Welcome to Gaming Shelf, io9's column all about board games and tabletop roleplaying games. The past week of protests against racism and police brutality had a huge impact on the national conversation, and that’s not expected to change anytime soon. We’ve provided a few resources for game companies that are helping out during the protests, plus some free gifts for folks staying at home.
Several tabletop game companies have shared messages of solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests, in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. These include Wizards of the Coast, Asmodee, Ravensburger, Green Ronin Publishing, and others. Lone Shark Games’ Mike Selinker made a Twitter thread highlighting some of the game companies that have spoken out in recent days, which you can check out here.
Kotaku recently profiled itch.io’s groundbreaking bundle of video games and tabletop roleplaying games, with proceeds going to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund. In just a few days, the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, which features over 750 games for a $5+ donation, has already raised over $3 million (as of Tuesday). More games are expected to be added in the coming days. A few tabletop roleplaying game highlights include Dead Friend: A Game of Necromancy and Glitter Hearts (a Twitter user collected all of the RPGs here). The bundle will be available for the next six days.
As we continue social distancing during the pandemic, game companies continue to share free games to keep people entertained at home. Wizards of the Coast has some new adventures for remote Dungeons & Dragons parties, as well as coloring pages and other resources for younger fans. Cubicle 7 Games has released Crash & Burn, a free adventure PDF for Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Soulbound. And fans of mass transportation can hop on Ticket to Ride: Stay at Home, a version of the classic game that imagines a family home as the nationwide train route (requires the base game to play).
Jack Torrance may not have been able to escape the Overlook, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck. The Op has announced a new escape game for its Coded Chronicles series based on The Shining, called The Shining: Escape from the Overlook Hotel. One or more players take on the role of Wendy and Danny, Jack’s wife and son, unlocking clues and channeling psychic abilities to escape the unhinged writer’s clutches. The Shining: Escape from the Overlook Hotel is set to come out this fall and will cost $30.
Fantasy Flight Games is currently working on a Solo Mode for Star Wars: X-Wing, and is looking for testers to try it out. The solo mode will pit players against an automated opponent “whose behavior is dictated by simple rules” from the X-Wing Core Set. The rules are available to download for free—Fantasy Flight is asking folks to fill out a Google Form with their feedback after trying it out. You can find out more information here.
Note: The covid-19 pandemic and Trump’s trade war with China have impacted board game production. We strongly advise you check with crowdfunding developers about possible delays, but don’t let that dissuade you from supporting these campaigns.
DIE in the Dungeon is a solo board game where the player is a dungeon monster who’s been magically whisked away into a strange dungeon filled with epic heroes wanting to kill you. Much like Boss Monster, the goal is to defeat all the heroes using your monstrous skills...as well as stop the evil wizard who summoned you and find a way back home. DIE in the Dungeon will be on Kickstarter through June 23. The minimum pledge for a digital print-and-play copy is $8 and is set to come out in August, while a physical copy costs $41 and is scheduled to come out in January 2021.
Merchants of the Dark Road is a strategy fantasy game that takes place during a winter of everlasting night. One-to-four players take on the role of merchants trying to get their goods from place to place, an incredibly dangerous feat at nightfall, and this night goes on forever. Players have to strategize current and future moves, as one bad step can be the difference between wealth and death. Merchants of the Dark Road will be on Kickstarter through June 26. The minimum pledge for a copy is $49 and it’s set to come out in January 2021.
It’s a roleplaying game for the smartphone age. Alice Is Missing is a “silent roleplaying game” where players communicate only through texting on their phones, trying to piece together the truth behind Alice’s mysterious disappearance. No GM is required. Over the course of a couple of hours, three-to-five players create their characters, establish their relationships to Alice, and spend 90 minutes trying to suss out what happened to her. Alice Is Missing will be on Kickstarter through June 29. The minimum pledge for a digital copy is $10 and is set to come out in July, while a physical copy costs $20 or more and is scheduled to be released in November.
Immersion Escape Rooms, an innovative and creative escape room company in Charlottesville, is expanding by bringing its interactive mystery directly to your home. The Messenger starts by receiving a cursed parcel, filled with documents, artifacts, video and audio files, and other goodies that are pieced together to create an intense and immersive experience. However, it’s not a subscription service, unlike other at-home escape room simulators. The Messenger: An Immersive Mystery will be on Kickstarter through July 2. The minimum pledge for a copy is $65 and it’s set to come out in December.
It’s great to have online homes for tabletop RPGs like Roll20, but they’re not always the most intuitive. Role is promising to create a new platform for gamers, with a more intuitive online play interface and a marketplace that focuses on individual recommendations instead of mass reviews. It’s too soon to tell whether this will be the next online platform for roleplaying game players, but it’s great to see the medium expanding. Role will be on Kickstarter through June 18. It’s inviting folks to be part of the early access trial for a minimum $5, with a year-long subscription starting at a $20 pledge. Early access is expected to start in December, with a full launch in May 2021.
Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.
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