What a wild month… This week was “Teach Your Kids to Game” week, sponsored by the great folks at RPGNow/DriveThruRPG. Next week is the US Thanksgiving holiday. So in a two week span, we’ll have several of my favorite things in the world – gaming, gaming with my kids, great food, time with family, and watching football. Is there really anything better than that?
This week’s “Teach Your Kids to Game” week has brought out a ton of great articles from around the gaming blogosphere! And now that soccer is done for the season at my house, I actually see my daughters at home (and not on a soccer field) more often – which means we’ll try and game more frequently again. How can sharing the gift of using one’s own imagination be a bad thing in this case? My only sad thought about the “Teach Your Kids to Game” week is the fact that it’s only one week a year. Can we make it a year long celebration?
As for Thanksgiving… It’s my favorite holiday of the year. Some like the fireworks at the 4th of July… Some like the tinsel and toys at Christmas… But I’m all about the three “F”‘s on turkey day – Family, Food, and Football. Honestly (and this may seem sacrilegious), I don’t even need the football – it’s just another excuse for all of us to spend time enjoying each other’s company and all the fine fixin’s. Can’t ask for much more than that. Thankfully it’s only one day a year or I’d be fatter than I already am!!
The only way this month could get better would be to game with my family while eating turkey on Thanksgiving, but something tells me that might be too much to take in all at once.
That said, let’s dive into the week’s collection of links!
Food for Thought
- Fairy tales. Many of my own story and campaign ideas have come from the Grimms in one way or another… But what about the art in some of those books? Have you seen Virginia Frances Sterrett‘s artwork for an edition of Old French Fairy Tales? Charlie Jane Anders at io9 suggests we should take a look – and there’s definitely inspiration to be had there. Who knows what some of these gorgeous, vibrant images will inspire in your own gaming?
Or if fairy tales aren’t your thing, check out this collection of old dust jackets for rare and collectible books. I perused the collection and found some amazing covers from Heinlein’s classics. I can only wonder what other treasures the site holds…
- Need a veritable cornucopia of food for thought? Check out this list of “Things Role Playing Blogger Tend Not To Write About” at Late To The Party. There’s a little bit of everything on this page, which I love, and I hope to see each expanded into a full post later – everything from book binding and florid descriptions to explaining roleplaying games to a stranger… This is a great idea for a post that I may have to explore here at GKR. (You can see the post that spawned the Late To the Party post over at Monsters and Manuals, where you’ll also find many others inspired by this rapid fire approach.)
- Do you prefer RPGs with a setting intertwined? Or a RPG with no setting? I’ve gone both ways. Scott at Trollish Delver seems to fall squarely in the “No Setting” camp.
- War is hell. It’s also a good way to make money. So when I saw Joseph’s article at the Greyhawk Grognard about war this week and it started with two Ferengi axioms (I always loved
the Ferengi in ST:TNG and DS9), he had me at hello. I can’t imagine having 5 separate wars or groups of wars going on in a campaign world… It has to be heck to keep track of all of them!
- What are the hallmarks of your campaign? Apparently WotC is listing the hallmarks of their Neverwinter and Darksun campaigns in recent books. Callin at the Big Ball of No Fun has pulled together similar lists of hallmarks for Shadowrun and Farstead campaigns. Obviously your hallmarks may be different, but I think this is a great way to describe a campaign to new or prospective players.
Need some ideas for your sci-fi game? Check out this week’s “Link Storm” at Intwischa from Chase. Tidbits about regenerating lost muscle and new fiberoptic prosthetics to tiny drone aviaries and robots that can leap over fences in a single bound.
- What do you do with a pile of mummified bodies? I leave that to you, but I thank Stephen Chenault at The Troll Dens for posting about one discovered at a church in Italy recently. I just hope they don’t all come to life at the same time…
- Do you dream of being a freelance RPG writer because you love roleplaying games? What happens when you achieve the dream and it becomes… a job? Patrick Benson (Gnome Stew) recommends at Sinister Forces that you not turn every passion into a job. And I think for that whole work/life balance thing it would certainly be difficult to keep the passion alive if your hobby becomes your job. It’d like to think it would be possible, but the practical side of me won’t accept it.
- Language in RPG campaigns is often glossed over or made to be a huge obstacle. Intiwischa has a few other suggestions on how to use languages more effectively.
