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AICN Tabletop! BREAKING NEWS About D&D Next! Earthdawn! HeroQuest! Kickstarters! And More!

Hello gamers! Abstruse here for this week’s dose of news on the tabletop gaming world. Not a whole lot going on in the rest of the gaming world, though, as we head into the holiday season, except for some REALLY HUGE BREAKING NEWS that we'll get right into in a few.. Don’t worry, I managed to dig up some goodies for you!

It’s too late to join the open playtest for D&D Next as they’ve moved solely to a closed playtest at this point. So I didn’t expect to hear much from Wizards of the Coast on DUNGEONS & DRAGONS until closer to GenCon. However, they decided to release the exclusive GenCon promo book GHOSTS OF DRAGONSPEAR CASTLE by Chris Perkins as a digital download, giving you a chance to check out the D&D Next rules as well as get a pretty decent mini-campaign. The rules in this book are based on a I believe two playtest packets before the last, so it’s not the most recent rules (but also not the set with the controversial Lore Rules which received a resounding negative backlash from the community and was removed for the final packet). The book is available for $17.99 and, due to the nature of D&D Next and how they’ve been releasing adventures, is easily converted to other editions of the game. And...

Breaking news! Just as we were ready to post this, Wizards of the Coast sent out a press release. "Wizards of the Coast today announced that the highly-anticipated new rules system for Dungeons & Dragons will release in summer 2014.  After nearly two years of an open public playtest and more than 175,000 playtest participants, the rules are complete. Players will be immersed in rich storytelling experiences across multiple gaming platforms as they face off against the most fearsome monster of all time." Well, looks like I called it waaaay back in some of my first AICN Tabletop columns. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the big release will be in August at GenCon for the 40th Anniversary of the publication of Dungeons & Dragons. There's no bigger or better venue and Wizards of the Coast has shown they know how to take advantage of the attention the biggest gaming convention in the United States gets. We now return you to your regular AICN Tabletop already in progress.

If you’re a hardcore fan of SHADOWRUN, you probably already know about the fantasy roleplaying game EARTHDAWN. Originally published in 1993, FASA Corporation released this unique game set in the Fourth World to SHADOWRUN’s Sixth World (for the record, we live in the Fifth World where there’s no magic, or we did until the Awakening on December 24, 2011). FASA Corporation dissolved and the rights to EARTHDAWN passed between a few companies, though never the same company that held the SHADOWRUN rights.

Well, FASA is back, sort of. A new company using the name FASA Games announced they had the rights earlier this year, but haven’t stated what they would be doing with them. Until now, because EARTHDAWN: FOURTH EDITION is coming in 2014! They’ll be launching a Kickstarter to fund the new printing of a Player’s Guide and Gamemaster’s Guide soon, and I’m really looking forward to see what they’ve got coming as it’ll be the first book published for game that wasn’t under another system in a very, very long time.

So with the last column, I got a lot of crap in the talkbacks for not talking about the HEROQUEST 25TH ANNIVERSARY Kickstarter. Honestly, I didn’t know it had started. The Kickstarter went up with no pre-announcement between the time I finished the column and when it went live on the site. Probably for the best, because the Kickstarter has been cancelled. And probably for exactly the reasons you think (copyright issues), but not on the behalf of you who’d think. The original game was released in 1989 in Europe and 1990 in the United States by a joint effort between Milton Bradley and Games Workshop. Milton Bradley was bought out by Hasbro several years ago, so of course everyone (myself included) assumed that one of the two biggest juggernauts of the game industry had killed a project the community desperately wanted.

We were wrong. The takedown actually came from Moon Design Publications. If you’re like me, your immediate reaction is, “Who the fuck is that?” Well, they hold the rights to an old Issaries, Inc. game originally published as HERO WARS in 2000 whose name was changed in the 2003 second edition to HEROQUEST. Why the name change? Because it’s the roleplaying game for a world called Glorantha which is best known as the setting for the game RUNEQUEST. Moon Design claims to hold the trademark for the name “HeroQuest” for tabletop gaming and had the Kickstarter shut down.

