18 May–1 June 2021: D&D has another best year ever

Art from Kentaro Miura's Berserk

We’re back after a short break with a big issue. It’s a big week for D&D as Wizards of the Coast announces another best year of sales and drops a host of new products, while rumours abound surrounding the film and TV adaptations. L’Atelier (a subsidiary of banking group, BNP Paribas) looks at the growth of the modern RPG industry (a reminder that growth inevitably attracts the eyes of the financial world). And Critical Role gears up for its season 2 finale.

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Technology foresight company, L’Atelier, looks at the shifting world of RPGs.

L’Atelier is a subsidiary of banking group, BNP Paribas. This isn’t the only time we’ve seen the financial world talking RPGs recently: Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, wrote a similar analysis last year. With the growing success of RPGs, we’ll likely see more of this attention in coming months.

Dungeons & Dragons had yet another best year ever, citing its 7th consecutive year of growth.

Firstly, it will be interesting to see whether D&D continues this growth streak after the pandemic (note the all-time search interest in March 2020). Secondly, we have definitely seen growing confidence in D&D as a brand in the last few months (see the Drizzt business below).

Numerous companies have pulled out of the in-person Gen Con 2021.

Dicebreaker looks at accessibility and the portrayal of disability in Dungeons & Dragons.

RPG History

Dicebreaker looks at the manga of the late Kentaro Miura, whose work inspired numerous tabletop games, including Mörk Borg.

Another Dicebreaker article looks at roleplaying-like games throughout history.

David Hartlage looks at the history of the dump stat in RPGs.

New & Upcoming

A synopsis for the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons movie was found and then debunked.

We were able to find the same synopsis on the U.S. Copyright Office website. It’s not clear how ScreenRant has confirmed that it isn’t accurate. It could be an early version, or a fake synopsis used as a placeholder for preregistration.

Daisy Head joins the cast of the film.

Wizards of the Coast releases Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. Predictably, the book has hit the bestseller lists.

We have yet to see any controversy around this release — it feels like it’s been a while since that happened. One exciting note is that the book brings an X-Card to D&D for (as far as we know) the first time.

Wizards of the Coast announces a summer-long celebration of Drizzt Do’Urden, featuring a short video narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, and a new novel by R.A. Salvatore.

Presumably, this is building up to the Dark Alliance video game, which features Drizzt. But there’s also plenty of rumours that the D&D TV show will focus on Drizzt (see EN World’s recap).

Dungeons & Dragons announces the Dungeon Master Screen Dungeon Kit.

Dungeons & Dragons Monopoly has launched.

It was always coming for us.

Pinnacle Entertainment releases the PDF of the Pathfinder for Savage Worlds RPG book.

I’m excited to give this one a go. — Amy

Warhammer announces a streaming service to house its upcoming animated series.

Critical Role will conclude its second season with a 7-hour finale airing this Thursday.

Which means that on Friday I will be just 556 hours behind! (And also that Critical Role will surpass 1000 hours in length.)

We’ll be watching to see what happens next season. I’ve seen speculation that there won’t be another, with the cast wanting to return to playing as friends. I’ve also seen speculation that they’ll add a new cast member (the cast has not changed since the early days of season 1, and has drawn criticism for being all white).

Will they change game systems? It seems unlikely, given their sponsorship by D&D Beyond, and their close relationship with Wizards of the Coast, but we could see them promote their upcoming game, Syndicult.

It’ll be some time before we know. (Generally, we’re expecting a break.) I’m betting on not much change: we might see a change in the cast, but I’m predicting another D&D campaign set in the same setting. Maybe this time I’ll keep up with it. — Amy

Paizo’s Starfinder audio adventure comes to audio game platform, Wanderword.

Vampire the Masquerade’s Sabbat sourcebook (the first physical sourcebook since Renegade took the helm) is open for pre-order.

Monte Cook Games releases Where the Machines Wait.

Bundles & Deals

Humble Bundle is offering a bundle of Pathfinder RPG books, and a bundle of Tales from the Loop and Symbaroum books.

Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of BattleTech RPGs, a bundle of Mythras books, and two bundles of Traveller books.


