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News Digest for the Week of August 7

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news. New Unearthed Arcana for D&D, Baldur’s Gate III release date pushed back, Hellboy RPG, accusations levied against Onyx Path, big names join Alexa’s Starfinder app, and more!

Don’t forget, you can hear all the week’s gaming news with Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk! This week, Morrus and Peter are joined by Joshua Mendenhall to talk about his new 5e campaign setting The Islands of Sina Una based on Filipino myths and legends.


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In case you missed it elsewhere on EN World this week:
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Wizards of the Coast released the newest Unearthed Arcana, the fourth part in a series of new subclasses for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. The first of the new subclasses is the College of Spirits for the bard, which is all about learning stories right from the source…even if the source hasn’t been around for centuries. The College of Spirits contacts spirits in order to learn stories and truths about the world and to receive guidance. The core of these new abilities is the Tales from Beyond power, which allows the bard to channel a story from their spirits from a random table and bestow a benefit related to the story to themselves or an ally. The other new subclass is the Otherworldly Patron for the Warlock, gaining powers from a powerful undead patron. Yes, Acererak, Azalin, Strahd, and Lord Soth are all mentioned as possible patrons. The new abilities include many necromancy-based spells, a form that gives you undead-like powers of fear, the ability to explode yourself when you’re reduced to 0 hit points and immediately reform at 1 hit point, and project your spirit outside your body. I’d wonder why they released this now until closer to October, but here in the United States stores are already stocking Halloween candy and decorations so I guess it’s timely.

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The Orr Group released their user statistic reports for Roll20 for the second quarter of 2020. While the tables only list percentages, the blog post says that the across-the-board growth from the first quarter of 2020 continued into the second quarter. D&D 5e has regained a sliver of market share, going from 50.4% to 53% in the second quarter, Call of Cthulhu has dropped a bit from 12.15% in the first quarter to 8.46% in the second, and Pathfinder has stayed steady with a slight shift in favor of Second Edition over First Edition. Systems experiencing the largest growth in the second quarter are Cyberpunk Red, Tormenta, City of Mist, Year Zero Engine, and Tales from the Loop all more than doubling their user percentages. It’s important to note that these statistics only show a percentage of games from Roll20 and do not indicate growth in the number of campaigns played, so while Call of Cthulhu or Star Wars may show a percentage drop on the list, they may very well have still grown in the total number of users as their growth simply lagged behind that of other systems.

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The early access release of Baldur’s Gate III has been delayed. While disappointing, we can’t say that Larian Studios didn’t warn us as when they announced early access was scheduled for August that they weren’t promising that as a firm date and that issues beyond their control may delay the release. However, a release date for the early access has been set and will be announced during a live stream, promising “special guests, and a lot more”. You can watch the live stream on Larian Studio’s Twitch channel on August 18 at 10:00 AM Pacific Time (1:00 PM Eastern, 6:00 PM BST).

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The Mike Mignola comic Hellboy is coming to 5e thanks to Mantic Games and Red Scar Publishing. Players will take on the role of B.P.R.D. (Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) and battle the forces of evil. The game is coming to Kickstarter this summer with the simultaneous release of a Quickstart featuring six pre-generated characters, rules, and an original adventure inspired by the graphic novels so you can get a taste of the rules before you back. Marc Langworthy is leading the design of the game, who has previously worked on Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition, Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of, and of course Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000 AD from EN Publishing. This is the second time Hellboy and the BPRD have made it to tabletops after the 2002 sourcebook for GURPS from Steve Jackson Games. You can sign up for notifications when the Kickstarter goes live on the project page.

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Onyx Path faces accusations of racism, blacklisting, and retaliation from one of their freelancers. In an open letter, Khaldoun Khelil, a freelance game designer who has worked on Vampire: The Masquerade and other World of Darkness products, claims that Onyx Path employee Matt McElroy disparaged him to developers at Modiphius by stating that he was “a problem” and that McElroy blacklisted Khelil from working for Onyx Path because Khelil “s***ed on them [Onyx Path] on social media”. Khelil says he was informed of the conversation, which happened during a meeting at a convention, by a Modiphius developer who was at the meeting. Khelil makes further allegations of retaliations and cover-ups from Onyx Path staff members including Matt Dawkins against both himself and against Modiphius. He claims Dawkins lied to him about the conversation and blacklisting and that Dawkins later refused to work with Modiphius on a blog post in retaliation for informing Khelil of the conversation (it is unclear if this is the Onyx Path blog or Dawkin’s personal outlet at The Gentlemen Gamer). The accusation further states Dawkins said it was the developer’s fault personally for not keeping silent about the conversation and threatened the designer could be fired if Dawkins told his boss he was the “whistleblower”.

