As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, I can tell Halloween is fast approaching. It’s tough to remember going trick-or-treating without bundling up with a jacket over my costume growing up in Denver. And my kids have had the same luck with Halloween ever since we moved back to Colorado from Arizona. You can go trick-or-treating in shorts in Phoenix, but that doesn’t work so well when temps are dropping below 40 degrees and there’s rain or snow in the air! Thankfully the bit of snow we had this week should be all but a memory by Monday’s outing…
Considering that there won’t be another news roundup before Old Hallows’ Eve, I thought I’d report on a question I asked late last week… “What’s your favorite horror-themed games or adventures? For me, you can’t go wrong with a good zombie invasion, but I know several folks who are over the whole zombie genre and say it’s been done to death (pun intended)… Over the last week I’ve had several different folks suggest great games and adventures to try for Halloween (an incomplete list to be sure, but I appreciate all the recommendations from folks on Google+ and Reddit) – remarkably not all of them are zombie related!
- Call of Cthulhu from Chaosium (2011)
- GURPS Horror from Steve Jackson Games (2011)
- Fear Itself from Pelgrane Press (2010)
- Curse of the Yellow Sign from John Wick Presents (2009)
- Shotgun Diaries by John Wick (2009)
- Dead Reign from Palladium Books (2008)
- Don’t Rest Your Head from Evil Hat Productions (2007)
- Chill from Mayfair Games (2005)
- Dread from The Impossible Dream (2005)
- All Flesh Must Be Eaten from Eden Studios (2004)
- Deadlands from Pinnacle Entertainment (2004)
If you know of any other great suggestions for Halloween, please leave a comment and I’ll add them to the list!
Now on to the week’s news!
Food for Thought
- I love it when the popular media occasionally discovers that [gasp] RPGs can be good for kids… Topher Kohan at CNN’s Geek Out blog recently chatted with Enrique Bertran (NewbieDM) about gaming, rpgKids, and gaming with kids. As a parent encouraging gaming at home, how can you go wrong with any of those topics? Great interview!
- Those of you who know me know I’m not a particularly religious person, but I try to respect other people’s beliefs whenever possible (and whenever I’m aware of them – it’s like politics though, I try not to ask). FrDave at Blood of Prokopius recently pondered whether D&D is compatible with Christianity, which I thought was an interesting question from a philosophical point of view. To my way of thinking, it’s less about the rules and more about the stories explored… but what do you think?
- We all need more humor in our lives, right? So get over to Dorkly and check out the “Dungeons & Dragons Cheat Codes” for the win! I needed “OOPS_TH3_DICE_F3LL_ON_FLOOR” the other night!
- Mythology. I love the stuff. But the Norse are definitely depressing. I mean… Ragnarok as an inevitable end? Well, apparently I’m not the only one with a love of the folks from Asgard. Writer J.A. Pitts wrote a great article this week about “The Quiet Sense of Foreboding That is Norse Mythology” that sums it up nicely at the Tor blog. (If you haven’t read Pitts’ series starting with Black Blade Blues and like urban fantasy, I’d definitely recommend it!)
- Joseph at Greyhawk Grognard made a statement last Friday in the title of this post – “The Best Villains Aren’t Evil.” Couldn’t agree more. Evil is one of those “hard to measure” kind of things that we always toy with in gaming. Most villains have reasons they do what they do. They may be insane or those reasons may simply not jive with the rest of the world but they have reasons. Magneto is a great example. But I think Joe hit the nail on the head. Evil villains are boring unless there’s some thought behind what they do…
- Need a creepy location for your next session? Check out this list of 10 abandoned tech facilities for inspiration (from Evan Dashevsky at io9). Some say they’re haunted… I say many of them look like locations from Fallout 3!
- Alien invaders. Mutated monsters. Creatures of myth and legend… Scott Taylor at Black Gate asked a really good question about all of them this week… “Why do they all want our women?” I love the monster movies of the ’50s and ’60s and spent hours watching them growing up in the 1970s on an old black and white TV. Why can’t we have movies like Creature from the Black Lagoon get remade? Probably because they’d spend too much money on it and all we want is a guy in a rubber mask and suit! But wouldn’t those old movies make great adventure plots?
- Need inspiration for a new character? Check out Never See the Light of Play… So far this blog has created characters for A Song of Ice and Fire, Feng Shui, and three other games… What’s next?
Games and Gaming
- As someone who has recently struggled a bit with coming up with a character background for my latest 4e rogue, I was happy to find an old post on the WotC Community forums about “The Ten-Minute Background” – the steps are simple, but the many examples that have been posted since then are a gold mine of inspiration.
- Lovecraftian horror holds a special place in my heart. No, I didn’t vote for Cthulhu via mail-in ballot. But I’ve been looking at coming up with some potential campaign ideas to give Trials of Cthulhu a shot. So Runeslinger’s recent story seeds for Call of Cthulhu on Casting Shadows have been quite helpful… How better than to pull in your players than to kidnap a child and take him or her to some remote location for who knows what kind of evil?
- Have you ever thought about creating characters like Arthur Conan Doyle did? Each character has a duality about them that makes them intriguing… But how might you translate that into game terms? The Artifact RPG has some suggestions… Though self-contradicting characters may be tough to play, I might have to try creating an NPC this way the next time I GM…
- The “A Night in the Lonesome October” RPG blog carnival is in full swing… Have you checked it out? There are already some great links up there!
