“From the Arcane Archive” is a real magical tome

“From the Arcana Archive” by Mage Hand Press
by Ex_Libris85   Twitch   Twitter

Mages, Wizards, Bards, Warlocks, Clerics, Druids, and all other practitioners of the arcane and divine winds! Ever wanted a bit more oomph in your invocations? Need more pizazz in your illusions? Extra mojo in your enchantments? Then I have a book for you!

“From the Arcane Archive” by Mage Hand Press is an OGL supplement for DnD 5th edition and it is the closest you will ever come to a real life wizard’s tome. This book contains hundreds of spells for all the casting classes in DnD 5e, plus a few more custom classes including Mage Hand Press’ own creation the Shugenja.

This book is a wonderful supplement and helps add a lot more utility and, dare I say, humor into 5th edition’s repertoire of a 1000 evocation spells that deal fire damage. Jokes aside, it does help fill a hole that I feel is left by the published WotC material and adds greater depth into spell casting.

One of the nicest things about “Arcane Archive” is that it not only includes spells for the traditional fantasy setting but they are forward thinking enough to add futuristic spells (tailored for Mage Hand Press’ Dark Matter setting) as well as a Renaissance tag for an era that includes rudimentary firearms and a larger scientific presence. These give a lot of flexibility to the GM who wants to create a game that isn’t pigeonholed into a particular setting. Personally I think the futuristic and renaissance tags are good resources for adding spells to my homebrew steampunk world.

 

Here are some interesting spells from the Archive (click to enlarge):

This spell is bananas, I love it. Hack a friend apart, hide them in your shopping bag and infiltrate the evil castle like a Trojan horse. Just make sure you do it in less than an hour!

 

Consecrated Armor is a good lower-level armor spell and honestly it is good to see something besides mage armor. A solid example of the useful spells in this book.

 

 

A novel situational spell. Not something that would come up too often in a traditional setting but certainly very effective if you are in a place with lots of water based foes.

 

A little meta here but this is a fantastic cantrip. Good damage and scaling, but more importantly it just looks like it is fun to use.

 

A nice and fun alternative to Tiny Hut. This spell has a lot of character and the imagery that comes along with it makes me smile. This may seem a weak spell for 5th level but the HP max increase and charm immunity are very valuable effects.

 

There is a lot more to this book than I could ever put in digestible review. What I can assure you is that this book contains something for everyone. Games set in forgotten realms, spell jammer, modern urban fantasy, steampunk, and futuristic settings will all find this book useful. There are utility spells, damage spells, and just weird and fun spells in here. This is an incredible work and a benefit to any 5e player or DM.

 

 

 

 

Mage Hand Press can be found here on Patreon where they release books such as these as awards to their patrons: patreon.com/mfov/

Follow them on twitter here: @MageHandPress

And here is their blog where they post news about their work: http://mfov.magehandpress.com/

Bring Some Scares with These Horror RPGs

It’s October, and everything has become dark and spooky, so why not your tabletop roleplaying games? There are a plethora of games written to bring and maximize the essence of horror, with many of these games touching on different aspects of the genre. Some of the RPGs on this list will be familiar, but hopefully, there will be something here to bring the scare for your Halloween game night. So prepare some candles, turn down the lights, and get ready to be spooky.

Call of Cthulhu

Lovecraftian horror deserves mention as a genre that truly gets under your skin and sometimes leaves you a little insane. Chaosium, Inc.’s 7th Edition of this iconic game expands on the Cthulhu mythos, implementing a system where investigators become exposed to eldritch horrors, ancient forbidden truths through the Necronomicon, and die horrifically against the Great Old Ones. Most Call of Cthulhu settings take place during the turn of the century of the Industrial Revolution, but there are additional variants such as Pulp Cthulhu that brings it close to the Atomic Age with secret organizations, spies, and other deadly dangers. Lovecraft’s atmosphere along with Chaosium’s expanded Cthulhu mythos resonates into this wonderful tale of suspense and horror.

If you’re interested in learning how to create your Call of Cthulhu character, we have you covered with some quick and easy tutorial videos.

Dread

Dread is an indie narrative survival-horror RPG that does not utilize any dice mechanics or stats, but instead, players resolve their actions through a tower of wooden blocks that entirely resemble a Jenga tower. Instead of character sheets, players have character questionnaires tailored by their game masters for the particular scenario. What I love and enjoy about this game comes from the physical and emotional sensation of dread that builds throughout the game, because if the tower falls, the last player to touch it has their character suffer a tragic and possibly horrible end. The book itself provides useful tips, advice, and strategies to create your own scenarios, player expectations, and how to formulate your questionnaires. Additionally, there are four scenarios provided with pre-generated questionnaires. This is a great game to introduce someone to roleplaying games without the learning curve of game mechanics.

Ten Candles

If Dread is to be considered the epitome of survival-horror, then I would consider Ten Candles to be the epitome of tragic-horror. The game utilizes the simple setup of ten candles, some index cards to serve as character traits, several d6s with two different colors, a fireproof bowl, a tape recorder for your characters’ final thoughts before their imminent demise. Finally, it’s heavily suggested that this game is played in the dark with only the light of the candles to be the barrier against the setting’s dark apocalypse.

Unlike other games where players strive and hope to survive, in Ten Candles, the characters’ fate is inevitable and predetermined. Whenever a character fails a test, a candle is snuffed out, and the scene ends, but players can choose to “burn” away one of their character traits to prevent this failure. But ultimately, once there is only one candle remaining, the game enters its final end phase, and the players will all die. In other words, in this hopeless game, players will try to seek hope for their characters in this dark setting.

The game’s psychological degradation is appealing especially with other horror movies such as the Descent, the Final Destination series, Silent Hill, or even Friday the 13th. The desperation to keep these candles lit to delay this looming inevitability will undoubtedly have players feel the pressure after a few candles go out. The tape recorder mentioned previously? Whenever a character dies, their recording is replayed from the recorder as a final testament.

Don’t Rest Your Head

Evil Hat Productions’ Don’t Rest Your Head makes it to this list for the surreal and psychedelic atmosphere presented in its setting of the Mad City. The players are insomniacs who become aware of a metaphysical reality and entities are known merely as Nightmares. While awake, the players act like any normal human being, but their actions will eventually wear them down which runs the risk of the character drifting to sleep. While a character sleeps, the Nightmares stalk and attempt to kill your character. Survival requires another awakened character to assist, but alternatively, a character can choose to accrue madness in the face of their growing exhaustion.

