Monday, July 26, 2010

She Has No Head! – Interview With The Man Who Would Resurrect DV8 (aka Brian Wood)

I’ve talked pretty openly about my love for Brian Wood’s new DV8 mini-series Gods & Monsters, from the fact that I think it feels both modern and also somehow like a throwback to really good superhero character pieces, but it’s also been one of the inspirations for why I’ve been talking so frequently about how much I’d like to see more independent creators given a chance to show what they can do on more mainstream characters. Not that DV8 was ever totally mainstream, but there’s no reason why DV8 can’t emerge as a powerhouse of a title from Wildstorm, if done right. And with able assists from Fiona Staples on covers and Carrie Strachan delivering beautiful colors, Brian Wood and Rebekah Isaacs are doing it SO right. The way I feel a lot more indie creators could if given the chance to run wild on a title the way Wood and Isaacs have cut loose on Gods & Monsters.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How Did Marvel Lose Control Of Wolverine?

If you plan on attending any of the Marvel Comics panels at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, here's a question you may want to consider asking: Why does the company not seem to have any idea what to do with Wolverine?

I ask because not only is the character getting killed off so that his soul can go and get into a few fights in Hell in a new series launching in September, but it now looks like he'll also be turning into a vampire as a result of the newly-launched 'Curse of The Mutants' storyline at the same time. Oh, and in a third series, he'll also be fighting immortals and a guy whose blood is some kind of killer virus... and that's before you get around to any alternate universe Wolverines (Although, interestingly enough, both Marvel's Ultimate and Forever lines have permanently offed their versions of the character). What's with all the new, contradictory directions all at once?

Comic Book History vs. Will Eisner

One of the important moments of comic history has always been the case that DC Comics (even if that wasn't their name at the time) made against Fox Comics for infringing on Superman with their Wonder Man character created by comic great Will Eisner and Jerry Iger. Interestingly, the version of these preceedings that Eisner has a bit of a discrepancy from the actually court transcripts that have recently appeared.

This is a quote of interest to those who like to follow comic history.

If you’ve made it this far, I assume you’ve read Eisner’s testimony in total. And if you have, you too have noticed the obvious discrepancy between Eisner’s oft-repeated version and his words before the court.

[full disclosure: This posed a true dilemma for me. Part of me wanted to protect the image of my idol by keeping this information to myself. Part realized the importance of this document to comic history and my responsibility as a reporter. I can't deny history, so as much as this truly pains me, I set my personal emotions aside.]

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hastings – The First National Comic Store Chain In US?

From Bleeding Cool, and the mind of Rich Johnston, and reported better than never by this blog:
Hastings is a national media store, selling books, DVDs, games, music, that sort of thing. Of late, the word is that its music sales have suffered most significantly, as digital downloading takes the lion’s share.

But I was told that in response, the company was moving into comics. Big time. Already stocking graphic novels as part of their book mix, they had approached publishers and distributors nationally talking about increasing their comic books selection. Including selling brand new comics distributed by Diamond as well as stocking back issues in depth. In almost 130 stores nationwide.

While I think this might have a good short term effect on comics (how many of the largest comic store "chains" have 147 stores?) I am still not entirely sold on the long term viability of Hasting entering into the "friendly local comic store" market. They chose to start selling comics because the marketplace for music sales moved to a diret market digital model, rather than attempt to keep up with the digital evolution of sales in that market, what should we expect them to do with the inevitabe move for the comic industry into the digital domain as well?

While I applaud Hastings for selling comic books (even though it will never impact me in this part of the country) I wonder how much forward thinking went into this decision, rather than it being a stop-gap method to bolster profits. Does Hastings' target audience care about the sales of monthly comics? Are comic buyers even a large enough of a demographic to make the sales bump that Hastings is looking for with this move? I guess time will tell. I will be hopefully optimistic that it will come out for the best

Saturday, June 19, 2010

DDOJ, Inc. Announces Acquisiton of Majority Share in Indie Press Revolution

June 19th, 2010- New York City, NY: DOJ Inc. is proud to announce that they have closed a deal to acquire a majority share of Indie Press Revolution, the industry's leading direct-sales network of high-quality small press game publishers, and will be taking over administrative operations of the company beginning July 1st, 2010. The minority shareholders have all approved the sale and will be retaining their ownership shares in the company.

