straight away.

Harper’s Tale: An Adventure Path for DnD 5e: A 5e adventure path in aid of Friends of Kids with Cancer, by Matt Corley — October 6th

Scarred Lands Creature Collection for 5th Edition RPG: The first third edition bestiary, updated to 5e, by Onyx Path — October 12th


Low Fantasy Gaming – Companion: A supplement of new options for the Low Fantasy Gaming RPG, by Pickpocket Press (Low Fantasy Gaming) — October 9th

General Fantasy

Forbidden Lands – The Bitter Reach Campaign and Reprint: A campaign for (and a second printing of) the Forbidden Lands RPG, by Fria Ligan (Symbaroum, Tales from the Loop) — October 2nd

Nordlond Sagas for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG: Two adventures and a supplement for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, Powered by GURPS, by Douglas H. Cole (Four Perilous Journeys, The Citadel at Norðvorn) — October 13th

Hyper Light Drifter: Tabletop Role-Playing Game: A roleplaying game based on Hyper Light Drifter, an award-winning indie computer game, by Andreas Walters (Baby Bestiary, Embers of the Forgotten Kingdom) — October 19th

General Sci-Fi

‘Henshin! A Sentai RPG’ Deluxe Book: A deluxe, print edition of a digital-first RPG based on the Super Sentai shows (for the uninitiated like us, the shows from which Power Rangers was adapted), By Cave of Monsters Games — October 9th

Powered by the Apocalypse

Glitter Hearts: A game about magical, transforming heroes, by Greg Leatherman — October 3rd

Online Tools

Make GM Binder the BEST Tabletop RPG Content Platform Ever: An update to GM Binder, an RPG document management tool, by Levi (ivel) Rosol — October 17th

This update was made possible by Keenan Collett and the rest of our Patreon supporters.

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