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News Digest for the Week of July 3

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news. The Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters Kickstarter is live, artist Jim Holloway passed away, Dungeon Masters Guild faces criticism for censored book, Cards Against Humanity workers unionizing in face of accusations against the company, and more!

Don’t forget, you can find out all the week’s gaming news at Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk. This week, Morrus and Peter talk about the open playtest for EN Publishing’s new comedy/action RPG, the Awfully Cheerful Engine aka ACE!


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In case you missed it elsewhere on EN World this week…
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The Kickstarter for EN Publishing’s new 5e sourcebook, Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters, is now live. This 235-page hardcover from EN World’s publishing arm (there’s your disclosure) features 5e compatible stat blocks and complete write-ups from almost 100 figures from history, myth, legend, and tall tales. Who needs Strahd when you can have the original Count Dracula? Can your players get away with their heist when Sherlock Holmes is on their case? Will you tilt at windmills with Don Quixote, test your strength against Paul Bunyan or Sun Wukong, sail the seas with Anne Bonny and Blackbeard, hunt the Lock Ness Monster or Chupacabra, cross blades with Miyamoto Mushashi? Entries span the history of the world from Gilgamesh and Beowulf to Mothman and Harry Houdini. The PDF is available for £15 (about US$19), the hardcover for £40 (about US$50), and more pledge level options, some of which include EN Publishing’s Masterclass Codex including a £120 (about US$150) deluxe edition with both books in faux-leather hardcover. This Kickstarter is not just unlocked stretch goals but fulfilling them by sending PDFs to backers even though it will run the entire month until Friday, July 31.

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The 2020 ENnie Award Nominations were announced along with the Judges’ Spotlight winners this past Monday. The Judges’ Spotlight winners are Sleepaway by Jay Dragon, Glitter Hearts from Leatherman Games, Refractions in Glasston by from Chaosium, Knarls Candy Compendium by Makenzie De Armas and Levi Phipps, and Hit the Streets, Defend the Block from Lost Highway Games. I’ll spare you listing all the nominees here and direct you to the link above, but this year’s slate features an incredibly diverse line-up of games with a large number of smaller and independent titles across all the categories. The 2020 ENnie Award Ceremony will take place via live stream hosted by Ken Hite and Robin Laws on Thursday, July 30 starting at 8:00 PM Eastern (details about where to watch are still pending so check the ENnie Awards website for updates).

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Prolific roleplaying game artist Jim Holloway passed away on June 28. Holloway’s work spanned the industry in the 1980s and beyond featured in games including Dungeons & Dragons, Star Frontiers, Paranoia, Tales of the Floating Vagabond, Chill, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and so many others. For me, his work holds a place of honor on my bookshelf on the many BattleTech and MechWarrior products he worked on, like the cover art for Tales of the Black Widow Company pictured above. In the announcement linked above, Jim’s son Mike made a simple request of the Art of Jim Holloway fan group, “if everyone could please continue to share his art in this group and wherever else, my family would really appreciate you helping us keep his memory alive.”

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The Dungeon Masters Guild faced criticism on social media for the removal of an LGBTQ+ themed adventure for the reason of sexual content. The title in question was Curse of Hearts: Stake, Parry, Kill by Oliver Clagg which is a gay-themed vampire adventure. The DMs Guild made a statement on Twitter on June 30 that they discussed changes needed to interior art in the book with the creator, that “changes were not made in accordance with that discussion and, unfortunately, exacerbated the sexual innuendo of the content”, and the title was removed from the store. Following the initial backlash, DMs Guild released a second statement meant to clarify their stance, but stated: “The OneBookShelf [the parent company of DMs Guild] team stands by our decision to request adjustments to the art in question”.

Note: The following link contains images that some may find sexual or adult in nature. The author of the adventure posted a thread that went image-by-image that DMs Guild requested be changed. Accompanying each piece of art from Clagg’s Curse of Hearts were multiple pieces of art drawn not only from currently published DMs Guild products but also artwork provided by DMs Guild as “stock art” for use in DMs Guild products. The intention was to compare what was allowed if not provided by the DMs Guild for women and female-coded fantasy species and monsters versus the images of men and male-coded characters from the adventure. There were also comparisons of text from the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual entry on the succubus with similar sexual innuendo to that of the adventure. This led to accusations on social media of a double standard in judging the sexual nature of art between heterosexual-presenting artwork and the “male gaze” versus LGBTQ+ artwork. Many of those upset by the decision stated the issue is not that sexualized content was not allowed on the DMs Guild, but that the standards for what is considered “sexualized” was not made clear and that there was no guidance to what was and was not considered sexual.

