Ah Friday. Sure, it’s going to be hot here in Colorado. Sure, we have at least three big wildfires burning at the moment and we’re not yet to July. But hey – it’s Friday at least! My heart goes out to anyone close to the wildfires here in Colorado or elsewhere in the US or abroad. As if politics, the economy, and other cheery world events weren’t enough to worry about. Now Mother Nature is wielding a giant magnifying glass trying to fry us one fire at a time.
On that cheerful note, do you know what tomorrow is? Free RPG Day 2012! That should take our mind off all that other stuff for a while. (Check out this podcast for plenty of details over at OgreCave. Or check out this article at Fantasy Flight Games’ site about their entry for this year’s free game celebration – Only War: Eleventh Hour.)
And I know my favorite local game store, Petries Family Games, will not only have all the goodies from this year’s haul, but will also be running several tables where folks can try out a few RPGs like Shadowrun, Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, Pathfinder, D&D, Harn, Warhammer 40k and Warhammer 40k Deathwatch, Cosmic Patrol, and Brass & Steel. Five separate tables of gaming fun running from 10am to close (last game starts at 7pm)!
I started to get back on track with a few articles this week here at GKR. We took a look at Isle of the Unknown from Geof McKinney and Lamentations of the Flame Princess, the Gassy Gnoll asked why we all can’t just get along, and then I dove into combat in the DCC RPG.
Beyond that, I had a chance to interview Geof McKinney, author of Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Geof lives about an hour south of me in Pueblo and we had a nice chat for a couple of hours last weekend. We talked about a bit of his background, about Carcosa and IotU, and even asked some fan questions from the LotFP forums. All the videos will eventually go live at Gamerati.tv over the next few weeks, but for now you can enjoy yours truly asking quite a few questions of Geof! (A big thank you goes to Ed Healy @ Gamerati for setting up the interview and Geof for being a good sport and answering my laundry list of questions!)
Now that I’ve scared you with my gruesome visage, why don’t we actually move on to the news?
- M.C. Shelby @ Myth & Dice took some time to look at the D&D Next playtest late last week. Sounds like he liked that 5e wasn’t 4e, but didn’t get much more excited beyond that… His comments about simplicity and math skills in America are spot on and scary as hell.
- Monster design. It’s always been a bit of a challenge to get right in every edition of D&D I’ve ever played. And occasionally you get to see a bit about how the folks at WotC work through that process. In a recent Legends and Lore column from Mike Mearls he goes through the process of picking a monster (the hook horror) and converting it to D&D Next. I wonder what other monsters they’ll be converting…
- Ted Johnson @ Geekosystem says we have a duty to playtest D&D Next. By signing up as a playtester you can help make it the game you want it to be. I’m not so sure we have that much input into the process, but appreciate the optimism!
- Andrew Breese @ The Iron-Bound Tome has a good suggestion on how to avoid a new edition war with D&D Next. He says WotC should sell settings and experiences, not rules. There may be something to that argument…
- Robin “Greywulf” Stacey @ Greywulf’s Lair has a different approach in mind… Instead of releasing the traditional PHB, DMG, MM, etc… Why not release a single hardback containing everything players and GMs would need for levels 1-10. Then do another book for 11-20. Another for 21-30, etc… Is WotC listening? Between offering everything as PDF/digital and various packaging approaches, they have plenty of suggestions from the gaming community.
Food for Thought
- D&D was born as the offspring of wargaming at TSR. And yet tabletop RPGs seem to be slipping (in some cases) back to that wargaming past as folks debate combat mechanics to the N’th degree. Runeslinger @ Casting Shadows talks about how he’d like to see more systems with rules for non-combat activities… When will social interaction in tabletop RPGs be on a more equal footing with combat?
Are you on Twitter? Do you like reading fantasy fiction? Do you follow certain fantasy authors? Check out Brian Rathbone’s list of “Fantasy authors, writers, and professionals on Twitter.” The list is long and maybe you should ask to be added?
