The tabletop RPG studio responsible for Tales of Xadia: The Dragon Prince RPG has found a new home in Dire Wolf Digital, the publisher behind Pokémon TCG Online and Clank! Previous owner Fandom sold Cortex for an undisclosed amount as part of the company’s full divestment from the tabletop industry.
This is the second major sale of Fandom’s TRPG business, following the offload of digital toolset D&D Beyond to Dungeons & Dragons owner Hasbro in April of this year. Fandom seemingly wanted to be a mover and shaker in this industry after it acquired the rights to an official The Dragon Prince tabletop RPG and attached Cortex and its system to it.
Tales of Xadia then became the flagship for a suite of new digital tools and assets that would allow players to better take their campaigns to virtual tabletops. At the same time, Fandom released a pair of licences structuring third-party creations using Cortex, Tales of Xadia and any other licensed worlds.
We were laser focused on finding Cortex the right home with a company who would nurture and grow the business with a fan-first mindset. I’m confident we found that with Dire Wolf Digital,” said Michael Chiang, Fandom’s chief business officer in a press release. The Colorado-based publisher doesn’t have any tabletop RPG credits in its portfolio, but it is well versed in translating analogue games from the table to PCs and consoles. The Clank! series and Leder Games’ Root both enjoy popular digital versions, along with smaller titles such as Sagrada and Fox & the Forest.
Fandom explicitly mentions that this sale will not interrupt ongoing development on the already announced expansion for Tales of Xadia, The Sunfire Chronicle. The upcoming book will help bridge the gap between the animated television show’s third and fourth season, a storytelling space that creator Wonderstorm said they were happy to let Cortex define through its TRPG.
"We always knew the world of Xadia was too big to be explored through our series alone, and crafting Tales of Xadia alongside the Cortex team at Fandom has been a dream come true," said Justin Santistevan, Wonderstorm’s president and co-founder. “We're excited to embark on a new chapter with Dire Wolf Digital. Their experience and passion for tabletop games assures us Xadia is in good hands, and that 'The Sunfire Chronicle' will continue to engage and delight fans of the original TTRPG."
The press release doesn’t mention Legends of Grayskull: The Masters of the Universe Tabletop Roleplaying Game, which Cortex and Fandom were also developing together. It doesn’t explicitly say that the He-Man licence was not part of the deal, but the excessive focus on The Dragon Prince calls into question who owns it and whether upcoming TRPG will be indefinitely shelved. Dicebreaker has contacted Fandom and Cortex for more information.
Tales of Xadia won a 2021 ENnie Award for Best Family Game, and the digital toolset was nominated in 2022 in the Best Digital Aid/Accessory category. The Cortex System behind the title emphasises character traits as the tools players use to overcome challenges and solve narrative-focused encounters. Different sized dice are assigned to each trait, skill or personality quirk as a way of defining individual strengths and weaknesses. Creative director Cam Banks has been working in the tabletop space for over two decades.
Fandom’s exit from the tabletop industry feels about as sudden as its entry, leaving plenty of questions about what exactly the pop culture and media-focused company was hoping to achieve with Tales of Xadia. Marketing Lead Bart Vickers previously spoke with Dicebreaker about planning out three to five games in the future and gradually finding the best way to support the artists creating them. Now, Fandom has pulled out after barely developing a single title. Whether that’s cold feet or a genuine case of giving Cortex better stewardship remains an open question.