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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

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.
As far as I know, WotC still sells AD&D content, including these succubuses. They are the Monster Manual and the famous Vault of the Drow series.

The point is, D&D has always included sexually suggestive images, since the origins of D&D.

Because "racy" is an important part of storytelling. Most movies have a "racy" scene, a romance movie has more scenes.

Because, sexuality and love are fundamental aspects of a human psyche, and make a story more vivid and compelling.
 

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Curmudjinn

Explorer
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".


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.
I literally replied to you once, and in agreement. You keep on posturing though. Hope the weather is fair in your tower.
 


dalisprime

Explorer
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.
As a gay man: those images were in bad taste. Him trying to defend them by juxtaposing them against tasteful sexy imagery shows how little he understands that he was in the wrong. The only image that he had the right to defend was the wooden elf thing. The rest were blatant erotica.
The headless ghost wasn't censored on grounds on being headless. It was censored on grounds of suggesting fellatio.
The ooze was hentai, pure and simple.
This has nothing to do with homophobia. This is all about a guy throwing a childish tantrum* because he wasn't allowed to push super racy imagery.
*which he did - he coupled censored images with juvenile commentary which got his product banned.

This has nothing to do with the queer nature of the art. DMG had every right to censor the product on the grounds they quoted.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
As a gay man: those images were in bad taste. Him trying to defend them by juxtaposing them against tasteful sexy imagery shows how little he understands that he was in the wrong. The only image that he had the right to defend was the wooden elf thing. The rest were blatant erotica.
The headless ghost wasn't censored on grounds on being headless. It was censored on grounds of suggesting fellatio.
The ooze was hentai, pure and simple.
This has nothing to do with homophobia. This is all about a guy throwing a childish tantrum* because he wasn't allowed to push super racy imagery.
*which he did - he coupled censored images with juvenile commentary which got his product banned.

This has nothing to do with the queer nature of the art. DMG had every right to censor the product on the grounds they quoted.
This is the most intelligent reply I've seen on the topic.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
You sure are confrontational for someone who claims to agree with me. And insulting.
The feeling when the OP's confrontational passive-aggressiveness and demand of a strict topic discussion is spun to tell another they are the one that is insulting.
Well played.
 

The only image that he had the right to defend was the wooden elf thing.
The "wooden elf thing" is the only image that is a nude woman instead of a nude man? Sexism makes it defensible?

Therefore a woman is ok nude, but a man is not ok nude?

The point of the narrative is that these creatures are sexual. That is the trope.

If sexy women like succubus are ok, then sexy men like pink ooze are ok.

It is a simple rule.
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
The feeling when the OP's confrontational passive-aggressiveness and demand of a strict topic discussion is spun to tell another they are the one that is insulting.
Well played.
You are literally commenting on the news article I wrote. You came in and started talking about a topic that was not relevant to the news story I reported on and kept telling others what the topic actually is including to me, the person who wrote the article you are commenting on. You have been overly confrontational with every other commenter (except the one who agrees with you) to the point of personal insults. Sorry kid, you don't get to claim the high ground here.
 

As a gay man: those images were in bad taste. Him trying to defend them by juxtaposing them against tasteful sexy imagery shows how little he understands that he was in the wrong. The only image that he had the right to defend was the wooden elf thing. The rest were blatant erotica.
The headless ghost wasn't censored on grounds on being headless. It was censored on grounds of suggesting fellatio.
The ooze was hentai, pure and simple.
This has nothing to do with homophobia. This is all about a guy throwing a childish tantrum* because he wasn't allowed to push super racy imagery.
*which he did - he coupled censored images with juvenile commentary which got his product banned.

This has nothing to do with the queer nature of the art. DMG had every right to censor the product on the grounds they quoted.
It isnt about "taste". It is about rules.

If I was going by taste, would omit the headless image, and keep the Pink Ooze image. Because Pink Ooze image looks fun for gaming narrative. I would only use the headless image if the story had a gory lurid mood.

Again it is about rules. About sexual discrimination.

Taste is irrelevant.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
You are literally commenting on the news article I wrote. You came in and started talking about a topic that was not relevant to the news story I reported on and kept telling others what the topic actually is including to me, the person who wrote the article you are commenting on. You have been overly confrontational with every other commenter (except the one who agrees with you) to the point of personal insults. Sorry kid, you don't get to claim the high ground here.
Case and point. Claims insult. Then insults. The irony is laughable. Enjoy your crow. I'll just block your passive-aggressiveness. Done.
 


dalisprime

Explorer
The "wooden elf thing" is the only image that is a nude woman instead of a nude man? Sexism makes it defensible?

Therefore a woman is ok nude, but a man is not ok nude?

The point of the narrative is that these creatures are sexual. That is the trope.

If sexy women like succubus are ok, then sexy men like pink ooze are ok.

It is a simple rule.
It has nothing to do with nudity or gender - notice how DM's Guild ALSO flagged the 'female' as potentially crossing the line? They didn't tell him to remove it. You are pushing a narrative that doesn't exist. Had he inserted a disclaimer at the beginning of the product advising readers about imagery fit for mature audience and THEN got his product retracted, he'd have a point. He did no such thing - there is only a note about checking with the players if they are comfortable with this kind of content in their session. That is absolutely on him and him alone.

