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News Digest: D&D Sales Up Again, More Mad Mage Previews, New D&D Twitch Extension, Night of the Livi

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! Sales for Dungeons & Dragons up over last year once again, Dungeon of the Mad Mage previews, a new Twitch extension to make D&D streams more interactive, a new RPG based on the board game Root on its way, official Night of the Living Dead board game on its way, and more!
Wizards of the Coast President Chris Cocks states that Dungeons & Dragons has grown 30% in 2018 over the same period in 2017. Considering that 2017 was previously reported as the best year for Dungeons & Dragons in the entire history of the brand, that’s good news for the flagship title of the roleplaying game industry. And it should be noted that there are still two big releases left for the year, notably the Magic: The Gathering crossover title Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica due out in hobby stores next week and mass market outlets on November 20. Cocks stated that we should expect more such crossover books from “classic worlds from the past and present” in the future as well. This sort of synergistic crossover between the D&D and M:TG brands is something Wizards of the Coast has sought since at least the 3rd Edition days, when the first attempts were made at an official crossover product between the two lines.

Of course, that’s not the only big release from D&D this month, as Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage is also due out in Play Network stores next week and mass market outlets November 20. We’ve gotten quite a few previews this past week of the upcoming megadungeon adventure. The first is a complete listing of the names for all twenty-three levels of the dungeon for those who want some spoilers as to the themes of each level. Thanks to the ExtraLife fundraising effort, we also got the first page of “Level 15: Obstacle Course” describing a beholder death tyrant named Netherskull and hinting at encounters with the githzerai. This will also mark the first time in this edition cycle that more than one title will be released at the same time, as most releases have been spaced out by weeks if not months. We’ll find out later this month if Wizards of the Coast’s gamble that the two products appeal to a diverse enough audience to not hamper sales of the other, as one is a crossover introductory setting book for another property and the other is a deep-dive (no pun intended) megadungeon touching on several long-running and obscure references to Forgotten Realms lore.

One of the cited big reasons for the year-on-year growth of Dungeons & Dragons has been the growth of streaming, and the team behind D&D Beyond definitely know that. This week, they launched a new Twitch extension to give streamers more interactivity with their audiences as they play the game. If you’ve never streamed before, extensions are small plugins that streamers can use to do different things during a stream, from as simple as giving notifications when someone subscribes or donates to interactive games played on top of the live stream window. This particular extension ties into the D&D Beyond app by placing an overlay onto the screen with information about each character. So when a player at the table updates their phone or tablet character sheet in D&D Beyond with hit points lost or spells used, it automatically displays that information on-screen to those watching the stream. Additionally, the overlay acts outside the stream, meaning that viewers can access information like character sheets or current status information as they choose rather than waiting for an automated window on the screen to scroll to the information they want. The extension is available for free to all streamers with no setup in your streaming software, and it does not require Partner or Affiliate status with Twitch. However, it does require integrating your Twitch and D&D Beyond accounts. See the link above for more information if you’d like to add it to your stream (or pester your favorite streamers to add it to their channel…politely, please).

The board game Root is getting a roleplaying game adaptation courtesy of Magpie Games. The board game premiered at Gen Con with a release later this month features asymmetrical gameplay between different woodland animals fighting for control of the forest and already has an expansion (which Amazon has listed as coming out before the release of the base game for some reason). The roleplaying game will place characters in the role of different vagabonds complete with their special abilities, expanding on the lore of the game to build different factions and play off the intrigue and political warfare elements of the game. In the announcement, Magpie CEO Mark Diaz Truman said “From the moment we sat down to play Root at Gen Con, we wanted to see more of the woodland. All of us at Magpie Games love tense, political fiction, and Root immediately stood out as an amazing example of just how emotionally compelling a board game can be.” Magpie games has a multiyear license with long-term plans for the roleplay game, with plans for a Kickstarter for the core rules in mid-2019 and a mass retail release in 2020.

Okay, I know it’s a day late, but Halloween is a state of mind that exists year-round and I urge you all to join me in my year-round love of all things macabre, horrific, or just cheesy-fun spoopy! Or maybe that’s just a justification so I can share all the last-minute horror-themed gaming content released the last few days. First up is the amazingly detailed version of Dracula for D&D 5e, a Challenge Rating 23 Legendary villain suitable to put the fear of the night in even the bravest adventurer. And as someone who has loved vampire fiction his entire life, I really appreciate the small touches of detail that Mike Myler put into the design. If you want something a bit easier for your group to handle, Mike Myler also gave us two full stat blocks for both Dr. Jekyll (CR2) and Mr. Hyde (CR8), which draws a bit more on modern pop-culture versions of Hyde than the literary version. In the original book, Hyde wasn’t a monster other than he was a monster, in that he was utterly immoral and driven solely by his baser instincts being the vessel that Jekyll channeled his “evil” into. This version draws more from the reverse-influence of Incredible Hulk (itself inspired by the Jekyll and Hyde story), which works better for a roleplaying game as “a depraved person with all of the knowledge and upbringing of the upper classes of Victorian British society but without the morals or social pressure as social commentary on the nature of man” isn’t nearly as much fun in an adventure as “big hulking ragemonster”.

