Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Thundering Skies Saga Press Release

Thundering Skies Saga” Marks Major Turning Point in “Shaintar – Change the Game” Initiative

Toney, Alabama, US - April 21, 2014 – The Shaintar: Justice and Life globally shared tabletop RPG campaign takes the next big step in the stated effort to “Change the Game” with a new, campaign-wide event called The Thundering Skies Saga.

“When we launched this last year,” says Shaintar creator and Evil Beagle Games publisher, Sean Patrick Fannon, “we set out to change how everyone sees the concept of a truly shared – living, if you will – roleplaying game campaign. We've been working hard for months now to put all the pieces into play, and now we can point at something huge, something transformative, and something that is truly working to show we're succeeding.”

Shaintar, an epic high fantasy setting for the exceedingly popular Savage Worlds rules system, is supported by a core web presence (shaintar.com), where content created by Sean and by all the participants in the Justice and Life experience is shared openly and equally as canonical content. As well, all of the Shaintar campaigns are live in their own section on the award-winning Obsidian Portal campaign management site.

“Thundering Skies represents a next step for this idea, as does the newly-launched shared Calendar of Events on the Shaintar site. Now all the Game Masters, across the globe – and we have people on more than one continent involved here – are implementing the campaign-wide event, with the weather changes and the scenario elements active in every game. As well, we're running official events at three conventions; the first set already happened at ConGlomeration in Louisville, the next one is at ConCoction in Cleveland at the end of May, and the finale happens at AndoCon in Atlanta in June.”

Sean maintains that this is still just the tip of the iceberg. “I have so many incredible volunteers worldwide, and the fans are really driving this. We're not huge, and that's OK. That may come in time, but for now, we have a ton of people all helping to change the way gaming can happen at the table, online, and at conventions around the world as one truly shared experience, where each character's story and each GM's campaign has real and canonical significance to the official, published setting.”

Sean Patrick Fannon is the sole creator-owner of the Shaintar property; he shares the Evil Beagle Games DBA with Carinn Seabolt, and DriveThruRPG is the sole distributor of their products.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Out Of Office Message

Just a quick notice that I will be away from April 23rd until April 26th. If you have pressing new, contact +Josh Thompson through his G+ profile or his Twitter account @JoshakaPlacide. Anything that isn't pressing/breaking news, or already in the pipeline, we will get to you next week.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

RPG Campaigns: Beginnings And Endings

Two of the hardest things for an RPG campaign are the beginning and the ending. Like a popular television show that has lost its spark, a campaign will sometimes just limp along lifelessly until people just stop showing up and it dies a lingering death. Letting go of a campaign is a hard thing, but sometimes...just sometimes, it has to be done.

One thing that I have come to terms with as a GM in the last few years is the idea that the open ended, potentially endless role-playing campaign isn't something that I am much interested in being involved with any more. I like the idea of a campaign that has a beginning, middle and endpoint to it. I think that it can make for more interesting campaign stories and character development. I know that this isn't the standard for how a lot of people campaign, but I think it is one of those things that puts a bar to the entry into the hobby. Meeting 5-8 hours weekly for an indefinite amount of time just isn't feasible for many people these days.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pasts, Personas & Prophecies Kickstarter

If what you're looking for is an RPG with a rules light system then you might be interested in Sly Fox Games' new RPG: Pasts, Personas & Prophecies that has a Kickstarter currently running (and with just under two weeks left to go).

What's Pasts, Personas & Prophecies (AKA P3) about? Well, it seems to be focused on a story driven game experience with quick character creation and rules designed to flow with play. It also seems to be fairly light on the setting. From the art it seems to be focused on fantasy, with one of the touted features being a very flexible and creative magic system. One other feature is the 'prophecy' system which allows a character to undergo a 'semi-random' story arc that is rolled up, chosen, and created by the group (or, at least a few people within the group at a time). These prophecies can have a positive or negative effect on the character, though. Just hope you don't lose all your money.

Speaking of money, (segue!) how much would all this prophecy and rules light gaming cost? To get your reader on the PDF will set you back US$20. And a physical copy at US$30-33 (free shipping within US, US$12 additional outside), that also includes the PDF. Basically, if you want the book you likely want the physical copy (unless you live outside the US). There are a variety of other rewards up for grabs, too, like creating characters or NPCs, or joining in a game with the developer, Hunter Fox.

