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Thursday, November 20, 2014

BRUTES -- A Fantasy Masterbook Game From Precis Intermedia

So, this filtered through my inbox:


Brett Bernstein is working on a new RPG, a fantasy game based on the Masterbook System and based upon the setting of his Brutes miniatures game. I'm sure that a dedicated Masterbook fantasy game will interest a lot of people. Click here for information as it develops.

20 Years of Daily Illumination -- Steve Jackson Games' Daily Illuminator


I've blogged here at the Dorkland! blog for just over ten years now. That's an accomplishment for sure. However, there's a blog that has been posting every day for twenty years now...and that blog is the Daily Illuminator from Steve Jackson Games. For twenty years the people over at Steve Jackson Games have been posting to the Daily Illuminator every day.

That is phenomenal and deserves some serious kudos from the folks at Steve Jackson Games.

If you haven't ever read the page you should do so now. They also have a convenient mailable version that will be delivered daily into your inbox as well.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fantasy Gaming On The British Side: Pelinore

I meant to go live with this a week ago, and got wrapped up in some other things. Better late than never.

I've always been interested in the "British Arm" of the early days of British role-playing. Much like with the "US West Coast" style, they brought a different energy and style to that particularly Midwestern mode of fantasy role-playing and Dungeons & Dragons. The British, after all, are the ones who brought us The Fiend Folio and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying. Of course, they also brought us the Monstermark, so I guess that you take the bad with the good.

What has recently surfaced on the web is a netbook compiling the Pelinore campaign and adventures that were published in Imagine magazine. Imagine was started by Don Turnbull, who had written for White Dwarf (including creating the Monstermark system) and Games Workshop before working for TSR UK.

What makes this document so interesting is that it is a snapshot of an approach to fantasy RPGs that really doesn't exist any more. Some of it still exists in some forms in places like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying, but what you get in its current form is different from what you got as a game back then.

If I were starting a new game right now, I would probably dig into The Collected Pelinore as my setting. It is a realized world with interesting NPCs, maps, and some interesting rules variants for your old school D&D-ish fantasy games. One of the things that I found interesting was the section on capturing monsters (instead of killing them) for use in an arena, and how to calculate XP rewards for that. "The Arena doesn't want unfettered aerial monsters - who is going to pay to watch a harpie fly away?" That's just a great quote.

Ultimately the reason that I am spreading this around is because I think that we could use more diversity in our old school conversations. What people like Gygax and Arneson did to give us our hobby was a great thing, but getting to see the weird and wild directions that people take this hobby into is a great thing, too.

Update: Thanks to +Tim Huntley (in the comments), here is a link to a site that has scanned and compiled the original Pelinore into a PDF. I haven't read through this PDF yet, so I don't know how complete it is. The truth may lay somewhere in between this PDF and The Collected Pelinore. This is useful as much as an historical document, much like the Fiend Factory file below.

Update 2: +B. Scot Hoover, the architect of The Collected Pelinore is also archiving the Pelinore modules. Right now you can find two of them (In Search of the New Gods and The Awakening) on his Google drive. In Search of the New Gods is for characters 4-7th level, and The Awakening is for characters of 7-8th level. I'll leave this here for right now, but I will probably break these modules out into their own blog post once a few more of them come out.

A big thanks to +B. Scot Hoover for all of this hard work in preserving a piece of gaming history.

As an added bonus, I give you a compilation of the old Fiend Factory monster articles from the old days of White Dwarf. You may recognize many of these from when they ended up in the Fiend Folio, but these are the original versions of these monsters, as they were first published. Some are for D&D and some are for AD&D (the emphasis changed in the magazine when the new edition of the rules came out). This PDF is old and shop worn, and has been circulating the internet for a long, long time. I'm sure that most of you have seen it by now, but it is still a good artifact and for those few of you who haven't seen it...here it is.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Goblinoid Games' Cryptworld Hits Distribution

This is excellent news from the Goblinoid Games website:
I am proud to announce that CRYPTWORLD is the first Pacesetter title to be in distribution in 30 years! Now Pacesetter horror is available to you at your local game store, so if you have been waiting to support your local retailer pay them a visit and if they aren't stocking it yet place an order. The book is available through the usual channels, such as Alliance or ACD.
Goblinoid Games' Cryptworld is the spiritual successor to the old Pacesetter tabletop role-playing game Chill. Currently, you can get it in PDF or print from the RPGNow website, but being able to order it from your local gaming/comic store is very good new for the game, and for fans.

Classic Elric Comics Return From Titan Comics

Some of you may remember when the now sadly defunct comic company Eclipse Comics had the rights to do Elric in comic form. If you don't remember this, then you are lucky because you are going to get to experience them for the first time through an upcoming reprint series from Titan Comics.

"Unforgettable action and intrigue...a must-read for any fans of science fiction, sorcery or sword-and-sorcery epics!" - Comics Bulletin

"Richly deserves to be back in print...Can’t wait to return to the Dreaming City!" - SFX

"A terrific book." - Jeff Vaughn, Scoop

Collecting the first volume of the classic adaptation of Michael Moorcock’s bestselling fantasy saga, Elric of Melniboné marks the perfect introduction to the series’ iconic antihero, his fabled blade, Stormbringer, and his harrowing adventures across the Dragon Isle.

