I woke up this morning to two exciting announcements about crowdfunders for kid-oriented RPGs, which is outstanding news indeed: the first is a set of adventures for Martin Lloyd's superb Amazing Tales, a (four and up) kid-and-adult RPG that's endlessly fun and incredibly easy to get started with; the second is Destiny Dez, from Scott Wayne Indiana, last seen around here with his pacifist RPG Lotus Dimension, now back with an RPG for 3-8 year olds, in which "kids come up with their own plans to navigate situations before rolling a 20 sided die to decide their fate and move on in the story."
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Motherfoclóir is a delightful podcast about language and linguistics as they relate to Ireland ("foclóir" being the Irish word for "dictionary," and thus completely unrelated to that homophonic English-language word you're surely thinking of, c'mon). While that might seem like a niche topic outside of the Emerald Isle herself, a recent episode tackled something that's surely on everyone's mind: those fantastical pointy-eared aristocrats known only as elves.
Specifically, it's a conversation with Irish writer Orla Ní Dhúill, whose blog about elves, Irishness, and colonialism gained a lot of traction among fantasy fans across the globe.
Growing up as a nerdy Irish-American kid, I always understood there to be something vaguely Gael-ish about elves. Even though I didn't know why. Even though I knew it didn't make sense. Even though I knew that Tolkien himself was not particularly fond of the Irish (the language, at least, if not the people). Was it because they used an cló gaelach, the insular font so often associated with Irish Gaelic? Even in my later adolescence, as I wasted my measly weekend job wages on Warhammer 40K, I couldn't help but notice the inherent Irishness in the names and terms of the mystical Eldar alien race who are basically space elves anyway (spoiler: it turns out the Eldar language is, in fact, mostly just bastardized lines from Irish Gaelic proverbs).
The podcast episode is full of insightful exchanges on language and colonialism between Ní Dhúill and host Peader Kavanagh. You can listen below, or on your preferred podcasting platform. Read the rest
Sean K Reynolds' and Shanna Germain's free, short ebook Consent in Gaming (from Monte Cook Games) is a beautifully thought-through exploration of how game-masters and players can negotiate their own boundaries before, during and after playing RPGs, in a way that allows everyone to be mindful and respectful of those boundaries without sacrificing fun or intensity of game-play.
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I don't have a single piece of hardware that'll be able to play Cyberpunk 2077 when it's released. This fact didn't do a single damn thing to stop me from watching this 14-minute preview video, however.
Beyond getting a peek of the incredible environments that the game has to offer, the video, as its title suggests also gives a solid look at two play styles and massive number of character tweaks that will be available to players on launch day. Read the rest
I'd kill to see Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4, or any of the Borderlands games come to the Nintendo Switch. They're some of my favorite titles to turn to at the end of a long, stupid day when my brain is in desperate need of a bit of numbing. Sadly, so far as I know, there hasn't been a reliable peep on the possibility of a port for any of them. Happily, Engadget plopped out some news today about a game that could be the next best thing to the titles on my wish list.
Obsidian had already revealed its Fallout-esque sci-fi RPG The Outer Worlds will debut on PC, Xbox One and PS4 October 25th. Sometime after that, it'll land on Switch too. Nintendo's console is less powerful than Sony and Microsoft's ones, and won't pack as much punch as a typical PC, so it remains to be seen how well The Outer Worlds will run on the hybrid.
For this version, Obsidian is teaming up with Virtuos, which has helped bring the likes of Dark Souls Remastered and Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age to Switch. There's no firm release date as yet for The Outer Worlds' arrival on Switch, but the UK eShop pegs the release date for sometime this year.
Obsidian was responsible for Fallout: New Vegas. From what I've seen in the trailer for The Outer Worlds, much of the humor of that old chestnut has made it alive into their space game. Read the rest
Heavy metal and Dungeons & Dragons have an interconnected history that goes beyond just being targeted during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Over at Kerrang, John Reppion draws the links from Black Sabbath until today. From Kerrang
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The November 1987 edition of UK RPG magazine White Dwarf was advertised as a ‘Thrash Rock Special’. “Your eyes and minds have been devastated by White Dwarf for the past ten years, now it’s time for your ears to get it!” an ad in the back of the previous issue warned. The magazine came with a free flexidisc whose single track, Blood For The Blood God, was specially written and recorded by British thrashers Sabbat for WD. Printed on the disc are the words “Based on Games Workshop’s Warhammer fantasy roleplay game”, making Blood For The Blood God the first ever official RPG tie-in metal record.
Two years later, death-grind band Bolt Thrower released their second album, Realm Of Chaos: Slaves To Darkness, on Earache Records. The album’s cover art came courtesy of Nottingham-based RPG maker and retailer Games Workshop. Many of the song titles and lyrics related directly to the store’s own sci-fi fantasy RPG, Warhammer 40,000 – of which members of Bolt Thrower were dedicated players. Copies of the album were even sold in Games Workshop, alongside the usual miniatures and rulebooks....
Perhaps the most overtly RPG-inspired band of the moment are Gygax. Named in honour of D&D’s creator, the Californian four-piece play Thin Lizzy-esque hard rock with themes lifted directly from the players’ handbook.
Vlad Taltos is the (anti)hero of Steven Brust's stupendous, longrunning fantasy series (which is nearly complete, a generation after it was begun!); Issue 220 of Dragon magazine (August 1995) included a feature by Ed Stark explaining how to play the human assassin and witch who lives amidst a race of nearly immortal elves, against whom he bears a serious grudge. I just love that there's a stats-sheet for Vlad! The only thing that would make me happier would be the next goddamned book.
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"Three Halflings in a Trenchcoat" is Redditor Sir_Platinum's homebrew fighter class for Dungeons and Dragons, wherein the halflings' dexterity bonus is canceled out by the need to maintain balance and movement speed is sharply reduced, but this is offset by a "Band of Brothers" effect that -- while not so good for hit points -- provides an armor class bonus, as well as the ability to make three attacks at once with all six arms.
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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.
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.
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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
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.
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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?"
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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.
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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.
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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.
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
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)
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