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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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Super Villain Handbook

There is a new supplementary book in the works for supers system ICONS -- The Super Villain Handbook (tentative) by Fainting Goat Games. The book is still in development and Fainting Goat Games are actively seeking feedback on the material over at the book's Facebook group. There you can find all sorts of information and preview material.

The Super Villain Handbook will feature 40 different super villain archetypes. Depending on the version of the book (standard or deluxe) the archetypes will also feature either just a general stat block or fully developed villain, art and all. One good side to these villains is that they will be apart of the public domain. While The Super Villain Handbook is being written for Steve Kenson's ICONS, there may be a version for the Supers! RPG as well.

So, once again, if you would like to know more, see more, and provide feedback to the developers be sure to check out their Facebook group.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Heebie Jeebies - A Game Of Unsettling Notions On Kickstarter

One of the fun things about being a blogger is that I sometimes get to see things before they come out, or in early/beta versions. People either want critiques of their stuff, ideas for direction of their game, or just to help generate some buzz. It makes the work that I do as a blogger feel worthwhile.

So, one day a prototype of this strange little card game called Heebie Jebbies showed up in my mail box. I will openly admit that I don't play many party games, of any type, but flipping through the cards made me interested. The cards are funny without being hurtful, and without trying to be edgy (protip: trying to be edgy on purpose rarely works). It looked fun to me.

Over the 4th of July weekend, I took the game out for a spin. The rules are easy to explain, and easy to play. A player draws four cards and lays them out on a numbered board. The player decides which of the cards gives them the most "Heebie Jeebies" and then reads all for of the cards out loud. The other players have Voting Cards, numbered 1-4. They play the voting card of the number that they think is the card most likely to give the player the "Heebie Jeebies." The correct votes get points. Rotate to the next player and repeat. The person  who reaches 10 points first wins.

Not in the rules, but from actual play experience, I would suggest that adult beverages improve the quality of play. This is probably more of a house rule.

So, right now, Heebie Jeebies is on Kickstarter, trying to raise the money to fund the production of the game and get it into distribution. I think it is a worthy goal and you should definitely check the Kickstarter out and throw them a few dollars. The game play was fun and easy, I'm not sure how family friendly the game would be, and definitely converted this non-party game player to the cause. The campaign is in its last 10 days (at the time of posting) and could definitely deserve some love. Let's see more independent creators get into distribution with their games.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dorkland Scores An ENnie Nomination

The nominees for the ENnies came out this morning, and I was shocked and surprised to see that the Dorkland! blog was on the list of nominees for Best Blog.

I'm not going to lie, there are some great blogs on that list. However, I think that Dorkland! definitely belongs on that list of contenders. I also think that we deserve to win. Which, I'm sure everyone on that list thinks as well.

I never believed in pigeon-holing things for this blog, since I made my first post back in September 2013. The thing that has kept this blog live and active for more than ten years now is the fact that I talk about a lot of different things from gaming to comics to music to movies and more. Gaming doesn't occur in some vacuum. As gamers we are the sum of our inspirations, and that, if anything, is the mission statement of this blog: talk about the things that inspire and influence us...even if they don't come from out of a gaming book.

There have been some great interviews on this blog, from +Helen Yanolatos talking with Max Brooks about his comics, to my interviews with Pat Mills and Erin Evans, to the many, many interviews that +Josh Thompson has conducted with creators about their Kickstarters. This tradition goes back to my Dorkland Roundtable interviews on YouTube and further back. Putting a face and a voice to so many creators has been a goal of the blog for a while now.

And, yes, we don't shy away from opinions here at the Dorkland! blog either. It is important to have informed opinions and be able to defend them. Whether it is as simple as the review of a game or talking about inclusiveness in gaming, being able to state and defend opinions are important.

It was also my work on this blog that lead to my writing for the Bleeding Cool site, which is allowing me to bring gaming to a new, and much larger, audience as well.

Thank you all for reading all of these years, and I hope that when the voting goes live on the 20th of July that you will consider voting for the blog. We're rough around the edges, but we like it that way. Also, if you would consider making a donation to our crowdfunding page to help with the expenses of this year's Gen Con coverage, that would be great too.

I will be at the ENnies this year, win or lose. Hopefully I will see some of you there.

I would also like to thank all of the people coming here for the first time because of the links from the ENnies site and over at EN World. I hope that you like what you see and stick around a little while.

Thank you for reading the blog.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Inclusive Means Everyone

File under things that you think we wouldn't have to talk about in the 21st century is this quote from the D&D Basic Rules PDF that just came out from Wizards of the Coast.

I see this paragraph and think, excellent. It can always be phrased better, but the intent is there and it is a genuinely good thing to want to make gaming more inclusive. There's been a number of people with whom I have gamed over the years who would appreciate it as well.

Of course geeks being contrary, can't agree with the idea that being inclusive is a good thing:
And what could possibly be more authentically faux medieval than that?
If I were more cynical, I’d say that Wyatt’s comment betrays yet another flailing attempt by WoTC to regain the industry dominance they ceded to Paizo by brazenly copying the insufferable PC propagandizing that infected Pathfinder years ago.
I have to ask: is that for real? Or are you making a parody? I just cannot tell any more. The last time I saw the acronym for the perverts it was only four letters; then it was five. Now it is how many, and who knows what they stand for?
Seriously? Perverts? I'm not going to link to this site, to justify it or to waste my time mocking this people. It makes me sad to see people who think they are so right and so logical be so wrong. Yes, the hobby needs fewer people like this. It needs no people like this in it at all. And yet, instead of going after people like this some feel the need to instead make shit up about people. Priorities.

My idea of inclusiveness is that everyone gets to join in, playing the games that they want to play, without fear of being called out from anyone, or being told that they shouldn't belong or are "doing it wrong."

Oh, and here's a good thing from comic writer Jim Zub, just to wash the taste of the earlier comments out of my mouth:
Pathfinder is easily the most inclusive tabletop RPG setting on the market. Strong characters of both sexes, characters of color and characters of different sexual orientations are all positively represented in many of the game supplements Paizo has released over the years. It’s a robust fantasy world that incorporates classic themes and tropes while allowing including progressive elements at the same time. It’s one of the many things I really like about Pathfinder when compared to a lot of the white-washed and stereotype-ridden fantasy settings of old. It’s something the developers at Paizo paid special attention to and I think it’s one of the many reasons why their game has sold so well around the world.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Some Magic Items For Your Gaming Pleasure

Here are a few magic items that I've been mulling over for the last few days. They aren't system specific, so it should be easy enough to work them out in your system of choice. My goal was more odd than useful in all of the examples, going for more of a weird magic vibe.

