Another week has zipped by… Where does the time go? No gaming this weekend unfortunately, but I gamed last weekend so I really can’t complain much. Every two or three weeks seems to be a good schedule. Not so far apart that I forget what we were doing and have to relearn the system, but not so close together that I’ve not recovered from the last late night. (It sucks being a grown-up sometimes!)
We’ve been busy here at GKR. We had the latest article in Creighton Broadhurst’s series on campaigns. I reviewed Enemies of NeoExodus: The Folding Circle for Pathfinder. And you may have seen an article this week from my alter-ego The Gassy Gnoll about rekindling creativity for better roleplaying. Seems I’m out of practice and need to exercise that improvisational spirit a bit more. Plus we had an in-depth interview with Patrick Kapera and Alex Flagg from Crafty Games.
On the improvisational practice front, there were some good suggestions from the folks at Reddit (get into the character mindset prior to playing, avoid distractions, use Rory’s Story Cubes to get some creative juices flowing, come up with character goals, play different types of characters to keep things fresh, find character motivations that involve change) as well as on the article itself (try meditation, find a one-line “hook” and build on it). A big thank you goes out to everybody who offered tips and techniques!
Coming up this weekend we have a new article from Robert Oglodzinski (Library of Ancient Scroll) and the next article from Creighton Broadhurst (Raging Swan Press)… And next week, a new review, more Gassy Gnoll, and who knows what else? Stay tuned!
So on that note… On to the news!
Food for Thought
D&D Next (or 5E) continues to be a hot topic around the webz these days… Michael @ Neuroglyph Games summed up some ideas about “Cleric Class Confusion” this week after some of Mike Mearls recent articles like “Cleric Design Goals”… Chris Hackler @ Gaming Tonic wonders if 5E will include Vancian magic and a more manageable set of casting rules that scales better than 3.5e… And the sudden departure of Monte Cook from the D&D Next team and Mike Mearls’ announcement of a public playtest starting May 24th…
- Like Legos? Need a dice tower? Check this out!
- Or maybe you’re looking for some new faery-tale-fodder for adventure ideas? A new crop of tales from the days of the Grimms have been uncovered in Germany and are being translated to English! (Thanks Lauren Davis @ io9!)
- Looking for historical photos from New York City as far back as the 1880s? The New York City Department of Records has launched an online gallery with nearly 900,000 photos, maps, audio, and more to browse through (thanks to the Laughing Squid for the link!). Talk about great fodder for a Spirit of the Century campaign at the end of the 19th century!
- Are you ever stuck being the group mapper for your campaign? Mine never turn out as good as these over at Roles, Rules & Rolls!
- Have you ever read “The Seven Geases” from Clark Ashton Smith? Me either until this week. Apparently it represents a literary expression of D&D to many folks. Tavis Allison @ The Mule Abides takes another look at this classic story and raises some good points to ponder!
- Yes, this blog focuses 90% on tabletop roleplaying, but occasionally I have to pull in off-the-wall articles to think about. Gamasutra posted an article this week about the “power of imagination” in games, comparing Skyrim and Mass Effect and their different approaches to the gaming experience. One is more sandbox and the other is linear… I wonder if similar comparisons of imagination-engagement styles could be used for RPGs. I suspect that it would be entirely dependent on the GM and group, but might be an interesting exercise nonetheless…
Games and Gaming
- How do you feel as a GM about killing characters? I was always hesitant to do so, but sometimes the dice gods must be satisfied. Death is never easy. I’ve had characters go in meaningless ways, by accident, and in amazing fiery balls of glory. Over at the Cheeseshop, he has a few ideas about times when it may be ok to snuff out a PC. What do you think?
- Chris Perkins has been GMing for a long time and is involved in D&D… So what do you think “Kitchen Sinks and Frying Pans” covers about a recent GM experience? I won’t spoil it, but it involves a big blue dragon!
- CWhite @ Intwischa has been playing a game of The Dresden Files and has been pondering how the idea of FATE’s Aspects could be used in non-FATE games. He offers an intriguing mashup of D&D and FATE to consider, with a great list of questions good for any player trying to learn more about a character!
- Do you ever play characters on the dark side? You know… those guys who wear black hats? Jason @ The Surly Gamer suggests that you ought to – because it might be fun. Sounds like a good reason to me…
- Do you need some monks in your setting? Check out Geek Ken’s “Esoteric Monasteries of the Etholician Monks” for some great details that are system-independent and could be used with little effort in a variety of genres. And the lycanthropy rumors are a deft touch…
- Do you ever miscast spells? We had a game session last weekend where I couldn’t believe how many 1s were rolled on everything from casting spells to saving throws. But Rolang has you covered with some twisted consequences the next time you miscast something… I like #1, #10, and #5 – not necessarily in that order, and not done to my characters!
- PCs sometimes… forget the law when they’re in a civilized area. Have you ever put them on trial for it? The Id DM offers his own experiences with such a situation and it really sounds like the players stepped up to the challenge. (And if that wasn’t enough, check out Iddy’s article “Dungeon Master: Theory & Practice”! Does he sleep?!)
- In a similar vein, Alric @ RPG Athenaeum brings up some good ways to bring law and order to civilized parts of your fantasy setting. Heaven forbid we actually add law enforcement to the “Wild West” approach many players seem to expect when roleplaying. But putting some boundaries in place like tithing, the “hue and cry” and a sheriff’s ability to conscript a posse to find, capture, and put to the law those who break it sounds like a great idea to me.
- Have you ever tried converting a module, monster, or character from one system to another and had it go horribly wrong? Well, John Arcadian @ Gnome Stew has written up a primer on how to make it easier. The prime directive? “Figure out what you want from the source material and don’t do more work than you have to.” Yup – makes sense to me!
