20–26 October 2020: GAMA Restructure, Virtual Weekends

After last week’s Dragonlance debacle, this week is a little quieter: GAMA restructures its membership, Wizards announces a new program of online mini-conventions, and a few new products: a new Roll20 app; a Terminator RPG; and a fan-made reimagining of an Oriental Adventures setting.

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What We’ve Been Playing

A week or so back we had a go playing Apocalypse Prevention Inc’s Quickstart, Third Eye Games’ RPG about saving the world from inter-dimensional threats. It’s a Men In Black-inspired pulpy game about world-ending catastrophe and petty bureaucracy. We really did not get on with it.

The Quickstart scenario places the players in the role of agents on Blue Card Duty: checking up on alien (as in, extra-dimensional) immigrants around the city. We assume it’s a satire of ICE, but it’s a satire that largely fails.

If the intention is to highlight the racism in the way immigrants are scrutinised, then this doesn’t come across in the story: most of the aliens we visited were hiding something, and the framing meant that we were encouraged to respond with invasive investigations and even violence. We were, essentially, rewarded for anti-immigrant scrutiny.

Couple this with the way the game’s good and evil aliens mirror good immigrant/bad immigrant stereotypes, and the liberal use of invented slurs for aliens, and the result is a funhouse mirror of real-world racism. It’s not being celebrated, but it also fundamentally isn’t critiqued.

The Quickstart also suffers from a number of editorial issues. It’s obviously a cut down version of the full rulebook, but no one seems to have checked that it makes sense in this form. Character sheets make reference to rules that have been removed, important information about the world is missing. We have had this experience with Quickstarts before: egregiously sloppy editing is more common than I’d have believed.

We got by. We had an okay time. Honestly, that’s down to our GM, who is Asian-American herself, and kept things safe despite the scenario, and fun despite the rules hiccups. At times we felt less like inter-dimensional ICE and more like inter-dimensional social workers (now there’s a game we would play).

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Industry News

The Game Manufacturers’ Association (GAMA) announces plans to restructure its membership to “live up to our vision that everyone has a place and a voice at our table”.

GAMA certainly had a difficult year, facing the cancellation of the Origins Online game fair on the back of criticism around its silence on Black Lives Matter. (Not to mention all the issues facing the industry body in the midst of the pandemic.) This restructure certainly seems to be a response to criticism.

Wizards of the Coast announces the Virtual Weekends programme: a season of monthly mini virtual conventions

Clearly, this is a response to the post-pandemic times we live in. Looks like a sensible progression, although I have no desire to get involved directly. It will be interesting to see if this becomes part of a trend for regular mini online cons. — James

New & Upcoming Releases

Roll20 announces an invite-only beta to the upcoming Roll20 mobile app. The beta focuses on implementing a D&D character sheet.

A Facebook Page has appeared for a Terminator RPG by Nightfall Games.

An Indonesian fan is looking to reimagine the Island Kingdoms of Bawa, a part of the Oriental Adventures Kara-Tur setting which was loosely inspired by Indonesia.

For various reasons, we’ve been talking a lot about Oriental Adventures, the racist and orientalist sourcebook published for AD&D and later 3rd edition. It’s cool to see the setting being reclaimed. — Amy

Goodman Games announces that it will publish new Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. The stories, originally written by the late Fritz Leiber, have a long history of adaptation as RPG sourcebooks.

Wizards of the Coast releases Heroes’ Feast, an official cookbook for Dungeons & Dragons.

Thorny Games announces Xenolanguage, a storytelling game about deciphering alien languages, inspired by Arrival.

Paizo announces the Pathfinder Arena Board Game.

Bundles & Deals

DriveThruRPG is running a Halloween Sale.

Humble Bundle is offering a bundle of Dungeon Crawl Classics books.

Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of Kult books, a collection of dark fantasy fiction from Night Shade Books, two bundles of Shadow of the Demon Lord books, and a bundle of Dracula Dossier books.

Crowdfunding News

Closing Soon

Stargate SG-1 is a 5e RPG based on the film and TV sci-fi franchise. So far it has raised $272,000 from 4,000 backers. Ends October 30th.

I would assume that Wyvern Gaming is fairly happy with how this campaign has been going. It’s their most popular campaign yet and it looks like they have a moderate hit on their hands. I remain somewhat sceptical of the suitability of 5e as a system for settings such as this but time will tell if this game has legs. — James

Worlds Without Number is a sandbox fantasy RPG based on and compatible with the sci-fi RPG Stars Without Number. So far it has raised $177,000 from 3,500 backers. Ends November 4th.

Kevin Crawford will presumably be happy that this project has eclipsed Stars Without Number in terms of backers, although it so far looks set to raise about the same amount overall. It certainly looks like one of the better-looking projects being touted at the moment. — James

Putrescence Regnant is an adventure module and soundtrack album for the award-winning MÖRK BORG OSR (ÖSR?). So far it has raised $53,000 from 1,400 backers. Ends October 30th.

I wrote about the rise of the vinyl sleeve adventure module last week. Not much to add here really except that MÖRK BORG really seems to be going from strength to strength. — James

Dungeons & Dragons

D&D Adventures: 5e Side Quests and Full Size Maps: A book of side quests and encounter maps for 5e, by Cameron Wright (5e Monster Lairs – A Book of Monster Themed Mini Dungeons) — October 28th

We Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghost: A set of 5 horror-themed issues from EN5ider magazine, by EN Publishing (Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD Roleplaying Game, A Touch of Class, Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters for D&D) — October 30th

Architects of the Deep: A collection of monsters and variants for 5e, by Dren Productions LLC (The Edgar Allan Poe Chronicles, Architects of the Deep, Plan 59 from Outer Space) — November 2nd

Crown of the Oathbreaker: A dark Feywilds campaign for D&D 5e and Pathfinder 2e, by Elderbrain.com — November 19th

So, remember when last week I said no-one seems to be setting up crowdfunding projects for both 5e and Pathfinder any more? I guess it was inevitable that this project would launch on the same day! Nonetheless, it remains the exception that proves the rule. — James

Dragonbond: A set of adventures featuring dragons, with accompanying miniatures, by Draco Studios (War for Chicken Island, Dragonbond: Dragons of the Red Moon, Eldritch Century – 5e RPG Dual System) — November 19th

Other & Generic Fantasy

Perilous Roleplaying Game: A “GM-optional”, prep-free, dungeon-crawling RPG, by Jordan (For the Dungeon!, Arcana Academy – A Magic School RPG, Mage Against the Machine) — November 20th

The Dungenerator: A dungeon generation deck, by ROLLINKUNZ! — November 21st

Urban Fantasy/Horror

Acheron: A dark fantasy RPG set in a monstrous, dystopian 1930s, by Dark World Studios — November 2nd

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

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