Now for the burning question: how is the project's Kickstarter? For the most part, not bad. The layout is nice, there are plenty of images, videos and information about the game (you do need to go through all of it to get the full picture, though). For the things that I didn't quite like we can start with the main Kickstarter video. This video is quite long, the 'background' music is a bit too loud and distracting, and the attempted humor, while I did get what he was going for, might be a bit of a turn-off for some potential backers. There really is a decent bit of information in that video, but it would have been much better if it were a little more serious, straightforward and short. Another part that I didn't quite care for were some of the pledge tiers -- there are several that seem rather pointless and just thrown-in for the sake of more tiers. Also, the price of the PDFs being so close to the physical copy is  a bit of a turn-off from the PDFs -- if it was cheaper it might draw in more impulse pledges. Lastly, while I did like the amount of information it was too spread out and required too much time to go through it all to get a solid grasp on what the game is about. And, really, a game being light on rules or mechanics, with fast, flowing combat and creative magic is not something all that uncommon or unusual these days -- this project really needs to show how it does those things, why its different from the rest and present this information succinctly.

If you are interested in Pasts, Personas & Prophecies be sure to check out its Kickstarter page and/or Sly Fox Games' website.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dorkland Interview -- The Dangers of Daggermore with Hal Burdick

The Dangers of Daggermore Kickstarter is in its final stretch with just a few days left to go. Hal Burdick, the man behind the project, took some time to sit down with us here at Dorkland! for a short interview on the film, Kickstarter and RPGs.

Dorkland!: How has the Kickstarter project been for you and what, particularly, have you learned from this experience that you feel might help in future projects?

Hal Burdick: I’m reasonably happy with this Kickstarter project. The gaming community is a great one. The community has a lot of passion, a lot of loyalty, and is willing to support new projects. I once read that 33% of all funded Kickstarter projects were game related. I’m just happy that this community was willing to support the making of The Dangers of Daggermore, which is game inspired, but not really a game project.

DL: What kind of setup are you using to film The Dangers of Daggermore?

HB: Kersey Valley Spooky Woods is a haunted attraction near Greensboro, NC. The sets there are ideal for shooting The Dangers of Daggermore. Much of the haunted attraction features dungeon corridors, sewers, and dark alleyways. If they only had a tavern with a sign hanging outside reading “The Affable Adventurer,” it would be a one stop shop for shooting the entire webseries. 

DL: What types of special effects and props will be used, if any? Also, what's your personal favorite special effect or prop and why?

HB: Victoria Singleton has made some great costumes as you can see in the test footage. We got our cool looking weapons from Medieval Collectibles. Joh Harp is the art director of Spooky Woods and does special effects for us. He’s done the special effects for movies like Bombshell Bloodbath; so the effects will have a horror movie feel as well as a fantasy feel with elf’s ears and the regenerating troll monster we plan on having the adventurers fight.

DL: What are the inspirations behind The Dangers of Daggermore? Any particular RPG settings?

HB: Jon Carpenter’s The Thing was a film I ran a few adventurers about in my younger days. The Thing is a doppleganger in that movie, but it had a lot of features of a regenerating troll as well. There’s a classic scene where a head separates itself from its body,  pulls itself along by its tongue, sprouts its own legs, and starts walking across the floor like a spider. Sounds close enough to a regenerating troll to me. We’re paying homage to that with the monster the adventurers fight in the pilot.

As for setting, I have a gaming website called World of Atlas which features my home world that I game mastered for 20 years. Daggermore is set on this world. The key feature of the world is that Atlas is a real being holding up the world on his mountain. The campaign started with characters that lived on his mountain who then ventured out on a mission to save the world from Chaos who had come to destroy both Atlas and the world he held up. I’m thinking of making the world open source and OGL so that anyone can create adventures for it. I know I am frustrated by the fact that all the great adventures my friends created for our gaming group upon Greyhawk can’t be published by us or played by anyone else. 

The website also features tools for those who can’t play as much D&D as they’d like anymore due to real life intrusions.  Though I love Skyrim and Lord of the Rings Online, I also love the freedom that adventuring in an unbounded RPG setting gives you. The goal for the site is to create a never ending need for new adventure modules.  I don’t need another gaming system – that’s a solved problem. I want more adventures so that I can create characters that tell their own story through the adventures they have.

