Is it possible for weeks to be *too* busy? Between work, my daughters (back to school this week plus a big multi-day soccer tournament this weekend), and my wife (a million miles an hour in 10 directions), I think I may pull the rest of my hair out. *sigh*
Enough whining though, because Gen Con gets underway in Indianapolis this week and CONcurrent is running simultaneously online. I wish I had more time to take advantage of the many cool activities scheduled for CONcurrent, but will have to be satisfied with a stream of news out of Gen Con. Last night was the Gen Con keynote – “The Future of Dungeons & Dragons” – and I was able to livestream that, which was awesome. Not as good as being there in person, but as close as I can be courtesy of the Internet!
Even so, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of announcements come out of Gen Con from Wizards of the Coast and other game publishers. And the blogoverse will be all a-Twitter with news as well!
As far as what’s going on around here…
- Last Sunday was the first meaty portion of “Journey of the Sword” – a new series of Game Fodder articles focusing on the different stages of a weapon’s life. We started in the ground, mining the ore – the raw materials – of every metal implement. (I was hoping to get another post up this Sunday, but as I’ll be on a soccer field for two days straight I expect I’ll not have an opportunity. So look forward to it on the 26th!)
- Andrew Armstrong explored the similarities between parenting and being a Dungeon Master in “Daddy DM.”
- I was able to go back to high school (much more exciting than my own HS experiences) in Tracy Barnett’s new School Daze game.
- There was a checkpoint article noting some of the great articles for this month’s blog carnival – posts by Berin Kinsman, Shorty Monster, and more!
- And if you like web series like JourneyQuest and The Guild, we got some behind-the-scenes info from the guys behind Fang & Talon – a new Kickstarter project!
I honestly don’t know what we may see next week here at GKR after I roast in the sun all weekend, but hopefully the post fairies will visit and do some writing for me while I’m in a sunburned haze… But let’s see what the link fairies came up with for this week’s round-up!
On to the news!!!
Food for Thought
- Are you ever at a loss for words? Do you not know how to describe a group of behemoths? (It’s a spectacle!) Or apparitions? (It’s an academy!) How about basilisks? (It’s a tackle!) Check out “Wondermark: An Illustrated Jocularity” and the “Stoakes-Whibley Natural Index of Supernatural Collective Nouns” from David Malki! You’ll feel like part of a “clamor of clones” in no time.
- Do you like miniatures? How do you find them? How do you paint them? Etc. Mike Shea has updated his “D&D Miniatures Buyer’s Guide” @ Sly Flourish recently and it’s a great resource to keep in your toolbox! (And I’ll keep it in mind whenever I get all the miniatures when the Reaper Miniatures Bones Kickstarter ends and they ship!)
- Gen Con is upon us and many folks have posted great articles about how to prep for it… Though I couldn’t go this year, I’m hoping to get there next, so I’m stashing these for later… “Convention Packing Checklist” @ Ben’s RPG Pile. “Gen Con 2012 Advice and Tips” from Michael Tresca @ The Examiner.
- Creepy. And yet… Something I’m sure I’ll find in an adventure at some point in the future. Apparently archaeologists have discovered 16 severed hands in a series of burial pits in Egypt. For more, check out the article from Robert T. Gonzalez @ io9. Or maybe you’d rather explore a heap of nearly 1800 bones in an Aztec ritual grave? How about a skeleton army stuck in a Danish bog? I’m waiting for zombies to rise from the bog next.
- Or maybe you are looking for something more naturally occurring that’s bizarre for a campaign. What about a volcanic eruption creating floating bands of pumice stone that floats in the ocean? The world is a weird place, but offers some great game fodder, doesn’t it? (Thanks Annalee Newitz @ io9!)
- The folks at io9 were on a run in recent weeks with other great ideas as well – “Six Earth Cities That Will Provide Blueprints for Martian Settlers“; “How to Hunt a Basilisk and Live to Tell the Tale“; and “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Adventure Diary“…
- What exactly is “Old School Gaming”? I always suspected I knew, but Mike Bourke @ Campaign Mastery has done a great job of summarizing the high points to clarify things a bit. Ultimately, “old school” is what you make of it – and not just a movie where Will Ferrell goes streaking.
- Do you like documentaries? I’m excited about this new one about D&D - Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary. They’re going to be showing the documentary at Gen Con – one more reason I wish I was there. Great introduction to the effort by Ethan Gilsdorf @ GEEKDAD this week.
