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News Digest for the Week of August 6

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! D&D Beyond cancels controversial art contest, Avatar RPG smashes previous RPG crowdfunding records, no more Unearthed Arcana on D&D Beyond, and more!

Don’t forget, you can get all the news every week with Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk! This week, Morrus and Peter are joined by Ryan Nock to talk about EN Publishing’s campaign setting ZEITGEIST!


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

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D&D Beyond canceled an art contest after controversy and backlash over the terms of entry. The contest asked artists to create Dungeons & Dragons themed portrait frames for character art with prizes for free digital content. The terms for entering the contest, however, meant that all the artwork then belonged to D&D Beyond whether the contestant won or not, allowing them to use or even sell the art. Contests of this sort are not uncommon, but often face considerable backlash from professionals. The objection is that companies who can afford to hire professionals to provide art, design, writing, etc. are instead getting free labor from their fans without properly compensating them even when entries are used for commercial purposes by the contest holder. D&D Beyond canceled the contest following the backlash, stating:

Members of our community raised concerns about the contest’s impact on artists and designers, and the implications of running a contest to create art where only some entrants would receive a prize, and that the prize was exclusively digital material on D&D Beyond. Issues were similarly raised with regard to the contest terms and conditions. Though the entrants would all retain ownership of their design to use in any way they saw fit, including selling, printing, or reproducing, it also granted D&D Beyond rights to use submitted designs in the future. We have listened to these concerns, and in response closed the competition. We’ll be looking at ways we can better uplift our community, while also doing fun community events, in the future.

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That’s not the only announcement from D&D Beyond, as this week the company stated they will no longer be including Unearthed Arcana material as part of their site or app. Unearthed Arcana is the title given to D&D playtest material publicly posted on the Wizards of the Coast website. The playtest material is followed by a survey that ends at a specific time afterward in order to get feedback from the community. This means that for D&D Beyond to use such material, it would have to be created and tested internally for a fast release in order for the material to be available for players in time for the survey. In a statement made during a Twitch stream, D&D Beyond stated they would discontinue providing the playtest material so the team can focus on new features and content for the platform. Material from Unearthed Arcana will be archived, meaning that while existing characters will still be able to access the material, any new characters created will not be able to use UA material and if that content is removed from a character, it cannot be re-added. This change will become effective on August 12.

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Long ago, the largest tabletop roleplaying crowdfunding project made $2.1 million. But that all changed when Magpie Games launched Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. The project based on the popular Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: The Legend of Korra managed to break all the records for tabletop roleplaying games by earning over $1 million in its first few hours and at the time of writing is almost to $3 million (I’m being vague because I can watch the totals grow as I write this and hope I can finish my column before that number becomes too outdated).

The game uses a modified version of the Powered by the Apocalypse engine with four stats (Creativity, Focus, Harmony, and Passion) with a track between two opposing natures for the character (such as “Progress vs Tradition”, “Care vs Force”, or “Self-Reliance vs Trust”). Playbooks included are The Bold, The Guardian, The Hammer, The Icon, The Idealist, The Pillar, The Prodigy, The Rogue, and The Successor with more to be announced. The core rules plus all other digital content unlocked during the campaign is available for a $20 pledge at the Fire Ferret level and is included at all higher pledge levels. The Winged Lemur level at $50 includes the physical core rulebook, the Otter-Penguin level of $75 adds on all unlocked physical rewards, the Polar Bear Dog level of $100 replaces the standard core rulebook with the special variant cover, and the My Cabbages! level is available for retailers. To say this Kickstarter is funded would be an understatement as they are currently at over 5700% of their goal, and the project has until Thursday, September 2 to see exactly how high they will set the bar for future projects.

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Beadle & Grimm announced a deal with Darrington Press to produce a deluxe edition of the Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting. The set will include the setting book split into four different books with both player and gamemaster versions to use as handouts. You’ll also get a custom GM screen, encounter cards, jewelry, bonus encounters, canvas paper battle maps, poster-sized area maps of the continent and the city of Whitestone, and in-world handouts and props. The base set is available for $249 with a badge pack and an additional map set for $70 each purchased separately, or you can choose one of the add-ons at the Awakened Tier for $299 or get both at the Exalted Tier for $349.

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Highmoon Press announced that they are closing and, effective September 1, all material produced by the company will be removed from sale. Highmoon has a long history going back to 3rd Edition creating third-party products such as the Ioun Codex series focused on the iconic magic items and the Hard Boiled series expanding options for 4e characters. The announcement came via Twitter and through an email to previous customers stating that all material will leave digital storefronts effective September 1 and that all print material remaining will be donated. DriveThruRPG is currently having a sale on all of Highmoon’s products for those who want to get them while you still can.

