Sunday, April 26, 2009

We Have Ignition!

I has new blog. What could it be for?

John W. Campbell

John W. Campbell: "John Wood Campbell, Jr. (June 8, 1910 – July 11, 1971) was an influential figure in science fiction. As editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later called Analog Science Fiction and Fact), from late 1937 until his death, he is generally credited with shaping the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction.

Isaac Asimov called Campbell 'the most powerful force in science fiction ever, and for the first ten years of his editorship he dominated the field completely.'"

Space Opera

Space opera: "Space opera is a subgenre of speculative fiction or science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing powerful (and sometimes quite fanciful) technologies and abilities. Perhaps the most significant trait of space opera is that settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale."

Astounding Science Fiction

Astounding Science Fiction: "Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science fiction magazine. As of 2009, it is the longest continually published magazine of that genre. Initially published in 1930 in the United States as Astounding Stories as a pulp magazine, it has undergone several name changes, primarily to Astounding Science-Fiction in 1938, and Analog Science Fact & Fiction in 1960. In November 1992, its logo changed to use the term 'Fiction and Fact' rather than 'Fact & Fiction.'"

Planet Stories

Planet Stories: "Planet Stories was a pulp science fiction magazine, published by Fiction House with a total of 71 issues appeared between 1939 and 1955. It featured a particular kind of romantic, swashbuckling adventure in a science fiction context, and was renowned for its colorful covers, typically featuring a young woman in (for the time) rather scanty apparel. For a brief time it was edited by Jerome Bixby. Twenty years later many of these stories were reprinted in paperback as space opera or science fantasy."

Startling Stories

Startling Stories: "Startling Stories was a pulp science fiction magazine which also published a lot of science fantasy. A companion magazine to Thrilling Wonder Stories and Captain Future magazine, it published 99 issues from 1939 to 1955. It was edited by Sam Merwin, Jr. from 1945 to 1951.

It featured a novel in each issue, several of which were written by Henry Kuttner. Among the classic stories which were published in it were The Black Flame by Stanley G. Weinbaum, The Last Days of Shandakor and The Star-Men of Llyrdis by Leigh Brackett, and Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke. From 1940 to 1952 it featured covers by Earle Bergey. After Captain Future magazine ceased publication, some of the final stories about the eponymous character were published in Startling."

Golden Age of Science Fiction

Golden Age of Science Fiction: "The first Golden Age of Science Fiction — often recognized as the period from the late 1930s through the 1950s — was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published. In the history of science fiction, the Golden Age follows the 'pulp era' of the 1920s and 30s, and precedes New Wave science fiction of the 1960s and 70s. According to historian Adam Roberts, 'the phrase Golden Age valorises a particular sort of writing: 'Hard SF', linear narratives, heroes solving problems or countering threats in a space-opera or technological-adventure idiom.'"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ethan Van Sciver - Behind the Lanterns' Looks

It's not Marvel Zombies with the whole tacky thing they do, where you see Peter Parker like, eating Aunt May. You just want to shower and cry and go talk to your minister. We're not going to do that.

First Look At: The Web...

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Brief History of Roleplaying Games

Definitely an interesting read. I think that a historical perspective is often lost among both gamers and designers.

Indy Planet :: A Whole New World of Comics!

I just found this interesting looking small press online comic shop. Anyone every use it and have any feedback? There's some fun looking books.

The Georia Guidestones

Looking for guidelines on how to rebuild after an apocalypse? Look no further than the Georgia Guidestones.

A massive granite monument espousing the conservation of mankind and future generations. Sources for the sizable financing of the project choose to remain anonymous. The wording of the message proclaimed on the monument is in 12 languages, including the archaic languages of Sanskrit, Babylonian Cuneiform, Egyptian Hieroglyphics and Classical Greek, as well as English, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic Hindi, Chinese, Spanish, Swahili

the words are exactly as the Sponsors provided them:

1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2. Guide reproduction wisely - improving fitness and diversity.
3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
4. Rule passion - faith - tradition - and all things with tempered reason.
5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
9. Prize truth - beauty - love - seeking harmony with the infinite.
10. Be not a cancer on the earth - Leave room for nature - Leave room for nature.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kicking It Old Style

Well, I like the old school approach to gaming and I like maybe I should give a shot to combining them? Imagine an alternate 1976 where Fudge was the system created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson for this little tiny fantasy game.

Back in Blackmoor - Out of the Box with Ken Hite

This column occasionally takes a little heat for being head over heels in love with the hippie elves of the 'indie gaming community,' to which charge this columnist pleads emphatically guilty. But a year after Gary Gygax’ final leveling up, it’s time to look back at the original indie gaming community, which is to say at modern-day players of the original indie game: Dungeons & Dragons, B.C. (Before Corporatism). Forget 4e vs. 3.5 vs. Pathfinder — in the “old school” community, AD&D is still just a little bit too slick and citified for some folks.

