Dead Gentlemen Productions and Zombie Orpheus Entertainment have been incredibly busy this past week. First is the official release of Attacking the Darkness (trailer below), which is a making-of documentary of the “totally real played straight this is not a comedy we swear actual real-life” film based on the Jack Chick Tract Dark Dungeons. This documentary explores the trials and issues faced by the filmmakers as they bring their dream project to life, a cautionary tale of the dangers of falling into the seductive Satanic pit of roleplaying games. The mockumentary was shot at the same time as Dark Dungeons and features much of the cast and crew in fictionalized or exaggerated versions of themselves.
Another trailer just came out for the next season of The Gamers, this one titled The Gamers: The Shadow Menace. The show follows a new cast of characters completing the tale from the very first series of The Gamers from 2002. Spoilers: The 2002 series ends with the characters entering the “real world” and killing the players playing their game. This series picks up that thread with the story passing into urban legend…until the original campaign notes are found by Megan (played by Anna Clausen) and attempts to finish the adventure the original crew started. Zombie Orpheus is hoping to turn this into an ongoing series, but still needs more support on their Patreon to continue production beyond the first three episodes.
Finally, a seven minute preview trailer of Strowlers, probably ZOE’s most ambitious series to date, came out this past week to promote the Kickstarter for the project. Strowlers is a shared fictional world with a semi-open license, allowing any creators to participate in this urban fantasy/alternate world tale. In this world, magic is real and heavily controlled by the government. Unsanctioned use of magic brings heavy penalties, with children taken from their parents at the first sign of powers to be raised by the State.
“Set in the modern day, it tells the stories of the dreamers, the outcasts, artists, and activists who exist on the magical fringe of society…While ‘magic’ is defined by most governments as arcanology – a predictable and inflexible branch of the sciences – Strowlers know that true magic is wilder, less predictable, and sometimes even has a mind of its own.”
The Kickstarter has already funded, meaning that more Strowlers will be coming with shooting locations including Seattle, Ireland, and Mongolia. What’s most unique about the project is that Strowlers is the open-world aspect. There is a $50 pledge level that gets you not just a signed DVD, streaming, and more, but also gets you access to the Strowlers World Bible, allow you to create your own stories in any media you choose within the Strowlers world within a very liberal license based off of Creative Commons. The campaign is fully funded with stretch goals adding even more content until Friday, Feburary 24.
Hasbro surprised investors, who expected a revenue drop-off after a weaker performance from competitor Mattel, by reporting a 13 percent net revenue growth in 2016. While the biggest growth was in their licensed toy brands (including Disney Princess and Frozen, Dreamworks’s Trolls, and Yo-Kai Watch), Magic: The Gathering received specific praise for its eighth straight year of growth by posting a nine percent increase in 2016. CEO Brian Goldner singled out Magic: The Gathering in his report as well as showing increasing faith in the “Magic Digital Next” initiative, which comes not long after a restructuring of Wizards of the Coast’s digital gaming department. Also announced, this will be the last report where Hasbro will separate brands by gender in financial reporting. Previous categories included “boys”, “girls”, “games”, and “preschool” which are being eliminated and replaced by categories for specific franchise brands, partner brands, Hasbro Gaming, and emerging brands. “We believe this is a more relevant and appropriate view of our business”.
One of the largest pieces of drama surrounding Wizard World may have come to a close as the convention giant and former Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Shamus have settled their lawsuit. Both the original claim from Wizard World and the counter-claim from Shamus have been closed, but no details of what the settlement includes have been released. It’s unlikely we’ll know the final outcome either as the conditions of the settlement will only be made public if it is requested by both parties that the court enforce the terms within 30 days. The original lawsuit was filed in October of 2016 with a counter-claim filed almost immediately, both sides alleging millions in damages.
Hasbro’s next round of the Family Game Challenge is live on IndieGoGo with the five finalist games active now. Several of the projects have already funded including Trash Pandas, Monsters in the Elevator, and Chibi Quest while two, Cloud Control and Aardvark’s Runaway Railroad, are both well short of their funding goals of $8500 and $6000 respectively. All five projects are running until Sunday, February 12.
A new report published in the scientific journal JAMA shows that playing board games can help prevent the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s. The four year long study involved over 2000 participants over the age of 70 and analyzed various hobby activities for their ability to stave off the effects of age-related disorders. Playing board games at least once per week showed a 22% reduction in diagnoses of Mild Cognitive Impairment, which was only topped by Social Activities (23%), Crafts (28%) and Computer Use (30%).
There’s a pair of gorgeous projects on Kickstarter right now turning standard gaming accessories into works of art. The first, The Dragon Tray, is a selection of twenty different dice tray designs in a variety of woods and finishes to complement any décor. They even range from the wear-my-gaming-on-my-sleeve styles of dragons, phoenixes, and other fantasy designs while others are just gorgeously crafted with designs that would fit with any home decorating scheme. Prices range from $99 to $229 depending on which options you choose, with price breaks for multiple purchases and even options for a full table or for completely custom designs. This project is fully funded and runs until Tuesday, February 21.
After getting a gorgeous dice tray for the centerpiece of your game night, why settle for the standard cardboard GM screen when you could have the Wyrmwood Magnetic Game Master Screen? This gamemaster screen comes in multiple wood choices and finishes and are expandable thanks to magnetic connections. The base screen available for $100 gets you three panels with magnetic hinges allowing you to configure it for portrait or landscape orientation individually for each panel. The middle panel also contains a double-sided rotating acrylic dry erase board, allowing you to flip the screen to show information to players. There are also add-ons for initiative trackers, dice towers, a tower of drawers for dice or miniature storage, and a lot more. This project is at more than 25 times its funding goal and runs until Tuesday, February 23.
If you need a game to play with your brand new quality art pieces, why not a heist game inspired by Lies of Locke Lamora, Leverage, and more? Dusk City Outlaws is the new system and setting from Rodney Thompson where the players taken on a group ready to pull a job. You play through the legwork, planning, and execution of the heist using a streamlined percentile-dice based system that includes custom D10s used to add complications – both positive and negative – to any scene. The boxed set of the game includes a 24 page Player’s Rulebook, 48 page Judge’s Rulebook, a 200 page setting book for New Dunhaven, character sheets, dice, tokens, and more. A PDF version is available for a $20 pledge, while the boxed set itself (including immediate access to a print-and-play version) is available for $65. You can even view a video from Saving Throw on YouTube now to get an idea of what to expect from the game. This project is very close to funding, but has plenty of time to reach its $65,000 goal as it runs until Tuesday, February 28.
That’s all from me for this week! Find more gaming news at the EN World News Network website, and don’t forget to support our Patreon to bring you even more gaming news content. If you have any news to submit, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow me on Twitter @Abstruse to listen to me lament insomnia or you can listen to the archives of the Gamer’s Tavern podcast. Until next time, may all your hits be crits! Note: Links to Amazon and/or DriveThru may contain affiliate links with the proceeds going to the author of this column.