Wow it’s been a rough few weeks. Sick for a week. Traveling for work for a week. And came home with a cold for a week. I’d say it was time for the madness to end, but soccer season is starting for my wife and daughters so there’s no chance of that for a while. I can’t complain too loudly however since it snowed yesterday and a soccer tourney for one daughter and the first game of the season for the other have been canceled. So I have some time to pull together some cool links from across the internet!
Today it’s all about gaming links. We may end up going past 10 on this one folks, so bear with me!
(1) What to play… What to play…
Stargazer (Michael Wolf @ Stargazer’s World) and Jade (Cherie Arbuckle @ Evil Machinations) pulled together some terrific lists of games to try in January and February – many of which I’d not heard of and now want to play. Stargazer came up with “Gaming on the Cheap” part 1 and part 2. And Jade came up with a list of “Tabletop RPG Games by Genre” in case you’re looking for a particular flavor of game to check out. Where Stargazer focused on free or low-cost games, Jade crosses all cost boundaries. But the end result is an enormous list of RPGs to try if you get a chance and the inclination.
Maps, whether mental, combat, world, or whatever, are an important part of most roleplaying games. Some folks are talented enough to draw maps that are works of art. Others (like myself) draw doodles to fill a need and toss them soon after the need passes. Others still use online tools to develop colorful, detailed maps that can be used in many different contexts repeatedly.
Erik Tenkar @ Tenkar’s Tavern asked a great question last month. Do you hand draw your maps? Or do you use the computer? Or do you find existing maps and tweak them to fit your needs? He received quite a few responses that vary wildly from “I do all mine freehand” to “I use Hexographer” to using a “Combo.” What do you use? And why?
Meanwhile, artists like Dyson Logos continue to share their work online… Dyson posted a cool cave back in December, a path with two caves in early February, and even a 3D rendering of one of his maps which looks very cool…
Jonathan Roberts @ Fantastic Maps continues to post some cool tutorials like this recent one about designing a town. Be sure to dive into the archive of tips and tricks he’s posted for everything from icons and ships to flagstones, water, and more.
Or if you like your maps to be a bit more abstract, check out this post on Dungeon Mapping from Melan that originally appeared at ENWorld and the Dragonsfoot Forums. I’m a fan of abstract mapping if for no other reason than it makes it easy to hang encounters and locations in a particular adventure flow. And this is a great technique that involves a bit of drawing, but more adventure analysis as well. Along the same lines, the Angry DM had a great post about “Abstract Dungeoneering” back in January that had some similar ideas and techniques presented in a different fashion.
(3) Gaming With Kids
I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of the effort afoot encouraging folks to play roleplaying games with their kids. Ever since my daughters were born, I had the intention of playing RPGs with them. After all, the more the merrier right? And guess what… They have even had fun playing some D&D with their old man on occasion. But I love reading about other folks with the same great intentions.
Jim White (aka T.W.Wombat) has been playing with his kids and their friends this year as well. And he’s been writing about the experience – with some after-action reports as well as lessons learned. Sounds like a great time was had and some [gasp] learning happened on both sides of the GM screen also!
And over at Troll in the Corner they’ve kicked off a new podcast focused on parenting as geeks and raising a new generation of gamers and geeks in the process. Growing Geeks has serious promise and I’ve added it to my list to catch up on.
(4) Inspiration Strikes!
You never know where inspiration is going to come from. Maybe something you heard on the radio or saw on television. Maybe something you read. Maybe a snippet of conversation overheard in a restaurant or coffee shop. I think the trick is to pay attention to those little cues in the back of your head when something sparks an idea and be sure to write them down or record a note somehow so they don’t get lost.
Here are a few of the posts that I found inspiring lately…
Mike Bourke @ Campaign Mastery continues to write eloquently and invitingly about gaming on an amazing array of topics. Though I’ve been a bit delinquent reading some of his recent posts, one that struck me in January was about creating worlds, adventures, cultures, or what have you - from a top-down approach. I haven’t yet grokked all of the ideas in this post, but Mike has some great thoughts on the different phases of planning from laying the groundwork to bashing the PCs over the head and all the hoops they need to jump through to complete their tasks… He also has a great post about Game Prep that offers an amazing array of things to ponder and write down before (or I guess during) a campaign. I really need to work my way through and catch up on all his posts!
A.L. over at Reality Refracted had some interesting things to bring up about how the Legend of Korra – the spin-off/sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender series on Nickelodeon – can teach us how to continue games in the same world at different times or places with different characters. Korra takes the world of Aang and Avatar and spins it into a Steampunk future with elemental magic. As A.L. points out – it has ties to the past, but an eye to the future – and that’s a key thought in making sure that we are “continuing” the world and not merely rehashing it.
Near Valentine’s Day, Tristan J Tarwater @ Troll in the Corner posted an interesting (and possibly not entirely NSFW) article about how things of a sexual nature might enter the picture during a RPG campaign. Honestly I have to admit I’ve never pondered the use of aphrodisiacs in the context of a campaign, but I can see where they might spice things up occasionally. Even if they’re just used as a trade good, it introduces some intriguing plot twists.
If you’re looking for some auditory inspiration, definitely check out the 5 podcasts Jade @ Evil Machinations regularly listens to that offer her some game ideas. Everything from history to conspiracy is collected!
Lastly, Swank-mo-tron @ Big Shiny Robot had a good list of RPG books to read to learn the rules better and glean new tidbits about the worlds of Pathfinder or whatever D&D edition you choose to play.
