News from Around the Net: 8-JUL-2011

The summer is going by fast, isn’t it? Hard to believe there’s only a little more than a month before my daughters go back to school!

That said, I finally had an opportunity to sit down and start a mini-campaign with them this week. We started using the Dungeonslayers rules and have been working our way through the one-page-dungeon “Lord of the Rats” included in the core book. My eldest is playing a wizard and my youngest a thief and between the two of them, they got through the first two rooms of the adventure and vanquished ten rats along the way. What was my favorite part? The fact that my youngest daughter was suffering from bad die rolls all night – the family curse continues!!

My goal is to have the first session summary up next week sometime if at all possible. Long story short, we had a great time and I hope to get my wife involved next… [insert evil laughter here]

Now – on to the week’s links!

Food for Thought

  • Boredom. Some people battle it on a daily basis. I find that my life is so busy I hardly have time to consider it. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not boring other people… It’s
    the bane of all bloggers at one point or another – losing your readers. I’m certainly guilty of it. But how do you defeat that form of boredom? Check out this great article at ProBlogger by Jocelyn Anne for some great ideas. I love the idea of pen names and trying out a new “voice” a week… Perhaps The Gassy Gnoll needs a companion?
  • Do you use real history in your games? Paco Garcia Jaen at G*M*S Magazine does, and he seems to be running into some issues with players confusing reality with what’s going on in-game. Currency exchange? Really? A player wants to complain about the exchange rate? Obviously things all the minutiae of daily life needs to be glossed over in-game to some degree – nobody really wants to roleplay things like brushing their teeth, do they? I vote for bending things to simplify the minutiae so you can focus on the larger aspects of story, but maybe I’m in the minority here?
  • Maybe you don’t use real history in your fantasy RPGs, but instead rely on myths and legends to help populate your GM’s paint box? Well, the guys at DungeonsNDragons have been putting out some great articles about the dragons of legend, going all the way back to medieval history and the stories about the Welsh Red Dragon – y Ddraig Goch. Check out the first part here and the latest article here. I’m impressed with the level of detail and appreciate the definite food for thought!
  • With little artistic skill myself, I’m simply in awe of great artists. J Lonnee was spotlighted this week at Nevermet Press with some of the art he’s done drawing “monsters and robots” for publishers in the gaming industry. From the time he started working for Wizkids, he’s been putting out great art for folks. Be sure to check it out!
  • How many of you know who Tony DiTerlizzi is? Show of hands? Ok, probably it’s just parents who know his work – he’s been involved with many great kid’s books over the last 10 years or more – Spiderwick Chronicles chief among them (why hasn’t anybody created a kid’s RPG for that property yet?). Well, he’s a great artist – and I had no idea he dabbled in 1st Edition D&D many moons ago. But check out these awesome old-school character sheets (at the bottom of the linked post)…

Games and Gaming

  • Even before I started gaming with my daughters, I was preparing them for being gamers. So it’s great to see an entire blog devoted to the topic of gaming as a family at Growing Up Gamers. A couple of weeks ago they had a great article on “5 Signs Your Kids Might Be Growing Up Gamers!” Does it count that my daughters have been designing monsters for me already?
  • With the success of the many charitable donation drives led by the OneBookShelf folks, it’s obvious that we as gamers are a giving lot. So why not donate game material to share with those less fortunate? Tyler at Held Action asks if there are any US-based equivalents to the “Kids Need to Game” project in Denmark. Anybody know of any? I have books I’d happily donate to help…
  • This week, Jonathan Jacobs at Nevermet Press kicked off the new RPG Blog Carnival topic for July – Bad Ass Gaming. And yes, the game BADASS came up, so I was happy. What makes a game “Bad Ass”? You’ll see my answer on the topic sometime in the next couple of weeks, but I’ll be extremely curious to see what other folks come up with! Be sure and get your own opinions heard and toss your article links in the carnival post comments.
  • Skills. We have them. Our characters have them. And yet, getting them just right in a RPG is always a challenge. In “The Anatomy of a Skill,” Da’ Vane offers an amazing amount of detail on the work she’s been doing on skills for D-Jumpers. Check it out to see how she’s reconciling differences big and small as she pulls her lists together. I love this kind of behind-the-scenes game design discussion!
  • Do you ever ponder some of the classic adventure modules like The Tomb of Horrors or The Temple of Elemental Evil? In an age where D&D seems to be reinvented every few years, these oldies but goodies seem like they are almost from a different age. But ObsidianCrane at Daily Encounter poses an interesting question – Where are the new classics? Can we help publishers shape new classics for 4E and Pathfinder? Perhaps…
  • A few weeks ago I linked to an article from new GM Paul Millen at Gaming Daily documenting his first attempts at GMing a Deathwatch tabletop RPG campaign. Well, he’s back with a long update detailing what’s happened since. It seems like they’re having quite the adventure and enjoying the narrative nature of tabletop roleplaying!
  • Have you considered GMing, but are afraid you don’t know enough to get started? Check out Garry Stahl’s article “Basic GMing Rules” at Roleplaying Tips for some suggestions. These are common sense, but it’s nice to see someone write them down for a change…
  • Do you know a GM who wants to be interviewed? You should let Johnn know at Roleplaying Tips! He’s been running some great interviews with GMs lately, including a new one about Chris Rheinherren. Chris runs his games on IRC, something that I’ve been considering recently myself – so I’d better go read this interview for a few pointers…
  • How often do characters die in your campaigns? Do you often do crazy things simply because you know your character will eventually be resurrected or raised by a friendly cleric? What if you couldn’t come back? Would that change your tune? Matthew J. Brenner at Blood, Sweat, and Dice says playing where “dead means dead” has made a profound difference in his campaign. It would certainly make me think twice before doing something really dumb!
  • Support characters aren’t the only ones sitting in the back. What about the charismatic diplomats and other characters whose roles fit better into diplomacy than in combat. Ladymedieval at More Than Dice has “Some Thoughts about Combat Ineffective Characters.”+ I think the lesson to be learned is to make sure you can offer SOME kind of of help in combat, even if your focus is elsewhere.

