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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Spirit of '77 RPG -- The Cruise Ship of the Damned free adventure

Monkeyfun Studios, a new developer crewed by the seasoned team of David Kizzia and Bob Richardson, are releasing their first RPG: Spirit of '77. Running on a modified Apocalypse World rule set, Spirit of '77 promises plenty of awesome 70's-themed action and adventure, taking inspiration from many of the movies and TV shows of the period.

What's more, Spirit of '77 is going onto Kickstarter in early September (as of this writing, about a week away), and, to help you decide if this is your kind of game, the guys at Monkeyfun Studios have a free adventure to check out -- The Cruise Ship of the Damned.

The PDF sits in at 49 pages, nearly half of which are the rules which give a thorough understanding of how to play/run the game. Honestly, you're given enough to start creating some simple adventures/campaigns of your own with just this PDF. There are no character creation rules, but there are seven very interesting pre-made characters (complete with images).

It's a solid adventure and introduction to the game, in general. The amount of content there is more than worth checking out, especially since it's free. And, heck, just reading it is pretty entertaining -- a lot of the writing, especially the examples, are pretty evocative and show how much the developers really love this setting and style.

Also, they have a Spotify list linked on their site, with indicators of suggested songs to play throughout the adventure. I'm not certain how effective it is in practice, but it certainly helps get you in the mood for the game.

If you're interested in learning more (or want to snag a copy of the adventure) be sure to check out Spirit of '77's website, Facebook page, and Monkeyfun Studios' website. And keep your eyes peeled for the Kickstarter that's opening soon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Dorkland Interview -- The Supervillain Handbook

A little while back I had a short article on Fainting Goat Games' The Super Villain Handbook -- a book for the Icons RPG -- and its Facebook page where you can see loads of material and give feedback directly to the developers. Today I bring you an interview I had with Jason Tondro of Fainting Goat Games about The Super Villain Handbook and its future.


Dorkland!: What kind of feedback are you looking for and why?

Jason Tondro: People can contribute to the book in many ways. Sometimes this is simple: I can always use more examples of a particular archetype. For example, as I write this, I just posted the "Power Corrupted" archetype. Now, obvious examples include Phoenix and Parallax. But maybe there are other great examples I've not thought of, but which you have.

Also, I like to start each entry with a good quote from the comics. So in this case, I had a lot of great Dark Phoenix quotes to pick from. But sometimes these quotes are harder to find, and fans have their own favorites. That's a great help to me.

Many contributors have helped by reminding me of stories common to a given archetype. At the heart of this book, we are asking "What stories do we tell with these villains?" So when a reader chimes in with a great story which we have seen in the comics, or a new one which a GM would find helpful, that's gold.

DL: Why a Facebook group?

JT: Because I'm an academic as well as a comic nerd, I have a lot of academics and comic nerds on my friends list. I knew that, if I posted these archetypes on FB, some very smart people would respond. And they have! I have a built-in audience of People Smarter Than Me.  It's worked perfectly.

DL: Why place your villains in the public domain?

JT: So, this was an idea which grew out of another decision. The SVH is not a "setting book", but when you're making villains, it often helps to place those characters together in a setting. In addition, there are several villain archetypes which totally depend on a hero. For example, an Evil Twin villain makes no sense if the reader doesn't know the hero whom the villain is the Evil Twin of.

So I knew I'd have to make some setting decisions. And while I was thinking about it, I considered using public domain heroes for the setting. Like, what if our Evil Twin was based off of Amazing Man or Airman or someone like that.

That led to the idea that, hey, if the heroes are all public domain, why don't we make the whole setting public domain too? And Mike Lafferty, our publisher, totally stepped up to that challenge and said, sure, yes. Not only will our characters be public domain, the art depicting them will be too. And this became the unifying theme of the setting, which we are calling the Youniverse, because everything in it belongs to you.

This has the additional benefit of introducing public domain characters like Dracula and Sherlock Holmes into the setting, and it's hard to go wrong with those two guys.

DL: What are some of the sources of inspiration behind your villains? Anything that stands out in particular?

JT: I'm really making a conscious effort on this project to make our artists partners in the creative process. One of the things I've learned about myself is that, while I'm very confident in my ability to write an engaging, compelling villain, I'm not always as good at the visual design of that villain. Sometimes I get a good idea, but often I end up falling back on "he's a guy in a trench coat" or something. And there's a place for the Trenchcoat Brigade, but a little goes a long way, and let's face it, those characters are boring to draw. Artists cry at the missed opportunity.

So this time, as we approach the villains, I'm giving the artist first crack. Not all the time. Sometimes I have a specific character in mind and I'm sure he or she is perfect. But if I don't have anything in mind, I let the artist do what he or she does best: visual design. And so Jacob Blackmon, who has done a lot of our art so far, comes to me with an image and maybe a name, and I take that and create the backstory and specifics. My job is to make that visual concept dramatically compelling. And because these artists are really good at what they do, that part of my job is very easy!

DL: Why 40 villain archtypes? Will we see more in the future? From reader feedback?

JT: It's possible. I had to stop somewhere. Archetypes are by their nature kind of fluid. Other writers would have organized this book very differently. But I felt I had something to say about each of the archetypes in this book, and that was the most important factor. There are other archetypes I am not including, but I wasn't always sure I had that much to say about them. Some archetypes are included inside others. For example, if I'm talking about Psycho villains like the Joker, who in modern stories are murderous and lethal, there's a related archetype which is still crazy, but in a more harmless way. He's goofy and comical, rather than psychotic. I call these guys Lunatics. And I didn't give them a separate entry, because I wasn't sure I had much to say about them which I couldn't say in the Psycho entry, which is where they now appear.

With 40 archetypes, the Deluxe Edition of this book is already going to be at least 160 pages. That's a big undertaking. I'm very satisfied with it's scale.

