Another week buried in Java code. But I did get some gaming in last Sunday thanks to Jason, Mark, Jonathan, Ben, and Ben! Sure, we were stuck in a sewer for the majority of the evening, but hey… it was a very nice sewer and it even had a hook on the wall to hang a bawling infant during a battle. Now there’s an image that will stick with me for a while…
And I started hanging out in a second gaming-related IRC chat room this week – with the Gamer Assembly folks. What a fun group that is! And it complements the other IRC game channel I hang out in with the folks from Stargazer’s World. Now I can truly be distracted every minute of every day, but in a good way talking about a passion of mine. Of course, that doesn’t help me get stuff done for work, but hey…
Hopefully everybody else had a great week!
Here on Game Knight Reviews, we had a full week of posts – an adventure seed from Robert Oglodzinski of Library of Ancient Scroll, a new series of guest posts from Raging Swan’s Creighton Broadhurst, an interview with Chris Merwin of BlackStar Games, an odd opinion piece from the Gassy Gnoll, and a couple of shadowy reviews – Shadowed Keep on the Borderland from Raging Swan Press and The Shadow Vale Player’s Guide from Torn World.
This coming week I’ll be out of town at a work-related conference, but I’ll try to keep the posts coming. If anyone else would like to help out with a guest post or review this week, I’d love to hear from ya! Drop me a note via the contact page or drop me an e-mail at news(at)gameknightreviews(dot)com and let’s chat!
Food for Thought
- Ahhh… Swordfights. There’s something about the style and finesse of a good one on screen that just seems to resonate with many of us. An article this week from Annalee Newitz @ io9 reminded me of a few of my favorites (including the #1 Princess Bride scene). A few years ago I even came up with a list of my own favorites at my other blog (largely neglected these days), Lair of the Green Knight. Did Annallee or I miss any good ones? I’m sure there have to be a few!
- Before you just start drawing a new dungeon, do you ever think about why it’s there in the first place? Or what the story is? How much the characters might glean simply from its layout and design? Great food for thought at The Megadungeon this week contemplating some of these questions and the goal of the project.
- Or maybe you’re creating a campaign world? BryanMD @ Intwischa has some great questions to ask yourself as you start working on a new world… What makes it different than the others? Who are the heroes? What do the heroes actually do? This is actually part 2 of the series and part 1 has just as many interesting things to ponder.
- How do abstractions in game rules affect your game play? The Gazebo @ The Dread Gazebo wonders if they get in the way of the fun factor at all… And I kind of agree, though 4e has definitely streamlined things enough that I can quickly re-learn (after a few weeks of not playing) the rules and not have to flounder for too long before I get my rules-legs under me in a session. So there are pluses and minuses I think.
- Meanwhile, Erik Tenkar @ Tenkar’s Tavern took a bit of issue with Mike & Monte’s latest talk about playing a D&D Next adventure in 60 minutes. I’ve never had a tabletop RPG last less than an hour and I’ve had some that have run for up to 8-10 hours. Well, I take that back. I did run a lunchtime campaign at work one time that went a few sessions… What do you think? Is it really possible to have a meaningful game in that little time?
- Michael @ Neuroglyph Games had similar reservations about achieving a “perfect” D&D experience… Apparently that series of articles from Mike Mearls and Bruce Cordell really set some folks off this week!
- If you’re into the Steampunk movement, you’ll like this. A ticker-tape machine for Twitter! When I saw it I in Paul Ridden’s article @ Gizmag, I immediately wondered what kind of social media might exist in a Steampunk world and how it might manifest… Any ideas?
- I’m an unabashed lover of Kobold Quarterly. I’ll admit it. So I was excited to see the latest incarnation of the kobold appear in the Kobold Artistry contest! Congratulations to Terry Maranda for winning the contest with “Krik the Knifer” – very cool. That little green guy looks scared!
