News Digest: Ex-BioWare Designer to WotC, Baldur's Gate Adventure on DM's Guild from Original Creato

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news. Former BioWare Designer James Ohlen has been very busy with Wizards of the Coast and D&D, new WizKids miniature line for Starfinder, Darker Hue Studios announces its next project, and more!
Wizards of the Coast announced they are opening a new game studio based out of Austin, Texas, to be headed by former BioWare designer James Ohlen. Few details have been announced other than this will focus on multimedia and will not focus on Dungeons & Dragons or Magic: The Gathering in favor of developing new intellectual property. Ohlen is no stranger to Wizards of the Coast properties, though, having worked as lead designer and creative director on Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate II, and Neverwinter Nights along with massively popular video games Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins, and the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. Personally, I’ve streamed so many of Ohlen’s games on my Twitch channel I probably should co-credit him on my stream. In addition to his work in video games, Ohlen started the Arcanum Worlds tabletop RPG publisher who is currently Kickstarting the 5e campaign setting Odyssey of the Dragonlords in partnership with Modiphius.

Oh and if that weren’t enough, James Ohlen’s Arcanum Worlds announced the release of Heroes of Baldur’s Gate, an adventure for levels 1 to 6 available now on the DM’s Guild. The 160-page adventure also includes new backgrounds and monsters plus stats on fifteen NPCs, both allies and enemies of the party, that players of the Baldur’s Gate series will recognize. Yes, Minsc and Boo. This adventure designed by the original creator behind the Baldur’s Gate series is available now in PDF for $19.95, premium hardcover for $44.95, or a package with both for $54.95.

WizKids announced an expansion of their deal with Paizo and the launch of the Starfinder Battles line of pre-painted miniatures. The new line of Starfinder science-fantasy miniatures will hit store shelves starting in 2020 with the usual Premium Set featuring a fixed assortment of miniatures and terrain along with a wider line of miniatures packaged in randomized Booster Sets.

Also coming in 2020 will be the WizKids WarLock Dungeon Tiles. Originally previewed at the GAMA Trade Show, the WarLock system features pre-painted plastic 3D terrain with different terrain on each side of the tiles. So each of the gridded 2x2 tiles can be used in different circumstances, one side for dungeons and buildings and the other for outdoors. They also snap together so there’s less chance of your intricately-designed levels shifting around during play, and the walls are thin to be unobtrusive and are off-set from the grid so they don’t interfere with gameplay.

No pricing or firm release dates have been announced for either line at this time.

Darker Hue Studios announced their follow-up to the multiple award winning Harlem Unbound, a weird-west roleplaying game called Haunted West. The setting is after the conclusion of the Civil War in the American west, drawing from real history as well as the myths and legends of the “wild west”. Among the inspirations include historical figures including Bass Reeves, Fee Lee Wong, Cathay Williams, Nate Love, Jerome Crow Dog, and others along with the works of Robert E. Howard, Gemma Files, Elmore Leonard, and Alex Haley plus films and television like High Noon, Deadwood, Firefly, and The Man with No Name trilogy. The game will have a new mechanic system with designers announced so far including Chris Spivey, Ariel Celeste, Neall Raemonn Price, and Brennen Reece. You can get your hands on Haunted West sometime after its planned 2020 Kickstarter.

ICv2 released their financial report on the hobby game industry this week, with the first downturn the industry has seen in almost a decade. Hobby game sales in the United States and Canada totaled $1.495 billion, down three percent from last year’s totals. However, tabletop roleplaying games is still growing, with total sales of $65 million in all physical media channels (including crowdfunding like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo but not including sales from digital markets like DriveThruRPG), up 18% from 2017’s $55 million total and continues the trend of year-on-year growth for the market going all the way back to 2013 when the entire industry had just $15 million in gross annual sales. So why is the overall tabletop industry down for the first time? A fourteen percent drop in the collectable games market, going from $725 million in gross sales in 2017 down to $625 million to 2016. Collectable games includes both CCGs like Magic: The Gathering and Yu Gi Oh as well as collectable miniature games like HeroClix and the other randomized miniature offerings like D&D Miniatures and Pathfinder Battles from WizKids. To put this in perspective of the greater entertainment industry, the film industry posted $11.6 billion in gross domestic box office for films released in 2018 while the video game industry posted sales of over $43.4 billion.