DL: Lastly, will the Super Villain Handbook make its way to a crowd-funding platform in the near future? What are the plans for its release?

JT: Mike can answer this more definitively than I, but yes, we are Kickstarter-bound. Anyone who contributes to the KS will get the Starter Edition immediately. That will detail all 40 archetypes -- how they work in comics, what their common traits and stories are -- and will have 40 stat blocks for Icons. When the KS concludes, we will move on the Deluxe Edition, which will add 40 fully developed NPC villains who are part of the Youniverse, each with art. And that will double the size of the book, at least.

I hope that helps, and thank you so much for your interest in the SVH! Join us on our FB page or at Fainting Goat.


We here at Dorkland! would like to thank Jason for taking the time to answer our questions and wish him and Fainting Goat Games the best of luck with their future crowd-funding (which, as of this post, may not be far away).

The Unbearable Riftness Of Being

Back at the beginning of the year we did an all too brief Rifts game for a couple of months. It was fun, goofy and full of big stuff. I made some mistakes as GM during the game. I probably should have reigned in the players a bit, maybe even nudged them into some other directions. I would probably come up with more options, should we decide to play Rifts again sometime.

The interesting thing is that, whenever we start towards a new game playing Rifts again is always among the suggestions. I'm pretty sure that this means that we will end up there again.

At Gen Con I visited the Palladium Books booth and picked up the latest of the Rifts books, the latest part of their Minion War event. It is more of the same: weapons, spells, weird magic items and a couple of O.C.C.s to liven up your games. The thing is, and I say this every time I pick up something new for Rifts, the real problem with the game is that every time you pick up a new book for it (even if you're just reading through it in a store) you want to run Rifts. I'm not sure that this is something that consistently happens with other game lines for me. Half of our group has shiny new Player's Handbooks, but we're talking about playing Call of Cthulhu instead of D&D 5e.

What is it about this game that provokes such enthusiasm?

We played the game as written. We've spent enough time playing OSR stuff over the last couple of years that all of the weird sub-systems didn't really bother us. I'm not really one who sees obsolescence in rules, so I don't really care that these rules were put together in the 80s, or that other rules have come along since then. I think the Rifts rules work well, and once play starts they are a lot less complex than people give them credit for online. Are they perfect? No, but I don't expect that out of a game's rules. It was fun, and that's really what I want out of a game.

Will we play Rifts again some time? Probably. The interest is always there. As I read more of the Minion War material I want to play a game where the player's characters are right there, on the front line, fighting the good fight against the forces of Hells (of course Rifts has dueling Hells, because Rifts!) that are trying to grind Rifts Earth under their heels. The characters have to hold the line and close up a Hell Pit that the infernal forces of Dyval are trying to open up, allowing more of their armies onto Rifts Earh. Hell, yeah!

And I think that is where the appeal lies for Rifts. So many games hint at things, or show what could happen in their games, but with Rifts you get art that says things like "Want to arm wrestle a devil in order to win a handgun that can shoot holes in the moon? We want you to do that too. Look at this piece of art that shows you just how you can do that with Rifts. Enjoy." You see old school games with a push of "Metal! Demons! Carnage!" and there is Rifts, just ahead, waving at them to come and join it out on the edge.

For me, Rifts is the Jack Kirby of gaming. There's a lot of infectious enthusiasm, and it may not always make sense, but by the time you finish flipping through a book you are nodding your head and smiling and thinking "Hell, yeah. I can do this." And Rifts is whispering to you, "Come and put on giant suits of powered armor and fight demons with us. Travel to strange worlds where everyone are giants who live for thousands of years. Be a centaur who fights crime on a cosmic scale." And you look down and whisper "yes..."

There were a couple of sessions after this, but for one reason or another we didn't record them. These are actually proving to be some of the most popular of the "actual play" videos in my YouTube stream. The episode of Masks of Narylthotep and a couple of the Cyberpunk games are the only ones that are more popular.

Friday, August 22, 2014

New From Image - Warren Ellis And Tula Lotay Reimagine The Straightforward

Supreme was one of the mainstays of Image Comics during its early days. Spinning out of the imagination and world building of Rob Liefeld, Supreme was part of the super-powered arms race going on at the company at the time as creators tried to one up each other with the most powerful characters that they could create. Supreme was Liefeld's homage to Superman, filtered through the unique comic sensibilities of the 90s.

I will be honest, while I knew about the Supreme comic, it didn't really hit my radar until Alan Moore's run on the book. While I enjoyed that run, it was fueled more for nostalgia for comics from another age than the quality for which Moore was known.

Likewise, Ellis' work has been lackluster of late. Where his stories were once some of the most wildly creative in comics, they have of late been infected with an action movie idiom that has made them less appealing. Violence has been substituted for plot in too man of his stories for my taste.

Bring this together and I had planned on skipping this new Supreme Blue Rose series by Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay. However, the recent relaunches and reimaginings of Liefeld's Prophet and Glory were interesting comics that pushed the envelope on super-hero comics. Both were books that I would not have expected to come from Liefeld's studio.

Now, with Supreme Blue Rose I have been surprised for a third time.

The new Supreme Blue Rose by Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay is turning into something like the comic version of a Pynchon novel. Ellis is at his most creative in probably a decade and Lotay's art has a dreaminess to it that gives the story an ethereal quality, and when combined show just exactly how comic books can be an art form.

Fairly pretentious, I know.

I'm not really one to fawn over a comic book without some sort of a justification. As a media, comics have just become too fleeting and ephemeral. You read a new comic once or twice, and then put it away in a box. Maybe later you pull it out of that box and try to experience that initial buzz again. A lot of the time that just doesn't happen.