Adapted by former Marvel Comics editor, Roy Thomas, and beautifully rendered by longtime comics illustrator,Michael T. Gilbert, and the multiple Harvey and Eisner award-winning P. Craig Russell, this definitive collection marks an essential read for all fans of sword and sorcery and brings the Moorcock’s epic tales to life with luxuriant imagination.

The Michael Moorcock Library - Volume 1: Elric Of Melnibone hits comic stores February 18, 2015 and is available to order now from your local comic store using Diamond code NOV141648.

 
 
 
 
 
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: P. Craig Russell, Michael T. Gilbert
Format: 176pp – HC - FC
Volumes In Series: 1 (of 15)
Publisher: Titan Comics
Price: $22.99/$25.95 CAN /£18.99 UK
ISBN: 9781782762881
Release Date: February 18, 2015
Diamond Order Code: NOV141648

To pre-order via Amazon visit:
http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Moorcock-Library-Vol-1-Melnibone/dp/1782762884/

For more information visit:
http://titan-comics.com/c/182-the-michael-moorcock-library-elric-vol-1-elric-of-/

Connect with Titan Comics
https://twitter.com/ComicsTitan
https://facebook.com/ComicsTitan


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Delta Green RPG Beta Playtest Files


Since I've been asked a couple of times for information about this (and since it seems a playtest announcement kind of day), Arc Dream Publishing announced a couple of weeks ago that they were doing open beta playtesting for the upcoming, standalone Delta Green Roleplaying Game. I have looked (briefly) over the playtest files, and I like what I see. The game (at this point) is still backwards compatible with the previous Delta Green material, as well as with other Call of Cthulhu material.

The file does mention that the final product will have open gaming content, so that looks promising as well.

Interested parties should check out the Dropbox folder that Arc Dream Publishing has set up, play some games, and check in with them about your feedback.

As a long, long time Delta Green fan, I am looking forward to this game now a lot more than I was a year or so ago, when it was first announced.

Paizo Announces Occult Adventures Open Playtest

Today Paizo announced the launch of an open playtest of their new Occult Adventures book:
Occult Adventures will feature six new classes for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and an entirely new system for psychic magic. The 256-page hardcover book will have details on occult concepts, such as séances, aura-reading, and occult rituals, as well as tons of new spells, magic items drawn from occult legends, and ways to add psychic and occult elements to existing Pathfinder classes. The new 20-level base classes included in Occult Adventures are the reality-warping kineticist, the spirit-infused medium, the manipulative mesmerist, the relic-wielding occultist, the mind-master psychic, and the phantom-bonded spiritualist.
If you are a member of the Paizo forums, you can go over there and pick up the playtest file and check it out.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cultural Wars And Baggage


I wouldn't think it necessary, but just in case...what follows is a piece of opinion writing. Also, since I know that some will comment without reading this piece in its entirety I will say right now that the Thumper rule is in effect. There's plenty of places that will allow you to spread hate on the internet, this blog is not one of them. Hateful things will be removed, and I get to be the arbitrator of what is hateful.


Some would say that the "geeky past times" are embroiled in a cultural war. I would say they are actually engaging in a cultural catch up, fighting fights or trying to stave off perceived threats that have been hard fought for (and against) for decades now in the larger cultural world and that are making their way into the various sub-cultures orbiting the world.

Whether you talk about fake geek girls or someone not being a hardcore gamer or sex workers shouldn't game or gays being perverts or even just the umbrella not a true geek, you're missing out on an important truth: the world has changed, and if you aren't changing with it you will be left behind. This isn't a threat, it is a fact of life. The world has changed since the 1970s and 1980s and the idea that women should play or run games isn't something that we should think about considering, it is something that is here.


While there's a lot of volatility in video games right now, with plenty of good examples that we can use for how people are getting it wrong, I want to focus on tabletop gaming (and focus even more on RPGs) because that is what I play. I don't think that I've played a video game since the Playstation One was just called the Playstation.

I know that anecdotal isn't data, but I'm going to talk about some of the things that I know.

People talk about women in their gaming groups as if it were some sort of novelty. Back in the late 70s, when I started playing D&D, our group was more than half women. Every group that I have had since then has had women. It seems strange to me to have a gaming group without women. So, when a friend started organizing an online gaming convention where women had the leadership positions of running panels and games, I thought that this was a great thing. Some corners of the internet thought otherwise, saying that it was anti-male or misandry to make it so that men couldn't "be in charge" of things.


It would almost be as if they didn't know that there are conferences and seminars led by women out in the big, bad "real world," where women can help each other into leadership positions or something. No, it is a conspiracy to take away their games, or their game mastering.

We've all heard it being used: fake geek girls, because they're obviously not true geeks. They're in it to "trap" some man or "take over the hobby" or some other nonsense. I find it hard to wrap my head around the idea that someone would actually fake wanting to be seen as a geek. The idea that someone could think that someone would want to demonstrates how mainstream many "geek past times" have become. Super-hero movies are box office blockbusters. Video games are making millions of dollars.

