As the world erupts in anti-racist protests following appalling police brutality in the US, the RPG industry is taking stock.
Ours is an industry dominated by white creators, full of games characterised by racist & colonialist tropes, frequently hostile to people of colour. We have, for a long time, been due a reckoning. This week, it feels as though we’re on the edge of one…
We’ve seen a number of statements from publishers & creators in solidarity with anti-racist movements. In some cases, companies have made pledges to make internal changes to promote diversity.
More concretely (and let’s face it, concrete action is what matters), bundles, panels, and other fundraisers have been raising money (in one case, millions of dollars) to support anti-racist charities.
As this global anti-racist movement gains traction, it seems at least possible that we could see fundamental positive change in our own corner of the world.
Don’t Support Us
Once again, we’d like to ask that instead of supporting us, you consider donating to supporting anti-racist movements.
Black Lives Matter
itch.io is offering a bundle of over $3000 worth of computer and tabletop games in aid of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund and the Community Bail Fund. At time of writing the bundle has raised nearly $2 million.
I Need Diverse Games founder, Tanya DePass has raised over $160,000 for The Bail Project.
Dungeons & Dragons marked the protests by stopping all Twitch streams, and making charitable donations. The brand had been critiqued for its slow response, and Vice included it as part of a broader critique about lacklustre responses from the games industry.
Paizo released a statement in support of protesters, and promises a charity initiative in coming weeks.
Roll20 commits to supporting Black artists & writers, as well as matching up to $50,000 in donations to Code 2040.
Pelgrane Press will donate 10% of web sales to the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. Monte Cook Games will donate all profits from Heist on Miracle IV to blacklivesmatter.com. R. Talsorian Games donates $2000 to the Bail Project.
Tabletop Micdrop offers a list of Black RPG designers & content creators to follow.
Omega Jones, aka. CriticalBard, hosts a roundtable of black voices in the RPG community.
Egg Embry looks at the wave of RPGs featuring a single artist.
The Gamer looks at the history of Star Wars RPGs.
Michael Tresca looks at the dollar store toy origins of some of D&D’s classic monsters.
Jim Ward reflects on playtesting D&D at Gary Gygax’s table.
New & Upcoming
Free RPG Day reveals the RPGs that will have products available at stores during the event, now due to take place on July 25th.
Bundles & Deals
Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of Legendary Games’ Ultimate “plug-ins” for 5e.
Noteworthy New Projects
Alice is Missing: A Silent Role Playing Game: A small-town mystery RPG played via text message, by Hunters Books (Altered Carbon: The Role Playing Game, Icarus: How Great Civilizations Fall) — June 29th
This is the type of game you would typically expect to be pleased to end its campaign with 500 backers, not one that raises $58,000 from 2,400 people in its first week. This could be due to it coming off the back of the very successful Altered Carbon campaign a few months ago, and the fact that it has arrived during a period when an RPG which can be played by text message sounds like a really neat idea. The fact that it looks great and comes with a Roll20 add on fairly soon after the campaign ends can’t have hurt either.
Oh I want this! — Amy
Fantastic Lairs: Boss Battles & Final Encounters for 5e D&D: A bestiary of boss battles set in the monster’s lair, by Mike Shea (Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master, Fantastic Adventures: Ruins of the Grendleroot for 5e) — July 1st
A solid and useful-looking book (albeit not with a startlingly original concept) — written by a designer with a respectable track record.
I love Mike Shea’s “lazy” approach to games, and I also appreciate that this book focuses on low-level play: not nearly enough epic boss fights for the early game. — Amy
The Coins of Wonder – RPG / DnD 5e Enhancing Collector Coins: A set of collectable coins that double as magic items, by Gametee (World’s Finest Leather Notebooks for Gamers, World’s Finest Wallet of Holding, The Deck of Many Destinies for 5e DnD) — June 14th
You probably don’t need this, but it is very pretty. Its success appears to rest on Gametee’s track record and a very lush campaign page.
The Deck of Many Animated Spells, Tarot and More for 5e has currently raised $850,000 from 6,600 backers. The most popular tier is for the animated tarot deck ($50). Ends June 11th.
Trudvang Adventures – for 5E has currently raised 1.5M SEK ($160,000) from 1,700 backers. The most popular tier is “Adventurer” for the standard books and PDFs (SEK500/$55). Ends June 10th
Exalted Vales: Region and Campaign Guide for D&D 5th edition has currently raised CA$95,000 ($71,000) from 1,300 backers. The most popular tier is “Journeyer – Heralder of the Sphere” for the Hardcover book, card deck, PDF and digital pack (CA$85/$63). Ends June 12th
The Mineralogy Manual has currently raised $58,000 from 1,000 backers. The most popular tier is “Blacksmith” for a hardcover copy of the book, PDFs, digital assets and all stretch goals ($50). Ends June 14th.
5e & Pathfinder
Legendlore RPG: A setting book in which people from our world are transported to a fantasy realm, by Onyx Path — July 2nd
This project was originally launched in May but was postponed due to the lockdown.
Rise of the Ice Dragons Trilogy: A Book of Adventures for 5e: A book of three adventures set in the frozen North, by Midnight Tower (The Secrets of the Drow trilogy, A One-shot Mystery Adventure Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft!) — July 2nd
Age of Antiquity: An Ancient World setting for 5e, featuring Rome, Greece, Egypt, Kush, Parthia & China, by Aruzian Publishing — July 5th
Dancing With Bullets Under a Neon Sun: An OSR arthouse cyberpunk game based on The Black Hack, by Chance Phillips (Phantasmagoria #1: A Sword and Planet Zine for DCC RPG, Blood Floats in Space: A New Setting for the Mothership RPG) — July 5th
Role: A New Kind of Platform For The RPG Community: A gaming platform featuring a DRM-free marketplace, gaming tools, video chat, and gamer matchmaking, by Role — June 19th
Role is looking to compete in a market that’s getting extra crowded lately, and it has certainly chosen an interesting path. Its focus is on diversity, an abstract but admirable goal. Unlike its competitors, it is offering a DRM-free marketplace. More interestingly, on launch it will have no grid — the feature almost all other platforms put front and centre — focusing on video chat instead.
But can you build a successful video chat platform for $60,000? I’m doubtful. Most virtual tabletops don’t have this feature, or have one that barely functions. And why bother? It’s easier to compete with VTTs on character sheets, grids & dice, than it is to compete with Zoom, Skype, & Google, who have spent enormous resources building video chat that works on different platforms & on slow internet speeds.
I adore what this is looking to achieve, but I don’t believe that it’s achievable. Still, I’m backing this. I’ll drop $5 on a beautiful, impossible dream. — Amy
Worldbuilder’s Notebook: A GM notebook with an emphasis on worldbuilding, by Jacob Hurst (Silent Titans, The Tomb of Black Sand) — June 20th
I quite like what’s going on with the reference section in this one. — Amy