Onyx Path founder Rich Thomas responded to the allegations on the Onyx Path forums by posting the findings of their Human Resources consultant, who concluded “the concerns raised by Khaldoun did not have actionable resolutions that Onyx Path could reasonably explore, and that Onyx Path’s part in the complaint was closed”. Thomas stated that the social media post in question was about former Onyx Path employee Matt McFarland (not Matt McElroy) after accusations of McFarland grooming and sexually assaulting an underage girl came to light, further saying “McElroy believes this comment, made in 2019, a few weeks prior to the Expo, is the one he learned about that made him upset when Khaldoun's name was mentioned at the meeting.” The HR investigation claims that the discussions between McElroy and the Modiphius developer took place outside of the official meeting at the convention and therefore Onyx Path is not responsible for what was said.

Thomas states that McElroy and Dawkins have made personal, private apologies to Khelil. Khelil said on a temporarily-closed RPG.net thread that the statements given by the two were not apologies but rather defenses of their actions, and they were not public apologies as requested, stating “Rich can't claim credit for apologies that no one can see. He can't claim credit for an HR process that failed to address my minimum grievances. He can't say the issue is personal and has nothing to do with Onyx Path when both Matts are highly placed members in his organization in charge of hiring and marketing decisions.”

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The Starfinder app for Alexa now contains the first three episodes of the Dead Suns Adventure Path and features a couple of voices you will likely recognize. Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle) joins the cast as Garvin, while Laura Bailey (Critical Role, The Last of Us Part II) plays Clara-247 along with eleven other voice actors. Episodes are available through Amazon Alexa and can be accessed by an Alexa-enabled device or by the Alexa app available for Android and iPhone devices. The pilot, “Scoundrels in the Spike”, is available for free and takes about 30 minutes to play, while the first three episodes take about 90 minutes and are available for $1.99 each. The final three episodes will be available this October at $1.99 each, or you can purchase all six for $9.99 now. All episodes are currently available in the United States and United Kingdom with “Canada and more expected soon”, while the pilot is available in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.

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Fantasy Flight Games announced a new sourcebook and adventure release for Legend of the Five Rings. Fields of Victory presents new gameplay and character-building options focused on warfare on a grand scale along with new equipment, schools, titles, techniques, and more and the introduction of the Badger Clan. And you can put all these new toys to the test in the adventure Blood of the Lioness, which takes the party from the iconic Akodo War College to the heated battlefield on the Snow Plain as you seek to protect the peace of Rokugan or plunge it into chaotic war. Fields of Victory has a MSRP of $39.95 while Blood of the Lioness is $19.95 with both products scheduled for an early 2021 release.

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The Star Trek Adventures bundle from Modiphius and Humble Bundle is still going strong. There are three tiers perfect for how much you want to jump into the game. The $1 tier features the character sheets for both the Next Generation and The Original Series crews along with the Starter Set if you want to try it out. The $8 tier opens up the game more with the Core Rulebook, Beta Quadrant Supplement featuring the Romulan Empire and Klingon Empire, four stand-alone adventures, and the adventure compilation These Are the Voyages (plus a Star Trek Online exclusive uniform unlock and a 50% off coupon for the core rulebook in print). The top-tier $15 level includes the expansion sourcebooks for the Operations, Command, and Sciences divisions, the Alpha Quadrant Supplement covering the Cardassian Empire, Bajor, the Ferengi, and more, both the Deep Space Nine and Voyager crew character pre-gens, two sets of map tiles, five stand-alone adventures, and the second adventure anthology Strange New Worlds. And for those wanting the Enterprise crew under Captain Archer, that was just released this week as a 16-page PDF for $4.99 (and so unfortunately isn’t included in this bundle). This bundle benefits the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and runs until Wednesday, August 19.

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It seems like not that long ago I was talking about Gangs of the Undercity when it launched, but time flies and this cyberpunk-meets-urban-fantasy miniature skirmish game is in its final days. While the corporations may rule the glittering city above, the forgotten undercity is where those who are rejected or refuse to live under the choking grip of the system end up, fighting for control of neighborhoods in a futuristic cityscape crumbling from neglect. For $65, you get two gangs (the elven Valkyrs and the out-of-control Flaming Skulls) with six metal minis each plus rulebook and tokens, while for $110 you can upgrade to a full-hardcover rulebook, and $130 for more tokens and custom dice. There are also multiple add-ons for more miniatures unlocked via stretch goals including pets, terrain, and more gangs. This Kickstarter is fully funded (and I’ve personally backed it) and has until Saturday, August 15 to unlock more cute pets. And gang members too. I guess they’re important.