- Faith in roleplaying games can be a dangerous subject sometimes. And James L. Sutter recently wrote a thought provoking guest post at SF Signal on how atheism is used in fantasy literature. What do you think?
Games and Gaming
- Among those talking about “Teach Your Kids to Game” Week at RPGNow/DriveThruRPG was Daniel Donahoo, one of the GeekDads at Wired. He pulled together a few related articles from the GeekDads offering numerous resources for gaming with preschool-age kids and up!
Also talking about kids and gaming is Sully at A Pack of Gnolls. I love hearing stories about other gamer parents passing along their passion for gaming. As he says in the article – “Gaming with kids can be very rewarding.” I heartily agree!
- How do you handle complexity at your game table? What do you do as a GM when players can’t figure things out? Or what do you do as a player when you’re frustrated and don’t know how to proceed? The folks at The Artifact RPG blog have some good suggestions – including just taking a break.
- I’m really loving some of the great articles at Asshat Paladins lately. This week Matt talks about the Questing Beast from Arthurian legend and the true story of Witold Pilecki, a Polish soldier and resistance fighter during WWII. Whether you’re playing in a fantasy world or a WWII/Cold War campaign, the Asshats have you covered!
- Along the same lines, Niccodaemus at Shatterworld describes three separate beasts of legend that exist in the Woodbury Forest… The White Hart, the Unicorn, and the Wolfhound… And I love the art!
- Do you like a lot of magic in your fantasy RPG settings? Or a little? N. Wright at Lawful Indifferent approaches magic in campaigns on a couple of axes – where magic is common or rare and where the magic in the world is strong or weak. I like this approach… something like alignment, but more of a gray area.
- How about a map? Need one for inspiration? The Digital Orc has one for your pleasure that’s an interesting dungeon with some tracks like you might find in a mine for carts… Did the monks in the monastery repurpose an old mine?
- Do you use technology at the gaming table? Black Campbell does and discusses the use of laptops, cell phones, iPads, and more. I think he’s definitely right – it’s all about respect at the table. You don’t need to be making a ton of calls while other people are involved in the game – and you probably shouldn’t be playing Plants vs. Zombies either. That’s just common sense I’d hope.
Are you tired of the traditional good & evil alignment scheme? Why not use “Charming” and “Tedious” as suggested by Between Are the Doors? I think that’s a Chaotically Charming idea. (And thanks to Andrew at Between Are the Doors I was pointed back to the original post that inspired his at Dandy in the Underworld!)
- Trade. It’s the lifeblood of any civilized world. And yet I know nothing about it beyond the basics. Check out this article from Plagueale at Gamemaster: A Day in the Life for some insights. Great ways to add a bit more granularity to your campaigns while keeping the PCs involved.
- Need some adventure hooks for the high seas? Ameron at Dungeon’s Master has eight for you. From dealing with a bipolar pirate and winning a ship in a game of chance to figuring out what to do when the ship the PCs are sailing on starts to sink… Great ideas!
- While playing Skyrim this last week, I’ve been struck by the creativity of having many different books available in a world. John L at The Tales of Kaelaross has a few books you might be able to use in your own campaign. Personally I’m going to hunt for a copy of “The Abominable Cults of Chaos Worshippers” for a little light reading…
- Do your PCs need to attend a university? Check out Ouroboros U! The Grumpy Celt’s next project at the Nevermet Press blog leaves the graveyards and heads off for some higher learning. I’m looking forward to it!
- Need more villains? Creighton Broadhurst and Julian Neale have you covered with Villains III from Raging Swan Press. This time it’s ten low-level foes with notes on background, personality, mannerisms, and more. All the more to tempt, tease, and torture your PCs whenever you need a little push or pull!
- Or maybe you need a little cartographic inspiration? target="_blank">Raging Swan has a new line of Treasure Maps, the first of which features eight versions of two different maps from artist Billiam Babble. I have to say these maps look pretty sweet… I wonder what tales lie within them?
- Looking forward to new releases from 6d6 RPG? Check out these cool covers for 6d6 Magic, 6d6 Bots, and Rebel Flesh.
- Heroes of the Feywild is a new book that is getting some great buzz. Dread Gazebo recently had a chance to interview freelance RPG writer Steve Townshend who worked on the book. There are some interesting insights into the myths behind the Feywild as well as 4th edition D&D. (Tim at The Other side reviewed The Witch from Heroes of the Feywild this week if you’re looking for more information about the book…)
- I haven’t even finished reading Stories in the Ether, Issue #1 and Nevermet Press just released Issue #2! After receiving nearly 200 submissions so far, I’m guessing we’ll see an Issue #3 before long as well!
