Witcher III: The Wild Hunt is coming to Nintendo Switch

When Witcher III: The Wild Hunt was released a few years ago, everyone lost their minds over how great it was. Because my aging 2015 MacBook Pro lacked the guts to even consider running it, I never had the opportunity to take the game for a spin. It looks like the Nintendo Switch--the best port machine ever created--will finally give me a chance to step into Geralt of Rivia's shoes.

From Nintendo:

The Complete Edition contains every piece of downloadable content released for the game, including two massive story expansions: Hearts of Stone & Blood and Wine. It's the perfect opportunity to enter this world for the first time or relive the adventure — on the go! Coming to Nintendo Switch in 2019.

The lack of a firm date for the game's release sucks, but it's not surprising. I suspect it'll be pushed out once the port is damn well good and ready. Being as I've gone this long without playing the game, I suspect I'll survive a little while longer without it.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of BagoGames Read the rest

What's new in tabletop gaming (April 2019 edition)

Battletech: A Game of Armored Combat BattleTech Beginner Box Catalyst Games, $60 (core set), $20 (Beginner's Box)

Catalyst Games was kind enough to send me a bundle o' new BattleTech goodies. They sent the new BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat (the core game), the BattleTech Beginner Box, the BattleMech Manual, and the Map Pack expansion.

The Beginner Box is positioned as a convenient and cheap way of getting people into the game at a third the price of the new core box. In the Beginner Box, you get 2 Mech miniatures and 8 cardboard standee Mechs. The stater rules are somewhat streamlined with no heat management/Heat Phase, no Internal Structure Diagram (ISD), and no torso movement. All of the movement and attack modifiers are retained from the original game. The rules still have those clunky and crunchy old-school mechanics under the hood, but like OGRE and Car Wars, for those of us with fond memories of this game, however cumbersome, that's maybe now part of its old-school charm.

The hardbound Mech Manual is lovely, well-designed, and laid out for easy reference. The Core Box comes with 8 beautifully sculpted Mech miniatures, a 56-page rule book, a 16-page Universe Primer, Pilot stat cards, a pad of Mech record sheets, two terrain maps, dice, and additional standees and terrain markers. The core system does retain the ISD, heat manangement, and torso movement rules. Both boxed sets also include novellas, which is kind of a nice way of immersing oneself, especially newbies, in the BattleTech universe before play. Read the rest

The strange tale of Runescape's Communist republic

In 2007, a group of players in Runescape -- once billed as the world's most-played massively multiplayer game -- declared a Communist republic on Gielinor's Server 32, amid a revolution that saw 5,000 characters killed off in the fighting. Read the rest

Chinese censors incinerate entire run of a kickstarted Call of Cthulhu RPG sourcebook

Julio writes, "Sons of the Singularity is a small RPG publisher. Last year, they kickstarted The Sassoon Files, a sourcebook for the popular Call of Cthulhu RPG and Trail of Cthulhu RPG. As a lot of publishers, theydid the printing in China. The same day that the print was finished, a Chinese Government decided that it was "problematic", so they burned the entire print run. Targeting foreign publications is a first, specially when it seems there wasn't anything problematic (the supplement was based on Shanghai but was respetful and documented carefully). Will this be a new sign of Beijing tightening its iron grip or just a show of bravado with a small publisher used as an example?" Read the rest

BATHDOOM: A Doom level based on a terrible bathroom remodel

For years, Something Awful forum members have reveled in user bEatmstrJ's blow-by-blow account of a terrible bathroom remodel, in which he sought to transform his bathroom "with a woman in mind" with an eye to a future home-sale ("woman play an unfair role in the home-buying process"); bEatmstrJ's saga combines terrible ideas about how a bathroom should look with total home-renovation incompetence, making it the perfect foil for Something Awful's pioneering brand of jeering insults and mayhem. Read the rest

Kickstarter Challenge: make an RPG-themed zine!

Inspired by the success of Judges' Guild, Kickstarter has launched Zine Quest, a challenge to crowdfund an RPG-themed zine ("must either contain an RPG or feature RPG-related content like maps, adventures, monsters, comics, articles, interviews, etc."); there's an impressive array of entrants already. Read the rest

What's new in tabletop gaming (February 2019 edition)

Here are some recent game releases of note and some of what I've been up to in hobby gaming over the past month or so.

Android: Shadow of the Beanstalk Fantasy Flight Games, $60, Players, Ages: 12+ I have been looking forward to this book ever since it was announced by FFG following their retirement of the Netrunner card game, also set in the Android universe. Shadow of the Beanstalk is a 256-page sourcebook for use with the Genesys Roleplaying System. Two years ago, I got to talk to the creators of Genesys at NovaCon before they got scooped up by FFG. Genesys is a GURPS-like universal RPG system that allows you to roleplay any time period, setting, theme. Also like GURPS, it is designed to greatly encourage narrative play and DIY themes and settings. Shadow of the Beanstalk is a campaign setting for the Android universe centered on New Angeles, the city that is home to the beanstalk, the space elevator that has afforded humanity cheap and easy access to space (and has subsequently attracted every megacorp, criminal enterprise, and hacker/"runner" faction). When The Worlds of Android background book came out, many said it was so close to an RPG setting, they ached for the game mechanics to actually play it. These mechanics have arrived with Genesys and Shadow of the Beanstalk.

