Welcome to the first news round-up for October! Hard to believe that Halloween is coming quickly and my little ghouls are getting prepped and ready for a mid-week round of trick-or-treating. And yet Mother Nature reminded many of us that yes, Autumn doesn’t mean that we get to keep our days in the 70s and 80s forever. As I write this round-up we had our first freeze, which even without snow was a bit of a wake up call.
Though I don’t have any gaming this weekend, I did have a great time gaming last weekend with the guys. Funny enough the two spellcasters – my warlock and the party wizard – managed to get the most kills for the evening. That has to be a first in this group where we have two tanks and a rogue who can do about 12 attacks in a round. I have to say I’ve been having a blast playing in the group with Mark (GM), Jason (GM of a separate campaign, also fun), Jonathan, Ben, and Ben. It’s been great to get back into semi-regular gaming every 2 or 3 weeks for several hours.
Funny enough, the itch to GM has crept back into my head, so I’m looking forward to running a short 4e campaign for my kids, my best friend and some of his family over Thanksgiving weekend. We’ll see how that works out, but I’m excited to give it a shot. Any time I can fit in a little gaming with my girls is a good thing and they geek out with me on a regular basis.
As far as things around here this week, you may have noticed a few new writers as well as a full week of content, which hasn’t happened in a while:
- Chris Lewis Carter, writer and gamer, started his new series about transforming the world of Camp Myth into a RPG with the help of Eloy Lasanta and Third Eye Games. His first challenge? “It all has to be canon.” How does he achieve that? Through discipline and hard work!
- I continued the “Journey of the Sword,” introducing A Bit of Magic. Now that you have a weapon, you want to make it special, don’t you?
- Next we had the first review from Jenn Martin, who I hope will be a regular around here. Her review of Don’t Walk in Winter Wood attracted a ton of attention this week!
- We had reviews of Illfrost: Bondage from Illusionary Press and the Midgard Atlas iPad app from Open Design.
- And the Gassy Gnoll wandered around a point about possibly making magic in 4e/5e a bit more flexible. Who doesn’t want to customize their Magic Missile?
Somehow the fact that we had a freeze this week and I reviewed an Illfrost module just a few days before makes perfect sense. It’s like washing your car and wondering why it rains later that day.
It’s been a busy week, so enough of me gabbing… Let’s dive into the links!
Food for Thought
- In the “Holy Crud, these are totally inappropriate yet hilarious” department we have the “What are your best ‘dirty old wizard’ pick up lines?” thread on Reddit/rpg… I cringed, I snorted, I laughed out loud, and many of these are very NSFW, so be warned!
- Are you reading your RPG books in public this week? It’s “Read an RPG in Public Week!” It runs from September 30 to October 6, so get out there and share your hobby folks. Thanks go to the Escapist and 20ft Radius for reminding me of this great event!
- How does class come into your games? Not your character class, but your social class? Scott Martin @ Gnome Stew offers some education and perspective on social class in history, fiction, and gaming.
- Crowdfunding has become a phenomenon for all sorts of projects from consumer technology to medical research, television, software, hardware, and our beloved games (of all sorts). But does it really help all businesses equally? Interesting article from Simon Brew @ PC Pro that isn’t about gaming, but offers an interesting perspective I haven’t seen explored before.
- Need some Seussian Lovecraft? Of course you do! Check out The Tomb from artist R.J. Ivankovic, which is awesome! (Thanks to Lauren Davis @ io9.)
- Languages and alphabets are fun to play with in a RPG context… From Tolkien’s elvish and dwarvish languages to anything you can possibly think of, somebody is always creating something new for their games. Well, did you ever think of the origins of some of the standard characters in the English alphabet? Q, R, A… The usual suspects. Artist Jason Novak offers a new look at old letters in his cartoon series. (Again, thanks Lauren Davis @ io9.) (See the whole series – Where Letters Came From – over at The Rumpus.)
- Do you like looking at well-painted miniatures? Steven Chenault @ the Troll Den posted some gorgeous pics of a soldier or warrior in armor.
- Have you ever killed a mummy in an RPG and checked to see if it had a prosthetic toe? Weird but true from Ian Chant @ Geekosystem.
