TTRPGS, Blockchains, and NFTs

When Kickstarter announced recently that it would be investing in blockchain-based infrastructure, there was widespread backlash. Blockchain technology is environmentally damaging and is of limited use. Creators such as Possum Creek Games (Wanderhome) announced their intentions to move off Kickstarter, while companies such as Chaosium and Wizards of the Coast continue to express interested in...

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When Kickstarter announced recently that it would be investing in blockchain-based infrastructure, there was widespread backlash. Blockchain technology is environmentally damaging and is of limited use. Creators such as Possum Creek Games (Wanderhome) announced their intentions to move off Kickstarter, while companies such as Chaosium and Wizards of the Coast continue to express interested in non-fungible tokens, digital items which exist on a blockchain.

non-fungible-token-g5650c4233_1280.jpg


While I'm writing this article, I do need to point out that I'm not a great person to do so; my understanding of blockchains, NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and related technologies is very, very limited and my attempts to get a handle on the subject have not been entirely successful. I'm sure more informed people will post in the comments.


Kickstarter is not the only tabletop roleplaying game adjacent company delving into such technologies. Call of Cthulhu publisher Chaosium announced in July 2021 that it was working with an NFT company to bring their Mythos content to a digitally collectible market, with specific plans to sell two different models -- the Necromonicon and a bust of Cthulhu -- from the Cthulhu Mythos; and while things went quiet for a while, last week the company tweeted that 'We have more - lots more -- to drop... when the Stars are Right." A Facebook statement from Chaosium's CEO appeared on Twitter talking more about the decision.

D&D producer Wizards of the Coast said in April 2021 that it was considering NFTs for Magic: The Gathering. More recently, an email from WotC's legal representatives to a company planning to use NFT technology in conjunction with M:tG cards, alleging unlawful infringement of its IP, indicated that WotC was "currently evaluating its future plans regarding NFTs and the MAGIC: THE GATHERING cards" but that "no decision has been made at this time."

On Twitter, ErikTheBearik compiled Hasbro/WotC's involvement with NFTs so far.

Gripnr is a '5e based TTRPG NFT protocol' with Stephen Radney-MacFarland (D&D, Star Wars Saga Edition, Pathfinder) as its lead game designer. OK, so that's about as much of that as I understand!

Some company in the TTRPG sphere have taken a stand. DriveThruRPG stated that "In regard to NFTs – We see no use for this technology in our business ever." Itch.io was a bit more emphatic:

A few have asked about our stance on NFTs: NFTs are a scam. If you think they are legitimately useful for anything other than the exploitation of creators, financial scams, and the destruction of the planet the [sic] we ask that [you] please reevaluate your life choices. Peace. [an emoji of a hand making the “Peace” symbol]

Also [expletive deleted] any company that says they support creators and also endorses NFTs in any way. They only care about their own profit and the opportunity for wealth above anyone else. Especially given the now easily available discourse concerning the problems of NFTs.

How can you be so dense?

NFTs -- non-fungible tokens -- and blockchains have been dominating the news recently, and with individuals and companies taking strong stances against them, it's fair to ask why. The environmental impact of the technology has been widely documented - it's inefficient, and the need for blockchains -- a sort of decentralized ledger -- to have multiple users validate and record transactions makes it very energy intensive. In an era when climate change is having more and more devastating effects around the world, use of such technologies attracts considerable backlash.

Other ethical concerns regarding NFTs specifically is that the purchaser of an NFT is not actually purchasing anything, and the value for the digital 'token' they've purchased is speculative. When you buy the NFT of a piece of art (for example) you don't own the art itself; you only own a digital token associated with the art. The whole concept is likened to a 'house of cards' or a 'scam' by its critics.
 

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Mallus

Legend
You're really posturing hard.
I like to think I’m pointing out the obvious.
Subprime mortgages were completely regulated. How did that work out for the Marxist science fiction writers?
Badly. This is an argument for more and better financial regulation, BTW. Not the Wild West of the NFT & crypto world.
 
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Religion/politics
1) The subject of this post is NFTs and the blockchain. It's in big letters at the top of the page in case you missed it.

2) I literally said in the post you quoted NFTs/blockchain/cryptocurrency, which are three interrelated but different things. So your attempt at a typical counter-argument that I'm conflating the three doesn't work because, if you go through the thread, you'll notice I differentiate between them repeatedly and am very clear on which one I'm referring to at any given time.
1) If you quote me then at least make it relevant to my post.
2) They are different things, and I'm not talking about NFTs. You'll notice I'm still not. You are.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin alone uses 0.5% of the world's power...
And this is exactly what I mean by fear mongering.

