News Digest: End of Empyrea,
  • News Digest: Empyrea Canceled, New Stranger Things Game, Warhammer 40K Comics, and more!


    Hello, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news. The Empyrea Kickstarter has been canceled amid controversy, statistical analysis of what we're playing on D&D, Stranger Things gets a card game, a new Warhammer 40K comic book, and more!


    First, a correction. Last week I reported on a controversy involving comments from The Dice Tower founder Tom Vasel. I wrote that The Dice Tower shares ownership with online retailer Cool Stuff Inc. This is inaccurate. Cool Stuff Inc. only shares ownership with the yearly convention Dice Tower Con and is a sponsor, not an owner, of The Dice Tower podcasts and video shows. I apologize for the error.


    Late on the evening of October 18, the third update was posted to Frank Mentzer’s Empyrea Fantasy Setting Kickstarter announcing its cancellation. The full update is available in the link, and while there are no specific reasons given for the cancellation, the post speaks of many issues frequently brought up with Kickstarters and crowdfunding in the tabletop game industry. From support for local game stores to variety of content to vague talk of “hostilities” regarding different game systems, the post comments on much but doesn’t give a definitive answer to why the project is being cancelled outside the statement “Thus, I will not use crowdfunding to circumvent the hobby for my personal benefit.”

    However, at the time of cancellation, the project only managed to raise $61,887 of a $250,000. To be so far from a base funding goal in such a large campaign is usually a sign to pull the plug and it’s frequent for many companies to cancel campaigns rather than risk them completing without funding due to the time and cost to promote a crowdfunding campaign and the “bad look” of a failed campaign. Usually, such campaigns are repackaged and reworked with either a lower funding goal (especially with projects as ambitious as the Empyrea project) or the projects move forward with different revenue streams if at all.

    The cancellation also comes shortly after former Paizo Project Manager and Gen Con Industry Insider Jessica Price posted a Twitter thread speaking of Frank Mentzer’s 2015 interactions with her and an unnamed friend. The thread describes and has screenshots of Mentzer’s “gross” interactions on Facebook following a convention and a later interaction where he reportedly blamed the victim of a sexual assault for her own attack, describing her as “sick” and needing to “get help”. After blocking Mentzer on Facebook, he made a vague public post referencing the interaction with “an established industry professional” blocking him, further stating, “Be sure your Great Cause is worth it. If you’re going to slam and lock a door, be sure you’re never going to need it again.” After this thread was posted, several members of the Empyrea team resigned, including designer Ted Fauster (who wrote a long blog post about his resignation), crowdfunding engineer Mike Myler, and Kevin Wilson (who was credited on the Kickstarter page only as “Business”)

    Update: Mike Myler resigned from the Empyrea project before Jessica Price's posts for unrelated reasons. This is the statement from his website: All of my campaign settings are the result of crowdfunded projects and I’m 6/6 (thank you awesome backers!!!) There was one hiccup that people are probably going to be curious about–I am (despite requests from before launch and afterwards) credited as “Crowdfunding Engineer” for the Empyrea Kickstarter. This is not accurate. It would be unseemly for me to speak on it at length but I will share this small snippet of my contract because its intent was clear: I knew that decisions beyond my power to control or influence had fatally flawed the project, with such a high level of confidence that I demanded an amendment to my contract specifically detailing the primary element I knew was the biggest problem. I sent my resignation letter the morning of October 17th and wish them the very best of luck.

    There is no announced timeframe for when or even if the Empyrea campaign setting will relaunch, either through crowdfunding or through traditional funding methods.


    In a move that seems very “How was this not already a thing?”, Hasbro has signed a deal with Netflix to produce games based on the television series Stranger Things. Considering the prominent placement of Dungeons & Dragons in the show, it seems a shoe-in of a cross-promotional deal. However, there has not yet been any announcement of a D&D book involving any of the show’s elements. We are getting an Eggo-themed card game featuring Eleven on the cover (pictured above) where each player takes on the role of one of the show’s characters attempting to be the first to discard their entire hand with the various “gimmick” cards themed around the Upside Down and Demogorgon. The game will be available for an MSRP of $15.00 this fall, timed to the release of the second season of the show.


    The statistics website FiveThirtyEight, which rose to prominence during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections with their predictive algorithms, turned their eye to Dungeons & Dragons data available from the D&D Beyond app for character class and race choices. The dataset includes all race/class combinations from August 15 to September 15, 2017, and showed that the by far most popular race/class combination is the Human Fighter with 4,888 characters created out of every 100,000, with Elf Ranger coming in at second with 3,076. The least popular race/class combination is Aasimar Ranger, which had only 60 characters created per 100,000. The most popular class overall is Fighter and race is Human, while the least popular is Druid and Aasimar.


