Are short weeks more brutal than long ones? Sometimes it sure seems that way!
Part of it must be the somber reminders of 9/11 on it’s 10th anniversary this Sunday. Hard to believe it’s been that long. But it’s something I know I’ll never forget. Some images you just can’t unsee. But it’s fitting that Osama isn’t around to celebrate while we remember those we lost.
On a happier note, next week marks Game Knight Reviews’ first anniversary! And keep tuning in, because next week (courtesy of some amazing publishers and stores) I’ll be giving away some rewards to you, the readers!
(In the meantime, if you’re looking for giveaways & discounts, there are a few at my – you guessed it – Discounts and Giveaways! page!)
Anyway, we have a great mix of links this week… Tons of links on a wide variety of topics!
Food for Thought
- Whether you’re an freelance artist or writer, the art of pricing is tough to master. For art, it must really be a challenge when you’re starting out to know how much to charge for a particular piece or a collection of pieces. Jessica Hische offers her perspective on “The Dark Art of Pricing” in a recent post, and though I wouldn’t be able to afford her prices I think she’s on the right track asking for a fair wage.
No matter how much you script a session as a GM, the players are going to head into uncharted territory nine times out of ten. So some improvisation is sometimes needed. But what happens if you’re the kind of GM who wings it all the time? Charlie White at Intwischa has some suggestions based on his own experiences GMing a Dresden Files game…
- I’m of mixed feelings about physical vs. electronic books at the gaming table. Both have their place when not overused, but I’ve seen both overused at tables before (people randomly flipping through books is only a *little* annoying). But I can definitely see which side of the issue The Evil GM stands on! And I definitely see his points. It’s easier to take a library on a device than to haul around a huge pile of books every time you go gaming!
- This falls into the “What the…?” category, but thought it would be great for anybody doing a Pulpy-adventure campaign… A real American diplomatic memo that mentions hunting Yetis in Nepal. Yup, you read that correctly. Yetis. I love the government…
- These are just too cool not to share. James Stowe ran a D&D game for a bunch of 2nd graders for his son’s 8th birthday party. And he put together these awesome kid-friendly 4e character sheets. I wish I had half the talent he has!
- Meanwhile, the age of GMs just keeps dropping. Ben Garvey at Kids Dungeon Adventure described this week how his 4 year old daughter GMed a game. Sounds like she did pretty well! Very cute and great to see such creativity that young!
- Creativity is one of those strange things. Some people often seem more creative than others, but maybe that’s just because they resist creative ideas more than other folks. This article at Science Daily suggests that perhaps if we initially don’t like a creative thought we should give it some more time before outright dismissing it. That said, I think gamers are among some of the most creative folks on the planet, though I might be biased!
- Um… Did the future get here when I wasn’t looking? Apparently they can turn a tank’s thermal signature into a cow now… How’d that happen? Wonder if that works for other things?
- And as a fan of Fallout, how can I resist a link to an article about a Real Life PIP-Boy 3000? ‘Nuff said.
Games and Gaming
- Campaign Mastery is celebrating some milestones this week as well – congratulations on your 300th post and more than 125,000 unique visitors! But you deserve it for consistently offering such great advice and tips for GMs! That said, their 300th post focuses on creating special adventures to celebrate the anniversary of a campaign with what Mike Bourke calls a “Returns-to-theme” adventure. Regardless of whether you use these tips for an anniversary or not, the use of Theme, Style, and Genre to inform your writing makes a ton of sense!
- Creating young characters for a campaign is often like creating a small mug out of clay. It’s ready to be filled but doesn’t have the paint and scars of a full life yet. Creating old characters is much more of a challenge. Ravyn over at Exchange of Realities offers some great hints on how to create awesome old characters – history, bodily wear and tear, and minds wise beyond their years who have plenty to teach those young whippersnappers… (And if that’s not enough, check out the article that preceded it!)
- Spells. Can’t be a wizard without them. But what about witches? Not the ones who ride broomsticks and travel all over, but the ones who work as midwives, healers, and offer friendly advice to people who ask? Tim Brannan at The Other Side thinks these witches need some more practical magic. And I would tend to agree…
- Magic items on the other hand get all the press and leave their more regular counterparts in the dust. Everybody wants the +1 longsword of Bandersnatch-slaying, but doesn’t really care about the regular old set of lockpicks just about every thief has a set of. But why not use regular items as adventure hooks? Those lockpicks could be discovered in a routine search as a rogue heads into or out of a particular town. If they’re discovered, can the player come up with a legit reason why the character has them? Great food for thought from Ameron at Dungeon’s Master! GMs need to shake up their players every now and then and Ameron has some great suggestions on how to do just that.
- Some GMs are infinitely prepared than I ever am when I play… Cheese Shop offers an example of the GURPS info given to players before a session in a 1920s/1930s Pulp game. And Cyclopeatron presented some amazing work from OD&D aficionado Jimm Johnson that just blew me away – it contains his house rules, it looks just like one of the early editions of D&D, and he gives it to his players!
