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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I did track the "0.5%" source back to a prediction that was repeated as a fact in many articles. That was my point for asking the source. Here's the prediction:

Predictions are not facts, especially when they don't come true. And it's clear that there's a strong narrative bias on these forums that is openly enforced, so I'm unwatching.
 

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MGibster

Legend
The common refrain used to be, "The best way to become wealthy with RPGs is to start out wealthy." In twenty years time it might be, "The best way to become wealthy with RPGs is to get into NFTs." Sometimes businesses pivot to the point where they're no longer doing what they originally did. Hasbro started out as Hassenfeld Brothers back in 1923 selling textiles, moving on to pencils, and by the early 1940s was primarily a toy company. I find it unlikely that Hasbro would pivot to the point where they'll stop being a toy company, but who knows about Chaosium? If this works out well for them then RPGs might become an afterthought for the company as they focus on more profitable endeavors.
 

Purchasing power is different from each coin having different values. If I have 5 coins in Mule Shoe, they aren't worth different amounts.
Actually, they do. What a dollar will buy in Muleshoe in terms of gasoline (to keep it easy) is different that what it will buy in terms of gas in New York. The fact that in either place you can swap it for four quarters is meaningless.
 
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UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
First off I do not think that crypto will replace money, it is not flexible enough. Crypto is based on the belief that what makes money valuable is scarcity.
This a recipe for permanent deflation. That would be bad, not least because it would be an investment and innovation killer.
We switched to fiat currency for very good reasons and there is a lot of value to be able to adjust the money supply to the economic circumstances.
The other big issue I see are transaction speed and costs. The cost per transaction are very high and the speed is very slow, somewhere about 4 order of magnitude slower than VISA, with comparable power consumption. I am not sure there is a way to get real scalability, I think the issue is inherent in the nature of the blockchain.

Now, the question has been asked, why not let this thing run its course, what harm can it do to the real economy. Well the issue here, is if a big player in the real economy becomes/is a true believer and bets the company/hedge fund on crypto they could take down the whole economy with them

The South Sea Bubble was not illegal at the time and did not begin as a Ponzi scheme, it became one but the fallout was so severe that it crashed trade investment in the UK, to the point that the government had to invent the limited liability company to restore investor confidence.
 


eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
Actually, they do. What a dollar will buy in Muleshoe in terms of gasoline (to keep it easy) is different that what it will buy in terms of gas in New York. The fact that in either place you can swap it for four quarters is meaningless.
For the, I've lost track of how many times this has been told to you, purchasing power being different from one geographic location to another does not mean that money itself is non-fungible. Any $1 note is worth exactly the same as any other $1 note. Currency is explicitly fungible. That is one of the core things that makes it work. It's baked into the thing.
 

I did track the "0.5%" source back to a prediction that was repeated as a fact in many articles. That was my point for asking the source. Here's the prediction:

Predictions are not facts, especially when they don't come true. And it's clear that there's a strong narrative bias on these forums that is openly enforced, so I'm unwatching.

There are other places that have been updated that have similar estimations.

And this wasn't hard to find, so I'm not sure why you went with the older estimation.

For the, I've lost track of how many times this has been told to you, purchasing power being different from one geographic location to another does not mean that money itself is non-fungible. Any $1 note is worth exactly the same as any other $1 note. Currency is explicitly fungible. That is one of the core things that makes it work. It's baked into the thing.

lol, they quoted me and then apparently blocked me right after.
 

For the, I've lost track of how many times this has been told to you, purchasing power being different from one geographic location to another does not mean that money itself is non-fungible. Any $1 note is worth exactly the same as any other $1 note. Currency is explicitly fungible. That is one of the core things that makes it work. It's baked into the thing.
I have never questioned the status of fungible. I question the claim made that any $1 note is worth exactly the same as any other $1 note. It is not.

In short, I am pointing out that the example being offered is not proof. It is the transactionable nature of the $1 bill that is common to all $1 bills, and therefore, why such bills are fungible.

Not the value, which is not static or uniform from place to place or day to day.
 

We switched to fiat currency for very good reasons and there is a lot of value to be able to adjust the money supply to the economic circumstances.
The other big issue I see are transaction speed and costs. The cost per transaction are very high and the speed is very slow, somewhere about 4 order of magnitude slower than VISA, with comparable power consumption. I am not sure there is a way to get real scalability, I think the issue is inherent in the nature of the blockchain.
How slow? The slowest thing about VISA IME is the cashier input and customer signature. And technology will certainly speed that along.

Now, the question has been asked, why not let this thing run its course, what harm can it do to the real economy. Well the issue here, is if a big player in the real economy becomes/is a true believer and bets the company/hedge fund on crypto they could take down the whole economy with them
Interesting point. But isn't that true of any new investment scheme?

However, even if every RPG maker bet the house on blockchains and crypto currency, and it tanked, the economy wouldn't even notice.

I don't know about the UK or Europe, but in the USA, banning a particular investment scheme is a complex undertaking, and despite the fact that bitcoin has been around for quite a while, there doesn't appear to be any serious move to try to close it off. My white collar law is rusty and low-level, but the sellers are not being overtly deceptive about the product, so unless they are juggling the books (and said books are in US territory), the Federal Code doesn't seem to come into play.
 

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