Friday, October 28, 2011

Matt Forbeck's Amortals

Last week, after I finally started reading this book, I tweeted that it read like a cross between Robert Heinlein and Rudy Rucker. Now that I have finished the book, I think that I am going to stick to that analogy and broaden it a bit.

This book represents why I like to read Science Fiction. It had a wild energy that drew me into it's world of the future, and the way that Forbeck breathed life into the personalities of his characters kept me interested in the world and the actions of the plot. If Matt Forbeck's Amortals had come out in 1986, I would have been grouping it along side of some of the greats of the cyberpunk movement. I think this is a book that can stand beside Gibson's Neuromancer, Sterling's Islands in the Net, Rucker's Ware novels, or Williams' Hardwired. Anyone who knows me, and knows my tastes, knows that those are some of my favorite science fiction novels and not names that I toss around lightly.

Amortals takes place within a couple of hundred years from now. The central concept of the novel, and the world, is that the rich and powerful of the world have managed to take advantage of a form of serial immortality where, after death, they are brought back through a form of cloning technology called the Amortal Project. I don't think that the similarity of the name to amoral is unintentional. The ultra-rich, popular celebrities and powerful politicians have all become amortal, meaning that when they die (from some reason or another) they come back in a cloned body that is younger and stronger than they were when they died. Because of the ultra-rich and ultra-powerful having an end run around death and illness, healthcare has lagged behind...because even if an amortal catches a terminal illness they will get better when they come back. The earth of Amortals is classic cyberpunk...a great place if you are rich and powerful, but not so great for everyone else in the world.

Forbeck's eyes for the reader into the world of Amortals is a Secret Service agent named Ronan Dooley. Dooley has lived for nearly two-hundred years, and was the first amortal. Dooley is the only amortal who is not a part of rich and powerful, but he was given amortality for giving his life to save a president...and because the Amortal Project needed a heroic poster child to get the funding and governmental approval they wanted.

The action of the book starts with Dooley "waking up" from the dead and given a special murder case to solve...his own. This draws Dooley into a web of crime, political intrigue, and amortality that reveals shadowy goings on behind the scenes, and reveals dark secrets of the amortality process itself.

Now, I don't want to give much more than that because this novel is every much a thriller, and a big part of the driving force of the plot is the slow reveal of what is secretly going on behind the scenes of politics and the Amortal Project. This book was a page turner as I read it and more than a couple of night's worth of sleep were "ruined" because I needed to read "just one more chapter" of the book before bed. I can't, however, recommend this strongly enough. I do admit to knowing the author through professional circles, we have met a few times through role-playing game designer events over the years, but that did not impact my review of this book.

If you like noirish science fiction novels, or really even mystery fiction and you're willing to put up with some science, I suggest tracking down a copy of this novel  (there's a publisher's link at the top of this review as well) for yourself. I enjoyed it thoroughly and want others to do the same.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

RCRD LBL Free Halloween Mixtape

As long as I am posting "mixtapes," here's one of Halloween-type music compiled by the fine folk over at RCRD LBL. Like music? Like free music? You should check them out.
For me, Halloween is strictly about screams and sweat, straight up thrills, nightmarish parties, and sweet sweet (ear) candy. The louder, the weirder, the filthier, the better. Between witchy Purity remixes, Hussle Club dubstep, blinded-by-blood Atari Teenage Riot cries and Koralleven’s rave horsewhip skinning Britney Spears, our Halloween Thrillers playlist will prepare you for the darkest day of the year. And when it comes, you best dance ‘til you die.

Akira The Don Puts Out Manga Entertainment Tribute Mixtape

Artist, musician and our buddy Akira the Don has released a new mixtape, titled Manga Music, featuring “a tribute to the monumental works of Manga Entertainment, who this year celebrate 20 years of serving us Westerners with the very finest anime.” Each song samples and is named after one of their releases, such as Evangelion, Full Metal Alchemist, Crying Freeman and, naturally, Akira.

Or click over to Soundcloud directly here

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Talking About D101 Games' OpenQuest

OpenQuest is a game that readily admits to standing on the shoulders of giants. Much of the foundation of it, as a game, were laid by the multitude of designers from Chaosium and Mongoose working on Basic Roleplaying and the games that it inspired. That does not, however, make this a knock off by any stretch of the imagination. Like many games being put out today, particularly those among the retro-gaming and Old School Renaissance movements, OpenQuest is first and foremost a labor of love by its creator Newt Newport.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Necronomicon 2011 Schedule

Necronomicon 2011 (the 30th anniversary of the convention) starts today in sunny St. Petersburg, FL. This is my schedule for the weekend (I added myself to a couple of panels because I didn't have anything to do during that time, and the panels had openings). Stop by and say hello at some point. I'll also be hanging around the table of an author friend, selling some PDFs of HeartQuest and another game book.

I've put up the spreadsheet onto Google Docs and highlighted my panels in yellow. Sadly, there was no pretty way to past from the spreadsheet into the blog post. If you want to contact me direct while I'm at the con, try my email. That's a "work" email.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Rogue Games Kickstarts Containment RPG

(Chicago) September 30, 2011: Rogue Games Kickstarts Containment RPG

The Second World War has ended and a the battle for the world has begun, a war fought not with armies and fleets but in the shadows and whose battle lines are not clearly drawn. Two years ago, Germany and Japan were the enemies and the USSR an ally, but times change and the West now turns to former Nazis and their expertise in a bid to stop the red tide of Communism from washing across the world.