Also, you can sell something as sexual without displaying it explicitly - the hentai ooze and the auto-fellatio ghost make for explicit imagery.
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
Also, you can sell something as sexual without displaying it explicitly - the hentai ooze and the auto-fellatio ghost make for explicit imagery.
The official miniature for the succubus from Dungeons & Dragons using art and designs from Wizards of the Coast and produced by WizKids is wearing nothing by a black thong.
 

notice how DM's Guild ALSO flagged the 'female' as potentially crossing the line? They didn't tell him to remove it.
If that nude "wooden elf thing" was male, that word "potentially" would never have happened. It would be flat out sexual discrimination.

Just like the Pink Ooze male versus the Succubus female.

Females can be nude and sexually suggestive, but the censors enforce the sexism that males cannot.
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
All the commentary in this thread is on one part of the article. The DM's Guild needs clearer guidelines and (perhaps - I'm not familiar with the art in question) more even handed enforcement. Or they need a warning / disclaimer and a checkbox indicating the purchaser is an adult.

What caught my attention is the passage of one of my favorite game artists, Jim Holloway. I always loved his art and thought it was well ahead most game art. His black and white art conveyed more than most of the color art of today. RIP Mr. Holloway.
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
All the commentary in this thread is on one part of the article. The DM's Guild needs clearer guidelines and (perhaps - I'm not familiar with the art in question) more even handed enforcement. Or they need a warning / disclaimer and a checkbox indicating the purchaser is an adult.

What caught my attention is the passage of one of my favorite game artists, Jim Holloway. I always loved his art and thought it was well ahead most game art. His black and white art conveyed more than most of the color art of today. RIP Mr. Holloway.
It usually happens because of the nature of my column. But yeah, Holloway's art is right up there with Elmore's in terms of defining my teenage years between the former's work on BattleTech and the latter on Shadowrun. It was difficult to pick just one piece of art, but I went with Natasha Kerensky just because of the graffiti he added: "HOLLOWAY LIVES" And in a way, so long as we continue to appreciate his art, he always will.
 

dalisprime

Explorer
The official miniature for the succubus from Dungeons & Dragons using art and designs from Wizards of the Coast and produced by WizKids is wearing nothing by a black thong.
I'm at a loss here - are you suggesting that tasteful nudity is somehow equivalent to a ghost giving itself head?

If that nude "wooden elf thing" was male, that word "potentially" would never have happened. It would be flat out sexual discrimination.

Just like the Pink Ooze male versus the Succubus female.

Females can be nude and sexually suggestive, but the censors enforce the sexism that males cannot.
And yet the twitter conversations that erupted around this list lots of images showcasing varying degrees of male nudity, so which is it? BOVD for 3e had highly suggestive depictions of male anatomy and it got published. The key caveat - it informed the buyer about adult themes in the book!

The main point here is, he was given the chance to soften the imagery somewhat to make it more tasteful but he did so while inserting snarky juvenile comments. That shows everything about him as a person.

I can agree that guidelines aren't clear, but him and his ilk pushing a narrative of oppression is plain wrong.
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
I'm at a loss here - are you suggesting that tasteful nudity is somehow equivalent to a ghost giving itself head?
In the contest of this discussion, yes. Because succubi don't exist. They are fictional. There is no "succubi form" the mini is paying tribute to. It is only topless because the sculptor and painter decided to make it topless and posed in a provocative position and because management at multiple companies approved a hot woman wearing nothing but a thong to market to, by their own claims, children and teens.

Very interesting choice of words talking about a queer man there...
 

I am comfortable with content labels. I am uncomfortable with sexists functioning as censors.

Let me know if the content includes.

• Romance (kissing, embracing, marriage ceremonies, gay, straight)
• Nudity (male, female)
• Sexually suggestive images (male, female)
• Sexually explicit images (male, female)
• Weapons and combat (pretty much all D&D)
• Graphic violence (blood, dismemberment)

As long as these labels are applied accurately and impartially, according to clear rules that lack sexism, great.

I welcome gay/straight romance.

I am comfortable around nudity, sexually suggestive images, and weapons and combat.
However, I would become highly concerned if only women appear nude and sexually suggestive. If there is a sexually suggestive nude woman, then there needs to be a sexually suggestive nude man. If there is a straight couple, there needs to be a gay couple.

I would doublecheck if sexually explicit images or graphic violence are appropriate for the gaming group.

Also quantity seems to matter. One or two images of sex or violence feels different from a book of such images.
 
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I'm at a loss here - are you suggesting that tasteful nudity is somehow equivalent to a ghost giving itself head?
It seemed more like a magic item to me, a collar that made the head detachable. (Somewhat like a special use of the Misty Step spell.)

Anyway, he wasnt giving himself head. He was licking his belly. There was no genitalia within the frame of the image.

The image is "sexually suggestive". This differs objectively from "sexually explicit".

It is in the same category as a woman with a banana. Or in D&D, a phallic sword.



By contrast, the images of succubuses do have genital areas and breasts within the frame of the image, and are sexually suggestive, yet there is zero difficulty publishing them − to teens − and posting them as examples of sexually suggestive images that are normal in D&D.

The only problem is the sexism.
 
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