ShepardAfter a day of comments about the fan-made unlicensed Mass Effect RPG being nominated for multiple ENnie awards, Russ “Morrus ” Morrissey of ENWorld, stated that the game would be removed from the slate of nominees. The Mass Effect RPG, nominated for Best Electronic Book, Best Free Product, and Product of the Year, was written and designed by RPG industry veteran Don Mappin. The game is based on Galileo Games’ Bulldogs!, a Fate Core-based game.

“For this year, we have decided to disqualify the fan-created Mass Effect RPG on the basis of IP violations,” the statement read. “The creator of the product, after discussion with him, has already been notified. Don Mappin, the creator of the product, has additionally told us that ‘Based on this outcome I will be removing the work and its associated files.'” The game’s three award nominations will be replaced with other items to keep the number of entries in a ballot equal at five, ten for Product of the Year.

About the game, Mappin writes the game is “solely a labor of love”. The game states that despite using the setting and illustrations from the Mass Effect property, the game is unlicensed and done without the permission or involvement of the IP holders. Mappin writes “it is our hope to expand the outreach of the Mass Effect property to another segment of games—role-players—who have long coveted a way to bring the events of Commander Shepard to life at their gaming tables.”

“I am very public and open that it is an unlicensed product, made available free of charge and that no renumeration is to be made from its distribution. The Fate core OGL is adhered to (to the best of my ability) as well as content from Brennan Taylor of Galileo Games and their Bulldogs! product, with permission,” Don Mappin responded. “I don’t believe that I have violated any aspect of the rules for the ENnies and would hope that my work could be considered.

After game industry professionals and gamers began commenting on the inclusion of an unlicensed work being nominated for Product of the Year, Morrus posted a comment on Twitter and facebook reading, “We are currently discussing an issue re. an ENnies nomination. Info soon.” This was followed up an hour later with a post on facebook reading, in part, that while the nomination categories don’t distingush between fan and publisher work, that this is the first time they’ve had issues concerning a product’s licensed status. “We’ve never had to ask about a product’s licensed status before – we’ve always left a publisher’s own legal matters to them – so this is a new situation for us.” The facebook post says that the issue was being discussed as they wanted to do the right thing.

Nicole Linroos of Green Ronin, publishers of the Dragon Age RPG, said in 2012 that although their relationship with Bioware is “pretty damn happy”, that the video game company was not interested in a Mass Effect roleplaying game. She writes, “the idea has been tossed around and discussed between the Mass Effect team, the Bioware licensing folks, and Green Ronin on more than one occasion. They’re not interested in taking Mass Effect to tabletop, it’s as simple as that.” In a more recent statement, she says that while she would love to have a legitimately licensed AGE-powered Mass Effect game, the company would is not allowed to do so, “not even for free, not even to “give back” to the community. In fact, doing so would likely endanger the legitimate license my company does hold from EA.”


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Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana, the roleplaying game spinoff show from Geek & Sundry’s TableTop, debuted yesterday with two episodes. “Chapter 0” is an twenty minute introduction to the setting and characters, which is followed by the first actual play video. (Watch here:

The show was funded as a stretch goal from the TableTop Season 3 crowdfunding campaign at IndieGoGo, which raised $1,414,159 over the course of a month with contributions from over twenty-two thousand people. Wil Wheaton, host of Titansgrave and TableTop, has said he’s always wanted to feature roleplaying games in TableTop, but the format of the boardgame show didn’t work to feature an actual roleplaying campaign. Branching a roleplaying game campaign out into a separate show would allow him to deliver “a season of narrative storytelling that’s as compelling and interesting and shocking and moving and exciting as any fully-scripted program on television,” he said. While TableTop has featured roleplaying games before, they were mostly one-off games like Dread or Fiasco.

Green Ronin's Chris Pramas on the set of Titansgrave.

Green Ronin’s Chris Pramas on the set of Titansgrave.

Pre-production began in late 2014, with Wil Wheaton working with his son, Ryan, and Green Ronin‘s Nicole Lindroos and Chris Pramas in the development of the campaign’s setting and storyline. “This project has basically eaten my life for the last six months,” remarked Chris Pramas. The game uses the AGE (Adventure Game Engine) system that Green Ronin created for the Dragon Age RPG, which was featured in a two-part TableTop episode. The AGE system was chosen because Wil wanted to use something that would “facilitate storytelling and character-based roleplaying. I wanted an elegant system that let the players do awesome things a lot of the time…. I didn’t want a system that was overly burdened with charts and math and minis and everything that I feel kind of gets in the way of us making up a story and telling it together.”

The game was played over a five day period in late March and early April. Ten episodes will be released weekly, telling the story of the campaign.

Several items about the game played in Titansgrave will be released over the next few months. The Fantasy AGE book from Green Ronin and the Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana world and adventure book — the “very first adventure campaign created for [Fantasy AGE]” — are planned on a Gen Con 2015 release. Chris Pramas explains that Fantasy AGE “is a core rulebook for the system and you can use it with a huge variety of settings. Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana is a book that features world information and supporting rules, and the adventures that are featured on the show. This means you can play your own version of the campaign the cast got to experience.” Several sci-fi and fantasy authors have been contacted to develop short pieces of fiction for Titansgrave, said Wil Wheaton. “Holy crap you guys, some amazing writers are going to be working with us,” he said.

Image from Green Ronin.

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D&D: Rage of Demons

What’s the biggest, baddest dungeon in Dungeons & Dragons? I’d have to go with the Underdark, the cavernous maze that spans an entire game world. This world under the world is the setting for Wizards of the Coast’s next storyline, Rage of Demons.

And yes, there’s a Drizzt.

Rage of Demons cover


The main concept behind the new storyline involves a demonic invasion of the Underdark with adventurers traveling “with the iconic hero Drizzt Do’Urden”. Like the previous storylines, Rage of Demons will be told through the tabletop roleplaying game and electronic (PC and Xbox One) games. The Neverwinter: Underdark expansion for the Neverwinter MMO will be released in 2015 (with the Xbox version coming after the PC version) while the Out of the Abyss adventure for D&D 5th Edition is scheduled for the fall. Partner companies WizKids, who have developed games for the D&D line; Gale Force Nine, who did the DM Screens for the earlier storyline adventures; and Smiteworks, who have developed Fantasy Grounds, a virtual tabletop product supporting D&D, are all on board for Rage of Demons.

Earlier storylines had their tabletop campaigns developed by third-party companies: Tyranny of Dragons’ Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat were developed by Wolfgang Bauer’s Kobold Press while Elemental Evil’s Princes of the Apocalypse was developed by Rich Baker’s Sasquatch Game Studio. Out of Abyss will be developed by Green Ronin, who have previously done the Dragon Age RPG, A Song of Ice and Fire RPG, the Freeport setting for D&D 3.5 (and Paizo’s Pathfinder game), among others. Out of the Abyss will be a single volume book, like Princes of the Apocalypse.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition Playing Cards

Recently released by Dark Horse, is a standard deck of cards with art from Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Dragon Age Inquisition Playing Cards

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