The game employs a growing dice pool mechanic between its three attributes of Discipline, Exhaustion, and Madness. Players roll dice using their base Discipline plus any Exhaustion gained and any permanent Madness dice. For most mundane actions, a player character may roll their Discipline within a sense of control, but by incurring an Exhaustion die, the dice pool increases and grants a chance to succeed their rolled tests. But players can choose instead of using their Exhaustion pool, they can add a die to their Madness pool. Besides the onset of psychological strain and mental breakdowns, there are more devastating results such as the decrease in their Discipline trait followed by permanent Madness die.

Additionally, the game utilizes a meta-currency of Hope and Despair, with the former being a means for player characters to combat against the debilitating journey of living with insomnia. Despair is a currency for the GM to impose a significant challenge against a character, but between these two features, when one is spent, it is added into the coffers of the other which establishes the metaphor for give-and-take presentation of the harsh reality of life.

Bluebeard’s Bride

Fan of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales? This RPG focuses on two characters, Bluebeard and his Bride, with the players’ roles as aspects of the Bride’s psyche. Throughout the game, players explore Bluebeard’s house through the eyes of the Bride, each player takes turns to act as their aspect of her psyche to make decisions, speak as the Bride, and pushing the Bride forward to explore this mysterious house only to encounter new horrors along the way.

This game is another excellent tragic horror game that harkens back to such classics as Disney’s Beauty and the Beast if it had become a full-fledged horror movie. As the Bride explores the house, the psyches (players) are confronted with various revelations and horrors about their beloved Bluebeard. The game reminds and encourages discourse between players with their Bride actions to represent the conflicting internal mental struggles of this central figure.

Ultimately, by the end of the game, the Bride will face the final door that Bluebeard forbade this Bride to enter. Depending on the actions of the Bride throughout this haunting tale, the Gamemaster has a unique track to determine the Bride’s faithfulness, treachery, or defiance. Whichever becomes the dominating mentality at the end of the game, each psyche will have a chance to narrate the final scene. This RPG combines the hallmarks of a collaborative storytelling experience yet encourages discourse between the players while taking turns to control a central character to serve as a vehicle for the narrative.

Little Fears

Little Fears harkens back to those classic childhood fears but turns the dial to eleven as players play as everyday kids that face both real and imagined monsters. Players have character sheets like any other roleplaying game but also includes a questionnaire to help flesh out their fears and the various aspects of their troubles, which your gamemaster will employ and build your stories around. Additionally, the game utilizes other features that are iconic from one’s own childhood, such Belief and Rituals to dispel the monsters that haunt us. The game has a very “Monster of the Week” infrastructure for longer campaigns but definitely can work under a one-shot capacity. Unlike other roleplaying games, many of the character aspects are strictly narrative or abstract in nature, fans with familiar to games such as Fate Core will feel right at home with this sort of game.

As an honorable mention, if you wish to play a game set in childhood horror, Kids on Bikes follows the same archetypes, but while Little Fears is explicitly focused on childhood horrors and traumas, the former fits into a wider variety of genres. Though Kids on Bikes can be presented with horror elements and just like Little Fears, both are narrative-focused games.

Old Friends

This indie entry by Bully Pulpit Games, written by Jason Morningstar (creator of Fiasco) and Ode Peder, is more of a ghost story than a horror RPG but there plenty of avenues to expand on the genre. In the premise for this game, the players were once former ghost hunters who found a way to bridge the worlds of the living and the dead together to put the spirits to rest. Unfortunately, one of these ghost hunters died and never found rest. Your group has returned to the place of your former friends’ passing to finish the job once and for all. The game does not require a gamemaster, but does suggest at least one game organizer prepare materials and moderate the game, as the players must enact a secret ritual to summon spirits to possess them. A mask is heavily suggested and required as a prop for this game, to represent the possessed character. Most of the character creation is done through cards that can be printed out before gameplay that establish roles, relationships, and backstories. While a character becomes possessed by the ghost, they make direct instructions or commands to other characters and they must obey them. Possessions pass across the playgroup until the end of the game. The rules are loose and abstract to fit for every number of playstyles and groups.

The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth

Another game to bring some nightmare to your childhood memories, The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth brings you the magic and joys of your iconic theme parks and turns them into a carnival of despair and dread. Just as the title suggests, this is a hack using the Powered by the Apocalypse system, but the atmosphere and themes touch on a satirical outlook with a dark representation for a sinister children’s theme park called Mouse Park. The game adopts a monster-of-the-week structure for longer campaigns, but it is also suited for one-shots as well. Characters acquire talents and abilities that can be cut and pasted onto their sheets which reduces a whole lot of reference to the rulebook and more time to focus on the gameplay.

The satirical undertones feel like a George Romero horror movie, but within the setting of The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth, you have the added caveat of ancient evils, demonic circles, strange experiments, and rogue animatronics. Plus, who doesn’t love the idea of an evil theme park full of unknown terrors? For longer campaigns, the book does offer advice to bring the player characters back every time, with each visitation revealing a new dark facet of Mouse Park.

The Esoterrorists

The Esoterrorists marries investigation and horror under the GUMSHOE system. Unlike most investigative driven RPGs, the GUMSHOE system focuses on the interpretation of the clues. This system inspired another Cthulhu RPG called Trail of Cthulhu which deserves an honorable mention here, but the real honor belongs to The Esoterrorists for being the progenitor. In The Esoterrorists, the players battle against fanatical occult terrorists who seek to shatter the fabric of reality to bring forth otherworldly monstrosities to our present realm.

This narrative-centric game utilizes a pool of points to perform investigative abilities, with other generic tests conducted with a six-sided die and its own point pool. As the players find clues, the story advances. To find the clues, the players will need to use their investigative abilities that correlate with it. All investigative skills always work, but again, the novelty from this system applies to the players’ and groups’ interpretation of these story clues. Spending their investigative points usually grants additional clues which are often additional information or benefits. Since the point pools can be adjusted and tailored for any scenario, a gamemaster can customize their tales to fit any kind of difficulty and length.

Fate Horror Toolkit

Fans of Evil Hat Production’s Fate Core and Fate Accelerated have a new toolkit for bringing horror to their games. While Fate provides a full breadth of narrative creativity with the interpretations of their aspects, this book offers advice and tips to maintain the tension often found in the horror genre without sacrifice the system’s ingenuity and freedom. There are mechanical elements such as the descent (very similar to mechanics found in the sanity mechanic from Call of Cthulhu) and methods for coping with trauma. Additionally, the supplement discusses the playgroup’s buy-in through impending doom and storytelling advice for crafting a survival horror scenario.

