In this week’s news divisiveness is a key subject, as two stories showcase the ways in which our hobby is split.
There is anger around the new Critical Role D&D sourcebook, and the divisions it shows in the D&D fandom. And then there is (somehow) controversy around Evil Hat’s claim that Lovecraft is racist.
We get a host of sales figures: Critical Role making a massive impact, while the top-selling list of a distributor suggests that D&D doesn’t sell in hobby shops.
But First: Our First!
Today, to my complete astonishment, marks the first anniversary since the first issue of d100. It has been a very good year. Thank you to all of you who have read our stuff, who have written in, who have thrown support our way. We would never have made it without you. Roll on year 2! — Amy
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Gamers Divided (& United)
Comicbook.com looks at the divide in Dungeons & Dragons fandom made visible by the announcement of the Wildemount book, blaming a great deal of it on the lack of support from Wizards for older campaign settings.
This article says something we agree with — that D&D fandom is increasingly a divided fandom — but it focuses on an oddly specific complaint: “How dare WotC release Critical Role instead of Dark Sun/Spelljammer/Al-Qadim…?!”
The settings D&D chooses to release may be a point of vocal argument, but fans who make those arguments don’t feel alienated because their settings aren’t supported: fans complain about settings because they already feel alienated. And there are many reasons for that.
RPGs increasingly take place in separate communities. The world of celebrity livestreaming feels very alien to the world of organised play, which in turn is a far cry from long-standing D&D groups.
Even sales figures show a divide: D&D may be hitting the best-seller lists on Amazon, but it lags behind other RPGs in FLGS sales (see the Diamond Comics numbers below). We are divided not just as players, but as consumers.
Divisions are being driven also by a generation gap, and by racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, which often underlie and motivate complaints about the changing industry.
Focusing on gripes about the Exandria setting is not seeing the forest for a leaf.
Evil Hat tweeted about the section on Lovecraft’s racism & antisemitism in its new RPG, Fate of Cthulhu. As a result, a host of gamergater edgelords, feminist blogs, and gaming news outlets arrived to argue about whether Lovecraft actually was racist, and whether Evil Hat is hypocritical for making money off a racist product, as though either of those subjects was somehow controversial.
He was; it isn’t; they aren’t; I’m not linking to any of those thought pieces because this whole debate is stupid and in bad faith, okay? Okay. — Amy
Inverse records 25 celebrities’ views on how their D&D hobbies have shaped their lives.
Diamond Comic Distributors releases its list of top-selling games of 2019.
As we mentioned above, it’s interesting that D&D barely appears on this chart. This is more-or-less in line of what we see at our own FLGS: D&D sells in vast numbers on Amazon (who can offer far cheaper prices), but it shifts slowly at hobby shops (especially now that Wizards has stopped its practice of offering early releases to brick & mortar stores).
Obviously, this is evidence from one distributor (one that primarily focuses on comics), and one hobby shop. Pinch of salt, &c.
Early indications show that D&D’s upcoming Critical Role sourcebook, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, has the highest pre-order numbers since the core rulebooks.
Evil Hat releases its sales numbers for Q4 2019.
Green Ronin celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Logan Bonner is named Pathfinder Lead Designer at Paizo.
Upcoming & New Releases
Modiphius announces a tabletop RPG based on Bethesda & Arkane Studios’ “whalepunk” Dishonored franchise.
Modiphius already have licenses for Fallout (Minis & RPGs) and Elder Scrolls (Minis), and now a Dishonored RPG. Should we be hoping for any other Bethesda games from Modiphius? Also, when are we getting the Elder Scrolls RPG?
Gen Con is taking applications from stores to host a Pop Up Gen Con.
Pinnacle Entertainment’s Weird Western RPG, Deadlands, will return in 2020.
A new co-op Dungeons & Dragons board game is coming this year.
Dark Horse Comics’ Free Comic Day offering includes a Critical Role story.
Noteworthy New Projects
Tome of Beasts 2 for 5th Edition: A bestiary of original monsters for D&D 5e, by Kobold Press (Deep Magic for 5e, Creature Codex for 5e) — February 22nd
Monster manuals typically do well on Kickstarter, and Kobold Press has a strong pedigree, so it’s no surprise this project has had a strong start (at the time of writing $186,000 from 2,700 backers). Their last comparable project, the Creature Codex, raised $250,000 from nearly 4,200 backers and I’d expect this one to do even better.
I love Kobold Press’s 5e material, and yeah, I will almost certainly back this. My pick of the week. — Amy.
Glorantha: The Gods War (Reprint & NEW Expansions): A reprint of and expansions for the board game set in the Glorantha setting, by Petersen Games (Cthulhu Wars, Cthulhu Mythos) — February 5th
My big complaint about Kickstarter is that it’s dominated by projects featuring huge, beautifully sculpted lumps of plastic. But, um, I’ve backed this one, which has currently raised $230,000 from 1,600 backers. I’m a big fan of Gods War, which essentially allows players to reenact the creation myth of Glorantha, the vast fantasy setting of Runequest, HeroQuest, and 13th Age Glorantha. We all have our weaknesses, and this is one of mine! — James
James & I have very different opinions about Glorantha (a story for another time), but I have played this game, and it is very fun. — Amy
The Adventurer’s Tarot closes on Saturday 1 February. It has already raised $160,000 from 5,000 backers. The final stretch goal, a “Dungeon Mistress” card modelled by Satine Phoenix, has already been unlocked.
What happened to Evy Ashwood? is a one-shot Lovecraft inspired adventure for 5e. The project also includes a Great Old One compendium. For such a modest project it has been quite successful, with nearly 1,200 backers raising £16,000 ($21,000) and still a week to go (ends February 3rd).
5e & Pathfinder
RoverBook: The 5e Notebook: A notebook for 5e players, by Timothy — February 13th
Dungeon Crawl Classics – Le Jeu de rôle: a French translation of the popular OSR game, by Editions Akilios — February 25th
Trophy RPG: A dark fantasy RPG, featuring a system designed for one-shots, a system designed for campaign play, and a system-neutral setting, by the Gauntlet Gaming Community (Codex RPG Zine, Volume 1 Hardcover, Hearts of Wulin) — February 24th
The Gauntlet is an incredibly creative and interesting community that I never feel like I fully ‘get’. Love the look of this, and will probably inflict it on our group soon. — Amy.
Urban Fantasy / Horror
Never Going Home Campaign Dossiers: A collection of supplements for, Never Going Home!, a WWI horror RPG, by Wet Ink Games (Never Going Home: World War Occult Role Playing, Tenebria: Remnant of Rome) — February 10th
Outdoor Encounter Cards 3 – For use with many tabletop RPGs: A deck of random encounter generator cards, by Philip Reed (A Dozen Troubling Rumors, A Dozen Sinister Rumors) — January 31st