Noteworthy New Projects

The Story Engine: Deck of Worlds: A deck of worldbuilding prompts for writing fiction and RPGs, by Peter Chiykowski (The Story Engine: A Deck of Endless Storytelling Prompts, Postcards from Impossible Worlds). So far this project has raised CA$486,000 ($403,000) from 3,700 backers. Ends June 21st

I recall almost backing the previous Story Engine project, and this one has a similar appeal. — James

Into the Mother Lands: An Afro-Futurist setting book for Into the Mother Lands RPG, by Tanya DePass. So far this project has raised $231,000 from 3,200 backers. Ends  June 20th

This project has done hugely well in its first couple of weeks, despite the scarcity of information about the setting and ruleset. It has a lot of goodwill behind it and hopefully will live up to its promise. — James

Exalted: Essence: A streamlined edition of the Exalted RPG, by Richard Thomas/Onyx Path. So far this project has raised $218,000 from 2,500 backers. Ends June 24th

Onyx Path’s previous edition of Exalted (launched in 2013) was a bit of a damp squib. Anecdotally, most of the Exalted players of my acquaintance had written it off before even getting the physical book in their hands, complaining that it was horrendously complex. It was also from a previous era of crowdfunding when the focus was on producing prestige editions of That Game You Remember from the 90s.

This, by contrast, is a stripped-down version of the rules in a book aimed more at newcomers (and retail stores). So far this new campaign has about half as many backers as Exalted 3rd Edition, but what ultimately matters is the impact beyond the initial Kickstarter campaign. Time will tell if this edition will end up gaining traction in a way that its predecessor did not. — James

Knock! Issue Two: A compendium of miscellaneous OSR rules, by Olivier Revenu (Knock! Issue one). So far this project has raised $85,000 from 1,800 backers. Ends June 24th

Issue Two has already overtaken Issue One in terms of backers and revenue, which is encouraging for this project. As with its predecessor, it certainly looks great. — James

Closing Soon

Pexia’s Guide to Omeria is a campaign sourcebook for 5e. So far this project has raised $113,000 from 1,400 backers. Ends June 4th

UnFamiliar: Release The Tiny Beasts is a 5e rules supplement allowing you to play small animals. So far this project has raised $50,000 from 1,200 backers. Ends June 2nd


Brac’s Guide to Piracy: A pirate-themed 5e zine, by Chamomile Has A Project (Dark Lord, Bianca’s Guide to Golems, Irena’s Guide to Intrigue and Illusion) — June 1st

Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride: A 3rd-level pulp adventure for Dungeon Crawl Classics and 5e, by Levi Combs (The Phylactery — An Old School Heroic Fantasy Adventure Zine, Escape from Skullcano Island, Magic and Shit: Weird Fantasy for Your OSR RPGs) — June 16th

Redsky 5e: A 5e science-fantasy setting, by Solar Studies — June 17th

Sandbox Adventures for 5E: A collection of 12 adventures low- to mid-level 5e adventures, by Headless Hydra Press (Hexplorer: Magnetic Dungeon Tiles for 5e and Other TTRPGs, Hexplorer: Create Whiteboard Maps for 5e and Other TTRPGs) — June 24th


Abyss of Hallucinations Vol. 1: A zine for Mörk Borg, inspired by the work of Aleister Crowley, by Max Moon (12 Years) — June 8th

Fisk Borg: A fishing-themed supplement for Mörk Borg, by Richard Kelly (Mendicant Spell Vixens, Rod, Reel, & Fist) — June 11th


Good Guys Finish Last: A new edition of the metatextual storytelling superhero RPG, by Postworldgames Jim Pinto (Protocol Fantasy Game Omnibus, The Carcass: Exodus, King for a Day: Revised) — June 2nd

Pulp & Adventure

The Awfully Cheerful Engine: An RPG of Action Comedy! “An action-comedy RPG inspired by frightfully cheerful games of the 80s”, by Morrus / EN Publishing — June 18th

I’m frustrated that no one has managed to wangle the rights to the original West End Games Ghostbusters RPG (one of the most influential RPGs of the 80s, as well as a great game and product) and publish an anniversary edition. This game is purporting to fill that gap in the meantime, and a cursory look suggests that it is mechanically very similar. I’m not entirely convinced by the plethora of different settings this project is funding, however, nor the art style which doesn’t seem to match the 80s nostalgia theme. — James


Wyrd Science — Issue 2!: “A magazine about RPGs, wargames, board games & the culture around them…”, by John Power Jr. (Wyrd Science — Session Zero) — June 25th


this world is not yours: “A 1-2 player RPG zine about generations, change, and what you leave behind”, by Travis D. Hill (The Portal at Hill House: a solo RPG of cosmic horror, Our Innermost Thoughts: a mostly-solo zine of small RPGs, Card Rails: a 54-card cube rails game) — June 4th

This looks beautiful, and the PDF is $5. — Amy

Fae’s Anatomy: A fantasy medical drama RPG, by Caleb Stokes (Party Fowl: The Game of Drunk Ducks, Red Markets, No Security: Horror Scenarios in the Great Depression) — June 28th

Given my dislike of medical dramas, this is probably not my thing (even if it is a parody), but I appreciate that this looks like an original system attempting to emulate the genre, and with a potentially interesting approach to investigation. — James

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

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