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A Look Back at 2014: Top Stories and Trends from the RPG Scene

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This will most likely be our last "news" post of 2014. We wish all of our readers - and every other gamer - the happiest of holiday seasons, and a glorious New Year. The team will see you back here in 2015.

Yes, it's time for another retrospective...after writing the news for all of 2014, what have we learned about this hobby of ours? What are the top stories in the industry? Where are we all heading? Here are my thoughts (with some additions from RPGG Newscaster Jonas) on what I've seen. In no particular order:

Games! Games! Games!

The Release of D&D 5E and the 40th Anniversary of the Game
The past year was, in many ways, the year of Dungeons & Dragons. 2014 kicked off with quite a bit of discussion of the fortieth anniversary of the game - the initial publication happened sometime in 1974, with the most likely bet being January. Sam summed up many of the activities in this news post (one of our most thumbed ever, showing the broad interest in the game across the Geek). This summer (finally!) saw the release of Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition), to quite a bit of critical acclaim, not to mention what look like huge sales (at least based on its positioning on the Amazon charts). After several years of quiet - and even falling off the bestseller lists - D&D is back on the map. Where on the map it will end up is still unknown, but it's good for the hobby to have its flagship brand active again.

What We Played (or at least bought...probably)
The hobby doesn't have a good way to identify and track the most popular games, unfortunately. The best measure we have (probably) are the fairly opaque ICv2 rankings, which are based on...ummm...research (see the latest here). Still, they've clearly shown the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (1st Edition) on top all year, which also matches online data (see here). Behind it, we have D&D 5E coming on strong and then a myriad of other games, from the well-known Star Wars brand to relative upstarts like Fate Core and Numenera. Behind that is the small-press scene, which also appears to be thriving. All in all, the hobby seems to be in a very good place from a business standpoint.

A Slow Year?
That said, aside from D&D 2014 seemed to be a step back in creativity. After a stunningly good 2013 - from which Numenera and Fate Core dominated the awards, but also seeing impressive debuts from games like 13th Age, Shadowrun (5th Edition), and DramaSystem - 2014 felt like...not a lot, at least from the mainstream RPG world. That's probably more a reflection on the strong 2013 than real weakness, but still...let's hope for a greater diversity of high profile new releases next year!

From Creator to Consumer

Kickstarter Peak
Perhaps surprisingly, Kickstarter already seems to have settled into a "new normal" for the hobby. While the number of RPG related projects has increased by over 20% (at least according to Steve Dubya's excellent list), there have been fewer big hits this year than the last (see the top 10 list here). Those few that did "blow up" were all established brands: Deluxe Mage, Paranoia, Paranoia, and the Numenera boxed setNumenera. It's really rather astonishing to see just how many of the top Kickstarters are resurrecting old properties!

Meanwhile, there seems to be increasing backlash against late projects, with highly visible clashes between creators and "investors" for projects like Far West Adventure Game and Alas Vegas. This year also saw the first lawsuit against a Kickstarter creator filed by the US government under a consumer protection argument, and Kickstarter tightened up its terms of use by requiring project creators to be more transparent and attempting to clarify their own lack of responsibility (see here). My guess is we'll continue to see Kickstarter as a marketing tool from established brands, primarily used to reinvigorate lapsed properties - but without the growth we've seen over the past couple of years. I suspect we'll see new creators have more and more difficult times taking advantage of it, though I do believe quality projects will still find it a useful platform.

Patreon
Founded in May 2013, Patreon has seen a lot of growth in the past one-and-a-half years. Patreon is a crowdfunding platform for creators who are not working on a single big project, but constantly release smaller chunks - podcasters, bloggers, webcomic writers, artists and, yes, game designers. Unlike with other crowdfunding platforms, patrons are only charged after the creators have actually released something. (Revolutionary concept, isn't it?) While there were already a few early adopters in the first months after the platform went live, the number of RPG related projects on Patreon has multiplied in 2014 and our community can now choose from many dozens of projects, ranging from character art, dungeon maps, scenarios, ambient background tracks, blogs and podcasts, to games and e-zines. This crowdfunding model has established itself as an interesting and viably opportunity for creators to fund their products.
It's impossible to do justice to the variety of creations on record, so we'll just give a small sample and hope that you'll also take a look at our geeklist: Patreon and Other Patronage Projects for RPGs. Check out these and many more cool projects:
- Lizzie Stark is doing a LARP blog, leaving Mundania (Patreon link),
- Quinn Murphy recently published Five Fires, an RPG about hiphop, graffiti and making art (Patreon link),
- Evil Hat is creating Adventures and Worlds for Fate Core (Patreon link),
- Epidiah Ravachol is editing Worlds Without Master, a sword & sorcery fanzine (Patreon link),
- Dyson Logos is creating dungeon maps to die for (Patreon link).
Thanks to RPGG Newscaster Jonas (jasri) for writing this section!