For the survival horror rules, there is a clock mechanic and a system for the gamemaster to establish finite resources that the players can freely utilize throughout the game. However, when those resources run out, there will most definitely be consequences which can range from reducing results to skill rolls and possibly even alterations to established aspects. As for the mechanics to define impending doom, there are some great tips and advice for setting this early buy-in with your players. Additionally, the toolkit adds a clock mechanic that is reminiscent in other games such as Apocalypse World or Blades in the Dark. Overall, this book provides solid advice to incorporate horror into your Fate games, whether to an existing campaign, a new one or even as a one-shot. Fate’s adaptive storytelling system allows for a full breadth of actions, moments, and creativity but in the vein of horror, some exercised limitations and restrictions will draft the necessary atmosphere needed.

There are plenty of horror-inspired RPGs out there, and whether or not your favorites made this list, just remember the core elements of horror: limited resources and inevitability. Atmosphere and mood are essential whether it be darkening a room or having appropriate music as a backdrop. Of course, the last key ingredient to any good horror game comes from the players and their acceptance of their fate within the game. Have the players aware of the context of their game, set expectations, and provide a safe means to express their discomforts. These elements can be found in the roleplaying games listed above, as it’s essential that every be comfortable and safe to tell the best tales possible. Enjoy, and may your nights be full of terror.

Return to the Loop with Free League’s New Adventures for Tales from the Loop

Imagine a setting in the 1980s and machines roam the landscape all connected to a mysterious facility and an equally mysterious power source used to generate various odd experiments that occasionally run rampant in your suburban life. The caveat? You’re all playing as kids, and only you can stop the machine menace. Free League Publishing released their ENnie awarding Tales from the Loop in 2015 which would later become of the “must play games” of 2017, and the game continues to grow with their first campaign book, Tales from the Loop: Our Friends the Machines and Other Mysteries.

The new campaign book consists of three mysteries, eight shorter mysteries inspired by songs from the 1980s, a chapter on machine blueprints, and a section dedicated to making your hometown the center of the Loop for your games. The chapters, design, and layout are identical to the core rulebook and honestly are aesthetically pleasing as they harken back to Swedish artist, Simon Stålenhag’s paintings.

  • Our Friends the Machines is a great mystery that encompasses everything from Transformers, to Toy Soldiers or Toy Story if you’re so inclined mixed with opposing AIs and mind-control chips. There’s plenty of information for the game master to run these fully established mysteries and have the kids (players) investigating the strange happenings in their small town. There are a lot of alternate paths and endings, and it’ll be a reoccurring design choice you will notice with subsequent mysteries.
  • Horror Movie Mayhem takes the moral panic of the 80s and adds the twist of subliminal messages and awful televised programs. It’s the classic “something went terribly wrong” sort of brainwashing and creepy PTA members to boot. There are some other elements that I feel I shouldn’t spoil but if anyone who grew up during this period of the moral panic, this one is for you.
  • The Mummy in the Mist brings the ideas of H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man meets Stephen King’s the Mist but with less blood and gore. This will have the kids exploring and investigating in several locations before it all leads to the showdown which has some great choices and equally great endings.
  • The Mixtape of Mysteries are all mysteries with titles borrowed from iconic songs from the 80s, and each one is distinct in their flavor and stories. One of my personal favorites “Every Breath You Take” is a great twist from the original song that served as its inspiration into some perverse and somewhat grim which had my full attention. All eight of these mysteries set up the premise, the truth, provide hooks, and countdowns to help narrate the story but leave the ending open-ended enough for the players to draw their conclusions.
  • The Machine blueprints provide insightful lore for the machines that roam within the Loop and provides suggested mysteries if the game master wishes to implement them.
  • The Hometown Hack chapter is probably my favorite chapter for game masters to transplant their hometowns into the mechanics and aesthetics of the Loop. There are some useful tips for defining your town, establishing the Loop, and fleshing out the details of your characters’ hometown. After all, the players will be spending the majority of their time in this area, so it’s helpful to have them participate in the worldbuilding process.

I honestly enjoyed this campaign book, and if you already own Tales from the Loop, I highly suggest picking up this book as well. It’s a great companion piece to help give some meaning mysteries, provide hooks for some others, and great tips for bringing to the Loop to your small town. The last section on the Hometown Hack is worth buying this book already, very insightful information that allows a gamemaster to transfer the Loop to practically anywhere. The book is very well organized, the layout is easy to read and navigate, and expands on the setting provided from the core rulebook.

You can acquire your copy of Our Friends the Machines and Other Mysteries here and currently, at the time of this article, the book is sold out, but there are plenty of 3rd-party distributors that should have copies available. Additionally, Free League Publishing launched a Kickstarter, Things from the Flood, that is meant as a sequel to Tales from the Loop. If you haven’t picked up your copy of Tales from the Loop, the game is essentially the Goonies meets Eerie Indiana, and it just works with all of these different niche genres.

Review: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist

Friday last week was the early release date for Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, the latest Dungeons & Dragons hardcover adventure from Wizards of the Coast. (The official release is on September 18.) While previous 5th Edition D&D adventures have focused on the large-scale apocalyptic plots of dragons, giants and demons, Dragon Heist is much more small-scale and down-to-earth. Adventurers explore Waterdeep, the city of splendours, racing against underworld rivals to find a stash of 500 000 gold pieces. (In Waterdeep, gold coins are known as ‘dragons’.)

As well as being a much more localized adventure, Dragon Heist isn’t designed to be used a long campaign. Unlike previous 5th Edition hardcovers, Dragon Heist is only designed to progress player characters from first to fifth level. For this reason, I think Dragon Heist will serve well as a new introductory adventure – an alternative to Lost Mine of Phandelver or In Volo’s Wake. Those who are keen to continue on all the way to level twenty will be able to, with Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage dropping soon after, in November.

Because this adventure only spans levels one to five, WotC have been able to use the extra space to provide four different ways of running the adventure. Each version of the adventure is set in a different season and features different villains, so it has a lot of replay value.

I think this adventure also has a greater emphasis on roleplay and diplomacy than previous 5th Edition hardcovers – in fact, adventurers who try to fight their way through the adventure will probably find themselves in trouble with the law or being hunted down by one of the city’s underworld factions.

Early on in the adventure there is an opportunity for the party to begin running their own Waterdeep tavern, which I expect will be of interest to those players who enjoy the social side of D&D.

