Monday, January 27, 2014

The Crushing Mediocrity of Mainstreaming Geek Media

If you are on Twitter, a fan of comics and you're not following the John Byrne Says Twitter account you should fix that. The owner of the account (not actually John Byrne) posts a combination of quotes pulled from a variety of sources and the occasional bit of explication into a fascinating insight into the mind of a sometimes controversial comics creator.

This series of tweets led me to making this post:

 This is a sentiment that you've been seeing more and more lately, and not just from creators but from fans as well. Everyone wants their favorite forms of entertainment to become popular and "mainstream," they just aren't prepared for the repercussions that come with that popularity. It makes me glad that role-playing games declined in popularity from their heyday in the 90s. Yeah, I would love to see more people playing D&D or Vampire or Champions or whatever game makes them happy, but I am glad that we don't have to deal with the bone-crushing mediocrity that has invaded other forms of "geek" entertainment, like comics.

Just in case you don't know who John Byrne is, click here.

Nexus Game Fair Returns Summer Gaming Conventions to Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE, WI – After a 12 year hiatus, summer convention gaming returns to the city of Milwaukee with the inaugural show of Nexus Game Fair which is set for June 19-22, 2014. With hundreds of individual events planned, an extensive line-up of industry special guests and VIPs, Nexus Game Fair is ready for success.

“Gamers are interested in affordable, centrally located destinations,” says show founder Chris Hoffner, “and Milwaukee has both great history and nostalgia for game conventions, having hosted both the Gen Con and Origins Game Fairs.  Milwaukee is also a great travel destination, with an international airport, professional sports teams and internationally known breweries.”

Events Manager, Harold Johnson, is the former director of Gen Con who led that show to grow to over 20,000 attendees during the 1990s.  “We’re very excited about our inaugural year,” says Johnson, “and we’re confident in our ability to run a well organized, event focused show.  We’ve already committed to 3 years worth of show dates and look forward to extending our stay in Milwaukee indefinitely.”

Nexus Game Fair has already signed a number of industry special guests, including Jolly Blackburn (Knights of the Dinner Table), Mike Carr (Dawn Patrol), Chris Clark (Inner City Games Designs), Bob Coggins (Napoleon’s Battles), Dave “Zeb” Cook (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition), Jeff Easley (Staff Artist, TSR, Inc.), Todd Fisher (Revolution & Empire), Matt Forbeck (Deadlands), Ernie Gygax (Gygax Magazine), Tim Kask (Dragon Magazine), Dave Kenzer (Hackmaster), James Lowder (Author, Prince of Lies), Frank Mentzer (Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set), Merle Rasmussen (Top Secret), Jim Ward (Gamma World), Skip Williams (Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition) and more.

“We’re not just providing our attendees with the chance to personally meet these prestigious industry notables,” says Johnson, “but also to game with them.  Nexus Game Fair is committed to offering a variety of high quality events to our attendees.  We’ve partnered with demo and organized play teams from several industry leading companies, including Paizo’s Pathfinder Society and Catalyst Game Studios' Shadowrun Missions, in order to bring a phenomenal array of events to our show.”

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Greyed Out Productions Dice Bags

Looking for some cool, handmade dicebags to move your dice from place to place? Look no further than +Michael Althauser and Greyed Out Productions. You can order through their Etsy store, or contact Michael for custom orders. Michael sent a couple of his bags to me to review, and I have to say that I am impressed.

First, some pictures of the bags...

The bags that I received were the Dungeon Map Bag and the Dwarven Anvil Mini Bag. Both bags are made of good quality fabric. The Dungeon Map Bag was lined with suede, while the Dwarven Anvil was lined with a linen material. I'm not sure if the camera on my cell phone does them justice because these are some really good dice bags. The stitching is strong, straight (a very important quality to stitching I am told), and the cords will definitely hold a bag full of dice.

Of course, the first thing that I did was fill them with dice, so we could get some dice porn...I mean see how they look. To help demonstrate the sizes of the bags, I put the same dice into both bags.

I was able to fit two full sets of dice, two sets of Fudge dice, and an assortment of percentile, d20s, odds and ends dice and my hit location die into both of the bags. I was also able to put my Fudge dice bag (with six sets of Fudge dice in it) on top of the Dungeon Map bag and even close the bag.

I really like these dice bags. The Dungeon Map bag will become my new dice bag of choice, and it is good for traveling. I then crammed the rest of my dice that weren't in the Dungeon Map bag into the Dwarven Anvil bag, and it took the durability test like a trouper. This bag is coming with me on my trip to Las Vegas next week, which will give me a great chance to check out its durability.

Now, the Dungeon Map Bag is $20 and the Dwarven Anvil mini bag is $13.99 (plus shipping). Would I pay for these dice bags? Hell yes. To be honest, I've used the same old dice bag that I got back in college in the 80s, and it has really seen better days. Every gamer needs dice bags, and these are stylish and very well made. Go to the link at the beginning of this post for the Etsy store, or contact Michael through G+ (I linked his Google+ profile at the beginning of the post as well). Order a bunch of bags and tell them that the Dorkland! blog sent you!