Obviously someone would now want to co-opt the hard work of all the men who helped to make this popular. Yeah, I thought that was funny too.

Gatekeeping, whether you think that you're doing it for good reasons or not, is a bad thing. There is no canon of geekiness. There is no list of things that you like or do in order to be a geek. Playing games makes you a gamer. Reading comics makes you a comic fan. Being of fan of paranormal romance and sexier geeky things is fine too.

video

Sex work is a hot button issue, even in the most mainstream of discussions. To quote George Michael, who really should be an important part of "cultural discussion," "sex is natural, sex is good..." I'm not going to use the typical buzzwords to talk about the people are against sex workers being involved, or somehow representative, of geeky things.It is reductionist and also fairly stupid. I will say that there is a lot of ignorance about the hows and whys of people who are sex workers, or who make porn. Why do we see so many porn parodies of super-heroes? Well, yes the movies are popular, and that does help with sales, but also because so many of them are geeky people

A lot of this ties into something that I've talked against more than once, both here on the blog and via various social media...and even out in that big, bad scary thing we call real life. I place a lot of these problems at the feet of so-called GEEK CULTURE. This is the idea that there is somewhere a list of things that all geeks like, and that the things not on that list make you less geeky or a fake geek girl or someone who isn't a hardcore gamer. At its simplest, the idea of geek culture is an attempt at gatekeeping (these people get to be part of "the tribe" and those people get to be outcast), but it can also be a bit more complicated than that at the same time.


Geeks have been proud of their "outsider cred" because it helped to define them an their identities. There comes a time when you put aside letting outside influences identify you, and start figuring out who you are for yourself. If you spend all your time being a jerk to other people online, it just might not be the "geek" thing that identifies you.

However, any time you try to take divergent and varied sub-cultures (whether it be Star Trek fans, Star Wars fans, video gamers, board gamers, RPG players) and try to smash them together into one set of rules and guidelines you are going to have troubles. The things that make each of these groups fun and interesting get lost when you try to make them into a monoculture. We need to stop doing that. It is perfectly okay to not like Battlestar Galactica or Firefly or Supernatural, and you shouldn't need to permission of anyone in order to think that. It is okay to like the OSR and not storygames, and the other way around. It is also okay to like storygames and the OSR. No one is going to take away your geek card, even if we had such things.

This is why diversity is, and always will be, a good thing. Monocultures are bad and boring, and monocultures that lead to things like the misogyny of "movements" like Gamergate are terrible things. We aren't fighting a cultural war to "save geeky past times." You don't get it. The women and people of color and gays and lesbians and transgender people are already here. They're making the cultural artifacts that you enjoy, sometimes without your even realizing that are involved. I hate to break it to you, but while you were nose down in your "geeky past times," the world became a lot more diverse than you seem to have realized.

There have been a number of essays and opinion pieces lately talking about the death of the gamer. What I think these are talking about is really the death of the monocultures that so many took comfort from as once outsider past times are moving into the mainstream. People in tabletop RPGs have said for years that tabletop gaming is dying and if only more people would be interested in gaming again. Guess what? There are more people who are interested in gaming, or geekiness, but you don't get to vote them off of the island. Gamers who are afraid of woman or gay people "invading" their hobby are more than welcome to stay in the darkness of their basements and hide away from these people. You, however, don't get to speak for me. Speaking from a position of fear or hate is never a good thing, and it is time that we stopped listening to those people regardless of where they are on the political spectrum or if we think they will like us for agreeing with them.

The cultural war has ended. Women and gays and people of color and transgendered people are here. They are geeky and they are proud. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Steamscapes: Asia Kickstarter

Steamscapes: Asia is the "historical Asian steampunk" setting book for the Steamscapes RPG setting (which uses Savage Worlds). This particular setting book focuses largely on "China, Japan and the Indian subcontinent" with smaller sections providing some insight on other Asian nations. Some of the new rules and content include a new profession (the Apothecary), a new racial template (the Oni), and lots of other cool things like elephant cavalry. Who doesn't want to ride an elephant into battle?

Steamscapes: Asia is currently at the tail end of its Kickstarter project with just a couple days left to go, as of this writing, and is close to meeting its funding goal.

If you would like to learn more about the project or support its funding be sure to check out its Kickstarter page.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Mecha: Kaiju RPG Kickstarter


Heroic Journey Publishing's Kickstarter for Mecha: Kaiju is over half-way through its funding period and in sight of its funding goal. The giant monster themed supplement for Mecha includes all the stompiness that you will likely want from the genre, with plenty of art to show various types of kaiju.

The Mecha RPG works off a d6 dice pool with a roll-under mechanic and features players piloting mecha (giant robots). Mecha: Kaiju follows in this style, but introduces another staple of the genre -- the kaiju (giant monsters) that players can play as, with or against.

