3–10 August 2021: Avatar Ascended; D&D Nerfed

This week: Magpie Games’ RPG adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender makes history; the winner of the Diana Jones Emerging Designer award is announced; and D&D gets the Nerf treatment.

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Jeeyon Shim, co-creator of Field Guide to Memory and pioneer of keepsake games, is awarded the Diana Jones Emerging Designer programme.

So well deserved! — Amy

D&D Beyond announces that it will no longer support Unearthed Arcana (D&D’s playtest program).

Webbed Sphere, Inc announces the acquisition of veteran RPG publisher, Flying Buffalo.

Wizards of the Coast is teaming up with transgender kids support charity, Mermaids, for a livestream on 19 August.

New & Upcoming

Edge Entertainment, the Asmodee imprint that took on Fantasy Flight’s RPG lines last January, has announced that its first Genesys supplement, Embers of the Imperium, has been delayed but that a preview of the book will be included in this year’s Free RPG Day bundle.

It’s noteworthy how long Edge seems to be taking to get its act together. At a time when D&D is on the rise and even small publishers can raise $5 million on Kickstarter, Asmodee has slowed its RPG output down to a crawl. There doesn’t seem to be a good reason for this other than shortsightedness. — James

Modiphius releases the Fallout RPG on PDF.

Mark Lawrence’s D&D-inspired YA trilogy, One Word Kill is being adapted as a TV series.

Beadle & Grimm announces a deluxe box set edition of Critical Role’s Tal’Dorei Setting Reborn.

Kaizoku Press releases an Italian translation of Goodman Games’ Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Paizo announces Night of the Gray Death for Pathfinder.

Modiphius announces a new boxed edition of Star Trek Aventures, designed to look like a tricorder.

There is a Dungeons & Dragons Nerf Gun.

Ah, the tried and true method of turning successful brands into skin-suits for other brands to wear. Admittedly, this looks like a really fun toy, but I really do worry about the merchandisation of D&D. — Amy

A new preview of the next season of Stranger Things has a bit of D&D, naturally.

Cubicle 7 announces a card game based on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

Bundles & Deals

Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of Warlock! books, a bundle of Dungeon World books, and two bundles of Doctor Who books.

Humble Bundle is running a bundle of Starfinder books, and a bundle of 13th Age books.


Noteworthy New Projects

Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game: A Powered by the Apocalypse RPG set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, by Magpie Games (Urban Shadows: Second Edition, Root: The Tabletop Roleplaying Game). So far this project has raised $4.1 million from 34,000 backers. Ends September 3rd

I expected this campaign to do well, but it’s definitely exceeded my expectations. Joining the $1 Million Club within the first 24 hours of its campaign, it is already the most successful tabletop RPG Kickstarter campaign ever, beating Matt Colville’s Strongholds & Followers from 2018 comfortably in terms of both revenue and backers — and still has 3 weeks to go.

I guess it’s success is down to the popularity of Avatar, a series which I adore myself so can see the appeal. But it’s interesting to compare it to, for example, The One Ring Second Edition which enjoyed 17,000 backers and raised $2m at the start of the year. That campaign was considered a watershed moment for a non-5e project to enjoy such success, but now it seems quite modest in comparison.

So does this mean that Avatar is bigger than Tolkien? It could be down to the time of year and the effectiveness of Magpie’s marketing campaign. It seems unlikely that the popularity of the Powered by the Apocalypse system has much to do with it, although one would expect the popularity of this campaign to give other PbtA games a boost. Hopefully the original system designers Vincent and Meguey Baker will eventually enjoy a share of this success as well. — James

Forbidden Lands RPG – Book of Beasts and The Bloodmarch: Two new books for Forbidden Lands: a bestiary and a new campaign, by Free League (The One Ring™ Roleplaying Game, Second Edition, Vaesen — Nordic Horror Roleplaying, Forbidden Lands — Retro Open-World Survival Fantasy RPG). So far this project has raised SEK 2.2 million ($246,000) from 2,900 backers. Ends August 26th

I have yet to play a game of Forbidden Lands, but its books are so damn pretty I keep picking them up regardless. This one is no exception. — James

Uncharted Lands: A 5e supplement and 3d-printable miniatures, by Danny Herrero (The Lost Dragons, Lost Adventures Vol. 1, Lost Adventures Vol 2). So far this project has raised $193,000 from 2,600 backers. Ends September 1st

Tome of Heroes: A book of character options for 5e, by Kobold Press (Creature Codex: 5th Edition Monsters, Deep Magic for 5th Edition: A Tome of New Spells & Arcana, Vault of Magic for 5th Edition). So far this project has raised $88,000 from 1,500 backers. Ends September 9th

Closing Soon

The Devil Made Us Do It is a zero-prep game about reality bending time travellers. So far this project has raised $235,000 from 2,600 backers. Ends August 14th.

In an ordinary week, I’d be singling out this project as a major achievement; for a zero-prep story game to enjoy this level of success is extraordinary (and, in my opinion, very healthy). As it stands, it also suggests that the 5e hegemony may be coming to an end, or at least that more diverse settings and systems are increasingly getting to enjoy their time in the sun. — James


The 5E Player Screen 2.0: A player screen with rules reference designed for new & neurodiverse players, by Shaun Sunday — August 23rd

Verdant Isles: Teatime Adventures RPG: A cosy RPG where each adventure is paired with tea, by Snowbright Studio (Time Tails) — September 2nd

I had missed that this is a 5e project and am intrigued how they will manage to squeeze a very fighty game about levelling up into such a cozy and non-combat focused setting. — James

Looks cute. But also, the very first line in the description of this campaign is a link to a screen-readable version of the rest of the description. For various reasons, Kickstarter campaigns tend to have huge blocks of text-in-images, which is extremely inaccessible to people who use screen readers (and, incidentally, also to writers of blogs who are strapped for time and trying to find key pieces of information). Can this become a standard, please? — Amy

Epic Legacy Hero’s Handbook: A 5e-compatible Epic-level sourcebook, by 2CGaming (Dragonflight, Epic Legacy Tome of Titans, Venture Maidens Campaign Guide for 5th Edition) — September 13th

OSR & Retro

The Death Race: Rules for a deadly race, compatible with Mörk Borg, by Old Raging Barbarian — August 17th

Purgatory: A Mörk Borg supplement focused on death & purgatory, by Christian Eichhorn (The Vaults of Torment: Blood is Fuel, The Temple of the Kraken God — A Mörk Borg Adventure) — August 19th

Neoclassical Geek Revival — Acidic Edition: A player-led OSR fantasy game, by Josh Rottman (Neoclassical Geek Revival, Pioneers of Mars, Zzarchov’s Adventure Omnibus Volume 2) — August 31st

Demon-Bone Sarcophagus: An Old-School D&D adventure, by Patrick Stuart (Gawain and the Green Knight, Deep Carbon Observatory Remastered) — September 11th

Other & Generic Fantasy

Carbon Grey — The Role-playing Game and Omnibus: A dieselpunk game using West End Games’ classic D6 system, by Magnetic Press Play — September 3rd

This campaign is plastered with the West End Games logo but it isn’t clear if this marks a slight return of the old company in some way or if they’re just using it for marketing purposes. I’m assuming the latter. — James


Fading Suns — New Frontiers: A wave of products for the Fading Suns RPG, by Ulisses Spiele — August 18th

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