News Digest: Background Checks for WPN Volunteers and Store Employees, New D&D 5e Release Details, Gen Con Details, and more!
  • News Digest: Background Checks for WPN Volunteers and Store Employees, New D&D 5e Release Details, Gen Con Details, and more!


    Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s news. Wizards of the Coast requiring background checks for volunteers and store employees, details on classic Dungeons & Dragons 5e updates of classics, important Gen Con information, and more!


    Wizards of the Coast updated the terms of the Wizard Play Network, the governing body for stores and conventions that participate in organized play and promotion for Wizard of the Coast games such as Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. The new terms require that all stores and conventions must perform background checks on all staff members and “those you engage with that interact with the public”, which means Magic: The Gathering certified judges, tournament organizers, and others. The new policy does not specify what kind of background check, only that stores may not employ or otherwise engage staff who “appear on a sex offender registry” or “have been convicted…for a violent sexual offense or a crime against children.” These changes were announced on January 12 and will become effective on February 9.

    This action comes in response to a retaliation from YouTuber Jeremy Hambly of Unsleeved Media following his lifetime ban by the DCI. Hambly posted a list of DCI certified judges on social media with DCI numbers, full names, city, and state to encourage his fanbase to search for judges with criminal records and “reporting” them by posting their information publicly. Official confirmation of the events came through a pair of announcements from Judge Conduct Committee Lead Johanna Virtanen and from Regional Coordinator Jack Doyle, both on January 11, though Hambly was not named directly in either announcement. The incident was also referenced in a post “Making Magic Spaces Safer” by Elaine Chase, Vice President of Global Brand Strategy and Marketing for Magic: The Gathering on January 12.

    The new policy angered many in the community as a background check would require providing personal information to store and convention employees who, themselves, may or may not have been properly vetted. In particular, women and members of the LGBT community have objected as this will increase the potential of harassment and further endanger those who are harassed as it requires providing personally identifying information such as full legal names, addresses, and more. Several Level 2 Judges have already stated via social media their intent to resign rather than submit their personal information to administer events.


    Goodman Games released information about their licensed Dungeon & Dragons line of classic adventures with the first release, Into the Borderlands. The book is less a simple reprint and more a love letter to the original adventures they’re updating to Fifth Edition. Confirmed so far are two restored scans of B1: In Search of the Unknown (the second and sixth printings) complete and as originally presented, a “pure conversion” into Fifth Edition rules, three monster and treasure listings for the previously “empty” sections of the original, and a new chapter for the Caverns of Quasqueton for Fifth Edition. There will also be two restored scans for B2: The Keep on the Borderlands (the second and fourth printings), a conversion for Fifth Edition, and a chapter with additional encounters for use in the adventure. Additionally, a brand new chapter will be included with introductions, essays, and testimonials about the modules. The layout is still in progress, but is currently at 368 pages and is estimated to be over 380 pages when completed. The MSRP of the hardcover book will be $49.99, but no release date has been announced yet.


    Gen Con badges went on sale this past Sunday. All passes are currently available with the exception of VIG (Very Important Gamer) passes. A full four-day pass is $110, Thursday and Friday passes are $60, Saturday passes are $70, and Sunday passes are $15. Trade Day passes for Librarian/Educator or Retailer tracks are available for $200 and include a four-day pass, and a proof of employment is required. The “Family Fun Package”, a four-for-one pass just for Sundays, is discontinued as of this year, but wristbands are available for children age 10 or under to attend for free when accompanied by a parent or guardian with a badge. At this time, a limit has not been announced for pass sales this year (2017 was the first year Gen Con capped attendance).

    Additional deadlines were announced as well. Applications for press passes are now open for news outlets, podcasters, bloggers, and other gaming media. Event submission is also currently open to submit an application to host an event, panel, or game. Film Festival submissions open on January 19 for films and webseries from gaming genres. Early registration for housing beings February 11 at 12 noon Eastern time and requires a badge purchase to purchase a room. If you’re thinking of booking a room using the system, it would be best to look over the updated Housing and Travel page as, in an attempt to manage that which is unmanageable, the system has been updated once again with new requirements and limitations in order to better and more fairly distribute discounted rooms in Indianapolis. The convention itself will take place from Thursday, August 2 through Sunday, August 5.