- Love or hate Wil Wheaton, I think he is definitely a gamer at heart. And his new effort – Tabletop, a show on Felicia Day’s new YouTube Channel “Geek and Sundry” - looks like it should be a lot of fun. The fact that Wheaton described like “Celebrity Poker meets Dinner for Five” won me over before I even watched the trailer. But you can see for yourself…
Games and Gaming
- Andy (GGG) @ Geek’s Dream Girl had a great article this week about adding some little touches to your campaign to bring a bit of life to the background… Things like rumors, changes to the cast of NPCs, weather, and economics make a huge difference in making an imaginary place become a bit more real in your players’ minds. Though they may seem little, they add up quickly!
- VBWyrde @ Elthos RPG had a much longer list of GMing tips and tricks to share this week. Everything from encouraging player interaction and game prep, to achieving a bit of your own GMing style. Good tips for GMs new and experienced!
- Looking for a few sewer or cellar encounters? Hereticwerks has you covered with a list of 20 random things you can throw in to add some color to the darkness… I like #17 myself and will make sure to have a light ready…
- Or maybe you’re looking for a randomized way to get an idea for a campaign? Rolang’s Creeping Doom has your back there with a d50 table to get you started. When I tried it, I achieved a very interesting combination. The PC’s know each other as rival snake oil salesmen (49), meeting in a tavern (2), during a mass emigration (68) when the birds disappear (90). Is their snake oil to blame for the sudden bird deaths? Why are the people emigrating? This has some potential!
- Do you have issues playing “evil”? Unless I’m GMing, I definitely do. There’s just something that feels off when I play a true selfish bastard. But Nick @ Troll in the Corner has some ideas on how to approach it as a player or GM. And he raises some good points about being evil not meaning you have to slaughter everyone. It *can* be more subtle.
- Switching paradigms between rules systems can sometimes be difficult, but I’ve not seen any articles (until now) on some of the issues. Andy Slack @ Halfway Station came up with a list of the differences between D&D and Savage Worlds and it’s quite enlightening. I’d like to see this sort of thing discussed for other games as well, just as sort of a Rosetta Stone to compare games and wrap your head around the diffs…
- Thinking of creating a campaign for kids? Check out this new article (the beginning of a new series) from Alric @ The RPG Athenaeum. I love getting a kid’s creativity into campaign and world building… Major villains, map making, and pure fun!
- If you’ve missed Steve Winter’s columns at Kobold Quarterly lately, I’d encourage you to check them out. Each so far has been thought provoking and well written on the hobby of tabletop roleplaying. The latest one is all about dungeons…
- Kickstarter projects are getting tons of attention these days, but Morrus’ article @ ENWorld about making retailer-friendly projects is the first that covers making successful projects from that angle. With a few key links (such as to this article by Gary Ray of Black Diamond Games) and good examples of projects with success in this area and tips to help, there’s good advice to be had here folks…
- Speaking of Kickstarter and projects going gangbusters, checkout Dinocalypse Now from Fred Hicks and Evil Hat. This is a fiction project built around the world of Spirit of the Century, a FATE-based RPG set in a pulpy 1920s timeframe. The stories sound like tons of fun (psychic dinosaurs invade Manhattan!), so be sure to check it out. They’re well into stretch goals territory now, so I can hardly wait to see what Fred & company come up with!
- I’ve also been talking to Eloy Lasanta of Third Eye Games, who has a new Kickstarter RPG project for kids. I’m excited about this one too – Mermaid Adventures! Based on the bright, colorful art, and the simple system documented so far, this would be great to get kids used to roleplaying at an early age. I’m hoping to try it out over the summer with my two daughters when soccer season is done. There’s a lot to like already if Eloy can integrate The Little Mermaid, Hook, and Stardust under one rule set!
- I love talking about good news. A.L. @ Reality Refracted this week gushed over the great customer service from Margaret Weis Productions. I wish we saw more of this positive feedback show up on the ‘net!
- And speaking of good news, last week I talked about the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter project, which is still going crazy (up to $1.5 million already with 24 more days to go)… Well, this week the folks behind this product talked about a new effort to “kick it forward” - taking some % of the money raised and setting it aside to help out other Kickstarter projects. I was blown away and apparently I’m not the only one. Now there’s a new site – KickingItForward.org – dedicated to this cause, acting as a promise to put 5% of their finished product profits back into other KS projects. How cool is that? Hopefully other KS projects (not just computer games – it’s open to everybody) will help keep this effort going. Kickstarter Karma!!
