Weeks with national holidays smack dab in the middle always throw me for a loop. Many of us were off on Wednesday in the US for our 4th of July celebrations across the country. So I worked the first couple of days of the week and will work the last two days of the week… But for some reason Wednesday, even though I was off and managed to sleep in a little, felt an awful lot like a Sunday… Wonder why?
Beyond that however, we really didn’t have many public fireworks displays here in Colorado due to the high fire danger. We’re all still on edge after the wildfires that destroyed nearly 350 houses and took a handful of lives (the fire is more than 90% contained now, so we’re just being suitably paranoid I think). So instead of seeing live fireworks at the Air Force Academy as we’ve done for the last few years, we watched fireworks on TV and it just wasn’t the same. (Funny enough, based on this momentary disappointment I’m pondering an interrupted holiday adventure seed for an upcoming Game Fodder article…)
Hopefully those of you not in fire zones had a great holiday with plenty of fanfare and gunpowder! (My best friend refers to the 4th of July as “National Explosives Day” – so gunpowder is definitely a big part of the attraction for him!) I’m always left wondering what the “intelligent life in the universe” thinks when they see a good portion of one continent light up with bright colors like we’re all at war.
That aside, it’s been a better week!
No guest articles this week, but we’ve got at least one for next Monday from Andrew Armstrong, so that’ll be good. Other than that we kind of ran the gamut:
- Sunday I talked about a way to potentially use mind maps to brainstorm encounter details in “Game Fodder.”
- Tuesday, I continued the review of DCC RPG and explored the “Magic” chapter a bit.
- Wednesday, the Gassy Gnoll ranted about encumbrance and item lists in response to the disaster Mrs. Gassy Gnoll has created in our garage…
- And Thursday we were fortunate enough to steal a bit of Eloy Lasanta’s time (Third Eye Games) to talk about Mermaid Adventures!
(By the way, if you’ve submitted things for review I’m ever so slowly making progress in my review pile. So thank you for your patience!!)
If you have an opportunity to do so, there’s a great effort that’s flowing out of a terrible tragedy… Last month, Kevin Rohan – Creative Director at Silver Gryphon Games – lost his 6-year-old son in a tragic accident while swimming at a local water park. The Rohan family has created the Michael Rohan Memorial Fund to help try and avoid such tragedies in the future through CPR and lifeguard training and grief counseling in the wake of such tragic losses. To help with this effort is very easy and you get a ton of great gaming material in the deal – purchase the bundle and the money goes to the fund and you get to download PDFs until the cows come home. Please help the Rohan cause and contribute.
On that note, it’s time to see what’s been going on in the other corners of the RPG network this week!
- D&D Next continues to chug along and hopefully we’ll see a new playtest packet sometime soon from the designers at WotC. But in the meantime, Mike Mearls, head of R&D for D&D, has been keeping quite busy answering questions on Reddit (the “Ask Me Anything” thread at Reddit is busy busy busy…) and doing interviews like this one with Dave Chalker @ Critical Hits… I think they actually are listening to all the feedback folks, which is great news. We’ll just have to see what they do with it.
- Morrus @ EN World has seen signs that interest in the playtest itself may be waning a bit…
- Are you still playtesting the first round of rules for D&D Next? Do you feel you need a barbarian in the mix? Well, David Guyll @ Points of Light has you covered!
- Interested in what D&D Next combat is like? The Id DM did some timing of things while playtesting and seemed to have a great time checking things out. It definitely sounds a bit quicker than some of the 3.5e and 4e battles I’ve been in…
Food for Thought
- Have you ever wondered where the Drow came from? Those evil Dark Elves from the Underdark who worship their mistress Lolth with fanatical devotion? Well, James Maliszewski @ the D&D blog details the history in a recent article – “A Tangled Web.” Great reading!
- If you want a great idea for a setting, check out the city of Xania – a city once evil, now ruled by the slaves who once worked there. Great article by James Desborough (Postmortem Studios) over at Ancient Scroll. As you might suspect, there are still dark things waiting in the corners…
- Now this video isn’t new (it’s from the GamesU 2009 convention), but it features Marcelo Figueroa talking about how to get into and keep working in the games industry. Very matter of fact and some great advice.
- Which game company has more mindshare these days? Paizo or WotC/D&D? You might be surprised if you look at search volume at Google, which is what the folks at Awesome Dice Blog have done. Very interesting…
- Do you sometimes get bogged down in details? Nate Kontny @ Lifehacker had a great article this week called “Staring at Screws” about how he finds inspiration in small things. And his idea made me wonder about the stories we sometimes miss as GMs and players that are under our noses. How did the smallest things come to be in the campaign world? How can those be used to guide adventures and quests?
- Curses. My eldest daughter took a stage class this summer and part of their lessons was looking at Shakespearean-style curses. And then Mike Bourke @ Campaign Mastery just happened to have an article about how to use curses in gaming more effectively… I think I’ve been cursed to ponder curses for a while longer!