Hopping onto the Kickstarter is pretty easy, with the PDF of Mecha: Kaiju sitting at US$5. For US$10 you can get the Mecha Core PDF as well as the Mecha: Kaiju PDF. The US$25 tier(s) see the softcover copy of Mecha: Kaiju (along with the PDF) or an all PDF tier that also includes two other Mecha supplements.

For some critiques on the Kickstarter page -- the funding price point seems fine. There is a video that has an appropriate length (though could be a bit shorter) and gives a bit of flavor, but the text can be a bit hard to read in some shots. Both the video and the page could stand to give a bit more information on the game, especially for those who have no idea what it is. Plenty of artwork, though, which was very nice. Having some additional imagery for tier rewards would be nice.

If you want to get your stompy, giant creature and mecha-ness on, be sure to check out Mecha: Kaiju's Kickstarter page or Heroic Journey Publishing's website.

Valiant Next - The Next Wave From Valiant Comics

In 2015…the story starts here!


Valiant Entertainment is proud to announce VALIANT NEXT – an all-new wave of ongoing series and prestige format projects from some of the premier creative talents in comics today. Beginning in December with THE VALIANT #1 (of 4) by Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera, VALIANT NEXT continues with five blockbuster new series in 2015:

  • IVAR, TIMEWALKER #1 by Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry in January
  • DIVINITY #1 (of 4) by Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine in February
  • IMPERIUM #1 by Joshua Dysart and Doug Braithwaite in February
  • NINJAK #1 by Matt Kindt and Clay Mann in March
  • BLOODSHOT REBORN #1 by Jeff Lemire and Mico Suayan in April

Following the critically acclaimed, smash-hit success of VALIANT FIRST in 2014, VALIANT NEXT will present six new starting points perfect for readers new and old. Featuring an exciting selection of new series starring Valiant’s biggest, most-demanded heroes alongside all-new, never before seen characters, VALIANT NEXT is the next epic evolution of Valiant's best-selling, fan-favorite publishing line.

"We've spent two years building an award-winning publishing line, pouring our hearts into re-imagining X-O MANOWAR, HARBINGER and the rest of the Valiant Universe for the modern day. Now it’s time to take it to the next level,” said Valiant CEO and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani. “VALIANT NEXT taps into the same creative energy that made Valiant one of the most legendary comic book companies of all time. When I was a kid, one of the best things about Valiant was picking up an issue with a brand new character, like X-O MANOWAR or NINJAK. I’m excited that we’re doing that again now with series like DIVINITY and IMPERIUM. And that’s only a fraction of what we have coming next.”

"Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt and Paolo Rivera are delivering an absolute monster of a book with THE VALIANT and it’s the perfect title to lead off VALIANT NEXT," said Valiant Editor-In-Chief Warren Simons. "This is our most ambitious initiative yet, and everyone’s bringing their A-game. The creative team of ARCHER & ARMSTRONG reuniting to launch IVAR, TIMEWALKER. Clay Mann on NINJAK – his first ongoing series at Valiant. Mico Suayan tearing it up with Jeff Lemire on BLOODSHOT REBORN. Joshua Dysart and Doug Braithwaite together for the first time for the devastating events of IMPERIUM. Not to mention the introduction of an all-new, all-powerful force in DIVINITY from the minds of Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine. It’s a kick-ass time to be a Valiant fan."


THE VALIANT #1 (of 4)
Written by JEFF LEMIRE & MATT KINDT
Art by PAOLO RIVERA
PRESTIGE FORMAT LIMITED SERIES | BEGINNING DECEMBER 2014

A battle ten millennia in the making…

The Eternal Warrior has protected the Earth for more than 10,000 years. A master of countless weapons and long forgotten martial arts, he is guided by the Geomancers – those who speak for the Earth. During his long watch, the Eternal Warrior has failed three times. Each time, the Geomancer was killed…and a new dark age for humanity began. Each time, he was unable to stop The Immortal Enemy – a monstrous force of nature. A civilization killer. A horror that appears differently each time it arrives…and whose seemingly only purpose is to bring disorder and darkness to the world. Now, the time has come for The Immortal Enemy to return once more. But, this time, the Eternal Warrior will be ready. This time, he has a force greater than any single warrior. This time, he has…THE VALIANT.






IVAR, TIMEWALKER #1
Written by FRED VAN LENTE
Art by CLAYTON HENRY
ONGOING SERIES | BEGINNING JANUARY 2015

From the award-winning team that brought you ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, New York Times best-selling creators Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry present a centuries-spanning race against the clock!

At this very moment in Geneva, Switzerland, history is being made. A thousand meters underground inside the Large Hadron Collider, researcher Neela Sethi is about to discover time travel – and jeopardize her life in the process.  But she doesn't know that yet. Ten minutes from now, every deadbeat chrononaut, wannabe conqueror, and misguided protector of the timestream will be banging down her door. Good thing that the legendary Ivar, Timewalker, got there first…right?  Now it's down to history's most jaded, most tempestuous time traveler to stop the worst of everything that is, was, and will be...before time runs out!