The Kickstarter Integrity Team has suspended projects from two game companies, Maple Games and Kolossal Games, citing violations of their terms of service. Kolossal’s Hunt the Ravager and Maple’s Folding Space were suspended last week in the middle of their funding campaigns. No specific cause was given, but Kickstarter’s Integrity Team pointed to their terms, which states that a project may be suspended if there are outstanding fulfillment issues related to a previous campaign, running multiple projects simultaneously, and/or failure or unwillingness to clearly communicate with backers. While neither company has posted a statement, Maple Games announced that their founder and president, Daryl Andrews, has been fired by the company. Andrews said in a social media statement “I was let go from Maple on Tuesday and I am no longer serving as President. Instead I will be referred to as Founder.”

Asmodee announced a new fiction imprint, Aconyte, to publish novels based on their properties. The imprint hired Marc Gascoigne to manage the line, whose previous work includes the Black Library for Games Workshop and the Fighting Fantasy line of gamebooks. Right now there are no announcements for which titles will get their own novels, but Asmodee has a wide line of IP to choose from as they are the largest hobbyist game company including titles like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Android, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, and there’s a 90% chance that any other board game you name is owned by Asmodee. In addition to their first-party intellectual property, Aconyte is looking to sign third-party deals for tie-in fiction with the first such deal reportedly in the contract stage. The first novels from Aconyte are scheduled to hit bookstore shelves in the summer of 2020.

Speaking of Asmodee, they currently have a huge bundle of digital board games on Humble Bundle. The bundle includes Steam codes for over $100 worth of games including Ticket to Ride, Gloom, Love Letter, Twilight Struggle, Pandemic, Carcassonne, Ascension, Mysterium, Scythe, and Pathfinder Adventures (based on the card game, not the isometric game Pathfinder Kingmaker) along with expansions. This bundle runs until Tuesday, May 7. And the 3D Printable Dungeons and Cities Bundle is also live until Wednesday, May 1, with dozens of patterns and blueprints to 3D print terrain, structures, monsters, characters, props, and more.


Ever seen those cute bottles of “healing potions” with just the right amount of D4s but never could get the time to track down the materials to make them yourself? This Kickstarter has you covered with potion bottles complete with dice and decorations. You can get one bottle along with ten four-sided dice so you can just drop them in and cork it to make the potion you need for a $15 pledge, or you can buy four bottles for $48 pre-filled with standard, Greater, Superior, and Supreme Potions of Healing (a total of twenty-four dice) or a set of three of each potion type (12 total bottles and 72d4) for $111 (with a couple of discounted early bird slots available). This project is fully funded and runs until Tuesday, April 30.

What could be better than a new line of miniatures of animal-based adventurers? How about a set of 5e compatible rules to add different cat PCs to your game? The second series of Animal Adventures is Tales of Cats & Catacombs with ready-to-play or paint PVC miniatures of a ragdoll bard, bobtail barbarian, sphynx sorcerer, Persian warlock, Scottish fold cleric, Abyssinian wizard, and more plus the Kickstarter exclusive “necromeowncer”. There’s also a rules companion for introducing cat PCs to your game and the Lair of the Necromeowncer adventure. There’s only one pledge level, £27 (about US$35) for all thirteen minis, rules and adventure PDF, and art prints. This Kickstarter is fully funded and runs until Wednesday, May 1.

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.com, and you can get more discussion of the week’s news on Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk every week. You can follow me on Twitch to see more of Thela Iwidia, Chiss Jedi Knight in Star Wars: The Old Republic, subscribe to Gamer’s Tavern on YouTube featuring videos on gaming history (such as my recent video on the history of Dragonlance) 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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