This is the last news round-up for 2011, which means 2012 is right around the corner. It’s funny how things zip by and New Year‘s Day seems to sneak up on us. And yet, time is marching along the whole time, blithely ignoring us. Time however does matter. And the New Year offers a new beginning. A fresh slate. A chance to pick up, dust off, and change direction if necessary.
Ok, enough of the deep thoughts for this post. On the cheery side of things, I hope everyone has a happy and safe New Years’ celebration.
From my own standpoint, 2011 was an amazing year for Game Knight Reviews. I started the first six months of the year with an average number of monthly page loads in the 2000s and the second half I was averaging in the mid 5000s. Apparently you folks like some of the articles and reviews I’ve been churning out, so thanks for that! (For more useless statistics, see my earlier post this week.)
If I can steal a moment of your time before we dive into the week’s links, would you mind answering a simple one question survey? I’m interested in what you might want to see more of in 2012 at the site. Click here to take the quick survey. And as always, feel free to drop me any suggestions at my contact page or drop me an e-mail at fitz(at)gameknightreviews(dot)com
And on that note, let’s get to the links, shall we?
Food for Thought
- This makes me smile. It’s good to see gamers doing good in the world. Child’s Play – a great organization helping kids in hospitals have some play time and reconnect with family and friends. They’ve raised nearly $3 MILLION dollars in donations for 2011. That’s amazing and they deserve all the help. A few moments’ reprieve from a child’s situation during treatment for a long-term illness can bring a smile to their face – and we need more smiles.
- The news that there’s a NBA coach who also happens to be a gamer with a love for D&D is amazing. I love it when the world gets shocked that people in the limelight have interests outside what they’re known for! (Great article at ThePostGame from Ben Mailer)
- This article from John Walker at Rock, Paper, Shotgun could be applied to tabletop roleplaying games. Some of the things on the list are hilarious – and as I’ve been spending (far too much) time playing Skyrim, some of them are really relevant!
- Skyrim. Had enough news about it yet? I’m still playing and am enjoying the heck out of it. Well, Erik Tenkar at Tenkar’s Tavern has a great article this week on why this CRPG works so well for many tabletop RPGers. It’s a heck of a sandbox, but though there are broad similarities across the board, each area has a different feel and it still surprises me from time to time!
- Similarly, this guest post from Sherri Stewart at Age of Ravens sings the praises of MMORPGs. How have they affected tabletop RPGs? Quite a bit it seems!
- Have you wondered how to put together better super hero adventures? James Nostack at The Mule Abides may have the answer… Designing “cases” (The Case Where the Elephant Runs – Holy ton-o-dung Batman!) – with lots of examples from comic books.
- Scott Taylor’s excellent series of articles about RPG art continued this week with more art from Iron Crown Enterprise’s Middle Earth Roleplaying game. This time he’s focused on artist Angus McBride, who did some amazing covers that Scott includes images of in the post at Black Gate. Though I never played the game, I have to admit these are inspired covers with great detail!
- At Wombat’s Gaming Den of Iniquity, there was an article about treasure that ended with me slapping myself and wondering why it hadn’t occurred to me before. Did you know there are really only 3 types of treasure? Tools, Story Keys, and Valuables. That’s it. Great way to organize loot from encounters a bit to balance out things that drive the story forward or are there to help the PCs vs. those that are just for monetary gain.
Games and Gaming
- Perfection is one of those things in any worthwhile pursuit that is worth shooting for but impossible to achieve from my perspective. So I’m constantly looking for tips and techniques I can fold into everything I do. This week The RPG Guy has some suggestions on how to improve your roleplaying like using facial and body language (and standing up occasionally) to emphasize character actions and much more. Great tips!
- Kobold Quarterly continues to impress me with thoughtful, useful articles every week (often every day!). This week Richard Pett’s “Whispering Homunculus” article starts looking at how to use random encounters a bit better. Perhaps they aren’t entirely random?
Is there a reason that random monster just happens to be in this place at this time? Are they being chased or doing the chasing? Could it be a Red Herring? Read on! Now I’m anxious to read the next part of the article for more to ponder…
- Grayson Davis at KQ has something else to offer this week. How about an intelligent weapon that’s goal is to acquire stories about its owner? The Taleblade is super cool.
- Need some variations on a theme for lighting in your fantasy campaign? MRW at Fustians has some very cool ideas. I love the idea of a candle that can summon a shadowling to do something for the person who lit the wick. Or an invisible light that only the wielder can see…
- Building better NPCs… I think it’s something I definitely should work more on in my own campaigns. John Johnson has some great tips in his latest article on being a better GM at Musings from the Dungeon… Remembering that NPCs are characters too, with their own reasons for doing things is an important tip!
- Though I loved Samurai Jack, I missed large swaths of every season. But the Beef Griller at Elf Steaks & Halfling Bacon takes the beauty of Samurai Jack and makes it RPG-worthy. He offers some great starters and ideas… on genres and systems. (And I think the blog name is amazing!)
- Do you need an interesting university to insert into your campaign? Check out the Ouroboros University from the Grumpy Celt at Nevermet Press. Seems it would serve as a great jumping off place for all sorts of interesting adventures!
- Or perhaps you’re a Dr. Who fan and want to bring the Weeping Angels into your 4e campaign? Brian Liberge at Stuffer Shack has the 4e stats for these beasties already figured out for your GMing pleasure.
- One of the more interesting articles I read this week was regarding “secret” character backgrounds for a particular campaign. Christopher B at A Rust Monster Ate My Sword details 50 different very wild and unique options for PCs, though I can see using it for NPCs to really mess with players as well. The idea of keeping a particular character’s true nature a secret is intriguing… and evil!