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Shepherd Interview with Nathan Sage

We recently sat down with Nathan Sage in the plush Dorkland offices to do an interview about his and Ron Joseph's new comic, The Shepherd, that is currently in its final week of Kickstarter.

Dorkland: How did you get started with comics?

Nathan Sage: Perhaps the moment comics pulled me in was this one rainy day I climbed up into the dusty attic and found a tattered box of my dad’s old Superman comics. From the 60s. A whole story arc of them. I remember reading right through to the last one and feeling crushed that it ended with a cliffhanger. CAN SUPERMAN SURVIVE THIS HORRENDOUS ORDEAL?!

But if Superman introduced me to the world of comics, Moebius was my teacher. In the late 70s he did this series of wordless short stories in Heavy Metal Magazine called “Arzach.” They were so cinematic, so beautiful, so simple in their delivery. And as a writer, that sense of visual revelation has been so vital to the way I see comics. I attempt to write comics stories wherein the writing serves to drive visual storytelling—where the reveals are made with pictures, not words. I mean, that’s why we all got into comics, isn’t it? Because of the pictures?

DL: Why use Kickstarter for this project?

NS: Kickstarter allows us to connect with a much larger audience than simply self-publishing would allow. Recently I was running my finger down that long list of people who’ve jumped onboard our project, and the disparity of where people lived was incredible. Australia, France, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain. This kind of reach would have been much more difficult without a platform like Kickstarter; with just a few clicks anyone from anywhere in the world can get, and have a part in, our comic.

DL: How has the Kickstarter experience been for you? Anything in particular that you have learned during this experience that might help other people considering Kickstarter?

NS: I had knots in my stomach for the week leading up to our launch. It was a constant struggle of “Is the project page clear? Will people get this? Am I out of my mind?” My greatest fear was that the Kickstarter would launch at midnight New Year’s Day and would be met with a collective yawn of nothingness. But we had done a few things right. We had announced the project and its Kickstarter to the world 2 weeks early (I’d do it even earlier next time), and then at ten days out we started a Ten Day Countdown, complete with graphics and little mini-stories and a teaser video, leading right up to the start of the campaign. And it paid off—the first day we hit 25% of our funding goal.

DL: What are some of the influences that went into creating The Shepherd or that helped with its conception?

NS: I think between Ron and I, each of us bring a long list of influences to bear on the comic, and looking at any one page of the comic you can start to see them. We both loved a lot of comics from the 1970s and 1980s; the Moebius comics in Heavy Metal really show through in my sensibilities in the storytelling and some of the design elements (I think you can really see it in Astrid’s gown and the maniac poachers’ armor). Ron has a special place in his heart for the comics John Byrne drew at Marvel in the 70s and 80s, and outside the comics world he draws endless influence from the creative genius of Jim Henson.

DL: It seems you all are using some of the old school non-digital methods for The Shepherd – what are some of the reasons for that? What might it mean for the readers?

NS: I’ve always loved the way traditional pencils and inks look; there’s a distinctness about it that feels very organic. You look at an inked line and it has a certain smoothness, a certain unpredictability to it that I love. If you could see Ron Joseph polish off pages of pencils and Jake Isenberg ink those pages with brushes dipped in India Ink, you would see two artists who are absolute experts in their craft—they come at the pages with such speed and detail that it’s almost impossible to imagine them doing things any other way.

DL: Astrid, the main character, seems like a fairly normal person – why have her as a main character? What qualities does she possess that makes her stand out as a heroine?

NS: It was important to me that Astrid seem ordinary. That she seem like the girl you know as your daughter, your neighbor, your sister. In early versions of the comic book cover we had her wielding weapons in a defensive stance, but that struck us as too war-like, and it made her feel too stereotypical as a comic book “badass” woman. No, we needed someone who could experience joy, curiosity, innocence; in short, we needed someone who could be underestimated. But what’s inside her is what counts, and for that you have to turn the page.

DL: From a glance, Rul, the poacher, seems straightforward. What sets him apart as an antagonist?

NS: Ron likes to talk about how everyone in the story is the opposite of how they appear. Astrid seems small, innocent, even weak. And Rul is built like a classic comic book hero. And perhaps, in some other story he might be that hero—but he’s one who’s lost his way. His obsession for finding this mythical beast, the Thanacht, has clouded his vision and stood his priorities on end. He is a hero lost in a delusion, filled with hate.

DL: What are some of the unique aspects of the setting used for The Shepherd?

NS: Ron and I wanted to create a world breathing with history and texture. I like to describe it as a distant planet much bigger than our own that’s just at the dawn of its age of discovery—you know, that moment in a planet’s existence when you could have two advanced civilizations across the world from each other, that each have no idea the other exists. We created creatures, from the tiny to the magnificently huge, tribal and urban cultures and their technologies, and even the ruins of previous worlds. And what you’ll see in the story is a clash between ways of life—Astrid’s simple, sometimes magical technology (or lack thereof), against the guns and steel of the unscrupulous poachers.