One of the stengths of Lotay's art in these issues is that she puts that ephemeral quality onto the page, making it a part of the story. Her art, and Ellis' script, has you questioning the reality of what you are experiencing within the comic. This is something that I think is a quality of good art, and something definitely lacking from a lot of mainstream comics these days.

For the longest time I was a huge Ellis fan boy, I even have a copy of Crooked Little Vein, his first novel. Ellis was an explosion onto the comic scene, wildly creative and bringing influences into his stories that we hadn't seen in comics for a long time. Ellis loves his science. Even if his science is itself sketchy, he is able to make it sound convincing with a lot of buzzwords that make you feel like he knows what he's talking about, even when you and he both know that he's just making it all up as he goes. That is one of the qualities that drew me into Ellis' work over the years.

Unfortunately, it felt like much of his initial joy faded away, to be replaced by a more cynical approach fueled by the idioms of blockbuster action movies. Violence became a replacement for plot and a catalog of damages instead filled in for characterization. Everything became an imitation of what he had done with Stormwatch and The Authority, I personally lost interest. I would still pick up books here and there, but a lot of them would be disappointments to me. I am still sad that newuniversal was never completed. Despite the art in that book having one photo reference too many, the writing was the Ellis that we all knew and loved.

However, Supreme Blue Rose isn't a return of vintage Ellis, and that is a good thing. The writing in these issues is subdued, very much in tandem with Lotay's art. Ellis seems to be more interested in creating a tone than in building a world. The setting is obviously our own contemporary world. Little touches of dialogue like "Best Instagram ever." ground his story in the real world.

This isn't some super-hero story filled with bulging biceps and over enhanced breasts. This isn't some hackneyed "deconstruction" of the super-hero genre that comes off as a fifth generation copy of Watchmen or The Dark Knight. The characters in the story aren't new. Much like with Moore's run, they are recreations of the characters that have already appeared in Supreme comics. Unlike Moore, Ellis is not trying to retool them into another comic idiom. Instead, much like in a story by British author J.G. Ballard, Ellis deftly blends the "real" and the "fantastic" into a story that would not be out of place among Borges' works.

I think that I have done enough name dropping for one review.

Let's just say that I think the first two issues of Supreme Blue Rose were engaging comics that drew me into the world that Ellis and Lotay are creating. This is not your father's Supreme. If you want something out of the mainstream, a comic that tells an intriguing story, you should check out Supreme Blue Rose today.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gen Con Is Over, Long Live Gen Con

Gen Con is come and gone. It was a fun four days, but for me it was also incredibly busy. There were so many great new games that I saw (and many more that I never got to see, but only heard about). There were more great people that I got to meet for the first time after interacting with them online for years...or just who I got to meet for the first time period. Most of my time at the convention was spent in introducing myself to people who may have known of me, or who had definitely heard of Bleeding Cool. It was cool getting to talk to Monte Cook and Bruce Cordell about Numenera and The Strange. It was cool getting to talk about Glorantha with Jeff Richards of Moon Design and to get to talk about Call of Cthulhu with Dustin Wright of Chaosium. These things are what make conventions so great for me, getting to see the people who have made the games that make gaming so great and getting to interact with them one on one.

I picked up so much stuff that I am probably going to have enough games to keep me talking until next year's Gen Con.

But that's a good problem to have. It wasn't all that long ago that people were saying that gaming was dying off, and everything from Magic The Gathering to MMOs was killing it off. I was glad to see that isn't really the case any more.

What does that picture represent? That stack of books is the tip of the iceberg. There is so much new and exciting going on in gaming from the big names like Paizo and Green Ronin and Steve Jackson Games to the indie producers to the self-publishers who are throwing stuff out left and right. There is so much available for so many different styles of play and interests that we didn't have a few years ago. This is a great thing.

The crowds at Gen Con were incredible as well. The people were more ethnically diverse than I have seen at gaming conventions in a long time. There were a lot of women playing and running a variety of games. There were a diverse spread of ages and backgrounds to be seen. As someone who wants to see a diverse gaming landscape, all of these things made me happy.

The greying of gaming appears to be a thing of the past, and the reports of gaming's death are becoming greatly overstated. These are all good things.

Now, the one thing that I keep getting asked (despite answering it repeatedly in my Bleeding Cool coverage) is what were my favorites of the convention? Well, on the RPG side of things I have to say that the most exciting game for me at the con was The Strange from Monte Cook Games. The best non-RPG thing had to be the Mars Attacks Dice Game from Steve Jackson Games.

So, the countdown starts for next year's Gen Con.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

D&D Tyranny of Dragons Press Release

Dungeons & Dragons Fans Must Rise Up or Bow Down
as the Tyranny of Dragons Begins!

August 14, 2014 – Renton, WA – The biggest and most exciting year for Dungeons & Dragons hits a
pivotal moment today as the Tyranny of Dragons storyline kicks-off. This rich new narrative challenges players around the world to rise up against hoards of evil dragons, including Tiamat, the most fearsome dragon in D&D’s history! With a full suite of entertainment offerings already starting to roll-out, and many more exciting launches slated for later this year, Tyranny of Dragons offers action-packed play experiences for digital and tabletop RPG players alike.

The new Tyranny of Dragons module for the highly-acclaimed free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG, Neverwinter, is available today.  Developed by Cryptic Studios and published by Perfect World Entrainment, the new module will showcase a new character class, the Scourge Warlock, and a new race, Dragonborn.

For players eager to sink their teeth into the Tyranny of Dragons storyline around the gaming table, two new tabletop adventures will also release this year, Hoard of the Dragon Queen on August 19 and The Rise of Tiamat on October 21.  In addition, a new line of D&D miniatures from Wiz Kids will be available soon for fans to enhance their Tyranny of Dragons adventures.