The five Sword Coast factions (as well as some local groups like Force Grey) are well integrated into the adventure. There are a lot of ways for adventurers pursue renown within their faction, and there are lots of opportunities for faction members to call in favors from their faction, particularly toward the end of the adventure.

I’m not planning to run this adventure as it is written straight away, but my Thursday night D&D group is currently not far from Waterdeep, and I’m looking forward to using some of the content from this book if they end up in the city of splendors. There’s one chapter where Volo gives an overview of each area of the city, and the adventure proper gives a lot of detail about the lairs of a number of Waterdeep operatives that adventurers could cross paths with. The bestiary provides stats for a lot of powerful non-player characters, presented like the superheroes and criminal masterminds of a renaissance city.


We’re playing through Waterdeep: Dragon Heist on our Twitch stream this season from 5pm Mondays US Eastern Standard Time. You can watch session zero here.

You can preorder a copy of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist via Amazon here.

Call of Cthulhu Goes Mobile

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

Call of Cthulhu is one of the definitive tabletop roleplaying games that portray H.P. Lovecraft’s stories full of madness, eldritch horrors, and ancient creatures called the Great Old Ones. The legacy of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories continue to inspire and terrify audiences with an upcoming video game, various tabletop board games, and plenty of movies, music, and tv shows that have drawn influence from the material. Mobile games have adapted several board games and various other adventure style games. MetaArcade’s Cthulhu Chronicles, partnered with Chaosium, Inc,  brings the classic stories from Lovecraft to life as Choose-Your-Own-Adventure (CYOA) tales. The game was featured at Gen Con with a massive screen demo, and I had a pleasant chat with MetaArcade about plans for this platform of storytelling.

First Cthulhu Campaign

The first Cthulhu Chronicles campaign contains nine stories; most are iconic Lovecraft stories brought into the CYOA genre with a few original pieces to bridge the narrative together into a cohesive experience. During the demo, I had the pleasure of playing Alone Against the Flames. The atmosphere, the aesthetic, and the gameplay were easy to pick up and learn. I quickly became immersed into the story and tried my best to escape but ultimately succumbed to a grisly fate. The game sports multiple different characters with different stats and each story has clues that act as a sort of achievement system. Some stories and sections are more accessible for certain characters than others, but the challenge to get them makes the experience all the more satisfying.

Fans Already In Love

During my interview with MetaArcade, I inquired about the overall reception the mobile app game has received. As of the time of this article, Cthulhu Chronicles is only available on the Apple App Store, but I was assured that an Android version would be made available in the coming months. But overall, the mobile app has received some considerable download numbers, with many fans in between the US and Japan being the bulk of interest. The Asian mobile environment is vibrant, with the US as a close second place, and the opportunities for both a CYOA adventure mobile platform and the love for Lovecraft’s suspenseful tales will undoubtedly improve once the app opens to the Android app marketplace.

Update: As for September 13, MetaArcade has released Cthulhu Chronicles on the Google Play App Store

Familiar Mechanics

Cthulhu Chronicles utilizes the Call of Cthulhu ruleset from Chaosium, Inc but with a streamlined integration and implementation of the iconic horror mystery game. The mobile game acts as a shell for the CYOA narrative along with the unseen game mechanics. Instead of a full-fledged character sheet, prospective players have three primary skills: Appearance, Athleticism, and Intelligence. During the game, players will have encounters and tests that can either open or restrict specific narrative paths. While the tabletop game utilizes a d100 percentile dice, the mobile version incorporates that three skills and the d100 roll through a spin wheel graphic interface. Players will still have the ability to choose specific directions for their adventure, but the addition of tests yield an opportunity to explore new pathways or at least attempt to study them.

Atmosphere and Mood

In Cthulhu Chronicles, players will have a feel of Lovecraft’s Arkham, with pictures and graphics taken from source material set in the turn of the 20th century (supplied from the Library of Congress) and a soundtrack that genuinely gives that Cthulhu vibe. The text, layout, and even color schemes help to immerse a player into the narrative without feeling like you’re playing a game at all. Even the spin wheel interface sports the lost language of the Great Old Ones.

Free to Play

Cthulhu Chronicles is free to download from the app store, with three free plays a day. In other words, you get three attempts with any of the nine stories available. If you wish to unlock unlimited plays, you can purchase tickets for each story. Given the large bundle packages, I was assured to me that this was not a one a done deal for Cthulhu Chronicles, but hopefully a sampling for more great content ahead. The game is expected to release a second campaign as well though there was no announcement date determined yet.  

Community Content

One of the unique features that MetaArcade is hoping to implement with Cthulhu Chronicles is a community content service, much like other marketplaces as such as the DMsGuild for D&D and the Storyteller’s Vault for White Wolf, this platform has the potential to grow and hopes to do so in the near future with a pilot program for content creation. MetaArcade hopes to expand into other genres, and adapt this opportunity beyond the Cthulhu mythos. Presently, the program has not been established, but prospective writers and creators can sign up to join the pilot program once it launches. There is no definitive date at the time of this article, as such a development may take several months but interested parties are encouraged to sign up to stay informed for any progress

Not Their First Rodeo

Cthulhu Chronicles is not MetaArcade’s first rodeo they have another mobile app that utilizes a game that somewhat resembles Dungeons & Dragons called Tunnels and Trolls. A very similar CYOA style dungeon crawl experience, though the shell is not as refined as Cthulhu Chronicles, though I found myself still enjoying the game with my short time with it. Again, this again showcases MetaArcade’s app platform can work with a variety of different genres in the future and I hope to see this developer’s name more often in future apps

Sample Screenshots of Cthulhu Chronicles

Additional Links

Top Upcoming Releases by Green Ronin Publishing

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

Green Ronin Publishing is a renowned roleplaying game company with a reputation for innovative quality games since 2000. Some of their notable roleplaying game products include Dragon Age, A Song of Fire and Ice Roleplaying, and Mutants & Masterminds. The Seattle-based publisher continues to be hard at work to produce expansions to their existing properties while broadening into new systems and projects. For example, a week before Gen Con 2018, Green Ronin launched their Expanse RPG Kickstarter campaign and highlighted the release of their new Modern Age system, the contemporary-to-futuristic successor to their Fantasy Age ruleset.

It’s been a month since Gen Con, but there are still plenty of projects Green Ronin has in development, soon-to-be-released, or recently completed. These are my top picks for most anticipated projects or products, but they encompass most of Green Ronin’s product offerings.