The Rise of Pay-What-You-Want
Spurred partly by the high-profile release of the Fate Core System as a pay-what-you-want product last year, and the introduction of a pay-what-you-want feature on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, there's been a huge uptick in the number of RPG products released under this model. Whether that's a good choice or not depends on your goals (see this article by Fred Hicks), but it's becoming increasingly popular - Lamentations of the Flame Princess even uses it to sell print products at conventions and launched a successful crowdfunding campaign for No Salvation for Witches this year.

Technology

Transmedia!
There was a lot of talk about IP associated with RPGs making the jump to other media. There are two sets of plans for a D&D movie, and they are still fighting it out in court. Deadlands got tapped for a TV pilot by Xbox...though the production company got shuttered shortly after that announcement. Deadlands will nevertheless be getting its own fiction line next year. Even relative newcomer Achtung! Cthulhu is getting its own movie (see here). It wasn't all forward progress, though: earlier in the year, CCP gave up on putting the World of Darkness online (see here) - fortunately, several other RPG-related games are still in development, including Pathfinder Online and Torment: Tides of Numenera, and others were released this year. To me, the strength of this IP says that although the RPG industry may be niche, it's still hugely influential.

The Move Online
Of course, 2014 also saw more and more RPGs move online. We here at RPG Geek have seen a thriving play-by-forum scene for several years (as have many other sites, of course), but Storium, a game system designed especially for asynchronous play online (and a sophisticated website to support it, currently in beta) Kickstarted this year as well. More important is likely the continued rise of videoconferencing services that allow you to more closely simulate a tabletop session online. Roll20 continued its expansion, though Fantasy Grounds: Virtual Tabletop for Pen & Paper Role-Playing Games and others remain popular as well. You can get a sense for how much people are using these platforms from this post, but keep in mind that many RPGs that don't require maps can also be done without these sorts of services.

On the other hand...the integration of digital tools and tabletop games (as played on the tabletop) has been The Next Big Thing for about a decade now, and 2014 saw little if any progress toward making that happen. Two high-profile attempts failed to crack the Kickstarter conundrum by huge margins (Storyscape, which had Robin D. Laws designing for it, and Codename: Morningstar, although that campaign is still ongoing). Meanwhile, the D&D brand canned their digital toolset that was supposed to accompany 5E (that's now Codename: Morningstar). It looks to me like the actual appetite for integration is much smaller than the hopes. Either somebody will find a way to finance an app that changes all our lives and expectations, or we'll be continuing with the same approach for quite a while.

Looking Inward

The Indie Movement Begins (?) Convergence
Over the past 15 years, the general state of the industry has been to see consolidation amongst the mainstream games (thanks in part to the OGL) while the indie community proudly focused on honing their mechanics to match a very precise goal, which led to a proliferation of new systems. This past year has seen that trend within the indie community reverse, with a large fraction of the new games building off of two established systems, the Powered by the Apocalypse and Fate Core. While these are, to be sure, highly tunable systems, its nonetheless interesting to see some convergence onto a couple of "accepted" game engines. Is this a fad driven by marketing or a sustainable consolidation? I'll be watching closely in 2015....

The Design Culture
We've certainly seen the "democratization" of RPG design continue. This trend has been building for at least 15 years - with key steps toward opening publishing to the masses including the creation of the Forge website for indie publishers, the release of the OGL letting people play with the big games, the popularization of pdf as a delivery mechanism (vastly decreasing startup costs), and of course the appearance of Kickstarter. Having tracked pdf releases for the past couple of years, this one seemed to have a lot of new names - sometimes focusing on "micro" products like books of lists, sometimes on brand new games, even without crowdfunding. Meanwhile, a culture has grown up around game design - not just in the blog-o-sphere, but also through gaming conventions (especially Metatopia but also including playtesting rooms at many of the big conventions) and efforts like Codename: Morningstar to monetize the distribution of user-created content. It'll be interesting to see how far this process goes and how the industry strikes a balance between big and small.

