This week, the TSR controversy continues on its bewildering path. Meanwhile, it’s awards season, as we get the nominations for the Diana Jones & UK Games Expo Awards. Industry reports from ICv2 show continued (massive) growth in the RPG industry. And Amy loses her mind over some sponsored content.
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TSR Keeps TSRing
The newly formed TSR (who were embroiled in controversy in our last issue) are TSR no longer, rebranding themselves Wonderfilled, although the status of the LLC seems to be in question. OR maybe not, because now there’s a new TSR in the form of TSR Hobbies. TSR CCO, Stephen Dinehart has left, taking his game, Giantlands, with him. Meanwhile, a Press Release from one Michael K. Hovermale, claims that the person who was formerly managing the social media accounts of TSR, Justin La Nasa, and Ernie Gygax has left (presumably this means Dinehart), and the tweets that drew criticism should be “considered invalid”.
I don’t have any evidence that the press release is a lie, but I find it hard to believe that Dinehart is solely to blame for the Twitter debacles. At this point, though, with such fragmentation of information and press releases and company names (even Wonderfilled has sometimes been called Wunderfilled or Wonderfiled) that it’s impossible to keep track of the truth. I’m not sure if that’s a deliberate attempt to make scrutiny go away, but it’s an effective one: at this point, if we stop talking about the TSR bullshit, it’ll probably be as much out of exhaustion as anything. — Amy
Meanwhile, the Lake Geneva city council has rezoned 723 Williams St, the first home of the original TSR (not the same TSR, as we discussed in our last issue), to allow the new TSR (or whatever their name is) to form a museum.
There’s been a lot of news coming out of local papers around Lake Geneva about the museum — it can be hard to track given these websites’ spotty GDPR compliance. (Folks in Europe can see the above page here.)
The Diana Jones Award announces its 2021 finalists:
- Big Bad Con’s Babble ON Equity Project and PoC Programming, a campaign to bring people of colour to Big Bad Con
- The Game Crafter, a print-on-demand manufacturing service for tabletop games
- Nibcard Games, a tabletop game publisher based in Abuja
- Mike Pondsmith, founder of R. Talsorian and designer of the Cyberpunk RPG
- Session Zero Online, an online RPG convention, with a particular focus on the #RPGSEA (Southeast Asian RPG) community
- Wingspan, the board game by Elizabeth Hargrave
As always, the finalists are so broad as to defy comparison to one another — the DJA is a bizarre award. I’m personally excited to see some recognition here for game design coming out of Africa, which we almost never see represented. — Amy
The UK Games Expo releases the shortlist for its annual awards. In the RPG categories, we have:
Best Roleplaying Game
- Osprey Games’ Jackals: Bronze Age Fantasy Roleplaying
- All Rolled Up’s The Dee Sanction
- Free League’s Vaesen
Best RPG Adventure
- Free League’s ALIEN: Destroyer of Worlds
- MontiDots’ Banquet of Dust
- Osprey Games’ Jackals: The Fall of the Children of Bronze
Best RPG Expansion
- Brittannia Game Designs’ Land of the Rising Sun
- MontiDots’ Limbus Infernum
- River Horse Games’ The Compendium of Equestria.
Best New Accessory
- Dungeon Bones’ 5e Condition Chips
- Loke Battle Mats’ Box of Adventure — Valley of Peril
- Squarehex’s DM’s Little Black Book
In addition, Strata Miniatures’ Dungeons & Diversity minis are nominated in the Miniature Range section,
ICv2’s latest industry report estimates that the RPG market in North America grew 31% in 2020, estimating around $105 million in sales.
Daily Dot looks at the Black creatives behind Dimension 20’s new Misfits & Magic series.
I’ve been dipping more and more into Dimension 20 lately, and Misfits has absolutely won my heart. The four-episode run ends this week. — Amy
We are starting to see in-person conventions make decisions about their mask requirements, with Gen Con saying it won’t require masks for people who can show their vaccination status, or who request an exemption, and UK Games Expo stating that it wouldn’t require masks, then revising the policy.
Dicebreaker looks at the influence of the artist Moebius on RPGs.
Goodman Games looks at the influence of Jack Vance on Dungeons & Dragons.
The Gauntlet continues its (now 21-part!) history of Post-Apocalyptic RPGs.
New & Upcoming
Wizards of the Coast announces Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, a D&D sourcebook focused (unsurprisingly) on dragons. The book brings the long-anticipated return of Gem Dragons to D&D, as well as a number of new options for Dragonborn characters. It is due to release on October 19th.
HarperCollins Children’s Books announces a partnership with Wizards of the Coast to publish middle grade-level children’s books using the Dungeons & Dragons brand.
Dungeons & Dragons is partnering with Nerds — the Candy — to create a collection of Nerds-themed adventures, and a Dungeons & Dragon-themed Nerds candy.
Magpie Games drops quickstart rules for their Avatar: The Last Airbender RPG. The game will come to Kickstarter next month.
