To tell you the truth, we are angry. The last week has seen ongoing protest, police brutality, voter suppression, white supremacist warmongering, and a cynical rollback of the rights of transgender people. Perhaps none of this is news. But it is a moment, and in the midst of this moment, it is difficult to write about games.
The politics of this moment are being felt in the RPG world. A decades-old convention has been cancelled after its silence on racism led to an exodus of participants. Racism in Magic the Gathering has been raised — both in the company and on the cards. And numerous companies and platforms have come out in support of Black Lives Matter protests.
There is other news too: the cast of a hit TV show play D&D, a host of new World of Darkness computer games are announced, and Wizards promises a reality TV-inspired RPG experience.
Content Warning: The subject of the day is racism and police brutality against Black people, and several links in this issue contain accounts of both. We have also included one image which references the KKK, as we felt it was important to illustrate the presence of white supremacy in the gaming hobby.
Don’t Support Us
We keep this site going with the support of our backers, but right now, we’re okay. If you’ve got something to give, please consider supporting anti-racist movements in the UK, the US, or wherever you are. In light of the present attack on transgender rights, we’d also like to extend that to organisations like the National Centre for Transgender Equality and Mermaids.
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
Black Lives Matter
Origins cancelled after GAMA’s silence on Black Lives Matter
The Game Manufacturers’ Association came under fire for its silence over the Black Lives Matter protest. A large number of participating organisations and individuals pulled out of GAMA’s upcoming Origins Online digital convention.
Following this backlash, GAMA cancelled Origins Online, apparently in response. However, GAMA’s statement was criticised for framing the decision as an epiphany, rather than acknowledging the walkout of BIPOC participants. (See, for instance, the statement by ROOT publisher, Leder Games.)
Shortly after, GAMA cancelled the in-person Origins Game Fair in light of continued worries about the ongoing pandemic.
Racism in Magic: The Gathering
A document written by former Channelfireball.com editor-in-chief, Zaiem Beg, looks at the culture of racism in the Magic: The Gathering sector of Wizards of the Coast.
Wizards has apologised for and banned seven racist cards from Magic: The Gathering.
One of the cards banned is “Invoke Prejudice”, a card featuring an illustration reminiscent of the KKK, created by Harold McNeill (an artist with a penchant for Nazi imagery and an association with white supremacy). Until recently, the card’s Multiverse ID number was also 1488, a hate symbol associated with white supremacy. At time of writing, the ID has been changed to 485302.
Statements from RPG publishers on police brutality
Cyberpunk creator and R. Talsorian founder, Mike Pondsmith, writes about the dystopian future visible in police brutality.
Mike Selinker has a running thread of companies who have spoken out in light of the Black Lives Matter protests.
Bundles in aid of BLM charities
Itch.io’s Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality has raised over $7 million.
DriveThruRPG offers several bundles of RPG products supporting a number of organisations working against racism and police brutality.
R. Talsorian Games is offering a bundle of Cybergeneration books at twice the regular price, with the proceeds going to the National Police Accountability Project.
PEG inc is selling Hellfighters, a campaign for Weird War I based on the exploits of the primarily African-American 369th Infantry Regiment, in aid of the Innocence Project.
Black creators to follow
Roll20 shares TK Johnson’s list of Black content creators in the RPG industry.
Screenrant reveals D&D Live 20’s main event: Reality RP, an interactive show combining D&D, social deduction, and reality TV. An interview with Wizards of the Coast’s Communications Manager, Greg Tito, discusses the influence of COVID-19 on gaming, increasing diversity in D&D, and the future of D&D adaptations.
D&D’s next storyline, due to be announced at D&D Live, appears to have been leaked: posts on Reddit claim that the D&D Beyond YouTube channel briefly hosted a trailer for Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, before it was taken down.
The last few books were leaked by Amazon, and this one has been leaked by D&D Beyond. At this point, I’m assuming this is just Wizards’ PR strategy. — Amy
A number of Game of Thrones stars will play D&D for Red Nose Day as part of D&D Live 2020.
Yet More World of Darkness
Fast Travel Games announces Wraith: The Oblivion — Afterlife, a Virtual Reality horror game based on the classic World of Darkness RPG, Wraith: The Oblivion.
This is the latest in a string of World of Darkness games licensed out by Paradox Entertainment, owners of White Wolf Publishing.
