13th Doctor Who: Roleplaying Game

“Jodie Whittaker is a woman and the 13th Doctor.” The most controversial event of July 16th, 2017. It split the inter-webs into two opposed camps:

  1. Greatest actor of her generation
  2. The “D” in “Doctor” stands for “Dicks”

Jodie Whitaker composed as Doctor Who from Metro.co.uk

I chose the Greatest Actress camp before turning my mind to what possibilities a female Doctor will create for Doctor Who: RPG? Will this be doom or opportunity for Cubicle 7‘s game series? Before I get into the peaks and valleys of my speculations, let me offer some background.

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BACKGROUND

Example Page from Sword & Wizardry

Tabletop role-playing games are synonymous with sword and sorcery. With so many fantasy systems to choose from, companies look for ways to make theirs stand out. Frog God Games came up with an elegant way to ensure that the 3rd printing of their retro-clone, Swords and Wizardry, had the broadest appeal possible. They hired Stacy Dellorfano (of ConTessa fame) to lead an all-female design staff for the newest printing of their ENnie Awardwinning game. What inspired this? Frog God Games shared this on their Kickstarter:

…we were talking with designer Stacy Dellorfano about the fact that many OSR games have a physical appearance and presentation that really targets the 40 year old guys who’ve been gaming since forever, and doesn’t have nearly as much appeal to younger or female gamers of the generations following that first wave of players from the 1980s. In point of fact, old-school games, with their light-rules aspect and emphasis on a game master’s “common sense” interpretation of situations, are actually a really good tool for anyone who feels like rules-lawyers may be spoiling the game by trying to be over-authoritative or even overbearing with a GM. But if the appearance and presentation make the game look like it’s purely a throwback and not a modern tool for good gaming, then there’s a real obstacle to the game’s push into the mainstream gaming community.

As a result of this analysis, we engaged Stacy as a designer to produce an edition that’s no less appealing to older male gamers, while being MORE appealing to younger and to female gamers. Stacy put together a team, all women, to address this dual objective. We think her team has done an awesome job, and when you see the design results, we think you’ll agree.

This project came out of a discussion largely about how to get more women interested in OSR games, and evolved into a request to create a product that would appeal to all genders and challenge the idea of what an OSR game should look like. For many of the women who illustrated the book, this is their first foray into freelancing in the tabletop RPG industry. By participating in this project, we’re raising their visibility and adding more female voices to the industry.

What this is not is an “RPG for women”. This is Swords & Wizardry the same as it’s been for the last two printings, just with new artwork and layout for the new printing.

Yet the naysayers say to me – “But Egg, can women – WOMEN?! – design the look of a REAL retro-clone?”

Absolutely, Mr. Naysayer! Stacy and crew produced an iconic S&W 3e! Every page looks phenomenal and the book flows! This printing is beautiful. 1,213 backers on Kickstarter agree.

“But Egg, that’s the drawings! What about the… the writings? What about the WRITINGS, Egg?!”

Since S&W kept the existing writing with upgraded art, let’s look at a different project, Atlas Animalia by Metal Weave Games. This book covers the biology, game hooks, and more for monsters designed for 5e, Pathfinder, FATE, and more, including OSRs. This is a book of terrifying beasts to slaughter, or be slaughtered by, for your RPG of choice and there are no men listed as writers or editors. The project looks first rate (as the image below shows). I was excited about this campaign (I covered it here) and I was not alone, 798 backers pledged their money on Kickstarter.

Atlas Animalia example page – LAND SHARK!

“Um, well… but Egg, how do those numbers compare to games designed by mixed gender or ALL-MALE creative teams? Egg, I bet if we whip’em out and compare, the number of S&W 3e or Atlas Animalia backers on Kickstarter will be WAY smaller!”

Ok, let’s compare the number of backers for some retro-clones, monster manuals, and remakes on Kickstarter. I’ve picked out a few games that are close in nature to S&W 3e:

Based on this limited sampling (it’s not even close to exhaustive), S&W 3e had two to six times as many backers as the other OSRs in this list. S&W 3e had more backers than some new editions of older games/settings (Alternity and Scarred Lands) while not as many as others (Torg: Eternity and Scion).

