Infinite Crypt, a Kickstarter project aiming to raise £6,000, is a system for building relatively cheap tabletop RPG terrain in quantity, using snap-together, laser-cut materials.
The pieces are architecturally ambitious and the accompanying photos show how great they look when painted. I don't buy a lot of RPG terrain stuff, so I can't really tell if £59 is a cheap price for the materials to build "a large room, a colonnade or a key intersection." But what's immediately obvious is that these pieces are gorgeous and well-designed, and that the project itself has pretty modest and sensible goals -- give us money to buy a laser. More money? We'll buy another laser. More money? We'll make more stuff.
As with all crowdfunded projects, you should be prepared for the eventuality that nothing will come of it, and you'll lose your money. That said, project founder James Wallbank runs a successful hackspace in Sheffield, and seems to be a together sort of dude. So caveat emptor, but also, FWOAR.
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I'm the guest of honor this weekend at Fencon in Dallas, which is just getting started. One of the exhibitors is Cthulhu Wars, the Lovecraftian boardgame that raised over $1.4M on Kickstarter (they were looking for $40K). They've brought along the prototype for the game, and the tokens are amazing. They were kind enough to let me photograph them, and I've uploaded the hi-rezes to my Flickr; there's a gallery of some of the best after the jump.
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A reader writes, "The early history of role-playing games seems like a constant battle between the creators of Dungeons & Dragons and its fans. Sometimes, like with critical hits, the fans wanted the game to be one way, but Gary Gygax and the folks at TSR just wouldn't have it. The case of critical hits shows that the fans have the real power, and that even if it takes decades, eventually D&D will implement critical hits, damn it."
The history of critical hits was written by Jon Peterson, author of the fantastic-looking Playing at the World, a history of wargames and RPGs. Looks like an excellent companion to David Ewalt's Of Dice and Men.
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Dungeons & Developers is a cute and useful "skill tree" in the style of an RPG levelling guide. It starts with basic HTML and works its way through various skills all the way to master Web developer. Each skill-box comes with links to free online tutorials and training materials, and the flowchart suggests a logical progression through all the varied topics.
Dungeons & Developers
(via Hacker News)
David Ewalt's Of Dice and Men is a wonderful, energetic and personal history of Dungeons and Dragons. Ewalt -- an editor and writer at Forbes magazine -- played D&D as a geeky adolescent, gave it up through his early adulthood, then fell in love with it again. Dice and Men is the story of his journey in D&D and the history of the game itself.
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The debut issue of Gygax magazine (a reborn version of the classic Dragon gaming mag) carried an article I wrote explaining the variant D&D rules my then-four-year-old daughter an I were using. It involved a blend of random toys from the living room, painted D&D miniatures, dice, and pennies from the piggy-bank for scorekeeping.
Now, one of Gygax's readers has posted his experience playing the game with his own daughter. He used a set of My Little Pony toys (including an awesome MLP castle) to build a campaign called "Assault on Equestria" and it sounds like his daughter had an amazing time -- as did he! It's been a while since I've played D&D with my kid; this makes me want to go dig out the dice-bag!
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"Look at games like World of Warcraft, Diablo, Dungeons and Dragons, or the original Final Fantasy. In those games, gold is the money, and you often get gold not by doing an honest day's work, but by running around and beating people up and taking their gold. In other words, the entire world of modern fantasy role-playing is a subtle joke on gold's unsuitability as a medium of exchange.
" -Noah Smith
(via Making Light
In "Dungeons and Dragons, Satan's Game," we learn that D&D is a gateway to Satanism and human sacrifice. I remember being a young gamer in the early 1980s and meeting people who'd warn me about the peril it presented to my immortal soul.
D&D to a Fundie
(via Christian Nightmares)
Wade sez, "Wolfgang Baur, roleplaying game designer and publisher of the late, lamented Kobold Quarterly magazine (successor to Dragon) has launched the Deep Magic Kickstarter bringing 300 new spells to Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Deep Magic smashed through its $10k funding goal in six hours and less than a week later is about to hit $50k. Deep Magic contributors include Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood and Pathfinder creator Jason Bulmahn, along with an array of other award-winning game designers and developers."
$35 is the minimum pledge for your own copy (normal crowdfunding caveat applies: you may get nothing for your money, though this one looks like a good bet for completion, given its principals' publishing experience).
Deep Magic is the ultimate sourcebook for new and variant magic in any fantasy setting, offering a bare minimum of 112 full-color pages. They feature:
* At least 12 new schools and styles of magic, including blood magic, clockwork magic, diabolism, dragon magic, grudge magic, ink magic, ley line magic, star & shadow magic, and several more
* 12 magic colleges and academies, each home to a magical style or tradition
* More than 300 new spells, including new ones for every spellcasting class in the Pathfinder RPG
* New spellcasting archetypes and new mythic spells
* And much more!
