News from Around the Net: 19-AUG-2011

Last week it was the sound of disappointed children across the nation bemoaning the fact that school was going to start soon… This week do you know what I hear? Nothing. And it’s awesome… at least until the kids get home from class!

Few quick announcements before we dive into the news…

  1. This week marked the first issue of the Game Knight Reviews Newsletter… So if you are looking for articles that you may have missed, links you may have been hunting for, or the occasional discount or freebie – that’s the place to go. The goal is to come out with a new issue of the GKRN about every three weeks, so be sure to sign up today! (Look in the sidebar for the sign-up form.)
  2. If you’re a publisher, I’m looking for sponsors for individual issues as well as for the “News from Around the Net” feature on Fridays. Contact me via the Contact page for details if you’re interested.
  3. And if you’re looking for the current discounts and giveaways for the month, check out the Discounts and Giveaways! page. Most of these are courtesy of the great folks at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, so a huge thank you goes out to everybody at OneBookShelf!

More from Gen Con 2011!

  • More seminars on the “Art of Dungeon Mastering”? Count me in! This time Michael Evans at Neuroglyph Games put together a great summary article on his impressions of the seminar, with neatly listed tips and techniques from some of the biggies at WotCJames Wyatt, Jeremy Crawford, and Rodney Thompson. Tons of great info here and plenty to mull over.
  • After GenCon, I expected to hear more about many of the announcements made and I’ve not been disappointed. Alex Lucard and Matt Faul have pulled together a preview of the Neverwinter Campaign Setting as well as a list of other upcoming releases based in Neverwinter. It’s obvious WotC has put a lot of eggs in this basket so we’ll hope Neverwinter survives a siege by thousands of fans!
  • Will Hindmarch from The Gist got to run a couple of games of Razed, a Gumshoe-based game of post-apocalyptic survival and investigation coming soon from Pelgrane Press. First, sounds like he had a great time. Second, it sounds like he got a ton of useful feedback on how to make the game a bit easier for new players which is a big key to converting first time players into fans! Gumshoe keeps coming up and I still need to take a look at it soon!
  • Another game experience at Gen Con comes from Jeremy Friesen at Take On Rules. Apparently he had a chance to play Dungeon World, a game run by Fiasco creator Jason Morningstar. This sounds like a very different kind of RPG with some common elements but some interesting twists.

Food for Thought

  • Do you have pet peeves? I think everybody must have a few, and the gaming table isn’t immune to the trend. Ameron at Dunegon’s Master has put together a list of the top 7 things that drive him nuts. I think I agree with most of these, but a con is slightly different than gaming in someone’s home so I’m probably more lax about a few of them. I do agree with the fact that sometimes common sense and common courtesy are forgotten at the expense of others, so it pays to be kind and polite to those around you wherever you are.
  • Gaming with kids… I can tell you from firsthand experience it’s not quite the same as gaming with adults, but it can be awesome watching the kiddos figure something out and get through these imaginary challenges stronger than they went in. Well, Uri Kurlianchik has created a whole site dedicated to capturing stories from gaming with kids, which he does full time. So be sure to add D&D Kids to your list of blogs to browse… Maybe you’ll be inspired by child’s play!
  • Railroading. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but when does it make sense to actually use it as a tool? Da’ Vane offers some interesting thoughts comparing tabletop roleplaying and console/computer game roleplaying. Perhaps it’s time to revisit the use of a little railroad to keep plots from spiraling too wildly out of control while at the same time giving our players lots of open road to explore?
  • Team
    roleplaying? What’s that? Well, an acquaintance of mine from Colorado Springs – Scott Dunphy – has been working on a set of rules for story-based team roleplaying events with a few other gamers in town. And this video (and the blog attached) makes this look like a lot of fun. Sort of team LARPing it seems! Best of luck to Scott and his team and I hope to hear how his trip to Gen Con was!
  • Writing is hard. Sometimes it’s fun. Most of the time it’s challenging. But any of us who have tried it know the secret is to put your butt in the chair and get it done no matter what. Writer Mur Lafferty sums that up beautifully in “The Painful Truth” on her blog I Should Be Writing. No matter whether you write for yourself or others, the words don’t form on the page by themselves…
  • Faeries. Sure, some of them are cute like Tinkerbell, but let’s face it… some of them can be downright mean. Just ask Harry Dresden. He’ll tell you all about the NeverNever… Anyway, at io9 this week they had a great list of Ten Freaky Types of Scary Fairies and these are nowhere near Tink’s cute levels. Nude faeries riding chickens? That’s nightmare material right there!
  • Do you collect things? Scratch that. Do you find yourself wondering how your bookshelves, apartment, house, or life somehow got so cluttered that you can’t think straight sometimes? So does ubiquitousrat at UbiquitousRat’s Roleplaying Dreams. And you know what? I think I need to do some spring/fall/winter/summer cleaning myself of my brain/shelves/desk/house… Ack!
  • What is roleplaying exactly? And can you define it for your non-gamer friends and family? If not, you might want to check out the Angry GM’s definition (at the bottom of the post). I think it sums things up beautifully.
  • Often a book cover or classic work of art can inspire you to think of something for your game… Well Scott Taylor at Black Gate has posted a list of the top 10 fantasy artists from the last 100 years, with samples. A few of the classic artists whose names you may have seen before… Boris Vallejo… Greg and Tim Hildebrandt… Larry Elmore… Brom. I won’t spoil the rest, but take a gander and see if any of the samples inspire something in your games (or art for your walls)!
  • For a couple of other art-related posts we look at Cthulhu at Dice of Doom and some art for the upcoming BADASS Zombies! game! Honestly I think RPGs have some of the most talented artists in the world, don’t you?
  • When you sit down and ponder what you’d take with you games-wise if you were stranded on a desert island, what comes to mind? BlindGeekUK at Daily Encounter has a few things on his list of essentials, from the original Tomb of Horrors to Castle Ravenloft the board game. It’s a varied list that many publishers will be happy to see!
  • And then I have a couple of science notes that I thought were interesting… First, we may see cab service to the ISS sooner than expected from SpaceX, so perhaps a bit of commercial spaceflight will inspire someone to write a RPG supplement soon. And second, in the “I never saw this coming” category is “stick-on electronic tattoos.” What will they think of next? That’s something right out of a Cyberpunk game!

