Welcome to another installment of weekly link love here at Game Knight Reviews. I managed to go a little overboard collecting links this week since my 5/week posting schedule has gone awry in an attempt to avoid burning out. For the indefinite future I’m going to commit to 3/week (1 review, 1 opinion piece, and 1 Friday Knight News collection) plus the guest posts from Robert Oglodzinski and Creighton Broadhurst as they are available. I may add the occasional extra review to the mix and an occasional interview, but I don’t want to commit to 5/week and end up doing 0/week, which doesn’t help anybody at all.
This has been building for a bit and I decided it was time to do something about it by reducing the schedule slightly. The upshot is I’ll have more time for doing a better job reviewing materials and not feeling rushed. That said, I’m hoping to develop more collaborations with gamers and bloggers… Andrew Armstrong, one of the folks who did a guest post early in March 2012, is considering doing more articles and I already have Robert and Creighton offering regular content. I’d be happy to collaborate with anyone else interested in doing so about gaming - perhaps someone passionate about board games or collectible card games? Any takers?
Beyond that, I did post a couple of articles this week (a review of Hand Drawn Cities: Volume 1 from Torn World and a wandering opinion piece about RPG pricing from the Gassy Gnoll inspired by a conversation around it), and this weekend we have a post from Robert on “Sacrifice in RPGs” and more in Creighton’s series on tabletop roleplaying campaigns.
And this weekend starts with gaming tonight (new campaign using the Zeitgeist setting for 4E with me playing a Fighter for the first time in decades!), so I say that Easter weekend is kicking off on the right foot!
What are your plans for the weekend?
On that note, let’s dive into the week’s content!!
Food for Thought
- This falls into the “too cool not to share” realm of web tools… A web page that shows the traces of wind across the United States constantly updated with current data from the National Digital Forecast Database. It’s almost hypnotizing to watch. I can imagine such a map being useful to track dragon or other large flying animal migrations, airships, and other flying craft in fantasy, modern, or futuristic worlds… What do you see?
I’m always looking for new fantasy material (or material new to me), so Charlie Jane Anders’ article @ io9 this week about the “10 Books Every Fantasy Author Should Read” was quite interesting… I have some catching up to do based on this list, since I’ve only read #3, #7 in spades, and #9. Are there any books you think are missing from this list?
- Frankenstein and Alternate History has been something I’ve looked for more of since reading through Dark Harvest from Cubicle 7… So this article from Cyriaque Lamar @ io9 about DC Comics’ Men of War comic book was very cool. The image at the top of Frankenstein’s monster joining World War II rocks!
- Hitting the Internet airwaves at YouTube this week is Felicia Day’s Geek and Sundry channel… And it made a splash with Day’s fun song from The Guild – “I’m the One That’s Cool” about geeks not always getting the respect they should as well as with Wil Weaton’s first episode of Table Top where they played a game of Small World. I find it odd that I enjoyed watching other people play a game, but found it to be very well produced with good insight into rules and strategies… I wonder if there will be a similar tabletop RPG show on G&S? Regardless, I think it’s great that this sort of geek-related programming is becoming a bit more mainstream. Hopefully it will catch on! (For more about Table Top, check out InfaPlat’s article @ ComicBooked interviewing executive producer Sheri Bryant!)
- In a similar vein, apparently WotC has released some audio and video podcasts of games played with celebrities like the Penny Arcade guys or the folks behind Robot Chicken. I haven’t watched any yet, but find the idea interesting as a teaching aid as does Tobold Stoutfoot @ Tobold’s Blog. I think there are some valuable lessons there on letting the players drive the story as much as possible…
- If you’re looking for sci-fi tech making it into the real world, this flexible e-display shows promise from LG… (Thanks Brian Dodson @ Gizmag!)
- Or maybe you’re a mad scientist looking for a way to call lightning from the sky like Thor? Evan Ackerman @ Dvice suggests this week that it’s already been done! (Does anyone else smell a bad Syfy Saturday movie plot?)
- Another side of the railroad vs. sandbox debate popped up this week with Mike Shea’s article about “Player Driven Stories” @ Sly Flourish. Do you as GM force your players down a particular path to tell your story? Or do you let them find their own way and tell their own stories?
- How do you feel about elves? Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they were there before Tolkien stuck ‘em in Middle Earth. Leo @ Fantasy Faction offers a bit of an introduction to “Elves in Mythology and Fantasy” this week. It’s great to see someone talk about them in their original mythological forms…
- How about Steampunk? G.D. Falksen @ Keys on the Typewriter has come up with a great “Steampunk 101″ article to give you an overview if you’re new to the genre…
- Do you have a gift for fantasy art? WotC is looking for artists for D&D Next! Check out their art test! (I have no art talent (beyond stick figures) but will be passing this along to my daughters who love a drawing challenge!)
