Wednesday, October 20, 2021

TSR Con 2022 is Now the Same Weekend as Gary Con - March 24-27, 2022

Late this afternoon, the above convention flyer was shared by TSR CON on the TSR CON Facebook page (and elsewhere on Facebook).

Note, the venue is no longer Horticultural Hall but the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum. This should lower expenses for the convention itself, as LaNassa owns the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum. It is unclear how much attendance will cost and the maximum occupancy of the venue is not currently stated.

Also note, the timing is no longer the 4th of July weekend (July 1-3, 2022) but the same weekend as Gary Con (March 24-27, 2022). The timing is NOT coincidental and appears to be an attempt to piggyback off of Gary Con and the convention attendees. 

I've heard rumors from multiple sources that LaNassa was attempting to get paid by Gary Con for the use of the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum and was rebuffed. I've also heard that the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum had requested that Gary Con provide free shuttle service from Gary Con to the museum and the museum was rebuffed.

As an observation, this is the first time in my recollection that a gaming convention has announced dates and a venue location to coincide with an established convention.

For reference, the original flyer with the original date is still available on the TSR CON Facebook page. It is reproduced here for ease of reference.

It appears TSR CON has gained a sponsor (Smugglers Coffee). Now, only three out of five sponsors are entities owned by Justin LaNassa.

Note, Smugglers Coffee has a website and it appears gamers are behind the brand. I'm not a coffee drinker, but maybe you are. If so, here's the link for Smugglers Coffee.



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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Astral Virtual Table Top to Cease Active Development - Cites Competitive Landscape in Near Future as a Reason

There are certainly a large number of Virtual Table Tops in the market right now. The big two are likely Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds, with Foundry and Owlbear Rodeo as the likely second tier of choices. Astral is owned by OneBookShelf, and likely had a budget that enabled it to be competitive in its offered features.

Here's the text of the announcement (with some commentary from your favorite bartender):

Astral TableTop was created by Tom Lackemann and began its life as PowerVTT in 2017 with the simple goal of creating a virtual tabletop software that was actually easy to learn and use.

Over the years, largely thanks to feedback and engagement of its community, Astral grew to become the VTT of choice for hundreds of thousands of tabletop RPG players. Unfortunately, even with the growth that Astral has experienced, it has not attracted an audience large enough to be a thriving business. With the landscape for VTT’s looking to become even more competitive in the near future, Astral’s founder Tom has decided to retire from Astral TableTop to pursue other ventures. (emphasis mine) Fear not, however – Astral TableTop will not be going away just yet. Even though it will no longer be in active development, Astral will continue to live on as it currently is into the foreseeable future (note - this "life" is not a defined length, and can change at any moment). OneBookShelf, the parent company of DriveThruRPG, partnered with Tom on Astral TableTop and will be continuing to oversee and maintain Astral’s current services even after his departure.

Should OneBookShelf need to close down the Astral TableTop service completely at some point in the future, it will provide as much notice as possible to give everyone time to close or migrate their campaigns to another platform (I'd expect minimal notification. the facvt that this is mentioned tells you they are already planning to shut down the service). The creation of something like Astral TableTop was a dream for all of the members of the team, as well as the countless community members who dedicated their time and care to help build this TTRPG platform we all love so much. We are eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of your tabletop gaming adventures over these last 4 years. Forever, Your Astral Allies (edited)

There will be a few notable changes:

Astral’s Marketplace will be closing so no new items will be able to be purchased, but you will still have access to all items already in your Astral Vault and you will continue to be able to upload assets to your Vault.

Yearly Subscription options will be removed and new, lower-cost Monthly Subscription options will be taking their place: - Gold Subscription - $5.99 per month - Platinum Subscription - $9.99 per month ​(no yearly subscriptions likely means the estimated life left is a year or less)

Any time remaining on prepaid subscriptions will be credited to your account and automatically rolled over into the new, lower-cost, monthly subscription plans. No action is needed on your part!

"With the landscape for VTT’s looking to become even more competitive in the near future" - I think this is a reference to the VTT WotC is rumored to be working on. If it is referring to such, I would assume an official announcement will be sooner than later.


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Monday, October 18, 2021

Can Freelancers Strike? Paizo Freelancers are Exerting a "Job Action" and withholding Submission of Projects

Paizo Freelancers started a "Job Action" in September, and 40 of them stopped submitting completed material to Paizo. At the moment, all they are asking for is recognition of the Paiz Workers Union, which WON'T be in a position to directly support them as freelancers.

Here are the tweets with the details from the Starfinder and Pathfinder's Senior Line Developer:

Today I want to shine a spotlight on UPW’s secret weapon: freelancers. Paizo’s freelancers are our ally in this fight and we’re helping each other. Here’s how:

Paizo’s business model is built on freelancers. Very few of the words in our publications are written in-house by full time employees on the clock. Instead, we outline projects, hire freelancers to execute those outlines, and develop and edit those manuscripts.

This allows a relatively small number of people (about 35, including art directors, editors, designers, developers, and more) to produce, well, everything. Have you seen our publication schedule lately? It’s LONG. And Paizo must publish new books to pay its bills.

Well, about a month ago, about 40 of Paizo’s most reliable, prolific, and skilled freelancers simply stopped working. In official parlance, this is called “concerted action.” In layman’s terms, it’s a strike without a union.

Some of these freelancers were in the middle of projects, with upcoming deadlines. Some of them had completed manuscripts they refused to turn over. Some were people we need to hire, to get scheduled books underway in time to publish. All of that FROZE.

Folks, Paizo can’t operate in that environment. We can’t just assign 10,000 word Org Play scenarios, 35,000 word SF adventures, 50,000 word P2 adventures to new, untested freelancers. And for many projects, it’s too late in the schedule to do that anyway.

Now, this group of freelancers had a specific list of demands. They wanted Paizo to hire a diversity officer, for example, and investigate recent terminations. But yesterday, they updated their demands: they’ll all come back to work if Paizo recognizes United Paizo Workers.

This is an enormous lever, and we at UPW are incredibly grateful to have it. Paizo can’t make its publication schedule without freelancers, and it can’t pay exec salaries without publications. But if they recognize our union, freelancers come back to work TOMORROW.

Sure, yes, contract negotiations will be long and trying for all involved. But Paizo will still get books out the door, it’ll be able to make its commitments and pay its bills and salaries. And during contract negotiation, we, the people who hire freelancers, can pay back.

In contract negotiation, we can fight for better pay rates for freelancers. We can get more time in the schedule, so writers have time to do their job right. We can get playtesting built into these schedules, which not only helps freelancers but creates better books.

Paizo’s freelancers and United Paizo Workers are working hand in hand. And I am so grateful, honored, and humbled to have that partnership.


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