Gamers Rave

Dedicated to all thing gaming.

News, info, and assorted musings

(Please note that, while all links are verified as functioning when they first appear as news, they are not maintained once they've been posted for a while) 

August 19, 2016

It didn't last long.  With the changing of the guard at Chaosium late last year, a shake-up in company direction and product focus was to be expected.  A sad, but expected fear was confirmed earlier this week -- the end of official support for the revamped version of Magic World, released just barely more than three years ago.  Ben, Nick, et al., worked hard on the game, and it's disappointing to see the fruits of their labor come to such an early end.  Chaosium has acknowledge a willingness to allow for fan-driven (licensed?) support, so perhaps the game will remain alive and kicking in some form a bit longer.  See Chaosium Announces End of Magic World Product Line.


July 14, 2016

Woohoo!  Happy Bastille Day!  Again.  And, happy five-year anniversary of my first post!  Again.  (It seems that's all I post these days.  Hey, it means someone is checking out this site at least once a year.)  


July 14, 2015

Woohoo!  Happy Bastille Day!  And, happy four-year anniversary of my first post!


July 11, 2015

Too late to be called news, but Greg Stafford and Sandy Petersen are back in the saddle at Chaosium.  There is no argument that Stafford is owed his due, and Petersen is Call of Cthulhu, but sometimes you can't go home again.  Then again, sometimes you can.  Check out:  The Great Old Ones have Returned.


February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy may be gone, but thanks to him, many others -- even if only from inspiration -- have been able to live long and prosper.  Rest in peace, Mr. Nimoy.


January 11, 2015

Hard to say which was/would be a greater bane to humanity -- Nazis or the Old Ones.  Thanks to a series of adventures and supplements for Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu line (also usable with Pinnacle Games' Savage Worlds) by Modiphius Entertainment, we get to find out.  Join a band of Allied heroes as they fight the Secret War against the Nazi Black Sun and their rivals, Nachtwolfe.  Armed with ancient secrets and aided by horrific Mythos, both Black Sun and Nachtwolfe are on the verge of unleashing unimaginable and terrifying weapons upon the Allied forces.  Learn more about Achtung! Cthlhu.


October 10, 2014

Collectible Trading Card Games (CTCGs) may have seen their peak pass years ago, but card games are still a popular format for our hobby.  Minion Games, publishers of Hegemonic, The Manhattan Project, and the soon-to-be-released Dead Men Tell No Tales, are so excited about their upcoming DragonFlame card game that they have made the Print-and-Play (PnP) pre-release game available for free download.  In the game, players take turns setting down three cards on the Castle cards in the center of the table.  That creates piles of cards from which players may choose at the end of the round, with the pile selected also determining the turn order for the next round.  Once a player has a pile, s/he places the cards down end game scoring.  Any DragonFlame cards acquired confer the ability to flame villages (area-control), making it harder for opponents to earn glory points, which is the objective of the game.  All you need to download the pre-release is to supply your email address to receive the download link (and, no doubt, to be put on their email list).  Visit the DragonFlame request page to get your link.


September 22, 2014

Chaosium has released a free quick-start PDF for Magic World.  As with most such products, it comes with a basic explanation of the rules, pre-generated characters, and an introductory scenario.  It certainly isn't enough to play much more than that, but as a peek into the game for a group wanting to check things out before making a purchase, it will suffice.  In particular, the illustrations and map work, drawn by an established BRP/Magic World artist, are worth a look, as is the included adventure, designed by the same gentleman.  Download the Magic World Quick-Start Rules and see for yourself.


August 28, 2014

Looks as though Hero Games is doing for Fantasy HERO what they did back in 2012 for Champions -- release a crunchy, slimmed-down, all-in-one rulebook for using HERO to play in the fantasy genre.  Check out the just-finalized cover.  Fantasy HERO Complete cover.


August 17, 2014

With the recent release of DND 5th ed., it's time for the game again to get a little publicity.  How about from The New Yorker of all places?!  Give Dungeons & Dragons Saved My Life a read.


August 14, 2014

In case you haven't heard, Wizards of the Coast has posted the core rules for DND 5th ed. for free download.  Check out what's new:  Dungeons & Dragons core rules.


July 14, 2014

Yeah, yeah, it's been a year.  You've been asking for a long while why you're bothering to check here.  I can't blame you.  I've been busy... and negligent.  But I can't let today pass without echoing last year's note:  Happy Bastille Day!  And, happy three-year anniversary of my first post!

There should be more to come, with updates on novels, what's going on with Chaosium's Magic World, DND 5th ed., novels, and more! 


July 14, 2013

O.K., so I've been a little lax about ranting lately.  I'll correct that soon.  Nevertheless:   Happy Bastille Day!  And, happy two-year anniversary of my first post! 


June 9, 2013

I just got the latest copy of Game Developer in the mail.  Actually, I think I need to remove a few letters from that -- namely "t" and "e," as in LAteST... as in, *last*.  You know:  Final.  After nearly two decades of providing informative, largely objective reporting on the computer game industry in general to members of the computer gaming industry, the magazine is going the way of printed media in general - kaput!  (Point of note, parent company UBM has shut down all print publications they own.)  Being primarily on the creative, ops, and (dare I put it in writing) business side of the industry, I still found myself often reading the topical stories cover-to-cover.  I wish Patrick, Brandon, et al., all the best as they pick up the pieces and move on to -- one hopes -- even bigger and better things.  Oh, and as a parting gift, the final issue has been posted online in PDF.  Check it out if you didn't get a hard copy in your mail box.  gd - Game Over.


May 29, 2013

Another joins the Kickstarter wave.  R. Talsorian Games, best known for their Cyberpunk 2020 and Mekton games, is looking to publish Mekton Zero.  Mekton was owner Mike Pondsmith's first published game, and this appears to be the mother of all Mektons.  It will be playable as a squad-level miniatures game (with a new minis line on the horizon), an RPG, and a "customized arena combat" game.  Apparently it's also largely compatible with previous Mekton material, including Mekton Zeta and Zeta+.  I don't know that much about the game, but I know it was one of the early contributors to RTG's Interlock system, which in turn is one of the parent systems that spawned FUZIONMekton Zero on Kickstarter.


