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News Digest for the Week of April 14, 2023

ORC License, Black Flag, Lower Decks, and more

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! ORC License feedback draft released, Kobold Press’s Project Black Flag gets a name and release schedule, Star Trek Adventures is headed to the Lower Decks, 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 talk about the Dungeons & Dragons Creator Summit.


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

Paizo Publishing and Azora Law published a feedback draft of the Open RPG Creative (ORC) License. This is not a binding version of the license as they’re seeking public comment before finalizing it. The license is longer than the OGL but does mostly the same thing – When you release a document under the ORC License, you can designate a portion of the content as “Product Identity” that is not open content but the rest of the document will be free to use for anyone under the ORC License. The additional sections mostly update the legal language to provide stronger protections, both for the license itself and for those using the license. For example, the ORC License “may not be amended, superseded, modified, updated, repealed, revoked, or deauthorized”. To ensure that the license survives any specific publisher hosting a copy of the license, the final version of the license will be registered with the Library of Congress to use as a reference document. There is also the ORC AxE (Answers & Explanations) available from the download page that explain somewhat the purpose of the terms of the license. Paizo and Azora Law are seeking feedback until April 21 and the final version of the license will be released by the end of this month. And, as you’d expect, the EN World thread is full of more detailed explanations and discussions of the terms of the license.


Kobold Press announced the title of their new 5e replacement game, Tales of the Valiant. The game previously known as “Project Black Flag” is an update of the 5e rules system building off of the Creative Commons foundation of the 5e SRD. The new book will have two core rulebooks, The Player’s Guide and Monster Vault with the Player’s Guide including 13 base classes and all the rules needed to play or run a game, while the Monster Vault will as the name implies have all the monsters and NPCs. There will also be an SRD titled Core Fantasy Roleplaying which will be a “more thorough” version of the existing 5e SRD. While Kobold Press previously expressed interest in the ORC License, they have not committed to using the license for Core Fantasy Roleplaying yet but have stated the license used will be “open, perpetual, and irrevocable”. A Kickstarter for Tales of the Valiant is planned for May 2023 with the final books shipping in 2024, which will put the new system in the hands of players around the same time as Wizards of the Coast’s OneD&D update to the 5e rule system. Tales of the Valiant joins EN Publishing’s already-released Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition and Cubicle 7’s announced C7d20 System as alternatives for 5e-based rules systems.


Free League announced the release date for The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying, their 5th edition based take on the Middle Earth setting. The 236-page hardcover is expected May 9 featuring six new classes, six new cultures, comprehensive rules for journeys and councils, new artifacts, a new subtle magic system reflecting that of Middle Earth, and a collection of new fantasy creatures. Also coming with the core rulebook is Shire Adventures, a 104-page hardback sourcebook describing the Shire with five short adventures and seven pre-generated characters adapted from The One Ring Starter Set. There will also be a new Loremaster screen with a compendium about Rivendell including a map of the valley and a plan of the house itself. Free League also posted a trailer for the game featuring Elijah Wood, Deborah Ann Woll, Reggie Watts, and others. Note that this version of the 5e Lord of the Rings is all new and separate from the 5e Adventures in Middle-Earth released by Cubicle 7 before the license changed hands.


Modiphius is taking Star Trek Adventures below the command crew with a full line of products based on Lower Decks. The big one won’t be out until Q3 2023, but Modiphius is releasing a full 240-page hardcover sourcebook Star Trek: Lower Decks Campaign Guide. The sourcebook will have the tongue-in-cheek style of the show as it provides players with information about life on the lower decks of Starfleet ships, new spaceframes, eight new playable alien species, new equipment, and more. But if you can’t wait to jump into your junior officer adventures, there are two new products out now.

The first is the Star Trek Adventures Lower Decks Season 1 Crew Pack featuring character sheets for Ensign Beckett Mariner, Ensign Bradward Boimler, Ensign D’Vana Tendi, Ensign Samanthan Rutherford, Captain Carol Freeman, Commander Jack Ransom, Commander T’Ana, and Lieutenant Shaxz along with several supporting characters and the U.S.S. Cerritos itself. The PDF is available now for $4.99.

What good are characters if you don’t have an adventure to send them on? Thankfully we have Star Trek Adventures Mission PDF 023: Lurkers which places the junior officer crewmembers on a mission to overhaul a subspace relay (because you get all the fun jobs) when a bitter problem comes up: A nearby pre-warp civilization has managed to capture a Starfleet data feed which they’re using as entertainment. Someone is going to have to go down to this late 20th century Earth equivalent planet and determine if the information they’ve taken violates Starfleet security by attending a fan convention. By the way, if this plot sounds a bit familiar, it’s a take on the alternate pitch for the Deep Space Nine anniversary episode which would have a similar plot involving the gangster planet from the TOS episode A Piece of the Action becoming obsessed Star Trek fans (this is almost what we got instead of Trials and Tribbletions and I just wish we could’ve gotten both). This PDF is available now for $4.99.


But we’re not done with Modiphius yet as they released more information about the upcoming Winter of Atom adventure book for Fallout: The Roleplaying Game. The preview features information about the new origin option, Generation 3 Synth. In Fallout 4, these “replicants” are completely indistinguishable from normal humans and are often duplicates of citizens living in the Commonwealth the Institute has kidnapped (or killed) and replaced. There are also escaped synths smuggled to safety via the Railroad who have their minds wiped and replaced with a new set of memories, sometimes with no knowledge of their status as a synth. Another option for players is the Protectron origin, the clunky Robbie the Robot inspired automatrons used as security guards, police, fire, subway ticket takers, store greeters, and more before The War. Many of these robots still wander the Wasteland and have added to their programming enough they have unique personalities. Finally, there’s the Child of Atom, members of the radiation-worshipping cult Children of Atom who have been blessed by Atom with an immunity to the radiation that permeates the world following a hail of nuclear weapons. Winter of Atom is scheduled for release in Q2 2023.


One final bit of Modiphius news as they announced a deal to distribute games from the Italian company Mana Project Studio. From the press release sent via email:

Mana Project Studio is an Italian graphic design studio, roleplaying games publisher, game creator, and crowdfunding consultant. Through their own hugely successful Kickstarters they have published a fantastic range of roleplaying games which Modiphius is excited to bring to a wider audience through our VIA Modiphius program and direct-to-retail sales in the UK and Europe.

Two titles were announced from the publisher. Historia is a dark fantasy Renaissance setting for 5e populated by anthropomorphic animals. The core rules include 17 new player races of anthropomorphic animals, 10 new Renaissance-themed classes, new magic rules and spells, firearm rules and equipment, new backgrounds and factions, and more. The launch line will include Historia Core Rulebook, Historia GM Screen, Historia Adventures Book, Historia Lorebook, and Historia Maps Pack.

The second title is Not the End, a diceless RPG using an original system called HexSys that uses a series of hexagons linked via keywords. The core rulebook includes all the rules for character creation and all the rules to play in a variety of different settings and genres. The launch line will include the Not the End Corebook, Not the End Stories, Not the End Lesson Card Deck, and Not the End Tokens Set.

Additionally, Mana Project Studio will release through Modiphius the 5e and OSR supplement Seven Sinners and other forthcoming games that have yet to be announced. The first of these products will be available on Modiphius’s webstore and in game retailers in the UK and EU starting May 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@enpublishingrpg.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 get notifications when I go live, follow me on Mastodon for RPG chat and general nonsense, subscribe to Gamer’s Tavern on YouTube for videos on gaming history, RPG reviews, 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.

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott

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