Containment is an espionage roleplaying game set at the dawn of the Cold War, with players assuming the roles of American, British, or French espionage agents as they grapple not just with Communist infiltration but with the dark legacies of Nazism -- including black magic and super-science. Flexibly designed, Containment supports play either as a straight-up historical espionage RPG covering the years 1947-1953 or as a game of occult conspiracy in the aftermath of World War II.

Written and designed by Richard Iorio II (Colonial Gothic & Shadow, Sword & Spell) and James Maliszewski (Thousand Suns), Containment harkens back not just to an earlier time in world history but also to an earlier time in the roleplaying hobby, when games came complete and ready-to-play in a single box. Containment therefore includes the following:

  • Rulebook: All the rules needed for play.
  • Gamemaster’s Book: Everything the GM needs for play: world background, campaign advice, character advancement rules, adventure creation guidelines, and sample threats.
  • 2 Adventures (one a straight up espionage adventure, and the other set in the occult conspiracy)
  • Dice
If this Kickstarter project succeeds, Rogue Games will not only publish this boxed set, but keep it in print for others to enjoy. Further support for the game, in the form of sourcebooks and adventures, may appear in the future, if there is sufficient interest. If successful, Containment will be released in the following formats:
  • Boxed Set (includes everything mentioned above)
  • PDF version (includes everything but the dice)
  • eBook version of the game (includes everything but the dice)
Here is a breakdown of the proposed budget for the project:
  • Printing is the estimated cost of printing approximately 500 copies of the boxed set.
  • Shipping and Handling is the expected total cost of packing, shipping, and handling to send the boxed set to supporters, based on past sales and fundraisers.
  • Writing & Graphic Design goes to Richard & James (the writers) and Richard (Graphic Designer), to pay them for work they have done, and continue to do, in creating the games Rogue Games publishes.
Rogue Games believes that a complete, boxed roleplaying game is neither a thing of the past nor an expensive pipe dream and asks your help in making Containment possible.

To become a backer, visit

Friday, September 16, 2011

Speak Out With Your Geek Out: I Am A Geek!

There's really no getting around it (even if I somehow wanted to avoid it), I am a geek. Not only am I posting this to a blog that I call Dorkland, but I am tapping away at this particular post on a smartphone.

I am a lucky geek. Despite growing up in a smaller town in Indiana, I managed to have a pretty tolerant time of my formative years. No football players, or other jocks either, ever stuffed me into a locker, tried to beat me up, bullied me, or threatened me with violence. I never had to worry about being different at any point.

Like I said, I am a lucky geek.

Because of this, I've been lucky to be able to fly my geek flag, and be proud of it. True, there were ups and downs, just like there always are in life. However, I've always been open about who I am (and why I knew so much about computers) and I've been lucky to work places where nobody gave a crap. I've read comics and gaming books at lunch time in work cafeterias. Sometimes someone would ask a well-intentioned question, showing interest in my hobbies, but most of the time they would just go about their own business because they didn't care.

For me, every day is one where I speak geek, because it is who I am. I love music, of all types. I love comic books, and will happily spend hours arguing if The Hulk is stronger than Thor (for the record I am on Team Thor in this argument...Hulk is mighty but Thor is still a god). I love some good, thought-provoking speculative fiction and escapist fantasy. I read paranormal romance. I love and create role-playing games.

In short...I am a geek.

I am a bit sad at the reason behind why Speak Out With Your Geek Out got started. Jon Finkel, a world champion Magic The Gathering player got publicly mocked for being a geek in an online article about a woman looking for dates (allegedly) on the site OKCupid. He gets called out, not because he was a horrible date or abusive or a dick, or anything like that. No, he had the audacity to be a geek. Not just a geek, but a successful geek who had managed to make a hell of a lot of money doing what he loved doing.

We should all be so lucky to be able to make the kind of money he has made, doing something he loves, geek or non-geek.

So, because of that he gets mocked. I'm not going to insult or belittle or rake the woman who wrote that article over hot coals. It's been done enough already. Too much if you ask me. Really, all the negativity from the geek side doesn't cancel out the negativity from the non-geek side. It just makes for more negativity, and that doesn't do any of us any good.
If you read this today, or any day in the future for that matter, honor what has happened, honor who you are, honor every other geek out there (whether you know them or not) by proudly doing something geeky. Read a comic on a bus. Read that D&D book at the coffee shop. If someone asks you what you're reading look them in the eye and tell them. You never know, you might be meeting the next member of your gaming group, or even a future partner.

Every day is a day to be proud of being a geek. Speak out every day.

[Note: As I wrote this on my phone, I will go back and likely revise/edit and probably add an image or two. Fear not if this should change slightly on multiple viewings].

Friday, September 02, 2011

Speak Out With Your Geek Out

Are you a geek? Well, if you're reading a blog with a name like Dorkland! there's a good chance that you are one. Because of a recent article that appeared online mocking a certain Magic: The Gathering world champion (that we're not going to encourage by linking to because the website pays according to the number of clicks that an article generates) there's a movement afoot to get people to talk, with pride, about their geekiness. Does it matter what kind of geek you are? Hell, no. Are you a comic geek? Check. Are you a gamer? Check. Are you a music geek? Check. Hell, are you a geek about geek music? That gets you two check marks. Really, it's time for us to stop being ashamed of who and what we are and it's time for us to be proud of being geeks. It is time, my friends, to show the world our numbers and to show that we are happy and proud of who we are.

