This is Audio EXP for the 13th of February 2021, and the title of this episode is ‘The Return of the King’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #83]
It’s good to speak to you. How are you doing?
In this highlights show we’re going to focus on RPG news, as usual, but true to Geek Native traditional also includes some other nerdy entertainment news.
Let’s start with Kickstarter. It’s week two of Zine Quest 3, and that means we’re dealing with a wave of RPG launches. Frankly, it’s easy to get drowned, carried or way and even easier to miss things.
Last week I introduced Kickstarter Heat, a way of measuring Kickstarter activity, and I’ll be asking Patreons how to develop that in the future. That stat tells me we scored 382 points of Heat with RPG and related campaign launches last week. That compares to 513 the week before.
That’s a big drop. However, the average Kickstarter Heat over the Christmas and New Year period was only 35 and in the two months before that hovered around 100.
This week I’ve tracked 112 Kickstarter launches in sheer numbers, and that compares to 153 the week before.
I said it was easy to miss things. It’s hard to pick out any one project as an example as there’s so many, so let’s do three. We’ll start with Everway.
The Kickstarter pitch for the Silver Anniversary Edition says it was an RPG head of its time. Sometimes that phrase is code for “it didn’t do as well as hoped”, but I think it’s fair for Everway.
Jonathan Tweet’s game got rid of dice, used Tarot cards instead and focused on story. That’s the same Jonathan Tweet you’ll see as a designer credit on D&D 3.
I didn’t get Everway at the time, despite some close friends falling in love with it. I’m torn about backing the Silver Anniversary Edition. I doubt I’ll ever play it, but I feel like it’ll become a collectable-worthy addition to the library and I doubt there will be a second chance.
Let me know if you’ve decided to go or pass on it.
The second “might miss and might regret if you do” is Amazing Heroes.
Amazing Tales is DriveThruRPG’s best-selling family-friendly RPG, I think, and I spoke to Martin Lloyd to discover that a superhero RPG was the most common request he gets.
So, the Amazing Heroes Kickstarter is live.
I also asked Martin what tips he had for parents running superhero RPGs for the kids. You can find the full interview on Geek Native, but I’ll paraphrase here;
- Start by being clear about what sort of adventure your kids want.
- Say “yes” to their character ideas.
- Keep the pace of events high and let things escalate. Martin suggests that this isn’t a genre for subtlety.
So, let’s stick with not needing subtlety and move on to a Kickstarter that’s much easier to spot; The One Ring 2nd edition.
Cubicle 7 published the first edition, announced the second and then just before it was due out – they surrendered or lost the license, I’ve not had the chance to beer the truth out of anyone. A few weeks later, Free League Publishing picked up the rights.
Francesco Nepitello, the original designer, is involved again.
The Kickstarter is through the launch day, which is likely to be the spike of pledges and is at 6,463% of its funding goal. Free League can’t release stretch goals fast enough, and I’m not sure why they’re even trying.
The current pledge rate suggests they’ll find at 47,390% of goal which would bank SEK 47,395,920. That’s about £4m and would make The One Ring 2nd edition the largest RPG Kickstarter ever by a considerable way.
In truth, that run rate is likely to drop and drop until a final surge in last-minute pledges. That £4m is not expected. However, while £4m isn’t a record-breaking board game pledge total. Matt Colville’s Strongholds & Streaming made $2,121,465, and that’s about £1.5m. So, The One Ring 2nd RPG might well be the return of the king in more sense than one.
The 2nd edition expands the timeline slightly, but the game is still set during The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series and changes the geographical focus.
The most significant change is in the art. I’ve seen some backlash. The original book was gorgeous, and Jon Hodgson’s art direction amazing. In fact, I think it’s a compliment that Free League haven’t tried to improve on it. It’s almost as if they knew they needed to do something different entirely.
In a public Facebook post, Hodgson said The One Ring 2e was probably the toughest gig in roleplaying games, for people to stop trying to recruit him into the haters’ brigade and to treat the new art with a bit more respect.
In news of people getting out of fights, not picking them, and to take us out of the Kickstarter universe for a bit, I’m pleased to report that Wizards of the Coast and Gale Force 9 have settled out of Court.
Wizards of the Coast had tried to fire Gale Force 9 who make D&D minis and organise the core books’ translations. WotC had said those translations had been of low quality. Gale Force 9 denied any such thing and said any attempt to end the deal early would breach their contract.
Settling out of Court, as always, seems wise. Gale Force 9 had their initial attempts to immediately ban Wizards of the Coast from tearing up the contract refused by a Judge. The Judge thought the case was not a slamdunk and so needed to be fought. I’m sure that was a red flag for Gale Force 9.
