Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Meanwhile At The Bundle Of Holding - A One-Roll Engine

It is the last day for the One-Roll Engine Bundle of Holding. You're not familiar with the One-Roll Engine?
The One-Roll Engine (ORE) system resolves initiative, success/failure, and damage in one quick roll. Designed by Greg Stolze (Unknown Armies) and Dennis Detwiller (Delta Green), this d10 dice-pool system is fast and easy to learn, yet has enough crunch and options to satisfy veteran players and GMs. Though technically a generic system, ORE really shines in superheroic action. 
I'll say right now, that this probably isn't going to be a game for everyone, and that's all right. But with the One-Roll Engine, and its accompanying suite of games, you have a game that is tightly designed around a specific idea: gritty super-heroic action.

That's something that is a sort of holy grail for super-hero gamers. A lot of super-hero RPGs do an excellent job at the "higher end" of the super-hero spectrum, but a lot of these start to fall apart when you get to the "lower end" or more street level types of games. With Godlike, Dennis Detwiller and Greg Stolze changed this. I have the original edition of Godlike in my gaming collection and I've played it a few times. It did have some mechanical quirks to it, but those were outweighed by a system that did a good job of handling the previously unhandleable. (Yeah, I know that's a made up word. Sue me.)

If you haven't played Godlike, I can describe it as being akin in tone to the Liberty Files graphic novels put out by DC Comics. If you don't know what those are, then shame on you. After you check out the Bundle of Holding you need to track down these comics as well.

A lot of these kinks were ironed out with the more generic version of the rules from Godlike, released as the game Wild Talents. Designed from the basis of a number of hours and months of play of the engine of the rules, Wild Talents expanded the scope of the rules to handle super-heroic action in a number of different eras, outside of the World War II action of the original Godlike rules.

In addition to a fine-tuning of the rules, Wild Talents has some additional material that would be of interest to super-hero gamers. The book has valuable campaign creation/design material from super star game designer Kenneth Hite, If you feel that your skill as a game master isn't up to describing the world that you want to game in, the section and advice written by Hite will help you over that hill.

The bundle also includes settings and expansions for the One-Roll Engine's rules. eCollapse and Better Angels are built around some interesting setting ideas from Greg Stolze, the creator of the rules.

Also, if the One-Roll Engine isn't your thing, Godlike features a conversion of the super power rules from that game into a d20 structure. That conversion was done by a designer who's name you may have heard of: Mike Mearls. I've always been surprised that these rules never went viral into the open content landscape. They should have been a part of open gaming for a long time now.

If you're not a fan of super-heroes, there is also a fantasy game that you can find in the Bundle. Reign, also designed by Stolze, is a demonstration of how well the One-Roll Engine rules can be used as the backbone of a fantasy game. Reign also features one of the more interesting and unique fantasy probably since Greg Stafford's Glorantha.

The game may not be to the tastes of those who only want to play D&D and the derivatives thereof, but for those people looking for something different in their fantasy gaming, Reign just might be that game that they are looking for.

And in addition to getting some good gaming material in DRM-free PDF form, you are also doing a good thing. Ten percent of the monies raised by each Bundle goes to charities of the designer/publisher's choice. For this Bundle, the charities of choice are Doctors Without Borders and Action Against Hunger. Check this bundle out soon, because tonight will will be done.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Last Few Days Of ENnies Voting

Voting for the ENnies Awards runs until July 30th. Please consider voting for Dorkland! in the Best Blog category. You don't even have to vote in every category in order to vote. Each vote for Dorkland! is greatly appreciated.

Some of our favorite posts, if you would like to see why we think you should vote for us:
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Nose around and check out the blog. We have also provided some (we think) cool free content for games that we like, like Fate Accelerated and Swords & Wizardry as well.
We hope you enjoy the tour and consider voting for us for the ENnies Awards in the Best Blog category.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mapping The Multiverse

Maybe it is because I received a copy of the newly revised edition of the Supers! role-playing game in the mail today. Maybe it is because of the fact that Comic Con International: San Diego is going on and I am jealous of all of the comic-related news coming out of there.