The Warlock's Face
Made from the flayed face of a warlock killed by an Inquisition, this mask is snug and nearly form-fitting against the wearer's face. Cloth straps affixed to either side of the mask must be tied before the object's magic takes effect.

The Warlock's Face has two main powers:

  • The wearer is shapeshifted into an exact duplicate of the person that had previously belong to the Warlock's Face. Each detail, even the voice, is perfectly duplicated. This lasts for as long as the person wants to wear the mask, or until it is dispelled by magical means.
  • Once per day, the wearer can teleport unerringly to the location last recalled in the warlock's last memory, just before death.
There can be more than one Warlock's Face in a world, but they would obviously be made of the faces of different warlocks.

A Cage
This small cage fits into the palm of a person's hand. When physically opened, a swarm of insects fly out of the cage to attack a target. The target's name is whispered by the wielder as the cage is opened. If no name is mentioned the insects attack the wielder. Death sometimes occurs from the multitude of bites and stings. Description of the swarm is up the the GM, but having it be a variety of insects is the best idea.

No one is certain any longer who the Eyeball originally belonged to, or if its matching number still exists or not. It is believed to be at least hundreds of years old, and is known to have been in the possession of one very rich family for three generations. When held in the user's mouth, it allows them to pierce all illusions, however their mouth tastes and smells of death for a week afterwards. The Eyeball itself is still gelatinous and and viscous, despite its age.

Swallowing the Eyeball causes intense, debilitating hallucinations until the Eyeball finally passes through their system. The Eyeball is nontoxic and cannot be digested.

The Paranoid Skull
Made of a highly polished, yet exotic, dark wood, with a smell of deep, lush rainforests that never seem to fade, this elaborately carved skull is roughly the size of an average human's skull. When held, it allows the wielder to "hear" the nearby thoughts of others, but only those thoughts directly about the wielder.

The more surface contact between the wielder and the skull, the clearer sounding the thoughts.

The Keeper's Key
Carved from the single finger bone of some unknown creature, with intricate and esoteric lettering and runes worked into the surface, this key is about eight inches in length. With this key, any manacles and padlocks can be opened.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Constantine And Flash Pilots Leaked To The Internet

So, this week the pilot episodes for the upcoming The Flash and Constantine series were leaked to the internet. They are easy enough to find, if you are so inclined. This post is going to talk about these pilots, so if you don't want to know anything until they away now.

Monday, June 30, 2014

ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying: The Assembled Edition Is Up For Preorder

The new edition of Steve Kenson's ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying is up for preorder over at the Green Ronin website.

While the previous edition suffered from some controversy and late/cancelled titles with the previous publisher, rights have returned to Kenson and he is publishing this new, definitive, edition through his Ad Infinitum Adventures imprint, with distribution via Green Ronin.

From Kenson's website, here are some of the differences in this new edition:

  • Adjectives (from Weak to Supreme) see a bit more use in talking about abilities on the scale.
  • Actions characters can perform during their panel are better defined. Supplemental actions are gone; as feedback indicated they were confusing and folks tended not to use them or the associated modifiers. Instead, characters get an Action, a Move, and a number of opportunities to React and Interact.
  • The Benchmarks Table from Great Power is included.
  • The term “Determination Points” (DP) is used to differentiate the resource players spend from the Determination ability level.
  • The default die rolling method is: Effort (Acting Ability + d6) – Difficulty (Opposing Ability/Level + d6) = Outcome. The math is the same, it just equalizes the die-rolling equation so there isn’t a need to “reverse” all the action formulae when its GM characters acting rather than heroes, or vice versa. The original d6-d6 method (along with a couple of others) are optional rules.
  • There is a marginal degree of success, allowing for one of seven degrees of outcome: Massive, Major, and Moderate Failure, and Marginal, Moderate, Major, and Massive Success.
  • The Combined Effort rules are more broadly applied for “stacking” instances.
  • Pyramid Tests (which first appeared in Sidereal Schemes of Dr. Zodiac) are in the Basics chapter, along with all the Pyramid Test modifiers and variations from Team-Up.
  • Challenges are consolidated into qualities, and the baseline number of qualities is reduced to three to start. Qualities are activated both to create advantage and to cause trouble for characters.
  • The Qualities section has expanded information on creating and learning qualities, removing temporary qualities, and activating qualities through maneuvers and tactics as well as spending Determination Points.
  • Determined Effort is replaced by a simpler Improved Effort that is just a flat +2 bonus, dropping the various requirements that no one really used anyway. Focused Effort is folded in the stunt mechanics (substituting one level for another in a test or effect), a Push Ability option is added.
  • Trouble caused by activating qualities includes Challenge, Compulsion, Disability, Increased Difficulty, and Lost Panel. I may write at some point about the notion of “Editorial Interference” as trouble, but that concept didn’t make the cut (too meta and, frankly, rooting in comics fan cynicism).
  • The Stunts section has expanded to include using superhuman (level 7+) abilities and Master Specialties for stunts, as well as powers.
  • The Damage section include options for minions, more lethal damage, lasting injuries, and different damage effects (from the standard Slam, Stun, and Kill effects).
  • There are two expanded examples of play, one in the Basics chapter and one in the Taking Action chapter.
  • The random Power Type table is tweaked slightly to change the probabilities of generating certain powers (mainly making Movement Powers more common than Mental Powers).
  • There is an optional table for randomly rolling Specialties (if you want, otherwise you just choose them as before).
  • Powers have generally been brought in-line with the material in Great Power and make more reference to qualities for modifiers. The focus is on the “core” powers, with condensed descriptions, leaving the more detailed descriptions, extra and limit lists, and “reskinned” powers for Great Power to cover.
  • Extras and limits from Great Power are included.
  • Power descriptions are now all listed in alphabetical order, for easier reference.
  • A condensed version of the Devices from Great Power is included, with lots of sample equipment.
  • A simple initiative system is included (Coordination test, highest outcome goes first).
  • Actions are broken out by different types (Movement, Action, Reaction, Interaction) and more clearly detailed.
  • An option for Interludes (narrative based scenes that activate qualities and award DP, which can be saved or spent immediately for insight, retcons, or recovery) is in the Game Mastering chapter.
  • Some expanded and cleaned-up Game Master advice.
  • A system of Achievements & Changes for character development.
  • The villain creation system from Villainomicon is included.
  • A slightly updated version of the Universe Creation system from Team-Up is included.
  • Nine sample heroes and nine sample villains are included. There is no sample adventure (as I’m not a big fan of sample adventures in the core rulebook itself). I might look at revising the four-page Wages of Sin from the original Icons book as a free downloadable sample adventure.
  • A glossary of terms is included at the end.
  • And, of course, the Assembled Edition benefits from new art and new layout by Dan Houser and Daniel Solis, very much in the style of Great Power.

