Pillars of Eternity is coming to the Nintendo Switch this August

Despite the user interface issues with games like Wastelands 2 and Phantom Doctrine on the Nintendo Switch, I've still waited like a mook for Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity II to break cover for the console since late last year. The last time I checked on Amazon, it wasn't going to be available until New Year's Eve, 2019. So that sucks. In the meantime, Obsidian is throwing gamers a bone: if you didn't have the opportunity to play the original Pillars of Eternity a few years back, you'll be able to pick it up for the Switch, early next month.

The announcement was made by the company in a tweet, late last week:

I played the original when it was released for Mac, a few years back. It was pretty good! But I never got around to investing in the additional content that came out for the game. As Obsidian is releasing Pillars of Eternity as a complete edition for the Switch, I might be persuaded to pick it up to play through and see how it feels on a handheld.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of BagoGames Read the rest

Review: Wasteland 2 for Nintendo Switch

I played Wasteland 2 when it made its debut, four years ago. Despite my Love for Brian Fargo's work on Fallout 1 and 2, I never did manage to finish it. There's something about working in front of a computer, seven days a week, that keeps me from wanting to sit in front of my laptop during my downtime.

However, in the weeks since I was given a review copy of it for the Nintendo Switch, I've been enjoying the holy hell out of it.

If you're not familiar with the franchise, its premise is pretty simple. You and your squad mates are new recruits to the Desert Rangers: the only real peacekeeping force in post-apocalyptic Arizona. It's your job to range out and aid the folks under your protection. You'll kill bandits, attempt to negotiate peace between warring factions and uncover insidious threats. The game lets you choose whether you want to start with a squad of four pre-made rangers, each with different skills and strengths, or role your own. This time around, I chose the latter. As I accidentally created a pretty strong team, it's worked out pretty well so far. That's all I'll say about the game, plot-wise. Wasteland 2 might not be new to many of us, but there are some first-timers that might be reading this. I don't want to blow the story for them.

I will however, talk about game play.

All of the interactions you'll have with NPCs are text-based. Given the small size of the Switch's display, the game's development team could have blown it by making the text too small for older eyes, like mine, to read. Read the rest

Bethesda reveals latest Fallout game

Bethesda released a teaser trailer for their next game in the Fallout series, Fallout 76, and man, I am so ready for it.

Having been around to play Fallout Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics in the late 1990s all I wanted was more Fallout. Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas definitely scratched that itch (New Vegas is one of the best RPGs of all time, and yes, I will fight you over it.) Fallout 4, I loved. It was a departure from the feel of the games that came before it, but it wasn't long until I got into the rhythm of the game. It's hands-down one of my favorite games of all time. Despite my love affair with the series, there's a VERY good chance that Fallout 76 will be an entirely different animal than anything that's come before in the franchise. A big clue to this is smack dab in the middle of the game's title: Vault 76. In Fallout 3, Vault 76 was listed in a Citadel computer terminal as being a "control" vault. It makes sense: with every other vault encountered in the Fallout Universe has been screwed with by Vault-Tec scientists, subjecting the vault's occupants to a wide array of social experiments. Vault-Tec would need a control vault to illustrate what sane, well adjusted vault dwellers who were left alone with everything they'd need to survive a nuclear disaster would look like. There's a good chance that anyone coming out of this vault would be healthy, mentally stable and well supplied. Read the rest

Meet a professional D&D dungeon master. Yes, that's his main gig.

Timm Woods, 30, is one of New York City's most popular Dungeons & Dragons dungeon masters-for-hire. He's also working on his PhD dissertation, titled "Anything Can Be Attempted: Table-Top Role Playing Games as Learning and Pedagogy." From Brian Raftery's profile of Woods in Wired:

...While Woods is one of several DMs-for-hire out there, this isn’t his hobby or a side gig; it’s a living, and a pretty good one at that, with Woods charging anywhere from $250 to $350 for a one-off three-hour session (though he works on a sliding scale). For that price, Woods will not only research and plan out your game but also, if you become a regular, answer your occasional random text queries about wizard spells. “He’s worth the money,” says Kevin Papa, a New York City educator (and occasional DM) who’s been part of this Friday-night game for more than a year. “Being a DM requires a lot of brainshare. I don’t know how Timm absorbs it all.”