- The other brief article that caught my attention was “The Importance of ‘Normal'” at Reality Refracted by A.L. Though we’re in it for the grand adventure/saving the world kind of approach much of the time, I think without having some grounding agent those highs and lows a campaign is bound to hit are largely meaningless. It’s like the Spinal Tap bit about the amplifier that goes up to 11. If everything’s at 11, it’s tough to tell when something changes.
- Are you looking for scenario ideas for Savage Worlds? Well, you’re in luck! White Haired Man is getting into the ebook side of publishing – not just PDF, but ePub. And they just released The Hideout for Savage Worlds as a “Simple Scenario.” (thanks Tenkar’s Tavern!)
- Or maybe you just need an encounter, but want it to be inspired by some of the days of yore in D&D? Check out Paul Baalham’s “Bones of Orcus” at Daily Encounter for a truly inspired encounter to consider. When I started playing AD&D in the early 1980s, Orcus was always one of our favorite big bad guys to go up against, so I’m excited to see his remains come to the fore once again!
- Have you been on the fence about picking up some of the great games from 6d6? Well, Chris Tregenza is running an insane sale starting New Year’s Day that will run for 48 hours. When January 2nd is done, the sale is too. Discounts on PDFs, books, cards, and some crazy discounts on memberships to the 6d6 site!
- Robert Oglodzinski from Library of Ancient Scroll is also kicking off something grand on January 1st – starting New Years’ Day, Walls Can Talk, Unusual Suspects, and Mudeaters will be free at RPGNow/DriveThruRPG!
- This week at Geek Related there has been a great series of editorials on the “State” of the RPG industry – including Wizards of the Coast and Mongoose Publishing. I look forward to seeing who else will be profiled…
- Greg Tito at The Escapist also took a deep look at the state of D&D this week – and the writing may be on the wall with the edition wars that continue to rage. Will a 5th edition help anything or just continue to fragment an increasingly brittle audience?
- Wow the folks at Evil Hat are going to have a busy 2012 (and 2013)! Check out Fred Hick’s post looking forward into the “State of the Hat” at Deadly Fredly.
- PDF pricing is an on-again, off-again topic in the gaming blogosphere. But each time it comes up, I learn something new about the industry. Tim Shorts at Gothridge Manor dives into some interesting numbers this week… Pricing is definitely a bit of a voodoo science.
- Considering writing your own RPG? I’d encourage you to check out the series “How to write a free RPG” at The Free RPG Blog. Part 1 focuses on inspiration. Part 2 focuses on research. And part 3 focuses on writing and style, which I happen to think is one of the most important parts of the puzzle. Without clearly communicating the different aspects of your game, how will you gain players!?
- In case you missed any of the inspired posts for the Krampus Christmas Carnival put on by Nevermet Press, be sure to check out the round-up Jonathan Jacobs posted on Christmas Day. It goes to prove that Christmas isn’t all happy and elven sometimes!
- In other news, Rite Publishing just released The Secrets of the Oracle by David Mallon and (just like Santa), the Oracle knows what you’ve been up to for good or ill! New mysteries, curses, and archetypes for your Pathfinder RPG campaign.
- Also now available is Strange Dead Love from White Wolf for Vampire: The Requiem. Everything you need to run paranormal romance in your Vampire campaigns!
- Tommy Brownell at “The Most Unread Blog on the Internet. Ever.” took a look this week at Necessary Evil for Savage Worlds and Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition. Brownell shows a lot of love for this supplement and says it’s “due in no small part of the sheer amount of fun we had with the campaign.” Hard to argue with that!
- Hero Lab is one of those tools I’ve heard good and bad things about over the last couple of years, but this is the first review I’ve seen that focuses
on it in a particular gaming system (Pathfinder Beginner Box (PBB)). The Iron Tavern’s review of the new, free version of Hero Lab for the PBB has me debating whether I should pick up a copy for myself.
- Ever been to Canterbury? No time like the present! Paco Garcia Jaen recently reviewed The Road to Canterbury board game at G*M*S Magazine this week. Sounds like it’s fun despite the convoluted instructions.
- Maybe romance is more your game? Strange, Dead Love for Vampire: the Requiem was recently released by White Wolf and PointyMan2000 at Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer gave it a look. Vampire romance seems to be quite popular with Twilight these days, so why wouldn’t the glamorous undead want a little lovin’ every now and then?
- Need a name? Whether it’s for a city, a character, or a tavern/inn – Mark at Mithril & Mages has you covered with a list of links to four different naming utilities on the web.
- Looking for some Old School D&D apps for your iOS device? Check out this article at A Pack of Gnolls from Sully. I may have to check out “Old School DM” myself!
- Perhaps you want an old beat-up pickup truck for a Gamma World session? Or perhaps a nuclear reactor/spaceship engine part for a sci-fi game? Benoit at Roving Band of Misfits has just the images for you to use!
That’s it for this week on the news front. I hope everybody has a great weekend and a safe, happy New Years’ Eve and Day celebration!
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!
- Nashua Library shows us how it’s done from The Escapist Blog (theescapist.com)
- The Escapist is 16! from The Escapist Blog (theescapist.com)
- [Geek’s Dream Girl] Gimme A Break: When Roleplaying During The Holidays Is Too Much To Handle (geeksdreamgirl.com)
- [Roleplay-Geek] 2011 in Review (roleplay-geek.blogspot.com)
- Guest Post: The Best Thing to Happen to RPGs from Age of Ravens (ageofravens.blogspot.com)
- A to Z of UK RPG in the 80s – A is for Adventurer Magazine from roleplay-geek (roleplay-geek.blogspot.com)
- KORPG’s 2011 year in review from KORPG Games ” Roleplaying game (RPG) (korpg.com)