This is Audio EXP for the 8th of August 2020, and the title of this episode is ‘Outside D&D’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #56]
The last time we spoke, I was talking to you while Gen Con Online was running. Now we know 40,000 gamers attended the event.
In a fortnight, Virtually Expo, the online version of the UK Games Expo will be with us, and if regret missing Gen Con Online, then this might be the one to lure you in.
Or, if you’d rather keep it strictly indie and low key, then I want to give Nerdburger Con Online a shoutout too. Nerdburger is the publisher of Capers, superheroes in the roaring twenties RPG.
I said last week that we would tackle the start of the month goodies in this podcast. It’s been a busy news week so let’s dig in.
The start of the month means the September poll for the RPG Publisher Spotlight is open. If you’re a site patron then there are five indie creators or publishers to vote on and the winner, you guessed it, will get a write-up in September.
The candidates are;
The winner this month is Trollhalla Press. Now, I do have an email address for owner Ken St Andre, and I’ve tried to get in touch. So, we’ll see what I can do as I think it’ll be great to speak to Ken for the Spotlight. If it’s not possible, we’ll still put something together.
Two competitions are running on the site right now. The first is for a card game called Gameception. Sorry to say, this competition is restricted to the UK because the postage and packaging costs have been pre-paid.
Gameception is a game you play at the same time as other games. If you’re playing Gameception then you’ve some cards with actions and points. If someone else does one of those actions while you’re playing the other game, then you reveal your card and score the points.
For example, if you have a card that says “Walks away from the table” if someone walks away from the table, then you’ll get the points on that card.
The other competition is open to anywhere DriveThruRPG is accessible, and it is for a PDF download. Fainting Goat Games have an amazing looking post-apocalypse setting called The After.
In The After, the powerful aliens that conquered Earth and all but destroyed humanity have moved on.
There are some survivors out in the wilds, in sparsely populated areas such as what was once the North American frontier.
The war is over. The enemy has gone. Reclaim the Earth.
The After uses the Savage Worlds Adventure Edition as a system, so you’ll need a copy of that to get the most out of the setting.
So, that’s a roleplaying system that isn’t D&D 5e. This week, Roll20 released their quarterly industry report on which games people are playing on their platform.
We don’t get user numbers, but Roll20 says the numbers are booming. That won’t be a surprise, many of us have just gone through months of lockdown, and both regular and occasional tabletop games have gone online.
In percentage terms, though, D&D 5e dominates. 53% of all campaigns played on Roll20 this quarter are D&D 5e.
The next most significant chunk, 16.5% are uncategorized games. Many of these will be homebrew.
After that, can you guess what the next most popular RPG is? It’s Call of Cthulhu, but only if you add all the editions together and there are seven of those. Call of Cthulhu has an 8.5% share of campaigns in Roll20.
Then it’s Pathfinder at 4%, then Pathfinder 2 at 1.5% and then it’s D&D 3.5 with 1.3%.
Yep, D&D 3.5 gets played on Roll20 more times than the combined World of Darkness games, the combined Warhammer games and even Star Wars.
Of course, Roll20’s has a specific demographic, and you might speculate older gaming groups or gamers who don’t need character sheet management online, rule checkups or virtual maps might have jumped straight to Discord, Skype or Google Meet.
Certainly, the last time Fantasy Grounds shared their stats, we could see that Savage Words was pretty popular. Savage Worlds has only just now come to Roll20, so that’s a good example of a genuine case where Roll20’s data is not representative of all gamers.
However, Roll20’s data is statistically significant and good enough for market analysis.
This week, Geek Native covered lots of new product releases, and many of those were not D&D. So, in the RPG section of this podcast, I’m going to talk about a few of those.
It’s perfectly fine to only play D&D. Many people can’t find a gaming group in the first place and many others prefer only needing to deal with one system. However, if you’re looking for gaming outside D&D then it’s good to know you have plenty of choices.
First up is a new indie studio called Thought Police Interactive.
They have several products in alpha or beta playtest. Perhaps leading the way is their Motif Story Engine, which is already an electrum best seller at DriveThruRPG.
I think all four are interesting in their own right. This week, though, Thought Police Interactive’s lead developer faces homelessness, and their partner has been hospitalised. There’s no charity appeal here but what Thought Police Interactive have done is put together some very attractive bundles for you.
Just over $10 will get you their entire suite of products and a whole bunch more already announced. That’s the bottom end of the scale. At the top, there’s a $199 tier which will get you lifetime access to all their games, even at-cost printing coupons.
Another bundle that’s worth a look at if you’re quick enough is the Lebanese Red Cross Relief Fund at Itch.io.
At the time of writing, $10 will get you 52 indie RPGs. This bundle closes very soon because, after the blast that ripped apart Beruit’s docks, the money is needed urgently.
I’ll list just a few of the games there. There’s a hex-crawl for Mothership called The Last Nebula, a game called Vultures about bounty hunters in a corrupt system that Geek Native looked at earlier and I rather liked, there’s Ghost Orbit by Bad Quail Games and Here Lies Death Gods by Maria Mison.
Authors Ben Costa and James Parks have a young adult graphic novel series called Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo about an animated skeleton and his friends exploring a ruined world, finding evidence of a better life before and trying to understand the mystery of his own existence.
Costa and Parks have an RPG based on the series in playtest and, for now, it’s a Pay What You Want with a recommended price of $0.00. It’s called Land of Eem, and it comes in a bundle that includes a sandbox for an area known as the Used T’Be Forest and an impressive map of the Mucklands.
That’s all free now. I usually encourage people to pay something for a Pay What You Want, but I don’t often see a recommended $0 price tag suggested by the authors.
