Tag Archives: rpg discourse

Weekend Update: 6/19/2021

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 6/19/2021

  1. Mythic Babylon
  2. Trinity Continuum: Aberrant
  3. Star of Alladore
  4. Pathfinder for Savage Worlds Core Rules
  5. Galder’s Gazetteer

Top News Stories

Exandria Unlimited: The Critical  Role fanbase is abuzz about the new mini-campaign kicking off next week, Exandria Unlimited. It’s also hard not to notice that new faces Aimee Carrero, Robbie Daymond, and of course Game Master Aabria Iyengar all provide a needed shot in the arm to the diversity of the CritRole crew (not to mention that they’re all incredibly talented). Excitement aside, an eight episode mini-campaign might be the entry many people (including some Cannibal Halflings) need to CritRole’s intimidating back catalog. Exandria Unlimited kicks off next Thursday, June 24th. 

Discussion of the Week

Intentionality in Game Design: There was a fair amount of back-and-forth (or was it subtweeting? Might have been subtweeting) about the notion of ‘intention’ in design. Intention ends up being whether or not game mechanics and other game elements drive the game’s specific experience and are included in the game for a specific reason. This sounds like a good thing, but the majority of games are intended for broad experiences, and in most art forms, “knowing what you’re doing” doesn’t necessarily produce good art. Jared Sinclair has a good mini-thread on this; “allow the art to create itself” is good advice for writer’s block or blank-page syndrome across media. Both sides of the conversation have interesting points, though neither directly engaged the other (which might be for the best).

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 Finding New Systems

Your campaign is ending. It’s been a good time but the story is coming to an end, and your players are looking to the next big adventure. You want to switch it up, and they’re on board. What do you do?

There’s a whole lot of game systems out there, and you probably could run a fun game with any of them. That said, you’re not picking a system because it meets the low bar of “could be fun”. You want a system that will make your game better because it’s there, either because it makes it easier to have fun or it helps you do a fun thing you wouldn’t otherwise be able to or would have thought to do.

Continue reading The Trouble With Finding New Systems

Weekend Update: 5/29/2021

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 5/29/2021

  1. Five Parsecs from Home
  2. WFRP: The Horned Rat
  3. Galder’s Gazetteer
  4. Children of the Blood
  5. Dune: Adventures in the Imperium

Top News Stories

Risus is for Sale: S. John Ross is seeking offers for the entirety of Risus, the “Anything RPG” which has served as a delightful entry in the annals of rules-light gaming for many people, including myself. Ross includes a number of buyer-friendly stipulations in the sale, including permission to use the references to works he’s not selling that are made in Risus materials in perpetuity, and up to a year of forwarding service on the Risus website to give the buyer time to establish their own webspace. There is a small catch, in that the purchase will include accepting existing liabilities from a successfully funded Kickstarter that has only been partially delivered. Even so, if you’re looking for a rules-light platform to launch your gaming company dreams, it might be time to crack your piggy bank open.

Discussion of the Week

Unloved Games: A discussion on r/RPG centers around two pages worth of Unloved Games that are actually off the radar. As the Reddit discussion illuminates, people are too used to “unloved” suggestions that are altogether too popular for the title.

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

What Does The Game Bring To The Table?

Over the last week or so there appeared the most recent incarnation of a frequent discourse, one about the quality of games correlating with their likelihood of success. Now, that’s bluntly and hilariously untrue, which is clear to anyone who has ever enjoyed a niche of anything in their life. In tabletop RPGs, though, it appears, from certain lenses, to even be anti-true. Games which make choices actively hostile to such simple traits as being able to play them still become sales successes, often becoming more successful than the indie games which old guard designers seem to snark at between requests for employment. Ultimately that’s not because TTRPG purchasers are irrational (I mean, they are, but not for the reasons we’re talking about here), but rather because they’re buying games for different reasons.

Continue reading What Does The Game Bring To The Table?

Weekend Update: 5/22/2021

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 5/22/2021

  1. Children of the Blood
  2. Galder’s Gazetteer
  3. Dune: Adventures in the Imperium
  4. Worlds Without Number
  5. Stars Without Number: Revised

Top News Stories

D&D had its best year ever: Wizards of the Coast has reflected on D&D’s 2020 performance, calling it the ‘best year ever’ for the brand. D&D sales grew 33% year-over-year, for the seventh consecutive year of growth. In addition to being impressive performance for any entertainment brand, 2020 in particular illustrates the strength of D&D (and to a lesser extent the hobby) in the face of the complications brought about by COVID-19.

