This is Audio EXP for the 10th of April 2021, and the title of this episode is ‘Should we campaign for “pump stat”?.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #91]
Last week I admitted that I found it hard to get my head around that it was April 2021 already. Okay, I accept that that’s the case. Frankly, stranger things are going on in life than the relentless but predictably linear march of time.
I mean, how much would you pay for a comic book? What if it was extremely desirable and rare? Would you pay $3.25 million? Well, that’s what an anonymous buyer paid for a mint condition Action Comics #1. That’s the comic book in which Superman made his first appearance.
While the comic book is in mint condition, this is not the first time it has been sold, and whoever the seller is, in this case, is believed to have pocked $1m in profit.
Got cash to burn? The Hasbro Pulse Fan Fest happened online yesterday. It was much better than before because it wasn’t locked to the US only!
My favourite announcement was for the Wedge Antilles X-Wing Helmet which you can already pre-order here in the UK.
However, the big money announcement is the self-transforming Optimus Prime robot as a Collector’s Edition.
That’ll cost you nearly $700 from Hasbro Pulse. Hasbro Pulse started as Hasbro’s own Kickstarter-like platform, but it seems to be a shop front with pre-orders right now.
The other fundamental change to Hasbro Pulse is that the platform doesn’t boot you if it suspects you’re not in the US either. Progress, right? Not that long ago, Hasbro wouldn’t let people not with a US IP address watch their broadcast or even check out the Hasbro Pulse site, now anyone can watch the announcements, and there’s a UK version of the platform.
You can even use incognito mode on your browser, claim to be in the US and eyeball the specs on that Optimus Prime.
I hope progress like this continues.
Here’s another thing I hope for but might well not get. I want the phrase “pump stat” to take off.
Listen, it’s nothing seedy so let me explain.
I’m at the online RPG convention Conpulsion today. It’s Edinburgh’s local tabletop gaming convention that’s gone online. Say hi if you see me, or we can pop into the Geek Native Discord server for a chat.
I’ve done a few of these online conventions now and noticed the phrase “dump stat” was used pretty much all the time, and everyone understood what it meant. It’s the stat you sacrifice so your character can be great at something.
I also noticed no such uniformity on the name of the stat, which you become great at. What’s the opposite of dump stat?.
Perhaps foolishly, I set up an open poll on a large Facebook D&D community and asked that question. Here are some of the sanitised results.
- Main stat – 224 votes
- Primary stat – 158 votes
- Key stat – 24 votes
- Flex stat – 3 votes
- Hero stat – 1 vote
- Pump stat – 1 vote
I’ll admit I hadn’t even considered Pump stat as a phrase until I saw it nearly hidden there in the bottom of a list of joke ideas submitted to the poll for a laugh, but it immediately rang true with me.
If we’re going to have dump stats, let’s also have pump stats. We can use phrases like “pick your pump and dump”, say them too loudly in the pub and attract even more odd looks than the clatter of d6 usually does.
So, what say you; should we campaign for pump stat to become a thing?
Oh, on that note about d6 making a noise as they bounce between beer glasses, I have a solution. I think it’s worth checking out RollWithMe.xyz. It’s a room based online dice roller.
By “room-based”, I mean you get a URL when you use the free site, and you can share that with anyone. Those people then roll virtual dice, and the results are seen by anyone else looking at the same URL. It’s virtual dice in a virtual room.
Virtual rooms and virtual dice concept aren’t new, but RollWithMe has a few other excellent features, such as named rolls and quick keys, plus an x-card system and all on a free and slick interface.
SendingStone is another website discovery this week which is also worth knowing about.
Do you use Discord, Google Meet or Telegram for your voice and video, even when using a virtual tabletop? And if you do, is that because the quality of video features on the virtual tabletop isn’t good enough?
That’s the problem that SendingStone is trying to solve. Yes, SendingStone has a modest virtual tabletop, but its focus and features are audio and visual. It has AR masks for your face, like Snapchat does, the ability to add background audio and other similar tools.
You can find the link to both SendingStone and RollWithMe in this podcast’s transcription via the show notes’ link.
SendingStone isn’t free, though it does have a free test system.
Look, I promise I won’t start on subscription models and marketplaces in the economy of tabletop games… but I will quickly mention that the flavour text subscription site dScryb now has Foundry VTT module. Foundry breaks with VTT business models but not having a subscription and offering a one-off fee instead. dScryb has gone the other way, not giving away flavour text for free but charging a monthly cost for it.
Anyway, there’s a competition organised by dScryb to give away a Foundry license, and you don’t need to spam friends to enter it. So, I’m pointing it out. By the way, there is a competition channel on the Geek Native Discord where I do occasionally share competitions not part of Geek Native.
Following on how dScryb and Foundry are challenging traditional models in RPGs, let’s talk briefly about Incoming Call. That’s an RPG that also does things differently.
You don’t need a virtual tabletop or even money as it’s a free download from SR 16.
You can play by yourself or with two others. You use your phone, either to call someone or to record a voice log.
In the game, you’re a colonist alone in space, and you’re phoning your counsellor. Then you’re calling or leaving a message for a loved one, or anchor, on Earth.
It’s a horror game, though, one that explores loneliness and isolation. Each night, something happens that you, as the colonist, randomly determine and then get to invent a spooky story around for your counsellor. With that in mind, SR 16 recommend ringing your fellow players up late at night for an added spook.
Incoming Call is a game that made me think of Alice is Missing, a silent RPG played with text messages. I predict we’ll see more transmedia games like this as gamers get more confident, technology makes it more accessible, and the hobby grows.
