Happy Friday everybody! I hope you’re in great spirits heading into the weekend and maybe have some gaming on the horizon.
Last weekend I had a chance to play in the Zeitgeist campaign we’ve been working on off and on over the last few months and had a blast. I will let you in on a little secret however… We never got into combat. Not once in about 5 hours of gaming. Instead we had a few skill challenges and did a ton of role-playing and investigative work. Is that crazy, or what?
The Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado
On a more serious note, some of you may know about the Waldo Canyon Fire that we’ve been battling in Colorado since last Saturday afternoon. We live about 15-20 miles from where it started and it’s been primary in my head since it started on Saturday.
Finally, it seems we’re getting a handle on this beast that’s consumed nearly 350 homes and displaced more than 32,000 people. The firefighters have been working their tail ends off in rough terrain trying to get ahead of this beast that’s crossed into at least three separate counties (El Paso, Teller, and Douglas) and has been blown around quite a bit in the afternoon storms we sometimes get here. Without the firefighters, all of the emergency personnel, the Feds, military forces from the Air Force Academy and Fort Carson, and all of the amazing people of the greater Colorado Springs area we’d be in a much different situation I think. A HUGE thank you goes out to everybody on the front lines and those helping out with whatever needs helping with.
To that point, my own wife, a veterinarian in the area, has been helping with pets at two of the Humane Society Shelters down here. Plus we’ve donated a bunch of blankets and towels, pet food, leashes, bowls, and more to people in the shelters with their pets and without. It really is amazing how our community has come together in this time of need. The damage has been horrific so far in some parts of the city the fire went through and it’s going to be months, maybe even years, before many areas are rebuilt and can be called “home” again.
Is it done? Not even close. It’s burned about 19,000 acres and we have more than 1200 firefighters battling this thing from all possible vantage points. It’ll be weeks before it’s out completely but hopefully only a few more days before they have it under control. If you’re interested at all in seeing where the fire is at, I’d direct you to InciWeb that has a ton of details and is updated multiple times a day.
Our hearts go out to everybody affected by the fires, including members of my gaming group – Jason, Jonathan, Ben, Harvey. Guys, stay safe.
So now that the depressing part of the post is over, let’s get to some happier news.
You may know that a few weeks ago I had a chance to interview Geof McKinney, a writer for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, about his work on Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown. Well, Ed Healy and the Gamerati have been releasing bits of that interview a little at a time.
- Something that has been asked about is the Putrescent Pits of the Amoebid Gods megadungeon, which was part of the same campaign that spawned Carcosa… Will we ever see such a thing? Maybe, but not soon it seems – you can watch it here.
- Or maybe you’ve wondered if some of the controversy surrounding Carcosa ever gave Geof pause in his writing… Not really…
The biggie was the section of the interview where we talked about Carcosa itself, which you can see here:
Elsewhere on Game Knight Reviews:
- We had a pair of city seeds from Bart at Lans Macabre and Robert Oglodzinski of Library of Ancient Scroll…
- I offered some ideas on the “wizard wasteland” idea that has appeared in multiple sources of literature and gaming material over the years… Do you have a wasteland in your world?
- I reviewed The Game Master by Tobiah Q. Panshin, which offers some solid advice and tips on how to develop and improve your GMing skills…
- The Gassy Gnoll gnashed a bit on the strange occurrence of Wizards of the Coast deciding to re-release D&D 3.5e books for some reason…
- And yesterday we heard from Rocky Perry & Craig Smith about their upcoming game – the Quephter RPG. I’d not heard anything prior to stumbling upon their site, but I suspect we’ll be hearing much more over the next year or so.
So as you can see, between the fire and the usual madness, it’s been a little crazy around here! Sorry if this week’s post is a little light on links.
Should we move on to the rest of the news? Let’s do that!
News Round-up for Friday, 29-JUN-2012
Food for Thought
- “Story Games” are RPGs with more emphasis on role-playing and flash fiction creation than traditional tabletop roleplaying. I’ve played a few Story Games in the past, but am still definitely a n00b at the genre. But this idea from kksimons @ the Story-Games.com site really sparked my interest. Imagine using a RPG to help players learn other languages! The example in the forum post suggests that the PCs attend a school for magic and they cast spells by speaking Korean. I really like the idea of integrating language (or even other skill) practice in the middle of a game.
- As GMs and players, often we research things for our characters and campaigns and become if not “experts” in that field, we become more knowledgeable at the very least. Well, the same thing happens for writers and this article from Gail Z Martin on “What she learned from writing fantasy” in an article at SF Signal could have just as easily been written by any good GM I’ve played with…
- Do you remember all the controversy surrounding D&D in the early days? I do, but only barely. And with tabletop RPGs making a comeback thanks to crowdfunding and electronic delivery, the Trollish Delver took some time to investigate an interesting question. “Has US conservative media changed its attitude towards D&D?” Maybe.
