Given a choice, this issue of Friday Knight News might be called the “Promethean” edition given that Ridley Scott‘s Alien-derived-yet-new-universe in Prometheus hits theaters here in the States today. Though my daughters would prefer I somehow worked Madagascar into the mix (“I got to move it, move it…”)… But I decided we’d just stick with the “Gaming” edition and be boring. You’re less interested in the title anyway and hopefully more engaged by the web of great content created elsewhere. (By the way, I was going to use the acronym FKN, but it can be read a certain way that may not be appropriate to all our readers and chose to avoid it… for now. [insert evil grin])
This has been one heck of a week between work, the last week of soccer for a while, and some amazing hail, rain, wind, and lightning that has been bombarding us the last couple of nights. I’m hopeful I won’t be out moving bricks and digging temporary drainage ditches again this week, ’cause that wasn’t much fun. Not to mention the server issues that plagued GKR starting early Sunday morning my time. All of that is behind us thankfully and next week will be better… I hope. My plan is to get back into the regular cycle of reviews and other goodies starting this weekend. Hopefully the Fates will be kind!
The only content here was an update on the server issues, an article where the Gassy Gnoll is wondering aloud about whether certain classes are introverts or extroverts, and a great guest post from Chris Lewis Carter of Camp Myth. (For more about Camp Myth, check out this great article from Dennis N. Santana @ The Spirits of Eden!) (I think I’ve talked Chris into doing a monthly column about mythology and gaming, so hopefully we’ll hear more from him in the near future!)
Hopefully the rest of you are hanging in there and haven’t been hit by tornadoes, misfortune, or plain bad luck. It’s the weekend, so that has to count for something!!
On that note, Happy Friday and on to the news!!
- Looking for a new class for D&D Next to try out? David Guyll @ Points of Light has cobbled together a Bladesinger for your use. Short and sweet. What do you think? Can you hear the sword’s song?
- Rob Conley @ Bat in the Attic suggests that D&D Next hints at the success of the Old School Renaissance of roleplaying that’s been growing in recent years. “Starting with last year’s D&D Experience, classic style gaming has been reintroduced into a far larger audience than myself or any of the OSR publishers could have done.”
- On the other side of the fence is Labgrrl’s open letter to WotC over at UAD&D. She definitely has some strong opinions on a number of fronts…
- Marlett @ Neuroglyph Games had a chance to try out D&D Next way back in January. As Yoda might say, “Not impressed was he.” Like Labgrrl and many of us, he’d rather see WotC release all the old materials electronically so we may make our own choices as to what’s “next” for D&D…
- Mordicai Knode @ Tor.com even took some time to try out the latest D&D Next playtest. He found a few good things and a few bad, but went a bit further with “the ugly.” Can WotC address some of the concerns about miniatures and combat insanity for this edition?
- So did DeadOrcs @ This is My Game… Sounds like they had a good time and want to explore more, which is a good sign.
- Meanwhile, Jason Vey @ Play Unplugged says that WotC may have managed to win back some Old School gamers with D&D Next…
- I love to hear the broad strokes of what folks like and don’t like about WotC’s D&D Next approach. But specifics make a huge difference. Sarah Darkmagic has an article this week just about how the rules for Medusa work in D&D Next. Long story short – beware her stony gaze. This unique focus brings some interesting things up that haven’t been covered in other articles, so I’d encourage others to follow suit – focusing on individual aspects of the game with context, as that helps!
- If you’re thinking of running the “Caves of Chaos” adventure for the playtest, be sure to check out the article about NPCs from Mike Shea @ Sly Flourish. He goes into great detail about the motivations behind folks in the area that could make a GM’s life much easier if they’re doing more than just reading the descriptive text.
- Blue Utopian @ Sniper D20 discussed the Background and Themes mechanics for D&D Next, as well as some of the new rules regarding saving throws.
- For more about hard numbers in D&D Next, check out Jack’s Toolbox and the article that expands on Justin Alexander’s article about “Calibrating Your Expectations.” The changing of DCs really is a game changer…
- It really is interesting to see both sides of the debate about whether D&D Next is a “good thing” or a “bad thing.” (Personally I just think it’s a “thing” and it’s up to how you apply it at the game table to make it good or bad. But at least WotC’s trying to do something with the D&D property.) Ed Grabianowski @ Robot Viking makes a good point though about that point of diminishing returns when you level up characters – at some point it’s moot what you get for one more level. The DC changes (along with the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic) really even things out – though they also make them more deadly in some respects…
Food for Thought
- Are you superstitious about your dice? I don’t think I am, but despite the odds I may try ten different d20s over the course of a gaming night to find “the one” – so by default I must be a bit superstitious myself. Tim Mucci @ Unwinnable put together a great list of the top dice superstitions among gamers and there are some entertaining ones. My favorite involves not confusing the dice, ’cause I wouldn’t want to interrupt the flow of fate from the gods of randomness…
- Do you like Madlibs? My daughters are fascinated by them and derive seemingly endless entertainment from asking random questions and filling in the blanks. But what about using that concept for inspiring campaigns, adventures, encounters, or more? Steven Pressfield has an intriguing approach that merges Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” and Madlibs to offer a template for the Heroic Journey. What would you fill in those blanks with? What templates can you come up with for your own campaigns and stories?
