The Alien’s In, Metal Gear’s Out, and More of the Latest Gaming

Welcome back to Gaming Shelf, io9’s column all about board games and tabletop roleplaying games. This week, there’s bad news for fans of Solid Snake, good news for the fans of Xenomorphs, and downright weird news for the final days of Kickstarter’s third RPG Zine Quest event.

In the final hours of its RPG fundraiser highlight event Zine Quest 3 last month, Kickstarter VP Luke Crane—formerly the platform’s Head of Games—launched a campaign for The Perfect RPG, a zine collection of RPGs from 26 boardgame designers. While the campaign was quickly funded, Crane eventually pulled the project entirely due to widespread public criticism. It was revealed that multiple contributors exited Perfect RPG upon discovering that Dungeon World co-creator Adam Koebel had been added to the zine without their knowledge. As Dicebreaker reports, Koebel was removed from his position as a designer for player safety tools on Modiphius’ Dune: Adventures in the Imperium RPG in July 2020 after he roleplayed a sexual assault scenario with another tabletop player without their prior consent during a live stream of the actual play series Far Verona. The player left the series, which was canceled shortly afterward.

Crane’s decision to include Koebel came to the surprise of multiple of The Perfect RPG’s contributors, including Koebel’s former collaborator on Dungeon World, Sage LaTorra, who withdrew their involvement alleging that Crane did not make Koebel’s involvement known until The Perfect RPG’s Kickstarter went public. “We appreciate the support but we have decided to cancel the project as I can no longer offer you what was promised,” Crane wrote in the campaign’s single update post, locked to backers but shared on social media. “Many designers withdrew their support or were harassed to withdraw due to my including Adam Koebel as a designer of one of these games. We will not relaunch or republish in a different format.” Kickstarter itself has not released a statement on Crane’s actions or the promotion of The Perfect RPG during Zine Quest 3.

Ravensburger’s push into licensed tabletop territory has already given us the likes of the excellent Disney Villainous, but now the company is going for baddies of an altogether more sinister sort with a new Alien board game. Designed by Scott Rogers and developed by Steve Warner, Fate of the Nostromo is a 1-5 player co-operative game casting players as various members of the famous crew—Ripley, Lambert, Parker, Brett, and Dallas—as they try to survive the Xenomorph stalking the shadows. Each character has unique gameplay skills that help the team craft materials, gather scrap, and fight through objectives while trying to keep their morale high enough to survive chance encounters with their alien frenemy. Fate of the Nostromo is set to release in August 2021.

Previously announced by the gaming side of the comics publisher in 2018, the long-delayed board game take on Hideo Kojima’s iconic tactical espionage action video game/extended cutscene simulator Metal Gear Solid is no longer moving forward…at IDW, at least. Announced late last month by designer Emerson Matsuuchi on BoardGameGeek, IDW allowed the rights to the design of the game back to Matsuuchi in early 2021, who is now hoping the help of “a bonafide expert in licensing and has connections with Konami” to potentially keep the game alive in some manner.

Fantasy Flight Games has revealed the latest expansion to its Arkham Horror tabletop series, Secrets of the Order. Set in Arkham’s French Hill neighborhood, Secrets of the Order will let players venture through three new scenarios in the city’s oldest districts. With new allies like occult scientist Agatha Crane, stalwart soldier Mark Harrigan, and top pilot Winifred Habbamock as playable characters, Secrets of the Order sees participants hunting down shrouded occult foes as they try to stop sinister forces from bringing the madness of the Underworld into reality. The $40 set will release later this year.

Batman’s back, back again, and this time Cryptozoic is taking the Dark Knight to one of his most iconic comic storylines ever. The Dark Knight Returns—The Game sees 1-2 players (although it’s primarily billed as a solo experience) pit Batman in an endurance test to survive, taking on individual missions inspired by the events of the comic, played as either standalone skirmishes or as an ongoing campaign with ramifications rolling from one adventure into the next. A $60 pledge will get you the base game with everything needed to play, while a $99 pledge offers over 17 bonus plastic miniatures to use instead of the provided standees. Shipping is set to begin in December 2021.

It’s easy to get into playing TTRPGs in this day and age, but the act of developing a character with complex motivations, a deep backstory, and a personality that doesn’t necessarily align with your own can be a daunting task even for seasoned veterans.

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