Nothing like a good challenge to kick the week off on the right track. This week my wife was out of town at a veterinary conference and I got to play single dad for a few days. Just like every other time this happens, I have more and more respect for true single parents. I’m not sure I’d last long on my own.
The challenge came when I had one kid home from school sick for two days and then we managed to have a snow day. Karma is laughing at me, I know it.
Anyhoo… Even though I was a wee bit distracted, it was a busy week around here.
Two reviews – one for a post-apocalyptic 4E supplement with robots and the other for a collection of short fiction where east meets west. Both were fun.
Not to mention an enlightening article from Bart @ Lans Macabre about how the ACTA legislation effort in Europe might affect gamers if it actually gets pushed through… and an interview with Jonathan Jacobs at Nevermet Press!
Beyond that, the final installment of the “Points in a Map” series about the Oasis of Del Foor and the Demon in Ashid went live at the Nevermet Press blog. It was fun to put together and now I’m working on the next “place” to visit. If you have any wacky ideas, feel free to let me know in the comments!
Next week we’ll see a similar pattern at GKR – a couple of reviews, the Gassy Gnoll will air another opinion, and we’ll hear a bit more from Christina Stiles about the Journeys to the West project at Open Design.
But enough about that… Let’s get to the news, shall we?
Food for Thought
- Michael Tresca @ the RPG Examiner talked about the decline in video game sales and the rise in hobby games sales over the last 12 months. Hard to believe that video games could be in a decline, but a 38% decline in video game hardware and software sales says otherwise. And collectible card games, miniatures, and RPGs have risen by 25% over the same time frame. Could being social during an economic downturn help our industry after all?
Along the same lines, ICV2 released their “Top 5 RPGs” list for Q4 2011 this week. And I can’t say that I’m shocked by any of the titles in the top 5. What do you think?
- As for something not directly related to gaming, but could help folks like myself and others who may get stuck in ruts from time to time with our writing… Clay Johnson @ Lifehacker points out that it pays to “start every day as a producer, not a consumer.” Such a simple thought might be enough to change my morning habit slightly to climb back out of my well-worn rut…
- In a similar vein was this post from Alan Henry @ Lifehacker last week about embracing your bad ideas. Sure you’re going to have them – we all do – but by taking the good with the bad we end up with more food for thought, right? More ideas (regardless of whether they’re good or bad) is what we’re after! So when you’re doing that writing first thing in the morning, put the editor aside and lock up the critic – just let the ideas fall where they may…
- In the “where are the giant Venus Fly-traps?” department we have a group of Russian scientists bringing 30,000 year old seeds back to life. Didn’t they read Jurassic Park? Might make for an interesting backdrop to a campaign however with a near- or far-future Earth taken over by prehistoric plants… (Thanks Eileen Marable at DVICE!)
- The developing story around the hate mongers who managed to personify intolerance on the Internet so that even the trolls were offended just ticks me off. Jennifer Hepler is one of the writers at BioWare who’s been involved in many projects including the Dragon Age games and Star Wars: The Old Republic. And she made a comment to the effect that she liked narrative games more than combat/twitchy games and that she sometimes like writing games more than playing them apparently pissed some people off. Yes, you’re entitled to your opinions. And you’re entitled to object to someone else’s opinions. But get it through your thick skulls that bullying in any form is juvenile, damaging, and simply not necessary under any circumstances. Jennifer, I hope you find a way to get past this and continue writing for BioWare despite the experience you just went through. (Thanks Michael Tresca @ The RPG Examiner)
- Quinnae Moongazer @ Border House also chimed in on this horrible situation with Hepler. And where the visceral mean reaction of those people on the internet was thoughtless, Quinnae’s response is thoughtful. Definitely worth reading to get a different take on the situation.
- Do you ever have those times you just want to walk down a street in 1876 London? Well if so, check out this article at the Retronaut which offers an amazing glimpse of the era through some crisp black and white photographs… Great for background when playing in a pulp or Victorian-era game!
Games and Gaming
- It appears that Johnn Four is expressing his evil streak at Campaign Mastery this week with an article about “Evil GM Tricks for Over-Resting PCs.” I hit the “5 minute adventuring day” a few times even playing D&D 3E, but in 4E it’s worse. You know the trend – you blow everything in the first battle of the day and then have to rest up the rest of the day to get your daily powers back? Johnn has some great tips on how to avoid this situation. And yes, some ARE evil!
- Do high-powered spells ruin your fantasy roleplaying at times? Steve Winter @ Kobold Quarterly thinks they do – especially spells like fireball, fly, teleport, and others. And though part of me agrees that they can be overused at times, the gamer in me wants to blast things with fireballs when I get a chance. But even more interesting than the article was the commentary down below – be sure to check it out. What a variety of perspectives…
- Alignment. Love it or hate it, it’s one of the staples of RPGs since D&D. I like the tweaks Nick @ Troll in the Corner discussed this week. His system is more of a gray scale between Law and Chaos on one axis and Altruism and Selfishness on the other.
- Epic-level Gaming in 4E is still a hot topic these days, as evidenced by a fun article by Vanir @ Critical Hits about the top 10 problems nobody thinks about playing epic. Personally I like “Nobody lets you talk normal anymore” and “Your friends will all think you’re an a**”.
- DNAPhil @ Gnome Stew had a great idea for pacing mysteries a bit better. He came up with “Clue Cards” which allow him to put a clue – like a picture or a phrase or anything really – on a 3×5 card that he could then hand to a player and they could refer to while solving the mystery… I think these could almost be used in just about any campaign to help the players manage discrete bits of important information throughout a series of adventures… Brilliant, my Dear Watson!
- Regardless of whatever version of D&D you play, you may have run across situations where an encounter is either too powerful or not powerful enough for a group of characters. It’s like when you wander too far off the beaten path in Skyrim and suddenly have a group of giants beating you with what look like tree trunks. Chris Hackler @ Gaming Tonic says that D&D Next has to offer a way for monsters and NPCs to scale better or our heroes stay relatively flat during their adventuring careers… What do you think?
- Ari Marmell @ Mouseferatu has a slightly different goal for D&D Next. He’d like to see creativity be rewarded and the rules be a bit more open ended. Personally I’ve never thought of using Feather Fall as an offensive spell – but now that I’ve read this article I might have to revisit some of those classic spells to see what else I might be able to twist. But I definitely agree with him – we need flexibility to encourage creativity!
- Joseph Goodman at Goodman Games has expressed his growing excitement for the impending release of the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game on this very blog, but I have to say this gold foil cover is pretty darned cool. A basic black with gold printing looks sweet with that skull!
- Congrats to the guys at Save Versus Death behind the fourthcore movement… They just released a first anniversary edition of Revenge of the Iron Lich and it sounds great. New look, a bit of rework love, some new challenges, and more! I’m definitely adding it to my list to check out…
- The Paizo folks have done a great thing to get talented writers in to work on Pathfinder-inspired novels, and Dave Gross is one of those talented writers. The first part of an interview with Dave went live at Flames Rising this week about his writing – with some great insights into how he works and structures his books.
- Do you want to run a Buffy the Vampire Slayer campaign but don’t have the right system to do so? Check out the School Daze Kickstarter project from Tracy Barnett! It may just have the locker doors you’re looking for!
- How does $2,011 sound? Pretty good, doesn’t it? Well, courtesy of the RPG Countdown you might be able to win that chunk of change yourself! Simply listen to the top 100 hot products of 2011 podcast, buy one of them, submit your receipt, and hope it gets drawn out of the proverbial hat!
- As Green Ronin Publishing continues to introduce the cast of characters helping to create all their great products, we keep meeting folks and finding out how they got involved at GR… This week we learn about Evan Sass, the IT Director for Green Ronin!
- Creighton and all the folks at Raging Swan Press continue to impress with the number of new products each week. This week we have Random Hill Encounters and So What’s That Shiny Thing, Anyway?. Something tells me that some of the beasties on the hill may have some shiny things so you could buy both and use them right away!
- Over at Flames Rising they just released a new collection of author Eddy Webb’s works called Slices of Fate. Webb is a writer, game designer, transmedia developer, and apparently he has a supervillain cat! The collection includes Webb’s fiction over the course of several years.
- The new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game was released this week by Margaret Weis Productions and among the first reviews I saw was one from pointyman2000 (Jay Anyong) @ Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer. The concept of having a collaborative approach to the shared world as well as losing gracefully is very intriguing… What do you guys think about it so far?
- Meanwhile, the Dread Gazebo did a thoughtful review of The Book of Vile Darkness for 4E this week. And as much as I like it when enchanted gazebos can talk (or in this case write), I really like that the review take a bit deeper look than “I like it” or “I don’t”. The book is definitely not for everybody, but has some interesting thoughts to explore.
- Story games are really taking off these days and Emily Short offered her thoughts about a game called A Penny For My Thoughts which sounds quite interesting. Though I’m not great at this style of gaming, the concepts are amazing and watching people who are good at it can be a ton of fun.
- Do you find yourself in need of a compass rose for your maps? Check out this cool one from David Flor @ A Walk in the Dark. He created his own and is offering it as a download!
That’s it for this week on the news front. If you want a bit more, check out the Weekly Roundup at Roving Band of Misfits, the Weekly Assembly from Gamer Assembly, and Chris Hackler’s “What’s Up With D&D?” at ENWorld. There’s definitely plenty of news go go around!
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!
- The Changing Face of Games: Feeling Angry and Ignored, Fans Look for Someone to Blame (forbes.com)
- Nerd Rage against the Hepler (furnerdy.wordpress.com)
- BioWare Defends Dragon Age Writer of the Day (geeks.thedailywh.at)
- BioWare Writer Describes Her Gaming Tastes; Angry Gamers Call Her a “Cancer” [Bioware] (kotaku.com)