2–23 November 2021: Digital Tools, Unions, & How Capitalism Kills Art

It’s a big round-up this week as we return from hols to a load of news: capitalism, unions, digital tools, digital attacks… Let’s dive in!

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Industry News

Jacobin Magazine looks at the history of Dungeons & Dragons as an example of how capitalism kills art.

There’s at least one factual inaccuracy here: D&D Beyond is not owned by (let alone the flagship of) Wizards of the Coast. But the basic argument is fair — if relentlessly pessimistic. — Amy

Dicebreaker looks at the recent formation of United Paizo Workers, the first workers’ union in the RPG industry.

Gaming consultants, The Orr Group, releases its Q3 report of games on Roll20.

The CEO of Hasbro-owned entertainment network eOne talks about the studio’s strategy.

Alliance Game Distributors has been hit by a ransomware attack.

A Dicebreaker column talks about playing transgender characters in RPGs.

New & Upcoming

Tools for Digital Gaming

Right off the back of announcing Pathfinder Nexus, Demiplane announces World of Darkness Nexus, a digital toolset for the World of Darkness RPGs.

Demiplane making digital tools for some of the biggest not-D&D RPGs out there. Will be interesting to see what this does for them.

Roll20 announces a new mobile app that will let you manage character sheets and dice rolls.

Wizards of the Coast has applied for a new trademark: “Atomic Arcade”. EN world speculated that this might be their new virtual tabletop (VTT).

Actual Plays & Livestreams

Wizards of the Coast launches its first actual play show on live television channel, G4.

Aabria Iyengar scores a hat-trick by DMing for the other most popular D&D actual play: The Adventure Zone.

Other Announcements

D&D is collaborating with Crocs.

Monte Cook Games announces Old Gods of Appalachia, a cosmic horror RPG set in the Appalachian mountains.

Concept art has appeared for a Dungeons & Dragons amusement park in Lake Geneva.

Bundles & Deals

DriveThruRPG is running its Wolfenoot sale on animal RPGs.

Bundle of Holding is offering a bundle of Tribe 8 books, a bundle of worldbuilding books, a bundle of Through the Breach books, and a bundle of Traveller books.

Humble Bundle is offering a bundle of mapmaking software, and a bundle of 3d-printable miniatures.

Crowdfunding

I have commented on how Kickstarter likes to present itself as a means for funding artists while allowing established companies to use it like a pre-ordering system. Thanks to an announcement by Nightfall Games, it has emerged that they have recently tightened up their rules to prevent creators from running more than 3 unfulfilled projects at a time. This is a welcome step tilting a little more towards consumer protection, but I still think they could go much further in distinguishing between individual artists and commercial operations. — James

Noteworthy New Projects

Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG 1st Edition Boxed Set: A boxed edition of old school sci-fi horror RPG, Mothership, by Alan Gerding (Gradient Descent: Module for Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG, A Pound of Flesh: Module for Mothership Sci-fi Horror RPG, Two Rooms and a Boom!). So far this project has raised $1,100,000 from 12,000 backers. Ends December 2nd

Mothership has been growing in reputation for a few years now, and Tuesday Knight Games’ approach of publishing the game in an abridged format before publishing a revised box set has clearly paid off.

This is the umpteenth project this year to join the swelling ranks of the so-called Million Dollar Club in 2021: it is becoming almost commonplace. Crowdfunding as a commercial proposition really has come of age. — James

Cy_Borg: A cyberpunk spin-off of Mörk Borg, by Johan Nohr (Mörk Borg, Mörk Borg Cult: Feretory, Mörk Borg Cult: Heretic). So far this project has raised 3.4 million SEK ($380,000 from 5,400 backers. Ends December 1st

While entering the ranks of the Million Krona Klub isn’t quite as prestigious as its US currency counterpart, entering it is no small feat. That Johan Nohr’s cyberpunk follow-up to Mörk Borg has managed this is no great surprise.

What strikes me reading through this project is that Mörk Borg’s crude death metal aesthetics are a good fit with the cyberpunk genre, which has recently been dominated by a much sleeker style. — James

Rewards & Rarities: A 5e-compatible guide to rewards for players, by 2CGaming (Dragonflight, Epic Legacy Tome of Titans, Venture Maidens Campaign Guide for 5th Edition). So far this project has raised $113,000 from 2,000 backers. Ends December 6th

Advanced Lovers and Lesbians: A supplement for Thirsty Sword Lesbians featuring new characters & settings, by Evil Hat Productions (Thirsty Sword Lesbians, Agon, Fate of Cthulhu). So far this project has raised $85,000 from 1,500 backers. Ends November 24th

Thirsty Sword Lesbians was one of the big crowdfunding hits of 2020 and it is striking how much less well this follow-up project has done. Maybe it’s because the core book itself feels so complete? — James

Be Like a Crow: A solo journalling RPG where you get to be like a crow, by Critical Kit. So far this project has raised £42,000 ($57,000) from 1,400 backers. Ends November 29th

A pretty strong showing for a solo-journaling game. As something of a corvid-admirer myself, I can see the appeal. — James