On July 2, the DMs Guild released a third statement apologizing for “the trauma our decision brought up for queer members of our community, gay men in particular.” The statement also announced that, starting next week, discussions with Wizards of the Coast will begin to formulate more specific content guidelines, taking suggestions from the community on how to approach those guidelines. Further from the statement: “Finally, we’ve offered to the author of the recent title in question the opportunity to reinstate his title in the meantime, and he has asked to wait til [sic] guidelines are established.” Clegg quote-tweeted this third response with the comment, “This is good news, and timely. The guild has been updated me as things develop, and honestly the fact that this conversation is being had is really important to me. Thank you to everyone who spoke up and helped this happen. Your voice can make a difference.”

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Cards Against Humanity, the makers of the party game Cards Against Humanity, faced multiple rounds of accusations levied against the company by current and former employees. The first round started on social media in early June (the statement discussed later by CAH gives the date of June 6) with allegations of creating a sexist and racist company culture and of retaliation against employees speaking out. This culminated in an article published by Polygon on June 23 with statements from twenty-one former employees of CAH. While the article talks about the content of the game (which is intentionally offensive and boundary-pushing), it also highlighted problems in the work environment itself, specifically for black women and non-binary people working at the company. On the same day, CAH posted a statement addressing questions from Polygon about the company, its corporate culture, policies for handling complaints from employees and contractors, and other key points brought up in the article.

On June 25, one of the former employees quoted in the article, Nicolas Carter, wrote on Medium about his time at the company and departure which included more detailed accounts of his accusations of racism among the staff and his belief that the management of Cards Against Humanity had him involuntarily committed for a mental health evaluation after he brought up concerns of racist content in the game. CAH edited their originally-posted statement on June 29 specifically to address these allegations. “This person originally alleged on Twitter that our head writers had him involuntarily committed. That assertion is false.” CAH goes on to state the process for involuntary commitment to a mental institution in Illinois, further stating “No Cards Against Humanity employee participated in such a process” but that a former writer (“a personal friend of his acting completely independently of the company”) contacted Carter’s parents with concerns about his mental health.

On June 30, several employees of CAH made clear their intent to unionize under the name Cards Against Humanity Workers United. The announcement was posted to Twitter on the account @CAHUnion declaring their intent to organize. The tweet reads, “We, the workers, want to change Cards Against Humanity for the better. That’s why we’ve joined @CMRJB [Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board]. Today we sent this letter to the owners of @CAH demanding voluntary recognition of our union. We’re optimistic they’ll do the right thing. #1u”. The post was accompanied by a mission statement for the union presented, in true Cards Against Humanity style, as a series of black-background images with white Helvetica text. Cards Against Humanity management stated on June 1 that they intend to voluntarily recognize the union, saying “If the majority of our employees want a union, we’re all for it.”

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The Tabletop Mentorship Program announced open applications for micro-grants for members of underrepresented groups in tabletop gaming. Currently, the organization has three micro-grants open for $100 each month. To qualify, an applicant must identify with one or more identities that are underrepresented in the tabletop community (with regards to gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, race, age, or other demographics, be making something related to “analog tabletop games” (roleplaying games, board games, card games, wargames, etc.), and be able to receive funds through PayPal, Venmo, or CashApp. Applications opened on July 1 for the first round of micro-grants and will close at 11:59 PM Pacific time. Applications will be anonymously judged each month by a rotating board who will choose three recipients for the micro-grant, which may be used however the recipient chooses to further their ambitions in tabletop gaming.

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We’re in the final week for the Maps Extravaganza bundle on Humble Bundle. This bundle features map assets, tokens, tiles, and more to create your own fantasy maps. At the $25 level, you also get a one year licensed to Campaign Cartographer 3+ or upgrade to the $30 level to get a lifetime license as well as licenses for City Designer 3 and Dungeon Designer 3. This bundle benefits Doctors Without Borders and runs until Wednesday, July 8.