- How many of Pixar’s rules of storytelling can or should be applied to the game table? (Thanks Cyriaque Lamar @ io9 for the list!)
- Looking for some art to inspire you? Check out the art for the never-released Baldur’s Gate III from Black Isle Studios…
- Or maybe Frank Frazetta is more your style? Check out these gorgeous illustrations he did of the Lord of the Rings…
- Steampunk has really come on in the last couple of years and though I was slow to warm to the idea, now I’m actually enjoying some of what the Steampunk world has to offer. Especially when it comes to art! Check out these portraits of jetpack-wearing women from Jeffrey M. de Guzman (in an article from io9′s Lauren Davis). Gorgeous. Powerful. What’s not to like?
- We’ve all heard stories of certain powdered animal parts guaranteed to grant strength, virility, and brilliance. But what about medicines from human corpses? In another article by io9′s Lauren Davis, she talks about history’s bizarre remedies made from powdered mummy, Gladiator blood, and other gross materials. Great ideas for your next witch’s brew, don’t you think?
- When you’re describing a game you like to another player who’s never heard about it before, what do you do? Typically you describe it in terms of other games you’ve both played. It’s a bit like D&D but more open like GURPS. Monte Cook @ The Chapel Perilous realized recently that that’s the language of design…
- Looking for inspiration for a Western-themed campaign? Check out these great photos…
Games and Gaming
- Pre-generated characters. Do you love ‘em or hate ‘em? If you hate ‘em, why? Chris Hackler @ Gaming Tonic thinks it’s because by playing pre-gens some gamers think it’ll stifle their creativity. In reality, sometimes it’s the exact opposite, especially when it’s an iconic pre-gen like Spider-Man. Pre-gens offer an opportunity for newer role-players to get their feet wet and learn the ropes a bit before diving in with their own characters… Great article worth some thought.
- Rituals in D&D 4e is an area I’ve been wondering about but haven’t had an opportunity to explore yet. Trevor Hudgins @ Kobold Quarterly has taken those mechanics and introduced some new rituals for adding a new dream realm to your campaign. Reminds me a bit of the dream walkers from Robert Jordan’s series and some of the dangers intrinsic to that plane of existence.
- Have you wondered how randomness affects D&D? Shawn Delahunty @ Armchair Arcade has. And he’s got numbers to back him up. As soon as I start looking at probability and statistics my eyes glaze over, but I can say the article has plenty of pretty pictures!
- When starting to DM/GM for the first time, did you once think that having a printed module in front of you meant you didn’t have to do any work? Steve Winter @ Kobold Quarterly describes his own stumbles as DM and how he learned how to write his own adventures. Great advice for GMs new and old.
- Do you procrastinate as a GM? Think about that a while and get back to me when you’re ready… I’ll wait…. Back already? I know I get… distracted… at times and that keeps me from various writing projects I keep promising myself I’ll get back to. Seems that even the Id DM gets caught in the procrastination loop now and again. Even so he wrote a wonderful article featuring great data on why people procrastinate, and also some great suggestions on how to combat procrastination as GM!
- This happens to me every so often in a campaign. I’ll start a character with the best of intentions, but ultimately it just doesn’t jive. After reading this article from Vanir @ Critial Hits, I think I’ll start talking to my characters on paper a bit more and maybe I can connect that way…
- Do you need a place to torture some PCs for a while? Why not add the Whispered City of Pyre from Brent Newhall to the itinerary? It looks great during the daytime, but look out at night-time… That’s when the toys come out to play! (When I was reading I couldn’t help but think of an episode of the Babylon-5 spin-off show Crusade with a similar scenario… “Racing the Night”)
- Or perhaps some warped monks to add some “strange” to your world? James “Grim” Desborough has started a new column at Ancient Scroll with a great, warped horror story seed for you to play with…
- Are you ever at a loss for a good tavern name in your campaigns? I usually have a few in the back of my head, but occasionally I get stumped. Never fear… Marc Talbot @ Stuffer Shack has a few taverns ready to go already!