Publisher News

  • Raging Swan Press has just released Wererats of the Roach-Run Sewers, written by Landon Bellavia! In the sewers beneath busy city streets, wererats are scheming. And that’s never a good thing for the PCs… But it’s great for you! Raging Swan is so confident you’ll like the supplement, it has a money-back guarantee. Based on other products from Raging Swan, I don’t think they have much to worry about! Check it out at target="_blank">RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, and a few other retailers…
  • Meanwhile, over at 6d6 RPG – the 6d6 Core Rules and Outbreak! books are finally available for purchase! Chris Tregenza has been tightening, tweaking, and editing these rules for the last several months and I look forward to checking out the Core Rules book soon. And who doesn’t like a good zombie outbreak!? Check them both out at the 6d6 RPG site for more information!
  • Chaosium has announced a beautiful, huge, leatherette-bound edition of the Call of Cthulhu for the game’s 30 year anniversary. Hard to believe it’s been 30 years, but I seem to recall playing in college and enjoying being spooked to death. If I remember right, my character went insane with a Tommy Gun in his hands and murdered his entire party with a gleam in his eye… Ah yes, madness! Preorder your copy today!
  • And of course White Wolf has been working on the 20th Anniversary Edition of Vampire the Masquerade as well! It’s finally available for preorder as well, but only through today! Considering that I played VtM about 18 years ago, I’m feeling old… Anybody else?
  • If you’re looking for some podcasts to pass the time, why not check out the latest from Obsidian Portal and Critical Hits… Both are chock-full of gaming goodness and plenty of things to consider for your own games!

Reviews

  • Jay Steven Anyong (pointyman2000) isn’t just a gamer and a game designer – he also spends time exploring other games to see how they are played and put together. I’ve not heard of Part-Time Gods by Third Eye Games, but the concept of playing a godling is definitely intriguing. Novelists like Brandon Sanderson (Warbreaker) and Neil Gaiman (American Gods) have explored this through fiction and many myths are filled with the stories of demigods like Hercules and Perseus. Jay explores Part-Time Gods and recommends it as an urban fantasy take on godlings with a little of everything you might need…
  • Those gnomes at Gnome Stew have been working overtime to get Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game ready to release and it’s finally available for preorder! Stargazer over at Stargazer’s World snagged an early review copy and now I want to see this book even more than before!
  • Are you looking for a new family-safe board game? Check out Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, created by Daniel Solis and published by Evil Hat Productions. This sort of collaborative story-telling game is great to get kids using and stretching their imaginations. And it’s a great way for families to spend some fun game time together! Ben’s review at Troll in the Corner has led me to put this game on my list for Christmas already…
  • GRRM’s A Dance with Dragons is almost upon us (FINALLY!)… I’m not sure whether I should be relieved or scared. Jo Walton at TOR offers some spoiler-free thoughts on the book (due out July 12 – mine’s on preorder). Sounds like it’s going to be one I’ll definitely need to read and maybe Martin is actually heading towards the end… maybe? Are you looking forward to this book or are you already burned out on the series?
  • I reviewed Matt James’ Soldiers of Fortune a while back, but it’s still garnering praise from all over the internet. This review popped up at the online fantasy mag Realms of Fantasy reiterating what we already knew – it’s an awesome book!

Tools

  • Inspiration can be hard to come by some days, but The Jovial Priest has found a great place to look for some: Charles Ffoulkes’ Armour and Weapons (Oxford 1909). Ever heard of it? Me either! And yet… courtesy of TJP’s link, I found some food for thought for weapons, armor, design elements, and who the heck knows what else? It’s a small gold mine!
  • H.P. Lovecraft. Love him or hate him, he introduced much of what I think of as “horror” in his stories. Smileyman put together a quick list on Reddit of 20 horror elements you can add to your own games from Lovecraft’s stories. All 20 are inspirational – like having the gargoyle guarding an ancient church found with blood in its mouth and a dead body nearby. Or a statue or idol in a museum that moves sometimes without warning. Great ways to throw your players off a bit if they’re perceptive enough to notice…
  • Are you looking for some art to include in a book? How about some free, vintage illustrations from scientific and naturalist periodicals from the last century? These are out-of-copyright illustrations from periodicals from all over. Why not take a look and see what you can reuse at Vintage Printable?
  • Have you considered freelance writing for pay? (I have, but I’ve got my hands full already with Game Knight Reviews these days!) Though “Tips for Aspiring Geeky Writers” by Rollin Bishop at Geekosystem is meant more for the technology crowd, I think all of the points made definitely apply to the RPG hobby at large. Knowing your audience and making sure you have your ducks in a row (primary research) shoudl be mandatory in any kind of writing you do!
  • However, a few weeks ago Robert J. Schwalb at his blog tries to dissuade you from trying your hand at freelancing. It’s hard. It doesn’t pay well. And there aren’t that many places left accepting submissions these days. But beyond that, everything’s all wine and roses I’m sure…

That’s it for this week – I hope everybody has a great weekend!

As always, if you feel I missed something (and it would be impossible NOT to), drop me a quick note via my contact page and I’ll add it to the list for next week!

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