History
Perhaps it is the 40th anniversary of the hobby, or perhaps it is the graying of all of us players and the inevitable nostalgia that brings, or perhaps it is the re-issue of so many older games via Kickstarter, or perhaps it is just A Thing. But there seemed to be a lot of awareness of the history of the hobby this year. Wizards of the Coast published several articles on their website looking at the history of D&D, Jon Peterson (author of Playing at the World from a couple of years ago) became something of a D&D authority, and most recently the revision of the Designers & Dragons books had a very successful Kickstarter. Personally, I'm hoping that this historical interest grows into more critical awareness of the hobby and the development of the games we play, something that the creation of the academic Analog Game Studies journal (and Peterson's sophisticated analysis) may herald.

Sad Goodbyes
Forty years as a hobby is a great run, but unfortunately it also means that many of the luminaries of the early days of the RPG scene are passing on to their net adventure. This year we lost (amongst others, I'm sure):
R. A. Montgomery (creator of the Choose Your Own Adventure books - and while you may not think that they are RPGs, they certainly helped popularize the approach; see our post here),
Artist David A. Trampier (see here), a key figure for the first decade of D&D who had mysteriously disappeared from the RPG scene.
Aaron Allston, one of the most influential RPG writers of the 1980s - both within the industry and on me! See here for some more thoughts.
We send those who have lent us their imaginations and given us all so much to enjoy the best.

So...that's our impression of the year behind, and some thoughts on the year ahead. What got you jazzed (or mad) this past year? And what are you looking forward to most in 2015?

Thanks to RPGG Newscaster Jonas (jasri) for contributions to this article!

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Tue Dec 23, 2014 1:58 pm
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News Bits (Dec 22): Cubicle 7 takes off, Knudepunkt, NaNewGaMo, and 12 days of D&D

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Cubicle 7 Entertainment is striking out on its own! The RPG publisher was acquired in 2009 by the Rebellion Developments (Rebellion), which is a video game developer that owns several other "geek" properties. Cubicle 7 CEO Dominic McDowall led a management buyout of Rebellion's stake of the company, which appears to have been a friendly move. (Mongoose Publishing also separated from Rebellion in a similar way four years ago.) Cubicle 7 explains here that this should have no impact on personnel, products, or their development cycle.

The Knudepunkt convention is the biggest annual event on the Nordic Larp scene (occurring in February next year). In addition to games, it of course includes lots of discussion of games - and as usual they are also putting together a book on Nordic Larp to be released in conjunction with the event. If you fancy yourself a designer, theorist, or critic of Nordic Larp, they're accepting submissions here. The initial deadline was actually yesterday, and it does require a very rapid turnaround.

Monte Cook Games is declaring January "NaNewGaMo": National New Game Month. This is, unfortunately, not quite as large an event as the name might imply: in this post, they explain, "Starting on Monday, January 5th, we’ll run a month-long seminar in the form of twice-weekly blog posts. Each session will take the novice through a step or two in the process. We’ll have a forum manned by experienced GMs ready to answer questions, provide additional support, and facilitate discussion." Presumably they will also focus on their own games!

Blogger extraordinaire Charles Akins has compiled his list of the 10 Biggest Tabletop RPG Stories of 2014 here. It's rather D&D-centric, but he has some interesting discussion as well.

If you need some last-minute suggestions for holiday gifts, Wizards of the Coast has kindly provided a dozen excellent suggestions:

Happy holidays to all!

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Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:13 pm
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Upcoming Releases (Dec 18): lots from Cubicle 7, plus FFG, Firefly, Pathfinder, and many more

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With the holidays come quick hits, both from publishers and from the news team. This week's update feels even more like a laundry list than usual - but hopefully it's at least some exciting laundry!

Cubicle 7 Entertainment attended Dragonmeet this month and had several seminars. This post offers some details on projects in the works. After a long history of unfortunate delays on projects in the pipeline, Cubicle 7 has become pretty tight-lipped about what's going on behind the scenes, so this is a rare look forward. Amongst the highlights for next year:
-The Silurian Age is coming for Doctor Who Roleplaying Game
-Oaths of the Riddermark will be an adventure anthology for the next The Horse-lords of Rohan, which itself is the next supplement for The One Ring.
-They're also working on Journeys & Maps, a "deluxe" set of Middle-earth game maps and a guide to traveling in The One Ring.
-Finally, they discussed "plans for expanding the World War Cthulhu setting to other conflicts – namely the American Revolutionary War, the First World War, the Cold War and World War III – via Kickstarter next year."

Also, the forthcoming Eight Doctor Sourcebook (for Doctor Who Roleplaying Game, of course) has daleks on the cover. Awesome. Plus, here's a preview of the table of contents.