    A new licensed comic series, Warhammer 40K: Deathwatch, is on its way this January from Titan Comics. The four-issue miniseries will be written by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (author of multiple licensed Warhammer 40K novels) and art from Wagner Reis (artist on multiple Dynamite Comics lines including Vampirella, Warlord of Mars, and Red Sonja). The first issue will ship with three variant covers, while the series will focus on a fight between the Deathwatch defending an entire sector from hordes of Orks. The first issue releases January 3.


    Speaking of Dynamite Comics and artist Wagner Reis, the Humble RPG Book Pathfinder Worldscape Ultimate Crossover Bundle is still available. This bundle features both game books for Pathfinder as well as comic books from the series and from other Dynamite Comics titles including ones Reis has worked on previously. There are different levels with even the $1 level getting you five game books, six maps, twenty-seven comics, and it goes up from there with more Pathfinder rulebooks, Pathfinder Society adventures, and Dynamite Comics graphic novels and comics. The $45 level has a total retail value of $667 and includes all four physical print comics for the crossovers with The Traveler, Reanimator, Vampirella, and Dejah Thorin set in the Pathfinder world as well as physical unpainted miniatures for Red Sonja, John Carter of Mars, Tarzan, Tars Tarkas, and a Starfinder human envoy miniature. If you want in on this bundle, you’ve got until Wednesday, October 25.


    Undead is the third sourcebook for Chill 3rd Edition focusing on ponies. No, I’m kidding, it’s the undead obviously. Lots of undead. Zombies, vampires, liches, and more with enough variations of each to keep them fresh and interesting. And they’ve just broken the stretch goal for a special case written by Steve Kenson, who will be joining Chris Spivey, Sarah Richardson, Morgan A. McLaughlin McFarland, and more working on cases for this project, plus a brand new comic from Leonard O’Grady. The PDF is available for a $15 pledge, while the softcover is added on for $25. If you missed out on Chill 3rd Edition’s release, there’s the $35 level to get the core rulebook and the new Undead sourcebook and the $70 to get both in physical copy as well (Chill is a hardcover while Undead is a softcover printing). This campaign has not yet funded but still has until Halloween, Tuesday, October 31 (fitting for Chill) to hit its $16,000 goal.

    Endure the Stars is a science fiction dungeon crawler game where 1-6 players take on the roles of the surviving crew of a planet colonization ship attempting to survive a catastrophe. This is a second printing of the original game listed as a “1.5 edition” that updates and streamlines the rules and upgrades the components. The game itself focuses on tracking down escaped genetic lifeforms meant to assist in planetary colonization that have escaped on the ship, which is represented by a variable game board you explore as the game progresses. The game plus all expansions and stretch goals is available for a £72 pledge (about US$96) while those who already own the game can get the upgrades alone for £28 (about US$37) or the expansions as well for £48 (about US$64). This Kickstarter is fully funded and runs until Tuesday, October 24.

    A narrative cooperative board game themed around 1940s noir mystery? I am at a loss for how much this presses my buttons. But yes, Detective: City of Angels actually is a thing no matter how much I pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Each of the 1-5 players takes on the role of a LAPD police detective trying to crack the case by interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence all over the city of Los Angeles. While this is not a Flying Frog game, you can see the clear influence as well as the works of Raymond Chandler, James Elroy, and the video game L.A. Noire. You can get the game alone for a $64 pledge, or add on the first expansion Bullets Over Hollywood with a $89 pledge. This project is at four times its funding goal and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see a genre of gaming I’ve felt is far too neglected getting this much attention, and hopefully gets even more until it closes on Thursday, November 2.

    That’s all from me for this week! Find more gaming crowdfunding news at the EN World RPG Kickstarter News 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 news@enworldnews.com. You can follow me on Twitter @Abstruse where I will be posting polls for what to cover next in my videos because I am far too indecisive, follow Gamer’s Tavern on YouTube featuring videos on gaming history and Let’s Plays, 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, Humble Store, and/or DriveThru may contain affiliate links with the proceeds going to the author of this column.
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    Comments 66 Comments
    1. Polyhedral Columbia's Avatar
      Polyhedral Columbia -
      The first flirtatious PM Frank sent to Jessica was not unethical. They are both adults.

      Yet much of the subsequent actions or comments by Frank were off-base. He responded out of ignorance and fear, which turned into denial and domineering. That is a no-win situation for Frank. The best thing might be for Frank to join an SAA group, enact the 12 Steps, and humbly apologize for each mistake he made.