(5) A Roundup By Any Other Name…
Obviously I’m not the only game in town for news round-ups and I thought I’d point out a couple of others…
Benoit @ Roving Band of Misfits often has a Weekly Roundup of links around gaming. The latest one ponders whether combat in D&D Next is any faster than previous editions… along with other head-scratching topics.
And over at Enderra there are occasional links posts as well, including this one with a smattering of technological food for thought.
(6) Collections of Things…
Gamers on the interwebz have had many cool ideas for things of late. Here’s a few I found particularly entertaining:
- A list of ten Cursed Potions from Omlet @ Underworld Kingdom
- A list of 29 adventure ideas from Challenger RPG @ EN World
- A list of 20 ale names from Jeffrey Tadlock @ The Iron Tavern
- A list of 100 obscure professionals from Richard Pett @ Kobold Press
- A list of 25 ways to say “you missed” at Inkwell Ideas
- A list of 12 more unlikely treasures by Satyre @ Fame & Fortune
(7) Curses! Foiled again!
Villains are an important part of many games… whether it’s a friendly rivalry or a hated archenemy. And making those villains come to life sometimes requires some finesse.
Well, Mike Bourke @ Campaign Mastery finished up his treatise on “Making a Great Villain” back in January @ Campaign Mastery.
And Mike Shea had some great tips on making an elite villain take shape in 4e D&D. It’s about time we saw a “boss” template to simplify our lives a bit. (Plus he included a few links to other articles at the end that may also be useful.)
(8) Prognostications and Philosophy
Just what exactly is a “gaming magazine”? What are the best examples of such? And what other “remnants” exist of earlier analog RPGs? Jim White @ Wombat’s Gaming Den of Iniquity asks these questions and more in a mid-January post.
Meanwhile Mike Bourke @ Campaign Mastery pondered the “poetry of meaning” and how to define a national identify in a few key words. One nation’s definition of what “home” means or how “promises” are kept can go a long way to explaining why one nation behaves the way they do.
Then Runeslinger @ Casting Shadows explored the role of genre in our campaigns. Does the genre define the campaign? Or is it the other way around?
One of those genres we explore frequently is the medieval-based fantasy world… Josh Graboff @ The Signe of the Frothing Mug ruminated on the whole medieval paradigm last month and wondered a bit at the ways we stereotype the era and use those stereotypes in our campaigns. He talks about how science may have been halted with the use of magic and it brings up some interesting points…
Over at D20 Dark Ages, Stelios Perdios dove into a question I’ve asked a few times… What exactly are the differences between the “Old School” movement and the “New School” one? I think he comes pretty close to defining them both in this post.
And The Dread Gazebo made a collection of 12 gaming portents for 2013… Will he be correct? Only time will tell.
I don’t know if you’ve visited Neuroglyph Games lately, but they always have great posts. Lately I’ve been following the DCC-based explorations and enjoying them. One focused on the whole “funnel” idea the DCC RPG employs with random characteristics and a handful of characters to start. And the other focused on how starting at level zero seems to really shove characters into the limelight that don’t usually get there! I really like the old school feel of DCC and wish I had more time to play myself.
(10) 13th Age Werefolk and Thieves
The more I read about 13th Age, the more I want to check it out. But in the meantime I get to catch glimpses into the coolness via articles like the one from Casey Peavler @ the Pelgrane Press blog about “Werebeasts” – I like the different tiers of werecritters like the beast, the alpha, and the harrier. Think brute, leader, and rogue if that makes more sense… Not every member of a pack will fill the same role.
Then over at Kobold Press, Jerry “Dread Gazebo” LeNeave wrote about some of the different tools members of the thieves’ guild may employ to get the job done. Not just lockpicks and daggers, but special weapons, grenades, or even special eyepieces… Each tool has a different purpose and may in fact have a cost. The series is spread across three parts – part 1, part 2, and part 3 – each has some very cool stuff to cause GMs some heartache!
If you haven’t kept up with the latest RPG Blog Carnivals going on, there have been some fun ones…
- January was about New Beginnings
- February was about “Pimp a Game”
- and March is about “Epic Moments of GMing”
Have a topic for a future month? Chime in and look at the directions at the RPGBA Blog Carnival archive site.
(10 +2) Potpourri
Unfortunately I ran out of time for this one and still have a ton of links to share. But rather than wasting them, I thought I’d collect them here:
- Casting Runes – An exploration of RuneQuest ~ Introduction « Casting Shadows
- 2012: A Good Year for Cooperative Gaming
- Is Your Character Chaotic Neutral or a Jerk? « Gaming Tonic
- D&D slideshow - Imgur
- Prescription Drug or Classic D&D Monster? Take the Quiz | GeekDad | Wired.com
- Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page – Article (How Many Hidden Cults Is Too Many?)
- Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page – Article (Ulterior Motives)
- First Encounters Page 3 – Table Titans
- Worst. Session. Ever. (Part 1) : Critical Hits
- February « 2013 « The Kyngdoms
- My Final Five: #1 Keep ‘Em On Schedule | Gnome Stew – The Game Mastering Blog
- Famous last D&D words | Dungeon DuTchess
- Three Choices
- The Inclusive Fantasy World of Pathfinder | Zub Tales
- The Inevitable Character Change « Gaming Tonic
- Managing Extreme Conditions and Resource Management in Roleplaying Games | intwischa.com
- Cutting Out The Armor
- Worst. Session. Ever. (Part 2)
- Hoard Mongering
- Ronin Round Table: Brand New Gamers
- Hot Button: Secrets | Gnome Stew – The Game Mastering Blog
- What is the Town’s Attitude? — Dungeon’s Master
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!
If you’re a publisher and have an announcement to make or new products being released, let me know and I’ll include them in my next publisher round-up!