You can also find some sample characters in the new edition over on Kenson's site as well. Currently, the new edition is scheduled for a Gen Con release. If you are a fan of light and flexible super-hero RPGs, and for some reason you haven't checked out ICONS yet, this is your chance. Kenson is one of the great designers and he has an understanding of the super-hero genre unlike few designers. If you miss out on this game you will regret that.

Drinking Quest: Trilogy Kickstarter Interview with Jason Anarchy

The Kickstarter for Drinking Quest: Trilogy Edition, the game that mixes tabletop RPGs and drinking, is in its final few days. The project has already cleared its funding goal and several stretch goals. We here at Dorkland had a chance to sit down with Jason Anarchy, creator of Drinking Quest, to interview him about the project.

Dorkland!: How has the Kickstarter experience been for you so far? What have you learned that might help other new Kickstarters?

Jason Anarchy: No matter how good your plan is, you can’t plan enough. Also it’s a ton of work, it should be a very busy 30 days of your life.

And don’t get greedy, put your product out there at the lowest cost you can offer it.

DL: Why the shift from 3D6 to D4, D6, D8, apart from added complexity? Is added complexity good for a drinking game?

JA: Added complexity and range WITHOUT adding a single new rule or anything that the players need to think about. I was always very careful what rules and features make it into the game and what don’t. This is a great change that makes for more interesting battles and weapons trees.

DL: How much bigger are the new cards than the older ones? Why the change there?

JA: About 25%. I wanted a bit more room for art and text. Every Drinking Quest card is loaded with content and honestly I needed the space.

Every card has original art, a scenario for the player and a ridiculous narration from the cards (which act as the GM). Plus there are no duplicates. It’s looking good for the stretch goals so it would be 216 full colour cards, with hilarious artwork and story with no repeats.

DL: What are some of the 'smaller improvements'?

JA: Things like combinability. That was always requested with previous games and it could be one unofficially. Now if you want you can do a mash-up game and have up to 12 players.

I’ve also streamlined it in a way where all 12 heroes can be playable in any of the three games so there is even more variation there.

The Instructions are now colour and a lot nicer. (It was just a black and white insert before)

And then the new box and character sheets are much better as well.

DL: How much drinking is there in this drinking game? How much of the game is actual gaming?

JA: It plays like a stripped down Dungeons and Dragons. You have a character sheet, you roll dice, you fight monsters, you find treasure… but when your character dies in the game you have to chug your drink!

Each game has four “quests” with the cards acting as the GM. They start off easier and get harder as the game goes on.

You’ll encounter different monsters and Saving Throw events. When you pick up a monster card the person to your right controls the monster and it’s a one-on-one FIGHT TO THE DEATH.  If you win, you get the coins and points and move on and if you lose you chug your drink immediately.

Now HOW MUCH drinking is in the game? A pretty reasonable amount. There is a one chug per quest limit which stops everything from turning into a pass-out-ten-minutes kind of drinking game. (If you have to chug a second time per quest, you do 3 swigs as an acceptable substitute)

So playing a full game (going through all four quests in one of the games) averages about 2 or 3 chugs over 2 or 3 hours (per person).

If you’re not drinking there are also alternate rules to accommodate you.

And it is an actual game, the person at the end who has the most points wins. The person with the least amount of points loses (but they also chugged the most so they’re probably not having a bad time)

It’s 100% gaming with a occasional chugs to add to the tension of the gameplay.

DL: You mention non-drinking rules also being included -- what does DQ hold for people who are not drinkers? Why should they be buying the game?

JA: The Drinking meets RPG feature could be a pretty shallow gimmick. The plan was to incorporate that well and combine the genres as best I could. So that’s the hook that gets people playing.

From there the reason they keep playing is that it’s a really strong comedy RPG. There really isn’t anything that plays like it on the market.

It’s a really fun story that’s told in loose puzzle pieces like Lost or Pulp Fiction. Each quest is always randomized so you figure different story pieces out at different times.

Also the humour is a little smarter and more layered than most people expect. It’s more Arrested Development than Two and a Half Men.

DL: What is an experience that you've had while playing DQ that has really highlighted the game and the reason to play it? What is so great about it that people should be buying it and playing it?

JA: First of all, it delivers on the promise. It combines the genres well. The gameplay isn’t a super deep weekend filling experience… it’s casual, easy to learn and extremely fun!

There have been multiple nights where I’ve been with a group trying a brand new game and we spent the whole night learning the rules but didn’t play the game!

With Drinking Quest it’s super fast to get going particularly if you have a working knowledge of RPG basics already.

I’ve been designing games since childhood and into adulthood. Gaming with your friends and having a few drinks is great social lubricant and an even better way to keep groups of friends together as an adult.

I would always design game systems that took the broad strokes from bigger RPGs and cut out all of the micromanaging so you could just have a good time.

I also wanted to have a game where players could drop in and out… keep the same group of adults showing up once a week is a tough thing to do!

I’ve spent 10,000+ hours designing and testing game systems and with Drinking Quest I wanted to bring my flavour of casual, funny and rules-light role-playing to the masses.

The first three games have been hits and I’m pushing the new Trilogy Edition as much as possible to get the best version out there I can make.

We here at Dorkland! would like to thank Jason for his time in answering our questions and wish him the best with the project. If you would like to know more about Drinking Quest be sure to check out its website, twitter, Facebook or Kickstarter page.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Annual Wayne Foundation Fundraiser Bundle From Troll In The Corner

It is the last few days for this year's Wayne Foundation fundraiser organized by +Ben Gerber and +Troll in the Corner.

