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News Digest for the Week of June 25

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! Confusion and Controversy around the new TSR Games, previews from the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms expansion for Magic: The Gathering plus a tie-in Dungeons & Dragons adventure path, an audiobook version coming for a classic 1990s RPG sourcebook, new adventures for Star Trek Adventures, and more!

Don’t forget, you can get all the news every week with Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk! This week, Morrus and Peter are joined by Shane Stacks to talk about superhero roleplaying games.


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In case you missed it elsewhere on EN World this week:
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There’s a new company in gaming called TSR. No, not that one. No, not that one either. The new company, TSR Games, is not the same TSR Inc. which was purchased by Wizards of the Coast, nor is it the TSR Games that produced Gygax Magazine and the current version of Top Secret. Which adds to the confusion as the latter company is still in operation. Let’s see if we can untangle the history here.

TSR (Tactical Studies Rules) was formed in October 1973 by Gary Gygax and Don Kaye to publish Dungeons & Dragons, which was released in January 1974. It was restructured into TSR Hobbies, Inc. in 1975 and once again restructured into TSR, Inc. in 1983. TSR, Inc. and all associated trademarks were purchased by Wizards of the Coast in 1997, and WotC ceased using the TSR trademark in 2000 and allowed it to expire in 2004. Jayson Elliot registered the trademark in 2011 and formed TSR Games, producing Gygax Magazine until 2016 and currently publishes the spy thriller RPG Top Secret. In 2020, Elliot missed a deadline for renewing the trademark and it was then registered by the new TSR Games. The new TSR Games is licensing the trademark back to Elliot’s TSR Games. So now there are two TSR Games, one owned by Jayson Elliot that has been around for ten years and one owned by Justin LaNasa and Gary Gygax’s son Ernie Gygax. Despite claims from the new TSR Games that it was “Founded in 1973”, there is no evidence that the two companies are related other than the involvement of someone with the last name “Gygax”.

TSR Games (LaNasa) announced one of their first two new products would be a new edition of Star Frontiers. A trademark application for Star Frontiers was filed by TSR Games (LaNasa) in 2020, the second such trademark filing in recent years as Evil Hat attempted to register the lapsed trademark in 2017. This application failed as Wizards of the Coast republished several Star Frontiers products online, marking their continued use of the trademark.

The other big game announced by TSR Games (LaNasa) was Giantlands which credits James M. Ward and Stephen E. Dinehart with artists Larry Elmore and Jeff Dee. Which was apparently news to at least a few of them. James M. Ward stated on Facebook “At the present time I know little or nothing about the relaunch of TSR”, while Jeff Dee said he was only a freelancer working under contract for art for TSR Games and “After investigating reports about statements made by representatives of this new TSR, I have determined that I can no longer do business with them in good conscience.”

What statements were those? Ernie Gygax, who is an executive vice president of TSR Games (LaNasa), did a video interview with Live from the Bunker where he made multiple controversial statements, including laughing at the “concepts of gender identity”, called Wizards of the Coast customers a “pack of lemmings” over a disclaimer added to some controversial reprints, and other controversial statements. A transcript of the first half of the video is available here, and you can watch the entire video here for those who want the full context of the statements.

TSR Games (Elliot) clarified the confusion over the company name in a Twitter thread, stating they lost the trademark through a missed filing date and “While we could win a lawsuit, we frankly don’t have the money to litigate. So, we’re licensing it back from them.” They further clarified that TSR Games (Elliot) used their new logo while TSR Games (LaNasa) is using one of the classic 1980s era TSR logos. TSR Games (Elliot) further distanced themselves with a statement from Jayson Elliot made through their official Twitter account, stating:

Clearing up confusion about an interview that has been making the rounds - we are a different company than the one using the old TSR logos.

Let me say unequivocally:

Black lives matter.

Trans rights are human rights.

Science is real.

Kindness is everything.

-Jayson

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We’ve got another large release of information about the upcoming Magic: The Gathering expansion Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Wizards of the Coast announced a five-part adventure series to promote the expansion. The adventure for characters level 8-10 will release as a free download, with each adventure ranging from 15 to 20 pages. While we don’t have much information yet, we won’t have to wait long as the first adventure will be available this Tuesday, June 29. The one thing we do know is that the adventure will introduce Planeswalking into Dungeons & Dragons.

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We also found out how the dungeon mechanic for the new expansion will work. Dungeons are special cards that don’t go in your deck or sideboard, but can be introduced into play by various cards with the ability to “venture into the dungeon”. The way it works is the first time you use a “venture into the dungeon” ability, you choose a dungeon card from outside the game and place it in your command zone. You then place a token on the starting room and activate that room’s ability. Room abilities vary, but feature benefits like gaining 1 life, placing a +1/+1 counter on a creature, cause each player to either discard a card or lose 2 life, and others. Each further use of “venture into the dungeon” advances your token through the dungeon to the next room, and each dungeon has multiple paths to complete the dungeon. So far, three dungeon cards have been previewed including the Dungeon of the Mad Mage, Lost Mine of Phandelver, and Tomb of Annihilation. Several of the cards will interact with the dungeons, including the new Planeswalker card for Ellywick Tumblestrum, the bard character played by Erika Fermina in the Wizards of the Coast promotional videos, the legendary Dragon Knight Nadaar, Selfless Paladin, and common cards such as the Shortcut Seeker (which allows you to venture into the dungeon when it damages a player) or the Gloom Stalker (which gains double strike if you’ve completed a dungeon).