"I'm delighted to be taking over a sales organization with the brand strength and reputation for quality that IPR has built over the last several years," says Darren Watts, President of DOJ Inc. "IPR has a very strong business model and has done an outstanding job representing its client creator-publishers, and we intend to carry forward with the same philosophy in order to bring great new games to the public from the cutting edge of game design."

"I'm excited to be working with Darren, Jason, and the rest of the DOJ team," said Ryan Macklin, General Manager of IPR, who will be remaining in that position. "They have an excitement about IPR that I relish, and I'm looking forward to the future they'll bring to this company."

"DOJ Logistics has already been providing IPR and its publishers complete shipping and warehousing services since August 2008," said DOJ Logistics Director Jason Walters, "so both the publishers and the customers of IPR should receive the same fine service they've come to expect."

"DOJ Inc has been providing IPR great service and over the years we have developed a close relationship with the warehouse staff. I can't think of any better partner for IPR to help the business grow and thrive in the years to come," said Brennan Taylor, owner of Galileo Games and outgoing President of IPR. Mr. Taylor is retaining a minority share in IPR, as well as remaining a client publisher, and will be assisting DOJ in the transition.



Indie Press Revolution is a consolidation house and direct-sales network of quality small press game publishers, dedicated to establishing a community in which creator-publishers can flourish and share their ideas and visions together in a cooperative environment. IPR sells exclusively to retailers and the public through their website, at They currently represent over ninety outstanding independent small publishers, including such industry standouts as Cubicle 7 Entertainment, Evil Hat Productions, Arc Dream Press, Pelgrane Press, and Galileo Games, to name only a few.


DOJ Inc. are the owners of Hero Games, publishers of Champions and other roleplaying games using the award-winning Hero System, and of DOJ Logistics, providing warehousing and shipping services to the tabletop gaming industry.

Darren Watts
darren (at) herogames (dot) com.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

ThunderCats writer Stephen Perry missing after grisly discovery

Police in Florida are searching for ailing ThunderCats writer Stephen Perry, who disappeared from his Zephyrhills home under suspicious, and possibly ghastly, circumstances.

His van was found Sunday abandoned in a motel parking lot. Nearby, FOX 13 reports, was a man's severed arm. More remains were discovered at a gas-station dumpster two miles away from Perry's home, which had been ransacked.

On Friday authorities arrested Perry's two roommates, Roxanne D. Davis, 49, and James W. Davis, 46, who had been missing since Sunday. The St. Petersburg Times reports that James Davis is charged with trafficking of controlled substances, possession of paraphernalia, possession of controlled substances and two warrants for failure to appear in court. Roxanne Davis is charged with violation of parole, grand theft and burglary.

Police have avoided publicly referring to the case as a homicide investigation, but signs obviously point to that. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement told The Tampa Tribune the agency had been called in to assist with an apparent homicide, but wouldn't say whether it was related to the missing persons investigation. However, Zephyrhills Mayor Cliff McDuffie said, 'I assume it is the same investigation. I assume it is a homicide.'

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frank Frazetta 1928-2010

We are sad to confirm via Frazetta’s agent Robert Pistella that the artist passed away this afternoon in a hopital near his home. The cause of death was a stroke. Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.

Frank Frazetta was born February 9, 1928. His early artistic career consisted of years of exquisitely drawn comics work, including contributions to the EC line of comics, assisting Al Capp on L’il Abner and later drawing several years of the strip, and working with Harvey Kurtzman on Little Annie Fanny.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Announcement: I Am No Longer Involved With Seraphim Guard/Rusttown Press

I'm sure this is going to be lost in the news and speculation among gamers because of what is going on with Catalyst Game Labs, but I wanted to make a public announcement of this.

While some paper work is still pending, I am no longer officially involved with the day-to-day dealing of Rusttown Press/Seraphim Guard. I am, however, still the co-owner of some of the properties (primarily the Heartquest name and line) and I am still developing material for the Fudge gaming system. In fact, I have ramped up my long-standing development of a set of Fudge-based rules for modern era playing which will see a number of uses, including a new implementation for the Heartquest line. I have some other ongoing designs that I am polishing up as well. There is going to be a flare-up of new gaming content on the horizon for me.

Expect further announcements here and in other places as projects are completed and new things fall into place. From this point on, its going to be about innovation and new ideas, as well as moving properties forward. If you are a fan of Fudge or of my Open Core systems, this is going to be an exciting time to be a gamer.

So, let's get out there and game people.

