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!

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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:

3 RPG & 1 Comic Kickstarter You Need To Back – Torg Eternity, The Lost Citadel, Triten, and Angelica Reigns

Need a genre-crossing tabletop RPG system and setting? Want to read supernatural fantasy? Interested in a wanna-lancer opportunity or concrete steps to expand gaming? I’m counting down four Kickstarter projects that range from fantasy zombie apocalypse to samurai on motorcycles and all of them look awesome!

 

4) Triten Gaming System by David Prizio
Ends on Thursday, June 29 2017 2:31 AM EDT.

“The Triten Gaming System is a fun and innovative new framework for tabletop Pen & Paper RPG’s designed to be simple and robust.

The Triten Gaming System is a whole new system of Pen & Paper RPG mechanics designed from the ground up to be both straightforward and robust, allowing for a relatively simple set of rules to work for an extremely diverse set of circumstances.  The Fantasy Manual is the first version of the Triten Gaming System which is focused on medieval fantasy.  Along with the manual, all you and your friends need are some polyhedral dice, pencils, paper, and your imagination!

Triten uses a skill-based structure instead of a level-based structure of character advancement.  Individual experience points earned as a character progresses through the world can be directly applied to any of dozens of different broadly-used Skills and additional specific, individual abilities called Talents.  Characters can also craft or purchase a wide variety of equipment and learn hundreds of different spells over 7 unique schools of magic.

This system has been in development for many years and has been though numerous playtesting campaigns with a diverse group of experienced Pen & Paper gamers who have dedicated countless hours to making this the best system it could possibly be.  The manual is now complete and is in the final stages of editing, layout, and illustrations!  We are confident that new and experienced Pen & Paper gamers alike will love this system as much as all of our playtesters have.  We just need your help to bring Triten to market!”

Egg’s Thoughts:

Let’s start with this – David Prizio, creator of the Triten gaming system, is a nice individual. I was not aware of Triten until I met David through #rpgnet. We discussed my wanna-lancer experiment and he shared his Kickstarter that happens to have some vanity press options with it. For the wanna-lancers of the world, this campaign offers the chance to create a NPC using their proprietary system and have a custom illustration done. Immortalize your character at the ground floor of a new RPG. A lot of opportunity with this. But what is the Kickstarter for? Triten is a single system that will span a variety of settings. For the opening, they’re offering a fantasy setting. I recommend checking it out if for not other reason than David is a good guy.

You can find the campaign here – Triten Gaming System

 

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3) Angelica Reigns #1 by SFC
Ends on Thursday, June 29 2017 1:05 PM EDT. 

“Angelica Reigns: The Faith is a 22 page, full color action comic about a young woman being hunted by an ancient religious cult.

What are you Kickstarting?

Angelica Reigns is the first solo series of the SFC Comics line. SFC is world of super powered sports entertainment. These solo series are a chance to get to know the characters outside of the ring.

The Story: Angelica is trying to establish a life outside of the shadow of her mother’s cult and Qakare’s power. She’s a young woman in a new city making new connections. All of that is put on hold when she becomes prey to a secret society called, The Faith. They are a faceless, timeless, and secret organization with roots that go back to the crusades. Their mission is to bring purity back to this world. They have ways to track and monitor dark magic.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

Let’s do another guy post – Marcel Dupree is one of the most pleasant people in comics, and the writer of Angelica Reigns. If you float around enough Kickstarters, you’ll find some incredibly likeable people. Marcel is near the top of my list. He pinged me on Facebook one day to see if I’d look at his Delilah Blast #1 Kickstarter. I did and it sold itself. Since then, we talk here and there and I follow his comic wisdom and crowd participation insights. If you are interested in knowing how the sausage of indie comics is made, I’d suggest following Marcel on Facebook.

I could talk about Angelica Reigns but Tessera Guild-mate John McGuire already has here. Let me quote him:

“This one has the feel of maybe a Buffy style of story for Angelica. A young girl, fighting against supernatural forces bigger than herself, and, from the looks of it, has a couple of friends to help her on her travels. Consider me intrigued by the overall idea.

In addition, the work Federico Sabbatini is doing on the various images they’ve shown on the Kickstarter page are very nice, almost as if someone took a series of animated cells from a tv show or movie and put them on the page.”