DIVINITY #1 (of 4)
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by TREVOR HAIRSINE
PRESTIGE FORMAT LIMITED SERIES | BEGINNING FEBRUARY 2015

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union – determined to win the Space Race at any cost – green lit a dangerously advanced mission. They sent a man farther into the cosmos than anyone has gone before or since. Lost in the stars, he encountered something unknown. Something that...changed him.

Long thought lost and erased from the history books, he has suddenly returned, crash-landing in the Australian Outback. The few that have been able to reach him believe him to be a deity -– one who turned the scorched desert into a lush oasis. They say he can bend matter, space, and even time to his will. Earth is about to meet a new god. And he's a communist.

How long can it be before the first confrontation between mankind and DIVINITY begins?

From New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt and blockbuster artist Trevor Hairsine comes a shocking new vision of 21st century science fiction in an all-new prestige format limited series.

IMPERIUM #1
Written by JOSHUA DYSART
Art by DOUG BRAITHWAITE
ONGOING SERIES | BEGINNING FEBRUARY 2015

A daring new superhero saga from New York Times best-selling creator Joshua Dysart – writer of of the Harvey-Award nominated series Harbinger – and superstar artist Doug Braithwaite!

Toyo Harada is the most dangerous human being on the planet. Imbued with incredible powers of the mind, he has spent his life guiding humanity from the shadows. But today he is a wanted man.  His powers are public knowledge, his allies have turned to enemies, and he is hunted by every government on the planet.

Instead of surrendering, Harada has one last unthinkable gambit to play: to achieve more, faster, and with less, he will build a coalition of the powerful, the unscrupulous and the insane. No longer content to demand a better future, he will recruit a violent legion from the darkest corners of the Earth to fight for it. The battle for utopia begins now.

NINJAK #1 
Written by MATT KINDT
Art by CLAY MANN
ONGOING SERIES | BEGINNING MARCH 2015 

Then: Meet inexperienced MI-6 recruit Colin King on his first mission in the field as he learns the basics of spycraft and counterintelligence, and develops a volatile relationship with his first handler.  
 
Now: Colin King is Ninjak, the world's foremost intelligence operative, weapons expert, and master assassin.  And he's hunting the Shadow Seven – a secret cabal of shinobi masters with mysterious ties to his training and tragic past.  

For the first time, Ninjak's past and future collide in the pages of an all-new ongoing series from New York Times bestselling writer Matt Kindt and superstar artist Clay Mann!



BLOODSHOT REBORN #1 
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by MICO SUAYAN with JEFF LEMIRE
Colors by DAVID BARON
ONGOING SERIES | BEGINNING APRIL 2015

From New York Times best-selling writer Jeff Lemire and red-hot rising star Mico Suayan, Valiant delivers an all-new ongoing series for Valiant's most unrelenting hero!

Bloodshot's nanites made him a nearly unstoppable killing machine. His enhanced strength, speed, endurance, and healing made him the perfect weapon, and he served his masters at Project Rising Spirit – a private contractor trafficking in violence – very well. 

Now, Bloodshot is a shadow of his former self. He lives in self-imposed exile, reeling from the consequences of his past life and the recent events that nearly drove him mad. But when a rash of shootings by gunmen who appear to look just like Bloodshot begin, his guilt will send him on a mission to stop the killers, even if it means diving headlong into the violence that nearly destroyed him.






For more information on VALIANT NEXT, join Valiant this week at New York Comic Con 2014 for the VALIANT COMICS: THE VALIANT, RAI, X-O MANOWAR, AND BEYOND panel presentation on Friday, October 10th at 12:15 pm. Featuring Matt Kindt (THE VALIANTNINJAK, DIVINITY), Jeff Lemire (THE VALIANTBLOODSHOT REBORN), Paolo Rivera (THE VALIANT), Fred Van Lente (IVAR, TIMEWALKER), Robert Venditti (X-O MANOWAR), Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons, and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani, get your first look inside each VALIANT NEXT release right here, only at New York Comic Con!

Friday, October 03, 2014

Mini Reviews of Two Fate Accelerated Mini Products

I like Fate Accelerated. It is a quick, easy and streamlined game that has a deceptive depth of play options in proportion to the lightness of the rules. While I do like Fate Core, I think that Accelerated and its adaptability fits my interests and style of play much more closely. I picked up a couple of PDF mini supplements for the game over at RPGNow. They both definitely have some meat to them and have utility in your own Fate Accelerated games.

First up is the Accelerated Book of Approaches from Dice Monkey Productions. This 19 page PDF contains a cover (seen at left) and three pages of OGL. There is some good stuff to this PDF, but I really see it more as a starting point than anything else.

The best part of this book is the in-depth explanation of the Fate Accelerated approaches. One place where people new to Accelerated trip up is thinking that approaches work like stats in other games, or even like skills in Fate Core or other games. How these things work is right there on the tin: approaches. Keeping in mind that approaches are how a character approaches a game situation can make them much less frustrating, and unlock the key to their simplicity and flexibility. It is the approaches where Fate Accelerated really sings, and where a lot of the game's streamlining is happening. A lot is packed into a little space with approaches.

