Welcome to the gaming news roundup for the week of 20-JAN-2012!
This week was “one of those” weeks with work, so I’m gleeful that it’s Friday! Yay!
The debate continued this week about “D&D Next” or “D&D 5e” or “Ultimate Fighting D&D With Kung-fu Grip,” so you’ll see a few stories related to that this week. Plus a general assortment of odds-n-ends.
In addition, I was contacted by some new folks publishing gaming materials (perhaps not new, but new to me), so I want to thank Axel from Headless Hydra Games, Kurt from Terminal Studios, Roderick from Dark Tavern Press, and Brandon from Ignitus Innovation, Inc.. Look forward to reviews or news about products from these folks sometime over the next few weeks and months! (If you’re interested in having me review something, news you’d like me to include in my weekly roundup, or are interested in sponsoring these Friday posts, drop me a line at the contact page or drop me an e-mail at news(at)gameknightreviews(dot)com and let’s chat!)
The only other thing I’ll mention before we get going was the SOPA/PIPA outrage this week. I’m not usually a political animal, but SOPA was enough to get me to do something. Though I’m a small blog, I did my part and blacked out the site for part of Wednesday. It seemed that the protest was quite broad across the ‘net, with Wikipedia getting much of the attention in the media. I just hope it was enough to get our lawmakers to open their eyes and consult with technical experts on this. Online piracy is definitely an issue, but there have to better ways of handling it.
So without more gabbin’, let’s dive in, shall we?
Food for Thought
- As father to two soccer-playing princesses, I’ve seen my share of animated Disney movies. But I would love to see a Steampunk Disney princess movie. Meredith Woerner at io9 shared some great art by Brian Kesinger this week that I’d go see with my girls in a heartbeat! Steampunk Disney. It has potential!
- “Ever wonder why that brilliant idea always comes right before you fall asleep or when you’re standing half awake in the shower?” asks Thorin Klosowski in a recent article about creativity at Lifehacker. And I’m forced to say “Yes! I wonder!” Apparently we’re more creative when we’re groggy. Weird, but true!
- Ever wondered about your own alignment on the D&D scale? Apparently David Noonan at the WotC blog did way back in 2000 and I just found it this week. I haven’t managed to get all the way through the questions yet (there are quite a few), but it’s on my bucket list…
- In case you need some inspiration for a door in an adventure somewhere, Geekosystem had a great article this week about “10 Terrifying Doors You Really Don’t Want to Open.” Good stuff! From movies and television to music and video games, this list has it all.
- Do you run a modern campaign set during the Cold War? Have you considered using the Stasi Shredded Archives as a bit of inspiration? Matt at Asshat Paladins offers a bit of history to get you started…
Games and Gaming
- Are you looking for a solid way to create outdoor encounter tables? Matthew Neagley at Gnome Stew has you covered with a new template to help you do just that. Take a few characteristics of the area, pick an ecological niche or two, and filling in the blanks.
- Are you looking for a way of improving skill challenges in D&D 4e? So was “Jester” David at Temporary Hit Points and he thinks he’s come up with a way…
- If you’re a FATE gamer, there was an interesting article about FATE dice mechanics by Jeff over at Houserule this week. I’m not one for statistics, but he offers some insights into why FATE works the way it does.
- Though there’s a ton of speculation in the community about D&D 5e, Mike Shea wonders if maybe WotC would be better served by building a more “modular” version of 4e. Pick a setting, tweak the campaign goals and level range, pick races and classes, and more to focus the rules and the world material towards a particular campaign style and feel. I definitely like a more modular approach but would go further with different rules sets for low magic, high magic, the addition of guns, and other bits and pieces…
- Rules-light RPGs have made a big impact on my own gaming, so I’m always happy to see groups try out systems like Warrior, Rogue & Mage. And the fact that they ran it on Google+! Based on the article by Matt Jackson at Lapsus Calumni, it sounds like they had a great time.
- Do you use handouts or props in your games? Michael Beck and Da’Vane have some great suggestions on how to do just that at Campaign Mastery. Little things like using handouts can really make the difference when trying to get everybody with their “head in the game.”
- Derek Myers at Dungeon’s Master had an intriguing idea this week… creating an NPC like “The Dungeon Master” from the old D&D Cartoon from the 1980s! I think this could be a great way to help out young or beginning roleplayers with some hints and tips on what their characters need to do…
- David Flor at A Walk in the Dark described the types of feedback that the WotC development group should look for from the testers. He provides details about the feedback that “can actually be useful and beneficial to the designers.” Truly this is something that every game designer and game tester should read.
Ben GerberBuddy at Troll in the Corner talked about his on-again, off-again relationship with D&D over the years. I have a similar relationship with a few gaps in my D&D career over the last 25 years.
- If that’s not enough, WotC announced that they will be reprinting the original AD&D books to help support the Gygax Memorial Fund. I’m not sure if the 1st edition of AD&D will be supported in 5e, but I guess we’ll find out as things go forward. I am disappointed that most of the articles about this effort from WotC don’t mention Dave Arneson as well as Gygax though… (Thanks Michael Tresca at the RPG Examiner and others for this story.)
- T.W. Wombat and the folks at The Gamer Assembly had their “Weekly Assembly” this week with some great links to D&D Next material, so definitely have to check that out…
- The Weem thinks that “D&D Next” should be “D&D Generations” and liked the idea so much he came up with a cool logo and everything!