      As a man, and as a male gamer, I feel sorrow that Jessica, and the other survivors of hurtful words and harmful actions, have experienced this and other episodes within our gaming community. I am concerned for Frank's wellbeing - I hope he gets a hold of himself and gains a new perspective.

      And maybe reboot a scaled-down Empyrea a year from now.
    1. Xaelvaen's Avatar
      Xaelvaen -
      I was just confused by it all. Some people were showing aggression for him calling her stunningly beautiful and intelligent - which as someone who hasn't dated in almost 20 years (happily married), shocked me. Just different eras I suppose. However, for the other alleged things (it can only be alleged without proof, since I still believe in our country's founding principle of innocent until proven guilty), everyone is different. Many people react with fear and paralysis, and many react with aggression - we can't make everyone live by the same standards in that regard.

      If Frank did indeed make comments about the other alleged incidents, that's his opinion, and his free speech; he just has to deal with the consequences thereof.

      And yes, I really do hope to see this project, in one form or another, in the near future. It has immense potential.
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Xaelvaen View Post
      (it can only be alleged without proof, since I still believe in our country's founding principle of innocent until proven guilty)
      There are screenshots of what he said in the Twitter thread, posted by Jessica Price and by others in replies to her thread.
    1. Xaelvaen's Avatar
      Xaelvaen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Abstruse View Post
      There are screenshots of what he said in the Twitter thread, posted by Jessica Price and by others in replies to her thread.
      Yeah, been looking through them, but there's only the one of him calling her beautiful, and subsequently when they got into an argument, but I'm looking for where he actually comments on the poor girl on the bus - that's the only thing I'd find offensive. It's the internet, people have different opinions constantly - and bicker and all that other nonsense (which is why I don't use any social media except forums from time to time :P). So I was specifically looking for proof of him having a particular opinion about paralytic reactions and so forth, other than one person's 'word' for what he said.

      The only other picture I found is so tiny I can't read it, even when downloaded and zoomed in =/
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Xaelvaen View Post
      Yeah, been looking through them, but there's only the one of him calling her beautiful, and subsequently when they got into an argument, but I'm looking for where he actually comments on the poor girl on the bus - that's the only thing I'd find offensive. It's the internet, people have different opinions constantly - and bicker and all that other nonsense (which is why I don't use any social media except forums from time to time :P). So I was specifically looking for proof of him having a particular opinion about paralytic reactions and so forth, other than one person's 'word' for what he said.

      The only other picture I found is so tiny I can't read it, even when downloaded and zoomed in =/
      There are screenshots. Posted by Jessica Price and by others responding to her posts. The document the entire incident. There are also other people in the Twitter discussion thread who know the conversation and spoke about it.
    1. Xaelvaen's Avatar
      Xaelvaen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Abstruse View Post
      There are screenshots. Posted by Jessica Price and by others responding to her posts. The document the entire incident. There are also other people in the Twitter discussion thread who know the conversation and spoke about it.
      Again, that's what I'm looking at, but there are none of him actually saying those things, just people saying he did. Price even said she deleted the posts of the comments about the incident on the bus. The only other 'picture' in the thread, is too small for me to read. I'm not defending anyone, I'm just also not condemning anyone without proof =)
    1. Barantor's Avatar
      Barantor -
      It's a pity, I want Greyhawk to be modernized, but with all these old ding-dongs associated with it I don't think it will ever happen.
    1. Polyhedral Columbia's Avatar
      Polyhedral Columbia -
      Quote Originally Posted by Xaelvaen View Post
      I don't use any social media
      Yeah, it might not be a bad idea for Frank to take a break from the internet forums for some months.
    1. GreyLord's Avatar
      GreyLord -
      I find it unfortunate the Kickstarter turned out as it did, and hope the best for all involved with it to be able to bounce back. My personal interactions with Mr. Mentzer were always seeing him as very LOYAL and strong friend to Mr. Gygax. In interest, I am a male gamer, so I don't know what the other side experienced, but I always found Mr. Gygax to be kind, a great individual to talk with, and personally very nice. I don't know everything that went on between him and Price, but I am shocked at reading it that she states the following about Mr. Gygax. (As found in the twitter link to her messages in regards to this posted in the article above)

      Jessica Price‏
      @Delafina777
      Follow Follow @Delafina777

      More

      Guess what? Gygax was an open misogynist. Why are you all so surprised that some of his colleagues are creeps?

      8:46 PM - 17 Oct 2017
      In fairness, her explanation of the comment was

      I mean, Gygax said women's brains just weren't suited to RPGs, so...

