I don’t know about you… But as the holidays get closer to closer and my gift shopping doesn’t get done, my blood pressure starts to rise. So imagine my surprise when I started hearing about “Krampus” – a demonic creature who apparently accompanies good old St. Nick during the Christmas season in Alpine countries. Here it’s Santa Claus himself who maintains the “Nice” and “Naughty” lists. Or maybe he uses his elves… I forget. But I think it would be nice to outsource all the scaring of children and giving of coal to a demon on Santa’s sleigh. Certainly would make some of those tired old Christmas specials on TV a bit more interesting!
That said, I have to wonder if I should tell my kids about Krampus this year… They’ve been getting on my nerves a little.
This week I pinged folks on Google+ to see if anybody had some news to share and lo and behold I got a response! Stephen Newton was kind enough to let me know about some cool news out of Goodman Games about DCC, so be sure to check out in the “Publisher News” section below.
I’ll try and remember to ask for news about the middle of each week, but if you’re a gamer and you find a great story or link you think would help other gamers, or you’re a publisher with news about products and events, or if you’re a convention trying to get the word out to potential gamers – let me know! I’ve set up a new mail address just for news stories, so feel free to drop me an e-mail at news(at)gameknightreviews(dot)com! I’d love to hear from you!
I literally had far, far too many links to include this week, so I’ll be saving some of them for next Friday. I may have to start breaking this weekly feature up into smaller features throughout the week to make it a bit more consumable! What do you think about that idea? Leave me your thoughts as comments and I’ll see what I can do…
And with that – on to the week’s bucket ‘o’ links!
Food for Thought
- Lady Blackbird has been in my review queue for a while and has been recommended quite a few times as something I should read. But this lineup of character portraits by artist AmanitaZest at deviantArt might be the nudge I’ve been needing to get to it!
- Along the art lines, artist James Stowe (who does all the wonderful Kid’s D&D 4e character sheets) has been putting together an “Advent Calendar of Evil!” on his site featuring a 4e monster encounter a day until Christmas! This project started with a Goblin, then did an Orc, a Rat, a Goblin King, a Zombie, a Ghost, a Skeleton, and a Vampire. Great stuff!
- This article from James Pfafke at GeekoSystem last week blew my mind. He featured a number of pictures from Reddit user byuflorida. And the detail involved in these stick figure battles are simply amazing. I wonder if anyone has tried to use stick figure battlefields to document big RPG battles…
- In the “medical advancements that blow my mind” category this week is this article from Sile Cleary at the Toronto Standard talking about printing (yes, you read that right) new bones on a 3D printer with a bone-like material that could be used as a scaffold for new bone growth around injuries. We are living in a Cyberpunk world.
- How many of us have created rich, detailed characters and had our gaming be better for it only to develop a shallow character in the next game? Black Campbell has some great suggestions and examples of how to develop those deep characters with just a little bit of thought beyond the mechanics… Just remember one key thing – “Perfect people are boring!”
- A good friend of mine who’s no longer with us would have loved this article about ethics by Dennis N. Santana at The Spirits of Eden. We spent hours and hours discussing ethics, morality, and different philosophical ideals. The “Way of Worth” from the Adelians hits me quite a bit like a cultural philosophy through which its members can aspire to greatness.
- I’m always interested to peer into the minds of game designers to see what makes them tick. Bedrock Games laid it all out in a single post – the core principles of playability, plausibility, and personality that help them design games the designers themselves would want to play. Balance of these ideals with flavor seems to be the key to their approach.
- Allie Goertz’s “Tonight (D&D song)” melted a lot of gamers’ hearts, but many of those hearts have retreated to the cold mountains of Skyrim. I want to thank Tim Shorts at Gothridge Manor for introducing us to Malukah who sings one of the bard songs from Skyrim – “The Dragonborn Comes”. It’s gorgeous. I’ve listened more than a few times over the last week.
