News Digest: D&D Previews and Schedule Change, Pathfinder Playtest Update, DreamWorks Announces RPG

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! More D&D previews and a delay announcement, new Pathfinder playtest document out, Asmodee’s sale finalizes, a new game-based film announced by DreamWorks, and more!
The new Dungeons & Dragons adventure has gotten a lot of previews just in time to announce a delay. As part of the ExtraLife campaign from Wizards of the Coast, Nathan Stewart shared two pages of Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage detailing various quests that look a lot like the D&D equivalent of a video game sidequest. From paying debts in Skullport to finding magic items and spells in the vast dungeon of Undermountain to finding a missing noble, it looks like there will be plenty of hooks beyond simple dungeon crawling for DMs to exploit. Additionally, Fantasy Grounds posted their official preview for preorders of Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage featuring samples of artwork from the book along with game screens of a lot of monsters, NPCs, magic items, and locations – so many in fact that they’re obscuring one another on the screen leaving much left to still figure out. Unfortunately, it appears a printing issue has delayed the planned release by a week. The new release dates for the megadungeon adventure are November 9 in Play Network stores and November 20 to mass markets. The book is available for a retail price of $49.95 and is still available for pre-order with an updated date on Amazon (though accessories such as the map pack, which will also be delayed by a week, still have the original release date).

We’ve also received a new preview of The Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica courtesy of Amazon’s product preview page. The new preview features the front and back cover as before, but now includes the complete Table of Contents and the first page of Chapter 1: Character Creation. The biggest news from this preview is that your Guild choice will replace Backgrounds from the normal 5e rules, and that there will be extensive guidance for DMs and players in creating a party that works together within the setting whether they’re all from the same Guild or from separate Guilds. We also know how much content is available now, with sixty pages devoted to the guilds themselves, twenty-four pages on the city and world, ten pages of magic items, seventy pages of NPCs and monsters, and fifty-four pages on character creation options split into two chapters (Chapter 1: Character Creation and Chapter 4: Creating Adventurers). This plus additional content means a page count of 256 pages total. This book is also available in game stores on November 9 and in mass market stores November 20 with a retail price of $49.95.

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The Pathfinder 2nd Edition Playtest received another update, making the current version as of this past Monday 1.5. This new update includes the adventure Red Flags which is meant to test higher level characters, specifically above 10th. The rules update overhauls the death and dying rules again, this time having a flat DC for Stabilize Checks equal to 10 + Dying Value (which is based on previous damage and number of times you’ve been knocked out in the combat) and a change for the Treat Wounds ability under the Healing skill to make it easier for higher-level characters to heal lower-level ones. Additionally, direct-damage spells are getting a small boost in damage with base values increasing without changing scaled damage. This is in addition to the normal tweaks and minor changes that each of these updates have had. You can find out more at the official blog post for the update, which now conveniently has links to download the update directly.


EN World is currently running a poll that’s very near and dear to my heart, and not just because it will influence the next episode of Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk podcast (which I do editing and post-production work on). This poll is for your favorite horror roleplaying game looking to find the Top 10 best horror games for spoopy fun…or abject existential terror depending on the system. Pick your ten favorites and, on next week’s podcast, find out what the results of the poll are! And no, I'm not trying to stack the deck as GURPS: CthulhuPunk isn't on the list at this time.

Asmodee, the largest hobbyist tabletop gaming company in the world, has officially been sold. PAI Partners closed its purchase today for approximately $1.4 billion from previous owner Eurazeo. Both the current and previous owners of Asmodee Group are financial investment and holding firms. No official changes to structure of Asmodee have been announced since Asmodee North America CEO Christian Petersen announced he would be leaving the company at the end of 2018, so it’s currently unknown if the new owners will allow Asmodee to maintain its hands-off approach to the tabletop publishers and distributors it’s acquired over the years in its massive buying spree of game companies. In fact, Asmodee announced another acquisition this week of ADC Blackfire Entertainment, a European distributor of games and toys in Germany, Czech Republic, and Romania. Asmodee Group and its subsidiaries publish most likely the vast majority of games you associate with hobbyist board and card games, including Catan, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, 7 Wonders, Small World, and more others than can be listed as well as owning Fantasy Flight Games.