Cosmic Encounter Fantasy Flight Games, $60, 3-5 Players, Ages: 14+ The classic alien negotiation and conquest game, which many consider one of the greatest board games ever made, is back with a slightly tweaked "42nd anniversary" edition. Read the rest

Stranger Things Dungeons and Dragons is a real thing

You can pre-order an official Dungeons and Dragons/Stranger Things RPG, packaged like a pre-distressed Red Box Basic D&D box, including a (barely) painted and unpainted demogorgon mini, character sheets, a starter campaign, a rulebook, and a set of polyhedral dice: $25 at Big Bad Toy Store. I've been recreating my perfect RPG shelf in pieces, and this kind of thing skewers me right through the guts. (via Super Punch) Read the rest

Make: a 3D printed replica of the shrine from Deities and Demigods, sized for D&D minis

Deities and Demigods is a storied resource book from the first edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: between being copyright trolled by false claims of infringement on the Lovecraft estate (and a more valid copyright claim over the use of Elric of Melnibon mythos), and the general uselessness of gods and demigods to the vast majority of D&D campaigns, and the book's usefulness to nutjobs who claimed that D&D was a trojan horse for occult indoctrination, Deities and Demigods is a title whose reputation redounds even today. Read the rest

Braille RPG dice

Jack Berberette's Dots RPG project creates free, CC-licensed shapefiles for RPG dice with Braille faces (you can order readymades from Shapeways); they're part of a larger project to produce accessible RPG materials of all kinds for people with visual disabilities. (via the-a-r-t-i-s-t) Read the rest

Checking out Bexim's Bazaar, a wonderful new zine for tabletop game crafters

As we have written about before, the game crafting (or dungeon crafting) scene has exploded over the past few years. There are dozens of websites and YouTube channels devoted to every aspect of making and crafting for the tabletop and RPG gaming hobbies, from building custom gaming tables, to crafting terrain and miniature dungeons, to making DM screens, dice towers, modeling, converting, and painting miniatures, and much more.

One of my maker pals, James Floyd Kelly (a tech book author and long-time Make: contributor), jumped onto the game crafting bandwagon last year when he launched his Game Terrain Engineering YouTube channel. Jim's channel grew very quickly and he has now become one of the rising stars in that community. And with good reason. Jim is ambitious and clever. And relentless. By the end of the year, he had decided to go into producing game crafting media as a full-time job. He relaunched his YT channel as The Tabletop Engineer and announced that he was launching a new monthly magazine devoted to the gaming hobby, especially focusing on game crafting.

Called Bexim's Bazaar, the magazine will be monthly. It will mainly exist as a PDF publication, but on-demand print copies will also be available. The PDF version is yours after you become a Patreon sponsor of The Tabletop Engineer for US$2/month. Print copies of the issues (around 90 pages) are available on Blurb for $18.

In this recent video from Jeremy of Black Magic Craft, he discusses the import of this new hobby zine and does a page-by-page flick-through of a print copy of Issue #1. Read the rest

Deborah Ann Woll and Joe Manganiello talk about acting, roleplaying, and D&D's unique form of storytelling

I really enjoyed these two interviews on the D&D Beyond channel with actors Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood, Daredevil) and Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Justice League, Magic Mike), both D&D fanatics. In Deborah's interview, she talks about how she got started in the hobby, what kind of characters she likes to play (fighters, surprisingly enough), and her thoughts on the current D&D renaissance.

One interesting observation she makes about RPGs as a unique form of acting/theater: When a party saves a character or survives an ordeal, or otherwise experiences a dramatic moment, there's often an intense, visceral response from the players that she says she doesn't experience in any other type of acting. As an actor, she longs to evoke this kind of response in people, so that's one of the things that draws her to D&D.

In the Joe Manganiello video, we get a tour of his E. Gary Gygax Memorial Dungeon (think: MTV Cribs for nerds) and hear about how he got back into the hobby after a long hiatus and how he went about converting his basement wine cellar into this enviable game space. The large dragon, beholder, and mind flayer sculptures are very cool. Joe also talks about the impact that D&D had on him as a kid and how he learned foundational skills in storytelling, world-building, and acting that he later employed as a professional actor. D&D was his gateway drug.

In mid-December of 2018, Geek & Sundry announced a new D&D-themed show, coming in February, starring Deborah Woll. Read the rest

Chicagoans can actually play "Machine Learning President," the election RPG

After the 2016 elections, Scout.ai and a group of technology activists created Machine Learning President, designed for "scenario planning to game out how tech might impact future elections, as a way to think through the potential challenges and pitfalls that might eat away at democracy." Read the rest

The amazing deluxe commemorative edition of The Art of Dungeons and Dragons is out today

Today marks the publication of the $100 Dungeons and Dragons Art and Arcana box-set, which contains a 400-page retrospective of the classic art of D&D, a reprint of the notoriously hard Tomb of Horrors module (designed by Gary Gygax to challenge the most overpowered characters), and frameable lithos. Read the rest

"Critical Failure" D20s, whispering what's in every roller's heart

The world has long celebrated the "critical hit" D20 face, the elusive 20 that doubles the damage and sets the players around the table baying with elation; but consider its opposite face, the lowly 1, the "critical failure" that lets a sadistic DM dream up all kinds of pratfalls and own-goals to punish the luckless player with. Read the rest

Procedurally generated maps of medieval cities, suitable for RPGs

The Medieval Fantasy City Generator; fill in a few options and press go, and voila! I have no idea how plausible these are, but they're MUCH better than anything I ever came up with as a Dungeon Master. Read the rest

Kickstarting a new edition of Steve Jackson's long-lost masterpiece "Melee"

Stefan Jones writes, "While Dungeons & Dragons (1973) had its roots in miniatures wargaming, it really didn't coherently integrate boardgame-style maneuvers into its combat system. Steve Jackson changed that a few years later with Melee, the first segment in what would be a full-fledged fantasy role playing game system, The Fantasy Trip. It was a lot better developed than D&D, and was supported by GMd adventures and solotaire adventures." Read the rest

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