This is Audio EXP for the 10th of October 2020, and the title of this episode is ‘RPG news and other surprises’.
[The following is a transcript of Audio EXP: #65]
Oftentimes we begin this podcast with some stats. Don’t worry, we’re doing to do that again here.
The difference is these aren’t my stats. Geek Native’s weird stats usually come from polls run to support competitions on the site. It’s been a busy working week, primarily due to the re-tightening of restrictions in Scotland and the UK due to that virus and in terms of competitions all Geek Native did this week was to wrap two and get in contact with the winners. So, as a result, no fresh stats from me.
Thankfully, as Halloween and the festive shopping season approaches, my inbox gets busy with pitch emails from PR, SEO and outreach agencies. They write to Geek Native because they hope they’ll get a mention on the site or a link for their efforts on Google.
Usually, it doesn’t work. All too often there’s deception involved, and people write in pretending to want to write for free to boost their portfolio or otherwise fail to disclose they’ve a commercial relationship with one of the brands they want to write about it.
It’s a bit of a minefield.
These stats come from a company that approached me in the right way. They did so honestly, and they found a topic that I thought might interest readers.
The company is Thortful, they sell thoughtful cards, and the topic they picked is scary and not-so-scary movies. They’ve gone through the search results for “Horror” on IMDB and rated the matching movies by best or worst scores.
Both those top 10s, most and least highly rated are on the blog. I’ll give you the top five for each.
Here are the worst-ranked horror movies in the reverse order, so we finish on the absolute worst.
- I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
- The Doll Comes Home
- Jaws 3-D
- The Devil Inside
- Prom Night
There are two slashers in that bottom tier, two supernatural stories and one thriller.
Here’s the top five, again in reverse order, so we finish at the highest rank horror movie. Any idea of what it is going to be?
- A Quiet Place
- The Exorcist
- Get Out
- The Shining
That’s right, Alien is the highest-ranked horror movie according to IMDB.
There’s one thriller in the top five, one comedy horror – that’s Get Out – one supernatural and two sci-fis. Good job, sci-fi.
Let’s stick with Halloween for a bit. I’ve been busy with Kickstarter coverage since we last spoke. The usual rule of thumb about not doing more than one Kickstarter post a day as been put on pause, so readers don’t lose out on Early Bird deals and the like.
Of all the Kickstarters, I’m going to call out Nazi Dracula Must Die!
Why pick another 5e game? Well, it’s a quirky 5e micro-setting, and it’s an excuse to remind the world that the Nazis are the baddies.
In Crystal Quill Press’ setting the Nazis have brewed up monsters, dabbled in the supernatural and put together a horrific army in which to try and take over the world.
Dracula is supporting the Nazi effort, lending his legions and undead troops to the invasion.
The allies of the resistance, though, have some tricks of their own with elite squads of supernaturally talented soldiers and agents to fight back.
We go from 5e to Wizards of the Coast and then to Hasbro, and stick with crowdfunding, as we get to the biggest story of the week. My hunch is that this could change the landscape of tabletop games. Let me try and persuade you.
The story is this; in the UK, the online retailer Zavvi is letting people pre-order HeroQuest.
On the surface, this is a big story because Hasbro wasn’t prepared to work outside the United States and Canada for their $1million crowdfunding campaign for the iconic board game.
Now, for £150, people in the UK can get involved.
I think it’s a more important story, though.
Simply put, Hasbro’s crowdfunding campaign is still going. Yes, the target was met within 24 hours, but stretch goals are still a thing. Speak to any experienced gamer, and they’ll remind you that backing a crowdfunding campaign is not the same as a pre-order.
Now, Zavvi, here in the UK, have presented this as a pre-order.
At the start of the year, authorities suspended trading in CMON. One of the problems there was Kickstarter pledges, and it’s weird state of being both money the company did and did not have.
