This is Audio EXP for the 12th of June 2021, and the title of this episode is “The not-so-secret D&D projects”
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #100]
This is the 100th episode, and I’ve nothing special planned. Let me distract you with a question instead. Do you think you might have a bit of geek culture in a cupboard or dark corner somewhere that’s worth a lot of money?
James Ward, the iconic tabletop designer, clearly does. He put the original manuscript of AD&D’s Deities & Demigods up on eBay. When I first took a look, the bidding had reached $10,000.
There’s a twist in the tale, though. The auction has been removed. I don’t suspect foul play.
I recently tried to auction some times on eBay for a disabled friend. It was a mistake. Items sat there, getting lower and lower in price as eBay, as I had allowed, lowed the auction value to attract bids. Meanwhile, buyers contacted me directly, often trying to browbeat me into accepting an offer.
To cap it op, my friend, who has neurodivergent issues, and whom I had been shielding on from all this, decided to u-turn, and I had to unlist everything. So many angry emails, but fortunately, nothing expensive had sold or been promised as sales.
I can only imagine what James Ward was going through. Hopefully, though, no browbeating. Maybe this item is worthy of a more professional auction than an eBay listing, and perhaps that’s why it was pulled.
If you’ve got some old toys in a cupboard, then they might be worth some cash too. Sure, everyone knows original LEGO and Star Wars models are worth cash. But what about toys from the 90s?.
I blogged some research from The Toy Zone which shows how much Beanie Babies dominate the collectors market from that era.
Rainbow the Chameleon is a Beanie Baby that sold for… wait for, $50,000.
The top ten selling items their research found are all pretty much Beanie Babies. The first one that isn’t is Goldeneye 007 for the Nintendo 64. Now, that’s food for thought if you have a stack of Nintendo 64 games somewhere, isn’t it?
By the way, we’re now into our common introduction for this podcast – stats, so let’s do a few more toys and then dig into D&D’s week.
The Electronic Furby from 1998, I imagine it’s one particular model, sold for $10,000. The most expensive doll was from the American Girl Dolls range, which fetched $7,820, and the most costly action figure is a little known Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles character called Scratch, who is worth $5,850.
Now, D&D’s had a busy week. So, let’s take a look.
Two books leaked out. Two at once and both via Amazon, but let’s revisit that in just a second and ask ourselves, “Was it really a leak?”.
I called them The Wild Beyond the Witchlight & Curriculum of Chaos. Why? Well, that’s the names of both books, and I thought the unique part of the name too.
However, Witchlight is a Feywild adventure, and most people are calling this the Feywild book.
Curriculum of Choas is set in Strixhaven, which is a previously announced Magic: the Gathering set. As a result, most people are calling this one the Strixhaven book. So, apologies if there are a lot of synonyms coming up.
Witchlight is due out in September, and it leaked without a cover but with a description.
That description on Amazon actually asks people to tune in to D&D Live 2021 presented by G4 in July for more information.
Have you seen that before? A publisher using their book description to promote an event and a brand that isn’t theirs. Comcast, not Hasbro, not eOne, own G4.
Curriculum of Chaos is due out in November, but it might be why we know about these books ahead of time.
We had drips, and drabs come out next, including a cover of the Feywild book carrying a Fantasy Grounds logo. There was discussion as to whether it was fan-made or not, it turns out not to be.
To my knowledge, Fantasy Grounds hasn’t commented on how the image came to light. I suspect someone guessed a URL.
Then Wizards of the Coast confirmed the releases in a series of videos from Erika Fermina from Girls, Guts, Glory playing a character called Ellywick Tumblestrum.
I’d love to know who’s making those videos and who’s managing them. Is it all Erika? If so, she’s doing amazingly well.
Or is G4 producing and Erika acting? If so, Wizards are getting quality assets, but they’ve outsourced their voice.
It’s not a surprise to know that both books are fairly big releases. Strixhaven is a cross-over, therefore big, and there are accessory kits on Amazon for Witchlight, even if we don’t know what’s in them.
Books and accessory kits weren’t the only things leaking about D&D this week. We’ve had plenty of photographs from Alnwick Castle where shooting on the movie has begun.
It looks great. We’ve some excellent shots of what look like spooky warriors and Lord of the Rings-style boat trips.
Just in the last few hours, we’ve even got a look at Hugh Grant and Michelle Rodriguez.
If you’re reading the transcript of this podcast, a link to which you can find in the show notes, then you’ll see those two in embedded tweets. As a warning, clicking on either will take you to a hate-filled newspaper called The Daily Mail, which shared them, and I advise against it.
