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News Digest for the Week of September 17

Hello everyone, Darryl here with this week’s gaming news! News from the first day of Gen Con, more previews of the D&D adventure The Wilds Beyond the Witchlight, Paizo launches new community content program for Pathfinder and Starfinder, 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 Peter Martin to talk about Multiclass Feats from Purple Martin Press.


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In case you missed it elsewhere on EN World this week:
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With the imminent release of The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, more previews have trickled out across the internet. Last week, D&D Beyond provided full stats for the Jabberwock while Syfy had a preview of the fairytale swampland of Hither and Polygon revealed previews for fairies and the harengon. with D&D Beyond later providing full stats for the rabbitfolk harengon. Rob Wieland got an advance look at the book and gave his five favorite things from the book (which includes a displacer beast kitten). The full table of contents has been released with all five chapters (one on the Witchlight Carnival, one on the Palace of Heart’s Desire, and one each for the realms of Hither, Thither, and Yon) and five appendices (covering magic items, factions, creatures, roleplaying cards, and stagefight’s lines). Gale Force Nine also got in on the previews by showing off their custom DM Screen and map sets for the adventure. The hardcover of The Wild Beyond the Witchlight will be available for a retail price of $49.95 this coming Tuesday, September 21.

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Paizo live-streamed the keynote speech from Erik Mona from Gen Con with information about the publisher’s future plans. The biggest announcement from the keynote was the launch of Pathfinder Infinite in partnership with DriveThruRPG. This system allows content creators greater access to the intellectual property of both Pathfinder and Starfinder to create their own adventures, supplements, and other products. The program functions similar to the DMs Guild from Wizards of the Coast and similar storefronts for Call of Cthulhu and World of Darkness where creators receive 50% of the proceeds and must agree to certain licensing terms. The new program will start on October 13.

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Darker Hue Studios announced that their supernatural western game Haunted West is currently at the printers for imminent release. Kickstarter backers should be receiving their digital rewards shortly and the game will be available on DriveThruRPG on Tuesday, September 21. The hardcover can also be pre-ordered from the link above directly from Darker Hue with a retail price of $84.95 including the digital version, while the PDF is available for $39.95. In case that sounds like a lot to you for a rulebook, this book is eight hundred pages and packed with game rules and history. You can also purchase accessories like metal grit tokens, specially designed dice, additional scenarios, and more.

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Catalyst Game Labs had two big Shadowrun announcements at Gen Con. The Shadowrun Sixth World Core Rulebook received a big update for the third printing. In addition to integration of errata and other corrections, the book has a new sixteen pages of additional information about Seattle following the events of the Cutting Black plot book. This section features updated profiles of the newly independent Seattle, a short story by RJ Thomas, new contacts, several new player character Qualities based on the different neighborhoods of the Seattle Sprawl, and a selection of brief plot seeds for adventures in Seattle. This will be included in the third printing and later versions of the core rulebook, while those who purchased the digital versions can upgrade now.

The other new product is Double Clutch, the core sourcebook that covers vehicle and drone rigging. Riggers are characters that use a piece of cyberware known as a control rig to directly control mechanical devices with their brains, from cars to tanks to boats to planes along with remote drones from tiny spy drones to massive remote gun platforms. The sourcebook will feature new character options and qualities, new cyberware, and a host of new vehicles and drones plus rules for custom vehicle and drone creation. The book is available at Gen Con now and in stores soon with a retail price of $44.99, and the digital version is due so soon it might be out between me writing this and you reading it.

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Modiphius released more previews for The Shackleton Expanse campaign setting for Star Trek Adventures. The 320-page sourcebook features the first original material for the Star Trek licensed game that isn’t based on a previous television show or film from the franchise. The Shackleton Expanse is a region of space on the far side of the Romulan Star Empire and borders with Federation and Klingon space near Starbase 364. The table of contents lists ten chapters including an overview of the area, the factions working in the area, new lifepath options and gear for characters, an overview of the Tilikaal (a new alien species in the Expanse) including rules for creating Tilikaal characters, and a ten-part adventure path that spans from the TOS era to the TNG era. The book will be available for pre-order in hardcover and digital formats later today.

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Gen Con is going on this weekend and some have raised concerns about the health and safety standards at the event. ICv2 interviewed a spokesperson for the convention about their protocols, specifically why there was not a vaccine mandate.

