This is Audio EXP for the 1st of May 2021, and the title of this episode is “The terror of error”.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #94]
I messed up. Fresh on the back of that error, I then had to navigate the terror of writing about a legal fight.
Let me first tell you about the mistake I made.
Roll20 announced a price increase and I got the important part wrong. I got the prices wrong, saying they’d nearly doubled when, in fact, they had edged up by about a Dollar.
As with many mistakes, I don’t know how it happened. I do know how I noticed. I was in the middle of a field when emails, Tweets and abusive messages started to arrive.
Is this where the expression “field repairs” comes from? I suspect something like that. I used the WordPress app to patch things up the best I could, turned around, headed home for a more extensive edit.
As a result, you’ll see the correction on the bottom of the page, dated, and there’s an entry in the public corrections and updates page. You’ll find a link to that at the bottom of every page on the site.
It’s taken a while, years of battered experience, to build up that corrections policy. I don’t like to make mistakes, but I’m happy with the robustness of the process.
I’ve looked again at the Roll20 announcement, as you can imagine, several times now. How did I get it wrong? Was it always that clear? Did they tweak their post? I can’t decide. That’s an excellent example of why owning your errors generally helps avoid any future uncertainty. I did tweak my article, and I’ve said so.
So, thanks to people who reached out in a civil way to point out the error. But only to those people.
That legal case I mentioned is about Gen Con and Zak S.
Here’s the background, some horrible allegations were made about Zak S, which the games industry took seriously. He had credits stripped from books, deals vanished, and he was banned from events like Gen Con.
Gen Con was open about that and took the chance to refresh their policies and stance against abusers and low-lives.
Then, just when all this might have faded into history for the wider gaming public, Zak S launched a legal case against Gen Con and its owner Peter Adkison. In essence, he was unhappy at the loss of money created by the ban and the public announcement.
Now, there’s a screengrab that seems to show Court Minutes in which a Judge agrees with Gen Con that the whole thing should be dismissed.
I have to be careful because I can’t find the original. I think it’s locked behind the American legal system, paywalls, IP address blocks and the like. I’m in Scotland.
It does have the names and other details right.
So, yeah. I wanted to cover that news as people were worried about the fate of Gen Con as we try and get out of lockdowns, and clearly, an attempt to sue them wouldn’t help the convention recover.
I used the phrase “appears to” in the headline, but I wish I could be more confident.
Now, both avoiding the Roll20 mistake and double-checking the details of legal stories would be made much easier with a second pair of eyes.
That’s very much the topic of a chat I had with Tom Hart and Nathan Adler. Tom Hart has just published Paranormal Affairs Canada and author Nathan Adler was the sensitivity reader.
Together we explored two questions; what is a sensitivity reader, and do they make RPGs better?
Adler certainly seems to have made Paranormal Affairs Canada better. Hopefully, too, if you were not familiar with the concept of sensitivity reading before the article, you will be afterwards.
In summary, it’s sometimes the case that you’re writing about actual cultures in RPGs or other media. If you make a mistake, you might legitimately annoy many people. You might even upset them, which certainly doesn’t help the game.
Paranormal Affairs Canada includes indigenous Canadian peoples and their culture. Tom Hart isn’t trying to make an RPG that offends no one at all, some of the monsters in the book might be considered to be entirely taboo by some people, but they’re there anyway. The goal is just to find a balance.
Now, sorry for all that drama and hot topics. Let’s move swiftly on to rewards and goodies.
It’s May the 1st, and that means a new RPG Publisher Spotlight.
If you are a patron, you have one of the following five candidates to vote for the June spot. They are;
Also, if you are a patron, you’ll soon get a thank you gift in the post. I have a limited number of not-for-retail Beowulf RPG pin-badges to give away.
If you become a patron tomorrow, then you’ll also get one. I don’t do that to create time pressure. I just couldn’t keep the window open very long, given that there’s not an endless supply of these. Also, the badges are part of wider Beowulf merch from Handiwork Games. The main focus of that merch launch are these phat d20s which look great, but there’s also a limited number of those.
Let’s stick with logistics for a bit and talk about Games Workshop. There are two interesting bits of news from that titan of wargames.
First up, the company putting most pre-orders on hold for the next few weeks. Some digital titles are excluded.
I don’t think Games Workshop has given a precise reason for the pause. They don’t need to. We’ve seen how the lockdown as warped supply chains and retailers into all sorts of messy shapes. Games Workshop is using this pause to straighten everything thing out.