DL: Why have such a focus on RPGs and their tropes -- why not focus on fantasy, in-general?

HB: A fantasy film is like sex.  When it’s good, it’s really good.  When it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.  I pretty much watch any fantasy film I can get my hands on.  The stuff from Arrowstorm Entertainment, Dead Gentleman productions, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Sword and The Sorcerer, Soloman Kane, Game of Thrones -- The Guild even counts at some level.  There can’t be too many.

That said the ones that have focused on RPGs have either been funny and campy or pretty mediocre.  The three Dungeons and Dragons films had potential and good moments in each, but none of them brought out the paranoid claustrophobic fear that I think adventuring in a dungeon would bring.  The best movie for this is actually an offbeat horror film called The Descent.  It’s about a group of female spelunkers that encounter ghouls in the uncharted caves they were exploring.  Good stuff.  They just needed to be in armor, leathers, or robes covered in moons and stars complete with a pointy floppy hat.

DL: What will fans of RPGs find particularly interesting in The Dangers of Daggermore?

HB: Hopefully, the old school tradition of it. My first gaming experience happened when there was little more than Space Invaders in the video arcades. The drip of water from ceilings, the listening at a wooden door set in the wall of a long stone corridor, the anticipation of the monster growling behind it, all stimulated distinct images in my mind as I played. Now, I’m just trying to recreate my mind’s eye for others to partake in the same experience that so captivated my imagination in those early days.

DL: What will there be in the film for film buffs, especially if they have little to no experience with RPGs?

HB: The Dangers of Daggermore is not intended for art-house aficionados, nor as a primer for learning how to play the game. Our intended audience is gamers and lovers of fantasy and horror films. We’re using the conventions of the genres to bring the game to life. Intense situations, misdirection, lightning quick decision making, and monsters that threaten more than just your life. As I tell the others, this is not a film looking to bring the character side out of D&D; this is a film looking to bring the D&D out of the characters. 

DL: Why choose the Knight, Elf and Wizard?

HB: Partially, it’s due to the acting talent available. Gabrielle Boni makes a great elf, Brandon McClean makes a noble knight (though he could have been a bard), and James Filanowski is an actual magician. 

The script was written with these archetypes as the names of the character to highlight the fact that this is a film about exploring a dungeon more than about the characters themselves. That said, the actors have found depth to their characters, motivations for entering such a dangerous place, and ways to incorporate these backgrounds into the actions they take in the face of danger.

There is a little vagueness to these character concepts as well, which enables flexibility to how we tell the story, given the budget we’re able to shoot with. Is Knight a paladin or a fighter? Is Elf a ranger/rogue/ or arcane archer? How high a level is wizard, a prestidigitator or a mage?

DL: Why have a dungeon instead of another typical (or atypical) RPG location?

HB: Lord of the Rings, Eragon, and Conan the Barbarian have all done wilderness adventures well.  Peter Jackson did large underground spaces like Moria or Goblin Town, well. They haven’t done dungeons.  None of the three Dungeons and Dragons movies have done a dungeon either. What do those guys have against dungeons?  I mean, it’s in the title of their movie!

In addition to The Descent, I think Indiana Jones films were good for bringing out aspects of delving into a dungeon. The Well of Souls is the place the characters seek in Daggermore and the name is a nod to Raiders. I bet Spielberg would have loved D&D growing up.

My favorite part of ET when I first saw it was the guys gaming at the kitchen table and ordering pizza. No joke. Spielberg deftly brought out the essence of playing D&D in such a brief scene.  Boy, I wish he’d just go full bore one last time on a D&D film. I’d camp out for that one.

DL: Combat encounters are common in RPGs but so are social encounters. What kind of social aspects, if any, will there be in the film?

HB: The gathering of the party is an interesting aspect of the film. Wizard needs a team to enter Daggermore with him, he’d never survive alone, but none would be foolhardy enough to join him unless they had reasons to enter the dungeon themselves. If we are fortunate enough to expand the film to a webseries then those mysteries will be revealed and the social interactions between the characters will deepen.

DL: Lastly, what is your favorite aspect of The Dangers of Daggermore -- at any stage of the project -- and why? What do you feel really makes this film stand out?

HB: Though it may take a nerd, a geek, or a dork to realize it, dungeons are cool!!!

