Sure, it’s Friday the 13th… But it’s Friday! And there are no more Friday the 13ths in 2012. This is the last one until September and December 2013, so we’re good for more than a year between triskaidekaphobic moments.
Hope everybody has had a great week… I’m looking forward to this weekend when I get to step back into the shoes of a certain half-breed warlock in Mark’s 4e campaign. And before that I will be braving a raft trip with my family – the trick will be seeing who gets shoved out of the raft!
Busy week here at GKR…
- Two reviews – one for Toys for the Sandbox: The Apothecary’s Shop and one for Attack of the Frawgs!. Been a while since I’ve had time to do two in a week, so thanks for your patience!
- Andrew Armstrong pondered whether it’s necessary to pander to an audience to gain marketshare in “Strong-arm Tactics: Like, Comment, Subscribe.”
- I put up a new “Game Fodder” article about an Atlantis-like area and a sunken city to potentially explore… (BTW, I asked my daughter (who’s becoming quite the artist) to draw a picture of the columns of Madrai for me… Would anybody be interested in seeing it if she finishes it?)
- And the Gassy Gnoll apparently ignited some controversy by wondering if alignment is really needed in RPGs.
Quite honestly I was a bit shocked (and vastly entertained) by the very different opinions on the alignment question. Not only are there some great comments on the post itself, but there’s a great exchange of ideas at Reddit as well as on Google+ here and here. What do you think?
In following up, I came across links to EasyDamus.com which has two applicable articles – one on a much more detailed alignment wheel for D&D and the other on how to track alignment changes in characters. Great food for thought that addresses some of my issues with alignments. I haven’t changed my mind after all the discussion and new information, but I have to say that I understand better why many people still use and enjoy having alignments in their games.
I’m not sure what next week will hold, but I’m working my way through Jonathan Lavalee’s Critical!: Go Westerly game book now and will hopefully have that reviewed at some point during the week.
On that note, let’s dive into the week’s links, shall we? (Keep an eye out for any broken mirrors, ladders you might stumble under, or black cats just waiting to cross your path!)
Food for Thought
- In case you missed this cool gaming tee over at d20 Monkey, you might want to join the union… the Dungeon Master’s Union. I love finding cool RPG-related tees and this is a good one!
Last year I was addicted to JourneyQuest on YouTube – a fantasy-themed comedic web show that featured great writing, solid acting, and some great production values. Well… It’s baack! Season 2, Episode 1 went up yesterday and it’s just a tasty appetizer… I suspect once we’re back with more of the cast involved it’ll be even more meaty and fun.
- If you feel like complaining about your job, you might want to read about the “Sewer Hunters” in an article from Mike Dash @ the Smithsonian Magazine blog. I now think my job doesn’t seem so bad on those days I ponder such things…
- As my two daughters have become older and we play more games, I’ve become much more aware of some of the stereotypes of women in gaming – in the art and writing for games as well as the creative industry itself. I don’t really care whether you’re you are a guy or gal, alien, or whatever – if you come up with a great game, I want to hear about it and maybe even play. So I don’t get some of the antiquated gender, skin color, or sexual orientation assumptions that still plague the world. They’re all human! Anyhoo… WunderGeek @ Gaming as Women wrote a great essay about dealing with something called “Imposter Syndrome”. She’s not an imposter. She *is* awesome. So personally I think we should just accept that we’re all awesome and move on.
- I love it when art inspires writing. And this great writing prompt at io9 does that perfectly. “The Monstrous Passengers of the Night Train.” Great place to start with an urban fantasy…
- Just last night I was talking with my friend Mike about adapting some characters from D&D to work in Vampire: The Masquerade. And Walt Ciechanowski @ Gnome Stew was also pondering character transformations from one system to another. He discovered that adapting characters to other systems really helped him learn about what’s important to those characters.