May 15, 2013

I admit it:  Like many current or one-time D&D players, I'm an edition snob.  And, like many, I have my opinion on which edition is the best designed, or the most fun, or the most evocative of one tone or another.  I know a lot of gamers cut their teeth on AD&D 2nd Ed., so I'll keep my jeers to a minimum.  Sure, the non-weapon proficiency system (which, in actuality, debuted in Oriental Adventures for first edition, BTW) was a pretty solid advancement in playability, and the idea of putting all of the rules actually needed to play into the PH was a second step forward, but I just can't get beyond thinking of AD&D 2nd Ed. as anything other than a revision that didn't change enough to improve the game significantly, but shifted enough around as to render a lot of earlier material useless without more conversion work than was worth it.  My opinion (and ego) aside, WotC thinks that rev still has merit (translation:  sales potential), and they're re-releasing copies of the three core book for sale a la the 1st Ed. reprints put out last year.  I don't know whether they'll be available only as a bundle, or perhaps also separately, but in about a week you can grab your copy!  AD&D 2nd Edition Premium Core Book Reprint Bundle


And next month, how about picking up the reprint of the Against the Slavers AD&D 1st Ed. module series.  Now those were some great products, and this re-release even includes a new scenario to kick-start the entire series.  Against the Slave Lords.


May 8, 2013

What can't you download?!  I was a little thrown when Precis Intermedia Games began selling the card-driven MasterBook RPG re-release as a PDF product (for reasons I can't justify, given that SJG's Cardboard Heroes in PDF seemed perfectly logical to me, and PIG was selling their own download-for-print Disposable Heroes for ages, and I've certainly taken my own stab at printing homebrew variants of Lion Rampart's Whimsy cards), but apparently it's catching.  DriveThruRPG (and derivatives ad nauseum) has kicked off DriveThurCards, where indie (and not-so-indie) designers can sell their card games straight to our printers.  (Note:  You can also purchase printed card sets delivered via snail mail.)  Check out the Grand Opening of DriveThruCards.  

April 18, 2013

Definitely overdue, though largely insignificant at this point, it becomes official tonight:  Rush joins Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


April 8, 2013

The cuts have already started coming.  When Disney purchased Lucasfilm (and all related entities) I'm sure plenty working within the Star Wars camp feared not just for what would happen to the properties in terms of style and content, but also regarding companies and jobs.  It's common in such instances for the parent company eventually to begin introducing culture changes and phasing out similar departments jobs, but typically that happens immediately for the redundant personnel and then not again fur a good 1-1.5 years after acquisition.  Yet Disney has just announced the closure of the entire LucasArts company and the cancellation of several upcoming titles.  Not only is that a little earlier than usual, it's unclear how the publishers and affiliated studios are redundant in these cases, as it's the property experts who are being cut.  Perhaps, speculates a blogger, Disney's sole interest in the Star Wars property is for the movie franchise alone.  Disney Shuts Down LucasArts, Current Projects “Cancelled”.


March 29, 2013

RPGNow is offering another free bundle.  In celebration of Table Geek & Sundry's Top Day on March 30, you can download several free goodies, including Including 15 Quickstarts (including for Song and Ice, Brass and Steel, Conspiracy X 2.0, TNT's Leverage RPG, Savage World's Test Drive, and Shadowrun) and two complete RPGS: Scion: Hero and Little Fears Rulebooks.  Geek & Sundry's TableTop Day at RPG Now .


March 20, 2013

By now you've heard of EA's disastrous SimCity launch on March 5th.  If you haven't, or if you're suffering through it but don't know the entire story, it's worth checking out.  But I don't need to rehash it here, when there's a thorough and entertaining summary of the whole thing available for your... um... amusement?  (One update worth noting that isn't included in this summary is that EA is now offering a free game as consolation for having purchased a game that couldn't be played.)  Your Complete Guide to the SimCity Disaster.


March 19, 2013

The Avatar's back, Baby!  And not just in one incarnation, but two!  A few weeks ago Electronic Arts (who, thanks to the purchase of Origin Systems back in 1992 owns the Ultima IP) announced the upcoming release of Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar for the iOs.  This marks the first Ultima-based game ever to be released without Lord British's (a.k.a. Richard Garriott de Cayeux) involvement, assuming one doesn't count Ultima Online expansions released after his departure from EA to run with NC Soft here in the U.S.  In fact, it appears that Lord British doesn't even make an appearance, if one latch's on to the mention of a Lady British.  Meanwhile, Portalarium, Richard's current venture, hit their Kickstarter goal of $1M just two weeks after opening the gates to fund Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues. Not only does Richard intend to reinvent the Fantasy RPG genre (according to the Kickstarter page), but he's brought in fellow big gun Tracy Hickman of TSR's Dragonlance fame as lead story designer to help him do it.  EA announces Ultima Forever for iOS and Shroud of the Avatar on Kickstarter.  


March 12, 2013

Sure, it's probably Spring Break for many of you, and chances are good you're not visiting this site right now because instead you're off at some beach, ski resort, or the like.  But for reasons of age, finances, or otherwise (all three of which apply to me), many of you aren't on vacation, or your vacation doesn't involve going anywhere (no where real, that is).  For those who... O.K., now exactly *where* was I headed with this...?  Oh, right!  At some point in your gaming lives you're going to be sitting around either alone or with friends trying to figure out what to play, who will run the game, and how many players are available.  I can't really help with the first one (well, throughout the entire contents of this site I hope can, but not in the context of this post), and certainly not with the latter, but perhaps you can find help with that middle one:  World Mill Game's Mythic Role Playing included a section on how to play RPGs without a GM, and later followed that up by releasing that content as a standalone product.  It's not a set of pre-programmed adventures, nor is it a list of random encounter tables.  The material actually provides guidelines for running role-playing sessions with encounters, plots, and real structure. O.K., O.K., O.K. -- first let's get a few things straight:  The material isn't for everyone, nor for every situation.  There are certain limitations that prevent it from evoking the same long-term atmosphere one gets from a well-run, interactive role-playing game driven by an experienced GM.  I don't believe this is intended to replace that; rather, the objective of the content is to be a new approach to playing an RPG sans GM that has a chance of becoming closer to a full-blown campaign than the cobbled-together approaches (see above) we used in the past when our gaming addiction got the better of us yet circumstances got in the way.  And, now that it has been removed from the parent game, the tool is system agnostic, so no need to switch from your favorite RPG:  World Mill Game's Mythic Game Master Emulator.