- Did you game in the 1980s? “With the Right Seasoning: Beyond Simple Names.” And yes, it offers even more great examples and food for thought! He should turn this all into an eBook when he’s done- the Ultimate Naming Resource for RPGs!
- Do you ever long to be more creative? I know I do… And this article from Ollin Morales @ Write to Done (great resource on writing!) offers four great tips on how to “hack your mind” and get yourself out of the way to do access those extra creative juices. I’m putting these into practice immediately!
- And if you’re more creative, maybe you’re thinking of doing some RPG design? BryanMD @ Intwischa has some tips for you on that front…
- Lastly, here’s an article I never saw coming. Who would have thought someone would write an article about the ampersand in D&D? Jon Schindehette @ the D&D blog has done just that! And it’s… strangely fascinating!
Games and Gaming
- April Fools didn’t go by unnoticed by writers of gaming blogs… Both the Dread Gazebo and R.M. Walker @ This is My Game had fun poking some fun at D&D Next and you can find other variations on a theme. I’m sure there are plenty of others!
- Have you ever wondered how to effectively play a modern survivalist in a RPG? Apparently Vanhavoc has given this topic some serious thought and posted a detailed article at Troll in the Corner. At the very least, it’s great to see descriptions of some of the main roles you typically see in survivalist fiction, TV, and films like the Armchair Commando, Compound Dweller, Dirty Hippie, and more. Great NPCs if nothing else for a post-apocalyptic world!
- How serious are your games? Apparently Chris Dias @ Living Dice runs a very tight ship during his games. I’m not sure that I’d fit in with that style of gaming, but think it’s certainly valid to reach that level of commitment to the story, world, and characters being explored… (Though this article was posted on April 1st, I didn’t get the feeling that it was an April Fools’ joke of any kind…)
- Why do dungeons exist? Mark @ Dice Monkey wondered this week and I think came to some interesting conclusions I actually like… The article offers a few reasons for why dungeons and adventurers exist and why dungeons are the way they are.
- In case you have a need for some strange intergalactic planetary remains, relics, or encounters, Needles @ Swords and Stitchery has you covered with a pair of d20 random tables and some great art choices… But there’s some strange stuff in here like #4 on the Planetary Remains & Relics table – “4 billion sentients ripped limb from limb. Flash frozen. Museum quality”… [shudder]
- Or maybe you just need to know what’s on “that shelf” in a room in a dungeon somewhere? Check out this d20 random table from They Might be Gazebos!
- John Kovalic and Dork Tower rule my gaming funny bone and this week is no different. I think John captured the feedback mania for D&D Next beautifully and I love the Lucy from Peanuts reference starring Monte Cook!
- If that wasn’t enough to tickle your funny bone, you should check out this video from Adam @ Bitey Castle about the animated video he did for WotC for the D&D Red Box… I think I’ve GM’ed this game!!
- Are you looking for a city for your superheroes? Check out Lowell Francis @ Age of Ravens article this week as he talks about some great suggested cities…
- How does morality fit into your games? TriskaLJM @ Stormin Da Castle has some observations about how morality is handled in different RPGs… Systems include Star Wars, World of Darkness, Dragon Age and a bunch I don’t recognize like Dogs in the Vineyard, Sorcerer and others.
- I have a love/hate relationship with random encounter tables. But Steve Winter @ Kobold Quarterly says they’re there for a purpose, so we should keep them around!
- Cris Tregenza @ 6d6 posted more of a look behind the scenes about his banner ad campaign for the 6d6 Core + Outbreak! bundle at RPGNow. Though we’ve seen similar content from Ed Healy @ Gamerati (like this great article about effective Kickstarter ads), it’s interesting to see this more from the small publisher side of things rather than from an ad network like Gamerati’s…
- Bandoras @ Middle-Earth News posted a fantastic interview with Cubicle 7′s art director, Jon Hodgson this week. Amazing to get a look behind the scenes at the guy coordinating all the amazing art in those Cubicle 7 products like The One Ring!
- Speaking of Cubicle 7, icv2 reported recently that they’ve revised their plans for The One Game and will focus on individual sourcebooks and accessories instead of slipcover core sets as originally envisioned. The new products include Tales from the Wilderland, The One Ring Dice Set, Loremaster’s Screen and Laketown Sourcebook, The Darkening of Mirkwood, and a supplement based in Rivendell.