- Or have you wondered how they made books out of human skin like the Necronomicon in Evil Dead 2? The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice has a detailed (and disturbing) article on the how’s and whys of this weird practice.
Games and Gaming
- What is the GM’s job? Setting the stage for the PCs? Maybe not. Jim White @ Wombat’s Gaming Den of Iniquity suggests that instead a GM’s job is to control the primordial ooze – the “raw creative stuff from which the game world is formed” and use it to shape the story with the PCs. Nothing I like more than playing with some ooze… What do you think?
- Need an NPC? How about 20? Check out 20 Quick NPCs from Pandesmos @ The Swordfish Islands. It seems the PCs should have plenty of friends when investigating islands where crabs can grow huge.
- What makes an item magical? Sure, there’s always the wizard or clerical angle, but what about heroic actions? Over at …and the sky full of dust, they ran with a wild idea I had for just that and actually created a system for incorporating it into a game. I love this idea and would like to see what kinds of items get created as a result!
- Every town needs a little something to make it unique. Whether it’s the home of the country’s largest pumpkin, the fact that someone famous slept there, or if there’s actually something useful in the area. Mobius @ Ennead Games has 10 traits to give that uniqueness to a town in your fantasy campaign…
- Or maybe you need some inspiration for a group of entertainers in your campaign? Omlet @ Underworld Kingdom has 20 of them to choose from, from Fire Eater to Confidence Artist.
- Megadungeons. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here to stay. But Keith Davies has some interesting ideas about designing them using a bit of a mind map approach. (Plus a new tool – GraphViz – that I have to check out.) The relationship diagram works great and you can really see his process as he expands it.
- Speaking of relationships, maybe you’re looking for some hooks to help players achieve more character-driven story elements? Check out this cool list @ Jamil’s RPG Hobby Shop Blog that includes five different categories of hooks to explore.
- If you’re into the whole megadungeon thing, Casey Steven Ross @ DMG 42 is running a big one.
- How much booty does a merchant ship hold? Inquisitive pirates want to know. Thankfully we have Nate Christen @ d20 Pirates to help us answer the question with a series of random tables!
- Have you ever tried to draw a dungeon in a spreadsheet? Well, Ross’s Roleplaying Resources has all the steps for you to follow and it looks pretty easy. It won’t look as nice as a hand-drawn map from Dyson Logos, but you could create one in Excel, trace it, and then do all the nice touches…
- Random dungeons have existed in D&D as long as I can remember. And this week Tim Shorts @ Gothridge Manor came up with a simple method for filling in random dungeons. This would work great for the 5 room dungeon idea…
- Do you have a bunch of old poster maps lying around from older adventures? Wondering whether to recycle or trash them? Don’t toss them! Mike Shea @ Sly Flourish offers some ways to reuse them a few times in your adventures!
- How do you describe your settings to other gamers? Do you have an elevator pitch? How about a few prepared answers? tsojcanth answered “Jeff’s 20 Questions” about his setting – the Western League. Some cool questions that I should look at answering about some of my old settings to try and spurn some new creative directions.
- “When a GM loves NPCs…” in my worst Michael Bolton impression… I don’t remember falling into this trap, though I did have a few NPC types that were repeated over and over (like the old deaf/nearly blind innkeeper). But I can see where it would be a problem on both sides of the table. Aaron @ RPG Musings has some great tips on how to address this problem as a player…
- How many times have you blindly run through a chase scene as a GM? I can honestly say I ran a chase scene in Ninjas & Superspies that lasted for HOURS in a cyberpunk world and we had a blast, but I swear we didn’t really cover all that much ground. I can’t imagine running one in 4e without some serious preparation – but Roger @ Roles, Rules & Rolls has a great system that boils down to a single page both with and without words… Check it out!
- Or maybe Monster of the Week (great review from Paolo as well) is more your speed… Paolo @ Paper & Plastic has a cool free adventure for you - Dog eat Dog – and it involves El Chupacabra.
- Remember the zombie game Outlive Outdead Kickstarter a while back from WJ MacGuffin? Well, he’s back with a Outlive Outdead Companion Kickstarter that looks like it adds even more coolness to the game – from neanderthal days to a future earth! We definitely need more zombies. Definitely!
