News Digest for the Week of November 8

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! Huge new Unearthed Arcana for Dungeons & Dragons, Critical Role going to Amazon, new playtest classes for Pathfinder 2nd Edition, Fantasy Flight Games announces new Genesys, Star Wars, and Legend of the Five Rings books, and more!

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Wizards of the Coast released a new Unearthed Arcana with class variants for every single class in the core game. These go beyond new subclasses and into full-on overhauls of multiple classes and new options in general for character creation and advancement. The document starts off with the new Proficiency Versatility, which allows you to swap one of your skill proficiencies for one from your class’s skill list (even if you learned the skill originally from your background or elsewhere) every time you reach a level that grants you the Ability Score Improvement. Each class has some change in the playtest document, either a replacement or an enhancement. Barbarian gets two replacements, Bard gets three enhancements, Cleric gets three enhancements and two replacements, Ranger gets four enhancements and four replacements, Rogue gets one enhancement, Sorcerer and Warlock each get four enhancements, Wizard gets two enhancements, and Druid, Fighter, Monk, and Paladin each get three enhancements. One of the enhancements for each of the spellcasting classes include an overhaul to the spell lists. There is also the addition of four new Fighting Styles for the Fighter, Paladin, and Ranger classes as well as Martial Versatility which, like the Proficiency Versatility, allows you to “retrain” one Fighting Style each time you learn a new one from your class in addition to learning the new style.

The drastic nature of this overhaul has many questioning what this means for the future of Fifth Edition, whether this is a precursor to a “5.5e”, a second Player’s Handbook, or some other major change to the game line. Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition has been out for five years at this point which historically is about average for an edition’s lifespan before some sort of update, revision, or overhaul – Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition was revised after six years, Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition after three, and Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition after two. If major changes are in the future of D&D 5e, there most likely won’t be an announcement for at least another year if not longer based on the nature of the publishing industry and time between previous playtest material making it into the official game.

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After a crowdfunding project raising $11,385,499 from fans for an independently-produced Critical Role animated series, Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina has been picked up for distribution by Amazon for two seasons. Backers who are not subscribers to Amazon Prime will still be able to view the first two episodes of the series early and will have access to the entire first ten-episode season, but will have to subscribe in order to view the second season. The announcement has received some backlash even though such distribution arrangements for crowdfunded television and films are common – creators for the previously highest-funded television Kickstarter, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Revival, signed an exclusive distribution deal with Netflix after the project funded and the Veronica Mars film from 2014 was distributed and partially funded by Warner Bros. Pictures after its successful Kickstarter. No release date has been set, but the Critical Role team said that further announcements would come in late 2020.

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Paizo released the playtest document for the upcoming Advanced Player’s Guide for Pathfinder 2nd Edition. The document features four new full classes with a playtest period running until December 2. The investigator is your classic detective who uses analysis to solve problems, gaining bonuses to the focus of their current “case” and the ability to study enemies to find weak spots for bonus damage. The oracle is a divine spellcaster who focuses on divinations and the exploration and revelation of mysteries, sacrificing their health to create miraculous effects. The swashbuckler is…well, a swashbuckler. You’re not just a master in combat, you’re a performer as concerned with how awesome an attack looks as you are with its effectiveness, with the former frequently leading to the latter with class benefits for deftly moving around the battlefield. The witch casts arcane magic through a familiar with a focus on curses and hexes granted by your otherworldly patron. The Pathfinder 2nd Edition Advanced Player’s Guide is scheduled for release in July of 2020.

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WizKids released details on the next line of their prepainted minis for D&D, Icons of the Realm: Volo’s & Mordenkainen’s Foes. The collection features forty-four new miniatures in random boosters featuring one Large and three Medium or Small figures. As normal with the Icons line, there’s also a premium figure in addition to the randomized boosters, this one being the Elder Brain. The package contains one Elder Brain and six terrain minis for stalagmites. The WizKids website states that the line will be available next month, but the Amazon link currently lists the product as "unavailable” rather than ready for pre-order. When they are available in December, the booster packs will be available for a retail price of $15.99 or in a “brick” of eight boosters for $127.92 with the premium Elder Brain figure available for $49.99.

