News from Around the Net: 12-AUG-2011

Do you hear that? Those are the moans and groans of students around the world realizing that school is going to start soon (or already has) for the Fall. And beneath all that noise is the contented sighs of parents (many, not all) silently thanking the universe. Amazingly enough, I am both happy and unhappy that my girls are going back to school because it means they’re getting older (and therefore I must be too)! Time marches on…

RPG Showdown by David Szilagyi

But if that noise wasn’t enough for you, there were the moans of the thousands of gamers returning home after Gen Con… Apparently there were more than 36,000 unique attendees this year participating in gaming events at Gen Con Indy 2011 over the four days of the con. That’s simply an insane number of people. And yet somehow I’m jealous enough I didn’t get to go that I’m already planning for next year!

If you’ll notice, there’s a new picture for these Friday link collections from artist David Szilagyi. I think he captured the constant movement of RPG genres and links beautifully in this image! So thanks David!

And lastly, because there were so many announcements out of Gen Con this year, I’m going to add a new category today specifically for Gen Con…

On to the news!

Gen Con

  • If you weren’t able to attend this year, be sure you listen to all the great content at This Just In… From Gen Con! Daniel M. Perez and Rich Rogers did a great job of capturing some of the high points of the con and found some awesome guests along the way.
  • Wayne at The Sages of RPG blog offered some initial impressions on day one of the con – hopefully we’ll see more, as I love hearing about new games. Food Fight and some of the other games he mentions sound great!
  • Of course the fact that Margaret Weis Productions acquired the rights to the Marvel Universe RPG license was huge news at the con. Even MTV had to mention it!
  • Zachary Houghton at RPG Blog II had all sorts of posts from the con with pictures! Day 1 and Day 1 part 2, Day 2 and Day 2 part 2, Day 3 and Day 3 part 2, Day 4, and his Gen Con “haul”. Quite honestly, I love the TJIFGC podcast, but I live for pictures. And it’s awesome to hear that Kevin Siembada of Palladium Books is out among his fans again – Palladium has had some rough years, but I have a lot of Palladium books and tons of great memories of playing Palladium games!
  • Michael at Online Dungeon Master also went all out documenting his Gen Con experience this year. (BTW – I had no idea he worked in Denver until I checked out his About page today. Since I’m in C. Springs we should get together to chat at some point!) He was extremely thorough, from talking about the Will Call line the day before the con to his final thoughts afterwards… Sounds like he had an awesome time – and his post on the D&D New Products Seminar is amazingly detailed!
  • Gen Con

    Image via Wikipedia

    For more on that D&D New Products Seminar, check out the Tome Show’s GenCon special #3… (But don’t miss the RnD Seminar, Adventure Design Seminar, Monster Design Seminar, Art of the DM seminar, or DnD LIVE!.

  • The folks from Obsidian Portal weren’t sitting idle either – they’ve released a couple of awesome videos of panel discussions at Gen Con. One on managing your campaign with a wiki and one about how how technology is changing RPGs. As a technology guy, I love learning more about how to use tools or what tools are coming up… Anything that helps get folks together to game has to be a good thing, right? :)
  • Robin D. Laws seems to have done amazingly well with Ashen Stars and his other games at the Pelgrane booth And I love hearing that buzzword bingo isn’t just one of those things I play in meetings as a software engineer!
  • Michael Tresca, you seem to be everywhere these days! Be sure to check out his interview with Laura Tommervik about Neverwinter and some of the other cool projects going on at WotC. I love that Neverwinter is getting some TLC again for the tabletop. It’s such a rich setting!
  • But that’s not all from Michael Tresca – his ENnies in Review article offers a cool behind-the-scenes perspective of the awards at the con. Very cool!
  • For a few photos of some cool stuff at the con, from statues and games to folks in elaborate costumes, check out the posts at ICv2 – part 1, part 2, and part 3. Definitely more talented folks than I are at work on those art pieces and costumes!
  • If you’re looking for more of the amazing seminars at Gen Con, be sure to check out this page at Genesis of Legend Publishing. I may be listening to all of these podcasts for the rest of the year to catch up!
  • Speaking of Neverwinter, have you heard about the upcoming Facebook game called Heroes of Neverwinter (thanks Gamers Daily News!)? That’s all I need – a new addiction. I think I’ll wait until Skyrim is released in November. :)

Food for Thought

  • How big a LARP can one country host? How about 7,000 people at once in Germany!
  • I know this video of Allie Goertz singing “Tonight (D&D Song” has made its rounds on the internet… But I have to say I found it hauntingly appealing! Check it out here and see what you think.
  • Is killing a character in game the same as killing one in a novel? Not quite, but I think Susan J. Morris at Omnivoracious has some good pointers that apply to GMs just as well as writers. If it’s not the right time for a PC to die, it’s good to have a few predefined ways of saving a character should it come to pass… If not, there’s always the friendly passing god or random lightning strike!
  • Have you ever wondered what a meteor shower sounds like? Me either – but it’s kind of scary. Check out this article on Discover Magazine’s site from Phil Plait about listening to the radio waves generated by meteors as they streak across the sky. I couldn’t help but think the meteor sounds would be awesome in a sci-fi campaign as background noise!
  • Thinking of starting to write for RPG companies? You really need to read Wolfgang Baur’s article about freelancing. Five critical things to keep in mind before you make the leap.

