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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

An other pervasive example of sexism in D&D.

EVERY image, where the male is monstrous ugly and the female is attractive beautiful.

That is sexist. Specifically, homophobic.

For every monstrous male, there needs to be a monstrous female.

For every goodlooking female, there needs to be a goodlooking male.

It is an easy rule of thumb.
 

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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
If that nude "wooden elf thing" was male, that word "potentially" would never have happened. It would be flat out sexual discrimination.
Are you talking about the green male with the tree branch horns? From my pov, that's a male figure, albeit with long hair. I hope we can agree that men can have long hair? So I'm not seeing the discrimination based on the gender of the figure.

I'd have flagged it for showing a peek of pubic hair; but remove that and otherwise looks like "sexy" as opposed to "porny". Clegg does note that that piece of art was not flagged.

For me, what made the tentacle image and the headless dude "porny" was the extended tongues. In none of his comparison images of women did they have extended tongues. I agree with @dalisprime that this has nothing to do with the queer nature of the art (especially if the tree-horned elf is male) and much more with the presentation.

I will also agree that the rules were not clear; and unfortunately were more along the lines of the Warren standard of "We'll know it when we see it" - always a slippery slope.

Glad OBS is working with WotC and re-writing the rules to be more clear.
 

Are you talking about the green male with the tree branch horns? From my pov, that's a male figure, albeit with long hair. I hope we can agree that men can have long hair? So I'm not seeing the discrimination based on the gender of the figure.
Ah, the image probably is of a male. I read this image as feminine. It resembles the image of the female wood elf next to it.

This "wooden elf" image lacks any kind of problematic whatsoever. And yet, somehow, the sexist censors found a way to "potentially" want to censor it.

Perhaps this more than anything else incriminates the sexism of the censors.
 
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Here is the image of the wooden elf. The antlers appear wooden. Otherwise this seems to be a typical fey creature. Many fey creatures are nude − even seductive − as a central trope, such as dryad etcetera.

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Now compare this greenish fey creature above (left), with the very similar greenish fey creature below (top right).

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The two images resemble each other, and are highly comparable.

Yet the image of the female is a.o.k.

But the image of the male is "potentially" censorable.




Pure, unadulterated, sexism.
 
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Orcslayer78

Explorer
You are comparing artistic demi nudity to soft porn, queeness doesn't matter, gender doesn't matter.

The images from other products compared by Clegg show just some skin, the images in his module have all a clear invitation for sex, it's not an innuendo, they're all basically saying "take me rough!", with two of them already having an orgasm.

That's just a matter of poor taste.

But I know I will not convince you all because you, like Oliver Clegg himself, are just trying to win this argument by strawmanning cherry picking it into a case of homophobia and non inclusivity so you can play the victim card and get over with it.

How typical.
 
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Abstruse

Hero
But I know I will not convince you all because you, like Oliver Clegg himself, are just trying to win this argument by strawmanning it into a case of homophobia and non inclusivity so you can play the victim card and get over with it.
I don't think you know what the word "strawman" means.
 

dalisprime

Explorer
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.
If you're talking about the Blood War set mini, there is nothing suggestive about the pose of that particular succubus.
Very interesting choice of words talking about a queer man there...
I'm not talking about queer people. I'm talking about people making a scene to protect someone who is clearly in the wrong. I don't care what sexuality they represent. If they are wrong, they are wrong. He could have asked if applying a maturity label on the product would be sufficient for the art to go unchanged. He chose to be snarky instead. He's using his queerness as a shield to hide behind, after acting like a brat. Again, as a gay man, I am not okay with that. Be queer all you want, but don't be a prick and then hide behind your sexuality.

An other pervasive example of sexism in D&D.

EVERY image, where the male is monstrous ugly and the female is attractive beautiful.

That is sexist. Specifically, homophobic.

For every monstrous male, there needs to be a monstrous female.

For every goodlooking female, there needs to be a goodlooking male.

