Multiple "AI Art" Updates and Controversies in Tabletop Gaming

Three news stories this week came out about algorithmic generation aka "AI Art" in the tabletop gaming industry.

BackerKit announced that effective October 4, no project will be allowed with any writing or art assets that were entirely created by algorithmic generation aka “AI”. From the blog post:

At BackerKit, our team is passionate about people’s passions. For ten years, we’ve supported creators in their journey to launch projects and build thriving creative practices and businesses. We’ve developed deep relationships and respect for the people who breathe life into crowdfunding projects, and we are committed to defending their well-being on our platform.

That’s why we are announcing a new policy that aims to address growing concerns regarding ownership of content, ethical sourcing of data, and compensation for the process of creating content. […]

As part of this consideration, BackerKit has committed to a policy that restricts the use of AI-generated content in projects on our crowdfunding platform.

This policy goes into effect on October 4, 2023.

[…] This policy emphasizes that projects on BackerKit cannot include content solely generated by AI tools. All content and assets must first be created by humans.

This doesn’t impact content refined with AI-assisted tools like “generative content fill” or “object replacement” (image editing software functions that help blend or replace selected portions of an image), other standard image adjustment tools (saturation, color, resolution,) or AI language tools that refine human-created text with modifications to spelling, grammar, and syntax.

Software assisted by AI, such as transcribers or video tracking technology are permitted under these guidelines. However, software with the purpose to generate content using AI would not be permitted.

The post includes image examples of what content is and is not allowed. Additionally, BackerKit will add an option to the back end for creators that will allow them to “exclude all content uploaded by our creators for their projects from AI training”. This is opt-out, meaning that by default this ban is in place and creators who want their work used for training generative algorithms must go in and specifically allow it.


This move comes alongside a pair of recent controversies in tabletop gaming. Last month, Wizards of the Coast came under fire as it was revealed a freelance artist used algorithmic generation for artwork included in Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants. Wizards of the Coast quickly updated their stance on algorithmic generation with a statement that the artwork would be removed from the D&D Beyond digital copies of the book and will place new language in contracts banning the use of algorithmic generation.

This week, Gizmodo reporter Linda Codega reported that the artwork in the D&D Beyond version of Bigby Presents has now been replaced with new art. No announcement was made about the new artwork, and Gizmodo’s attempts to contact Wizards of the Coast for a statement directed them to the statement made in August. The artist who used algorithmic generation, Ilya Shkipin, has been removed from the art credits from the book, and the artwork has replaced by works by Claudio Prozas, Quintin Gleim, Linda Lithen, Daneen Wilkerson, Daarken, and Suzanne Helmigh.


Meanwhile, the largest tabletop gaming convention in Europe, Essen Spiel, recently ran into the same controversy as promotional material for the convention used algorithmically generated artwork including the convention’s official app, promotional posters, and tickets for the event.

Marz Verlag, the parent company for the convention, responded to a request for comment from Dicebreaker:

"We are aware of this topic and will evaluate it in detail after the show. Right now please understand that we cannot answer your questions at this moment, as we have a lot to do to get the show started today," said a representative for Merz Verlag.

"Regarding the questions about Meeps and timing, I can tell you quickly that the marketing campaign [containing AI artwork] has been created way before we had the idea to create a mascot. The idea of Meeps had nothing to do with the marketing campaign and vice versa."

Meeps, a board game-playing kitten and totally innocent of the controversy (because who could blame a cute kitty), is the new mascot for the convention announced this past July voted on by fans and was designed by illustrator Michael Menzel.

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott


This is something I ponder in my sfrpg setting. Though post scarcity is term begging a definition and I define it as being post artificial scarcity like today with oil and OPEC. I think in general the nature of work, and esp labor is changing. Whether or not people want to live in an oligarchy ruled by "geniuses" like Musk is another thing.

Read an article yesterday that had a few billionaires patting themselves on the back for 'saving the world from covid, as governments failed to do so'.

Its going to get DARK in the next 10 years.

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Read an article yesterday that had a few billionaires patting themselves on the back for 'saving the world from covid, as governments failed to do so'.

Its going to get DARK in the next 10 years.
I'd be surprised if I make it through, as I am getting old. I wish the best for the kids that do, and that they can change the world to be a better place, hopefully.