Catalyst Games Press Release On Current Financial "Issues"

For Immediate Release

Catalyst Game Labs recently completed a detailed financial review of the company. We learned that over the past several years the company has achieved dramatic growth in terms of demand, increased total revenues and strong sales with an increasing market share in the gaming industry, despite a lackluster economy. We are thrilled by that news and are eager to move forward with our upcoming original game Leviathans, along with our other new casual games. We also remain committed to plans for our beloved licensed games: Shadowrun, BattleTech, Eclipse Phase, and CthuluTech.

While we wish the review had only uncovered positive news, we also discovered our accounting procedures had not been updated as the company continued to grow. The result was that business funds had been co-mingled with the personal funds of one of the owners. We believe the missing funds were the result of bad habits that began alongside the creation of the company, which was initially a small hobby group. Upon further investigation, in which the owner has willingly participated, the owner in question now owes the company a significant balance and is working to help rectify the situation.

The current group of owners was presented with this information on Monday. Administrative organization for the company is under review, and accounting procedures have been restructured, to correct the situation and provide more stringent oversight. We feel the management team at Catalyst did the responsible thing by seeking this financial review and we will continue to restructure as needed. We are in discussions with our partners and freelancers to remedy any back payments that may also be due as a result of this review.
We are embarrassed that this situation did occur but we hope our eagerness to make these changes, along with our reputation for making great games, will encourage you to stand by us. We understand that for a few employees the news was too stressful and we wish them all the best in their new endeavors. However, the majority of the team remains and will continue to bring great entertainment to you all. We appreciate the support our friends, freelancers, and fans have provided us in the past and look forward to a successful future.

(originally posted by Randall Bills)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

DriveThruRPG Once Again Celebrates GM's Day With It's Biggest Sale Ever!

March 3rd, 2010

DriveThruRPG Once Again Celebrates GM's Day With It's Biggest Sale Ever!

(Atlanta, GA) – March 4th has become well known in RPG fan circles as “Game Master's Day,” or GM's Day, a day on which all gamers honor and celebrate the folks who take the time to set up and run roleplaying games. As a part of this celebration, dozens of publishers on DriveThruRPG are offering hundreds upon hundreds of products for sale at 25% off.

“There is no bigger or more important sale for us,” said Sean Patrick Fannon, Marketing and Communications Manager for DriveThruRPG. “Not only is this a powerful and important way to celebrate the most important part of any roleplaying game – the GM – it is vital to our publishers, enabling them to boost their revenue at an important time in their development cycles.”

With what is traditionally called “Convention Season” right around the corner, such a sale is a great way for gamers to get their hands on all that has come out so far. They also strongly support their favorite publishers,
thus making sure new products can be made, published, and brought to market at the various conventions around the country and around the world.

“We are very proud to serve the health and diversity of this fantastic hobby,” Steve Wieck of DriveThruRPG, shared. “For a long time, there have been many claiming that RPGs are dying out. They must be missing what’s happening at DriveThruRPG. We had over 300 new RPG releases last month from a diverse group of amazing publishers serving enthusiastic customers all over the world. GM's day is a great way for us to celebrate the hobby we love.”

The GM's Day Celebration sale runs from the morning of March 3rd through the morning of March 8th this year. Fans should log in and delve into the huge list of titles on sale. “While they are at it, “Sean Fannon adds, “we hope customers remember to use the 'Buying for someone else' option at check out – after all, this is supposed to be a time to celebrate their GMs!” is the world's largest source of RPG products available for sale. It is an industry leader in modern business and technology developments for the tabletop gaming fan. For more information, contact Sean Patrick Fannon (, 614-946-9371).
Sean Patrick Fannon
614-946-9371 (mobile, EDT)
RPG Marketing, Communications, and Publisher Services Manager

They Fought The Law...

An important date has passed now in gaming history. I'm not talking about the release of some long out of print game, or anything like that. Twenty years ago Steve Jackson Games (the US Steve Jackson of course) was raided by the US Secret Service in a crackdown on hackers (you can find more on that in the first link below) ... because they were working on a Cyberpunk supplement for their GURPS game. I know, right? Seems parts of the government had a difficulty telling the difference between reality and fantasy too.

Regardless, this was a very serious happening, and the impounding of manuscripts and computers nearly ruined Steve Jackson Games back in the day. So, take a moment in your day to day to think about what could happen, what might happen. If you have a little extra money you might consider giving something to the EFF (see link below also) rather than buying another game book that's just going to dusty up your shelf. A wise man once asekd, what price do we pay for freedom?

