This is Audio EXP for the 13th of March 2021, and the title of this episode is ‘The hunt for missing 2000 AD art’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #87]
I’m on to my third cup of coffee. How about you? If you had woken up this morning on the Death Star, how many cups of coffee you think you might have had to get you through the day?
Given the size of the Death Star and all the people who lived and worked in that planet-killing machine, I wonder just how much coffee would be needed to fuel the workforce.
That’s right, you’ve guessed it; I’m going to tell you. The answer comes from yet another quirky infographic a brand wanting some marketing has sent over.
This research suggests about 1.2 million people on the Death Star, mostly Storm Troopers and with Station Crew, just outnumbering pilots.
If you use the American average for coffee drinking, that would mean 2.5 million cups of coffee drained every day. You can make your own dark side joke from that.
Based on the size of the Death Star, if it had actually the same coffee demographics as America, there would be 41 Starbucks on board.
Let’s just stick with sci-fi for a while. It’s either that or talk about Asmodee’s purchase of Plan B Games, but that would make the link between the two stories the unstoppable expansion of an empire. And let’s not do that, so let’s come back to Plan B Games in just a bit.
First up, in computer game bundle news, Humble Bundle has a deal on Stellaris.
There’s a Kickstarter for a Stellaris board game on right now, and I assume the timing is on purpose.
Stellaris is a five-year-old computer game about exploring space, managing diplomatic or military responses to aliens and trying to grow your empire.
The first tier in the bundle is less than a buck and will get you the game. In total, there’s about $135 worth of Stellaris content available if you can find about $20 to grab it.
Another nice bit of sci-fi news is John Harper’s crucial decision on the Lasers & Feelings RPG.
Lasers & Feelings is a one-page RPG about a spaceship crew trying to cope when an alien entity takes over their captain. It’s based on a song by The Doubleclicks and has become really popular. It’s often called an excellent gateway RPG.
There are loads of Lasers & Feelings hacks. Many designers have made their own games based on, or inspired by, or with bits borrowed from it.
This week John Harper decided to update the Lasers & Feelings license so that if you do make a hack, you can sell it for money. You just need to credit the original.
And with that, sticking with sci-fi and perhaps finding an overlap in the idea of working together, let’s talk about 2000 AD’s missing art.
Rebellion wants to put together an oversized book in tribute to Brian Bolland’s iconic art. He absolutely is one of the talents of his generation and part of Judge Dredd’s success.
It’s not a license issue in this story. The art they want to use is missing. I have the complete list on the blog, but if you have good copies of 2000 AD in the Prog 110 to 244 range, there are about two dozen pages that Rebellion would like to borrow. They’ll keep your collection safe, scan it, and return it to you. The art can then be added to The Apex Edition collection that they have planned.
I’m reminded of the BBC not keeping some of the original Doctor Who TV series. Occasionally, scraps are rediscovered, and they spawn attempts to retell the potential story through animation or audiobook. However, to show Brian Bolland’s art, Rebellion simply needs good quality copies of the art.
Well, since I mentioned Asmodee buying Plan B Games let’s do that next.
I think the two most well-known games from Plan B Games’ catalogue are Azul and Century: Spice Road. Perhaps we can put Great Western Trail in there in third place.
Asmodee is prone to buying any board game company not tied down. They’re growing with private equity money, but I can’t really tell you if it’s working or not. I certainly know of situations where holding companies need to make another acquisition to boost their numbers, hit financial targets and keep going. I guess it’s a bit of a trap. What happens when those possibilities simply dry up?
The Plan B Games story is fascinating. Plan B was founded by Sophie Gravel. She’s already sold companies to Asmodee; she sold them F2Z Entertainment which included companies like Z-Men Games and Plaid Hat Games, although the latter is now independent.
Gravel kept one company back, though; Pretzel Games. In just a few years, Pretzel Games spawned Plan B Games, and there are other companies like Next Move Games and eggertspiele in the studio with them.
So, Asmodee didn’t buy all of Sophie Gravel’s game company assets. They let her take a seed with her, and in just a few years, that seed has grown into something significant enough that it makes financial sense for Asmodee to splash the cash again.
You’ll not be surprised to know that it looks as if the terms are different this time. Sophie isn’t getting to walk away from the deal with money and another games company seed. This time it looks like she’ll have to stay with Asmodee for a bit and work with them.