“Due to the nature of our production schedule and sales cycle we had to make a decision on a proof of vaccination or negative test requirement very early in the summer. At the time, there were very few precedents for proof of vaccination at large public events.”

The interview continues with information about the universal mask mandate and enforcement efforts on behalf of the staff. However, some have indicated that aside from a lower attendance, crowd management appears the same as every other year, with designer Mike Selinker commenting on a picture by Green Ronin’s Chris Pramas of the opening of the exhibition hall “This is terrible crowd management in a pandemic. Too many folks in one place, no rope discipline, and no separated walkways.” Selinker is not in attendance at the convention as he previously stated he is in self-isolation following PAX. Others attending the convention have responded in reply to Selinker’s tweet that the crowds were only for the hall opening and have thinned out considerably since then.

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The Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) announced the results of their Special Board Election. The elections will bring the total number of Directors to six, one each for the segments that GAMA represents. The Director for Creator/Creatives is Grace Collins (Snowbright Studio), Media & Events is Monica Rasso (Game Con HQ), Production/Manufacturers is Eric Price (Meiji Games Factory), and Publishers is Stephan Brissaud (Iello), Retailers is Kylie Prymus (Games Unlimited). There was a tie between Beau Heath (Southern Hobbies) and Shaw Mead (Golden Distribution) for the Director of Wholesale, with a runoff election originally scheduled before Mead withdrew, citing “time commitments”. The newly elected directors will take office during the September 26 board meeting.

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Asmodee and Luma Imports became the first game companies to announce price increases due to the shipping and research shortages affecting manufacturing around the world. Prices will increase for Luma Imports products effective immediately, while price increases for Asmodee USA and their subsidiaries Atomic Mass and Fantasy Flight will go into effect October 1. The wholesale prices for these companies will increase between $2 to $10 per item, around a 10% increase over previous costs. It’s expected that similar price increases are on the way from most tabletop companies and from roleplaying companies due to shipping issues across the world and lumbar shortages resulting in increasing costs of nearly 20% for both paper and cardboard. It’s estimated that these issues will continue into at least 2022 and may last until 2023.

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Humble Bundle partnered with the Black Library for a bundle of Warhammer audio books and audio dramas. This bundle features nineteen titles from Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer: Age of Sigmar for $18 including titles from Justin D. Hill, Guy Haley, Darius Hinks, Chris Wraight, and more. At just the $1 level, you can get four titles for Age of SigmarBeastgrave, The Imprecations of Daemons, Realmslayer, and Ghoulslayer – along with a sampler from the Black Library. This bundle benefits the EveryLibrary Institute and runs until Thursday, October 7.

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


Adventures in Rokugan brings the famous setting of Legend of the Five Rings to the ever-popular ruleset of the 5th Edition SRD. Players can explore this rich setting in a whole new light, and adaptations of these popular rules promise to engage both old and new fans. Take on the role of mighty warriors, cunning shugenja, powerful ritualists, or well-spoken courtiers as you delve into the mysteries and dangers of the Emerald Empire!

Studio: EDGE Studio
 



Adventures in Rokugan brings the famous setting of Legend of the Five Rings to the ever-popular ruleset of the 5th Edition SRD. Players can explore this rich setting in a whole new light, and adaptations of these popular rules promise to engage both old and new fans. Take on the role of mighty warriors, cunning shugenja, powerful ritualists, or well-spoken courtiers as you delve into the mysteries and dangers of the Emerald Empire!

Studio: EDGE Studio
That's about the worst Idea for L5R I can think of...
 

Abstruse

Legend
That's about the worst Idea for L5R I can think of...
I mean...

[Images are the covers of the Wizards of the Coast produced Legend of the Five Rings RPG books - one rulebook and one setting book - where Rokugan replaced Kara-Tur as the "Asian setting" for D&D using the 3rd Edition D20 System]
 

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I guess the strategy is to sell the setting/lore/background/fluff. Some publishers are adapting their IPs into the d20 system because they notice lots of players don't want to learn a new system.
 

reelo

Adventurer
I mean...

