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News Bits (July 24): ICv2 RPG sales, new D&D 5E book, no more Paizo web fiction and GURPS Traveller, Roll20 powers up, new Torg edition, Unified Rolemaster playtest

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Hello and welcome back to the Industry News. As we're getting closer to GenCon there's more and more news about new products, new licensees and some comebacks. This week I present to you some numbers, some newly announced releases and a host of other news. Let's dive right in, shall we?

The biggest news this week comes from ICv2: they have released the current Top 5 of Roleplaying games for Spring 2015 (in regards to actual sales). As usual the numbers are based on interviews with retailers, distributors, and manufacturers. And basically the numbers show us what we've come to expect: Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) has taken the lead, followed by (in that order) Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, the Star Wars RPGs from Fantasy Flight Games (not differentiated between the three games), Shadowrun (5th Edition) and Iron Kingdoms Full Metal Fantasy Roleplaying Game. There's also some additional info about the "Hobby Games" market as a whole, which has climbed to $880 million. It seems RPGs are the fastest growing segment of the market with a 67% rate.

And for those of you who just can't get enough of numbers and spreadsheets, Evil Hat Productions has released their sales numbers for Q2 of 2015.

Now, if the above news wasn't enough to satisfy your D&D 5E news hunger, we also have our obligatory D&D 5E news for this week, as Wizards of the Coast announced just a few days ago the first release of a non-adventure book since the corebooks. The new book is called Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and slated for a November 2015 release. It updates the Forgotten Realms setting, contains new options for players and also some GM stuff - which means the book is aimed at both players and GMs. While this is not the "completely new direction" WotC representatives have been promising us for the setting books it's at least refreshing to see something else besides adventures released for the game. I guess it also makes sense from an economical standpoint - usually only GMs buy adventures which means you miss out on selling stuff to all the players that have bought D&D 5E, while with a book aimed at both GMs and players you can maximize sales.

In probably completely unrelated news, Paizo Publishing announced, they would stop publishing free web fiction on their website. Usually every wednesday they would post a small chapter of free fiction on their company blog. This has come to an end now. On the blog James L. Sutter notes that they now have a sizable number of Pathfinder Tales ready for buyers and the web fiction has lost its original meaning. He also specifically mentions the costs of illustrating each fiction post.

We also have some Roll20 news this week. The company running the popular virtual tabletop application has signed a contract with Monte Cook Games, making them the official “virtual gaming space” partner of MCG. The first rpg to be brought over to Roll20 is The Strange and its universe. This is especially noteworthy since Roll20 rival Fantasygrounds has a few months ago become the official partner of Wizards of the Coast for D&D 5E. It seems Roll20 thought they had some catching up to do.

And yet another old game is making a comeback: Torg is getting new edition, produced by german game publisher Ulisses Spiele. In a first for that company the game, called Torg: Eternity, will be published in english rather than in german. Torg co-creator Greg Gorden is somehow involved as well, but it seems he's not doing the actual game design. In the US the new edition is helmed by Shane Lacy Hensley of Pinnacle Entertainment Group fame. Thanks to Bruce for pointing this one out.

Speaking of old games, Steve Jackson Games has been producing GURPS sourcebooks for Traveller since the late 1990s. This week the company announced they would not renew that license once it ends on December 31 this year. They will continue to sell books currently available, but there won't be any new print runs anymore.

And yet another older system is working on its comeback. Iron Crown Enterprises has opened the beta playtest for Unified Rolemaster to the public. Head over to their site if you're interested in helping out.

And with that we end this week's coverage. As usual, if there's anything that I got wrong or stuff I might have overlooked, feel free to comment below.
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Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:03 pm
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News Bits (July 17): John Carter RPG, ENnies voters, Chris Perkins on the transmedia strategy, Hasbro exits game manufacturing

Kai S.
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Hello and welcome back to the Industry News. As we're getting closer to Gen Con, the news start to slow down as most companies will probably make their big annoucement at or around the con. Still, we have a few things to report:

Modiphius Entertainment seems to be on the hunt for licenses for their rpg lines. A few months ago they managed to get the license for a new Conan rpg and this week they announced, they'd also got a license for John Carter, originally conceived by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The game is slated for a release this christmas and will use the 2D20Lite system, a variant of the 2D20 system used for Mutant Chronicles RPG 3rd Edition and the upcoming Conan game. It seems they're also working on a boardgame and miniatures based on the license.