My university game of Wraith, played in a huddle, by candlelight, remains one of my best gaming memories. The mechanic that made the game truly transcendent for me was the Psyche/Shadow duality: every character has a twisted, self-destructive alter-ego, played by another player at the table. The players are both the protagonists and the antagonists of the game. I don’t think this will capture even a shadow (hah) of that magic for me.
But I’m in for a creepy VR experience, and Wraith feels like a fitting property for that medium. And besides, Paradox’s approach of throwing out licenses like candy will surely result in one or two good games. Why not this one? — Amy
Cyanide releases a new cinematic trailer for Werewolf the Apocalypse — Earthblood.
And a second Werewolf game is in development: Different Tales announce Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest. The indie studio, run by former Witcher creators, previously developed interactive fiction game, Wanderlust.
D&D Beyond releases Legends of Runeterra: Dark Tides of Bilgewater, a mini campaign book set in the world of the League of Legends video games.
Chaosium releases the new edition of the Call of Cthulhu bestiary, Malleus Monstrorum, in PDF.
CBR.com looks at LGBTQ representation in RPG Actual Play shows.
Michael Tresca looks at the origins of D&D’s Bulette in the Japanese TV series, Ultraman.
Roll & Play: The Game Master’s Tabletop Toolkit has currently raised £155,000 ($194,000) from 5,500 backers. The most popular tier is for the book, digital wallpapers and an acknowledgement in the book (£14/$18). Ends June 18th.
Role: A New Kind of Platform For The RPG Community has currently raised $64,000 from 1,800 backers. The most popular tier is “Play Something New” for early access, a year’s subscription, a digital supplement and some other minor benefits ($20). Ends June 19th.
This campaign has grown massively over the past week and is now funded. I’d echo Amy’s caveat emptor from last week, but honestly, $20 is not that much to risk losing for what they’re promising. — James
FATUM. A Character creator Tarot style deck has currently raised €36,000 ($40,000) from 1,200 backers. The most popular tier is for the deck, book, playmat and all unlocked stretch goals, which is currently 15 bonus cards (€25/$28). Ends June 17th.
5e & Pathfinder
BEOWULF: Age of Heroes: A 5e setting for one on one roleplaying in a mythic world inspired by Beowulf, by Jon Hodgson (Jon Hodgson Map Tiles) — June 30th
Okay, I’m normally averse to bigging up 5e setting books but I’ll make an exception here, for 3 reasons. Firstly, I’m a Jon Hodgson fan — loving his work on lines such as The One Ring and HeroQuest — and since switching to online play I’ve been making big use of his map tiles. Secondly, the focus on “duet play” (one player, one GM) is one that I’m interested to see them expand upon. Thirdly, the anti-racism statement on the project is both timely and moves beyond tokenism, on a project the subject of which is frequently co-opted by the far right. So this one is definitely a recommend from me. — James
Book of Monstrous Might for 5E Dungeons & Dragons DnD RPG: A book of monsters and monstrous races for 5e, by Brian Berg (Laying Waste: A Guide to Critical Combat [Pathfinder RPG], Wardens of the Wild: A Lorebook of Elves RPG Supplement, Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge (5e, Pathfinder)) – July 20th
Folk Magic of the Haven Isles: A book of inspiration from British folklore for OSR-style RPGs, by Glynn Seal (The Midderlands – An OSR Mini-Setting & Bestiary, The City of Great Lunden) — June 19th
I’m not an OSR player but this looks beautiful and useful and pretty simple to hack into the d20 game of your choice. — Amy
Enchiridion of the Computarchs – DCC RPG: A technofantasy supplement for Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics, by James A. Pozenel, Jr. (The House of the Red Doors (DCC RPG)) — June 22nd
The Black Hack Second Edition – Classic Monsters: A bestiary for the Black Hack second edition, by Peter Regen / SquareHex (Pad of Geomorphic Intent, Geomorphic Beermats, The Black Hack) — July 2nd
The Savage Sign 02: The second in a series of magazine-style supplements for Savage Worlds, containing settings, creatures, maps, fiction, and more, by Sigil Entertainment Group (The Savage Sign, Dungeon Delve) — July 1st
Maximum Apocalypse RPG: A post-apocalyptic RPG based on the board game series of the same name, by Mike Gnade (Maximum Apocalypse, Set a Watch, Lawyer Up) — July 2nd
KULT: Divinity Lost – Horror Guide & Scenario Collection: A horror supplement and a collection of adventures for the Kult: Divinity Lost RPG, by Helmgast (The Troubleshooters: action adventure tabletop RPG, Kult: Divinity Lost) — July 2nd