This is Audio EXP for the 28th of August 2021, and the title of this episode is “A Fight”
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #111]
Trash Mob Minis is in the spotlight this month, as voted for by Patreons. We’re nearly at the end of the month, so site and podcast backers have a few days left to vote in the September poll.
There’s an interview with Jess Jennings, aka Trash Mob, on the site. We talk about the cute kobold paper minis that Jess is known for. We also found out that the patron for these visuals ran long before Jess thought about virtual tabletops. As a result, we reckon most backers bring these figures to life with printers rather than digitally.
It’s week two of the Geek Native move, from a small flat in the docks of Edinburgh to another further up the hill on the other side of the bay. I’ve been fighting with miles of cables, cardboard boxes, and it seems accidentally with Renegade Game Studios.
Let me tell you what happened. The partnership that is Hasbro and Renegade mailed customers to announce that the Power Rangers, G.I. Joe and Transformers Roleplaying Games would use a new system called Essence20.
Previously, D&D’s 5e had been announced as the mechanics.
Forbes had the scoop, customers had been told. I had a think. This was a story that Geek Native would want to cover. What was the angle? I think, and still think, that the story here is an official Hasbro partnership doing a tabletop RPG that wasn’t 5e.
It wouldn’t be the first time. River Horse and Hasbro publish the My Little Pony game Tails of Equestria, and that’s not 5e.
So, I wrote an article that began by pointing out Wizards of the Coast had a new RPG engine in the ecosystem to be mindful of, as Hasbro had signed Renegade to produce the Power Rangers, G.I. Joe and Transformers RPGs and that they’d now use the d20-based Essence 20.
I said more details would come at RenegadeCon this weekend, and I quoted the lead developer Elisa Teague, citing the quotes from Forbes.
My title summarised that by saying that Hasbro’s release of Essence20 created a system to rival D&D’s 5e.
Well. I was called out as inaccurate; perhaps I was; maybe I had truncated that too far. Elisa said it was clickbait and full of inaccuracies; I sparked a debate on various Facebook groups and was sent private messages.
The problems I see, and I’m dangerously putting words into people’s mouths here, are twofold.
Firstly, some people objected to the idea that Essence20 is a competitor to D&D.
I think they’re wrong. If you only have one weekend to play a tabletop RPG, then any and every non-D&D RPG is a potential competitor. Frankly, going to the cinema or plugging in the Xbox is also a competitor to D&D.
I think Essence20 is more acutely a competitor to D&D than the Xbox because those three Hasbro games were previously announced as 5e games. 5e literally lost these titles to Essence20.
Secondly, using the phrase “Hasbro release” to describe Essence20 wasn’t popular. Renegade released the system; they’re doing the games.
I don’t want to be inaccurate so, after chatting to Renegade – those being civil to me – I retitled the post “Hasbro approve the release of the Essence 20 RPG system”.
The only thing that’s changed is the title, the body of the post, which explains the relationship between the two companies is untouched.
It might be the case that Hasbro wasn’t involved at all and previously told Renegade, “Hey, do whatever you want”. It might be that they had no part in the release of Essence20 at all, didn’t approve it, support it or even know about it.
Renegade has said we can do a follow-up piece. I’ve happily agreed to that and emailed over some ideas on how to do that, but as it’s RenegadeCon this weekend, I suspect they’re all swamped. I won’t chase until next week, but I do want to follow up.
I appreciate that Renegade doesn’t want to be eliminated from the headlines, but I’ve seen more prominent and robustly staffed outlets headline with Hasbro on the news. I don’t think this is all on me, especially given the absolute lack of briefings.
I also acknowledge that it’s usually the licensee, not the IP holder, in the partnership associated with the release. We say Wyvern Gaming released the Stargate RPG, not MGM. But not always, most people said that Critical Role will release a new Tal’Dorei campaign book, rather than Darrington Press will.
I can’t promise, but if the follow-up goes ahead, I plan to find out just how hands-off or hands-on Hasbro has been with the release.
In addition to the self-indulgent reflection of the incident on this highlights podcast, the changes and reasons are documented on the article itself. Also, a record appears on the blog’s changelog.
Frankly, clickbait blogs don’t maintain an accuracy log of corrections and additions, and Geek Native does. But there we are.
As it happens, the week was dominated by partnerships and franchise IPs.
TMS and Magnetic Press announced the Lupin the 3rd RPG.
Lupin the 3rd is a famous anime that has run for decades, with several feature-lengths and about 250 episodes. It’s an unofficial and, at one time in legal hot waters sequel to Maurice Leblanc’s stories about the Gentleman Thief Arsene Lupin. The anime, Lupin the 3rd is his grandson.
Son of Oak’s first licensee for the City of Mist, Queerz!, has a free demo. You can play for free in this inclusive LGBT superhero game.
The publisher Outland has been busy too. They’ve bought the rights to publish Northern Steele and will do an RPG. That’s the fictional horror adventures of real-life Sam Steele.
That’s not all, Outland will also publish Infernal Negotiations, a diceless and GM-less collaborative two-shot RPG.
In the game, aliens interceded on a planet much like ours to stop what would have become a Spanish Inquisition. The locals don’t have the technology or science to understand what’s going and mistake the aliens for demons they’ve traded their souls to.
It was announced a long time ago, but you can now sort of buy Steve Jackson Games’ Girl Genius Sourcebook and Roleplaying Game.
You can do that right now and before the Kickstarter too.
What you’re actually buying is the prerelease release. The book probably won’t, but it might change quite a bit between now and then. But, if you want to get started in GURPS, then the prerelease will do you to as it contains the complete rules.
There’s more. Runehammer teamed up with Modiphius, and they’re engaging Modiphius’ logistics muscle. As a result, the Index Card RPG will get a 400-page retail release in a hardbound print edition.
Runehammer is also making their lightweight virtual tabletop, the Runehammer VTT or RHVTT, free to use and will publish Viking Death Squad.
Not all partnerships of note this week are from the world of RPGs, though. I notice that Titan Publishing, who already have deals with the BBC and DC, will do several Cowboy Bebop books and a whole new comic book series. One of the books will be a prequel to Netflix’s upcoming show.
It’s sometimes hard to know which one of these titles to back. I just go with what I fancy at the time. I open models from cases, use books in bags and show love to things by including them in my life.
The chances of me ever having the first edition of volume one are very low. Jayson Elliot, once of one of the TSRs, is not me. On ebay, via Jayson, there’s a first edition of the Dragon Magazine. The bidding is over $1,000, and like ebay auctions far and wide, the last few seconds will be frantic.
It’s not all been announcements of new editions and first editions this week. Two highlights are the guest post from Marius Brunner who presents an argument for more sophisticated Tier 1 adventures.
Tier 1 is D&D talk for early level characters. Marius’ point is that not all early level adventures need to be introductory adventures, and introductory adventures don’t need to be written as if people have no idea what Tolkien-style fantasy is.
I also have an interview with James Introcaso, and the takeaway here is that Arcadia is not on volume one.
Arcadia is the magazine from MCDM, and when Matt Colville announced it, he was clear; they’d do a few issues only and then stop. The magazine would have to benefit the MCDM Patreon, or it wouldn’t progress.
So, I spoke to James about whether or not Arcadia had reached safety yet. Spoiler; it has.
Meanwhile, over at the Bundle of Holding, you can get the beginner box, the digital version of it anyway, and the core rules for Shadowrun 6e.
On that note, let’s wrap there. Keep safe, embrace the cyberpunk fantasy future, and we’ll see you next week.
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