This is Audio EXP for the 15th of May 2021, and the title of this episode is “Imagine being the idiot who got Pokemon banned from Walmart and Target “.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #96]
Do you think you could outsmart the police? I mean, could you plan a crime so that you could commit it and get away without consequence?
I don’t ask the question to encourage you to commit crimes. In fact, the theme of today’s Audio EXP, the Geek Native highlights show, is very much about not committing crimes.
However, at the start of the year, the blog had a copy of the Modiphius designed card game Death on the Cards to giveaway. To enter, you had to answer the question; do you think you could outsmart the police.
It’s pretty close. 53% of people did not think they could. 47% of readers thought they were more intelligent than the cops.
Now, is that comment about the quality of police forces around the world, or Geek Native readers?
In the United States of America, the police are busy with strange geek news this week. Target and Walmart have temporarily banned trading cards, this includes Magic: The Gathering and especially Pokemon.
Why? People are fighting over them. Guns are being drawn. Guns! Armed show-downs over Pokemon cards.
What a waste of time. Imagine being the person who got Pokemon trading cards banned from Walmart. You wouldn’t feel so passionate about the hobby then, would you? At least, the hobby community would have a pretty strong opinion about you!
This story, news of fights over trading cards and American stores having to ban them, made the BBC headlines of the day on Saturday morning here in Scotland. Oh, dear.
The lockdown is partly to blame. Not for making people crazy enough to go shopping with a gun, but for getting this interested in trading cards. All sorts of tabletop games are booming.
Roll20 are a bit late on their timing, but probably not too late entirely. The virtual tabletop has expanded into virtual board games. The first officially supported board game you can play on the platform is monsDRAWsity.
That’s a good fit for Roll20, as you have to draw monsters so others can see what you’re trying to describe. If your account supports dynamic lighting, you can even save the dramatic reveal until the end.
Regular listeners will know I like to talk about the connection between virtual tabletops and marketplaces. The same is true for digital board game solutions. I also like to point out how competitive the virtual tabletop space is. The free forever and open-source VTT Mythic Table just closed a successful Kickstarter and will now get some full-time devs.
Roll20 is wise to expand into board and card games.
Of course, Roll20 aren’t the only ones expanding into board games. It feels like a decade ago – and perhaps it was – that Paradox bought White Wolf to take control of the World of Darkness.
They’ve not had it easy since then. I’ve got but not yet read Vampire 5e. I was far more interested in Werewolf 5e, but I don’t know what’s happening with that now and Paradox won’t tell us.
Now there’s going to be a race between Werewolf: The Apocalypse and a solo-RPG / board game combo called Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Retaliation.
Flyos, the company that did Vampire: The Masquerade – Chapters, is working on the project with Paradox. We’ll have a wait. According to the announcement a Kickstarter is planned for next year.
Not that Paradox is particularly guilty of edition wars.
In, er, other news… Games Workshop has announced a new edition of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar.
Age of Sigmar still feels blistering new to me. I only really know anything about it because of Cubicle 7 and the good work they do with Soulbound. The starter set for the tabletop RPG is, I think, very good value.
Wargame-wise, I think this is now the third edition of Age of Sigmar. The plot will move forward, with the Necroquake thwarted and units changed as a result.
These changes, of course, may well mean new models. That’s why Warhammer goes through editions faster than, say, an RPG like D&D.
That, of course, doesn’t mean there are no trials with editions in RPGs either.
Free League Publishing has only said what everyone must be thinking. It seems likely that many fans will want there to be a 5e version of The One Ring. In this case, I mean 5e to specifically mean D&D’s 5e.
It’s painfully unhelpful of Wizards of the Coast to insist that people use the shorthand 5e for their system and for publishers not to use D&D near it. Thankfully, I am not a publisher. I get to be precise about which fifth edition I’m talking about.
So, when I say that Free League Publishing has conceded that there will probably be The One Ring 5e, I get to say The One Ring D&D edition.
Free League took £1.5m from Kickstarter for The One Ring, and for their latest campaign, one that converts Symbaroum to – yes, you guessed it, 5e – they’ve bagged nearly £0.5m. They are impressive numbers.
There’s a Kickstarter with 22 days to go at the time of recording that has pledges of over £0.6m right now. It’s called Bisoulovely, and they’re making character class inspired jewellery.
I don’t know anything about jewellery, the only thing I wear is my medical bracelet, but I can tell you that Bisoulovely’s success is lovely. Doesn’t it speak to the change of demographics in the game?
Yes, the jewellery is unisex, and maybe some of it is being bought as gifts for others, but I still argue that suggests a broader range of gamers than we’ve ever seen before.
As it happens, The Orwell Foundation agrees with me. Well, not about Bisoulovely in particular, but about the changing roles of games.
The Orwell Youth Prize will, this year, officially recognise games as a storytelling medium.
George Orwell wrote for political reasons. The prize, even the youth one, goes to storytellers who are encouraging change. So, if you’ve a young teen who has a concept game or narrative for it, they could now become a winner of the prestigious award.