I’ll have more to say on the storied rivalries — and eerie similarities — between indie elves and old-school dwarves in later columns, but I figured I should start out with an introduction to the whole concept. And who better to introduce me, and through me you good people, to it than James Maliszewski? James has written a lot of gaming material, of which I might select the Gear Krieg RPG as one of my personal favorites, but is perhaps best known now for his retro imperial-SF game Thousand Suns and — the reason he’s here now — his tetchy, diamantine, opinionated, finely-researched, downright amazing blog Grognardia. From that pulpit, he’s become, if not the Pope of Old School, certainly its William Phillips, and he’s been generous enough to answer us some questions.

Fresh Blood for Wild Cards

From George R.R. Martin's Livejournal:
The Wild Cards series began in New Mexico in the mid-80s with a group of writers and friends who all gamed together, players in an epic years-long campaign of the role-playing game SUPERWORLD. That gaming group included me, Melinda Snodgrass, Walter Jon Williams, John Miller and Gail Gerstner Miller, Parris, Chip Wideman, and Victor Milan... but when we decided to pitch Wild Cards as a shared world anthology, I reached out to some other writers who shared our love of comic books and superheroes, and Roger Zelazny, Steve Leigh, Lew Shiner, Bud Simons, Pat Cadigan, Edward Bryant, Leanne C. Harper, Arthur Byron Cover, and Howard Waldrop came aboard. So did Steve Perrin, the creator of the SUPERWORLD game that had inspired us. That core group of writers and creators produced the first seven books in the Wild Cards series.

It's always been my feeling, however, that any long-running series risks growing stagnant after awhile unless it's freshened up from time to time... and the best way to do that is by regularly adding new characters, new concepts, new conflicts... new writers. Wild Cards has had a long tradition of dragging new inmates into the asylum (some of them kicking and screaming). Over the years, the original founding members of the Wild Cards consortium were joined by others: William F. Wu, Michael Cassutt, Chris Claremont, Kevin Andrew Murphy, Bob Wayne, Laura J. Mixon, Sage Walker, Daniel Abraham... and most recently the Class of 2007, made up of Caroline Spector, Christopher Rowe, Carrie Vaughn, Ian Tregillis, and S.L. Farrell.

Renewal is a never-ending process, however. With SUICIDE KINGS in the pipeline and the Committee triad wrapped up, the time was ideal to go out and recruit some more poor damned fools for the Wild Cards projects to come (which I can't talk about, not just yet, but watch this space, we'll have news for you soon).

So let me introduce all you Wild Cards fans (and those who aren't yet, but soon will be) to the Wild Cards Class of 2009.

First Look At: The Hangman...

It’s been a Red Circle kind of week, huh? Well, we’re not only publishing The Shield and Inferno, friends, so why stop there? As some of you might recall, The Hangman is one of the key Red Circle heroes making his DCU debut in August. He’s also one of the characters superstar artist J.G. Jones took a pass at when asked to tinker with a few of the RC characters. So, to continue to show you an inside look at the creative process here at 1700 Broadway, I’ve included J.G.’s initial Hangman sketch and artist Jesus Saiz’s final cover.

Here's a link to some info about the original Hangman on a fansite.

First Look At: Inferno...

Here's a link to some information on the original Inferno from a fansite.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hackmaster Basic

Note the way cool Erol Otus cover (in homage to the old D&D cover images).

Take your next step out of the ordinary with the new edition of the HackMaster fantasy role-playing game! Play as a dwarf, elf, halfling, or human, and take the role of a fighter, thief, mage, or cleric, in an epic saga filled with danger and endless excitement.

The HackMaster Basic rulebook has everything you need to start playing, with easy to read rules for new players, and information for GameMasters - including descriptions of over 75 monsters - all with that award-winning, classic HackMaster feel. Come answer the call – adventure awaits!

(160-176 pgs est., b&w; ISBN 1-59459-103-2)

First Look At: The Shield...

As most of you know, come August, we’ll be publishing a number of books spotlighting the Red Circle characters, specifically The Shield, The Web, The Hangman and Inferno, under the watchful eye of writer J. Michael Straczynski. But before we get into all the specifics, let’s look at some cool art, shall we? Here’s a peek at THE SHIELD, from artist Jesus Saiz. Check back tomorrow for more. Enjoy the commute.

Here's a link to some information on the original Shield from a fansite.