Games and Gaming
- Stuffer Shack’s Jonathan Baldwin had some interesting thoughts a couple of weeks ago about a Mass Effect-style RPG. It’s not the first time it’s come up, as Stargazer pondered it a while back. Which would you choose? Mutants and Masterminds? FATE? 4e? Jonathan chose M&M and even discussed how to quickly create a few NPCs…
- And this week Ryan Costello Jr continues his article at Kobold Quarterly about replacing numeric bonuses with keywords for weapons and armor to give a game more flavor than simply asking for a +2 sword and have the shopkeeper look at you like you have three heads. (I have nothing against characters with three heads, don’t get me wrong!)
- Looking for a gnomish inn or tavern for your campaign? Check out “The Rouge and Glass” from Satyre at Fame & Fortune. Plenty of description from the sign out front to the staff, the drinks available, and much more.
- The Arm Chair General had some great advice this week on being a better DM by telling stories. I think his three principles for a good game are spot on – a defined story arc that has the players cooperate to complete, clearly defined rules, and a level of trust between players and DM. He then offers some good tips on building compelling stories as well. Definite food for thought here.
- Black Campbell also had a great article on creating compelling NPCs this week. They’re the extras in each scene, but can go far beyond that when the PCs interact with them. Some NPCs are one-dimensional and others that appear more often in the stories should be more detailed. But it’s the little things that your players will remember.
- Are you in need of an obelisk to fill out a scene? Or perhaps a story seed for an obelisk that already exists? Netherwerks at HereticWerks has you covered with six different scenario seeds revolving around obelisks. I like the simpler ones like one and three, but they all have definite potential!
- Do your games get out of hand noise-wise sometimes with out-of-game chit chat? Ameron at Dungeon’s Master has an interesting idea. Why not have a silent session? What if you weren’t allowed to talk during encounters or for an entire session? Could you do it? I’m not sure I could for a whole session, but I certainly think there should be some respect for those players in the scene vs. out of scene during gaming…
- I always sucked at making traps when I GMed. So I stopped using them. Now that I have some solid tips from Mike Shea at Sly Flourish about building better traps, maybe I’ll start using them again. He even included a random traps table and you know how I love random tables!
- Goodman Games just gave the OK this week to 3rd party publishers working on material for their forthcoming Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, which means that we should start seeing more DCC products hitting shelves soon. Attack of the Frawgs by Stephen Newton from Thick Skull Adventures is one and both Transylvanian Adventures and Transylvanian Grimoire are coming soon as well from Goodman Games themselves I think, but couldn’t tell from the forum post. Any clarification? And I’d love to talk to someone at Goodman about the forthcoming DCC RPG! (Hint hint!)
- Chris Tregenza at 6d6 games has been doing some detailed number crunching and deep thoughts regarding 6d6 as a business. And a week ago he asked a critical question about conventions… Are they worth it for small publishers? He offers some critical insights into what it means to be a small publisher along with some hard facts. Definitely worth reading. I look forward to see what other insights he shares with his readers.
- Kobold Quarterly continues to feature glimpses into the world of Journeys to the West. Designer Christina Stiles details a bit about the Nethuysule, a “blue-purple-skinned humanoid” featuring “vertically placed eyes and a ridged forehead.” The druid in the encounter described offers a few tantalizing tidbits about these undersea plant-based creatures. And then there’s the Morphoi with its crab-based appearance that reminds me a bit of an Umber Hulk but with an ocean flair…
- Apparently some of the out-of-print titles from White Wolf are alive again in PDF form at DriveThruRPG.com. And Matt McElroy offers some behind the scenes news about this great news at Flames Rising this week!
- If you’re into roleplaying adventures during World War II, check out the latest IndieGoGo project from Library of Ancient Scroll – Resistance: Cross of Lorraine. You play the role of French Resistance Fighters during World War II fighting the Nazis in their occupied country. Please check it out and toss a few coins in the pot if you can.
- How do you feel about bugbears? Bugbears of the Frozen Tears by Jon Bennett from Raging Swan Press offers you a pack of sadistic bugbears stalking the tops of the White Cliffs looking for prey… They like causing fear and at the end they take heads as trophies. Can anyone stop these terrors from striking again?
- New from LPJ Design this week is the NeoExodus: A House Divided Campaign Setting which includes more background and new playable options for Pathfinder than you can shake a stick at.