You can get more information at the Speak Out With Your Geek Out website:

For those of you Twitterati out there, the offical hashtag is ‎#speakgeek.

Sometime during the week of Monday, September 12th to Friday, September 16th post about what geeky hobby you love. Then, tell us why we should try it, too. Leave your fears (and edition wars) at the door. Forget about your latest rant. Tap into that well of positive energy and share in the excitement of all things geek.Let us invite those who would stereotype us to sit at our table and share our interests.

UPDATE: The Facebook event is public and live!

As of time of this writing, there's a little over 400 people who have said that their going to talk about this and the Speak Out With Your Geek Out people would like to see 1,000 people pledged to talk about their geekiness in a positive way. I, however, don't think that's enough people. I know that there are so many more of us out there in the great, big world, and I would like to see at least three times that number. That's right, I think we can hit 3,000 geeks around the world, getting down with geek selves.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

2011 Hugo Award Winners


Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)


The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)


“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)


“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)


Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea (Mad Norwegian)


Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse,
written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by
Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)


Inception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner)


Doctor Who: “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” written by Steven
Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)


Sheila Williams


Lou Anders


Shaun Tan


Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan, Sean Wallace;
podcast directed by Kate Baker


The Drink Tank, edited by Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon


Claire Brialey


Brad W. Foster


Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer
of 2009 or 2010, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).

Lev Grossman

The 2011 Hugo Award winners were announced on Saturday evening, August 20, at the Peppermill Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nevada. Jay Lake and Ken Scholes presided as masters of ceremony, with additional presenters including Renovation Guests of Honor Tim Powers, Boris Vallejo, and Ellen Asher, along with leading genre writers George R.R. Martin and Robert Silverberg.

The unique 2011 Hugo trophy base design was revealed at the ceremony by designer and Hugo base design contest winner Marina Gelineau.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Donna Prior from Heatwave Interactive at GenCon

This (only slightly rambling) interview with Donna Prior was done at GenCon. Thrill to the crowd sounds as talk in a hallway about gaming (both tabletop RPGs and computer MMOs) and inclusiveness in gaming. Donna Prior from Heatwave Interactive at GenCon by dorkland. Uploaded with SoundCloud Android

20% Off DriveThruRPG/RPGNow Codes for Readers

I have some 20% off codes from DriveThruRPG/RPGNow for Iron Dynasty, Volume 3 of the Field Guide to Superheroes, VampireHunter$, Genius Guide to Another 110 Spell Variants and a cof other fine games/supplements. This code will be good until September 20, 2011. I am not responsible for the sale code, so the items covered and length of time the code works are not up to me (nor can I change them).

The 20% off code for these PDFs is AfterGenConGlow2011. Apply it in the coupon space when you get to the checkout on the site. I have included an affiliate code that I'd appreciate you keeping up as you go through the process.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Brief Talk With Steve Jackson at GenCon

A Brief Talk With Steve Jackson at GenCon by dorkland. Uploaded with SoundCloud Android

GenCon 2011 Attendance Numbers

The way that I had these attendance numbers explained to me on Twitter was this: Turnstile numbers are Badge Per Day, so a weekend (4-day) badge would equal four Turnstiles, while unique equals the number of different people. A person buying a Friday/Saturday badge would be one Unique and Two Turnstiles. Hopefully that makes sense of the numbers for everyone, or at least as much sense as the system for generating those numbers makes. 
INDIANAPOLIS  (August 11, 2011) - Gen Con Indy, the nation’s largest annual consumer fantasy, sci-fi and adventure gaming convention experienced stunning growth this year. Turnstile attendance was over 119,707 with 36,733 unique attendees present for 96 hours of gaming, cosplay, music, shopping and more. This positive spike in turnout represents a greater than 20% increase in a single year. Game event participation grew even more steeply, with over 250,000 event tickets yielding an over 26% expansion throughout the Best Four Days In Gaming!

“Gen Con Indy 2011 was simply the best Gen Con ever for us,” said Adrian Swartout, CEO of Gen Con LLC. “We had such incredible support from our exhibitors, sponsors, event organizers and volunteers, and of course, the amazing businesses and people of Indianapolis. We are so thankful to have their partnership in crafting the world’s finest experience in gaming. Next year, Gen Con has its 45th anniversary. We are too excited for words at the amount of fun we are already planning for next August.”

Family Fun & Sunday Attendance
The Family Fun Pavilion continues to be popular with the next generation of game players and their parents. Companies with all-ages entertainment products were swarmed with children, grandparents, educators and librarians looking for games for upcoming birthdays, holidays and back-to-school. Between family fun and regular Sunday badges, nearly 3,000 additional people joined Gen Con Sunday – adding considerable traffic to the show and helping exhibitors reach new fans.

Over the years, Gen Con has maintained its efforts in helping children and benefiting educational programs through its charity events. This year to keep up the tradition, Gen Con chose School on Wheels, which enhances and enriches educational opportunities for school-aged homeless children as the recipient of the charity fundraising. 100% of the proceeds from the following charity events were donated to the cause: Ace of Aces VIII– Charity Speed Paint and Auction, Cardhalla, and Charity Auction, Fandom United Jail-n-Bail.  In total over $18,000 was raised from all the different charity events at Gen Con.

