News Digest for June 30, 2023

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! New D&D 2024 playtest packet, pre-orders for Phandelver and Below, new releases for Pendragon and Shadowrun, and more!

For a quick summary of the week’s news, Jessica Hancock will bring you up to speed with EN Live's This Week in TTRPG every Friday.

Don’t forget, you can keep up with all the week’s gaming news in detail with Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk. This week, Morrus, Peter, and Jessica answer the question, “Can the GM cheat in an RPG?”

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In case you missed it elsewhere on EN World this week:

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Wizards of the Coast released a new playtest document for the 2024 revision of Dungeons & Dragons formerly known as OneD&D. The playtest document features updated versions of the Bard, Cleric, Druid, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, and Rogue classes including two brand new subclasses: College of Dance for the Bard and the Circle of the Sea for the Druid. Additionally, the document includes a revised spell list and spell descriptions, updated feats, an update to the Weapons table (with Weapon Mastery options included), and revisions to the Rules Glossary. This revision is (at least to my memory) the first to include design notes with sidebars explaining the changes (or reversions to 2014 rules) made to the classes and abilities. Of particular note is the change to the Epic Boon feature introduced earlier in the playtest, which will no longer be tied to class progression and be a separate 20th level ability. This means that class capstone abilities at Level 20 are back and separate from the Epic Boon, which will be revised in a future playtest document. The document is available to download for free from D&D Beyond and videos are available on the official D&D YouTube channel describing updates to each of the seven classes. The survey for feedback opens on July 11.

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The upcoming Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk is now available for pre-order. The hardcover will release on September 19, 2023, for a retail price of $59.95 with a pre-order page now available on Amazon. From the sales page:

Phandelver and Below: The Shattered Obelisk is a high-fantasy adventure that begins in the beloved town of Phandalin as it faces unimaginable danger. Whether the heroes are newcomers to Phandalin or are returning after the acclaimed Dungeons & Dragons adventure Lost Mine of Phandelver, they discover hints of a threat lurking below the town. The heroes soon learn that the cult of a malevolent entity has set its sights on transforming Phandalin into the capital of its evil empire. To save the town from oblivion, the heroes must uncover a nefarious plot and confront the otherworldly cultists directly.
  • Offers new Dungeon Masters and players the opportunity to dive into their first full-fledged Dungeons & Dragons adventure
  • Retains the beloved Lost Mine of Phandelver quests that unfold into a brand-new adventure with classic D&D themes and a tinge of horror
  • Presents a bestiary with approximately two-dozen new creatures that showcase psionic magic, body horror, and more.
  • Provides a magic appendix that includes new consumable metamagic items, Netherese amulets, and duergar magic
  • Includes a double-sided poster map with the Phandalin region on one side and the town of Phandalin plus key encounters in the adventure on the other
Beadle & Grimm also announced pre-orders for their deluxe luxury edition available in October 2023. The boxed set will include the entire adventure text broken into individual booklets for each chapter, 32 battlemaps, five faction badges (Harpers, Zhentarim, Order of the Gauntlet, Emerald Enclave, and Lords’ Alliance), five pre-painted miniatures, a unique DM screen, 19 in-world handouts, 60 encounter cards, 43 magic item cards, four original encounters to insert into the adventure, and other miscellaneous player and DM aides. The box set is available from Beadle & Grimm’s website for $349.00.

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Monte Cook Games announced Who the Devil Are You?, a player-led zero-prep RPG. The narrative game relies on the players to do the bulk of the worldbuilding and story plotting based on an image prompt with the GM just filling in details. From the product description:

You start with an image prompt that sets a scene. Any prompt—science fiction, fantasy, horror, modern, or even weird or comical; it all works. The players collaborate to decide what the scene depicts: what’s happening, who’s there, and why. Then they build characters ready to engage the situation they created, while GM takes what they’ve come up with and sketches out the conflict, some basic plot points, and maybe a few details.

Then it’s into the action! The game provides the structure that turns these fun, fast-flowing, creative ideas into a coherent story with action, twists, turns, and always an element of the unexpected.