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So ignoring the giant Kickstarter logo above, we’re going to start with Game On Tabletop and the campaign for Torg Eternity: Tharkold. Tharkold is a reality of Cold War techno-horror where demons use occult techno-magic to enslave humanity and vie for power among other demons. So not a very pleasant place. This sourcebook brings new psionic and magic abilities, new high tech gear (some of which even works), and a setting of resistance against an omnipresent oppressive evil engaged in a three-way war between factions. The physical book and PDF are available for $40 with a deluxe “Tharkoldu Vault” boxed set for $225 with the Tharkold Sourcebook, GM screen, maps, soundtrack CD, dice tray, and more. There are also add-ons to pick up most any Torg book you may have missed since the new edition’s release. This project has blown past its funding goal and has until Tuesday, July 14, to unlock more “level-up” stretch goals.

Steve Jackson Games laid down a challenge: Can their fans fund twelve PDF products for GURPS in the span of the Kickstarter campaign? The initial goal was for the first, a ten-page set of rules called GURPS Action 6: Tricked Out Rides. Eleven other PDFs followed as stretch goals with adventures, locations, encounter collections, and rules for horror, steampunk, space opera, and more. So far, they’ve funded and unlocked ten of the eleven stretch goals for the campaign. The pledge level to get all these PDFs? Just $3. Of course, there are additional levels like the $30 that includes the PDFs plus a $30 credit for SJG’s online storefront Warehouse 23, the $49 level which adds on the core rulebooks for GURPS, and a $99 level with all unlocked PDFs and a $125 credit to Warehouse 23. And there are also add-ons for several other GURPS products as well which you can purchase by increasing your pledge by the desired amount or using the credit from your pledge level. This Kickstarter is fully funded and has until Monday, July 13, to unlock that final twelfth PDF.


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’ll test out my new Playstation 4 and capture card on stream as soon as I can get the thing working, 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

Comments

Orcslayer78

Explorer
Regarding DMGuild vs Oliver Clegg.

I've seen the illustrations of Oliver Clegg's product and they were basicaly soft p0rn. DMGuild acted fairly at the beginning, but when the author refused to change the internal artwork they should have stick to their decision to remove the product, instead they reinstalled it even if it goes against the TOS only because of social pressure, which is sad.

Personally I believe two things:
1) if the product would have contained heterosexual art it would still be banned.
2) Authors can insert representation in their content without getting too kinky, this is even counterproductive for the queer community because it enhances the sterotype of "queer content = adult content" which is not true.
 

Regarding the Curse of Hearts in the DMsGuild.

It seems images of sexy men, and sexy gay themes, are in fact treated differently from images of sexy women and sexy straight themes. A straight couple kissing can be rated "G" while a gay couple kissing can be rated as if "R". There is clearly a doublestandard, and indeed discrimination.

It seems like DMsGuild is trying to put together clearer guidelines for sexy content, so that it can be applied more consistently and justly.

The artist Oliver Clegg has requested to wait until after these guidelines are formed before re-publishing the Curse of Hearts.
 

Orcslayer78

Explorer
Regarding the Curse of Hearts in the DMsGuild.

It seems images of sexy men, and sexy gay themes, are in fact treated differently from images of sexy women and sexy straight themes. A straight couple kissing can be rated "G" while a gay couple kissing can be rated as if "R". There is clearly a doublestandard, and indeed discrimination.

It seems like DMsGuild is trying to put together clearer guidelines for sexy content, so that it can be applied more consistently and justly.
I don't think the problem was the sexual orientation of the images, I've seen both the slime and the headless man and they were plain ahegao, I've never seen ahegao in other products of the DMGuild.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
I'm of the same mind. His images were softcore hentai and should be removed. They are far, far more vulgar-sexually provocate than the images he compared them to.
That said, there definitely are other images on other PDFs that may breach it. His complaint is invalid and his argument immature. You can't just get away with committing a crime because someone else did. You get caught, you deal with the consequences and move on. You don't tell on everyone and flounder around like a child scorned until you get away with it.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
To add, my knee-jerk reaction didn't even reference sexual orientation of either image. It was just a single person. I was immediately surprised of the pornographic nature of the images.

There is a huge difference between tasteful artistic nudity of men and/or women to describe a point or culture, and being in erotic ecstacy with a writhing tentacle between your legs.

Clegg clearly doesn't understand the difference or ignores it to support his narrative.

This would be fine in a book of Slaanesh or something of that nature, but let's call it what it is.
 

The essence of the problem is:

You cant have an image of a female nude succubus, unless you can also have an image of a male nude Greek athlete.

You cant have a romantic couple that is heterosexual, unless you can also have a romantic couple that is homosexual.

And so on.

Otherwise, it is the legal definition of sexism, a doublestandard where what is permissible to one sex is impermissible to an other sex.