Future Gen Con Indy Show Dates
Gen Con has been in Indianapolis since 2003 and has signed a five-year extension with the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association (ICVA) for 2011-2015. Below are the upcoming show dates.
August 16-19, 2012
August 15-18, 2013
August 14-17, 2014
July 30 - August 2, 2015

About Gen Con
Gen Con, LLC produces the largest consumer hobby, fantasy, sci-fi and adventure game convention in North America. It was acquired in 2002 by former CEO and Founder of Wizards of the Coast Peter Adkison, who owns the company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Gen Con is a consumer and trade experience dedicated to gaming culture and community. For more information visit the website at  . For up-to-the minute details, find us at and at .

Monday, August 08, 2011

We Heart GenCon: A Look Back

It was a long weekend. (Photo via Phil Reed)

I met a lot of people that I've only known as tiny Twitpics and screen names on Twitter, Google+, and forums like That is one of my favorite parts of any convention, connecting to others. I'm kind of weird that way. I also got to meet Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games, Munchkin, GURPS, Ogre, et al. As a matter of fact I got to speak briefly with him between GenCon meetings and record our talk. That will show up here in the next couple of days, once I am home and rested up again.

I also got to meet Alex and Patrick of Crafty Games and talk with them about some of their upcoming plans. I have the primer for their upcoming Mistborn RPG (based on the novels by Brandon Sanderson). That is in my queue to read and write about on here. I think that the Mistborn RPG is going to surprise a lot of people who think of Crafty as being these super-crunchy designers, due to the volume of rules in Spycraft 2.0. Mistborn is a rules light game with an emphasis on storytelling that has me interested. I'm sure, beyond when I write about the primer, that I am going to have more about that to share with you in the future.

I did a lot of Tweeting from GenCon. It was nice to expand the number of tools that I can use in covering an event. There were a lot of eyes on my Twitter feed during the Margaret Weis Productions panel where they announced that they were going to be producing a Marvel Heroes RPG (based on the Marvel comics). I am really psyched, excited, and many other enthusiastic adjectives about this announcements. I do still have to track down Cam Banks for some follow ups, but GenCon is a very busy convention and with everyone working it can be hard to sync up schedules. Speaking of Margaret Weis Productions, I also have a copy of their Dragon Brigade Quickstart. This is a swashbuckling fantasy game coming out from them, based on one of Weis' writings. The implementation of Cortex+ for it looks very interesting to me.

On the last day of GenCon, I managed to pick up a copy of the new Fate edition of Kereberos Club. If you don't know about this, Kereberos Club is a Victorian-era super-powered setting from the mind of Benjamin Baugh and published by Arc Dream Publishing. Originally published using the O.R.E. rules, this is the third version of the setting published for different rules sets (the other being for the popular Savage Worlds rules).  I have been looking forward to this for a while, having followed the blog and forum posts of the author. Having discussed a relaunch of Heartquest as a Fate-powered game, I think these rules are definitely going to inform what I do with that game. I got to meet Mike Olson, the author, and had a very short talk with him. I did get his card, so we'll talk more int he future. Mike does, by the way, get bonus points for having a random job table on the back of his card.

All in all, a busy convention, but it was a lot of fun. It was tiring too. Right now, I am sitting in the food court of the Indianapolis airport, drinking some coffee while I wait to be able to check in with my airline going home. I thought I would fire off a blog post (since the spotty and generally crappy wifi at the convention made liveblogging problematic at best) and wrap up my feelings about this, my second ever GenCon.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Villains & Vigilantes Creators Sue Game's Publisher

An epic battle is underway over one of the oldest super-hero roleplaying games, but sadly it won't be settled by muscle-bound men in tights. The creators of the game Villains & Vigilantes, Jeff Dee and Jack Herman, have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Scott Bizar, the longtime publisher of the game. The suit, filed July 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, claims that Bizar has no right to publish the game or any related products and illegally profits from their sale.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

More On Neverwinter and D&D

Thursday I spoke with one of the Brand Managers for D&D from Wizards of the Coast. The topic was the new Neverwinter campaign setting launch from the company. You can see the initial press release sent out by Wizards over here.

There has already been some controversy over the above-linked press release due to their wording of the "It is the first-ever RPG book focused solely on one city" statement in the press release. There's been a number of negative comments about the release and it's language in the comments of the above-linked post, internet forums like, and other places around the internet. While unfortunate, I don't think it was an intentional slight against the many, and the many classic, game books that have been created about the various city settings in gaming.

So, let's move on.

Talking with Shelly Mazzanoble, she told me about the new angle on organized play for D&D, the Lair Assault. From the press release: "Beginning this September, devoted Dungeons & Dragons players worldwide will have the opportunity to gather at their local participating game stores as part of a new, highly tactical D&D Organized Play program named D&D Lair Assault.  The first challenge, Forge of the Dawn Titan, will feature thrilling “convention-style” play that players and spectators alike are drawn to, challenging players on two levels – character building and tactical knowledge." Lair Assaults will be two hour programmed events in retails spaces (like the existing organized play). The interesting thing about them is that they will be customizable adventures. This means, for example that a trap in the adventure could be a pit one time taking the adventure, and it could be a poison spray or some other danger the next time after. This is an innovation that I like because it means that you can get multiple uses out of the same adventure. I find this a fascinating idea. I'm not a 4E player but I have to say that I am curious to check this out, and will definitely stick my nose into an adventure after September first.

