This is Audio EXP for the 24th of September 2022, and the title of this episode is “Are we the baddies?”.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #165]
Battleaxes and Brimstone are in the spotlight this month, as voted for by Patreons.
In the piece, Malaki and I cover what it was like growing up playing D&D in the American midwest and during the Satanic Panic. As you can infer, it didn’t put Malaki off the hobby!
We’ve not had this catch-up for two weeks since last Saturday, I was on trains to Manchester and Tabletop Gaming Magazine’s Tabletop Gaming Live event.
Two things annoyed me on the train.
First, I got an email announcing the winners of Tabletop Gaming Awards 2022. Imagine not having that as a Saturday event for the live show. It meant I couldn’t write up the winners until I got back after the weekend.
The second was that while I was on the train, my phone alerted me to the unwelcome news my connection had been cancelled. The second train necessary to get from Scotland to England wouldn’t run. Fortunately, I was able to research an alternative route and find a way to get to Manchester without too much delay or need for a new ticket.
I tell you this only because I spoke of adventures; sadly, this was the best I can do. I suppose you can add in my battle to prove to the train company’s wifi system that I was on their Wi-Fi while I also stayed safely behind my VPN. I lost that battle, needing to pop off briefly to validate.
So, as for those Tabletop Gaming Awards 2022 winners, I won’t list them all on the podcast, as you can find them on Geek Native, but the best board game went to Capstone Games’ Ark Nova and best RPG went to Paizo for Pathfinder 2e.
There, starting the podcast with complaints makes me sound like a moaner. I try not to be these days but, sorry to say, I found myself sniping at Fandom’s State of Gaming.
There’s no tabletop section in Fandom’s report. They’ve sold Cortex, and D&D Beyond and moved on. Instead, they look at NFTs, metaverse, subscriptions, bundles and eSports.
I like that they make eSports a part of a broader category called “competitive gaming”. Perhaps I’m just old, but some game titles don’t feel very sporty to me, and it’s really about the professional level of competition.
What I didn’t like was the tone of voice in their NFT and metaverse summaries. Fandom’s research says that gamers don’t like NFTs and their conclusion to this is that gamers don’t understand NFTs.
They’ve some evidence. When Fandom told gamers about all the good NFTs could do, but not that NFTs were involved, and followed that up with a “Is that good?” then gamers said yes.
My concerns are two-fold. Firstly, that’s a dodgy way to do a report as it leads answers and obscures the cost behind the benefit. Secondly, we often see NFTs sold on ideas that don’t actually need NFT technology to happen. Did that happen here?
Fandom also said gamers weren’t interested in the metaverse yet and concluded that it was because gamers didn’t understand the metaverse.
Why do gamers not want to pay subscription fees for gamers? If you guess that’s because gamers don’t understand the benefits of subscription fees, according to Fandom, then you’ll be spot on.
Right, with me being so judgy, I thought I better channel some of that at myself. After lots of internal wrestling this week, I wrote up and released the Geek Native AI policy.
In summary, I do use machine learning on the site, and when that’s art, I’ll tell you when. I don’t see machine learning as consistently wrong, but some origin stories are not great, and I recognise the negative impact it could have on creators.
For example, I use Grammarly to help proof my articles. I don’t see the need to disclose that, which seems to be a relatively benign use of so-called AI.
However, I’m starting to mess around with Midjourney as a way to get art into articles. When I do that, I’ll say so.
Furthermore, Geek Native is a loss-making hobby designed to let me do what I do and hopefully put some cash back into the community. The blog and podcast’s Patron fees are exclusively about raising money to pay for artists and writers, and I’m not reducing that at all. Hopefully, I can do more if audiences grow.
There’s more news than just Fandom and Geek Native digging into technology. Let’s cherry-pick the highlights.
Even The Washington Post is covering the nuTSR and dodgy RPG content battles now. They ask whether trademark law can stop racism.
There’s a Mitchell and Webb sketch set in World War II where two SS officers, dressed in black leather and skulls, turn to one another and wonder, “Are we the baddies?”. I’m reminded of that.
The D&D 3.5 core rules are back in print. That’s to say; you can now get the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, Monster Manual and even the Rules Compendium as hardback print-on-demand from DriveThruRPG.
Yeah, that won’t be cheap, but it’s a way to stock those geeky shelves if you missed out.
Wizards of the Coast also listened to people worrying they would be missing out and so changed their minds before fully announcing their decision.
Let me explain. The DMsGuild sent out a newsletter to say that some Adventurer League downloads would be removed from the store. People worried because that decision would have all sorts of ripples and, if nothing else, would take Adventurer League content away from people wanting it.
Wizards then said they’d scrap those plans. The publisher also acknowledged it was a bit weird hearing that from DMsGuild first, so they promised to make sure such news came from them first in the future.
I think I can squeeze in one bit more of D&D news before I worry about making this short podcast too long. I do want to call out HippieNerdSeawitch’s 5e character sheet. That’s also on DriveThruRPG and it’s entirely made from cats.
Your attribute boxes? Fat cats. The equipment box on your character sheet? It’s a cat. The skills section? Also drawn as a cat.
There is a lot of catching up on deals and bundles I don’t want you to miss out on but first let me tell you about Mournblade.
Mournblade is the official Elric saga tabletop RPG. Elric is a Michael Moorcock story of a troubled emperor in a dark world, dangerous adventures, and politics.
A French publisher called Le Department, what a great name, has been publishing the tabletop RPG in French. Now, in support of its upcoming Elric board game, Le Department has translated Mournblade into English. You can get it as a PDF through Kickstarter as an add-on, but there are plans for a retail release.
There are some freebies to tell you about. There’s Cyberpunk RED: Easy Mode which isn’t the quickstart to Cyberpunk RED. That costs cash and isn’t new. This is an even slimmer product but enough to test the game. Cyberpunk 2077 is having a bit of a return to fashion on the back of Netflix’s Edgerunners anime, so this freebie is well-timed.
9th Level Games have also released their 2022 anthology Level 1. There are more than a dozen short RPGs from loads of indie creators. I recommend both.
Now, let’s do bundles and finish up on a Geek Native competition.
Lastly, and unusually generous, there’s a mega-bundle from Green Ronin for Mutants & Masterminds. You get about $500 worth of downloads for about $30, and you can get that from DriveThruRPG or Green Ronin.
As it happens, a highlight of my trip to Manchester last weekend was a surprise encounter with Green Ronin boss Chris Pramas who had been dislodged, like the rest of the country, from plans due to the historical event of the Queen’s death. That puts my need to research a train connection while hurtling towards the station in perspective, doesn’t it?
https://www.geeknative.com/146479/competition-win-chaos-curios-gamer-geek-candles/To wrap up, and with goodies I bought at Tabletop Scotland, I’ve some Chaos Curios candles to giveaway to listeners in the UK. Pop over to the blog to find out how to enter.
Oh, and the technical problems on the site seem to have settled down. Phew.
On that note, beware of travel and WordPress gremlins. I will see you next week,
Check the comments below to see what readers have to say.