So, I turn it over to Steve Jackson and the posting he made on SJG's Daily Illuminator:

A couple of days ago, we passed the 20-year anniversary of the Secret Service raid on our office. We didn't send out a press release, hold a candlelight ceremony, or even put a giant copy of GURPS Cyberpunk on our roof (okay, that one would have been pretty cool). Instead, we worked on Munchkin projects and tested the alpha version of a Zombie Dice app for the iPhone.

In other words: We just made games. And this is a good thing. The point of the lawsuit against the Secret Service was to defend our civil liberties. Liberty means the freedom to go about your business in peace, and once the lawsuit was over and the computer-snatchers put, for the moment, to flight . . . we went about our business, which is making games. And we're still at it.

But we might not be making games today if it weren't for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The founders of the EFF took on the very serious business of defending us - all of us - against perhaps the worst menace a democracy can face: its own police, laws, and courts gone astray. The balance between freedom and security never stands still, and new technology changes the details but mustn't be allowed to change the principles. That's why the EFF was created, and that's why it's still around, 20 years later. And I'm very grateful.

On Tuesday, March 9, EFF-Austin will sponsor a panel discussion about the raid, its aftermath, and its relevance to our civil liberties today. Time: 7pm. Place: Independence Brewing (a good-omened name!), 3913 Todd Lane #607. I'll be there, along with Pete Kennedy, who was our lead attorney, and Bruce Sterling, who chronicled the whole thing in The Hacker Crackdown. Admission is free, but please plan on dropping something into the hat to support EFF-Austin!

Oh, and if you weren't around back in the day, I really suggest finding a second-hand copy of Bruce Sterling's The Hacker Crackdown for your library as well. Great read and it really gives some insights into what the electronic community that helped transform the internet into what we have to play with today was thinking and doing.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mini-Interview with Unexplained Designer Bradford Younie

1. What do you do with yourself when you're not designing role-playing games?

I spend time with my wife Andrea and my three kids, Edward, Heather, and Kayleigh (and our cat Spooky Jr.). I watch TV, and I’m writing a novel.

2. How did you discover Fudge as a system and why do you keep coming back to it as a system?
I was originally using my own modern d20 system for Now Playing when I was designing that game (this was before the d20 Modern product came out). I ran a playtest, choosing the TV show “The Chronicle.” At the end, I asked everyone what they thought of it. They all said, “It was just like the show…except for the gunfight!”

I realized then that I needed a rules light system. I was in the process of designing my own, when a friend told me about Fudge. I downloaded it and read it. The Fudge core book didn’t read like a system book to me; it read like a toolkit for building my own system. And it was open. I loved the use of adjectives in the trait ladder and other mechanics, and so I went with it.

I’ve stuck with the system because it works well, provides compatibility with my other games, and I haven’t found a system I’d rather use.

3. What games and designers influence you as a designer?

Gee…this is a tough one. A lot of games influence me in small ways. You know, I’ll see one game that does one thing really well, and I’ll see another game that does something that doesn’t work, like in layout or something like that. But if there’s one game that influenced me most as a designer, it would be WitchCraft by C.J. Carella. That game did a fantastic job of blending the system with the setting. And the book was a fantastic read. The vast majority of RPGs out there are written like reference books, which don’t make enjoyable reads. The downside to WitchCraft is that it doesn’t make a good reference. It taught me that it’s possible to create an RPG book is both a great read and a good reference. WitchCraft is still one of my favorite games.

4. How did you become interested in the paranormal?

In short, the house I grew up in was haunted. Actually, I can’t say for certain that it was haunted, as I have no actual evidence…just personal experiences. I try to remain objective about that. I’ve heard footsteps in the house when I was alone, and there was one room that I was totally terrified of, especially at night. Unfortunately, it was right next to my bedroom and I had to go through it every night at bedtime. There was nothing obviously wrong with the room, and there were definitely parts of the old house that was creepier, but I had this unreasoning terror of that room.

But I never considered that it might be haunted until I was in my teens. When I was in Elementary School, I found a book in the school’s library on UFOs. It had the famous Trent photo and a photo of some UFOs in Trinidad. They really intrigued me. I ended up reading every book in the library on paranormal topics. I just ate it up. I’ve been researching it ever since.

5. What about your interest in the paranormal lead to you deciding to make The Unexplained as a game?
Well, part of it was that it’s been such a big interest in my life. I’ve had a variety of experiences and I kept thinking about it. I was already researching it, so that helped. But I think the biggest motivation was that I noticed that all the horror or paranormal RPGs that already existed took a more mythical or legendary approach to it. There was no game out there that took a realistic approach to the subject. When I realized that, it just clicked.