- Bulldogs! has garnered a ton of great reviews, so fans of the game should take a look at Durance, a new Kickstarter project from Bully Pulpit Games and Jason Morningstar. Durance is in the style of Fiasco and as such should be quick, dynamic, and a lot of fun. They’ve almost tripled their goal already and have 17 more days to go!
- Another new project with great potential is the “City of Clocks” on Kickstarter… Very cool with an industrial, magical vibe similar (yet different) from the Eberron world. Plus – and this is key – this is system-less! (Thanks go to Ben @ Troll in the Corner for pointing this one out!)
- Not all Kickstarter projects that get funded go swimmingly however, as Stargazer points out. Sometimes after paying all the rewards and taxes you find you’re out of money. Or sometimes the folks behind a project work on it for a while and fail to deliver. Every one I’ve funded so far that’s been successful has led to delivery of an item or two, but I can see where this could definitely be a problem…
- Did you hear that Frog God Games acquired Necromancer Games earlier this month? Neither did I, but I’m hopeful it works out well for both sides of the equation. Great books from both of them, so maybe the combined company will offer even stronger products?
- Would you like to win a copy of Metamorphosis Alpha signed by creator Jim Ward? You can over at The Savage Afterworld if you donate to Bail Out the Warden, which puts money towards Jim Ward’s treatment of a serious neurological disorder. Great cause to save the life of a great mind in the RPG industry and you very well might get a cool book out of the deal as well.
- Interested in tactical miniatures games? Check out this preview of Dungeon Command coming out later this year from WotC. The rulebook has been posted as a PDF already, which is cool. And the dungeon tiles look pretty good. I’ll be curious to see the minis and how the game actually works. Anybody checked out the rules yet?
- What does it take for games to go mainstream? D&D is the one people know and have known for years (some with a good connotation and others with a bad). When asked if D&D Next could take the RPG hobby mainstream, T John Franklin @ Unsuitable For Adults tried to explain why it probably won’t happen now. It’s very thoughtful, humorous, and offers plenty of things to ponder.
- I’ve looked at Freeport, City of Adventure, countless times in the past 20 years I’ve been gaming. So I’m excited that Green Ronin is dusting it off for use in the Dragon Age system. AGE Explorations: Freeport Backgrounds can be used to run a Freeport campaign or integrate it into your own AGE campaign.
- Looking for details about the folks behind Summoner Wars? Michael VK @ 2d6.org has a great interview with Colby Dutch & Jerry Hawthorne from Plaid Hat Games this week!
- I had no idea that WotC was working on a new computer game, but Neverwinter is apparently on deck to come out later this year or early next as a free-to-play MMO…
- Looking for news about 13th Age from Jonathan Tweet & Rob Heinsoo? Apparently it’s ready for pre-order from Pelgrane Press!!
- Raging Swan is at it again with Creighton Broadhurst’s latest book – Dungeon Dressing: Stairs. How do you add interest to a set of stairs in a dungeon? By selecting one of the 50 features, 100 dressing details, or traps of course! Check it out at the Raging Swan site or at RPGNow.
- Paranoia! How can you not like a game with quotes like – “The Computer Is Your Friend. The Computer wants you to be happy. Happiness is mandatory. Failure to be happy is treason. Treason is punishable by summary execution.” Are you happy? J.J. Sloane @ This is My Game discovered that she’s *really good* at Paranoia! because she’s been working a government job for a while… And that is kind of scary! But she provides a good overview of the game…
- Thilo Graf is at it again over at G*M*S Magazine. This week he reviewed #1 With a Bullet Point: 7 Cure Light Wounds Feats and found it has some intriguing feats for enhancing good ol’ Cure Light Wounds.
- Thilo also reviewed So What’s the Demi-Human Called, Anyway? and felt it accomplished its goal of offering many different dwarven, elven, and gnomish names to choose from. He wished there was a bit more use of linguistic peculiarities of those languages, but thought it did well with what it set out to do.