The Firefly Role-Playing Game took off with a slow burn but is now moving steadily onward with supplements. This post gives the rundown on Smuggler's Guide to the Rim, due next year. This one is aimed at both players and GMs, and the chapter-by-chapter summary emphasizes the new Reputation rules, some setting info, and a couple of new adventures included in the book.

Dragon AGE is another RPG that's suffered from long delays, but it sounds like things are moving a little better now. This post announces that the long-dormant series of pdfs, Faces of Thedas, is going to become a whole book next year, describing important persons and factions within the Dragon Age game world. But...work is just now beginning, so it will be a while!

Fantasy Flight Games' forthcoming The End of the World: Zombie Apocalypse RPG (part of the The End of the World family) is continuing to get some solid previews. This one describes how the scenarios work.

Stay on Target is the Aces book for Star Wars: Age of Rebellion and should be zeroing in on your game store very soon. This article previews the vehicles and beasts you'll find in the book.

Vincent Baker has announced that he'll have another game coming soon. The clearest description so far is "freewheeling adventure fantasy with lots of Jack Vance and Clark Ashton Smith." It has "plasmic wizardry" too.

Onyx Path Publishing has been relatively quiet this holiday season, but there are still this overview of product status and this week's update, which tells us that they're actually working out the 2016 product schedule now!

Monte Cook Games has maintained their recent regular updates. The Ninth World Guidebook has been sent off to the printers (follow the link for a preview, too). Their weekly newsletters haven't had too much detail this month, but you can find some tidbits here and here.

Pathfinder Unchained is coming this spring, the next full-length hardcover for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (1st Edition). It's...well, it's hard to explain. ENWorld has helpfully collected the known facts about the book. It'll contain alternate takes on classes and rules systems, messing with some of the game's core "sacred cows." But: "This book is not a second edition of Pathfinder," says Jason Bulmahn. On the other hand, they're going to "fix" many of the perceived problems with the game (balance and others).

We got an email from the creators of the forthcoming FAITH: The Sci-Fi RPG that they are aiming for a February Kickstarter to launch the game.
Quote:
In FAITH each gamer plays with a hand of custom playing cards used to resolve the different actions and confrontations that arise during a game. This allows for “Luck Management” gameplay to arise: players can decide when their “bad rolls” are going to happen and when the moment has come for their characters to shine.

Additionally, important gear and pieces of equipment of the different characters are displayed in cards that are laid out in front of players to be a constant reminder of how their characters look and what gear they have available. Moreover, character stats come in cardboard boards, with interlocking tokens.
You can read and see more here, and you can even download a free version here.

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Thu Dec 18, 2014 8:09 pm
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News Bits (Dec 15): RPG Superstar, Onyx Path answers it all, Dragonmeet wrap-up, and a sweater

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Is there a superstar hiding inside of you? Of course there is! Now's your chance to see if it's an RPG Superstar, though. Paizo Publishing kicked off their annual RPG Superstar competition last week. Contestants submit their designs for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (1st Edition), progressing through several rounds of challenges until a winner is determined in March of next year. There are a number of changes to the process this year: the most important being that the first round deadline is tomorrow at 2 pm PST! They're asking folks "to create a magic item from one of the following categories: armor, shield, weapon, staff, ring, or rod." See the detailed rules and get your submission in here.

Last Wednesday, the folks at Onyx Path Publishing did an Ask Me Anything at Reddit. They answered a lot of questions about upcoming products and their plans for the company, with a special focus on Wraith: The Oblivion (currently having a Kickstarter for the 20th Anniversary Edition).

The three-year development cycle for Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition) officially wrapped up this past week with the general release of the Dungeon Master's Guide (D&D 5e). Now Wizards of the Coast has announced their web lineup for next year, including a new Unearthed Arcana column with design info, a series of "campaign notebooks," and the return of Sage Advice. See this link for details.

Dragonmeet, which I believe to be the UK's largest gaming convention, happened earlier this month. Cubicle 7 Entertainment has a two-part summary of their experience: see here for an overview with lots of pictures and a review of their seminars here.

This makes me happy. Very, very happy.

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Mon Dec 15, 2014 2:00 pm
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Crowdfunding Report (Dec 11): codenames, oblivion, Arkham, Airdhe, and RPGs by candlelight

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Overall, it's been a quiet couple of weeks in the Kickstarter world...apparently everybody's focused on the holidays! But there are still several projects worthy of your attention. Here are some that struck me as interesting:

The big news is clearly the launch of Deluxe Wraith: The Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition, the latest project from Onyx Path Publishing. Wraith: The Oblivion is the next World of Darkness (cWoD Modern) game to get a reissue, and it looks very much like all the other campaigns to me. It only took hours to hit its $50k goal and is now at $160k with about three weeks to go. They're aiming for July delivery.

