29 June–5 July 2020: Dungeons & Dragons & Diversity

Cover art for The Ultraviolet Grasslands and the Black City, nominated for ENnie Awards for Best Cover Art and Best Interior Art. Artist: Luka Rejec

This week, Dungeons & Dragons — as a game and as a company — comes under strong criticism for its treatment of minority groups. A former staff member talks about corporate attitudes towards minority groups that led to them leaving the company. The DM’s Guild comes under fire for its treatment of a game with queer themes. Calls are made to have a racist AD&D book removed from sale.

Meanwhile, conventions may be cancelled, but it’s still awards season: nominees are released for the ENnie awards and for the Indie Groundbreaker Awards. But the virus still continues to take its toll: another big tabletop convention has been cancelled.

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Dungeons & Dragons & Diversity

Orion Black, aka DungeonCommandr, DC, announces their departure from Wizards of the Coast and the Dungeons & Dragons team. They reference a culture of silence and unwillingness to reform the company’s — and the game’s — treatment of marginalised groups.

D&D’s community content platform, DM’s Guild is facing a backlash after taking down a game featuring homoerotic themes for sexually suggestive art. The platform is being criticised for a double-standard, allowing sexual content which markets itself to a heterosexual male audience, but jumping to censor sexual content from a queer perspective.

Fans are calling for Dungeons & Dragons to remove the orientalist Oriental Adventures from the DM’s Guild.

Awards

The ENnies releases its nominees for the 2020 awards. Voting for the awards, and for judges, has opened.

Quite a few Indie titles this year, and only one nomination for Wizards of the Coast.

The Indie Groundbreaker Awards announces its 2020 nominees.

The Tabletop Mentorship Program announces a programme of monthly micro-grants for RPG creators from underrepresented communities.

COVID-19 Cancellations

BoardGameGeek Con 2020 has been cancelled in response to coronavirus fears, and will be replaced by a virtual convention.

SyFy Wire interviews members of the Critical Role cast about the show’s hiatus and return.

Industry News

Onyx Path hires an independent HR consultant. The company promised to do so after the company’s Operations Manager was suspended amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Why do you suppose they only give a first name?

TheGamer looks at the resurgence of D&D 4e in online play.

RPG History

Goodman Games remembers Jim Holloway, prolific TSR artist who passed away in June.

TheGamer looks back at Icewind Dale on the 20th anniversary of the D&D adaptation.

EN World’s Michael Tresca looks at the history of the Owlbear.

New & Upcoming Releases

The upcoming Icewind Dale will come with a $500 “Platinum Edition” by Beadle & Grimm’s.

R Talsorian launches A Witcher’s Journal, a bestiary and supplement to The Witcher RPG.

Bundles & Deals

Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle containing the PDF edition of the 1000-page luxury RPG, Invisible Sun.

Crowdfunding News

Noteworthy New Projects

Steve Jackson Games’ GURPS 2020 PDF Challenge: Up to 12 GURPS PDF supplements, by Warehouse 23 / Steve Jackson Games — July 13th

This project has so far raised $37,000 from 1,600 backers.

This is an interesting model for raising capital: rushing out lots of small, contained supplements in PDF format and offering backers a cheap way to purchase older supplements. The top tier, for example, not only gets you all the PDFs funded through this project but gives backers $125 credit to spend on their back catalogue — for $99. I wonder if other companies with an extensive back catalogue will adopt this model? — James

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters for 5th Edition: A 5e compatible sourcebook for mythical heroes and monsters, by Morrus / EN Publishing (Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD Roleplaying Game, A Touch of Class) — July 31st

This project has so far raised £62,000 ($15,000) from 1,200 backers.

A stat book in the mould of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons’ Deities & Demigods, which statted up dozens of mythical gods and heroes back in 1980, and was originally marketed as a core book for the game. This project nods to that by including a foreword by Deities & Demigods author, James M. Ward. If you want write-ups for lots of public domain, mythical and historical figures, from Cleopatra to Santa Claus, this is the book for you! It isn’t the book for me. — James

Closing Soon

The Book of Dungeon Encounters has currently raised $15,000 from 1,500 backers. The most popular tier is for the PDF of the core book only ($1). Ends July 9th.