- Stretch goals. As a Kickstarter backer, you love ‘em. As a Kickstarter project you have to worry about them incessantly. Ryan Macklin has some perspective on content-based stretch goals this week that were quite enlightening to me…
- Jeff Dee continues recreating the art from Deities & Demigods and other sources through Kickstarter. His latest project is working on the non-human deities like Garl Glittergold, god of Gnomes. Only a few days left!
- Need a castle? Check out the “Borderland Keep” project from Tom Tullis @ Kickstarter. This thing looks gorgeous and apparently folds nearly flat for storage and is from the great folks at Fat Dragon Games.
- Gothic Horror + 13th Age = Nightfall from Fun Tyrant at Kickstarter. I haven’t even seen 13th Age yet and I’m itching to do so and I like a good horror story at the game table. Sounds like a perfect fit! (On the flip side if you’re interested in playing an Eberron campaign in 13th Age, check out Keith Baker’s blog for some fun details!)
- In the “I wish it didn’t use the HERO system, but I’ll probably buy it anyway” category, we have the Monster Hunter International Employee Handbook and Roleplaying Game Kickstarter from Larry Correia and Hero Games. This is an awesome series of urban fantasy that really kicks some butt, so I’m excited to see what they develop as background for the game!
- Feel like howling at the moon? You might want to check out the Deluxe Werewolf the Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition Kickstarter from Richard Thomas. I always loved the backstory of the White Wolf World of Darkness, so I’m sure this will be a great tome along the lines of the Vampire the Masquerade deluxe edition that happened a year or so ago.
- Do you have game storage issues? You ought to check out the Keep System from Grumpy Owl Gamery. This looks like a great way to store a game in an easy-to-carry fashion with all its bits intact and safe.
- The Reaper and Dwarven Adventurers Box Set from Stonehaven Miniatures have seemingly opened a floodgate to other miniature makers starting Kickstarter projects. Havoc Protocol Sci-fi Miniatures from Effigy Miniatures project looks pretty cool as do the minis from the Dungeon Crawler Minis – Tidal Wave (DCM) project from Gifted Vision. Both are wisely doing a different style of minis than other projects at Kickstarter and seem to be doing well raising funds towards their goals.
- The “Dark Sci-Fi Maps and Deckplans” project from artist Jeffery Preston also looks interesting. He’s done maps for other genres and is now focusing on maps and deck plans for use in science fiction settings.
- In the “I’m surprised we haven’t seen this before” category we have the Savage Outfitter Kickstarter project for Savage Worlds from Serf Productions. There’s only a few more hours to get in on this one, so act fast to have digital tools for an awesome RPG.
- Robin Laws’ Hillfolk game has finally started its Kickstarter project… What I’ve read about this game makes it seem extremely dramatic and character-focused, with some interesting mechanics.
- Riddle me this, readers… When is a dungeon door not a door? When the answer is in What’s the Riddle Like, Anyway? from Liz Smith and Raging Swan Press! Not only do you get a ton of ready-to-use riddles for your campaign, but ideas on how to create your own! Check out the product page here or just pick up your copy at RPGNow! (Raging Swan Press and Creighton Broadhurst continue week after week to produce great products and they’re working on some cool stuff about dungeons, horses, zombies, and more…)
- Tim Loya Games has released the second journal of The Expedition Journals of Amestus Armen – Cultural Division in a Caste-Based Society. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I think Loya’s approach is fascinating and holds a ton of promise for RPG supplements, offering a different spin on introducing new concepts and cultures to your campaigns. Pick up a copy at DriveThruRPG!
- Over at the Matte Daemon podcast, Dan & David had a chance to talk to Matt Vancil from Zombie Orpheus to talk about Gamer 3, JourneyQuest, and more!
- Free RPG Day 2013! The official date was announced this week – June 15, 2013 (thanks Andrew & Geek Native!). I hope we see a great turnout again this year at my FLGS!
- As the madness rises about the release of the Midgard Campaign Setting from Wolfgang Baur and the great folks at Open Design, they’ve opened the barn doors to let their monsters to pound the pavement for them. The Midgard Bestiary for 4e is now available from designers Richard Green and Brian Liberge!
- LPJ Design’s NeoExodus Legacies setting continues to move toward publication as the NeoExodus Legacies Campaign Setting Guide has gone to editing. I look forward to seeing how it turns out with a new layout and in a bit more consolidated fashion. (And they just released Treasures of NeoExodus: Oathbreaker for PFRPG!)