In other news we have a short notice about the ENnies. The voting booths are closed by now and it seems this year we have a record number of voters: ENWorld reports the counter was short of 19.000 voters after 16.000 voters last year.

This week it was quite difficult to find something to report as the obligatory Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) news, but thankfully Christopher Perkins did an interview on Shane Plays radio. He doesn't reveal anything new about Wizards of the Coast's plans for D&D 5E, but there's one point of particular interest after it seemed like WotC was treating the rpg more and more as an afterthought to all the transmedia stuff: all these transmedia elements are supposed to be "satellite experiences" of D&D (video games, etc.) and are intended to lead people eventually to the tabletop game... (a big thanks goes to ENWorld for pointing that particular part out)

And with that we're almost out of industry news already, except for this (not really rpg related though): ICv2 reported that Hasbro is getting out of game manufacturing and selling its two manufacturing plants. And with Hasbro being the parent company of WotC that's relevant enough to be pointed, I think.

And that's it for a slow news week this time. As usual, if there's anything that I got wrong or stuff I might have overlooked, feel free to comment below.
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Fri Jul 17, 2015 6:58 pm
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News Bits (July 10): D&D 5E in the lead, Earl Norem dies; ENnie nominations and one disqualification, Origins Awards, Chaosium hires

Kai S.
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Hello and welcome back to the Industry News. Sorry for the long silence after the last news bit, I was on vacation and had to get out of a rpg slump. I'm trying to catch up on a lot of stuff from the last couple of weeks, so you might have read about some of these news already.

We start off this week's news with our obligatory Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) news, this week regarding its position in the industry. Both the Orr Group, maker of the popular VTT Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds, maker of the the VTT of the same name, have released numbers for the game systems played on their services and both see D&D 5E in the lead with Pathfinder Roleplaying Game in second place and Dungeons & Dragons (3.5 Edition) in third place. While the numbers from Fantasy Grounds require a bit of a caveat as that company is the official licensor of Wizards of the Coast, the Orr Group is (at least as far as I know) not affiliated in any way with WotC, so their numbers are likely to give an unbiased overview.

On June 19 Earl Norem, one of the seminal comic book artists, who did the art for the Wizards, Warriors & You gamebooks and some of the the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Coloring Books passed away at age 91. Rest in peace, Mr. Norem. You will not be forgotten.

The ENnies are widely recognized as probably one of the most important industry awards in RPG circles. These are this year's nominees.

Continuing with the ENnies, this year there was a bit of an issue going on, as one of the nominees, namely the Mass Effect RPG, was - as it turned out - created without acquiering a license from the copyright holder. The Mass Effect RPG has been disqualified from this years voting and new nominees have been added in its place. EN World has also added a new rule, in effect from the 2016 votes on, asking a publisher or creator to affirm that all contents of a product are their own property, public domain, or used under license or with permission. Basically this means that any products not within the boundaries of IP law are subject to disqualification at any time.

Speaking of awards, the Origins Awards were announced at Origins Games Fair. Basically Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) took the awards by storm and won both Best Role Playing Game and Best Role Playing Supplement.

And one last bit for all those interested in the people behind creating all these games: Chaosium is putting the band back together - meaning both Greg Stafford AND Sandy Petersen have rejoined Chaosium. They have simple and very compelling plans for Chaosium's future, in short: sort through the current company problems, get the books to backers of their Kickstarters and return to regularly making awesome new games. Sounds good to me.

That's it for this week. As usual, if there's anything that I got wrong or that I might have overlooked, feel free to comment below.
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Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:55 pm
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Greg Stafford and Sandy Petersen Rejoin Chaosium!