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Even if you’re not a Magic: The Gathering player, there may be a reason for you to track down some of the cards from this expansion. Dicebreaker has a preview of the art cards from the set, which will feature stat blocks for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. While full art cards are nothing new to Magic having been introduced in Zendikar Rising in 2020, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms art cards will include art of the creature or NPC on one side and reference stats on the other. While Dicebreaker states there will be “more than two dozen” of these art cards, Polygon reports there will be over 80 of them, though the Polygon number may include other art cards such as full-frame and alternate art versions of other game cards.

The Adventures in the Forgotten Realms expansion for Magic: The Gathering will be available in Magic: The Gathering Arena and Magic: The Gathering Online starting on July 15, with the full release of the tabletop version following on July 23.

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Flying Buffalo Games, the oldest currently operating tabletop roleplaying company, announced it is being sold to an undisclosed buyer. Flying Buffalo’s CEO Steve Crompton announced the sale on the company’s forum and has stated that the new company, which has not been named, plans to remove at least some of the products currently available on DriveThruRPG “so get them NOW before they are gone FOREVER”. Flying Buffalo started in 1970 when Rick Loomis and Steve MacGregor created a computer program to run their play-by-mail game Nuclear Destruction with over 200 players. The company entered the roleplaying game industry in 1975 with the publication of Tunnels & Trolls, a fantasy roleplaying game designed by Ken St Andre that used point-buy character creation and d6s for task resolution.

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R. Talsorian Games announced an audiobook of the classic gamemaster advice soucebook for Cyberpunk 2020, Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads!!!! (yes, the four exclamation marks are part of the title). While the book was made for the second edition of the Cyberpunk roleplaying game and does feature some rules that apply solely to that edition, much of the book focuses on advice for running games that can apply to any edition of Cyberpunk, any cyberpunk RPG, or even to just running any game. While frequent readers of this column will know I was always a Shadowrun guy, even I found myself referencing this book frequently with its advice on tactical modern and near-future combat and how to handle games so that combat isn’t dominated by the cyberware-enhanced fighting machines most players tend to build. The audiobook will be available on Audible for $12.95 (with a discount for existing Audible subscribers) and on iTunes on July 15. You can also still get the PDF or print version now on DriveThruRPG.

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Modiphius released Anomalies, the third free supplement for Star Trek Adventures as part of their “Briefs” line. As any Star Trek fan knows, it’s not really Star Trek unless something weird is happening in space, and this supplement provides ten mission briefs featuring just that. The briefings are designed to be stand-alone or combined into a mini-campaign and can be used in any existing era to provide dangerous space encounters for your crew of Starfleet officers to investigate, engage, or escape from. There is also another new adventure for Star Trek Adventures, the Original Series era mission The Burning. The adventure is set during the Original Series time period and places the characters in an area of space claimed by the Kalakh Hedgemony. They find themselves immediately under attack, but the Kalakh vessel is no match for the technology of Starfleet…until the ship suddenly loses power for unexplained reasons and begins taking heavy damage. The mystery deepens as they reach Starbase 14 and find it heavily damaged as well. The 24-page PDF also includes guidance for modifying the adventure to other time periods and is available for $4.99. And for those curious about the system, there's a new Star Trek Adventures live stream on the VoidCatGaming Twitch channel An Echo of Steel every Wednesday starting at 6:00 PM Pacific time (Disclosure: The stream and Twitch channel are unaffiliated with Modiphus, and the author of this column is a moderator for this Twitch channel and am working on various professional collaborations with its owner).

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The Virtual Tabletop Bundle from HumbleBundle is a godsend for anyone playing tabletop roleplaying games online. This bundle over forty-five asset packs ready for use on any virtual tabletop with city/overland maps, battle-scale maps, tokens, markers, accessories, and more with a top pledge level to get everything at only $18. This bundle benefits the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and runs until Thursday, July 1. With re-openings continuing, conventions are starting to come back, which makes it a perfect time to get into cosplaying with the Return of Cosplay Bundle. This collection of instructional books covers everything from sewing, hairstyles, wigs, prop weapons, armor, and more. This bundle benefits a charity of your choice and runs until Thursday, July 8. For those looking to make their own video games or assets for virtual tabletops, the Learn Coding to Build Games Bundle features $1250 worth of instructional books and videos plus ready-made assets. Whether you want your game on mobile, PC, or console and want to use Unity, Unreal, or another engine altogether, there’s something useful in this bundle for any aspiring game designer. This bundle benefits Girls Who Code and Code.org and runs until Thursday, July 1.


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@enpublishingrpg.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 to get notifications when I go live, subscribe to Gamer’s Tavern on YouTube for videos on gaming history, RPG reviews, and gaming Let’s Plays, or you can listen to the archives of the Gamer’s Tavern podcast. Until next time, may all your hits be crits! Note: Links to Amazon, Humble Store, Humble Bundle, and/or DriveThru may contain affiliate links with the proceeds going to the author of this column.
 

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott


Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I guess I'll be the first to say that... The Out of the Abyss and Lost Mines dungeons don't really map to the actual adventures much.
 



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