6. Have you ever done any real world "ghost hunting" and if you have what is your most interesting/favorite experience?

Most of my experiences with the paranormal were things that just happened when I wasn’t expecting it.

My favorite experience happened when ECTO, a paranormal group that endorsed The Unexplained, invited me to an investigation of America’s Stonehenge in Salem, NH. This is an ancient pre-Columbian ruin with stone structures and stuff. We were all standing in this one stone chamber that had a large stone table in it that was presumed to be a sacrificial table. We had several digital cameras sitting on it. At one point, Tim (one of the ECTO guys) asked the spirits for a sign. He suggested that they could do something to a camera. All of a sudden, three of the cameras suddenly powered down due to battery drain; one right after the other, a few seconds apart. A few minutes later, I was looking right at one of the other investigators when all of a sudden, his feet were suddenly yanked out from under him, and he fell on his butt. He said it felt like someone grabbed his ankles and pulled. He was wearing boots that had rubber cleat-like stuff, so his feet didn’t slip. It looked to me like someone yanked his feet. It was really exciting!

7. What is next for The Unexplained?

I’m working on the Storyteller’s Screen right now. It’ll be a 4-panel screen that comes with a ready-to-play adventure module. After that, I’ll release more adventures, and I’m working on a cryptid compendium (working title was “Strange Creatures”). It’s basically a non-fiction cryptid monster manual.

8. If the sky was the limit what is the one thing that you most want to do as a role-playing game?
Wow! That’s a hard one. There’s so much I’d love to do. I have two settings that I’ve come up with. One is pretty detailed and I plan to release it. It’s tentatively called “Space 2150” and is a hard sci-fi game. The other is a historical RPG set in the time of Mycenae. I chose not to do the Mycenae game because marketing research shows that historical RPGs typically win awards, but don’t sell.

9. What is something about yourself that you've never admitted online before?

I have ADD. It makes it tough to stay on task, but I’ve found ways to work with it.

10. How can people find you, Carnivore Games and The Unexplained online?

There are lots of ways:
My web site:

Friday, February 05, 2010

Jeff Grubb: 30 Secrets About TSR's Marvel Super-Heroes Game

It's really not a big secret that I love this game. It is my favorite game and system of all time. I even have the revised Basic boxed set not ten feet away from me as I make this blog post. I have even been actively involved in the retro clone of it (I would love to see Jeff Grubb take a swing at doing something with 4C). So, this is from Jeff's blog:

The recent post in Grognardia about the original Marvel Super Heroes game has garnered a lot of comments, most of them of the 'boy, we loved that game when we were kids' variety. In fact it has been picked up by the blog for the Stranger, one of Seattle's free weeklies. And its gotten me all nostalgic about the old days. So here are thirty things about the Marvel Super Heroes and its history.

Great stuff in here, by the way. My favorite quote:

27) Early on, we had a knack for publishing things that were immediately outdated in comic book continuity. We would publish a map of the Baxter Building and they would blow it up. We would do an Alpha Flight adventure and they would change the line-up dramatically. Peter David once suggested we do a New Universe adventure so they could wipe out the line (they did, eventually, without my help).

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Mash-Ups in Review

Do you know what a mash-up is? Well, you should. More than a remix, and something approaching an entirely new song when it is done right, I've been a fan of mash-ups for a while now and it really sounds like they're coming into their own as a style and approach to music.

Bootie (the world's first Mash-Up club experience) puts out a yearly compilation of what they think is the best in the genre. This year in a continuous mix. Unfortunately this is version two because Nirvana's record label made them take down Lobsterdust's great NirGaga mash.

Best of Bootie 2009 v.2 by bootie

 Couple this with the amazing work of DJ Earworm and his 2009 edition of "United States of Pop" and you can start to see where this style is going.

DJ Earworm - United State of Pop 2009 (Blame It on the Pop) - Mashup of Top 25 Billboard Hits by user8381635

PS. Want to hear NirGaga?
NirGaga (Niravana vs LadyGaga) by D0C. 

Dorkland Giveaway with Open Design/Kobold Quarterly!

Thanks to our fine friends at Open Design/Kobold Quarterly we have a great prize giveaway for the gaming fans who follow this blog (and all of our friends on Twitter as well). Open Design has graciously given us three book (The Kobold Guide To Game Design vol. 1 & 2 and Zobeck Gazeteer Volume 2: Dwarves of the Ironcrags). One lucky winner on Twitter will get all three of these great books as a prize.