For $20 you can help out kids and get some great gaming stuff as well.  From the DriveThruRPG page:
On  sale  June  22   through  June  29,  exclusively through  DriveThruRPG,  this  bundle  offers  over $240 worth  of  RPG   products,  fiction  and  artwork  for just  $20!    You’ll  be  paying  just  under  9%  of  the total  retail  value,   and  every  cent  of  profit  made from  the  sale  of  this  bundle  goes  directly  to  The Wayne  Foundation   –  a  501(c)(3)  charitable organization. The  Wayne  Foundation  is  committed to spreading  awareness  of  CSEC  (Commercial  Sexual Exploitation  of  Children)  and  building  a rehabilitation  facility  for  victims  DMST  (Domestic Minor   Sexual  Trafficking).
They’re  working  hard  to  get  child  sex  workers  the  help  they  deserve  to  live   normal lives.
Here is what you get:

  • Melior  Via  –  Hope  Prep,  Accursed,  Universal  Space  Combat  Battle  Map  
  • Evil  Hat  Productions  –  Don’t  Read  This  Book  
  • Imperfekt  Games  –  Invulnerable  –  Super  Hero  RPG:  Vigilante  Edition  
  • Mount  Zion  Press  –  All  for  me  Grog  
  • Ennead  Games  –  Campign  Chunk,  Cult  Name,  Fantasy  Feats  IV  
  • Mithril  and  Mages  –  Three  different  Name  Spaces  
  • Rocks  Falls  Games  LLC  –  Dungeons  by  the  Level,  2  Studies  of  Decay,    2  Adventures  in   Awesfur  
  • Toxic  Bag  –  Battles  of  the  Zombie  Apocalypse,  Ghosts  in  the  Graveyard,  Horror  Soundpack,   Fantasy  Dragons  
  • Steve  Keller  –  Generala  
  • Wargaming  Recon  Podcasts  –  a  few  hand  picked  episodes  
  • Brent  P.  Newhall’s  Musaeum  –  Murderhobos,  Mystery  of  the  Shattered  World  
  • Crooked  Staff  Publishing  –  Megadungeon  Level  1  Map  Pack  
  • Critical  Hits  Studios  –  Criminals  Print  and  Play
  • Zero  Point  Information  –  Aeternal  Legends  
  • Cumberland  Games  –  Risus:  A  Kringle  in  Time,  Sparks:  Dan  Smith  Stockpile,  HexPaper,   Points  in  Space  1:  Starport  Locations,  Uresia:  Grave  of  Heaven  and  Caravel  
  • Ashe  Rhder  –  Black  Briar,  Sounding  Fury,  Sunburn  (Original  Art)  
  • Dilly  Green  Bean  Games  –  Ka-­‐Pookie  Theater  
  • Eric  Orchard  –  Marrowbones  Double  Issue  
  • Khairul  Hisham  –  Four  pieces  of  original  RPG  Artwork  
  • Troll  in  the  Corner  –  Various  and  sundry  RPGs,  expansions,  Print  and  Play  games  and   Fiction  
  • Soap  Box  Productions  –  Lost  on  the  Road,  Train  Ride  into  Darkness  
  • FableForge  –  Enter  the  Shadowside,  Greater  Thelema  Society,  SCaV3NG3R  
  • Studio187  –  Rogue  Chess  Decks  1  &  2  
This bundle ends on June 29, so that only gives you a couple of days left to take part. Hurry now before time runs out.

Eighth Doctor Adventures - Unnatural History

The Eighth Doctor is unique among the Doctors because he (initially at least) only had one appearance on screen, the American-produced Doctor Who movie from the late 90s. He had plenty of other appearances, between novels and audio dramas, but because of their nature, most of these adventures were not considered to be canon. A couple of them have even been absorbed into the story of subsequent regenerations during the relaunched television series.

First at Virgin Books, and then through BBC Books directly, some of the Eighth Doctor's adventures were documented. Sadly, this line of books are hard to find these days, and not very cheap when you do.

About half way through the series of books was a novel called Unnatural History. Written by Jonathan Blum and Kate Orman, this novel is an almost direct sequel to the Doctor Who movie that introduced us to the Eighth Doctor. Set in San Francisco two years after the movie, the book shows some of the dangers that can happen when a Time Lord regenerates.

Much of the focus of this story is on Sam Jones, one of the Doctor's companion at this point in the adventures.

One of the concepts from the Eighth Doctor stories, used a lot in this novel, is the idea of biodata. Biodata is an interesting concept, a sort of temporal DNA from which a person's past can be read, their future extrapolated and, sometimes, in the wrong hands, their present can be altered. Over the course of Unnatural History, all of these things happen to Sam. Biodata manages to be both physical and metaphysical at the same time. It is formed by the decisions that a person makes, and informed by movement through time as well. Each decision, each choice, can impact the biodata and make a person's future into something different.

The Doctor and his companions, Sam and Fitz, have returned to San Francisco. On New Year's Eve 2000, the Doctor regenerated into his current incarnation. All of this was documented in the TV movie, which, if you haven't seen it, you really should. The Doctor wants to tie up loose ends from that, and deal with a physical scar on space/time that occurred from everything that happened in that adventure. Weird creatures from other times and dimensions are being drawn to San Francisco in 2002, and to the scar.

Things go wrong, and Sam falls into the scar. The Doctor is forced to push his TARDIS into the scar, to keep it from getting worse.

Sam reappears in London, where she is originally from, but her past and her present have changed. She has never met the Doctor and she even has a different hair color. She is living the life that she would have lead, had she never encountered the Doctor in London, all those years ago.

A lot of weird stuff happens. Faction Paradox, a rogue group of Time Lords who are preparing for a coming War, get involved due to the paradoxes created by all of the changes to Sam and the Doctor's biodata over the course of the story. The Doctor also faces a higher dimensional being, a "scientist and researcher" who is taking advantage of the scar to "study" the strange and unnatural creatures being drawn from across time and space to the scar. Called the Unnaturalist, he makes for a compelling adversary for the Doctor.

Of course, one of the creatures draw to the scar is an immense higher dimensional creature capable of destroying all of the city, if not stopped.

The Doctor and companions have to deal with all of the weird creatures, the Unnaturalist (who, of course, wants to study them as well), the ongoing revisions to Sam's biodata. It is a thrilling story, with lots of twists and turns, and the destruction and death that one can expect when a Doctor Who story is cranked up.

I would really like to see this line be reprinted by the BBC. Commission new covers featuring Paul McGann and get them out in front of people again. I am not normally a fan of tie-in fiction, but the books featured some great science fiction stories that greatly expand and play with the concepts of the Doctor Who series. The novels were experimental and risk taking in a way that a television show never could be, which ended up giving the Eighth Doctor a mythic quality that other Doctors didn't have. You can easily see  the coming War that many of the characters are worried about, or working for or against, across many of the Eighth Doctor adventures, fitting in with what has been revealed in the TV program about the Time War that the Doctor reluctantly fought in. These are some great stories that deserve to again see the light of day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Initial Mindjammer RPG Thoughts

This isn't a full review, but one of those is coming, most likely through Bleeding Cool. This is a big book, so it is going to take a bit of time to digest things enough for a review.

