I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record in these things, but June!!?! Where the heck did May go?
But now’s the time when students eye all-day or all-night game sessions as summer break comes into view. I remember those days fondly – losing entire weekends at a friend’s house (thanks to Jayson Minard and his family), or lounging around with no summer classes in college and enjoying mid-day gaming because it didn’t interfere with anything… Ah memories. Now as an adult, there’s always one more crisis to deal with – kids, work, visiting family, yard work… it never ends. Bright spots? Gaming, of course – slaughtering innocent imaginary zombies, goblins, or whatever comes my way!
What extraordinary gaming plans do you have going for the weekend? Anything round Gen Con? If so, I’m jealous! Anything else?
My apologies for the lack of review posts this week… I spent far too much time either driving to soccer fields, watching games, or driving home. But I’m proud to say that my youngest daughter’s team won all 5 of the games in the 3-day tournament and came away with 1st place! Next weekend we do it all over again! Ack. I’m ready for a break in the action so we can do some family gaming sessions during the evenings.
That said, the Gassy Gnoll stretched his imagination muscle to come up with some potential urban fantasy/commercial spaceflight-inspired adventure threads, I posted the latest part of the ongoing DCC RPG review, and we had articles from both Robert Oglodzinski (Library of Ancient Scroll) and Creighton Broadhurst (Raging Swan Press) – so it wasn’t a completely quiet week!
So what’s up news-wise for this week? Let’s find out!
With the playtest beginning last week, news and opinions about D&D Next/5E have been popping up all over the place, so the topic deserved its own section in today’s news round-up!
- The Online DM wrote a *detailed* article about the new Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic in D&D Next. He goes into depth about how the numbers work on this “love it” or “hate it” approach. Personally, I think it’s a simple mechanic with the chance to make things quite interesting in games with a lot of combat. But there are quite a few folks on both sides of the issue.
- Jeff Rients @ Jeff’s Gameblog also chimed in this week about D&D Next, but about the lack of support for his “sweet spot” for D&D – levels 1-3 where you really have to work to survive sometimes. Living and dying with 1-4 HP as a 1st level wizard was always a challenge in earlier versions of D&D, so I have to admit I kind of miss that aspect myself.
- The Biting Halfling @ Tenkar’s Tavern wasn’t all that impressed by the materials that went out for the playtest. And I think he has some good points, though may be a bit harsh towards WotC’s attempts so far. The fact that they’re doing a public playtest at all is an improvement over earlier versions, so maybe there’s still room for improvement?
- On the other side of things is Boccob’s Blessed Blog, which sees the new rules as a return to older, streamlined ideals like D&D Basic.
- Also, Martin Lawson’s series of YouTube videos about gaming has offered a couple of entries about the playtest – “Major OSR Implications & Beginner RPG Gateway” and “Playtest Thoughts.” I only discovered Martin’s video series this week and have been enjoying catching up on his varied opinions on all sorts of RPGs!
- Jay “Pointyman2000″ @ Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer had an interesting take on the Fighter in D&D Next. He suggests using “Conditions” to affect an opponent instead of a Power. Examples – tossing sand into an opponent’s eyes to blind him, scream to frighten him, or restrain him with a bear hug! Though I’ve seen all of these used in familiar movies and TV shows, I’ve never tried to use them in a RPG, so the concept is definitely intriguing!
- David Guyll @ Points of Light has already started coming up with a list of house rules for his D&D Next campaign! The rules still have that “new rule smell” about them and folks are already adapting them all over the place. I think that’s kind of cool.
- Brendan @ Untimately put together a great list of the feedback from his players when they ran the D&D Next playtest module. It’s great seeing that kind of detail, as it should really help the D&D Next designers if they’re somehow filtering it all.
- Or if you really want your mind blown, read through the D&D Next chat summary and transcript from Bad DM @ The Good, the Bad, & the Gamer. Mike Mearls & Jeremy Crawford were involved in the chat. (If that’s not enough, check out Bad DM’s thoughts about combat in D&D Next after running through the Caves of Chaos…)
- Mearls also talked about some of his thoughts behind the playtest, with some suggestions for a more “Old School” feel in the latest Legends & Lore column. (Thanks Scott M @ The Trollish Delver for the link and the commentary.)
- Jason @ Wielding a Bohemian Ear Spoon has also been diving in-depth into the playtest materials…
- CWhite @ Intwischa came up with a list of links about D&D Next and there are a few good links – including one about protesting bad GMs. (No, not really, but it’s pretty funny!)