(He, Him)
This is something I ponder in my sfrpg setting. Though post scarcity is term begging a definition and I define it as being post artificial scarcity like today with oil and OPEC. I think in general the nature of work, and esp labor is changing. Whether or not people want to live in an oligarchy ruled by "geniuses" like Musk is another thing.
From Internationale Situationniste #1 (1950s)

The element of competition must vanish in favour of a more authentically collective concept of play: the communal creation of selected ludic ambiences. The central distinction made between play and everyday life, which keeps play as an isolated and temporary anomaly, must be surpassed. Johan Huizinga writes, “Into an imperfect world and into the confusion of life, [play] brings a temporary, a limited perfection.” [8] Everyday life, which was previously determined by the question of survival, can now be rationally controlled (this possibility is at the heart of every conflict of our time). Play, radically breaking with a delimited ludic time and space, must invade the whole of life. Perfection cannot be its endpoint, insofar as this perfection signifies a static construction opposed to life. However one can propose to push the beautiful chaos of life to its perfection. Eugénio d’Ors considered the Baroque to delimit once and for all “the vacancy of history”, and the organised afterlife of the Baroque will hold a major place in the coming reign of leisure


(He, Him)
That is easily one of the most pretentious passages Ive ever had the misfortune to read. Yeesh
Conversely (or if you like, additionally), I find it an interesting statement.

Traditionally in games we've been somewhat committed to competition, and that has been very evidently overturned in some or much TTRPG. However, much TTRPG play is still committed to simulating violent competition (for survival and resources). It's interesting to ask - why is that fun, as well as ought that to be fun and what else is fun?

With competition set aside, what are the satisfactions of play? Among them may be playful responses. Traditionally in Western culture play has been treated as less serious than work, due to the latter being connected with survival. Responsive to @dragoner's comment, post-scarcity work would be no more serious than play. A thought that reappears in the writing of the American philosopher, Bernard Suits.

I think contemporary dissonances lead some to take refuge in the possibility of perfection in "delimited ludic time and space" but it seems impossible that such potted perfection can invade the whole of life, suggesting that if play is at some future time to become central to human activity then folk may have to tolerate far more chaos in the grasping and upholding of games than we do now; e.g. accept that game texts can have utility to purposes they do not share and can be read according to those purposes. TTRPG is a sub-category of games with if not the blurriest certainly very blurry edges when it comes to saying exactly what game each group will play.

Competition in games is fun because it is inherently motivating in a positive way. Competitor's are compelled to improve on and engage their skills in a way thats been freed of the additional anxieties that natural competition comes with (ie, kill the lion or everyone dies).

It also has a number of benefits, particularly amongst Men (though certainly not limited to them), in tapping into camraderie which in turn is just building on social interaction and relationship building.

This is often why two men can get into a fist fight and then become fierce friends afterwords, as the competition allows for whatever the dispute was to be ironed out whilst also establishing a relationship of mutual respect. Its why rough housing is a thing amongst boys.

In a society thats achieved post-scarcity, competition is going to be a lot more important than it is now, as competition is going to be needed to help channel societies collective energy into positive work.

Even Star Trek understood that, even if it didn't explicitly voice it all that often. As much as there was a explicit personal philosophy of bettering one's self (in competition with yourself), there was also an implicit philosophy that competition amongst peers was still important.

After all, if competition was truly unimportant, what use then is there for awards and commendations? Ranks and committees? Why is it important to decide who gets to be Captain, and how is it decided if not through competition?

I think the pretentiousness of that passage masks the fact that its being very single minded towards what it thinks competition is. Competition can in fact be toxic, and clearly the passage seeks to position that as the case, but that is not all it is, nor is it inherent to the concept.

Toxic competition is always born in the relative immaturity of certain competitors, who struggle with, or simply don't bother, managing their emotions.

We wouldn't have the concept of a sore loser, nor would we hold up its opposite as an ideal, if competition was inherently toxic. Likewise, we wouldn't look at this meme and find it funny (at its subjects expense) if this were the case:


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Read an article yesterday that had a few billionaires patting themselves on the back for 'saving the world from covid, as governments failed to do so'.

Its going to get DARK in the next 10 years.

Going to get?

Then again, you know what they say... if you can't be part of the solution, become a part of the problem!*


(And by "they," I mean, of course, Mama Snarf.)


What if AI cannot be ethically trained?
They can be. A working example that I wish I had saved the link for. In a similar discussion, at the early stages of the AI art debacle, I ran across a post from a cartoonist who I did not know who trained one of the engines with his own art and used it to generate scaffolding and for his own new strips.

A hypothetical example would be an artist (or set of artists) generating templates for training a Hero machine-like product.

The most likely ideal way to have these AIs be set up is to require that your training data be disclosed, especially in commercial applications.

While someone could just claim they didn't use an AI to skirt that requirement, presumably detectors are going to eventually become reliable enough to catch this riffraff, and possibly could even become sophisticated enough to catch what was used.

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