- Last week after seeing the first wave of “house rules” for D&D Next pop up, a friend and I wondered at what point it becomes more work to maintain a list of house rules than it does to find a better game. Over on Reddit/RPG, it was quite a lively discussion that spread the field on both sides. My favorite tip? When you stop enjoying the system, it’s time to look elsewhere. Seems like common sense to me!
- I’ve tried on a few gaming groups for size ever since I left college. Some fit. Some don’t. Nick @ Troll in the Corner suggests that you don’t overthink it going in and try a new group for the first time. I think that’s great advice.
- Have you ever wondered how gnomes came to be a part of our culture? So has Rodney @ Rising Phoenix Games! He ponders their impact around the world, which is quite entertaining.
- World design. It’s a topic that’s filled volumes and will continue to I suspect. The folks at They Might Be Gazebos! take the approach of pondering how gods and magic work in the world first.
- Interested in Samurai? Well, Lowell Francis @ Age of Ravens has a great list of resources you might want to check out… From comics to fiction and non-fiction.
- Or if samurai aren’t your thing, check out this list of “Thirteen Books Nerds Should Read” from Jocelyn Koehler @ Critical Hits. I think I’ve only read about half of them myself!
Games and Gaming
- What do Star Wars and Dragon Age have in common? Star Wars: Age of Rebellion, of course! This work from newbiedm @ Dragon Age Oracle is huge and looks like a great conversion if you like the AGE system. Anybody played with it already?
Looking for stats for the Avengers? Check out this PDF for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying that details Hawkeye for the system.
- Maybe you need some ideas for NPCs? This thread at Reddit/RPG hints at a few that might inspire a few of your own…
- If it’s item ideas you’re after, then you should check out this thread at Reddit/RPG about making a list of 100 interesting treasures. (Thanks Mike @ Nearly Enough Dice for linking to this one!)
- Or check out Siskoid’s Blog of Geekery for some great ideas on how to turn an item into an artifact. Just a few key attributes like a name, a story, and an effect and it pushes a simple sword from mundane to magical!
- Are you one of those folks who agonizes over having the right mechanics in your games? Justin Alexander is too. And over at the Alexandrian he goes into great detail describing the differences between associated mechanics (those with a connection to the game world) and dissociated mechanics (those without). It’s definitely worth reading and something I need to read again to grok further…
- As a GM, I often wanted to bash my players over the head with a club to show them “the light” or whatever story elements they simply weren’t putting together. And I know I’m not alone. Theo Gauthier @ Nevermet Press has a great article on what to do when your goals and the PCs simply don’t dovetail. Leave your ego at the door I think about sums it up.
- Sometimes I form deep attachments to my RPG characters. While other times it just doesn’t seem to happen. Why is that? A.L. @ Reality Refracted goes at it from a different angle this week to identify those attachments and how they can be used (or created) to motivate one or more players in your group to achieve some goal…
- Need an adventure? Check out Loonook’s articles @ The Good Gaming Blog detailing “Reforged Iron,” an adventure created for the Iron DM competition. And I have to say I’m intrigued – the concept of a castle in a tree is quite unique!
- If you want to ponder a bit darker topic, check out Mike Bourke’s article about character death @ Campaign Mastery. Empty deaths should be avoided (though the Tasha Yar from ST:TNG reference doesn’t work for me, Wash in the Serenity movie definitely does). But how do you avoid them? Read on McDuff!
- Got maps? If not, check out AJ’s “A Region Charted” (ARC) project at Kickstarter – “ARC: Map Pack Volume I.” Ten different maps you can use in a variety of ways (hard copy or electronic), to inspire you as GM, to instill fear into your players, or even just to wallpaper a room in your home. The artwork looks terrific and I’ve already tossed my coins in the fountain. With about 30 days to go, I’m hoping they hit their $8500 goal! Can you help?
- In the “holy cow there’s a lot of interest in Traveller” bucket this week, we have Marc “Traveller” Miller’s Traveller 5th Edition project at KS. With more than three weeks left to raise funds, they’re quickly approaching $100k – more than 4x what they were hoping for!! I only played Travellerbriefly in Tempe, AZ and definitely enjoy the amazing scope of that universe. Obviously I’m not alone.
- Are you looking for a high-level adventure for your Pathfinder group? Might I recommend the “Fractured Phylactery” KS project from Erik Bauer and the folks at Gaming Paper? Obviously the world needs a good battle between good and a crazy wizard lich, right? Just make sure you send high-level characters at it – I’d hate to see what the lich might do to a group of 1st level PCs… [shudder]
- If you’re considering jumping into the Kickstarter or IndieGoGo game for a gaming project, you should probably look at the Geek Industrial Complex’ report on 150 projects for 2011-2012. Lots of data and obviously lots of money in crowdsourcing new RPGs!