- I’m not a graphic artist by any stretch of the imagination. Even so, these four tips to help you succeed “as an artist” can apply to many other areas – including writing RPG materials. Great article from Hilary Harkness @ Huffington Post.
- Wil Wheaton’s TableTop series @ Geek & Sundry has really taken off. And a recent session of Fiasco really captured a lot of attention around the ‘net. Mordicai Knode @ Tor.com thinks it really captured the “heart” of roleplaying, which is tough to do. But gamers can point other folks to these episodes and say “look, this is kind of what we do” to maybe bridge that gap in understanding. (Cory Doctorow @ Boing Boing also had great things to say about the show and the game!)
- Steve Winter continues to impress me with some of his observations in the “Howling Tower” column @ KQ.com. This week it’s about skills. And though I think the article itself is top-notch, it’s the conversation in the comments that gets really interesting…
- Also interesting is how Robert Oglodzinski keeps attracting cool designers to write at AncientScroll.pl. This week saw an article from John Wick about finding or designing the “this porridge is just right” level of freedom for characters in an urban fantasy game. And I’ll be interested to see where the design goes from here!
Games and Gaming
- Are you looking for something unique for your 4e game? That Robed Guy has a scary homebrew burning, marching monolith that can really turn the tides in some battles and frighten the crud out of your players.
- “DiamondF” at Reddit has been kind enough to release three amazingly detailed books of ideas – Magic Environments, Effects, and Events is the latest and includes more magical things than you can shake a stick at; Magical Plants, Animals, and Minerals was the middle one; and 700+ Spellswas the first. Each of these PDFs is available for free and offers plenty of ideas you can use in your own games.
- How do you view gender in your campaigns? Do you always play characters with the same gender? Have you ever rolled it randomly? Sarah Darkmagic has and I think stretching outside your comfort zone (whether playing a female character as a guy or vice versa) is an amazing idea. I can truthfully say I don’t think I’ve ever played a female character and now I may have to at some point…
- Do you ever run horror games? Are they sometimes… less than scary? Shorty Monster has a great article full of advice. Personally I like the disembodied voice in the darkness idea – muahahahahaha!
- You may have run across a tutorial way back in May about creating overland maps @ Mapping Worlds. Well, finally we’ve seen part 2! These offer some great tips and techniques that can be used in any drawing program.
- Do you need a random detail for a NPC or enemy in your game? Check out this cool table from Daemon @ Thief on the Flats. Nothing huge as far as bonuses, but enough to make a critter a bit more interesting!
- Have you used the “boss battle” technique in your campaigns? Rampant Coyote @ Tales of the Rampant Coyote had an interesting article this week that mentions both boss battles and the “positive feedback problem” introduced by middle-of-the-road optimization in your adventures. It’s something I never really considered until now! It also includes some great tips on keeping things from getting stale.
- Prime Wars is a new strategic card battle game from 3D Total Games as a new Kickstarter. The card art looks gorgeous and the rules seem pretty simple.
- Numenera, Monte Cooks latest science fiction RPG, has gone insane at Kickstarter. With 30 days to go, he was shooting for $20k and has passed $100k already… The descriptions are very cool and regardless of whether I like the system or not I’ll be picking up a copy for inspiration! (He’s been writing about it on his blog and has all sorts of great things in store for backers!)
- InKarnate RPG Toolset from Marc Hutcheson, Glenn Rane, and Alex Gagen looks very cool (they have a great video, which helps!). There seem to be more and more of this type of toolset and I think that challenges everybody to make better tools! InKarnate will start with good old d20/3.5e support, which I think is great. And there will be more to come…
- A very cool Kickstarter I saw this week is for Braille Dice. Simple concept, gracefully done by Dana Jorgensen. Please support it – just because you’re blind doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get to roll dice and play RPGs! Only 15 days to go and it needs some support! (Thanks go to Dennis Santana @ The Spirits of Eden for pointing this one out!)
- Though not strictly a gaming project, the “Stay Alive- Not Undead (Zombie Coloring/Activity Book)” from Dan Taylor is awesome. ‘Nuff said.
- Or maybe you’re interested in a tile-laying game called Camden by game designer James Ernest and illustrated by John Kovalic (Dork Tower!) and with the help of designer/producer Boyan Radakovich… Seems like a very different game based around building a shopping district.
- The Dungeon Master Pro project from Tomas Higbey is also still kicking around, but recently received a facelift with a new video featuring some actual screens from the tools as well as a game session that you have to see to believe. Definitely check it out and see what you think.