5e & Pathfinder

Legends of Omeria Starter Set: A third-party 5e starter set, Cze/Peku, & PaperForge by David Hamrick (Broadsword Magazine) — July 17th

I think producing an independent 5e starter set complete with paper minis and floorplans is a seriously great idea even if the price is a little high for an entry point product. — James 

Nightfell: Horror Fantasy Setting for 5e: A grimdark horror fantasy setting for 5e, by Angelo Peluso — July 30th

General Fantasy

Wanderer Gamebook+: A fantasy gamebook in the style of the Fighting Fantasy adventure game books, with rules for creating your own adventures, by Jacob DC Ross (Kaigaku, a Samurai RPG, Wave Man: Samurai RPG) — July 12th

I don’t exactly know what to expect from the promise of rules for creating your own adventures here — but I’m intrigued by the concept. — Amy

Slayers: A weird urban monster-hunting RPG, by Spencer Campbell (Score: A Modern Day Heist RPG) — July 30th

Earthdawn 4th Edition – Empty Thrones: A campaign sourcebook for Earthdawn, by FASA (Earthdawn 4th Edition) — August 1st

Book of Corals: A nautical sourcebook for the Ironclaw anthropomorphic RPG, by Sanguine Productions LLC (Usagi Yojimbo, Vital Hearts, Farflung) — August 1st

Science Fiction

Adventure Presents: Tartarus Gate: A sci-fi RPG & adventure promising “The Office meets cosmic horror,” by Rebellion Unplugged — July 14th

UK weekly anthology comic 2000AD’s relationship goes back to 1980s with the Judge Dredd Roleplaying Game and 2000AD’s sister comic The Dice Man. And video game studio, Rebellion, which has recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its takeover of the comic used to own both Mongoose Publishing and Cubicle 7 for a while, but the relationship didn’t seem to suit either side.

But this is something new — a mini-RPG campaign in a magazine format published by a company with its own established audience — and the design team of Grant Howitt and Chris Taylor (of Spire and Honey Heist fame) has credibility as well. I’m excited to see how this project develops and what future publications emerge. — James

It also helps that it’s 2000AD, which James is maybe kinda a tiny wee bit obsessed with. 😉 — Amy

Urban Fantasy/Horror

The Dark Village: A horrific narrative game, in several booklets, by Tiny Concept – July 14th

Storygames

Our Innermost Thoughts: A zine featuring one two-player and four solo-games about communication, empowerment, and reflection, by Travis D. Hill (Reunification: a letter-writing game about reconciliation, Chain Mail: a group-driven story written through mail, The Wait: an RPG about waiting for the inevitable) — July 14th

I dunno, I just liked this. I’ve backed it. — Amy

Accessories

Adventure Tiles: Darkharrow Crypt: A series of 2D adventure tiles in digital and print formats, by SkeletonKey Games (Arcane Scrollworks, Dossier Decks: Merchants, Mages, and Goblins) — July 9th

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

3 Comments on "29 June–5 July 2020: Dungeons & Dragons & Diversity"


  1. Thank you for your coverage of the “Dungeons & Dragons” controversy(s). It’s brought to my attention a lot of long-standing problems I didn’t realize were at play within Wizards of the Coast and D&D specifically. All of this has made me very reluctant to support their products until I can see real positive change at WotC.

    Thanks again for staying on top of the news every week 🙂

    Reply

    1. Thanks so much William!

      And yeah I share your sadness over it. It’s not exactly surprising – it is Hasbro, after all: corporate and capitalist. But still I hoped for better.

      Reply

  2. Another informative, well written issue this week, great stuff! I was however very disappointed with Orion Blacks’ article – working in global corporate land myself, in my opinion this just sounds like a disgruntled employee with a disproportionate sense of entitlement who is not used to the way huge corporations work.

    Reply

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