While looking for RPG products that are, more or less, apples-to-apples comparisons with Atlas Animalia was more difficult. Still, there were a few:

Atlas Animalia fell into the middle of the range for these campaigns. If these lists (OSRs and monster manuals) were blended, Atlas would be on the upper half of the combined listing.

While this is a drop in the ocean of market research, I’d still hypothesize that RPGs created and written by women do well in the gaming market.

Do you think Frog God Games and Metal Weave Games made the right choice for their respective products?

END BACKGROUND

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Jodie Whittaker is the 13th Doctor and Cubicle 7 makes Doctor Who: Roleplaying Game. When it comes time to produce the Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space: The Thirteenth Doctor Sourcebook (2017-20??), should Cubicle 7 put a female lead designer/female writing staff in place to handle this project?

Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space:
The Thirteenth Doctor Sourcebook (2017-20??)
The first female doctor by [INSERT ROCKING FEMALE RPG CREATOR]

Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who from DoctorWhoTV.co.uk

This is the opportunity to hire a heavily female (or completely female) staff to deliver this sourcebook. Frog God Games and Metal Weave Games had successes with female crews developing their products. There’s no reason to believe that a female Cubicle 7 team would not produce yet another AAA Doctor Who product. The serendipity-by-design of this would be the way to market it.

That said, while they’ll likely update the core rulebook to include the 13th Doctor in the near-term, Cubicle 7 releases their Doctor Who sourcebooks after the current Doctor passes the torch. We’re years away from the release of their 13th Doctor sourcebook. This debate has time for nuance.

This article is not a condemnation of Cubicle 7. It’s the opposite. I’m a fan of C7. For Gen Con 50, I won the dream “date” to attend the ENnie Awards with them. I’m excited about meeting them at the show (and I hope they win some ENnies – Don’t forget to vote!)

As a company, they’re doing a rocking job with the Doctor Who RPG. As such, when I composed this article I hated to suggest that they mess with a winning formula. If they keep with their current creative teams, I know they will deliver an excellent product.

C7 has not announced their plans related to the 13th Doctor sourcebook and they should not until Jodie is ready to pass on the role. With the lead time that Cubicle 7 has on this, a company as competent as they are will gather together the perfect team to knock this out of the park! With their track record, I am confident they’ll make the best decision for their fans.

 

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SWORDS & WIZARDRY 3RD EDITION CHALLENGE!

Am I telling the truth about Swords & Wizardry 3rd Edition? Does it really look amazing? Can women design the look of a retro-clone? Why, yes they can, but you say you need proof, naysayer? The proof is in the product and the product is a single dollar in PDF format. Over at Frog God Games’ website, you can pick up the PDF for a buck and find out for yourself.

NOTE – When you’re doing the dropdown, it’ll say “-$33.99”. It’s confusing but you’ll see it’s one dollar at check out.

Frog God Games’ Swords and Wizardry 3rd Edition PDF

 

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Does S&W 3e and Atlas Animalia sound good to you but you wish there were a female-created board game? How about SPARKED: The hilarious and inspiring board game for women? A board game created entirely by women. 758 backers on Kickstarter.

 

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I’d like to thank every woman that ever gamed or created games or created art for games or thought kindly toward a gamer. You have made this world a better place. Thank you for all you’ve done for me. I cannot say that loud enough.

Sincerely,

Egg Embry

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

* * *

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

4 RPG & 1 Comic Kickstarter You Need To Back – Monarchies of Mau, Buccaneer: Through Hell & High Water, Route 3, A Delve in the Cave, and The S’rulyan Vault II

Want to immortalize your cat (in art)? Design a pirate or a townie NPC? Ever want to read a comic about the road trip from Hell? Need a map through the mega dungeon? Want to meet fun tabletop gamers? If you answered, yes, then you might be building a RPG resume to go from wanna-lancer to freelancer and these are some of the best vanity press crowdfunding rewards that help you learn the RPG ropes. Let’s count these campaigns down!

