Category Archives: Random musings

Critical Role KS Criticism

I have to admit I haven’t really followed the discussions surrounding the Critical Role Kickstarter project. Heck, I haven’t even checked out the project itself until recently. So what is all the fuzz about? Matthew Mercer and his motley crew of voice-acting friends, famous for their D&D actual play series Critical Role, are raising funds for the production of a animated TV series called “The Legend of Vox Machina”. In no time, they reached the set goal of about 666.000€ and at the time of this writing they have raised over 6 million euros. This is HUGE! I don’t think any roleplaying-related fundraiser had ever raised that much money.

Quickly criticism was raised (Check out this article on Kotaku). At first people from the industry were obviously miffed that streamers like Critical Role make more money off of RPGs than the people actually designing those games. In a way I can understand the frustration. Making money in the RPG business is extremely hard. There are only a few designers out there who can live off RPGs alone.

But in that case it’s IMHO an apples versus oranges situation. Critical Role is raising money for an animated TV series. A lot of the people interested in this series might not even be roleplaying game fans themselves. I have watched a couple of episodes of both seasons of Critical Role and I can see the appeal of taking part in their adventures as a spectator. It is possible that some of the backers have never played a roleplaying game in their lives. Perhaps they heard from friends about the show, or they know Vox Machina from their cameos in the Pillars of Eternity 2 video game. Will some of the people backing Critical Role now eventually throw money towards roleplaying game creators? Possible. My point is that the show might have a larger appeal than just people playing D&D 5th Edition or Pathfinder at the moment. In the long run the success of Critical Role will probably lead to more sales in the RPG industry.

The second criticism raised is about diversity. While this particularly group of friends is not entirely male, like way too many roleplaying game groups, the lack of persons of color is noticeable. We all know that representation is important. Critical Role has become a kind of ambassador for the roleplaying hobby, and so it would be great if their cast included persons of color.

But things are not that easy. Before Critical Role was a hit show on Twitch and YouTube, the members of the group were just friends enjoying the game. There have been several guest players on the show and perhaps they might actually add a non-white person to the cast. Since the show evolved from a fun past time to something greater, calling for more diversity and more representation of minorities on the show might not be unreasonable, but it’s not something we can force. Change is slow. But I think we are on the right track.

With their popular and financial success comes a certain responsibility. The future will show if they use their power to do good for the whole community or if they are more interested in increasing revenue for themselves. From what I’ve heard so far, Matt Mercer and crew are good people. They’ll hopefully do the right things. And if not, we – as fans and fellow roleplayers – can nudge them into the right direction again. It’s the same in live as it is in roleplaying games: It’s not only one person’s job to ensure everyone is having a good time. This responsibility falls to all of us.

What are your thoughts on the criticism regarding the Critical Role KS? Please share your thoughts below!

Achtung! Cthulhu for 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu

A few days ago I was surprised to find emails from DriveThruRPG in my inbox with links to free copies of three new products. As it turned out Mödiphiüs had just released an updated version of their Achtung! Cthulhu game for 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu, and as one of the original backers I was eligible for a free copy. The core rules consist of the Investigator’s Guide (a 128-paged PDF containing all the rules needed by the players) and the Keeper’s Guide (a 216-paged PDF with the background, new rules for WW2 combat, a bestiary, and everything else the GM needs to run this game).

Achtung! Cthulhu is – as the name implies – a Call of Cthulhu game set into World War 2. The horror of war and the atrocities of the Nazis are combined with Lovecraftian cosmic horror. The characters are Allied soldiers or agents of Allied services fighting both the Axis and the Mythos creatures weaponized by them. The setting also helps to solve one the issues that often crop up in Call of Cthulhu games: why should the investigators travel the world, risking their lives and their sanity, while at the same time jeopardizing their jobs and relationships? Delta Green solved the issue by making the investigators members of a government conspiracy. In Achtung! Cthulhu you’re playing the soldiers fighting a war. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to actually play Achtung! Cthulhu yet, but now I can at least do so with the latest iteration of the Call of Cthulhu rules. If you enjoy Lovecraftian Horror and have an interest in WW2, you definitely should check Achtung! Cthulhu out!

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While checking out the official Mödiphiüs site I was also reminded of Achtung! Cthulhu Skirmish, their tabletop miniatures game in the same setting. Miniature skirmish games have always been a mixed bag for me. I love playing those games, but I am not particularly good at them. They can also quickly become a huge money and time sink. I have to admit that Achtung! Cthulhu Skirmish looks quite tempting and the miniature prices are very reasonable. If you are into these kinds of games, you definitely should give it a look.

What are your thoughts on Achtung! Cthulhu? Have you actually played the RPG or the miniature game? Please share your comments below.

Some thoughts on Invisible Sun

A couple of days ago Monte Cook Games finally released their roleplaying game Invisible Sun in digital form. Until then the PDF version of the game was one of the exclusive Kickstarter backer perks. The digital edition not only contains multiple PDFs with over 1000 pages of text, but also countless cards in a printer-friendly format and handouts for all the props included with the physical version of the game. The price tag is at $99.


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This may sound a lot and quite a few people have been arguing that its way too much, but this is not the issue I am having with the game. Invisible Sun is a surreal fantasy game, a game in which characters wield unimaginable powers, a game which is supposed to change your perspective on what roleplaying games could be. This might to a certain extent be quite pretentious, and a bit of hyperbole, but the people who read or even played it, seem to like it a lot. So what’s the issue?

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My issue with the game is that aside from either getting the $99 digital copy or the $250 physical one (aka the Black Cube), I have no way to find out more about the game. Sure, I can watch the videos Monte Cook Games has uploaded to YouTube, or I can read one of the few reviews out there. Having a reasonably priced starter set or perhaps even some free quickstart rules would make it much easier to find out whether Invisible Sun is worth my money or not. With a game at such a high price tag, I just want to be really, really sure, that the game is for me.

Is the price itself fair? Undoubtedly so. Monte Cook Games creates awesome products and I never regretted putting down money for any of their books. Especially the physical copy of the game is probably quite cheap considering how much material you get. I’d love to get my hands on a copy, but at the moment, a $99 or $250 minimum to get into the game, just seems too much for me.

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By the way, I just noticed that Invisible Sun is actually the #1 best selling title on DriveThruRPG at this moment. I don’t know how this is measured, just by the sheer number of purchases or is the price factored in? Still, it’s pretty impressive.

What are your thoughts? Are you intrigued by Invisible Sun, but shy away from the high price tag? As always every comment is highly appreciated!

UPDATE: My friend Roberto aka Sunglar let me know that there’s actually a preview for Invisible Sun available for free on DriveThruRPG. I haven’t had the time yet to fully read it, but it seems to give a good overview on character creation, the magic system and some of the “fluff”.