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That's right... Greg Stafford is back at Chaosium as the President, and Sandy Petersen is rejoining the creative team.

Their plan going forward is:

Quote:
Quickly sift and sort through the current company problems
Immediately ship the remaining Horror on the Orient Express backer rewards
Focus on the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition Kickstarter backer rewards
Return to regularly making awesome new games.

We offer new hope, and ask only for your patience.


Thanks to Chad Bowser and Mike M (Sheep) for the tip!
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Wed Jun 3, 2015 1:00 pm
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News Bits (May 22): New Savage Worlds Game, Rodney Thompson and David Grant leave, Ars Magica 5E gameline ends, AFMBE 2E

Kai S.
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Hello and welcome back to the Industry News. This week's news sees two noted game designers leaving their respective companies, the end of a gameline, a new licensed game and a revised edition of an old favorite. So let's dive right in, shall we?

Let's start with the mandatory Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) news for this week, this time not that uplifting though. Rodney Thompson, one of the core designers for D&D 5E, leaves Wizards of the Coast today (May 22), as was announced on the WotC website a few days ago, to pursue an unspecified new endeavour. This basically means the D&D 5E team once again got a bit smaller after James Wyatt moved to the Magic: the Gathering team in 2014 and Chris Sims and Jennifer Clarke-Wilkes were both laid off in early 2015.

Another designer who announced his departure is David Grant, the current line editor for Ars Magica (5th Edition). He will leave at the end of 2015, having "finished everything he wanted to do with Ars Magica". Atlas Games also announced that they'd be ending Ars Magica 5E once the last two planned books have been released. There might a sixth edition of the game but nothing's been announced yet - but they released to Fiasco playsets for free.

Pinnacle Entertainment Group, after acquiering a license for Rifts just a few weeks ago, managed to grab another license, this time for the weird west comic series The Sixth Gun - which should be a nice fit for their weird west game Deadlands: Reloaded. The game will (obviously) use the Savage Worlds system.

Not quite a new edition, but over at the RPGNet Forums Eden Studios announced the All Flesh Must Be Eaten corebook is getting revised instead of reprinted for a fall release.

That's it for this week. As usual, corrections and stuff I missed are highly welcome, so just post below.
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Fri May 22, 2015 9:37 pm
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News Bits (May 15): Apocalypse World 2E, Dragon+ numbers, Blackmoor and Mars Attacks

Kai S.
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Hello and welcome back to the Industry News. After the big news last week we're experiencing a very slow news week this time. But let's get right to it:

This week the big news doesn't come from one of the industry big players but instead from the indie scene. Apocalypse World, the game system that has quickly become a favorite of designers and players alike and powers quite a few games, gets a second edition, as D. Vincent Baker announced on his Patreon page a few days ago. The second edition seems to be available as a preview on Patreon already.

The next one is more of a rumor than a confirmed news bit right now, but it seems the Blackmoor setting, originally designed by Dave Arneson, might get some new material. None other than Mark Rein•Hagen, who still has a few unfulfilled Kickstarters he needs to take care of, alledgedly has expressed interest in putting out new material for the venerable setting. Notable former White Wolf and current Onyx Path Publishing designer C. A. Suleiman also seems to be involved.

Ack! Ack ack ack ack ack ack. Ack ACK! *cough* Sorry 'bout that. Steve Jackson Games and Topps announced they'd be releasing a GURPS (4th Edition) setting book for Mars Attacks. This has me pretty excited, I was a huge fan of the Tim Burton movie.

And finally our mandatory Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) news of the week, this week for all you lovers of numbers. The recently released Dragon+ magazine app seems to be doing quite well - so well actually that it surpassed major publications like People Magazine and Maxim in its first week, the Escapist reports. Seems like tabletop rpgs are really doing quite well right now - too bad there's no exact numbers for the app. Also as of now the numbers are down again, at least according to the ranking in the iTunes Store.

