Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition flirted early on with releasing digital tools when the edition was barely weeks old, but after that deal fell apart, there’s been nothing. Until this week when Wizards of the Coast announced a partnership with Curse Inc. (which is owned by Twitch, which is owned by Amazon) to create D&D Beyond. This new digital management program will allow character creation. While pricing has not been announced, it appears as though there will be free, subscription, and a la carte pricing depending on how many features and how much content you need. One thing that was announced is that the “free” level will include all SRD material, and that you will NOT be required to have an internet connection to use the app. You can find more information on the Wizards of the Coast website including a sign-up for the beta test.
Now, let’s talk new product announcements. The next official Wizards of the Coast product will be Tales of the Yawning Portal, which contains D&D 5e versions of many classic modules and adventures from throughout the history of Dungeons & Dragons. EN World has a two-page preview of The Sunless Citadel, originally published for D&D 3rd Edition in 2000. In addition, solicitations are beginning for two new Dungeons & Dragons products, but we don’t know exactly what they are yet as they’re only being listed under codenames “Dust” and “Midway”. Speculation abounds and our own Morrus thinks that “Dust” will be Fey based, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that “Midway” is going to be based on or around Eberron and its themes. Either way, you might consider looking to previous Unearthed Arcana articles, which the development team hasn’t been shy about admitting is a testing ground for potential new material. Such as the newest one, which covers Psionics by bringing back the Mystic class.
Pathfinder released details on the Bestiary 6 for Pathfinder. The hardcover will have more than 200 new monsters including several player character races. Announced are canine rougarou, the watery fey naiad, the crazed monkey goblin (which makes me wonder if I’ve been playing Pathfinder goblins wrong as I’ve kind of had them as a combination of crazed monkeys and the creatures from Gremlin), the Lovecraftian yaddithian, and Darklands-dwelling munavri. The book will also include beings from real-world mythology and folklore like Mephistopheles, Charon, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Wild Hunt, and Krampus plus a whole slew of new animal companions. The 320 page hardcover will be available in game stores and from Paizo this April, and in mass market outlets such as Amazon on May 9.
Starfinder is making some big waves at GAMA. First, the announcement of a partnership with Ninja Division to create a line of custom pre-painted miniatures for Starfinder. There’s no information as to how large the run will be, but it will include both character models and ship models to the same 1” scale for both ship and character grid combat. While no prototypes were available, renders from CAD files (without color) were presented at a panel. Also, art assets from the system were shown with four character models displayed. Whether these are simply assets or will be future Starfinder Iconics, we’ll know for sure by Gen Con.
Speaking of Gen Con, the largest gaming convention in the Western hemisphere if not the world, has a new president and CEO. David Hoppe is taking over the position of CEO of Gen Con effective immediately and will become President after this year’s convention. Meanwhile the former CEO, Adrien Swartout, will remain with Gen Con as President until after Gen Con 50 then will retire to a seat on the Board of Directors. Swartout navigated the convention out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and eventually doubled attendance numbers in her decade at the helm. Hoppe has previously worked Blastworks Inc, Xbox Live, Flashlight Creations, Wizards of the Coast, Upper Deck, and Tenacious Games.
Cool Mini or Not made two big hiring announcements this week. Eric M. Lang is the new Director of Game Design. In addition, Adrien Smith is the new Lead Artist on staff. Two big names in the industry along with a big licensing announcement, A Song of Ice and Fire Tabletop Miniature Game. The rules promise to scale from large battles to small skirmishes of the different Houses from the novel series by George RR Martin including iconic battlefield leaders such as Robb Stark and Jaime Lannister. The license is also for the novels, but not the television series, so don’t expect the miniatures to look like Kit Harington or Emilia Clarke. Also, the first wave will be based on the War of the Five Armies with the first miniatures being the troops of House Stark and House Lannister. A Kickstarter is planned for this fall with a release in 2018.
Green Ronin signed an exclusive distribution deal with Diamond Book Publishers for the book trade market. Now, before the word “exclusive” scares you, this will not affect independent game and comic stores, nor will it affect outlets such as Drive Thru. What this will do, however, is get Green Ronin products wider distribution into mainstream retail outlets and chain bookstores. This, combined with Green Ronin’s work with Geek & Sundry (they just posted a new blog from Matt Mercer talking about Critical Role and the forthcoming campaign setting book with an art preview), will put an even brighter spotlight on Green Ronin. Which can make one wonder what other big announcements they may have coming soon.