Food for Thought
- Have you ever been so attached to a character that when they died, you felt the pain? I think most of us have had that kind of attachment once or twice in our gaming careers. But how do you deal with the loss? The Id DM posted a great article about character death and player grief this week for the May of the Dead carnival (which has been outstanding – the folks at The Going Last Gaming Podcast have done an amazing job of pulling together some top-notch gaming bloggers). Great food for thought from Iddy and I love the idea of the chalkboard graveyard! (Congrats to Iddy for reaching the 100-post milestone as well! Quite an achievement!)
- Podcasts. Have you ever considered starting one but wondered how? Here’s an article from Paul Serwin @ Mastering Social Business about just that…A few simple tips to get you started and you’ll be off and running in no time!
- In a similar vein, I know a lot of blogs (including mine) have banner advertising through one or more methods. If you’ve been curious about how the banner advertising market is working these days, check out the DoubleClick Publisher Blog @ Google that has a few new statistics – and be sure to look at the report, which has intriguing news about which sizes of banners are doing best…
- Do you fear an impending zombie apocalypse? We may be closer than you think! Apparently there were some issues at the University of Illinois recently in a biology department (from Cyriaque Lamar @ io9) The tweet itself is pretty scary looking, but it sounds like it was just a lab accident. Still- whoa!
- Do you *like* published modules? Or *hate* them? I’ve waffled between the two at various times in my gaming career, but believe that they’re great for inspiration when you need it. Kurt “Telas” Schneider @ Gnome Stew – responding to an earlier article from DNAPhil – put together some good advantages and disadvantages to consider when looking at pre-published materials. Do you agree? Or disagree?
- DRM. Digital Rights Management. Tuned out yet? Usually when I see those letters I run screaming, but Holly Lisle’s recent debate about whether to make her materials available with DRM or DRM-freewas entertaining, well written and informative (and I didn’t fall asleep once). If you’ve ever pondered the implications of DRM, this is a good place to start.
- When I say the term – “post-apocalyptic” – what do you think of? For me, it’s the future Terminator world or Mad Max. Well, J.B. Geany @ Livid Astronaut Games posted a few pictures of what reflects that type of setting for him… Great for inspiration!
- I have some dice that are 30 years old now, but none that are 3600 years old! Jaap de Goede @ Dark Dungeon 2nd Edition found an article on a dice game from Babylonia – the Royal Game of Ur!
- Do you like medusa? Well, you’ve never seen her like this! Blanca Martinez de Rituerto @ Dungeons and Drawings really brought out the old gal’s ugly side!
- If you’re not familiar with the influence of Jack Vance on D&D from the beginning, then I can see where you might not understand the ideas behind why wizards… forget. But if you read The Dying Earth, it becomes much more clear. Just ask C @ Hack & Slash.
- How have I missed Godsend: The City of Bones? The City Tour is amazingly detailed. I’m going to have to find the beginning and steal as many ideas as possible! But this article about The Grand Bazaar should give you an idea of what we’ve been missing!
Games and Gaming
- I mentioned the May of the Dead blog carnival earlier already, but saw an idea from T. W. Wombat @ Wombat’s Gaming Den of Iniquity that was both twisted and brilliant. An undead plant. Yes, you read that right. Deadweed may find its way into your campaign now and good luck getting rid of the stuff!
Ah, the Gnomes are keeping busy. Martin Ralya @ Gnome Stew came up with a new random encounter system – d10+d10 – that adapts to terrain, region, etc.; is simple and lightweight; and still random enough to keep players guessing. But don’t stop when you’re done reading the article – be sure to read the comments for other solutions to the random encounter problem. I like the Yahtzee approach myself…
- Or, if random encounters aren’t your thing – how about a randomized familiar? Quibish @ Of Dice and Djinn has come up with a very cool randomized approach to familiar generation – with examples! My favorite? Jabberjaw!
- Can you imagine a world where elves and dwarves coexist with animal-based races like Lizardmen and Catfolk? Why not? Ye Olde Blog makes some interesting points this week about blending anthropomorphic races in with traditional fantasy…
- Are you looking for some Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game character builds? Tim Brannan @ The Other Side has just the thing. Links to tons of builds!
- Or maybe some unique undead to scare the crud out of your players? Matt @ The Land of Nod has you covered… Three creepy critters to terrify your PCs into submission. I think I have a few Full-Throated Screamers living up the street from me…
- If you’re looking for more of a tactile method of generating a dungeon, check out Billiam Babble’s article @ Adventures and Shopping about using Warhammer Quest cards to do just that. It’s a bit like using the DungeonMorphs cards and dice, but with a bit larger cards.