What it looks like Zavvi are doing is collecting money from people, or perhaps even fronting it themselves as a business cost – maybe they got a discount – and then contributing that to Hasbro Pulse as a mass pledge.
I suspect conversations with both lawyers and accountants were involved.
I hope it’s a glitch-free and commercial success for everyone.
And that’s the next point I want to make. What if this mass-pledge coordinated by a retailer is a glitch-free and commercial success for everyone?
Wouldn’t that make it more likely to happen again?
Would Zavvi do this for the next Gloomhaven supplement? Would a bookshop reach out to an RPG publisher who doesn’t traditionally do shipping outside America, someone like Evil Hat, and offer a similar deal?
The possibilities are interesting.
Let’s stick with the tabletop for a while before we get on to topics from the TV screen.
Sad Press has made the early access edition of The Shrike RPG available for free.
The game is a mix between solo RPG gamebooks and games like The Quiet Year. This means you can play some adventures by yourself and do others with friends.
In the 131-paged steampunk game, The Shrike is the name of an airship from which you have your adventures and have a crew to manage.
A deck of playing cards is used, with dice, to help determine random events that happen on your travels.
The Wildsea a tabletop game in development that’s already been mentioned on Audio EXP has some news too.
It’s a fantasy game which is very far removed from Tolkien. Playable races, for example, include a colony of spiders or sentient fungus.
The world is one in which a magical forest runs wild, covering everything and regrowing amazingly quickly. Characters are wild sailors who travel the tree-tops in chainsaw-powered boats.
There’s a new playtest demo out for The Wildsea, which is free. The game will be coming to Kickstarter, and it has a publisher in the shape of Mythopoeia.
Did you know that the Monster Manual wasn’t the first book of monsters for D&D 3?
That honour goes to the Creature Collection for Scarred Lands.
Scarred Lands is now managed by Onyx Path Publishing, as is the case for many of the projects White Wolf had some involvement with and has gone 5e.
You can write and sell your own content for it too, you can do your own monster book if you wanted. The community content program is called the Slarecian Vault, but it’s limited to the central setting near the city of Ghelspad.
Well, that’s about to change. After the Frostlands of Fenrilik goes to market, Onyx Path will let community content writers produce and sell books stuffed full of encounters, monsters and rules for the frozen north of the Scarred Lands.
I wanted to highlight Godsforsaken from Monte Cook Games.
It’s a multi-fantasy setting from Monte Cook himself and Sean K. Renolds that uses the Cypher System. That’s a system that sits high on my favourite RPG engines at the minute as it is quick while also finding a nice blend of crunch and narration.
You can get a free preview of Godforsaken from Monte Cook Games’ store already, or pre-order the book.
I’m calling it a multi-fantasy setting because Cook hopes the game will let the Cypher System be used in the full gambit of fantasy sub-genres; from high fantasy, urban fantasy, whimsical fantasy, even wuxia and low fantasy.
Characters explore out from their god protected domains and into the Godforsaken realms, hence the name, and thus the reason why so many different genres can fit in one setting. It depends on which Godforsaken domain you visit.
Before we leave the RPG news section, let’s talk about doing Tolkien better than most Tolkien inspired fantasy romps do. Let’s talk about Under Hill, By Water by Rise Up Comus.
In the game, you play one of the little folk, a hairy-foot half-man pastiche of the British gentry and your idea of an adventure is chasing a goat out of the orchard.
This, Rise Up Comus argues, exactly how Hobbits should be in the Shire and the world of Tolkien. Halflings don’t willingly venture into dungeons in search of gold.
And so, in Under Hill, By Water, you play a gossiping hobbit who wants to keep their home clean.
However, that’s not to say life is uneventful. After you create your character and the GM makes the village, the final section of the book is finding out what random events might disrupt that pastoral life.
Now, there are some TV shows worth talking about to finish up, and I think we can segway through a short film called Percival.
Percival is a few minutes long and stars Jason Kingsley as the Arthurian knight.