Catalyst Game Labs announced release dates for several products leading into the new year. In additional to reprints of several game products and BattleTech core rulebooks, a new edition of Shadowrun Crossfire was announced in the Shadowrun Crossfire Prime Runner Edition which updates the rules and expands on the deckbuilding card game with new characters and missions, out now with a retail price of $59.99. There is also the Shadowrun Crossfire: Prime Runner Refit Kit available for $24.99 which has all the components, cards, and rules for current owners to update the game to the new edition. New expansions for the licensed Dungeons & Dragons version of the Crossfire game, Dragonfire, were also announced. Out now is the Campaign Box: Moonshae Storms available for a retail price of $29.99. The Adventures: Corruption in Calimshan adventure pack will be out on November 14 with a retail price of $19.99, the Character Pack: Heroes of the Wild available for $24.99 and Adventures: Ravaging the Sword Coast for $19.99 both due on January 23, 2019, and Adventures: Sword Mountains Crypt releasing on February 6, 2019, with a retail price of $19.99. Finally, in preparation for the new BattleTech Beginner Box due out before the end of the year, the main rules reference guide for the system is back in print with a new cover. Yes, BattleTech: Total Warfare finally has the Atlas back on the cover for the current edition, available in PDF for $14.99 and in hardcover for $39.99 (though Amazon hasn’t updated with the new printing yet).

DreamWorks Animation announced it has greenlit a film based on the Plaid Hat Games adventure board/roleplaying game Mice and Mystics. Alexandre Aja is currently attached to direct, best known for horror films including the remakes of The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha 3D along with the French-language indie cult favorite High Tension. Aja will co-write the film with David Leslie Johnson, writer of eight episodes of The Walking Dead, the soon-to-be-released Aquaman film, and (at least according to IMDB) the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons movie (though I personally don’t buy that one). Johnson is also no stranger to horror as he wrote Orphan, The Conjuring 2, and The Conjuring 3 and is currently attached for the second reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Mice & Mystics is a cooperative adventure board game-roleplaying game hybrid where the players take on the role of loyalists to the king who have been turned into mice by evil magic as they escape the castle and its many dangers in order to save the kingdom, advertised for players age seven and up. I look forward to your comments trying to figure out the studio executive logic there because I don’t know either.

Humble Bundle has a new horror-themed roleplaying game bundle for 5e and Pathfinder, the Horror Unbound Stank Hog Bundle. The bundle includes adventures, settings, and DM’s tools such as collections of terrain and individual encounters and in-depth examinations of monsters and fantastical beasts. The bundle comes in two levels, the $1 level getting five DRM-free PDF books and the $7 level adding on an additional seven more with a total value of over $90. This bundle is available until November 11. And if that’s not enough horror for you, there’s the Tales of Horror bundle still available with novels, short story anthologies, and graphic novels from authors including Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs, Anne Rice, Harlan Ellison, and more bestselling names in horror and urban fantasy. This bundle runs until October 31.

The Kickstarter for Americana came up on the podcast and I think Peter came up with the best elevator pitch: Shadowrun meets Happy Days. An alternate 1950s America full of drive-ins, big cars, teenage rebellion, malt shops, greasers, and more meets an urban fantasy world full of orcs, dwarves, elves, dragons, and more. Players take on the roles of teenagers using a unique lightweight D6 system where you balance your adventuring against your obligations of school, job, chores, and more. The PDF is available for a $10 and $19 to add on an at-cost hardcover. This Kickstarter is fully funded and runs until Thursday, November 1.

Going along with very unique games, Scherzando! is a musical tabletop roleplaying game. The GMless, diceless story game centered as much on the soundtrack as it does on the story, as you sing and play along with the game (or just hum or drum on the table for those not musically inclined). The main mechanic is based on emotion, as one player in each scene secretly selects one of five emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and tenderness) and trying to communicate that emotion to the other players. At the end, you guess what the secret emotion was and the more people who guess correctly, the better the scene turns out for everyone. The PDF is available for a $10 pledge and the physical copy available for a $26 pledge. This Kickstarter is fully funded and runs until Saturday, November 3.

That’s all from me for this week! Don’t forget to support our Patreon to bring you more gaming news content. If you have any news to submit, email us at news@enworldnews.comand you can get more discussion of the week’s news on Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk every week. You can follow me on Twitter @Abstruse where I’m going to announce some test streams for my new layout on Twitch as I get finish up Dragon Age: Origins, subscribe to Gamer’s Tavern on YouTube featuring videos on gaming history and gaming 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.
 
Darryl Mott

Comments

Von Ether

Explorer
Mice and Mystics: It's pretty obvious the setup was designed to avoid needing a Mouse Guard licence. IMHO, this "RPG in a box" is a pretty standard dice pool mechanic with a "countdown doom clock" mechanic to keep fights from going on too long.