The PDF is available now on DriveThruRPG and on the Monte Cook Games webstore for $9.99 and includes the 50-page rulebook, a deck of 50 cards in both PDF and self-print format with plot twists, and six scenario sheets.

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This year’s Origin Award winners were announced at Origin Game Fair this weekend. Three tabletop RPGs received awards with Coyote & Crow from Coyote & Crow winning Best RPG Core Rules, Agents of Dune from Modiphius taking home Best RPG Supplement, and Pathfinder Savage Worlds Boxed Set from Pinnacle Entertainment Group receiving the award for Best Graphic Design. In addition, the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design announced the new inductees to the Hall of Fame including prolific D&D artist Jeff Easley and the tabletop RPG Cyberpunk created by Mike Pondsmith and published by R. Talsorian Games. According to ICv2, the Origins Game Fair had 16,082 attendees, a 23% increase over the attendance numbers from 2022 but still below pre-pandemic numbers.

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Paizo and Azora Law released the final version of the ORC License and submitted the document to the Library of Congress for registration. The Open RPG Content License is an open license designed specifically for tabletop RPGs which rose from the controversy earlier this year as Wizards of the Coast attempted unpopular updates to the Open Game License (OGL). The changes from previous drafts of the license are minimal and available in the Redline version of both the ORC License itself and the Answers x Explanations (AxE) document, mostly involving minor changes in wording. The most pertinent change is a new section allows publishers to explicitly designate material that would normally be “Reserved Material” released under the ORC License. Previously, only rules mechanic information was automatically released for use by other publishers under the ORC License, but this will allow publishers to designate non-mechanical material like setting descriptions, characters, or other normally protected text as open content. The ORC License is now available for publishers to use, though the registration number from the Library of Congress is still pending and may take up to six months to be approved. Azora Law Managing Partner Brian Lewis along with representatives for Paizo, Chaosium, and other publishers will hold a panel at Gen Con this year answering questions about the license and offering suggestions for how to best utilize it.

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Chaosium released the highly anticipated Pendragon Starter Set for the 6th edition of the classic Arthurian RPG by Greg Stafford. The box set includes three books, The Adventure of the Sword in the Stone (a solo adventure to learn the rules), The Fabled Realm (setting guide and rules book), and The Sword Campaign (a beginner campaign covering early events of King Arthur’s reign covering three game years). The set also comes with multiple appendices with additional rules and setting details, eight pre-generated Player-knights, a set of 18 battle cards to generate combat encounters and act as a quick reference, and a set of polyhedral dice. To celebrate the launch, Chaosium is hosting a live stream epic stream featuring actor Todd Stashwick (Star Trek Picard) and streamers Surena Marie, Josephine McAdam, CatieOsaurus, and KP11 playing in a session run by Chaosium Community Ambassador Mark Morrison. The stream is scheduled to start on Chaosium’s Twitch channel at 5 PM Pacific (8 PM Eastern, 1 AM BST) later today, Friday June 30.

The physical boxed set is available from Chaosium’s website for $29.99 with PDF included, or you can get the PDF on its own from DriveThruRPG for $14.99. The physical editions are available for shipping from Chaosium and at local game stores in the US, Continental Europe, and Australia, though a customs issue has delayed releases in the UK.

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Catalyst Game Labs released two new Shadowrun sourcebooks this week. First is Shadowrun: Body Shop, the core augmentation sourcebook for Shadowrun Sixth World Edition featuring new cyberware, bioware, and genetic augmentations as well as new rules for highly augmented low-Essence characters, nanotech, cybermancy, augmenting critters, and dino-technology. Yes, Ares Macrotechnology saw Jurassic Park and thought that was a good idea. The 194-page PDF is available for $19.99. Additionally, Catalyst released Shadowrun: Bestial Nature, a short sourcebook for shifter characters who are able to manifest animal traits and in some cases completely change their forms. The 30-page book includes character creation rules, new qualities, new gear options, and more to add shifter characters to your 6e games. The PDF is available for $4.99.


That’s all from me for this week! Don’t forget to support our Patreon to bring you more gaming news content. 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.
 

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott


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