Welcome to the Friday Knight News for this Friday, June 21st, 2012! First of all, let’s just get the traditional TGIF! out of the way. The first part of the week was insane, but it’s actually reached manageable levels of crazy the last few days so I really can’t complain. Sanity on a scale where I was able to work on a couple of things this week that weren’t screaming for my attention at the time. So that’s a step forward.
Next, it’s looking like I actually may be doing some gaming this weekend. Huzzah! We’ll hope it materializes, but at the very least we’re closing in on a date that may work for everybody soon. Thankfully we had Free RPG Day last weekend so I got my gaming fix in just in case. I played the 3rd level DCC RPG adventure that Goodman Games contributed to the Free RPG effort and dragged my daughters into the mix. Though it was a bit creepy with all the spiders and such, I must say my girls did really well. My youngest took her 50′ rope, made a lasso, and was lassoing some of the giant spiders from afar so her sister had a better target to shoot at with a Magic Missile. I lost track of the bugs they squashed in this manner.
So I’m hoping that many of you were able to partake in the Free RPG Day festivities in your areas. And I’m hopeful that maybe I’ll have an opportunity to take a look at some of the goodies I picked up soon.
Beyond that, it was a crazy week here at Game Knight Reviews:
- Saturday, Robert Oglodzinski’s friend qbany offered a thought-provoking article tying Robert E. Howard‘s Conan to the lifecycle of entire civilizations… (By the way if you’re looking for some Hyborian flags, check out this article from Atom Kid @ Maximum Rock and Role Play! If I see any of these flying in my neighborhood I will likely freak out. )
- Sunday I introduced a new column I hope to be more regular called “Game Fodder” that will offer interesting ideas, places, people, and things that you might be able to ponder for use in your own games. The first article deals with a Freaky Friday or Quantum Leap kind of idea to give your PCs a taste for godhood and really mess with their heads in the process…
- Monday saw the return of Andrew Armstrong with his semi-regular column – “Strong-Arm Tactics.” He offered an intriguing counterpoint to all the controversy (both positive and negative) surrounding D&D Next. Do we really need it? I was shocked by the reaction this article got on the site in the comment feed and on Reddit. Most folks get that this is the choice all gamers will have to make.. Do they take the time to learn a new system or keep playing the ones they already have? Do they spend the money on the books when it comes out? Why is it controversial to say that we may not really need another version?
- Tuesday I reviewed a new “Tarnished Souk” supplement from Rite Publishing about a colorful character – Z.Z. Grimshanks.
- Wednesday the Gassy Gnoll asked why PCs and NPCs don’t have more pets. And other than “it’s hard in the rules to make it worthwhile” and “it can affect game balance” and “they’re a liability” I really didn’t get a solid answer…
- And yesterday I posted a new interview with Brendan Davis of Bedrock Games about his new game – Servants of Gaius. Yes folks, history *can* be fun to roleplay! Caligula a god? Interesting!
I won’t guarantee that every week at GKR is going to be that crazy with content, but it’s awesome that it can happen once in a while!
Now after all of that… It’s time for the news!
- Monsters. You know you want ‘em. And there’s only a few in the playtest docs for D&D Next. So what’s a gamer to do? Well, follow Greywulf’s lead of course. He’s reverse engineered the process and created a set of steps I think even I could follow…
- The Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic has certainly garnered quite a bit of attention in the playtest. But is it really overpowered compared to the old flat bonuses of previous editions of D&D? Bartoneus @ Critical Hits took some time to answer that question…
- What if D&D Next was branded as a new game? Would it sell better? Andrew Breese @ The Iron-Bound Tome wonders…
- If you’re interested in the playtesting process, you might give a listen to the latest episode of the Tome Show, featuring Mike Mearls and Dave Chalker chatting about what it takes to be a good playtester and how things will proceed from here…
- Or if you just want to see the current FAQ for the playtest, check it out here at WotC’s D&D site.
- Could the designers at WotC be emulating another designer’s work with D&D Next? Might they have borrowed the idea of “backgrounds” from John Holland’s game The Realms of Atlantasia? Ugh. I hope not. (Thanks perdustin @ Thoul’s Paradise for commenting on this one.)