Secondly, and despite that pause, Warhammer Fest 2021 Online is happening and kicks off on May 3rd.
There’s a mystery announcement on Saturday. Monday is Age of Sigmar, Tuesday and Friday are both Warhammer 40K, Wednesday is Black Library and Thursday Boxed Games.
Speaking of Games Workshop, there’s also Cubicle 7 news this week. That’s the now-Irish publisher who has the RPG licenses for Warhammer 40K, Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer Age of Sigmar.
Looking at what DriveThruRPG says is selling for Cubicle 7, it’s clear these Games Workshop titles are significant. However, it’s not the only licenses they have. Last week they announced they had kept Lone Wolf.
This week they’ve kept the Doctor Who RPG license as well. New books are coming.
They’ve got to be working on their own property, right? A game of their own invention? I wonder if we can persuade anyone there to spill the beans.
A book I can spill the beans on, having decided to dig into the PDF copy rather than wait for my hardback to arrive, is the 5e-powered Hellboy RPG.
There’s a fuller review on the site but, in summary, I like it but wish it was more. More illustrations, more Hellboy and perhaps even many more pages would have pleased me greatly.
It just boggles my mind that Red Scar and Mantic didn’t, or couldn’t, go deep on the art.
The most important takeaways from the game are all good, though. It works. It feels like Hellboy, and despite being 5e-powered, it doesn’t feel like D&D.
The fact that you’re rolling extra dice all the time, a d10, is the main reason why. There’s always the chance for Doom to sneak in. Whenever you make an ability check, attack roll, or saving through or any other time a d20 is used to determine an outcome, a d10 is also rolled.
Hellboy isn’t the only surprising pop-culture entity attached to D&D that I wrote about this week.
Jeff Goldblum is another! That’s right, the star of The Fly, Jurassic Park and many other classics is taking part in an actual play D&D podcast.
He’ll be playing in Dark Dice. That’s a horror game. That’s Ravenloft.
I think it’s a clever move by the actor, and I’m sure the podcast team are delighted.
I’d try and argue that RPGs are moving from mainstream to desirable by celebs and celebrity-makers, but I don’t think I really need to. I think it’s obvious now.
But, say I need to convince you. There’s this; the team behind Netflix’s Shadow and Bone, of The Punisher, The Expanse and The Witcher are making World of Darkness TV and movie content.
Paradox must be delighted. I see now why the publisher risked rocking the boat so much and took the World of Darkness back in-house.
There is one catch. Hivemind doesn’t have a distribution partner yet, not one they’ve announced. We don’t know if it’s Netflix, or Amazon Prime, or never-seen-outside-the-States Hulu who might pick the show up.
But this is more than “World of Darkness optioned” as a story. The team have said they’re doing it.
Speaking of Netflix, they introduced us all to a sheep-human lifeform called N-Ko.
I thought at first that she was a mascot as both Crunchyroll and Funimation have one. That would have been an interesting move as Netflix have no prominent place to show her off. Hime appears as Crunchyroll loads, for example, depending on how you view the platform.
However, it’s even more interesting like that. N-ko is a virtual YouTuber. The human behind her is a bi-lingual Netflix staffer. I suspect; therefore, we’ll see a human-sheep introduce shows and talk about highlights on YouTube as an accompaniment to Netflix anime.
Why? It’s all about community and loyalty.
I’m sure it’s a coincidence of timing, but Netflix also introduced Gus, a human-deer lifeform in the trailer for Sweet Tooth that looks great.
Adapted from the comic book series, Sweet Tooth is set in a world ruined by a virus. Two things happened, and they may or may not be related. Human-animal hybrids like Gus started to be born. A pandemic took civilisation out.
The show follows Gus as he explores.
Lastly, some bundles and deals to be aware of.
Rodney Thompson’s Dusk City Outlaws is in The Bundle of Holding.
Thompson now writes for the computer game Destiny these days, but he was also lead designer on one of the Star Wars RPGs and worked on D&D 5e.
Events are happening for Jasper’s Game Day this weekend and in the days after. On the DMs Guild there a great big bundle of D&D content up for grabs. Over $150 worth of goodies for less than $10.
You can find links to everything mentioned in the transcript, which you should link a link away from the show notes.
On that note, let’s wrap there, so please keep safe, and we’ll see you next week.
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