With these releases, comes the highly-anticipated new rules for the tabletop roleplaying game, following a two year public playtest that help set the foundation for the future of the franchise. Currently available at select hobby game stores and releasing in wide distribution on August 19, the Player’s Handbook is the first of three “core” rulebooks to be released alongside the Tyranny of Dragons storyline and contains everything players need to create heroic characters. The Player’s Handbook release will be followed by the Monster Manual (September 30) and the Dungeon Master’s Guide (November 18). 

To start your adventures in the Tyranny of Dragons story, visit Also, be sure to follow D&D on Facebook and Twitter.

About Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast LLC, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS), is the leader in entertaining the lifestyle gamer. Wizards' players and fans are members of a global community bound together by their love of both digital gaming and in-person play. The company brings to market a range of gaming experiences under powerful brand names such as MAGIC: THE GATHERING, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, and KAIJUDO. Wizards is also a publisher of fantasy series fiction with numerous New York Times best-sellers. For more information about our world renowned brands, visit the Wizards of the Coast Web site at

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Live From Gen Con

Tomorrow I arrive at Gen Con, midday Indianapolis time. Since I grew up in Indiana, it is always a little weird to come back for me. This year it is probably more weird in an interesting way, but I am definitely looking forward to the show.

This is me. I'm usually this happy.
If you're a reader of the blog, or if we follow each other on Google+ or Twitter, come up to me and say hello. I may or may not shake hands, depending on how many hands I've had to shake already. Please don't be offended if I don't want to do that, it's going to be a long weekend.

I am going to be making my way through the convention, spreading the word that Bleeding Cool is covering tabletop gaming now and looking for contacts for news and announcements. You have news? Stop me and tell me what you news is.

I'm not going to spend every minute of my time doing media stuff, I am there to have fun as well, so don't be upset if I give you my card, or point you to the comment submission form here at the blog and ask if we can talk after Gen Con. I have a pretty full schedule already, so that is appreciated.

+Josh Thompson will be manning the Dorkland! office while I am con-ward. Anything sent to the submission form or directly to my email will be forwarded to him for posting, so there may be some delays. Get your information in early, if you want things posted during Gen Con.

I will also be at the ENnies Awards Friday night. The blog is up for an award in the Best Blogging category, and I hope that we win something. There's a lot of great blogger in the running, so the competition is keen. Good luck to everyone else in my category.

If you're not going to Gen Con, keep an eye on my Twitter feed (linked above) and my YouTube channel. I will try posting some videos from the convention floor (internet connectiveness permitting).

Also, here's a map. Gamers like maps.

Gen Con On Twitter

Not at Gen Con? Want the next best thing? Here's a couple of the hashtags for the show on Twitter. Follow the pictures and tweets of the people going. It is the next best thing to being there.

There will be plenty to see over the next few days. I arrive at Gen Con mid day tomorrow, and I will be doing what I can to contribute to the pictures and fun.

Monday, August 11, 2014

EXTERMINATE! The New Doctor Who Comics From Titan Comics

I meant to talk about these a couple of weeks ago, but with all the Gen Con prep, they sort of fell through the cracks here at the blog. If it isn't apparent yet, I'm a huge fan of Doctor Who, started watching the classic series as a kid on PBS, and then carried over to the new stuff. It isn't a popular position amongst older Who fans, but Matt Smith grew into the role and became one of my favorite Doctors (never surpassing Jon Pertwee, however).

As you may or may not know, the comic license for Doctor Who recently changed hands, now being possessed by the British publisher Titan Comics. I've reviewed a few Titan books here and there on the blog, and if you look around you can find some of my reiviews. They do good books.

I had good expectations that they would do some good Doctor Who books as well. I was right.

Both of these first issues felt like they could have been episodes of their respective Doctors' television runs.

The 10th Doctor issue was mostly set up of the situation, and introduction of Gabriella, a first generation Mexican-American, the next Companion. I'm sure that it was intentional, attempting to create an echo of previous Companions, but the Doctor's first words to Gabriella in the story are almost exactly the same as when the 9th Doctor first met Rose. I thought that was a nice touch.

The setup is that there are some supernatural shenanigans going on around The Day of the Dead in present Day Brooklyn. Being that it is Doctor Who, I am assuming that the supernatural veneer will be debunked for something more alien, but it is still a good story. I am guessing that this is the 10th Doctor after the events of the Anniversary Special, but I could be wrong. Those few quiet moments we get with the Doctor in the issue seem to hint to that to me.

However, the high point of this issue has to be the art of Elena Casagrande. She brings a indie comic, personality-based approach that brings the characters to life and reminds me a lot of the work of Ming Doyle. This is an artist to watch in the years to come.

With the first issue of the 11th Doctor's comic we get a similar approach as in the 10th Doctor's. We get an introduction to the world of the person who will be the Companion, in this case Alice Obiefune, a Londoner. When the alieness breaks into her world, we see the differences immediately between the 10th and 11th Doctors. The comic captures the manic quality of the 11th very well. All in all, I think that both of these first episodes manage to capture the qualities of their Doctors well.

The 11th Doctor is kind, sympathetic and as empathetic as his alien nature allows him to be. For him, how Alice is feeling is just as important as the alien stuff that is happening in the city, if not more important. He takes time to talk with her about her mother, rather than chase down the alien. All because he thought that she was sad.

One of the reasons that I liked Matt Smith's portrayal of the Doctor was that his character was this juxtaposition of weird alien not quite getting it with a strong empathy for those around him. Where other Doctors were drawn into situations to win, he honestly wants to try to help. Unfortunately the Doctor getting involved in a situation isn't always helps. This dichotomy drives not only this incarnation of the Doctor, but also many of the stories that he is a part of as well.

How does the "man" who needs to help deal with his very existence often making things worse?