I suspect, though, that Land of Eem won’t be free forever.
Tin Star Games have worked with Indie Press Revolution to make a physical copy of Relics available to purchase.
In Relics, you play as a fallen angel.
By choice, you left heaven and lost your powers. Why? To help humanity in a war against the demons. It was the right thing to do, you felt.
Now, god is gone. You’re locked out of heaven. The war has not been won. Your powers are starting to return… but so is the power of the demons.
Sound interesting? While you can get the book at Indie Press Revolution, there is a Pay What You Want at DriveThruRPG too if you want to take a closer look before jumping in.
EN Publishing released Stronitium Dog for their Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD. That uses their WOIN system, What Is Old Is New.
Strontium Dog is a strange comic at times, but essentially it features a mutant called Johnny Alpha who is a bounty hunter. In this bleak future, Britain has mutants thanks to strontium fallout after a nuclear war and pretty much the only job they’re allowed to do is the dangerous business of being a bounty hunter.
The RPG was written by Darren Pearce, John White and Marc Langworthy. Now, Marc Langworthy gets a second mention because his company, Red Scar Publishing, is helping Dark Horse Comics and Mantic Games make a new Hellboy RPG.
The first Hellboy RPG used GURPS and was published by Steve Jackson Games. I rather liked it, but I had a good GURPS GM all those years ago.
This new Hellboy will use 5e.
What do you think about that?
Mantic Games have been very good and speedy to highlight all the adaptations they and Red Scar have made. There’s a whole new Doom mechanic, for example.
Last week, we talked about Fantasy Flight Games handing over their RPGs to sister studio Edge. Well, this week, Fantasy Flight Games announced two more books for the Legend of the Five Rings.
There’s the adventure Blood of the Lioness and the sourcebook Fields of Victory. Fields of Victory introduce warfare rules for Rokugan.
Now, I’m not surprised that FFG are still blogging about L5R games. If they’ve gone to print, they need to be sold. Asmodee also wants to keep the game live. Right now, though, Edge isn’t in the place to communicate with fans.
This week also sees the 20th Anniversary of Death in Freeport. That was the first-ever adventure under D&D 3’s OGL. It won at the first ever ENnies and it one Origins’ Best Adventure.
Death in Freeport has just come to 5e now, bringing with it the Valor Domain, Buccaneers, Alley-rats and Serpentkin.
We’re even getting a new gaming magazine. It’ll be called Arcadia and it’ll come from Matt Colville’s company MCDM.
It’ll have a D&D focus, and it’ll probably cost $5 and be available via Patreon. Coville will have some, but not heavy involvement. His time is already limited.
Colville’s been pretty up-front about the magazine calling it a three-issue test. If Arcadia doesn’t move the needle on MCDM’s finances, then I don’t think it’ll continue.
In comic books, Vampire: The Masquerade – Winter’s Teeth is now out. Made by Vault Comics, this is official World of Darkness, and each issue has stats on NPCs and their powers from Modiphius. They’re the publishers of Vampire 5e.
Here’s a media type we don’t yet often talk about – audio games. Amazon and Paizo worked together on a Starfinder game.
Now, the pilot has been out for a while. Geek Native’s even blogged about expansions to it.
That pilot must have passed the test because Amazon got Audible Studios involved. They then cast 13 voice actors. Anyone we know?
Well, yes. Laura Bailey from Critical Role and The Last of Us is in the cast. Nathan Fillion from Firefly, Castle, Destiny 2 and a host of great roles has a part too!
I’m impressed. I’ve not tried it yet, despite having an Alexa. It costs $1.99 an episode or $9.99 for the season.
That doesn’t mean D&D hasn’t been dabbling with new media. Wizards of the Coast has given Manticore Games a license to use the D&D brand in Core.
What’s Core? It’s a system that lets people make and design computer games with the same relative ease Twitch lets you set up your own gaming channel.
That’s the theory. To try and prove to us, the D&D community, that it works they’ve put on a big competition for PAX Online. Between now and then we can use Core for free and have a go.
If we submit the adventure we’ve designed to the system, then Manticore will pay the charity Extra Life $100. There are prizes for the best, and the top price is a $5,000 Amazon gift card.
Since we have slid back to D&D, let me quickly mention that a new Unearthed Arcana is out.
In it, there’s the Bard class’s College of Spirits in which you end up telling actual ghost stories to freak out your enemies or channel the powers of those actual ghosts to your allies.
There’s also The Undead as a patron for Warlocks. So, yeah, you want Strahd as your Patron? You can do that now.
I’m going to loop back to the World of Darkness to finish up. I played a demo of a computer game called Heart of the Forest which I enjoyed very much.
It’s a Werewolf: The Apocalypse game from a company called Different Tales. The Different Tales team is led by designers who worked on The Witcher computer game.
The demo was the best “Choose Your Own Adventure” I’ve ever played. There are a few stats and character generation is a prologue in which the actions your build. In my first playthrough, I was angry, bold and aggressive. I ended up with all the rage and no cunning whatsoever.
The game opens by describing a short bus trip to the wild forest you’ve been dreaming about and want to visit. I had pretty much run out of willpower before getting off that bus, just because I was trying not to be too confrontational with the other passengers.
It was great. I enjoyed the experience, but I also liked how strictly the computer acted as moderator. If I wanted to get those willpower points back, then I needed to stay in character and follow my urges. That resulted, of course, in more impatient and angry decisions.
The whole game is due out at the end of the year, I don’t think you need to have any World of Darkness or Werewolf experience to play it. I’m looking forward to it very much.
And on that note, let’s call it a wrap. Keep safe, keep well and see you next week.
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