Games and Gaming
- Splitting the party. We’ve all done it as players or dealt with it as GMs. And it’s never a good idea, but it happens anyway. Well, Nick @ Troll in the Corner had a few things to say about it. (And when I saw his title all I could think of was the song from History of the World, Part I from Mel Brooks – which made me really want to read more.) He offers some great tips for managing split parties during a session.
- Need a new adventure to torture your players with in 4e? Check out Fane of the Heresiarch from the Fourthcore folks @ Save Versus Death. I won’t spoil the flavor text at the beginning, which completely sells this adventure in a handful of paragraphs – suffice it to say I think the party of 4-6 sixth level characters are going to be meat by the end.
- Gak. Mike Bourke @ Campaign Mastery seems to also be the master of time for his sessions… Holy cow. If you’re in need of some time management techniques for your sessions, there are a ton here.
- Do your PCs ever really die? Or do they just flirt with death? I’ve had a few campaigns where death was permanent and I’ve had others where it’s only a temporary setback. But I think the threat of death is really a great motivator, don’t you? Vanir @ Critical Hits agrees.
- Do weapon mechanics get in the way sometimes when playing Pathfinder or other D&D variants? I know we tried in vain to build a more realistic system of combat (with weapon reach, types of damage, and the like) but failed miserably… LS @ Papers & Pencils has some great ideas for offering some different dimensions to weapons combat…
- Sometimes a character seems a bit two-dimensional, don’t you think? So why not ponder different aspects of your characters using a questionnaire? Libranchylde @ Adventuring Archives posted a short list of questions I think would definitely help flesh things out…
- Do you need some dwarven minis for your game table? Brennon @ Beasts of War points us to a new Kickstarter project from Stonehaven Miniatures to produce just that. For $25 (or more) you get 10 very unique and distinct minis. How can you pass that up?
Or perhaps you’re looking for some new giant maps to have just in case you need an occasional mansion or ship? EncounterMaps.com has a Kickstarter for that. These maps look gorgeous and I like the fact that they promise to roll them, not fold them, when they send them to you. That’s some TLC right there.
- Joe Wetzel from Inkwell Ideas (Cityographer, Dungeonmorph Dice, Monster Stock Art, and more…) is back with a new Kickstarter producing two posters – a Tabletop RPG Selection Chart and a Computer RPG Timeline. It’s quite intriguing to look at the sample posters on the project page to see all the various games I’ve played one way or another and the many many others I’ve not seen… But beyond that, you get creature stickers – scaled to fit rooms on the map – so you could put a sticker in the room of every game you’ve played. There are a lot of games on these lists – and they want suggestions for more!
- Wow. Synnibarr. I remember trying it once in college, but don’t remember ever playing it a second time. Well, guess what? It’s back, revised, and coming soon courtesy of a new Kickstarter! It has a heck of a funding target to hit, so if you’re a fan and want to help, be sure to chip in!
- Modern. Coastal Horror. The Kickstarter for “Guide to the Village by the Sea” had me at hello! History, backgrounds, maps, stories, system neutral… Yay! Count me in as a tourist!
- Lamentations of the Flame Princess and designer James Desborough have a new IndieGoGo project featuring a demented Space Princess who likes to play with her toys… Her toys just happen to be your characters! Check out “Machinations of the Space Princess” for more!
- Or if that doesn’t make you excited, how about an adventure by Monte Cook? LotFP is also running an IndieGoGo project for “The Unbegotten Citadel…”
- Have you seen The Gamers: Dorkness Rising? I’ve seen trailers and that’s about it. Now there’s a new Kickstarter (“The Mask of Death”) to create an adventure for 9th-level Pathfinder characters that expands on the story in the film. Looks like it could definitely be a challenge. With characters like “King Erasmus the Randomly Biased” it should be fun too.
- The Shadows of Esteren is a new Kickstarter project for a game being translated from French to English for the first time… Described as a “horrific and gothic RPG,” this book looks absolutely gorgeous from the images on the project page and I’m dying to check out more of the setting! This is obviously a labor of love for a large number of folks – and it’s succeeding with more than three weeks left of fundraising!
- By the way, have you pondered starting your own Kickstarter project? Have you pondered what happens if it really succeeds in the worst way possible (i.e. a thousand of the most expensive rewards!)? Fred Hicks @ Deadly Fredly definitely has. And the folks who did The Banner Saga console/computer game have faced the cost of success as well, as seen in this recent video. So it’s definitely worth figuring out some worst-case scenarios…
- There was a time many moons ago when I would roll dice on table after table creating warped dungeons of chance and poor craftsmanship using the AD&D DMG “Random Dungeon Generation” rules… And even as an adult I’ve gone back to these tables over and over again. Well, WotC has released the entire “Appendix A: Random Dungeon Generation” as a PDF from the 1st Edition reprint of the Dungeon Master’s Guide and it’s just as glorious as I remember it! Well worth keeping in your GM’s toolbox for a rainy day regardless of whether you play D&D or some other game. Kudos to WotC for making my week with this freebie!