 

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5) Monarchies of Mau Fantasy Tabletop RPG by Onyx Path Publishing
Ends on Thursday, June 15 2017 12:00 PM EDT. 

“Contribute to help us create a beautiful traditionally printed fantasy game book featuring cat monarchies – and get it into stores.

We want to talk to you about Monarchies of Mau. It’s a complete tabletop roleplaying game that acts as a companion game to, and is totally compatible with, my first RPG, Pugmire. The Monarchies of Mau is a nation of cats tenuously comprised of six city-states.”

Monarchies of Mau

Egg’s Thoughts:

Cats with Swords!

You either raised an eyebrow and want to click the link to the Kickstarter for this anthropomorphic cat-people in a feline fantasy setting OR you rolled your eyes and thought, “Puss in Boots… bah, Antonio Banderas! My arch-nemesis strikes again…” Clearly, you’re either pro-Planet of the Cats or you’ll be canned as Fancy Feast! There is no third option!

[EDITOR’S NOTE – Don’t listen to Egg. He wrote “cats with swords” and felt it was defining. Make your own decision on this one because he’s going to be Fancy Feast no matter what.
As always, may Gary Gygax keep and protect your dice.
]

As an added bonus, Monarchies of Mau has a pledge level in this campaign to name a feline (or canine) NPC and have it illustrated to resemble your pet. It’s an opportunity to immortalize a member of the family.

Check out Cats with Swords… er, Monarchies of Mau Fantasy Tabletop RPG by Onyx Path Publishing here.

 

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4) 5E Adventure: A Delve in the Cave by Jamie Chambers
Ends on Friday, June 16 2017.

“A curse. A cave. A crawl. 5E fantasy adventure by Jamie Chambers!

Returning to my personal and professional gaming roots with a short adventure for 5E of the original fantasy roleplaying game—a cavern crawl built to please hack-and-slash groups and storytellers alike!

It All Started When …

I accidentally wrote a 5E fantasy RPG adventure! Wanna help me print it? This is a short campaign … it ends on June 16, 2017.”

Jamie Chamber’s Gaming Table

Egg’s Thoughts:

Due to the limited number of details about this cave crawl – it’s for 5e, there’s a curse, and a cave – you’ll need to decide on this project based on the strength of who Jamie Chambers is. So, who is he? Jamie Chambers runs Signal Fire Studios, home of the revised Metamorphosis Alpha RPG, he was a designer and line editor for TSR’s Dragonlance, and a former Vice President on the board of directors for GAMA (Game Manufacturers Association). So, who is he? He’s a gamer with a resume that speaks volumes about his skill. Top that with the fact that I discussed his IndieGoGo campaign last week and suggested that, in a perfect world and since he’s local to me, it’d be cool to meet him. He read the article and said we should make plans. Like so many folks I’ve met through wanna-lancing and gaming and comicing, Jamie’s a nice guy and for that alone this campaign is worth backing.

But, because I’m a wanna-lancer, let me add this reason to back the campaign over and above his resume and affable personality, you can create a NPC and/or playtest this adventure online with Jamie. It’s a nice extra.

You can find the IndieGoGo campaign here.

 

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3) Route 3 by Robert Jeffrey II and Sean Damien Hill
Ends on .

“Centuries old prophecies. Shadowy government conspiracies. Super heroic action. Just a typical day for teenager Sean Anderson. Route 3.

Route 3 is a super-powered road trip from hell. A Stone Mountain, GA teen finds out he’s been granted with a set of spectacular abilities, that he knows nothing about. He’s now on the run from a wide array of folks in a sort of super powered arms race across the Southeastern United States. Explosions, gunfights, telekinetic feats of awesomeness, and a little personal growth are all thrown into the mix.

