2–8 March 2021: Brexit, Witches, Online Gaming

This week, we take a look at the impact of Brexit on the gaming industry, at some promising new products for online play, and a theologian’s view of the portrayal of witchcraft in indie RPGs.

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Industry

GeekNative looks at how Brexit is affecting tabletop gaming companies.

At Leisure Games, we have certainly faced considerable problems with both imports and exports following 1 January and are a long way from resolving the issues. Fundamentally, the industry will survive, but consumers unfortunately will have to expect greater costs on both sides of the divide in the future. This is especially galling given that the RPG scene is growing increasingly internationalist in outlook. I wouldn’t want to overstate the damage it is doing to our cottage industry; we’re hardly facing the same fate as the fishing industry, but it is depressing nonetheless. — James

The New York Times looks at the growth of roleplaying games online during the pandemic.

A few weeks ago we reported that a number of key team members at D&D Beyond had left the company. We now know where at least one of them wound up, with founder Adam Bradford joining rival service, Demiplane.

I trust the promises of politicians more readily than I trust the promises of Virtual Tabletops, but this hire has me intrigued. D&D Beyond is actually pretty good — even if what feel like core features take ages to roll out. So I’m curious to see what its founder sees in Demiplane, and since it isn’t exclusively dedicated to D&D (which I don’t really play any more), I’m going to find an excuse to give this a go soon.

One other note: with a focus on match-making, and the built-in ability to receive payments, Demiplane looks geared up to serve the professional DM market. I could never have imagined something like this 10 years ago. — Amy

Theologist and game designer, Lynne M. Meyer, looks at the portrayal of witches and witchcraft in indie RPGs.

We’ve certainly noticed the proliferation of RPGs featuring witches lately, but it’s interesting to see this analysed from a theological point of view.

New & Upcoming

The One Ring Kickstarter closes, becoming the highest-funded RPG, and the second-highest-funded RPG product, in Kickstarter history. Vice interviews designer Francesco Nepitello about the project, and the challenges of adapting Tolkien.

In this interview, Nepitello seems resigned to the idea that the problem of orcs in Tolkien cannot be resolved. Orcs, in some chapters of the Legendarium, are treated as almost demonic entities, whom it is a good to kill; and in others, treated as people, with agency. It’s not possible, Nepitello is arguing, to make that morally coherent, without radically diverging from the source material.

That’s an uncomfortable possibility — and I think it’s true. As much as we love Lord of the Rings (and from the very depth of me, I do), there is always going to be something wrong in it.

Also note Nepitello’s comments at the end about how there are really two RPG markets: D&D and not-D&D, with very little cross-over between them. That resonates. — Amy

On the back of last week’s news of Wizards of the Coast’s expansion into digital games, comes the announcement of a AAA, third-person, open-world fantasy game from Hidden Path Entertainment.

Monte Cook Games announces The Darkest House, a system-neutral adventure setting and sourcebook designed for online-first play.

Interesting claims going on here, including the very bold, “an entirely new type of tabletop RPG product. Alright, Monte Cook, I’ll bite. — Amy

Hugh Grant and Sophia Lillis join the cast of the Dungeons & Dragons film, with Grant due to play the film’s antagonist.

Goodman Games announces DCC Day 2021.

Custom miniatures creator, Hero Forge, adds wheelchair options.

Catalyst Game Labs announces Street Wyrd for the Shadowrun RPG.

Bundles & Deals

Bundle of Holding is offering two bundles of HERO system books, a bundle of Index Card RPG books, and a bundle of GUMSHOE books.

Humble Bundle is offering a bundle of Fallout RPG books.

DriveThruRPG is running its GM’s Day Sale.

Miscellanea

Jon Peterson looks at the history of the d4.

The French edition of RuneQuest wins the Graal d’Or prize for “Best Reissue”.

Crowdfunding News

As we predicted last week, Dicebreaker has hailed The One Ring 2e as the highest-funded RPG on Kickstarter, finishing its campaign having raised SEK 17,070,638 ($1,990,000), although the 5e supplement Strongholds and Followers both raised more money and had significantly more backers in 2018. As you can see below, the trend towards highly popular TTRPG Kickstarter projects seems set to continue.

Noteworthy New Projects

Dungeon Alchemist™: AI-powered mapmaking software, by Wim De Hert. So far this project has raised €1.9m ($2.3m) from 44,000 backers. Ends March 11th

For some reason, I thought I’d already covered this project but somehow managed to leave it off the list. Either way, with 2 days to go, this project is enjoying pretty impressive levels of support. It’s remarkable that RPG software can elicit the interest of over 40,000 backers whereas only a handful of projects for actual games or supplements can attract more than 10,000 backers, even taking into account the extent to which this project has been advertised. — James

To be fair to those 40,000 backers, this looks incredibly slick. — Amy

Coyote & Crow the Role Playing Game: A science fiction and fantasy tabletop RPG set in a near-future where the Americas were never colonized, created by a team of Natives, by Connor Alexander. So far this project has raised $400,000 from 5,800 backers. Ends April 2nd

Indigenous Futurism is an even rarer genre in RPGs than Afro-Futurism (the only other example I can think of is a Rifts sourcebook) so it is refreshing to see this project, lead by a team of native designers and artists, do so well — even more so given that it isn’t another 5e sourcebook. And it has almost a month to go. This is shaping up to be a big year for crowdfunded RPGs — James

Airship Campaigns: 5e rules for airships, along with 3d-printable miniatures, by Arcane Minis (Skies of Sordane). So far this project has raised $175,000 from 2,900 backers. Ends April 1st