Discussion of the Week

Twitter Main Character the First: Game Designers Age Out: Two designers best known for work they had done in the 1990s made, according to our crack analyst team, “really dumb” statements. Fortunately, they can be safely ignored, along with anything they post.

Twitter Main Character the Second: The Critical Role Brigade: Quote-tweeting someone exposes them to all of your followers. Now for me, with not even 200 followers on my main, that doesn’t matter, but when you have 170,000 followers and your most popular work is known for toxic fans? Don’t do that. Critical Role shouldn’t be considered above reproach anyway, but when those who have gained influence use that influence poorly, it doesn’t reflect well on the brand.

Alcohol and Networking in the Games Industry: Another topic that came up on Twitter this week was the role of alcohol in networking. Having business meetings while drinking is de rigueur across many industries (I have some tales about the energy industry from my day job life) but it has negative consequences, including edging out non-drinkers or those not comfortable in bar-type settings, as well as creating a degree of permission for bad behavior. At least in the energy industry few ‘real’ meetings happen at a bar, game designers and freelancers may not be so lucky when their local con is the only opportunity to get an in-person meeting with companies they want to work for. Cons should work on having more sober networking options, but game industry types should also reflect on the “bar-con” practice and consider stepping away.

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

Weekend Update: 5/8/2021

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 5/8/2021

  1. Dune: Adventures in the Imperium
  2. Worlds Without Number
  3. Yogg-Sothoth’s Children, a Korean Call of Cthulhu supplement
  4. Hard Wired Island
  5. Stargrave: Science Fiction Wargames in the Ravaged Galaxy

Top News Stories

Big Bad Con to be Held Online: With the pandemic nowhere near ‘over’, the announcement that Big Bad Con would be held online this year was not surprising, but potentially sad for those eagerly awaiting the return of in-person events. That said, kudos to the con organizers for making the health and safety of their attendees a priority.

Apple Lawyers call Itch games ‘Unspeakable Content’: The Epic Games/Apple Lawsuit, already arguably a farce, has now featured the lawyer for Apple calling some games on Itch, which is accessible through Epic Games, “both offensive and sexualized”. In response, Itch stated (possibly joking) on their Twitter account that the adult content tag would be renamed ‘unspeakable games’, in response to another particularly hyperbolic statement.

Discussions of the Week

The Slow Weird Return to In-Person Play: Speaking of pandemic, the Indie Game Reading Club has posted Paul Beakley’s meditation on all the things that make playing online great…and how odd it’s going to feel when we return to our normal tables. As someone who’s run an online group for over a decade…there’s nothing saying you can’t keep it going even after this is all over!

Fair Pay is Still a Debate Apparently: The discussion of freelancer pay bubbled back to the discourse surface after a Kickstarter campaign advertised a stretch goal for paying their freelancers five cents a word instead of the original three. While this was rightly met with condemnation, the broader discussion melted down in the face of, well, Twitter. None of the longer threads are really worth linking, but the Cannibal Halfling position is straightforward: Freelancers should be paid more, 10 cents per word is, while not necessarily ‘enough’, at least a starting point, and royalty and profit-sharing models, while not a panacea, should become more widely discussed and offered, especially in the small press world.

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

Weekend Update: 5/1/2021

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 5/1/21

  1. Dune: Adventures in the Imperium Core Rulebook
  2. Stargrave: Science Fiction Wargames in the Ravaged Galaxy
  3. Worlds Without Number
  4. Hard Wired Island
  5. Cyberpunk Red

Top News Stories

World of Darkness coming to TV: The World of Darkness has been optioned for TV. Again. IP Owners Paradox Interactive have pulled in some impressive names to develop a series which would be based on the World of Darkness setting as a whole, as opposed to any one game like Vampire, Werewolf or Mage. Many details of this sound promising, but with no distribution deal yet inked it’s worth noting that the TV world has produced plenty of vaporware with more. As a historical note, the last attempt to use World of Darkness IP in a TV series, Kindred: The Embraced, aired in 1996. Eight episodes were aired and the most common word used in reviews was ‘confusing’. In a post-Sopranos world one would imagine this next attempt will do better, but only time will tell.