It is an easy rule of thumb.
Succubus is literally standing next to an equally attractive Incubus. Angelic forms are all handsome men in the monster manual for 5e. As for females: hags are a thing. Not only are your arguments flawed, you're literally setting fire to the hill you chose to stand on. Just quit.
 

Abstruse

Hero
Again, as a gay man, I am not okay with that. Be queer all you want, but don't be a prick and then hide behind your sexuality.
I...how...do you realize...I know irony has been dead for a while, but you didn't have to dig it up and desecrate its corpse like that.

Anyway, I'm going to quote what a few LGBTQ+ people told me earlier today: No one gay person speaks for the entire queer community.
 

dalisprime

Explorer
I...how...do you realize...I know irony has been dead for a while, but you didn't have to dig it up and desecrate its corpse like that.

Anyway, I'm going to quote what a few LGBTQ+ people told me earlier today: No one gay person speaks for the entire queer community.
Incidentally, neither do they. Using queerness as a shield for shitty behaviour is messed up. I'm not using my sexuality as a shield for acting like a prick. I'm using it to give context to my statement and last I checked, calling someone out for acting like an immature brat isn't anywhere near as derogatory as acting like an immature brat. He could have easily resolved the situation through respectful conversation. He chose not to.
What he's done is an equivalent to someone who acts inappropriately in a strip bar, then doubling down on it after being asked to stop by the staff. The staff have every right to act heavy handed with such an individual.
 

Abstruse

Hero
Incidentally, neither do they. Using queerness as a shield for shitty behaviour is messed up. I'm not using my sexuality as a shield for acting like a prick. I'm using it to give context to my statement ...
And what context exactly are you trying to add if you're not attempting to use your sexuality as a shield? Because I don't know if you noticed the thread on Twitter, it's full of LGBTQ+ game designers and gamers who supported Clegg's statement of a double standard, many of whom pulled out examples of products on the DMs Guild that are way more explicit than anything in Curse of Hearts both in terms of art and text.
 


Abstruse

Hero
Yes, you're right, this is most cherry picking, I'll correct my previows post too.
It's not cherry-picking either. Are you just throwing random terms you've seen people use on Twitter out there hoping you'll eventually stumble across one that's relevant? The choices made in art to compare were made because of their resemblance to the art deemed objectionable, comparing apples to apples. Which is the entire point, to show the double standard in how queer content is judged versus heteronormative content. What are they supposed to do, pull random Jeff Dee line art of a goblin to compare it to a full-color drawing of a djinn?
 

dalisprime

Explorer
And what context exactly are you trying to add if you're not attempting to use your sexuality as a shield? Because I don't know if you noticed the thread on Twitter, it's full of LGBTQ+ game designers and gamers who supported Clegg's statement of a double standard, many of whom pulled out examples of products on the DMs Guild that are way more explicit than anything in Curse of Hearts both in terms of art and text.
Do I need to provide you with a dictionary definition of context and excuse? I stated my sexuality so nobody can say I'm just a straight man, mansplaining. I stated my sexuality because as a member of that community it is my duty to call out other members of the community when their behaviour isn't acceptable.

I just explained very clearly why I believe his actions are not right. You're being obtuse on purpose here. Twitter unfortunately is a medium of mob mentality. Get enough followers and you'll rouse a crowd jumping in your defense regardless of whether you're right or wrong. Trump is a blatant example of this.
The few times I saw Clegg pop up on my timeline, his tweets came across as borderline inflammatory so excuse me if I don't jump on the "Leave Clegg alone, he's just a queer man" bandwagon (in case it's not clear, I'm using a hyperbole here).
 