February 20, 2013

Chaosium has finally released Magic World (see the December 16, 2012 and March 23, 2012 posts for more information).  Currently it's available only as a PDF, but the printed copies are due out in the next few weeks.  Rumors abound regarding what supporting supplements will be coming out next and by when, but I know of at least four already well into development or beyond.  If you can't wait for the hard copy, go buy your electronic version now:  BRP Magic World.


February 18, 2013

Eternal Service, the first book in Regina Morris' new paranormal series, The Colony, was officially released today (although apparently it's been available in a few places for a couple of weeks).  It's about a select group of the U.S. President's Secret Service comprised entirely of vampires charged with stopping not only serious... let's call them "mundane" ... threats (if serious + mundane isn't too much of an oxymoron), but also nefarious and megalomaniacal supernatural baddies.  The premise of the series is that vampires have existed among humanity for quite some time, typically living in secret through a variety of deceptions as our neighbors, co-workers, teachers, and so on. Apparently most of them engage in simple, quiet lives merely trying to blend in with the rest of (human) societyHowever, some vampires believe they're at the top of the food chain, and want nothing less than the power and control due them.  It's up to the elite group of vampires called The Colony to protect the President of the United States -- and to some extent mankind overall -- from these rogue vampires. As I noted in the What I'm Plugging page, The Colony series is listed as Paranormal Romance, but I suspect most readers will liken it to Moonlight as much as to Twilight.  Check out Eternal Service on Amazon  in Kindle or Paperback (among others).


February 4, 2013

Back on the Chaosium front, a few weeks ago another of fantasy role-playing's old guard, Lynn Willis passed away.  He got involved in the hobby decades ago designing board games for Metagaming and GDW, but went on to become, among many other things, a major driving force behind the renowned and award-winning Call of Cthulhu RPG line.  You can read Charlie Krank's notice here:  Lynn Willis.


January 24, 2013

Several years ago (maybe more than a decade, now that I think about it) WotC starting making a lot of the old D&D B/X, AD&D 1st ed., and AD&D 2nd ed. products available online as PDF docs.  Some they gave away from their site, others were sold via SVGames, but eventually most of the material was taken down.  Well, apparently a bunch of those products are available again, this time from RPGNow.  You can find the core books to the aforementioned versions of D&D, as well as modules, the 2nd historical, core settings, and so on.  In fact, 21 of the top 25 items on the site (as of this date) are older TSR D&D products!  Get yours now!   Old-school D&D goodness at RPGNow .


January 22, 2013

Holy New Year, Batman!  Has it been that long since I posted something?  Er, welcome to 2013, everyone!  I hope your holidays were filled with cheer.  (Or whatever makes the holidays jolly for you!)

For you long-time gamers, this may well warm for your troll-sized heart.  Richard Loomis/Flying Buffalo, Inc. is planning to release a revised edition of Tunnels & Trolls, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls.  Essentially, it's an 8th edition (for a product that sort of skipped from 5.5 to 7), but is expected to be backwards compatible with most the older editions.  In Rick's own words:

"When it was first published in 1975, Tunnels & Trolls opened up the role-playing game genre, showing that these games could encompass a multiplicity of ways to make this segment of the game hobby exciting. Today hundreds of diverse RPGs explore every genre, every play style, and serve every player. T&T led the way first.

In the 37 years since then, T&T has seen eight major editions with many accessory adventures and supplements. The game has been published worldwide, including translations into French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and even Finnish. It had two computer games created for it, and it has influenced other games time and again. A lively fan community shares their love of the game in blogs and forums. Fan publications abound, licensed and approved by the original designer and publisher. Tunnels & Trolls is a solid substantive game that has weathered the years, worldwide, and thrived.

Now we’re back for more."

Rick used Kickstarter to get the project going, and it surpassed its goal almost immediately (it's currently at 3x the target, with 13 days to go as of this date).  Check here for more details: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls.


December 16, 2012

Magic World gets a cover and a revised release date!  I've been keeping the preview of the new Magic World RPG book cover to myself, but apparently someone made it available online, so the secret's out of the bag.  Check it out here!  Moreover, word from editor Ben Monroe is that things are "... in the home-stretch, folks!"  I'm thinking this will be out in early 2013 -- perhaps too late for under the tree (or in the Hanukkah Bush, et al.), but maybe grabbable with gift certificate money from one's local gaming shop.  With play-test and demos in progress, you can learn more about the game here:  BRP Central Magic World Forum.


November 22, 2012

Once again -- Happy Thanksgiving to all our U.S. readers!  (Have a great week to everyone else!)


November 19, 2012

MUDs, MUSHes, and even by now MMORPGs have connected gaming and the online world for decades, but a more recent initiative, perhaps fueled by WotC's efforts with DND4E, has been to facilitate conventional tabletop (a.k.a., Pen and Paper [P&P]) gaming via the internet as well.  Whether to re-geek out with friends who have moved away, find new gamers in other regions, or even just to allow a regular to participate while away on business (you know you who are!), there is a real interest in these tools, especially ones that cost less -- and perhaps are more gaming friendly -- than GotoMeeting, Adobe Connect, et al.  Recently I found Roll20, which has a clean interface, a web-only environment, a robust set of widgets, and doesn't cost a penny to use.  Even if you're having no problem filling your table in person, you may want to give this site a lookRoll20: Web-based online virtual tabletop.