I am on record saying (again and again) that I don't like big gaming books. This is a BIG gaming book and yet I still want to run the game.

The things that make the game big make sense. For people who are struggling with the choice paralysis of the Fate Core rules relief can be found in all of these rules and examples. Sarah Newton has done the heavy lifting and created a worked example of how you use the Fate Core rules to do a science fiction game. For people who creating material from scratch is their strong suit, then Fate Core should be their starting point. If you are struggling with the hows and whys of the Fate Core rules, then Mindjammer may be the better choice.

All of the little things that you would need for running a science fiction campaign are in the book. Space craft. Aliens. Weird worlds. Alien cultures. Using Mindjammer as your starting point can really help to introduce the Fate rules to an audience other than people who are already fans of Fate. This is something that I don't think that other third party publishers have taken into consideration when crafting their games. Writing a game using the Fate rules for people who already understand those rules is easy, writing them for an audience not used to the concepts and ideas means reaching out to a wider audience, who can then be directed back to the core materials and other publishers. In Mindjammer, Newton manages to do this in a way that will neither alienate the existing Fate audience or confuse those new to the game.

The book is complex in places, but a lot of that comes from the science and setting that has to be introduced and explained to the gamers. Much of this complexity can be considered to be training wheels that can be kicked away as the group becomes more experienced and confident in their master of the rules. This is demonstrative of a canny design sensibility on the part of Newton.

Mindjammer pushes the bar up high for third party Fate publishers. Even before finishing reading the book, it is becoming my favorite implementation of the Fate Core rules.

If you're curious, the Mindjammer PDF is available here.

Hey Rose, Hey Madder...Hunter Rose For Fate Accelerated

Who is Hunter Rose? That's a question that many people wish that they could answer. A socialite and philanthropist, he wrote highly controversial novels that questioned societal norms. He was also the terrifying and vicious criminal kingpin known as Grendel.

From Wikipedia, for the uninitiated:
The story begins with an extraordinarily gifted boy named Eddie. Because victory in his endeavors comes so easily, it all seems meaningless. In despair, he throws a world-championship fencing match and becomes romantically involved with Jocasta Rose, a trainer twice his age. When Jocasta dies, Eddie leaves behind his life and takes on two new identities: Hunter Rose, successful novelist and socialite, and Grendel, elegant costumed assassin and later crime boss. Grendel is hunted relentlessly by Argent, a several hundred year old Native American man-wolf cursed with a thirst for violence. Argent works with the police in an effort to turn his curse to good.
Hunter Rose later adopts Stacy Palumbo, the young daughter of a mobster he killed. Stacy also befriends Argent. Hunter is a loving father to Stacy, but she betrays him to Argent when she discovers that he is Grendel. Grendel and the wolf fight on the roof of a Masonic temple. The battle results with Argent's paralysis and Grendel's death and unmasking. The police discover Stacy's role in this incident and that she murdered a governess to prevent interference with her plan. Developing severe psychological problems, Stacy is committed to a mental hospital until adulthood. After she is released, she marries her psychiatrist, but on their wedding night he rapes her and then commits suicide. The traumatic experience is enough that Stacy returns to institutionalization for the rest of her life. After she returns to the institution, she gives birth to a daughter named Christine Spar.
Grendel is also a contagion, a virus of aggression that infects people and changes their lives and their perception of the world around them. Christine Spar and Brian Sung were each effected by Grendel, after the death of Hunter Rose, and became versions of the Grendel itself.

Grendel, in the form of Hunter Rose, is about a seductive and affable evil. An evil that does monstrous things, but also believes in the protection and sanctity of children (partially due to "Hunter Rose's" own past life). But Grendel is also a cipher. Hunter Rose is as much of a mask as the one that he wears while acting as Grendel. He writes insidious yet seductive novels and acts as an assassin.

Hunter Rose can make an excellent protagonist for your Fate Accelerated games, because of the challenges and moral dilemmas that he can represent. My writeup of him is going to be for my Paranormal Friction rules that I am writing, but it is easily adapted to the baseline Fate Accelerated rules. The introduction of Grendel into your games can be a game changer. Do the characters come together to try to stop him? Do they fear the Wolf, Argent, and instead attack him...taking away one of Grendel's major obstacles (and the cause of the death of Hunter Rose)? What impact does a still living Grendel have on the world at larger?

Why, you might ask, am I writing this up for a game of paranormal romance instead of SuperFAE or baseline Fate Accelerated? Well, the difference between Paranormal Friction and Fate Accelerated are minimal enough to not make a big difference, and I find that as a seductive form of evil, Grendel can have just as much of a place in a paranormal world as does a vampire. And, we never really know conclusively if Hunter Rose is human or not...

Hunter Rose/Grendel

High Concept: Call Me Hunter Rose
Trouble: The Demon of Society's Mediocrity
Aspiration: I Am In Control Of This
Aspects: Rakish Socialite On The Town, Roguish Assassin For The Underworld

Careful +0
Clever +2
Flashy +1
Forceful +1
Quick +2
Seductive +3
Sneaky +1

Because I am a Clever opponent, I can substitute my Clever approach during physical conflicts and challenges by spending a Fate Point.

Because I have such a seductive personality, I can get a +2 to Overcome when using my Seductive approach.

Argent, The Wolf

High Concept: Cursed To Be A Survivor, Cursed To Be A Wolf
Trouble: The Grendel Must Be Stopped!
Aspiration: The Troubles Of My Long Past Need Lifting
Aspects: Driven By Justice, Being Unsubtle Is A Tool

Careful +1
Clever +2
Flashy +1
Forceful +3
Quick +2
Seductive +0
Sneaky +1

Because I am a force for Justice from nature, I can substitute my Forceful approach in social and other non-physical conflicts by spending a Fate Point.

Almost as little is known of the Wolf, Argent, as is known about Grendel. He assists the NYC police in certain criminal underworld matters, mostly drug and child sex-rings related crimes. No one is sure how long he has been in the city, or what he actually is. When Grendel started making sounds in the underworld, the two forces faced off. One of the concepts that the original Grendel story played with was the idea that "Good" could be ugly and inhuman in appearance, while "Evil" was handsome and seductive.