      *snort* like collective storytelling isn't feminine af

      9:24 PM - 17 Oct 2017
      It was a surprise to me to see that brought that up about Mr. Gygax in her stuff with Mr. Mentzer. Why would she disparage Gygax in that way at this moment of time? I think she may have met him, but did she actually know him?

      In regards to the incident, I'm not sure which one she is talking about, but there is one that I know of (haven't seen any proof of it) wherein a particular staffer at Paizo was assaulted (from what I understand). There is no way to ever exhibit enough sympathy to someone who has been in that situation, and there have been those that have exhibited less to any sympathy in that regards, which is sad and unfortunate. I agree with Price in that freezing up is a very common thing, and no one should be held accountable for freezing up. It is part of the fight or flight type response (no psychologist, just what I've heard) that one experiences in that situation. Assault (I think it was actually worse than just assault, but as this is a family friendly board, not going into details of what I've heard) is a very terrible thing to occur and we should sympathize with the victims and try to help them as best we can.

      I can understand Price wanting to enforce that idea, but I do not understand completely why she went off on the tangent she did (at least on the link posted in the article above) about Mr. Gygax and his friends (of which I think may be a personal insult at me and some others who were friends of his at various times??? I hope not).

      That said, I hope Price and Mentzer the best. I personally have never had any bad accountings with Mr. Mentzer, and as I said, he seems as a very loyal friend if you can get it. He stood by Mr. Gygax through thick and thin as I understand it, and for that I would support his KS stuff if it ever comes around again. I remember his Red Box and other BECMI and have a soft spot for that as well. I have many long nights in RPGs with the BECMI (and also RC which is directly related).

      I think it was more not looking like they were going to meet the goal that caused the cancellation of the KS, as mentioned above. That would seem to be the wisest course of action in the light of where it was going.

      I hope he gets back to promoting his Empyrea setting soon, and that both he and Price have the best options for their choices going forward that they can possibly have.
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Xaelvaen View Post
      Again, that's what I'm looking at, but there are none of him actually saying those things, just people saying he did. Price even said she deleted the posts of the comments about the incident on the bus. The only other 'picture' in the thread, is too small for me to read. I'm not defending anyone, I'm just also not condemning anyone without proof =)
      Even without the screenshots (which are there), you've got multiple eye-witness accounts from people who participated in the thread and an admission from Mentzer himself in another screenshot where he doubled-down on what he said about the victim being "sick" and needing "professional help".

      Sooo...not sure how much more evidence you need. Either you believe the guy who is deleting comments on his Facebook page rather than answer questions and editing his own posts to change what he said...or you believe the multiple other industry professionals who are all corroborating each other's stories in public and who have screenshots to back them up. You've been led to the water, horse. Whatever happens now is on you.
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Barantor View Post
      It's a pity, I want Greyhawk to be modernized, but with all these old ding-dongs associated with it I don't think it will ever happen.
      Wizards of the Coast has been wishy-washy about new campaign settings, but I know Mike Mearls really wants to do something with Greyhawk. Dragonlance and Eberron may be higher priorities from a company standpoint, but I'm pretty sure Mearls would rather do Greyhawk.
    1. Xaelvaen's Avatar
      Xaelvaen -
      Quote Originally Posted by Abstruse View Post
      Even without the screenshots (which are there), you've got multiple eye-witness accounts from people who participated in the thread and an admission from Mentzer himself in another screenshot where he doubled-down on what he said about the victim being "sick" and needing "professional help".

      Sooo...not sure how much more evidence you need. Either you believe the guy who is deleting comments on his Facebook page rather than answer questions and editing his own posts to change what he said...or you believe the multiple other industry professionals who are all corroborating each other's stories in public and who have screenshots to back them up. You've been led to the water, horse. Whatever happens now is on you.
      No point in getting defensive mate - I just said I couldn't find those said screenshots. I also found one of Frank saying he didn't call anyone 'sick' and that it was all misconstrued. If you could kindly link me to the actual screen shot of him calling that girl sick, I'd greatly appreciate it. As I said, I don't use social media, so navigating that heap of crap called twitter is rather challenging. Any direct link to the actual screenshot of him saying those things would be more than acceptable for me to condemn his words, I just said I can't find it - feel free to link =)

      As an aside about 'Believe' I don't believe anyone on the internet, which is why I only care about proof. I don't know Frank, nor any of those other people, aside from 'they make game stuff'. Thus why my only concern is finding proof of comments that, would make me not want to fund that man, or existing as is without proof. It's a simple binary.