Remarkable Cults & Their Followers: A guide to cults and other factions, by LoreSmyth (Wondrous Expeditions: Forests, Remarkable Shops & Their Wares, Remarkable Inns & Their Drinks). So far this project has raised €93,000 ($111,000) from 2,500 backers. Ends April 1st

A Mending: A solo keepsake game about a journey to visit a distant friend, using sewing, map-annotating, and story-building, by Shing Yin Khor (Strange Friends: a postcard book, The Space Hobo Bottlecap Divination Board, The Last Apothecary). So far this project has raised $103,000 from 1,500 backers. Ends March 25th

In retrospect, moving on from map-making games such as The Quiet Year to embroidery seems so obvious, and it’s lovely to see this game do quite so well (as I say, this is shaping up to be a great year for innovative crowdfunding projects). — James

The missing link between The Quiet Year and this is the rise of what Shing calls “keepsake games”. Their Field Guide to Memory, created with Jeeyon Shim, has been flooding my feed lately, and this looks equally gorgeous. Journaling games are an old thing, but this focus on creating an artefact — I think we’ll see a lot more of this in the next year. — Amy

Survivalist’s Guide to Spelunking: A supplement on surviving underground for 5e, by AAW Games (Rise of the Drow, Mini-Dungeon Tome, Underworld Races & Classes). So far this project has raised $39,000 from 1,100 backers. Ends April 1st

This book is being heavily promoted over the fact that Douglas Niles, lead writer of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons supplement The Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide, and this book very much looks to be in a similar mould to that classic book from the 80s. — James

Dice Heads: A collection of 3D-printable models with a set of modules in an anthropomorphic setting, by Andrew Pawley (Dice Heads: Fantasy RPG Printable Miniature Bundle, Mythos Madness: Chibi Cthulhu Mythos 3D Printable Miniatures, Dice Heads: RPG Dice Holder Miniatures) — April 1st

Closing Soon

Hexbound is a witch-focused rules supplement for 5e. So far this project has raised $276,000 from 4,000 backers. Ends March 11th.

As I said before, I’m still not entirely convinced by this supplement’s approach of introducing a witchy subclass for each D&D class, but it has proven to be popular even if it hasn’t reached the popularity of Hit Point Press’s previous projects Humblewood and Heckna (clearly every book they publish has to have a title starting with “H”). — James

Good Society is a reprint and new deck for the Jane Austin RPG. So far this project has raised $98,000 from 1,100 backers. Ends March 10th.

Pretty good numbers for a project which is mainly focused on reprinting a book from a few years ago, a testament to its reputation. — James

One-Page Adventures for D&D 5th Edition is a book of 25 short form adventures. So far this project has raised $31,000 from 1,000 backers. Ends March 9th.

5e

Phaya Nak: A campaign compatible with 5e and a variety of OSR games, by Tim Krause (Terror at Weihnachten: A Christmas Adventure, The Demons of Mingalarbar for Dungeons and Dragons, Monsters & Demigods RPG) — March 13th

Lock and Key: A mini-supplement on locks for 5e, Pathfinder 2e and Savage Worlds, by Matthew J. Hanson (Terrain Toolbox for 5E and Pathfinder 2E, The Runewild, Broken Earth: Post-Apocalyptic RPG Adventure) — March 19th

Sea Monsters: A collection of sea creatures and monsters for 5e, by Legendary Games (Mythos Monsters, Aegis of Empires Adventure Path, Ultimate Kingdoms) — March 22nd

Adventures Await!: A collection of 40 D&D 5e compatible adventures, by Adventures Await (Tales From Arden) — April 1st

Lore of Aetherra: The Lost Druid: An adventure for 5e set in the science-fantasy story world of Aetherra, by Alchemy RPG — April 1st

Encyclopedia: Lore Book & Toolbox for your 5E Campaign: A book of ready-to-use locations, NPCs, and magic items, by Jim Searcy (Creatures: Complete Monster Compendium for 5E, Fateforge: Epic Tales in the World of Eana, Shadows of Esteren — A Medieval Horror RPG: Dearg) — April 2nd

Other & Generic Fantasy

The Academy Chrysalis: A Dark Academic adventure for Trophy Gold. For Trophy Gold, by Patrick Monari — March 9th

Superheroes

Amazing Heroes: A superhero RPG built on the Amazing Tales ruleset, by Martin Lloyd (The Big Book of Amazing Tales) — March 13th

The GallantVerse Campaign Guide: An expansion for the Tiny Supers RPG, by Gallant Knight Games (Tiny Dungeon: Second Edition, Monster Hunter International RPG: Savage Worlds Edition, Tiny Supers: Minimalist Superhero Roleplaying) — March 19th

Sci-Fi/Cyberpunk

Different Trouble: A supplement about androids and aliens for Termination Shock, by Greg Stolze (God Cancer, Termination Shock!, You) — March 13th

Storygames

Microvania: A Map-Making Hack of Microscope: A map-making hack of Microscope, by Zargo Games (Procession: A Zine RPG) — March 10th

Pro Patria Mori: A one-shot micro-RPG about the horrors of World War I, by Ray Chou (The Wildsea RPG, Skies of Fire, Glow) — March 11th

Solitaire

Captain’s Log: A solo journaling sci-fi RPG about a captain in command of a ship on a long journey through space, by Matt Parkinson — March 18th

Accessories

Paths of Savage Gods: A tool for procedurally generating RPGs, by lyniat_games — March 18th

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

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