We here at Dorkland would like to thank Hal for his time and wish him the best with The Dangers of Daggermore. If you would like to know more about the project (or would like to show it some support) be sure to check out its Kickstarter page -- in its last few days!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Dangers of Daggermore Kickstarter

Here's a Kickstarter project that blends two things I love together -- RPGs and movies. The Dangers of Daggermore project aims to create a film that is a good representation of what it is like to go dungeon delving in a typical RPG (in this case, 3.X/Pathfinder).

The general setting of this project is as mentioned above -- a pretty standard (fantasy) RPG. The main characters in this film are an elf, knight and wizard. There's a dungeon, monsters, combat, and hopefully lots of experience and loot. Most of the things you want in your adventure.

The rewards for the pledge tiers are where things get a bit different. It seems that the film will be presented as a web series and, thus, free to watch (though, correct me if I am wrong), so the rewards are not the film itself but tie-ins to it. These rewards escalate based on the pledge amount and each tier has two sides to it -- a gamer side and a film buff side. For example, the first tier (US$10) comes with character sheets and concept art of the main characters (the gamer side) and the shooting script (the film buff side).  As you go up the tiers you get more and more adventure material and more behind-the-scenes material.

On to the critique, I should start off by pointing out that the project has hit its funding goal -- as of this writing it is sitting right on it. It's done what it has set out to do, so I'll throw my guesstimates at what might have helped it get there (and what might have helped it get further). The funding goal is fairly low at US$1,000 -- it seems that this is to help produce a pilot episode, so that might be enough (I assume there is additional funding being put into the project). There is also the video on the page -- one that you should watch if you have any interest in this project. I typically skip the videos on Kickstarter pages and move straight into the text -- if you do that on this one you'll be missing out. The text on the page does give a general overview but it is far weaker than the video. The video is quite good in general and shows off some of the potential the film might have, it also shows that the project's crew does at least have a decent A/V setup (though there is some audio quality issues in one section). You also get a lot more information about the project and get to see the faces and personalities behind it -- that's all good. The pledge tiers, however, are not quite as attractive. The prices tend to be fairly high for what you get. If there was a bit more offered on each tier it would make them more enticing. As it stands, you basically are pledging more on the basis that you really want to see this project go through -- which does attest to the dedication of the backers who helped it reach its funding goal. Still, its a bit of a hard sell to the average joe.

If you would like to know more about The Dangers of Daggermore be sure to check out its Kickstarter page and be sure to watch the video.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Extreme Earth Kickstarter

A new Iron Age of comics and dystopian-themed RPG campaign setting is on Kickstarter -- Extreme Earth, promising plenty of corruption, conflict and super powers. The campaign setting is being published by Fainting Goat Games in seven different rules systems -- BASH!, Bulletproof Blues, Fate Accelerated Edition, ICONS, Mutants and Masterminds, Savage Worlds, and SUPERS!

The setting of Extreme Earth is that of a contemporary Earth with some minor changes -- namely, less resources, more corruption, and the introduction of super powers. This all leads to plenty of conflict at every possible level of society and between every possible entity. The emerging supers are, of course, tools and weapons to be used in the growing conflicts.

The price of all this conflict starts out at US$15 for a PDF (US$20 for PDFs of all seven systems -- a much better deal) and US$45 for the POD physical copy of one system. And a limited edition print copy, of a single system, can be had for US$75 (international shipping is an extra US$15 for both physical copies). There are extras at the higher tier levels, if you are so inclined, and they include goodies like getting pieces of art or having characters of your own creation implemented into future products.

Now we come to the 'critique' of the project page -- my favorite section. The video essentially summarizes the first couple of paragraphs of information on the page -- it is done well enough, though the video and audio quality can always be improved. If you would prefer to just read and not watch a video, you can skip it quite easily, otherwise it is nice to put on while checking out the pledge levels and such. The general layout of the page is good and there is detailed information -- including imagery -- of the rewards for the different pledge levels, so everything is pretty easy to understand. The information on the page for the project is just satisfactory enough to make me curious, but I would still like to see a bit more information on the setting and maybe an example or two just to get a feel for it all. As it stands I am curious but not quite assured to the point of dropping money on it -- very close, though. Speaking of money, the goal seems reasonable and they are already around the half-way point with some time to go. There are a few stretch goals listed, which is nice -- I don't like having too many out on the page before the project has funded. If they begin including some imagery for the stretch goals as they did with the pledge tiers (once the stretch goals are the next target), it would be beneficial. All in all, the folks behind Extreme Earth have run successful Kickstarter (and Indiegogo) projects before and it shows.