There is one additional thing I want to address: there will be some changes in the news team as one long time member has to leave the team due to health issues. We're looking for new members for the news team as of now, so if you want to experience all the glamour of being a RPGG newscaster please contact me via geekmail!

That's it for this week. As usual corrections and stuff I missed are highly welcome, so just post below.
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News Bits (May 8): New D&D 5E storyline, D&D 5E interview, WotC and Cubicle 7 hires, Conan playtest

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Hello and welcome to the Industry News. We have some larger announcements this week, so let's dive right in!

Currently no week seems to pass without some exciting news about Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) - this week Wizards of the Coast announced their next big storyline for D&D 5E. In the "Rage of Demons" storyline, coming Fall 2015, demon lords have been summoned from the Abyss and players must descend into the Underdark to stop them before it threatens the surface. In the upcoming adventure called "Out of the Abyss" players will even be able to meet Forgotten Realms hero Drizzt Do’Urden - WotC quickly added the players will be the heroes of this story and not the (admittedly famous) NPC.

A few weeks ago Forbes magazine conducted an interview with Nathan Stewart, Brand Director for Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast. The interview contains a lot of interesting stuff, but what stood out most for me was Mr. Stewart claiming "on the whole, Dungeons and Dragons stopped being a tabletop game years or decades ago".

In other Wizards of the Coast news, the company has just hired former Paizo employee Sean K. Reynolds, who had left that company just a few months ago. He will not be directly involved in the future developement of D&D 5E, instead helping sort out lore and other content (primarily for Forgotten Realms) so licensors have easy access to the info they need.

Cubicle 7 Entertainment announced it has added renowned designer T. S. Luikart to its staff. Luikart, known for among others his work on Dark Heresy (1st Edition) and Dragon Age, has already worked on some C7 projects in the past but has now been hired as a fulltime employee.

We also have some playtest news this week. Modiphius Entertainment is running a public playtest for their upcoming Conan RPG. You can sign up on their website if you're interested in helping in the playtest. The playtest documents can be downloaded here.

That's it for this week. As usual, corrections and additions are welcome - just post below.
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News Bits (May 1): D&D 5E Dragon+, Pathfinder RPG in Uganda, Pathfinder Society changes, DramaSystem Contest

Kai S.
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Hello and welcome back to the Industry News. Slow news week this time with only a few things to report, but one of them is big news.

We start off the news reel with the obligatory Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) news. WotC has announced the release of "Dragon+" What's "Dragon+", you ask? It's an app for iOS and Android that contains interviews, features and comics that cover all things D&D. Is this the new iteration of Dragon? The name at least seems to imply just that.

We also have some Pathfinder Roleplaying Game news this week, albeit not directly related to Paizo. Last year Paizo donated Pathfinder books to the Village Roleplaying Project, that is designed to bring the Pathfinder RPG to kids in Uganda, in the hopes that it will inspire them in general. They currently have a crowdfunding campaign going on, so if you're interested, go and take a look.

Paizo is also restructuring its organized play initiative, the Pathfinder Society in the wake of the release of Pathfinder Unchained. They're launching launching a new variant exclusively for hobby game stores, called The Roleplaying Guild. This program will feature quests and content tied to the release of new hardcover Pathfinder books. The material will be available only to retail stores for a few weeks after release.

The RPGGeek DramaSystem Contest 2015, held in cooperation with Pelgrane Press is over and the winners have been announced. Congrats to everyone involved and the winners in particular. Also a big thank you to Yohann and Pelgrane Press.

That's it for this week. As usual, comments and corrections are appreciated, please post them below.
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News Bits (April 24): Rifts for Savage Worlds, C&C Basic Rules, D&D 5E and Evil Hat's sales performance, Forgotten Realms Update

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Welcome to the next installment of the Industry News. After last week I’ve decided to keep these on friday as it allows me to recap the whole week in one news bit.

The big news this week comes from Pinnacle Entertainment Group who announced they will be developing Rifts for the Savage Worlds System. A core rulebook may be available for christmas this year. This is especially interesting since this seems to be the first time Palladium Books, the company owning the Rifts brand, has actually allowed another company to produce books for their gamelines.