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EN World’s posted a bit of gaming history this week. Ed Greenwood’s original map for the Forgotten Realms was on display at GameholeCon last week and we have pictures thanks to GameholeCon’s director, Alex Kammer. The map, as you can imagine, is huge and does have some differences from the current landscape of Faerun. The full map above doesn’t really give an idea of the scale of this map even clicking on the full-resolution version. You can find more images of close-ups of the different parts of the map on the Sage Advice D&D blog.

This week, we also got our first real look at the sales figures for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. Benjamin Riggs posted information based on first-hand sources giving us a look for the first time at how well the edition did financially. Like many companies, TSR did not publish sales figures to the public but, under the management of Lorraine Williams, also did not let internal staff know either making it difficult to estimate how many copies of the game were sold. The article has a lot of detail, but the summary is that AD&D 2nd Edition sold well at launch but quickly fell off compared to AD&D 1st Edition and Basic D&D, both of which continued to sell steadily if not grow for many years while 2nd Ed’s sales fell off by half after its launch in 1989 and never came back. Riggs goes on to speculate this may have contributed to the state of TSR during the 1990s since the staff outside upper management were unaware of the stagnated sales and, because of this, were unable to take action to correct the trend. Riggs is currently working on a book detailing the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast.

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In case you missed it, here’s what else has been posted to EN World this week!


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Fantasy Flight Games dropped a slew of new book announcements and previews this week. For Star Wars, the new book Starships and Speeders is…well, a bunch of starships and speeders. Along with other vehicles as well. The book features not only an expansion of the list of ships, speeders, walkers, and more available in the game but also features unique statistics for “legendary vehicles”, like the above-pictured Lando Calrissian’s Millennium Falcon. This 144-page sourcebook will be available in the first quarter of 2020 with a retail price of $39.95.

The new book for Legend of the Five Rings, Path of Waves, details characters who exist outside the Celestial Order. Outside the struggles of the Great Clans (or caught up in them against their will), the ronin, gaijin, and other outcasts have a degree of freedom in Rokugan society that can be appealing despite the disadvantages. This new preview gives a look at the ronin, the masterless samurai and the different ways such a fate can befall a warrior. The 256-page setting guide does not yet have a release window, but will retail for $49.95.

The Genesys roleplaying game gets a big expansion with the Genesys Expanded Player’s Guide. The book is organized into different settings (fantasy and myth, gothic and Lovecraftian horror, and post-apocalyptic survival), each one containing new character creation options, equipment, weapons, monsters, and NPCs. Additionally, each section features advice on creating campaigns within the genres and tips on setting the tone to tell the stories you want to tell. There’s no release window for this book either yet, but the 112-page book will have a retail price of $29.95.

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This is a good week for fans of the Warhammer franchise on Humble. To start, this week has a massive sale on Warhammer and Warhammer 40K video games up to 80% off. The Rogue Trader bundle from Cubicle 7 is also still available, featuring a full twenty-two book library of rulebooks, sourcebooks, adventures, and more for Rogue Trader all in DRM-free digital format. This bundle runs until Wednesday, November 13. The Black Library has also cracked open their vault of Warhammer 40K audiobooks and dramas including The Buried Dagger, The Long Night, Fulgrim, and Horus Rising. This bundle runs until Wednesday, November 27. And if you want to create your own games (or anything else really), Humble has the Design Like a Designer bundle featuring over $790 worth of DRM-free ebooks on design from web design, graphic design, layout, and career advice for freelancing. This bundle runs until Monday, November 25.

