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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

Abstruse

Adventurer
He wasn't given the option but he could have asked about it. Complete Hag comes with such a disclaimer on the product page.
He could have asked for an option that isn't available on the DMs Guild...except that this entire discussion is taking place because there is no such option on the DMs Guild and, in fact, the terms for publishing on DMs Guild specifically bans "obscene material", which again is the entire reason this discussion is happening at all.

And I checked Complete Hag. The mature content warning is part of the product description and is an admission that the product is in violation of the terms for posting content to DMs Guild. The fact that it is on the DMs Guild and is not banned is yet another example of the double standard at play here.
 

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dalisprime

Explorer
He could have asked for an option that isn't available on the DMs Guild...except that this entire discussion is taking place because there is no such option on the DMs Guild and, in fact, the terms for publishing on DMs Guild specifically bans "obscene material", which again is the entire reason this discussion is happening at all.

And I checked Complete Hag. The mature content warning is part of the product description and is an admission that the product is in violation of the terms for posting content to DMs Guild. The fact that it is on the DMs Guild and is not banned is yet another example of the double standard at play here.
No. It would be double standard if complete hag was allowed to exist without said warning, or if Clegg's product was still censored despite having a warning like that. Neither point is the case.

"other obscene material without the express written permission of Wizards of the Coast in a document separate from this License" - who's to say that the author of Complete Hag did not receive the permission on the provision that he attaches adult content warning to the product description?
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
No. It would be double standard if complete hag was allowed to exist without said warning, or if Clegg's product was still censored despite having a warning like that. Neither point is the case.

"other obscene material without the express written permission of Wizards of the Coast in a document separate from this License" - who's to say that the author of Complete Hag did not receive the permission on the provision that he attaches adult content warning to the product description?
There is no provision in the DMs Guild license nor is there any system in place on the DMs Guild site itself for what you are saying. The publisher of that book placed a warning in the description that effectively says "We are violating the DMs Guild license regarding what content is allowed with this product". The fact that it is still on DMs Guild means they are not enforcing their own license policies properly. You can create as many hypothetical "what ifs" you like, but that doesn't change the reality that there are no provisions in the DMs Guild license for a mature content warning as all obscene material is banned. That another publisher released a product with gay-themed art and text that was removed because it was declared obscene while other products - include one that openly admits it has obscene material by the standards of the license - means there is a double-standard in the enforcement of that license.
 

dalisprime

Explorer
There is no provision in the DMs Guild license nor is there any system in place on the DMs Guild site itself for what you are saying. The publisher of that book placed a warning in the description that effectively says "We are violating the DMs Guild license regarding what content is allowed with this product". The fact that it is still on DMs Guild means they are not enforcing their own license policies properly. You can create as many hypothetical "what ifs" you like, but that doesn't change the reality that there are no provisions in the DMs Guild license for a mature content warning as all obscene material is banned. That another publisher released a product with gay-themed art and text that was removed because it was declared obscene while other products - include one that openly admits it has obscene material by the standards of the license - means there is a double-standard in the enforcement of that license.
I literally pulled the quote from dmsguild format and content questions page. 🙄
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
I literally pulled the quote from dmsguild format and content questions page. 🙄
And it's still a hypothetical. And even if it were true (which there's zero evidence that's the case other than "it's technically possible it may have happened maybe" in which case I am officially a billionaire because it's technically theoretically possible that I am), that further indicates a double-standard because such consideration was not offered to the publisher of queer content.
 

dalisprime

Explorer
The offer is open to everyone. Clegg either checked the guidelines and blatantly ignored them or he did not check the guidelines at all - in either case, he has himself to blame. You are defending someone who did not follow the rules and then threw a childish tantrum over being punished for not following the rules. You realise how ridiculous your stance is, right?
 

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