One of the images is a male Pink Ooze, appropriately comparable to a female Succubus.
 
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ugavine

Villager
Regarding the Curse of Hearts in the DMsGuild, maybe the problem was that the ooze didn't have nipples? Nipple-less ooze is often a problem.

I seriously found nothing wrong with any of the artwork.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
The essence of the problem is:

You cant have an image of a female nude succubus, unless you can also have an image of a male nude Greek athlete.

You cant have a romantic couple that is heterosexual, unless you can also have a romantic couple that is homosexual.

And so on.

Otherwise, it is the legal definition of sexism, a doublestandard where what is permissible to one sex is impermissible to an other sex.

One of the images is a male Pink Ooze, appropriately comparable to a female Succubus.
That is an issue, but that isn't the issue with this. There are many other images in his PDFs that push the bill, including in that PDF.
The comparison images he used weren't even comparable, beyond revealing of skin and one being male and the other female. It's a comparison based on false balance.
If the succubus is in the throes of an orgasm with a tentacle between her legs, that is comparable and should be censored.

Nudity and pornographic nudity are not the same. Don't pool them together and cite sexual orientation when it's visibly not the issue.

I don't doubt there are comparable images on DMs Guild that haven't been used in the argument, as they didn't get complaints or what have you. But let's compare apples to apples here.
 

That is an issue, but that isn't the issue with this. There are many other images in his PDFs that push the bill, including in that PDF.
The comparison images he used weren't even comparable, beyond revealing of skin and one being male and the other female. It's a comparison based on false balance.
If the succubus is in the throes of an orgasm with a tentacle between her legs, that is comparable and should be censored.

Nudity and pornographic nudity are not the same. Don't pool them together and cite sexual orientation when it's visibly not the issue.

I don't doubt there are comparable images on DMs Guild that haven't been used in the argument, as they didn't get complaints or what have you. But let's compare apples to apples here.
Enforcing rules against male images, but failing to enforce rules for female images.

Or enforcing rules against black suspects, but failing to enforce rules against white suspects.

It is an extremely serious, legal, issue.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
Enforcing rules against male images, but failing to enforce rules for female images.

Or enforcing rules against black suspects, but failing to enforce rules against white suspects.

It is an extremely serious, legal, issue.
I completely agree with that. However, it has no bearing in the issue at hand.
DMs Guild can choose what to publish on their site, so it being a legal issue there isn't even a conversation.
If it was the same level of sexual art and not removed, is that ridiculous? Sure. Of course, getting caught doing something, then turning in a host of others you believe also committed the same crime is also ridiculous.

Also, using the racial bias of policing is a strawman to the topic. True that it's a terrible reality that needs to stop.
If you're being accurate, it would be one man pockets an item at a store, but sets it down before leaving. The intent is there, but not beyond.
The next man pockets an item and leaves, then is caught and asked to return it. He refuses and then shouts about the man inside who didn't leave with it. Clearly, the situation is based in the same place but with different eventualities.
Adding the caught man was gay, or black, or anything else to pull accusations from the obvious, furthers a different problem.

Anyway, I believe my thoughts are spoken evenly here. Signing off of the topic.
 

I completely agree with that. However, it has no bearing in the issue at hand.
DMs Guild can choose what to publish on their site, so it being a legal issue there isn't even a conversation.
If it was the same level of sexual art and not removed, is that ridiculous? Sure. Of course, getting caught doing something, then turning in a host of others you believe also committed the same crime is also ridiculous.

Also, using the racial bias of policing is a strawman to the topic. True that it's a terrible reality that needs to stop.
If you're being accurate, it would be one man pockets an item at a store, but sets it down before leaving. The intent is there, but not beyond.
The next man pockets an item and leaves, then is caught and asked to return it. He refuses and then shouts about the man inside who didn't leave with it. Clearly, the situation is based in the same place but with different eventualities.
Adding the caught man was gay, or black, or anything else to pull accusations from the obvious, furthers a different problem.

Anyway, I believe my thoughts are spoken evenly here. Signing off of the topic.
Selective enforcement − is bias − and is an issue, when it is racist or sexist.

One doesnt need to realize that they are a racist or a sexist for them to be a racist or a sexist. The behavior speaks for itself.

Indeed, if most people realized what they were doing, they would prefer to stop being racist or sexist.
 

Consider the Pink Ooze with tentacles.

I would describe the image as "racy", in the 1950s sense of cheesecake or beefcake.

The images are tame by any standard.