I did ask Mazzanoble about a common concern of some D&D gamers (both on and offline). That concern is that the tabletop origins of D&D could be abandoned for greener pastures. With canceled 4E products and more and more board games being announced, there are a number of gamers who are concerned about D&D not being a tabletop RPG game one day. When asked, Massanoble said "D&D at its core will always be a tabletop RPG." She went one to say that the shared, multilevel experience of D&D had too much depth and history behind it to ever disappear.

Below is a video trailer for Neverwinter that was provided by Wizards of the Coast. Watch and enjoy.

Edit: I did ask my contact for a followup on the controversy over the "first-ever RPG book focused solely on one city" statement in the initial press release and I was told that they did not have the capacity for a formal response. I don't know if this is a dead end, or if I will be able to track someone down or not. I did want to post a progress report.

Quick Word On The New Marvel RPG

GenCon is chaos and, unfortunately has has terrible, terrible connectivity issues. Makes it difficult to the the blogging that that I am actually at GenCon to do.

Those following m Twitter feed will have seen what the big Margaret Weis Productions (MWP) announcement on Friday was that they now have the rights to produce an RPG based on the Marvel Comics universe. I think that this was the big announcement of the convention. Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars announcement was big as well, but since that happened before GenCon started, they do not get the coveted "big announcement of the convention" prize.

Outside of the fact that they will be using a variation of the Cortex system (what MWP calls the Cortex Plus system), we don't know much in the way of specifics. Last night I was supposed to talk to Cam Bank of MWP after the ENnies, but the chaos of the moment (and the fact that MWP won a Judge's spotlight award for Smallville). Once I can arrange another meeting with him, I will find out the details that he can release to me.

Here is what we do know from the announcement and discussion at the panel:
  • There will be a release of a "basic" book featuring all of the rules for play in February of 2012. This will be a complete game, and it will feature some of the Marvel Heroes, but which ones have yet to be determined.
  • The license covers only the comic books. Movies, cartoons and other spin-off media will not be covered under the license.
  • The packaging of the books will closely follow that of what Marvel uses for their compilations so that the games can be shelves along side of trades and hard cover compilations. I am assuming that they will be using trade dress similar to that used by Marvel Comics.
  • This will be followed by sixteen (16) campaign books. These campaign books are going to be based around various events from the history of the Marvel Universe. During the announcement, Cam listed events such as the Secret Wars, Ultimates, Annihilation, Secret Invasion and Civil War. I know that Ultimates isn't really an event, but if we get a game book and stats for it, that will make me happy at least
  • The event/campaign books will come in two formats: an "essential" edition that will be used with the core book released in February that will feature the campaign plot, character write-ups and information, but will not contain the rules that are in the basic game. A "premium" edition of each event/campaign book will also be released that will contain all of the rules needed for play, for those who would rather just have a specific event and play it out of the book, rather than collect all of the various events. I have to say that I like this strategy, and I will probably do a mix of the basic game, essentials of interest and the premium versions of events that were particular favorites of mine (I can see wanting stand alones for the original Kree/Skrull War and Annihilation, perhaps). This is  a nice approach because using premium editions with various essentials as supplements will allow groups to customize the creation of their own Marvel Universes.
  • MWP and Marvel are working in what they referred to as a close partnership, and once was called "working in tandem," giving MWP an unprecedented level of closeness when it comes to approvals (this last bit is paraphrasing on my part). I think this is important for a release schedule of sixteen books in fifteen month. Having synergy with Marvel will make, or break, this project.
  • On the topic of synergy, MWP has already been in talks with Barnes & Noble and Hastings about sales synergy that will see the game sold in close proximity to the Marvel trades and hardcover editions of story lines.
More information will come, as I get a chance to talk to Cam Banks, but I wanted to make sure that I was able to post a starting point for the conversation about the upcoming Marvel RPG, with the information that is currently available.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

GenCon Day One Early Impressions

Right now I am propped up against a back wall in the Exhibition Hall of GenCon, collecting my thoughts and trying to put down some words of my first thoughts on the con. Pictures will follow because, unfortunately the WiFi doesn't't like my netbook right now. That will probably make this post shorter, because while blogging from my phone is cool (and it males me feel a lot like a character from a William Gibson novel) its really not the easiest method for doing this.

So, impressions.

This place is busy. The Will Call line was huge and stretched out the door. I heard conflicting stories about the length of the line. One person said it was a block long, while another said the line was four blocks long. Regardless, it was long.

Cubicle 7 has a good booth. The One Ring slipcover edition looks gorgeous. The variety of the books that they produce is staggering. Sadly, Airship Pirates had not yet arrived. If you haven't heard of Airship Pirates, it is a steampunk RPG using a variant of the Hersesy Engine that powers Cubicle 7's Victoriana game that is based upon concepts from the albums of steampunk band Abney Park. I've been looking forward to this he since it was first announced.

I have also spoken briefly with Cam Banks of MWP and got a copy of the quickstart of their upcoming fantasy version of the Cortex system, based on a setting created by Margaret Weiss. The art is great looking and I am eager to read the quickstart. I will be talking to Cam Friday, to discuss the new Cortex+ license coming up from them.

