26 January–1 February 2021: 2021 Cons Optimistic

Art from Privateer Press's Iron Kingdoms: Requiem

January concludes with two major tabletop gaming conventions optimistic that they’ll be able to go ahead with in-person events later in the year. Meanwhile reports on the tabletop game sales from 2020 show massive growth. And with ZineQuest 3 underway we begin looking forward to another month of exciting, innovative projects on Kickstarter.

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Industry News

The UK Games Expo is scheduled to go ahead this year, with two versions of the event — one normal, one “socially distanced” planned. Meanwhile, Essen Spiel looks likely to go ahead.

“Normal” seems a distant dream… — Amy

The value of the global Games & Puzzles market rose by nearly $1 billion in 2020, according to Euromonitor, while the NPD group reports sales up 29%.

Dicebreaker commends Vampire: The Masquerade for the way the latest edition handles racially insensitive material from the game’s past.

I mean okay, maybe. I haven’t read the specific material this article is referencing particularly closely, so I don’t have an opinion on whether it’s commendable in this respect. But… um… It’s weird to commend this particular game for sensitivity to race and not mention that the game was derailed by its insensitivity towards queer people.* — Amy

* She’s oversimplifying.

RPG History

Jon Peterson looks at the history of the concept of immersion in RPGs.

New & Upcoming

Cubicle 7 details its upcoming Age of Sigmar books.

Paizo showcases its latest releases, announces Pathfinder Lost Omens: The Grand Bazaar, due later this year.

Bundles & Deals

Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of Palladium RPGs, a bundle of Forbidden Lands books, and bundles of Modern AGE and Fantasy AGE books.

Humble Bundle is offering a bundle of 5e adventures.

Ordoalea Publishing is offering a bundle of RPGs in aid of relief efforts in Croatia following earthquakes in December and January.

Crowdfunding News

ZineQuest 3

For the third year running, Kickstarter is hosting ZineQuest: a month-long promotion encouraging creators to produce small, contained projects which can fit into an A5 or half-letter pamphlet.

The projects emerging from this initiative in previous years have tended to be unique and creative: what we would hope for from crowdfunding — as opposed to the endless piles of generic plastic and hardback books that it has perhaps become better known for.

It’s still very early days for this promotion so far, but we’ll be reporting on all the big hits as the month goes by. You can also keep up to date with the latest ZineQuest campaigns to launch by following the official page, or following the helpful updates from Pandatheist.

Noteworthy New Projects

Iron Kingdoms: Requiem: The latest edition of the Iron Kingdoms setting, adapted to 5e, by Privateer Press (Widower’s Wood, Level 7 [Omega Protocol] Board Game, Warcaster: Neo-Mechanika). So far this project has raised $353,000 from 3,800 backers. Ends February 12th.

This is the third Iron Kingdoms RPG, following Privateer Press’s d20 version in 2004 and original RPG in 2012. Set in the same world as Privateer Press’s miniatures games, Warmachine and Hordes, this project was sort of inevitable. — James

The Seeker’s Guide to Twisted Taverns: A supplement of premade taverns, characters, and story hooks, by Eldermancy (Stibbles’ Codex of Companions). So far this project has raised $110,000 from 1,200 backers. Ends March 6th.

Closing Soon

Alba is a narrative interactive gamebook, set in a desolate post-apocalyptic world. So far this project has raised £186.000 ($255,000) from 6,900 backers. Ends February 12th

This project promises to deliver “the biggest gamebook ever written” and combines gamebook mechanics with elements that remind me more of games such as Gloomhaven with its system of stickers. As a project it has been enormously successful, mainly I suspect because the pledge levels themselves are eminently affordable. — James

Kibbles’ Compendium of Craft and Creation is a book of alternative rules and character options for D&D 5e, with a particular focus on psionics and arcane technology. So far this project has raised $154,000 from 3,600 backers. Ends February 12th


Archetype Anthology: A collection of subclasses for 5e from EN5ider magazine, by Morrus (EN Publishing) — February 9th

Shard Tabletop: A virtual tabletop dedicated to Dungeons & Dragons, featuring a marketplace of third-party material, by Shard Tabletop — February 26th

It’s interesting to see this VTT attempting to position itself as a sort of 3rd party answer to D&D Beyond. Whether it will be ultimately successful, I can’t say. But I suspect it will need more backers than it currently has to get off to a strong start. — James

This VTT is offering something that D&D Beyond has shown no indication of ever doing: supporting third-party material. Is that enough to compete against the brand recognisability (not to mention full (rather than OGL) content) that D&D Beyond has? I doubt it. But it’s a strong selling point, and it might win them a specific audience over their glossier competitor. — Amy


Tower of Scoundrels: A Mörk Borg adventure and 7″ record, by Philip Reed (The Book of Collected Rumors, Strange Citizens of the City, Calo’s Book of Monsters) — February 9th

Into the Wild: A wilderness exploration and kingdom-building supplement for OSR games, by Todd (Filling in the Blanks — A Guide to Populating Hexes) — February 27th

Other Fantasy

Everway Mythic Roleplaying Game: A revised edition of the classic Everway RPG, by The Everway Company – March 5th

Jonathan Tweet has been a controversial figure in recent years, but his influence as a game designer (Ars Magica, Over the Edge, D&D 3e) is undeniable. His Everway was a game with huge potential but a lack of commercial success — a result in part of its then-publisher, Wizards of the Coast’s acquisition of D&D, leading to a lack of support. It has since slid into obscurity.

This new edition keeps the Major Arcana-like Fortune deck of the original but adds a new “Season Deck” which functions as a kind of Minor Arcana. I’m tempted, but somewhat put off by the price tag ($60 for just the Player’s Book; $250 for both books and the cards). I’m sceptical by the fluff’s claim that this version will be “more accessible” than the original for this reason. — James


The Vast in the Dark: A zine about “exploring the dark and alien megastructures of an infinite realm”, by Charles Ferguson-Avery (World War Occult — An Artbook, Into the Wyrd and Wild, They Cried Monster) — February 15th

The Drain: A level-0 funnel adventure Mothership, by Ian Yusem — February 16th

Urban Fantasy

Lighthearted, a Magical 80s RPG: Magical Community College in the ’80s, by Kurt Potts — February 26th

This looks like an attractive package that is trying to do more than just hack the Apocalypse World system for the millionth time. Could shape up to be interesting. — James

Well, I’m in! — Amy


Xenoscape: A “post-Sci-Fi” RPG in Italian and English, by Tin Hat Games (Urban Heroes, Dungeon Digger, Fantasy Pug Quest) — February 11th

SCP The Tabletop Role-Playing Game: An RPG adaptation of the community-written SCP (Secure Contain Protect), by J. Keech — February 21st

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

2 Comments on "26 January–1 February 2021: 2021 Cons Optimistic"

  1. I wonder how many conventions are going ahead with organizing as normal because of their contracts with the con locations. Outright cancelling will see you pay hefty fees — but if the local government forbids large gatherings, then there’s not much you can do and so you can get out from under the contract.


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