9–15 December 2019: Platforms, Industry Review, Computer RPGs

Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance. Image by Wizards of the Coast/Tuque Games

The office parties are over, long flights home loom, and it’s time for the RPG industry to go into a brief hibernation. Of course, that doesn’t mean that things have been quiet this week!

There’s great news from Kickstarter United, as the union signs a deal with Kickstarter. Meanwhile, DriveThruRPG bans a publisher for slander in a very weird fight involving an RPG about police brutality and a hoax censorship.

We have news on the video (and audio) game front: a Starfinder game comes to Alexa, and a new D&D computer game is announced (and we are assured there will be more to follow).

Let’s see: we also have Alan Moore, kid-friendly RPGs, map cards, Gen Con history, and the Wild West.

Our Holiday Break

And that’s it for the 2019 round-ups! We’re going to take a few weeks off to spend time with our families, eat copiously, and plot out the horrors we’ll be throwing into our RPG campaigns next year. The weekly round-ups will return on January 6th.

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RPG Platforms

Kickstarter United has reached an agreement with Kickstarter to allow a fair process for Kickstarter employees to unionise.

This is excellent news.

DriveThruRPG has banned publisher, Transfelinism, for slander. After a game about police brutality drew complaints, DriveThruRPG removed it from the store temporarily, pending review. During this period, Transfelinism removed all its games from the store, and edited their publisher information to state that it had been banned for “hate speech against an oppressed minority: the police”. The message was clearly intended to mimic a message by DriveThruRPG rather than the publisher. OneBookShelf (DriveThru’s parent) issued a statement on the subsequent decision to ban Transfelinism outright.

Wow. This display of bad-faith outrage is so ludicrous that it feels like an alt-right parody of social justice. I’m not sure if the whole incident is satire, a publicity stunt, or just a temper-tantrum. Either way, it makes me angry. There are some important conversations to be had about what we should expect from platforms like DriveThru. Stunts like this, and the misinformed rage that follow, do nothing for those conversations. — Amy

Industry in Review

RPG Casts (a directory of RPG-related podcasts) releases statistics on the demographics and subjects of podcasts posted to its platform.

I haven’t had the chance to dive into this breakdown yet, but Raymond Holt knows how I feel about people doing stuff like this. — Amy

The Indie RPG Pipeline releases its annual review of the indie RPG scene.

Computer RPGs

Paizo is releasing an Alexa skill which will allow you to play through an adapted version of the Starfinder adventure, Scoundrels in the Spike. The first episode launches today.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of game this is — I expect something like a choose-your-own-adventure or a Fighting Fantasy novel. The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game has given me some faith in Paizo’s ability to make good non-RPGs out of their RPGs, so this could be fun.

Tuque Games and Dungeons & Dragons announce Dark Alliance, a four-player co-op computer game featuring iconic Forgotten Realms character, Drizzt Do’Urden.

Trailer for Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance

That trailer is hella uncanny valley. I’m guessing the result of game models being used in a cinematic style they were never made for. I reserve judgment for the gameplay trailer. — Amy

Wizards of the Coast president, Chris Cocks says to expect “seven or eight” D&D video games in the near future.

Incidentally, Wizards also announced an MMO based on Magic: The Gathering.

Draw Distance releases Vampire: The Masquerade — Coteries of New York, a Telltale-style computer game based on the White Wolf RPG.

The Daily Beast interviews Nick Walton, who designed the AI Dungeon Master we discussed last week.

RPG History

Robert Kuntz reflects on Gen Con IX in 1976.

Age of Ravens gives a history of Wild West RPGs.

Bundles & Deals

DriveThruRPG is hosting a sale on kid-friendly RPGs.

Humble Bundle is offering a bundle of Pathfinder first edition setting material.

Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of Infinity RPG books.

Upcoming & New Releases

Monte Cook Games releases Stay Alive!, a guide to running horror campaigns in the Cypher System.

Paizo showcases its December releases.

Onyx Path releases In Media Res, a collection of adventures for the Trinity Continuum RPG.

Chaosium releases Refractions of Glasston, a Call of Cthulhu adventure written by students participating in the Writing & Editing for Gaming module at Taylor University, which Chaosium collaborated on.

13th Dimension previews the Watchmen Companion, coming December 18th, featuring an editorial about Alan Moore’s involvement in creating the Watchmen sourcebook for DC Heroes.

Crowdfunding News

Kickstarter United

Kickstarter United and the Kickstarter management team have agreed to move ahead with a balloting procedure that both sides have signed up to. This apparently means that the management team have agreed to a position of neutrality and will not pressure staff to oppose the measure. Kickstarter United have welcomed this.

Retropunk is the only campaign this week to state its position on Kickstarter United, including a “We recognise Kickstarter United” badge on their project page.

Closing Soon

Gradient Descent: Module for Mothership. As we said a couple of weeks ago, the success of this campaign, a module for a game which is still in playtesting bodes well for when they eventually get around to launching the finished game, potentially via crowdfunding. Currently, over 1,700 backers have raised over $50,000 for the campaign.  

5e & Pathfinder

Magic Items Unchained: A deck of new magic items for D&D 5e, by Realmware (Arkenforge Tabletop Tools) — December 21st


Retropunk, a cyberpunk tabletop roleplaying game: An old-school-style cyberpunk RPG, by Fraser Simons (Never Knows Best) — December 21st


Sherlock Holmes: Baker Street Irregulars: A cooperative choose-your-own-adventure graphic novel, by A. J. Porfirio/Van Rider Games (Detective: City of Angels, Graphic Novel Adventures) — December 24th


HandyMaps Buildings & Structures – A collection of building floor-plans and illustration handouts, by Glynn Seal (HandyMaps – Town & Village A5 Card Handouts for RPGs, The Midderlands – An OSR Mini-Setting & Bestiary) — December 21st

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

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