DL: What might draw people who are new to comics or only occasional readers to The Shepherd? What is there for the more avid readers?

NS: The Shepherd offers occasional readers and avid fans alike a different kind of leading character—a strong, young woman possessed of no special powers, just a heart and a sound mind like anybody else—who comes into extraordinary circumstances when a wounded monster thought extinct a thousand years ago stumbles across her path. Astrid is everything to this comic—she is its heart and soul, the human all of us would like to be in our most trying times—an ordinary hero.

DL: Lastly, what is your favorite part of The Shepherd and why?

NS: My favorite moments in this book are the moments Astrid surprises you. The sometimes quiet, sometimes explosive, violent moments when she reveals the stuff she has inside that you didn’t quite know was there. But then, those are my favorite moments in life too.

We here at Dorkland would like to thank Nathan for taking the time to do this interview with us. If you would like to know more about The Shepherd, or get your hands on a copy, be sure to check out its Kickstarter page.

Things About The Rifts RPG From Palladium Games

A photo of my Rifts: Ultimate Edition book.
You may not have noticed, but our weekly G+ Hangout group has been playing Palladium's Rifts RPG. We spent a couple of weeks working out characters and going over our ideas for setting, and then last week we had our first actual session of the campaign.

If it seems like I am making a lot of posts, I am going on a trip to Las Vegas next week (where there will be some gaming that I will be talking about once I get back), and I want to get a little ahead of things.

There seems to be two groups that have come out of the internet as we have been talking about our excitement over getting to play this game. The first group is made up of lapsed Rifts players/GMs, and those who have never played the game, who have taken our enthusiasm as an impetus to pick up the game for the first time, or to replace the books that they had gotten rid of previously. The other group were the people who wanted to complain about the game being "broken" or "outdated." We talked about some of this in the Rifts episode of our Geeky Voices Carry podcast (embedded below).

For some people, just the existence of Rifts, and the fact that we are excited about it, is enough to cause them to want to explain (at length) how we would be so much better off using the Rifts setting with another (modern) ruleset, most likely Savage Worlds. You would think that they would have figured that out by now.

Some of the things that have come out because of our prep and running of the Rifts game:

1. "Combat is difficult." Our group has spent most of our time with OSR stuff, primarily Swords & Wizardry, the OD&D retroclone, so we are used to a fast paced form of combat. We had a lot of problems with some of the other games that we have tried because none of them would be as past-paced as our Swords & Wizardry games. So far, the Rifts RPG has turned out to be the exception to this. Even when you incorporate normal armor, Mega Damage and Mega Damage armor the combat of the game is still pretty fast paced by our standards. We've found combat smooth and easy. Rolling a d20 (with an opposed defensive roll if you choose to make a defensive action) is simple.

2. "Character creation is complicated." This I will agree with. Compared with what we've played in the past, Rifts does take a while to make a character. Normally I'm not a big fan of the front-loaded character generation methods, I have to say that for us it is working out so far. It's nice because it gives the players an idea of the world that they are getting into, and it let's them get a handle on it before play starts. There is a lot to know/learn about the Rifts setting after so many supplements have been put out. Character creation really helps with it. So, yeah, character creation is complicated (more even than I would normally be interested in) but it helps the game.

3. "The system is bloated." This is code for "I don't like the mechanics but its subjective, so I'll phrase it in a way that I won't have to argue." Yes, Rifts uses a d20 roll for combat and saves, and a percentile system for skills. Let me let you in on a little secret: after years of Call of Cthulhu and Runequest I like percentile-based skill systems. They have a nice gradation to them, they're easy to maneuver in play and they are easy to explain to new people. I would go so far as to say that I think all of the games should use percentiles for their skill systems. I also like that all of the d20 rolls in Rifts are roll high. It is so much easier to remember than "this d20 roll is roll high...but this one is roll low..." Bleh. Actually, when I go back to work on my Demon Codex game eventually, I am going to give it a percentile-based skill system. I think it will smooth out some of my issues with how skills work currently.

Watch us play our first session of Rifts:

Basically, people should be gaming to have fun. If you aren't having fun, if you aren't enjoying what you are doing something is wrong. However, that doesn't mean that you get to harsh the buzz of those of us who are having fun. Go out and have some fun yourself. Our fun isn't lessening yours.

Looking At & Magazine

Every now and then I'll nose around what the people in my Google+ circles are doing outside of that site. A kind of recent follower of the last few months has been the +& Publishing Group. They do a zine (electronic only, it seems) about AD&D. Not OSRIC, or any of the many retroclones. They talk about AD&D and their AD&D games.

I downloaded the first issue (they're up to seven issues at the time of this writing) and gave it a look. You can see the cover to it in this post. This zine is geared towards the OSR fan, and those who might want to become fans of the OSR.