- Green Ronin is getting ready to release the The Song of Ice and Fire Game of Thrones Edition as the new core rulebook for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series (and hit TV show). It’s available now for preorder!
- Kickstarter has been on a run lately with great products… One of the latest is Shadowrun Returns, a new video game based in the world of Shadowrun. It’s already blown past its funding target in a week and has 22 days to go… How far over its target will it get? I love the world, but have seen ideas like this go awry in the past. Will it turn out well?
- Are you a Warhammer 40k fan? Fantasy Flight Games is releasing a new game – Only War – a standalone game set in the Warhammer universe. Players get to play soldiers in the Imperial Guard… Will you serve the God-Emperor? It should be out in Q3 2012 if all goes well!
- Another cool Kickstarter this week is from Tracy Hurley @ David Solis – Prismatic Art Collection. I’ve already kicked in my $$ to help with this great project to get more diverse heroes into our games in art. And if you want more you can get a look at some sample art from artists involved at Tracy’s Sarah Darkmagic site.
- Not to be left out, The Weem kicked off a Kickstarter this week for his TrackInitiative.com project. This is an online initiative tracker that isn’t D&D specific and can be used for darn near any kind of RPG with combat order needs. I’m not sure that I understand why it’s a web site rather than an app, but I think the benefits to tabletop sessions played online with geographically diverse gaming groups could be useful…
- Raging Swan Press released So What’s For Sale, Anyway? V from Julian Neale and Trevor Self… This one focuses on pre-generated intelligent items to tempt your players with! Check it out at RPGNow/DriveThruRPG!
- Reviewing some new RPG minis this week is Paco Jaen @ G*M*S Magazine… If you’ve ever wanted to create a modular, 3D terrain for your game table on the fly to represent a combat environment, Terraclips: Streets of Malifaux might be what you’ve been searching for! Jaen gave it a “MASSIVE” 5 star rating and found it solved a serious need at the table!
- Interested in an easier way to manage sounds and music during your games? Quinn Murphy @ Critical Hits reviewed DMDJ from Blueface a couple of weeks ago – integrating an RPG music soundboard and dice roller in one app for the iPhone/iPad. Sounds like it’s a good start, but maybe we should wait a bit to see if they flesh it out a bit…
- The Legend of Grimrock has been on my radar for months and I’ve already pre-ordered my copy, but Jason Wilson @ Gamespy has the first review I’ve seen… Sounds like it will have similar issues to its predecessors… real-time combat, weapon cool down, and more… Even so, I remember wandering dungeon levels for hours in Eye of the Beholder and others, so I’m still going to have fun with this one!
- Neuroglyph @ EN World took a look at two cool tools from Goat Head Software – Player Minion and DM Minion with all sorts of functionality on your iPad/iPhone. Sounds like there’s a lot to like here and now that I’m playing more D&D 4e I might have to check out Player Minion myself…
- The Lords of Waterdeep board game from WotC continues to get talked about in gaming circles… This week Chris Hackler @ Gaming Tonic took a good look and found it fun with only a few nits about starting games…
- Roleplaying for one. An interesting concept that Open Design is starting to play with a bit recently. Thilo Graf @ G*M*S Magazine went through Kalgor Bloodhammer and the Ghouls through the Breach with some dice and found it to be an easy way to learn PFRPG rules, but it’s not without a few nits.
- The “On Village Resource” from Hack & Slash could go in about three different categories on this page, but I’m putting it here in Tools. If you’re looking for a great set of tools all in one place for generating a village, this is it. From the type, description, demographics, districts, and much much much more… Each section offers not only an example, but links to the tools that can be used to generate the bits. Great resource!!
- Stargazer @ Stargazer’s world suggested a cool new font resource for anybody looking for cool free fonts for a gaming project – Pixel Sagas! The site has all sorts available and some specifically slated for fantasy and tabletop gaming!
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 know the Gamer Assembly guys are all out at PAX East this weekend, so best of luck to them on their Friday panel and I hope they enjoy the rest of the show. I’m certainly jealous I’m not out there!
One last thing – congratulations to Mike Welham as Paizo’s RPG Superstar for 2012!!
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: 30-MAR-2012 (gameknightreviews.com)
- Friday Knight News – Gaming Edition: 23-MAR-2012 (gameknightreviews.com)
- Creighton’s Corner: What’s A Campaign Anyway? (gameknightreviews.com)
- Fighters & Flapjacks from Critical Hits ” Roleplaying Games (critical-hits.com)