For those who might be new to Fate Accelerated, the Accelerated Book of Approaches also offers some new approaches inspired by the attributes from various open gaming licence systems like D6, D20 and Mongoose's Traveller rules. This highlights the flexibility and hackability of Fate Accelerated by introducing new approaches that can help familiarize a new game by introducing elements that players may already understand from other games. For me, this is a strength of the Open Gaming License, and I would like to see more publishers bring bits and pieces back and forth from various licensed systems to make new things.

However, to be honest, the adaptations in this book are not as interesting as they could be. I think that sample characters could have better demonstrated these adapted approaches. That isn't to say that these approaches wouldn't work, just that they aren't as flavorful and as interesting as they could be.

Before you give up on the Accelerated Book of Approaches we haven't actually gotten to the best part: the sets of brand new approaches. There are three sets of original approaches for "Action"-oriented games, games set in "wizarding schools" and also for "space knight" campaigns. The Action approaches are interesting, and could work well for a pulp-based Fate Accelerated game, or one inspired by the television show Leverage. The Wizarding School approaches are obviously inspired by the Harry Potter books/movies, however these approaches could be used for any sort of wizard-oriented campaign where everyone is a spell-caster of some sort. A creative GM could build an Ars Magica Acclerated hack off of these approaches. The Space Knights approaches look like they are inspired by the "force powers" from the original West End Games Star Wars RPG, which is an interesting...approach.

Like I said, this book is a starting point for people using Fate Accelerated in their games. There is still going to have to be some lifting on the part of the GM to explain these approaches in a game, and to figure out the situational applications of some of them. People interested in a D&D Accelerated game should also look at the Freeport Companion that Evil Hat and Green Ronin put out. While that is a supplement for Fate Core, it could easily be hacked for use with Fate Accelerated. It also has some interesting stuff for anyone looking to do D&Dish gaming using any version of the Fate rules.

Next is a smaller PDF than the previous. Interstellar Patrol is an 8 page supplement for Fate Accelerated that gives you the basics to start a Star Trek inspired game. No new approaches, although it would be interesting to mix this with the Mongoose Traveller approaches from the Accelerated Book of Approaches to come up with a Traveller-inspired game.

This PDF is all starting point. The GM of an Interstellar Patrol game is going to have to understand the genre of Star Trek and how it is different from other types of science fiction. However, as a Pay What You Want PDF you can pick it up for free. I do think it is worth a dollar (at the least) for giving GMs a starting point. The cover is pretty cool as well.

With this PDF and the Fate Accelerated rules you can pick up and play a fast game on one of those nights when not everyone is able to show up for game night but you still want to play a game. That quickness and simplicity of Fate Accelerated is another one of the many strengths of the system.

I recommend both, or either of these two supplements for Fate Accelerated. Hopefully they will be successful enough to encourage more simple and low cost plug-ins for the game.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Indie +2 Bundle In Its Last Hours At The Bundle of Holding

Over at the Bundle of Holding they are in the last hours of a bundle full of great indie female game designers. At the time of this post (18 hours to go!) they had only sold 554 bundles. This is criminally negligent on the part of the tabletop gaming community. Click through on that convenient link and get some great DRM-free gaming PDFs for your gaming collections.

For the base price of $9.95 (US dollars, of course) you get three great games: Awesome Adventures by Willow Palecek (a streamlined hack of the Spirit of the Century SRD), Cogs, Cakes and Swordsticks by Lynne Hardy (a game of Steampunk adventure in Jolly Old England) and Tragedy In Five Parts by Michelle Lyons-McFarland (a Shakespearean role-playing game). The retail value on these PDFs would be $30, but through the Bundle of Holding, you can get them for a third of that.

But! The fun comes in when you sweeten the pot and go over the base price. If you bid over the threshold amount (just over $20 at the time of this post) you will get an exciting variety of other RPGs as well. Another Fine Mess by Ann Dupuis is a classic adventure for the Fudge RPG that allows to you play animal characters. Blade & Crown by Rachel Kronick combines the faux realism of 80s fantasy adventure RPGs with the narrativist sensibilities of indie RPG design. Cartoon Action Hour by Cynthia Celeste Miller takes you back to the days of your favorite Saturday Morning Cartoons of the 80s. Monsters & Magic by Sarah Newton combines old school gaming with new school approaches into a fast and fun fantasy roleplaying game. Shelter In Place by J. R. Blackwell is a live action role-playing game of zombie fun. Steal Away Jordan by Julia Bond Ellingboe is an exploration of slavery. Not for everyone, but it is still an intriguing game.

Why should you support a bundle like this? Two reasons. First, the games are cool, interesting and fun. Second, diversity is always a good thing. Gamers can get locked in their ways and only play the same games, sometimes for decades. Consider getting exposed to new outlooks like the Five Year Mission of the Enterprise and "explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations." You might find your next favorite game if you look around.



