News Digest for the Week of March 3

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! New releases for Starfinder and Pathfinder, new Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves merchandise, the Lone Wolf adventure books get an updated reprint, and more!

For a quick summary of the week’s news, Jessica Hancock will bring you up to speed with EN Live's This Week in TTRPG every Friday.

Don’t forget, you can keep up with all the week’s gaming news in detail with Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk. This week, Morrus, Peter, and Jessica talk about how dice mechanics of an RPG influence how it feels to play.

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In case you missed it elsewhere on EN World this week:
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Paizo announced an update for Starfinder with the release of Starfinder Enhanced. Similar to the “Unchained” line for Pathfinder, this update is not a new edition but a collection of new options to update and revise several core classes and species. The book will include all new versions of the envoy, solarian, technomancer, and witchwarper classes along with new class features and options for every Starfinder class published to date. Twelve new playable species will be introduced or revised including kitsune and novians. There will also be new archetypes, spells, equipment, and feats plus rules for scalable equipment so your favorite gear can level up with your character. Optional subsystems for narrative starship combat, expanded creature companion options, and new uses for Resolve Points will also be included. The hardcover is available for preorder new with a release scheduled for October.

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Paizo also announced a return to Tian Xia with a new adventure path and new sourcebooks. The adventure path Season of Ghosts will take characters from 1st to 12th level across four books, one for each season of the year. The first book, The Summer that Never Wars, is set for release in October and places the characters in the haunted lands of Shenmen after the small town of Willowshore celebrates the Season of Ghosts, a local festival meant to appease the evil spirits of the land and ensure the safety of the village for the coming year. Of course, something went wrong and the party must intervene and help protect the village from the vengeful ghosts.

Then coming in 2024 is not one but two books from the rules and lore team covering the region. Lost Omens Tian Xia World Guide covers the nations and cultures that inhabit Tian Xia with a look at the whole history of the region from the elemental hegemony and yaoguai wars in ancient times to the return of Hao Jin in the modern era and the secrets of the undying emperor Yixing. Then the Lost Omens Tian Xia Character Guide will include rules for six brand new ancestries and multiple backgrounds, heritages, and feats plus new options for existing ancestries that exist in Tian Xia. Announced so far are the Samsarans (beings that have been reincarnated many times and can draw on the skills from their past lives), wayangs (diasporic people who have sailed from the Shadow Planes to the oceans and forests of Tian Xia), and tanuki (fun-loving tricksters and shapeshifters who seek to get the most out of life before their luck runs out).

Paizo also announced the creative team for the line:

Lastly, we couldn’t have put these books together without an amazing team of writers! The Lost Omens Tian Xia books are brought to you by Eren Ahn, Jeremy Blum, Alyx Bui, James Case, Banana Chan, Connie Chang, Rick Chia, Hiromi Cota, Hans Chun, Theta Chun, Dana Ebert, Basheer Ghouse, John Godek III, Joan Hong, Sen H.H.S., Michelle Jones, Joshua Kim, Daniel Kwan, Dash Kwiatkowski, Jacky Leung, Jesse J. Leung, Monte Lin, Jessie “Aki” Lo, Adam Ma, Liane Merciel, Ashley Moni, Kevin Thien Vu Long Nguyen, Collette Quach, Andrew Quon, Kyra Arsenault Rivera, Christopher Rondeau, Joaquin Kyle "Makapatag" Saavedra, Shahreena Shahrani, Kienna Shaw, Philip Shen, Tan Shao Han, Mari Tokuda, Ruvaid Virk, Viditya Voleti, Grady Wang, Emma Yasui, and Jay Zhang.