- Are you interested in hopping on the Kickstarter or IndieGoGo train for your project? Rusel DeMaria @ DVICE put together a great overview of the whole crowdfunding concept that offers tips, questions, and the keys to success. Definitely check it out!
- Where do d12s and post-apocalyptic robots collide? In A. Miles Davis’ Kickstarter project “DodecaheDrone”! With just 5 days left, Davis’ project has been funded and is pushing for a $3000 stretch goal. Will the project make it? Only with your help!
- Need some post-apocalyptic sword & sorcery in your life? Look no further than James Carpio’s KS project – “Tales from the Fallen Empire.” This setting is designed for the DCC RPG, so if you’re looking for more DCC, definitely check it out!
- I know this is a gaming blog, but I have to mention a cool KS fiction project I was pinged about. “Camp Myth” from Chris Lewis Carter is a series like Goosebumps for kids, but featuring mythological creatures in a summer camp setting. These mythic kids – minotaurs, dryads, merfolk, centaurs, etc. – go to camp to earn merit badges (like “Kraken Fishing” or “Cyclopean Archery”) to prove their worth to their community. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to role-play in such a world? I wonder if the Witch Girls system would work here…
- Do you know what the problem is with Kickstarter? According to Misty @ Stuffer Shack, it’s that KS has managed to inject new life into the RPG industry. Isn’t that a bummer.
- Perdustin @ Thoul’s Paradise suggests that we look at “Blade Raiders” from Grant Gould, a new fantasy RPG. The art looks great and I like the idea of talent-based characters. I’ll definitely be checking it out!
- Are you ready for the Tome of Ultimate Mapping? I could have used it several years ago when I was struggling with Campaign Cartographer! But I’m glad it’s here now for folks to figure out how to create great maps with ProFantasy tools. 619 pages is one heck of a tome!
- Apparently White Wolf is coming out with a new version of the Mummy – Mummy: the Curse! Somehow I missed it! But Jay @ Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer didn’t. (Love the artwork!)
- You can’t keep a good Doctor down. Cubicle 7 is teaming up with Treefrog Games to launch The Doctor Who Card Game in August 2012. More Who for you!
- The Kobolds are looking for some AGE adventure writers! Daniel M. Perez @ Dragon Age Oracle has posted the guidelines for what Kobold Quarterly needs – so get writing!
- Raging Swan Press has recently entered the world of interior design! That’s right – Dungeon Dressing - will take care of at least a few of your dungeon stocking needs with some staples – stairs, pillars, pools, statues, and more! Check it out at RPGNow or go to the product site for additional details.
- Runeslinger @ Casting Shadows reviewed Leagues of Adventure from Triple Ace Games this week and he is chomping at the bit to run this game!
- Erik Tenkar @ Tenkar’s Tavern has been working through the huge DCC RPG book a bit at a time like I have and covered the game’s common sense approach to experience points this week. I’m not there in the book, but have been impressed with everything I’ve seen so far – and common sense rules the day. What a concept.
- Looking for a new Pathfinder adventure to try? Check out Megan’s review @ Flames Rising of Devil of Dark Wood. The village has some problems. Your group of PCs can fix them, can’t you?
- I’m a fan of Milla Jovovich in the Resident Evil series of movies (except that last one in 3D, which was a bit of a stinker), but I’d not heard of the Resident Evil Deck Building Game. Glimm @ Glimm’s Workshop remedied that with a solid review of the game for the May of the Dead carnival.
- Dark Harvest: Resistance is sitting in my review queue waiting to be tackled, but Tommy Brownell @ The Most Unread Blog on the Internet. Ever. offers a solid review with some ideas on what can and can’t be used… Sounds absolutely packed with material, just like the first book. Now I really want to dive into it…
- As a sometime publisher, I’ve often struggled with page layout. What are the best layouts? What basic options do I have? What are the benefits of one over another? And though Style Tiles are designed for web layouts, I was wondering why someone couldn’t do something similar for page layouts? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to mock up some pages prior to painstakingly throwing things together in a difficult-to-use page layout program? Anybody interested in looking at this?
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
- The weekly link collection from Keith Davies
- And the new Roll for News podcast!
There’s definitely plenty of news go go around!
Best of luck to everybody going to the Origins Game Fair this weekend, including the guys from DTRPG/RPGNow!
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!