I enjoyed these comics. To be honest, I don't have a lot of a background with previous Doctor Who comics. I read a few of the IDW Publishing era issue, and I've seen a few of the classic stories from the Marvel Comics era, but this is my first time getting in on the ground floor of things. I very much enjoyed these comics. Both issues encapsulated what I liked about the respective Doctors and did a good job of feeling like episodes of the show.
The art is the 11th Doctor comic moved effortlessly between realistic and "cartoony" (for lack of a better word), as the story needed it. This flexibility of the art is also what gives the story much of its impact. Artist Simon Fraser should get props for the power of his art bringing so much to this story.

Should you buy these comics? I would say that picking up these comics are a necessity for any Doctor Who loving comic fan. If, like me, you've never regularly picked up a Doctor Who comic, now is your chance.

As a fan of roleplaying, it is a shame that we can't see synergy between the various licensors, I would love to see writeups for the Doctor Who game from Cubicle 7 of the various characters appearing in the comics.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Why Gamers Can't Have Nice Things

Putting this out there for people to see.

We really shouldn't have to tell people to knock this shit off, but it appears that we have to.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Things To Do At Gen Con - Food Truck Rally

Food is always a fun challenge at any convention. The food in the hall is always expensive and usually not the best. One of the things that Gen Con has tried to do to help with that is to have rallies of area food trucks around the convention center during the show. Here is the schedule of times, locations and trucks for each day.

I'll say it, I'm a picky eater. Not in the way that a lot of picky eaters won't eat things, but more in that I'm not a big fan of greasy foods (although diners can still be my Kryptonite) and I don't really care much for bar food or the big chain restaurants. I like unique and interesting, and I like flavorful. Break out of the bonds of the usual convention junk food and give some of these places a try. I bet you might find them interesting.

I've also tried to track down the website and Twitter for as many of these as I could find. You can thank me at Gen Con by sharing your fancy french fries with me. I know that people have special dietary restrictions and quirks, so being able to get a look at the truck and their menu in advance should help out. Having grown up in Indiana, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that some of these trucks don't have a web presence.

Remember that the schedule is subject to change, but with all of this information, you should be able to track down food even if they end up not at Gen Con directly.

Also, check out the Roaming Hunger site. They seem to have a lot of information about area food trucks. This way you can plan things for yourself as well. The Roaming Hunger site also has tracking for food trucks, and it looks like they have an iPhone app as well.

Thursday August 14

11 am - 4 pm

Georgia St
Citizen Hash | Twitter
Nicey Treat | Twitter
Chef Dan's | Twitter
Scout's Treats | Twitter
Byrne's Grilled Pizza | Twitter
Gobble Gobble | Twitter
Gypsy Truck | Twitter
Big Guys BBQ | Facebook
R&R Extreme Wings | Twitter
Talkin Turkey | Twitter
Taste of the Caribbean | Twitter

Capitol Ave
Cutie Pies Pizza | Twitter
GiGi's Cupcakes | Twitter
Food For The Soul | Twitter
Groovy Guys Fries | Twitter
Big Ron's Bistro | Twitter
Tacos W/O Borders | Twitter
Simple & Good | Twitter
Taste of Memphis | Twitter
Ahh Burrito | Twitter
Soul Sista OTM | Twitter

5 pm - 11:30 pm

Georgia St
Spice Box | Twitter
Little Eataly | Twitter
Duos | Twitter
General American Donut Cpmpany | Twitter
Circle City Spuds | Twitter
Mac Genie | Twitter
SOT SOT | Twitter
The Flying Cupcake | Twitter
Da Blue Lagoon | Twitter
Taste of Heaven | Twitter
Hoosier Fat Daddy | Twitter

Capitol Ave
Serendipity | Twitter
Key's Gourmet Slider Station | Twitter
The NY Slice | Twitter
Dashboard Diner | Twitter
Nacho Mama | Twitter
Der Pretzel Wagen | Twitter
Scratchtruck | Twitter
Johnson's BBQ | Twitter
Sweet Jeanius | Twitter

Friday August 15

11 am - 4 pm

Georgia St
Spice Box
Groovy Guys Fries
Johnson's BBQ
Sweet Jeanius
Talkin Turkey
Natural Born Juicers
R&R Extreme Wings
Soul Sista OTM
Simple & Good
KG Slider Station
Big Guy's BBQ

Capitol Ave
Chef Dan's
Der Pretzel Wagon
Circle City Spuds
The Flying Cupcake
Big Ron's Bistro
Da Blue Lagoon
Taste of Heaven

5 pm - 11:30 pm

Georgia St
Little Eataly
Nicey Treats
Heavenly Sweets
The NY Slice
Dhaba Indy
Gypsy Truck
GiGi's Cupcakes
Taste of the Caribbean
Taste of Memphis
Cutie Pies Pizza

Capitol Ave
Byrne's Grilled Pizza
Gobble Gobble
Mac Genie
Scout's Treats
Pierogi Love | Twitter
Rolin With Tha Roux | Twitter
General American
Hoosier Fat Daddy
AP Delicious Ribs | Twitter

Saturday August 16

11 am - 4 pm

Georgia St
Hoosier Fat Daddy
Groovy Guy Fries
AP Ribs
The Flying Cupcake
Gobble Gobble
KG Slider Station
Mac Genie
Dhaba Indy | Twitter
Cutie Pies Pizza
Big Ron's Bistro
Ahh Burrito

Capitol Ave
Circle City Spuds
Neighborhood Pizza
Little Eataly
Nicey Treats
R&R Extreme Wings
Spice Box
Da Blue Lagoon
Taste of Memphis
Gypsy Truck
Scout's Treats

5 pm - 11:30 pm

Georgia St
Nacho Mama
General American
GiGi's Cupcakes
Der Pretzel Wagen
Natural Born Juicers | Twitter
Talkin Turkey
The NY Slice
Big Guys BBQ