What's the source on that claim?

Saying something and proving it are two different things. Lots of people made "predictions" about the environment and the goalposts have been moving for five decades: Global Warming, Global Cooling, Climate Change. We were warned ad nauseum and none of it came true. The "Great Die-Off" Paul Ehrlich "predicted" in 1970 never happened. The colossal amount of embarrassing predictions about the environment would be fun to bring up to remind people there is a long history of fear mongering about the environment.
 

To compare two things using statistics and get relevant information, those two things must start from the same foundation. That's why statistics list "per capita" rather than the entire population because some places have more people than other places. If your 10% of the world's power statement is accurate, that means that 10% of the world's power is being used by (as of January 2021) 4.6 billion people with a wide variety of uses (education, work, record storage, and yes, entertainment among others). Meanwhile, Bitcoin alone uses 0.5% of the world's power for at most 100 million people to say they own digital tokens that they claim have value.
I wasn't comparing them. My point was that condemning crypto-currency for wasting electricity when social media, which has no real value at all, burns far more, seems odd.
 
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[Subprime mortgages] is an argument for more and better financial regulation, BTW. Not the Wild West of the NFT & crypto world.

Thanks for the fear mongering. Sounds like a very well constructed talking point.


Meanwhile, all of us were forced to pay for very well regulated economic crashes in the not-so-Wild West. If Bit Coin crashes none of us will be forced to bail it out by our wise and benevolent rulers and financial institutions who only have our best interest at heart.
 

I’m currently using a computing device that I use for a variety of purposes every day, including my job. It’s not a virtual asset invested in with the hope it explodes in value. So, yes? Not surprised, just kinda ticked off. It’s like… anti-engineering.
Isn't music, literature, and gaming products produced in electronic format simply virtual assets invested in with the hope they explode in value?

I know I shelled out a hundred bucks for the right to use Roll20 more effectively. I doubt their business is exploding, but from what I read they're doing all right.
 

AtomicPope said:
Lots of people made "predictions" about the environment and the goalposts have been moving for five decades: Global Warming, Global Cooling, Climate Change. We were warned ad nauseum and none of it came true. The "Great Die-Off" Paul Ehrlich "predicted" in 1970 never happened. The colossal amount of embarrassing predictions about the environment would be fun to bring up to remind people there is a long history of fear mongering about the environment.
Climate change denialism is not a good look, not when it’s widely accepted as fact by the overwhelming majority of climate scientists (who surely have the best understanding of it).

Meanwhile, we’re in the middle of the first winter Olympic Games with no natural snow, but you’re defending the process of burning fossil fuels to make electricity to “mine” fake digital tokens for rich people to speculate upon. Why?
 
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1) If you quote me then at least make it relevant to my post.
2) They are different things, and I'm not talking about NFTs. You'll notice I'm still not. You are.


And this is exactly what I mean by fear mongering.

What's the source on that claim?

Saying something and proving it are two different things. Lots of people made "predictions" about the environment and the goalposts have been moving for five decades: Global Warming, Global Cooling, Climate Change. We were warned ad nauseum and none of it came true. The "Great Die-Off" Paul Ehrlich "predicted" in 1970 never happened. The colossal amount of embarrassing predictions about the environment would be fun to bring up to remind people there is a long history of fear mongering about the environment.
Do you…not think that the earth is getting warmer?
 


Climate change denialism is not a good look, not when it’s widely accepted as fact by the overwhelming majority of climate scientists (who surely have the best understanding of it).
Denialism is a religious statement, not a scientific one.

Science is not a matter of lots and lots of people wearing the same coat agreeing, nor is science a fallacy from authority. Those things you described are closer to a religious cult than repeatable, predictable, real world methodology and that garners results.
 

I guess what I don’t understand is why supporters of crypto think that even if in 20 years we‘re all going to be buying our D&D books with crypto, the currency that’s going to be used is going to be any of the ones in existence now? The big banks and governments don’t control them. I know that’s considered a great fantastic thing by crypto fans, but the idea that the people and institutions in control of everything now are just going to let that change seems…well, unlikely.

So, again, in 20 years, let’s say I’m given a choice, would I like to be paid in dollars, the bank run crypto all the corporations i rely on to supply me with my daily needs will accept, or some crypto currency that is a “great” store of value but can’t be used for exchange except with marginal players off the grid of the mainstream economy…what am I going to choose and thereby give value to?
 

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