This is Audio EXP for the 26th of March 2022, and the title of this episode is “Innovative RPG form factors”
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #141]
Wider Path Games is in the spotlight this month, as voted for by Patreons.
I asked Wider Path where they thought the RPG industry was heading. Kevin predicted growing numbers of private pockets of people tapping into non-mainstream ideas and places where they can contact publishers and designers directly.
I’d call those communities of interest.
Let’s start with news from offsite, and that’s pretty mainstream. Let’s start with the latest Borderlands game and Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. I’ve not played it. It’s a time problem. But I am tempted. It’s a looter shooter, but also it’s a tabletop RPG-style game played with the computer game character of Tiny Tina as your GM.
That’s pretty clever.
It’s not the only overlap of tabletop RPG and computer that caught my attention this week. Possum Creek’s latest crowdfunder, Yazeba’s Bed & Breakfast did too.
That’s not on Kickstarter; Possum Creek said they wouldn’t do that again because of Kickstarter’s blockchain move, and they didn’t. This crowdfunding campaign is on Indiegogo.
It’s a slice of life RPG with a book of scenarios modelled on legacy board games. Slice of life in the anime sense, stories about everyday stuff told so well that become interesting, and not about bashing in skulls.
Stealing a technique from legacy board games, the RPG comes with a sticker sheet that you use to customise the game, covering up rules and story threads as events happen, so your rules physically say something different as a result of your gameplay.
That works because there’s no PDF option for Yazeba. It’s print or One More Multiverse, and it’s One More Multiverse which is the computer game tie-in.
OMM is still in beta, but it’s an attempt to bring interactive storytelling, graphics like a computer game, but a feel like a tabletop game to life. It’s attracted funding money, and a partnership with an innovative company like Possum Creek is a great move.
I wonder who came up with the approach for Yazeba and who reached out to whom.
I also have to wonder what One More Multiverse is like because although I’ve watched YouTube videos, I’ve not backed it, not played in it and can’t quite picture it.
The magical Bed & Breakfast certainly isn’t the only innovative form factor this month or even this week. Another example, and this one in Kickstarter, is the GMless horror Deimos Academy.
It uses a colouring book as a mechanic, and different colours to mean didn’t things. It also uses stickers, just in case anything in the colouring book needs to be covered up, too horrific for your real-life tastes.
In that game, you return to your old school for a reunion only to discover you’re among the few who did, and none of you has strong memories of what actually happened in the creepy old building.
That’s not to say there’s been no innovation from the traditional sandbox RPG sector. Amazing Tales did something curveball and amazing. Lots of RPG publishers are raising money to help in Ukraine, and more on that later, but Amazing Tales also translated their kid-appropriate RPG into Ukrainian and made it free to download.
I think that took just a bit of innovative thinking and a bit of research. It turns out that keeping kids distracted while hiding or on the move through the wartorn country is a challenge. So getting a tabletop RPG for free, one for kids, one adapted to need D6, is helpful for families.
Amazing Tales is just one example of many charity efforts from the hobby. I want to call out RollVsEvil too. That’s a new charity to do what it can to achieve immediate relief.
Here’s who is involved;
- Mantic Games
- Steve Jackson Games
- Cubicle 7
- Roll 20
- UK Games Expo
- Steamforged Games
- R Talsorian Games
- Titan Forge
- Mythic Games
- Magpie Games
- Green Ronin
- Para Bellum
Special thanks to Chris and Rita Birch of Modiphius, who do a lot of the heavy lifting and meet the costs of running the charity. Together with Supernova Capital & Partners, a finance firm, they’ll match the first £100,000 raised in donations. Incredible.
We’ve seen lots of bundles but setting up a whole charity is, well, innovative.
Sometimes it is possible to push the innovations too far, though. I don’t know exactly what they did, but the Behold My Brain! Kickstarter attracted the attention of Wizards of the Coasts’ lawyers and shut down.
It was a crowdfunder for Beholder, the trademarked D&D monster, 3d printing files. I suggest they might have been selling the design or even allowing commercial license of the prints. That would indeed be a step too far for one of the few monsters created for D&D and with legal protection.
In contrast, EN Publishing, the company which no longer has the Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000 AD RPG license, showed how to do it right with Level Up.
Level Up follows the D&D and 5e rules and presents itself as Advanced 5E. It also published its own SRD this week.
The Systems Reference Document for Level Up means that third-party publishers have permissions and rules for creating their own Advanced 5E content. The goal will be to create an ecosystem for Level Up, and EN Publishing will hope to find success for the mechanics through successful settings and other books that use them.
What’s the expression? A rising tide lifts all the boats.
Speaking of Judge Dredd, sticking with form factors, Rebellion Unplugged announced a new Judge Dredd RPG. It’s Dread: Dredd. That’s to say, a modified version of the Dread horror RPG, one played with Jenga blocks, for mega-city one and those mean judges.
That will be getting its premiere live in an online event today.
Speaking of events, last week, I was speculating what happened to the D&D news conference. It clearly happened, and it looks like there were leaks, but we didn’t notice until it was too late.
Why do I think there was a leak? At Barnes & Noble, there were reviews of the book before it was announced. One review was two days before it was announced and was titled “Far Too Radiant, Not Enough Citadel”.
I still failed to predict the title of the book despite that clue. The reviewer clearly had advanced knowledge. That reviewer also describes it as “watermelon-favored, ” a racist dog-whistle. Does that mean someone at the Wizards of the Coast’s press briefing is a racist?
Urg. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
If we skip that unpleasantness and move back to innovation, and just before we do the round-up of bundles, that’ll be good.
I want to highlight the little-discussed but potentially important new partnership between Foundry VTT and DriveThruRPG.
Regular listeners will know how I bang the drum about virtual tabletops’ connection with marketplaces. That’s why we have projects like One More Multiverse, I argue.
The deal with Foundry and OneBookShelf is simple but effective. You can now buy and sell Foundry modules on DriveThruRPG. And Foundry modules you buy from DriveThruRPG can be unlocked at Foundry.
Winners all around, I suspect. It’s worth remembering that DriveThru are currently looking after Astral Tabletop, a one-time challenger VTT that’s alive but in stasis.
In bundles, you’ll have to be quick.
Galileo Games and the Bundle of Holding launched a flash sale on Bulldogs!. That’s Fate Core powered space-opera, and you only have until Monday to grab that.
You’ve more time to consider the sci-fi fantasy of Equinox from Vagrant Workshop. In that game, the Mayans were right and humanity fought demons.
Sticking with the team, but set in the present day, there’s also Pelgrane Press’ The Esoterrorists bundle. In that RPG, the Esoterrorists are baddies trying to bring the demons into this realm, and PCs have to stop them.
Lastly, Humble and Cubicle 7 have an Age of Sigmar: Soulbound deal. It’s a great way to quickly get a lot of Warhammer RPG content in that magitech-meets-steampunk-and-fantasy game.
And on that note, let’s wrap up there, stay innovative and see you next week.
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