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Sometimes, you just want to be evil. Or maybe you’re a DM who wants to add a bit more of the dark side to your game. The Corpus Malicious is a 400-page sourcebook subtitled the Codex of Evil for 5e. New classes, races, archetypes, spells, rituals, equipment, monsters, NPCs, cults, and a lot more fill this massive book exploring the evil side of fantasy. The PDF is available for £16 (about US$21) and the hardcover for £40 (about US$52), with other levels to add on the Mindabar: The City of Malice campaign setting. This project is fully funded and runs until Thursday, November 14.

I don’t know why, but Final Fantasy has been on my mind a lot recently even though there hasn’t been much new since the last FFVII Remake update. Seems a perfect time for Era: Lost Legend to show up on Kickstarter for me then. Inspired by Final Fantasy, Chrono Cross, and other JRPGs, Lost Legend is a full core rulebook using the Era d10 dice pool system, meaning you can play this on its own or use it as a sourcebook for your other Era games. The PDF is available for a $25 pledge, add on the Player’s Guide for $30, the paperback for $45, and the hardback for $60. This project is fully funded and runs until Wednesday, November 13.

When I think about clean, the first thing that comes to my mind is the iconic D&D monster, the Gelatinous Cube. I mean they are the Roomba of a dungeon ecology after all. Now you can get your own bar of high-quality Gelatinous Cube Soap. The base version is lime-scented but there are more colors and scents to unlock through stretch goals. And every bar contains an entire set of randomly-selected polyhedral dice! You can get one for CA$20 (about US$16) or a four-pack for CA$80 (about US$61). This project is fully funded but you’ve only got until this Sunday, November 10, to help them unlock the final stretch goals.

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 be streaming over the weekend, 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

Comments

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
I agree it's too soon for a 5.5 Ed. This is like a videogame with many expansions, for example the sims. When a new edition is published there are three phases:

  • We want the return or update version of our favorite expansión.
  • We want new things.
  • The balance of power is broken and now we need a total reboot.

5th Ed is still in the phase 1. Maybe we could find a second line of d20, possibly a d20 Modern 2.0. or a Gamma World but my own intuition says me they want to wait until after more experience with adaptations to the current system in some videogames, not only Baldur's Gate.

They day when there were plans for a new edition, we will see not only compediums, but also sourcebooks with new ideas to experiment, for example a remake of "Magic of Incarnum" with new classes as the shifter and the summoner from Pathfinder but with soulmelds. It would be the best time to allow itself more risks without too many complains about a "jump the shark" effect.

If WotC could listen me, I would suggest to hire Dreamscarred Press to publish new books about incarnum/akasha, martial adepts and psionic powers, and a friendly agreement with Paizo for a 5th Ed version of some pathfinder classes (hybrids, occult, cavalier, alchemist, summoner, oracle, inquisitor, gunslinger, swashbuckler..), and selection of creatures.
 

Abstruse

Adventurer
My random but informed guess:

We'll get an announcement fall of 2020 for a "relaunch" of D&D 5e coming in either winter 2020 or spring 2021. My money is on the latter, particularly if one of the feature films in preproduction finally goes into actual production and/or to time with release of Baldur's Gate III.

It won't be a new edition, but something closer to the revision that happened in AD&D 2nd Ed. or the Essentials line for 4e. Everything will be backward and forward compatible, but it'll be rewritten with new example text, clarified rules, updated classes, and probably some new art here and there. The updates to the classes will also be available for free, either as a PDF or straight up part of the SRD so people who already have the PHB won't need to buy the new one.

My other guess: They'll revive one of the old sourcebook titles like "Player's Option" or "Skills and Powers" specifically as a secondary sourcebook updating the classes.
 

Jacob Lewis

The One with the Force
Very excited for the Starships and Speeders sourcebook. The last few books have been really useful in consolidating and updating information for all three systems. But minor tweaks and new formats often preclude to a new or revised edition forthcoming. I don't know if I'm ready for that yet. But until that happens, I shall enjoy this!
 

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