Tag Archives: Opinion

Solitaire Storytelling: Last Tea House

I run a tea shop on the border of the living and the dead. The recently deceased visit for one last hot drink before their long journey to the Great Beyond. Time is strange here. Days and memories blur. Nobody visited yesterday – I am sure of that. Someone passed last week, but I am unable to picture their face.

The fog thins. A figure approaches. I stoke the fire. “Welcome to the last tea shop,” I say. “You are welcome here, To The Dregs.”

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A Glimpse Into The Vault: Wildermyth

Role-playing games and video games came of age around the same time. While D&D was published in 1974, the very first attempts to emulate D&D with a computer came in 1975; Dungeon and DND were written for mainframe systems like the PDP-10 and PLATO, though they were unlicensed and never saw commercial sales. The first licensed D&D video game came in 1982, and it paved the way not only for later licensed games like the SSI ‘Gold Box’ titles and Baldur’s Gate but also virtually the entire video game RPG genre, from Final Fantasy to The Elder Scrolls to Diablo

Role-playing video games were fairly direct emulations of rulesets like D&D early on, but as the software became more sophisticated they played more to their strengths. Current titles have gorgeous graphics and complex storylines, but narratively are mostly static affairs. Meanwhile, tabletop roleplaying games have always had the flexibility of a human GM to give them more breadth and a personal touch that video games couldn’t match. So what happens when a digital game designer tries to make their video game feel more like a tabletop RPG? You get Wildermyth.

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The Trouble With Kickstarter

In December of 2021, Kickstarter made an announcement that it was going to develop a new platform for crowdfunding, using blockchain technology. The announcement received a significant negative response, given the negative environmental impacts of current blockchain applications and the widespread use of blockchain tech, through both cryptocurrencies and non-fungible token (NFT) schemes, to commit fraud. It’s a fair response, though given how little the Kickstarter announcement said, perhaps not entirely warranted.

That all said, the end state of Kickstarter’s blockchain plans don’t particularly matter. Whether or not the new platform comes to fruition, whether or not it uses less energy-intensive proof-of-stake software, whether or not people leave the platform, these are in the long run irrelevant. What the announcement should have revealed to anyone who felt strongly enough to leave the platform over it is that the TTRPG hobby has let Kickstarter become infrastructure. Leaving Kickstarter sounds great in a tweet, but ultimately doing so is going to be tough for many of the creators who, without the company, would have never gotten off the ground.

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Solitaire Storytelling: Paranoid Android

The war with the androids has made everyone paranoid. Including me, and including my interrogators. See, Asimov Landing Station is on the far edge of the galaxy, manned by only a skeleton crew, most of them scientists doing research. Nothing ever happens here. But after the government discovered that androids have the capacity of perfectly mimicking human beings the atmosphere in the Station has started changing. Several things had gone wrong or malfunctioned in non-critical but totally avoidable ways before, but now things are getting more severe: research has been delayed, the station’s systems have broken down at critical moments, and people have disappeared. Station security has singled me out as a suspicious person and they’ve taken me in for questioning. I’m starting to wonder… am I really human, or a sleeper agent with programming? Could I be one of them?

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Level One Wonk Holiday Special: 2021

Welcome to the Level One Wonk Holiday Special for 2021! My traditional retrospective for the year in gaming, this Holiday Special has some extra meaning for me because of the time. Cannibal Halfling Gaming kicked off in December of 2016, making this my fifth year here out in the internet. Five years of ups and downs have seen this site go from me and Seamus writing about whatever RPG topics came off the tops of our heads to…well, me and Seamus writing about whatever RPG topics come off the tops of our heads. Though now there’s a podcast. And people send us review copies. And some even pay us!

Though we’ve been having a wild ride behind the scenes of the site, most everyone has been having a wild ride with world events as well. While we had a bit of the ‘hot pandemic summer’ I alluded to in one of our podcast episodes, much of the hope did not last, and we’re now back again in our houses and apartments, hoping more of our fellow humans get the message. But while we can’t control human nature and we certainly can’t control COVID, we can at least get some writing and gaming done.

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Weekend Update: 12/18/2021

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 12/18/2021

  1. Hostile Rules
  2. Root: the Roleplaying Game (bundle)
  3. The One Ring Core Rules
  4. Ascendant
  5. Shadowrun: Anarchy 2050

Top News Stories

Asmodee Acquired: As reported this past September, Asmodee owner/investor PAI Partners has been looking for a buyer for the board game company and found one in Embracer Group, which controls such studios as Gearbox and THQ Nordic. While it’s still unclear what exactly will become of Asmodee, arguably its future is brighter within a media conglomerate than it would be in the hands of a purely financial buyer.

Wizards of the Coast removes racial alignments and lore from nine D&D books: In the most recent attempt to right wrongs related to elements of D&D like racial alignment, Wizards of the Coast went back and, mostly via errata, removed mention of these elements from several core sourcebooks. Further investigation of the edits saw that they were somewhat shortsighted; one particularly galling change was changing the word ‘madness’ to ‘insanity’ in certain spell descriptions, doing nothing but indicating that WotC didn’t understand that both word choices were problematic in their own way. While Wizards deserves a half-nod for conceding the problems with D&D material, it would have been better if they hired someone who actually understood what the problem was instead of half-heartedly deleting a bunch of stuff.