Troll Lord Games is putting together a campaign for their new fantasy world, Airdhe. It sounds like they'd like this to be a system-neutral setting, but I can't tell from the text how much their game (Castles & Crusades) features in the books. There are a couple of funny things about the Kickstarter. First, the books are ready for the printers (which is great), but apparently they've already had a separate pre-order. Second, "Aihrde is the most complete campaign setting on the market today," which amuses me because it is (at best) only true in a very specific sense of the word "complete," and I have no idea what that sense is. The campaign funded easily (with a modest $4k) goal and is now near $15k. But the real goal looks to be $25k, where one of the books gets the full-color treatment.

The Arkham Gazette is a periodical focused on exploring "Lovecraft Country." They've released a few issues in the past but have now acquired a license from Chaosium, so they're aiming to take the next issue to the next level with a Kickstarter campaign. This issue focuses on witches and witchcraft. They're aiming for a January release, and they've nearly doubled their $1500 goal. Obviously, this is the creators' first crowdfunding project, but they've put together a few issues already.

Ah, digital tools! Codename: Morningstar is a new campaign that already has a troubled history. Originally built as the digital toolset for Dungeons & Dragons (5th Edition), the creators (Trapdoor Technologies, a small tech firm) parted ways with Wizards of the Coast last month. The reasons are unclear: the D&D 5E tools were in public testing mode, and the iOS version (which was far ahead of the others) was supposedly on the verge of submission to Apple's App Store. The best guess is that they parted ways because of pricing and ambition: it looks like Trapdoor is aspiring for a much more complete set of tools driven by in-app purchases (including user-made ones). They've now moved the project to Kickstarter and switched rules (at least for the initial release) to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (1st Edition). The campaign is far short of its $425k goal (having collected only $33k so far). But if you have enough faith to pledge anyway, the delivery goal is April. Though I can't imagine that's for the complete product.

Ten Candles: A Tragic Horror Storytelling Game is unique, so far as I know, in the RPG sphere for making the room's lighting part of the game! It is, as the name implies, meant to be played with the light of ten candles. It has a GM but looks to put a lot of the narration in the hands of the players. The game has passed its $5k funding goal with four weeks to go. It's written but awaits editing/art/layout/printing (a good place to be, since this is the creator's first project). Delivery is expected in October 2015.

Please note that this will be our last Crowdfunding Report of the year, as we'll all be taking the week between Christmas and New Year's off. (There will be several other columns before the holidays hit, but no more of these.)

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Thu Dec 11, 2014 2:53 pm
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News Bits (Dec 8): BAMF!, character sheets, the Gygax memorial, promotions, and more

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There's a new RPG award on the block! The BAMFSIES "are cheeky and fun RPG awards focused solely on superhero RPGs. We’re not nearly as serious as the Ennies. We’re probably more serious than the Grammys." The website notes that, "There's a renaissance going on with supers RPGs right now - and it's not really reflected in mainstream RPG awards as those tend to be focused elsewhere." These awards will highlight the best in the superhero genre from the past year. They'll mostly be decided by a panel of judges, but there's also a Gamer's Choice Award that you can vote on (at the link). It looks like each of the judges has also chosen a game for the BAMFSIES Hall of Fame. The awards will be announced via a podcast in early January.

The Lake Geneva News has a nice article detailing the current plans for the Gary Gygax Memorial to be constructed in that city. His widow, Gail Gygax, is leading the effort, which has been moving forward - albeit slowly - for several years. The article includes a concept drawing of the monument (conceived by Larry Elmore) and lots of interesting details on how difficult the process is. Did you know that the city council actually made her increase the size of the monument? It's projected to cost about $250k, and she'll be looking to raise some more money soon.

Evil Hat Productions is looking to spur some more activity about their games. As such, they are sponsoring a contest to win games and/or an online chat with one of the Evil Hatters about a topic of your choice. To enter, you basically need to publicize their games - with a review, session report, thread, or any other discussion. You could even just post a link to here. (I won't be claiming an entry for this post - I'm not that much of a shill newscaster.)

Paizo Publishing has announced another comics series on its way in February (through Dynamite, as have their other Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (1st Edition) comics). This one, entitled Pathfinder Origins, will have a six-issue run describing the early adventures of some of their "iconic" heroes.