If you want something a bit more modern, Michael Tresca gives us a D&D-filtered examination Slenderman. Considering this particular myth was created on the internet from a community heavily influenced by D&D and other roleplaying games, it’s no surprise that it fits in very well going back to its roots in gaming. And if you want stats, be sure to check the comments on the article for full stats in multiple editions. Finally, Beth Rimmels has advice for how to highlight the creepy, spooky, mysterious, and strange in your games without going full-horror with tips and tricks on how to make things a bit more unsettling for your players in both atmosphere and plot. Don’t forget to check out the results of the Best Horror RPG poll on Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG talk - The top result might surprise you! For certain definitions of the word “might”… And yes, I may be late on this, but I’m also the guy who people will come to my house in October and compliment me on my decorations, then come December wonder why all the skulls and cast-iron candelabras have Christmas lights hanging from them so there’s no wrong time for a bit of the macabre.

And if you think I’m the only one a bit late to the spoopy party, Cool Mini or Not announced they have secured the license to the iconic horror film Night of the Living Dead and will create a new version of their hit game Zombicide based on the film. The original Night of the Living Dead is one of the most influential films in the history of cinema, as its release inspired the creation of the Motion Picture Association of America and its film rating system and it defined what we currently think of when someone says the word “zombie” (previously, “zombies” were a mind-controlled living person using magic, which is why the word is not used in the film at all in favor of “ghoul” or “creature”). It is also one of the few films selected by the Library of Congress for its National Film Registry, recognizing films of cultural and historical importance for preservation. No details on the release have been made available at this time, but Cool Mini or Not is well known for their successful use of crowdfunding and holds many records of most-funded games of all time on Kickstarter.

The oddly-named Horrors Unbound Stank Hog RPG Mini-Bundle is still available on Humble Bundle, featuring twelve books in the mini-bundle worth $94 available for just a $7 pledge. Books range from adventures to settings to adaptations of mythology and cryptozoology to deep-dive explorations of iconic monsters with books available for D&D 5e and Pathfinder. There’s also a brand new comic book bundle, the Back to the 80s Book Bundle featuring comics for Transformers, Star Trek, Back to the Future, Jem, GI Joe, Ghostbusters, and more and that’s just the $1 level. There’s also a comic adaptation of the board game Clue, the film Highlander (the only one that was ever made ever there were no sequels we don’t talk about the sequels they don’t exist), and more available at the $15 level. And if all these have inspired you to create your own games, there’s the RPG Maker Bundle featuring different versions of the RPG Maker creation engine, assets you can use in your video games, and games made with the engine with four pledge levels at $1, $8, $15, and a massive $50 pledge level that includes character creation, scene creation, combat, music, models, assets, tiles, animations, and anything else you could possibly want to build your own roleplaying game or visual novel.

Dynamite Entertainment under license from Paizo has created a statue of the Pathfinder Iconic sorcerer Seoni. The statue is twelve inches tall cast in hard resin comes in two variations, one with a removable spell effect and the other with staff and dagger. The Kickstarter also features stretch goals, add-ons, and pledge levels for a variety of Pathfinder products from graphic novels to adventures to miniatures and more. The unpainted version is available as a Kickstarter exclusive for $99, while the hand-detailed painted “Spellcasting Statue” is available for $160 and the painted “Battle Ready Statue” for $180. This Kickstarter is still just a bit shy of its funding goal but has until Tuesday, November 6 to cross the finish line.

Strata is the first setting sourcebook from the Spire roleplaying game that combines high fantasy with urban fantasy. Two centuries ago, the high elves stole the mile-high city of Spire from the dark elves by force, allowing the drow to live in the city only if they become an indentured servant for one of the aelfir overlords for four hard years. After two hundred years of oppression, the drow are rebelling. Strata brings five new scenarios, two new classes, a lot of new advances, and a ton of new background information and plot hooks for the setting. The PDF is available for a £15 (about US$19) pledge, hardcopy for £30 (about US$38), a bonus art print and in-universe newspaper for £45 (about US$57), and £60 (about US$76) for a hardcover of the Spire core rulebook. There’s also a special £10 (about US$13) “financial hardship” level for “those suffering from financial hardship; it’s your call if it applies to you”. This project is fully funded with several stretch goals already unlocked and more to go until it closes on Thursday, November 15.

This one’s either immediately going to appeal to you immediately or not: Large, heavy, solid metal dice. The Table Breakers set are made of solid metal and slightly larger than normal-sized polyhedral dice, available in finishes in copper, gold, silver, black, and purple (colors are not the actual metal used) and each set comes with a special metal “briefcase”-style storage box that doubles as a dice tray when opened. One set is £33 (about US$42) with a level to add on one more set at each for a price break going all the way up to £263 (about US$334) for nine full sets. At the time of writing, all the “early bird” shipping options to make it in time for Christmas are taken, but keep an eye out in case any open up (normal shipping should complete by February 2019). This project has hit all of its stretch goals so will fund on Tuesday, November 6.

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 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


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