The layout of this issue of & Magazine is simple and utilitarian. I don't consider this a negative, on the whole, but in this case it does make the reading a bit monotonous on the screen. I will have to look at some other issues another time in see if this has improved. The issue about the Inner Planes does look like it would be right up my alley.

The focus of this issue is low level and starting characters. This is something that I would like to see tackled more often because the fragility of old school D&D/AD&D characters at low levels can be a hurdle for some, particularly those who have never played old school games. Advice from those experiences with play of the game is even more handy.

The article "Tactical Studies Reviews For Novices" has some practical advice for creating low level parties. Combined with the "Keeping 1st Level Parties Alive" article, you get some great advice on how to put together a group of adventurers that will survive (at least their first level) and at least survive to another day. The advice ranges from weapon to spell selection that will optimize your party's chances of survival. Since not every group may have that special player who can do this for the group (as +Josh Thompson does in our weekly group), having someone explain these procedures will really help a lot of starting old school players. Obviously, some may not like some of the advice (like "pull your punches against the characters") but, honestly, this is an activity where everyone is gathered to have fun. I doubt that "fun" for a lot of players entails the wholesale slaughter of their characters over and over. When we were playing Swords & Wizardry I kept things from getting fatal on a number of occasions. or I would at least provide the tools for recovery (if the players saw fit to use them). Of course I have also been gaming for almost 35 so I know when to fold up, and when to hold up, in a game.

Death happens in role-playing games, but I am of the opinion that when it does it should be because of heroic sacrifice or something similar, and not because of stupidity or randomness. I am, however, weird in this regard.

However, as I said, I really liked giving this advice to players and GMs. I would like to see more "primers" on old school play that address survivability in this manner.

One flaw, particularly in the "That Savage Kobold" article, is something that is much too prevalent among elements of old school gamers. That is the whole "grognard" (a word that I don't use in a positive way) idea that "these new kids don't know what they are doing." Combined with a fundamental lack of understanding of how businesses work (which is at least missing from this article) can create a toxic environment. Change is good, my friends. While this article is well enough written, it seems to take its entire basis from a number of misconceptions that could otherwise be done away with.

The article on point buy character creation was also a good one, and fit well into the theme of making survivable first level characters. I like the handling of purchasing high ability scores, it seems like it would help fight min/maxing at that level of the character creation. Balanced? Well, we know my feelings on "balance" in role-playing games. Balance is really just a myth, and a lot of what gets bandied around as being a discussion of balanced character creation has a lot more to do with spotlight time than anything else. There are always going to be occasions when a character is better at something, this is part of the nature of niche protection in games of the D&D stream. Despite this, the article is a good one, and has some interesting ideas that can be integrated into people's games. For people who do not like random ability score generation, point buy can be a good alternative to that, when handled properly.

The rest of this issue is rounded out with the usual fun things: equipment. new magic items and monsters. In this regard, the magazine does not disappoint. I enjoyed the ecology (even though I rarely use these sorts of things in my dungeons) and writeup for the carrion crab. From a GM's view, it seems like a fun little monster to bedevil characters with. I loved the idea of the equipment packs. This is something else that more old school games should embrace. There is nothing as tedious as combing through the equipment lists trying to find the right pieces of equipment and balance out the encumbrance. Bam! Buy a know what is in it and get a pre-figured weight. Your character is ready for spelunking.

Over all, this was a solid issue and a good start. I look forward to browsing through the site's archives and seeing what else & Magazine has to offer. With solid writing, backed by the experience of play, this magazine has a good foundation to start from, and the few shaky philosophical misconceptions can be worked around. You definitely need to check & Magazine out and download some issues.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jim Zub Tackles Manga Style Red Sonja and Cub at Dynamite

January 23, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ:  While Gail Simone's Red Sonja series is scorching hot, Dynamite is presenting a Red Sonja one-shot done as a manga style book! In April of 2014, Red Sonja and Cub will be offered, written by Jim Zub (Pathfinder), drawn by Jonathan Lau, with a cover by Jeffery "Chamba" Cruz! This oversized issue will be available in April from Dynamite Entertainment in comic stores and digital.

In Red Sonja and Cub, blood will rain down upon the snowy ground as the She-Devil With A Sword battles her way across the Asiatic lands of Khitai. In a land of complex family loyalties and death before dishonor, will sharpened steel and the muscle to wield it be enough?

"Getting the chance to write a samurai-style story of savage combat and sacrifice with Red Sonja, one of the heavyweight characters of fantasy, is a real thrill," says Red Sonja and Cub writer Jim Zub. "I'm stoked for people to see the big action-big emotion ride Jonathan and I are putting together for this."

Red Sonja and Cub will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors' February Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release on April 2nd, 2014.  Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of Red Sonja and Cub with their local comic book retailers.  Red Sonja and Cub will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.

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, Vampirella, 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, Purgatori, 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.

