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News Digest for the Week of February 28

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! First look at Baldur's Gate III gameplay, new Dungeons & Dragons playtest material in Unearthed Arcana, a preview of the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Gamemastery Guide, Fantasy Flight announces to Legend of the Five Rings RPG books, and more!

Don't forget, you can catch up on all the gaming news with Morrus' Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk! This week, Morrus and Peter talk about the upcoming Kickstarter for EN Publishing’s SolSpace: The Spartan Gambit.


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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 third in their series of Unearthed Arcana articles with new subclasses for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. The first for the Artificer is the Armorer, which allows the artificer to channel their magic through their armor to become almost a magical version of Iron Man. The Druid gets the Circle of Stars which harnesses the power of the stars and constellations to grant the druid divination powers and other abilities based on constellations (an Archer that grants a bonus ranged magical attack or a Chalice to boost healing spells and abilities). Finally, the Ranger gets the Fey Wanderer, turning the ranger into a guardian of the border between the material plane and the Feywild with illusionary and charm powers.

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The first gameplay reveal for Baldur’s Gate III happened at PAX East yesterday. The hour and a half presentation included not only a sample of the gameplay in its current state of development, but also the opening cinematic. To save you a bit of effort, the following should start right as the footage begins:


The cinematic lasts about two minutes and then character creation starts (tiefling, drow, githyanki, dwarf, elf, half-elf, half-drow, and Halfling were shown off). The next cutscene starts at the 15:00 mark and…I’m not saying a thing, just watch it because it is friggin’ epic. Gameplay starts again at the 19:00 mark (I swear I’m not rounding these times). The game at present features two camera modes, a third-person free-moving camera and an angled top-down camera to emulate the isometric perspective of classic CRPGs. The game also appears to be fully-voiced with multiple dialogue choices (the first interaction features five) written in first-person past-tense rather than the actual dialogue. “I feigned ignorance. What was she talking about?” or “I frowned. She’d been on that ship?” as two examples.

The first combat starts at 24:01 and is turn-based and is based on the 5e rules system. Advantage and Disadvantage are part of the mechanics, and you the action economy works the same way as well. It’s not a straight translation as there are more tactical features, such as weapons granting special actions based on type. There is a lot of freedom to be creative, though, as they show off at one point a character throwing their boots as an intellect devourer (and doing better than with the throwing daggers). And just in case you were worried combat would be easy, the first encounter resulted in a TPK during the demo.

The gameplay demo continues for over an hour with a Q&A starting at 1:24:16. There will be multiple difficulty levels and the stats in the game currently are straight from the RPG books so haven’t been tweaked for the current engine. It’s currently a point of discussion whether players will be able to respect the abilities of their companions. The game so far will be released on PC and Stadia. A question about the inclusion of previous companions like Minsc and Boo couldn’t be answered. Alignment is toned down from the original conception of the game at the request of Wizards of the Coast, but your actions good or evil will affect your relationship with your companions. The final question was about when Early Access would be available, but there was no firm answer on a date. However, Early Access will not be the complete campaign.

We do know that Baldur’s Gate III will be released before 2025 at the very latest as, during a shareholder presentation from Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast will have seven “new” games released during that time including expansions to Magic: The Gathering Arena, Baldur’s Gate III, Dark Alliance, the Manastrike and Spellslingers mobile games for Magic: The Gathering, the M:TG MMO Magic Legends, and an unnamed Dungeons & Dragons mobile game (which may be just new content for Warriors of Waterdeep).

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The first trailer from the Tales from the Loop series came out this week. The Amazon original series shifts the setting from the Swedish suburbs to the Midwest United States, though it will still be set in the 1980s. The show is based on the Simon Stålenhag art books directly rather than the Free League Publishing roleplaying game, though that has become so associated with the art books that even mainstream entertainment sites as referencing the tabletop RPG in their coverage of the show. The series stars Rebecca Hall (The Prestige, The Town), Paul Schneider (Parks and Recreation, Lars and the Real Girl), Daniel Zolghadri (Fahrenheit 451, Eighth Grade), Duncan Joiner (Lethal Weapon TV series, Spirit Riding Free), and Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones, Tomorrow Never Dies, Pirates of the Caribbean) with all eight episodes written by showrunner Nathaniel Halpern. The world premiere will be March 16 at South By Southwest in Austin, TX, with a worldwide release in more than 200 countries and territories on April 3.