- Are there topics too taboo for RPG campaigns? Yes and no. If you have kids playing in your campaigns, then the answer is definitely yes. But if you’re a group of mature roleplayers and want to deal with more mature topics… Why wouldn’t you? Derek Myers @ Dungeon’s Master has some interesting thoughts about how to integrate some of these taboos into your games and where to find some inspiration.
- Oh how I wish I lived in New York. There’s a play called Of Dice & Men being performed by the Dysfunctional Theatre Company that sounds awesome. Not because it makes fun of gamers, but because it treats gamers as people who simply like to hang out and play games – and sometimes life gets in the way.
- Indie+ has been running on Google+ all week and it’s been a blast. I’ve participated in a couple of discussions and am looking forward to more. Nedjer @ Thistle Games talks a little about Indie+ and CONcurrent, which runs parallel to Gen Con in a few weeks… Roberto M @ Stargazer’s World also talked about CONcurrent this week. Join us! We have virtual cookies!
- In a million years I would never have thought to turn Candyland the board game into a tabletop RPG. Yet… Christian Lindke @ Advanced Dungeons & Parenting has done just that! As Spock might say… Fascinating!
Games and Gaming
- Do you ever ponder the differences between D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder? Or between those two and 4e? Zoe Nightingale @ EndGamers has and she went through an interesting feature-by-feature comparison of the three games. Now, I’m not sure why she missed AD&D and skipped D&D Next, but maybe that’s another article to come…
- “Simply-Chris” at Reddit has also been in a comparative mood this week, but going far beyond editions of D&D… I look forward to seeing how that thread expands over the next day or so.
- There was also a great thread about different ways of tracking initiative in D&D from “Gumb_E”. I just go with the traditional method of tracking each PC and single or grouped monsters. Works for me. But apparently there are quite a few variations on this theme.
- While we’re talking about initiative, you might take a look at Mike Shea’s article @ Sly Flourish about making your own initiative cards instead of buying a set… Inexpensive, effective and easy to replace – have to like that combination.
Do you use props in your roleplaying? I used to occasionally use a prop or two like an old pipe or a hat… But haven’t done so in a long time. BryanMD @ Intwischa suggests that maybe we should start using them more often.
- If props aren’t your thing… what about accents? The Douchey DM has some downright useful suggestions on developing accents for your characters!
- Demons & devils… Always get a bad rap, don’t they? Steve Winter @ KQ thinks so. And offers some great ideas on why they really need to stage a comeback in gaming campaigns… They’re missed!
- Over at Roleplayers Chronicle, The Warden wrote an interesting post about the two sides of gaming – the designer side and the player side. The designer wants things to be orderly and interpreted the way the way they intend it to be perceived. The players want no part of that and usually take everything apart at the seams and put it back together again. Two wildly divergent points of view. But I think as he says – that’s the challenge and the reward as a designer. Not only to come up with it… but to see how each group uses it differently.
- Monte Cook had some great articles this week about “what we can learn from computer games” like Skyrim. And I think he has some great points across the board, especially about making the world seem more alive and dynamic through multiple plots… Here’s the first one – and the second one.
- Along those same lines, Jerry LeNeave @ KQ offered some cool tips on taking Diablo 3 traps and making them work in D&D. The first part was back in June and the second part came out this week. Using some creativity and trap events really could give traps a bit of new life!
- Do you play Star Wars using the D&D rules? Are you in need of some pre-generated characters from that universe to help flesh out your campaign? Derek Myers @ Dungeon’s Master has just the thing… And the’re vibrant and colorful!
- Gaming with my girls has been a treat and I hope to continue doing it for years to come, but there are a lot of things to manage for my youngest – she’s 7 and does really well, but if there’s a lot of details on a sheet it can get a little overwhelming at times. So I was curious to see what Story Realms was up to with their Adventuring Kits. Pretty pictures is part of it, but the idea of the pocket mechanic is brilliantly simple… Here’s part 1, part 2, and part 3…
- You’d think that PCs diving in and out of adventures would get injured quite a bit… But once the HP are healed, we often forget about it. Well – Ed Grabianowski @ Robot Viking has a great list of injuries. Remind me not to get hurt playing in one of Ed’s games, ok?
