This is Audio EXP for the 9th of April 2022, and the title of this episode is “The free RPG trend and vanishing Usagi RPG”.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #143]
Outland Arts is in the spotlight this month, as voted for by Patreons.
I have reached out to Outland Arts to try and line up an interview, but only recently. We’ll be lucky and fortunate if they get back in touch this week.
Why was I so tardy? Is it connected to the daily digest email being rescheduled from 7pm British time to 10pm? Yes, good spot.
I’ve a new job. That’s not a surprise, but the timeline wasn’t the one I expected. The new job also involves going back into an office for a few days a week.
As a result, I’ve less time in the home office, where Geek Native happens. The podcast, the blog, is a hobby, not an occupation, and it costs money and time, which is why there’s a Patreon scheme, ads and affiliate links.
More impactfully, it also means I’m building a new rhythm and routine in my daily life. Have you tackled a return to work yet? What about a return to the face-to-face gaming table?
It’ll work out. I don’t know what next month will look like, but we’ll get there. No one has a crystal ball, after all.
Except in anime, of course. The lovely wash of trailers is slowing down now that this year’s AnimeJapan convention is over. In the spirit of not knowing what next month will look like but making it work anyway, I want to briefly mention one of the new shows featured at AnimeJapan.
That show is called I’m Quitting Heroing and its about a powerful hero who for his own reasons decides not to oppose the next Demon Lord that rises up. Instead, this hero decides to join the Demon’s army.
What’s the name of that hero? Leo. Leo the Hero. And his surname? Demonheart.
That’s right, Leo Demonheart. We don’t need a crystal ball to figure out we’re in for an antihero there.
In contrast, Titan Comics released Norm Konyu’s The Junction graphic novel this month. Or will, in just a few days, depending on when you listen to this podcast. I was lucky enough to have a digital review copy.
It’s a mystery and far more protected from crystal ball scrying than I’m Quitting Heroing is.
The story starts when Lucas returns. He and his father have been missing for over 10 years. Then, one day later, Lucas knocks on his uncle’s door and, in doing so, utterly confuses the police.
The secondary question is; where is Lucas’ dad.
The main question is; why hasn’t Lucas aged? Not a single day. Can this even be Lucas, or is there another answer as to why a teenage boy is knocking on someone’s door?
It’s a thoughtful story without a grand reveal. Two-thirds of the way in, answering those questions is pretty straightforward. You know what’s going on by the end. If there is a twist, the twist is in the so-what and how people react to it.
Overall? Happy to recommend it. Not a hero comic, briefly a mystery comic and absolutely food for thought.
Requiring less thought, much less of a mystery, and potentially a headline for this week’s highlights podcat is Hasbro telling a shareholder and potential troublemaker Alta Fox Capital: No.
They said no to two things.
Hasbro said no to all of Alta Fox’s nominees for new Hasbro board members.
Hasbro also said no to giving Wizards of the Coast its independence in a spin-off. Alta Fox thought that that structure would make shareholders more money. The argument was that Wizards of the Coast and rest-of-Hasbro are too different, work differently, move at different speeds, and have different financial evaluation criteria and prospects.
Hasbro says they disagree. They might do, I’m sure it’s complex, but ultimately, while wanting to give shareholders value, they also want to keep hold of the cash cow that is Wizards of the Coast while they can milk it.
The actual headline, at least the vanishing Usagi RPG part, comes from Netflix releasing a trailer for The Usagi Chronicles.
There’s a hugely popular manga called Usagi Yojimbo about a samurai rabbit, and this young person targeted show is a spin-off; this samurai rabbit lives in the future.
I used to be able to say that there’s a manga and tabletop RPG for the series, but I can’t anymore. I checked before hitting publish on my Netflix coverage and discovered that Sanguine’s tabletop game had been removed from DriveThruRPG.
I have emailed to see if the indie publisher can talk about it, but they’ve not had much time to respond and haven’t yet.
We can speculate, though. Last week, in Audio EXP, we talked about RPG Licenses, and here’s a license that’s likely to suddenly shoot up in value. You can see how the owners might want to do something else with it or take the chance to see if they can make more money from it.