      EDIT: Allow me to explain what I mean by Twitter. In the link in your post, it shows all those comments, but only 5 pictures, and none of those are of Frank saying anything untoward except telling Jessica he was wrong about his original assessment of her. If I have to click anything or look elsewhere for the actual picture of proof, I'm not sure how to do that - reiterated, I don't 'Twitter.'
    1. Nate Jones -
      Long time lurker, infrequent poster, and perhaps soon-to-be former member of this community. But I had to come out of the woodwork for this. I am ashamed of those in this community who give Mentzer the benefit of the doubt, or worse yet, defend his comments (both his initial sexually-aggressive message to Price, and his later victim-blaming comments). Choosing not to believe Price is choosing to believe Mentzer. I am disgusted to be part of this community.
    1. mcmillan's Avatar
      mcmillan -
      https://twitter.com/Sphynxian/status/920755260330823681 This is a screen shot of Frank's follow up post, where he describes his view of the thread that Jessica described, but deleted. He still characterizes a woman who froze after being groped "believed wrongly that she was utterly helpless" and thinks that someone that did actually freeze up is displaying signs of an "irrational phobia" and "she should get professional help" and quotes something saying if people can't get away they should fight back.

      While we don't have shots of the earlier thread, those who did see it seem to confirm Jessica's description. Robert Brookes (earlier in the thread I just linked) and Crystal Frasier (https://twitter.com/AmazonChique/sta...76755089657856) seem to be confirming Jessica's perception of how things went. We have Jessica's description that multiple people pointed out how they personally reacted to assault to show how he was wrong, while he continued to argue even after Jessica suggested he step away from the conversation (which she rightly described as him not recognizing boundaries). I'd say the most charitable reading would be Frank was thinking of those people differently than the more abstract description of the initial incident, but I'm not surprised that others more directly affected weren't inclined to that level of charity, which still wouldn't reflect well on him.
    1. Flexor the Mighty! -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nate Jones View Post
      Long time lurker, infrequent poster, and perhaps soon-to-be former member of this community. But I had to come out of the woodwork for this. I am ashamed of those in this community who give Mentzer the benefit of the doubt, or worse yet, defend his comments (both his initial sexually-aggressive message to Price, and his later victim-blaming comments). Choosing not to believe Price is choosing to believe Mentzer. I am disgusted to be part of this community.
      The good thing about voluntary communities is we can always leave them.
    1. Arilyn's Avatar
      Arilyn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nate Jones View Post
      Long time lurker, infrequent poster, and perhaps soon-to-be former member of this community. But I had to come out of the woodwork for this. I am ashamed of those in this community who give Mentzer the benefit of the doubt, or worse yet, defend his comments (both his initial sexually-aggressive message to Price, and his later victim-blaming comments). Choosing not to believe Price is choosing to believe Mentzer. I am disgusted to be part of this community.
      Communities are just that, communities. There will always be a mix of opinions and ideas. There will be posters you just don't get at all, and others you want to cheer. EN World strongly supports a diverse and accepting community, (even when it feels like PF fans and 5e fans don't mix, kind of like Trek and Star Wars...). Please do not paint the whole community with the brush of a few posters you are unhappy with. Politely make your opinions known, if you disagree with someone. That will go farther than leaving. I can promise you that there is no underlying agenda against women, minorities, or the LGBTQ community. Morrus has zero tolerance for that kind of behaviour.
    1. EthanSental's Avatar
      EthanSental -
      Agreed, ENWorld seems to be the gold standard in civil discussions compared to many other RPG related forums...glad to be a small time participant here! I get disgusted with most social media platforms like twitter, FB, and Instagram and rarely use them...rarely but I use ENworld daily....thanks!
    1. Sunsword's Avatar
      Sunsword -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nate Jones View Post
      Long time lurker, infrequent poster, and perhaps soon-to-be former member of this community. But I had to come out of the woodwork for this. I am ashamed of those in this community who give Mentzer the benefit of the doubt, or worse yet, defend his comments (both his initial sexually-aggressive message to Price, and his later victim-blaming comments). Choosing not to believe Price is choosing to believe Mentzer. I am disgusted to be part of this community.

      Some of us just found out about this situation. I assumed the KS stalled because of Mentzer's remakrs about the OSR and his flawed KS Goals.

      Sadly, it seems that our hobby seems to have some new drama every week now and some of us just wantt os roll some dice, make stuff and buy stuff.

      At the same time, there are two sides to every story if we choose to research it.
    1. Flexor the Mighty! -
      I usually prefer a more wide open forum but the rules largely keep politics and stuff form creeping in. Good job.
    1. Curmudjinn's Avatar
      Curmudjinn -
      When does the "kneeling during the Kickstarter" begin?
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