- How do you feel about published gaming supplements? You know the ones – like all the modules, setting books, and books of “extras” you might want for your rules or games. Do they help you or hinder you? Runeslinger @ Casting Shadows suggests that perhaps supplements ought to actually supplement the games we’re playing, but that taking the time to evaluate each supplement and only finding a particular page of errata to be critical is a let down.
- As a GM, do you ponder how public housing affects the people in your worlds? I have to admit that until I read this article from Tristan J Tarwater @ Troll in the Corner, I really hadn’t. But now I’m going to.
- Are you a geek parent? How geek are you? Are you teaching your kids how to read Elvish? No? Now you can! Lauren Davis @ io9 discovered an Etsy store that sells J.R.R. Tolkien-inspired prints with a nursery-type picture of an animal and the Elvish Tengwar script/word for the animal. Cool and kind of subtle. Very geek chic!
- If Elvish isn’t your thing… How about mice from Mouse Guard re-enacting key movie moments? David Petersen has done a ton of cool ones, including Indiana Jones and the Watchmen! (Another Lauren Davis @ io9 find!)
- Maybe you’re looking for a writing prompt for an upcoming adventure? Why not consider “Human Feelings as Drugs“? (Thanks Lauren Davis @ io9 for finding this one as well!)
- This has nothing to do with gaming, but is really cool. The Trollish Delver posted a link to an animated tribute of the Evil Dead franchise. And it’s awesome!
- Also in the “nothing to do with gaming” category is Atari’s 40th anniversary. Can you believe it?
Games and Gaming
- Cursed items are… well… damned things in my eyes as a player. But as a GM, the evil gleam in my eye overrides the player and says – “Sure, take that normal +1 sword! Muahahahaha!” But I’ve never done what the Id DM did in his article “Curse With a Purpose” this week… It’s a normal magic item, the player thinks. Then when he uses it in combat, the curse strikes! Well played Iddy, well played!
- Do you play Vampire: The Requiem? Long ago I played a Malkavian in The Masquerade, but that was 20 years ago now. Thankfully Pangolin @ Searcher in the Night is playing now. And he’s figured out some interesting ideas to bring bloodlines and disciplines together. What do you think?
- What do you do when your PCs reach levels where getting higher doesn’t really interest them? Chris Hackler suggests that maybe we look into “Story Rewards” instead of XP. So instead of giving skill points, feats, and such, you grant entry into a special guild, gain more influence over a particular group, etc.
- As the Chatty DM continues his series on Dungeon Mastering @ Musings of the Chatty DM, it’s been quite illuminating to think on these areas I haven’t really pondered much in a decade. Knowing your players and what they’re looking for is a big part of that. But so is knowing how you tend to DM… In my experience, unless you can mix and match some of the qualities Chatty mentions in the post when necessary, you’re going to run the risk of boring your players and losing the group. Nobody wants that, do they?
- In the “dang, why didn’t I think of that” category this week is Mike Bourke’s article @ Campaign Mastery about a more general concept for NPCs. Creating numeric levels of “creepiness” (or some other abstract quality) and then rating your NPCs on it can offer all sorts of interesting food for thought at the game table…
- Do you need a new alien race for your campaign? Why not check out “100 Random Alien Races” from Ed Grabianowski @ Robot Viking? There are some interesting combinations in that table of his!
- Have you ever revised how domains work for clerics in D&D? Keith J Davies has done so recently. Interesting ideas to add more subdomains and do some adjustments to spell lists and skills for those subdomains…
- Maybe you’re looking for a story seed? How about a graveyard? Always a good place for an adventure, right? Kiper @ Ancient Scroll thinks so…
- Or maybe you just need to make your players an offer they can’t refuse… Steve Winter @ Kobold Quarterly suggests that we should take a few lessons from gangsters. He talks about Gangbusters, a cops-and-robbers tabletop RPG, but the tricks he mentions can be used in any RPG I think. Just remember your ABCs – “Always Be Conniving!”
- Remember I mentioned Story Games and “flash fiction” earlier? Mike Shea @ Sly Flourish suggests that it has a place in more traditional tabletop RPGs as well! Flavor text, backstory, and some solid examples might improve your writing and mine!
- Does the name Neal Stephenson ring a bell? It should! He’s been writing amazing fiction for nearly 30 years, like Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, and Anathem. And now… He’s doing a project to remedy how swordfighting is wrongly portrayed in video games. His project, Clang, sounds quite intriguing and needs almost $150,000 more before it hits its $500k goal. Can you help Neal? There’s only 9 days left…
- Or if that’s not up your alley, why not check out Project Ninja Panda Taco from Jennifer Steen. She describes like this: “Project Ninja Panda Taco is about Masterminds taking over the World and the Minions who try to help. The game is a low-prep, lighthearted, collaborative roleplaying game that is perfect for everyone around the table.” What’s not to like? Check it out!
