This is Audio EXP for the 7th of November 2020, and the title of this episode is ‘Alien invasions’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #69]
Where would you go to survive an alien invasion?
That was the question Geek Native asked when I had a copy of Fainting Goat Games’ The After to giveaway.
The After is a Savage Worlds campaign setting that picks up after successful alien invaders are done with Earth and simply move on. Those people who are left on the planet are those that found places to hide or happened to be in locations so remote that the aliens rarely bothered with them.
You guessed it, to win a copy of the game readers had to answer a poll question. So, where would you go to survive an alien invasion? The choices are;
- Hide in the woods
- Escape to the countryside
- I’d keep moving
- Scavenge carefully in the remains of the city
- Hide in the hills
- Deep into the city’s underground
- Flee to the coast
I can tell you what readers said at the time. Almost no one, less than 2%, would flee to the coast.
Why do you think that is? A more significant target? Don’t get trapped with your back to the water?
I suspect in case of a zombie outbreak the coast would be far more attractive, well, boats and islands in particular.
The third most popular response was simply escaping to the countryside. Find a small cottage down by the borders somewhere as far from any town or city as you can manage, and hold out.
The second top answer was to hide in the woods. I guess that makes sense, I doubt many of us are skilled Forresters, but the trees would certainly help hide us from the air. That’s if the aliens used anything as crude as optics.
The top answer, though, was to keep moving. I get the logic, but I’m surprised it won. To keep moving would mean not settling for a hiding place if you found a great one. Surely the mere act of travel would heighten the chances of getting spotted or raising interest.
I suppose the motivations of the aliens, beyond world conquest, are unknown to us. Alien, as it were, so this really is a hypothetical question with no wrong answer.
Savage Worlds, by the way, have updated their errata with a few tweaks. Most significantly, they think their original rules on the Stunned condition were wrong, overpowered, and so the status has been softened.
On Geek Native this week, I also blogged Toonocalypse a short movie about aliens that look like cartoons arriving on the planet. It’s set in Edinburgh, the city from which the podcast is being recorded, and it is undoubtedly an unusual tour if you’re curious.
You can find a link to the transcript of the podcast in the show notes and from that links to everything mentioned. Toonocalypse is less than 20 minutes long.
Of course, as gamers, we don’t just dabble with world-destroying scenarios – we also build them.
An unusual Kickstarter I noticed this week is called Atlas Architect.
It’s a software project that calls itself a game. However, I think most tabletop gamers looking at it will see map-making software.
The programmer is Danial Rashidi who’s worked for DICE on projects like Battlefield and Battlefront before, and Atlas Architect builds 3d computer-game style words. These are not flat top-down views that are so popular with the most virtual tabletop system.
I thought the demo was impressive and given it costs only a couple of bucks to back, I went for it. If you’ve been burnt by software projects on Kickstarter before then Atlas Architect will release to Steam, where it will be fractionally more expensive, so you can wait and see on this particular project.
The Bundle of Holding is also helping out with worldbuilding this week. Every year, or so, the discount site curates worldbuilding assets into the usual duo of a Starter Collection and a Bonus Collection.
Worldbuilders’s Toolkit 7 launched this week with $42.50 worth of goodies in the Starter Collection and another $65 in the Bonus Collection.
While we’re talking money, let’s also talk charity. Wizards of the Coast are running an ebay auction for Extra Life right now.
In fact, credit to them, they’ve been busy raising money for their charity partner for most of the year.
This time, over at WotC’s WotC’s eBay page you can find rare production material from D&D books. I mean things like the cover for Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
I’ve not seen much media coverage for this auction, but I imagine it could attract some wealthy collectors. Hopefully, though, it’s worth casting your eye over.
There are some exciting freebies from this week’s news too. Sticking with Wizards of the Coast for a minute longer, they’ve made Wrath of the Immortals free to download from DriveThruRPG.
