27 January–2 February 2020: Military Training; RPG Genealogy

Archetype Entertainment

In this week’s news: how the US military could use RPGs to improve training; an incredible timeline showing the genealogy of RPGs from 1974 to 2019; an audiobook of a classic work of RPG history; content warnings; Firefly; starter sets; deceptive OSR; & some very cute animals.

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RPG Fights

A recent article in the Small Wars Journal looks at how worldbuilding principles from RPGs could be used to improve the scenarios used to train US army personnel.

Yeeeaaahh, I hate this. Generally speaking, I wish the games I played were a less bound up with the military — and a foreign military at that. Using PbtA to get better at winning wars? Yeah, I really hate this. — Amy

Vice looks at content warnings in RPGs, including the recent arguments over Fate of Cthulhu, and the content warnings in Vampire: The Masquerade 5th edition.

RPG History

Pascal Martinolli releases a timeline tree of tabletop RPGs published from 1974 to 2019.

Well, this actually came out last year, but we didn’t discover it until now. At one point we considered making something like this, but seeing it done, we realised the herculean effort it would have taken. What an incredible piece of work this is!

Shannon Appelcline releases an annual review for 2019, and gives an update on the Designers & Dragons ’10s book.

Michael Tresca outlines the possibility that cult space western hit, Firefly, was inspired by a game of the RPG Traveller.

Upcoming & New Releases

Wizards of the Coast’s new digital studio, Archetype Entertainment, announced in April last year, is working on a multi-platform sci-fi computer RPG.

The first volume of Shannon Appelcline’s RPG history, Designers & Dragons, is now available on Audible. (Here’s a link to the book on the UK store.)

Modiphius releases New Blood, a starter set for Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition.

Penguin Random House will release a non-fiction book on Critical Role.

Critical Role Dungeon Master, Matthew Mercer, had released a revised edition of his homebrew D&D class, the Blood Hunter, on sale in aid of Australian fire-fighting efforts.

Bundles & Deals

Bundle of Holding offers a bundle of Beasts & Barbarians books for Savage Worlds.

Crowdfunding News

Noteworthy New Projects

Animal Adventures: Secrets of Gullet Cove: A sourcebook & campaign setting featuring miniatures for adventuring dogs & cats, by Russ Charles / Painting & Polygons (Dungeons & Doggies, Cats & Catacombs) — February 11th

Painting & Polygons’ last two projects were hugely successful, with the unique twist of combining cute (not anthropomorphic) animal minis with a 5e adventure module. This project takes the idea one step further by seeking to fund a sourcebook, including character creation rules and a location guide. It’s a short campaign but has already raised over £250,000 ($330,000) from nearly 4,500 backers. The original Dungeons & Doggies project raised £376,000 ($500,000) from 13,800 backers.

Closing Soon

Portrait Workshop has raised almost $77,000 from just under 3,000, and the campaign still has a week to run (February 10th). It still has a few stated stretch goals to go, which it looks certain to unlock. It will be interesting to see what the finished app looks like.

Glorantha: The Gods War reprint and expansions has raised nearly $229,000 from over 1,600 with a few more days to go (ends 5 February). These are respectable numbers in comparison to the original Kickstarter campaign ($586,000 from nearly 2,000 backers) but only a fraction compared to the numbers raised by most of Petersen Games’ very similar Cthulhu Wars projects, most of which have had more than 4,000 backers — which is similar to Chaosium’s experience of both the Glorantha-based RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu roleplaying games. Fewer tentacles = fewer backers.

Glitch has thus far raised $70,000 from 1,200 backers and is due to end on February 6th. It’s great to see such a distinctive project do so well, no doubt helped by the critical acclaim of Nobilis and Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine.

5e & Pathfinder

5e Monster Lairs – A Book of Monster Themed Mini Dungeons: A book of mini-dungeons for D&D 5e, each themed around a particular monster, by Cameron Wright — February 13th


Swords and Wizardry: Limited and Collectors Edition Box Sets: An OSR game inspired by the D&D white box, Frog God Games (Rappan Athuk: Reborn for Fifth Edition! Go down the Well!, Tegel Manor Returns!) – March 4th

I really dislike the way this project page has been written. Swords and Wizardry is an OSR D&D retroclone that has been doing the rounds for a while now — one of dozens. This project heavily implies it somehow played a key role in the development of D&D 5th edition (as opposed to being a clone of an early edition). It’s very misleading and sets off red flags for me. — James

Niwri’s Marvelous Menagerie of the Multiverse: A bestiary of fantasy animals, compatible with 5e, by Deep Dungeon Games (Harold the Halfling’s Herbology Handbook: Fantastic Flora, Diception) — February 26th

I am charmed, and tempted. — Amy

Science Fiction

Metamorphosis Alpha: An OSR-style horror adventure for the 1976 sci-fi RPG, Metamorphosis Alpha, by Goodman Games (Dungeon Crawl Classics, Age of Cthulhu) – February 13th

Urban Fantasy / Horror

Cobwebs: A GMless neo-noir conspiracy investigation RPG, by Exalted Funeral (The Ultraviolet Grasslands) — February 22nd

The genre & the aesthetics of this one really appeal to me. — Amy


2 Women | 12 Games | Make 100: A printed anthology of 12 RPGs created over 2019, by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul / Angry Hamster Publishing (Afterlife: Wandering Souls, WITCH – a dark, modern fantasy role play game) — February 10th

I’ve had my eye on Angry Hamster’s games for a while now – I picked up Familiars of Terra before Christmas and am very tempted by Witch. The games in this anthology have already been written, funded by Angry Hamster’s Patreon backers, so the content itself has been written. My pick of the week. — James

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

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