- Do you like bugs? If not, you might want to avoid “Last Stand” – a new project that features giant insects, big radioactive lizards, alien invaders, and destroyed cities. The art looks great and reminds me a bit of some of the Palladium artists I’ve seen in the past. Has anyone played with the Fortune System before? If you have a giant-sized can of Raid, toss some coins into this one!
- As I’ve been enjoying DCC RPG a bit at a time, I was pleased to see that there’s a new Kickstarter from the folks at Brave Halfling for some DCC adventures! Erik Tenkar @ Tenkar’s Tavern points us to the “Appendix N Adventures” Kickstarter and I have to say I just put a few $$ in the jar for this one too! Check it out!
- One of the more unusual gaming-related projects at Kickstarter recently is the “Table-Top RPG Boards” project from WILLWRIGHT Gaming. The idea is to have a portable briefcase-style map board that could contain all the pieces (minis, dice, maps, etc) for your game and set up very easily. Has anyone seen one of these boards in action beyond the video?
- Another KS project I discovered this week was Dungeon World from Sage Kobold Productions. A game all about dungeon exploration, fighting monsters, and gathering loot? Sounds about perfect! What I like is that it’s available now via Creative Commons and the project is serving to get it out to more folks. Jeremy Friesen @ Take on Rules has a great article about why you should throw some $$ into this project if you’re not sold yet.
- I’ve been curious to see what White Wolf has been up to lately and ran across this post at Reddit listing all sorts of updates. I had no idea they were running a KS project for a new V20 book, but I was intrigued by the teasers and updates. I hope they keep sharing this sort of info!
WotC is getting into the Free RPG Day movement this year with Dead in the Eye, a module for characters of 8-10th level that has a lovely beholder on the cover. I have to wonder at releasing high-level adventures though – wouldn’t they get more traction releasing something of low-level to get folks involved in D&D Next?
- Congrats to all the winners of the 2012 Origins Awards! ICV2 has posted a great list of all of this year’s winners for the 38th annual Origins Award. (For a bit about how Origins 2012 was this year, check out The Journeyman GM’s recap.)
- Matt Forbeck has been writing for big name publishing houses and game companies from Angry Robot to TSR, WotC, Random House, Penguin, and others for quite a while. Bryan Thomas Schmidt @ Grasping for the Wind did a great interview piece with Forbeck this week that goes into some of his influences, his works, and what’s next.
- Also with a great interview this week was the Id DM chatting with Grant Gould, freelance illustrator for RPGs and developer of the new game Blade Raiders. I love getting glimpses into the heads of folks with inspiration and talent.
- Looking for some inspired content in the vein of Planescape? Check out The Planewalker’s Codex, Issue 1, Q3 2012 available now for free from the Planewalker site. I loved the CRPG based around Planescape so may have to check it out myself soon!
- Do the guys at Raging Swan Press sleep? They have another new product this week – So What’s the Hoard Like, Anyway? III. Nobody likes a generic dragon hoard, right? This book offers 84 different detailed hoards ready to drop into a campaign to reward your players for slaying the big baddie… Check it out at RPGNow and be sure to get more details at the product website.
- Or if you’re looking for some new gods for your world, check out The Gods of Porphyra from Purple Duck Games. More than two dozen new deities to worship and fear in your Pathfinder campaign! Grab your copy at RPGNow today.
- Over at Between Are the Doors, someone has taken the time to do a detailed review of Stuart Robertson’s rules-light game Weird West. Sounds like there were more than a few hurdles to overcome, not least of which its minimalist format which lends itself to all sorts of ruling on the fly.
- Nakedhobo @ Troll in the Corner took a look at Seven Card Samurai as a game to play between games or to kill time. Simple rules with deep potential for strategy makes it sound like an intriguing game to pick up!
- I’ve been very curious about AdventureAWeek.com’s approach to releasing new modules, so I’m thankful Thilo Graf @ G*M*S Magazine had some time to review Alchemists Errand this week. Sounds like Thilo really liked it, giving it 4 stars!
- Random generators rock! Check out this set over at donjon for everything from names and encounters to dungeons and entire worlds!
- In all my years of gaming, I’ve seen glossaries and dictionaries, but nothing like the ENWorld D&D Pronunciation Guide. I didn’t learn about it until this week and now I’ll have to peruse its contents more frequently to see what’s been added.
- Andrew Breese @ The Iron-Bound Tome wrote up a quick review of the latest issue of Sub Rosa, the Ars Magica magazine. Having never heard of Sub Rosa, I was happy to get a bit of insight into that realm – I always loved the concepts in AM.
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
- And the new Roll for News podcast!
There’s definitely plenty of news go go around!
One last note – congrats to David @ Beyond the Pale Gate on achieving 200 posts and 10,000 hits! Keep up the great work!! (I really like the “Magical Catastrophe Table” article from this week… Diabolical!)
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!