Friday, September 26, 2014

The Last Parsec On Kickstarter


Pinnacle Entertainment Group has a new Kickstarter running for their new sci-fi Savage Worlds setting, The Last Parsec. With the new Kickstarter comes a press release that details some information on the game, the Kickstarter, and includes links to more information. Those already interested will likely enjoy looking at this primer PDF for The Last Parsec that goes into a little more depth on the setting and races available. Of note, The Last Parsec will require the Savage Worlds core rules and Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion to play.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Looking At Little Wizards - An All Ages Fantasy RPG

After a brief pause, +David Rollins gives up some opinions on Little Wizards, an all ages fantasty RPG from Crafty Games. There is also a free preview available of the game on RPGNow.


By David Rollins

Another Gen Con has come and gone and as the dust settles down on this year's ENnie Awards you may be sifting through the winners looking for gold, but if you are a parent looking for a good RPG to play with your kids you should be looking at one of this year's nominees.

Little Wizards from Crafty Games was nominated for the Best Family Game ENnie and while it did not win, it is worth considering if you are looking for a quality RPG to share with your kids.

The layout works well on multiple formats. I read the the pdf copy I received for review on my laptop, my desktop and even my phone. The two columns on square pages worked well on a wide screen and the columns fit easily on my phone screen so I could read a half-page at a time with no trouble. I also printed it out so I could get a feel for how the art worked in the book form.

Arnü West's illustrations are brilliant, with plenty of action in every scene depicted. It's clear at a mere glance that this game is all about young wizards doing cool stuff. West's style mixes the familiar with the fantastic to open up a world that is both magical and comfortable for a brand new player. Some of the choices West makes, such as the viewpoint and the form of the buildings, reminds me of illustrations from old copies of Peter Pan which gives everything a classic feel.

The mechanics of the game are based on a roll of two, six-sided dice. The player rolls and adds a trait to meet a target number based on difficulty of a chosen action. That much is familiar to most gaming parents but there are some innovations that encourage a certain type of play. Traits are rated as Good (+0), Better (+1) or Best (+2). No character can be the best at everything so the players will need to work in teams where everyone has an important role to play. There are also rules for cooperation that allow other characters to help, so players only need to come up with a reasonable way their characters can contribute to start stacking up +1s on their friends' action rolls.

Character creation is easy, with a handful of choices and random tables that players can roll on, choose from, or simply use as inspiration. My daughter had a great time rolling up her Little Wizard's personality with the tables.

The Magic system is open-ended with plenty of room for players to get creative to use their magic to solve problems and plenty of suggestions and examples to help them along as well. There are different types of magic so again, teamwork is emphasized in the design.

There are no hit points or health in this game. If a character gets hurt it becomes a problem that needs to be dealt with. The violence in the game is on par with what you would find in a cartoon program like Scooby Do or My Little Pony so it's not likely that the players will find themselves dealing with character injuries often.

My favourite part of this game is the setting! It's wonderful how the original french author, Antoine Bauza, and the english language developer, Amanda Valentine, managed to blend so much of my favourite fantasy fiction for young readers into Coinworld. I see echoes of Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea in the Archipelagoes and the role wizards occupy as problem solvers. Terry Pratchett's Discworld shines in the shape of Coinworld and in the types of magic. A game about young wizards can't escape comparison to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and it certainly shows in much of the visual aesthetic and technology level of the Little Wizards setting.

Coinworld is a disc with two sides, a light side with mischievous creatures like fairies and a darker side with monsters like goblins and vampires. The two sides are a mirror of each other, with each cluster of islands forming an archipelago that has a counterpart on the other side of the world. These archipelagoes have their own personality and features. What I like is that they are described in broad strokes with a few paragraphs of basic description and what kind of adventure would likely happen there. The more detailed descriptions of the archipelagoes come at the end of the book in the three sample adventures. Each adventure gives a little more detail about its location in the introduction. This choice implies that the world is not really defined until the characters actually visit there. This sand-box approach is a great way to get your kids used to the old-school style of play. The sample adventures give players and new “Narrators” a great place to start and plenty of hooks for adventures to have after each of the ones provided.

The only drawback of this game is there is no visual component. Most of the game is theatre-of-the-
mind style play without maps or miniatures. My youngest daughter is a visual learner so the games with paper miniatures tend to hold her attention better than this style of game. My oldest, on the other hand, is an auditory learner so this game turned out to be a great fit for her. I found it to be more of a feature than a drawback because I prefer the theatre-of-the-mind style of play to maps, grids and miniatures but it is something to consider.

Little Wizards is a wonderful table-top role-playing game to play with kids. It's a great introduction to the game and has a decent experience system so it can work well for long term play too. I like that the material that it draws on for inspiration doesn't force the same old fantasy tropes and assumptions on new players. They are offered a new world to explore and make their own. If that sounds good to you, head over to the Crafty Games' website to find out how you can get your copy!

A panelist on the Geeky Voices Carry podcast, +David Rollins talks about gaming, fantasy fiction and other interests of his across social media like Google+. David also plays games. A lot of games.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Dorkland Interview -- Amazing Adventures RPG with Jason Vey


The Amazing Adventures RPG Kickstarter is entering its last week of funding. Troll Lord Games' SIEGE engine-powered pulpy RPG has already met and surpassed its funding goal and is starring down another stretch goal. During this busy period, we here at Dorkland! got a chance to sit down with Jason Vey, author of Amazing Adventures, for an interview.