The production values, though, are fantastic and probably what drew in Hollywood. I've seen quite a few pictures of the mouse figures painted up and I even had a wargaming friend of mine give me a deep discount on his usual rates to paint up those very cool figs (Its a wizard mouse with a ladybug familiar on his shoulder! Even converted a rat bad guy into having an eye patch and a flintlock! Better yet, he didn't even know such a character was already in the game! How cool is that!)

Avoiding spoilers, the game does have a Secret of NIMH / gothic steampunk vibe in the later adventures. My guess is that Alexandre Aja is their answer to "We couldn't afford Del Toro."
 

Gradine

Archivist
Avoiding spoilers, the game does have a Secret of NIMH / gothic steampunk vibe in the later adventures. My guess is that Alexandre Aja is their answer to "We couldn't afford Del Toro."
See, at first I was excited because I think Aja does kitschy camp well and have mostly be a fan of Johnson's work, but now the idea of "Mice & Mystics as written and directed by Guillerme Del Toro" both exists and isn't going to happen, and now I'm sad.
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
Avoiding spoilers, the game does have a Secret of NIMH / gothic steampunk vibe in the later adventures. My guess is that Alexandre Aja is their answer to "We couldn't afford Del Toro."
I thought Alfonso Cuarón was the go-to "We can't get Del Toro" director. But I guess that would change after Children of Men and Gravity...

I like Aja and I loved Haut Tension when I saw it at a film festival before it got North American distribution...but he really is kind of straight horror. You'd think something like this, even if they're wanting to amp up the darkness aspects of the game, they'd want someone with a more early Tim Burton style that can match the whimsy and fairy tale with the creepy darkness. Or maybe this is Aja trying to step out of his comfort zone, or not and they're just hoping to get "whimsy fairy tale" just by being animated. Henry Selick would've been a good choice since he has animation experience, but he's probably busy with the TV series based on the Little Nightmares video game besides being a bit on-the-nose...
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
FFS. We go most of the year without new D&D Books and then they put out two on the same day.
Could be way worse. In the 3rd Ed days, WotC released at least one and as many as three books a month, on top of the two magazines. And that wasn't counting all the releases from the third party companies under the OGL. This release schedule for 5e has been glacial compared with any other edition, where the number of books released since 5e started would've been released before the first year was out even with an August Gen Con release. It looks like they're focusing on quality over quantity and, by focusing on 2-4 books a year instead of 1-3 a month, they're able to more tightly control system bloat and consumer confusion over what they "need" to buy.
 

FitzTheRuke

Adventurer
Could be way worse. In the 3rd Ed days, WotC released at least one and as many as three books a month, on top of the two magazines. And that wasn't counting all the releases from the third party companies under the OGL. This release schedule for 5e has been glacial compared with any other edition, where the number of books released since 5e started would've been released before the first year was out even with an August Gen Con release. It looks like they're focusing on quality over quantity and, by focusing on 2-4 books a year instead of 1-3 a month, they're able to more tightly control system bloat and consumer confusion over what they "need" to buy.
I know! I've owned a FLGS for 25 years! (Yikes!) Second edition was still going strong. I remember late 3.5 ordering books wondering if we would move *ONE* copy, or NOT.

This is, by comparison, awesome. I only have to worry about how *many* we will sell, not *if* we will sell any. (It really was *that* bad). It's one of the reasons I'm surprised they let this happen, they've been doing so well...
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
I know! I've owned a FLGS for 25 years! (Yikes!) Second edition was still going strong. I remember late 3.5 ordering books wondering if we would move *ONE* copy, or NOT.

This is, by comparison, awesome. I only have to worry about how *many* we will sell, not *if* we will sell any. (It really was *that* bad). It's one of the reasons I'm surprised they let this happen, they've been doing so well...
I figure it's less of a risk because one is a somewhat deep-dive lore reference that hasn't been addressed in product in two editions and a megadungeon, while the other is a crossover-appeal product setting book with character options. So it's not quite as splitting fanbase as the vinn diagram for people each book appeals to isn't a circle like with other editions forcing people to make a choice. I really don't expect them to do it that often unless it's something else similarly separated, like releasing a Spelljammer setting book opposite another Forgotten Realms adventure.
 