- Though I didn’t even know Del Rey had a Gaming blog, I was happy to find it this week. Matt Staggs posted an interview with Shelly Mazzanoble (sounds like a Drow elf last name!) who wrote Everything I Need to Know I learned from Dungeons & Dragons. And though I don’t know I’d go that far myself, it’s interesting to hear from someone whose first exposure to D&D was when she took a job at WotC! I don’t usually read memoirs, but I think I’m adding this one to my Christmas list.
- Joining the many great RPG-related Kickstarter projects is a new one from Open Design – Journeys to the West which will explore the Western Ocean of Midgard. I’m excited to see where this one goes with inspirations from Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and many pirate legends. Why not join the party?
- If you want to help out one of the great gamers serving in the US Armed Services, you can’t find a much better way than sponsoring a soldier’s subscription to Kobold Quarterly. Help out a soldier today – you know they’ll appreciate the attention.
- Ashen Stars has been out for a while now, and spikexan at Flames Rising has a few thoughts on it. I’m just starting to explore the Gumshoe system a bit myself via Trail of Cthulhu, so after all the good things I’ve heard about Ashen Stars it might have to go on my list as well.
- Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is my new computer game addiction, as it is with many people since it was released on 11-11-11. Lindevy at Triple Crit has posted a solid review of the game that I agree with 100%. One of my favorite glitches so far is that spiderwebs don’t render in some places, so you walk through an open doorway only to find that you can’t… A few swipes of the sword and you’re through, but with nothing visual to let you know what’s there it was a bit frustrating at first!
- When I first heard about the Elder Sign Cthulhu game for iOS devices, I was excited… But it sounds like the developers need to work out a few more bugs before I give it a shot. Paco Garciea Jaen at G*M*S Magazine seems to have had it crash far too often…
- Late to the Party had a review this week of Mongoose Publishing’s new bestiary for RuneQuest II called Monster Colliseum. At 184 pages, this seems like a huge book of monsters with a little bit about gladitorial games and combat. But overall the review calls it a “necessary and useful companion” to the Runequest II Corebook.
- Over at tenletter, jatori posted a review of Kobold Quarterly 19 this week. And like every other issue of KQ, it’s overflowing with great ideas – like a new necromancer base class for PFRPG, advice for running magic shops, and evil deities…
- I hate to admit it, but I’ve not heard of Vornheim before, but Zzarchov at Unofficial Games posted a lengthy review of it that just sounds… interesting. The idea of an immortal zoo is definitely thought provoking. What do they keep there? Immortals? What kind? Might have to check it out.
- If you’re looking for more magic items for your D&D 4e campaign, check out the Learning DM’s review of Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium. Sounds like there’s much more than just a few clever items within its pages.
- Or if you’re looking for a potential Christmas gift, check out Scott Taylor’s review of the Pathfinder Beginner’s Box at Black Gate. This sounds like a great way to encourage new gamers into the hobby!
- What do you use for your RPG maps? Martin Ralya has a few suggestions over at Gnome Stew. Of course, Campaign Cartography 3 is on the list along with Hexographer, Dungeonographer, and a few others. Might be a few on this list you’ve not used yet – like wikidPad, which I’ll be checking out soon myself.
- How about writing and collaboration tools? Satyre at Fame & Fortune has come up with a list of three – Sringpad, TitanPad, and Trello. Do you use any of these?
- Are you looking for generators for Labyrinth Lord? Mark at Mithril and Mages has written a few specifically for LL – a hoard class generator, treasure, scrolls, spellbooks, monsters, NPCs…
That’s it for this week on the news front. If that wasn’t enough, check out What’s Up With D&D for Monday, 14-November-2011 from Chris Hackler (Gaming Tonic) at EN World. And yes, that is a pixie in his pocket.
If you missed any of my articles this week, here are a few links to catch up:
- I played a session of D&D 4e with my daughters this week in honor of “Teach Your Kids to Game” week and we had a great time with some of the fun kid-friendly character sheets from James Stowe and a free adventure from Dragonsfoot.org…
- If you’re looking for a new random NPC generator, you might like the NPC and Monster generators at Dingle’s Games.
- Or if you like zombies and are curious what a mash-up of zombie song lyrics and the Pinky and the Brain theme might be like… Check this out.
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!