9–15 March 2020: Passing the Torch; ALIEN Ascending; Brontë RPGs

Art from Free League's ALIEN RPG, by Martin Grip

Last week we talked game cancellations, this week it’s game… un-cancellations?! We learn the fate of Cubicle 7’s Middle-earth RPGs and Fantasy Flight’s RPGs as both are handed on to new publishers.

Meanwhile, the Origin Awards nominations and ICv2’s Fall 2019 best-seller lists both launch, with Paizo’s Pathfinder and Free League’s Alien appearing on both.

There’s also the Brontës roleplaying, AI game masters, and an RPG-inspired-movie-based-RPG.

I am writing to you from self-isolation, and honestly, this week was hard. News is grim, and we’re a little frightened. We hope you’re looking after yourselves and each other, physically and mentally.

I don’t know if we’ll keep these posts up as regularly in the coming weeks. There is a psychological toll to this pandemic, and we are feeling it. We’re going to take it one week at a time

But that doesn’t mean we’re going away. Drop us a line in comments, or get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter. Tell us what games you’re playing, what books you’re reading, what minis you’re painting.

We’re in this together, friends. Keep your distance, but don’t split the party. — Amy

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The Torch is Passed

Free League takes over Middle-earth license after Cubicle 7 loses it

Free League Publishing will take over the license to produce RPGs based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium from June. This news comes after the peculiar termination of the relationship between Cubicle 7 and Sophisticated Games. Francesco Nepitello, co-author of The One Ring RPG, will continue as lead designer.

We admit we have mixed feelings. Free League make beautiful games and have an excellent track record, so we’re certain that the books that come out of this will be gorgeous. But, we are still in mourning over the end of Cubicle 7’s stewardship, and the loss of many books that will probably never be published.

Sophisticated Games’ statement that “Free League shares all our values,” reads like a hint that Cubicle 7 did not share those values. I’m hoping that’s only sour grapes after what was clearly a fractious end to a business relationship. I’m worried that it suggests an ideological disagreement around the game.

Of course, I’m grasping at straws, but I wish we had a clearer sense of why this relationship broke down, apparently a few weeks before the second edition was due to be published. — Amy

Edge Entertainment taking over Fantasy Flight RPG lines

According to a GAMA presentation, Asmodee will hand over production of Fantasy Flight Games’ RPG lines to Spanish game developer, Edge Entertainment, also an Asmodee subsidiary.

Edge Entertainment is a prolific publisher of translated RPGs, though we are not aware of any original books created by them. Like Fantasy Flight, Edge publishes board games as well as roleplaying games. Our guess is that this move is motivated by the bottom line: it will be cheaper to produce RPGs in Europe than in the US.

Top Games

Nominations for the 2020 Origins awards have been announced. In the Role-Playing Game category the nominees are:

  • Alien: The Roleplaying Game, from Free League Publishing, written by Andrew E.C. Gaska & Tomas Härenstam
  • Over the Edge (3rd edition), from Atlas Games, written by Chris Lites and Jonathan Tweet
  • Pathfinder Core Rulebook (2nd edition), from Paizo Inc, written by Logan Bonner, Jason Bulmahn, Stephen Radney-MacFarland & Mark Seifter
  • Star Crossed, from Bully Pulpit Games, written by Alex Roberts
  • Teens in Space, from Renegade Game Studios/Hunters Entertainment, written by Jonathan Gilmour & Doug Levandowski

ICv2 showcases its top-selling RPGs for Fall 2019. The Alien RPG, released last December, makes its first appearance — perhaps on the back of pre-orders.

Gaming Present, Gaming Past

Dicebreaker looks at the RPG-like games played by the Brontë sisters in the 19th century.

Michael Tresca writes about how Coronavirus is affecting the games industry.

Tresca also looks at how computer game AI fills a similar function to the Game Master.

CNBC looks at the role of Critical Role in catalysing the D&D renaissance.

Bundles & Deals

Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of Blue Rose RPG books.

New & Upcoming Products

Goodman Games announces that its next Original Adventures Reincarnated book will be Castle Amber, the adventure which launched the Mystara campaign setting.

Forgotten Realms creator, Ed Greenwood is teaming up with Alex Kammer to create The Border Kingdoms, a DM’s Guild supplement detailing the titular region of the Forgotten Realms.

USAOpoly and Disney Pixar will release Quests of Yore, a roleplaying game based on the one seen in Onward.

Crowdfunding News

Noteworthy New Projects

More Magic items for 5e: The Griffon’s Saddlebag | Book One: A compendium of magic items for D&D 5e, by Griffin Macaulay — April 11th

Griffin Macaulay has built up a reputation on Instagram and Tumblr and so this Kickstarter campaign launched with a ready-made fan base. So far it has raised $212,000 from 2,800 backers.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Vendetta: A competitive card game based on the Vampire: The Masquerade license by Horrible Games (Alone, Unicorn Fever) — March 25th

Another month, another Vampire: the Masquerade tabletop game! This one may be somewhat suffering from VtM fatigue. It launched just a few weeks after VtM Chapters, which raised almost a million US dollars from over 6,000 backers. Nonetheless, Vendetta has raised a perfectly respectable €101,000 ($113,000) from 2,200 backers.

Beam Saber: A Forged In The Dark RPG about mecha pilots, by Austin Ramsey — April 1st

This project has had a terrific first week for an indie title, raising 56,000CAD ($40,000) from over 1,000 backers. A military science fiction game in the mould of Macross or Gundam, it certainly looks quite slick.

Closing Soon

Towns & Taverns. 2 Modular Books of Battle Mats for Roleplay has currently raised £170,000 ($209,000) from 4,500 backers, which compares very favourably to Loke Battlemat’s previous project giving their dungeon battlemats the same modular book treatment (that raised £176,000 from 5,300 backers). Ends March 22nd.

Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City by the Spire has raised $537,000 from 3,900 backers, meaning it has currently raised more money from fewer backers compared to Monte Cook’s last 5e project Arcana of the Ancients which ended up raising $520,000 from 5,500 backers. No great surprise that this classic setting book has done as well as it has. Ends March 21st.

Stibbles Codex of Companions has currently raised $193,000 from 3,500 backers. Despite the wide range of miniatures, chibis and plushies on offer, the vast majority of backers have simply supported the book. Ends March 21st.

5e & Pathfinder

Tales of Arcana 5E (5th Edition) Race Guide: A collection of weird and wonderful playable races for 5e, by TalesofArcanaRPG (Tales of Arcana: Roleplaying Card Game) — April 13th

Not gonna lie, I really want to play a muppet in D&D. — James

James, your D&D character already acts like a muppet. — Amy


The Greatest Thieves in Lankhmar: A DCC Boxed Set: A sword-and-sorcery adventure set in the Lankhmar setting, for Dungeon Crawl Classics, by Goodman Games — April 4th

General Fantasy

Soulbound – Dark Industrial Fantasy: An RPG about wielding magical weapons bound to one’s soul, by Andi Licht — March 19th

Science Fiction

Ascendancy: A cyberpunk RPG about psychic cyborgs who refuse to be used as weapons, by Ruby Measom — April 6th


Britannia and Beyond, a regional guide for Cthulhu Invictus.: A guide to the province of Britannia for the Cthulhu Invictus setting for Call of Cthulhu, by Golden Goblin Games (Cold Warning – A Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Adventure, An Inner Darkness – For 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu) — April 13th


Dungeon Master’s Advice Dice: Dice for impromptu ideas and on the fly advice for game masters, by Donald Papp — April 3rd

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

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