    Infinity The Roleplaying Game from Modiphius released this past Tuesday. The production of the game funded on Kickstarter in 2015 with a final funding of £346,330 (about US$479,000 based on current conversion rates) and released on PDF with a hardcover release shipping next month. The system uses the Modiphius 2d20 system combined with the setting and worldbuilding of the Infinity skirmish miniature game from Spanish company Corvus Belli, set in an anime-influenced space opera/transhumanist cyberpunk world. This release has been plagued with setbacks including an entire chapter needing to be rewritten from scratch after an upcoming storyline from the wargame contradicted it and a break-in at the Modiphius offices delaying the release for almost two years. The 529-page core rulebook is available in PDF for $24.99, with the 148-page Player’s Guide available for $12.99. No preorder information is available for printed books, and it’s unlikely any will be released until after fulfillment of the original Kickstarter is complete.


    A Night in Seyvoth Manor is a 5e conversion of the ENnie nominated adventure originally published for D&D 4th Edition back in 2013. This update takes the original free adventure and expands it with updated content and new artwork. The design itself borrows its theme and some mechanics from the original I6: Ravenloft adventure with its horror/haunted house/mystery tone and the use of random cards for quests goals and item locations, while also feeling a lot like the S-series tournament modules as it is a true one-shot meant for highly optimized characters in a potential meatgrinder adventure. You can get the PDF version of this adventure for an $8 pledge, add on an at-cost print copy for a $15 pledge, or add an at-cost deck of the 112 item/quest cards for $20. This project is fully funded with more stretch goals to be announced as it runs until Thursday, February 1.

    Highlander: The Board Game is a licensed dueling game between up to six immortals seeking the Prize based on the original film. While the game does include enough immortal characters for all six players to take control of one in order to claim the Prize. However, many of the characters are completely original and did not appear in the much-maligned sequel films nor the much more well-received television spin-off. Each character has a 32mm unpainted miniature with some coming with variants unlocked through stretch goals (so there’s a Renaissance Scottish MacLeod and a modern New York Russell Nash). The game is available for a £29 (about US$40 pledge) with price breaks for multiple copies and a high-cost backer levels for custom characters. This project has until Friday, February 2 to unlock all their remaining stretch goals for new characters (some of which are original to the board game).

    After the launch of their successful Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of game, it was only a matter of time before they turned their attention to another big pulp-era property, John Carter of Mars. Not only will this Kickstarter cover the roleplaying game, but also a line of miniatures featuring John Carter, Dejah Thoris, Tars Tarkas, and more. The game itself is written and laid out so Kickstarter backers should get the first wave of shipment this summer (based on the Kickstarter statements) with a retail release this fall. You can get the core book in PDF for £15 (about US$21), the four-piece core resin unpainted miniature set for £25 (about US$34), all unlocked PDFs for £35 (about US$48), the core book in print for £40 (about US$55), the core book in hardcover plus all the PDFs for £60 (about US83), and other combinations from there. This Kickstarter has already unlocked several stretch goals for new books and more miniatures and runs until Sunday, February 11.

    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’ve been pondering questions about the intersection of science and science fiction, 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, Humble Bundle, and/or DriveThru may contain affiliate links with the proceeds going to the author of this column.
    Comments 46 Comments
    1. Jacob Lewis's Avatar
      Jacob Lewis -
      Because someone will eventually point it out anyway... John Carter was the creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs, not Robert E. Howard. I don't know how, or if, Howard is connected to the series (or the license), but if you know something I don't please feel free to elaborate.

      And interestingly, Burroughs is also the creator of Tarzan. Wonder if we may ever see that as a game.
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Lewis View Post
      Because someone will eventually point it out anyway... John Carter was the creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs, not Robert E. Howard. I don't know how, or if, Howard is connected to the series (or the license), but if you know something I don't please feel free to elaborate.