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

The Forest Primordia, or, My First Module

There’s a vast diversity of experiences that fall under the big tent of tabletop roleplaying. From different playstyles to games to even venues of play, everyone plays a little bit differently. There are some things that are common at one table and unthinkable at another. And some products, from battlemats to GM screens to even pre-written adventures themselves just aren’t seen at every gaming table. That said, if someone, say, reviewed RPGs for five solid years and had never once ran a pre-written module, you could be forgiven for saying they might be missing out on a common gamer experience. Well, that someone is me, and this month I made a change.

Do not think that the title of this review is a quip about the Troika module The Forest Primordia. I do not call it “My First Module” out of snark, it is literally the first prewritten module I have ever run in a serious game (my attempt to run the Tomb of Horrors doesn’t count, for multiple reasons). I don’t think I’ve ever had anything against modules, but for me the interest in running games was always couched in writing, and using pre-written material always seemed to produce a disconnect where there didn’t need to be one. As a result, it took about twenty years of my RPG career before I decided to give one a whirl.

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Weekend Update: 12/11/2021

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 12/11/2021

  1. The One Ring Core Rules
  2. The Third Imperium
  3. Trinity Continuum: Assassins (Pre-Order)
  4. WFRP: Empire in Ruins Companion
  5. Sabbat: The Black Hand

Top News Stories

Kickstarter will ‘move its crowdfunding platform to blockchain’: In a confounding press release, Kickstarter announced that it is ‘hatching a standalone company to build a crowdfunding system’ built around blockchain tech provided by Celo, and then begin to employ the company’s tech ‘when it’s ready’. While RPG Twitter utterly blew up over this announcement, the announcement itself means little, and Kickstarter’s own, longer press release has almost as little information. Whatever venture Kickstarter is funding will be initially separate from the site, and the marketing language is already distancing the company from any commitment to use the tech (‘When it’s ready’). Beyond that, the claim that the change will take place ‘completely behind the scenes’ belies more apocalyptic projections like a Kickstarter token or that the site will start tokenizing projects (though the Kickstarter release and its talk of ‘rewarding’ creators and users is somewhat contradictory to this). Blockchain is a buzzword more than a viable data technology right now, so announcements such as this one are likely 50/50 between a move of substance and juicing the company’s valuation for an IPO (which would admittedly be worse for small projects than a blockchain). While we don’t think this announcement is as bad as some would say, and we would recommend not bailing on live projects (it’s really the small creators that would get hurt), it’s a real stretch to call something so information-free and so nakedly intended to appeal to investors ‘good’.

Discussion of the Week

Your Expectations Are Too High: In addition to being one of the top threads on /r/RPG this week, this thread also takes direct aim at us when we were GMing games in high school. The OP is talking mostly about railroading; when a novice GM sees the game going a way they don’t want, they often try to tighten the reins. The discussion, though, expands a bit more into expectations versus reality, how players actually prep for and behave at sessions, and what are actually fair expectations, like consistent attendance and learning the rules of the game being played.

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

Who Is Your Game Designed For?

Role-playing games are a complicated medium. The act of reading a game is not the same as the act of playing it, which is not the same as the act of running it. This was not in fact acknowledged in the first role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons; almost nobody understood how to play after reading, and the designers were pretty much just hoping that wargamers would buy their standalone rules rather than doing anything in particular to make it so. As such, for decades, enthusiastic role-players have grabbed their books, put their heads together, and puzzled it out.

The market of enthusiastic role-players is saturated. More and more games are coming out and fewer and fewer of them are gaining the sort of traction which actually pays their designers. The centerpiece to this is the explosion of Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition, which grew significantly faster and larger than any previous edition despite not being designed any better than any of them. So why is that? And how do other games do better?

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Weekend Update: 12/4/2021

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 12/4/2021

  1. The One Ring Core Rules
  2. Trinity Continuum: Assassins (Pre-Order)
  3. WFRP: Empire in Ruins Companion
  4. The Third Imperium
  5. Minsc and Boo’s Journal of Villainy

Top News Stories

Mothership is the best-funded non-licensed RPG Kickstarter: In a Kickstarter update from December 3rd, Sean McCoy confirmed that with roughly $1.4m in funding, Mothership is the eighth-most funded RPG Kickstarter ever, and the best-funded non-licensed Kickstarter ever. The immense success of this indie darling shows, among other things, the power of engaged and enthusiastic fans, which the Mothership designers encouraged throughout the game’s design lifecycle.

Discussion of the Week

Cortex licensing agreement causes jeers, confusion: Fans of the generic RPG Cortex Prime reacted with confusion and dismay to the announcement of the game’s new licensing terms, which hand down onerous (and in some cases utterly unenforceable) terms to anyone who makes even free content with the system. Although it has not been confirmed outright the best-supported assumption is that the terms were written by someone in the game’s distributor, Fandom, which is already known for attempts to monetize other people’s intellectual property. Discussions (and shitposts) have flared across Twitter, but this thread by @POCGamer (and the retweet of @FrivYeti) does a solid job of laying out some facts, making some solid predictions about what Fandom may have been trying to do, and explaining why they failed.

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