The Shadow Over Innsmouth One-Shot Coming This April from Dynamite

January 23rd, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ - New York Comic-Con Announcement:  The Shadow series gets a special one-shot in April of 2014. The Shadow Over Innsmouth is written by Ron Marz (Green Lantern) and artist Matthew Dow Smith. Crafting a Shadow story like no other and placing the pulp avenger in H.P. Lovecraft's famous setting for a truly inspired one-shot, this oversized issue will be available in April from Dynamite Entertainment via both comic stores and digital platforms.

In The Shadow Over Innsmouth, the fog-shrouded town of Innsmouth holds deep secrets. There are legends of inhuman creatures raised from the depths, of supernatural rites and elder gods from beyond. When Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane find themselves trapped in Innsmouth, terrible truths will surface... truths only the Shadow can know.

"Certainly the title alone made this a natural story to tell, but more than that, both the Shadow and Lovecraft's mythos are products of the same era," says writer Ron Marz. "They both have pulp roots, so despite the Shadow's crime orientation and Lovecraft's overt horror, there's a similarity in mood. I tried to put together the Shadow and the Innsmouth legend in a way that remains true to both of them. And obviously I couldn't ask for a better artist collaborator that my buddy Matthew Dow Smith. If anybody in comics knows shadows, it's Matthew."

The Shadow Over Innsmouth will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors' February Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release on April 9, 2014.  Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of The Shadow Over Innsmouth with their local comic book retailers.  The Shadow Over Innsmouth will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Quentin Tarantino, Spoilers, Buzz and The Internet

By now you have probably heard about Quentin Tarantino and the leak of the Hateful Eight early draft script. If you haven't, click on the link and read about it.

People seek out spoilers. They want to know what they are getting in for. Other people want to avoid them, so that they can have a pristine first experience with their media. Neither is a wrong approach to doing it. Some directors (*cough*J.J. Abrams*cough*) have gone so far as to lie about the things in their movies to avoid spoilers. That rankles me, more than a little bit, but it really isn't the point of this post.

I completely understand why Tarantino reacted the way that he did. This has nothing to do with spoilers, it has to do with trust. Obviously, a joke could be made about how you shouldn't trust Hollywood agents in the first place, but that would be too easy. Whether Tarantino makes this movie or not doesn't really ultimately, I don't think that I've seen one of his movies since Kill Bill anyway. When Tarantino is on as a director and writer, he is phenomenal. When he isn't, his work leaves me cold.

Some may see this as Tarantino "robbing" them of a movie, but he doesn't actually owe anyone the creation of a movie. It is nice for his fans when it happens, but it isn't something that he owes anyone. Getting angry with Tarantino is misplaced, what people should be getting angry at is the institutionalized permissiveness that allows someone to think that it is okay to share something, like a script, with whomever they want. Some have blamed this on Tarantino, saying that he should have watermarked his scripts to protect them. No controversy is complete without a little victim blaming, I guess.

Hopefully this will open up some discussions in Hollywood, and the general public. You're never going to stop the mentality of people wanting to be "in the know." After all, how do you think that you end up getting bloggers? But hopefully people will start understanding that if you don't play right with other people's toys, they can take them away. This time it just lead to a movie being shelved. What happens the next time when someone decides that they don't want to keep making movies because of all of this?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

FLASH GORDON #1 Continues the Thrilling Adventures of Sci-Fi Icon, Courtesy of Jeff Parker, Evan Shaner, and Jordie Bellaire

January 20, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ:  Dynamite proudly announces that writer Jeff Parker (Batman '66) will continue the science fiction thrills of a science fiction legend in Flash Gordon #1, a new ongoing series illustrated by Evan "Doc" Shaner (Deadpool) and featuring the colors of Jordie Bellaire (Pretty Deadly).  Slated to debut in April 2014, Flash Gordon marks the 80th anniversary of the fictional icon, follows Parker's critically acclaimed Kings Watch miniseries, and includes beloved cast members Dale Arden, Dr. Hans Zarkov, and the infamous Ming the Merciless.

"Dynamite and editor Nate Cosby have put together the dream team for Flash Gordon, and I'm the lucky writer who gets to work with them," says Jeff Parker.  "We're bringing Flash back for a new audience.  It's over-the-planet high action and adventure where Flash's spirit and optimism are as powerful as anything the forces of Ming the Merciless can dish out.  We also have some of my favorite artists contributing covers - make no mistake, this book is going to absolutely kill!"

The new Flash Gordon series places the ultimate sci-fi hero on the bizarre planet Mongo, where his thirst for thrills and danger makes him the perfect weapon against world-breaking Ming the Merciless and his awful inter-planetary swarms of terror.  Can the cocksure Man From Earth funnel his overconfidence into saving worlds, or will the universe fall to Ming?