The latest issue of Analog Game Studies is here, the quasi-academic journal of tabletop games. This month features a couple of boardgames-focused articles and Visual Design As Metaphor: The Evolution of a Character Sheet from RPG superstar Jason Morningstar, in which he discussed the development of the character sheet for his latest game, Night Witches.

Did you know that RPGG newscaster sdonohue has written 500 RPG reviews? Wow! Check out #500 here. Congrats, Steve!

Don't forget that we're still searching for a new editor-in-chief for the RPGG news. Could it be you? It's not that hard, I promise!

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Mon Dec 8, 2014 10:35 pm
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Upcoming Releases (Dec 5): updates from FFG, Onyx Path, Pelgrane, and more

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Fantasy Flight Games has cranked up their preview cycle again after a few months of relative silence. They've issued the final set of updates for the beta release of Star Wars: Force and Destiny, which includes rules for integrating the content of all three of their Star Wars titles. They'll continue to accept feedback for the next few weeks, but there won't be any more rules changes until the release of the core book.

Meanwhile, you can also read about Lords of Nal Hutta, the next book for Star Wars: Edge of the Empire here (specifically, Hutt culture and the new character creation options in the book) and about Stay on Target, the new Aces sourcebook for Star Wars: Age of Rebellion, here.

But that's not all! They've also announced Enemies Within, the next sourcebook for Dark Heresy (2nd Edition). It's not, unfortunately, the long-lost sequel to the classic WHFRP campaign (set 40,000 years in the future or whatever) - instead it adds lots more cults and heresies to trouble your acolytes.

Finally, this article describes how scenarios work in their post-apocalyptic The End of the World line of games.

The next sourcebook for Ars Magica (5th Edition) is Between Sand & Sea, which covers Mythic Africa. The first preview is the full table of contents, which you can check out on the link on the right hand side of that page.

Monte Cook Games has a weekly newsletter these days and offers some tidbits on what's coming up. Last week they said, "we’re putting the final touches on an upcoming fractal (our PDFs for The Strange game)." The week before we got a preview spread of The Ninth World Guidebook.

Meanwhile, Pelgrane Press has their usual end-of-month roundup as well. On this page, you'll get an overview of all their games. Of particular note, they are now playtesting a new campaign for The Esoterrorists entitled Worldbreaker and the Cthulhu Apocalypse series for Trail of Cthulhu is getting a print release (with extras) in February. There is also word of a couple of titles for 13th Age: Battle Scenes is "a product which had a bunch of preconstructed and losely-linked encounters with all the monsters stats front and center adjusted for different levels and party numbers" (see more here) and is in playtesting, while a book called Demonology is also in development. You can learn more about some of these titles (and sign up to playtest them!) here.

Whenever I write these posts, I inevitably think two things. First, I wish every RPG company were as transparent as Onyx Path Publishing. Second, I wish I were a fan of their games so I could enjoy all the previews they post! Here and here are roundups of lots of specific previews from the second half of November (there should be a similar post up today with this week's). Meanwhile, this overview notes that they're already working on their 2016-17 product schedule, while this week's version focuses on the Wraith Kickstarter but also goes product-by-product as usual.

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Fri Dec 5, 2014 2:07 pm
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Expecting the usual Monday News Bits article? The holiday week in the US has meant there's not much news to report, so we're taking this opportunity to make another kind of post!

The Short Version: We're looking for new writers for the news blog, as vestige is stepping down at the end of this year. Join the news writers and be even more awesome than you already are!


The News Team Evolves

As the end of 2014 approaches, many of us on the news team have been reviewing what we do, how we do it, and what we hope for in the future. All of us are proud of the contributions we've made to the blog and to our community. We believe we've turned RPG Geek into one of the best resources in the world to learn about new releases, previews, and what's going on in the RPG industry.

It is therefore with regret that I (vestige) must step down from the team at the end of 2014. I have enjoyed my time at the metaphorical news desk, and I have learned a great deal about the industry and the landscape of new RPG products. I'm very proud of helping to build the RPG Geek News into a stable, thorough, and useful news source for geeks everywhere. Unfortunately, I simply can't devote the time that the news deserves anymore thanks to my own offline commitments.

What does this mean for you, our valued readers? Well, we're looking for some new blood for the team! While most of the other newscasters will continue to contribute in the same capacity they have this past year, my departure means that the news needs some other members of our community to step up and contribute.

Writing for the News Blog

Could that be you? If you think you might be interested, please read on!

Most importantly, we need somebody to step in and organize the news team. This doesn't require a great deal of time or energy but does require the vision to see what we're doing right and where the news can be improved for the future, and it needs enough organization to think at least a week ahead for the big events in the RPG world, like Gen Con.