November 5, 2012

For years Disney has had a license with Lucasfilm for the Star Wars franchise, including a ride and show (and parade!) at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, as well as the rights to use merged character images (e.g., Mickey dressed a Luke, Minnie dressed as Leia, et al.).  Well, they no longer need a license, as Disney has purchased Lucasfilm outright (along with ILM and Skywalker Sound).  There's more:  Disney is already planning another trilogy, with Episode 7 targeted for release in 2015 (on May 27th, purists would hope), and possibly also a TV series.  I'm overwhelmed with... ambivalence.  Like many long-time fans, I can't say I'm in love with what Lucas has done with the property in the last, oh, 15 years, and thanks to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise it's clear Disney can handle producing action-packed,exciting, adult-oriented blockbusters.  On the other hand, for better or for worse, it's hard to see Lucas hand over the reins to his baby not to an in-house heir, but instead to an entirely different corporate entity.  As a good friend recently said in response to this news:  "I've got a bad feeling about this....  Disney to buy Lucasfilm.


While reading up on the news above, I also found this little gem.  It, too, isn't really gaming related, but I'd never seen it before.  Ewok?!  WTF is an Ewok?!?!.


October 19, 2012

Champions unite!  After more than 20 years, the core Champions setting will again be published in the same volume as the Champions/HERO system rules.  The single volume will be only 240 pages (much shorter than the full HERO book[s]), and in addition to the Champions source material it will contain the full HERO rules.  A great many of the examples and non-Champions material will be absent, but unlike the Basic HERO rules (the 6th ed. version of the HERO Sidekick, published for 5th ed.) it will present all of the HERO 6th ed. rules.  Expected for release this fall (perhaps November?), both the price and the size are expected to make the system more appealing and accessible to new players as well as long-time Champions.  As a die-hard HERO fanatic, I know I'm not supposed to admit this, but I use HERO for a variety of settings, but I'm just not that into superhero RPG action... yet nonetheless I'm sure going to check it out!  New HERO Games product:  Champions Complete.


October 12, 2012 

Looking for various maps and mapping tools for your games?  This site has resources for city maps, dungeon maps (geomorphic!), overland/political maps, and so on.  Some are historical, others fantastical.  Regardless, if you're like me and love to have plenty of maps in which to set your campaigns but your cartography skill is abysmally low, you'll find plenty of options!  It's Delicious.


September 25, 2012

World of Warcraft- Mists of Pandaria is out of the gates.  Like you didn't already know....  World of Warcraft- Mists of Pandaria.


September 22, 2012

Mr. Steve Long has been busy!  Well-timed for Halloween, Elvensong Street Press just released volume three in the mini supplement series, The Books of the Undead for HERO.  This release covers ghosts (the second had all sorts of fun templates for zombies), but he's also been doling out significant number of inexpensive, bite-sized booklets covering new spells for Fantasy HERO 6th ed.  The Books of the Undead, Vol. 3 and New Fantasy HERO spell books.  


While we're back on HERO, Champions Live Action LARP rules (see the entries for April 17 and May 3, 2012) are out!  Champions Live Action.


September 4, 2012

Is your cat bored?  Is s/he always climbing across your keyboard / game board / controller in a desperate plea for attention?  Well,  you could take a break from your gaming habit and give your feline friend some cuddle time.  OR, you could share your addiction:  Download Game for Cats for your iPad and soon Whiskers (what else would you name your cat?!) will be pawing away at that tablet screen faster than you can blast those zombies or 360-no-scope those noobs (or run down those prostitutes, depending on your game of choice...)!  Not only does Game for Cats display a virtual mouse, laser light, or butterfly your furry companion can attempt to rake with is razor-honed claws of death, but it also tracks the score (providing context-relevant sounds to reward success).  The base game, with just the laser light, is free, but the mouse and other options require a purchase (currently only 99 cents).  Fortunately, the game doesn't utilize a headset, so your cat will have to resort to texting to trash-talk online with friends.  Game for Cats for iPad.


August 12, 2012

URGENT NEWS for World of Warcraft players.  For those who don't already know, Bizzard's internal network was hacked a few days ago, potentially compromising data (i.e., personal and log-in info) for users.  It appears the damage was contained, meaning, it's unlikely that what was taken could, by itself, provide unauthorized account access... but for some subscribers pieces of your security puzzle, which could open up access if other info falls in the wrong hands, were accessed.

From Blizzard's site:

"Some data was illegally accessed, including a list of email addresses for global users, outside of China. For players on North American servers (which generally includes players from North America, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia) the answer to the personal security question, and information relating to Mobile and Dial-In Authenticators were also accessed. Based on what we currently know, this information alone is NOT enough for anyone to gain access to accounts.

You are STRONGLY urged to change your password, even if you're not a current subscriber.  Blizzard's Important Security Update -- 08/09/2012.


And if you're waiting for the Mists of Pandaria to stop its endless Beta cycle, the release date has been set:  Tuesday, September 25th.  No big surprise, you can order your digital copy now.  World of Warcraft - Mists of Pandaria Digital Pre-Sales.


August 7, 2012

You are already registered for Gen Con 2012, aren't you?  No game left behind.

While you're making the trek there with your friends, and you find yourself stuck longer than expected in an airport without enough time to whip out your GM screen and start an impromptu session of your "Legion of the Black Horde of Death, Mayhem, and Chaos" campaign in the food court; your many suitcases of card games are stowed somewhere in the chilly depths of cargo; and you have just enough juice in your smart phone for a single stream or download; then pick up a deck of ordinary playing cards from the gift shop, visit The Land of Nod, and quickly download Greatsword, a simple yet clever card game of Medieval hand‐to‐hand combat using any common deck of playing cards.  Greatsword PDF.


July 28, 2012

I promise I'm really not on a Munchkin kick, but I confess to being highly amused to see the recent release of Munchkin Conan.  What a great way to have fun while remembering what is best in life: "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."  (Of course, the possessive pronoun "their" in this case referring to the many geeks* who are so desperate for a return to hack-and-slash gaming that we've fully embraced what once was the bane of RPGs: card games.)  Order Munchkin Conan from Warehouse 23.


And.. bring out the reprints!  The AD&D 1st ed. core book reprints are now available (see the January 23, 2012 post for details).  AD&D 1st edition reprints now available!

*Please note the joke made for joke's sake.  I do not mean to imply that geeks are only male.  There are plenty of female geeks.  Really.