Dorkland!: You're no stranger to Kickstarter -- what have you done differently, if anything, this time around? What do you feel has really been key to your quick funding?

Jason Vey: Honestly, this is the second Kickstarter I personally have been involved with, but the last one was for a different company which pretty much handled everything. On this one, the Trolls are keeping me very involved, asking for ideas to help push it, having me help with the marketing, answering comments from supporters, and the like.

DL: Apart from the hardcover edition of the book(s), what else is the Kickstarter aiming to do for Amazing Adventures? What all might be of interest to current owners of the softcover edition?

JV: Well, this isn't just getting the book in hardcover. We're doing a complete cover-to-cover edit of the core rules. That means incorporating errata, expanding and clarifying things, adding a few additional options, giving a character class or two a facelift, and re-expressing the rules so that they read more in line with Castles & Crusades, to increase compatibility between the two games.

DL: What are some of the inspirations behind Amazing Adventures? What kind of pulp can potential players expect?

JV: What I wanted to do with this game was provide a framework to model ANY sort of pulp. If you want to do an Indiana Jones type game, the rules are there. If the Rocketeer or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow are more your bag, you can do it. If you dig The Shadow, there's rules for that type of character. If H.P. Lovecraft is more your thing, we've got Lovecraftian horrors and a madness system in there. If you're into Philip Marlowe hardboiled detective noir, go for it. My inspiration for this was not pulp in the strict, two-fisted way many games portray it, but pulp in terms of every sub-genre that appeared from the Dime Novels of the 1880s all the way through the sci-fi of the 50s and into the movies and stories that were inspired by them today.

DL: What seperates Amazing Adventures from other pulpy RPGs?

JV: Like I said, I think it's the breadth of possibilities. Most pulp games focus on high-flying, two-fisted adventure and neglect the horror, noir and sci-fi elements of pulp to a certain degree. This isn't true in all cases, but certainly there's a lean towards two-gun heroes in pulp RPGs. I wanted AA to be more broad in scope than that.

DL: What might interest fans of pulp stories that are not currently avid gamers? How easily might they be brought into Amazing Adventures?

JV: The SIEGE engine that powers Amazing Adventures and Castles & Crusades is so easy to use that it's an ideal engine for new gamers. The system is easy to grasp, fast and fun to play, and gets out of the way to let you focus on the game. I think most fans of pulp dream of telling their own stories of horror, weirdness, adventure, noir, sci-fi, or whatever their preferred sub-genre is. Role playing allows them to do exactly that, and Amazing Adventures is a perfect means by which they can get into the hobby and give it a try.

DL: Amazing Adventures has guidelines on how to run a pulp game -- how in-depth are they? How much background does a potential player need to run or play, if they have little to no experience with pulp?

JV: The book contains everything you need to get up and running, and in the second printing, I'm expanding the Game Master section even further for extra detail in structuring and running a pulp game. With the core book alone you have everything you need. The Manual of Monsters and Companion books, however, will blow the doors off the system and take it to unbelievable levels by greatly expanding what's already there and giving you new rules for everything from sub-genre emulation to expanded vehicle rules to mystic locations and even live action rules. I'm really excited to get the second printing and sourcebooks out there and see what people think!

DL: Lastly, what are some of the most 'amazing' moments you have had with Amazing Adventures? The kind of moments that really highlight why people should buy and play this game.

JV: Man, it's the players and characters that make the game. Some of my favorite moments have actually been con adventures I've run. I'll never forget a group I ran that had a vampire trying to get an ancient bible of an evil cult away from the PCs, and one of the players was playing Marie Laveau. Her strategy was to start stabbing the book and running around in circles while the vampire chased her and everyone else took pot shots at it! That probably doesn't read quite as funny as it played out, but trust me: there were tears of laughter in the eyes of everyone at the table.

We also, in the same group, had Bucky Newson, the Gadgeteer, try on a lie detector he'd designed, only to have it fail spectacularly to the amusement of everyone present.

There were moments of great heroism as well, like when a group's raider, Tennessee O'Malley, went toe to toe alone against an angry Succubus...and not only survived, but sent her on the run.

Some of these things are actually made possible by the character customization rules in Amazing Adventures. Unlike most class-and-level systems, we incorporate the ability to customize your character class with things like backgrounds, knowledge skills, and Generic Class Abilities, which you swap out with standard class abilities to make your character different and unique from other characters of the same class. In addition, Fate Points are a mechanic that's fairly well known, which we incorporate to allow for turning failure into success, or success into wild heroics.

I could gush about the game for pages and pages. I'm really proud of this game, probably moreso than anything I've done in my 15 years in the industry. But my hope is that people will take a look and fall in love with it for themselves. Even if you're not a fan of class-and-level systems, I think Amazing Adventures may be an exception, due to the incremental way the SIEGE engine scales.

******

We here at Dorkland! would like to thank Jason for his time in answering our questions. For more book-stabbing and lie detector mishaps, be sure to check out the Amazing Adventures RPG Kickstarter page and Troll Lord Games' website!