Monday, April 20, 2009

GAMA Trade Show Attendance Down 18%

Despite a scaled down exhibitor roster and buyer attendance that dropped 18%, attendees and exhibitors at GAMA Trade Show were surprisingly optimistic over-all, with upbeat hopes for the hobby game business in 2009.

'The show was awesome for us,' Anthony Gallela of Bucephalus Games told us. 'We made 80 or more orders. I had seven salespeople here who were constantly busy. People were very excited, very optimistic about what was going on this year. I didn’t hear any pessimism at all. And they were excited about our line, but they were just excited in general about what they were doing.'

Mongoose to Publish RedBrick Games

Mongoose Publishing has announced that beginning in July it will add games from two other companies, RedBrick Limited and Cubicle 7, to its line. Games from New Zealand company RedBrick Limited will be published under its Flaming Cobra imprint. RedBrick titles planned for release by Mongoose include new editions of the Earthdawn, Fading Suns, Blue Planet, Age of Legend 4E, and Equinox lines. First up is Earthdawn Third Edition, which will be released in July. RedBrick retains full creative control.

Cubicle 7 titles will also be sold by Mongoose, beginning in July. Two releases are planned for July, Victoriana 2nd Edition Core Rulebook, and Starblazer Adventures: The Rock and Roll Space Opera Adventure Game.

KODT Tribute to Dave Arneson

Hasbro 1st-quarter profit falls 47 percent

Hasbro Inc. said Monday that first-quarter profit fell 47 percent as retailers cut back on their inventory, but the toy maker said products tied into new movies like the upcoming Transformers film should boost future results.

The maker of board games such as Clue and Scrabble also said it instituted a salary freeze and is hiring only for critical positions in an effort to cut costs.

'We don't believe these results are a reflection of the underlying strength of our brands,' Chief Executive Brian Goldner said in a conference call. Instead, he said, they were a by-product of retailers cutting inventory levels in the poor economy.

Cult author JG Ballard dies at 78

More than any other, it was Ballard who showed me that SF could be more than just genre fiction. That his death happened without being screamed from the rooftops is a shame for both fans of SF and literature.
The author JG Ballard, famed for novels such as Crash and Empire of the Sun, has died aged 78 after a long illness.

His agent Margaret Hanbury said the author had been ill 'for several years' and had died on Sunday morning.

Despite being referred to as a science fiction writer, Jim Ballard said his books were instead 'picturing the psychology of the future'.

His most acclaimed novel was Empire of the Sun, based on his childhood in a Japanese prison camp in China.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cult of Done

Cult of Done, originally uploaded by spatulated.



I had heard much about the Microlite20 rules (and I had even downloaded them at one point) but I never really looked at them that closely. Now that I have, I really like what I am seeing. Enough that I've started working on PulpLite20, my own beefed up take on the ruleset that is focused on pulp gaming (all sorts of pulp gaming I might add).

The core (which I am currently developing) will have all of the rules for play and then the two supplements for it that I've got in my head will cover Modern Occult and Science Fantasy genres. Eventually, there might even be more...depends on my mood and how things are received I guess.

My goals with creating PulpLite20 is to build a ruleset that handles cinematic action in a simple manner with a minimum of stat blocks. I've always like the underlying simplicity of the OGL Fantasy rules (and you know what I'm talking about) but not as much the layers of complexity that have been tacked onto it. Microlite has given me a foundation that I can build upon in the direction that I want.

This is going to be a heavier ruleset than the baseline Microlite but still much, much, much lighter than other OGL Fantasy/Modern alternatives out there. If you're familiar with my Open Core Quick rules, I would like to think that I am developing something similar (maybe a little lighter) to those rules on the heaviness spectrum.

Now, I know that gamers are an impatient lot. I want people to realize that just because I am starting this blog and talking about PulpLite20 that doesn't mean that it is ready to be released out to you. This is just how my thought processes work. This blog just gives a starting point for discussion.

Friday, April 17, 2009

DC Comics Present: Wednesday Comics

The brainchild of DC Comics Art Director Mark Chiarello, WEDNESDAY COMICS is a unique and groundbreaking storytelling method — 16 pages, printed on broadsheet-size newsprint, featuring weekly stories by the best and brightest creators out there. It’s gotta look great, right?

LotFP: RPG: Edition Wars

I've got other things going on for a week or two so posting will be light. But when something must be said...

This post here bemoans Tim Kask's editorial in the newly-released Knockspell. More specifically, it complains about Kask's antagonistic tone.

Readers can guess how much sympathy I have for that complaint.

Antagonism is a completely natural, and perhaps unavoidable, when it comes to the 'Old School Renaissance' (or as I like to think of it, 'The Age of the Return to Reason,' to continue the antagonism). For several reasons.

Thanks to the power of technology...

I can blog from my cell phone!

