This is Audio EXP for the 31st of July 2021, and the title of this episode is “Rights, rites, wrongs and franchises”
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #106]
In the RPG Publisher Spotlight this month we have Grognardia Games.
In the podcast last week I talked about Magnetic Press Play, their forthcoming Carbon Grey RPG, their Call of Cthulhu deal and anime conversions. We knew the system that Magnetic Press Play would be using too, and, surprisingly, it’s the D6 System from West End Games.
I made a joke about how I had inferred that would mean Call of Cthulhu D6 system, and how unexpected that was, and how the lawyers would surely be in touch if that wasn’t the case.
Well… thankfully, it wasn’t a legal email, but I didn’t get it entirely right.
There is something “Call of Cthulhu” coming, but it’s not West End Games D6 System-powered.
Separately, we now know that Magnetic Press Play will use a variant called D6MV for Carbon Grey. That won’t be the Call of Cthulhu system, I think.
Of course, that leads me to wonder what on Earth the Call of Cthulhu partnership is.
I’m also super curious about what these anime conversions are. And I am talking to Magnetic Press Play’s comms team. I have asked those questions so let’s see if I can unearth anything.
Now, with only a rickety bridge between unearthing secrets to hidden lairs, I realise that it’s been a while since I’d shared any quirky stats from Geek Native competition surveys. So, I prepared a write-up for the podcast.
If you were a supervillain, where would you make your hidden lair?
I’ll give you the top three and in reverse order;
- Hidden in plain sight as an everyday office. 20%
- Fortified inside an extinct volcano. 27.5%
- On a remote tropical island. 30%
I think that’s a good choice. Great weather on a remote tropical island. Of course, you get to be a sympathetic supervillain by pulling a Thanos and claiming your actions are all to stop global warming by pulling down capitalism and the accompanying pollution. After all, your tropical island is at risk of rising water levels.
Again, kinda sticking with the theme, kinda stretching it… I want to briefly talk about The Monkey.
This week I reviewed Andy Darby’s Me and The Monkey.
I think it’s entirely fair to assign some villain points to The Monkey. After all, he did create a dimensional rift in Andy’s spare room.
I reviewed the new hardback. It’s a book based on a blog, and I’d describe that as a mashup of The Laundry Files – that’s the tentacled horrors that come through the rift – and Fight Club. In Fight Club, of course, there’s the whole thing about finding exciting ways to embrace your inner self.
Me and The Monkey is wonderfully illustrated too and very scannable with all those short diary-style entries, but absolutely isn’t for everyone. You have to have a soft spot for strong-willed and non-mainstream characters.
If you do like non-mainstream characters, anti-hero characters, you might already be into the World of Darkness. One of the least talked about, but innovative companies in that franchise is By Night Studios.
They’re the company that looks after Minds Eye Theatre, or, at least, the current World of Darkness LARPing.
This week By Night Studios released two loot boxes options. Regular listeners will know how much I like to speculate on the business side of the tabletop hobby. I remember when tabletop gaming was much less popular, and it struggled. Part of my interest in the money side is my interest in keeping us strong.
Therefore, I hope these Loot Coffins work. They’re not cheap; $50 and $100 a month. However, By Night Studios promise each month delivers more retail value in each box than you’ve paid. You also get in-store credit and access to the team to talk shop.
The hobby is doing much better these days. The theme of last week’s podcast was the business pressure that might be creating for Wizards of the Coast, after all.
This week I can point to evidence of WotC signing new deals outside the US. The fashionable retailer ASOS here in the UK has their own in-house designed D&D t-shirt now. Okay, it doesn’t say D&D on the t-shirt; unlike the Zavvi deal, it has Tiamat and could be mistaken as a heavy metal t-shirt. However, the page clearly says it’s a D&D t-shirt.
I hope I’m not flirting with franchise holders emailing me to ask for a correction again. However, I bring it up to highlight just how mainstream D&D is getting and what that might mean for franchises.
Another example of innovative money is from Chaosium with their Call of Cthulhu deal with Veve. That one sells NFTs of mythos art.
I know. I know. NFTs have a bad rep. Sometimes artists have been cut out of that revenue in ways that seem very unfair. I trust Chaosium wouldn’t do that.
A more traditional approach to growing a tabletop business is by diversification. Here’s a no brainer; WizKids has expanded into neoprene-like battle mats. They’ve a new range coming which will be branded D&D Icons of the Realms.
But that’s not the huge WizKids news.
