This is Audio EXP for the 17th of July 2021, and the title of this episode is “Will the military be delivering D&D and board games by Christmas?”
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #105]
In Audio EXP last week we talked about a woman who had a game piece rammed in her nose and causing pain for 37 years before she went to the doctor.
This week we’re looking at growing speculation that the military might end up helping move parcels such as crates of D&D games – and Wizards of the Coast have announced delays on Witchlight already in some regions – and board games into the United Kingdom.
Is it 37 years with a tiddywink up your hooter? No, it’s a Brexit story. It’s a Brexit story made worse by the lockdown, but basically, it was Europeans who drove HGVs to make deliveries up and down the country; now they’re gone, and the UK can’t get its logistics running. The phrase the newspapers are using is “Lorry Crisis”.
Now there are reports, rumours with meat, that the UK Government is in behind-the-scenes talks to get special permission and incentive to bring them back. It’s incredible either way. It’s either a Brexit flavoured U-turn or, as some now feel likely, the armed forces will be roped in to help.
Parcel Hero, a delivery company, sent Geek Native and others a report which treats both ideas as credible.
Meanwhile, to stay in business, UK Games Expo is pushing ahead, and success here will help other small businesses stay afloat. But it’s a gamble.
Here there has been a confirmed U-turn with the Expo and the company who owns the venue saying that visitors will now have to wear masks. That’s only half of it; visitors will also have to take a home lateral flow test before attending and show an NHS COVID Pass to confirm they’re clean.
Sound harsh but fair? The NHS COVID Pass is only available to the English, not the Scots, Welsh, Northern Irish or international visitors. Email evidence the day before is also accepted, but what a guddle, huh?
It seems for now that online events might be easier, even if they don’t have the same vibe.
WitcherCon happened, D&D Live is happening, so let’s look at both.
As a reminder, if you’re a fan of The Witcher books, then the author’s new series has book one The Tower of Fools as a competition prize on Geek Native. At the time of recording, there are 9 days left to run; you can see that there are 88 entry points recorded, and you earn 1 by answering a poll question. That means you have got about a 1% chance of winning, but the catch is the publisher can only ship to the UK.
G4 are helping Wizards run D&D Live; I’ve already spoken about the pros and cons of getting another brand so overtly involved. The event seemed to be starting well, in the run-up we got free Ravenloft character sheets and another free D&D / Magic: The Gathering crossover adventure called A Verdant Tomb. You can find links to both on the blog, which you can get to via the show notes.
Then Nerd Immersion, a YouTuber, hacked around in the frontend of some D&D Beyond code needed for API access and found a reference to a book called Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons.
Yes, that turns out to be the new book. It wasn’t a leak, nor a breach of computer security, but a hack in the shade in between.
Sorry Wizards, your thunder was stolen again.
We’ve now got the alternative cover, released on schedule and Wizards sent big blogs quotes, art and then talked everyone through the book on D&D Live.
We’re getting gem dragons back, Great Wyrms as super-powerful dragons that built on Mythic tier stuff. It’s a book like Volo’s or Mordenkainen, but all about dragons and Dragonborn. About a third of it is suitable for players, an essential move by Wizards of the Coast because that means more people might be interested in buying it.
There was also news about other books and live streams, of course. We know a lot more about The Wild Beyond the Witchlight the Feywild Adventure set in the Witchlight Carnival. The dice and accessories pack is getting ever larger and yet more attractive with these supplements.
Of course, not everything D&D needs to be Wizards of the Coast these days. Not with the Open Gaming License, 5e and history.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a TSR Games 4, 5 or 6 story. It is about Luke Gygax writing a D&D adventure, though. He and Matt Everhart released The Eye of Chentoufi this week which looks to expand “Luke Gygax’s World of Okkorim”.
Luke Gygax’s World of Okkorim wasn’t on my radar before. It is now.
And it’s not all D&D.
Big news for me this week was Magpie Games being able to talk about the previously unnamed but definitely Powered by the Apocalypse RPG for Avatar the Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra.
The game will be called Avatar Legends. There’s a free to download quickstart out now and I had an early look, so I’ve popped a review up.
I also found out that the Kickstarter, which will be used as a way for Magpie to sell the game directly to customers before it hits ships, will include a Kickstarter Limited edition.
Cubicle 7 has two bits of news, too and neither about a license moving out of their care.
There is a new edition of the Doctor Who RPG on the way. It’ll just be called Doctor Who: The Roleplaying Game this time, which makes sense.
It has Jodie Whittaker’s thirteenth Doctor on the cover, will use a version of the Vortex system, and old supplements should be cross-compatible.
The second is that the steampunk fantasy Victoriana is also getting a new edition. I had thought Cubicle 7 had quietly parked the game, but I was wrong.
This will be the fourth edition of the game, and it will use 5e rules. That’s to say, the same game engine that powers D&D will now power Victoriana. I think it’s a good idea, but I’ve seen mixed reactions.
There’s also a new Dracula tabletop RPG on the way. Nightfall Games have bought The StokerVerse license and the upcoming RPG will use their S5S system.
Nightcall is currently busy with The Terminator game, but they’ve confirmed the pattern for The StokerVerse will be the same as it was for The Terminator and SLA Industries.