We also need writers! The new team will be free to develop their own approach and schedule, but as an example of the time commitment you can expect, my articles take about 30-60 minutes to "report" and compose. If the schedule and approach were to remain unchanged, we'd need regular coverage for:
d10-1 The News Bits overview of industry and related news each week.
d10-2 The Upcoming Releases series every other week.
d10-3 The Crowdfunding Report every other week.
d10-4 The pdf releases in the weekly What's New? columns.

While I've been doing all of these for the past couple of years, there's no reason at all why the responsibilities can't be split amongst multiple writers - in fact, that's probably the best idea going forward! All it takes is a willingness to commit 30-60 minutes per post. You know you want to!

Let me emphasize that this doesn't require too much creativity (though that is welcome!) but does require a willingness to read about lots of cool RPG news and previews. (Not the worst thing in the world, is it?) Of course I will be happy to work with new writers and pass on my workflow to make your effort as efficient as possible.

If you're interested in contributing in any capacity, please Geekmail me (vestige) and/or Dave (wavemotion). We'll be trying to organize the handover before the new year, and we'd love to see YOU write for the team!

What Your Effort Means

Over the past few years we've turned the RPG Geek News blog into an important part of the RPG Geek community. In my not-so-humble opinion, we provide the best consolidation of links and news in the business: though some other, bigger sites provide more extensive coverage of important elements of the hobby, we take the broadest and most inclusive view in the business. Dave assures me that the stats show that the news makes a difference and gains traction on social media and with readers, so we'd really like contributors to continue the effort.

Let me also emphasize that this is a volunteer effort, which is why we're asking for your help. The News Blog was created by a group of geeks eager to make this an even better site. I joined the team at a later date, with the same goal of sharing exciting developments in the industry. We operate completely independently of the admins, though of course with their support, and unlike the much bigger BGG News team we aren't staff. Nevertheless we've achieved a lot.

I am immensely proud to have served this community and helped to grow it, and I am very excited to see what some new blood can bring to the effort and where the news blog heads in the future! I hope to see you as part of that new direction, whether as a reader or - even better - as a contributor.

Some Last Words

Although I'll continue my posts for the next several weeks, I did want to take this opportunity to thank several people:
1 My fellow news bloggers have been fantastic co-writers over the past couple of years. While my name is on lots of the posts you read, it's been a team effort to gather all this info and put it together in a readable form, and I'm very grateful for all of their contributions. I particularly want to single out Bruce (brumcg), whose hard work and extensive network of mysterious contacts has made the What's New column into our most popular installment.
2 The first generation of news casters had the great idea for this blog and put in the effort to establish it. While only a few are still active with the news team, they put in a great deal of time to get this thing off the ground, and everything the current team has built is based on that early foundation.
3 The RPG Geek site and admins have of course provided us with lots of support as well - not only an exhaust port through which to vent our thoughts, but also extra publicity through social media and their logistical support in many other ways.
4 And, of course, I'd most like to thank our readers. We've received dozens of tips over the years that have made our jobs easier. It would be impossible to overstate the effect of your kind words, tips, and thumbs in providing the team the motivation to continue on. Ultimately, we've written all this to make our reader's lives just a smidgen more interesting, and I thank you for your attention and feedback over the past couple of years.

PS Need that little extra something to push you over the edge toward volunteering? Everyone who signs up will get this swank exclusive microbadge: mb. Not for general sale!
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Mon Dec 1, 2014 12:28 am
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Crowdfunding Report (Nov 27): Nyarlathotep, Numenera, mini-games, and lots more

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Kickstarter trundles along even as we enter the holiday season. What projects are you thankful for this year?

The Masks of Nyarlathothep Props Reimagined project aims to produce a set of at lest 45 specially designed, realistic handouts for the the seminal campaign. Handouts being central to any Cthulhu campaign, this project has really taken off: it's now above $35,000, far above its $5k goal. Amusingly, the project page points out that the design is all done and, "The only foreseeable problems would be due to high demand. However, in the event that the workload overwhelms my production capabilities, I will simply bring on an assistant." Let's hope he finds one! Delivery is expected in January.

Sorcerers of Ur-Turuk is a new sword-and-sorecery RPG inspired by Persian mythology and featuring troupe play. The writer, Graham Bottley, has run two successful campaigns already and even stuck mostly to schedule. The campaign has passed its £2,000 goal and is in stretch goal territory with over a week to go. It's slated for a February release; the manuscript is mostly finished. (Thanks to RPGG user Bifford for the tip!)