The Expanse Roleplaying Game

This upcoming game system brings James S.A. Corey’s award-winning science-fiction novels to your tabletop. Fans of the SyFy Channel series based on the same novel series can look forward to the same fast-paced action and intrigue-filled storytelling. Using the new Modern Age ruleset, the game offers unique features such as Fortune instead of Health, Interludes for those breaks between encounters, and of course, spaceship battles. You can snag a copy of the quickstart for The Expanse RPG here.

Modern AGE

Fancy some adventures during the Industrial Revolution? Or perhaps some urban fantasy noir game? Or maybe head into a dystopian future reminiscent of settings such as Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell? The latest iteration and expansion to the Adventure Game Engine (AGE) now features a classless implementation through talents, focuses, and specializations. The iconic stunt system makes a return in this new high octane, fast-paced combat, a sleek new interface for a plethora of games and genres. The new system includes new mechanics for running chases, along with options to add magic and psychic powers to your games. The World of Lazurus will serve as the Modern Age‘s first campaign setting with a dystopian noir flair. Additionally, there are plans for a companion book be released sometime in late 2018 to 2019. You can take a glance at the new Modern Age ruleset with a quickstart PD here.

Dragon Age/Fantasy AGE

Fans of this video game turned tabletop game, as seen on Geek and Sundry’s Tabletop, inspired the Fantasy AGE ruleset but the folks at Green Ronin have been hard at work to produce new content for this beloved franchise. According to announcements and planned releases for both Dragon Age and Fantasy Age, longtime fans can expect several new supplements to arrive over the course of 2019. Notable products include a new “Faces of Thedas” supplement series, a rules compendium, and a campaign builders handbook. I will enjoy reading the campaign builder book, I love the AGE system and would not mind have some more ideas on crafting my campaign settings.

Mutants & Masterminds

The superhero inclined RPG system has received some cosmetic and linguistic updates in the latest edition. Green Ronin’s partnership with DC Comics produced iconic heroic stats for Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman to name a few. At the Gen Con panel, designers announced a quickstarter’s guide to introducing new prospective players to the game, a Super Team handbook, and an “Astonishing Adventures” series as their modular adventure entry. Additionally, the game recently launched a new Basic Hero’s Handbook to present a streamlined presentation of their third edition rules, and a Rogues Gallery supplement, containing all of their iconic villains from M&M under one cover.  I have not personally played Mutants & Masterminds since their 2nd Edition book sometime back in the mid-2000s and would love to read up on the changes over the past decade. The system is quite adaptable and exemplifies one of the most authentic superhero RPGs with an ample blend of mechanics to narrative design.

Freeport: the City of Adventure

Green Ronin has partnered with Drowned Monkeys Games to create a computer roleplaying game (CRPG) based on the publisher’s original campaign setting of Freeport: the City of Adventure. According to Drowned Monkeys Games, the game will feature a virtual room hosted by a virtual gamemaster on a virtual table. The entire experience is akin to a full-fledged simulation that includes “dice rolls, playing with friends, painting miniatures, dioramas, character sheets, etc. are represented in the play space.” The game is slated for release during the holiday season of 2019.

Ork! The Roleplaying Game

Longtime Green Ronin fans will recall this familiar product, Ork! The Roleplaying Game was the company’s first product released over eighteen years ago. This casual, “beer-n-pretzel” roleplaying game is chock full of wild antics that will often leave your playgroup reeling in laughs. After years of no additional releases, the company has returned to their roots and announced before Gen Con a new standalone second edition printing. The updated book is currently still on preorder at the time of this article, but if you are looking for a fun, casual antic-inlined tabletop RPG, Ork is the right game for you.

Green Ronin is undoubtedly going to be busy the rest of 2018 and well into 2019. Dungeons & Dragons fans may recall the company’s previous entries which include Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and in the Critical Role: Tal’ Dorei Campaign Setting. For D&D fans looking for new roleplaying games, this is an excellent opportunity to expand your horizons with a trusted company with years of experience crafting quality games.

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Big Updates to Encounter Roleplay!

Every Season on EncounterRoleplay is an opportunity for us to review the things you love most about the show, and make improvements to that experience for you. As I sit days before the new Season launches, I want to comprehensively note all of the changes that you can expect, and why we’re making them.

  •  More Shows than ever before.

This one’s a no brainer. We’re playing a wider variety of TTRPGs than we ever have before, and including non Actual-Play content such as interviews & character creation streams.

  • Higher production quality

We’ve made huge strides in our production quality for both live shows & podcast production, investing in a full scale studio & expanding upon our new infrastructure. We believe that we have one of the best looking and best sounding livestreams now!

  • All of our Shows are now uploaded as Podcasts

One central podcast feed will capture all of the Livestreams as Podcasts now. This is something we’ve been asked to do forever, and finally have the means to make this happen! If you’d like to support this cause, our Patreon covers the new costs & gives you week-early access to all of the podcasts.

  • Changes to Wild Magic Surges

As the channel expands & grows, we often implement changes to the Donation structure. Wild Magic Surges have been on the watch-list for a little while. They’re a major source of fun and a mainstay of what EncounterRoleplay’s shows are, but too many can slow down a game. Instead of increasing the cost of WMS, we’ve done the following:

  • Your Twitch & Patreon Subscription no longer gives you a Monthly WMS.
  • Instead, Subscriptions now count towards Viewer Decisions rather than new Followers.
  • Your $5 Patreon Subscription now gives you one week early access to the Podcast Livestream feed.

This immediately cuts out around 300 WMS per month, but still gives Twitch & Patreon subscriptions a meaning. We love the craziness of the Wild Magic, but we’ve heard the voices of those who believe it can get too much!

  • Character Artwork

The talented Nyvinter has created Character artwork for all of our shows, which will be displayed live on stream for all to see!

  • New Logo

She deserved a lick of paint, and Nyvinter has created a stunning new Logo for EncounterRoleplay.

  • Oh, also Leeroy Jenkins is a thing.

Because of course.

 

 

Playing Pathfinder Playtest

In March, Paizo announced the Pathfinder 2nd Edition playtest. Now the playtest is well under way. Today I had a go at running the playtest adventure path, Doomsday Dawn, which is a Lovecraftian apocalyptic. It makes sense to mark the upheaval of a new edition with an apocalyptic adventure!

My biggest problem with the playtest material is that character generation is a huge obstacle. This is one thing that has put me of Pathfinder previously. However, this playtest material is at least more straightforward than Pathfinder 1st Edition. I just don’t think making a character requires that many numbers –that’s why I like Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition! I just want to get playing as quickly as possible.