Capitol Ave
Sweet Talk me
Rollin Wit Tha Roux
Heavenly Sweets
Johnson's BBQ
Soul Sista OTM
Taste of the Caribbean
Simple & Good
Tacos W/O Borders
Taste of Heaven

Sunday August 17

11 am - 5 pm

Georgia St
Nicey Treats
Hoosier Fat Daddy
Byrne's Grilled Pizza
Scout's Treats
Johnson's BBQ
Chef Dan's
Mac Genie
Soul Sista OTM
Ahh Burrito
Little Eataly
Sweet Jeanius

Capitol Ave
The NY Slice
The Flying Cupcake
Der Pretzel Wagen
Taste of the Caribbean
Heavenly Sweets
AP Ribs
Dhaba Indy

Here is a basic map of downtown Indianapolis, to help you find where the places are.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Tampa Bay Comic Con

I went to the Sunday of Tampa Bay Comic Con yesterday and I had a really good time at the convention. I'm working up a more detailed piece about it for Bleeding Cool, but my initial impressions were really good ones. I saw some great cosplayers in some spectacular costumes, I got to meet some great local comic creators and I even was able to see my friend +Norbert Cartagena and his niece (who I now feel guilty that I don't remember her name). I also got to meet artist, writer and designer Jim Steranko and writer Nick Cuti (co-creator of the comic character E-Man with Joe Stanton!).

I had a really good time, and the show opened my eyes to a local community of comics creators that I admit that I didn't know about before now. However, I've got some great comics that I picked up at the convention to rectify that situation, and I got a lot of business cards and email addresses of publishers, writers and artists. I am very excited about this, and I am excited about the things that I will be getting to write about. Expect to start hearing more about all of this both here at the Dorkland! blog and over at Bleeding Cool as well.

I was also finally able to meet with Cullen Bunn face to face. We've talked before on Twitter, and I ran an interview with him here on the blog about being a gamer. He and I talked for a bit about comics and gaming, and how he might be going to Gen Con again this year. We can only hope.

More to come!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Meanwhile At The Bundle Of Holding - A One-Roll Engine

It is the last day for the One-Roll Engine Bundle of Holding. You're not familiar with the One-Roll Engine?
The One-Roll Engine (ORE) system resolves initiative, success/failure, and damage in one quick roll. Designed by Greg Stolze (Unknown Armies) and Dennis Detwiller (Delta Green), this d10 dice-pool system is fast and easy to learn, yet has enough crunch and options to satisfy veteran players and GMs. Though technically a generic system, ORE really shines in superheroic action. 
I'll say right now, that this probably isn't going to be a game for everyone, and that's all right. But with the One-Roll Engine, and its accompanying suite of games, you have a game that is tightly designed around a specific idea: gritty super-heroic action.

That's something that is a sort of holy grail for super-hero gamers. A lot of super-hero RPGs do an excellent job at the "higher end" of the super-hero spectrum, but a lot of these start to fall apart when you get to the "lower end" or more street level types of games. With Godlike, Dennis Detwiller and Greg Stolze changed this. I have the original edition of Godlike in my gaming collection and I've played it a few times. It did have some mechanical quirks to it, but those were outweighed by a system that did a good job of handling the previously unhandleable. (Yeah, I know that's a made up word. Sue me.)

If you haven't played Godlike, I can describe it as being akin in tone to the Liberty Files graphic novels put out by DC Comics. If you don't know what those are, then shame on you. After you check out the Bundle of Holding you need to track down these comics as well.

A lot of these kinks were ironed out with the more generic version of the rules from Godlike, released as the game Wild Talents. Designed from the basis of a number of hours and months of play of the engine of the rules, Wild Talents expanded the scope of the rules to handle super-heroic action in a number of different eras, outside of the World War II action of the original Godlike rules.

In addition to a fine-tuning of the rules, Wild Talents has some additional material that would be of interest to super-hero gamers. The book has valuable campaign creation/design material from super star game designer Kenneth Hite, If you feel that your skill as a game master isn't up to describing the world that you want to game in, the section and advice written by Hite will help you over that hill.

The bundle also includes settings and expansions for the One-Roll Engine's rules. eCollapse and Better Angels are built around some interesting setting ideas from Greg Stolze, the creator of the rules.

Also, if the One-Roll Engine isn't your thing, Godlike features a conversion of the super power rules from that game into a d20 structure. That conversion was done by a designer who's name you may have heard of: Mike Mearls. I've always been surprised that these rules never went viral into the open content landscape. They should have been a part of open gaming for a long time now.

If you're not a fan of super-heroes, there is also a fantasy game that you can find in the Bundle. Reign, also designed by Stolze, is a demonstration of how well the One-Roll Engine rules can be used as the backbone of a fantasy game. Reign also features one of the more interesting and unique fantasy probably since Greg Stafford's Glorantha.

The game may not be to the tastes of those who only want to play D&D and the derivatives thereof, but for those people looking for something different in their fantasy gaming, Reign just might be that game that they are looking for.

And in addition to getting some good gaming material in DRM-free PDF form, you are also doing a good thing. Ten percent of the monies raised by each Bundle goes to charities of the designer/publisher's choice. For this Bundle, the charities of choice are Doctors Without Borders and Action Against Hunger. Check this bundle out soon, because tonight will will be done.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Last Few Days Of ENnies Voting

Voting for the ENnies Awards runs until July 30th. Please consider voting for Dorkland! in the Best Blog category. You don't even have to vote in every category in order to vote. Each vote for Dorkland! is greatly appreciated.