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It looks like the previously-reported long-term closure of the roleplaying game development department of Fantasy Flight Games is more long-term than we thought as FFG announced two new books for the Legend of the Five Rings roleplaying game. As with previous releases, it’s a sourcebook and adventure pairing, this time focused on the greater realms surrounding Rokugan with the sourcebook Celestial Realms and the adventure Wheel of Judgment. Celestial Realms explores the role of the Phoenix Clan as caretakers of Rokugan’s soul with new player options and adventure seeds including the introduction of the Centipede Clan. Meanwhile, Wheel of Judgment puts that new knowledge of the spirit realms to the test as the entire party has died and must journey through Meido, the Realm of Waiting, to track down the corrupting influence of the Jigoku and possibly return to the world of the living. Celestial Realms is 144-pages and will retail for $39.95 and Wheel of Judgment includes a 32-page book, double-sided map, tokens, and more with a retail price of $19.95. Both books will be available in the second quarter of 2020.

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A full preview of the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Gamemastery Guide is now up on the Paizo website. The preview features the table of contents for the book and a chapter overview. The full chapter list is Chapter 1: Gamemastery Basics (guidance on running encounters, adjudicating rules, narrative collaboration, and more), Chapter 2: Tools (creation options for building creatures, hazards, intelligent items, relics, worlds, nations, planes, and more), Chapter 3: Subsystems (optional rules for victory points, influence, research, chases, infiltration, and more), Chapter 4: Variant Rules (ability score variants, alignment variants, feats and features, Level 0 characters, stamina, and more), and Chapter 5: NPC Gallery (kind of what it says on the tin). Also part of the post is four videos from Paizo’s YouTube channel expanding on the previews. The Pathfinder 2nd Edition Gamemastery Guide is due for release in early March with a retail price of $49.99.

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At the GAMA Expo, Paizo debuted a new direct-sales program for retailers. The program provides a free branded wire rack for retailers who purchase a selection of Paizo products including Pathfinder 2nd Edition, Starfinder, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, and various accessory products. This marks a break from Paizo, who normally does wholesale through the standard distribution chains. COO Jeff Alvarez said that it was the only way to offer the $300+ rack to retailers and still have a distribution discount. Hopefully, this will allow Paizo to expand into other retail markets as it provides a branded, compact, and pre-organized method of stocking their products in stores. Sign-ups for the program will go through the retailer locator site.

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This is the final week for the Cypher System and The Strange Bundle on Humble Bundle. The bundle features $298 in DRM-free PDFs for The Strange, Unmasked, Predation, Gods of the Fall, and more including the Cypher System Core Rulebook. This bundle runs until Wednesday, March 4. And if you’re not a subscriber to Humble Choice, you’ve got just a few days left to pick up Pathfinder: Kingmaker as one of your Choices. The Basic subscription for $14.99 gives you your choice of three games, while the Premium subscription for $19.99 gets you nine games that are yours to keep forever, with twelve games to choose from this month.

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ZineQuest 2 is still in high gear so here’s just a short overview of four projects that caught my eye this week.

One of the greatest things about ZineQuest is how it pushes the bounds of creativity in RPGs, and The Great Bork Team is a great example as it’s an RPG about a snowdog sled team. The PDF is available for $5 while the physical copy is available for $15. This Kickstarter runs until Thursday, March 5.

If an artic-based RPG doesn’t work for you, how about an Antarctic one focused on the age of polar exploration? The Last Place is an RPG based on the doomed attempt to reach the South Pole by Robert F. Scott as you try to survive the harshness of the cold, ice, and exhaustion. The PDF is available for $8 (though there’s an economic hardship level for $4) and the physical copy for $12. This Kickstarter runs until Tuesday, March 3.

Considering my personal media channels are branded “Gamer’s Tavern”, I know the importance of a good tavern in your games, and Tales from the Lusty Minotaur provides exactly that: A setting-neutral fantasy tavern with full maps and plenty of secrets, story hooks, rumors, and random tables to bring the tavern to life. The PDF is available for $5 while the physical copy is $10. This Kickstarter runs until Tuesday, March 3.

If you want to add some New World flavor to your fantasy games, Other Magic #2: Monsters of the Americas gives you detailed system-neutral descriptions of mythological creatures from all across North and South America and the Caribbean. The PDF is available for $5 and the physical copy for $10 including a printed sheet of paper minis. This Kickstarter runs until Thursday, March 5.


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 playing BattleTech on Sunday and the Mass Effect series on Tuesday, 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

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