This is Audio EXP for the 21st of November 2020, and the title of this episode is ‘More legal drama at Wizards of the Coast’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #71]
There’s a bit of a legal theme, I think, to this week’s podcast but let’s start with some tabletop game stats.
Last week we discovered that over 40% of people were planning on buying more board games than usual this Christmas shopping season. In contrast, only 4% planned on buying fewer.
A strongly related question is; yeah, but are you going to get to play these games?
During the lockdowns and various restrictions, we could speculate that families are playing tabletop games together more frequently. So, that was the question in the most recent competition, and the answer is; yes, families are playing together more often this year.
64% of geeks who answered the question said they’ve played more tabletop games with their family during the pandemic. That’s a self-classification of geek.
The next figure is enormous.
95% of non-geeks said they had been playing more tabletop games with their family during the pandemic.
Now, some of this will be due to Geek Native sample. We get non-geeks on the site because competition sites find out about the giveaway and send their competition hunting readers over to Geek Native. Despite, that, though; you have to imagine most people entering a competition to win an It’s Contagious! card game have some interest in tabletop games.
Nevertheless, the data fits with the other surveys Geek Native has run this year. Tabletop games have found a wider audience during 2020.
Okay, so that’s a silver lining. Let’s talk about some clouds. Back in Audio EXP 67 when we were talking about how people found dolls scarier than zombies, we also covered Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis taking Wizards of the Coast to Court.
The Dragonlance creators accused the D&D publisher of breaching contract by refusing to approve any more revisions to the trilogy they had been working on together. The authors even went as far to link it was racist and sexist publicity challenges Wizards of the Coast had been facing.
This week, a one-time partner of Wizards of the Coast, Gale Force Nine filed a breach of contract court complaint against Wizards too.
A little more information has emerged, and we know the fight is around the translation of D&D that Gale Force Nine managed and outsourced.
Wizards want to end the deal a year early. They say they won’t approve any more projects. Gale Force Nine says they can’t and to do so will be a breach of contract.
The twist? Well, Wizards allege that the translation work Gale Force Nine’s contractors did was substandard. The French and Korean editions of D&D get mentioned as having mistakes and some localisation work that was actually insulting.
Was it? Well, I’ve not been able to confirm, but I do note that Gale Force Nine insist there were no problems. They also insist that if there had been any problems that they’ve been fixed.
As you can imagine, a second court case in as many months as led to lots of internet speculation. What’s going on at Wizards? Are they getting ready for a D&D 6?
Well, it certainly seems like they’re trying to do something and I get why people think D&D 6. D&D 5 is already unnaturally long-lived.
I’m not so sure about D&D 6 as a thing that’s happening before 2023, though. That’s simply because Hasbro has been investing heavily in D&D 5 computer games. So, unless Dark Alliance, the forthcoming D&D came from the Hasbro owned Tuque has been built with D&D 6 rules all along, I think Hasbro, who own Wizards, will want D&D 5 to be hot for the sales peak of the game.
The legal news stole the headlines from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, the latest official D&D book. It’s not out in Europe yet due to pandemic logistic challenges. Still, Geek Native’s provided a review round-up in the weekly RPG newsletter, and the early reviews are pretty positive.
Later reviews are a little less shiny. I get the sense that some fans hoped for more significant changes to how D&D tackles mono-culture races. I presume, also, some fans are pleased that the book didn’t make sweeping changes there.
I’ve also seen one or two reports of binding problems and pages coming loose. If that does happen to your copy, then Wizards of the Coast do have a returns program to fix it for you.
That’s not the only legal-tainted story this week. It feels like parts of the web are still reeling with the news that Paradox Interactive is taking the development of the World of Darkness in-house. What does it mean?
In particular, I was curious to know what’s happening to the Werewolf v5 book and how Hunters Entertainment have been affected.
Well, Paradox released a World of Darkness FAQ to try and cover some of these issues. Here are my top three.
Firstly, relationships with Onyx Path Publishing and regional publishers like Ulissie Spiele and Studio 101 are not affected.
Secondly, all the previous Vampire 5th edition books are still canon.
Thirdly, the in-house team’s next priority isn’t Werewolf 5th edition. It’s the Sabbat Sect Book.
Previously, it was Modiphius who had been running Vampire and this week has some good news for them, or for their fans, at least. The British publisher shared the first bit of art from the Dune RPG, and it looks great.
There’s a spice worm thundering across the sands while people scramble to get out of the way, climb into a skyship and escape.
Do you know the old sci-fi skirmish game Renegade Legion?
It was published by FASA and set in the far future, complete with aliens and with two sides locked in perma-war.