The Protocol Game Series Two is a project by jim pinto to fund "a series of fast roleplaying games designed to get to the heart of drama and fun for any experience level." The first series has already been released after a successful Kickstarter (for example, Protocol Game Series 06: Chebyshev Function). All the new games in this project use the same underlying system (the Protocol Game Series, of course!) and the concepts for the new games are available on the page. This is Pinto's tenth campaign, and I believe all the others have been delivered successfully. You can buy one game or all of them in the campaign. The project has nearly quadrupled its $1000 goal with almost three weeks to go. Delivery is expected in June.

Metal coin props really seem to be A Thing for RPG gamers! The Epic Metal Coins Kickstarter is the latest example. The campaign aims to fund 60 metal coins (square and crescent) for release in June. The project looks pretty professional and straightforward: it's the second from this group but the first to require shipping (the first funded the fonts used on the coins). The campaign has passed its $3200 goal with almost a month to go.

Shotguns & Sorcery aims to bring Matt Forbeck novels to the RPG world. Forbeck is the lead designer, if I'm understanding the page correctly, and Robert J. Schwalb is also onboard. They are using the Cypher System (from Numenera). The campaign has just passed its $25k goal with 35 days to go. Delivery is expected in December (it doesn't look like the writing is anywhere near done), but they also mention a limited release at Gen Con.

Silent Legions is the latest project from Kevin Crawford, who's run several very professional Kickstarters in the past. It's a "sandbox horror" game, where the investigators aren't following an intricate plot arc but exploring clues in a large region. It has nearly tripled its $3500 goal with three weeks to go. Delivery is expected in April, but backers get immediate access to the beta pdf.

Monte Cook Games has had huge Kickstarters each of the last two years. Their new project is slightly more modest: a Boxed Set Edition of the award-winning Numenera game. The boxed set is based on the Italian edition of the game and will contain the core rules (split into a few books) plus some extras. They're also calling this "exclusive" which I guess means it won't be available for sale after the campaign ends. MCG has already delivered successfully on two huge campaigns, and they're aiming for an April release for this one. The campaign is closing in on $70k (after a $15k goal) with about two weeks to go.

Have a news tip for us? Please send it along to rpgg-news@googlegroups.com!
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Thu Nov 27, 2014 3:00 pm
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News Bits (Nov 24): Deadlands news, the Pathfinder Society gets overhauled, libraries, and contests

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Pinnacle Entertainment Group has big plans afoot in spreading The Weird West (the setting for Deadlands) to other media. In January, Tor will announce the release dates for the first Deadlands novel (written by Jonathan Maberry). Meanwhile, "a very important tale that will change the Weird West forever! We’ll tell you all about that VERY SOON. Look out, January will be HUGE!" I'm not sure if that refers to the novel or some comics they also discuss.

Unfortunately, the other news for Deadlands fans isn't so good: after announcing that they were working on a Deadlands television series, XBox Entertainment Studios got axed by Microsoft. (Uhhh...wait. Probably those events aren't as intimately related as that sentence implies!) Pinnacle explains here that they have the rights back now and still have a writer/director attached and will be shopping the property again.

Paizo Publishing is making a whole bunch of changes to their Pathfinder Organized Play system, in response to feedback from their nearly 400 volunteer leaders. You can read about them here. They range from updates to the factions to changes to the way they do storylines to changes to scenario structure.

Looking to get your local library into RPGs? There's a new resource available just for them: Dragons in the Stacks, by Steven A. Torres and Cason E. Snow. The subtitle is A Teen Librarian's Guide to Tabletop Role-Playing, and it looks like it provides both some overall strategies and some specific recommended games for a library's collection. This post on OSR Today describes some of the book (with a focus on the old-school revival, of course).

The Gamers & Grognards blog is hosting a short contest. They're designing a creative commons logo to indicate Swords & Wizardry compatible products and are looking for inspiration. You don't need to design the logo yourself, but you need to be able to describe your idea carefully. And quickly - as the deadline is November 27. Prizes include dice and adventures. See the official rules here.

But don't forget RPG Geek's homegrown contest! The Fiasco Celebrations Contest asks you to design your own playset for the popular Fiasco themed around some sort of celebration. The winners not only get some prizes from Bully Pulpit Games, but all entrants will be considered for publication in a special anthology of playsets put out by Bully Pulpit. Entries are due by Nov. 30; see this thread for details.

Have a news tip for us? Please send it along to rpgg-news@googlegroups.com!
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Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:04 pm
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