16 December 2019–5 January 2020: Pay-What-You-Want, Year in Review, New GM Month

And we are back! We’re rested up after a long holiday, and trying to convince ourselves that 2020 is a real year, not just the exposition at the start of a dystopian movie. News of war and wildfire is not helping with that.

Our first update is a largely retrospective one, as we catch up on all the years-, decades-, quarters-in-review that were released in our absence.

Meanwhile, the new year is starting to gear up with announcements of new games: the return of a sci-fi horror, the return of ZineQuest, the return of classic Cyberpunk books — oh, okay, quite a lot of returns.

Well, many happy returns to you from your returning d100ers!

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Reflections on the Year/Decade

ICv2 releases its quarterly statistics on RPG sales for Summer 2019. Pathfinder rises to the second position after its slump during the switch to second edition. Shadowrun also appears in the top five after the release of 6th edition.

StreamElements’ report on streaming trends in 2019 estimates the peak viewership of Dungeons & Dragons at 13 million viewers.

ICv2’s Rolling for Initiative looks at four trends in board- and role-playing games over the last decade.

Game Informer lists its best RPG releases of 2019.

Bundle of Holding releases its 2019 review.

GeekNative looks at the top-selling superhero RPGs of 2019.


Michael Tresca looks at Pay What You Want models in the RPG market.

The latest stats from D&D Beyond confirm accepted wisdom that very few D&D games reach high levels.

Digital D&D

D&D Insider, the electronic supplemental tool to D&D 4th Edition, closed on January 1st.

GameRant looks at the past and future of D&D-based computer games.

Fun Stuff

It’s New Game Master Month!

These cassette tape character sheets are incredible.

Vincent Baker begins a series of articles on the creation of Powered by the Apocalypse games.

RPGs in Mainstream Media

Michael Tresca looks at three examples of media perceptions of D&D from 2010, showing how far we have come.

Forbes has been discussing more and more RPG content in its Games section, largely driven by contributor Rob Wieland.

“Major Newspaper Surprised By How Often It’s Been Surprised By Renewed Popularity of RPGs”

This made me chuckle but I’m tempted to write the response, Major RPG News Site Surprised by How Often it’s Been Surprised By Major Newspapers Noticing RPGs. — Amy.

RPG History

Age of Ravens begins a history of Universal RPGs.

Ben Riggs reflects on a long-forgotten lawsuit by TSR against Wizards of the Coast.

Jim Ward reflects on the early purges of TSR, and the time he was fired (and then re-hired).

New & Upcoming Releases

Kickstarter announces ZineQuest 2, a revival of its 2019 project to promote RPG zines projects. The campaign will run in February.

Contested Ground Studios’ sci-fi horror game, A|State, is returning under the helm of Jon Hodgson’s new studio, Handiwork Studios. The game will use the Forged in the Dark system.

Pelgrane Press releases a D&D 5e conversion of the 13th Age campaign, Eyes of the Stone Thief.

Interesting — we’ve seen Pathfinder flirting with 5e conversions, and now we’ve got the other 3rd edition descendent doing the same.

Modiphius’ Vampire: The Masquerade 5th edition campaign, Fall of London, arrives in March.

Paizo announces the Advanced Player’s Guide and a new Bestiary Pawn Box for Pathfinder 2nd Edition.

R. Talsorian releases three classic Cyberpunk supplements for print-on-demand on DriveThruRPG.

Onyx Path releases the Aeon Expansion for Trinity Continuum: Aeon.

Call of Cthulhu officially launches on Roll20 with a free adventure.

EN World interviews Matt McElroy about the Year of the Road, a community content event for the World of Darkness.

Ultra PRO announces a new wave of D&D vinyl figures.

Bundles & Deals

Bundle of Holding is running two bundles of The One Ring gamebooks.

This one is only live for a few more hours, so grab it while you can!

Meanwhile, Humble Bundle offers a bundle of Adventures in Middle-earth books.

Chaosium makes the RuneQuest Glorantha Bestiary Pay-What-You-Want, asking buyers to donate towards fire fighting and recovery in Australia.

Bundle of Holding also releases a bundle of Campaign Cartographer products and a bundle of City Designer products.


Asmodee is hiring a livestreaming GM.

Note: This is a zero-hours contract position.

Crowdfunding News

Our time off means that we’ve unfortunately missed a number of projects that have opened and closed over the holidays.

Noteworthy New Projects

Cults of the Blood Gods for Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Ed.: A sourcebook for Vampire: The Masquerade 5th edition, introducing the “twisted faiths” of vampires, by Richard Thomas/Onyx Path — January 16th

With nearly 2,000 backers raising $117,000 and 11 days still to go, this is shaping up to be a fairly successful campaign by Onyx Path’s standards. But it is interesting, to me at least, that it hasn’t done better and its performance has been comparable to the more successful Chronicle of Darkness projects. — James

5e & Pathfinder

Cha’alt: Fuchsia Malaise: A 5e-compatible OSR adventure of gonzo science-fantasy, by Venger Satanis (Cha’alt, Trinity of Awesome!) — January 11th

Science Fiction

The Starship Warden: A sandbox sci-fi adventure set inside the colossus of a lost starship, by Stephen Chenault/Troll Lord Games — January 10th

Last Fleet RPG: Powered by the Apocalypse drama in the style of Battlestar Galactica, as the last of humanity flees an inhuman foe, by Josh Fox and Becky Annison/Black Armada (Bite Marks, Flotsam: Adrift Amongst the Stars, Lovecraftesque) — January 31st

Black Armada has had a string of indie hits and is steadily growing a reputation as one of the UK’s most interesting development teams. Battlestar Galactica is Amy Kryptonite, and Powered by the Apocalypse is one of my favourite systems, so this is likely to find its place on our gaming table before long. — James

So say we all! — Amy

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

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