13–20 January 2020: IP Law; Adventure Zone; Anticipated Games

Cover Art from Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited!

Well… Oops!

A combination of Cylon betrayal and day jobs got our week off to an interesting start, and we’re a day late on today’s update! Thanks for your patience while we got things back up and running.

Livestreaming is in the mainstream this week, with news of an animated series of D&D actual play, The Adventure Zone, clearly following in Critical Role’s footsteps. Speaking of which, the upcoming Critical Role sourcebook for D&D is also making headlines — and reached a bestseller position unheard of for RPGs.

A court case with the European Union Intellectual Property Office could have consequences for games looking to use the word “Dungeon” in their name.

And oh, boy, some new product announcements: a comic RPG; a 3rd-ed campaign revived, a dark fantasy sourcebook, and that two-syllable word that makes Amy’s wallet fly open: GUMSHOE.

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Popular Streams Make Waves

An animated series based on the popular D&D actual play, The Adventure Zone, is in the works at Comcast’s new streaming service, Peacock.

After the release was spoiled by Amazon last week, the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount has been officially announced. Co-writer and Critical Role Dungeon Master, Matthew Mercer, issued a statement responding to some of the negativity surrounding the announcement.

The book briefly hit the #1 spot on Amazon’s bestselling books, but Mercer has urged fans to buy the book through Friendly Local Game Stores. (Or, hey, you could order it through ours.)

State of Gaming

A recent case at the General Court of the European Union Intellectual Property Office has strengthened Wizards of the Coast’s IP claims on the term “Dungeon”, potentially preventing other games from registering trademarks that are primarily comprised of that word.

ICO Partners releases its annual report on Kickstarter Games, showing continued growth in the tabletop gaming category.

Naturally, the role-playing side of tabletop gaming is far out-performed by the board-gaming side.

USA Today looks at Dungeons & Dragons resurgence.

RPG History

Age of Ravens continues its history of Universal RPGs.


Owen K.C. Stephens reflects on the difficulty of finding full-time jobs in RPGs.

Gen Con seeks an accountant.

Upcoming & New Releases

EN World releases its list of the most anticipated new RPGs of 2020.

DC Comics will release a Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook for its dark fantasy comic series, The Last God.

Monte Cook Games announces a reboot of Monte Cook’s D&D 3rd edition campaign setting, Ptolus, for 5th edition and Cypher System.

Cubicle 7 releases an update on its Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay releases for 2020.

2019 saw the departure of WFRP line editor Andy Laws, and a number of promised WFRP releases that never appeared — particularly, books from the rebooted Enemy Within campaign. This update makes no new promises for Enemy Within releases, emphasizing other sourcebooks. It suggests that there has been a course correction on Cubicle 7’s part.

Free League announces Symbar: The Mother of Darkness, a campaign for dark fantasy RPG, Symbaroum, coming January 28th.

Pelgrane Press announces The Slithering God, a 5-part campaign for upcoming GUMSHOE fantasy RPG, Swords of the Serpentine.

I remain very excited for Swords of the Serpentine. I also take note of the number of women on the team for this particular book: a rare delight. Do we do picks of the week for non-Kickstarters? — Amy

Pelgrane Press announces Black Star Magic, a sourcebook detailing magic for the Yellow King RPG.

The GUMSHOE community content program is now live.

Larian Studios, developers of the upcoming computer RPG, Baldur’s Gate 3, are teasing an announcement coming 27 February.

Boy does the computer games industry love to build hype. Trailers for trailers, teasers for teasers, announcements about announcements…

Bundles & Deals

Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of Stygian Fox horror RPG sourcebooks, and a bundle of Indie RPGs from its earlier bundles.

The Fantasy Age Basic Rulebook is on sale in aid of firefighting efforts in Australia.


Noteworthy New Projects

Full-Color Custom Miniatures with Hero Forge 2.0: Updating Hero Forge’s 3D-printed minis to include full-colour options, by Hero Forge — February 14th

Hero Forge’s 3D print-on-demand service enters its next stage with full-colour minis. Thus far it has almost 20,000 backers who have raised almost $1.7m in its first week. This compares with their launch campaign in 2014, which raised $360,000 from 5,000 backers. That’s a fairly big vote of confidence in the service.

The Adventurer’s Tarot: A fantasy-themed tarot deck for use in 5e and other RPGs, by Weird Works (RPG Stamps) — February 1st

The campaign has already raised over $68,000 from nearly 2,200 backers. To be absolutely clear, this is a tarot-style set of cards, not an actual themed tarot deck. It is doing remarkably well for a campaign of this type — we’ve noticed it being extensively advertised for online and that seems to be paying off for them.

Portrait Workshop: A mobile app for creating customized character portraits, by Worldspinner LLC (Worldspinner: Fantasy RPG Worldbuilder & Map Maker) — February 10th

A perfectly decent looking app for designing fantasy PCs and NPCs. Having all the character portraits face-on looks like it will make them all a little samey, but developing 3D models would obviously be significantly more challenging. This has raised $35,000 from over 1,200 backers so far.

5e & Pathfinder

Monsters of the City for 5E RPG: A book of urban monsters for D&D 5e, by Cawood Publishing (Monsters of Feyland for 5th Edition, Monsters of the Underworld for 5E) — February 13th


Very Pretty Paleozoic Pals: Permian Nations: A Permain setting for the TROIKA! RPG, by Daniel Sell/Melsonian Arts Council (Fungi of the Far Realms, TROIKA! RPG) — February 11th

General Fantasy

Libreté: A modified Powered by the Apocalypse RPG about children trying to survive in a haunted, abandoned city, by David Shugars (Magical Industrial Revolution, The Demon Collective, Vol. 1) — February 1st

Note that this campaign originally launched in September 2019, but was cancelled.

Glitch: “Retired world-killing void gods solving mysteries”, by Jenna Katerin Moran (Nobilis, Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine) — February 6th

Moran’s Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine made waves a few years ago, and her Nobilis is famous for its production values if nothing else. Glitch seems very similar in terms of theme, mechanics and aesthetics to Nobilis. I always admired Nobilis, even if I don’t think I really “got” it and I find Glitch similarly tantalising. I can’t deny I’m tempted. — James

James showed me his copy of Nobilis recently, and, not to make him feel older than necessary, it felt like being a kid getting introduced to classic rock. I’m intrigued about this one too. — Amy

Science Fiction

High Colonies: A hard science fiction RPG about space colonists living after the death of Earth, by Columbia Games (Cities of Hârn) — February 23rd

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

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