Some of our favorite posts, if you would like to see why we think you should vote for us:
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Nose around and check out the blog. We have also provided some (we think) cool free content for games that we like, like Fate Accelerated and Swords & Wizardry as well.
We hope you enjoy the tour and consider voting for us for the ENnies Awards in the Best Blog category.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mapping The Multiverse

Maybe it is because I received a copy of the newly revised edition of the Supers! role-playing game in the mail today. Maybe it is because of the fact that Comic Con International: San Diego is going on and I am jealous of all of the comic-related news coming out of there.

I don't make a secret that I am a fan of Grant Morrison's work. I loved his Doom Patrol and Justice League runs more than is probably legal in a number of states. Moreso even than Warren Ellis and his Stormwatch/Authority run, I think that Morrison redefined the super-hero team book during his JLA run. So, today, at Comic Con, on the Multiversity panel (for Morrison's upcoming mini-series redefining the DC Comics Multiverse) they revealed maps of the Multiverse, according to Morrison's story.

What do these maps make me want to do? They make me want to run a super-hero game that runs across worlds and planes of existence. Something that kicks some major ass. On the panel Morrison said:
"It has a concordance of every earth, with who lives there and which superhero teams are there.  There is a big story there too with Kamandi and Batman,” Morrison added.  It will literally define each of the 52 universes explicitly while showing what is going on in each one.  It was inspired by an old issue of Jack Kirby‘s Kamandi where Kirby drew a map of the western hemisphere to show what has been happening in different places. 
 How can this be bad?

Bleeding Gen Con In Less Than A Month

So, it is less than a month until Gen Con now. I will be attending as media, both for the blog here, and for the Bleeding Cool website. Coverage will be split between here and there. Also attending will be Helen, another of the bloggers here, and Josh will be manning the Dorkland! offices and handling anything that doesn't require being at the convention. If you have a Kickstarter going on before or during the convention, send us a note via the contact form and I will put you in touch with Josh.

Expect a lot of pictures uploaded each day.

Updates to the blog, and pieces for Bleeding Cool, will be uploaded during lulls in the day and in the evenings, after we are back at the hotel. My Twitter and Google+ feeds will also be good places to find my most up to date pictures and postings. Following me on Twitter will get your best information on coverage of the convention and will point you towards articles as they are published.

With the roll out of the new edition of D&D happening leading up to Gen Con, this is going to be an exciting convention, and I already have started lining up people to talk with during the convention. If you can't be at Gen Con yourself, this blog is going to be a hub of information about the convention that you won't want to miss out on.

Also, if you haven't voted for your ENnies Awards choices, please head over to the site and give the Dorkland! blog your consideration. I feel that we provide a unique "service" here at the blog that others don't give you. Our mix of news, reviews, interviews and free gaming content is, in our opinion, some of the best that you're going to find among gaming blogs.

There's also a Fundrazr page to help offset some of the costs of our coverage of the convention. It isn't cheap going to a big convention, and every little bit helps.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The New Castles & Crusades Printing Arrived Today

Convention season also means review season. Between here at the blog and my writing for Bleeding Cool, that can mean a lot of stuff filtering through the Dorkland! offices this time of year. I already have a considerable slush pile of games to review and so much more good stuff keeps coming out from publishers.

With the craziness of Comic Con International going on over at Bleeding Cool, that leaves me with a little gap in gaming coverage to talk about over here. Plus I can write out incomplete thoughts and ideas about games over here that I can't address over there.

Today a review copy of the new 6th printing of Castles & Crusades came in the mail. I've always enjoyed Castles & Crusades and the work of Troll Lord Games. Well, except for Star Siege. That was a bit of a disappointment. If you think that C&C is just another old school retroclone, you really need to think again. This is a dynamic and streamlined fantasy gaming system powered by what they call The Siege Engine, which is basically a refinement of the core D20 mechanic from the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons. While it is close in spirit to older editions, it is really its own beast as well. If you're looking for a robust fantasy role-playing game that is streamlined in execution of its rules, you should check out Castles & Crusades. With new art and full color printing funded by a recent Kickstarter, this printing is the best version of the game to date.

Once I read and digest, my plan is to run an after hours game while at Gen Con and talk about it online here and there.

Gail Simone Tackles Dynamite's First Ever Female-Centric Crossover Event

July 21, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ:  Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce an exciting new event series featuring the most iconic female characters published by Dynamite, as written by sensational comics scribe, Gail Simone.  Renowned for her deft handling of DC Comics' best-known and most powerful women (Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey), Simone will unite and celebrate the strong female characters of Dynamite's publishing line, including Red Sonja, Vampirella, Dejah Thoris, and more, in a series currently under a working title of The Women of Dynamite.

The heart of The Women of Dynamite is formed by the three bestselling heroines (or female triumvirate) of Dynamite's line as the central characters:  Red Sonja, Vampirella, and Dejah Thoris.  The "She-Devil with a Sword" known as Red Sonja, is fantasy fiction's most prominent female character, formerly a swashbuckling ally of the Robert E. Howard character, Conan.  Vampirella, originally a horror hostess in her self-titled magazine, evolved over her forty-five year history into a supernatural detective.  Finally, Dejah Thoris is the eponymous heroine of Edgar Rice Burroughs' original story featuring John Carter, A Princess of Mars, and an adventurous mainstay at Dynamite with the publication of such series as Warlord of Mars and Dejah of Mars.  Additional female characters from Dynamite's ten years of publishing will be included in the event.

"When I first spoke with Nick about working at Dynamite, he graciously offered my choice of a huge list of great characters, and I immediately chose a favorite, Red Sonja," says writer Gail Simone.  "But that meant leaving behind amazing characters I loved!  So doing this big, fun, noisy event book, full of action and fun and drama and sex and villainy, featuring some of the wildest female characters out there, that's just awesome.  Getting to work with some of the most talented female writers in the industry only makes it better!"