[Images are the covers of the Wizards of the Coast produced Legend of the Five Rings RPG books - one rulebook and one setting book - where Rokugan replaced Kara-Tur as the "Asian setting" for D&D using the 3rd Edition D20 System]
I played in a 2 year long campaign using those 2 books, back in the early 2000s and it eas a blast!
 


Jaeger

That someone better.
I guess the strategy is to sell the setting/lore/background/fluff. Some publishers are adapting their IPs into the d20 system because they notice lots of players don't want to learn a new system.

This was exactly Ryan Dancey's intent with the d20 OGL.

It has taken some time, but has worked brilliantly. He wanted the d20 system, (i.e. the D&D system) to proliferate throughout the RPG hobby.

His intent was to leverage D&D's market leader status to do with d20 what GUPRS and HERO could only dream of.

And its worked. Just look at how many other RPGs are getting the "5e Compatible" treatment.

That being said; There is an argument one could make that the particular 5e flavor of d20 being used for all these 'compatible' conversions is not a good fit for all settings and genre's.

You could make that argument, but you would be wasting your time.

Why?

Because it doesn't matter if 5e flavored d20 isn't the best system to convert a particular IP to.

What matters is that 5e is the 800,000lb. Gorilla in the hobby, and '5e Compatible' = Sales.
 

Many GMs want their RPGs to be gourmet experiences while many players are just looking for comfort food.

Lots of D&D players are flexible, in that they are open to new settings as long as they have their spell levels, armor classes, hit points and can keep playing their elven ranger if if that ranger is in outer space or the weird west.
 

Abstruse

Legend
What matters is that 5e is the 800,000lb. Gorilla in the hobby, and '5e Compatible' = Sales.
I wanted to highlight this specific point. "5e Compatible" subsidizes other systems. If I make my game using my system and I'm selling a solid 500 units for every sourcebook or adventure, I don't want to abandon that. But if I can put together a D20 version of the setting and sell 5000 units, I can use those profits to bolster the company overall and provide a cushion to keep making those comparatively smaller selling books or even risk doing something new.
 

When your company has got a lot of bills to be payed then you don't worry about to be special.

And I don't disagree about the current d20 system is not totally ready for settings with firearms and high-tech because the power level of the encounters have to be redesigned. Of course you can use a sci-fi d20 but D&D is more focused into melee-fight classes and "vacian" spellcasters. You can't use Capcom's Street Fighters to fight against the enemies from Blizzard-Activions's Overwatch, or the champions of Mortal Kombat without good ranged weapons can't kill easily the monsters from (Id Software's) Doom Eternal. If you add firearms in D&D lots of players will not want to play with barbarians, paladins and monks any more.

And I don't blame players who don't want to learn new systems, because I love the lore of "Eclipse Phase" but I can't understand yet the abilite scores, or I am not easily used.

And when the players want to buy "crunch", they would rather the most popular systems.

Wasn't Rokugan d20 published by AEG (the owner for that time then)? the same with "7th Sea d20".
 

This was exactly Ryan Dancey's intent with the d20 OGL.

It has taken some time, but has worked brilliantly. He wanted the d20 system, (i.e. the D&D system) to proliferate throughout the RPG hobby.

His intent was to leverage D&D's market leader status to do with d20 what GUPRS and HERO could only dream of.

And its worked. Just look at how many other RPGs are getting the "5e Compatible" treatment.

That being said; There is an argument one could make that the particular 5e flavor of d20 being used for all these 'compatible' conversions is not a good fit for all settings and genre's.

You could make that argument, but you would be wasting your time.

Why?

Because it doesn't matter if 5e flavored d20 isn't the best system to convert a particular IP to.

What matters is that 5e is the 800,000lb. Gorilla in the hobby, and '5e Compatible' = Sales.
And often, d20 editions pissed off fans when the adaptation is (as has usually been the case) a poorly done one, leaving many extant fans fed up, and many new players left wondering why they bothered.
Fading Suns d20 comes to mind. And even some that should have been good fits... Everquest d20, Word of Warcraft d20.
Even some of the better ones were at best divisive: Deadlands d20, SG-1 d20.

The L5R flavored OA was considered by the 3E crowd very much one of the best settings available... but divided L5R fans by the addition of a dozen other playable species not part of Rokugan, and a very poor representation of the L5R clans, one that lead to a really problematic view when/if they joined actual L5R fans' games, run under either edition.
Plus poorly worded dual-system books, including some items not dual statted despite the book being so. A couple of books in the line had multiple items lacking stats... some from each side.

