Whether or not Batman survives his bout with Bane in Dark Knight Rises or Catwoman steals his heart (and his money, keys, car…), I suspect that Christopher Nolan will ride off into the sunset with more than a few dumptrucks full of cash. So Bane, this one’s for you. Sure, you’re hell bent on destroying Batman and Gotham City, but ultimately we all know you’re going down…
Dark Knight Rises day Friday fellow gamers! Hopefully your own private Gotham Cities are ready to be ransacked this weekend. Unfortunately I won’t get to see it until Monday, but I’m hoping it trumps the trash-talking Amazing Spider-Man. Don’t get me wrong – I like precocious, spider-bitten, high school heroes (plus, Emma Stone was a gorgeous Gwen Stacy) – but I prefer the grown-up superheroes like we’ve seen with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I guess I gravitate to the dark rather than the purely sarcastic.
Anyway… Enough about Chris Nolan’s pending payday… We’re here to talk about gaming!
Here on the home front, we visited a few silly places:
- We went on a school visit to the Nevish College of Magical Studies where your coursework may actually kill you in the lab…
- We took a look at Critical!: Go Westerly from Firestorm Ink and writers Geoff Bottone and Jonathan Lavallee. In fact, it was so much fun I had to break it into two parts – part 1 and part 2.
- And the Gassy Gnoll pondered his growing Kickstarter addiction, wondering if anybody else is also suffering from the malady (and supporting some great projects along the way)…
Next week we’ll see what’s next in the old review queue and hear from Creighton Broadhurst of Raging Swan Press to pick his brain a bit. How is Raging Swan capable of producing so much great material? Wait and see!
On that news… What’s been going on around the gaming interwebz this week? Let’s see…
Food for Thought
- If you’re anything like me, you always have at least one book going somewhere. (Usually I’m reading 2 or 3 and hop between them.) And I’m a huge fan of indie novels, but unfortunately they’re rarely advertised well and I don’t hear about many. Thanks to Michael J Sullivan @ The Ranting Dragon, here’s a list of 20 great indie fantasy & science fiction novels to check out. Maybe the seed for your next campaign is in one of them!
- The world is not always a great place to be. Whether people express intolerance for religion, race, gender, sexual preference, or whatever – usually it’s out of a place of ignorance. I’m not a fan of ignorance. If you have something to say, I don’t care if you’re blue, green, polka-dotted, or alien – I’ll probably listen and try and gauge your idea on its merits. I don’t always succeed, but I do my best. And I know I have it easier simply because I’m a guy. Ladies – you put up with a lot of crap. So when I see articles like the one from Jenn Frank @ Unwinnable about sexism, I try to not only read and grok them, but share them. I have two daughters growing up in a world where ignorance seems to be gaining ground, and articles like this will hopefully keep it at bay a little longer.
- I’m often in awe of artists. My daughters both seem to have a knack for drawing and painting and I always try to encourage them to keep going with it. So I love it when others point out great artists that other folks may not know about yet. Matt @ Land of Nod found Ming Doyle at DeviantArt and showed off some of her great work, which really reminds me of almost a Silver Age comic style… (I call it Silver Age, but I’m betting I’m using the wrong term.) Great stuff!
- Are you a writer stymied by some of the “rules” of writing – like “Show, Don’t Tell”? Author Lee Child @ Writer’s Digest suggests that maybe we should just ignore these “rules” a bit. Though this is more towards fiction writing, I think it also applies to RPG writing.
- I can hardly build anything with Legos, let alone actually put together a gaming table as cool as the one from Michael @ Dice Monkeys. This thing is cool, with plenty of pictures if you want to try and build your own. Drool…
- What’s going on with game design in some of the parts of the world that we don’t hear from often? Great question from Michael Wenman @ Observations of the Fox. Gamers are everywhere, so there has to be some design going on in those “dark” spots, right?
- While I don’t always agree with Monte Cook, I do respect him. He’s done some damn amazing work for years with D&D and RPGs. So when he talks, I listen. And when I heard of his idea behind the “A+” project, I cheered. This isn’t strictly a gaming effort. This is an anti-troll effort through individual efforts. Across the Internet, the trolls bring everybody down with negativity and even unjustified feelings of superiority. Well, as I keep telling my daughters – the only thing you can control is yourself, and that’s where A+ comes in. Just be positive. And if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. Pretty common sense to me. And Monte, I’m on board. I balance any review I have so that it’s mostly positive even if I don’t like something entirely. There’s always good and bad in everything. So… Why not just be nice for a while? Thanks Monte. I’m glad I’m not the only one.
- Along the same lines as the A+ project is the article about Wheaton’s Law and DMing by Derek Myers @ Dungeon’s Master. Nobody wants to be a dick, but it happens sometimes. He offers four simple guidelines to help avoid it. And damn if they don’t all make sense.
- Storytelling. It’s something we do every time we play a RPG. Collaborative storytelling. So why not get some tips from a master storyteller like Joss Whedon? Charlie Jane Anders @ io9 had an opportunity to pick his brain about different aspects of storytelling and I have to say I’ll never look at comics, movies, and television quite the same way again.
- And be sure to block off a few days in November 2012 for AetherCon (thanks Mike Bourke @ Campaign Mastery for the links!) – the virtual gaming convention that will follow CONcurrent in August. They’re booking tables quickly, so if you want to run something at a virtual table I’d chime in – they’re going to be using the Roll20 VTT! For more details check out the convention website.
Games and Gaming
- Iddy @ The Id DM has been on a roll lately with thought-provoking articles. Late last week he pondered using computer or console-game-like achievements to encourage players to think outside the box. If they do something cool in combat or while roleplaying, they earn tokens towards particular rewards. I used to call these “Brownie Points,” but Iddy’s achievements do the same thing. Gather enough and use them to… recover an Encounter power, get a re-roll or automatic success, or something else useful in-game.
- Many moons ago when players would miss a game, I was a kind and gentle GM. I simply said that those characters “melded” with the wall and would “unmeld” with the group at some point when they returned. Not any more. Now I want to be vindictive. Anyway, Zak @ Playing D&D With Porn Stars found the perfect table to find a suitable way to describe the absence. Sure, maybe you’re on some big secret mission or maybe you’re serving jail time for something you did when the rest of the party wasn’t looking. Either way, there are… repercussions to missing a session.
- I’ve been out of the RPG writing game for a few years and never had a great handle on building solid encounters for D&D even when I was DMing frequently. So it’s great to see some solid “how to” sort of articles on the topic. Josh Jarman @ Kobold Quarterly wrote a two-part article on building encounters for the AGE system which is very helpful. Hopefully we’ll see more of this sort of tutorial for other games like D&D 4e, Pathfinder, and others. Here’s part 1 and part 2.
- Simplicity is tough. You want things to be as simple as they can be, but no simpler, if that makes sense. In the last few years, I’ve found myself looking for simpler, more streamlined games to play. 4e isn’t great, but it simplified a few things. DCC RPG comes the closest to the ideal simplicity of the games I’ve seen lately. And apparently Monte Cook is working on a new RPG and considering simplicity as well. I look forward to seeing how it takes shape.
- Do you find it difficult at times to connect your PCs and players to a published module without rewriting the module? Mike Shea @ Sly Flourish has some suggestions. I love the Fiasco relationships approach. We tried themes in a Paizo adventure path before one group dissolved and it didn’t quite work for us, so maybe we should have tried the Fiasco or FATE-style approach to tying characters together in the story…
- Ah yes… the 5 minute workday for a spellcaster. I’m familiar with this theory. I had a GM (darn you Mike!) who threw five different waves of critters at us in a 3.5e campaign to where our wizard was damn near throwing rocks at the end. It’s total bunk. If your character blows his wad in the first 5 minutes, then you’re not doing it right. Greywulf @ Greywulf’s Lair seems to agree.
- Though Project Lodus is a game for consoles or the computer, the backstory of a cyberpunk city buried beneath levels of prior habitation of other races and civilizations is very cool. It’s the complete opposite of what you’d expect, which gives it a unique twist. I’m hoping we learn more about the world of Lodus over time. It would make a cool RPG setting to explore… The project itself looks great, though funding is just creeping along towards their $50k goal.
- Obviously there’s a lot of interest in Kickstarter at the moment – crowdfunding in general is sweeping the Internet in various industries. We’re now hearing from folks in the popular media like Monica Guzman @ The Seattle Times about folks taking the leap or checking out statistics on the success or failure of Kickstarter projects with Jonathan H. Liu @ GEEKDAD/WIRED… (Really the stats aren’t “untold” – Kickstarter has been great about being above board and helping projects to succeed wherever they can. After all, they only make money (10%) if the project is fully funded!)
- Rite Publishing’s Curse of the Golden Spear trilogy of adventures was an awesome introduction to the creepy Japanese land of horror that is Kaidan. And now they’re looking to put together a campaign guidebook for Kaidan and fund it through Kickstarter. Please pledge something for this project folks – Kaidan is a fun place to visit as a gamer that I hope to play in some day!
- We go from Japanese horror to comic fantasy in Pitfalls & Penguins from Joe Hills. I don’t even know what to think of this game beyond the fact that I want to check it out. I’m a huge fan of games like Toon and Critical!:Go Westerly and their comedic flavor – so I’m curious to see how this one works.
- I discovered a new publishing company this past week – New Horizon Game Studios – who have a science fiction RPG called New Horizons. There’s even a free starter guide to check it out. The art looks terrific, so I know I’ll have to add this to my review list at some point. (Do you have a RPG publishing company that I don’t have in my list yet? Check out the list here and drop me a line on my Contact page so I can add you!)
- Congratulations to all of the 2012 nominees for the Ennies! It’s quite a list and I recognized quite a few products in the list as ones I’ve either used or reviewed at some point. (Not everyone is thrilled with this year’s noms, which has hinted that I should take a look at the submission process more closely at some point.)
- Will you be at Gen Con? Looks like WotC will be there in force! (And if you’re interested in picking up some great vintage-era D&D products, it looks like one heck of a list is up for auction this year at the Con.)
- Take a listen to a great interview with designer Jonathan Tweet about his new game 13th Age on the latest Geek in Review Podcast (episode 28). I’m excited to take a look at 13th Age and have been for a while. Tweet and Rob Heinsoo have been working on this one for a while.
- Or take a listen to great interviews with Brent P. Newhall about all sorts of projects (Dungeon Raiders, Zepplins v. Pterodactyls, and Indie+) and Jason Morningstar about his new game Durance at Bully Pulpit Games, check out Episode 6 of Roll for News. (Ryan, if you’re looking for a guest, give me a holler – I’d love to chat about games!)
- Goodman Games is keeping the ball rolling for DCC RPG, releasing a new level 2 adventure – Dungeon Crawl Classics #69: The Emerald Enchanter. Nothing like some green-skinned constructs to keep you guessing what the emerald sorcerer might be up to in his citadel! Check it out at RPGNow.
- Or maybe you’ve been looking for a way to get into the NeoExodus campaign from LPJ Design? They released a Starter Kit at RPGNow.com that includes eight separate products (NeoExodus: A House Divided Campaign Setting, NeoExodus: Races of NeoExodus, Ultimate Feat Decks: NeoExodus: A House Divided, and more) at a $30 savings off their combined prices. Plenty of ways to torture your PFRPG players in there!
- Or maybe you’re looking for a collection of Raging Swan Press products to tantalize and torture your PCs? TRIBES Anthology II includes four different products – Centaurs of the Bleak Moor, Half-Goblins of the Tangled Wood, Lizardfolk of the Dragon Fang, Minotaurs of the Black Hills, and Wererats of the Roach-run Sewers. Plenty of critters to keep your PCs on the run. And, like the LPJ Design set – the package is at a significant discount from the combined prices. Check it out at RPGNow.
- What are your top 10 games these days? Jason @ Play Board Games has come up with a list of his top 10 deck building games – like Dominion (which I’ve played a few times) to quite a few I’ve not heard of before. Great list with a little review of each.
- Iron Wolf @ The Iron Tavern has begun a series of articles on the DCC RPG character classes. He started with the Warrior this week and goes into great detail, with examples. I keep telling people how awesome this game is, but it’s nice to see others holding the torch high as well!
- Shawn Welch @ Stargazers World took some time to check out the Pathfinder version of the Midgard Bestiary and found that it has a great mix of low-, mid-, and high-CR monsters for your campaign. Plenty to pick and choose from when you’re looking for the perfect monster for an encounter.
- Looking for some new Savage Worlds materials to dive into? Check out Olympian Breed - a game set in Ancient Greece where you play a demigod! Derek B @ Tales from the Savage Troll gives a good look at the starter reference for the game and sees both good and bad in the approach. Or maybe you’d rather explore the weird west of Deadlands? Then check out Keith Athey’s review @ Tales from the Savage Troll of the Last Sons – Deadlands Reloaded Plot Point Campaign book from Pinnacle. At 337 pages, this is a heck of a setting book!
- Evil Hat Productions’ Race to Adventure! board game has been fully funded and Jeff @ A Man’s Brain-Attic had an opportunity to check out an early print-and-play kit. It sounds like something I’m going to have to pick up to play with my family.
That’s it for this week on the news front. If you want a bit more, check out:
- The Weekly Assembly @ Gamer Assembly
- Links for the Week @ Intwischa
- The Weekly Roundup @ Roving Band of Misfits
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 atnews(at)gameknightreviews(dot)com and I’ll add it to the list for next week!