- Character histories. Sometimes I’ve used ‘em and sometimes I haven’t. I like having that extra crunch to pull from, to better define my characters. But it’s not just for me as a player – it’s also for the GM. Think of all the hooks a GM gets when you create some background for a character… A.L. @ Reality Refracted suggests that there are good reasons for the GM to get involved in backstory creation.
- Speaking of character histories… Do you start in the middle? MorrisonMP @ The Rhetorical Gamer offers some interesting suggestions about having a history where you’ve only defined that it exists, not what it is, between two characters… Or using the buddy system for character creation… Even creating “old friends” on the fly in the middle of a game.
- Ahhh… World creation. I love creating worlds as a GM. Dayv Cole @ Reality Salad does too and offers a glimpse into the process of how his game world came to be and change…
- How do you find religion in RPGs? Not great? Just right? Shorty @ Shortymonster has some issues with it. And some suggestions…
- How about playing evil characters? Chris Hackler @ Gaming Tonic is setting his players loose in a Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game where they can play evil characters, with a few limits. And it’s a great setup for the scenario he has in mind.
- As this Kickstarter project page says… “Sometimes you just wanna kick a dragon’s ass old-style!” Can’t argue with that. “To Slay a Dragon” aims to offer just that sort of experience for the Pathfinder RPG. They’re halfway to their initial funding goal already with more than three weeks go go…
Have you ever wanted to pick the brain of some of your favorite game designers? There used to be a podcast for that from Ryan Macklin called Master Plan… And he’s bringing it back again courtesy of a Kickstarter. Though I didn’t jump in on time and it’s already fully funded, I’m looking forward to it.
- It’s time to explore a whole new world… And in the process, explore a new narrative way of creating supplements for gaming. “The Expedition Journals of Amestus Armen” from Timothe Loya has a lot of potential I think… (Stay tuned for a possible interview with Tim in the next week or two where we explore some of that potential. )
- Meanwhile, Meguery Baker @ Night Sky Games (who I had a chance to chat with a little at the Indie+ online convention this week! Hooray for G+!) has a project for “A Thousand and One Nights” at IndieGoGo – a tabletop RPG revolving around players telling stories… I might have to pitch in on this one before the funding campaign ends.
- Fiction projects from game publishers have become much more plentiful over the years… And Pelgrane Press has a new one that’s very interesting – modern fables for an imprint called Stone Skin Press. With three weeks to go, they’ve already met their initial funding target. I can hardly wait to see where a modern take on Aesop goes!
- Or maybe you want to play a toy in a mysterious world where humans have disappeared? Toypocalypse is your kind of setting! As they say in the description – “very much Toy Story meets Lord of the Flies” – which offers all sorts of inspiration right there.
- You may have noticed that Lamentation of the Flame Princess is trying to crowd-fund 19 different adventures at once. Well, Tavis Allison @ The Mule Abides says this isn’t insane - and is in fact worthy of our attention. I can’t see how all of them can possibly be funded. But if it’s more of a “survival of the fittest” approach, then maybe it’ll work. If that’s the case however, funding for those “stronger” projects will suffer because it’s spread so thin…
- For those of you in the UK, I was happy to see that Kickstarter is coming to you this Fall. Yay! (Thanks Andrew @ GeekNative for writing about it!)
- Are you a self- or small-publisher of gaming materials and finding it difficult to get the word out? Marketing can be a challenge. Well, this article from Zachary Petit @ Writer’s Digest offers some great tips that should work for RPG books as well as standard fiction… (And if you’re looking for ways to get more imagery in your game writing – take a look at these tips from Rachel Scheller @ Writer’s Digest.)
