This is Audio EXP for the 27th of March 2021, and the title of this episode is ‘Free RPGs and D&D TV’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #89]
DriveThruRPG launched a new sale last night; it’s for tabletop RPGs that also have computer game conversions or the other way around.
As it happens, this week’s quirky stats are from the realm of conversions too. This week, the OnBuy team – and I swear they don’t sponsor this podcast; they just know geeky blogs like stats – looked at The Worst Film Adaptations from Best-selling Books.
They were better with the process this time and explained how they used Goodread and Metacritic reviews to calculate the difference and assumed no one wanted a lousy movie.
The worst adaptation was Fifty Shades of Grey, which got a minus 44% score between book and movie reviews.
Then there was Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 with minus 19% in second place. Tied with The Girl on the Train in third place is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which got minus 17%.
Speaking of which, and in breaking news, Luke Crane is out at Kickstarter. A statement says he and the company had a long conversation, and it was a mutual decision.
You might remember what happened. At the tail end of ZineQuest this year, Luke Crane launched a Kickstarter campaign for The Perfect RPG. Some people have questioned this too; should Kickstarter staff use Kickstarter?
However, that really wasn’t the problem. The problem was that Dungeon World co-designer Adam Koebel was involved, and the other contributors had not been told. Koebel had previously said he would leave the RPG industry after a nasty controversy during a live actual play stream.
As you can imagine, there are all sorts of strong opinions and important nuances, but now, Crane has apologised and left Kickstarter.
Kickstarter are also keen to point out that Luke Crane hadn’t been hugely involved in their games section for a while. Games, if you include computer games, bring in about a third of Kickstarter’s cash.
Anya Combs is their Director of Games Outreach. I’m interested in the word “Outreach” in this context; what does it mean? Is Anya responsible for chatting up sites like Dicebreaker and Polygon to get them to cover Kickstarters?
I think more people might be interested in the differences between Crane’s style; he created ZineQuest, after all, and Combs’. How do you feel ZineQuest went this year?
Kickstarter’s has impacted the games industry through the wave of great-looking games it helps get made.
That’s a good thing, right?
Well, for customers, yes. Certainly, in the short term. It’s not so good for retailers who find that people need to use them less often as more games come straight from Kickstarter campaigns. It also impacts games makers like Steve Jackson Games, publishers of Munchkin and RPGs like The Fantasy Trip and GURPS.
In their 2020 report, COO Phil Reed reminded us of how Kickstarter encourages gamers to move on quickly and buy the next game that catches their attention. That’s my summary of the point, though, not his words.
As a result, though, in 2021, Steve Jackson Games might not launch any new game lines. They don’t sell well enough. Right after launch, gamers looking for a new game already have many other new games to consider.
Instead, this year, Steve Jackson Games might only support their bestsellers, and that’s games like Munchkin, The Fantasy Trip and GURPS.
Oh, they will also work as hard as they can to finally deliver their own million Dollar Kickstarter in the shape of Car Wars.
As customers, as games buyers, we can decide to take an active hand in this. We can support our local retailers by buying games through them. We can help publishers we like by giving their new games fair consideration.
Good news on that front, is the confirmed return of Free RPG Day in 2021.
It’ll be held on October 16, 2021.
Retailers who are taking part are sent boxes of free games, often quick starts and introductory adventures, from the publishers sponsoring it. The idea is that customers who make an effort to visit get a freebie if stocks haven’t run out, and that freebie might persuade them to spend money on that RPG later on.
Of course, it means that only publishers with enough cash to pay for lots of freebies can afford to take part, but it’s better than nothing.
Free RPG Day had new owners last year. Yep, right in the middle of the lockdown. I think they did a pretty good job, from my outside perspective, of reacting and coping. I hope 2021 is more straightforward for them!
There are some freebies that I can talk about right now. The award-winning and family-friendly Hero Kids is free from DriveThruRPG until April 1st.
British publisher Modiphius has lots of news this week, so let’s go there next. The first is a freebie too and that’s the Star Trek Adventures: Klingon Quickstart.
The Star Trek Adventures RPG has bobbling along, but it looks like the Klingon-centric and core rules alternative book has done well. Well enough for it to get its own quickstart. You can grab that at DriveThruRPG or from Modiphius themselves.
Modiphius also have a 2d20 Fallout RPG on the way, that’s in addition to Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, and they launched a video trailer for it this week. I think we’re rapidly approaching a publication date reveal or something similar.
In an accompanying blog post, Modiphius revealed some interesting PC options.
You’ll be able to play as;
- A Brotherhood of Steel member.
- A ghoul.
- A Mister Handy, yes, one of those floating robots.
- A super mutant.
- A survivor.
- A vault dweller too.
I suspect playing as a ghoul or super mutant might be quite a roleplaying challenge but will likely be different from your last character.
The last bit of Modiphius news is the launch of Five Parsecs From Home.
Five Parsecs From Home is a new addition to their Adventure Wargaming range, joining games like Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms and Rangers of Shadow Deep.
Like the two Modiphius games we’ve just talked about, it’s another sci-fi. The twist? This one can be played as a solo game—a solo wargame.