July 22, 2012

Steve Jackson Games has released another in the line of Dungeon Fantasy  GURPS supplements: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen.  I'd argue this is probably just as viable as content for any GURPS Fantasy game (in fact, dealing with small bands of men-at-arms probably shows up more in the conventional, heavier role-playing campaigns than in dungeon crawls), but the note that probably piques my interest the most is this blurb:  "... or kick off your Dungeon Fantasy campaign at a lower power level...."  My biggest qualm with the whole Dungeon Fantasy series is that the default PC power levels involve 250-point characters.  Sure, given how deadly GURPS is, that might make the game more survivable, but a clear mainstay of old-school dungeon delving RPGs is having to start at the bottom of the heap, hope you outlive the baddies (and sometimes also your fellow party members), and work your way up to bigger and better foes and treasure.  Now it's a lot easier to apply the concept without your players whining about how badly you've nerfed their favorite character template.... GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchman at e23.


July 14, 2012

Happy Bastille Day!  And, happy anniversary of my first post! 


July 9, 2012

Rolemaster is finally getting a major overhaul.  Having undergone a variety of owners over the years -- particularly in the past dozen or so, Iron Crown (ICE) hasn't done that much development for the series.  With most of the attention focused on HARP (a separate FRPG line ICE produced that began life as Rolemaster-lite) and an attempt to revise interest in the Spacemaster line via Privateers, about the only really interesting Rolemaster release was the Rolemaster Classic line, intended to consolidate the most popular 2nd edition of Rolemaster from the '80s and early '90s... which surely exacerbated the Rolemaster vs. HARP competition by adding a third FRPG ruleset from the same company into the mix.  This upcoming version is intended to put a stop to the Rolemaster confusion by merging the disparate lines back into a single product (not entirely different from WotC's cancellation of D&D vs. AD&D when it released the unified DND3E).  My guess is that this is going to set off all the old-time Rolemaster players whom ICE tried to apologize to with the reintroduction of Rolemaster Classic.  On the other hand, personally I thought the RMSS/RMFRP series (the post 1994 revs) was a vast improvement over 2nd ed. just from a system perspective, so I'm hoping this truly will take the best rules irrespective of the proponents of the version wars and come up with something really solid.  Of course, assuming this merging manages to satisfy both camps (but then, how could it?!?!), I also wonder what it means for HARP....  Iron Crown announces the reunification of Rolemaster.


June 26, 2012

Columbia Game's Harn has never gained enough traction to threaten the leaders of the Fantasy RPG world, but it has managed to survive for a very long time.  Best known for the rarely-paralleled richness of the Harn setting than for the Harnmaster system mechanics, the line's website recently received a facelift that goes a long way toward showing off what makes the milieu so stunning.  Columbia Games' Harn website.


June 11, 2012

I'm not the biggest (A)D&D fan in world (O.K., so I wrote for a few supplements for TSR in the mid-'90s, but that's just because I was, am, and always will be a hack), but like many others I've been impressed from time-to-time with various OGL releases, especially those attempting to recreate the old-school mood such as found in Goblinoid Games' Labyrinth Lord and Mythmere Games' Swords & Wizardy.  In particular I found them commendable efforts as amateur (i.e., free) products (which is what they were when first introduced), both in terms of how they selected and organized their rules as well as their presentation.  But I'm blown away by a relatively recent entrant into the amateur arena by someone looking not to return to the nostalgic days of yore but instead simply to combine the author's view of the best that D&D has to offer and share it with the gaming community free of charge.  So what's unique about that?  Nothing, perhaps... until you take a look at the fruits of his labor.  I haven't played the game, and I'm not even ready to call the source inspiration stellar (q.v., the first sentence in this paragraph), but it's clear this guy has put considerable thought into his specific amalgamation of various incarnations of the D20 system, and the production value alone is out of this world for a freebie!  Whether you love D&D or love to hate it, you've got to check out the Heroes Against Darkness indie d20 game.  Heroes Against Darkness, by Justin Halliday


June 2, 2012

"It feels a little dirty, but I might do it."  The infamous Steve Jackson, designer of Ogre, GURPS, and an old-school fav of mine, TFT, appears on this week's Geek & Sundry's Table Top with Wil Wheaton to show them all how it's done Munchkin-style.  If you're a fan of Felicia Day or The Guild (or of the Build-a-Bear Workshop®), you may well want to check out time sequence 24:30.  Plus, having let my unused copy of Munchkin gather dust all these years, seeing the gameplay in action led me to pull it off the shelf.  Table Top, Episode 5:  Munchkin, with Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Steve Jackson, and Sandeep Parikh.


May 25, 2012

Unigames has recently released Cavemaster.  What is Cavemaster?  According to the description at RPG Now, it's, "... a serious Stonepunk tabletop fantasy role-playing game of Pleistocene adventure using the Habilis game system. It's the RPG that cave-men played!."  I question the word choice, "serious," but I have a lot of respect for Jeff Dee as a designer, so I'm willing to give that the benefit of the doubt.  Oh!  And what's "stonepunk?"  You can probably guess from the context above -- it's a play on the term "steampunk," involving fiction in which technological achievements and imagination are inserted into a time-period earlier than when those achievements came about and/or were imagined, but this one's, um, set in, um... caveman times (or more precisely, the Pleistocene era, which I thought was about four eras before the Jurassic era, but college was a long time ago for me).  The rules use the "Habilis" game system (they should think about putting a [TM] around that), which involves groups of stones and hiding them in your hand.  Nope, not kidding on that one.  You'll have to read more for yourself....  Cavemaster at RPG Now.


Yeah, yeah.  So I took so much time between these last updates that I failed to mention the release of the much-anticipated Diablo III.  Seriously, though, is there anyone who cares who didn't already know about it?!?!  Download Diablo III.


May 3, 2012

O.K., I loathe Wesley Crusher as much as the next guy, so can someone please tell me why I felt compelled to continue watching him promote Small World on Geek & Sundry's Table Top?  It could be because the game, itself, appears engaging.  The components looks pretty snazzy, the gameplay straightforward, and the blend of fantasy and cartoony (whaddya mean that's not a word?!) tend to hit a sweet spot for me when I depart from my usual RPG fare.  Plus, dagnabbit!  Wil and guests are actually somewhat entertaining.  Small World: Wil Wheaton, Jenna Busch, Grant Imahara, Sean Plott. TableTop, Episode 1 .