I don't make a secret that I am a fan of Grant Morrison's work. I loved his Doom Patrol and Justice League runs more than is probably legal in a number of states. Moreso even than Warren Ellis and his Stormwatch/Authority run, I think that Morrison redefined the super-hero team book during his JLA run. So, today, at Comic Con, on the Multiversity panel (for Morrison's upcoming mini-series redefining the DC Comics Multiverse) they revealed maps of the Multiverse, according to Morrison's story.

What do these maps make me want to do? They make me want to run a super-hero game that runs across worlds and planes of existence. Something that kicks some major ass. On the panel Morrison said:
"It has a concordance of every earth, with who lives there and which superhero teams are there.  There is a big story there too with Kamandi and Batman,” Morrison added.  It will literally define each of the 52 universes explicitly while showing what is going on in each one.  It was inspired by an old issue of Jack Kirby‘s Kamandi where Kirby drew a map of the western hemisphere to show what has been happening in different places. 
 How can this be bad?

Bleeding Gen Con In Less Than A Month

So, it is less than a month until Gen Con now. I will be attending as media, both for the blog here, and for the Bleeding Cool website. Coverage will be split between here and there. Also attending will be Helen, another of the bloggers here, and Josh will be manning the Dorkland! offices and handling anything that doesn't require being at the convention. If you have a Kickstarter going on before or during the convention, send us a note via the contact form and I will put you in touch with Josh.

Expect a lot of pictures uploaded each day.

Updates to the blog, and pieces for Bleeding Cool, will be uploaded during lulls in the day and in the evenings, after we are back at the hotel. My Twitter and Google+ feeds will also be good places to find my most up to date pictures and postings. Following me on Twitter will get your best information on coverage of the convention and will point you towards articles as they are published.

With the roll out of the new edition of D&D happening leading up to Gen Con, this is going to be an exciting convention, and I already have started lining up people to talk with during the convention. If you can't be at Gen Con yourself, this blog is going to be a hub of information about the convention that you won't want to miss out on.

Also, if you haven't voted for your ENnies Awards choices, please head over to the site and give the Dorkland! blog your consideration. I feel that we provide a unique "service" here at the blog that others don't give you. Our mix of news, reviews, interviews and free gaming content is, in our opinion, some of the best that you're going to find among gaming blogs.

There's also a Fundrazr page to help offset some of the costs of our coverage of the convention. It isn't cheap going to a big convention, and every little bit helps.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The New Castles & Crusades Printing Arrived Today

Convention season also means review season. Between here at the blog and my writing for Bleeding Cool, that can mean a lot of stuff filtering through the Dorkland! offices this time of year. I already have a considerable slush pile of games to review and so much more good stuff keeps coming out from publishers.

With the craziness of Comic Con International going on over at Bleeding Cool, that leaves me with a little gap in gaming coverage to talk about over here. Plus I can write out incomplete thoughts and ideas about games over here that I can't address over there.

Today a review copy of the new 6th printing of Castles & Crusades came in the mail. I've always enjoyed Castles & Crusades and the work of Troll Lord Games. Well, except for Star Siege. That was a bit of a disappointment. If you think that C&C is just another old school retroclone, you really need to think again. This is a dynamic and streamlined fantasy gaming system powered by what they call The Siege Engine, which is basically a refinement of the core D20 mechanic from the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons. While it is close in spirit to older editions, it is really its own beast as well. If you're looking for a robust fantasy role-playing game that is streamlined in execution of its rules, you should check out Castles & Crusades. With new art and full color printing funded by a recent Kickstarter, this printing is the best version of the game to date.

Once I read and digest, my plan is to run an after hours game while at Gen Con and talk about it online here and there.