I don’t quite understand American business, though. If I was Wizards of the Coast and a supplier took me to Court, I would be annoyed at them. Promising not to remove them from my roster until the date previously agreed is one thing; ever hiring them again is another thing entirely.
I hope Gale Force 9 have a creative Part Two in their strategy.
In another example of two RPG companies working together, Stiff Whispers Press as agreed to rename Dark Trails to Weird Frontiers.
Weird Frontiers is a Cthulhu mythos RPG set in the weird west. It’s not related to Call of Cthulhu nor Down Darker Trails, but Chaosium worried that wasn’t clear to people.
In fact, Weird Frontiers is an RPG based on Dungeon Crawl Classics.
Stiff Whiskers Press had two problems to deal with. Firstly, the Kickstarter was already running very late, and secondly, it would cost more money than they could easily afford to rebrand the entire project at this point.
The solution? Chaosium’s money. Rather than pay laws, Chaosium made some sort of money offer to Stiff Whiskers that made it worth their while to change the name of the RPG.
I think that’s a win-win.
Now, I’m not sure whether the next story is an example of game companies cooperating or not, but I’ve emailed both parties involved and may find out later.
Wizards of the Coast published Palace of the Vampire Queen on DriveThruRPG, and that’s remarkable for two reasons.
Firstly, Palace of the Vampire Queen is the first commercially available stand-alone adventure for Dungeons & Dragons ever released. It was made by Wee Warriors and published in 1976. I can see why D&D fans would want to own this piece of history, even in PDF form.
Secondly, the rights to the Wee Warrior catalogue was bought by Precis Intermedia a few years back – or so we thought – and they too have published a copy Palace of the Vampire Queen.
Well, where does that leave us? I’m yet to hear back from Wizards of the Coast’s press team, but the WotC rerelease is no longer available, and the Precis Intermedia version is still safely in place on DriveThru. Make of that what you will and if I get more information; I’ll share it.
While we’re talking about licensing, let’s do The Terminator RPG. Nightfall Games has the license, but only for the Dark Horse comics and the original movie, not for the sequels or for anything that looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Pay What You Want Quick Start is out, and this week Nightfall revealed the front cover of the core rules. It shows a T100 in metal form marching through a building while resistance fighters take cover.
The full The Terminator RPG will be out later this year, Kickstarter pending.
Later this week is Valentine’s Day, and so lots of RPG blogs and YouTube channels are discussing romance in RPGs. It’s an easy topic to mess up on and make things super awkward.
What do I know about romance? Not a thing. So, the award-winning Emily Allen of Dying Stylishly Games kindly agreed to write an advice article for Geek Native called How to handle romance and sexuality in RPGs.
The whole article is worth a read, of course, but Emily’s top tip is to keep things uncertain.
In the last little bit of RPG news for this week’s highlights, I want to first call out the excellent work of RPG Kitchen, a social enterprise, which works to make sure tabletop RPG creators can make a living. Then, I want to share the news that they’ve created and are putting together Small Press RPG Games Day for the 13th of March.
It’ll be online, the details are still coming in, but it sounds like dozens of small press created games will be available to play.
On the note of online events, like Small Press RPG Games Day, and conventions, there is always the Geek Conventions calendar on the site to keep an eye on. It’s filling up for 2021, and if you know of any RPG or geeky events that should go into it, please let me know.
Outside the realm of RPGs, but not going too far from it, is the news that Asmodee has bought Board Game Arena for an undisclosed sum.
Board Game Arena had an explosive 2020, has an estimated 5 million users and is a site where people can play board games online with friends.
Asmodee, of course, owns some of the worlds biggest games companies and most popular titles.
Asmodee Digital has been successful at converting those tabletop experiences to consoles and computers.
I think the deal makes sense. Audio EXP’s long-time listeners will know that I occasionally stray into tabletop business models and the Holy Grail, the subscription model. That’s a magic lever that Board Game Arena could absolutely pull.
In offline entertainment news, Geek Native has a preview of the four-part special Doctor Who comic book series Missy.
BBC and publisher Titan Comics say there’s never been a series with so many Doctors and Masters in it. Geek Native readers certainly appear to be fans of Michelle Gomez. Given her performance in Doctor Who and, say, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I am too.
You can preorder now through Forbidden Planet, the retailer Titan’s parent company owns, but the series isn’t out until April.
Lastly, I want to mention Urvan. It’s five minutes of anime, no speaking, just a cyberpunk tour of the Japanese city of Sasebo.
It was made by Toei Animation’s research and new techniques division and, get this, was made from photographs taken by students, using Box for storage and online project management as well as Zoom.
On that note, let’s wrap there so please keep safe, stay out of melee range, and we’ll speak next week.
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