Their final conflict left Argent paralyzed and Hunter Rose dead. This wasn't the last time that Argent would face a Grendel. either. Their fates became intertwined through their battles.

12th Doctor Comic Coming This October From Titan Comics

Eagle award-winning writer Robbie Morrison (Drowntown, The Authority, 2000AD, Nikolai Dante) and New York Times-bestselling artist Dave Taylor (Batman: Death by Design, 2000AD) dive headfirst into the TARDIS console room and spin the new Doctor off to his most challenging destination yet!

As with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor ranges, Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #1 comes with a beautiful regular cover painted by Alice X. Zhang, plus five other variants - including a "100% rebel Time Lord" photo cover and Mariano Laclaustra penned picture of Clara.

With the amazing storyline and fantastic interior art under lock and key at the time of going to press ­keep an eye on, and the official BBC Doctor Who Facebook page for the official announcements!

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor is available to pre-order from comic stores tomorrow and will hit retailers on October 1.  Due to licensing restrictions,  fans in the UK and Ireland can only purchase this comic digitally.

Titan Comics' new Tenth and Eleventh Doctor ranges will hit comic book stores on July 23, and print or digital editions are available to pre-order now - for more information, visit

Friday, June 13, 2014

Drinking Quest: Trilogy Edition Kickstarter

If there are two things that I love in this world it's drinking and gaming. And while most games go well with drinking some decide to go one step further and combine the two -- Drinking Quest is one such game. You likely have heard of this drinking/RPG/Card game, created by Jason Anarchy, before as it has three sets of cards out already. A recently started Kickstarter (which, at the time of this writing has already passed its funding goal) has set out to combine the three sets into one box set and make other improvements and changes to the game -- this binding of sets is called Drinking Quest: Trilogy Edition. Before any more on the Kickstarter, though, let's get back into the groove of these articles with a little bit of information on the game.

Drinking Quest: Trilogy Edition (DQT from here on) is a tabletop RPG in a fantasy parody setting. You have character sheets, dice and cards that act as the GM. In DQT, the dice used are a D4, D6, and D8 -- which is a departure from the 3D6 used previously. Sounds pretty basic? Well, from the look of it the game is a rules light RPG that is more centered around the experience than hardcore RPG'ing (and, with the element of drinking, that is likely for the best). There are non-drinking rules included, and the ever-present option of drinking something other than alcohol, though, so this could easily be a rules light RPG for other occasions, too.

But, you ask, what is this going to cost me?

Well, apart from the alcohol involved (which might end up costing more than the game) you have a couple of tiers to look at in getting the game. Do, however, keep in mind that this Kickstarter is in Canadian Dollars and your regional prices will vary. The first tier of interest is at CAD$25 and this gets you the digital copy of the game (as well as other digital rewards). The physical game starts at CAD$44 for US shipping and CAD$48 for shipping outside the US -- these tiers also include the physical stretch goal rewards. Higher tier pledges get you more goodies like t-shirts or prototype cards.

Lastly, to fully get back into the groove -- my favorite section: the Kickstarter judgement.

The first thing to note is that it has already hit its funding goal and is almost at its first stretch goal with 20 days (as of this writing) to go. Clearly, it has done its job. Not to skimp on the judging, though, let's start with the video. It's just shy of 2 minutes long, is well made, has all the information you really need and includes numerous fiery explosions. It is a solid video -- not the kind that you go out of your way to get people to watch kind, but a very good video.

The information in the body of the Kickstarter page is emphasized with bullets and bold words making it easy to quickly parse the important tidbits as you scan the page. That is very important.  There are large, colorful and detailed images that show off the game box and several cards. Also important. And, towards the end, the pledge tiers are explained with colorful images of what you get. The first stretch goal also has the image treatment, which is good. All in all the page is well done, though I would have liked to see some images of the rest of the contents of the box set and a bit more information on how the game is played.

I don't know about you but all this talk of drinking has made me quite thirsty. If you're thirsty for some more information, however, be sure to check out the Kickstarter page and the Drinking Quest website.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Dorkland Interview with Max Brooks

Max Brooks, the best selling author of World War Z, The Zombie Survival Guide, the comic book series Extinction Parade and the riveting historical graphic novel Harlem Hellfighters, sits down with Dorkland! to give us further insight on what makes undead creatures tick, what inspires his creations and a glimpse of what he is working on for the future.

Dorkland!: Thank you for taking the time for this interview. Before we discuss the new chapter of your Zombie vs. Vampires book, Extinction Parade: War, can you give a little background about your inspiration for writing the Extinction Parade single issue comics? What gave you the idea to put vampires into a world filled with zombies?

Max Brooks: I've written a lot about how countries and individual humans would survive a zombie outbreak, but I wanted to focus specifically on the emotional and psychological survival skills. Beyond the guns and blades and bottled water, there’s the mind and heart and without those you have nothing. Humans have proven themselves to be phenomenal survivalists and I believe that talent was earned clawing our way from the middle of the food chain. Our greatest strengths come from compensating for inherent weaknesses. Our problems have made us amazing problem solvers. But where would be if we had natural strengths; claws and fangs and agility and immortality? How soft and arrogant and unprepared for adversity would we be? That’s the problem with vampires. It’s a precarious place at the top of the food chain. I wanted to explore how vulnerable they are to a major crisis (and hopefully whisper a warning to some humans as well).

DL: In the beginning of Extinction Parade, the vampires find the initial chaos of the zombie outbreak to be entertaining and then advantageous. When some of them realize that their human food supply is on the verge of extinction they spring to action. Why are the vampires so unwilling or unable to predict this catastrophe earlier?

Max Brooks: Vampires have no history of adaptation. Why should they? They are apex predators. Life’s been very good to them. In my world humans have never hunted them, so anonymity is just one more supposed advantage.  To make matters worse (or better, at least in the short term), they have a class of human caretakers who do the grunt work and get their hands dirty with all the little details of life. This existence has made them comfortable and complacent. Unlike humans who are always looking over their shoulder, vampires just assume that they’ll be fine.

DL: Without giving away too much of the story, what can readers look forward to enjoying in Extinction Parade: War? Will we see the further development of the vampire characters that were introduced in the single issues?