Gail Simone Tackles Dynamite's First Ever Female-Centric Crossover Event

July 21, 2014, Mt. Laurel, NJ:  Dynamite Entertainment is proud to announce an exciting new event series featuring the most iconic female characters published by Dynamite, as written by sensational comics scribe, Gail Simone.  Renowned for her deft handling of DC Comics' best-known and most powerful women (Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey), Simone will unite and celebrate the strong female characters of Dynamite's publishing line, including Red Sonja, Vampirella, Dejah Thoris, and more, in a series currently under a working title of The Women of Dynamite.

The heart of The Women of Dynamite is formed by the three bestselling heroines (or female triumvirate) of Dynamite's line as the central characters:  Red Sonja, Vampirella, and Dejah Thoris.  The "She-Devil with a Sword" known as Red Sonja, is fantasy fiction's most prominent female character, formerly a swashbuckling ally of the Robert E. Howard character, Conan.  Vampirella, originally a horror hostess in her self-titled magazine, evolved over her forty-five year history into a supernatural detective.  Finally, Dejah Thoris is the eponymous heroine of Edgar Rice Burroughs' original story featuring John Carter, A Princess of Mars, and an adventurous mainstay at Dynamite with the publication of such series as Warlord of Mars and Dejah of Mars.  Additional female characters from Dynamite's ten years of publishing will be included in the event.

"When I first spoke with Nick about working at Dynamite, he graciously offered my choice of a huge list of great characters, and I immediately chose a favorite, Red Sonja," says writer Gail Simone.  "But that meant leaving behind amazing characters I loved!  So doing this big, fun, noisy event book, full of action and fun and drama and sex and villainy, featuring some of the wildest female characters out there, that's just awesome.  Getting to work with some of the most talented female writers in the industry only makes it better!"

"After working so closely with Gail on Legends of Red Sonja, I am excited to see where we'll be going next with this epic character crossover," says Molly Mahan, Associate Editor of Dynamite. "The concept of a Women of Dynamite series has been something we've been circling around for a while now, but had to wait for the right concept and creators to come together to make the story as worthwhile as the concept. We are lucky to have Gail as the cornerstone on this project and I know we'll craft something that the fans and comics community will enjoy across demographics."

"Gail has been an absolute pleasure to work with," says Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. "The thought of bringing together the strongest female characters that Dynamite publishes into an event has been discussed for years, and we could not be happier that Gail is the creator who will tell this tale.  Her work on Red Sonja has been a delight, and as fans who read her work know, she has many tricks up her sleeve.  Gail is going to make this event huge!  Just wait until you see what she has in store for the rest of Dynamite's strong female characters."

Gail Simone first debuted on a Dynamite series with the 2013 launch of Red Sonja, an ongoing series which was met with immediate critical acclaim and an impressive sell-out of its 35,000-unit first printing.  She has committed to writing chores for Red Sonja through its eighteenth issue.  She also assembled a team of fiction's top female writers, well-respected professionals from the prose, fantasy gaming, and comic book worlds, for a collaborative project called Legends of Red Sonja, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the titular character.  She additionally will contribute a story to the upcoming Vampirella: Feary Tales miniseries.

Simone got her start in comics writing for Bongo Comics, home of The Simpsons. Soon after, she entered the traditional superhero comics genre with a run on Marvel Comics' Deadpool (later called Agent X). In recent years, Simone is best known for known for fan-favorite story arcs on DC Comics' Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Wonder Woman, and Batgirl.

The Women of Dynamite will be solicited in an upcoming Diamond Comic Distributors Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market.  Comic book fans are encouraged to reserve copies of The Women of Dynamite with their local comic book retailers.  The Women of Dynamite will also be available for individual customer purchase through digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, iVerse, and Dark Horse Digital.