Sanguine has also had the license for ages. It might just be a fluke of timing, with the paperwork coming to a natural end. Alternatively, removing the old Usagi RPG could also indicate an incoming new edition.
Nevertheless, the timing doesn’t feel perfect to me. If I were Sanguine, I’d want to use hype to sell the game, which is not possible right now.
The other half of this week’s podcast title is about the trend in free RPGs. That’s just an anecdotal observation, but coming up, I’ll run through some of the freebies highlighted on the blog this week alone.
First, I want to briefly mention a few sets of deals that sit somewhere between RPG licenses and how gamers get their hands on content, free or otherwise.
Paizo has been shaking it up recently, and they’ll be releasing The Abomination Vaults Adventure Path as a 5e module. That’s right, the full circle, Pathfinder goes back to D&D.
It’s not the first alternative game engine you can play in the Pathfinder setting. Savage Worlds beat D&D to that with Savage Pathfinder.
The news this week that caught my eye, though, was an official deal between Foundry VTT and Paizo.
The coming generation of Adventure Paths will be coming out on Foundry, complete with exclusives and hefty Paizo support.
What will Roll20 be thinking? Well, the dominant virtual tabletop is the lead partner in Evil Genius Productions‘ recently announced deal. They’ll get access to their Everyday Heroes powered Cinematic Adventures series ahead of Foundry.
There is no mention of Fantasy Grounds in that deal, but Syrinscape is, and they provide music.
Everyday Heroes is d20 Modern but for 5e and unofficial. Cinematic Adventures, which will have a subscription option, adapts popular movies to the system. I assume this will be unofficial, and the film will be by genre, style and suggestive of iconic titles rather than actual deals.
I did mention all those freebies. I wrote plenty up this week, and it is getting increasingly hard to pick which one to cover as there are so many. The tactics are straightforward; the previews either warm up people for a Kickstarter or are used to bridge from Kickstarter to full retail.
A free primer just feels like a nice thing to do in all cases.
My first example even has soundtracks for the entire adventure, not Syrinscape, but still impressive.
Elderbrain surveyed about 2,000 players and Dungeon Masters, found out what they wanted and turned that into a 900-page titanic Crown of the Oathbreaker. That’s a D&D 5e module to take characters from level 5 to 13.
The free preview is from the first chapter. In this case, a preview feels necessary and kind, as who has time to invest in 900 plus pages only for them not to match what you wanted.
Next up, also in 5e, which will result in mixed feelings in the community, is Crowbar Creative’s Free to Download: Dr. Grordbort’s Scientific Adventure Violence Quickstart.
That’s a steampunk-like pulp sci-fi comedy with some big names like Stephen Fry as fans, and this is the official RPG for it. The quickstart is out, and an Exalted Funeral supported Kickstarter is coming.
Away from D&D and even primers or quickstarts, Third Chair Games’ Artifacts & Adventure: Modern-Day Treasure Hunters is a 46-page full RPG that’s entirely free.
The game uses Tricube Tales as a system and is released as a labour of love and a showcase. It’s a good read and a reminder of why it’s hard to get rich in an industry where people make games as good as this and release them for free.
The last of the freebie set I looked at this week is from Realmwarp Media and is a starter edition with basic rules and pre-made characters. The game is Wyrd Street.
Let’s move next to the usual outro combination of bundles and competitions.
At the Bundle of Holding, Modiphius has two sets of Conan offers. Both are 2d20, with Essentials the one you buy first if you need the core rules.
The Bundle of Holding also has a deal from Mike Shea and Sly Flourish for Fantastic Lairs and Lazy DM goodies.
Lastly, the competition is for a small black t-shirt with a Mr Root the news minotaur as a badge. Yes, the same fellow who accompanies Geek Native’s RPG news summary.
The competition, sorry to say, is for UK listeners only due to shipping nightmares.
You can find links to all these via the show notes.
And on that note, let’s wrap up there, enjoy your freebies and see you next week.
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