Let’s skip right to the big question from this week’s news: should a Dungeons & Dragons druid turn into an owlbear? The age-old battle of lore vs. Rule of Cool took center stage this week as fans got a first look at the upcoming D&D movie. And as the world’s most well known tabletop RPG continues its move into the mainstream, other RPGs are hopping on the 5e train.
Druids CAN Turn Into Owlbears, If Your DM Is Nice
The TTRPG news that has everyone talking is of course the first trailer for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. The use of classic rock with plenty of action shots and quippy heroes gives off a Guardians of the Galaxy vibe, and most D&D fans seem to be into it. One thing that seems to capture most viewers’ attention is the incorporation of classic D&D monsters. Displacer beasts, mimics, and acid-spitting black dragons look great so far, as does an owlbear that plays a major role in one character introduction.
The trailer shows the druid character transforming into an owlbear to do battle, something many have joked isn’t actually possible under current D&D rules. Owlbears are technically a “monstrosity” due to their unnatural creation and not a “beast.” Of course, TTRPG Twitter is having more fun criticizing the idea that anyone would criticize the idea of a druid becoming an owlbear. Does that require a whole day’s worth of discourse? Not really, but here we are. If anyone is wondering, WotC's own Chris Perkins says he’d allow druids to turn into an owlbear.
Fantasy Role-Playing Is Under Public Scrutiny Again… Sort Of
Stranger Things recently served as a reminder of the “Satanic Panic”, a time when public opinion cast fantasy role-playing games as societal evil. Such games were seen as a sad escape from reality at best, and a demonic cult at worst. Now, a recent article on Christianity Today is invoking that decades-old panic. Well, in a manner of speaking.
Many TTRPG fans on social media are pointing to the article’s headline “Fantasy Role-Playing Is Hurting America” as a renewed attack on our beloved hobby. The piece itself aims to draw a comparison to how many youths of today are radicalized by the way institutions have failed them. They construct a fantasy about how they’d be tougher and more successful if the world was how they want it to be. And many far-right groups prey upon this fantasy to recruit new members. In that way, the author posits, current fantasies are more dangerous than the fun-oriented ones brought forth by RPGs.
Is invoking the Satanic Panic on a Christian website the best way to make this very salient point? Or does it further divide two groups who really don’t need to be at odds? Maybe the owlbear argument is a better way to use Twitter, after all.
Doctor Who And Legend Of The Five Rings Make The Jump To 5e
A few months ago, Paizo made the surprising announcement that it would adapt the Pathfinder adventure Abomination Vaults into the 5e rules system. While some claimed it was the death of Pathfinder, Paizo intends it more as a way to reach a wider audience. The move seems to be a smart one, as now two other big names are releasing 5e adaptations.
Cubicle 7 calls their take Doctors and Daleks, and it’s available now. The PDF is $30, and the hardcover is set to release next year. In true Doctor Who fashion, the game replaces hit points with Plot Points. The gameplay seeks to use 5e’s systems to move away from combat into storytelling. Characters don’t die or go unconscious, rather they are forced to exit the scene when their Plot Points run out. Similarly, characters do damage with quips or heal each other with emotional bonding rather than sling fireballs.
Legend of the Five Rings will hit 5e on August 5 with Adventures in Rokugan. This core book will bring classic dungeon delving and monster slaying to the samurai setting with new lore that introduces the world to new players. This new take will emphasize legend and heroics over the conflicts of politics and duty that L5R usually explores. The hardcover will be $44.99. A Game Master’s Kit is set to be released later in the year.