News Digest for the Week of September 11

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! Huge Level Up 5e playtest, playtests for Pathfinder 2nd Edition and Starfinder, Avalon Hill leaving Wizards of the Coast, Peter Pan RPG announced, and more!

Don’t forget you can get all the gaming news every week with Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk! This week, Morrus and Peter are joined by Rick Heinz to talk about The Red Opera, with Colin Parks of the band DiAmorte joining for the first part of the show!


In case you missed it elsewhere on EN World this week…

Lots of news on the playtest for EN Publishing’s Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition this week, including the very first playtest packet. It’s not insubstantial either, as the playtest only covers Origins (the replacement for the “race” system in Dungeons & Dragons) and comes in at a whopping 74 pages. The character generation system has been split into three stages now: Heritage (your biological species), Culture (the world and culture you grew up in), and Background (the sort of life they led before becoming an adventurer). This system neatly splits the core function of Race and Background from the standard 5e rules into something more reflective of real life yet still covers all the same game mechanics in a more verisimilitudinous way (yes, spellcheck, that is too a word!)

Heritage provides you with biological features such as size, lifespan, movement speed, vision type, etc. along with your choice of Heritage Gifts which give a single ability. Culture gives you languages spoken, weapon and skill proficiencies, spells, and other benefits you’d learn growing up within a culture. Backgrounds provide your Ability Score increases, proficiencies, languages, starting equipment, and other features or benefits from dedicating part of your life to a profession (yes, “criminal” can be a profession if you work very hard at it). Not only will this separation of different aspects of a character’s origin allow for characters similar to Captain Carrot of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch as seen in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett (who was a human raised by dwarves who is, aside from being 6’6” tall, more like a dwarf than a human), but it also addresses the question players have had about the Half-Elf and Half-Orc for years: Why does the other “half” have to be human? Well, it doesn’t anymore!

Once you’ve had a chance to take a look at these alternate rules, there are already five surveys up on the Level Up 5e website starting with a general overview of the new Origins system and specific surveys covering the Dragonborn, Dwarf, Elf, and Gnome heritages and cultures. And if that’s not enough, there’s already a new blog post from the design team examining damage output and balance between classes. Level Up 5e is still in the early stages of development, but you can sign up for email notifications about news, surveys, playtests, and the eventual Kickstarter right now.


Speaking of playtests, Paizo has one playtest ending soon and one that just started! First, the Pathfinder 2nd Edition playtest for Pathfinder Secrets of Magic due for release in July 2021. This playtest features two new classes, the magus (the classic warrior-mage hybrid that combines martial weapons training with the arcane spellcasting of a wizard) and the summoner (who works in tandem with an entity called an eidolon which shares a connection so strong they even share health). The playtest document is available now, and the associated survey is already open and will run until October 16. For Starfinder players, you have just a few days left to get in your thoughts and opinions for the Tech Revelation sourcebook. This playtest features the nanocyte class (who uses nanomachines to enhance their abilities) and the new optional rules for mech combat. The playtest survey is scheduled to close on September 18 so if you haven’t had a chance to look at these playtests, now is the time.


DriveThruComics has a deal for those interested in EN Publishing’s Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD as they’ve brought together the comics and the RPG in discounted bundles! There are six bundles available for Judge Dredd, Slaine, and other 2000 AD titles from 33% to 41% off the normal price. But the two best bundles obviously are the Judge Dredd RPG & 2000 AD bundle which gives you the core rulebook for Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD and the first expansion/adventure Judge Dredd: The Robot Wars and the Judge Dredd The Cursed Earth Bundle with the Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth adventure and setting, both of which come with the graphic novel collections that tell the stories of those books. Read the comics for inspiration and gather your friends at the game table!


Andrews McMeel Publishing announced a new 5e setting book based on Peter Pan, Neverland: A Fantasy Role-Play Setting. Based on the public domain play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up by J. M. Barrie and the subsequent novel Peter and Wendy, this 172-page sourcebook definitely feels from the previews more like a fairy tale re-imaged for the modern day than its (copyrighted) Disney counterpart. The publisher describes the book as a “feature-length hexcrawl” intended as a sandbox campaign with each hex being a self-contained portion of Neverland with plenty to explore and full of new NPCs and monsters to encounter. The hardcover will be available on October 6 for a retail price of $24.99.