If the Pink Ooze had instead taken on the appearance of a woman, no one would bat an eye.

It is precisely the sexism, specifically the homophobia, that caused the censors to treat this image differently from other images that were unobjectionable, even official.



Separately, there is the image of the detachable head. For my tastes, it is a bit too violent. But in a game with undead bodyparts, and ghosts with detachable heads, there is a place for a story that has a luridly suggestive version of this. I wouldnt censor it, unless I censored every headless image in the game.
 
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Curmudjinn

Explorer
I would describe the image as "racy", in the 1950s sense of cheesecake or beefcake.

The images are tame by any standard.
And there it is.
The opinion as blanket fact of sexual standards.
Clearly, you're wrong. Otherwise, this wouldn't even be a topic.

The cover was "racy". The succubus he compared his image to was "racy". As described by the definition of racy.

A completely nude human figure in a sexually-provocative pose and facial expression, while being caressed and covered by intentionally-phallus-representing tentacles, as per the theme of hentai tentacle pornography.
.. Is racy..

🤣🤣
 

Abstruse

Hero
That is an issue, but that isn't the issue with this.
I completely agree with that. However, it has no bearing in the issue at hand.
The issue and topic at hand is the double-standard in judging what content is simply "racy" or "risque" and thus okay and what is "sexual" or "adult" and thus not okay. Literally, that is the issue. The double-standard at play when judging straight content versus queer content.

This should be made clear when the DMs Guild said they will be formalizing new content guidelines in order to address this double-standard and be more clear what is and is not allowed and that the creator of the adventure volunteered to keep the book removed from the DMs Guild until those guidelines are finalized so he can adhere to them.
 

A completely nude human figure in a sexually-provocative pose and facial expression, while being caressed and covered by intentionally-phallus-representing tentacles, as per the theme of hentai tentacle pornography.
.. Is racy..
Wait. What was that you were saying?




Like I was saying. Sexist doublestandard.
 



No one bats an eye, if the suggestive nude is a woman. The censors are sexist, specifically homophobic.



These images are "racy", like 1950s. They have their place in D&D storytelling.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
Wait. What was that you were saying?




Like I was saying. Sexist doublestandard.
That isn't the succubus he used to compare in his original Twitter complaint post. You're creating a false narrative with a completely different picture to invalidate my opinion and set a double standard which didn't exist in comment. That's like Fox News level of creating a story.
Thanks for that.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
The issue and topic at hand is the double-standard in judging what content is simply "racy" or "risque" and thus okay and what is "sexual" or "adult" and thus not okay. Literally, that is the issue. The double-standard at play when judging straight content versus queer content.

This should be made clear when the DMs Guild said they will be formalizing new content guidelines in order to address this double-standard and be more clear what is and is not allowed and that the creator of the adventure volunteered to keep the book removed from the DMs Guild until those guidelines are finalized so he can adhere to them.
Of course. We both know the issue is the degree in allowed content within those guidelines. The ongoing and pointless argument happening in this thread isn't about that simple fact.
It's about a false concept that two things are the same degree, when everyone can visibly see they aren't.
 

Abstruse

Hero
That isn't the succubus he used to compare in his original Twitter complaint post. You're creating a false narrative with a completely different picture to invalidate my opinion and set a double standard which didn't exist in comment. That's like Fox News level of creating a story.
Thanks for that.
No, other people used that image of the succubus. Others used the 3rd Ed illustration. Others used the 4e or Pathfinder ones. I used the official D&D and Pathfinder minis in my own Twitter thread on the subject. That is literally the point. You can find hundreds of examples of male gaze, sexualized images in official TSR/WotC D&D products, in other DMs Guild products, and in the stock art DMs Guild provides to creators of women. However, when that same male gaze is applied to a male character, it is suddenly "pornographic".

Of course. We both know the issue is the degree in allowed content within those guidelines. The ongoing and pointless argument happening in this thread isn't about that simple fact.
It's about a false concept that two things are the same degree, when everyone can visibly see they aren't.
You seem to really like telling me what the point of my own article is, don't you? I know what the topic at hand is. I set the topic at hand. You're the one who keeps shifting goalposts and changing what the discussion is about by talking about by talking about the artwork from the banned adventure on its own without comparing it to similar provocative artwork in products that were not banned. If one is allowed, the other should be. If one is not allowed, the other should not be. Doing otherwise is a double standard. That is the point, the topic, the issue, and the concept. Saying otherwise won't change that fact.
 

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