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The mystery of who purchased Flying Buffalo Games has been answered following an announcement from Webbed Sphere, Inc. The deal was finalized on July 31 after being hinted at in late June when Flying Buffalo warned of a sale and possible discontinuation of some products. Webbed Sphere is a bit of an enigma as they don’t have any public presence online. The company appears to be a holding company for other companies, including the game retailers Toy Vault and Troll and Toad as well as home décor brands such as Darware and AuldHome. Even the press release offers little information about Webbed Sphere or its plans for Flying Buffalo and, while it has quotes from Tunnels & Trolls creator Ken St. Andre and Nuclear War designer Douglas Malewicki voicing approval of the sale, neither seem to be involved with the new company. The press release stated that Flying Buffalo will be an exhibitor at Gen Con this September and that specific announcements “will be forthcoming in the future”.

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Humble Bundle has two tabletop roleplaying bundles live now. The Paizo Starfinder Book Bundle features a total of 36 digital rulebooks, sourcebooks, adventures, maps, and more for just $30. If you’d like to bump that up to $50, you can also receive the hardcover of Starfinder Pact Worlds sourcebook and the Starfinder Beginner Box physical release (with additional shipping charge). For those unsure about Starfinder and want to try it out, you can get the Starfinder Core Rulebook and eleven other adventures, sourcebooks, and maps in PDF for just $5. This bundle benefits Comic Books for Kids and runs until Thursday, August 19. The Pelgrane Press 13th Age bundle is also still going on featuring a base pledge of $1 for five digital products including a Quick Start and three more levels topping out at $25 for a total of a 34 product library. This bundle benefits Oceana Protecting the World’s Oceans and also runs until Thursday, August 19.


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, 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

Rhineglade

Explorer
This article reminds me of an age-old issue I have often thought about. What happens to the industry when it becomes oversaturated with too many different products? Or is it "the more competition the better"? Back in the early days, there was always lots of options but since a creator essentially had to get their materials produced by a secondary source, and not all sources were equal, it was often easy to gravitate to the better looking products. Now with the advent of Kickstarters and Patreons and GoFundMe, it sometimes feels that the dam has busted and the flood waters are filled to the gills with maybe too many products? I speak solely as a consumer. I see this as a potential issue because with other consumers spread out over a much wider range of options, no one product can dominate of course but conversely does this imply that no one product (or even some products) ever really get a financially stable foot-hold in order to expand and perhaps improve their product? It's no question I vastly prefer certain products over others but could the ones I prefer be even better if they had less competition? Kind of thinking out loud on this topic but would love to hear other thoughts on the matter.
 

@Rhineglade More competition is only good when it is low enough for people to actually find the ones they are interested in.
There are currently over 11000 different RPGs listed on RPGGeek.com, with about 9000 of those still available legally either in print or electronic format. If we assume 6 million D&D players, and that being 60-70% of the market... that leaves a about 2.5 million...and we know Pathfinder is around a million of that. so some 9000 systems fighting for 1.5 million players... that's abut 166 players per system. Most won't get that many.
 

Abstruse

Legend
One thing to remember is that most people don't play just one system. They may only play one at a time, but many people have more than one system they play in rotation. D&D 5e for a few months, then switch to Vampire: The Masquerade for a month or two, then do a FATE one-shot, then start a Starfinder campaign. Plus there are people who will buy games to have the option to play them even if they don't plan to play them now. I'm pretty sure everyone here has at least one book on their shelves they look at and go "Someday I'll run a game of that..."

And the industry has supported the growth we've seen in available products. I can't remember if it was last week or the week before, but ICv2 released their numbers for the market for 2020 and the industry's gross sales grew again to $105 million. Considering that 2014 the entire RPG market was only $25 million and that the market has continually grown between 20-40% year-on-year since then, I'd say if there's some sort of terminal line for how big the market can grow, we haven't hit it yet.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
One thing to remember is that most people don't play just one system. They may only play one at a time, but many people have more than one system they play in rotation.
I wonder about the real extent of that. Sometimes I get the impression that a lot of people play D&D and only D&D, and the notion that other RPGs exist -- much less might be played by their group! -- is pretty small.
There's obviously no way to get complete numbers on that, but maybe there are some proxy numbers in some restricted contexts? Like on VTT platforms or something?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I wonder about the real extent of that. Sometimes I get the impression that a lot of people play D&D and only D&D, and the notion that other RPGs exist -- much less might be played by their group! -- is pretty small.
There's obviously no way to get complete numbers on that, but maybe there are some proxy numbers in some restricted contexts? Like on VTT platforms or something?
It kinda doesn't matter. As long as smaller publishers (like ourselves) have enough customers to pay everybody and keep making more product, we don't have to compete with WotC. That wouldn't even be a vaguely feasible idea.

So I kinda think of it as two markets - a massive growing D&D market, and a much smaller, but still growing non-D&D market, which benefits from the growth of the parent D&D market. But we're not really in the same business.

A local family-owned restaurant doesn't have to compete with McDonalds, it just has to do its job well, make great food, and serve its customer base.
 
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Dungeonosophy

Adventurer
Wow I didn't realize that Highmoon went all the way back to the 3E era. Thanks for your service to TRPG culture. I hope and trust that the folks behind Highmoon will find other good endeavors. Sorry there wasn't more support for this way of life.
 

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