The character generation problem could be solved by providing plenty of pregenerated character options (at least so that players can learn how characters work) or with a digital toolset. I found some pregens here, and two of my players opted to use a pregen. We found that the goblin alchemist was a lot of fun but the human paladin didn’t make sense. It’s kind of annoying having a character with a thievery proficiency whose code of conduct forbids them from stealing.

Another unhelpful obstacle to was the amount of details the dungeon master and players need to consider when making a check, a save or an attack. You shouldn’t need this many stats for a roleplaying game.

Those are my main gripes. I understand that Paizo will be trying to make Pathfinder more accessible to new players while also retaining what the existing Pathfinder community likes – which apparently includes lots of stats! There’s always going to be some barrier to entry in any community, because it’s the barrier that defines the community.

One thing I really like about the material is the feat system. You have opportunities to choose new feats at each level, making character advancement very flexible. Each ancestry and class provides feats that are available only to characters of that ancestry or class. More powerful feats only become available at certain levels. Some advanced  feats have simpler feats as prerequisites, so it works a bit like a skill tree in an MMORPG.

I’m impressed by the wide range of feats offered. It seems like Paizo are really trying to make sure the ruleset is comprehensive from the beginning. On top of the feats there are thirty-eight cleric domains. If the finished product contains all of these, it should mean you don’t need to carry around a mountain of splat books just to run a game.

As well as choosing feats as you level up, there are opportunities to improve your skill proficiencies. If you’re a spellcaster, your cantrips improve as you level up too.

Something that stands out to me is that a lot of flavor is built into the class rules. This is stuff that D&D 5E players would roleplay, but here it seems baked in a lot more. The way the bard’s feats are written, they sound like performances. A number of classes have taboos built in, based around their god or their totem. Some feats and spells also have particular alignment restrictions, making sure alignment matters.

In short, I would say that the playtest material is a lot of fun if you can get past the (still rather high) barrier to entry.


You can download the free Pathfinder playtest package from Paizo here.

You can also buy paper copies of the playtest books on Amazon or at your local store, while stock lasts.

Return to the Night with the new Vampire the Masquerade

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

Sometime in the early 2000’s, I entered into a world of darkness and terror, where monsters wore a human face and a great plot lurked underneath the pale moonlight. Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition by White Wolf Entertainment brings the nostalgia of the revolutionary vampire tabletop roleplaying game to the 21st century. Since its original publication in 1991, White Wolf has published games to tell captivating stories about the horrors of the night, touching on mature content compared to the fantasy roleplaying games of yore. 

What you need to know about Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition (V5):

  • Storyteller Roleplaying System: a dice pool of d10s with difficulty determined by the number of successful die results (a result of 6 or above). The dice pool is usually determined by combining the dots or value in an attribute stat and skill together.
  • Vampire has strong themes that parallel the real world, which may contain dark and mature undertones but in a safe environment.
  • Updated mechanics from previous editions that offer a streamlined entry for new and veteran fans, especially fans who haven’t played a game of Vampire in many years. I love the new Hunger dice mechanics.
  • The Second Crusade and the Gehenna War has caused many powerful vampires to be gone, with greater danger now for the Kindred than ever before in a continually changing world. The metaplot within Vampire sets the stage for new opportunities for unique narratives within playgroups.
  • Players have nine clans to choose during character creation which includes the original seven clans of the Camarilla, the Caitiff, and Thin-blooded.

At Gen Con 2018, I had the opportunity to sit down with White Wolf to discuss Vampire’s changes from its previous editions, what people should expect in the new edition, and White Wolf’s plans for the future (trust me, it’s good).

Mechanically, Vampire 5th Edition sports many new options to streamline gameplay and resolution into a robust system that emphasizes story and its progression. Sure obstacles still matter, but they are no longer a detriment for narrative advancement.

For returning and new fans of the franchise, 5th edition sports some refined concepts:

  • While the dice still uses pools of d10s, the difficulty is defined by the number of success. Successful results are determined by any die results of 6 or more. Criticals occur for each pair of die results with a 10, which count as two successes.
  • Winning at a cost is a new feature, where if the rolls possess some successes, but the test fails, a player can achieve their goal, but a situation worsens. A much more narrative focused option but one that adds stakes and tension.
  • Checks are single d10 rolls, attempting to achieve a target number of 6 or higher. Typically used to determine any Hunger gain for the vampire.
  • Taking Half is one of my favorite additions to the game. As a way to reduce the number of dice rolls, Storytellers can take half for SPCs (storyteller-played characters) for rolls in contests (such as combat for example). The Storyteller takes half the value of the final dice pool, rounded down, and treats that result as successes.
  • Predator Types are similar to D&D 5th Edition’s background, except focused on the way your vampire character hunts for their blood. There are additional boons and flaws acquired that grant some areas of specialization and narrative opportunities.
  • Vampire focuses on the group dynamics with coterie creation and relationship maps, which provide an excellent tool for players to reference the overall climate of their character plots, but also as an influential tool for Storytellers to assess where to tug for story beats.
  • Hunger and the Hunger dice mechanic is significantly streamlined compared to older iterations, criticals and failures create new story avenues and opportunities. A much more narrative implementation compared to the mechanical presentations from earlier editions.
  • Disciplines offer a suite of options based on the level of investment, choosing a new power each time the vampire gains a dot in it. Characters normally have an equal number of dots and discipline powers.

One of the novel additions to the game that I love is the introduction of the loresheets, which provide a context in a character’s background and establish them as a facet of the Vampire lore and metaplot. While players should consult with their Storytellers on what loresheets are allowed, they provide a fantastic way for players to engage with the setting. The physical print sports fifteen loresheets for players and Storytellers to utilize but the digital PDF includes additional loresheet that did not make the final cut.

Additionally, the core rulebook includes advance mechanics and systems that expand on the test mechanic, explores interpretations for combat, and includes new implementations with blood and hunger.

Fun Tip: While I was at Gen Con, Karim, the lead editor for Vampire, introduced me to a novel approach for incurring Hunger. Should the vampire accrue enough damage to fill their health boxes, they gain one Hunger die. Give it a try in your game.