As an update to the last post, Champions Live is now funded.  Congrats to Darren!  Champions Live Action


April 29, 2012

I've changed the look and design of the site.  Feel free to let me know what you think.  Scratch that.  Feel free to let me know how much more you like the site now than before (and that you loved it before)....


April 17, 2012

Champions LARP!  Darren Watts, former president of Hero Games (see the December 2, 2011 post below), has started a new company, Silverback Press.  Their first release?  A Champions RPG.  Er, make that, a Champions LIVE ACTION RPG.  Via the increasingly popular Kickstarter vehicle for acquiring funding for gaming (and other projects), Darren is hoping to get enough capital to publish Champions Live.  I can't say live action role-playing has ever been for me (pre-tabletop RPG "cowboys & indians" as a kid notwithstanding), but anything that perpetuates interest in the Champions/HERO line makes me smile.  Champions Live Action.


And since I'm on the Kickstarter kick (pun intended), check out Steve Jackon's Kickstart project for the Designer's Edition of Ogre.  They surpassed their funding goal quite some time ago, as this classic gets a revamp that more people than just Steve are likely to be pleased to see.  Ogre Design's Edition.


April 2, 2012

Response to BioWare's Mass Effect 3 turned sour not long after its release, as hordes of fans completed the game and reached a conclusion that could be described as... less than satisfactory.  Critics -- and in this case I'm talking about thousands of customers via various social media forums -- claim the end is full of plot holes inconsistent with the game, and is weak and unsatisfactory overall.  The backlash has been so extreme that BioWare felt compelled to respond in a formal letter to customers, and even other industry professionals jumped in to provide insight.  A few conspiracy theorists have speculated the the entire event was a planned marketing move to call attention to the product's release, but frankly my guess is that that is the actual marketing spin.  Mass Effect 3 Struggles With Social-Media Furor Over Ending


March 23, 2012

Back in October of 2011 Chaosium released The Magic Book for their BRP (Basic Roleplaying) system. Rising from the ashes of the Magic World booklet contained in Worlds of Wonder -- the origins of BRP as a universal RPG independent of Chaosium's flagship games, Runequest and Call of Cthulhu -- comes a completely revamped version of Magic World updated for play with the latest BRP.  Actually, that's a misrepresentation.  While this upcoming release, due in Summer of 2012, is part of the most recent BRP line, it is intended to be a completely stand-alone Fantasy RPG, meaning you won't actually need also to purchase the BRP core rulebook to play.  Wait, that part is not quite right either.  It seems this version is based on the original ("classic") Magic World rules found in the 1982 edition, and not the 400+ page version.  Still, that game was a lot of fun, and although Worlds of Wonder didn't necessarily do terribly well in terms of sales (although it did spawn an independent release of Super World), it was a nice application of Chaosium's core rules presented in a more conventional, setting-agnostic package, which meant a chance to appeal to a broader FRPG audience.  No doubt this newest release (and I was fortunate enough to be granted a sneak-peak at the art-free version) will fit that bill just as well, including a nice variety of occupations, creatures (many of which make reasonable PC races), spells and other goodies.  In fact, despite all the waffling above, it's clear some of the design considerations from the newest BRP rev were factored in, making for what looks like a very solid, very complete Fantasy RPG.  And with plans already in the works to release more supporting material, this could well find a sizable audience.  Magic World - BRP RPG for Summer 2012.


March 10, 2012

For 90 days, Blizzard has made a pretty radical change to the conventional Scroll of Resurrection, which players with World of Warcraft accounts can use to get their friends back into the game.  The traditional scroll gave the potential returnee a week of free game time to see what's new, in exchange for a month free time for the sender if the player returned.  This new one, which has lots of goodies for the recipient, seems to offer the short end of the stick to the sender.  And, some existing players not even involved in the exchange aren't too thrilled with the revised offer.  Miri's Thoughts on the New Scroll of Resurrection.


March 8, 2012

It appears the changes at HERO Games this past December didn't spell the end of the (Champions) universe.  Blackwyrm Publishing is releasing a bestiary of terrifying monsters for 6th edition, written by HERO veteran Mike Surbrook.  Things That Go Bump in the Night.


February 28, 2012

I'd thought I'd continue somewhat in the vein of the Valentine's Day comments below with Ryan Consell's article about fantasy armor for women. I found the print version, entitled Breastplate vs. Boobplate, in this month's issue of Game Developer (apparently the publishers also saw connections between Valentine's Day + sex + chainmail bikinis). As someone who tends to play female characters in RPGs fairly often (O.K., O.K., often enough to consider therapy some people -- who call themselves "friends" -- might suggest), including MMORPGs, I've found myself often torn between the appeal of imagining my persona in, shall we say, under-sized and form-fitting gear yet still needing to convince the GM I've got enough coverage to turn away the baddies' blade. (You guys can have Red Sonja.  I'll take Valeria from the assault on Thulsa Doom under the Temple of Set in the 1982 Conan the Barbarian!)  Nonetheless, Ryan's article makes some compelling arguments for thinking beyond the outright ridiculous without sacrificing attractiveness, for both female as well as male characters.  Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits.


February 14, 2012

In light of today's holiday, I thought Theo Gauthier's blog entry on sex at the gaming table was both entertaining and insightful.  As my various groups have grown and changed throughout the years, we've run the gamut from all males, mainly males, a blend, and even all-female groups of players (and with my wife as one of them, including elements of romance for each player proved appropriately awkward).  Not surprising, the focus was more on sex and less on relationships with the all-male group, but to be fair to my fellow brothers, that had as much to do with our age as with the genders around the table.  Now I've found that, providing we all strive to keep things in good taste, introducing stories of love and sex when they fit the scenarios isn't much of an issue, and even players with characters of different genders than their own are usually able to handle seduction by other players of their same gender.  It could a sign that role-playing as a key element of the RPG hobby has matured beyond leveling up and bagging loot.  Or maybe it's just because I play with a lot of mature old fogies just like me....  Sex at the RPG Table: A Dicey Proposition.


Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) announces plans to make Everquest free to play sometime in early March.  On one hand, it's about time, given that at 13 years old the game was one of the first ever MMORPGs (but quite definitely not the "one that started it all," Ultime Online fans would be right to point out); but on the other hand, the game's popularity was huge prior to the entrance of World of Warcraft into the marketplace, and it's pretty impressive that Everquest has hung around this long.  Regardless, it may be long in the tooth, but free is probably worth checking out for those who've never given the game a try.  Everquest soon to be free to play.

February 1, 2012


January 23, 2012

Wizards of the Coast (WotC) is reprinting the core set of books for the 1st ed. AD&D game -- the PH, DMG, and MM (abbreviated to show proper geekness).  They include the same, original text and interior illustrations, but the books will each receive an all-new cover.  It appears several old-school gamers are pretty stoked about the reprints, and it's good to see some of the revenue will go to a non-profit organization (Gygax Memorial Fund).  Still, I share some of the questions, such as:  What's driving the reprint (and why at this time)?  And will very many copies sell (and what might it mean if so)?  And the more I continue to learn about the early days of the "Fantasy Game" (i.e., D&D), the more I do wish Arneson's name were better known.  Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying Gary isn't deserving of what's credited to him, but certainly Dave's mechanics drove the (r)evolution from tactical-level miniatures game to role-playing game.  Dungeons and Dragons Catalogue.  


January 4, 2012

Happy New Year!

Recently I had the chance to unload some of my gently-used and (in some cases) well-enjoyed gaming items on the good people at  Noble Knight Games.  It's not the first time I've sent off gaming material to them, and in all cases they've been upfront about their prices and policies, and have been very patient with me when I add or subtract products based on their offers.  In most cases they prefer to offer trade credit instead of cash, but that seems to be somewhat standard for resale shops like theirs, and -- unlike some less positive experiences I've had with other vendors -- they manage tracking and using the trade credit with great simplicity.  Plus, they cover shipping (assuming you follow their guidelines)!  If you want to clear some room on your shelves for new gaming goodies (which, incidentally, you also may want to get from them), check them out.  Noble Knight Games.  


As I mentioned above, gaming resale shops have been around probably as long as gaming retail stores have.  Toward that end, I took advantage of the recent holiday season to set up my own online gaming resale site:  Games from the Attic.  We're not (yet!) as fancy as Noble Knight Games, and we don't (yet!) have the same level of stock, but we're every bit as fair.  And we even have a few items others don't (mainly 'cause I hung on to some of these gems to pass along directly)!  Games from the Attic.


December 21, 2011

It's that time of year:  Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas, Good Diwali, and Happy Festivus to all!



December 13, 2011

The release of the heavily-anticipated Star Wars: The Old Republic is still a week away, but access to the game is already available for those who have pre-ordered.  It appears to include the full game, but the number of pre-order slots available is supposedly limited.  I suppose this is your chance to level-up as fast as possible so you can mock all the newbs who waited all the way until the 20th....  Pre-order Star Wars: The Old Republic


December 2, 2011

HERO Games reduces in-house full-time staff -- down to one.  If you know me and of my fondness for the HERO System, then you can guess how I'm taking this news.  Steve has done some impressive work on the game and for the company, and while it appears he may well continue to do so, it's clear this a change that will impact future HERO products to come.  (And Darren has certainly produced his fair share of content as well.)


I wish both of them, and HERO Games, all the best in the future.  Changes at HERO Games.


November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  (To those in the U.S., that is.  Have a great week to everyone else!)


November 15, 2011

Another in the realm of it's-news-to-me-but-the-rest-of-the-online-community-has-known-for-a-while vein (so, uh, what value am I really adding here... ;-)  ), AntiPaladin games has taken the OGL version of the old WEG D6 system and released a consolidated, more-cinematic, rules-lite version.  It still has all of the basics, plus plenty of goodies to support a variety of games one might want to run.  In fact, it's not so much rules-lite as fluff-free.  Oh yeah!  And the PDF is available for my favorite price -- free!  Check it out.  AntiPaldin Games' Mini Six


November 3, 2011

If you're like me, you often get frustrated when your players ask for details on what seems like trivial minutiae:  What are the titles of the books in this library?  What names are on the coronation invitation?  What's in the backpack I just lifted off the body?  Sure, some of the frustration stems from certain players (we all have them in our groups) being overly-focused on irrelevant information when the real clue is smacking them in the face.  But to be fair, those details also add to the sense of immersion we're all hoping to find one way or another in our games, so I confess that some of my frustration is a result of the guilt I feel for not having that kind of flavoring ready to pepper my worlds with.  Well, thanks to Black Falcons Games, we may have the answer to one of those pesky questions ready to go.  I'm not saying it's worth its price (even at only 75 cents), nor that you couldn't come up with half a list in the same time it takes to enter your credit card info into the RPGNow site, but isn't it nice to know there are people out there dealing with -- and trying to solve -- the same problems we all are... regardless of size or scope?  100 Fantasy NPC Backpack and Sack Contents.


October 26, 2011

Chaosium releases The Magic Book for their BRP (Basic Roleplaying) system.  Similar to magic supplements for other universal RPGS, this book provides more detail on a variety of magic systems, increasing the versatility of the base system contained the core rule book.  Likely this will also enable GMs to recreate the flavor of some of Chaosium's earlier games, including Runequest and Stormbringer/Elric, more seamlessly than an ad hoc conversion.  The Magic Book.


