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News Digest for the Week of February 21

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! Gameplay footage of Baldur’s Gate III coming soon, Kickstarter votes to unionize, Paizo previews monster creation rules for Pathfinder 2nd Edition, and more!

If you want to catch up on all the week’s news, be sure to check out Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk. This week, Morrus and Peter try out the Starfinder app on Alexa.


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In case you missed it elsewhere on ENWorld this week…
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D&D Beyond released revised statistics for the most popular feats and how frequently they’re used. Only 4% of characters opt to start with a feat using the variant rules for Human characters, while the figure jumps to 34% for Level 4, 51% for Level 8, 60% at Level 12, and 59% at Level 16. This is a slight increase over two years ago. The most popular feat is War Caster with a significant lead over the second place of Tough, with Sharpshooter and Observant tied for third. There’s also a breakdown of feat choice by class as well, partnered with the charts from 2018 to see how builds have changed over the past two years.

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Larian Studios announced gameplay footage and live demos of Baldur’s Gate III will be at next week’s PAX East. The first look will be on Thursday, February 27 at 3:30 PM Eastern (20:30 GMT) during a live presentation at the convention. Larian Studios also released a promotional video for the upcoming reveal with behind-the-scenes details of how they’re developing the game. The developers are promising another 100+ hour experience but with many surprises that “even fans of critically-acclaimed Divinity: Original Sin 2 won’t expect”. There’s been no release date set for the game, but rumors are flying that one may be announced at the event if not later this year at E3.

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D20 Radio reports that they have confirmed that Fantasy Flight Games is ending active roleplaying game development. This statement was backed up by Katrina Ostrander, Creative Director of Story and Setting at Fantasy Flight, on Twitter who said “Yeah. This is the answer I gave to people asking about the L5R RPG when I ran it last weekend.” This confirms rumors that followed the closing of Fantasy Flight Interactive and other company layoffs back in January. Currently announced products will still be produced (in fact, Fantasy Flight announced the release of Path of Waves for Legend of the Five Rings last weekend) so there will still be support for Star Wars, Legend of the Five Rings, and other Fantasy Flight roleplaying games for several months at least.

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Kickstarter employees officially voted to unionize, joining the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 153. This vote follows a months-long effort for Kickstarter United to organize the tech company, becoming the first major company in the technology industry to do so. The push to unionize started following a conflict over a comic book called Always Punch Nazis, which was mass reported by users for violating the terms of service against “projects that encourage violence against others”. Kickstarter management cancelled the project over objections of their employees, which started the effort to organize. Kickstarter also controversially fired two employees involved in the unionization effort, both of whom filed federal complaints over their termination while Kickstarter management maintains that the firings were for performance-based reasons. A successful card check (where employees sign a card requesting organization) was conducted in October by Kickstarter United, but management refused to recognize the union and insisted on a National Labor Review Board vote. The NLRB vote resulted in a 47 to 36 margin supporting organization.

Kickstarter United made a statement on Twitter: “#KickstarterUnited has now been certified by the NLRB: We Are A Union!!! So, what does this mean? 1) Our media blackout is now over (did you miss us?) 2) We’ll begin discussing our priorities and forming an inclusive and representative bargaining committee for everyone at Kickstarter so that we can... 3) Bargain our first contract! #1u”

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Paizo released a preview from the upcoming Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide featuring a preview of the monster creation rules. Or rather, an example of what you can create. On a recent Twitch stream from Paizo (archived on YouTube), Logan Bonner and Adam Daigle showed off the rules for monster building by working with the Twitch chat to create a monster based on a piece of art from the Gamemastery Guide. That creation is now available, the Ailuran, a reclusive fey with an obsession for silver. The full stats for the new monster are presented in the link above so you know what you have an idea of how flexible the new monster creation rules are (seriously, they created a new perception ability called “silversense”). The Pathfinder Gamemaster Guide is set for release to mass markets on March 10 with a retail price of $49.99.

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Final Sword Productions announced on Monday that Daniel Scott Palter, the founder of West End Games, passed away. Palter was founder and president of West End Games when they published the incredibly influential licensed games Ghostbusters and Star Wars: The Role-playing Game in addition to their own properties in Paranoia and TORG. His influence stretched even farther than the roleplaying industry as ICv2 called him the “unsung hero” of the Star Wars brand and many consider the West End Games Star Wars game as the start of the incredibly popular Star Wars Expanded Universe. Final Sword Productions stated that both projects Palter was working on, the Honorverse and the Emberverse, would continue in his honor.

