20–26 April 2020: Gaming Online; Demographics; Where Your Money Goes

Cover Art for Kids on Brooms by Renegade Game Studios

We’re all still stuck inside, waiting for the doctors, nurses, politicians and Tom Hanks to save us. But this week, things look, well, maybe a little brighter. At least, this week’s news feels a bit more like the good old days.

Of course, gaming online is still the subject of the day: in particular, a Wall Street Journal article looks at how cybersecurity risks affect RPGs — especially when children are playing.

On the business end, Wizards of the Coast releases details on the demographics of D&D’s fan base (there’s bad news if you’re over the age of 45). Meanwhile, we get a detailed breakdown of where your money goes when you buy RPGs.

But most of all, the bright spot this week is in the games: new books for ALIEN, a second edition for Torchbearer, some beautiful prep-free RPG boxes from Storybrewers, and two RPGs about witches that make Amy feel like a kid again.

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Digital Gaming

The Wall Street Journal looks at the cybersecurity risks involved in playing RPGs online.

Wizards of the Coast will donate 2,000 “digital kits” to schools and libraries in the US and Canada help them play D&D and Magic The Gathering virtually.

The Business

Wizards of the Coast calls 2019 Dungeons & Dragons’ best year ever, and releases demographics about the player community.

The absence of players over the age of 45 from these stats has been pretty widely joked about. Your guess is as good as ours. Personally, I’m curious how much of these numbers represent players, and how much represents viewers. — Amy

Fred Hicks of Evil Hat Games looks at where your money goes when you buy an RPG product.

Chaosium announces the QuestWorlds SRD.

Dungeons & Dragons has been nominated for a Drum Marketing Award for the Event/Experiential Strategy category.

Chaosium opens a fulfilment warehouse in Canada.

Once and Future Con

Essen Spiel’s organisers say the convention will go ahead later this year.

Jon Peterson looks at the 1977 Dungeons & Dragons tournament at Origins.

A strange little micro-history. I’m fascinated by how strange and familiar this Dungeons & Dragons feels. — Amy

New & Upcoming Releases

Paramount pushes the Dungeons & Dragons movie to 2022 due to the pandemic.

Renegade Game Studios announces Kids on Brooms, a game about young witches & wizards at magic school, powered by the Kids on Bikes system.

10 POINTS FOR RAVENCLAW! I am pretty excited to get my hands on this.— Amy

Tabletop Playground, a board game simulator, launches a free beta version.

Goodman Games announces the sixth Original Adventures Reincarnated title: The Temple of Elemental Evil.

Storybrewers Roleplaying announces the Littlebox RPGs, a collection of small, no-prep RPGs in boxes.

The concept reminds me of For the Queen, which is also a no-prep RPG in a box. I enjoyed Storybrewers’ Good Society, and I loved For the Queen, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to love these. — Amy

Free League announces a starter set and a new module for the ALIEN RPG.

Bundles & Deals

Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of Star Trek Adventures books.

Humble Bundle is offering a bundle of Forgotten Realms fiction.


Noteworthy New Projects

Deadlands: the Weird West: The Savage Worlds Weird West RPG updated to the latest edition, by Shane Hensley / Pinnacle Entertainment Group — May 13th.

Another Savage Worlds edition, another Deadlands edition to go along with it. This is already Pinnacle’s biggest crowdfunding project since SWAdE (Savage Worlds Adventure Edition) itself, raising $273,000 from 2,300 backers.

Torchbearer 2nd Edition: A new edition of the game of dungeon-crawling survival horror, by Burning Wheel (The Burning Wheel Codex, Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds) — May 16th

The first edition of Torchbearer was a big hit at the time on Kickstarter, raising $65,000 from 1,700 backers. The second edition has already raised $210,000 from 2,100 backers, with weeks to go.

Torchbearer is an odd mashup of old school D&D and belief mechanics of Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard, with a particular focus on survival horror (the name “Torchbearer” stems from the mechanical importance torches have in the game, which could go out at any time plunging your group into total darkness — no Darkvision here). The first edition is interesting, but never quite seemed like a finished game to me. This looks like the real deal. I’m not sure I’d give it a recommendation because it’s a demanding game mechanically, but I’ll almost certainly pick up the finished books. — James

Quest Decks: Adventure Cards for your RPG Games: Adventure cards perfect for a tavern community board, by Dice Dungeons (Dragon Scale Dice – Metal Dice Sets for Tabletop RPG Gaming, Character Coins: RPG Token Sets by Dice Dungeons) — May 14th

New Dungeon Craft Series! Two New Terrain books for D&D: Terrain books featuring “Castles & Keeps” and “Cursed Lands”, by 1986 Games (Dungeon Craft: Build your own battle maps!) — May 21st

Closing Soon

Frosthaven is now the second most funded Kickstarter for a game project, having raised nearly $9m at the time of writing. It is unlikely to overtake Kingdom Death in terms of funds (the latter raised $12m), but it has already eclipsed it in the number of backers (61,000 compared to 19,000). Ends May 1st.

Fireball is another mobile virtual tabletop that promises a hassle-free, immersive experience for everyone involved. At the time of writing, it has raised $44,000 from nearly 2,200 backers. Ends May 2nd.

5e & Pathfinder

Tails of the City: A pulp adventure for Pathfinder 1, 2, and D&D 5e, featuring anthropomorphic animals, by Silver Games LLC (Ponyfinder) — April 28th

Lost Menagerie: a level 7–9 adventure set in a lost plane of existence, for D&D 5e, Pathfinder 1e, and Swords & Wizardry, by Necromancer Games (The Lost Crypt: A Classic Crawl, The Horror Out of Hagsjaw) — April 29th 

Dungeons Your Party Will Die For: 10 mini one-shot adventures for 5e and OSR games, by Laidback Dungeon Master (Shotglass Adventures – 10 adventures for D&D 5e and OSR RPGs) — May 9th

General Fantasy

HârnMaster Boxed Set: An updated box set of the “authentic”, “gritty” medieval RPG HârnMaster, by Columbia Games (High Colonies, Cities of Hârn) — May 4th


Wickedness: A queer GMless, tarot-based RPG about a coven of three witches holding worlds together, by M Veselak — May 23rd

This game hits so close to my teenage-girl heart that I both desperately want to play it and want to run far, far away from it. I’ll probably give this a go. — Amy

Actual Play

Skyjacks: Courier’s Call – Season 1: A new spin-off Actual Play series set in the Decemberists-inspired folkpunk Skyjacks universe, by James Amato (Noisy Person Cards, Dungeon Dome: Season 1) — May 7th


SoundTale – Sound and Music App for DnD and Pathfinder: An app producing atmospheric audio for RPGs, by Darius Sobolewski — May 2nd

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

1 Comment on "20–26 April 2020: Gaming Online; Demographics; Where Your Money Goes"

  1. Perhaps the “Dungeons & Dragons” players over 45 are so old-school that they’ve never signed-up for any of Wizards of the Coast’s web-related stuff? If you don’t tell a company you exist, it doesn’t matter how many rulebooks you’ve purchased over the years.


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