Edit: It doesn't give the post a title, but this is nice because it means that I can add micro-blogging directly to Dorkland!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ron Edwards Too Good For Indie Press Revolution

Its a bit of old news, but it isn't something that I would have caught the first time around. Since distribution models in the RPG "biz" are of a selfish interest to me I read about these things when they pop up.

Is it going to make any sort of a difference in the grand scheme of things?
Ah, the RPG community. No difference is too small to be an excuse to fragment it further!

Edit: A couple of related threads here and here that might also be of further interest, from the same time period.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Dave Arneson R.I.P.

David Lance Arneson (Oct 1, 1947 - Apr 7, 2009) was a game player, game designer, and game entrepreneur. He was also a true gentleman and a dear friend. As one of the co-designers of the Dungeons and Dragons game, he started something that is much bigger than all of us. It was not only a new game, but a new KIND of game and it spawned an entire industry. Without Dave, it never would have happened. He taught, lectured, designed games, and started at least three companies. He won several awards, including the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design's Hall of Fame (Origins) in 1984. In 1984 he married Frankie Ann Morneau and they had one daughter, Malia. In addition to Dungeons & Dragons, games or scenarios he wrote or co-authored include Don't Give Up The Ship, Blackmoor, Dungeon Master's Index, First Fantasy Campaign, Adventures in Fantasy, Robert Aspirin's Thieves World, Citybook II, DNA/DOA, Case of the Pacific Clipper, and more. We are all much better off for his time on earth, but the world is less than it was, with him gone. I never knew him to be rude to a fan, or turn down a friend in need. In fact, I believe his last words to me were 'Let me know if there's anything I can do for you.' I wish there was something I could do for you, my friend. Good bye, and may God bless you. -- Rick Loomis

Here are some further obituaries from more mainstream media:

LA Times
Pioneer Press
New York Times

From the Pioneer Press piece:
Dave Arneson was a master dreamer.

His daughter thought every girl grew up with dragons and fairies.

His father couldn't figure out why the college kids in his St. Paul basement weren't raiding the liquor cabinet.

But Arneson — who in 1974 co-created Dungeons & Dragons, the best-known and best-selling role-playing game of all time — molded fantasy in such a way that many lament him as the "unsung hero" of the gaming industry.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

iHero Entertainment

Superheroes predate comic books by decades. They existed on radio, in pulp novels, in movie serials, and they were not originally intended for children. Our award-winning magazine, Cyber Age Adventures, took a giant leap forward in that fine tradition and gave you the most ground-breaking, thought-provoking fiction you’ve ever read in a superhero setting. Because the single most important thing you need to realize about superheroes is that they’re not a 'genre.' They’re a setting, like deep space, or underwater. As long as you obey the rules of that setting you can tell any kind of story you want. Action, adventure, mystery, romance, tragedy, comedy… anything.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Wizards of the Coast Sues Eight

Yes, because it is the fault of the sites selling PDFs that people repost them to torrents. Why not go after the stores that sell people books that are scanned and then redistributed through torrents? By that logic those stores are just as culpable as the online PDF stores. Congratulations, Wizards of the Coast, for slowly stepping backwards out of the 21st century.

So, how have those RIAA lawsuits against these sites being doing for getting illegal material off of the internet anyway?
Wizards of the Coast has filed three lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against eight defendants located in the United States, Poland and the Philippines alleging copyright infringement of its recently released Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook 2. The lawsuit contends that the defendants illegally distributed the Player’s Handbook 2 via free file-sharing Websites, and that these uploads resulted in a substantial number of lost sales and revenue for Wizards of the Coast.

WotC President Greg Leeds commented: “Violations of our copyrights and piracy of our products hurt not only Wizards of the Coast’s financial health but also the health of whole gaming community including retailers and players. We have brought these suits to stop the illegal activities of these defendants, and to deter future unauthorized and unlawful file-sharing.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Author and Designer Aaron Allston in the Hospital

We just heard word today that Del Rey Outcast author Aaron Allston underwent bypass surgery yesterday, and is currently in recovery in the hospital.

Aaron’s family has set up a blood donation sponsorship. If anyone in the Dallas area would like to donate blood, you can go to the National Blood Exchange or Carter BloodCare. Say that you are donating blood for Aaron Allston, patient of Carter Blood Care in Bedford, TX, and give his sponsor number: SPON 047786.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Kore Dice 5 - Interview with Seraphim Guard’s Creative Director, Chris Helton

Perhaps a little self-aggrandizing to post this, but the podcast featuring my interview by Walt Snider went live (and I wasn't paying attention either). Hear the secrets of Seraphim Guard, upcoming products and my ideas on game design.

Just don't comment on my voice.