FitzTheRuke

Adventurer
So far, because of the slow release schedule, I've had quite a few people who just pick up every book that D&D offers. If they find that two books at the same time is too much, it will break them of the habit. Once you've missed one book, you can miss more. Now you're picking-and-choosing. It's not gonna be a lot of people, sure, but why would we want to push *anyone* into not buying a book that they otherwise would?

Like I said, I've owned a FLGS for 25 years... actually more of a comic store, and I've seen this phenomenon happen many, many times to comics. The best example I can think of is a publisher called Crossgen. (There's a bigger story there, but I'll skip it). So... Crossgen started with four comics a month. And people who liked Crossgen bought all of them. Then, they launched four more. And people who liked Crossgen bought all eight. (Okay, not everyone, but those who were really into it). Then they launched four more titles... and EVERYONE (and I mean EVERYONE) who bought Crossgen cut back to their favourite three titles. (On average, obviously). I didn't have a single customer who bought all twelve. In fact, I didn't have anyone who bought eight anymore. In fact, I had very few who bought even as many as the initial four. All twelve books SOLD, sure, but the audience was split among the twelve books. A few here, a few there. Every books sold worse than they had done.

My point is: Once you hit people's break-point, they are broken.

I'm not saying this is a significantly big mistake for 5e. They'll probably get away with it. A few people will even be happy about it. But they should really be very careful about it in the future. When you've got 52 weeks and you only plan to put out three books... it shouldn't be hard to put them out at different times.
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
My point is: Once you hit people's break-point, they are broken.
You're absolutely correct on comics, novels, TV shows, and other fiction (even stuff that's more episodic than serialized)...but gaming is a bit different. I don't expect the next book to drop in sales unless quality drops or they pick something too niche for broad appeal. Like I said, I think they knew what they were doing with the only close release they've done being Undermountain and Ravnica. The former is a dungeon crawl megadungeon (something a lot of the fanbase hates) and the latter is a campaign setting for a crossover Magic: The Gathering setting (something D&D fans who don't play Magic would still like).

Maybe they made a mistake in not spreading out the releases enough, but they wanted to get both out in time for the holiday shopping season. Either way, we'll see what happens when the next book is announced probably this spring.
 

FitzTheRuke

Adventurer
Right. Like I said, they'll probably get away with it this time, for all the reasons you list.

A large part of the audience is different for the two products.

Still, I can't be the only store in the world that has a large number of customers who (so far) have bought every single book that WotC has made for 5e. There's already enough reasons to skip one of these two books for a lot of gamers, so adding "I don't want to buy two books at once" to the other reasons to skip one, is a mistake.

It's not a BIG mistake, as the number of people who will do so is probably not huge overall, but it adds up. What adds up even more is that once you've skipped a book, it becomes easier to skip future books. This will start happening *anyway* as time goes on, and it's only a sub-set of the customer base in the first place, but over time it adds up.

I'm not trying to say it's a huge big deal, but I think they should try to avoid this kind of thing, if at all possible, and it should have been possible.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Right. Like I said, they'll probably get away with it this time, for all the reasons you list.

A large part of the audience is different for the two products.

Still, I can't be the only store in the world that has a large number of customers who (so far) have bought every single book that WotC has made for 5e. There's already enough reasons to skip one of these two books for a lot of gamers, so adding "I don't want to buy two books at once" to the other reasons to skip one, is a mistake.

It's not a BIG mistake, as the number of people who will do so is probably not huge overall, but it adds up. What adds up even more is that once you've skipped a book, it becomes easier to skip future books. This will start happening *anyway* as time goes on, and it's only a sub-set of the customer base in the first place, but over time it adds up.

I'm not trying to say it's a huge big deal, but I think they should try to avoid this kind of thing, if at all possible, and it should have been possible.
As a consumer, I am inclined to agree. I'm buying both, but they shouldn't get into the habit: one book a fiscal Quarter would be ideal, at most. I wonder if Waterdeep metastasizing and splitting into two books caused this?
 

FitzTheRuke

Adventurer
As a consumer, I am inclined to agree. I'm buying both, but they shouldn't get into the habit: one book a fiscal Quarter would be ideal, at most. I wonder if Waterdeep metastasizing and splitting into two books caused this?
That's a good point. I'm sure there was a point at which Waterdeep was meant to be one book.

Speaking of which, it's now the week of release, and I own a core store. This "printing delay" seems to have caused us to get the Ravnica book BEFORE Mad Mage. I have copies of Ravnica in-hand and still no sign of Mad Mage.
 

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