Some of the upcoming ventures and products from White Wolf ahead:

  • The upcoming Anarch and Camarilla sourcebooks are expected to be released later in the Fall of 2018 and include additional lore information with some mechanical inclusions as well.
  • White Wolf has partnered with Onyx Path Publishing to bring the iconic Chicago by Night setting book to the V5 system.
  • A new Legacy-format board game called Vampire: the Masquerade Heritage will be released in SPIEL 2019. In the game, players build a vampiric bloodline with characters to complete historical missions and battle against other clans in a chronicle that spans 700 years.
  • The World of Darkness – the Documentary is set to be released on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon later in 2018. The documentary explores the history of White Wolf Entertainment, the impact Vampire had on pop culture and media, with interviews from many creators, fans, and artists who were inspired by this IP for over 25 years.
  • White Wolf has also partnered with Belladonna’s Cupboard for a Vampire: the Masquerade-themed makeup line.
  • Additionally, there will be new upcoming Vampire LARP events in the coming future including one in Austin, TX in November 2018 called The Night in Question. You can find other LARP events and support at World of Darkness’ community hub.

Vampire’s 25-year legacy lives on in the latest 5th Edition and is prompted with possibly the most ambitious media resurgence that would be akin to a Second Coming. The growth of the tabletop roleplaying hobby presents a substantial audience from Vampire’s initial release in 1991. The system is accessible, the setting is vibrant, and the story is still just as dark. It almost makes me hopeful to see a Kindred: the Embraced television series reboot. Time to grab your black chain jeans and leather shirts, it’s time to return to the Masquerade. 

Additional Links:

  • Purchase Vampire: the Masquerade (V5) here.
  • Learn more about Vampire: the Masquerade on the World of Darkness site.
  • Get a sneak peek at Vampire: the Masquerade Heritage board game.

Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th Edition is everything I ever wanted

by Ex_Libris85   Twitch   Twitter 

 

The wait is over and Cubicle 7 has delivered. Through some kind of sorcery they have managed to bring Warhammer into the modern age and maintain the tone and feel of the old games.

 

Percentile Rolls

Back are the popular percentile system using D100s. In order to pass a simple skill test you have to roll equal to or below your skill level. So if you are using your Agility score of 45 to jump over an obstacle you must roll a 45 or below on a D100.

Success Levels (SL)

Previous called “degrees of success” in 2nd edition, this value has become of prime importance in calculating several important actions, such as attacks and damage. It measures the full amount of “10s” that you succeed or fail by on the dice to measure the effectiveness of your test. If your skill is 49 and you roll a 21, you have a SL of 2. If you roll again on that same skill and you roll a 95 you have a -4SL since that is a hard fail.

Combat

Gone is the “whiff” factor of 2e, where low skill players facing low skill enemies miss each other several rounds in a row. Now each attack in combat is an opposed roll between the participants. If an attacker rolls on Weapon Skill and gets a success of 2SL and you compare that to the defender who succeeds as well on a 3SL then the defender has won the round and takes no damage. This type of opposed roll comparing SLs also means that even if both parties miss, damage can still be dealt and there can be a winner of each round. While some people might have a problem with the logic of this, I am fine with it for two reasons: keeping the flow of the game swift and for the cinematic aspect of picturing the players in desperate sword fight where every move of the blade matters.

Careers

Careers make a comeback, expanding upon the much loved careers of 2e. Now instead of gaining advances on your stats through XP and moving onto an advanced career, each career has four levels and you can stay or advance as you wish. It also is a lot easier to completely change careers. Unhappy with your rat catcher and want to become a knight? You certainly can, with the GM’s permission of course. I personally would allow such a drastic advance as long as there is a good roleplaying reason for it.

Spells

Spell casting has been simplified, where instead of rolling D10s and seeing if you beat the power level of the spell’s description you now measure your Success Level on your Comprehend Languages (Magick) skill. If you know you can’t cast your spell like this you can make a Channeling Test to gather the winds of magic each turn and when your SLs match the casting number (CN) of the spell it then goes off.

Lore

The Old World of Warhammer makes its return, taking place before the “End Times” story arch and the disappointing Age of Sigmar. The rulebook focuses the attention on the social and political atmosphere of the Reikland, the capital province of the human kingdom of The Empire. This makes sense as both a limit of scope in describing the world of Warhammer to new players and as a diverse sandbox to immense players in as it provides cities, sewers, swamps, forests, rivers, mountains, farmlands, villages, and more in an area easily managed by a GM.

I imagine later they will expand upon this in future supplements but it is a good size toolbox to pull from.

 

Conclusion

Cubicle 7 have done a wonderful job with Warhammer 4e and any fan of Warhammer will be pleased. Jim Davis from WebDM sums up the new edition perfectly:

“I think it’s a worthy successor to the WFRP tradition and clearly draws inspiration from prior editions while improving upon those aspects of the game that were notorious problem areas. Everything I’ve read so far makes me want to play this game and see how it does in delivering that classic WFRP experience.” – Jim Davis

 

 

As an added bonus I have created a form fillable pdf character sheet for online use. Its a far cry from a Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds sheet with roll macros in it, but it will allow for shareable electronic character sheets.

 

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition pdf character sheet

 

 

 

Review: Wayfarer’s Guide to Eberron

Earlier this week (in a fairly confusing announcement!) Wizards of the Coast announced the release of some substantial playtest material for Dungeons & Dragons’ Eberron setting. You can purchase the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron for US$20 on DriveThruRPG or D&D Beyondbut remember this is playtest material. It’s unfinished and unofficial.

What is Eberron? I would describe the Eberron setting as noir magepunk set in a period of renaissance cold war with a focus on high adventure and cinematic action.

That seems like a lot of themes, but I think these themes are well integrated. In Eberron magic has been industrialised and is largely controlled by groups called Dragonmarked Houses, a lot like corporations. Magic is widespread, but most people only have access to low-level magic.

Wayfarer’s Guide provides an overview of the nations of Khorvaire, a continent where the borders have been recently redrawn in the wake of a world war. Questions have arisen about the rights of warforged (sentient constructs manufactured to fight in the war) and traditional ‘monsters’ like goblins and orcs. There’s an overview of each nation, with info about places to explore; local factions and their plots; and suggestions for creating characters from that region. There is also information about more distant lands and about Eberron’s cosmology. This world doesn’t fit into the standard Dungeons & Dragons multiverse – the planes seem to have a much more direct impact on the material world, and there’s a sense that Eberron is cut off from the wider multiverse.

This playtest material includes rules for four new player races: warforged, changelings, shifters and kalashtar. Some of these options seem a bit more complex and powerful than those in the Player’s Handbook. I think that’s okay given that Eberron isn’t the core setting for Dungeons & Dragons. Most new players will probably be making a character using the basic options in the Player’s Handbook. However, I would prefer that the rules for dragonmarks were more consistent. At the moment, there are three different ways that they can be applied, depending on character race. I’d like to see all the dragonmarks depicted as feats. In Eberron all player characters could get a feat at first level, which would also mean you could make a level 1 magewright character without having to choose a spellcasting class.