- Looking for ways for your character to kill time in a town or city? Check out this great list from Jeff Ibach at Roleplaying Tips. Roll d100 and see where the muse takes you. Personally I think I’ll go sample some of the best local cuisine (rolled a 21)…
- The Grumpy Celt is continuing to create cool locations for your game at Nevermet Press’ blog. This time it’s a graveyard… But as you might expect, it’s not just any graveyard – it’s a City of the Dead. And it has a history!
- The “Loot as Part of the Plot” RPG blog carnival has inspired quite a bit of creativity this month… Mike at Campaign Mastery wrote a long post this week about “Making, Earning, Finding, Analyzing, Using, Selling, and Destroying Loot…” Wow that’s a mouthful. But it’s chock full of deep thoughts on how to make items more than just items…
- Outcasts. The banished. The forgotten and unwanted. Think they have a chip on their shoulders? I do. In Kai’s Scoundrels, writer Ben Kent explores a group of outcasts willing to transport anything for the right price. The latest GM’S RESOURCE for the Pathfinder RPG from Raging Swan offers six fully detailed NPCs who can be used individually or as a group to add some flavor to your game.
- Or maybe you’re looking for a location with a bit of arcane flavor to insert into your Pathfinder RPG campaign? Rob Manning and Rite Publishing have released Evocative City Sites: The Lost Laboratory as an abandoned wizard’s lab – with all the dangers and questions itinerant with such an abandonment. I look forward to exploring this potentially deadly and lucrative spot soon…
- Perhaps you’re looking to add a bit of horror to your Savage Worlds campaign? Check out the new Savage Worlds Horror Companion from Pinnacle Entertainment… Complete with 100+ new monsters, spells, rituals, signs and portents, and more!
- Ben from Troll in the Corner is still looking for supporters of the Encounters-Plots-Places project at Kickstarter (only 6 days to go and he needs another $100+ to make the goal!) and Robert Oglodzinski is still looking for supporters of his IndieGoGo project to translate AncientScroll.pl content into English! Be sure to help out these projects with a few sheckles. Ben’s been posting some cool previews of E-P-P content if that helps you drop a few coins in the fountain.
- Have you heard about Brave Halfling Publishing’s Delving Deeper RPG? Apparently it emulates 1st edition D&D rules, but has a ton of great content that will also come with it. They’ll be shipping soon (Nov 1-3) but have put out a few samples that look great! How can you go wrong with more Gelatinous Cubes in your game?
- If you’re more in the mood for some OSR action in the vein of Robert E. Howard, how about Crypts & Things, which also has an IndieGoGo project seeking funding. Based on the flip-through video and the cover, the art looks amazing so I wish them the best of luck!
- The Deck of Many Things has a long and storied history in D&D. Usually it turns out badly whenever I’ve run into it, but perhaps you’ve had better luck. GGG at Geek’s Dream Girl recently reviewed Madness at Gardmore Abbey for D&D 4e. Sounds like a fun adventure and hopefully GGG will post more about her his (sorry!) group’s reaction to the adventure after a run-through, but I’d warn them against using the Deck… Who knows what might happen?!?
- Chris Hackler and the folks at Gaming Tonic have been doing a great job of putting together a wide variety of articles. But I always know that his reviews are going to be coming from an interesting place. Late last week he reviewed The Haunting of Larvik Island from Thick Skull Adventures and it sounds like a great mix of engaging plot, customizable setup, and quite a mystery… (And if you are looking for more from Chris, check out his weekly “What’s Up With D&D?” column at ENWorld!)
- Every time I read another review of a FATE-based game, I want to try the system even more. Lowell Francis at Age of Ravens checked out Kerberos Club: Fate Edition this week and it sounds like quite a challenge on many fronts…
- The Mistborn Adventure Game Primer has gained a lot of good press since it was released a couple of weeks ago. Stargazer says it piqued his interest… And I still need to check it out!
- Iron Wolf at the Iron Tavern checked out Kobold Quarterly #19 late last week (also in my review queue) and it just reinforced why the Kobolds are so amazing. Every single issue has something new, something worthy of pondering or playing, something you can use… Somehow I doubt many will argue with a 5 out of 5 review.
- Looking to compare some online campaign management tools? Elliot Wilen has put together a great list. Might be some options there you haven’t thought about yet.
- How about some research? Looking for old academic papers from as far back as 1665? Britain’s Royal Society has just opened up their archive so you can dive into almost 350 years of journals for free!
- Need some miniatures for your modern RPG game? Check out this great article from Shaper & Maker about where to find and collect a basic set of minis for as low as $25…
- Does your NPC need a job? Eric at The Chronicles of Ganth has put together a pretty good list of medieval jobs to peruse in a pinch!
I want to also pass along a congrats to the crew at Roving Band of Misfits, who just celebrated their one year anniversary last weekend. Congrats guys!
That’s it for this week on the news front.
I hope everybody has a great weekend and a very Happy Halloween on Monday!
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!
- Tricks or Treats at the spookiest RPG Download Store! from Stargazer’s World (stargazersworld.com)
- GURPS Horror 4th Edition; or, Why I’m a Ken Hite Fan Boy from The RPG Corner (shirosrpg.blogspot.com)