      And interestingly, Burroughs is also the creator of Tarzan. Wonder if we may ever see that as a game.
      You're right. I don't know why I mixed up Howard and Burroughs, but I've fixed the article. I'm admitting it here, though, so everyone can laugh at my mistake.
    1. JacktheRabbit -
      Is it worthwhile to pay $50 for conversions of two 1e modules to 5e along with scans of the originals? Sounds like a cool idea but more money than I see someone is likely to spend. Unless they are including so much information that you can run an enjoyable campaign via the book that stretches say 1st to 12th level.
    1. Barantor's Avatar
      Barantor -
      Quote Originally Posted by DocMoriartty View Post
      Is it worthwhile to pay $50 for conversions of two 1e modules to 5e along with scans of the originals? Sounds like a cool idea but more money than I see someone is likely to spend. Unless they are including so much information that you can run an enjoyable campaign via the book that stretches say 1st to 12th level.
      I mean, it's about what Yawning Portal did, but you don't get the originals with Yawning Portal.

      I trust Goodman Games to do this well, their previous 5E products are proof of that.

      I do think this is more for a collector than anything though. I'm probably going to get it because of the nostalgia and the art.
    1. AriochQ's Avatar
      AriochQ -
      Our LFGS owner mentioned the background check thing last night. I am all in favor of vetting people in positions that may put others at risk, but I am also wary of one more organization collecting massive amounts of personal information with no clear indication how the information will be safeguarded.
    1. Koloth's Avatar
      Koloth -
      On the background check thing: Interesting that WOTC specifies that a background check be done without specifying what kind, who pays for it, and what happens if the background check gives someone a passing grade when they should not have got one.

      I could do a background check by doing a Google search. Does that qualify?

      What is the procedure for when someone disagrees with the results of a background check?

      This has all the feel of a knee jerk response that attempts to move responsibility from WOTC to the end entities holding the events.

      And as others have pointed out, what assurances are in place to guarantee that all PII submitted for a check is kept confidential?
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Koloth View Post
      On the background check thing: Interesting that WOTC specifies that a background check be done without specifying what kind, who pays for it, and what happens if the background check gives someone a passing grade when they should not have got one.

      I could do a background check by doing a Google search. Does that qualify?

      What is the procedure for when someone disagrees with the results of a background check?

      This has all the feel of a knee jerk response that attempts to move responsibility from WOTC to the end entities holding the events.

      And as others have pointed out, what assurances are in place to guarantee that all PII submitted for a check is kept confidential?
      And it's specifically calling for a background check for employees, which is illegal in many countries and some states (I tried to get a full list with more details about that aspect, but I was quickly falling down one of those rabbit holes that would've meant explaining legalese and I'm pretty sure you guys get sick of me doing that with IP law and rights issues, which is an area I at least kinda have some background in).
    1. Dire Bare's Avatar
      Dire Bare -
      That Hambly dude is a real piece of . . . . work.
    1. default_entry's Avatar
      default_entry -
      DO most employers do a background check? Could that simply push venues to hired judges since they would basically come 'pre-vetted?'
    1. Sunseeker's Avatar
      Sunseeker -
      On the one hand, it's good that something is being done.

      On the other hand, this places the entire burden on everyone but WOTC, which I think is incredibly faulty. Especially with no bar being set on what exactly they're being background-checked for except for these two specific things. And yeah, I know a couple game owners who I would never give more than my first name to, much less my social security number, home address and all of that sort of info.

      Actually, I've changed my mind, this is a terrible decision. If WOTC wants to background check people, they should do so. But putting that in the hands of store owners? Bad idea.
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by default_entry View Post
      DO most employers do a background check? Could that simply push venues to hired judges since they would basically come 'pre-vetted?'
      Criminal background checks aren't typical for positions like store clerk or convention volunteers. You normally only see those in larger chain stores or if the position requires people's personal information or lots of money handling, and even then it's almost never small businesses that do it. Because it's not cheap. Why spend money doing a background check on a minimum wage employee who may or may not stick around? Or for convention employees and volunteers who are only "working" at most a few weeks out of the year?