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Orcslayer78

Explorer
It's not cherry-picking either. Are you just throwing random terms you've seen people use on Twitter out there hoping you'll eventually stumble across one that's relevant? The choices made in art to compare were made because of their resemblance to the art deemed objectionable, comparing apples to apples. Which is the entire point, to show the double standard in how queer content is judged versus heteronormative content. What are they supposed to do, pull random Jeff Dee line art of a goblin to compare it to a full-color drawing of a djinn?
I'm trying to be civil, it's a pity you can't do the same, I guess you can't differentiate apples from tomatoes because this is the case. It's not about the skin uncovered but about the kinkiness of the images. Clegg compared artistic demi nudity ( from other products) to soft porn hentai (from his product) trying to claim they are the same, when they are not, and trying to build an argument about double standards and homophobia, when is definitely not the case.
 
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Abstruse

Hero
Clegg compared artistic demi nudity ( from other products) to soft porn hentai (from his product) trying to claim they are the same, when they are not
You realize simply repeating the same double standard people are complaining about isn't an argument that the double standard doesn't exist. In fact, every time you say that, you're proving everyone's point by confirming there's a double standard.
 

Orcslayer78

Explorer
You realize simply repeating the same double standard people are complaining about isn't an argument that the double standard doesn't exist. In fact, every time you say that, you're proving everyone's point by confirming there's a double standard.
This is a false assumption, plain and simple, there is no double standard, there are limits, and the art of that product exceeded that limit while the other arts userd for comparison did not.
 

Abstruse

Hero
This is a false assumption, plain and simple, there is no double standard, there are limits, and the art of that product exceeded that limit while the other arts userd for comparison did not.
If there's not a double-standard, why were people able to easily find in a matter of minutes dozens of examples of similar content in art and text (and in some cases, even more sexually explicit) from both products available on the DM's Guild and their own stock art, but only the gay-themed book was banned from sale? Especially when you keep repeating "This is sexualized content but that is not" with the only difference between the two being how you describe them. Why is a woman in a provocative position wearing nothing but a thong "tasteful" but a man in a similar position wearing more clothing "pornographic" if there's not a double-standard at play?

And why are so many people spending an entire day and a half at this point trying to convince people that there wasn't an anti-LGBTQ+ double-standard at play when even the DM's Guild themselves admitted as much? I have to be here responding because it's my column, but all of you could've gone off and played some new game off the Steam Summer Sale or something ages ago.
 

dalisprime

Explorer
DMG caved in, pure and simple. That's a question of what mob pressure and having a member of staff who agrees with the criticism did.
The art comparisons were not nearly as eroticised it's pure and simple. They were in many cases drawing parallels on monsters in combat poses for crying out loud - image composition makes all the difference in establishing just how lewd it presents itself. His creatures were naked, in suggestive poses and with very erotically expressive face expressions.
Comparable art always was missing at least one of those three aspects which drastically changes how far it pushes the envelope.
I've gone through the succubi images in MMs for 3.0 3.5 and 4.0 and they are either not shown at all, or clothed. The panty wearing succubus mini can be best described as prancing - i did not find the matching art in any of the books.

Clegg had a very easy way to deal with the art issues - applying a warning label or disclaimer (like many, if not all the other brought up products do). he not only chose not to, but went one step further and decided to insert snarky childish commentary when he got told to soften up two pieces of art in the product. Both those actions got his product banned, resulting in him rallying a mob on twitter because apparently that's the grown up thing to do.

Lastly, nice work being dismissive/patronising like that. Really strengthens your authority as a member of staff. I should perhaps go cry on twitter and perhaps rally a mob in retaliation. Sounds like something you're perfectly fine with.
 

Abstruse

Hero
Clegg had a very easy way to deal with the art issues - applying a warning label or disclaimer (like many, if not all the other brought up products do). he not only chose not to
No, he was not given that option. Neither the DMs Guild nor Clegg have said that, and there is no "mature" flag for products on the DMs Guild the way there are for products on DriveThruRPG.
 

dalisprime

Explorer
No, he was not given that option. Neither the DMs Guild nor Clegg have said that, and there is no "mature" flag for products on the DMs Guild the way there are for products on DriveThruRPG.
He wasn't given the option but he could have asked about it. Complete Hag comes with such a disclaimer on the product page.
 

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