Welcome to the first triskaidekaphobic edition of GKR’s News frrom Around the Net for 2012… (Apparently there are three in 2012, two in 2013, and one in 2014. Since we’re on a downward trend let’s hope the Mayans are off on their whole calendar snafu…) At any rate, this week (as you might imagine) there was a ton of talk in the blogosphere about Wizards of the Coast’s announcement for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Though I’m not a huge fan of 4th Edition, I’ll be extremely curious to see how fan groupthink will change things for the better. I’ll try and keep happy thoughts about it.
Beyond that, I actually started [gasp] working on a new series of articles this week. Hopefully you’ll see the fruits of that labor in a few weeks in an unexpected place! Yes, I’m keeping a secret. For now. We’ll see how long THAT lasts…
So let’s dive into this week’s news, shall we?
Food for Thought
- Todd Gdula’s articles about the art of steel and weaponcraft at Kobold Quarterly has been educational and entertaining since it began. This week he talks about the common types of steel used for cutting tools – simple carbon and low alloy tool steels.
- Roleplaying in the classroom. I’ve always thought that it could be used effectively to internalize lessons from history and literature. Apparently Joe Esid, a teacher of English, Rhetoric, and Communication has been using virtual worlds to explore story elements. Many of the students’ observations equally apply to tabletop roleplaying as much as playing in environments like Second Life.
- Rolling20s at This is My Game also talked about gaming in the classroom this week, with the many ways a GM is similar to a teacher.
- It’s been a long time since I thought about the Doomsday Clock, but with the news out of Iran, scientists have pushed us up to 5 minutes to Midnight… Does this mean that the world will truly end this year? Or that a mutant (or zombie) uprising is on the horizon? Probably not, but it’s definitely something worth pondering. (Thanks Sniderman @ The Savage Afterworld for this cheery news.)
- I love learning about some of the iconic movies of my youth… It’s amazing to look at some of the pulp sources that came before and strongly influenced Lucas’ decisions for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Great documentary from StooTV! (Thanks BADASSSSSS! at Geeks of Doom!)
- Do computer programs simplify things for GMs and players? Or do they add a fudge factor that sometimes gets in the way of clear system design? Stuart at Strange Magic suggests that there are some key differences between designing for the tabletop and designing for a digital world…
Games and Gaming
- Do you need a few strange and intriguing things? Check out this list of Found Objects at Hereticwerks!
- Or maybe you’re looking for some inspiration on what might happen when magical research goes awry? They Might Be Gazebos! has some great, wicked ideas!
- Did your party just find some kind of strange goblin-made device and you have no idea what it does? Check out this table at Rolang’s Creeping Doom. Maybe it converts people to goblins, spits out snakes, or simply tells really bad goblinoid jokes…
- If you still don’t know what the device does, check out the What’s This Thing Do page on Google+! Mark at Mithril & Mages pointed it out this week – apparently you submit a question about an item and they respond with details about the nature of the item and details. Pretty slick!
- Or perhaps you need some level 1 pre-generated characters… Check out this page at Dungeon’s Master for a ton from D&D Encounters Seasons 1 through 7!
- Maybe it’s some maps you’re in search of? Brendan at Untimately points us to ClawCarver’s blog for some options… Thanks Brendan!
5th Edition D&D or “D&D Next”
- Mike Mearls kicked things off at WotC on Monday with his article “Charting the Course for D&D”…
- An open letter to WotC about art for D&D Next from Kris Hansen at Glitterdust explores making the game better – making it less sexist by balancing the number of male and female game art, less racist by including all skin colors, and including different body shapes (not everyone is a supermodel or athlete) as well as differently-abled individuals… Great ideas all
- Another side of the art equation is the potential of offering kid-friendly products that don’t require an ESRB Teen or Mature label slapped across them and parental supervision to crack them open. Stuart at Strange Magic suggests that if the game will truly be modular, it might be good to have products more friendly for everyone.
- Andrew at Geek Native did a great job of querying some of the RPG authors and publishers what they thought of the announcement this week and got some interesting responses. Most of them commented about the fact that it may too little too late for WotC to dig D&D out of the hole they dug with 4e.
- The whole “modular” idea has gained quite a bit of attention. ZZarchov at Unofficial Games mentioned an aspect I hadn’t considered – optional rules would lead to a “GM Character Sheet” that would describe how a game worked for potential players. For example, maybe your game has Firearms + High Magic + Human-centric. That offers a high-level description that covers the high points succinctly. If there was a central online (or offline) tool for gathering rules based on those keywords instead of having to hunt through two or more books for specific rules, that would be great too – the ability to create a custom rules subset based on large keywords…
- Jeff Uurtamo at RPG Circus posted the first episode of the podcast for 2012 this week that covered Ryan Dancy’s depressing report about the RPG industry from last week and WotC’s announcement.
- EN World had all sorts of articles about the announcement this week and has a terrific page that collects a ton of information in one place. (Thanks Greyhawk Grognard for pointing it out!)
- The Online Dungeon Master listed some of the things he’d like to see as the “next” effort chugs forward…
- A.L. at Reality Refracted pondered what the new edition really means for us… And I think there is a great point here – though there already was an edition war at work between OSR and 4e, Patfhinder and 4e, announcing 5e means the edition war is really going to kick into high gear.
