4–10 May 2021: Conflicting Histories

This week: the rise of LARPing in China; D&D’s big plans for Summer releases; and the conflicting stories about who really (no really) invented Dungeons & Dragons.

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RADII looks at the phenomenal growth of LARPing in China.

Especially interesting to me here are the attributed causes of LARPing’s rise. As usual, the offer of in-person contact is listed as a big part of the appeal. But there’s also hints here that accessibility was a vital part of its growth: a TV show popularizing the idea, mobile apps to play, and a low price point. — Amy

Dicebreaker features an article on the disillusionment of working for a Kickstarter-funded board game company.

I have no idea which company this article is about, but it does highlight some of the big issues surrounding crowdfunding and accountability. Ultimately if backers get swept up on a wave of hype, that’s down to them. But a commercial company should be held to a higher standard than an artist working on their first Kickstarter. Ultimately, if Kickstarter wants to be seen as a haven for innovation and creativity, which it has been emphasising recently, it really needs to address this problem. — James

VentureBeat interviews Roll20 COO Corey Rosemond.


RPG Historian, Shannon Appelcline reviews Rob Kuntz’ Dave Arneson’s True Genius. Through it, he looks at the trend of “Arneson Revisionism”, which positions Dave Arneson as the ‘real’ creator of Dungeons & Dragons.

We don’t often share reviews (they’re too numerous), and especially not such scathing ones. I’ve never read True Genius, so I can’t say whether this is a fair representation of the book. But the heat here really interests me. RPG history is contested ground — contested, maybe, by just a handful of (primarily, alas, white male) historians, but contested nevertheless.

I’m sure that Appelcline’s criticisms have merit. But he talks about Arneson Revisionism as an intrusion on an otherwise collegiate project of historical fact-finding. And I just don’t buy that. From the beginning, the facts of our hobby were argued in a courtroom. Now they’re being argued in history books. There is never going to be a settled, capital-T Truth — and there shouldn’t be. — Amy

New & Upcoming

D&D Live 2021 is coming July 16–17. This time, Dungeons & Dragons is teaming up with G4 (Comcast’s gaming-themed TV network, reviving this year) for the weekend-long showcase of D&D content.

Wizards of the Coast is promising a “Summer of Legend“, featuring “the biggest product rollout in the company’s history.” (No new D&D announcements here.)

Wizards also shows off the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons-themed Magic the Gathering set.

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is re-released for modern consoles (though Switch is delayed).

Inspirisles, an RPG Kickstarted last year which promises to teach Sign Language, will launch in June.

Dungeons & Dragons shows off the Egypt-inspired Domain of Dread, Har’Akir, which will appear in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, launching this month.

Note the revisionist promises from Wizards of the Coast here, which is clearly seeking to distance itself from Orientalist portrayals of Egypt.

Monte Cook Games releases A Player’s Guide to Ptolus.

R. Talsorian releases Cyberpunk Red: Hardened Mooks.

Bundles & Deals

Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of Dusk City Outlaws books, a bundle of Legendary Planet books, and two bundles of Icons books.

DriveThruRPG is running a sale on Sci-Fi RPGs.


Closing Soon

Storm Weavers is a story-driven solo tabletop game set in Midgard. So far this project has raised €86,000 (£107,000) from 1,700 backers. Ends May 14th

Cyberpunk Red: Combat Zone is a miniatures skirmish game based on the Cyberpunk Red RPG. So far this project has raised £205,000 from 1,100 backers. Ends May 13th

This project is doing far worse than you would expect a game using the same IP as the biggest video game of 2020 should do. Which I guess says a lot about how damaged the brand is as a result of that game’s botched launch. — James

I’ll reiterate my disagreement from last time: I don’t think this is down to the controversy around 2077 — it’s just a niche product. — Amy

The only reason I disagree with you is that minis games generally do very well on Kickstarter – better than RPGs. For example, Godtear, with no famous IP to boost it, is a skirmish minis game and got 3,000 backers last year. — James

Alright, that’s fair. I guess I don’t see why this game would appeal to people, but I’m not the target audience so…. — Amy


Into the Wyrd and Wild: The second edition of a wilderness horror setting for 5e, by Wet Ink Games (Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall, Tenebria: Remnant of Rome, Never Going Home: World War Occult Role Playing) — May 28th

Valbrik’s Silver Ring: Three DMless adventures for 5e, by Limitless Adventures (The Blood Queen’s Defiance, Limitless Encounters, Limitless Woodland Bundle) — May 28th

Eldritch Sands: A 5E science-fantasy horror setting for 5e, by Poison Potion Press — May 30th

Pexia’s Guide to Omeria: A 5e campaign setting and adventure path for level 1–11, by David Hamrick (Legends of Omeria Starter Set, BroadSword Monthly Extra Attack, Broadsword Magazine) — June 4th

Dawn of the Necromancer: A 5e campaign taking players from level 1 to 20, by John Harmston — June 5th


Treasures Of The Troll King: A sewer-crawl adventure for Mörk Borg, by Chris Bissette (Under The Floorboards: A Zine Quest RPG, The Wretched: Second Printing, d36: A Strange RPG Zine) — May 17th

Other & Generic Fantasy

Broken Tales: A topsy-turvy dark fairytale-inspired 18th-century RPG, by The World Anvil Publishing (Valraven: Le Cronache del Sangue e del Ferro) — May 5th

Delvers to Grow: A quick, modular character generation system for Dungeon Fantasy, by Douglas H. Cole (Character Collections for The Fantasy Trip, Four Perilous Journeys: New Adventures for The Fantasy Trip, The Citadel at Norðvorn) — May 26th


Nowhereville: A horror RPG set in a small town that won’t let you leave, by Craig Campbell (Capers RPG, Good Strong Hands RPG, Low Stakes) — June 4th


Arkelon Chronicles: A science-fantasy RPG, by Wendigo Workshop — May 11th

Pulp & Adventure

The Morra Cinematic Game System: A cinema-inspired RPG designed to be “like writing an episode of your favorite show, then playing it out in real time”, by Jeffrey Fowler — June 2nd

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

1 Comment on "4–10 May 2021: Conflicting Histories"

  1. Amy — you’re correct about “Cyberpunk Red: Combat Zone.”

    I’m not playing 2077 for a host of reasons. I am planning to not only run RED, but to develop a whole-assed campaign setting around it. I am in the wheelhouse for Combat Zone (noting the…problematic “sexy kimono” figure…ugh)…

    …and yet. The Pricing. Starting at $120 — then $200 and up? And with us still in a pandemic, unsure when we’ll play in-person again?

    I think that sapped a lot of people’s interest, even compared to other, similar systems.

    Moreover: A review of Godtear’s KS page indicates also have had two big prior Kickstarters based on well-known IPs like Dark Souls and Resident Evil, so they clearly had a massive base of fans to call upon for their original work. In contrast, this is really Monster Fight Club’s first KS on this scale, and although RTal has mentioned it, there’s not been a big push in the community that I’ve seen for this product.

    All in all, I understand the interest in tying 2077 to stuff like this. Yet I don’t see, in the community, that tie playing out — it’s not like the subreddits for 2002 and RED are full of comments fixated on 2077’s sales performance and/or additions to the lore. Given that Combat Zone is, in fact, funded, and that for many times more than their goal, I think the “this is weak compared to something like Godtear” comparison is weak and under formed.


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