Palladium has new books for a variety of their limestone. Armaggedon Unlimited for Heroes Looks fun, in a Swinging 70s sort of way.

The con has been good also for meeting with and putting faces to some of the names that I have been talking with online. Sarah Newton, of Cubicle 7, and I got to meet and chat, after talking on Facebook and Twitter for a while.

There's a lot of cosplayers and people dressed in a variety of looks. It makes for a fun environment. Not so much fun are the Cosplay Deviants booth, representatives of an adult website that sell access to "geeky" women taking their clothes off. Not the best for a convention trying to show itself as being family friendly.
More to come...

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

And the Star Wars License Is Revealed!

Fantasy Flight Games is pleased to announce that it has entered a comprehensive licensing partnership with Lucasfilm Ltd. for the worldwide rights to publish card, roleplaying, and miniatures games set in the popular Star Wars™ universe!

Find out more at the FFG website.

At first I thought that announcing this now was an odd choice, being two days before the start of GenCon and all, but as I thought about it I realized that now FFG will have the big buzz for the duration of the convention (even without a Star Wars game at the con). Gamers love their Star Wars and this news will eclipse all the big releases in my opinion.

What is now going to be interesting to see is what Margret Weiss Productions are going to be announcing as their new license in a couple of days. No where near as big, to a lot of gamers, I'm sure but still interesting to watch for.

Dungeons & Dragons Returns to the Legendary City of Neverwinter; Fans Vie for Glory in the City of a Thousand Fates

Exciting, New Suite of Neverwinter Offerings Unveiled at Gen Con Indy 2011

AUGUST 2, 2011 – INDIANAPOLIS Wizards of the Coast today announced that its iconic roleplaying game of fantasy and imagination, Dungeons & Dragons®, will return to one of the most well-known and fascinating cities within D&D lore and the Forgotten Realms novels – the city of Neverwinter.  Along with the new D&D Neverwinter Campaign Setting comes an extensive suite of products and in-store play offerings, including a new comic mini-series, a board game, organized play sessions, and a new novel from New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore.  Wizards of the Coast will showcase new Neverwinter product offerings at Gen Con Indy 2011 on August 4-7 at Booth #2031, and fans can also get in on the adventure at

“The Neverwinter suite of products and programs offer something for all players and fans, both new and seasoned,” said Liz Schuh, Dungeons & Dragons Brand Director, Wizards of the Coast.
“With so many different ways to engage with the city, players will be immersed in the storyline and find themselves vying for glory alongside their fellow adventurers no matter how they choose to play.”

Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter offerings include:

Neverwinter Mass Adventure at Gen Con 2011 – Show attendees of Gen Con Indy 2011 will have the opportunity to participate in a Neverwinter adventure using a series of QR codes to guide attendees to different Wizards of the Coast sponsored special events and locations. Attendees will be challenged along the way to choose between a quest for glory, a quest for power, or a quest for riches with hints provided by D&D on Facebook and Twitter.

Neverwinter Game Day – On August 6, join D&D players around the world for an epic day of Dungeons & Dragons.  This year, D&D Neverwinter Game Day spotlights an exclusive adventure entitled Gates of Neverdeath, in which characters are introduced to the intrigues and dangers that await in the city of Neverwinter.  For the first time, players will create their own D&D characters at the event and play in a prelude adventure to the upcoming D&D Encounters season!  Visit the Store and Event Locator to find participating retailers.

D&D Encounters: Lost Crown of Neverwinter & Fortune Cards Beginning August 10, players both young and old will gather on Wednesday evenings in local game stores around the world to experience the D&D Encounters Lost Crown of Neverwinter season.  D&D Encounters is the first D&D Organized Play program designed exclusively for weekly play at retail locations worldwide – and this summer, adventuring parties will be hot on the trail of the Lost Crown of Neverwinter.  D&D Neverwinter Fortune Cards, which launched this summer, enhance D&D Encounters game play by adding an element of unpredictability as each card provides a game effect that enhances attacks, defenses, or other benefits to characters. 

Neverwinter Campaign Setting – The Neverwinter Campaign Setting is the ultimate encyclopedia on the inner workings of the city of Neverwinter, containing everything from history and geography to character themes.  It is the first-ever RPG book focused solely on one city and conveniently presents Neverwinter content in a single hardcover format containing information for both players and DMs. 

D&D Lair Assault Beginning this September, devoted Dungeons & Dragons players worldwide will have the opportunity to gather at their local participating game stores as part of a new, highly tactical D&D Organized Play program named D&D Lair Assault.  The first challenge, Forge of the Dawn Titan, will feature thrilling “convention-style” play that players and spectators alike are drawn to, challenging players on two levels – character building and tactical knowledge. 
The Legend of Drizzt: Neverwinter Tales Comic Mini-series For a lighter story, fans can pick up the new 5-part mini-series The Legend of Drizzt: Neverwinter Tales comic mini-series this summer.  Published by IDW and co-written by R.A. Salvatore and Geno Salvatore, the comic mini-series delves into the characters that inhabit Neverwinter as the city teeters on the brink of chaos.

D&D Heroes of Neverwinter Facebook game – For lighter digital game play, fans can also take part in the D&D Heroes of Neverwinter game on Facebook, a turn-based strategy game launching this summer with pre-fabricated or user-generated dungeons, gifting and more.  