The PDF is a scan of a thirty-year-old book, so just keep that in mind, but it offers up PC rules for the Immortals of Mystara and Mystara was D&D’s default campaign setting for years. Now it’s languishing in obscurity.
A sting in the tail with Wrath of the Immortals is that you really need a copy of D&D Rules Cyclopedia to use it. This is not D&D 5e. Unfortunately, the co-author of D&D Rules Cyclopedia is a guy called Frank Mentzer who has been banned from gaming conventions due to concerns over his behaviour.
Still, as Wrath of the Immortals free, no one is making any money from the downloads.
Another freebie that Geek Native blogged about this week is the fan project Naruto 5e.
That’s right, a whole campaign setting built around Naruto and Boruto Uzumaki and the Leaf Shinobi powered by D&D 5e.
I’ve embedded the latest release from Tommie Cobb so you can check the whole ruleset out without even needing to download a thing. But, it’s been a popular post this week, and I imagine many readers are grabbing copies while they can.
I say “while they can” because I think unofficial conversions like this live or die by the whim of legal departments.
In 2015 a fan-made Mass Effect RPG was disqualified from the ENnies. In this case, it wasn’t because of actions from BioWare but the ENnie team, run by Morrus and EN World at the time, wanted to support the Intellectual Property rights of creators.
I suspect an area where we’ll see IP rights being hot is in virtual tabletops. I’ve seen more than one Kickstarter for website or software projects that seem to use RPG rules you’d normally have to pay for or come loaded with illustrations that it appears they simply took off the web.
However, there’s plenty of good virtual tabletop news this week.
The challenger virtual tabletop Foundry has an official Warhammer FRP module.
Foundry is different from many other virtual tabletop solutions as it does not charge a license fee. You buy it once and then run it on your machine. That, of course, means, if your machine isn’t running then your players can’t log in. If your internet provider has locked down certain settings, then it won’t work either.
However, you can pay for third-party hosts to run Foundry for you, and you’re back to a more traditional subscription model.
The Warhammer module is an example of IP on VTTs done right. You buy the module from Cubicle 7. It’s official, authorised and supported by the publisher.
In similar news, Astral Tabletop, now have the official Call of Cthulhu quickstart in their system. You have to have an account to look at it, but that’s free to make.
Fantasy Grounds officially launched Fantasy Grounds Unity this week too. It’s official because this release is stable and has all the things the Kickstarter promised.
Fantasy Grounds is probably Roll20’s most significant competitor right now, and rather than using a web-based approach like Roll20 or Astral, it runs on software on your machine and connects to SmiteWork’s infrastructure. Fantasy Grounds Unity is a new version of the software that uses the prevalent Unity gaming engine. It’s the same engine that powers Pokemon Go, in fact.
Okay, let’s flip the RPG news to the other end of the industry and talk about some smaller players.
Silver Vine Publishing has a Kickstarter for an unusual RPG called Summon Skate.
It’s a really simple Kickstarter with tiers for a PDF copy of the game or a print-on-demand. I’ve seen far more swanky and impressive pitches.
However, Silver Vine is translating this indie Japanese tabletop RPG to English. If they’re successful then, I hope it will be a nice boost to the industry—a cross-culture of influences and styles.
In Summon Skate, the PCs summon monsters to fight for them by skating out complex glyphs of the ground. The Kickstarter shows a battle map with the patterns forming but also hazards that need to be avoided.
A more traditional but brand new publisher is Ex Stasis Games which has been founded by Cat Evans and Liz Gist. These two industry veterans have their names on plenty of products and I think setting up a publishing entity of their own makes sense.
The first project, which will be a Kickstarter, is a dark fantasy 5e-powered game from their Dreadful Realms setting. Called Caverns of the Wise Minister, the central focus is a city carved out of death’s realm and is older than the gods themselves.
Lastly, as it’s the start of a new month the Spotlight Poll for Patreons is open.
As usual, there are five indie publishers to vote for, and the winner gets featured on Geek Native. The candidates are;
What do you think? Share your input on this article in the section below.