- I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of the G4 network and regularly watch Attack of the Show. But I’ve not seen them cover tabletop gaming before this week… During Earth Week they decided to cover D&D as a “Green Game” and offered a beginner’s guide to get you started. Rock on G4 Staff!
- Along the same lines – I know this hasn’t really started yet, but Mark’s “D&D University” over at Dice Monkey is set to start next week! I’ll be curious to see what the homework looks like…
- Have you ever noticed that sometimes GMs play encounters out to the bitter end despite the fact that the monsters and NPCs should have cut and run long ago because they were being beaten badly? DeadOrcs @ This is My Game has… And brings up the “morale” concept, which I thought worked great for earlier versions of D&D. I like DeadOrcs’ idea of adding morale to the stat block for 5E – it would certainly simplify things a bit!
- Do you want the secret to designing a great dungeon? Check out this post describing each dungeon as a collection of scenes and what the basic site types are from Brent Newhall @ Troll in the Corner. I’ll never look at a dungeon the same way again!
- The Wayne Foundation Charity RPG Pack is near! This year’s pack will be available next Friday, May 4th and include over $200 worth of great products from publishers like Wicked North, Evil Hat, Chaotic Shiny, Jon Brazer Enterprises, Kobold Quarterly, Purple Duck, Troll in the Corner, and many others. (Thanks Ben @ Troll in the Corner for organizing this cool effort!) All of it can be yours for $25, which goes to the Wayne Foundation which deserves kudos and plenty of support…
- Sometimes we end up with more than we can use when we ask for input… Apparently Chris Dinkins & Jeremy L.C. Jones @ Kobold Quarterly had that happen a few years ago when they asked for GM advice! “The Lost GM Scrolls” this week offers some insights into what Mike Mearls thinks is important for GMs to keep in mind when designing and running encounters…
- WotC’s Bart Carroll continues to offer snippets of the new Dungeon Survival Handbook on the D&D blog… This time it’s about Aboleths and Umber Hulks. After watching a friend of mine play an Umber Hulk PC back in college, I have a soft spot in my heart for those tough bugs!
- Interested in trying an easy RPG for a change? Paul @ Blog of Holding suggests we check out D4 Basic from Two Kings Publishing… The game is in beta testing now, so why not give it a go?
- Raging Swan Press is at it again with So What’s the Weapon Like, Anyway? from designer Richard Green… Have you ever needed a better description than “it’s a masterwork longsword”? Then this book could be your answer! (Check it out at RPGNow!)
- Cthulhu and atomic weapons. Doesn’t sound like a great combination for mankind, does it? Well, Chaosium is releasing Atomic-Age Cthulhu, focusing on 1950s adventures for Call of Cthulhu, sometime later this year! I may have to find a lead-lined refrigerator to hide in like Indiana Jones soon…
- Ben @ Troll in the Corner posted a release for FableForge’s flagship RPG this week – Enter the Shadowside. Paranormal investigation in an almost Millennium-sounding (TV, FOX many moons ago) way with a “single theory to explain all paranormal phenomena and most religions under one umbrella.” Intrigued? Me too! Get more details at the FableForge website… And the book includes a cool 16-page full-color comic too!
- Tony Law @ the Ennies site had a chance to interview Johnn Four of Roleplaying Tips fame this week. Johnn is a great guy with many irons in the fire, so it’s great to see him get some community love!
- Do you remember Voltron from your childhood (or streaming on Netflix!)? Have you ever longed to play or GM a game where a team comes together to create a giant robotic warrior? Well, now’s your chance with Chris Perrin’s Mecha Combiners supplement for the Mecha Role Playing Game! For only a few bucks you can relive your childhood fantasies in a tabletop roleplaying game!
- Roll20 has been getting beaucoup notice this week and it’s already gone through the roof – blowing its funding goal out of the water by collecting more than 5x its original goal. And it still has a couple of days to go! If you haven’t checked it out yet, I’d encourage you to do so… More choices in tools for online tabletop RPGs is awesome!
- I have to admit that I never played Ogre from Steve Jackson Games, but I remember hearing about it around the same time some of my friends were playing Car Wars. Well, it’s back as a Kickstarter – the Ogre Designer’s Edition – and it’s also blown its goals out of the water, raising more than $300,000 with two weeks left to go. Wow. There are some die-hard Ogre fans out there!
- LPJ Design has entered the Kickstarter waters with NeoExodus Adventure: Origin of Man for Pathfinder. If you are a fan of the NeoExodus world, I encourage you to hop on the supporter train for this one!
- Some days, you feel like a mutant in a post-apocalyptic world – so why not play one in Gamma World 4E? (Maybe it’s just me?) Michael V K @ 2d6.org posted an amazingly detailed review this week and it’s definitely worth checking out. Personally, I could use a bit more light-hearted SF in my life so this one may go in the “someday” pile…
- Nakedhobo @ Troll in the Corner had a chance to check out the upcoming game from tactical minis game from WotC called Dungeon Command. And I think he liked it! Too bad it’s not out until July…
That’s it for this week on the news front.
I hope everybody has a great weekend! 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!
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!
- Mike Mearls Announces the Start of the D&D Next Playtest from Outsyder Gaming (outsydergaming.com)
- Monte Cook Leaves Dungeons & Dragons Next (escapistmagazine.com)
- The Gassy Gnoll: Rekindling the Improvisational Spirit (Seeking Input) (gameknightreviews.com)
- The Lost GM Scrolls: Mike Mearls on Encounters with More at Stake (koboldquarterly.com)
- The Lost GM Scrolls: Mike Mearls on Legos, Cinder Lords, and the City of Brass from Kobold Quarterly (koboldquarterly.com)
- Public Playtest Opens for D&D Next … Next Month (escapistmagazine.com)