Food for Thought
- Do you remember that post a week or two ago about Pixar’s 22 Story Rules from Emma Coats? Well, as you might imagine, they gained some traction in the gaming community. John Arcadian @ Gnome Stew came up with some analysis of those tips with Kurt Schneider and they broke the article in to two parts – part 1 here and part 2 here. Tons of great food for thought in both articles that I know *I* will be coming back to a few more times before I’m done…
- How dedicated are you to your map? Joseph Bloch @ Greyhawk Grognard shows us that you’re not nearly as fanatical as Jerry Gretzinger and his insanely detailed, beautiful, and changing map he’s been working on forever…
- In one of the most unexpected articles this week, Jonathan Drain @ D20 Source got my attention with “Spare a Thought for the Poor Town Guards.” Even while playing Skyrim, though generally I try to avoid combat with town guards, I never really gave them much thought. Apparently after playing one for three days at a convention recently Jonathan has a whole new appreciation for what they live through every day!
- Beholders still give me the creeps. I battled my share in all of the Eye of the Beholder Gold Box games way back when and have never shaken that feeling I was being watched the whole time… Well, Andrew @ Geek Native has found seven awesome and horrible beholder illustrations that will haunt me for a while longer…
- What if there was nobody left in Dubai? What would it look like? Lauren Davis @ io9 has found photos from Richard Allenby-Pratt who has removed the people from photos of Dubai and replaced them with the odd piece of wildlife to stark effect… Very cool and kind of creepy.
- Or if fantasy and sci-fi art is more your thing, check out the pieces in an article from Charlie Jane Anders @ io9 featuring some of the best from last year’s sci-fi and fantasy artists… Great stuff. And every one is nominated for a Chelsey Award!
- How do you use your campaign calendar? Is it for planning game sessions? Setting up in-game holy days? Or some combination? Roberto M @ Stargazer’s World has recently been pondering calendars and how to use them for his games…
Free RPG Day
- Jatori @ Tenletter managed to attend the Free RPG Day event in Utrecht, the Netherlands last weekend. Sounds like he had a busy day running the Dawn of the Scarlet Sun module for PFRPG but enjoyed his visit there!
- Hungry @ Ravenous stopped by the same Free RPG Day celebration I did at Petrie’s Family Games last weekend and listed all his loot… If anybody can help him find links to PDFs for the missing items, that would be awesome!
- Meanwhile, Tim Brannan @ Gothridge Manor ponders Free RPG Day goodies as well as some other some fun stuff that he ordered (some game-related, some not)…
- Looking for some of the free downloads for this year’s Free RPG Day? Kaiju @ Kaijuville has collected a few.
- So has Tenkar @ Tenkar’s Tavern… With a brief blurb on each of the goodies.
- I’ve wondered what sorts of costs are involved with producing content for Free RPG Day and Ryan Macklin produced a detailed post this week listing them… There’s more than a few gotchas in there.
- Unfortunately for Callin @ Big Ball of No Fun, Free RPG Day lived up to his blog’s name. Through a snafu, nothing arrived. Anywhere near them.
- Thankfully not everyone had Callin’s experience. Lindevi @ Triple Crit talked about his experiences running a game and checking out some of the loot…
- And Manda Cullis @ +ChaBonus suggests that maybe every day should be Free RPG Day. Run more demos. Release our own adventures for free. Talk to our publishers and game stores… Great idea! But I suspect that FRD every day would get old kind of like Christmas every day.
Games and Gaming
- I have to say that I’ve been impressed with the way the gaming community has taken to the Marvel Heroic Role-Playing game. Every week, almost every day, I’m seeing posts providing the stats or reasoning behind some of the iconic characters of the DC and Marvel universes. Last week Tim Brannon @ The Other Side came up with stats for the new Batwoman to support the LBGT Blogathon from YAM Magazine. I love not only that the gaming community is embracing the LGBT community here but finding a way to talk positively about openly gay characters in multiple dimensions. Great work!
- When universes collide, it can either be a “good thing” or a “bad thing.” But the concept of “Transgaming” as described by the group at Mad Brew Labs rocks. We’ve seen some transmedia work going on between TV and v
ideo games (Syfy’s Defiance) recently, but I’d not seen cross-pollination between video games and tabletop RPGs lately. I have to admit I kind of tuned out the whole “Pathfinder Online” Kickstarter project from Goblinworks, but they’re looking at linking PFO with the Pathfinder Society and allowing folks to play the same character in both worlds and seeing the advancement, gold, and items work at the tabletop level as well. Very very interesting…
- Are you looking for a new (or old) tabletop RPG to try? Check out this list of 10 RPGs you may not have heard of from Ted Johnson @ Geekosystem. There were only three in the list I’d not heard of, so I must be doing something right!
- Do you need help with your GMing skills? Check out this new series for beginner GMs from The Chatty DM @ Critical Hits. I’m looking forward to reading all the “Zen and the Art of Dungeon Mastering” (better than motorcycle maintenance) articles! (Check out the first article – “What’s in it for me?” for a taste of the series…
- Are there times you’d rather compete head to head against one of your fellow players than against a GM’s monsters? Guess what. You might want to check out Fourthcore Team Deathmatch at Gen Con this year… Learn more from Derek Myers @ Dungeon’s Master.
- After playing a bit of DCC RPG last weekend, I can confirm that it is a brutal system if you’re low-level character. There’s a reason they have “The Funnel System” and start with a ton of 0-level characters to kick off a campaign. Erik Tenkar @ Tenkar’s Tavern has struggled with that a bit as he starts a new DCC campaign…
- How do you feel about one-shots vs. extended campaigns? I like them both, but tend towards campaigns simply because there are usually more stories to tell. Jonathon Narvey @ Savage Games is fighting the tendency in Savage Worlds to bounce from genre to genre in multiple one-shots vs. telling a longer story across multiple sessions. As he says “What’s the point in gaining experience points from a great roleplay session if you’re not going to be able to use those points to upgrade your character in the next game?” What do you think?
- Do you play Legend of the Five Rings? Sean Holland @ Sea of Stars has a new Ronin school for you to ponder… The Fraternity of Smoke.
- What’s your perfect game like? LS @ Papers & Pencils has a serious list of “wants” for his perfect game. It’s going to be tough to find any one game that includes ‘em all, but it’s a worthwhile goal!
- If you’re in an Old-School D&D mood, you might want to check out the list of the top 10 insane D&D rules from Rob Bricken @ Topless Robot… There are some good ones in there. And though I may not agree that they’re insane, I do think they’re fun!
- Do your PCs know what your villains look like? Perhaps they should be faceless to inspire more fear in them? Ravyn @ Exchange of Realities has some great ideas on using faceless villains and why you should take another look…
- How do you develop a new campaign setting? Daniel Stack @ 19th Level has been working on a new setting for a DCC RPG campaign… Something a bit more “sandbox-y” and I think it looks great. Plenty of things to expand on as needed!
- Space is still the final frontier, right? So why not check out the Starships & Spacemen project at IndieGoGo? This looks pretty sweet and even has miniatures as some of the higher level rewards!
- Or maybe you’ve been looking for a game that embraces flying in Pathfinder? Check out Companions of the Firmament at Kickstarter! The art looks terrific and it seems to have plenty to add to PFRPG in numerous areas.
- If you need more unique monsters for 4e, why not check out the Midgard Bestiary for 4th Edition from Wolfgang and the gang at Open Design! Really, do I need to say more? (If you need more convincing, check out this article from Richard Green @ KQ that talks about a couple of his favorite monsters!)
- Perhaps you’re looking for a new card game? Check out The Heart of Sut at IndieGoGo, a Steampunk-themed strategy card game from James Richardson-Brown and Chris Phillips.
- Maybe you’d rather look at a near-future Cyberpunk-style game? Check out The Division from Act 10 at Kickstarter. This game seems to incorporate some fantasy aspects into a dystopian sci-fi near future…
- And to help us all track some of the cool gaming-related Kickstarter projects, Angus Abramson (formerly of Cubicle 7) has started a new Facebook group to keep us informed! (Thanks Tim Brannan @ The Other Side for the link!)
- Or if you’re into the world of Spirit of the Century from Evil Hat Games, you might check out the Race to Adventure! board game Kickstarter project! Sounds like fun as a family-friendly game for ages 8 and up!
- And if you’ve been looking for some special dice to play Spirit of the Century or some other FATE-based game, you might check out the “Pulse” FATE/FUDGE Dice project at Kickstarter. These seem to be themed a little differently than the traditional + and – dice I’ve seen, with a bit more color.
- Monte Cook is a force to be reckoned with whether he’s working at WotC or not. And the Id DM had a chance to catch up with him to talk about his four decades of experience in the RPG industry. Great interview!
- Have you heard about Penumbra, a new “post-apocalyptic gothic” RPG? (No, it’s not the game with the same name from Atlas Games.) I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this one as things develop…
- If you like the gothic side of things, how about Shadows of Esteren from Agate RPG, Forgesonges, and Studio 2 Publishing? The original version is in French, but there’s an English translation on the way and they’re hoping to have it ready for Gen Con Indy 2012. The game takes inspiration from Celtic Myths, and features a world of humans coping with tough daily lives as well as monsters lurking in the dark… Check out more information at their portal site. This is another one I look forward to hearing more about!
- Are you interested in freelancing for some RPG companies and curious about the payment side of things? Check out this article from Monica Valentinelli @ Geek’s Dream Girl about just that… And be sure to look at the previous entries in this series as well. Great details!
- Darrin Drader has been writing for some of the big boys like WotC and Paizo and has more than 50 writing credits. Johnn Four @ Roleplaying Tips recently had a chance to pick his brain about how he creates his adventures, worlds, and stories…
- Creighton and the gang at Raging Swan continue to pump out great content. This week they released So What’s the Spellbook Like, Anyway? by Landon Bellavia. If you’ve ever tried to describe a spellbook in physical terms, this should be a huge help! Check out more details at the Raging Swan site or at DriveThruRPG…
- Gozuja @ G*M*S Magazine recently had a chance to check out Purple Duck Games’ Ruins of the Dwarven Delve, a continuation of the Temple of the Locust Lord. Sounds like it may be tough to beat without plenty of trap spotters and disablers in the party!
- Taking a dip into the past is perdustin @ Thoul’s Paradise as he looks at High Fantasy, which was being developed and coming out about the same time I was just learning AD&D… It’s one I never encountered and now I know a bit of the history behind why that is…
- Also looking at an old module is Randall Walker @ This is My Game… He’s diving into a collection of modules called Scourge of the Slave Lords. He’d like to use them in a D&D Next campaign and is pondering the nature of “modular” in terms of 5e… As Inigo tells Vizzini in The Princess Bride, he thinks “I do not think it means what you think it means.”
- Kingdoms of Kalamar really brings me back. And Patrick @ The Deck of Many Places just posted a brief review this week…
- Looking for a new board game? Check out Nexus Ops from Fantasy Flight Games! Sounds from Paco G. Jaen @ G*M*S Magazine that it’s easy to pick up, fun, and pretty well put together.
- Are you looking for details about mythological creatures or legendary figures? Have you checked out Encyclopedia Mythica(tm)? This site is chock full of interesting details about everything from the Abominable Snowman to the Zwarte Madam, and everything in-between!
Once again I’ve hit the proverbial wall and still have content to share… Here’s the rest of what I didn’t have time to get to…
- 10 Deranged Costume Designs from the 1600s that Put Lady Gaga to Shame @ io9
- 101 campaign ideas that can be done with only GURPS lite @ the Steve Jackson Games Forums
- A Look at the Duergar Race @ Daily Encounter (great, detailed article with tons of crunch!)
- The Adventure Creation Process @ The Cheeseshop
- In Defense of Flavor @ Exchange of Realities
- Underworld Day – Shibam @ Underworld Kingdom
- Instatreasure Die Drop Table @ Wrath of Zombie
- City Tour: The Noble Quarter @ Godsend: The City of Bones
- Carpathia Review @ Flames Rising
- Power Levels @ Untimately
- Quarmageddon removes the cards and adds in dice to the deckbuilding genre @ Perpetual Geek Machine
- DCC: Review after first session @ Deck of Many Places
- Spells of the Nameless One from Darklon The Mystic @ Swords & Stitchery
- Short and Not Particularly Sweet @ Heropress
- Word of the Week: UMBRA @ World of Alidor
- Law vs. Chaos, the William Blake Way @ Land of Nod
- Some Thoughts on Last Night’s DCC Session – Short Funnel of Death @ Tenkar’s Tavern
- Random Urban Encounters @ G*M*S Magazine
- Fehr’s Ethnology: Dhosari @ G*M*S Magazine
- Cartography: Dragon’s Eye View @ D&D/WotC
- On a Flattened Power Curve @ Hack & Slash
- Associating Powers @ Jack’s Toolbox
- Way of the Wicket Book Two: Call Forth Darkness @ G*M*S Magazine
- Osprey Tackles Nazi Occult and Dragonslayers… @ Heropress
- Beyond ‘Fred’: Ancient Persian Names @ Evil Machinations
- Some REALLY atypical RPG settings @ Held Action
- 20 Quick Questions (from Jeff Rients) and Answers About the Sea of Stars @ Sea of Stars)
- Why does magic need so many rules? @ io9
- Livin in an RPG: The Accumulation of Mundane Events @ Campaign Mastery
- Jenga D&D Puzzles @ Sly Flourish
- House Rules for Minions @ HouseRules4DND
- Wizards Watch: Kicking 4E Under the Edition Bus @ Neuroglyph Games
- Dicing up a B/X Dragon @ The Mule Abides
- A Size Comparison Chart of 20 Real-Life Spaceships With the Starship Enterprise @ io9
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
- 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! If anybody gets out to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter this weekend, let me know!
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!