This is Audio EXP for the 25th of December 2021, and the title of this episode is “The holiday edition with Dark Souls, Dark Horse and taboos”
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #128]
Forgotten Adventures is in the spotlight this month, as voted for by Patreons.
There’s a podcast on Christmas day because I’ve COVID-19 and have to isolate.
Yeah, I know. I’ve spent much of the last two years urging people to wear masks, which I did, get jabbed, which I am and at level three, and keep safe, which I tried.
In truth, I’ve no idea how I caught the world’s most famous virus, but tests show I have it. I’m fortunate; while it’s ruined my Christmas plans and forced me to spend 10 days alone, I have the ninja version. I don’t feel it.
While I’m lucky to have a barely detectible version of the virus, it’s a harsh reminder of just why it spreads so well. If I hadn’t taken the test and only took it because I take it every day I leave the flat, I wouldn’t have known, and I would have been a spreader.
In the last podcast, I revealed the top-selling products at DriveThruRPG for fantasy, family, history, horror and the modern genre. I also talked about the $3bn Asmodee deal.
That means there’s sci-fi, miscellaneous RPGs, the top DMsGuild products and newcomers to talk about, as well as the big news and lots of festive freebies to talk about this week.
So, let’s start with sci-fi. As with last week, I’ll do the top five, and you get the top twenty on the blog. Once again, these are the categories the creators put them into.
- Dune – Adventures in the Imperium – Core Rulebook Standard Edition by Modiphius.
- Fallout: The Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook PDF by Modiphius.
- SCP The Tabletop RPG by 26 Letter Publishing.
- Five Parsecs From Home – Solo Adventure Wargaming by Modiphius.
- ALIEN RPG Colonial Marines Operations Manual by Free League Publishing.
Miscellaneous is next, and a broad category on DTRPG. I expected more overlap, but it’s actually a nice mix of uniques and repeats.
- Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook by Greater Than Games, LLC.
- Wrath & Glory – Forsaken System Player’s Guide by Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd..
- Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition by Evil Beagle Games.
- Hard Wired Island by Weird Age Games.
- Trinity Continuum: Aberrant by Onyx Path Publishing.
New for 2021, I asked for the top sellers published this year from the DMsGuild.
- Minsc and Boos Journal of Villainy (5e) by Wizards of the Coast.
- Monster Manual Expanded III (5E) by Dungeon Masters Guild.
- Domains of Delight (5e) by Wizards of the Coast.
- Dread Metrol: Into the Mists – An Eberron / Ravenloft Crossover by Dungeon Masters Guild.
- The Wild Beyond the Witchlight Complete DMs Bundle & Map Pack by Dungeon Masters Guild.
The newcomers are next, and being new to the DMsGuild doesn’t mean you’re not experienced elsewhere.
- Heroic Maps from Sarah Bilton and Joseph Bilton
- Splinterverse Media from Jimmy Flowers
- Beth the Bard
- Jon Morecroft
- Hedra Group
While we’re doing lists, and before we get onto the list of companies that the Embracer Group has bought, let’s also squeeze in some of The Hugo Award winners. I mean, I can’t think of a bigger sci-fi or fantasy recommendation for books.
I won’t do all the categories, but here are some highlights;
The best graphic story or comic is Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, written by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings (Harry N. Abrams).
Last week, Embracer Group bought Asmodee for $3bn. Actually, no, plans to buy the company were made public as they needed to be. There’s still time for something dramatic to happen.
Since then, I have been keeping notes of what else Embracer Group might buy. BoardGameGeek had to deny they were for sale. My list of what had been snapped up was getting pretty big, and then the Dark Horse news broke.
They’ve bought the gaming group Perfect World Entertainment, which makes computer RPGs, the video-on-demand advertising platform Spotfilm, which feels like a bold move for a computer game company. Will we see in-game ads from them? They bought the animation studio DIGIC and another game studio in the shape of Shiver.
There were reports that Dark Horse was considering a sale, and it turns out those were true, and Embracer snapped them up. That’s hundreds of titles Dark Horse either own outright or have the rights to. The attraction of those fandoms and franchises to a company that makes games or animated features is clear.
It’s okay not to have heard of Embracer. They’re a new brand, made up from old companies, old in gaming terms anyway, and it feels like they’re pulling some industry-shaping moves right now.
Dark Horse will become the 10th company type in Embracer, which means the brand is staying. Well, for now.
Are you indifferent to them? Impressed? Scared? I’m not sure where I sit.
That’s the Dark Horse news, but there’s still Dark Souls news. Steamforged Games have announced an official Dark Souls tabletop RPG.
They already do the board game, which was a huge hit on Kickstarter, but it is easy to find mixed reviews on the final product.
News is scarce, but there’s a mailing list to sign up for more info, and I have contacts there, so I hope to share more later, but I suspect I’ll just get an email update at the same time as information becomes generally public.
Steamforged has done RPG products, often around minis with Epic Encounters and the Animal Adventure lines. These are 5e games.
So, that means Dark Souls might be a 5e game, and I’ve seen people complaining about that.
It might also mean Steamforge will develop a new system for Dark Souls, as they might not consider the high fantasy of 5e suitable for the brutal world.
I’ve seen people grumble about Steamforged developing a new system too.