- Need an inn? Some variation of “The Red Dragon Inn” has appeared in most of my campaigns, so I’m not surprised to see a whole project named after it. The Red Dragon Inn: Guide to Inns and Taverns aims to be a great resource for tavern games, drinks, meals, history, and more…
- Have you been wanting to try out HackMaster but balked at the price? Well now you can check out the PDF for HackMaster Basic from Kenzer & Company – for free! All 231 pages are yours to explore.
- Mindjammer from Sarah Newton has received a ton of coverage in recent weeks on the Internet. Not only is it a novel, but it’s a FATE-based RPG setting and now it’s all moved to its own domain for further development. John Till @ FATE SF had a chance to talk with Newton in a great, wide-ranging interview… Here’s part 1 and part 2.
- Shadowrun is on a tear lately – seven new products? Insane! JHardy from Cubicle 7 @ Shadowrun4 offers a rundown of all the new stuff!
- Jeffrey Tadlock @ The Iron Tavern had an opportunity to chat with Jon Marr of Purple Sorcerer Games, who have been putting out some great material for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.
- I signed up to take a look at Story Realms and unfortunately don’t have enough time to do it justice. Thankfully Erik Wecks @ GEEKDAD had some time and he sat down with designer Angela Hickman Newnham to talk about the game. Any game that encourages youngsters to start running games for their parents wins points in my book, so Story Realms is already on its way to a purchase at my house.
- Do you need some strange places to visit for a pulp adventure? Check out the Globetrotters’ Guide to Unusual Places for Leagues of Adventure from Triple Ace Games. It’s got ice, oceans, and caves – plenty of places to lay traps for unsuspecting adventurers!
- Iddy keeps getting great interview opportunities over at The Id DM! This week he had a chance to talk to Mike Mearls, Sr. Manager for the D&D R&D Team (I need another & in there – maybe M&Ms?)… A nice long interview that covers a lot of bases around D&D Next and much more.
- Peter Adkison’s Hostile Work Environment also launched the first four scenes of their new web series – The First Paladin. Check it out online!
- Andy @ Boccob’s Blog had a great interview this week with the guys from AdventureAWeek.com – Jonathan and Todd. I keep meaning to check out some of their adventures when time allows!
- Troll Lord Games released Golden Shingles this week, the latest in the “Adventures on the Powder River” series. Will you be blessed by the Golden Shingle?
- Mystical Throne Entertainment released Faith & Demons: The Rising for Savage Worlds this week. Rome is a mess and both myths and the dead have come out to cause suffering… Can you do more than survive?
- Raging Swan Press released Dungeon Dressing: Pools from designer John Bennett this week. Before you have flashbacks of Olympic events, it’s not that kind of pool… but traps, contents, treasures, and who knows what else? Koi?
- And Purple Duck Games released AL2: Sepulcher of the Mountain God for the DCC RPG this week from designer Paul Wolfe. This is for a group of 8-10 1st level characters as they go on a quest from Ira, the Mountain God, to find magic items stolen and stashed in a hidden tomb… How many will survive the trek?
- Do you like card games? Have you tried Gloom? It’s an intriguing game I first heard about on TableTop with Wil Wheaton, but Michael Wolf @ Stargazer’s World had a chance to play and really liked it. The storytelling aspects are amazing from what I recall, so I might have to pick it up eventually.
- Aaron @ Roleplayers Chronicle wrote up a great review of Killshot: The Director’s Cut from Broken Ruler Gamesthis week, giving it very high marks. Might be fun to play an assassin.
- Also @ Roleplayers Chronicle, pemcorgi69 checked out Shadowrun 2050, the new historical setting for Shadowrun 4th edition from Catalyst Games. Pretty good review actually. I love the world of Shadowrun, but was never a fan of the system… Maybe it’s better now?
- The game title alone for We Didn’t Playtest This At All really sells it for me. But Sporkchop @ ROFL Initiative says it’s a great game with some mercilessly short sessions. After all, if you don’t win, you lose!
- Fiction based in RPG settings is always hit and miss for me. Some of it’s awesome and some of it should be kindling. Apparently Nightglass by Liane Merciel, a new Pathfinder Tales novel, falls into the “awesome” category according to Flames Rising.
- Erik Tenkar @ Tenkar’s Tavern took a look at DCC #71 – The 13th Skull for DCC RPG and found it to be lacking… Apparently it’s two adventures. The first one is ok and the second one is… eh.
