This is Audio EXP for the 25th of January 2020, and the title of this episode is ‘Another D&D leak’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #28]
Let’s talk about leaks. Audio EXP is Geek Native’s highlights show, and in the few months the podcast has been going for I’ve noticed how often this means talking about news that no one planned for.
Last week that meant wrapping up on the news of the D&D leak that turned out to be Matt Mercer’s Critical Role book for Wizards of the Coast.
It’s a complete surprise that a headline from this week is another D&D leak.
First, though, let’s be clear about the word ‘leak’. Other people and I have been using it as a shorthand. We mean ‘news that was not officially announced’, or unscheduled and unexpected news.
That’s a bit a loose definition, I know. I think ‘leak’ might sometimes refer to situations where an insider is deliberately and covertly breaking secrets. That’s not what is going on with Wizards of the Coast.
The Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount leak happened because retailers put bits and pieces of information up early and gamers noticed.
The same thing has happened again but on a different scale.
The London Toy Fair was on this week, and in it, distributors had D&D games that neither Hasbro nor Wizard of the Coast had told us about.
There are two new names; Dungeons & Dragons: Adventurer’s Gate and Dungeons & Dragons: Adventure Begins. In all likelihood, this is the same game. It’s a board game that uses 5e classes and appears to be a gateway product into D&D proper.
No doubt we’ll get some clarification shortly, either through Hasbro who are making the game or through the distributors responsible for shipping it and selling it to stores.
Amazingly, that wasn’t the only leak this week. Fantasy Flight Games seemed to have one for their The Lord of the Rings: Journeys into Middle-earth expansion.
The game had had expansions before, just not for a while and had it not been for that then maybe no one would have arched an eyebrow when Australian games site The Gamesmen had a listing for Shadowed Paths.
Shadowed Paths isn’t announced yet, but now we know it’ll expand Journeys in Middle-earth and with a focus on the dark places. You know, the Mines of Moria and Mirkwood, those sorts of places.
There was even other D&D news that I think is even more dramatic than a leak. DC Comics is getting back into D&D and doing D&D 5e for the first time.
They have a fantasy comic book series called The Last God on the DC Black Label. That means it’s a mature series, for readers 17 and up. DC’s announcement is that The Last God sourcebook will explore the world a bit more and offer up 5e stats for things.
I think it’s a great idea, but I think there’s going to be a problem with expectations.
My prediction is that this will be a comic book. Thin paper. A two dozen or so pages, maybe twice that, but certainly not even close to a standard softcover RPG world book.
So, why is it a great idea? I’m biased as a gamer, of course, but I think this is a superb way to bring a fantasy realm to life for readers and to get those readers to invest in it.
I think it’s a low risk, and high rewards gamble from DC, although a higher risk for The Last God series itself. The worst case is that one comic book doesn’t sell. The best case is that The Last God becomes a popular 5e setting complete with Twitch streams and supplements.
In contrast, this week also had news that Modiphius had partnered with Arkane Studios do launch a Dishonored RPG this year.
Modiphius seem to be kings of the license. If it’s not bolted down, they’re pitching for it and seem to win more often than not. The exception might be Werewolf going to Hunters.
Dishonored is a steampunk computer RPG from Arkane Studios and was popular with gamers. The tabletop RPG is going to be a 300-paged deluxe hardcover that comes complete with custom dice and cards. So, that’s the contrast with DC’s The Last God.
I imagine it’s a non-trivial investment for both Modiphius and Arkane, but I can’t imagine what success looks like for them. How many copies have to sell? How will the two companies coordinate to market it?
Modiphius has a lot of balls in the air. EN World asked their legion of readers what the most anticipated RPGs of 2020 are and Modiphius titles came up twice.