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Monte Cook Games and Humble have put together the Cypher System Bundle featuring The Strange and other games using the Cypher System. The bundle features an entire library of books for The Strange, Bruce Cordell’s roleplaying game about “recursions” of pocket realities where every version of the world from any story is real, from mythology and ancient epics to comics and movies. You’ve also got the Bruce Cordell’s Gods of the Fall about gods and demigods, Shanna Germain’s Predation with its mix of science-fiction technology on a primordial earth in the age of the dinosaurs, and the 1980s influenced superhero-slash-horror of Unmasked. This bundle runs until Thursday, March 4.

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ZineQuest2 is still going strong over at Kickstarter and, with so many amazing, unique projects out there, I picked a few to give a very brief preview to.

An interesting system-agnostic in-world book about artifacts, The Watching Book works both as a resource for DMs or a hand-out for players to read about hidden treasures (or curses) throughout any fantasy world. The PDF is available for $5 and the physical copy for $8 along with copies to get other books in the same world. This Kickstarter ends on Monday, February 24.

Pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, You Got a Job on the Garbage Barge is a setting/adventure that works with any OSR-style system that places the characters on a garbage barge. It also includes 100 different kinds of trash found on the barge and a list of 50 smells. The PDF is $5 and the physical copy is $12. This Kickstarter ends on Tuesday, February 25.

Anything I write will not do justice to the cuteness and innocence of Winter Harvest, an RPG about woodland animals protecting each other over the four seasons as they prepare for winter with a strong focus on storytelling and oral history. The PDF is available for $7 and the physical copy is $15. This Kickstarter ends Thursday, February 27.

Finally, Ancestry & Culture is an alternative to “race” in 5e rules by replacing it with culture and heritage, allowing more flexibility in character creation by combining different aspects in new and interesting ways while also more accurately reflecting real-world communities and their influence on development. The PDF is available for $5 and the physical copy for $8. This Kickstarter ends on Saturday, February 29.



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 where I’m starting a playthrough of the Mass Effect series starting this Tuesday and continuing Gabriel Knight with voice actor and game designer Kevin Czarnecki, 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.
 
Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott

ddaley

Explorer
The Kickstarter union story is a bit confusing... so, the employees were upset because Kickstarter canceled a project that violated the terms of service (because the project encouraged violence against others) and decided to form a union because of that? I am not familiar with the project, but, A) why were employees upset about that and B) how does forming a union help with that issue in the future?
 

Abstruse

Hero
The Kickstarter union story is a bit confusing... so, the employees were upset because Kickstarter canceled a project that violated the terms of service (because the project encouraged violence against others) and decided to form a union because of that? I am not familiar with the project, but, A) why were employees upset about that and B) how does forming a union help with that issue in the future?
They were upset that their decision to not cancel the project because it did not violate the terms of service was overruled by management. They decided to unionize to have the power to draw up a contract so that, in the future, management couldn't overrule the employees in doing their jobs based on political influence.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
They were upset that their decision to not cancel the project because it did not violate the terms of service was overruled by management.

Mod Note:
This is something on which we probably need to be clear, or else argument will start.

To quote Ars Technica:
"The issue was controversial within Kickstarter. Management eventually decided to remove the campaign, then reversed themselves again after an uproar from rank-and-file Kickstarter employees. The issue created lingering bad blood between labor and management and caused some Kickstarter employees to take a serious look at organizing a union. "
 


the_redbeard

Explorer
B) how does forming a union help with that issue in the future?
Mostly, having a union requires management to bargain with the worker's representatives over issues like working conditions and compensation. While many of management's prerogatives are not things that management is required to bargain over with the worker's chosen representatives, having a union contract still means that workers can speak up and talk back to management with much less fear of reprisal. Having a contract is a lot more like having free speech with your employer, which most workers without a contract don't have.
Most people are at-will employees and can be fired for anything (other than being fired for their membership in a protected class like race, sex or religion) including being fired for the color of their shirt or what they've said.
 

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