The huge news is that WizKids is getting into paint. You’ll be able to buy D&D branded paint from a new Prismatic Paint.
Are they taking on Games Workshop? Yes, but no.
The WizKids pitch is that these paints will be for newbies and the curious. They’ve partnered with Vallejo to make sure the paints are as affordable as possible.
I think the D&D logo makes them immediately a power player in the space, though.
That’s not all. WizKids is getting into sprue-miniatures. The range will be called Frameworks.
Now, I’m a total idiot when it comes to minis. I’ve no skill. No time. No space. I’ve nothing that enables me to get the best out of unpainted, unassembled minis, so I like WizKids for all their pre-painted and complete models.
Frameworks are clearly pitched at more expert audiences. There’s no chance to obscure just how more of a head-on fight these minis are with the more established model-makers in the market.
These sprues aren’t branded D&D, though. In fact, WizKids was quick to mention Pathfinder and game agnostic.
It just so happens that they do have a partnership with Wizards of the Coast to run DnDMinis.com. I can only assume we don’t see any Frameworks kits on that site.
None of this is to say that Wizards of the Coast aren’t doing tabletop stuff or are entirely distracted by franchise deals. The Magic: The Gathering and Forgotten Realms crossover is powering ahead.
From Cyan Depths is the latest of several free adventures from WotC designed to bring Magic players into D&D.
I think the collection so far is an excellent illustration of what’s possible of what a Marvel-like metaverse could be like.
In contrast, there are companies with far less commercial pressure and who concentrate on doing quality games for pleasure. Massif Press, the company behind Lancer, and Tom Parkinson-Morgan spring to mind.
Tom’s latest RPG is out for free as a playtest. The game is called ICON and is inspired by sweeping vista anime and has Lancer’s tactical and narrative modes.
Also in gaming news, and new releases, Cubicle 7 released The Doctor Who RPG 2e this week. That is, it’s out as a PDF.
I don’t know what it means for the physical book or the good looking Collector’s Edition, the one that looks like a TARDIS. I guessed that if the Collector’s Edition was to be exclusive, it would need to be exclusive to something, so surely what would make a Kickstarter a prime candidate?
It’s still not impossible. A Kickstarter for just the physical book is a thing. Onyx Path does it all the time.
I think the timing was a fluke. It’s either awful timing or falls into the no publicity is bad publicity category of news. But, the very day the Doctor Who 2e RPG was released, with the 13th Doctor on the front cover, the BBC announced that Jodie Whittaker, who plays 13, would leave the show next year. Chris Chibnall is going with her.
There’s also a season trailer out, and it looks like we’re moving back to the series-long story model. I approve.
Stargate isn’t as old as Doctor Who when it comes to sci-fi classics, but I think it counts as a sci-fi classic.
Wyvern Gaming’s Stargate 5e is out for Kickstarter backers. I have a PDF copy. I’ve played it.
I’m glad I played it because, well, it needs to be played to be fully understood.
When I tell people there’s a new Stargate RPG powered by D&D’s 5e system, I often get eye rolls. People don’t think 5e is a sound system for Stargate. People don’t want the D&D system applied to Stargate.
Fair enough. I think assessments like that are best classified as personal opinions and, therefore, can’t be wrong.
However, let me tell you that Stargate makes substantial additions to the game. In fact, it’s a bit like having two systems running in parallel at times. As a result, it’s less newbie-friendly, but I don’t think it feels like D&D at all.
It feels like a new sci-fi system.
Now, there’s one competition to get to and a small army of bundle deals to get to. So let’s bring all that good news before signing off.
First up, there’s Fire Ruby Design’s who have the UK OSR-style delight of Warlock! in the Bundle of Holding.
At Humble Bundle, two British charities benefit from Rebellion, bringing a host of 2000 AD and Judge Dredd comics to it.
Internationally, there’s the RPG Heroes deal which has computer games like Delver going for less than a buck.
Also, in Humble, there’s the huge Starfinder deal. It includes some physical goods such as the Beginners Box. Watch the shipping, though.
The last bundle, but not the least, is from the DMs Guild and D&D creators. It’s for the USA charity No Kid Hungry and will get you nearly $200 worth of 5e content for $20.
Finally, the competition is for a softback copy of the Core RPG from GMD. There’s a survey to enter to win, provided you have a UK mail address, but I suspect you already guessed that.
On that note, let’s wrap there. Keep safe, make friends with aliens, and we’ll see you next week.
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