Troll Lord Games seems to be taking a page out of WotC’s book and announced they’re working on a basic rules set for their Castles & Crusades game. Debuting at Free RPG Day this seems to be a complete (yet simplified) rules set for C&C included in the booklet. The announcement is a bit vague in regards to how they plan to go on with the basic rules though.

This news bit wouldn’t feel complete without some Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) news. Both Chris Perkins and Mike Mearls mentioned on Twitter the Forgotten Realms would get an update especially in regards to the recent Sundering event. While that sure sounds exciting, it’s actually not that much news at all, since WotC already had announced earlier this month they’d be working on new setting content, not only for the Forgotten Realms but almost all of the older settings - but not necessarily in book form.

In additional Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) news Hasbro announced at the company’s earnings call for Q1 of 2015 D&D 5E, was “really on a tear” (whatever that is supposed to mean, maybe a native speaker can help me out here?) - the company seems to be doing fine and so does D&D for now.

For those of you who are into numbers and how things are working out for smaller publishers the always awesome Evil Hat Productions has released sales performances for the first quarter of 2015. Overall the company seems to be doing fine with quite a few new products released.

The nominations for the Origins Awards have been announced. Bruce already wrote a longer article on this topic.

That's it for this week. If you have any updates or corrections, please post below.
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Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:19 pm
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News Bits (April 8): D&D electronic tools, Paizo's current state, GenCon, Tabletop RPG Show, One Page Dungeon Contest 2015

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Hello and welcome to my first news column. I’ll be tackling a few of the bigger news of the last couple of weeks while I’m trying to get a hang of this whole news thing.

Most of you might have already heard about this: the Fantasy Grounds Virtual Table Top is now selling official licensed D&D 5E products. Currently the products include Player and Monster Packs (single and bundles) as well as an adventure pack for “The Lost Mine of Phandelver”, the adventure from the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set. Not quite the electronic tools suite we had been promised, but it's a start.

In other D&D-related news, with Princes of the Apocalypse now released Wizards is slowly shedding some light on their plans for future releases. In an interview posted on Youtube, Chris Perkins (Story Manager at WotC) explained that Wizards will not release books just for the sake of releasing books. Older settings might reappear but in new ways that are going to “surprise” players and GMs alike. There is no guarantee, he added, that new setting content would be released in book form. Still, no actual product announcements have been made so far.

A lot of people have been wondering how the success of D&D 5E affects Paizo. In an interview with ICv2 at GAMA Trade Show, Erik Mona from Paizo Publishing talked about the impact the release of D&D 5E had on Paizo - claiming the success hadn’t negatively impacted Pathfinder sales, but instead had lifted the RPG market as a whole. He also announced several new books, including an urban Adventure Path. But Paizo seems to adjust its strategy a bit in regards to the less complex rules of D&D 5E, with the new Strategy Guide being an entry point for new players.

Paizo also made a distribution deal with french game publisher Gob in Tux to release the company’s RPGs (and other games as well) in North America, starting with the Polaris RPG.

For all you dungeon designers out there the One Page Dungeon Contest is held again this year, the deadline for submissions is April 30th.

Quite some time in the making the Tabletop RPG show has been announced including cast, premiere date and its very own game system. Bruce already posted additional details here.

We also have some convention news this week as GenCon confirmed they’d stay in Indianapolis at least until 2020, after some hassle with local legislation about a law which allows discrimination against LGBT people on religious grounds. GenCon had threatened to stop their 2016 expansion plans (space and hotels) if the law would come to pass (which it did). The law has been sent back to receive a work-over to clarify that it was never meant support legal discrimination.

And finally, even though it’s not RPG-centric, International Tabletop Day is on April 11th 2015. Go play some games!

That concludes my first column. Criticism is always welcome, so I’d like to hear your thoughts.
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Wed Apr 8, 2015 2:21 pm
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