Chaos League has a Kickstarter for a game that looks intense and is equally non-traditional in format. It’s called First They Came and you play it blindfolded.
The Kickstarter provides the audio assets for you to listen to and is set in Berlin during the Nazi persecution. The game doesn’t need a GM but is best suited to 3 to 5 players in a one-shot.
Frankly, I think that’s a challenging era to explore and doing it in the darkness listening to well-voiced scripts sounds utterly intense.
But, since we’re well into the RPG segment of this highlights podcast, let’s look at some promising new releases and announcements. Oh, by the way, the new release section in Routinely Itemised, which’s the weekly RPG-centric news summary on the blog, is working for me. Let me know if you’ve any thoughts on how to improve it.
First up and out this week is Modphius’ highly anticipated Dune: Adventures in the Imperium. I know the phrase “highly anticipated” gets used a lot, but this 2d20 was in the top five for years in a row in EN World’s annual survey on forthcoming games that people were looking forward to.
Free League Publishing also mentioned, rather than announced, that they have Vaesen: Mythic Britain in the pipeline.
I did email to get more info from them, but they’re appropriately tightlipped about the project.
I must admit, I am slightly surprised that Vaesen is going to Britain. I don’t have the game; I wish I did, but I couldn’t afford it, but I do have the impression part of the attraction was to explore mythology that’s slightly off the beaten track. Does British mythology count?
Another “book we’re working on” announcement comes from RTG and Cody Pondsmith. He’s the lead designer on The Witcher tabletop RPG. The new book is A Tome of Chaos and it’ll be a magic supplement for the game.
Meanwhile, A Book of Tales is off to CD Projekt RED for approval and is expected to add some more non-human character options.
Potentially big news is confirmation of a Genesys powered Twilight Imperium RPG.
Don’t get me wrong, a Twilight Imperium RPG is big news, but I’m only 80% sure it was confirmed this week.
In The Twilight Imperium Codex (PDF link) from Fantasy Flight Games, there was two pages of text that ended with both a Genesys logo and an Edge Studios logo. It seems to be casting a Mass Effect-style Spectre responsibility for PCs in the game, so if not RPG, then what is it, and why did Edge tweet about it?
It’s due for Summer 2021, and so I guess we’ll get confirmation of confirmation soon enough.
There’s also news about Dark Tower. That’s a classic adventure.
Goodman Games have announced they’ve bought it and will re-release it for Dungeon Crawl Classics and D&D 5e.
Good news all around? Well, probably, but there’s a snag that’s worth knowing about. Goodman Games bought it from the Judges’ Guild.
The Judges’ Guild was a respected publisher but has fallen out with most of the tabletop gaming community in recent years after unapologetic racist, sexist and xenophobic statements from the current owner.
Suffice to say, Goodman Games publicly cut ties with the company. So there’s a little uncertainty as to why they’re dealing with them again. My speculation is this; they’re buying Dark Tower, not paying royalties on it, in a one-off transaction to save the iconic property.
Another exciting bit of license news comes out of Japan. For years, perhaps decades, two companies have been fighting over Macross and Robotech. What the series is called depends, in part, on which spin-off you’re watching and from which part of the world.
It’s good news. Big West and Harmony Gold have agreed to stop fighting and start cooperating. They each get some licenses. In practical terms, it means the forthcoming Robotech live-action movie might well now get some exposure outside Japan.
I know. I know. It’s a complicated time for movies. Announced this week is the not-that-surprising news that the D&D movie has been delayed, again. We can now expect it for March 2023.
G.I. Joe Snake Eyes, Top Gun: Maverick and Mission Impossible 7 and 8 are also delayed. However, the new look slate from Paramount now features a brand new and untitled Star Trek movie. It’s not all bad news!
In the short term, there are some good looking shows coming out. The trailer for Netflix’s Jupiter’s Legacy looks great.
I think the superhero series will be the first project from Netflix’s purchase of Millarworld.
Paraphrasing Mark Millar, the concept is this; take two awesome people like Wonder Woman and Superman, let them have kids, and then, when the time comes to retire, the now-adult kids can take up the mantle of a superhero.
But… what if those kids grew up to be Kardashian-level of entitled awful?
Another great looking trailer out this week is for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. I think that movie was one of the first to get hit by COVID-19, and it must have been a task to keep us all interested in it. But I still am.
The new trailer shows some cute but dangerous mini Stay Puft marshmallow men coming to life. It’s the big guns of Ghostbusters marketing, and it is a thumbs up from me.
Okay, let us start to finish and look at some bundles and deals to know about.
In Humble Bundle, there’s a great manga selection that mirrors the anime spring release slate. Tokyo Revengers, To Your Eternity and Edens Zero, a sci-fi from the creator of Fairy Tail, leads the charge.
At the Bundle of Holding, you can get a ton of content and all the core rules for the latest edition of Chivarly and Sorcery.
At Itch, $10 will get you at least $90 worth of RPGs, and many of them are from talented Latin American designers who are raising money to help Taigo Rolim out. You might not have many of these downloads. Sadly, Rolim has been hospitalised due to COVID-19, and the insurance company is not paying up. That’s a nightmare scenario for the family.
Lastly, and entirely for free, there are a half-dozen Handimonsters from Handiwork Games’ Patreon that have been compiled into a single PDF and made available via DriveThruRPG. It’s DriveThruRPG’s free download of the week.
On that note, let’s wrap there, so please keep safe, stay clear of monsters, and we’ll see you next week.
Your considerate thoughts are welcome. Do you have something to add to this article? Please let us know in the comments below.