This is Audio EXP for the 23rd of January 2021, and the title of this episode is ‘Rows that shock the tabletop hobby this week’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #80]
It’s been a strange week. I don’t know about you, but I’m still struggling to get into the swing of a regular routine. Time seems scarce.
The tabletop scene seems a little choppy too. I’m tracking Kickstarter launches, and we’re nearly back to pre-Christmas levels, and I think that’s a good sign. However, this week, there’s been two different rows from the broader industry that have taken the shine off things.
The first up involves the designer Daniele Tascini. Tascini’s done RPGs, Magic: The Gathering before moving onto board games.
Tascini gave an interview that dug into the dangerous topic of races and racial stereotypes in fantasy. He gave it in Italian. At best, it was ill-conceived, at worst it was short-sightedly racist.
The publisher of some of his games, Board&Dice asked for an apology and weren’t happy with the response. They cut ties with Tascini and said so publically.
Let’s be frank; many people cheered Board&Dice for their quick and clear action.
Others, though, thought things had gone wrong. A frequent statement I’ve seen is that American values are being applied to something said in Europe. Or that American values are judging a comment made in Italy. It’s a cultural clash, they say.
However, Board&Dice is a European company. It’s Polish.
The other oft-used remark in Tascini’s defence is that the translation from Italian to English is the basis of the outrage and the translation makes it seem worse than it was.
As you know, I barely speak English, so I can certainly not evaluate the translation. People with more skill have said it’s accurate.
Tascini himself has now said he’s deeply ashamed of what happened, especially now he sees how the words read in English.
The other row is a sexism one. At the centre of it is the CEO of Funagain Games, Jeff DeBoer, who waded into a heated social media exchange and made things much worse.
I made the editorial decision not to show any of the screenshots made by other people of the exchange because the customer involved has made no public statement.
However, I’ve read the exchange, and like the Tascini incident, your view of what was said will land on a scale. DeBoer either tried condescending humour to divert a row or just waded in with sexist remarks.
Braincrack Games who were using Funagains for Kickstarter fulfilment were sure that the remarks were inappropriate and cut ties.
I think what happened next is both surprising and heartening. A few days later Funagain posted about a management change.
You can read the full statement on Geek Native but, in summary, it says the staff of Funagain made it clear that they could not accept DeBoer’s comments either and asked him to go.
So, while DeBoer still owns the company, he’s no longer in the management.
The statement begins;
Let it be known that we, the 25 full-time employees of Funagain Games and Funagain Logistics, do not condone in any way the words of Jeff DeBoer, the company’s CEO/Owner in his recent social media comments. There is zero justification for his words, and it pains us to see the hurt he has caused.
So, why is that surprising and heartening? Well, I didn’t expect anything else to happen except for Funagain Games to lose more business.
Instead, Funagain probably has arrested that loss through quick action. While DeBoer still owns the company, there were consequences for his actions.
Obviously, we don’t really know what happened behind the scenes. Did the staff really rise up in protest? Is this all careful spin and PR? Who knows but as long as it looks like staff can say “Hey, that’s not right” to management and affect a change, then I think that’s a good result.
Right, let’s find some happier and less controversial news.
Wizards of the Coast have made the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game a free download.
This is the Silver Anniversary edition of the AD&D 2e starter set. It’s a streamlined set of AD&D 2e rules and will be enough for characters at levels 1 or 2, but after that, you’ll need the full rules.
It’s nice to see out there are gamers on social media saying this is the boxset that got them into the hobby. It was published in 1999, so isn’t, ahem, that old. D&D 3 came out the following year.
There are two bundles to know about, neither free, but both supporting charities as usual.
One is a Bundle of Holding deal for The Forbidden Lands.
I think this is an interesting move by Free League Publishing. They had a great 2020, look set for a healthy 2021, and more roleplayers are getting interested in their games.
So, why take this OSR-friendly hexcrawl that would likely attract interest organically and do something as generous as making it and accessories available at low-low prices in a bundle?
Perhaps they’re trying to build up the base, so accessories planned for 2021 and 2022 have more people to sell to?