At this time, there has been no announcement as to when or if the project will be relaunched under another title, as claiming prior art would actually be worse for the company Gamezone Miniatures since they only had the rights to republish the game due to a loophole in Spanish copyright and trademark laws (they were doing a lot of weirdness to be able to ship to backers in other countries). In order to relaunch, they would have to get into nasty legal tangle with Moon Design, Hasbro, and Games Workshop. The original Kickstarter raised over $300,000 in less than a day, so hopefully it will be a massive kick in the ass to both Hasbro and Games Workshop, who would easily be able to crush Moon Design’s claim to the trademark in a court. Only time will tell, and until then we’ll have to stick with Fantasy Flight Games’s DESCENT: JOURNEYS IN THE DARK to make due.

The Firefly board game is still making waves with its heavily themed pick-up-and-deliver mechanics and many fans have been clamoring for more. They have a small booster, FIREFLY THE GAME: BREAKIN’ ATMO releasing soon, with a few additional jobs for the game. Gale Force Nine announced the release of the first full expansion for the game, PIRATES AND BOUNTY HUNTERS, which will drop in March. This will add new missions, equipment, and mechanics that allow players to raid other ships for supplies or capture fugitives they may be harboring for bounties. This will fix one of the only complaints I’ve heard about the game, which is the limited player interaction. The retail price for the expansion is set at $29.99.

Do you remember KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE, the comic strip by Jolly Blackburn that showed up in all the gaming magazines of the 80s and 90s? Or have you seen the comic books in your local game store? Sure you have, it’s a classic of gaming! Jolly Blackburn has teamed up with D20 Entertainment to launch a KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE Live-Action series! The (rough but still entertaining) proof of concept video which was shot on no budget but still looks surprisingly good. There’s a ton of various benefits should you decide to back, and you’ve got plenty of time to decide as the Kickstarter runs until February 5 to hit its $60,000 goal.

In more licensed game Kickstartery goodness, Jasco Games has licensed Capcom’s classic video game MEGA MAN into a board game. The sculpts on this game look fantastic and the gameplay looks incredibly similar to the video game. You select stages around the board and try to defeat that stage’s boss to collect their power-ups before completing them all and fighting Dr. Wiley. Meanwhile, you also take on the role of Dr. Wiley’s minions as you attempt to thwart your fellow players from defeating Dr. Wiley first. You can pick up the game for a $70 pledge until January 19, as it’s blasted through its funding goal and knocking out stretch goals left and right.

Don’t be put off by GripMat’s very infomercial like project video (complete with an exaggerated “Oh no!” moment), this product solves a big problem in tabletop gaming. Tiles, cards, and other slick components just love to slide around on the table. I’ve used a lot of solutions to this, from that tacky putty stuff you use to hang posters (messy and can stain components) to the mesh you buy to line your kitchen drawer (distracting and hard to manage). GripMats are a great solution to the problem. The playmat surface features some great artwork and the coating holds tiles securely in place without damaging them or making them hard to intentionally move. They’ve fully funded, and you can pick up a 16” x 24” mat for $25, with sizes going up to 24” x 42” for $45, with various a la carte combinations and pledge levels with an option to add a square or hex grid to the mat as you choose. The Kickstarter runs until January 8 with stretch goals unlocking extra art.

Finally, we have the Board Game Storage Chests, Tokens, Inserts, and More. A Kickstarter with multiple products launching at once, this includes custom tokens for several different tabletop games and storage box solutions for popular games where storage becomes problematic after adding additional expansions. I won’t even begin to go over the pledge levels as there’s a ton for all the different tokens and boxes for games like LOVE LETTER, NETRUNNER, ECLIPSE, PANDEMIC, LORDS OF WATERDEEP, and more. The tokens are made of acrylic and the boxes of lightweight but solid wood. This Kickstarter is fully funded and runs until January 2.

Speaking of January 2, that’s when I’ll be arriving at Moody Gardens in Galveston, TX, for SPACE CITY CON! I’ll be bringing as many games as I can fit into my massive bag ready to play as well as wandering around the convention getting interviews where I can both for the AICN Tabletop and for Gamer’s Tavern. Speaking of Gamer’s Tavern, you can check out my podcast with Ross Watson. Since the last column went up, we’ve had episodes with Keith Baker (EBBERON, GLOOM) on DMing Tricks and Tips as well as an episode on Gaming and Film with Mack Martin (MALIFAUX SECOND EDITION, DUST WARFARE) and Nordling (Ain’t It Cool News).

And don't forget, you can also follow me on Twitter at @Abstruse, and you can email me at if you have gaming news and information!  Happy holidays, and may you roll a natural 20.

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