The Adventure Zone and Games That Aren’t D&D: Popular Actual Play podcast The Adventure Zone is using Avery Alder’s The Quiet Year for setting generation in its upcoming campaign. That’s cool! They got the name wrong in the first episode it appeared, and failed to mention the name of the designer on-air. That’s not great! While the story took off on Twitter without confirmation (like such stories often do), the true version where the game was cited in the show notes is still illustrative of the sort of blinders many popular content creators have on. Yes, you’re correctly citing your sources, but not even bothering to get the name right on-air is still emblematic of the attitude too many creators have towards games in the hobby not published by Hasbro. An apology was issued, but this isn’t the first time this has happened and I doubt it’ll be the last.

Bundle of Holding adds permanent sales: Popular RPG sale site Bundle of Holding has expanded their normal time-limited fare with eight starter bundles which will be available on the site indefinitely. This slate will be expanded in the future but for now there are some solid options including Old School Essentials, Night’s Black Agents, Shadow of the Demon Lord, and Classic Traveller, all offering 3-6 books (and sometimes more) for less than the price of a single Hasbro supplement.

Discussion of the Week

Apparently we’re talking about pricing RPGs again: Whiny fans have again taken to criticizing designers for…(checks notes)…pricing their work such that they can pay all the people who made it. The discourse is all over, but restarted with the release of Hard Wired Island, a roughly 400 page book that costs roughly thirty dollars. As a reminder, if the Hard Wired Island crew wanted to adjust their prices to be in line with the industry standard, D&D, they would need to *increase* their prices by at least 25%. Chris Bissette says it better than we can in this thread.

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

Weekend Update: 4/17/21

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 4/17/2021

  1. Dune – Adventures in the Imperium Core Rulebook
  2. Worlds Without Number
  3. Warhammer Age of Sigmar Soulbound: Bestiary
  4. Cyberpunk Red
  5. Sentinel Comics Core Rulebook

Top News Stories

The Orr Report is here: Roll20 released the Orr Report, their report of internal play statistics, for Q1 2021. With the uncategorized numbers still north of 13% for both campaigns and players, we have a consistent reminder that this data tells us pretty much nothing other than literally what’s going on on Roll20. D&D 5e is still above 50% in both the campaign and account rates, and interestingly Pathfinder is beating Pathfinder 2e to a measly 1/20th of 5e. The growth numbers are slightly more indicative, though oddly Burning Wheel tops that list with a staggering 300% growth rate quarter-over-quarter. In the full list you can get juicy but completely meaningless tidbits like how Degenesis is tied with Eclipse Phase, and that Electric Bastionland has the same player count as Feast of Legends, better known as the licensed Wendy’s RPG.

Discussions of the Week

Matt Colville of MCDM Productions has some thoughts about the term ‘homebrew’ and where it fits into the range of creations available in the RPG sphere right now. Justin Alexander of Atlas Games has a response. Both threads are worth reading.

We talk a lot about the biggest Kickstarter campaigns in the RPG world, but ENWorld compiled the biggest RPG Kickstarter creators, including 19 creators whose total take between all their campaigns was over $1 million. Lots of 5e content creators here, but Free League, Monte Cook Games, and Onyx Path take the 1, 2, and 3 spots. In an interesting twist, only one creator on this entire list has a single PbtA project, and that’s Evil Hat with Thirsty Sword Lesbians. When you look into Magpie Games, though, and their rather unfortunate decision to unify their Kickstarter marketing so late in the company’s lifecycle, you might note that they could easily be a missing 20th creator (even just adding Bluebeard’s Bride and Masks, technically ‘created’ by Marissa Kelly and Brendan Conway respectively, would be enough to push Magpie onto the list).

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 Discourse

For as long as tabletop RPGs have existed, people have wanted to talk about them. At the very very beginning we had amateur press associations (APAs), zines, and good old mailing lists; today we have forums, Discord, and Twitter. As our media have changed, so too has how we talk about games and what ends up coming to the forefront of any day’s given discussion. Discussing RPGs is very much like discussing anything else, except the number of people involved is often much smaller. Combine this with the excessive bandwidth of our platforms, and…well, let’s say I could cause way more of an uproar on Twitter with the right mention than anyone ever could have writing an inflammatory letter to Dragon Magazine.

Continue reading The Trouble With Discourse