Deep Magic: A Tome of New Spells for Pathfinder RPG
Raging Heroes is a spectacularly successful new Kickstarter to produce 150 female warrior miniatures divided into three armies. They were looking for $12,000 and hit that in 30 seconds. Now they're over $300K and still rising, with over 1,400 backers. The minis are very beautiful, and the studio, based in France, has a textbook-example, perfectly structured KS. But 30 seconds. Wow.
Raging Heroes - The Toughest Girls of the Galaxy
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An illustrator and games publisher have teamed up to kickstart "Adventure Maximus!", a streamlined, cards-and-dice RPG aimed at kids eight and up (though there's an endorsement from a six-year-old on the site). The gameplay looks pretty clever and I really like the art. It's a minimum $35 pledge to get a finished game, though you can get a PDF of it for a pledge of $15. They're looking to raise $12K for manufacturing, marketing, and administration.
Adventure MAXIMUS! is a card based, introductory Role Playing Game for players 8 years-of-age and up. Players can take on roles from eight different races. Working together as a famous "Adventure Company" based in the fantastic, post-apocalyptic world of Ex-Machina where they can become heroes of legend.
When there is trouble, or innocent people need protection from the fierce creatures that populate Ex-Machina, they call on Adventure Companies to save the day!
Adventure MAXIMUS! follows the classic role playing game format consisting of someone who runs the adventure (who we call a Maximus Master) and 2 or more players who interact with the adventure. Inexperienced Maximus Masters will find using our Adventure Creation System helpful when making their first adventure. Also, the role of Maximus Master can be taken over by a player in mid adventure so that everyone gets a chance to play!
Players will be asked to make heroic actions fueled by Action Points. Players receive a limited amount of Action Points each round, so they must be budgeted. The bigger the action, the greater the cost. Action Points replenish each round. Racial Abilities, Class Abilities, Action Powers, Spells and Items all have Action Point costs printed on their cards.
As with all Kickstarters, you should be aware that you may get nothing for your money, in the event that the creators of the project flake out or just totally underestimate the amount of money they'll need to meet their obligations.
As Dungeons and Dragons became more rulebound and combat-oriented, some players revived older, more expressive forms of the game. But is the Old School Renaissance itself just more nerd fundamentalism?
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Last summer, Zach Weiner (creator the most excellent Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic) ran a monumentally successful Kickstarter for a CC-licensed Choose-Your-Own-Adventure title called Trial of the Clone: An Interactive Adventure!.
I've finally gotten around to reading my copy and it's an absolute delight. Not only is it witty and often laugh-aloud funny -- it's also got a novel and well-thought-through game mechanic that introduces an element of tabletop RPG-playing to the system (instead of rolling dice, you flip randomly through the book and get your roll-value from the number at the bottom corner of the page).
The premise is a fun spoof of the Star Wars trilogy. You're an orphaned clone (they decanted you in order to fill a hot market wherein rich people competed to adopt orphans, quickly exhausting the existing pool of orphans and giving rise to the practice of cloning; alas you were decanted just as the market crashed) and you're sent to live with a mystic cult of warriors who train you and enlist you in an intergalactic war. The humor is trenchant, never too on-the-nose, and never gets in the way of what turns out to be rather a good story. As an added bonus, "nearly all the proper names in the book are dirty words in Czech."
Profits from this book are donated to Fight for the Future, one of the activist groups that led the charge that killed SOPA last year.
Trial of the Clone [Amazon]
Trial of the Clone [SMBC]
Oh, those glorious gaming magazines! From Ares, to The General, to The Dragon, the original thrill and excitement of pen ‘n’ paper gaming is there to be experienced at the Internet Archive and other online haunts.
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Cary Walkin, an accountant in Toronto, knows a thing or two about Excel. So great is his expertise that he was able to create a full-fledged RPG inside of its scripting environment, called Arena.Xlsm. I couldn't get it to run in LibreOffice, but it sounds like it's very featurful and fun, provided that you're willing to use Microsoft products:
* Random enemies: Over 2000 possible enemies with different AI abilities.
* Random items: 39 item modifiers result in over 1000 possible item combinations and attributes.
* An interesting story with 4 different endings depending on how the player has played the game.
* 8 boss encounters, each with their own tactics.
* 4 pre-programmed arenas followed by procedurally generated arenas. Each play-through has its own challenges.
* 31 Spells. There are many different strategies for success.
* 15 Unique items. Unique items have special properties and can only drop from specific enemies.
* 36 Achievements.
* This is all in a Microsoft Excel workbook.