Catalyst Game Labs announced two new Shadowrun games, a card game titled Shadowrun Zero Day and a board game titled Shadowrun: The Board Game. Shadowrun Zero Day pits deckers head-to-head in a Matrix battle where resource management will be key. The game will premiere at Origins with a retail price of $19.99. Shadowrun: The Board Game puts you in charge of a runner team where you build your team, get gear, send them on missions, and level up to get more nuyen. The game is set for a Gen Con release with no official retail price yet, but it’s expected to be in the $50 to $60 range.
ICv2 sales reports are in for Fall 2016. Top 5 Collectible Games aren’t a surprise: Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, Yu Gi Oh, Star Wars Destiny, and HeroClix. Top 10 Board Games definitely show the season with Scythe, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Mansions of Madness higher than normal, but Pandemic still takes the top spot. The Top 5 Non-Collectible Miniature Games are also not that surprising: Star Wars X-Wing, Warhammer 40K, Warmachine, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, and Hordes. The Top 10 Dice and Card Games list is topped by Cards Against Humanity with the third party expansion Crabs Adjust Humidity actually topping Munchkin on the list. The Top 5 Roleplaying Games are also probably no surprise to anyone: Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Star Wars, Shadowrun, and Call of Cthulhu. This marks the eighth straight fiscal year of growth in the tabletop gaming industry and, according to early reports, the holiday shopping season may just push numbers to an all-time high.
With convention season starting up and the rise of gaming cafes across the country, I wanted to take a moment and remind you that a lot of smaller conventions and start-up businesses turn to Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to build capital for their locations. I tend not to cover them very often because, honestly, no one outside Reno is going to care about a new board game café, most of you won’t care about the Game Knight Geek Bar in Denver or the Mac & Chess Café in Denver, and few outside the Cincinnati area would be interested in CinCityCon this October. However, crowdfunding is becoming more and more the way for these conventions and businesses to start and grow, and most of the rewards include exclusive bonuses, reduced pass prices, discount vouchers, or other benefits, so it’s worth your while to check every once in a while to see if there’s something in your area deserving of your investment.
Michael Surbrook is fresh off his work on the award winning Aaron Allston’s Strike Force, and he’s putting his archivist skills to his next book, Ghosts, Ghouls, and Golems. This sourcebook for Hero System, Savage Worlds, and Mutants & Masterminds is of a similar style of his previous work, Larger Than Life. This time, rather than taking tall tales, he’s bringing our deepest fears of what goes bump in the night and helping you bring them to your games with monsters based on real-life legends with a keen eye to maintaining authenticity to historical reports, stories, and legends. A $10 pledge gets you the PDF, while a $25 pledge gets a physical copy (and a few higher pledge levels for special numbered limited editions), and several add-ons are available for Hero Lab files for creatures in this book and for previous books by Michael Surbrook including Kazei 5, Fantasy Hero Complete, and more. This project is already almost halfway to its funding goal in just a couple of days and has until Thursday, April 13 to reach its $4000 goal, with a $4500 stretch goal for Pathfinder and D&D versions of these monsters as well.
Stewart Wieck’s Nocturnal Media is releasing an expansion to Gladiator: Quest of the Rudis. This expansion includes four new gladiators with four ranks for each: The Bestiarii, Dimachaeri, Hoplomachi, and Noxii. There’s even more decks for stretch goals waiting to be unlocked. A $45 pledge gets you all the new decks, a $50 pledge gets you the original core game, while an $85 pledge gets you both. If you’re familiar with the White Wolf founder’s previous crowdfunding, you know they usually go fast and this one’s no exception, having funded in two days and only running until this Tuesday, March 21.
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 where I’m…honestly, probably talking about all the Twitch streams going on from Stacey Roy’s Table of Terror on Saturday night, Dodger of Zion’s 12 hour marathon stream on Friday, or the Saving Throw Spring Formal 24 hour stream on Friday. Because I am a crazy person and will try to be at all of them. You can also 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.