Meet the Campaign: Intro to West Marches

Seamus and I both came of age at a time where the long-running campaign was considered the platonic ideal of the role-playing game. There’s a lot of historical justification for this; the ‘campaign’ as an innovation in the wargaming space was one of the things that led to interest in the character-driven gaming that eventually became Dungeons and Dragons. The campaign as a procedure within a game, though, has been somewhat of a stagnant thing. Even as games continue to push on notions of advancement and other structures which define how events progress across multiple gaming sessions, it’s still assumed that a long-running game would be played in a series of continuous sessions by a consistent group of players. 15 years ago, a known luminary in the RPG design space ran a campaign that worked quite differently, creating ripples across the hobby. I’m of course talking about Ben Robbins’ West Marches.

Continue reading Meet the Campaign: Intro to West Marches

Weekend Update: 10/23/2021

Welcome to the Cannibal Halfling Weekend Update! Start your weekend with a chunk of RPG news from the past week. We have the week’s top sellers, industry news stories, and discussions from elsewhere online.

DriveThruRPG Top Sellers for 10/23/2021

  1. Minsc and Boo’s Journal of Villainy
  2. Hundred Devils Night Parade
  3. Traveller Core Rulebook Update 2022
  4. Deviant: the Renegades
  5. Flames of Freedom

Top News Stories

Paizo recognizes union: In a historic and blessedly rapid turn, Paizo has recognized the United Paizo Workers union, welcoming the union members to the table to hammer out a collective bargaining agreement. This is great news for all involved and hopefully marks what is the first of many such agreements in the tabletop gaming world.

Have any RPG news leads or scoops? Get in touch! You can reach us at cannibalhalflinggaming@gmail.com, or through Twitter via @HungryHalfling.

The Trouble With Ecosystems

How many RPGs do you know which consist of a single book? There are definitely some, plenty of indie games especially are singular works. When it comes to the games most people play, though, you can expect that the core rules are joined by supplements, additional books which expand the game through either deepening existing elements or adding new ones. Beyond that, you may have secondary accessories, things like dice, card decks, and maps which add to the physical experience of the game. Taken together these elements create a product line. When you add additional material made by players and designers other than the original authors, then now you have an ecosystem.

Continue reading The Trouble With Ecosystems

The Curse of the Wandering Eyes

It’s happened to all of us. You spend weeks, maybe even months, convincing your friends to try a new game that you’ve discovered. It takes some effort, but eventually everyone buys in and you start a new campaign. Things are going well, people are getting into it! And then…Another new game is in your sights. All of a sudden, the thing you were most excited about for weeks and weeks is now a frustrating roadblock. You are a victim of the Curse of the Wandering Eyes.

While the Curse of the Wandering Eyes can strike any gamer, it’s the GMs of the world who are most acutely afflicted, and for whom the affliction can have the most dire consequences. It’s not only the GMs who actually drop games at the blink of an eye who can create group discord, any GM who looks longingly at a game other than the one they’re playing can often let those thoughts and frustrations seep into their current game, making it less fun and possibly cutting it short. What’s worse, though, is that although the grass often looks greener on the other side, when this frustrated GM starts up their next game, often it isn’t any better, and the process repeats anew.

Continue reading The Curse of the Wandering Eyes

Weekend Update: 10/9/2021

Welcome to the Cannibal Halfling Weekend Update! Start your weekend with a chunk of RPG news from the past week. We have the week’s top sellers, industry news stories, and discussions from elsewhere online.

DriveThruRPG Top Sellers for 10/9/2021

  1. Minsc and Boo’s Journal of Villainy
  2. Deviant: the Renegades
  3. WFRP: Empire In Ruins
  4. Star Trek Adventures IDW Year Five Tie-In PDF
  5. Black Spear

Top News Stories

PAX Unplugged 2021 Confirmed, and Mandates Vaccination: From a press release sent to CHG:

PAX Unplugged, the most attended tabletop gaming convention in the eastern U.S., returns to the Philadelphia Convention Center from Dec. 10 – 12, 2021. Badges go on-sale soon for the first in-person PAX Unplugged in two years, where attendees can experience new game demos, exciting tournaments, panels with industry giants, and more.

ReedPop and Penny Arcade will build on the successful return of PAX West over Labor Day weekend, where robust health and safety guidelines resulted in universal mask compliance and 93% of attendees showing proof of vaccination. PAX Unplugged 2021 will require all attendees to show proof of a complete COVID-19 vaccination series and abide by stringent masking requirements. For more information, please see the official health and safety guidelines.

Three-day badges for PAX Unplugged 2021 go on-sale soon for $75, while individual Friday, Saturday, and Sunday badges will go for $35 each.”