Max Brooks: Definitely! Each issue will be a journey of self-discovery for vampires, which is in itself hard for a species that’s been too inward looking. Each issue they will have to make choices about HOW to fight the war against the zombies. Will it be more effective to go down the path of innovation, creating new tactics and weapons completely from scratch? Or will they just copy the humans and try to fight like them? They will also have to confront their limitations, both physical and mental. For a species that has never bothered (and never needed) to challenge themselves, this will come as a particularly cold shock. Lastly, they will discover something the world has never seen before, an entire army of nothing but Vampires.

DL: You have written a survival guide for humans to use in the event of a zombie invasion and also the various ways that people might fight against zombies in your work of fiction World War Z. What advantages do vampires have when battling the living dead?

Max Brooks: NONE. Every supposed advantage will turn out to be a disadvantage. Every physical strength will be paid for with a character weakness. As we will see, they are a painfully vulnerable.

DL: If you had to choose between the existence of zombies or vampires in the real world, which would you pick and why?

Max Brooks: Vampires, definitely. Zombies are a true threat to humanity. They are a potential extinction level event. Vampires are just a bunch of blood sucking parasites. Statistically, you’re more likely to be hit by a car than be killed by one of those well-dressed dear-ticks.

DL: Over the past several years there has been an unending stream of books, movies and comics that prominently feature zombies as well as a treasure trove of vampire-centric media. How would you respond to critics who dismiss the theme of the zombie or the vampire as a fad?

Max Brooks: I don’t dismiss them. Maybe they’re right. I have no idea what’s going to be popular and what’s not. I will say that I've been hearing about the zombie ‘fad’ being over since 2004 so go figure. As far as vampires, well, I will say that we don’t see as many vampire movies as a few years ago, but that’s mainly because the bulk of ‘Twilight’ fans have, by now, lost their virginity.

DL: From the different periods in human civilization that you reference in the "Recorded Attacks" chapter of the Zombie Survival Guide to your compellingly written graphic novel The Harlem Hellfighters about a real, heroic black regiment in World War I, you draw from history as an inspiration for your work. How do you go about researching these different histories?

Max Brooks: I’m always devouring history. I've been fascinated by it as long as I can remember. I’m always watching some new documentary or listening to an audio book on my ipad (dyslexia makes reading a challenge so audiobooks are how I compensate).  There’s always so much more to learn, you can never stop.  Specifically with Harlem Hellfighters, my sources were books, documentaries, and even the actual recordings from their regimental band. It’s one thing to read about early WWI jazz, but to listen to it, to hear that tinny voice and rapid beat is a much deeper education.

DL: In some of the other interviews you have given, you mentioned that you write about what interests you. Which of your  other interests could you see potentially influencing your future projects?

Max Brooks: I don’t like to give too much away. I've got a few things in the pipeline, but, right now, I have to finish The Extinction Parade comic series and the screenplay for the movie version The Harlem Hellfighters. That alone are more than enough work for the next 12 months.

2014 Diana Jones Shortlist Announced

From a long and extremely diverse long-list of nominees, the secretive committee of the Diana
Jones Award has distilled a shortlist of five items that it believes best exemplified ‘excellence’
in the field of gaming in 2013.

The Diana Jones committee is proud to announce that the shortlist for its 2014 award
for Excellence in Gaming is:

EVIL HAT, a publishing company run by Robert Donoghue and Fred Hicks

Ever since the release of Fate as a free RPG in 2003, Evil Hat Productions has aimed at two
usually difficult goals: skill and elegance in game design, and professionalism and transparency
in publishing. Honesty and openness about business realities, and excitement and
perfectionism about game possibilities, built the Evil Hat audience from a corner of the
Internet to a loyal horde numbering in the tens of thousands. From Don't Rest Your Head
through Happy Birthday Robot, Penny For My Thoughts, Diaspora, and Swashbucklers of the 7
Skies, Evil Hat has combined the key features of a design house and a best-of-breed imprint
while nurturing its core Fate system through three major editions without forking its player
base. By co-creating Bits and Mortar, Evil Hat pioneered PDF-retailer cooperation; using the
Open Game License and Creative Commons, Evil Hat built on a tradition of trusting players
and designers to build better games. In 2013 Evil Hat hit both its design goals and its
deadlines with Fate Core: five books Kickstarted, printed, and delivered, and over 60,000
copies sold. And Fate Core is still a free RPG.

HILLFOLK, a role-playing game designed by Robin D. Laws (Pelgrane Press)

The Hillfolk Kickstarter asked for $3000 and offered a 96-page softcover; it raised $93,000
and delivered two full-colour hardbacks filled by some of the brightest names in story-game
design. But it only happened because of the game-engine at the heart of Hillfolk: Robin D.
Laws’s DramaSystem, an elegant and clever take on group storytelling that puts gameplay and
competition on an equal footing with structured narrative and individual creativity. Hillfolk
and its sister-volume Blood on the Snow showcase a leading ludonarrative designer at the
height of his powers, and inviting his friends to come and play.

PAIZO PUBLISHING, a publishing company run by Lisa Stevens

One of the hardest things in business is to unseat a market-leader, particularly when that
market-leader created the entire field, but 2013 was the year when word spread that Paizo's
Pathfinder RPG was outselling Dungeons & Dragons. It’s official: Paizo has used the OGL
and a single-minded commitment to talent and quality to create a better D&D than D&D. Its
achievement only seems extraordinary to those who don't know CEO Lisa Stevens’
extraordinary track record in the games industry, from Lion Rampant through White Wolf
and Wizards of the Coast. Paizo's ability to raise $1m to crowd-fund a Pathfinder-based
MMO in January 2013 was simply the apple at the top of the industry's new tallest tree.

ROFL!, a family card game designed by John Kovalic (Cryptozoic Entertainment)

In game design nothing is harder than simplicity, and in no category is that quality more
required than in the family/party game space. With the brilliant, elegant and delightful
dynamic animating ROFL!, designer John Kovalic provides a masterstroke of the KISS
principle. Just as amazingly, he does it by finding an original take on the word game sub-genre.
ROFL!’s phrase compression conceit rewards both clue-making and guessing, supplying an
essential skill-levelling element many party games lack. And if that weren’t enough, he
somehow inveigles tabletop’s most beloved cartoonist to lend it the light, joyous visual look
that its play style demands. Though created by someone steeped in the adventure game
tradition, it could and should appear on shelves at mass-market retailers wherever they are
found. GRTGMJK!