Above is a photo of the prizes given to us (forgive my fancy high-tech photo backdrop system). In order to win these books you have to do three basic things (and follow the official rules as outlined at the bottom of this post):
  1. You have to have a Twitter account.
  2. You have to follow @dorkland and @monkeyking on Twitter.
  3. You have to tweet the phrase (without quotes) "I want @dorkland to pick me for the prize from @monkeyking"
That's basically it. The contest starts tonight at a minute after midnight and runs for one week. Only tweets during that time period will be considered as entries and only one tweet per Twitter account. Starting early is a bad thing also.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of something new here at Dorkland. I am already talking with a second publisher about the next giveaway, and ideally this is something that I would like to start doing on a monthly basis, with publishers of a variety of systems. If you are an RPG print publisher and would be interested in taking part in a giveaway, send me a Twitter DM at @dorkland and we'll talk.

Official Rules For The Contest
  • You must have an account on Twitter ( to enter this contest. As the winner will be notified via Direct Message through the Twitter website you must also follow @dorkland and @monkeyking in order to win. If you cannot be sent a DM because of this, a new winner will be picked. Only one attempt at notification will be made and if that fails a new winner will be picked.
  • This contest is only open to people within the Continental United States. No exceptions to this rule. If the winner does not live within the Continental United States they will be disqualified and a new winner will be picked. The prize will be sent via USPS media mail with delivery confirmation. Is it the responsibility of the winner to provide a valid mailing address, and should the prize be returned or be unable to be delivered the winning of this contest will be declared null and void. Neither this blog, its owner nor Open Design/Kobold Quarterly take any responsibility for lost, mis-delivered or stolen mail. This prize is considered "as-is" in its condition.
  • Only one tweet per contestant. This means only one tweet per Twitter account is allowed during the time period. A search will be made before announcing the winner and if it can be found that multiple tweets have been made from any account, that winner will be disqualified and a new winner will be picked.
  • Only tweets containing the phrase "I want @dorkland to pick me for the prize from @monkeyking" will be considered. The tweet can contain additional language but it must contain that phrase to be considered.
  • Only tweets made from 12:01am EST on February 4, 2010 until 12:01am on February 12, 2010 will be considered for entry in this contest
  • Violation of any or all of these rules will make any entry null and void.
So, that's it. This is our first big giveaway. Good luck to whomever might end up winning it and thank you very much to Wolfgang Baur at Open Design/Kobold Quarterly for his great prize in this contest.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bluewater Comics...Holding out on Creators?

These are reports from a couple of comic-related blogs (via the Comic Shop Resources website):

Bluewater Comics has an awful contract that creators sign because they’re desperate to break into' the industry. Basically, they don’t pay you until a comic book is 'profitable' and then it’s a royalty, with no advances. Which is kind of a shitty contract in the book world, but you still see it. The difference is that in this case Bluewater owns or licenses the Intellectual Property (IP) and what they’re doing is developing that IP for other-media on the backs of young freelancers, whom they never have to pay, and that moves from being a shitty contract to exploitation.

In the past, when I’ve talked about Bluewater comics, it’s generally been to make fun of them. After all, they’ve made stupid, entry-level mistakes when they weren’t dementedly seizing at trends to get something, anything to sell. Their latest approach, rushing out tie-ins to whatever people are talking about politically, seems to be working for them (although once again, they made basic mistakes there as well).

Unfortunately, now word comes that the company is making money by not paying their artists. In short, they only pay the people who create the comic once they’ve made a profit … which is ripe for exploitation, since a company can keep throwing expenses against a work until nothing ever makes money (known as 'Hollywood accounting').

Unfortunately I know a lot of geeks well enough to know that they wouldn't let something like non-payment of the people creating the comic books they're enjoying be a reason to not buy from that company anymore. That's just sad.

Although, are there a lot of people buying Bluewater comics?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

DTRPG raised $56,000 and lost servers temporarily

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In an effort to hurriedly engage publishers and fans in a charitable relief action for the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic (following the earthquake that devastated the region), DriveThruRPG put together the single most amazing bundle of products ever seen in the RPG hobby's history. For a $20 donation, fans are given over $1500.00 in RPG books, music, and more.

It killed their servers within hours of going live.

As one fan put it, "I've never been happier to get an error message." The generosity has been utterly overwhelming, and the collective patience of the customer base has been greatly appreciated by the folks at DriveThruRPG.