"After working so closely with Gail on Legends of Red Sonja, I am excited to see where we'll be going next with this epic character crossover," says Molly Mahan, Associate Editor of Dynamite. "The concept of a Women of Dynamite series has been something we've been circling around for a while now, but had to wait for the right concept and creators to come together to make the story as worthwhile as the concept. We are lucky to have Gail as the cornerstone on this project and I know we'll craft something that the fans and comics community will enjoy across demographics."

"Gail has been an absolute pleasure to work with," says Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. "The thought of bringing together the strongest female characters that Dynamite publishes into an event has been discussed for years, and we could not be happier that Gail is the creator who will tell this tale.  Her work on Red Sonja has been a delight, and as fans who read her work know, she has many tricks up her sleeve.  Gail is going to make this event huge!  Just wait until you see what she has in store for the rest of Dynamite's strong female characters."

Gail Simone first debuted on a Dynamite series with the 2013 launch of Red Sonja, an ongoing series which was met with immediate critical acclaim and an impressive sell-out of its 35,000-unit first printing.  She has committed to writing chores for Red Sonja through its eighteenth issue.  She also assembled a team of fiction's top female writers, well-respected professionals from the prose, fantasy gaming, and comic book worlds, for a collaborative project called Legends of Red Sonja, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the titular character.  She additionally will contribute a story to the upcoming Vampirella: Feary Tales miniseries.

Simone got her start in comics writing for Bongo Comics, home of The Simpsons. Soon after, she entered the traditional superhero comics genre with a run on Marvel Comics' Deadpool (later called Agent X). In recent years, Simone is best known for known for fan-favorite story arcs on DC Comics' Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Wonder Woman, and Batgirl.

The Women of Dynamite will be solicited in an upcoming Diamond Comic Distributors Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market.  Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of The Women of Dynamite with their local comic book retailers.  The Women of Dynamite will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.

For art and more information, please visit:

About Dynamite Entertainment:
Dynamite was founded in 2004 and is home to several best-selling comic book titles and properties, including The Boys, The Shadow, Red Sonja, Warlord of Mars, Bionic Man, A Game of Thrones, and more.  Dynamite owns and controls an extensive library with over 3,000 characters (which includes the Harris Comics and Chaos Comics properties), such as Vampirella, Pantha, Evil Ernie, Smiley the Psychotic Button, Chastity, and Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt.  In addition to their critically-acclaimed titles and bestselling comics, Dynamite works with some of the most high profile creators in comics and entertainment, including Kevin Smith, Alex Ross, Neil Gaiman, Andy Diggle, John Cassaday, Garth Ennis, Jae Lee, Marc Guggenheim, Mike Carey, Jim Krueger, Greg Pak, Brett Matthews, Matt Wagner, Gail Simone, Steve Niles, James Robinson, and a host of up-and-coming new talent.  Dynamite is consistently ranked in the upper tiers of comic book publishers and several of their titles - including Alex Ross and Jim Krueger's Project Superpowers - have debuted in the Top Ten lists produced by Diamond Comics Distributors.  In 2005, Diamond awarded the company a GEM award for Best New Publisher and another GEM in 2006 for Comics Publisher of the Year (under 5%) and again in 2011.  The company has also been nominated for and won several industry awards, including the prestigious Harvey and Eisner Awards.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Revised - Being Inclusive Doesn't Mean Including Hate

The other day I wrote a post called "Inclusive Means Everyone" where I talked about some people having trouble with the new and inclusive language included in the Basic Rules PDF that Wizards of the Coast has put out for the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

I went on to say that those people who are bashing gays using this text don't have a place in this hobby. I was told (and you can see some of the comments that I quoted and the responses that my post received in the above link) that I was being a bigot for saying that, or that I was only saying it to "score brownie points."

I stand by what I said. This is the 21st century, if you're going to hate people because of who they love, or want to have sex with, or because they are a trans* person, or because of the color of their skin that makes you a bad person in my book and I don't want to game with you. I'm not saying this to impress anyone, or because I'm pressured to by some "agenda." I am saying this because this is what good people think.

If you are going to try to troll me for this, well...I'm not going to engage you. You aren't worth the time, and in fact I'll just say in advance that it is more than a little sad. Let me give you my response in advance to any potential trolls out there:

I wouldn't think that I would have to keep repeating myself on this subject, but some people can't seem to get it through their heads that the rest of the world has moved on about these things, and have embraced the differences in people. I don't want a hobby that is just full of all of the same people, because that wouldn't even reflect the gaming groups that I am lucky to have been a part of over my last 30+ years of being a gamer.

Yes, I do think that there is a group that should be excluded: those who spew hate. I'm not going to apologize for that.

Update: Since I know that not everyone will be able to see G+ comments generated by this post, I wanted to add a comment by +David Rollins (with his permission) to the post:
It's strange that people seem to think they have a right to hate. Like it's OK to hate some people and if we refuse to tolerate the presence of these haters they say we are just hating on them.
But hate is the exception to the rules we hold most dear. Freedom of speech or expression do not protect hate speech. Hate speech is still a crime.
RPGs cover a large area of ideas and concepts. There is room for nearly everyone here, but if you think it's OK to hate on people for who they are then there's no place for you at my table.

Munchkin? It's My Bag, Baby...

The nice folks at Steve Jackson Games sent one of their brand new Munchkin Messenger Bags to me this week. Interestingly, it is available through Amazon rather than the Steve Jackson Games people directly.

It isn't cheap, but Amazon Prime users will get the free shipping on it. In addition to a study and functional bag that can carry two Munchkin boxes you also get four exclusive Munchkin cards (which in fine Munchkin form must be used in the game in conjunction with the messenger bag) and a special, over-sized six-sided die. The bag will also carry pens, paper, and other sundry supplies.