Reach Of The Roach God: A campaign from the Thousand Thousand Islands Southeast Asian worldbuilding project, by Centaur Games. So far this project has raised S$101,000 ($74,000) from 7,500 backers. Ends December 8th

Yarg’s Guide to Puzzles & Traps for 5e: A guide to 5e puzzles & traps, by Anthony Woods (Wretches & Rewards Mini Adventures for 5e). So far this project has raised $53,000 from 1,100 backers. Ends December 14th

5e

Mother of Monsters: A Greek-mythology inspired sourcebook for 5e, by Legendary Games (Boricubos: Latin American Monsters and Adventures, Asian Monsters: 90+ magnificent monsters for DnD 5E!, Mythos Monsters: 40+ Lovecraftian horrors for DnD 5E) — November 24th

ARN — Argentum Res Novae for 5e: A Victorian & Industrial Revolution-inspired setting for 5e, by Freecom — November 24th

Ozaka’s Guide to Legions: A ‘zine-size 5e supplement about armies, logistics, and war, by Chamomile Has A Project (Celawyn’s Guide to Wilderness and Fey, Harlequin’s Guide to Cities and Poison, Kessler’s Guide to Dungeons) — December 1st

Folio #28 The Howling Dungeon Gaming Adventure!: Part 3 of an AD&D and 5e mega-dungeon, by Scott Taylor (The Complete Folio Black Label, Folio #27 Lair of the Serpents Gaming Adventure!, The Complete Curse of Roslof Keep Campaign) — December 5th

Expedition from the Mysterious Peaks: A science-fantasy adventure for 5e, by Rich Lescouflair — December 9th

OSR & Retro

Bone Heart Crusaders: An adventure for Mörk Borg, by Christian Eichhorn (Sacrifice | A Mörk Borg Adventure, Purgatory | A Mörk Borg Supplement, The Temple of the Kraken God | A Mörk Borg Adventure) — November 25th

Other & Generic Fantasy

Relic (Original System + 5e Conversion): A titan-hunting fantasy RPG, by Bandit Camp (Fairy Trails, Colorful Characters: 100 NPCs for D&D and Fantasy RPGs, Wicked Ones) — November 26th

The Barbarian’s Bloody Quest: The second in a series of zines set in the same world, this time about a warrior getting revenge on the wizard who wronged them, by Vincent Baker (Apocalypse World 2nd Edition, Under Hollow Hills, Zine Quest 2021: The Wizard’s Grimoire) — November 27th

lofi bards to study and relax to: A chilled out fantasy TTRPG about graduating from a magical high school, college or university with the help of your friends and familiars!, by Ross Eaglesham — December 7th

Nordlond Bestiary and Enemies Book: A bestiary for Dungeon Fantasy (Powered by GURPS), by Douglas H. Cole (Delvers to Grow, Character Collections for The Fantasy Trip, More Perilous Journeys) — December 8th

Red Giant: A Cursed World TRPG: A rules-light anime-inspired RPG set in a cursed world you cannot save, by Rookie Jet Studio LLC (Over Arms) — December 9th

Carved in Stone: A system-agnostic setting guide to Scotland’s Pictish peoples, for storytellers, gamers, and learners, by Dungeons on a Dime (Scurry!, Vice & Virtue, In The Red — the first Quest from Dungeons on a Dime) — December 16th

Horror

Moonlight on Roseville Beach: A Queer Game of Disco & Cosmic Horror, by R. Rook Studio (Enoch’s Wake: A Player’s Guide to the Infinite Void, Barrow Keep: Den of Spies) — November 26th

Sci-Fi/Cyberpunk

Battlelords RPG & Fully Armored — Gear Manual: A reprint and sourcebook of the tactical military sci-fi RPG, by 23rd Century Productions (Battlelords, Science Fiction RPG revised edition, Charlie Foxtrot: A Battlelords Sourcebook) — November 28th

The Cleaning of Prison Station Echo: A Mothership-based “hallucinatory prison crawl”, by Haig Morrison — December 1st

NewEdo RPG: A “neon-samurai” RPG focused on character customisation, by Salty Games — December 2nd

Traveller RPG: The Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society II: A new set of sourcebooks for Traveller, by Matthew Sprange /  Mongoose Publishing — December 5th

Trinity Continuum: Anima Tabletop Roleplaying Game: A cyberpunk game set in the metaverse, and get it into stores!, by Richard Thomas / Onyx Path Publishing — December 16th

Generic

GMs Toolkit Vol II: A collection of low/zero prep content for RPGs, by Trinity Knot Studio (GMs Toolkit — Unconventional Allies — Vol 1, Docks of Caswarren a Legacy City Guide And Fight Club Arena, ZineQuest2 — Deep Nightly Fathoms) — November 30th

Historical

Shanty Hunters: A tabletop RPG about collecting magical sea shanties, by Tristan Zimmerman (The GM’s Real-World Reference, Archive: Historical People, Places, and Events for RPGs, Making History: Three One-Session RPGs) — December 3rd

Solitaire

Merger: A single-player RPG about macrocosmic corporate horror, by Michael Elliott — November 24th

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