I’ve also talked about Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall as well but it deserves mentioning again. The game places you in the roles of a family of Chinese immigrants attempting to make their way in 1920s Chinatown running a family restaurant while also preparing to protect your neighborhood from the Jiangshi, soul-stealing hopping vampires of Chinese lore. It’s a difficult task protecting your clients and restaurant while still making sure the kitchen stays clean and dinner service goes off without problems, especially since the jiangshi can drain you of your skills and memories and everything else that makes you who you are. A print and play version is available for a $20 pledge, while the boxed set is available for $65 and a deluxe edition for $90. This project is fully funded and runs until Thursday, August 13.


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 in case I can get my streaming setup to work, 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

Comments

That Star Trek bundle looks really good.

Conversely, that situation with Onyx Publishing looks really bad.
 

Yeah, it does. However, either I am blind or I do not see the connection to racism. Khelil seems to draw a connection to his ethnicity because...? They were crappy to him and he happens to be non-white? So it MUST be racism? Correlation does not equal causation.
Now, this does not excuse Onyx Path's mishandling and absolutely pathetic backside-covering...but to me, this seems to be the result of crappy people being crappy people, not racism. I might be nitpicky here, but I think the distinction is important so we can identify actual racism and fight it.
 




Abstruse

Hero
Yeah, it does. However, either I am blind or I do not see the connection to racism. Khelil seems to draw a connection to his ethnicity because...?
Khelil is Arab-American. The designer at Modiphius who was allegedly threatened was also a person of color. Khelil goes into detail in his open letter about it.
 




imagineGod

Adventurer
So happy to see more Legend of the Five Rings Fifth Edition. Just curious to know if the branding will bear Fantasy Flight Games. I cannot have a different brand on my bookshelf of FFG material (OCD and all that). ;-)
 

Abstruse

Hero
So happy to see more Legend of the Five Rings Fifth Edition. Just curious to know if the branding will bear Fantasy Flight Games. I cannot have a different brand on my bookshelf of FFG material (OCD and all that). ;-)
The mock-ups don't show the spines that I could see, but it was announced on FFG's website and not Edge Entertainment...
 

Jacqual

Explorer
Yeah, it does. However, either I am blind or I do not see the connection to racism. Khelil seems to draw a connection to his ethnicity because...? They were crappy to him and he happens to be non-white? So it MUST be racism? Correlation does not equal causation.
Now, this does not excuse Onyx Path's mishandling and absolutely pathetic backside-covering...but to me, this seems to be the result of crappy people being crappy people, not racism. I might be nitpicky here, but I think the distinction is important so we can identify actual racism and fight it.
I just wonder did he drop a turd on them in social media to be blacklisted. If I was running a company big or small and someone that had worked for it as a freelancer was saying crap about it without coming to me or HR about whatever I can say that they would never work with me or the company again. Race would have nothing to do with it.
 
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Abstruse

Hero
I just wonder did he drop a turd on them in social media to be blacklisted. If I was running a company big or small and someone that had worked for it as a freelancer was saying crap about it without coming to me or HR about whatever I can say that they would never work with me or the company again. Race would have nothing to do with it.
As I said in the article, Onyx Path states that the Facebook post in question was about Matt McFarland, a former Onyx Path employee who left the company's employee after he was accused of grooming and having sexual relations with an underage girl, on top of allegations of sexual harassment/assault and abuse.
 

I personally hope that Onyx Path finds it in its character to publicly apologize both to Khaldoun Khelil as well as unnamed Modiphius employee.
Which, considering the things that happened, isn't a big but is a very reasonable request by Khaldoun Khelil and the unnamed Modiphius.
 

moonbisc

Khaldoun Khelil
Below is a link to my last post on the matter on RPGnet. It not only responds to Rich Thomas in detail, but after the second quote it answers the "what is racism" question.

Also, OPP Human Resources, Rich Thomas and Matt McElroy all confirmed to me that they knew of nothing negative in my social media against them. McElroy states in writing that he was told I was a problem, he never mentions a tweet or anything else I wrote. His negative opinion of me was formed by information conveyed to him in a conversation - he no longer remembers the participants of this conversation, but it occurred at UKGE. If there was a secret tweet that upset him to the point that he spoke out of turn and smeared my name to Modiphius, then he would have remembered it and mentioned it in his statement to OPP Human Resources and in his written statement to me. He did not mention it, in either statement... and Rich Thomas has not shared this secret tweet with me either. This is the same statement that Thomas describes as an apology to me, is it still an apology if it contains a lie at its heart?

Lastly, using secret evidence to paint me in a negative light is particularly distressing to me given that I am Algerian and Palestinian. Many people of my background have been tortured, killed and imprisoned based on secret evidence, and I even pursued my own undergrad degree in International Law and Human Rights because of that history. At the Center for Int'l Human Rights I was a Research Asst. providing support for lawyers filing briefs for Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. We won that case, and secret evidence was deemed illegal by the US Supreme Court. It is one of my proudest moment as a student. It's frankly shameful to stand accused by a hidden document after having been a part of that.

Regards,

Khaldoun Khelil

 

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