Well, a new Renegade Legion: Centurion appeared on DriveThruRPG from Budgie Smuggler Games.
That beta rulebook can be traced back to a Renegade Legion Patreon and a website with a countdown timer for a Kickstarter in 2021 running.
I checked the paperwork – and look, I’m not claiming to have any skill at this – but I could see the games wordmark for Regenade Legion was recently given to Renegade Legion LLC run by Joshua Perian.
Joshua Perian is one of the Budgie Smuggler Games team.
So, I believe that Budgie Smuggler Games has the trademarks or wordmarks at least, that they say they do.
I can’t confirm from FASA, but I think this may be a case of paperwork expiring and being snapped up by someone else. The reviews say that the new Renegade Legion: Centurion is very different.
It’s possible that FASA isn’t involved, don’t even approve and that other critical legal obstacles – such as copyright – still protect the original game.
Sticking with sci-fi skirmish games for a bit, there’s big news from the Star Wars universe.
Fantasy Flight Games are no longer the studio running X-Wing. Nor are they making Star Wars: Armada or Star Wars: Legion. All the surviving Star Wars miniature games are going Atomic Mass Studios.
Atomic Mass is an Asmodee owned sister studio to Fantasy Flight, and some of the Star Wars team are joining them.
Why is this happening? Well, Asmodee says they are consolidating their miniature games into Atomic Mass.
Once again people are left speculating what’s going on at Fantasy Flight Games? They’d already streamlined their business by winding down their RPG development which resulted in the Star Wars RPG being transferred to another Asmodee sibling, Edge Entertainment.
Licenses are a tricky thing. We see that with Nightfall Games’ The Terminator RPG. It’ll use the S5S system Nightfall is using with SLA Industries 2e.
The new RPG, which will get a Kickstarter next year after a quickstart comes out this year, will be based on the first movie and the Dark Horse comics.
However, the license excludes all the follow-up movies and Arnold Schwarzenegger. We won’t see Arnie’s likeness in this RPG.
If you land a high profile license, as a small indie publisher, then one of the companies you might turn to for logistics, sales and shipping help is Indie Revolution Press.
And Indie Revolution Press put out a remarkable job ad this week.
The little company is based in a town called Gerlach, best known for being the home of the Burning Man festival. If you live in Gerlach, which you have to if you want to be IPR’s Assistant Manager, then you need to drive for ages just to get groceries. There are only 150 people in the whole town.
The job ad is looking for someone who can move to Gerlach, drive in all weather, work in the warehouse, at the computer but also share hotel rooms with other employees as you run convention support for IPR and their publishers.
It sounds like quite an adventure.
Mongoose Publishing is based in Swindon, so far less adventurous, but they still had to whether 2020.
In Matt Sprange’s annual state of Mongoose report, we learn that the company has adapted and has plans for 2021. First and foremost in 2021 is the Traveller RPG. Mongoose plan on launch the Fifth Frontier War, a project that’ll last years, as well as Traveller Mercenary on Kickstarter.
A launch that might interest you that’s going to happen very soon is Mythic Table.
Mythic Table is a not-for-profit and free to use virtual tabletop. There will never be features put behind a paywall, not even a Patreon, although there will be a Patreon for fans.
Another bit of virtual tabletop news comes via Onyx Path Publishing and Scarred Lands. The adventure Dagger of Spiragos is available at DriveThruRPG this week and it’s the first one I’ve seen with a special Astral Tabletop tag.
Now, the two partners had announced they would integrate DriveThru’s market into Astral. In other words, you could browse and buy Astral modules at DriveThru, and I wonder if Dagger of Spiragos is the first.
Once you buy Dagger of Spirago at DriveThruRPG you’re sent an email with a special link that unlocks the module at Astral for you.
Last week’s big news was Cyberpunk Red and before wrapping up, I wanted to look back on that. There’s a Cyberpunk Red errata out which adjusts EMP loss for Cyberware, changes the autofire DV based on range and makes a few other tweaks.
There’s also a free DLC called Old Guns Never Die which lets you convert Cyberpunk 2020 weaponry into Cyberpunk Red stats. Given that there’s Cyberpunk Red and 2020 goodies in the Bundle of Holding this week that’s a timely supplement.
Lastly, in quirky news; Google has unleashed a monster maker on to the web. It’s an AI project.
It’s easy enough to use, even I managed. Using different coloured pens, you blog out a rough shape, then you click transform, and Google’s AI tries to render your creation as a monster. The colours of the pens correspond to monster parts; wings, claws and horns, etc.
And let’s wrap it there, keep safe, stay out of melee range and see you next week.
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