- DramaScape released a free set of maps for a medieval market that’s pretty cool and a great map to have in your pocket in case of a skirmish in a crowded marketplace.
- Jon Brazer Enterprises is also keeping busy, having just released the Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player’s Companion. The idea of gaming on a plane of shadow definitely offers some unique challenges – light sources, landscape changes, and more… Grab a copy today!
- Artist Devin Night has been creating awesome art for RPGs for a while – and Tristan J Tarwater @ Troll in the Corner sat down to ask him a few questions recently. Great interview!
- A week ago we saw part one of Mike Bourke’s series @ Campaign Mastery about “Value for money and the pricing of RPG materials.” Well, part 2 is just as enlightening as part 1. It ain’t cheap to produce a good product, whether the cost is in time or money.
- There’s a soft spot in my heart for Palladium Books and has been since the late 1980s. For the last several years they’ve done a Christmas Surprise Package and they’re doing one again this year. You never know what you’ll get, but it’s a great deal!
- I don’t know about you, but I’ve really been enjoying Wil Wheaton’s show Tabletop on Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry channel on YouTube. This week Wil got a group together to play Pandemic, which I love as a cooperative board game. Have you played it yet? Can you stop the infection?
- Dwimmerdust had an interesting review of The God That Crawls from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. It sounds like a hot mess with a few good ideas plagued by poor execution.
- Thilo Graf @ G*M*S Magazine took a look at Spulcher of the Moutain God from Purple Duck Games. Sounds like it falls a bit short of the success seen with AP1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror.
- Meanwhile, Jeff Tadlock @ The Iron Tavern reviews the 3rd part of the same series of modules - Through the Cotillion of Hours. I may have to check out these adventures for DCC RPG before too long.
- Shorty Monster is back with a review of Something Went Wrong, a free game from Ben Gerber @ Troll in the Corner. What’s it about? A fantasy RPG where things go wrong. Sounds divine.
- Congratulations to the Digital Orc on its second anniversary! Keep up the great work!
- Want to join in the next RPG Blog Carnival? This month is being hosted by Troll in the Corner. The topic? What makes a gaming session horrible?
- Looking for some online tools to help beta test? Check out the Inkarnate site and sign up for the beta!
- Do you play any modern RPGs where your PCs travel all over the real world? Check out ZeeMaps, which allows you to create free maps and mark them up in a variety of fun ways!
- Need some more music? Check out additional tracks from Alex Cottrell, the man behind the music for Dungeonlands: Tomb of the Lich Queen!
- Or if you just want some environmental music, check out Syrinscape!
- How about a 4e adventure? Check out the “Dungeon Adventures by Level” spreadsheet which lists all the adventures up at Dungeon magazine. I don’t know who put it together, but it’s awesome. I’ll be perusing more than a few of these for my Thanksgiving campaign.
For the rest of the list (I hit 3000 words really fast this week!), here you go:
- Epic Changes: Converting from “Pathfinder” to “Marvel Heroic Roleplaying” : Critical Hits
- Dungeon Accessories: Beds | Roving Band of Misfits
- HackMaster Fans Rally to Fill the Void Left by Dungeons & Dragons | GeekDad | Wired.com
- Underworld Kingdom: Charon Prime – healing potions
- Episode #6 Tinker, Tailor, Vampire, Spy | Ancient Scroll
- Craigslist ad seeks topless Dungeons & Dragons dungeon master, “serious applicants” only (this is just bizarre!)
- Bizarre “Biblical” and “Fantasy” Maps of the World, Circa 1580
- THE LAND OF NOD: Here Comes the Bogeyman! [Monster/Sub-Campaign]
- ImagiNation: RELEASED! | Postmortem Studios
- 8 Things That Ruin D&D Games – Topless Robot – Nerd news, humor and self-loathing.
- Publishing Your Game – A Primer in 17 Simple Tweets
- Gorgeous prop replica maps of Middle Earth take us through Peter Jackson’s Hobbit
- Fantasy Flight Seeks Roleplaying Game Producer
- The Tome Show » Freelancing Advice (Tome 203)
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!
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!