- The Newbie DM just wants all the stats from those older products using older edition rules. He says it’s fine if WotC doesn’t want to make every page of every product available electronically, but they should consider offering the stats for each module updated to the current edition. He’d even pay a small cost just to get the info and plug and play in his own campaign. Is that too much to ask?
- Shawn Merwin at Critical Hits thinks he knows where D&D is heading. It will definitely be interesting to see if he’s right and where we are in a couple of years.
- And Benoit at Roving Band of Misfits has his thoughts on what the 5E “Living Campaign” will look like. And once again I see engaging the community (i.e. “Do something to boost local cons”) coming into play in a big way. Will WotC catch on and really get their fans involved again?
- Raging Swan Press just released So What’s the NPC Like, Anyway? this week, written by Creighton Broadhurst himself! Within its few pages you’ll find tables to help you create hundreds of memorable, well-rounded NPCs. Details include notable physical and personality traits, mannerisms, current activity and profession. I’m looking forward to this one myself, as I’m always looking for quick new ways to create unique NPCs on the fly.
- I mentioned Dark Tavern Press at the beginning of this post and they’re looking for more backers of their new RPG product – The Shroud of the Ancients, a D5 Role Playing Game created by Randy Miller and Roderick Edwards. The art looks great and the ideas are intriguing – the big hole in the middle of the map for the Lowlands in the World of Terrath is especially curious. I don’t think I’ve seen any worlds with that large a hole in the ground before! Please check it out at their Kickstarter page if you get a chance! They have 11 days left to raise more than $4000 as I write this, so they need the help.
- Also mentioned was Ignitus Innovation, who back in December 2011 launched their biggest product yet – Steamfunk! Though the name by itself was enough to get my attention, this rules-neutral Steampunk campaign setting has some great ideas for any 1800s or early 1900s-era game you may be running. It’s a gorgeous PDF and I look forward to checking it out soon myself.
- And lastly in the “already mentioned” category is the Mor Aldenn Setting Guide from Headless Hydra Games, which was also added back in December. This campaign guide, written for the Pathfinder RPG, is another one that looks great off the bat. The map that comes with the PDF is absolutely gorgeous and detailed, which gives me hope the book lives up to its promise!
- You may have noticed that I like maps! So I’m always happy to see cartographer Jonathan Roberts’ work come to light. Recently Rite Publishing released a map pack of maps for the Illfrost Temple – the Fantastic Maps: Illfrost Temple Map Pack Set, which includes the temple map, the approach to the temple, and the dungeon beneath.
- Though WotC has kicked off the “D&D Next” efforts already, they don’t seem content with just working on rules design. I think this is good! Rules are one part of the equation for sure, but helping people find the products and get help figuring out what to do with them are also very important. Bart Carroll at the WotC D&D blog called out some of the changes they’re considering for the web site – and they all sound spot on. Getting folks involved is key, so I’m happy to see this effort.
- Along the same lines, I found this page at the Third Eye Games site describing the “3EG Adepts” program, which encourages experts in 3EG products to reach out to new gamers and share their passion for 3EG. What do you get in return? Bragging rights, access to pre-release copies of products for testing, discounts, and more. If WotC doesn’t have something similar for D&D, they might want to investigate such a thing.
- “7 Questions of Doom.” That is so cool. I wish I’d come up with it! Paper & Plastic beat me to it and managed to interview Mike Olson on his involvement with the new Atomic Robo RPG coming from Evil Hat. Some great insight into how designers can be brought into projects.
- If you’re interested in what “_blank”>Green Ronin is up to in 2012, they cleared that up this week! Apparently 2011 ended well and they have the biggest staff ever, which is awesome. And there’s more Dragon Age on the way, more A Song of Ice and Fire, more Mutants & Masterminds and DC Adventures. It sounds like they’re keeping busy!
- Interested in some games to take your mind off all that “D&D Next” stuff? Nedjer at Thistle Games has some suggestions… A couple of card games based on Games Workshop’s Space Hulk and the world of vampires and werewolves. Fun!
- Or if you’re curious about Robert Bohl’s Misspent Youth RPG, which is quite unique – check out Jeremy Friesen’s review at Take On Rules last weekend. Very detailed and thorough.
- If you’re interested in WotC’s Book of Vile Darkness supplement for 4e, Mike Shea offers some ideas on how to use it. Though not really a review, he offers a unique spin with some solid details that should be helpful in applying evil with a bit more finesse.
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!
- News from Around the Net: 13-JAN-12 (Triskaidekaphobic Edition) (gameknightreviews.com)
- positive representation of gamers: mission accomplished from The Mule Abides (muleabides.wordpress.com)
- WotC rolling out a new edition from Geek Ken (geekken.blogspot.com)
- New edition of D&D – OnlineDM’s first take from Online Dungeon Master (onlinedm.wordpress.com)
- Pleading the 5th – Pondering on the Future of D&D from Geek’s Dream Girl” Dungeons & Dragons / RPGs (geeksdreamgirl.com)
- Monte Cook is Peyton Manning playing defense from JP on Gaming (jpchapleau.blogspot.com)
- The Real State of Dungeons & Dragons (critical-hits.com)