Games and Gaming

  • Have you ever had a night where all you did was combat in a RPG session? I have. And I like a bit of balance, maybe even 60/40 roleplaying to combat. But I’ve definitely had those nights of “never-ending combat” that Connie Thomson at Geek’s Dream Girl talks about. I totally agree that fudging the dice now and then is totally appropriate as a GM to keep things moving!
  • Or maybe you like your adventures a bit more on the fly? I’ve run my share of these. Sometimes they work and sometimes they suck. Mike at Campaign Mastery has some amazing notes on how to make it actually work more smoothly. What a concept!
  • I love being reminded of all the monsters I’ve faced in my gaming career… Collections of monsters and demons with great pictures are awesome for inspiration. Check out this list at ThumbPress.
  • Along the same lines, I have a soft spot for Orcus. If you ever want to learn more about the big guy with the wand, check out the Forgotten Realms Wiki to bone up on his past. And there are some great pictures as well!

Publisher News

Reviews

  • Where exactly would someone bury a Purple Worm? They have the answer at Planet Algol – The Purple Worm Graveyard by Tony Dowler! Concise and creepy are two words I like to see used together to describe a product!
  • Monty Python and The Holy Grail group

    Image by Cryptonaut via Flickr

    Who knew something like this existed? What exactly is an “UnSourcebook”? Apparently it’s an “Unofficial Sourcebook”! (And this is how words are born.) The Monty Python and the Holy Grail UnSourcebook is for RoShamBo and Alexander Pope at Fustians So Sublimely Bad offers a description of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch to make his point that I must rush out and order this book forthwith…

  • G*M*S Magazine always reviews such cool stuff. Paco Garcia Jaen offers his playtest notes after playing Guards! Guards!, a game from Back Spindle Games based in Terry Pratchet’s Discworld. Besides the fact that Paco liked the game, I think that with Z-Man releasing it says volumes for it before it’s even commercially available!
  • I find that it’s very hard to go wrong with any product from Open Design, but I’m always pleased when other bloggers tend to think the same thing. Satyre over at Fame & Fortune recently reviewed the Midgard Bestiary, volume 1 and he gave it a solid 5 beasts (out of 5 I hope!)!
  • Satyre continues the trend with a “5 kobolds” review of Kobold Quarterly 18… and of Streets of Zobeck I can hardly wait to crack these virtual pages!
  • A two hundred+ megabyte PDF? Of monsters? Now that’s a beast! Buddy at Troll in the Corner has reviewed the Pathfinder Edition of Tome of Horrors Complete from Necromancer Games. This thing is huge! And apparently it has things to haunt your players with… And well it should at 800 pages and 750 statblocks! Should you pick it up? Buddy says yes!
  • Though I’ve had a brothel in some of my game worlds, it’s not one of those things I feature. But xTamsynx at Femme Gamer suggests that sex still sells in RPGs. She reviews a game called Courtesans from Postmortem Studios where the object seems to be more about gathering influence and favor than wealth or battle experience. Somehow I bet I’d learn something new and different by playing, but would be quite uncomfortable doing it. :)

Tools

  • As someone who has been spending far too much time reading PDFs on my iPad 2 lately, I can appreciate Tenkar’s concerns over what some e-publishers are doing putting their products out in epub format as well as PDF… What do you think? Would you rather
    read a PDF than an epub? I definitely would.
  • Oooh! New geomorphs! Check out this sneak peek from Matt Jackson at Lapsus Calumni. These tiles look sweet!
  • Maps are a necessary part of most games, but printing them can actually be a pain. Never fear – the NewbieDM offers a tutorial on how to reproduce one of the maps from images in modules to make them actually usable as 1″ scale for the game table!
  • I’ve been considering my hand at trying some JavaScript programming to create a searchable NPC database, but was informed of an existing wiki – the d20 NPC Wiki. This is a pretty cool resource if you’re looking for NPCs.
  • And if you need the occasional random encounter, check out the d20 Random Encounter Generator. The generated encounters are really dang detailed, with stat blocks, skills, even treasure.

That’s it for this week on the news front.

If you missed any of my articles this week, here are some links to catch up:

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 the contact page and I’ll add it to the list for next week!

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