Here’s the list;
- 10th place – Cortex Prime by Fandom Tabletop (that’s the same company who run D&D Beyond)
- 9th place – Fading Suns 4th edition by Ulisses Spiele
- 8th place – Stargate Roleplaying Game by Wyvern Gaming
- 7th place – Rivers of London by Chaosium
- 6th place – Swords of the Serpentine by Pelgrane Press
- 5th place – Warhammer: Age of Sigmar by Cubicle 7 (that’s the Soulbound RPG)
- 4th place – Fallout by Modiphius
- 3rd place – Cyberpunk RED by R. Talsorian Games (slightly odd this wasn’t higher)
- 2nd place – Vaesen – Nordic Horror Roleplaying by Free League Publishing (this shows the amazing reputation Free League have made for themselves)
- 1st place – Dune by Modiphius (we know almost nothing about this game, but there it is in the top spot)
Let’s pick up on Cyberpunk RED being in third place. I think if you asked a random internet sample, rather than EN World’s D&D leaning readers, this game would have been higher.
Why? Just because it’s so closely connected to Cyberpunk 2077, the now delayed computer game sequel.
There’s also that connection to The Witcher. CD Projekt Red is the company behind both computer games and the Netflix The Witcher series is red hot right now.
I’m sure the free adventure will remind everyone that you can actually play Cyberpunk Red with the jumpstart kit released last year. That jumpstart kit was DriveThruRPG’s biggest seller.
The new The Witcher errata is coming out simply because R. Talsorian Games are about to do a second print run of the game and were, wisely, looking for errors to correct before they did so.
Netflix announced not just a second season of The Witcher but that animated movie called The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is being worked on. Both are great news for the RPG.
There are a few more bits of Netflix news that caught my attention this week. First up was the Altered Carbon 2 teaser. I’m pleased that Poe actor Chris Conner is back. I’ve not read the book, so I can’t tell whether that’s a surprise or not.
It’ll be Anthony (the Falcon) Mackie playing Takeshi Kovacs this time, thanks to the genre’s body-swapping tech.
The other bit of news is that Netflix, in Europe, and some other parts of the world but not America or Japan, finally got their hands on Studio Ghibli titles. 21 classics. This will be a big help in the battle against Disney+ as it rolls out around the world.
Oh, Disney announced Disney+ would be launching a week earlier than planned here in the UK. It’s almost as if they’re worried about spoilers or pirates.
An area in which I think Netflix has an advantage over Disney+ is the flexibility of brand. Disney is going to struggle with adult content. That’s why there’s so much discussion over what happens with Deadpool.
For example, we know Games Workshop is working on a Warhammer 40K TV series. I see that going to Amazon Prime Videos or Netflix. I struggle to see it on Disney+, for lots of reasons.
Speaking of Games Workshop’s media ambitions; this week they slyly announced a new show.
It’s true. A Games Workshop blog post about idents quoted their own head of media saying they were working on a new show and not to quote him. But they quoted him anyway.
Not a howl-up, surely. So surely an announcement of a new show?
Games Workshop isn’t the only British success to be in the news this week. Rebellion, the computer game makers and owners of Judge Dredd and 2000 AD are too.
In this case, they’re in the news via The Treasure of British Comics which is a 150 or so year old collection of British comic books, they bought and are now republishing.
Geek Native has a timeline of their 2020 releases, and you’ll find that in the show notes or via the transcript of this show which you can get to by searching for Geek Native Audio EXP 28.
Let’s wrap up with some quick RPG news headlines.
Green Ronin will bring Freeport to Fantasy AGE. The announcement was made by Chris Pramas in Green Ronin’s 20th-anniversary statement.
Freeport was the fantasy setting that put Green Ronin firmly on the map. Fantasy AGE is the system Pramas designed. In retrospect, it’s weird it’s taken so long for the two to meet.
We had two excellent guest posts on the site this week as well. Ben and the Genre Police addressed music in tabletop games as a way of making them better and more memorable.
B. Everett Dutton shared their thoughts into why emotion is the new frontier for TTRPGs, took some critical swipes at some big title RPGs but found a reason for optimism in the indie scene.
Lastly, I want to be selfish and finish up on some data Geek Native put together. On the site now is an animated bar chart battle showing the twenty most decorated tabletop publishers. In this case, we’re counting gold ENnies as decorations.
The animated results show bar charts growing and sliding into position as the years tick over from 2001. Paizo Publishing, the company behind Pathfinder, have a dominant lead but Wizards of the Coast have been more popular in recent years.
That’s a wrap for this week. Take care.
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