If you would like to know more about Extreme Earth be sure to check out its Kickstarter page

Friday, April 04, 2014

The ENnies: It Is An Honor Just To Be Nominated...

For the first time ever, I submitted the Dorkland! blog for consideration for the ENnies. Do I expect to be nominated, or even win for that mater? Nah, not really. I've been doing this blog for just over 10 years now, and I've been plugging away at it without really caring who likes or who doesn't like what I want to talk about over here. I staked this out as my little corner of the internet, to let the dice fall where they may (so to speak). Why the sudden need for affirmation? To be honest, the whole thing is more of a PR thing for me than anything else. Additional eyes on the blog never hurt, and having links on the ENnies site will help drive some traffic, perhaps to people who have never seen the blog before. A contradiction, I know.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Super-Soldiers And Super-Spies For Fate Accelerated.

Many of you probably know that I am a fan of the Agents of SHIELD show on ABC. With the Captain America The Winter Soldier movie coming out tomorrow, I decided that I needed to put up something inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe that was gameable. This mini-setting for the Fate Accelerated rules (although you can just as easily use it with Fate Core) hits the spot that I was looking for. It gives a Gm the starting framework to build a campaign using the Cinematic Universe as an inspiration, while creating your own adventures.

You can download the PDF over here. Let me know what you think either here, over at G+ or on Twitter.

Combat Description Cards Kickstarter

I've covered several RPG Kickstarters so far for Dorkland, and this project is indeed involved with RPGs -- just in a bit of a different way. So, have you ever been sitting around the game table (or webcam) and thought, "Wow, combat is so boring -- I wish it could be spiced up a bit"? If so, the Combat Description Cards Kickstarter might be the project you need to liven up the play session.

How does it work? Pretty simply, it seems. There are three different suits of cards -- blunt, slashing and piercing -- each with three different types of styles -- stylish, power and ranged -- that each have two descriptions -- damaging and death. Need a descriptive way to describe something that just happened in combat? Pull a card from the respective suit, read the style and description that best fits the situation -- or just use it as inspiration and wing it a bit. That seems to be about it. There are some 100+ cards in the set (around 120+ now, with the stretch goals, I think) so there are plenty of descriptions to use. One aspect that the Kickstarter page made sure to point out, and that I think is good, is the lack of detailed information in the descriptions -- so they can be used with any weapon in nearly any setting or situation.

Interested? Then read on for the tiers and pricing and such.

The first tier of interest is at US$10 where you can get a digital PDF of all the cards to print on your own. For a physical deck the lowest tier is US$25 (includes free shipping within the US, additional for outside), and then several tiers of additional deck, digital and other goodies in a mix. Some of these other goodies are the Conflict PvP Rulebook from the same company (Conflict Roleplaying) and other gaming aids like battlemaps. If I have read the FAQ correctly, it also seems that backers at the US$25 tier and higher will receive the physical stretch goal rewards, too, of which there are several. Overall, not too expensive considering the cards look to be pretty well made.

Now for my favorite segment: the judging of the Kickstarter page. I really don't have to do it for this project, though, as it has already more than smashed through its original funding goal and many stretch goals -- clearly, it has done something very right. Still, let's run through it quickly -- starting with the video. The video is well made -- seems like there might have been a company hired to do at least the first half of it. The one problem I had with it, though, was the bright ball of light behind the text -- that was a bit blinding and made it a tad difficult to read some of the words. Moving on to the page content -- there are quite a few images that clearly show the product, images that show the different tiers and their rewards, and images that show off the stretch goal rewards. You hardly have to even read the page and you know generally know what's going on and what it's about. I like that. The written portion is okay, as well, and does thoroughly describe the product and its uses. It's a fine Kickstarter page all-around, but I feel it is all the clear images that really help take it a bit further.

And there you go -- liven up the deaths in your game with some ready-made descriptions. If you'd like to know more about the Combat Description Cards, feel free to check out its Kickstarter page. For more information on the company behind the cards, Conflict Roleplaying, be sure to check out their website.