We’ve already looked at how Kickstarter shapes the tabletop landscape, but I think we see the lockdown’s impact here. Games that you don’t need friends around to play are, understandably, popular.
Tabletop games, in general, are more popular than ever. Chris Metzen was a VP at the computer games giant Blizzard and often credited with worldbuilding for games like Diablo and Warcraft. He left the company to set up Warchief Gaming.
This week, Warchief announced their first product, and it’s a tabletop RPG. It’s here we make our frequent trip back to Dungeons & Dragons. Warchief’s Auroborus – Coils of the Serpent will be a 5e setting.
Characters in Auroborus will have access to impressive powers, even at early levels. That’s a challenge to DMs that Warchief recognises, and so tips and techniques will be added to the book.
As it happens, I was able to take a look at Legendary Adventures Epic 5e ahead of the Kickstarter launch this week and write a review for the blog.
The book’s idea is that it’ll take your D&D games beyond level 20 and up to level 30. At that level, you can arrange meetings with the gods.
The summary of my review is that if you don’t need rules for this, perhaps you’re happy to homebrew, then you’ll have to think about whether you want them. If you are interested in giant monsters or are curious to see how someone else handles D&D character classes after level 20, you might.
It’s light on those tips and techniques that we might expect in Coils of the Serpent. That might put some backers off but attract others.
The last bit of news from the world of D&D is that the writer hired by Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast to bring a TV series to life, which means selling it to TV stations, Derek Kolstad has been talking about it.
And he’s compared it to Rambo First Blood.
By that, he seems to be saying First Blood is essentially an up-close movie about one man surviving in the wilds. It hints at a bigger picture, but the movie doesn’t bother too much with it, and so that’s what we can expect the D&D TV show to do.
He also said he’ll be setting the show at the edge of the current D&D timeline. I know. There’s no such thing because in 5e, there’s no default D&D setting, but that does mean we can rule out events of yesteryear in all the official D&D settings.
Right now, my money is on the D&D TV series being set in the Underdark. Kolstad wrote John Wick, and I’d totally watch an action-focused “survive in the darkness” 6 to 8 part adventure.
You can find the video for that interview on the blog, links in the show notes.
Shall we stick with the small screen for a bit? Yeah, let’s do that.
There’s an incoming wave of anime trailers as new seasons start. I’m going to look at doing two anime trailers a day, no more, on the blog for a while. There’s plenty to talk about but in the interests of time, let’s just pick Mieruko-chan.
Mieruki-chan is a horror-comedy, which means it’s double-or-nothing. It’ll either be great or awful.
The premise is this; Miko starts to see horrible ghosts. How does she cope with this? Miko blanks them. She pretends they’re not there.
I suspect the anime will work that angle, and we’ll just have to see how many whacky situations spin-off from potentially jump scare encounters. Happy to be proven wrong, though.
We don’t know if Mieruki-chan will be picked up by a streaming platform outside Japan, though.
Whereas, we know one of the anime that Netflix has under option is Brzrkr. Not the infamous Berserk, but an anime adaptation of Keanu Reeves’ comic book Brzrkr.
Netflix also has the rights to make the Brzrkr movie. That’s happening. Reeves will play the Brzrkr, a warrior with a human mother and a god of war as a father. He’s cursed to live forever and find conflict as a result. He ends up working for the US government, make of that what you will, and is sent on missions that no one else will touch.
The comic book, which was worked on over Skype while Reeves filmed the Matrix 4, already depicts the Brzrkr as looking a lot like the movie star, so I think the casting was a given.
Just to swing back to the world of RPGs as we near the end of this week’s episode, I wanted to mention NeverEnding.
NeverEnding is a site that lets you draw your own tabletop RPG character by flicking through body parts, costumes, weapons and that sort of thing until you get a representation you like.
There’s a Kickstarter on right now to help the platform grow, so you can get some deals there, but the future looks pretty good. They’ll be adding prosthetic options for characters. Whether this is a representation issue for you or just because a magic-powered metal arm looks badass and you want it for your character, I see no downside to the option.
There are also two bundles worth talking about this week.
The first is at the Bundle of Holding and is a way to get lots of the OSR game Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.
The second is one that I’m finding it very hard to resist, but I must save my money. That’s a Humble Bundle deal with Boom! Studios that offers over $540 worth of their comics for just twenty bucks or so.
If you don’t have money for a bundle, didn’t like the freebies mentioned above, can’t wait for Free RPG Day, then my recommended Plan B is for you to enter Geek Native’s latest competition. I’m giving away five copies of Welcome to Professor Elemental’s Garden of Escapades.
That’s a Lasers & Feelings inspired tabletop RPG full of whimsy and about the quirky steampunk chap hop singer, Professor Elemental. I’ve an interview with the designer on the blog, and it turns out that if Wendys can have an RPG, then so can Professor Elemental.
Lastly, it’s nearly the end of the month so this is the last call for Geek Native patrons to vote in the RPG Publisher Spotlight.
The five candidates for April are;
On that note, let’s wrap there, so please keep safe, pop into the Discord server if you want a chat, and we’ll see you next week.
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