That means we can expect a quick start out on DriveThruRPG a long time before a Kickstarter for the main game.
The StokerVerse is the creation of Dacre Stoker, the great grand-nephew of Bram Stoker and Chris McAuley, award-winning artist and writer. It’s very much about expanding the Dracula story.
So, let us make an effort to step away from more significant publisher stories and go smaller. The RPG Publisher Spotlight this month is with Grognardia Games.
I was able to line up a quick Q&A with James Maliszewski, the one-time Wizards of the Coast designer who created it. James, in some ways, could be considered one of the founding academics of the OSR movement as he was one to say, “Look, D&D 4e feels a bit too much like a computer game. I want to go back to my roots”.
In fact, I asked James what was coming up in tabletop RPG space that had his interest. He pointed to two things; the reprints of the original Call of Cthulhu boxed sets and the next edition of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.
The boxed sets are literarily old games, published again, which fits the desire for old school. Hyperborea, says James, harkens back to the first edition of Advanced D&D. Spot the trend? Even these future events have strong roots in the past.
In the meantime, James is working on a setting called the Vaults of sha-Arthan.
The Vaults of sha-Arthan is a weird fantasy setting that’s something of secret science fiction. It looks like fantasy but powered by science. Demons, for example, are extra-dimensional aliens.
Two reviews worth a mention on this highlights show is both of Osprey Games books. So, at a sweep, we’re out of indie and into the potential giant territory. Osprey is owned by Bloomsbury, and there’s a company that could go large, very large, with tabletop books if they wanted to and must surely be looking at ways to make books more digital – you know, as virtual tabletops can offer.
The Fall of the Children of Bronze is a campaign for the fantasy Jackals.
In Jackals, characters are heroes who help humanity stay independent from monstrous creatures that once ruled them. It’s a d100Lite system with that OSR feel yet modern sensibilities.
The Fall of the Children of Bronze is stretched out over many years, in fact a strength of it is that your Jackals characters can retire and be replaced, with rules and advantages for doing so.
Unlike most other pre-written campaigns, it’s not linear, not even a sandbox. It’s a set of only loosely connected events that foreshadow the fall of a city. If you know what you’re buying, then I think it’s very good, but it might catch you out otherwise.
I liked it.
The other Osprey Game, which is just out this week, is Sigil & Shadow. It’s a contemporary game of occult horror and urban fantasy.
I think you know the pitch; the world is not as it seems.
My initial reaction to Sigil & Shadow wasn’t great. I knew this story and had rules for it already. However, the game totally won me over because the mysticism and supernatural ecosystem built into it is surprisingly deep yet barely fleshed out.
In other words, it’s like an empty house, or a mansion, or a castle, for a clever GM to fill. I think with occult horror games, you need to pack in the surprises, the discoveries, the dark cupboards with skeletons inside because your players must never get too comfortable.
Given that I already, pretty much, knew the system from Jackals, it took just one game of Sigil & Shadow to convince me that my first impressions were wrong. Now I’d happily recommend the game.
It’s not a review, but another game to call out is Lost Lights. It’s a brand new Kickstarter, but the entire Player’s Guide is available for free. That’s now on DriveThruRPG, but Geek Native readers could download a copy straight from Google Drive. I couldn’t embed it on the site as it was too large.
Lost Lights isn’t about taking a real-world culture and pretending it’s fantasy. Instead, it is a Mesopotamian and Mesoamerican mythology-inspired RPG setting for 5e and Pathfinder. I think it’s worth a look.
I also have two stories where it might be too late to take a look and weirdly, they’re both Super Mario themed.
There’s a Super Mario themed Game of Life board game and it’s reportedly selling out, but I can see it on Amazon as a pre-order. Either way, the steam coming off this classic reimagined as a battle with Bowser is one to move quickly on if you want it.
The other is a Super Mario themed TAG Heuer smartwatch.
It costs more than $2,000, but that didn’t stop it from selling out in less than 10 minutes. All gone, $2,000 a pop, and with animated Mario in the watch face.
If you want one now, you have to dirty yourself with ebay skelpers, and I found one going for $50,000.
I don’t even have the money for the Super Mario Game of Life, I blame Kickstarter, but it also means I watch bundles.
Over at the Bundle of Holding, Wade Dyer has two Fragged RPG deals going. You’ll get a whole range of settings for this pretty cool game. I’ve never played it but only heard great things about it.
I’m a little more cautious about the other. It’s a Humble Bundle deal with the British indie developer of visual novels and computer RPGs Winged Cloud. They’ve a deal for Sakura Spirit that certainly deliveries great value for money. There’s no recommended age that I could see on the bundle, but the thumbnails of these stories certainly have plenty of generously endowed flesh on display.
Lastly, and not to finish on stories of flesh and eBay touts, let’s talk about Big Potato Games’ The Great Board Game Trade-In.
About 60 retailers in the UK are taking part, and all you do is take a board game you no longer want to one of these stores, and they’ll donate it to a local charity for you. Yay, karma.
When you do that, you also get 20% off a Big Potato Game purchase of your choice. This strikes me as a great way to help your local store recover from the lockdown or get through the next wave while doing good and being savvy with money.
On that note, let’s wrap there. Keep safe, mask your dragon, and we’ll see you next week.
Check the comments below to see what readers have to say.