- However, Megan Robertson @ G*M*S Magazine reviewed DCC #69: The Emerald Enchanter (don’t be confused by the title, which seems a bit wacky when compared to the article itself) and found it to be top notch! So there seems to be a bit of variation in the DCC line of late…
- Are you interested in Lamentations of the Flame Princess and adventures from James Raggi IV? Chris @ Rolang’s Creeping Doom posted a spoiler-free review of The Monolith from Beyond Space and Time. The title alone has me hooked but the fact that it really will blow your players’ minds is even more enticing. Raggi and the crew from LotFP really do go above and beyond in their products to make them truly unique!
- Are you trying to populate a medieval world? S. John Ross can save you a ton of time with “Medieval Demographics Made Easy – Numbers for Fantasy Worlds“, which has been around a while. But I stumble across it every so often and think it’s definitely worthy of your time!
- David Flor @ A Walk in the Dark has released some cool dice-related tools for MS Windows – a damage calculator and a dice pool graph. Good stuff!
So if you’ve noticed lately I get to a point where I simply hit the proverbial “wall” with collating the links. And this week I had way too many and not nearly enough time, so here’s the bucket of everything else:
- Star Wars Round Up: AGE of Rebellion, X-Wing Mini Game, new d20 rules (Nuketown)
- Initial Reactions To The New DND Next Playtest Packet (The Spirits of Eden)
- [D&D Next] First Impressions of the August Playtest Packet (Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer)
- [D&D Next] Sample Character: Tathar Tasartir (Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer)
- [OD&D] First impressions (The R.P.G. Outsider)
- Fantasy Dice One Page Combat Primer (Radical Approach)
- Data Mining RPG Interests (Mithril & Mages)
- Sexy Time (Reality Refracted)
- The Linguistics of Cheese Sandwiches and the Christianization of Sunday (Ask the Dungeon Master)
- My Tremulus Experience (Reality Blurs)
- Mechanical Wastelords (Boneyard)
- release PDF impressions (Futile Position)
- Volcanoes (Large Polyhedron Collider)
- Fallout Tabletop RPG?…Try Exodus (Paper Brain Games)
- So What’s Changed in the New D&D Next Playtest Materials? (The Trollish Delver)
- Types of Preparation (Untimately)
- Spells what could use mods: Protection from Evil (Mr. Sharp’s Gaming Emporium)
- Hacking People Psionically – a.k.a. Soul Jacking (Psi-Punk Developer’s Blog)
- Timepiece of Punctuality (Sea of Stars)
- My kids’ d6-lite Superhero game (KORPG Games)
- Threat Level (Alex Schroeder: RPG)
- call for submissions (Lost Pages)
- A Skeleton For Every Occaision (18 of them, in fact!) (Land of Nod)
- Edrannon the Opener (Big Blue Die)
- Mini Review – Death Love Doom (Tenkar’s Tavern)
- When The PCs Are Away… (Reality Refracted)
- Builder’s Toolchest II: Networking and ”Marketing” (Enderra)
- D&D Next, continuing playtest review: Classes part 1 (Zombie Toast)
- D&DNext continuing playtest review: classes pt 2 (Zombie Toast)
- Hirelings (Grognardling)
- Rethinking the Wizard Tower generator. (Between Are the Doors)
- Death Love Doom: A Review (From the Ashes)
- Rules Lawyering (The Dragon Fisters)
- Production (The Online Dungeon Master)
- Taking a Look at Called Shots (Papers & Pencils)
- Speeding Up Character Generation (Intwischa)
- Elizabeth Shoemaker Sampat (Interview) (Charisma Bonus)
- Unbalanced Encounters Are Fun (Alex Shroeder:RPG)
- Why Holmes’ Sample Dungeon? (The Warlock’s Home Brew)
- D&D Next (Points of Light)
- A New Look at Combat (Large Polyhedron Collider)
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!
Speaking of news… the 24-hour game competition is over at The Free RPG Blog and SMAF-17 by Edwin Moriarty won! Congrats Edwin! Creating a whole game in 24 hours is insane but it sounds like they had a great turnout this year!
And this weekend at Gen Con 2012, the Iron GM World Championship is going on. Over $30,000 worth of prizes to be given way and I wish all the participants the best of luck!!
I hope everybody has a great weekend! (And I look forward to reading over the next few days of all the cool stuff I missed at Gen Con!)
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!