I imagine Asmodee have Hasbro firmly in their sights, but it looks like there’s a long way to go. Hasbro has a market cap of $13bn, Mattel is half that size at $7.3bn, and we can’t do the same for Asmodee as they’re owned by PAI Partners. PAI Partners paid $1.2bn for Asmodee, but I doubt comparing private purchase price with market cap is wise.
We do have a Hasbro story this week via their cash cow Wizards of the Coast. There’s a new playtest for D&D out, and it’s Folk of the Feywild.
If you fancy playing a Fairy, Hobgoblin, Owlfolk or Rabbitfolk, then speak to your GM about using the prototype material now officially released.
I don’t think Wizards of the Coast are directly involved in this next story but must surely have some indirect contact. There’s a new online convention all about Dungeons & Dragons coming. It’s called Dungeon Con Online.
Goodman Games, which really have gone for virtual conventions in a big way, are one of two companies running it.
The other is the Dungeon Masters Guild, and that website is a partnership between Wizards of the Coast and OneBookShelf.
I think there are two things worth calling out about Dungeon Con Online. Firstly, it promises new technology to enable visitor to vendor interaction. As a vendor, you can buy a virtual booth space for $20.
I think the idea is that DMs Guild creators can rock up at those prices and talk about the D&D adventures and supplements they have on sale.
The second thing is the date—May 28th to May 31st.
Do you remember what other online convention runs from May 28th to May 31st? It’s PaizoCon Online. This might not be such a dramatic head to head of Pathfinder v D&D as it sounds because, with online conventions, you can go to both. Nevertheless, ouch on those dates.
As usual, you can use the Geek Native convention calendar to see what events are coming up and what might be clashing.
Paizo isn’t being idle on things digital, I should say. This week at the Gen Con Spring Showcase, which was an online event, the publisher announced Sundered Waves the first of a new One-Shot product line from them.
Sundered Waves is a pirate Pathfinder adventure designed, you guessed it, to fill an evening of online tabletop play.
Let’s chat about other new RPGs, as there’s been quite a bit on the blog this week.
Evil Hat announced two new ones, both Powered by the Apocalypse. The first is Project Perseus.
Project Perseus is a superspies versus supernatural thriller set in the 80s and 90s. We’re told it’s going to be about hard choices.
Most of the players in the game will be agents, but one will be the operator who assigns them missions and directs them. It’s an asymmetric approach to RPGs.
The other new game is Apocalypse Keys and is about monsters trying to stop the end of the world. You know, think Hellboy.
These monsters will be friends with others and have contacts in the secret supernatural slice of life. Calling in favours or talking people into helping is essential when it comes to stopping the apocalypse.
In fact, these relationships are the central theme of the game.
Modiphius opened the doors to the Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 queue this week.
I spoke to local writer Bill Heron who was a designer on the project. Bill reminded me that it’s always about the Nazis coopting the dark Cthulhu powers for their evil ends, never the other way around. I thought that was a crucial point; it stops the game from becoming an excuse for the Nazi’s behaviour.
From the file labelled “new to me” is the steampunk RPG Vulcania which I reviewed this week.
I really enjoyed it. It’s set in a world that’s mainly water but has a half-dozen islands. Each island has its own theme and nation, so there’s an Asian-influenced island, a Viking one, a Western cowboy one and so forth.
I know portraying cultures is tricky, and a hot topic, but at least Vulcania does this to many and equally.
Although it’s a steampunk game, it gave me lots of anime vibes through the art, the equipment and the cinematic action it is geared up to manage.
I also wanted to call out this week’s Genre Police. Ben’s article is called Risk assement and it is all about how to handle things if you have a problem player in your group. It also talks about what to do if you might be the problem, specifically if you’re the GM and you’ve made a mistake.
Ben’s a professional GM, and so his experience on this is hugely valuable.
Lastly, I want to share that there’s a new competition running for listeners in the UK. It’s a chance to win Handiwork Games’ Bang & Twang. To enter, all you need to do is use the competition widget to tell me which musical instrument is most appropriate to a fantasy setting.
On that note, let’s wrap there, so please keep safe, stay out of melee range, and we’ll speak next week.
See any comments you like below? Give them a thumbs up in the rating system.