Dynamite has assembled a team of three highly respected creators for the new Flash Gordon series, individuals whose recent comics work has made their names instantly recognizable to fans.  Writer Jeff Parker's recent successes at DC Comics - including Aquaman and the retro-chic Batman '66, follow his many years as a contributor to Marvel titles including Agents of Atlas, X-Men: First Class, and Hulk.   Evan "Doc" Shaner will bring his kinetic visual style seen in Deadpool and Ghostbusters to the Flash Gordon project, just as Jordie Bellaire will bring the coloring flair she's known for on such titles as Pretty Deadly, Captain Marvel, and The Rocketeer.

Flash Gordon #1 will feature a wide selection of cover variants, presented by some of comics' most talented artists:  Gabriel Hardman, Jonathan Case, Declan Shalvey, and Marc Laming.  Stephen Mooney provides a special 80th Anniversary Cover, illustrated to capture an aesthetic of the bygone golden era, while Ken Haeser provides a cute Subscription-Only Variant Cover of "Li'l Flash", intended as a reward for dedicated fans who preorder with their local comic shop retailers.  A Blank Authentix Cover will be created for the first issue, featuring blank white space on the cover perfect for convention artist commissions or the creative whims of the do-it-yourself fan.

Comic shop retailers are invited to create store-specific cover editions, as well:

Dynamite has designed a "Death to Ming" propaganda-style cover as a Retailer Exclusive Variant Cover, available for retailers to order through Diamond Comics (Item Code FEB141156).  Numerous retailers can share the "Death to Ming" artwork, but have personalized store names built into the front cover design.

Dynamite also welcomes the opportunity to develop unique Retailer Exclusive Variant Covers featuring artwork not available anywhere else.  Stores may contact Marketing Manager Keith Davidsen (, 856-312-1040 x114) for more information.

Flash Gordon #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors' February Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release on April 9, 2014.  Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of Flash Gordon #1 with their local comic book retailers.  Flash Gordon will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.


Join the conversation on Dynamite Entertainment's twitter page at

To find a comic shop near you, call 1-888-comicbook or visit

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, Vampirella, 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, Purgatori, 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.

Doctor Who Regenerates With Titan Comics


BBC Worldwide and Titan Comics team up
for all-new Doctor Who comic book adventures

New York, NY – January 21, 2014 – In the universe of Doctor Who regenerations bring not only a new Doctor but often a fresh look and feel to the series and BBC Worldwide is bringing that same approach to Doctor Who comics as it signs a new deal with Titan Comics. The deal will open up the world of Doctor Who and provide fans with new stand alone adventures featuring the Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor and after the new series launch, the Twelfth Doctor. Creative and production teams will be announced in the coming weeks and the first comic books will be released in 2014.

The Doctor Who Christmas special, The Time of the Doctor, saw Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor regenerate into the Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. The next season is now in production and will premiere in 2014. In 2013, Doctor Whoset ratings and social media records for BBC AMERICA.

Doctor Who is sold to over 200 territories across the world and last year was awarded the Guinness World Record for the largest TV drama simulcast ever after the 50th Anniversary special was broadcast to 98 countries at the same time as well in thousands of cinemas across the globe.

Titan Comics is the comics and graphic novel division of global publishing giant Titan, a pioneer that has proven itself over three decades with internationally-recognized brands such as James Bond and Sherlock Holmes, as well as creator-owned successes like Tank Girl, Lenore, and Death Sentence. Titan's magazine division is the largest publisher of licensed entertainment properties in the US.

About BBC Worldwide Americas:
BBC Worldwide is the main commercial arm and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). BBC Worldwide Americas brings together all of BBC Worldwide businesses across North and South America. The company exists to maximize the value of the BBC’s assets for the benefit of the UK license payer, and invests in public service programming in return for rights. The company has five core businesses: Channels, Content & Production, Sales & Distribution, Consumer Products and Digital.  Under these businesses fall two key brands in the U.S. – digital cable channel BBC AMERICA and BBC Worldwide Productions, the production arm responsible for the smash hit Dancing with the Stars.

About Titan Comics
Titan Comics offers astounding creator-owned comics and graphic novels from new and world-renowned talent, alongside the world's greatest licensed properties and classic graphic novels remastered for brand-new audiences.

Titan is one of the most successful independent publishing operations in the US, with a recent six-week run at #1 in the New York Times bestseller list. For more information, visit

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fall of Man Kickstarter

Feel the need to be a dwarf trudging around a ruined Earth? Got the itch for a post-apocalyptic game (that isn't RIFTS, though we here do love it)? Well, there may be a new Kickstarter for you in Fall of Man.

Fall of Man is a new RPG being created by the folks over at Samurai Sheepdog that will work various systems -- most notably Pathfinder, as well as Fate, 13th Age,  and Castles & Crusades (SIEGE). So, it likely covers a system that you enjoy, right? Great!

The setting of Fall of Man is that of Earth in the near future -- after it has been nearly destroyed by a meteor, but was saved and forces and all the other good things. This has led to the introduction of all the fantasy races and quirks that you know and love, as well as some new ones. The book features eleven races, eleven classes and a setting that seems to pit Earth,and its technology and monotheistic faith, against that of the fantasy world of Gothos, and its magic and pantheon of gods. A definite spin on the usual post-apocalyptic fantasy fare.