I think we can use Kickstarter success as a lens on other changes too. This week I wrote up a Tarot campaign that used a smartphone app to interact with the Tarot cards in augmented reality. It has thousands of backers.
Tarot, on Kickstarter, seems to be booming. If you look a the top 10 all-time Tarot campaigns, half of them launched in the last 6 months.
For the Fantome multidemnsional deck, I pointed out that Geek Native is a science-believing blog.
I recognise that people use Tarot for all sorts of reasons, including storytelling, and I’ve certainly covered Tarot Kickstarters before. Often for the art. Perhaps I was overly cautious. Maybe it’s another nod to a culture where people draw guns over Pokemon cards but believe holy ghosts will keep them safe from biological infection.
I often write about demons and other creatures on Geek Native without ever feeling the urge to put a disclaimer in.
Just this week, I wrote up the free to download Defiant Awakening in which you can play as a demon, fallen angel or even as a god.
In fact, I recommend the game. A Kickstarter for a print edition is coming, so check out the Awakening quick start. But note, it’s not an innocent RPG. If you play as an angel, you play as one that was having too much fun with the pleasures of the flesh to return to heaven. And Defiant has rules for marriages and all sorts of liaisons with demon love rivals.
Another RPG I looked at this week, which I also recommend, and which is cheap as chips is A Lugubrious Lullaby.
It’s a couple of pages long, uses a straightforward system and is about children exploring a world in which they are trapped and slowly losing their innocence. It’s their innocence that lets them see monsters hiding in the shadows, use magic items, and lose their innocence when the world is cruel or have to be mature.
Yeah, I know, it’s not an entirely original concept, but it’s nicely and darkly done.
I took a longer look, a full review, at the forthcoming Nightmares 1 from Petersen Games. It’s a bestiary of mostly Cthulhu-themed monsters from the three Mythos campaigns they’ve published so far.
That means dinosaurs with lasers, typically atypical Cthulhu horrors and some dangerous extraplanar aliens.
I found myself, probably, using too many words on how out of place it was to find 10 or so stand NPCs in among the monstrous art and scary encounters. Overall, it’s a no-brainer, I liked the book, and even though I’ve a fondness for bestiaries, I have a reasonably high standard for them too.
I also finally got around to writing up a love letter-meets-review for The Elephant and Macaw Banner. As I said in the review, I can’t really call it an underrated RPG because it’s won awards for being a great RPG. But have you heard of it?
It’s not based in Western fantasy, but Brazilian instead. There are no character classes because old jobs you once had don’t define you. Since you make yourself stronger by training or smarter through education, the system tosses out the idea that either strength or intelligence is “natural” stats.
It’s straightforward, familiar and yet different at the same time. Most of all, the system is easy to play, even if the combat in it is difficult to survive.
It’s not all been reviews on the site, though, or even RPG news. I added a generator, albeit a quick one. The RPG blog carnival is about birthdays and festivals this month. That’s when a whole bunch of bloggers get together and write on a theme.
So I made, very quickly, a fantasy festival generator. There are a couple of models in it and lots of seeds, but as with all such generators, sometimes the festivals you can roll up make more sense than others.
Here’s a few button presses for you;
- The Feast for Kind Pasture and Haunted Blossom.
- The Festival of the Endless Champion.
- The Recurrence for Silver Sky.
I even did a static generator. In other words, a random table. I wrote up the Geek House Coffee Competition results – presumably forgetting I had the Death on the Cards and outsmarting police results to talk about – and discovered that most people have never invented a drink for a roleplaying game.
I bet they’ve invented taverns and bartenders but isn’t it odd that they only serve beer, ale or wine there? It’s a 4d10 table, and in my walkthrough example, we create a Pint of Bluewash, which has the little known side-effect of helping drinkers resist mind control for a short while.
Fortunately, you can do better than my attempts at free RPG content. Zadmar Games have kept up their generosity with free downloads with Interstellar Laser Knights and Intersteller Troopers.
There’s even a free Scribus template for designing your own one-shots in Intersteller Troopers. Scribus is free layout software. So, if you’re interested in getting into game design and publishing, but don’t have much cash, check out Scribus and Zadmar Games.
Another freebie worth checking out is Inspirisles which rocked up onto DriveThruRPG this week. It’s a Pay What You Want with a suggested price of $0.
The RPG is all-ages suitable, and the magic system has you weave your own hands in the air. The catch? You’ll be learning either British or American Sign Language. Isn’t that neat? The game is about helping kids with better empathy and, of course, raising Deaf awareness.
Lastly, let’s look at bundles. In this week’s Routinely Itemised, as a test, I included a bundle section. Modiphius, for example, has knocked several hundred pounds off a hardback collection of Vampire 5e goodies. I presume because they may not be able to sell them in the future.
However, in Audio EXP, I’m going to stick with the flash bundles such as the two The Bundle of Holding has for ICONs, the superhero RPG from Steve Kenson. Once again, the two-bundle approach offers either easy access to the system or just the latest supplements if you already have a collection.
On that note, let’s wrap there, so please keep safe, and we’ll see you next week.
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