- Chaotic Shiny has some new toys for you to play with as well – a new Puzzle Converter that takes Sudoku puzzles and chessboards and converts them into pictures full of glyphs, runes, or rocks (it’s pay what you want right now, so definitely check it out); and a new Magical Component Generator that creates all the bits and pieces you might need for a spell, potion, or ritual.
- I love the concept of five-room dungeons and have used them off and on in gaming with my daughters of late. Well, Rite Publishing shows you just how cool these dungeons can be in their new product – Five Room Dungeon: The Rabbit Hole. Just be sure your characters are level 15 or above!
- Over at Roleplay-Geek, tonybro001 took some time to write up a report about the recent DragonMeet 2011 gaming convention in London. Sounds like he had fun with a few games despite not being able to attend many of the panels.
- Geek Ken perused the pages of Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium from WotC recently and thinks there’s both good and bad with the book. If you are a new DM using the Essentials products, he suggests this as a great purchase but wonders about its usefulness to more experienced DMs.
- Heroes of the Feywild continues to garner praise, this time from NewbieDM. He details his exploration of the book and like many other folks I’ve heard from is enjoying this new trend for D&D books to include more story than boring blocks of powers and stats that put players and GMs to sleep.
- Over at the Sea of Stars, Sean Holland wrote a glowing review of Road of the Dead by Creighton Broadhurst from Raging Swan Press. I always like well designed encounters with player handouts, so I’m definitely going to have to check it out myself!
- Journeyman GM took a deep look at Savage Worlds Deluxe this week after a reader left a comment asking for more details about how “Deluxe” differs from “Explorer’s Edition”. He really walks through the differences in detail and I look forward to part 2 of the review.
- Does Thilo Graf ever sleep? This week he reviewed 30 Fleshgrafts from Rite Publishing and gave it 5 stars. The concept of “semi-sentient additional limbs, appendages, and body modifications that can be grafted to your body via a new feat and be preserved via a new spell” is kind of creepy, yet cool.
- Have you thought about using a WordPress blog instead of a wiki for your campaign documentation? I know I hadn’t considered it until I saw Mike’s article at Campaign Mastery this week. The combination of public and private posts could work really well if you know your way around a WP install…
- Interested in hand-crafting some chocolate gifts for gamers? Why not create a mold and pour your own chocolate dice?
Lastly this week, I know I’m not the only one who was a bit caught off guard by the article by fugaros this week at How Not to Run a Game Business simply titled “Stop. Making. Games.” This article is so totally opposite to what I think that I wanted to give it a shot. Yet the further I read the more it ticked me off. Be happy that the shelves are packed with products. Encourage people to create more great products to eventually show up on physical or virtual shelves somewhere. But having choices doesn’t mean we’re undermining the gaming industry with crappy games. And bashing prospective designers as “people who have no goddamned right to be making a game” is not just rude but crappy advice. The only way to get better is to try. And the market will sort out what is worth buying and what isn’t. If you don’t want to see the other games, put your blinders back on and leave the store.
Constructive criticism is one thing. But bashing an entire segment of people dedicated to making and playing games? Come on… You’re entitled to your opinion whoever you are, but I definitely don’t have to agree.
I encourage anyone who has an idea to put together a product. Polish it as best you can and put it out there. I’m always happy to check out whatever you may create. And I’ll do my best to say what I like and don’t like, but offer some feedback on why I don’t like it and what I recommend to fix it. I’m just a guy who loves to game and has done the self-publishing thing. I’m not perfect and NOBODY is. But I encourage you to try.
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 or drop me an e-mail at news(at)gameknightreviews(dot)com and I’ll add it to the list for next week!
- Anthony Bourdain Tells ‘A Krampus Carol’ (thedailymeal.com)
- Kristmas Kobold Adventure (feat. Krampus) from RPG MUSINGS (rpgmusings.com)
- International Santas: Krampus Is Checking His List Twice (rosettastone.com)
- “Goat-Headed Christmas Cheer”… (iampastorswife.com)
- News from Around the Net: 02-DEC-2011 (gameknightreviews.com)