"It is an embarrassment of riches of the highest order," said Sean Patrick Fannon, Marketing & Communications Manager. "We simply had no idea how huge this would get, and how quickly it would become a massive sensation throughout the gaming world. I've never been more proud of my community or
my job."

In order to resolve the server issues, DriveThru employed a "coupon solution" that enabled customers to gain a code that would let them select each of the products in the original bundle for free download. With well
over a hundred products, however, this became a tedious and frustrating process, and the customers rightfully complained.

As of now, a new coding has been employed, and now customers are getting all of the products that go with the bundles automatically added to their download lists. The folks at DriveThruRPG care immensely for their
customers, wanting the experience to be as easy and enjoyable as possible. While the main focus is to get help to Haiti, DriveThru also wants to leave a positive and lasting impression on everyone who comes to the site.

As of this press release, DriveThruRPG has collected well over $56,000, which will be going to Doctors Without Borders for their efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The "Gamers Help Haiti $20 Mega Bundle" will be available until January 31st. Other relief efforts may continue as needed.

For more information, contact Sean Patrick Fannon at Go to to obtain the bundle and learn more about what DriveThruRPG is doing to help Haiti.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Necronomicon

Have you read any good books lately?

The One Ring RPG


For immediate release.

Cubicle 7 Entertainment and Sophisticated Games announce that they are developing The One Ring: The Lord of the Rings® Role-playing Game.

Cubicle 7 Entertainment and Sophisticated Games are proud to announce that they are jointly developing The One Ring: The Lord of the Rings® Role-playing Game.

“We’re tremendously excited about The One Ring,” said Dominic McDowall-Thomas, Cubicle 7 Director. “Our aim is to give our audience an authentic Middle-earth gaming experience, one that really captures the feel of Tolkien’s world.”

The designer and lead writer of this project, Francesco Nepitello, is a games industry veteran, best known for the hugely successful and critically acclaimed War of the Ring strategy board game, which he designed with The One Ring co-designer Marco Maggi and Roberto di Meglio. A recipient of the International Gamers Award, *War of the Ring* is recognised by many ‘Lord of the Rings’ enthusiasts and hobby gamers alike as one of the most engaging recreations of the world-renowned fantasy saga by J.R.R. Tolkien. Francesco and Marco are the designers of other immersive board game titles like Marvel Super Heroes and Age of Conan, but started their game-designing careers creating Lex Arcana, the most successful and popular fantasy role-playing game published in Italy.

Francesco has designed the new LOTR RPG game system to make sure that players are completely immersed in Middle-earth from the moment they begin creating their characters. As an experienced designer of games based on JRR Tolkien, as well as being a lifelong devotee of the Tolkien works, Francesco brings a dimension -and a depth- to this RPG which has probably never been seen before in a LOTR game.

Robert Hyde, head of Cambridge (UK) based Sophisticated Games said, “When we first acquired the rights from Tolkien Enterprises to publish this RPG - as part of our wider LOTR book based board game license- we had no hesitation in approaching Francesco to conceive a completely fresh LOTR and The Hobbit RPG, and for him to be the writer. We knew that he possessed both these skills and that the game would be in very safe hands. His presentation of Middle-earth, along with stunning artwork from John Howe and others, brings this incredibly evocative and exciting world to life.”

“We also approached Cubicle 7 to be our publishing partners on the new The One Ring RPG because we loved the quality of their previous publications and felt that Dominic and Angus (Abranson) had both the experience, and with the creation of Cubicle 7, the role playing game resources, to bring LOTR and The Hobbit to a very wide audience.”

For more information on The One Ring: The Lord of the Rings® Role-playing Game please contact Cubicle 7 on

The One Ring: The Lord of the Rings® Role-playing Game will be published in the second half of 2010.

About Cubicle 7 Entertainment Limited*

Cubicle 7 Entertainment is a British-based publisher and events company, specialising in the games industry. Founded in 2006, by Angus Abranson and Dominic McDowall-Thomas, the company has published role-playing games from a list of licensed and home-grown properties including Victoriana, Starblazer Adventure (based on DC Thomson’s 80’s Starblazer comic series), SLA Industries, Qin: The Warring States and the recent Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (licensed from the BBC). In June 2009 Cubicle 7 announced it had joined the Rebellion Group.

