28 April–3 May 2021: Hasbro; Goldblum; Kickstarter

This week: Hasbro’s Q1 report brings big news (and bad news); Jeff Goldblum will appear in an RPG actual play; early D&D history; and we ask some questions about Kickstarter’s use — or perhaps misuse — as a pre-ordering system.

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Hasbro

ICv2 reports on Hasbros’ recently released Q1 results, with Wizards of the Coast generating 75% of Hasbro’s operating profit.

Hasbro is considering using NFTs for its various brands, according to CEO, Brian Goldner.

Here’s a decent primer on what NFTs are. Here’s a reminder that they’re stupid and evil. — Amy

I’ve already started getting adverts for trading card games that use NFTs. (Editor’s note: not actually a new phenomenon — we’ve had blockchain TCGs for a few years. NFT is new in name only.) Given that Wizards’ latest wheeze is their “Secret Lair” range of limited edition land cards (the current text-only version is selling for over £300) it seems highly possible that they’d want to go in this direction. I guess Magic has always flirted with the speculator market, and a game designed so that 90% of the cards it sells have no value to either players or investors has never exactly been overly concerned about environmental impact, but it’s depressing to see nonetheless. — James

Hollywood & D&D

Jeff Goldblum joins the cast of actual play-turned-audio-drama, Dark Dice.

I love Dark Dice: really immersive and VERY CREEPY! The soundscapes and character voice-overs (done in post) keep you immersed in the story and the flow isn’t broken by dice rolls and table chatter. If you do not like horror… I would avoid it… for your own sanity… — Jess

Filming for the Dungeons & Dragons movie has begun.

RPG History

Jon Peterson and Peter Bebergal talk about the early influences on Dungeons & Dragons.

Peterson looks at the educational supplies that became some of the first RPG dice.

Obituary

Richard Halliwell, designer of many games, including Warhammer, has died.

I spent my adolescence playing Richard Halliwell-designed games, not least of all Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play, which was the RPG I played the most in my teenage years, so his loss is felt. Despite its spotty publishing history, WFRP itself has gone on to create its own genre of grimdark fantasy where you are more likely to be playing rat catchers than knights… — James

New & Upcoming

VoxStory, a virtual tabletop(ish) using a voxel (Minecraft) world, is in development.

I… don’t get it? I’ve signed up to the beta to try to figure it out. — Amy

Gale Force Nine revives D&D board game, Tyrants of the Underdark.

Bundles & Deals

Bundle of Holding is offering two bundles of Dungeon Crawl Classics books, a bundle of Dusk City Outlaws books, and the Legendary Planet Adventure Path.

In addition to its limited-time bundles of RPG books, Bundle of Holding is also now offering non-expiring starter bundles.

Crowdfunding

Kickstarter has recently added a section at the top of their projects, making it explicit that the purpose of the site is to “connect creators with backers to fund projects” and not a pre-ordering system. It’s a useful reminder.

But 12 years into the life of the website, we need to have a conversation about how, for a great many established publishers, it essentially is a pre-ordering system. And often, this is done with the implicit blessing of Kickstarter itself, in the form of its “project we like” endorsement.

Obviously, if a creator is seeking funding to produce something original and innovative, it might not ultimately result in anything. But that is surely different to an established publisher pumping out regular publications. Yet Kickstarter treats both as the same, putting the entire burden of risk onto the consumer. In fact, you’re more likely to get an endorsement from Kickstarter if you are an established publisher than if you are a solo creator.

It doesn’t seem unreasonable that long-established companies ought to be able to make basic guarantees of delivering product. And while we’re at it, if they choose to go down the crowdfunding route, perhaps they should be able to demonstrate they’re paying their creators a decent rate too. —
James

Closing Soon

Ruins of Symbaroum is an adaptation of the established dark fantasy setting to the 5e ruleset. So far this project has raised SEK 3.5m ($420,000) from 3,400 backers. Ends May 6th

It seems weird to suggest that a project with over 3,000 backers feels a little underwhelming, but that’s an indication of how many blockbuster campaigns we’ve been seeing on Kickstarter so far in 2021. — James

Venture Maidens is a campaign guide for 5e based on the eponymous podcast. So far this project has raised $86,000 from 1,500 backers. Ends May 10th

Orbital Blues is a Cowboy Bebop-inspired RPG about drifters in space. So far this project has raised £49,000 ($420,000) from 1,500 backers. Ends May 11th

The only thing that has prevented me from backing this campaign so far has been indecision over which tier to back. I’m glad it’s done so well. — James

5e

Bed, Bath, & Behemoth: A high-level adventure about a monster that has invaded a spa, by William Murakami-Brundage (The Dream Prison: A D&D 5e Adventure, Clash at Kell Crenn: A D&D 5e Adventure, The Black Lotus of Thalarion: A D&D 5e Dreamlands Adventure) — May 6th

Hilarious concept. Not sure if it was inspired by Spirited Away or the Mighty Nein. — Amy

Seidkona Saga: Wizards of the High Tower: A 5e campaign playable solo or co-op without a GM, by Eric Smith (Death of Divinity: Riches of Andvari) — May 6th

OSR

Rangers of the Midden Vale: A game about braving the wilderness, inspired both by OSR and Powered by the Apocalypse, by Sean “Mac” McClellan — May 9th

“O brother Montague, give me thy hand”? — Amy

Solitaire

The Shape of Shadows: A journalling “keepsake” game turning a day-planner into an exploration of magic, by Jeeyon Shim (The Last Will and Testament of Gideon Blythe, Field Guide to Memory, Wait for Me) — May 21st

We’ve covered Shim’s gorgeous keepsake games before. This looks like a wonderful addition. — Amy

Accessories

The Shelf File of Holding: An OSR-style painted shelf-file for books & magazines, by Goodman Games — May 21st

It’s a box to put your books into. Looks like it stands a chance of beating Monte Cook’s empty slipcase from 2019 too!

Dungeon Full Dive: A virtual tabletop promising a VR world for RPGs, by TxK Gaming Studios — May 27th

Oof. When I think about how much work VTTs can be, taking the next step into VR fills me with dread! I guess it’s the future though. — James

Look I know I’m the grumpiest of sceptics when it comes to VTTs (redacted rant about how even the best-in-class are barely usable half the time) but when I saw this I imagined the whole of that scene in Community. — Amy

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

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