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Paizo also became the latest tabletop RPG company to issue a statement against the use of algorithmically generated artwork. Paizo joins Chaosium and EN Publishing in take a stance against the use of artwork and text generated through algorithms sometimes called “AI art” in favor of human creators. From the statement:

Over the last few months, the world has seen a huge upsurge in interest, use, and quality of algorithm-generated imagery and text. Since we launched the company in 2002, Paizo has made its reputation with the assistance of countless traditional artists and writers, who are just as integral to the success of our games as our in-house editors, art directors, designers, and developers. The ethical and legal issues surrounding “AI art” and writing prompt programs—and the serious threat they pose to the livelihoods of partners who have helped us get to where we are today as a company—demand that we take a firm position against the use of this technology in Paizo products.

In the coming days, Paizo will add new language to its creative contracts that stipulate that all work submitted to us for publication be created by a human. We will further add guidance to our Pathfinder and Starfinder Infinite program FAQs clarifying that AI-generated content is not permitted on either community content marketplace.

Our customers expect a human touch to our releases, and so long as the ethical and legal circumstances surrounding these programs remains murky and undefined, we are unwilling to associate our brands with the technology in any way.

Stated plainly—when you buy a Paizo product, you can be sure that it is the work of human professionals who have spent years honing their craft to produce the best work we can. Paizo will not use AI-generated “creative” work of any kind for the foreseeable future.

We thank the human artists and writers who have been so integral to our success in the past, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.

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With the release of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves coming later this month, the release of tie-in merchandise has exploded. First, there are new entries in the Dicelings line of toy monsters that transform into d20 dice, the Displacer Beast, Blue Beholder, and White Dragon available in June for $13.99 each. Next, we have the line of action figures including Edgin the Bard, Simon the Sorcerer, Holga the Barbarian, and Forge the Rogue. Each of these will be available in August for $24.99. And if you’re wondering where Doric the Druid is, her figure is of her owlbear wildshape form available for $44.99. Also, last fall Hasbro released a line of action figures based on the 1980s Dungeons & Dragons cartoon that seemed to lack a few members of the party. Well, this August Eric the Cavalier, Presto the Wizard, and Sheila the Thief will join the rest of the group at $24.99 each.

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Holmgard Press announced paperback reprints of the classic Lone Wolf series of adventure books. The series by Joe Dever read similarly to the Choose Your Own Adventure or Fighting Fantasy novels where readers make decisions for the character to advance the story, only with an ongoing story spanning multiple volumes set in the world of Magnamund. This new paperback edition will feature new cover art along with additional material maps and expansions previously published in the hardcover Definitive Edition. The first three books in the series, Flight from the Dark, Fire on the Water, and The Caverns of Kalte, have been released with the remainder of the series scheduled for releases across 2023 into 2024. This marks the first time the entire series will be reprinted in paperback by a single publisher since its original release.

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Fragging Unicorn Games launched the Kickstarter for their urban fantasy cyberpunk game Subversion. Set in Neo-Babylon, the same world as their miniature skirmish wargame Gangs of the Undercity, the game fuses fantasy with cyberpunk that attempts to twist the normal dystopian feel on its head by focusing on community, direct action, revolution, and hope. Players will work together to create their community and its goals along with the rivals and antagonists that will be the focus of the campaign. The game uses a d6 dice pool system with a beta document available for public preview which allows as much a focus on relationships as combat where getting worn down, broken, or betraying your principles is as much a danger as bleeding out in an alleyway. And if the setting sounds a bit like Shadowrun, that would be because much of the design team are current freelance developers on Shadowrun for Catalyst Game Labs who have set out to create a unique game within the same niche subgenre that focuses more on community and direct action than on mercenary freelance corporate espionage. This Kickstarter is fully funded and runs until Thursday, March 23.


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, follow me on Mastodon for RPG chat and general nonsense, 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



timbannock

Adventurer
View attachment 277203Does this not require AI? I thought Alexa used conversational artificial intelligence.
I think you're going to see a lot of hypocrisy on this stuff as companies get a handle on what each aspect of "AI-generative creative" means. In this case, though, I think it's a legacy product, because I haven't seen anything released/updated on this since over two years ago, unless my Google-fu is weak.
 

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