Now, I said we’d revisit how much of this is a leak. It might just be messy. WotC may well known, may have instructed, the Amazon pages to go live.
A new D&D playtest, an Unearthed Arcana, came out this week. It’s called Mages of Strixhaven and includes subclasses that your character can join from more than one class.
I suspect that Wizards of the Coast left this as long as their dare. The Strixhaven book is due out in months, and they’ve just launched the playtest.
Why leave it so late? Perhaps it was part of the delays we’ve all faced in the last 18 months? It’s undoubtedly because the name of the playtest gives away the fact D&D is going to Strixhaven.
They could have renamed everything, but perhaps the assumption was that clever geeks would wise up to the appearance of a magic school in a D&D playtest, map the colleges and put two-and-two together.
Wizards of the Coast might have thought it pointless to try and obscure the two. I would have called it clever marketing, although, fair enough, this approach gets people interested in Strixhaven too.
Do you think 6 months is enough to complete a playtest, go through feedback, edit the books and send the details through to printers? This month, by the way, Wizards of the Coast confirmed they’re taking control of some of the international printing of D&D as well.
We’re still not through with this story. There are more layers to come.
There’s a D&D Celebration event on the way. Wizards of the Coast have announced a Dungeon Master Challenge that begins on the 17th of June. That’s in days! We’ll find out only then what you have to submit, and you’ve got three days to do it all.
After that, finalists go on to stage 2, which knocks out others, and we get to a final.
A competition like this is how we got the Eberron campaign setting.
And, the D&D boss, Ray Winniger has been tweeting.
There’s another, still a secret, D&D book on the way. Witchlight is being managed by Chris Perkins, Strixhaven by Amanda Hamon. Amanda joined WotC in 2020, leaving Kobold Press to become a Senior Designer on Dungeons & Dragons.
After Witchlight, but before Strixhaven, we’ll get a book from James Wyatt. Care to speculate on what that title might be? Planescape?
That’s a lot of D&D news, but that’s not to say lots of other RPG and geeky news didn’t also ram itself onto the radar this week.
During Elysium Con, the Renegade Game Studios and World of Darkness virtual con, four new Vampire 5e products were announced. So production really seems to have ramped up for Vampire.
One is a dice set, nearly 20 d10 for $20, and that feels like great value if you compare to some of the artisan dice you can buy on Etsy or get via Kickstarters.
Another is the Inquisition Sourcebook. This one is for Storytellers, adding more details to those who hunt the Kindred. It’s not a Hunters PC book.
The other is a $50 The Book of Nod that comes in faux leather and fancy pages. Inside its art from previous editions and poems that reveal or hint at big secrets for the World of Darkness. Safe to say, it looks great, but it’s absolutely one for collectors only.
There’s one more, and that’s The Book of Nod Deluxe artifact edition. It’s not a book. It’s the Book of Nod on parchment scrolls. It comes with a fake-stone tablet. I think it might even come in a crate!
This artifact edition takes my previous “for collectors only comment” and blows it away.
Yes, it’s expensive. It’s $250. I can’t afford any of this.
But, do you know what? We’ve seen certain collectors editions of hardbacks alone sell for around that. So it may well be the case that $250 for a crate of Vampire: the Masquerade goodies that make your den look great, which you can treasure for a lifetime, hand to players and, if you’re lucky, do all three, is good value.
Further evidencing my suggestion that the World of Darkness is really ramping up production, we also got a dramatic trailer for the adult-rated Blood Hunt free to play battle royale set in the World of Darkness, with vampire characters, from Sharkmob.
Yes, Vampire does Fortnite.
I’m sure back when I was an angry young man, and the World of Darkness was my primary game, I’d be frustrated by that. Is Vampire supposed to be a combat game?
Now, I’m chillaxing about it. The World of Darkness can be whatever you want, nudged along by Paradox’s franchise police.
I wasn’t virtually at the convention, and I feel like I missed out on a good one.
As is happening more often, there was another con running at the very same time. This clash was with Onyx Path Virtual Gaming Convention. We’re just through Dungeon Con clashing with PazioCon, oh well.
The pressing news from OPP con is that they’ve been releasing bundles. I wrote up the first 11, and they’ve released more since then. Unfortunately, the last time Onyx Path did bundles for a virtual con, they only lasted the duration of the convention and so you may need to be quick.
These are all designed to quickly get you equipped to play in an Onyx path setting, and, in strictly monetary terms, the best deal I’ve spotted is 51% off the Dark Eras bundle, which means a saving of nearly $40.