      What it's going to do is incentivize stores to hold stop holding DCI sanctioned events like Friday Night Magic because why go through the hassle when people will show up anyway? If you're going to have events, why bother with judges unless they're required? Why would you apply to be a judge in the first place or continue judging events if you'll just have to hand over your personal information constantly to people with no safeguards for how that information's used or stored?

      Plus the thing's so sloppily worded, it may apply to things like D&D Adventure League DMs, or people employed by the store who have nothing to do with WotC events. Do they need to do background checks on the pizza delivery driver that caters game night? It technically meets the requirements.

      To me, it comes across as a company more concerned with being seen doing something than doing something that works. Much like YouTube's latest partner changes which will do nothing to stop the abuse of the system it's purported to fix but will, in fact, directly harm smaller and more niche creators (especially those in tabletop gaming and RPGs which have a limited audience already). Or the various attempts by Twitter or Facebook to deal with harassment.

      "Because of this problem, we did a thing!"

      How does this thing fix the problem, though?

      "....we did a thing!"

      But that won't actu--

      "We. Did. A. Thing."
    1. Ricochet's Avatar
      Ricochet -
      Quite biased reporting on the background vetting underway. I'd say more people were happy to see something done than was upset. I mean... Checking for pedophiles among people with positions of power and influence over children is hardly a new thing in sports, hobbies etc. Hambly was digging up some really bad stuff, and the response (or lack thereof) from WotC has been shockingly bad, even going so far as to try and manipulate websites to make it appear action was taken earlier than it really was. To be fair, both sides of the conflict stooped very low.

      The change implemented is good for the safety of children playing MTG going forward, and will - at the very least - remove some convicted people from positions of power over children. WotC ignored it until it began hurting their image recently, and even made some PR clusters on the way to this solution. Implementing a simple, cheap background check was the only right thing to do, regardless of who the whistleblower was.

      I know EN World is getting more and more engaged in political, social matters, but can we keep an objective news reel?

      Hambly and Sprankle have buried the hatchet by the way. Their feud started the whole thing with him getting banned and subsequently upset enough to start digging for dirt in retaliation after hordes of people sprang to Sprankles aid on social media. So... Time to move on for all involved, I'd say, and I hope WotC will move on too and take responsibility by being the organizers and "managers" of these background checks used by store owners and event organizers (it isn't very costly, and they are making a LOT of money off this card game still).
    1. Ricochet's Avatar
      Ricochet -
      Quote Originally Posted by shidaku View Post
      Actually, I've changed my mind, this is a terrible decision. If WOTC wants to background check people, they should do so. But putting that in the hands of store owners? Bad idea.
      The idea of a background check is good, in my estimation, but WotC should definitely be the ones doing it instead of pushing the hurdle over to their end-clients.
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ricochet View Post
      You're welcome to not read my column if I feel that responding to a troll serial harasser by doing the exact thing that he wanted is an acceptable thing to do. You're also welcome to not comment on my posts with propaganda spewing out of sites ending in "chan" in defense of this prolonged harassment campaign and revenge scheme.
    1. ki11erDM's Avatar
      ki11erDM -
      Clearly none of you work with kids. If you think for a second that it is bad for WoTC to ask for background checks when people use their IP to organize events with kids, you should seriously rethink your life. This is minimum they should ask for.
    1. darjr's Avatar
      darjr -
      Yea, this is needed.
    1. Vondren's Avatar
      Vondren -
      All for it. Last thing I want is a Jeffery Dahmer or Ted Bundy type who comes across as a great person dealing with my kids at these events and at home there a psychopath. When I coached my sons little league team all coaches and volunteers had to go thru a Real ID check.
    1. Flexor the Mighty! -
      The people at my local game store seem nice but there is no way I'd be giving them personal information outside of my address. Do they need more though? If I had a generic name like Tom Smith, would I need to supply more intimate info to separate me from the 1.5 million other Tom Smiths?
    1. Vondren's Avatar
      Vondren -
      Thumbprint is all they need. Doesn’t matter what your race, religion preference etc..... it just weeds out the nutcases.
    1. darjr's Avatar
      darjr -
      That’s good to hear. Anything else we should know?
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