6–12 July 2020: Wizards & Race; Kickstarter during the Pandemic

Art from Monte Cook Games' Numenera, now adapted to 5e in Beneath the Monolith

This week, Wizards responds to recent accusations of racism with a disclaimer cribbed from Looney Tunes and a public apology to a former employee. Meanwhile, Critical Role investigates accusations that it hired and never paid a sensitivity consultant.

That’s the bitter corporate pill, but we also have some interesting new releases: an academic analysis of The Forge, the online community that spawned a generation of RPGs; D&D Beyond gets a long-awaited player app; and the Stargate RPG arrives in an unusual form.

Also: the journal of a time-traveller.

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Wizards & Race

TOR.com looks at recent allegations of racism against Wizards of the Coast, both on the Dungeons & Dragons side, and Magic the Gathering.

Wizards of the Coast has added a disclaimer to a number of its older titles (including Oriental Adventures) to acknowledge that they “reflect ethnic, racial and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time”. The disclaimer is very similar to a disclaimer displayed by Warner Brothers before certain Looney Tunes cartoon.

Dungeons & Dragons issued a public apology to Orion Black, who wrote last week about leaving the D&D team due to a corporate culture of racism.

Cribbing the disclaimer from Looney Tunes is the safest, blandest move I can imagine, though the apology to Black is not far off.

I actually think Greg Tito, Senior Communications Manager at Wizards of the Coast, said the truest thing: “I am in the awful position of saying things I believe without the company making even a single, simple action of real change.”

It’s to be expected from Hasbro, I guess, but there’s still a starry-eyed optimist in me that wants something nobler than this milquetoast corporate conflict-avoidance. — Amy

Industry News

ICO Partners releases its midyear update on Kickstarter, reporting that while the number of projects launched on the platform dropped massively, the amount of money raised remained on par due to a small number of very successful projects.

Critical Role has internally investigated accusations that it hired and never paid a sensitivity consultant, and claims that no contract was ever established.

The original accusation can be found here.

I saw quite a lot of anger from CR fans on both sides of this issue. I don’t exactly trust either the accusation or CR’s internal conclusion that they did nothing wrong. So, I don’t know the truth about what happened here.

But Critical Role is as much a community as it is a product, and whether or not they actually hired this particular individual to consult on safety & bullying in that community, they definitely need someone to fill that role. — Amy

RPG History

Michael Tresca looks at D&D’s influence on He-Man.

Upcoming & New Releases

The first of a 13-part “living RPG series” for the Stargate Roleplaying Game will be released at Gen Con’s online convention at the end of this month. The core rulebook is expected to Kickstart later this year.

Palgrave Macmillan opens preorders for Tabletop RPG Design in Theory and Practice at the Forge, 2001–2012, an academic examination of the online discussion site that was home to so many RPG designers at the start of the century.

Gods-damn academic book prices… We want this badly. — Amy

D&D Beyond releases a player app with an offline character sheet.

Modiphius releases The Klingon Empire for the Star Trek Adventures RPG.

New trailers drop for Vampire: The Masquerade — Swansong and Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Earthblood.

Monte Cook Games releases Beneath the Monolith, a Ninth World setting book for D&D 5e.

An upcoming D&D live stream promises “mixed-reality” visuals, combining Unreal Engine VFX with a live-streamed game.

It’s an interesting gimmick, but I can’t imagine how it would work without railroading the players away from any encounter that doesn’t have accompanying graphics. Also, dear god, the bikini mail in the trailer is a travesty wtaf. — Amy

Crowdfunding News

Closing Soon

Book of Monstrous Might for 5E Dungeons & Dragons DnD RPG has currently raised $78,000 from 1,400 backers. The most popular tier is “Digital Dragonkin” for the PDFs only ($25). Ends July 20th.

5e & Pathfinder

Path of the Vanished: A campaign for 5e and the B/X retroclone in which the PCs investigate the Raiders who have made thousands disappear, by Pacesetter Games & Simulations (Basic and Expert RPG Sets Remastered, Reaping at River’s End, Book of Beginnings for 5th Edition) — July 23rd

Tome of Alchemy: 5e rules for alchemy and potion-making, by Necromancer Games (Necromancer Games: Back for 5th Edition, Tome of Horrors 2020 for Fifth Edition) — August 7th

Dragonflight: A guide for Dragon PCs and NPCs, by 2CGaming (Epic Legacy Campaign Codex, GrymmWorld, Total Party Kill Bestiary) — August 17th

Science Fiction

Torg Eternity — Tharkold — A campaign setting book for Torg Eternity, by Ulisses Spiele — July 14th

SCIENTIFIC BARBARIAN #1: A retro post-apocalyptic RPG zine, by Jim Wampler (Check This Artifact, Fight This Mutant) — July 28th

Storygames

WAIT FOR ME: A journaling game about time-travel in which you write to your past and future selves, by Jeeyon Shim & Kevin Pulp — July 24th

Love this idea, and love these designers, so this one is coming home with me. — Amy

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

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