Cubicle7 announces a second edition of the Doctor Who roleplaying game.
I haven’t played the first edition in a few years, but this’ll be nice to see. Cubicle7 stopped publishing the RPG before Jodie Whittaker got her chance on the cover, so I’m glad she seems to be on the cover for this (though, ironically, just as her tenure as Doctor is coming to an end). — Amy
It also announces Victoriana for 5th Edition, an adaptation of its steampunk Victorian RPG to the D&D 5e system.
Paizo recaps its upcoming Pathfinder & Starfinder products.
Nightfall Games announces the StokerVerse RPG, an adaptation of Dacre Stoker’s adaptations and expansions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
May I just express a degree of scepticism that “the true, authentic depiction of what Bram… had intended for his universe of horror” would feature sci-fi, steampunk and cyberpunk. If you want to make a setting out of the Dracula novel, fine. But fanfiction is still fanfiction even if one of you is distantly related to the original author. — James
The HP Lovecraft Historical Society announces a set of deluxe handouts to accompany the Call of Cthulhu Classic Kickstarter.
Amy does not know how to process the existence of this article listing the D&D classes of the cast of Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island.
Questions I have:
1. Is there an audience for this article?
2. Survivor is still happening??
3. Survivor South Africa is still happening???
4. One of these people is called Chappies, you guys. I don’t know how to explain why that’s hilarious to me.
I really need to watch this show now, so I guess this sponsored content did its job. Someone tell me how to watch M-Net from the UK. — Amy
Bundles & Deals
Noteworthy New Projects
Rat Queens: To the Slaughter: A co-op board game based on the Rat Queens comic, by Deep Water Games (Welcome to…, Sovereign Skies, Fantastic Factories). So far this project has raised $210,000 from 1,700 backers. Ends August 4th
A board game based on the critically acclaimed Image Comic based on D&D. I’ve had this game being advertised to me on social media for weeks so it’s nice to see it finally launch. Deep Water Games have a fairly respectable reputation, particularly with their Welcome to… series of games. — James
Call of Cthulhu Classic is a reprint of the original edition of Call of Cthulhu and its early supplements. So far this project has raised $440,000 from 4,100 backers. Ends July 25th
A pretty healthy level of support for what amounts to a bunch of old reprints. I’ve got to admit that I’m a bit tempted myself, despite not particularly being a fan of Call of Cthulhu; I just love the production values of those early Chaosium books. — James
DCC Dying Earth is a sourcebook and series of adventures based on Jack Vance’s series of fantasy novels. So far this project has raised $280,000 from 2,700 backers. Ends July 22nd
This is Goodman Games’s most successful Kickstarter campaign to date, which is presumably a testament both to the company and Jack Vance’s position in the hearts of a certain generation of gamers.
Dungeon Craft Series Three is a collection of two jungle-themed map and terrain books for D&D and other RPGs. So far this project has raised $280,000 from 2,700 backers. Ends July 24th
A pretty modest performance by this campaign in comparison to the first two Dungeon Craft projects (which raised $360,000 and $470,000 respectively). Presumably, this is down to the less generic theme, which will have a more limited appeal.
Mag of Holding, A pirate-themed supplement for 5e, by Paddy Finn (Mag of Holding for 5e, Aizendore’s Vault of Tragic Treasure — Magic Items for 5e) — July 27th
Fat Magic RPG — 5e Campaign Setting: “A fantasy adventure about food, community, and spaghetti wizards for 5th edition”, by Hannah Tsiopanos — July 31st
The Menagerie: A 5e adventure with 3d-printable miniatures and other accessories, by Arcane Hound — August 13th
OSR & Retro
Chromatic Dungeons: An OSR game promising an OSR feel without close adherence to OSR mechanics, by Rod Waibel (Compact Heroes) — August 3rd
Other & Generic Fantasy
Highcaster: A narrative-driven epic fantasy RPG based on the system behind The Great American Novel, by Christopher Grey (The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth Roleplaying Game, The Great American Witch, Temples & Tombs) — August 2nd
Squeaks in the Deep Tabletop Roleplaying Game: A sourcebook on rats and mice for Pugmire and Monarchies of Mau, for fans and retail distribution by Onyx Path — August 12th
The Book of Gaub: A horror-themed anthology of magic and microfiction, by Paolo Greco — August 11th
Dueling Fops of Vindamere: A GMless, “procedurally-ish generated TTRPG of sneering, fencing, seduction and other risky behaviors”, by Crankshaft Constellation — August 11th
This one, coming from Greg Stolze (Usagi Yojimbo, Unknown Armies, Delta Green) looks pretty fun. — Amy
Dwelling: A Solo Game for Ghosts: A solo RPG set inside a haunted house, by Seb Pines — July 30th
Legends Untold: A VR virtual tabletop, by Je’Don Carter — August 6th
An entire VRTT engine for just $10,000? Hmmm… I’d want to see more details than those provided on this campaign page to back that. — James