- Looking to add some horror to your Pathfinder campaign? Check out “The Bleeding Hollow” project! Survival-horror sandbox!
- Or maybe you’re looking for the next conspiracy to drive your players nuts? Check out the Conspiracy X: Conspiracies Sourcebook project going on now. Looks like there are some cool miniatures that you can add for just $6 each!
- First, WotC decides to reprint 1st edition D&D books and donate part of the proceeds to the Gary Gygax Memorial Fund. And I get that. But now they’re reprinting hardcover 3.5 edition books? Really?
- Also from WotC this week, Mike Mearls offered an update on the D&D Next playtest. Interesting to see what’s going to get some work and what isn’t…
- Apparently James Desborough, the guy who runs Postmortem Studios, found himself in a bit of a whirlwind of controversy this week. It reminds me some of the controversy surrounding Carcosa as well. But this interview by Andrew @ Geek Native will hopefully clear things up a bit for him…
- There was an interesting thread on Reddit/RPG this week from Troll in the Corner pondering giving RPG books you’ve written away for free. Would you buy it if you could get it for free? As much as I hate to say it, I probably wouldn’t. But I definitely want to support TrollITC. What do you think? Interesting to read through…
- Troll Lord Games just released a new Castles & Crusades plug-and-play encounter called Thorns for Beer, which follows up To The Damenhiet Bridge… There’s a village, a missing tavern keeper, and a curse to unravel…
- Rite Publishing just released #30 Battle Standards for PFRPG, which offers 30 magical battle standards, adventuring gear, a new feat, and a NPC. Everyone needs to play capture the flag once or twice, right?
- If you’ve been holding off buying individual supplements for LPJ Design’s NeoExodus world, now’s a good time to pick up the NeoExodus Starter Kit for PFRPG. You get 8 different products in a single bundle at about 1/3 of the price!
- And Raging Swan’s John Bennett, Andrew Glenn, and David Posener have decided to go plunder the high seas with their latest supplement… Villainous Pirates! Arrr! 30 pirates of note and nine pirates of renown ready to cause your PCs to walk the plank and get keelhauled! Hope you’re ready to break out your eye patch, peg leg, and parrot!
- Jay “PointyMan2000″ Anyong @ Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer recently had an opportunity to check out Leagues of Adventure from Triple Ace Games. Steampunk is definitely picking up steam and it sounds like Leagues of Adventure delivers that and more for gamers playing in the Victorian Era.
- Shared worlds in gaming offer not only great places for many gaming groups to explore, but great places for writers to explore as well. Stefan’s Bookshelf offers a great place to start exploring the shared world of Faerun and the Forgotten Realms as created by Ed Greenwood. If you need some heroic fantasy, there are some great reading suggestions in this post!
- Marvel Heroic Roleplaying has really been taking off lately and Burek @ Professor Beej suggests that maybe it’s the mechanics that set it apart…
- Martin Ralya @ Gnome Stew seems to have discovered Carcosa‘s weirdness recently. But instead of running away screaming, he’s come up with a great list of five ways you might get inspiration from the oddness in its pages.
- If you could put together a “Red Box” or “Blue Box” for your favorite RPG, what would it include? Eric Tenkar @ Tenkar’s Tavern suggests that maybe DCC RPG would gain more traction if there was a “White Box” to get players & GMs started for the first few levels. Definitely some merit in the suggestion… Wonder what Joseph Goodman thinks?
- I’ve never heard of Drinking Quest, but have to say that I’m not shocked it exists. A game that encourages drinking at the game table. And The Dread Gazebo has a solid review… Would you give it a spin?
- A couple of years ago I played The Witcher on the PC for a while, and eventually ran out of steam. I haven’t tried the sequel. But after reading this review from a tabletop gamer over at Shortymonster… I think I’ll skip it.
- I mentioned Story Games earlier… Here’s a review by Wyatt Salazar @ Critical Hits of God-King by Daniel Cruz Chan. Can the players find the mystical land of Otugari? I don’t know, but it certainly sounds intriguing (and at $5, tough to ignore).
- Sounds. Some GMs like rooms to be quiet. Others like “mood music.” But what about those looking for an easy way to manage cool ambient sound effects? Why not check out Yonder – the “Ambience Sound Generator”?
That’s it for this week on the news front. If you want a bit more, check out:
- The Weekly Assembly from Gamer Assembly
- The weekly link collection from Keith Davies
- The What’s Up With D&D? from Chris Hackler @ ENWorld
- The “Cool Stuff for the Week” post over @ Intwischa.
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!