- Jonathan at The Eldritch Reverie offers a different take on the goals of the redesign. Perhaps it’s not about taking 4e and revising it. Perhaps it’s about developing a universal D&D RPG, making it possible that any D&D gamer could use and play using their existing material. Not sure this is possible, but it’s a great goal.
- Greg Tito at The Escapist offered his views…
- I’ve also been entertained to see some of the major media outlets get into the act… David M Ewalt at Forbes... Ed Grabianowski at io9... Fark... The New York Times... Wired…
- Even Brian Patterson’s d20 Monkey and Penny Arcade got into the act this week.
- Tavis Allison at The Mule Abides brought up an interesting counterpoint to the “professional game designer” environment that exists in a few places… It’s really difficult to monetize game design and still stay creative at the same time. Turning a hobby into a job is almost always a dangerous idea, so I can see this point. What do you think?
- Ever wondered what it’s like working in the RPG industry? Steve Kenson (Green Ronin) offers a look into what his typical work day looks like.
- Quinnae at The Border House had an opportunity to review Filamena Young, RPG designer for White Wolf, Margaret Weis Productions, and EVE Online. She definitely keeps
- The ENnie Awards announced the host for the 2012 awards this week. It’s Tom Lommel, aka “The Dungeon Bastard”! Congrats DB!
- Interested in how Nevermet Press did in 2011? Jonathan Jacobs released some numbers this week about subscribers, sales and revenues. And they’re just shy of breaking even. Hopefully 2012 will push them over the edge!
- New publisher Occult Moon announced their new product line – Tools for the Sandbox this week. Each product in the series will offer a map, NPCs, rumors, encounters, and plot hooks for a particular location.
- Timeless Adventures also released Cartography Toolkit – Roads to Adventure 1, which offers a high-resolution texture that can be used for cobblestones in desert or mountain maps.
- Evil Hat Productions gained the RPG license for the Eisner-nominated Atomic Robo comic book and will be working on a FATE-based game like Spirit of the Century and The Dresden Files RPG. Except this game will focus on “action-science, robots, angry talking dinosaurs, high weirdness, and more.” Sounds fun!
- Though this isn’t exactly publisher news, RPG Countdown has a heck of a contest going on you should check out. They’re giving away $2,011 to one lucky listener who buys one of the 100 best-selling products mentioned on the RPG Countdown Best of 2011!
- Purple Duck Games released the final issue of the Random Encounters Remastered line this week. This one includes some fun adventure areas like Bowels of the Earth, Endless Caravans, Highlands, Scorched Wastes, and more.
- Rite Publishing released #30 Haunts for Kaidan this week. You get nine creepy storylines to play with the horrors of Kaidan!
- Chaotic Shiny has been busy with some new generators as well… A Planet Generator (yes, a whole planet – look out Magrathea!) and a Problem Mini-Gen (plot hooks, adventure seeds, story arc ideas, etc.)
- There was an older golden age of box sets that should be remembered. Newbie DM reviewed the contents of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting for 2nd Edition D&D this week. For $30 there was a ton of great stuff in the box!
- Matt Staggs at Suvudu offers his thoughts on Carcosa, intended for OSR systems like Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Labyrinth Lord, and others. It seems that with the “WTF” factor, Carcosa scores high and is a work of art…
- I’ve been hearing great things about The Legend of Drizzt Board Game, and now that I’ve seen the video review from Marco at 2d6.org I can see why!
- Marc Allie at Board Game Geek had a chance to review Catacombs, which also seems like an interesting dungeon crawl game with a few twists…
- Do you need some inspiration for a new magical or legendary weapon for your campaign? Check out the “List of mythological objects” at Wikipedia for some great suggestions for armor, weapons, clothing, jewelry, vehicles, treasure, and more.
- I’d also encourage you to check out the D&D Virtual Table beta with your DDI subscription (per my review) and the die rolling widgets for WordPress from Awesome Dice (also per my review).
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!
Here’s the rest of the articles from the week in Bundlr… Enjoy!
- Wizard’s Watch: The Quest for Grand Unified D&D? from NEUROGLYPH Games (neuroglyphgames.com)
- DeadOrcs Weighs In On DnDNext from This is My Game (myrpgame.com)
- The Real State of Dungeons & Dragons (critical-hits.com)
- New edition of D&D – OnlineDM’s first take from Online Dungeon Master (onlinedm.wordpress.com)
- News from Around the Net: 6-JAN-12 (gameknightreviews.com)
- 5E Announcement: Initial Thoughts from DISCOURSE AND DRAGONS (discourseanddragons.blogspot.com)
- 5 is a magic number – or it better be! from G*M*S Magazine (gmsmagazine.com)
- WotC rolling out a new edition from Geek Ken (geekken.blogspot.com)
- What Does 5th Edition Mean to Me? (ruleofthedice.com)
- The Most Fearsome Beast a DM Can Throw at his Players – Beware, Blood and Gore from Joethelawyer’s Wondrous Imaginings (wondrousimaginings.blogspot.com)