Nothing is free in the wasteland, so what might all this cost you? Well, getting the rule book in PDF form -- that includes all of the conversion books for the systems mentioned above -- is $30. The base level for a hardcover edition of the rules (and the digital conversion books) is $50. There are some cheaper and more expensive tiers that also include other goodies -- including limited edition hardcovers -- so there should be something for just about everyone.

Now, one more addition to the Kickstarter pricing and tiers is the inclusion of a few add-ons. Two of these add-ons are pretty typical -- extra books -- but one is a bit different: playtester. For an additional $25 you can become a playtester for the game and gain access to the Fall of Man forums and additional crediting in the corebook. So, if you are interested in seeing a bit "behind the scenes" this could be the option for you.

For more information about the game or the very talented crew behind it be sure to check out the Kickstarter or Samurai Sheepdog's website.

One disclaimer+Christopher Helton, lead blogger for the Dorkland! blog is involved in this Kickstarter as one of the creators. He will be writing the Fate rules conversion for the game.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Shepherd: A Fantasy Comic Book Kickstarter

I've done quite a few RPG Kickstarter posts on Dorkland! so far, but this is a first for me -- a comic Kickstarter. And what an excellent comic to start with: The Shepherd by Nathan Sage and Ron Joseph.

The Shepherd is a one-shot comic that focuses on the story of Astrid (the shepherd) and the hard choices she has to make when confronted with a legendary beast that has been wounded and the obsessive hunter that is tracking it.

The art seems to be quite beautiful -- just look at the image below to get a taste of it -- and the world seems to be quite intriguing. A mixture of fantasy, mythology and maybe a dash of post-apocalyptic, is what I am getting from it.

But, you likely want to know the pricing involved, right? Sure you do. Well, for starters, if you're looking to get a digital copy of the comic (as well as a few more goodies) you can hop on for $5. For a physical copy of the comic you'll be starting at $10. Going beyond that is an assortment of various goods -- most notably prints, cards and t-shirts -- that will be added on with the comic. Easy to get in on and the sky is the limit for any extras you might crave.

The Kickstarter page has even more artwork to check out from the comic, as well as information on the talent behind the comic and some of their work, which is well worth checking out.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fast Pulpy Action In Fate Accelerated

I readily admit to be a fan of the Fate system, and I have been for a while. I ran a few games back years ago when I first found the early versions of the rules online (back when I was first discovering Fudge). I preordered Spirit of the Century and I have signed copies of Starblazer Adventures, Legends of Angelerre, and the Fate version of The Kerberos Club. Yeah, I thought that the the game got to be a little bloated around third edition (Starblazer, I'm looking at you) but there was still a lot of good to be found in the game.

Fast forward through stuff everyone knows and the highly successful Fate Core Kickstarter project.

I'm more of a rules guy than a setting guy, so I have the rules parts of the new version of Fate: Fate Core, The Fate Core Toolkit and Fate Accelerated Edition. Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) has moved into being one of my games of choice. Some may know that I've been hacking it for a game inspired by paranormal romance fiction called Paranormal Friction. I have some issues with the FAE book's organization, but then I have an issue with the organization of a lot of RPGs.

Last night I was reading the trade paperback of Doc Savage: The Silver Pyramid. This was originally a mini-series done in the 80s by Denny O'Neil and the Kubert brothers. The idea was to update the concept of Doc and his mission and bring them both to the present day. On a lot of levels, the book was successful, but that can be attributed to the talent of Denny O'Neil as a writer. I really liked the idea of Doc Savage having a son, but unlike a lot of comic legacies "Junior" couldn't live up to the legacy of a man like Doc Savage. I do wish that the idea of the son could have been given more time and space to develop, but it cast a shadow (not the gun-totting one) over the legacy of the character that I really found a lot more interesting than a lot of the other attempted comic reboots of the character (DC's First Wave debacle comes to mind). Being that DC has since lost the license to the character, there are probably a lot of copies of this trade floating around comic stores that want to get rid of them. I know that's how I got mine.

Of course, this lead me to wanting a FAE remake of Spirit of the Century. Then I realized, for me at least, that I don't really need it. FAE handles the pulpy action right out of the box, sure some genre explanations might be good (I would probably also add Extras as weapons and armor from the Toolkit as a way to handle the weapons but that's a digression) but not necessary either. I know that not everyone has a couple of hundred pulp novels around, so those people would probably need some guidance. The WPA Guide To New York City would be cool, too. I wonder, since government documents are supposed to be public domain, if this could be reprinted as an RPG supplement? I'd buy it (even though I already have a copy).

Making a pulp character in the FAE rules is pretty simple. Unlike with my paranormal romance hack, you don't really have to add a lot of extra explanations. Let's make up Clark Savage, Jr. as an example. I won't spoil the character's fate (ha!) in the story in this.