The other bundle is a comic one. Legendary Comics are on Humble Bundle with a broad collection of titles.
There’s some Dracula in there, some Godzilla, some Pacific Rim, Krampus – yes, the Christmas demon, and Lost in Space. So perhaps not the most famous comic book titles, but some name recognition and certainly lots of choices.
As usual, it’s a tiered bundle, and the first is less than a quid to get access to some downloads.
Speaking of choice, the Kickstarter for Savage Pathfinder is live.
There are a core rulebook and an adventure path, as well as some supplements hanging on this Kickstarter but fear not as it’s already funded and doing very well.
Savage Pathfinder is an RPG which takes the Savage Worlds Adventure Edition rules and applies them to the Golarion setting of the D&D 3.0 spin-off Pathfinder.
Frequently you need a core copy of Savage Worlds before you can use any of its settings. Not this time. This version of Pathfinder will be a complete game with a slightly modified Savage Worlds rules set.
Geek Native has an exclusive look at a new 5e setting this week too. It’s called Crystalpunk and it’s a dark future of a magical fantasy world.
In Crystalpunk, spells, souls, demons and infused crystals power a brutal technology. The Kickstarter is due out on the 3rd of February.
In the meantime, on the blog, you can check out the College of Momentum bard subclass before anyone else can. There’s also the Evolutionist and a short story from the setting.
As I said at the start, Kickstarter projects are coming back, but the year’s start seems a bit rocky. For example, the UK Games Expo already has new dates.
Just a few months ago, this huge tabletop convention seemed bullish that it would run some sort of convention even it was socially distant. Now, they’ve pushed the dates back to 30th of July to the 1st of August.
I’ve updated the Geek Native RPG convention calendar, and put together a blog post of some of the other changes.
Then there’s Brexit. DriveThruRPG and sister sites like DMs Guild do not have it easy. Their print-on-demand partner Lightning Source has its European operation based in the UK. We’ve already seen shipping delays for titles coming from the UK to Europe. In just a few weeks, the extra cost on deliveries now in place due to Britain leaving the trading block will stop being absorbed by the business and be put on customers.
On top of that, Lightning Source has run the numbers and decided it has to stop supporting saddle-stitch printing.
Saddle-stitch printing is essentially putting stapes through the spine of pages to make a small book. The alternative is Perfect Bound in which pages are glued to a spine.
There are differences, I bet you’ve never had a stapled brochure fall apart in the way you might have seen pages come loose from a spine. Perfect Bound can’t be used on very small books at all, the page count must be at least 18. The margins are different sizes as well. So some RPG publishers will have to change the designs of their print-on-demand titles.
Outside the world of tabletop games, there’s good news for Demon Slayer fans in America.
The anime is about a young man who trains as a warrior and demon slayer after his family is attacked. It was hugely popular but brief. Some anime have run for years, but not this one.
The Demon Slayer movie – called Mugen Train – broke records in Japan. Now, Aniplex of America and Funimation is planning to take the feature-length to American cinemas. Let’s hope there are still big screens left for it to show on.
Also, there’s news in the world of anime that I think I’m missing a trick on. Netflix has said they’ll run the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure spin-off Thus Spoke Kishibi Rohan.
Why do I think I’m missing a trick? Well, here in the UK Netflix has JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure but only the first two arcs. Kishibi Rohan is introduced in the third arc, Diamond is Unbreakable.
So, maybe Thus Spoke Kishibi Rohan isn’t coming to Netflix in the UK when it rolls out in the States in February. Or maybe Netflix will add in the missing arcs. Or maybe they’re planning to risk spoilers and air Thus Spoke Kishibi Rohan anyway.
Lastly, Geek Native has two competitions that you might qualify for. If you’re in the UK, then there’s a copy of Aramini Circus to win. That’s a card game in which you’re trying to get animals into trains. If you’re in the States, then there’s still time to win $50 of Geek House Coffee vouchers.
And let’s wrap it there, keep safe, stay out of melee range and see you next week.
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