- Speaking of reprints (and new products)… Scott Wachter @ RPGamer posted an article recently that shows that WotC isn’t the only company entering the fray… Warhammer: Only War is in open beta… Paizo is previewing the Pathfinder Bestiary Box… And Rolemaster is being dusted off with a new edition from Iron Crown Enterprises!
- Even Fighting Fantasy series of choose-your-own-adventure books is going to be making a return! Lee Hall @ Edge Online had a chance to chat with Ian Livingstone, co-creator of the series with Steve Jackson three decades ago and offered a bit of a glimpse at what we can look forward to in August. Zombies!
- If you’ve ever wanted a glimpse into the creative minds behind some of your favorite game materials, you might want to check out JP Chapleau’s blog @ JP on Gaming. JP lives here in Colorado Springs and I’ve met him on a couple of occasions – he’s a great guy full of ideas and energy. This week he posted a preview of a new adventure he’s working on for Louis Porter Jr Design and the NeoExodus campaign… He offers details on the technique he used to create a map and it’s easy (though messy) enough that even I might be able to try it…
- If you’re interested in what else is going on on the D&D front, I’ll point you to a great Q&A with Peter Lee, Matt Sernett, and Bruce Cordell @ 2d6.org from Michael V K that covers a ton of ground and there’s even a giveaway, if you hurry!
- Have you ever wanted to play a monster going to high school? Then check out Wandering Monsters High School from Bold Pueblo Games and written by Caoimhe Ora Snow! It looks like there are some seriously bad puns and that it could be a lot of fun!
- The Indie+ movement is afoot and along with it is a new bundle @ DriveThruRPG with a sampling of Independent games just for you! For $4 you get a ton of content!
- Don’t you hate it when the town mill falls into a giant dungeon nobody knew was there? That’s what happens in Swallowfeld in Dark Waters Rising, the latest adventure from Raging Swan Press and designer Ron Lundeen. Check out details at the Raging Swan product page or pick up a copy at RPGNow… Help those poor folks in Swallowfeld out of a jam!
- DCC RPG from Goodman Games continues to get reviews and press. Seems like every day I’m seeing another article (or a handful) and it’s great seeing this kind of interest. I know I’m definitely interested and will continue to review the book in chunks… Cedric @ RPG.net posted a concise review that sums up most of what’s provided. The “Old School” renaissance continues to impress.
- If you’re interested in other aspects of DCC RPG, you might check out Erik Tenkar’s article @ Tenkar’s Tavern – “Dirty Mighty Deeds of Arms, Done Dirt Cheap”, which offers a great glimpse into the kinds of deeds warriors can attempt in combat.
- Or check out Iron Wolf’s article @ The Iron Tavern about those funky Zocchi dice DCC RPG uses. I finally bought a couple of sets and they are definitely funky looking!
- Megan @ Flames Rising took a look at Open Design’s latest series – Monsters of Sin: Avarice for the Pathfinder RPG. It’s definitely an interesting way to approach monsters in RPGs, applying human foibles to magical creatures. Sounds like it has some intriguing creatures we haven’t seen before to deal with those PCs who are pretending to be Smaug from The Hobbit, sitting on their piles of gold.
- It’s good to see Raging Swan Press get some kudos from around the RPG blogosphere… Gozuja @ Stranger Sojourns recently dove into So What’s the Hoard Like, Anyway? III and came out with more than a few kind words and a 5 star review. So if you need a pile of treasure, this might be a good place to start.
- Rob Lang @ The Free RPG Blog does an amazing job of helping get free, independent games a bit of publicity so they get noticed by gamers. So when he reviews a new project from Justin Halliday called Heroes Against Darkness, which is D&D, but a revised version from Justin’s POV… it’s good to take notice! (It’s in my review queue to check out as well) The more I read, the more I may need to bump this up the queue a bit…
- Need a name? How about 100 random names? DM Muse has a great tool simply called “100 Random Names” that spits out a great variety in a pinch!
That’s it for this week on the news front. If you want a bit more, check out:
- The Weekly Assembly from Gamer Assembly
- The What’s Up With D&D? from Chris Hackler @ ENWorld
- The “Cool Stuff for the Week” post over @ Intwischa.
- And the “Friday Five” post from Hungry over @ Ravenous Role Playing.
There’s definitely plenty of news go go around!
If you’re looking for something fun to do where you can win some cool swag from Open Design, check out the Kobold World Conquest Challenge! And if you live in Antarctica, you get even more swag if you win!!
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!