- Another new Kickstarter project I discovered through this article at Flames Rising is a collection of Call of Cthulhu scenarios called “Bumps in the Night.” I fondly remember playing CoC in college, so I’m sure this 120 page book of thrills and chills would be a fun way to explore that setting again and get a bit more Lovecraft in my day… Unfortunately I’ve already pledged nearly $150 this month already and already contributed nearly $300 since the beginning of the year. I think I’ve broken my budget!!
- Interested in how the GAMA Trade Show went this year? Trask @ Living Dice went and wrote up a good summary of some of the high points… Report 1, Report 2, and Report 3 offer some insights into the various parts of the show.
- Pantheon Press has one of the more interesting game worlds I’ve seen with Fortune’s Fool, so it was fun to learn a bit more about Pantheon and Rob Trimarco in an interview by Tony Law @ the Ennie Awards site. Fortune’s Fool received a Judge’s Spotlight Award, so it’s great to see them get more recognition!
- Another great interview this week was with Jennifer Steen of Jennisodes at the Id DM. It’s always interesting to hear how productive some folks are – 90 episodes and counting in 2 years is nearly an episode a week, which is amazing. And now I have another podcast I need to catch up on…
- If you missed it this week, Raging Swan released a new sandbox adventure for PFRPG – Shadowed Keep on the Borderland. I even had a chance to review it a bit early!
- Witamous @ A Game of Whit’s did a review of Trail of Cthulhu last weekend and it really makes me wish I had more time to try it myself! It’s been sitting on my shelf waiting for an opportunity to try out the GUMSHOE system. Anybody else given it a shot?
- Looking for a new game? Wizards of the Coast has released Lords of Waterdeep, the latest D&D-themed board game! And Andrew Zimmerman Jones @ Black Gate had a chance to check it out… As did Liudas Butkus @ GBDeo… And it’s earning high marks!
- If you’re looking for a new alternate history novel for some ideas, I’ve heard some great things about David J. Kowalski’s novel The Company of the Dead already and it hasn’t been out all that long! Alyssa C @ Nerd Trek just posted a very positive review and now I’m even more interested in reading it!
- Berin Kinsman wrote up a short review of the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game from Margaret Weis Productions this week. Sounds like he has some reservations about it, but overall it has a lot to offer gamers new and old.
- The first I’d seen of Arcanis was a year or so ago at Free RPG Day, so I was curious to read Megan Robertson’s review of The Arcanis RPG: Core Rulebook @ G*M*S Magazine. I had no idea Arcanis had been around for a decade or more! But sounds like it may be something I need to check out eventually.
- I’ve been curious to see/hear more about the new Pathfinder minis from Paizo, so I was happy to read the review of a few figures at Icosahedrophilia. Sounds like I might have to check these out in person sometime soon…
- Are you looking for an easy way to do some virtual tabletop gaming via Google+? Check out Tabletop Forge! Stan Shinn over at RPGHacker offered some great details this week about the current beta and how you can try it out!
- Do you use miniatures in your battles? Check out this cool article at Shaper & Maker about creating some unique terrain for an old cemetery… I doubt I’m artistic enough to put one of these together.
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! (And there are a few other articles in this week’s Bundlr roundup as well!)
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!
- Friday Knight News, Gaming Edition: 16-MAR-2012 (gameknightreviews.com)
- The Lost GM Scrolls: Mike Mearls on Legos, Cinder Lords, and the City of Brass from Kobold Quarterly (koboldquarterly.com)
- Wizards Watch: Save or Die Spells, Clerics-in-a-Tincan & One-Hour D&D… Really? from NEUROGLYPH Games (neuroglyphgames.com)
- The Straitjacket of “The Adventure” from Greyhawk Grognard (greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com)
- Wizard’s Watch: The Quest for Grand Unified D&D? from NEUROGLYPH Games (neuroglyphgames.com)