Wow. It’s amazing how a few days in Las Vegas can a) tap you out of a few dollars quickly, b) realize you have forgotten about a large sea of humanity pulsing to and fro along the strip even in 100 degree weather, and c) exhaust you to the point where a few hours of sleep simply isn’t going to cut it. Apparently I hit all three items in my three nights in the land of neon lights, smoking, gambling, and who knows what else. I got home in the wee hours Tuesday morning and it’s taken me a good three days to almost feel human again!
That said, I had a good time doing that other kind of “gaming” you often see advertised on the internet. I can happily say I’d rather sit around playing a RPG with friends than hit Vegas a solid 99% of the time. It’s good to have that 1% out of my system for another decade.
So where does that leave us? Well, my being gone from my post didn’t slow down the massive wave of posts across the RPG blogosphere, so we have plenty of news for this week regardless of any sleep deprivation I may have suffered!
About This Week’s Sponsor – Chaotic Shiny Productions, home of many amazing generator packs! Do you have an upcoming game but don’t have any ideas? Let a few random numbers help you find some inspiration! Everything from building a kingdom or city from scratch to a treasure hoard for your favorite monster encounter. What’s a dragon without a fat pile of gems, gold, art, and magical items? What’s a city without a random crowd, market, or tavern to visit? What’s a kingdom without a motto or currency? If you don’t believe me, check out reviews at Stargazer’s World and NEUROGLYPH Games!. And while you’re visiting Chaotic Shiny, be sure to check out the rest of the generators and Swordgleam’s creative cultures for your games as well!
Now on to the good stuff!!
Food for Thought
- Classic AD&D artwork. Ever heard of David A. Trampier? If not, and you’ve been playing D&D as long as I have, you’ve probably seen some of his artwork in the 1st edition hardback D&D books – the classic Monster Manual, Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master‘s Guide. Saladin Ahmed at TOR.COM has put together a list of five of Trampier’s illustrations from these classic tomes and I think the Rakshasas are my favorite. That dang tiger in a smoking jacket with a pipe has haunted me most of my gaming career! He may not be doing any more art today, but it’s impossible to avoid the legacy he’s left behind.
- Are you an aspiring writer of RPG materials? Do you often wonder how to design such creations to make them enticing to potential customers? Z at the Adventurer’s Vault has a couple of strong suggestions for you to ponder. As much as I like to use big words on occasion, I’ve learned Rule #1 the hard way on multiple occasions and keep the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) idea in the front of my mind when doing software development as much as when writing. And rule number two falls right in line with my inner barbarian.
- I can’t help but pass this along… Zombie Toast has a great list going of ways to “Tell Your Campaign is On the Right Track” this week. I like #2 – “…when the party’s spellcaster is creepier than any of the shambling horrors or psychotic mutants the party has faced so far.” And I like #9 – “…when a mention of the word ‘biscuit’ can set off an hour long story of past glories.” I think I’ve played in this group!
- Inspiration is where you find it. And Chase at Intwischa has some great ones this week, from speedy neutrinos and Mars, to robots and cyberware. He’s a man after my own heart and I hope we see more of this sort of article more regularly (he actually posted another one this week about heist ideas that you should check out!).
- Long adventures or short adventures? Which works better? I’d guess it’s up to the combination of GM and group to decide what would work best, but I think Matt Brenner at Blood, Sweat, and Dice makes some great points on the side of short adventures I think are worth checking out. I like epic campaigns as much as the next guy, but I honestly don’t know that I have the time or focus to spread a loooong adventure out over a session or two a month for eternity. I like to mix it up, so shorter adventures would be great for me personally.
Games and Gaming
- Do your 4e PCs ever rest? How does it work? Do you get a certain amount of HP back, daily powers, magic items recharge, and more? Well, Matt James at Loremaster suggests that maybe there ought to be a bit more that can be done with daily powers, magic items, and healing surges for better resource management. I think he’s dead on that it’s going to vary as to what’s right for which group, but some consistent rules can offer a bit of flexibility as well as seeing what just works.
- Dungeon crawls. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here to say. And this time Matt James at Loremaster offers some tips from his friend Rob Bodine about building successful dungeon crawls. The video is great, but the PDF offers some smart, easy tips on pacing a crawl, which is something I can never do.
- Did you know that October is “Play a New RPG Month“? Neither did I, but now I know! And the Angry DM has some great suggestions on why to celebrate. Honestly if I had a group at the moment I wouldn’t need much prompting. I have all sorts of games on my shelf I’ve never had an opportunity to play and it seems October would be perfect!