Oh dear, what have we become?
I can tell you what people are hyped for. Fandom released some stats based on billions of data points, including 40 million pages of fan content.
People are buzzing about superpowers. Yeah, baby, here are some more lists.
The top three superpowers that people are into are;
- Darkness Manipulation
Sorry to say, healing does not make the top 10.
The movies with the best death scenes;
- Army of the Dead
- Halloween Kills
The top TV communities
- Bubble Guppies
- For All Mankind
I’d heard of Yellowstone, but not the other two.
There’s a host more on the blog. I recognise most of which, but this data share from Fandom is very American centric, and it shows me just how much stays in America and doesn’t become international hits.
With the rise of streaming platforms and YouTube, it becomes easier for local and smaller companies to be more impactful and, therefore, more challenging for even extensive US TV networks to score global successes.
Two international titles are hurling themselves at us that I am hyped for, though.
The first is the anime Bleach Thousand-Year Blood War, which reminds me of good old times and looks great.
The show is about a guy who can see ghosts and becomes caught up in the titanic battles of otherwordly forces.
The second anime that I can’t wait to feast on is Chainsaw Man, which I’ve heard about, believe to be rough but don’t otherwise know.
I want to mention a ton of freebies, humbles, and competitions, but there’s some news from Paizo worth talking about.
An open letter accused the company and publisher Erik Mona. Of leaning too heavily into slavery, even with its anti-colonial vibe. The open letter, written anonymously but published by Owen K.C. Stephens, says the whole topic is highly uncomfortable for some writers, and they just want to move on.
To his great credit, Erik Mona said, okay, we’ll move on from it. “Move on from it” was his words. He also said, “We plan to remove slavery from our game and setting completely“.
In Geek Native’s article, I went with the headline “Not mention Slavery in Pathfinder ever again” because there won’t be a retcon. Events that happened in the world still happened.
To my surprise, Erik Mona, on Twitter, said that Geek Native’s coverage was inaccurate and then repeated those same exceptions. I’m working with Paizo to find out what I should be writing about the subject, and if updates are needed, I’ll make them.
You know the process. You can check the corrections log on the site, which is public, for any such changes.
I also reviewed a one-shot, one-page, one-player RPG called Krampus says Punching Nazis is a free action. It gets a passing grade from me, but nothing remarkable beyond the seasonal advice of the title.
In the freebies, Wizards of the Coast made Dragon of Icespire Peak a free download.
That’s the well respected D&D adventure from the Essentials Kit.
Incredibly, impressively and admirably, 9th Level Games made 166-pages and 15 RPGs from diverse voices entirely free via the anthology Level 1. They did one last year, so this is Level 1 2021.
Absolutely, it’s worth checking out as an instant “better in your collection than out of it” boost.
There seems to be a lot of horror contributions to Christmas. I’m aware of the irony of that coming from a high-risk individual currently in quarantine with the alone with the biggest killer of the decade, but the very adult Kult: Divinity Lost RPG has a freebie this year.
It’s an adventure from Helmgast and Red Moon Roleplaying called Et in Arcadia Ego. Don’t even scroll it if you’re easily offended.
Another freebie is Hung by the Chimney with Care. Sounds cosy? Well, it all rather depends on what’s hung by the chimney. This is a free scenario from Petersen Games for the horror RPG Call of Cthulhu!
Speaking of Call of Cthulhu but escaping the Christmas claws of horror, there’s an online freebie from Chaosium in the shape of The Battle for Dangerford. This isn’t a download but a play online designed to teach you RuneQuest, and it’s a clever idea.
If you like solo games like that, I also wrote up a list of several Android apps that are free to download Lone Wolf adventures. The whole series from Joe Dever is covered.
That’s a lot of freebies, but if you have some cash to spend, let’s look at the bundles.
The Bundle of Holding has a trilogy of Hero 5E megabundles. There’s over $330 worth of content in the first, the Hero 5E megabundle. That’s not D&D 5e, I rush to say, but Hero 5e, and you’ve heard me moan about WotC’s use of 5e as the not-D&D brand reference. It’s a frustration.
The other two are the Champions 5E megabundle and the Champions 5e Universe megabundle.
Champions is the superhero branch of Hero.
Bundles at Itch.io seem to favour short and sweet, but two overlapping things are still running. One is the Holiday Tabletop Bundle which is 6 games for $11. That lasts until the 27th.
The other is the tabletop sale, which goes on to January 3rd.
Itch’s speed on bundles, and Jams, does give OneBookShelf something to consider, but I tell you what; the publishers and team there pulled together the Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Bundles together at a pace!
The big daddy of those bundles, the megabundle, has over $400 worth of RPGs for less than $40. Impressive.
And, on Humble, the mega of all the bundle sites, there’s more than £500 worth of digital dungeon maps, tokens and assets in a new deal from Alyssa Faden. The top tier adds the entire previous bundle deal from the talented cartographer.
Lastly, and for listeners in the UK only, a chance to win The Book of Grudge. That’s about a cat.
In Star Trek Discovery, the character Book has a cat; the cat now has a book about Star Trek Discovery.
I’ve eaten two packets of festive biscuits while writing and recording this. And on that note, let’s wrap there, do a better job looking after yourself and others near you than I managed, and see you next year.
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