There's also the issue with the d20 players being upset when setting fans prohibited options from the core or OA book when running Rokugan...

And that the L5R setting is a lot more social action than combat, and combat is quite deald; while d20 strongly reinforces a combat heavy paradigm, and low risk to players from it.

It created a divided and multi-tiered fanbase... most of whom were unhappy with some other part, when not almost all other groups.

The 5E AIME has done the same with One Ring.

It's a sad sameness push that tells me they're pursuing money over art. Something I was worried would happen with the acquisition of FFG by Asmodee.
 


Jaeger

That someone better.
GAME CREATORS MUST STARVE FOR ME!
Not an argument.

Asmodee is hardly starving... This is not some small indie developer we are talking about here.

And as aramis erak has pointed out, this has every indicator of history repeating itself with the L5R setting all over again.

Especially since for every critique the Asmodee imprint developer Edge Studio literally cuts and pastes the same response: "The two collections will evolve in parallel."

Inducing confidence in this decision they are not...


The main problem with these 5e conversions is that they have to hew very close to the 5e d20 mechanics in order to retain the "Compatible" title which is their main selling point. In every case you are simply looking at a 5e reskin. And are decidedly not getting the full effect of the mechanics made for the setting as you were in the original versions.

Which is a shame because I strongly feel that there is nothing inherently wrong with the core d20 mechanic that wouldn't make it work rather well for some of these conversions if you were able to make a truly bespoke d20 version of the game.

But the need to be fully '5e Compatible' completely stifles all that potential, and gives little to no design space to make a d20 version that reflects the setting similar to how the original system would.

They are literally doing the d20 IP conversions the same way that they were done in the 3.x era, with all the same criticisms. And while it made for a short term cash grab back then, it did nothing for the actual long term popularity of the game line.

IMHO this is sad because actual creative versions of the d20 rules set are being snuffed out before they have a chance due to the perceived demand for full 5e compatibility.

Where I would take the stance that so long as you have six ability scores AC HP and Saves - the game would be close enough to how 5e works that any table should be able to absorb the new rules without issue. Even if the d20 rules have been hacked to the point that they give a very different feel in play to a game of 5e.

And that is the real issue I have with these '5e compatible' conversions. Drive for full compatibility means that you are not really playing a game of LOTR, Trudvang, Symborium, Or L5R. You are playing a game of 5e D&D with a thin IP setting veneer on top.

But honesty forces me to admit that the real truth is this: Sales of Adventures in Middle Earth has shown that within the majority of 5e players; nobody cares if it is just a game of 5e D&D with a thin setting veneer.

So while we may not get the glut of material that happened during the d20 boom. We are absolutely getting a "5e Compatible" version of every game with a recognizable IP that the developers think they can sell to the 5e crowd.
 
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When your company has got a lot of bills to be payed then you don't worry about to be special.

And I don't disagree about the current d20 system is not totally ready for settings with firearms and high-tech because the power level of the encounters have to be redesigned. Of course you can use a sci-fi d20 but D&D is more focused into melee-fight classes and "vacian" spellcasters. You can't use Capcom's Street Fighters to fight against the enemies from Blizzard-Activions's Overwatch, or the champions of Mortal Kombat without good ranged weapons can't kill easily the monsters from (Id Software's) Doom Eternal. If you add firearms in D&D lots of players will not want to play with barbarians, paladins and monks any more.

And I don't blame players who don't want to learn new systems, because I love the lore of "Eclipse Phase" but I can't understand yet the abilite scores, or I am not easily used.

And when the players want to buy "crunch", they would rather the most popular systems.

Wasn't Rokugan d20 published by AEG (the owner for that time then)? the same with "7th Sea d20".

Payed, sometime a game designer can't even get a seat at a con panel unless they have a 5e product in the works.

And I'd point to Esper Genesis as a highly compatible 5e game that uses guns AND tweaks the paladin class. Essentially why would you bring guns to a shield fight. Oh, and starships too! Rich Lescoflair is a 5e genius.


 

You are right Esper Genesis is a good example of a sci-fi setting with the d20 system but here the list of classes is totally different. I am talking about to use the "legacy classes" in a sci-fi setting.
 

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