Cubicle 7 Entertainment:

About Sophisticated Games*

Sophisticated Games is an international board game publisher, specialising in book based Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit games. It is also the publisher of Reiner Knizia’s Ingenious and Callisto, and has recently done Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, Shakespeare and a Horrible Histories game.  Sophisticated Games is based in Cambridge UK.

Sophisticated Games:

The One Ring, Middle-earth, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the characters, items, events and places therein are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises f/k/a Tolkien Enterprises and are used under license by Sophisticated Games Ltd and their licensees.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bombay Holiday Party 2009 Walt & Solange

Here's a picture of me in Second Life from a holiday party the other day in world. I'm the one with the beard.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Urban Fantasy in HeroQuest 2: A Werewolf Keyword

While this keyword was influenced mostly by the Mercedes Thompson books by Patricia Briggs, it can just as easily be used in any sort of urban fantasy game with supernatural creatures like werewolves and vampires.

The werewolf is a primal creature, a creature of lusts and rages, more at home in the wilds and the forests than in the cities that most of them live in these days. While their transformations are rules by the power of the full moon, many wolves can control their changes and move from human to wolf forms with varying degrees of ease. The degree to which wolves are able to control themselves and their bestial nature can depend on when they were first "changed" into a werewolf and the savageness of the attack that forever changed their lives.

Werewolves have very long lives, unless their savage side overcomes them in one form or another, and can live for hundreds of years. Some older wolves can have a variety of anacronistic tells that vary from speech patterns to affectations of dress. Older wolves that have a harder time with fitting into a modern world often stick to staying within established werewolf communities rather than deal with a world that they do not understand.

Physically a werewolf is very powerful, even when in their human form and can be physically imposing and highly charismatic to normal human, who may not know that they are facing a wolf but rather something very much stronger than they are themselves. This physical power can be very sexually compelling to some individuals, whether supernatural in nature or not. In their human form, wolves are stronger and tougher than a normal human and this is only amplified when they are in their wolf form.

The senses of a werewolf are also more intense, vivid and finely honed than humans as well, even when they are not in their wolf form. This makes it difficult to lie to a wolf, as it does hiding strong emotional states like fear or arousal. The nose of a werewolf can tell them many things that others would miss.

The society of werewolves, called packs at their basic unit, are heirarchial in their nature and are based upon the dominance of the personality of the wolf. The idea of this is that it is the position within the pack of the stronger, more dominant wolves to protect those who are weaker and more submissive. Dominance in werewolf packs has to do with strength and force of personality, rather than any sort of sexual relationship, and wolves that are more submissive can often have unique niches within a pack that cannot be filled by a more dominant wolf. Submissive never equals useless in a wolf pack, as each wolf has their place within the pack. Also, as wolves mate for life, there is a difference between the strong and mystical bond between mates and those who merely have spouses. Each pack has its own territory, which can be an area as small as a remote town or as large as a region of a State or country. The pack is lead by the most dominant wolf in it, called the Alpha. As the strongest wolf in the pack, the Alpha is charged with the protection of the entire pack and has a supernatural bond with each member of the pack that allows the Alpha to know the well-being of members as well as allowing the Alpha to draw upon the strength of the pack through magical means.

Wolves are social creatures by their nature, pack animals as it were. For some though, mostly due to the savageness of their being changed into a wolf, integration into a wolf pack is not easy or even possible. These lone wolves, sometimes also called ronins, are able to wander freely around the world (as long as they extend the proper curtesies to local packs and their Alphas) but at the expense of never having that bond or feeling of belonging that comes with being a part of a pack. Lone wolves tend to be more dominant, as most packs would feel too protective of submissives to allow them to wander unprotected.

The description of this keyword should give you a good deal of possible abilities for your HeroQuest werewolf characters. In addition it gives you an idea of what the world for this kind of werewolf is like.

Further detail of the keyword could add, for example, that in the game world that wolves have "outed" themselves and knowledge of their existence is known to the general public. There could be "PR wolves" who are purposely put out into the public eye to put forward a positive PR spin on wolves, so that the world at large would fear them less. Also, the existence of alpha wolves could denote the existence of an "Alpha of Alphas" wolf, one who is so dominant that they are put above all packs and are able to give orders to those who are the alpha of an individual pack.

Some sample abilites:
  • Strong Dominant
  • Drawn By The Moon
  • Of A Different Age
  • Secretive Wolf
There are a lot of possibilities that come out of our sample keyword. In future posts I will discuss some more keywords for urban fantasy, and possibly some other genre, settings. As we go I will also post some sample character write-ups as well.