Vendors name-dropped in the press release include Cephalofair, R. Talsorian Games, CGE, Bézier Games, KOSMOS, Rock Manor Games, Lone Shark Games, Mage Hand Press, Devir Games, Chaosium Inc., Leder Games, and Wyrmwood.

Discussion of the Week

Twitch Hack reveals streamer earnings: The massive Twitch hack which dumped the site’s entire source code, among other things, revealed the revenue made by top streamers on the service. Of particular interest to the TTRPG world was the top streamer on Twitch, Critical Role (of course), which made roughly ten million dollars over the last two years. There’s been a lot of discussion on this front, including Critical Role fans getting unnecessarily defensive about…everything? More germane to the conversation is how earnings play into criticism. Critical Role was already the centerpiece of a conversation about diversity and representation, areas where their very white cast really could do a lot better. Combine this with Twitch’s overwhelmingly white top content creators, and there’s a lot that we need to talk about. Does the volume of CritRole’s earnings change this conversation? Not much. They are at the forefront of RPG streaming and they need to consider that, and those earnings make any excuses for not addressing their diversity problems a little hard to believe. Besides that, though, they do not become the bad guys merely because they’re popular and make a lot of money.

Have any RPG news leads or scoops? Get in touch! You can reach us at cannibalhalflinggaming@gmail.com, or through Twitter via @HungryHalfling.

The Game Master’s Book of Non-Player Characters Review

There are only so many ways you can spell – or pronounce – the name Bob before your players are going to realize that you’re just making up Dungeons and Dragons characters on the fly. There’s nothing wrong with making up NPCs as you go, of course, but it’s a lot of work! You have to name them, make them interesting, and then you actually have to remember to write down what you made up or next session you’ll have players asking why Ba’ab is named Dave now. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that work done for you, in such quantity that you don’t have to make anything from scratch for a good while? How about, say, 500 characters? Think that’ll be enough? That’s what you’ll find in the The Game Master’s Book of Non-Player Characters from Topix Media Lab!

Continue reading The Game Master’s Book of Non-Player Characters Review

Kickstarter Wonk: October, 2021

Welcome to Kickstarter Wonk for October! It’s not exactly that spooky in here. I mean, there’s a bit of grimdark, and some goblins, but overall things are light, bright, and colorful. And there are several games about food. Overall though it’s a great crop, with eight games and an honorable mention zine that should make it into your campaign. Ready? Onward!

Continue reading Kickstarter Wonk: October, 2021

Weekend Update: 10/2/2021

Welcome to the Cannibal Halfling Weekend Update! Start your weekend with a chunk of RPG news from the past week. We have the week’s top sellers, industry news stories, and discussions from elsewhere online.

DriveThruRPG Top Sellers for 10/2/2021

  1. WFRP: Empire in Ruins
  2. Deviant: the Renegades
  3. Heirs to the Shogunate
  4. Achtung: Cthulhu 2d20 Player’s Guide
  5. Soulbound: Champions of Death

Top News Stories

Next revision of D&D expected in 2024: The next ‘expansion’ of Dungeons and Dragons was announced by executive producer Ray Winninger during a livestream event, and predictably it set TTRPG discussion spaces afire. While there isn’t much detail with any official confirmation, guesses about what this will look like center around two pieces of information. First, the new rulebooks have been said to be backwards-compatible with existing Fifth Edition material. This would imply the sort of collation and expansion of mechanics last seen in the ‘Essentials’ revision of Fourth Edition, the lightest touch of the mid-cycle rules revisions seen in modern D&D and the one most easily argued to be backward-compatible. Also building evidence for the ‘5e Essentials’ theory is the paired announcement in the linked article, the ‘Expansions Gift Set’, which seems to do the same sort of collation, albeit with a lighter touch. The second major piece of information has to do with Fifth Edition’s digital ecosystem. Here it would make sense to look to the VTT ecosystem; the VTT value chain is dominated by third parties like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds, and digital infrastructure is one place in the TTRPG hobby where a massive corporation should have a distinct advantage.

In summary: As the edition of D&D which has gone longest without any edition-wide revision (Third Edition only lasted eight years), Fifth Edition is unlikely to be changed much by whatever new material is released in time for D&D’s 50th birthday. Fans, players, and DMs likely have little to worry about (though I’m sure many of you will buy the new rulebooks anyway). On the other hand, if you are employed by or invested in Fantasy Grounds or Roll20…you probably have about three years to plan an exit strategy.

Have any RPG news leads or scoops? Get in touch! You can reach us at cannibalhalflinggaming@gmail.com, or through Twitter via @HungryHalfling.