Cardboard Cinema: Batman, Broadway, And The Best Of Tabletop Journalism

Welcome to Cardboard Cinema, an ongoing series where we look at tabletop news for the distinguished film- and television-lover. 

When you weren't paying attention, the calendar skipped ahead to July. Since the sun is doing its usual bang-up job of trying to kill us, this is an excellent month to spend your time as close to an A/C unit as possible. Stay indoors, and play tabletop games. It's the only way to protect your skin.

We've got a bunch of fun tabletop items in this month's Cardboard Cinema roundup. From yet-another "Batman" title — this one in augmented reality! — to a special "Dungeons & Dragons" actual play with a handful of Broadway stars, even the dog days of summer still bring their fair share of things to anticipate. So grab your phone, swing open that freezer door, and catch up on tabletop news for movie lovers from the comfort of your icebox.

Wyrd Science announces a horror issue

Because the board game boom has coincided with the rise of video content, it can sometimes feel like the best tabletop journalism is video-focused. And if you're like me, that's kind of a bummer. I don't mean that as a knock on video creators — I have a few YouTube channels on my Patreon subscription list — but my preferred form of media is and always will be the written word. I'd rather read an interview than watch an interview, so the vast wealth of YouTube content is wasted on me.

Thankfully, there are a few high-quality publications out there doing their best to prove me wrong. While "Senet Magazine" is a new-old favorite, I was recently introduced to "Wyrd Science" thanks to its horror-themed third issue. The publication — which includes writers and artists from all sides of the tabletop space — offers 100-plus pages of journalism that I can read and digest at my pleasure.

And because the third issue focuses on horror, I know it will interest tabletop horror fans like me. According to the "Wyrd Science" Kickstarter page, articles will include an essay on sanity as a mechanic in horror RPGs, the continued influence of H.P. Lovecraft on the tabletop community, and even a piece on the creator of "Blurred Lines," a giallo-based RPG I plan to write about in the future. That's a lot of spooky stuff for not a lot of money. My order has already been placed.

Silent RPG Alice Is Missing goes Hollywood

If you've kept an eye on board game coverage at /Film, then you know we are big fans of "Alice Is Missing," a one-shot roleplaying game designed to be played entirely through text messages. So we were all a little surprised — and more than a little excited — to learn that "Alice Is Missing" is turning its signature blend of small-town unhappiness and high school investigation into a feature film.

To adapt the game, Paramount is partnering game creator Spenser Starke with writer-filmmaker Becca Gleason. Gleason made her big-screen debut with "Summer '03," a Joey King coming-of-age comedy released in 2018. Before that, Gleason wrote and directed the web series "The Commute," another YA-focused narrative about a summer friendship-turned-romance. If you're going to make a movie about teenagers, it's not a bad idea to hire someone who has spent a lot of time writing for the audience, and Gleason checks that box and then some.

If you'd like to learn more about the game "Alice Is Missing" — or are wondering how a silent RPG will translate to screen — we've got you covered. Back in May, I reviewed the game, highlighting some of the unique mechanics and storytelling devices that combine to make "Alice" such an immersive experience. And after the movie adaptation was announced, I jotted down a few thoughts on what we'd like to see in the film, including a Screenlife-style approach to the material.

Broadway Does D&D drops first trailer

If you thought the closest you'll ever get to a Broadway and "Dungeons & Dragons" crossover is a special "Oops! All Bards!" session of your homebrew campaign, think again. The rising popularity of tabletop roleplaying games has met its match in the musical theater industry, with an off-Broadway show ("Here There Be Dragons") wrapping up a summer run this month in New York City. And for those who don't live in the Big Apple, there's "Broadway Does D&D," a new actual play podcast scheduled to release sometime this fall.

Much like their name suggests, actual play podcasts are recordings of tabletop sessions, blurring the lines between group improv and radio dramas. As the trailer for "Broadway Does D&D" indicates, the first run of this show will include Broadway stars Anthony Rapp, Nik Walker, LaChanze, and Peppermint. The campaign will be run by fellow musical theater performer Eugenio Vargas, whose "D&D" actual play podcast "The Last Refuge" has produced over 200 episodes.

While the show's initial run seems to be audio-only — meaning no video streams for those of you who prefer that kind of thing — not much else is known about the future of the campaign. That said, gathering a group of award-winning Broadway performers together for an actual play podcast without throwing a few songs into the mix seems like a crime against humanity, so fingers crossed that "Broadway Does D&D" will break open the songbook at least once.

Hunt the Joker in The Arkham Asylum Files

Last month, we wrote about the new "Batman" board game expansion and RPG. At the time, it seemed that publisher Monolith had given us every possible version of a tabletop "Batman" adventure. But we might have spoken just a little too soon — it turns out that there was one more "Batman" adventure left to pursue, which comes in the form of the augmented reality "Batman: The Arkham Asylum Files" from publisher Infinite Rabbit Holes.

This series provides players with an augmented reality experience. Through a combination of physical elements and the publisher's proprietary app, players engage in a tabletop-sized escape room, using clues to unlock new parts of the board. Infinite Rabbit Holes claims that each adventure will take players "hours" to finish, and their team has developed 40-plus minutes of animation and live-action video to make the experience even more immersive. You can even watch a complete video walkthrough of the first episode to see the elements in action.

According to Kickstarter, the team behind this project includes veterans of video games, augmented reality, and even a few theme park developers. While the price point on the game — ranging from $149 for the first episode to $432 for all three bundles — is a little daunting for a one-time experience, the promise of augmented reality will still be a tremendous hook for those looking to push the needle. The game might even be a price-neutral, at-home escape room experience for the larger tabletop families out there.