Clark Savage, The Third
High Concept: Son of The Man of Bronze
Trouble: Living Up To This Legacy Is Hard
Aspects: Trained By Doc's Gang, Determined To Do It

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

As you can see, you have a character who is trying to live up to expectations, but just can't quite do it. I think that this would be a great character to play, even in a very pulpy type of campaign.

Press Release: Twentieth Century Fox's Magic The Gathering Movie


Hasbro Executives will Produce with Simon Kinberg
Serving as Franchise’s Creative Steward

LOS ANGELES, Calif. & PAWTUCKET, R.I. January 14, 2014 -- Twentieth Century Fox and Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) have joined forces to make a series of films based upon Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast’s fantasy-adventure property, MAGIC: THE GATHERING.  Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past), whose Genre Films banner is based on the Fox Lot, will serve as the franchise’s creative steward and produce in close partnership with Hasbro.

The announcement was made today by TCF production president Emma Watts, and Stephen Davis, president of Hasbro Studios.

MAGIC: THE GATHERING is the world’s best strategy game, creating endless worlds and compelling characters that resonate with more than 12 million players and fans worldwide. As Hasbro’s number one game brand, and one of the biggest fantasy properties in the world, the global powerhouse offers tremendous potential for the film franchise. 

Hasbro President & CEO Brian Goldner, Stephen Davis and Wizards of the Coast President Greg Leeds will produce the franchise together with Genre Films execs Aditya Sood and Josh Feldman.  Fox creative executives Kira Goldberg and Ryan Jones and Hasbro Studios’ executive Daniel Persitz were integral in making the deal and will be overseeing development of the films. 

MAGIC: THE GATHERING today offers serialized entertainment on a variety of platforms including books, comics and globally popular digital and card games so the property is naturally suited to a series of films based on fantastic fan favorite stories from the past as well as new stories in development,” said Hasbro Studios’ President Stephen Davis.  “We look forward to working with the creative team at Twentieth Century Fox, the talented Simon Kinberg and the Genre Films team to bring this franchise to the big screen and we’re confident MAGIC: THE GATHERING fans around the world will be thrilled with what we have in store for them.”

About Twentieth Century Fox Film
One of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures, 20th Century Fox Film produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world.  These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of 20th Century Fox Film:  Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox International Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox Animation.

About Hasbro, Inc.
Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) is a branded play company dedicated to fulfilling the fundamental need for play for children and families through the creative expression of the Company's world class brand portfolio, including TRANSFORMERS, MONOPOLY, PLAY-DOH, MY LITTLE PONY, MAGIC: THE GATHERING, NERF and LITTLEST PET SHOP. From toys and games, to television programming, motion pictures, digital gaming and a comprehensive licensing program, Hasbro strives to delight its global customers with innovative play and entertainment experiences, in a variety of forms and formats, anytime and anywhere. The Company's Hasbro Studios develops and produces television programming for more than 180 markets around the world, and for the U.S. on Hub Network, part of a multi-platform joint venture between Hasbro and Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK). Through the company's deep commitment to corporate social responsibility, including philanthropy, Hasbro is helping to build a safe and sustainable world for future generations and to positively impact the lives of millions of children and families every year. It has been recognized for its efforts by being named one of the "World's Most Ethical Companies" and is ranked as one of Corporate Responsibility Magazine's "100 Best Corporate Citizens." Learn more at

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Geeky Voices Carry: The Rifts Episode

For almost two years now, I have been the GM of a weekly online gaming group that (mostly) livestreams its weekly sessions through YouTube. We started playing Swords & Wizardry, and it became a way to introduce my friend +solange simondsen to tabletop role-playing games. People have come and go, we have run playtests and trials and one-shots of various games, but we are still going after all of this time. A few months back, after going through some gaming books I pitched a Rifts game to the group. Most of them had never played the game or anything else from Palladium Games, but after sharing some of the fantastic artwork from Rifts books that could be found on the internet, the group was sold.

Now, a few months back +Stacy Dellorfano suggested that we should do a podcast in the vein of our "pre-game" conversations before we would start broadcasting our games. We talked back and forth and along with +David Rollins and +Josh Thompson we decided to start a bi-weekly podcast. Except for the holidays, we managed to keep to that schedule pretty much for seven episodes now.

We our 7th episode we decided to use it to talk about Rifts, our upcoming campaign, and our excitement about the upcoming campaign. True, we did find a few flaws with the game. mostly in the layout/presentation of the book and the lack of "she" or gender neutral pronouns. Outside of that, however the game has sucked us in. Listen to everyone talk about their characters, the game itself and how it is received by others out there in the scary world of the internet.

You can watch the YouTube video version:

Or the audio/podcast version over at PodOmatic:

 Both will play from this window. Let us know what you think about Rifts in the comments here, or on YouTube. I get that people don't like Rifts and think that the rules are "broken," but we're okay with the rules and don't need to be argued out of using them. If you want to post something like that, find any of the many places on the internet where people hate Rifts and Palladium Games. They aren't hard to find. This is a Palladium-Positive zone.