Do clashing virtual cons matter? Certainly not as much as clashing meat-space cons. I can’t watch two Twitch streams at once, though.
I did manage to do two reviews this week.
The first one was also a bit nostalgic as Cubicle 7 have a lovely hardback of Death on the Reik coming. This is an iconic Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play game that was first published back in 1987. So it’s even older than those retro-toys from the 90s.
Lots of feedback from players over the actual decades of gameplay the designers have had, many of whom are involved in this project, is evident in the adventure. It gets the thumbs up from me.
I took some photographs of inside the book, so if you’re a visual person, as well as an audio one, it might be worth a quick trip to the blog to check those out.
Sticking with nostalgia for a bit, the First Edition Society created a DriveThruRPG account this week. Took them long enough.
As a result, you can download all 400+ pages of OSRIC right now, and for free.
This RPG is designed to let people write and sell AD&D adventures without breaking any rules, er, in my opinion. It’s an AD&D simulator—a retro-clone.
Since we’re talking about old school, let’s mention Risus. Risus was one of the first games that I remember – so we were talking many years ago – that said, “does an RPG need to be dozens, or even hundreds of pages, long?”
Risus is an RPG that you can squeeze onto a single sheet of paper. It’s been sold, S John Ross has handed over the project to Big Dice Games. Now, Big Dice Games don’t look particularly active to me, but they’ve said they’ll keep Risus going and expand on it.
The second review of the week is for an RPG called ARC.
It’s on Kickstarter right now, being managed by Exalted Funeral, written and designed by momatoes.
It feels different, and that’s exactly what I needed. The game is designed for short scenarios in which characters struggle against the clock to defeat the incoming apocalypse.
Set it up differently each time, and play it again. That’s to say, pick a different theme, a different end-of-the-world and then try and thwart it.
Rather than attributes, characters are defined in the first instance by their approach to solving problems; Creative, Careful and Concerted.
If you accept death as a character consequence in ARC, everyone else in the group gets an XP boost, you get a new character, the doom clock moves on, and you return to gaming.
A Kickstarter that I didn’t find the cash for, and this may turn out to be regret by necessity, is 9th Level’s MAZES. However, that’s still live, and, to top it off, 9th Level and Restoration Games have announced they’ll publish a Return to Dark Tower RPG compatible with it. The system that Return to Dark Tower will run on is 9th Level Games’ Polymorph.
Perhaps some of the RPG news this week has been surprising, but this bit of entertainment news is the one that caught me out.
Know how Amazon has spent a fortune to secure the rights for Lord of the Rings and make a series for Prime? Yeah?
Well… New Line have approved The War of the Rohirrim. That’s a Lord of the Rings anime.
I can hear an exec chuckling something darkly about “only the live-action rights” as they sign off the anime.
The War of the Rohirrim is set about 250 years before the Lord of the Rings, and we’ll meet Helm Hammerhand, that’s the King that Helm’s Deep is named after.
In other entertainment news, well, kinda, I’m buzzing for Ghostbusters: Afterlife and the series of Ghostbusters trainers that Reebok is releasing are adding to my hype.
I’ve never been a shoe person. I’m really tempted by the black Answer IVs, though, with a snarling mouth on the side and bright slime-green trimmings!
You can tell that I’m trying to save money because I’m also tempted by the Jujutsu Kaisen range from Uniqlo. That’s an action-horror anime, and the tee designs are more on the minimalist side than usual for illustrations and safely miles away from sexy girls on my chest, which is a look this geek cannot pull off!
Now, we’re running out of time so let’s move to the usual closing discoveries of bundles and specials on the site.
Firstly, and to return to the World of Darkness, that other Vampire 5e publisher, Modiphius, have a Vampire: The Masquerade Summer of Blood bundle on DriveThruRPG.
This may be them selling their digital copies while they have the rights to do so. For us, though, it means nearly $100 worth of PDFs, including the core rules, for under $40.
Alderac has The World’s Largest Bundle on the Bundle of Holding. I don’t know if it really is the world’s largest bundle, but it does hold titles like The World’s Largest Dungeon and the World’s Largest City. Both of which are honestly huge.
The last bundle is the virtual tabletop maps deal on Humble.
They’ve had a re-design, and I may even need to edit the post as it threw me so much I didn’t notice the tiers. So tell me what you think about it. Could they have done better?
Lastly, there’s another competition on Geek Native, and this time to win a Off Duty Gamemaster hardback notebook. I can send it anywhere I’m legally allowed to, and I’m not promoting it on general competition sites. So your chances of winning are high.
On that note, let’s wrap there. Keep safe, and we’ll see you next week.
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