- What would you do with an unopened package of blank index cards? I can think of quite a few things myself, but creating a game out of them wouldn’t be among them! Well, Matthew J. Neagley at Gnome Stew ran across the game 1000 Blank White Cards, created by Nathan McQuillen of Madison, Wisconsin and wanted to share it with all his Gnomies. A card game where part of the game involves making the cards themselves seems insane, and yet fun at the same time!
- Jade over at Evil Machinations has a slightly different card game to offer. This one uses a traditional 52-card deck but takes poker to a very different place. Not being a poker player, I can’t speak to the complexity of the scoring rules for Trump Poker, but it looks like it could be entertaining with a group of experienced (and good) players…
- This week, the Gassy Gnoll spoke about recycling old bits for new adventures in your campaigns. What’s funny was that I didn’t realize Gaming Tonic posted a similar article the day before… “Using Old Stuff for New Ideas.” Apparently great minds think alike and you should definitely check it out!
- The Grumpy Celt at Nevermet Press is back with another gravesite location you can just drop into your game. Apparently the Tower of Silence is home for the grave diggers’ guild. Must be a cheery place to hang out – or perhaps it’s really cheery and it’s all gallows humor?
- Or if you want a slightly different dark location, check out the Library of the Dead at Boccob’s Blessed Blog for D&D 3.5e. They don’t keep books there… instead, it’s a collection of souls!
- How do you feel about games with character advantages and disadvantages? Most of the games I’ve played with them, there’s always someone min/maxing who creates a PC with a disadvantage that they never acknowledge (like old age). Well, Shaper and Maker suggests that there may be ways for folks to embrace their character flaws by making them more positive things. Roleplaying XP awards spend just as well as other XP, so I’m good with that!
- Though I haven’t played with Obsidian Portal at all myself, the wiki-based tool for campaign management continues to impress. Their dedication to detail shows through with things like their latest campaign map updates – such as adding virtual push-pin markers that contain entire wiki pages. Whether GM-only, color coded, or for anybody viewing the map – this sounds like a great way to keep your maps organized for the long haul.
- I’ve always loved Palladium Books. (I’ll talk about my latent love for Palladium products in a review next week.) So it’s great to see Kevin Siembieda and his team out and about at Gen Con 2011 this year. Here’s a video interview (from DracoStrife and Roleplayroulette) of Siembada and the guys split into part 1 and part 2. It’s good to see them out of under the dark cloud they were under and back writing new content again!
- Along the same lines is Buddy’s interview over at Troll in the Corner with Eddy Webb and Rich Thomas from White Wolf. I love peering behind the curtain at some of the bigger publishers like WW. And it’s great to hear that interest in their products is still strong!
- Cubicle 7 did a video interview with Francesco Nepitello, designer of The One Ring, that showed up on TheOneRing.net a couple of months ago. Hard to compete with the filming of The Hobbit, but it’s nice to know Tolkien fans are interested in gaming as well as Peter Jackson’s work.
- Looking for new products from Fantasy Flight Games? Joe Bloch, the Greyhawk Grognard, is excited about two new board games coming soon – Rex and Wiz-War. I’m not a huge board game guy, but even I have to admit that Wiz-War sounds intriguing!
- Atomic Array caught up with Steve Russell from Rite Publishing at Gen Con 2011 this year and produced a short video interview. It’s always nice hearing from the head of a publishing house about all the cool things going on!
- Speaking of cool things from Rite Publishing, did you notice that they just released Pathways #7 and #30 Haunts for Objects this week? It’s amazing what some of these great companies can do fueled on caffeine and imagination!
- The Gamerati Tour continues to wind its way across the continental United States. And as they go, they’ve been recording these great videos of gamers saying “I am the Gamerati.” Check them out – there’s some great stuff in there!
- 6d6 RPG just release their new game 6d6 Quantum Flux this week, which uses the 6d6 RPG rules for a science fiction adventure. And just around the corner on 19-SEP, the 6d6 Online Tools will be launching… I wonder if Chris Tregenza sleeps. What do you think?
- Do those Kobolds ever take a breath? The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design was just released by Open Design this week!
- Raging Swan continues to put out an amazing array of products as well. This week saw them release Robes of Useful Items, which makes a generic robe of useful items into something you can use right away. I could use a few useful robes during my regular work week!
- And this one slipped my mind last month… Escape Velocity Games released a short supplement on anthropomorphic turtles for 4e! Anybody remember Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Well, now you can have your TMNT and use it in a 4e campaign!
- Are you a Castle Falkenstein fan? Have you wondered whether The Book of Sigils is worth picking up? Lowell Francis at Age of Ravens says it ought to be a must-buy!