Games and Gaming

  • Being a GM can be a thankless job sometimes, but it’s good to get the feedback of your players on a regular basis and listen to what they have to say. Often it’s little things that can make the difference between a good session and a great one but you don’t know what your players are thinking unless you ask. Jay (pointyman2000) asked his group to offer some feedback and they did… but I think how he addressed the feedback was great and I think his games will be that much better (though from what I’ve heard they were great already)!
  • Items. Every character has a few (unless they were just robbed and left bleeding by the roadside), but do you ever think about them in the context of your minis? Apparently Ben at Ben’s RPG Pile has definitely thought about them – everything from adding custom items like barrels and chests, books and bottles! Some great suggestions on where to find accessories for your minis.
  • Have you ever spent hours constructing an encounter and had your players blow through it in minutes? I have… And apparently so has Gamefiend (Quinn Murphy). Over at At-Will, he talks about making your encounters more interesting than challenging – and maybe that will save your sanity as GM and make your players more willing to stop and smell the gnoll armpits!
  • Do gamers grow up? Sure, it’s a question asked and answered at least a couple of times a year, but I think it’s a good question we should continue to answer. Short answer is yes. Long answer… changes every 5 minutes. But Esther Robards-Forbes for Statesman.com has a positive view of gaming and gamers, so I hope that message starts to spread in the popular media. Gaming isn’t bad. And heck – it’s growing again as a hobby!
  • Want to play The Dresden Files in Las Vegas? Might not be my first choice as a city, but there’s certainly a lot going on under the glitz and lights to hide supernatural events. Buddy at Troll in the Corner describes how his gaming group has collaboratively put together a “Dresdenized” Vegas for play… And it sounds like a lot of fun!
  • Mordenkainen. Bigby. Vecna. Names of olden times in D&D… So it’s great to see these figures get new life at WotC. They’ve posted a few excerpts from Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium such as a few new weapon feats and the description of a Flame Tongue Weapon. Can I have one? Can I? Can I?
  • Nevermet Press continues to put great material out on their blog and in their products. The Grumpy Celt has put together a great encounter area for the Hall of Righteous Bones. Think of it as a fantasy-themed funeral parlor. Well, as you might imagine – it’s got its share of ghosts and skeletons in the closets. Though this was written for 4e, I would love to see more of this type of encounter area description done elsewhere – potentially in a system-neutral fashion.
  • Mike Shea at Sly Flourish had a chance to interview Kato Katonian about D&D Essentials on how 4e has improved, where it’s still broken, and some tips on running short campaigns. It’s nice to see this sort of attention paid to 4e on making the system better and using it as gamers.

Publisher News

Reviews

  • The Fold-n-Go Castle Kit #1 is new from Rite Publishing’s new Lone Tree Games imprint. The kit features glueless paper models so you can assemble an entire keep for your game map. Thilo Graf at G*M*S Magazine reviewed it recently and says “The 5-step assembly of the 2×2-tower is so simple that even a 6-year-old could easily handle the task…” Maybe I’m qualified to put this set together then. :)
  • With the mortality rate in the Game of Thrones being what it is, I’m not sure I’d want to play A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, but c’s review at Geek’s Dream Girl says being different is good! I’m glad to see some actual roleplaying come to the fore instead of letting the dice do the dirty work for them…
  • It’s not exactly a review, but Shaper & Maker does a good job of documenting how he eventually started playing Savage Worlds. I think this journey resembles many others, where we pinball from game to game through our gaming careers and give them each a fair shake… SW is definitely one I want to try soon. Does your path mimic S&M’s?
  • Gumshoe and Pelgrane Press seem to be everywhere these days. And Trail of Cthulhu is another game I want to check out from Pelgrane Press eventually. Well, Michael Harnish at RPG Geek has posted a great review of the game that gushes about it as the “perfect marriage of setting & rules.” Ok, now I’m really going to have to pick this one up…

Tools

  • Looking for fonts for your game? Well, sometimes that can be a challenge – especially when you’re looking for free fonts you can use in a commercial product. But check out this post from The Marsid – M&M Group, which lists five great sites with fonts that fit the bill.
  • Are you looking for ways to spice up your dungeons? Check out “You don’t know where that monster’s been” at Gorgonmilk and see if any of these twisted ideas suit your fancy… Magic mites? Jock itch? Mini me shrinkage? These are humorous and mean at the same time, so I don’t know that I’d use them often – but every now and then I might pull one out of the hat!
  • Adventure design is always a hot topic. But having different patterns of how to put adventures together means you can have very different results depending on the tools you use… Mike at Campaign Mastery continues his string of articles about minimal prep adventure design with “Six Foundations of Adventure.” Like with Jade’s Adventure Creation Handbook, it’s great to have the framework, but it’s even better to see the creator of the framework walk through how to use it step by step!
  • Are you looking for a Pathfinder character generator? Take a look at Trailblazer, a new tool for creating and managing your PFRPG characters. Though there’s not much at the site yet, I look forward to seeing what they have in mind!

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