Wizards, Business, and Diversity

Wizards of the Coast has just announced the release of a Ravenloft campaign book, much to the excitement of the internet. This came with a lavish release article by Polygon, citing the reimagining and the diversity of writers that expanded the Domains of Dread. And it’s no mild expansion, it claims to have 30 settings and 30 villains. Combined with the recent Unearthed Arcana release, it seems like they’re finally making good on their promises of diversity, right? Well, sort of. On the front of it, it all looks good. But looking back over the history of D&D, and how Wizards have evolved in their curation of worlds, the picture takes on a different meaning.

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Shaky Steps in Unearthed Arcana

For those not tracking, Unearthed Arcana is one of D&D’s oldest and oddest traditions. Originally released as a life line by Gygax for 1e AD&D after TSR’s early financial practices almost sank the operation, it has become a repository for experimental rules and concepts in 5e. Effectively an ongoing playtest effort, classes, subclasses, and more that are close to being publishable often see their first public appearances there. This month saw the release of “Gothic Lineages”, which may mark an actual step towards dealing with some of the issues around race in D&D.

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Intro to Ninjas & Superspies

Circular_POCGamerIn the late 1980s, Palladium Books was a plucky up-and-coming RPG publisher. They’d netted the highly successful Robotech cartoon’s licence, and had also landed the then underground comics sensation Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles licence. It was time to push forward with an idea they’d established in 1984. It was time… for Ninjas & Superspies. The game’s first release was in 1987, with a revised edition in 1990. Its final official expansion was in 1995 with Mystic China, and since then has only been intermittently supported in the Rifter magazine. So let’s dive in on the overarching aspects of this game.

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Hollistic World Building Part 4: Deviations From Normal

So far in this series, I’ve looked at incremental world development, and how you might approach peopling and monstering your world. This post is building on the last post, where I discussed how genre, and the implied amounts of magic and monsters in them can affect how your fantasy world is going to deviate from “Normal Earth” if you’re doing a nuanced and thought out build. So let’s look at that.

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