Steamforged Games announced Animal Adventures RPG Starter Set, “a spellbinding roleplaying game for beginners”. This starter set builds on their previous miniature lines Dungeons pawprint Doggies and Cats pawprint Catacombs to create a full roleplaying game tailored for brand new players. The boxed set includes a rulebook, seven character sheets, a double-sided map, gamemaster’s screen, illustrated tokens, dice, and – most importantly – four dog miniatures and three cat miniatures, all kitted out in cute adventure outfits and weapons ready to go adventuring (though they are unpainted so you might want to paint them first). The set will be available on November 9 and retail for $39.95.


Wizards of the Coast has been affected by a brand reshuffling within Hasbro. Effective this January, the board game imprint Avalon Hill will move away from Wizards of the Coast into the direct management of Hasbro. The board game company, which produces Axis & Allies, Diplomacy, Risk, Robo Rally, and the various versions of the Betrayal series (including the D&D version Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate), will move under the Hasbro Gaming banner with all management transferred over at the start of the new year. Speculation from both ICv2 and Geek Native indicates the move may be an attempt by Hasbro to re-invigorate the brand as it has been rather stagnant as WotC focuses on releases for Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering along with managing at this point three video game development studios (Wizards Digital Games Studio, Tuque Games, and Archetype Entertainment) and two major video game licenses (the upcoming Baldur’s Gate III from Larian Studios and the MMO Magic: Legends from Cryptic Studios). Wizards of the Coast has advised retailers to contact their distributor as this change may disrupt supply chains for existing games under the Avalon Hill banner.


Two new free RPG supplements came out this week. The first is Ultraviolet Grasslands, a rules-lite “pointcrawl” module based on “psychedelic heavy metal, the Dying Earth genre, and the Oregon Trail games. The game is half setting, half adventure, and half epic trip as it leads a group of “heroes” into the depths of a vast and mythic steppe filled with the detritus of time and space and fuzzy riffs. The 70-page Player’s Guide is available as Pay What You Want from at the link above with streamlined introductory rules, while the full 198-page core rules are available there or from DriveThruRPG for $25.

The second game comes courtesy of Adult Swim and is Tigtone: The Never-Stopping Prophecy. This 5e-compatible adventure is based on the parody fantasy Tigtone animated series by Andrew Koehler and Benjamin Martian. The PDF is available for free from the link above and there is a contest to win one of 100 boxed sets which will include the adventure, two unpainted minis, and a custom dice set. The set will not be available for purchase. The adventure is a promotion for the second season of Tigtone, which premieres this Sunday on Adult Swim at midnight Eastern time (and is available on All4 in the UK).


WizKids announced the newest in their Trophy Figure series, the Owlbear. This mounted head trophy is made of foam rubber and comes painted and ready-to-mount, though you’ll need to pick your spot carefully as it weighs between 16 and 18 pounds. The head is 23” tall, 22” wide, and sticks out 16” from the wooden mount. Between this, the red dragon, black dragon, beholder, and mind flayer trophy plaques already available, it’s not that hard to imagine creating a game room that feels more like a fantasy hunting lodge. This announcement comes on the heels of a life-size Chandra Nalaar foam figure from Magic: The Gathering (which, if you’re curious, puts the fiery redhead Plainswalker at 5’6” tall). The Owlbear Trophy Plaque will be available in January 2021 with a retail price of $449.99.


The Old School Revival Bundle is still going on Humble Bundle. This bundle features a collection of retro adventures, sourcebooks, rulebooks, and accessories to satisfy any fan of old school roleplaying games whether you want the feel of the original fantasy roleplaying boxed experience in Swords & Wizardry or the more advanced version of Castles & Crusades. This bundle is available until Wednesday, September 23. Tabletop RPG fans might also want to take a look at this month’s Humble Choice, which features $278 worth of games available including Vampire: The Masquerade: Coteries of New York. You can get your choice of three of the 12 games with a Basic subscription for $14.99 a month or nine with a Premium subscription for $19.99 (though this month, Premium subscribers get all 12 games). You can cancel anytime and keep all the games you’ve picked forever! Other titles this month include The Shapeshifting Detective, Catherine, Golf with Your Friends, and eight other choices plus access to the 90+ DRM-free games in the Humble Trove.

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, 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 stream as soon as my setup is no longer a mess after the hurricane evacuation, 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

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