- Ray Frazee at Flames Rising offers a look at Brass & Steel, a Steampunk RPG from Pamean Games set in the early 1900s. Simple character creation, mad science, and [gasp] sarcasm? (“Characters who are on fire should put themselves out, or have someone else do it for them.” No, really?) Count me in!
- Stargazer had some time to review a few things recently… He took a quick look at the Call of Cthulhu 30th Anniversary Edition (with pictures!). And he gives an in-depth review of the new FATE-based fantasy RPG from Cubicle 7 – Legends of Anglerre. Both of these books seem right up my alley and I wish I was independently wealthy! He also reviewed Chaotic Shiny’s City Builder Generator Pack. Random generators sometimes don’t spit out useful stuff, but I don’t worry about that much with Chaotic Shiny!
- Raging Swan continues to put out an amazing array of products as well. This week saw them Tenkar at Tenkar’s Tavern took a solid look at the game and his article offers a great overview of how it works. He doesn’t call it a review and instead calls it a “view” – but either way it gives a nice high level intro to how all 6d6 games play.
- Pookie at Reviews from R’lyeh had some time recently to look at Dark Harvest: The Legacy of Frankenstein (a game in my queue I’m looking forward to reviewing), which sounds like a creative spin on the Frankenstein mythos. Imagine a world where the poor are harvested for parts while the rich stay alive forever… Definitely dark!
- I’m a big fan of some of Z-Man’s B-Movie card games like Bushwhackin’ Varmints and Bell-Bottomed Badasses, but haven’t had an opportunity to play one of their board games yet. Mark Rivera from Boardgames in Blighty reviewed Earth Reborn over at G*M*S Magazine last weekend. He didn’t seem all that impressed with the game’s take on an apocalyptic future…
- Jatori at tenletter offered a quick look at The Breaking of Forstor Nagar from Ben McFarland and Rite Publishing this week. I love the fact that it can be tailored to any existing setting and just plopped into a current campaign and am looking forward to checking it out soon (it’s in my queue). If you haven’t seen the video Rite Publishing put together for the adventure, you have to check it out. The maps look amazing and they’re Maptool ready!
- My love affair with maps is well documented in these Friday posts. So it should come as no surprise to find Jon Roberts’ walkthrough of his mapmaking process. His map of Rhune turned out amazing and though I have no artistic talent of my own, I hope those of you talented with Photoshop can follow his lead to create your own!
- And Dyson Logos offered some tips on how to use crosshatching in hand-drawn maps last weekend. Eventually I’ll have to take the time to use Dyson’s methods for map design – I might have a chance of getting something readable.
- I’m glad I’m not the only person who collects links because I’m afraid I’m going to lose them! John Payne over at Sycarion Diversions put together a collection of great links – from help writing adventures to potions, player meetings, and much more. Good stuff and now other folks can see it who may have missed it!
- Are you designing any dungeons, caves, or other underground structures for your games? Matt over at the Land of Nod offers a terrific list of features you’ll find in subterranean landscapes – from the mundane (circle, oval, square) to the harsh (canyons, lakes of acid, sinkholes)… Great terms to have handy when describing deep, dark places.
- Naming an inn can either be inspired greatness or simple drudge work. If it’s the latter, be sure to check out Digital Orc’s Inn Name Generator. It’s simple, but offers a quick and easy way to put together usable inn or tavern names in a hurry! I think I’ll stay away from The Farting Nun however… I already have a farting dog to contend with at my house.
- Tenkar at Tenkar’s Tavern put together a random table for creating tombstones this week. It can be helpful if you’re in a graveyard, you know it’s the tombstone of a particular important NPC, but don’t have a good idea of what it looks like. For instance, a tombstone may be “cracked, brown, and covered in moss” which is better than “a simple marble tombstone” isn’t it?
- I love cheat sheets. Apparently Jeff Greiner at Temporary Hit Points does too! They put two cheat sheets together – one for General D&D rules and the other for D&D Skills!
- Mike Shea at Sly Flourish put together a post this week with a title I couldn’t resist. “Tools of the Lazy Dungeon Master.” I knew it would have some good stuff – and it does, from the poster-sized dungeons I’m going to have to pick up to a DM cheat sheet. What’s not to like about this list? Does that mean I’m lazy. (Little voice inside head says “yes, but lazy is ok!”)
- Over at RPG Musings, DM Samuel put together a great list of reasons and resources for playing pen and paper RPGs online that’s terrific. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while using Google+ Hangouts, but haven’t had the time to explore yet. So this kind of resource really helps folks like me get over the hump!
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:
- Review of 6d6 Outbreak! from 6d6 RPG
- Review of Kobold Quarterly #18
- The Gassy Gnoll talked about Recycling old ideas for new campaigns
- And artist David Szilagyi answered a few questions
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!
- News from Around the Net: 2-SEP-11 (gameknightreviews.com)
- Theme vs Style vs Genre: Crafting Anniversary Special Adventures (campaignmastery.com)
- Thirty Years of GMing in the Books (gnomestew.com)