You can find the campaign here – Angelica Reigns #1

 

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2) Torg Eternity by Ulisses Spiele
Ends on Friday, June 30 2017 9:00 PM EDT. 

“The classic cinematic multi-genre RPG returns with updated rules, settings, full-color art, and a whole new Possibility War!

Torg Eternity is a table-top roleplaying game based on the original 1990 version of Torg created by West End Games. It has been re-imagined and updated for the Near Now.

The “High Lords” came from other cosms—other realities—conquerors joined together to steal the Earth’s living energy…to consume its very Possibilities!

Each Reality Raider brought his or her own reality, or “cosm”…

…from the dark fantasy of Aysle

…to the technological oppression of the Cyberpapacy

…the savagery and exploration of the Living Land

…the diabolical pulp villains of the Nile Empire

…the Gothic horror of Orrorsh

…the action and intrigue of Pan-Pacifica

…and the terrifying, demon-ruled wasteland of Tharkold!

The High Lords impose their reality and transform everything within, draining the Earth of its Possibilities in the hopes that one of them will become an ancient and all-powerful being called the “Torg!””

Egg’s Thoughts:

While this RPG does not include any wanna-lancer/vanity press rewards, it doesn’t have to, it’s Torg! A branching from the original Torg RPG (1990s), this Kickstarter is a re-launch/expansion with revised mechanics, yet they do not invalidate the previous meta-story of Torg 1e. Not only do they have 2e available, this campaign includes everything that was ever published for Torg 1e.

I picked up the Free RPG Day Torg Eternity quickstart. It’s a variation on the upcoming Torg 2e rules. Made without using any cards (they play a large role in the standard game), this version of the rules still gives a feel of how much potential this game has. It’s an interesting concept combining genres into a single world. If you’re looking for an in-depth view of this, I attended an online Q&A with Darrell Hayhurst about Torg Eternity and Dan Davenport has the questions and answers on his blog. Read about the game from Torg Eternity game designer, Darrell Hayhurst.

By the by, Dan Davenport is as nice a person as you’ll meet. Darrell Hayhurst was extremely pleasant during the Q&A.

You can find the campaign here – Torg Eternity

 

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1) The Lost Citadel — Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Roleplaying by Green Ronin Publishing
Ends on Monday, July 3 2017 3:00 AM EDT.

“Fifth Edition roleplaying in a world ravaged by death and undeath.

                                 The city is called Redoubt.

                     And as far as anyone knows, it is the last.

(map by Andrew Law)
(map by Andrew Law)

Seven decades ago, there were cities upon cities.

Kingdoms and nations; the remains of ancient empire. Cultures at war and cultures at trade. Humans, dwarves, elves, and others. Magic and monsters, rare but real. And so it was for millennia, through two dynamic ages the lorekeepers and scribes called Ascensions. 

Until the world ended.

Most call it the Fall, but whatever term a given people choose to use, it marked the time when everything changed. 

Nations crumbled. Races died. Magic sputtered. Nature sickened.

The dead woke.

Egg’s Thoughts:

When Green Ronin Publishing first discussed this product, it was in conjunction with an opportunity for women to freelance on The Lost Citadel. They didn’t talk so much about the product as what they wanted it to offer, greater diversity. I was excited about the possibility. More female representation in gaming everything benefits us all. More gamers, more GMs, more stores, more designers, more publishers, more ideas. For me, this contest is the chance to expand the industry in a real way. Green Ronin is embracing a huge swath of humanity and gaming as a whole will benefit from it. To see Green Ronin, a major 3PP (third party publisher), do this is inspiring. And I want to say congratulations to the winners: Kate Baker and Anna Landin. [EGG’S NOTE – I wish I could continue the “nice person” theme of this article but I have never spoken with K. Baker or A. Landin. That said, I’m sure they’re outstanding people. They’re certainly keeping good company.]

Beyond that freelancer opportunity, this is a 5e setting/expansion. It seems like it will be a moody combination of The Walking Dead meets Attack on Titan. Last fantasy city in a zombie apocalypse. Tragic, hopeless, dark fantasy. This Kickstarter does an excellent job of conveying the feel of the product they’re creating. I am looking forward to reading this setting and the adventure that Kate Baker and Anna Landin are designing. And I hope to see more opportunities to expand the industry coming from all quarters.

You can find the campaign here – The Lost Citadel — Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Roleplaying

The Lost Citadel – Amarset, God of the Dead

 

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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: