February!?! Where’d January go? Geesh!
Here in Colorado, the snow started to fly last night and we are in the first real winter storm in 2012. What does that mean for yours truly? Not much really… I work from home. But it will hopefully give me some time to work on a few side projects and get some reviews squared away for next week.
In other news, I’ve lucked into another gaming group recently. Jason and the guys are playing a long-term 4E campaign and we played for about five and a half hours last Sunday night. What filled the majority of the session was a three stage combat with varying waves of undead and an entertaining “Big Creature on Campus” at the end. If it wasn’t for a killer headache I had through a couple hours of the event I might have been a bit more with it as midnight approached.
Of course, that event (and the potential of gaming with Justin’s group the next day, though it was canceled) led to a post. So if you’re interested in potentially winning a $10 gift certificate to RPGNow/DriveThruRPG, chime and offer your best advice for an aging gamer who was more than a little wiped out come Monday morning. There have already been some interesting stories of much better time management than I usually apply and I’ll sum up the sage advice in next Wednesday’s post.
And if you missed it, the kind folks at Nevermet Press (thanks Jonathan!) set me loose on the NMP blog this week. I’m detailing a systemless setting you can drop into a fantasy or modern campaign if you have a desert that’s just crying out for a demonic adventure seed. Sometime in the next week or so I hope to have the next post in the series ready to go describing some of the fun personalities at play in the Oasis of Del Foor. Be sure to check it out!
So that’s it for me… Let’s get to some news, shall we?
Food for Thought
- Are you a fan of alternate histories? Sometimes I am and sometimes I’m not. But Mike @ Campaign Mastery has some amazing tips and techniques you should keep in mind if you want to use/define/create your own for gaming. And though it’s slanted towards use in RPGs, I bet the fiction writers out there might like his line of thinking as well.
- Yes, I believe in global warming. Why? Weather’s out of whack, the ice caps are melting, and it’s obvious we’ve done some serious damage as a species. But am I the only one who thinks that drilling a hole into a 20 million year old lake beneath Antarctica is a bad idea? At the very least it’s fodder for science fiction novelists, Syfy scriptwriters looking for the next Saturday night movie plot, and gamers expecting Cthulhu, some killer microbe, or aliens to pop out and kill us in our sleep. (Thanks Kyle Wagner @ Gizmodo for the nightmare material!)
- Girls like gaming? Heck yeah! And Becky Chambers @ The Mary Sue had a great article about why tabletop games are awesome for women (and everybody else). Whether or not you like gaming has nothing to do with gender in my book, so I’m glad to see more ladies embracing the hobby and having fun while doing so!
- Have you ever just wanted to get lost? Apparently that’s very easy to do in the catacombs under the city of Odessa. Get a look at this “real life megadungeon” in an article from John Johnson @ Musings from the Dungeon this week. And I thought a big corn maze was scary!
- We all know Cupid is getting ready to fire some arrows in a couple of weeks. So it’s somewhat fitting that Jonathan Jacobs @ Nevermet Press has kicked off the February RPG Carnival with this topic: “Things to Love, Things to Hate!” There are potentially a limitless number of “things” that could fit into this category, so it should be fun to see what folks come up with!
- The Online DM came up with a few “Quick Hits” this week covering everything from D&D Next to the Order of the Stick… My favorite part of the post? The mention of Kittens in a Blender. Yes, you read that right. Apparently it’s a goofy game where you try to rescue your kitties from a blender. Thankfully the game makers donate part of the proceeds to a no-kill shelter – but the name alone should get some interesting reactions when you bring it up!
- Race relations in RPGs. Funny enough, it’s not one of those things I’ve really pondered much. But apparently Berin Kinsman ran into an interesting question in his current campaign. What’s the offspring of a gnome and a halfling? Yeah, I don’t know either. But it’s definitely worth a read and a ponder… I wonder if there’s a gnomish MLK somewhere planning a “Million Gnome March”?
- Are you ever looking for movies or books to inspire ideas for your games? Wrath Of Zombie has quite an eclectic mix this week. And Locus Online offered a “recommended reading list” from authors all over the map from scifi to fantasy and beyond…
- If you’re considering using Kickstarter or IndieGoGo to fund a new game project, I’d encourage you to check out Michael Wolf’s tips @ Stargazer’s World this week. Common sense and making your contributors feel like they’re getting their moneys’ worth out of a contribution is a good thing!
Games and Gaming
- Need another reason to investigate The Keep on the Borderlands? This week Weem put together a beautiful new reimagining of the Caves of Chaos map that’s available for download in multiple sizes and formats. Why not dive in with your group this weekend?
- Traps. Every dungeon has a few. And every now and then you’ll find one that’s magical in nature. How exactly do you disarm a magical trap? Justin Alexander @ The Alexandrian has some cool ideas to ponder… From smudging sigils to counterchanting and everything in-between. What do your wizards do (or your rogues) when they encounter magical traps?
- Game balance is one of those tricky things. And as many of us have come to find out, clerics are a bit out of whack in the 4e rules. Bartoneous @ Critical Hits tells of his experience with this unbalance issue (and some player quirks too) as well how he handled it by playing a bard! Will balance be better addressed in D&D Next? Who knows? But it’s good to know folks have some workarounds in the meantime!
- If you’re looking for some strange places to visit in your games, look no further than The Hellmouth. No, we’re not talking Buffy the Vampire Slayer here. This is one of the “Arch-Dungeons of Adel” from Dennis Santana @ The Spirits of Eden. Nothing like a few demons and a shifting set of tunnels to spoil your PC’s day, right? (Speaking of spoiled days, Dennis needs some help and is looking for writing opportunities to help pay some bills. If GKR made any money I’d help out in a heartbeat as his writing style is amazing. If you can help him out – give him an opportunity to use his skills please. You won’t regret it.)
- Robin Laws is one of those designers who is always a bit ahead of the curve, but most of the time we get where he’s going eventually. He’s been working on a new RPG system called “DramaSystem” and the first game using the system is called Hillfolk. No, this isn’t the Hatfields and the McCoys kind of “hillfolk.” Hillfolk enables the players and GM together to tell stories about iron age raiders “struggling to protect and enrich their clan at a time of clashing empires.” Guess what? It’s now open for playtesting and Laws and Pelgrane Press are looking for help. Ready to lend a hand?
- I love this idea. Thoryn @ Skyland Games is doing a good job of spreading the word about gaming-related Kickstarter projects that are interesting… Check out this week’s article for news on the Monster Stand-ins project (and don’t forget the Monster Stock Art project!) as well as the Tephra project – a steampunk RPG I wasn’t aware of. Great stuff! (Thorynn also had a great article this week providing links to some dungeon building resources, so I’d encourage you to check out Skyland Games’ blog frequently!)
- As if you need another reason to love those devious kobolds at Kobold Quarterly. Until Valentine’s Day, the kobold guards have left their posts and you can grab a free issue of KQ to peruse while they’re distracted… Go to the KQ Store, add issue #14 to your cart, and enter the coupon code KoboldWelcome at checkout to snatch a PDF copy of your own. (You might as well give in and get a subscription while you’re there. The kobolds have yet to put an issue together that doesn’t give me a few “things that make me go hmmmm”!)
- Have you heard about Scott Malthouse’s new rules system – USR: Unbelievably Simple Role-playing? It’s available for free at 1KM1KT and I’ll be curious to see how he extends it for various genres.
- Flames Rising announced this week that Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land is finally available on iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) from developer Red Wasp Design working with Chaosium. This game has been on my radar for quite a while and I’ll be interested to read a few reviews before I check it out myself…
- Flames Rising also announced that Tales of the Far West is available – a fiction anthology featuring twelve new tales written for Adamant Entertainment’s upcoming Wuxia-Western mash-up. I have a copy of this sitting in my (electronic) review pile and I’m very excited to dive in when I get a chance!
- Erik Tenkar @ Tenkar’s Tavern has kept the D&D Next/5e conversation going lately. And one of his articles this week asked a great question. Why is it one of the goals of 5E to unite the editions? Because people need to be able to play the game they want to play, of course!
- Do you need to describe a pirate ship? Creighton Broadhurst and Raging Swan Press have a product for you – So What’s the Pirate Ship Like, Anyway? Quickly create a ship with a name, the name of the captain, the flag, the figurehead, and much more…
- If you’re looking for a different pirate resource (arrrrr!), Steve Russell @ Rite Publishing just released 101 Pirates and Privateer Traits for PFRPG, which offers “an armada o’ new options ta sake the thirst of the most fervent corsair while allowing ye ta keep yar vision of a character upon the high seas!” Aye aye sir! (And if you’re looking for more free PFRPG materials, check out the latest Pathways from Rite Publishing while you’re at it!)
- Or maybe it’s the name of an NPC the PCs just encountered? Raging Swan has you covered there too, with So What’s the Human Called, Anyway? 500 first names and 250 last names of Anglo-Saxon, Finnish, Greek, Roman, and Viking origin. This one might be just as useful for PCs looking for character names as GMs!
- Need more reasons to check out the Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box? Kenneth Minjian @ Paradigm Infinitum has a great review of the whole package this week!
- Here’s another game I need to check out – Dungeon World by Sage Latawa and Adam Koebel. Scott Boehmer @ This is My Game recently played in a session of Dungeon World run by Brent Newhall. The review is good and focuses on a few of the more interesting mechanics, but I love the concept of having three states for action resolutions – success, failure, and success with a tradeoff. How might that be used at gaming tables around the world I wonder? (For more information about Dungeon World, check out their website.)
- Have you wondered what it’s like playing the bad guys? Over at Dan Wells’ blog, he offers a great review of the Warhammer 40k game Black Crusade where you play the villains instead of the heroes… Lots of good food for thought – and yes, playing evil isn’t for everyone, but it can give you a new perspective every now and then!
- Jatori @ Tenletter had a chance to post some thoughts about Kobold Quarterly #20 this week, suggesting that with all that great content how could you not pick up a copy!
- Thunderstone from AEG apparently is a deck-building game that includes some dungeon crawling aspects. Wombat’s Gaming Den of Iniquity has a great writeup about it this week… And the review goes into solid detail about strategy, the game components, and more. If you like Dominion, this might be right up your alley…
- I’ve seen The Legend of Drizzt over at my friend Justin’s house and he’s itching to play it. And after reading Peter Ruth II’s review @ G*M*S Magazine we may have to set up a gaming session where that’s all we do.
That’s it for this week on the news front. If I fit much more into this post it may explode. But be sure to check out the Bundlr links below for others I couldn’t fit in!
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!
- Favorite Site of the Month – Feb/2012 from STUFFER SHACK (stuffershack.com)
- Quick Hits: January 2012 from Online Dungeon Master (onlinedm.wordpress.com)
- And the Winners of the 2012 NYNG Challenge Are… (gnomestew.com)
- Publisher Interview: Joseph Goodman of Goodman Games (gameknightreviews.com)
- Barking Alien Questions from Ravenous Role Playing (ravenousrpg.com)