As it turns out, the very attributes that help form the core of every Dungeons & Dragons character—strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma—are the same ones needed to be a stellar Dungeon Master. Woods describes himself as “100 percent an introvert,” but the kind of introvert who doesn’t mind being the center of attention under the right circumstances. Which explains why he has been known to crack jokes in an elf’s voice or dramatically narrate castle-yard battles with cacophonous verve. When he was younger, Woods preferred to be alone, living inside his imaginary worlds; now he has a job in which, night after night, he must share those worlds with others.

Read the rest

Awaken Online: Catharsis

I'd never heard of this genre referred to as 'LitRPG', but Awaken Online: Catharsis is a fantastic trip into MMORPG land!

Things are always clear in a MMORPG, right? Kill the bats and rats to get a bigger sword, so you can kill bigger rats and bats and get an even better weapon! Up until now moral choices have been simple, good or bad? Welcome to Awaken Online, where moral ambiguity seems to be the thing! Join Jason (great name) as he tries to figure out if the ends really do justify the means, and that maybe, just maybe, he's the bad guy here.

I really enjoyed this first novel by Travis Bagwell. It is free via Kindle Unlimited.

Awaken Online: Catharsis by Travis Bagwell via Amazon Read the rest

There's a Steven Universe RPG you can play on your phone

Last week, the Cartoon Network released a delicious Easter treat: an RPG based on Steven Universe that you can play on your phone for only $2.99. Read the rest

Norway's new Minister of International Development is a D&D champ who thinks LARPs can change the worlds

Here's an abridged translation of a Imagonem interview with Heikki Holmås, Norway's new minister of International Development. Holmås is a lifelong D&D player and LARPer who won the Norwegian D&D championships in 1989 and was sent to GenCon in Milwaukee. Holmås recounts his favorite campaigns and describes how he things RPGs and LARPs can be used for political ends, including settling longstanding, militarized disputes.

- RPGs can be extremely relevant in putting people in situations they’re unfamiliar with. Save the Children have their refugee games. I have friends in Bergen who’ve run human rights-RPGs. But you have to be professional. You create real emotions when you play role playing games, real emotions that stick, he says.

- That’s kind of the slightly scary aspect of role playing games, which has to be considered. At the same time, it’s what makes it possible for RPGs to change the world. LARP can change the world, because it lets people understand that humans under pressure may act differently than in the normal life, when you’re safe.

The minister of Development has taken note of a Norwegian LARP-project in Palestine later this year.

- I don’t know all the details, but there’s no doubt that you can put Israelis into the situation of the Palestinians and vice versa in a way that fosters understanding and builds bridges. Those things are an important aspect of role playing games which makes it possible to use them politically to create change.

At least according to Norway’s new Minister of International Development, Heikki Holmås. Read the rest

Wasteland sequel kickstarted

Wasteland, the classic post-apocalyptic sandbox RPG, is to receive a sequel a quarter of a century later. "We wanted to make a Wasteland sequel, but didn't have the rights," says creator Brian Fargo of the publishing environment back then. "So we made Fallout instead." Read the rest

HOWTO make a fur-lined barbarian forearm bracer with a digital D&D dice-roller built in

The wizards at Sparkfun, an open source hardware company, show us how to make one of these spiffy furry barbarian leather arm-bracers with a charmingly anachronistic D&D dice-roller built into, built around a Lilypad soft Arduino controller.

I’ve got nothing but respect for the DIY/open source community who take conductive thread, LEDs, and Arduino boxes and make them into marvelous little working crafts. I find it all a bit above my metaphorical pay grade. However, if there was anything that was going to convince me to learn how to rig a circuit, it would be the project that Dia forwarded to us yesterday. ,pIt’s a fur-lined leather gauntlet that can roll 100, 20, 12, 10, 8, 6, and 4-sided dice with the flip of a switch and the shake of a forearm. It combines my love of tabletop with my desire to live in the future where we all poke our wrists to get things done.

Theoretically, there's a complete tutorial for this beauty, but it's 404 at the moment. The link below goes to The Mary Sue's writeup.

New Life Goal: Make a Leather Bracer that Rolls Dice Read the rest

Brass-effect 3D printed steampunk D6s

Etsy seller MechanicalOddities 3D prints these D6s with gears instead of pips, then finishes them by hand with brass-effect paint.

Dice - 3D printed, Steampunk Style, Bronze Finish

(Thanks, Alice) Read the rest

Ossuary Dice: 3D-printed polyhedral dice worked with skulls

More funky 3D-printed RPG dice from Shapeways -- this time it's Aegidian's "Ossuary Dice" worked with a decorative skull motif. Good companion set for your Thorn Dice.

Ossuary Dice Set Read the rest