We’ve collected all three issues of the first story arc into a superb collected edition that also includes a cover page gallery, “DVD” extras, and a forward by the talented artist/ writer Takeia Marie (Contributor to Rosarium Publishing’s APB: Artists Against Police Brutality).”

Route 3

Egg’s Thoughts:

Because Robert Jeffrey is our guildmate, and we love him and Route 3, we’ve shouted out this Kickstarter as much as possible on the Tessera Guild. It’s exceeded its goal (so the collected first story arc is coming) and the campaign is moving through stretch goals. I’m a fan of the series and ready to read more of Sean Anderson’s adventures!

Check out the Kickstarter here – Route 3

 

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2) Buccaneer: Through Hell & High Water for Savage Worlds by Fabled Environments and Yellow Piece Games
Ends on Tuesday, June 20 2017 9:00 PM EDT.

“Pirates, Vodouisants, and Witch Hunters battle each other and beasts of legend in the mystic waters of the Caribbean. Climb aboard!”

Egg’s Thoughts:

Are you a fan of Savage Worlds (2003 Origin Gamers’ Choice Award for best role-playing game)? Oh, you don’t own the rules? Well, Pinnacle Entertainment has you covered because the core rule book is $9.99 in softcover.

To compliment the game and price point, Yellow Piece Games is kickstarting their pirate setting for Savage Rules. For $15, you get a PDF of the setting and customized rules and also a PDF of pirate NPCs that you get to contribute to. For my wanna-lancer resume, this adds experience with Savage Worlds and another NPC, all for a low price point.

Check out the Kickstarter here – Buccaneer: Through Hell & High Water for Savage Worlds.

 

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1) The S’rulyan Vault II by Kort’thalis Publishing
Ends on Thursday, June 22 2017 10:46 AM EDT.

“This project is a file/PDF for a high-resolution, printable map in both old school module blue and white, as well as, parchment color.

Basically, this is a continuation of the first S’rulyan Vault which funded on Kickstarter just over a year ago.

The S’rulyan Vault II is more of the same… but different.  Obviously, there will be a totally new dungeon layout with lots of interesting things going on.  The files can be printed off so you’ve got one massive map or four quadrants in order to easily mix and match them with each other and the previous S’rulyan Vault.

This is the DriveThruRPG product listing for the original S’rulyan Vault.

Glynn Seal of MonkeyBlood Design will be doing the cartography, layout, and file preparation.

As for the accompanying PDF full of useful random tables and such for creating and running your own damn megadungeon!  On the fly, if you wish.  Here’s an example from Draconic Magazine.”

Example Map from the S’rulyan Vault II

Egg’s Thoughts:

Kort’thalis Publishing’s CEO (Cthulhu Excreted Officer) Venger Satanis is another nice soul. When I mentioned that I wouldn’t mind a RPG mentor in an article, Venger reached out and offered helpful advice, wanna-lancing opportunities, and, if everything works out, freelance RPG work.His help has been awesome and I cannot ask for more from a RPG professional.

Through Kort’thalis Publishing, Venger is making RPG magic. His current Kickstarter is an old-school megadungeon map. Do you need one or two system agnostic megadungeon maps? Yes. Yes, you do, and Venger has you covered.

Venger is also offering another opportunity – paid GM’ing. If you go to a con and run 8 hours of games using one of his systems/settings – Alpha Blue, Crimson Dragon Slayer, CDS 1.11, or The Outer Presence – he’ll pay you for in swag or money. You’ll need to read the description first and talk with Venger about it before you go, but being paid to GM is a cool job.

Check out the Kickstarter here – The S’rulyan Vault II. Check out his offer of paid GM’ing here.

 

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There are a lot of great Kickstarters out there so let me add one more to the pile:

Grond 3

Grond #3 by Michael Phillips
Ends on .

“Grond is now Kallok. Obberoth is dead. Valara’s fate is decided by Ugreth. Oublar is close to getting what he desires, being Mok’Dar.”

Catch up on the back issues and support the creation of the current issue on Kickstarter here – Grond #3

 

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

* * *

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by: