Happy Friday fellow gamers! It’s gaming news time!
It’s been a weird week. Nothing exciting in the weirdness however, so I’ll avoid boring you to death… zzzzzzz
Here at Game Knight Reviews, I chugged right along…
- Creighton Broadhurst from Raging Swan Productions was kind enough to answer a few questions…
- The Gassy Gnoll raged against the money-making machine and lack of image quality of WotC‘s 1st edition AD&D book reprint runs…
- I had a chance to explore the Ars Magica fan-created magazine Sub Rosa…
- And we met the Keepers of the Keepers’ Keep – trying to keep knowledge safe from those who would choose to control or destroy it…
Next week we have an interview with Tim Loya from the great folks at the Kickstarter project “The Expedition Journals of Amestus Armen,” with a new narrative approach to RPG supplements I’m excited about. They’re in the last week of funding, so I’d ask you to hop in and toss a few bucks in the bucket if you can so they can get over their small funding goal – they’re sooooooo close! Beyond that, who knows what we’ll see!
Couple of things and we’ll move on… If you haven’t partaken of the RPGNow/DriveThruRPG “Christmas in July” sale, be sure you do before time runs out! Santa will return to the North Pole eventually and we’ll have to wait another few months for the real Christmas to get here!
Lastly, next week I’m going to kick off a new RPG blog carnival on Wednesday August 1st, so keep an eye out for that.
And on that note (short intro today, yay!) – on to the news!!
Food for Thought
- Are you in need of adventure fodder? Look no further than this great article featuring “10 Scientific Missions that Became Action Adventures” from Esther Inglis-Arkell @ io9 for a bit of inspiration. I like #6 and #3, but really all of them have some great ideas.
- If that doesn’t offer the right tantalizing tidbits, then why not check out “10 Civilizations that Disappeared Under Mysterious Circumstances” by Annalee Newitz @ io9. It too has some great ideas to plunder.
- Do you remember reading the Conan tales as a kid? I didn’t really read any until well after Ahnold played the barbarian on the big screen, but what Robert E. Howard I have read has definitely influenced my gaming and story ideas. Well, Steve Winter @ Kobold Quarterly brought up a great list of the things he learned from reading about Conan’s world. I’m going to print these and develop some new material based around them I think…
- How do you design dungeons? Straight line corridors? Bland rooms? Bartoneus @ Critical Hits offers some different options that are brilliant and I wish I’d thought of them…
- In the “holy cow” moment from history for the week, I saw that the Romans had 20-sided dice two thousand years ago. Yes, you read that right. I wish there was a little more info on it in this article from Dave Hinerman @ Wired, but wow…
- I don’t know about you, but I love TED Talks. They’re sometimes inspiring, often informative, and almost always entertaining. I saw one this week from Kevin Spak and Sam Liberty talking about board game design that could apply to any gaming discipline really. How can we apply it to tabletop RPGs?
- What do you read as bedtime stories to your kids? I read things like Odd and the Frost Giants, The Graveyard Book, and The Hobbit. Apparently the Secret DM reads portions of the D&D Red Box… I love it!
- I played a fair amount of Cyberpunk 2020 in college and as a computer geek I think the first computer model of an entire organism would fit right into a Cyberpunk world, don’t you?
Games and Gaming
- As folks wait for more to come out of WotC regarding D&D Next, they’re debating what they should play next. The Gazebo @ The Dread Gazebo (a talking gazebo! [shudder]) looked at the pros and cons of several different games, from Dragon Age to Song of Ice and Fire… Feel like chipping in to help him decide? They’re not giving up on 5e, just putting it on hold until the next bunch of material comes out in the playtest, which I totally get. Tough to run a campaign on what was in the first packet.
I’m always curious to see how designers change game mechanics between editions and why, so it was fun to see Ben Kuchera @ Ars Technica talk with designer Peter Lee about the differences between the D&D board game Castle Ravenloft and the new D&D game Wrath of Ashardalon. Little tweaks and big can make all the difference!
- Have you ever played a game where the characters weren’t allowed to advance in experience or skills? It’s an idea I can say I’ve never considered before, but John Arcadian @ Gnome Stew makes some compelling arguments for trying it! (And the Gnome Stew redesign is awesome!)
- Meanwhile, Troy E. Taylor @ Gnome Stew provides a quick way to describe various members of a traveling caravan. Having played more than a few characters as caravan guards over the years, this set of two random tables solves the problem beautifully without getting overly detailed.
- Do you use traps in your games? If you’ve played D&D it’s almost a given… Seems every dungeon has at least one trap to trip folks up. Well, Steve Winter @ Kobold Quarterly makes the suggestion that maybe each trap should require a bit more thought. Why was it put there? Who put it there? What was its purpose?
- Are you looking for sci-fi props for your games? Stan Shinn @ DFW Roleplayers has some great resources you should check out!
- “The Dwarven Adventurers Box Set” project from Stonehaven Miniatures closed this week at more than 100x its funding goal. But don’t be depressed… There are a couple of new miniatures projects to check out. Red Box Games has a new project for Fantasy Miniatures that looks cool. And Reaper Miniatures has a new project as well. Both are already going gangbusters with funding and have some amazing looking little minis for your games.
- In one of the stranger mash-ups I’ve seen in a while is “Rotted Capes” – a Super Hero Zombie RPG from Henry Lopez. Super heroes? Super zombies? Zombies with powers is bad enough, but cunning and intelligent super zombies? Doesn’t bode well for the rest of our heroes!
- Apparently RPG designer Chris Avellone is tempted to use Kickstarter to revive the PC RPG Planescape: Torment! (News from Robert Purchese @ EuroGamer.net) Very interesting! As I recall, Planescape: Torment was the last of the D&D RPGs that I played to heck and back on my old PC. I look forward to seeing what Avellone could do with today’s technology and the story ideas of that genre… (Along the same lines, Baldur’s Gate is back and being released September 18, so I’m getting giddy to see how it looks on the iPad!)
- John Berry is running an IndieGoGo campaign to fund his game Hulks and Horrors, which mashes up science fiction and dungeon crawling… Love the art and the concept seems fun.
- And the RPG Splat Book sounds similar to Engine Publishing’s Masks in that it offers descriptions of cool, ready-to-use characters for NPCs, villains, and more. I can always use more NPCs, so I threw some $$ into the hat. They’ve got a fair chunk to raise to make their goal, so please check ‘em out.
- Billiam Babble @ Adventures and Shopping has a different opinion of the whole crowdsourcing madness that’s hit the gaming community. I obviously support it. Billiam does not. And he makes some compelling arguments why he feels that way.
- The Secret DM had an opportunity to review Jennifer Steen (of the Jennisodes podcast), the mind behind Project Ninja Panda Taco, a new game funded on Kickstarter. They talked about Kickstarter, the new Lamentations of the Flame Princess project she’s in volved with, and more!
- The Warden @ Roleplayers Chronicle brought up an interesting point this week following up on his criticism of the “free” products nominated for the ENnies this year. Writers write to share their ideas and passion with the world – it’s the recognition, whether through reviews or awards or feedback from fans that keeps them writing more. Warden, I’ll be happy to review whatever you send my way, so just drop me a note. But it’ll take a more concerted effort (as mentioned in a quote from Tony Law) to change this category for next year. Nominate your judges carefully and communicate your concerns!
- Have you seen Kids Dungeon Adventure? Me either! But I stumbled across it this week and thought it had a lot of promise for pre-school kids. The idea of constructing dungeons out of blocks and Legos is awesome! My kids are too old for this, but if you’ve tried it with your youngsters I’d love to hear about it.
- Call of Cthulhu - the game where I had a character go insane and kill his party with a Tommy Gun – is getting a major overhaul for its 7th edition. Paul Fricker @ Mike Mason are working on the changes with Chaosium and it sounds like they’re making some tweaks to make it more accessible for new players, which is terrific! (Thanks Shane Ivey@ The Unspeakable Oath for the news!)
- Are you wondering what the top 5 RPGs were in terms of sales for the Spring of 2012? ICv2 has you covered… And I can’t say I’m shocked by anything in that top 5 list.
- Just about every day I hang out in the Stargazer World IRC chat room. And for the last few months I’ve heard nothing but cool things about Chris McDowall’s new game Into the Odd. Chris sat down with Michael Wolf and did a great interview at Stargazer’s World this week. Perhaps at some point I’ll be able to join a dungeon delve and go Into the Odd myself at some point.
- Michael @ Futile Position is interviewing the writers and designers behind ENnie-nominated games. This week he had a chance to talk to Gareth Hanrahan, the designer of Lorefinder from Pelgrane Press.
- Todd Crapper @ I Am the Warden released Killshot: The Director’s Cut this past week. He’s been working on it more than a year and a half and obviously it’s a labor of love. It’s in my review queue so I hope to check it out eventually… But you should go check it out at RPGNow and let the world know what you think!
- Raging Swan Press has released a new supplement this week – So What’s the Tavern Like, Anyway? - continuing the theme of many other Raging Swan products. This one offers ways to dress up your dreary tavern with food, drinks, staff, games of chance, drinking songs, and more! Pick up your copy at DriveThruRPG!
- Neuroglyph @ ENWorld had a chance to review the new issue of Kobold Quarterly (Issue #22) a week or so ago and was impressed with the overall amount of content and the quality of that content going into summer!
- Neuroglyph also took a look at Heroes Against Darkness from Justin Halliday (which is on my list to review as well). Looks like a great review with some constructive criticism and a lot of positive points for the book, which is awesome!
- Thilo Graf @ G*M*S Magazine must not sleep much ’cause he’s always reviewing things! But this week he checked out Dodeca Weather from Spes Magna Games, which offers a more detailed, logical way to create weather for your game worlds. The fact that it includes details on predicting the weather is just the icing on the cake.
- The reviews of DCC RPG from Goodman Games keep rolling in… Megan Robertson @ G*M*S Magazine took a look and didn’t find it lacking.
- However, the random aspects of DCC continue to cause some folks trouble. Christian Lindke @ Advanced Dungeons & Parenting found the “funnel” system to be problematic, killing characters with promise and leaving less promising characters to survive.
- Meanwhile, Aaron @ Roleplayers Chronicle reviewed the Sundered Skies Companion from Triple Ace Games. Seems it offers a ton of game material and would be “valuable during character creation and a great toolkit during campaign play.” Great review!
- Aaron also reviewed Nephilim: Occult Roleplaying from Chaosium, which sounds from his description like it has an intriguing twist on traditional RPG settings. Instead of being the hero or investigator, you are a Nephilim – once considered to be good and now considered a demon…
- Ben Kuchera @ Penny Arcade had some time to review the new Dungeon Command game from WotC and liked it so much he’ll be buying more starter sets for four-player battles.
- It’s been about 15 years since I played GURPS last. But the Gentleman Gamer @ 2d6.org recently did a detailed video review of GURPS 4th Edition. GURPS is a tough nut to crack as far as pinning it down and I think he did a great job.
- Alexander Osias @ The Armchair Gamer had a chance to review Eldrich Skies from Battlefield Press. It sounds like a great twist on Lovecraftian horror with a few organizational issues. The setting is quite intriguing and I’ll be adding this to my list to check out when I get a chance…
- Morgan Weeks @ Panda Gaming Grove has been doing reviews of a game called Grimm - a “game of children trapped in a world of twisted fairy tales.” Not sure how I haven’t heard about this one, but Morgan broke it into multiple parts – part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4. And it’s now on my list of games to find…
- Michael Wolf @ Stargazer’s World had an opportunity to play Tremulus from Sean Preston of Reality Blurs recently and is gushing about it this week. This is a game of Lovecraftian horror, but with a rules system new and unusual. I can hardly wait until it’s released to check it out!
- Matt Timmins @ Big Blue Die has been using Never Unprepared, the new book by Phil Vecchione and Engine Publishing, to help with his new campaign. Seems it’s doing some good and I need to get myself a copy…
- Speaking of games I need a copy of… Monster of the Week looks awesome as well. Steven Robert @ RPG Geek wrote a review this week and MotW offers a way to roleplay in the Buffy-verse, or the X-Files, Supernatural, Hellboy… the list goes on. So many cool games, so little time…
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
- What’s Up With D&D? @ ENWorld
There’s definitely plenty of news go go around!
Before I sign off, I have to ask for a moment of silence for Nevermet Press, which closed its doors this week. I suspect Jonathan Jacobs will be back for another gaming project of some kind before too long, but hope he enjoys the extra free time for now!
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!