For art and more information, please visit:

About Dynamite Entertainment:
Dynamite was founded in 2004 and is home to several best-selling comic book titles and properties, including The Boys, The Shadow, Red Sonja, Warlord of Mars, Bionic Man, A Game of Thrones, and more.  Dynamite owns and controls an extensive library with over 3,000 characters (which includes the Harris Comics and Chaos Comics properties), such as Vampirella, Pantha, Evil Ernie, Smiley the Psychotic Button, Chastity, and Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt.  In addition to their critically-acclaimed titles and bestselling comics, Dynamite works with some of the most high profile creators in comics and entertainment, including Kevin Smith, Alex Ross, Neil Gaiman, Andy Diggle, John Cassaday, Garth Ennis, Jae Lee, Marc Guggenheim, Mike Carey, Jim Krueger, Greg Pak, Brett Matthews, Matt Wagner, Gail Simone, Steve Niles, James Robinson, and a host of up-and-coming new talent.  Dynamite is consistently ranked in the upper tiers of comic book publishers and several of their titles - including Alex Ross and Jim Krueger's Project Superpowers - have debuted in the Top Ten lists produced by Diamond Comics Distributors.  In 2005, Diamond awarded the company a GEM award for Best New Publisher and another GEM in 2006 for Comics Publisher of the Year (under 5%) and again in 2011.  The company has also been nominated for and won several industry awards, including the prestigious Harvey and Eisner Awards.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Revised - Being Inclusive Doesn't Mean Including Hate

The other day I wrote a post called "Inclusive Means Everyone" where I talked about some people having trouble with the new and inclusive language included in the Basic Rules PDF that Wizards of the Coast has put out for the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

I went on to say that those people who are bashing gays using this text don't have a place in this hobby. I was told (and you can see some of the comments that I quoted and the responses that my post received in the above link) that I was being a bigot for saying that, or that I was only saying it to "score brownie points."

I stand by what I said. This is the 21st century, if you're going to hate people because of who they love, or want to have sex with, or because they are a trans* person, or because of the color of their skin that makes you a bad person in my book and I don't want to game with you. I'm not saying this to impress anyone, or because I'm pressured to by some "agenda." I am saying this because this is what good people think.

If you are going to try to troll me for this, well...I'm not going to engage you. You aren't worth the time, and in fact I'll just say in advance that it is more than a little sad. Let me give you my response in advance to any potential trolls out there:

I wouldn't think that I would have to keep repeating myself on this subject, but some people can't seem to get it through their heads that the rest of the world has moved on about these things, and have embraced the differences in people. I don't want a hobby that is just full of all of the same people, because that wouldn't even reflect the gaming groups that I am lucky to have been a part of over my last 30+ years of being a gamer.

Yes, I do think that there is a group that should be excluded: those who spew hate. I'm not going to apologize for that.

Update: Since I know that not everyone will be able to see G+ comments generated by this post, I wanted to add a comment by +David Rollins (with his permission) to the post:
It's strange that people seem to think they have a right to hate. Like it's OK to hate some people and if we refuse to tolerate the presence of these haters they say we are just hating on them.
But hate is the exception to the rules we hold most dear. Freedom of speech or expression do not protect hate speech. Hate speech is still a crime.
RPGs cover a large area of ideas and concepts. There is room for nearly everyone here, but if you think it's OK to hate on people for who they are then there's no place for you at my table.

Munchkin? It's My Bag, Baby...

The nice folks at Steve Jackson Games sent one of their brand new Munchkin Messenger Bags to me this week. Interestingly, it is available through Amazon rather than the Steve Jackson Games people directly.

It isn't cheap, but Amazon Prime users will get the free shipping on it. In addition to a study and functional bag that can carry two Munchkin boxes you also get four exclusive Munchkin cards (which in fine Munchkin form must be used in the game in conjunction with the messenger bag) and a special, over-sized six-sided die. The bag will also carry pens, paper, and other sundry supplies.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Super Villain Handbook

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Heebie Jeebies - A Game Of Unsettling Notions On Kickstarter

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dorkland Scores An ENnie Nomination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading the blog.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Inclusive Means Everyone

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Some Magic Items For Your Gaming Pleasure

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

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

The Warlock's Face has two main powers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Constantine And Flash Pilots Leaked To The Internet

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