- Maybe you’re just pondering entering the world of RPG publishing and don’t know where to start? I recently found the blog for Chaotic Henchmen Productions, which features a series of posts about what you need to do as a publisher. Obviously this isn’t the only way to do it – but it offers a ton of detail on everything from getting going to page layout and everything in-between. I’ll be interested to see where it goes from here… Here’s the first post and there are many already.
- D&D has been around for decades… there have to be a few secrets, right? Well KQ’s own Wolfgang Baur joined a distinguished panel of TSR vets – Jeff Grubb, Pierce Watters, Rob Lazzaretti, Dave Gross, and Stan! to talk about TSR secrets at PaizoCon 2012 last weekend. There are some great moments!
- Black Diamond Games does a great job of keeping folks in the loop as far as what’s selling and this week they posted their top 10 list of RPG sales to date for 2012… DCC RPG is at #10 and Paizo’s got #1 locked up.
- Robotech… There’s a name I haven’t heard for a while. But it seems that Palladium Books has expanded a deal with Harmony Gold to produce game pieces for Robotech mecha and ships! (Thanks Andrew @ GeekNative for reporting on it!) Though I don’t play Robotech, somehow I can’t wait to see how these pieces look next year.
- Need a harpy? Take a harpy! From Purple Duck Games’ new Legendary Races: Harpy that is… Civilized harpies! A cult! Class options!
- Or perhaps you need a supreme swordsman who will cut you in two and mediate a while… Rite Publishing just released Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Perfect Aneshka, Fate’s Immaculate Blade for Pathfinder. She looks wicked!
- Perhaps instead you’re just looking for those last minute design touches for a dungeon… You know, a tapestry here, a trap there. How about a pit! Raging Swan Press just released the next Dungeon Dressing book – all about Pits! What’s in it? Roll and find out. Pick one up at RPGNow…
- Ever since hearing about Dungeon Command from WotC/D&D I’ve been curious about how it played. (At the very least it might be an interesting way to get a few more miniatures…) And MerricB @ EN World did a detailed write-up of the first game of DC he played. Sounds like it could be fun.
- Do you need a town map? The D20 Cartographer has you covered with a terrific map – Mega Townscapes: Human Town. Keith Athey @ Tales from the Savage Troll took a good look at it this week and now I want a copy!
- John Booth @ Wired’s Geek Dad column had a chance to check out Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook - a new D&D 4e release from WotC. I like the idea of building races and character themes, so I might have to check it out at some point as well… Will it remain relevant as WotC shifts gears to D&D Next? Who knows…
- I have yet to play anything in the Deadlands universe, but if Jay “pointyman2000″ Anyong @ Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer has anything to say about it, I’m going to to have to look into it… Hell on Earth Reloaded sounds awesome for Savage Worlds.
- Did you watch the series Primeval on BBC America? Anomalies in time open up and fun critters from the past come on through to the other side. Dinosaurs in the real world. And now – a RPG from Cubicle 7! Timothy Brannan @ The Other Side has nothing but nice things to say about it.
- Virtual tabletops for online gaming are all the rage these days… And with WotC cutting ties with their own VTT (that’s being spun off independently), the field is still pretty crowded. Tabletop Forge for Google+ is one and Roll20 is another popular one these days. (Thanks go to ironwolf @ The Iron Tavern for the reviews of Tabletop Forge & Roll20.) (Apparently Paizo is getting into the VTT game as well…)
- Do you need a random tavern name? The Impossible Boulder has a great table for you… I ended up with the Mysterious Pub, which was slightly underwhelming – but your mileage may vary!
That’s it for this week on the news front. If you want a bit more, check out:
There’s definitely plenty of news go go around!
This week if you’re looking for something fun to do… Think about your very best (worst) villain. Write them up and submit them to the Stuffer Shack contest!
I have to wish a happy 1 year anniversary to the folks at Nearly Enough Dice – they reached their 52nd episode of the podcast! Congratulations!!
And I have to wish the folks at Campaign Mastery a hearty congrats on 300,000 visitors and 550,000 page views! That’s incredible!
Keep up the great work guys!!
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!