- Though this is a fiction review, it struck me as interesting. Dawn Vogel @ Nevermet Press wrote a review of Queen of Kings from Maria Dahvana Headley, which covers the story of Cleopatra and her death, but puts a new spin on it… Cleo lives on intent on getting revenge on anyone who caused her family to suffer.
- Occasionally as gamers we need to step out of the tried and true and experiment with something different. Matt @ Monkey in the Cage talks about how his group has been playing Mouse Guard and it’s proven to be a challenge for new and veteran roleplayers alike…
- Pathfinder Society Organized Play is like the RPGA of old with a huge Pathfinder RPG campaign run by Paizo with people all over the world participating. Sebastian Sohn @ Play This Thing offers a glimpse into the ongoing campaign with “Voice in the Void”…
- Hollowpoint is a game I’ve heard about but haven’t seen yet, so I was curious when I saw an article from Lowell Francis @ Age of Ravens using the system to play a tabletop game of Skyrim. Amazingly detailed and some great ideas to mine for other games even if you don’t like Hollowpoint or Skyrim!
- Jatori @ tenletter had a chance to review KQ21 this week and liked it like most of us have. I wonder what wonders KQ22 will hold as we get closer to Gen Con season.
- The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons, and Growing up Strange by Mark Barrowcliffe got a review this week from Brant Polkowski @ Craven Games… Sounds like it’s full of humor along with glimpses of growing up in Britain in the 1970s.
- Have you ever wanted to use physical dice in a virtual world while gaming with your friends? There’s something wired into those of us who have been playing tabletop RPGs for a while to react when we hear dice rolling on a table… So I thought these Bluetooth-enabled dice (6 siders for now, but perhaps others in the future) might offer a way to get die rolling back into the picture while playing over some network-enabled app. Has anybody seen these in person? (Thanks Aaron @ Souppouris @ The Verge for finding and writing about them!)
- Need more information about Roll20.net – a new system for playing tabletop RPGs online? Check out Ben’s article @ Troll in the Corner where he interviews Nolan, one of the minds behind the project.
As the bulk of this article was approaching 3000 words, I decided I’d just do another “uncategorized” list this week…
- Myth and Dwarven Legend from Center Stage Miniatures by brennon @ Beasts of War
- The Inquisition: Trouble Characters by Nick @ Troll in the Corner
- The Death of Storytelling by Chris Dias @ Living Dice
- Bucket Lists for PLayers and Characters by John Arcadian @ Gnome Stew
- Game Currency: There’s More Than Money At Stake by DNAPhil @ Gnome Stew
- Night Train Writeup from The Journeyman GM
- [Mummy the Curse] A Discussion of Utterances by Jay “pointyman2000″ Anyong @ Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer
- Dungeons of Adel: The Wraithwood by Dennis N. Santana @ The Spirits of Eden
- Clearwater – River Jarl Steading (6) from Valley of the Old Ones
- Strategy for Free RPG Day by Tim Shorts @ Gothridge Manor
- Preview: Dragon Age Volume 1: The Silent Grove by Danny @ The Crimson Bastards
- New Playtest Campaign by Mr. Blue @ The Cobolt Kobold
- The Alphatian Province of Stoutfellow by Bruce Heard @ About Bruce Heard, D&D, and New Stories
- The One That Got Away: Pirate Island by Quinn Conklin @ Occult Moon
- Fantasy Languages by LS @ Papers & Pencils
- Streets of Bedlam: A Savage World of Crime + Corruption Available Now! from Flames Rising
- Flash Not Substance by Josh Graboff @ The Signe of the Frothing Mug
- Download: AFG (Adventure Fantasy Game) Character Generation Rules (and whole first chapter) by tsojcanth @ Lost Pages
- Marvelous Miami – Second Session Impressions by A.L. @ Reality Refracted
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
- The What’s Up With D&D? from Chris Hackler @ ENWorld
There’s definitely plenty of news go go around!
On the congratulations front, I have to congratulate Jay “Pointyman2000″ Anyong, the creator of BADASS and its one year anniversary last Friday!! Congrats Jay! When are we going to see more BADASS titles?
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!