Neverwinter, The Neverwinter Saga Book II by R.A. Salvatore With a fascinating cast of new secondary characters, Neverwinter launches on October 4 and takes the dual-scimitar wielding dark elf Drizzt and brings him to an area of the Realms he’s never adventured in – Neverwinter.  With the last of his trusted companions having fallen, Drizzt is alone—and free—for the first time in almost a hundred years.  Forced to see the dark deeds of common men, Drizzt begins to find himself on the wrong side of the law in an effort to protect those the law has failed.  The paperback release of Gauntlgrym, The Neverwinter Saga Book I by R.A. Salvatore that lays the groundwork for all of the Neverwinter product offerings this fall, just released on July 5th

The Legend of Drizzt Board Game – Launching October 18, this thrilling board game is based on the adventures of Drizzt Do’Urden, as told in the New York Times best-selling Forgotten Realms novels by R.A. Salvatore. Players take on the role of the legendary drow ranger or one of his famous adventuring companions, battle fearsome foes, and win treasure and glory.
Dungeons & Dragons is the iconic roleplaying game of fantasy and imagination that is part storytelling, part social interaction and part chance.  Visit for more details on the Dungeons & Dragons follow D&D on Facebook and Twitter.

About Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast LLC, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS), is the leader in entertaining the lifestyle gamer. The company holds an exclusive patent on trading card games (TCGs) and their method of play and produces the premier trading card game, Magic: The Gathering, among many other trading card games and family card and board games. Wizards is also a leading publisher of roleplaying games, such as Dungeons & Dragons, and publisher of fantasy series fiction with numerous New York Times best-sellers. For more information, visit the Wizards of the Coast Web site at

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Spin Master to Debut at Gen Con 2011 as Sponsors & Family Fun Pavilion Exhibitors Redakai™ and Spin Master Games Will Host Tournaments Daily

INDIANAPOLIS – July 19, 2011- Spin Master is excited to make its debut at this year’s
Gen Con with the launch of its exciting new Trading Card Game, Redakai™ as well
as featured games from Spin Master Games; Stomple™ and the 50th Anniversary of

“Spin Master has a strong history of launching hits. Their balance of innovation and
love for classic gaming is a great fit for Gen Con. Seeing children react to Redakai™ is
awesome; we are glad to have such strong support in the Family Fun Pavilion,” says
Scott Elliot, senior director of sales for Gen Con.

Featured in the Family Fun Pavilion, Spin Master will be hosting a variety of events over
the course of convention. The Redakai team will spearhead Learn to Play techniques,
Sealed Pack Events, Constructed Events, and a Championship Tournament while The
Spin Master Games team will host Adult and Junior Tournaments for both Stratego and

“Gen Con is extremely important to the game industry,” says Mark Sullivan, EVP of
Marketing for Spin Master Ltd. “Supporting the Family Fun Pavilion will be a great
opportunity for so many people to learn our new games, Redakai & Stomple as well
as play old favorites, such as Stratego. After all, they say it’s The Best Four Days In

Redakai™ is an all-new boys action property, which features fresh new strategic
gameplay, amazing Blast3D™ technology and a televised series on Cartoon Network
produced by Spin Master Ltd and Zodiak Kids/Marathon Media.

50th Anniversary Stratego™ for half a century, the red and blue armies of Stratego
have battled in homes across America. The Deluxe 50th Anniversary Edition honors the
heritage of Stratego with the original nostalgic theme, an elegant folio package and
all the strategy and excitement that have made Stratego a family favorite. Experience
exclusive never-before-seen cannon game pieces that allow you to name and destroy
your opponents pieces. Enter the epic strategic battle with the 50th Anniversary edition
of Stratego!

Stomple™ is a strategic marble stomping game. Outwit your opponents by stomping
their marbles before they stomp yours and out maneuver by leading their stomper
trapped with no escape. If you outstomp the competition, you win!

Schedule of Events:

Learn to Play
• All new players can stop by the Events area or their Booth in the exhibit hall to
learn how to play the game.

Sealed Pack Events
• Any player who buys a structure deck or championship tin product at their booth
or events area is eligible to participate for free in one of their many sealed pack
events throughout the show

Constructed Events
• They will also have daily constructed events for Redakai experts to bring their
custom collection of cards to take on all challengers.

Redakai Championship
• The whole event culminates in their first ever Redakai Championship on
Saturday morning
• The winner will be named their first Champion and win an ipad2!
• Other exciting prizes, online coverage of the event and winning players/decks,
and appearances by the design team behind Redakai make this an event not to
be missed.

League Prizes all con long!
• Everyone who plays in any events in their Events area during Gen Con is eligible
to win league exclusive prize cards just for playing!
• Earn stamps for each game you play and get achievement cards as you play

• Players win two rounds and they advance to the championship on Sunday (Junior
& Adult)
• Winner of Tournament receives – $500 American Express Gift Card, Games Prize
Pack and the EXCLUSIVE Stratego 50th Anniversary Edition
• 2nd Place – Exclusive 50th Anniversary Stratego Game & Stomple Game
• 3rd & 4th Place – Exclusive Stratego 50th Anniversary Edition

Daily gaming events culminate into a championship event on Sunday for Stratego

• Each Stomple game is a stand-alone tournament played daily
• Meet and play the inventor of Stomple each day
• Each day in the training room, play the giant game of Stomple every day!

All finalists get a t-shirt for the Stratego and Stomple events

For more information please visit and visit them at The Spin
Master Booth #219.