Wayfarer’s Guide includes a lot of new magic items: specialised arcane focuses, common items representing industrialised magic, items that can only be used by dragonmarked characters and augmentations for warforged. There are also lots of powerful magepunk maguffins, many of which would fit into the plot of a campaign’s big bads. There are also guidelines for manufacture of magic items, which could be used in other settings.

Wayfarer’s Guide ends with a strong section about the very vertical city of Sharn, which provides a good place to start off adventuring in Eberron. There are details about the levels of each district: who lives where, what kind of conflicts exist and what adventures may be in store. Three locations get more in-depth treatment, and each one could be used as a base for an adventuring party. One is a university where you could run a Harry-Potter-style coming-of-age campaign. This chapter also includes some tables for generating plot ideas and simple urban encounters (which could become side quests or plot hooks).

You can purchase the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron at DriveThruRPG here or at D&D Beyond here.

We also published this article earlier in the week to clarify the confusion about the Ravnica and Eberron setting announcements.

Ravnica & Eberron Announced – Tale of Two Settings

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

The long-awaited announcement for the Dungeons and Dragons settings came Monday morning (Pacific Time) on July 23rd was met with overall excitement from the D&D community though not without some hiccups. Wizards of the Coast released details on their collaboration with D&D and Magic: the Gathering to bring Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica with a release date on November 20th and that the Eberron setting will be making its triumphant return to the franchise as well. Eberron’s return starts with a digital PDF release of Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron on the DMsGuild marketplace by Keith Baker in collaboration with the creative team at Wizards of the Coast.

What you need to know about Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica:

  • Release Date: 20 November 2018
  • Price: $49.95 USD
  • Accessories include a Map Pack and a premium dice set featuring the Guilds of Ravnica
  • Ravnica is a plane of existence in Wizard of the Coast’s Magic the Gathering franchise, released originally in 2005 in Ravnica: City of Guilds, followed with a revisit in Return to Ravnica in 2012, with a planned third Ravnica return in Guilds of Ravnica to be released in October 2018 & spring 2019.
  • Ravnica is an ecumenopolis, a vast city that encompasses an entire planet. Like Coruscant in Star Wars
  • There are ten iconic guilds in Ravnica that serve unique functions in the daily life within the city, with their brand of rivalries and adversaries, all governed by an oath known as the Guildpact. Not every citizen is part of a guild, but their presence is felt throughout Ravnica.
  • The current price point suggests a product akin to Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.

The news about Ravnica was unintentionally leaked on Amazon Brazil’s website site with product pages screenshotted across Reddit and later on other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter sometime on Sunday, July 22nd. News and speculation on the authenticity of the screenshots & cover art were eventually confirmed by the cover artist later on. The story left many fans with a mixed reception.

There was even a poll on the r/Dndnext subreddit with close to half of voters displeased with the setting choice.

While Nathan Stewart, director of D&D, indicated that “fans of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering have been asking for years about when these two amazing brands would play together.” Impressions from the Magic: the Gathering community seemed pleased with the official product news. Various MtG pundits were excited upon the leak on Sunday, with notable individuals such as Evan Erwin showcasing his excitement. The early leak only heightened the general anticipation for the Monday announcements from Wizards of the Coast.

The second setting announced was Eberron, a beloved setting created by Keith Baker for the Fantasy Setting Search in 2002. Content creators on the DMsGuild took note of a new setting category option titled “Eberron” early Monday morning almost 6 hours before any formal declaration. Wizards revealed an ebook product, Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron, with a collaboration between the creative team and Keith Baker that would serve as a “living document” for feedback before any official product is released.

What you need to know about Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron:

 

  • Product Type: Digital PDF
  • Price: $19.99 USD
  • A 175-page book that encompasses playtest materials that include unique races, an overview of Khorvaire and the city of Sharn, dragonmarks, magic items, and a host of backgrounds to jumpstart players and DMs to their Eberron adventures
  • Iconic races: Shifters, Changelings, and Warforged make their 5th Edition debut from the mind of its creator, Keith Baker.
  • The release of Wayfinder grants DMsGuild content creators the ability to create and distribute content within the Eberron setting.
  • According to the Introduction by Keith Baker, this content is considered a playtest or a draft and therefore is not applicable for official Adventurer’s League use. If an official Eberron product is released, Wayfinders will complement the officially released material according to D&D creative lead, Mike Mearls. Mearls also commented that the product would eventually have a Print-on-Demand option for purchase later.

Initial confusion of the “official” status of Wayfinders as an official D&D resource left fans, and consumers concerned with their purchase of this playtest document.

Previous playtest documents by Wizards have been free in the past. When the official announcement was published, the lack of a playtest description on the official Twitter and Facebook posts felt misleading. At the time of this article, official Wizards staff have clarified that Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron is indeed a playtest document and the DMsGuild product includes this detail.

There is an “if” in front of the possibility for an Eberron print product with a clarification of additional content in THAT product with Wayfinder to complement it. You’re paying for two products, one that is not an official product that is labeled as a living playtest document (until otherwise), and then the probable (but not guaranteed) Eberron product.

Warning Signs?

Playtest documents for tabletop RPGs tend to change, as with the case of Wizard’s Unearthed Arcana column where some content was adjusted from player feedback. The practice to buy playtests seems to secure capital from dedicated die-hard fans possibly to ensure a quality product. The video game industry suffered backlash to Early Access business models for games due to extended production times and incomplete work with some games suffering from the inability to fulfill expectations. The practice has become unpopular, with many developers returning to traditional development timelines.

This Early Access practice has been seen with Paizo’s Pathfinder 2nd Edition playtest where prospective fans can purchase physical hardcover copies of the material. Paizo is a leading competitor for Wizards of the Coast on tabletop RPGs, though there are no sales figures to make any conclusions, the initial hype from the 2nd Edition announcement was met with enthusiasm.

Ultimately, Monday was supposedly Wizard of the Coast’s big day to shine and present their newest offerings. Instead, half of the surprise was leaked prematurely, and the other half was miscommunicated to the fans but before over a thousand copies were sold. One cannot help but feel somewhat entertained by the mishaps this Monday, the 23rd of July. Nonetheless, I am excited about the latest offerings and look forward to Ravnica and the future of Eberron.