- I keep mentioning that I’d like to eventually try a game over Google Hangouts, and Stargazer at Stargazer’s World recently had such an opportunity with Chris McDowall playing a streamlined D&D version called “Into the Odd.” It sounds like it was a success, which is encouraging, especially with the new features Google added recently – desktop sharing, Google Docs sharing, and so on. (I can’t join, but if you have this Saturday 1-OCT free, Mark from Dice Monkey is running a Star Wars d6 game!)
- Brilliance is often simply pointing out where other people have made things more difficult than they need to be. Stuart at Strange Magic has done that with the AD&D weapons tables, boiling it down to a single table that tells you what to roll to hit the different types of armor using different weapon types. Simple and brilliant.
- I have to admit I’ve been waiting for some juicy news about the Dark Roads and Golden Hells project at Open Design. Colin McComb and his creative team seem to be doing a great job chugging away on the spiritual successor to Planescape. I love getting this glimpse at Kobold Quarterly into how McComb approaches not just creativity, but creatively creating different planar locations. And who can skip any article with the heading “Fermenting Evil”?
- Did you see that Star Frontiers has been released by Wizards of the Coast finally? I remember hearing about Star Frontiers back in the mid-80s, but never had a chance to play. Now you can download the original books for free if you register at StarFrontiers.com! It’s amazing that it’s taken this long to release the game back into the wild, but I’m excited to finally check it out after 30 years.
- If you’re interested in learning a bit more about Abney Park’s Airship Pirates, this week Stargazer has a great interview with Robert Brown, Peter Cakebread, and Ken Walton – the inspiration and writers behind the cool concepts in the game.
- LPJ Design released two new products for Pathfinder this week – Ultimate Spell Decks: Anti-Paladin Spell Cards and Ultimate Feat Decks: Ultimate Magic. Both are available at both RPGNow.
- Nevermet Press has released the first issue of their quarterly anthology of fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction short stories this week – Stories in the Ether, Issue 1. I’m excited to dive into these thirteen stories soon myself!
- And Raging Swan Press continues to impress putting out great new products. As a followup to the successful So What’s For Sale, Anyway? they just released So What’s For Sale, Anyway? II which offers 87 different lists of magic items broken down by settlement type, plus 41 cursed items and 80 sample sellers to torture players by forcing them to negotiate with actual shopkeepers. Check out more details here!
- You may or may not know about the new Lair Assault program that was started by Wizards of the Coast earlier this month. It seems similar to the D&D Encounters program, in that both Lair Assault and Encounters, but Encounters is meant as more of an introduction and Lair Assault is meant for more tactically-oriented players. Well, the She DM at NewbieDM has written up a great review this week of herfirst time judging Lair Assault – Forge of the Dawn Titan at his local game store. It sounds like a heck of a mixed bag.
- Paizo recently released Classic Horrors Revisited, which explores the background of some of the “classic” monsters we all know and love – Gargoyles, Ghosts, Ghouls, Mummies, Vampires and more. Each chapter breaks down a bit of their origins, how they live, motivations, and how to use them in a campaign. Rappy Winters at Rappy’s Review Board gives the book a solid 9/10, but cautions that those folks looking for lots of stat blocks over fluff may be disappointed. But Thilo definitely wasn’t disappointed with this one.
- Vix Chamberlain at G*M*S Magazine took some time to review the board gameStone Age from Rio Grande Games this week and it sounds like fun. Who would have thought that hunting, foraging, making tools, gathering resources, or breeding (yes, breeding) would be so much fun?
- Short PDFs are sometimes hard to review. Thilo Graf from G*M*S Magazine reviewed Monster Unleashed V.1 this week from Purple Duck Games, which offers updates to some older monsters for the Palladium FRPG. It sounds like it’s a bit of a mixed bag, but has some fun critters to offer creative GMs.
- I’ll be the first to admit that I suck at putting puzzles together for RPG sessions. So I’m glad North of Nowhere posted a great collection of links and resources to help folks like myself create puzzles for RPGs.
- NPC index cards is one of those ideas that comes up again and again, but I’ve never seen them done for a western (Deadlands) game before. SteelDraco at Dylan’s RPG and Nerdery Blog has some tips on creating them, plus an example PDF of the ones for his campaign. Definitely worth checking out! (He also put together a great map of Deadwood and a list of important buildings and NPCs if you’re interested.)
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!
- Review of City Builder Generator Pack by Chaotic Shiny Productions from NEUROGLYPH Games (neuroglyphgames.com)
- What I Am Using Tonight to Whip Up an Adventure. from Gothridge Manor (gothridgemanor.blogspot.com)
- Interview: Johnn Four of Roleplaying Tips and Gamer Lifestyle (gameknightreviews.com)
- [Review] Martial Cultures: The Sijara from Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer (philgamer.wordpress.com)
- Review: City Builder Generator Pack from Stargazer’s World (stargazersworld.com)