Kingsley is the co-owner of Rebellion Publishing. They do games like Sniper Elite and comic books like 2000 AD. That means they own Judge Dredd.
They’ve owned RPG publishers in the past and are back in the tabletop market with Rebellion Unplugged.
But Pervical isn’t just about letting Kingsley LARP in his carefully made and historically accurate armour. It’s a demo of the technology that Rebellion Studios has been working on.
It’s a virtual production. It’s more than a green screen. You’ll see that straight away in short as Kingsley’s face lights up as light sources move. The behind the scenes footage, in a second video, explains why the technology isn’t just about saving money, it’s about saving time.
With a virtual production filmmakers can control more variables. So they can do filming that seems to be outside and in a forest without worrying whether day two from the set will be exactly the same light level as the slightly overcast day before.
It could be big business.
I was reminded of how big business anime has become from an infographic of most searched for Netflix anime around the world which Geek Native posted this week.
About a half-a-dozen anime make up the list with shows like Beastars, Blame! and Castlevania getting a look in. However, the chances are pretty high at the most searched for Netflix anime in your country is The Seven Deadly Sins.
I suspect the reason for that is due not just to hype about the next series but because of concern about it too. Netflix changed studios for this season. Fans grumbled about some of the trailers and early episodes.
But I liked it and gave it a matching rating in the Irregular Reconnaissance: Anime column.
Speaking of which, the latest IR, number 75 is a bit of a rulebreaker. It’s the start of a new season at Crunchyroll I used IR: 75 to share first opinions of five first episodes of the new shows.
First up is Jujutsu Kaisen in which an athletic high schooler swallows a cursed finger so he can use the power of the curse to defeat another. I think it’ll be this season’s hit.
We’ll have to see if it becomes anything more than just an action anime, whether it digs deeper into the occult and horror but for now, it has an IR rating of Good.
Next is Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon. This is the surprise sequel to Inuyasha, an old but still popular anime in which a young woman from our time falls into a fantasy world and goes on adventures with a dog-demon.
My concern was that I never got to the end of Inuyasha, despite enjoying it. However, Yashahime seems to be written to please people with and without knowledge of the original.
I’ve also given it an IR rating of Good.
Then there’s Tonikawa: Over The Moon For You, which was billed as a romantic comedy, about two people getting married at the age of 18 as complete strangers.
The first episode did have romance, but there was also quite a lot of blood involved!
I’m surprised, liked it more than I thought I would, but am worried how it can last a whole season like that. As a result, I’m giving it an IR rating of Good but with a cautious note.
Second from last, is I’m Standing on a Million Lives, which is another show about people coming from our world and into a computer-game like world.
It had a surprise Attack on Titan-esq scene. It has elements of Re: ZERO too, but doesn’t appear to be as dark or brutal as those two.
I think it’ll have to work hard to stand out in what’s already a crowded genre, but I’m optimistic. I’ve given it an IR rating of Average for now.
The last anime I looked at in this IR column was Sport Climbing Girls. Okay, in part that was to see how responsible the animators treated drawing young women in spandex. I wouldn’t usually watch sports anime.
I was pleasantly surprised, yes, there were some shots of curves, but the focus was, as far as I could tell, pretty much on the people and the sport.
I’ll keep watching and awarded it another IR Average rating.
To finish the podcast, I’m sticking with animation but skipping over to American comic books in the form of Invincible.
Invincible is a violent superhero story from Robert Kirkman. That’s the guy who did The Walking Dead.
Amazon Prime Video will be running the animated series, and the official trailer is now out. There are hints that the show might show some brutal fights and injuries, but it doesn’t cross the line.
It’s due out in 2021.
Before we go, just a reminder for Geek Native Patrons to vote in the RPG Publisher Spotlight, the candidates are;
And on that note, let’s call it a wrap. Keep safe and stay out of melee range. See you next week.
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