News from Around the Net: 04-NOV-2011

I’m going to start my Friday post off with a question… What is gaming to you? And yes, I’m hoping you’ll leave me some feedback in the form of comments on this one… Is it the gathering of friends around a table to experience an adventure in a world of imagination? Is it the creation of people and places that may never exist in the real world? Is it the exploration of psychological, philosophical or behavioral extremes in a safe environment? All of these? None of these? I’m curious.

Why do I ask? This week’s guest post from Robert Oglodzinski (from AncientScroll.pl and his IndieGoGo project to get his site translated to English from Polish – he’d love some support btw!) raised a few questions about where the edges of a character lay in the communal tapestry of a campaign. Is it too much to ask a player to explore the ripples of his or her character in the game? I definitely don’t think so, but I’m a fan of deeper roleplaying – and by thinking of your character in terms of his or her influence upon the world in which they live that just ties them that much more closely to that world…

By the way, keep an eye peeled for more posts from Robert in the future. He’s agreed to help out with a regular column (though we’re still figuring out the particulars), so I hope you all enjoy some of his thoughtful articles in upcoming weeks and months!

On a different front, my post about my dislike of the D&D 4e minions rules also raised some hackles, but also generated a ton of great conversation (both on the post, on Google+, and on Reddit). I find it intriguing that the fact that a PC can mow down multiple 1-HP minions at a time makes them feel like that character is “powerful.” From where does that power come? So you can beat up a bunch of peons. Why is that impressive? Sure, the Kurgan cut huge swaths through warriors in multiple battles in Highlander, but why is that good? Perhaps the “power” in this case must be divorced from the character alignment and seen more as a boost to ego than anything?

I’m not a psychologist (and I don’t play one on TV), but I absolutely *LOVE* that roleplaying games let me ask these types of questions openly and that the community around our hobby is largely open-minded and supportive of such explorations. The act of gaming is obviously the more visible aspect of the hobby, but there are multiple layers that can be just as interesting to dive into.

Now… It’s opinion time. What do you think of this as a new logo (in addition to, not replacing, my coat
of arms done by Jason Adams)? It was done by Aaron Acevedo, the Art Director at Savage Mojo. I think he did an awesome job and it just pops off the screen, but I may be biased. Any other opinions? Leave me some comments!

With all that philosophical talk out of the way, let’s dive into the week’s links shall we?

Food for Thought

Games and Gaming

Publisher News

  • This week, White Wolf released The Patchwork Scroll, which is a collection of material for Exalted Second Edition. The collection includes details on martial arts styles, new Wyld locations and more, and new Arcanoi for ghosts.
  • Monte Cook’s latest “Legends and Lore” column at the D&D blog doesn’t really fit into the “Games & Gaming” category, so I’m putting it here this week. As someone who’s written instructional manuals for software (yawn!), I know from experience that NOBODY (NOT EVEN THE WRITER) wants to read technical documentation unless it’s a necessary evil. So if you’re a game designer and you write the most amazing game on the planet but write it in a dry, boring style, nobody’s going to ever play it. I agree with Monte in thinking that a good game designer can both entertain and inform his or her readers if they
    try hard enough.
  • ICV2 released some data this week for game publishers. Apparently, the industry had a great summer across the board, which is great! And the top 5 RPGs of the summer don’t seem to have changed from the previous quarter… Not sure that my local game store would agree, but a little good news is certainly a welcome thing.
  • Max Eddy at GeekOSystem had a great interview with designer Luke Crane this week, the inventor of Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard. More an article, than an interview, but it’s neat to get some insight into how the RPGs came about.
  • Louis Porter Jr. Design has released a new Pathfinder resource – Trade Routes: Expanded Caravan Rules Sourcebook. And any GM who’s run a caravan will probably benefit from picking this book up, regardless of whether you play Pathfinder or not.
  • Maybe you’re looking for some ways to spice up your wilderness encounters? Check out Random Woodland Encounters II from Raging Swan. It includes nine encounters ranging from levels 2 to 7 suitable for any woodland or forest.
  • Perhaps your players have asked you to stuff it? Stuff a bag for an NPC that is… Well, Black Falcon Games has released D-Percent – 100 Fantasy NPC Backpack and Sack Contents for just such an emergency!
  • What happens when your monster breaks down? Where do you take it? The Monstrous Garage, of course! Well, Escape Velocity Gaming has you covered. I reviewed it earlier this week, but it missed last week’s news round-up. Definitely take a look!

Reviews

Tools

  • Do you use MapTool and play 4e? Are you looking for ways to track conditions, the OnlineDM has you covered this week.
  • Maybe you need to create a NPC? Check out the NPC Generator at Myth Weavers for a quick fix… I ended up with Aud, a female human fighter/rogue, Alya, a female half-orc, and Garret, a male halfling…
  • Ok, so now that you have that NPC… You probably are rolling to see if they react favorably to the PCs. But why did they react the way they did? The Sky Full of Dust has a set of tables available to give you some ideas. Apparently, my NPC was downright hostile to whatever the PCs were attempting because adventurers on the whole are ruining the local economy by flooding it with looted gold. Who knew getting filthy rich was annoying the locals?

I want to give a quick shout out to Chaotic Shiny and congratulate Hannah (Swordgleam) on being Stuffer Shack’s favorite site for the month!!

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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8 comments to News from Around the Net: 04-NOV-2011

  • Thanks for the mention! I look forward to participating in future RPG Blog Carnivals in the future. I’ve been a reader of the carnivals for some time, but its more fun to contribute!
    thorynn recently posted…Campaign Completed – Achievement UnlockedMy Profile

  • It is big pleasure for me to work with Brian :) In future I am going to ask several provoking questions about RPG. So, feel invited to Ancient Scroll’s Secret Room section :) More to come soon

  • Thanks for the shout-out!

    That’s a tough question. I think it can be summed up as “coming up with a story mediated by randomness,” which
    is pretty much my usual explanation of gaming to non-gamers. Freeform roleplaying is a lot of fun, but not quite “gaming.” Playing Munchkin has a lot of the same elements, but no story.

    Flipping some coins to simulate the d6 rolls for Toon while stuck on a broken-down train? Gaming, even if there’s only one other person, the story is nonsensical, and no gaming table or snacks to be seen.

    • Fitz

      @Swordgleam – No worries. Happy to shout. :) And I like your answer. It’s not the only answer, but it’s *yours* – I think that’s what I love about our hobby. It’s different things to different people.

  • The best word I can think to describe gaming to me would be community. Whether you are gaming with friends, at a convention, or discussing a solo game you’ve played it’s all about the relationships and bonding that comes from it. I have many friends, but all of my closest friends are the ones I game with or have at least gotten them to game with us a bit.

    • Fitz

      @Shane – Thanks for the thoughts. I totally understand the community angle. The gaming blogosphere alone has been amazing to become a part of. Everybody has been amazingly friendly, helping out with the smallest requests.

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