About Gen Con
Gen Con, LLC produces the largest consumer hobby, fantasy, sci-fi and adventure game
convention in North America. It was acquired in 2002 by former CEO and founder of
Wizards of the Coast Peter Adkison, who owns the company headquartered in Seattle,
Washington. Gen Con is a consumer and trade experience dedicated to gaming culture
and community. For more information visit the website at For up-to-
the minute details, find us at and at

About Spin Master Ltd.
A multi-category children’s entertainment company since 1994, Spin Master has been
designing, developing, manufacturing and marketing consumer products for children
around the world and is recognized as a global growth leader within the toy industry.
Spin Master is best known for such popular brands as boy’s action phenomena and
2010 Boys Toy of the Year winner Bakugan Battle Brawlers™, and award-winning
brands Air Hogs®, Aquadoodle™, Tech Deck™, Moon Sand™, Liv™, and Zoobles™. The
company has also marked an entry into children’s media with the launch of Spin Master
Entertainment, a subsidiary focusing on the design, development and production of
television and other media properties. Spin Master employs 900 people with offices in
Toronto, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Mexico, Munich, and central Europe.
For additional information please visit:

For more information, please contact:

Spin Master Ltd.:
Rachel H. Griffin
Director of Global Communications
T. 310-871-3919

Gen Con
Stacia Kirby
Media Contact
T: 206-363-1492

Dear Syfy and Alphas

Dear Syfy and Alphas,

I really want to like your show. Really, I do. I admit that I started watching it because David Stratham was in the commercials, but I thought you had some cool concepts.


Sadly, you seem intent to keep up this pseudo-scientific claptrap to make the show "believable." In a show where a guy can "see" Youtube videos and "hear" cellphone conversations, or where a guy can bounce bullets through air conditioning ducts, realism isn't the buzzword that you should be looking for. Also, if you're going to use an "ability" with an existing name (Synaesthesia I'm looking at you), please use it properly.

Look, you have a great concept for a show here, and that is already putting you one up on on Heroes already, but you really need to fine tune things if this show is going to keep going. If you're going to give us Wanted meets The X-Men then rock on and give us everything you've got...just quit trying to rationalize the show into something that you think we need an excuse to like. I want to like Alphas, and I've enjoyed the first two shows....but I am really not sure if I'll keep watching it at this point.

Oh, and as long as you're listening....please don't add time travel to the plot. Thank you. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Let's Talk About Unspeakable Oath #18

Yes, I know...I am a few issues behind the curve. Hopefully I will be able to catch up, during or after GenCon.

I have fond memories of the original print run of Unspeakable Oath. I was lucky enough to find the issue introducing Delta Green on a news stand when it came out, and that is what introduced me to Pagan Publishing and books like Golden Dawn and the Delta Green sourcebooks. While I have never been overly enamored with Golden Dawn, it just has too much Arthurian material that borders on the cliched, I have been a fan of Delta Green since that issue, having been lucky enough to run a few of my own DG campaigns over the years.

All of this brings us to Unspeakable Oath number eighteen, which is the triumphant return of the magazine. Arc Dream Publishing, the new home of the works of Pagan Publishing, has had some ups and downs in getting the Pagan Publishing material back into the public eye, but they have managed to overcome these problems and return to producing some of the best material for Call of Cthulhu available. Yes, that might be a little biased, but as someone who has a preference for the contemporary era in my Call of Cthulhu gaming, it's nice to see published material that is as close as the Delta Green material. All we need now is a post 9/11 update, and I think I will be happy with the setting for the rest of my life.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Live at GenCon 2011

I will be doing liveblogging, photography and hopefully some audio interviews as well. I am going to be combining this blog with the resources of other social media sites around the internet to bring you what I hope will be some of the best coverage of GenCon out there. In addition to this blog, be sure to also follow my Twitter feed (look to the right side of this blog for a link to my Twitter feed), as well as the Dorkland blog over on Tumblr ( for supplemental posts. Audio interviews will be posted to this blog, as well as the Tumblr site, via the Soundcloud website.

It is (hopefully) going to be a busy four days around here. If anyone has any suggestions for things they would like to see (in photos mostly) drop me an email at christopher.helton at gmail dot com and I will see what I can do about getting photos. If you are an RPG publisher or professional who would like to arrange an interview, or perhaps provide material for review purposes, also please contact me at the above email.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Random Musing: Old School Modern (And Not What You Think...)

Those moments when I can't sleep is when the strange ideas creep into my head:
What would some like d20 Modern have looked like if it had been made at the same time as OD&D?
My one problem, for drawing influences, is that I can't really think of any contemporary "fantasy adventure" fiction or shows that could have been an influence. All of the stuff that I personally remember from the late 70s that had a contemporary setting was much more SF-oriented. Unless I use the SHAZAM/Isis television shows as a model. I don't know if anyone wants that. I know there has to be something, but either I didn't see it, or it shot by me completely.

I want something that is specifically fantasy in a (then) contemporary setting, and not just the fantasy fiction/movies of the time. I also don't want science fiction or science fantasy. I am thinking something along the lines of OD&D Modern, an equivalent to the d20 Modern core book but in old school terms.



What if OD&D Modern was influenced by Phillip Jose Farmer? #oldschoolmodernless than a minute ago via Spaz Favorite Retweet Reply