October 15, 2011

For years I've been wanting to run a game in which the players effectively are gods in a fantasy setting.  They have their priests and followers to tend to, the priests and followers of their rivals to deal with, and -- of greater interest -- the petty and not-so-petty squabbles among themselves and perhaps even competing pantheons, some of which could escalate to their equivalent of Ragnarok.  The idea first came to mind once I was bitten by the Champions bug.  It seemed like a straightforward process to create a fantasy setting much as I would for a conventional fantasy campaign, but then give the players superhero-level points and allow powers as for a typical Champions game, tweaking limits primarily to maintain the flavor of a mythical atmosphere.  I had trouble getting that off the ground, because unlike Champions, which has had a wealth of supporting material both published and amateur, there wasn't that much help for a lazy GM to build 250+ pt. NPCs and villains with a fantasy bent.  (Yes, I considered The Olympians supplement, but I felt I needed more, and didn't necessarily want to limit myself to a Greek-centric mythology.)  I even considered one of the (A)D&D versions, perhaps picking a pantheon from the DDG, letting the players pick their deity, and then I'd have the rest for the allies and enemies.  But as those works are intended to reflect the hierarchy of their source content rather than a band of equally-powered PCs, I was worried the disparity would result in unhappy players.  But here we are in 2011, with one of the most prolific writers in the RPG industry heading HERO Games (for quite some time, by this point), and Mr. Long, et al., has seen fit to begin development on Mythic Hero.  The plans for the first chapter says it all, indicating, "...It will cover 'Templates' for common divine abilities, a discussion of how to use gods in your campaign (such as the various approaches, from 'ultra-powerful' to 'basically just like the PCs'), and even how to play gods in mythology-based campaigns."  Looks like Steve is taking custom orders straight from my brain....  Mythic Hero -- What Do You Want To See.

October 5, 2011

When I first read in the recent issue of Game Developer that Bethesda is taking legal action against Mojang (developer of the astoundingly popular Minecraft) for the use of the word "scrolls" as the title to their upcoming Scrolls game, I thought it was a joke, despite the magazine's credibility.  But apparently the maker of The Elder Scrolls series isn't making a funny. Many fans of both companies are citing Bethesda's lawyers as the driving force behind a legal battle that apparently will be going to court, but one has to wonder -- just who is writing the checks for those lawyer fees?  Mojang and Bethesda go to White Castle.   


Dustin Evermore posted some great homebrew materials for FUZION and HERO years ago.  For a while it disappeared, or at least I couldn't track it down.  But here he is again (now on Michael Surbrook's site), with content updated for HERO 6th ed!  Dustin Evermore's HERO System Source Material


Although I'd argue that my play style has, uh, matured, during the past several years, I'm still very old-fashioned when it comes to using that old, reliable keep-the-players-guessing-whether-you're fudging-dice-rolls / don't-let-them-see-the-map GM screen.  It doesn't matter what game I'm running, what tone I'm trying to set, how much I want to turn the game into a story, or so on, I just can't -- won't -- break the habit of using a screen.  I usually prefer a four-panel screen, but I can be flexible at times and use three panels, and sometimes five panels. And in most cases I want something tall enough that I can clip a map or illustration for the players on the outside and some extra useful reference sheet or GM-only map on the inside (but other times I can live with something shorter).  In fact, I was pretty pleased a few years ago when some company released three- and four-panel screens that were basically comprised of the material used in the front of many professional binders, with an opaque back but a clear front so you can slip in whatever you want as long as it's on a sheet of paper about 8.5" x 11".  They disappeared for a bit, and then were re-released by another company.  Anyway, that's what I was picturing when I received my regular email update from the RPG Shop and instead saw the "Ultimate Dungeon Master's Screen."  I'm pretty sure I would have loved this as a kid, but all I can think as I look at this, especially when I consider the price, is, "You have got to be kidding me!"  Ultimate Dungeon Master's Screen 

September 20, 2011

Then again, it appears others are trying to get into the action as well:  The Ultimate GM Screen 2.


September 11, 2011

I'm not known for having a shortage of words, but on this topic, even after 10 years I still don't know how to transfer my thoughts and emotions into writing.  In memoriam.


Steve finished the Advanced Player's Guide II for the HERO System.  Even more options and variants for the system that can do it all!  Check it out for purchase here:  Advanced Player's Guide II..


September 2, 2011

GameStop yanks out coupon for free play of Deus Ex: Human Revolution through OnLive.  Sounds like someone might be afraid of little competition....  GameStop vs. OnLive


I recently stumbled across this little gem of a website, intended to educate gamers and the uninitiated alike on RPGs and Fantasy Games.  The Escapist


August 24, 2011

Blizzard adds in a further level of character appearance customization for World of Warcraft players: Transmogrification.  Now you can make your gear look like another piece of gear, within some limits.  For example, you can't change weapon or armor types, you have to be able to use both pieces, you have to have to possess both pieces at the time of transmogrification, and so on.  Heh, and you thought your bank tabs were maxed out before....  Transmogrification in WoW.


August 17, 2011

Whether you call them paper heroes, cardboard figures, or some other moniker, 25-28mm scale people you can print, fold, and put on the gaming table in addition to or in place of often more expensive pewter or plastic miniatures are gaining traction.  One Monk Miniatures has a great assortment (see my plug below), but here's a site that includes several such links to more FREE minis (including the link to One Monk Miniatures):  The Great RPG Swindle.


This site alone has a broad enough selection to fit just about any game and any genre:  7 Wonders.


August 10, 2011

Steve Jackson Games releases GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 14: Psi. Psionics aren't for every fantasy game, but they certainly fit within the tone of the old-school games the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy series is intended to recreate.  That said, a good chunk of the material in the series really can be applied to more role-playing oriented GURPS Fantasy games as well as old-fashioned dungeon crawls.  GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 14: Psi at e23.  


The release of the Pathfinder SRD (PRD) is hardly news, but I've been looking for an inexpensive way to check out this insanely popular DND3.5E-based setting for quite some time.  Paizo's Pathfinder RPG PRD.   


August 1, 2011

Blizzard announces Diablo 3 will be online only.  Lots of speculation about why -- persistence and feature updates, or more control over (not so) micro-transactions? and Auction House features mean Diablo 3 is online only.   


July 27, 2011

Steve is working hard on the Advanced Player's Guide II for the HERO System:  Advanced Player's Guide II (What Do You Want To See).


July 14, 2011

Blizzard releases World of Warcraft Starter Edition -- free to play up to level 20.  Are they hurting, or just trying to get the starting locations populated with a player base again?  Blizzard's World of Warcraft Main Page.