TERRA MYSTICA, a strategy board-game designed by Helge Ostertag and Jens
Drögemüller (Feuerland Spiele/Z-Man Games)

In the land of Terra Mystica dwell 14 different races in seven landscapes, each bound to its
home environment. Each race must terraform neighboring landscapes into their home
environments in competition with the others. It's a brilliant piece of state-of-the-art design:
there are no stunning new mechanics here but the game takes a number of clever, intriguing
systems and combines them in a bravura piece of game-creation to build a sublimely engaging
experience.The game emphasizes strategy over luck, rewards planning, and provides a huge
amount of delightful replayability.

The winner of this year’s award will be announced and the Diana Jones trophy will be
presented at the annual Diana Jones Party, which will be held at the Cadillac Ranch, 39 West
Jackson Place, Indianapolis, at 9pm on 13th August – the night before the Gen Con games
convention opens to the public. All games-industry professionals are invited to attend.

The Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming was founded and first awarded in 2001. It
is presented annually to the person, product, company, event or any other thing that has, in the
opinion of its committee, best demonstrated the quality of ‘excellence’ in the world of hobbygaming
in the previous year. The winner of the Award receives the Diana Jones trophy.
The Diana Jones Committee is a mostly anonymous group of games-industry alumni
and illuminati, that includes designers, publishers, cartoonists, consultants, and some content
to rest on their laurels.

Past winners include industry figures such as Peter Adkison and Jordan Weisman, the
role-playing games Nobilis, Sorcerer, and Fiasco, the board-games Dominion and Ticket to
Ride, and the website BoardGameGeek. Last year's winner was Wil Wheaton's webseries
Tabletop. This is the fourteenth year of the Award. More information is available at

For more information you can contact a representative of the DJA committee directly:

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Looking Back At Weapons of the Gods

This is one of those RPGs that I regret never having had the chance to run. My copy was a gift from Brad Elliott for running some Unhallowed Metropolis events for EOS Press, back at my first Gen Con. While I had never read the comic, the idea of it was cool sounding, and I liked the idea of the scope of the game. It may not show from the stuff that I run nowadays, but I love big, epic RPGs and I don't get to run them enough. Honestly, I think this comes from my love of super-heroes and comics. Regardless, this isn't a review, or anything like that. It is just a semi-organized collection of my thoughts on the game.

Written by R. Sean Borgstrom (now known as Jenna Moran) and Elliott, Weapons of the Gods is really my only look into the realms of Wuxia role-playing. I've liked a few of the movies in the genre that I've seen, but overall it has never really sucked me in as do some other genres do.

Why, then, did this game suck me in, and why do I regret never having had the chance to run it?

That's a good question.

I wish that I had some better answers. For me, the mechanics of Weapons of the Gods share some similarities with Godlike, the originator of the One Roll Engine rules. I'm sure that some will disagree with me, and admittedly my memories of the system are foggy, but the mechanics came across as similar to me. The one thing that I like best about the game is the mechanic called "The River." The River is a combination reserve of dice and a resource management strategy that allows you to take dice from rolls that you make and "float" them into the River, saving them for later in a session when you may need the matches in a more important roll. I like the idea of sacrificing now for a potential benefit later because it matches my concepts of what heroism is supposed to be.

Still, it was an interesting game and I am sorry that I didn't get a chance to run it. I'm not sure that y current approach to gaming has a place for it, which is definitely a bad thing for me.

There is also Legends of the Wulin, a kind of/sort of second edition of Weapons of the Gods that came out as a generic form of the game, not tied to the licensed world of the comics.

Do you have a game that you regret never having had a chance to play or run? What is it and why. The why is the important part, much more important than any list of games.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Own Some Tunnels And Trolls History

Artist Liz Danforth is selling a couple of pieces of art that may be of interest to fans of Tunnels & Trolls. Over at her website she is auctioning off the original art for Two Seconds Later (which was used at the cover art for Fiery Dragon's 7th Edition of Tunnels & Trolls) and Elven Lords (used as the cover for the Elven Lords T&T solo).

The pages for each piece of art give an interesting insight into Danforth and her creative processes with each of these pieces of art. One of the interesting reveals was the fact that, when she started doing art for Tunnels & Trolls, she wasn't exactly sure what a troll should look like. This might explain the iconic look of trolls in the game.

You can check the status on the Elven Lord auction here and the Two Seconds Later auction here. If you have ever wanted to own a piece of gaming history, now is your chance.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ordinary By Rob Williams And D'Israeli From Titan Comics

For me, picking up a comic with art by D'Israeli is a no brainer. I've been a fan of his art since Lazarus Churchyard and  Scarlet Traces. If you have no idea what those comics are, you should do yourself a favor and pick them up.

There are two things to think about with Ordinary: 1) this isn't an ordinary super-hero book and 2) this comic isn't anything ordinary.

Michael is a somewhat ordinary guy in Queens. He's a plumber. He's divorced from his wife, who has custody of their kid. He owes a Samoan criminal some money (that part might not be as ordinary). And then something happens...everyone else in the world suddenly gets weird powers or is transformed in some way into something different. It may have been triggered by terrorists, or an airplane accident.

Ordinary is an ongoing from Titan Comics from artist D'Israeli and writer Rob Williams.

Is this the apocalypse? It is hard to tell, but there is a lot happening in this issue. Michael is our eyes and ears into this story, and I like that approach. The fact that we don't know what is going on, why all of this weirdness is happening, gives the story more power. Too often comic stories over explain themselves and take away the mystery and wonder inherent in a lot of genres that are used in them. Writing a review of a new comic is difficult, because you don't want to spoil the story when you want other people to read it, and you want to spread your enthusiasm.

In a few ways, this issue reminded me of the Wildcards series edited by George R.R. Martin. You have the weirdness of super-heroes grounded in a real world, along with a trigger accident that causes the "birth" of super-powered individuals. Fans of that series will probably find this comic to be interesting as well.

Not since Grant Morrison and Richard Case on Doom Patrol have I seen a comic that embraces the strangeness of the super-hero genre and at the same time presents that strangeness in such a matter of fact manner. This book was a page turner, and while I didn't get the explanations that I hoped would come with each new page that didn't disappoint me. What did disappoint me was when I realized that I finished the book and would have to wait a month for the next issue to come.

If you're looking for sophisticated comic story telling devoid of most of the cliches that you will find in those other super-hero books you really need to check out Ordinary. You won't be disappointed. This comic reminds me of the 90s and Vertigo Comics, when you had comic creators who still wanted to use the old super-heroes but tell stories that would appeal to grown-up sensibilities.

You should run out to your comic store (or Comixology, the digital version is available there) and pick this up. You should put it on your pull list and keep getting it, month after month.