Archive for March, 2001

They’re Inside My Head!

Friday, March 30th, 2001

After looking over the new Psionics Handbook, I was wondering where certain prominent psionic beasties had gone. Obviously, some of Wizards’ psions have been monitoring my thoughts, and the result is today’s post of extra psionic creatures. Bruce Cordell, the Psi Handbook’s designer, wrote up the stats for Thri-Kreen, Su Monsters, and Gem Dragons, all of which can be downloaded. Keep ‘em coming, Bruce.

Setites: Corrupting Young Minds Everywhere

Friday, March 30th, 2001

Clanbook: Followers of Set has slithered its way onto the shelves. White Wolf’s Revised line of clanbooks continues with the Setites, the children of the dark vampire god, Set. These fanged corrupters have been hissing in the ears of Kindred since the Great Deluge, and now they continue their good work in the Final Nights. In my experience as a Vampire player, Setites have always led a charmed existence, weaving in and out of Kindred society. They always seem to have something you need… or want. And the first taste is always free.

Off the Deep End With Weresharks

Friday, March 30th, 2001

Deep water really scares me. Sharks really scare me. The image of a half-man, half-shark gliding in the murky depths below my water-treading legs terrifies the hell out of me. But then that’s the whole point of the World of Darkness. The latest installment in White Wolf’s Changing Breeds series, Rokea brings the world of weresharks to the surface. The source book covers everything from Rokea player characters to creating an entire wereshark chronicle. I have read previously published material regading Rokea, and compared to the other shapeshifters all I can say is, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat…”

Sack Armies Charging

Friday, March 30th, 2001

After an amazing response at last week’s GAMA convention, Tyranny Games is moving up the release of Sack Armies: Expeditionary Force from August to June. The game’s first two expansions, Colonization and Fortification, are still scheduled for December 2001 and Spring 2002 respectively. We’re eagerly awaiting our first expedition in the Tangle.

Planet Hopping
Wizards has a new random planet generator that gives GMs a quick blurb for nav computers to spew at spacefarers. Moderately useful, actually.

FASA’s Smith Moves to Lone Wolf
Eric Smith of FASA will be leaving the fading industry giant in favor of Lone Wolf Development. The change will come next month, as FASA wraps up a long, grand run in gaming. Smith will become Lone Wolf’s Director of Sales and Marketing, and begin the task of selling their helpful software, such as Army Builder.

The FAQs About Mummy: the Resurrection

Thursday, March 29th, 2001

The helpful folks at White Wolf recently posted a FAQ about their newest role-playing genre, Mummy: the Resurrection. Among the topics discussed are Mummy’s place in the World of Darkness, the obligatory rules problems, and the possible addition of Mummy to the Mind’s Eye Theatre line.

Oriental Surprises

Wednesday, March 28th, 2001

James Wyatt, designer of the upcoming Oriental Adventures supplement for D&D 3, has revealed some interesting tidbits about the book’s contents. For one thing, the setting will be Rukugan (of Legend of the Five Rings), not Kara-Tur. Wyatt also gave a rough estimate of the other contents of OA 3E, which you might find surprising:

  • Number of new classes? 5
  • Number of new prestige classes? 25
  • Number of new races? 5
  • Number of new monsters? 75
  • Number of new spells? over 100
  • Number of new feats? 70
  • Number of new skills? 1
  • Prospective page count? 256, hardcover

Upper Deck and Mage Knight?
Apparently, WizKids has made a deal with Upper Deck Entertainment to publish Mage Knight trading cards this summer. This won’t be a game, though; just nifty cards to collect and trade. However, Upper Deck couldn’t resist thowing in a bonus:

Collectors and new players alike will be pleased to find a limited-edition Mage Knight miniature inserted into each box of trading cards, ready for game play. This miniature is a UDE exclusive, and will not be available anywhere else.”

I just hope Upper Deck packages them better than the Survivor CCG. I prefer my cards to be separate entities, not a semi-flexible block of cardboard and glue.

Pair of TSR Vets Depart Wizards

Wednesday, March 28th, 2001

Jim Butler, long-time veteran of TSR and Wizards of the Coast, is leaving the company after this Friday. As part of a corporate reorganization, his position was supposed to be eliminated in December of last year, but Jim had so much to do, his departure was slightly delayed. Butler’s next project will be head of Bastion Press, a new RPG company he’s founded.

On a related note, Monte Cook is also leaving Wizards. Cook, who helmed the D&D 3 Dungeon Master’s Guide, will be leaving April 6, but will continue to design D&D products as a freelancer. Once the dust settles, you can keep an eye on Monte’s projects at his new site.

Generic Universal Really Primitive Stuff

Tuesday, March 27th, 2001

GURPS Low-Tech ($20.95) has finally been completed. Obsidian daggers, leather armor, sundials and chariots galore pack the book’s 128 pages. There are even some new rules for piecemeal armor. Everything from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages is detailed in Low-Tech, so if you’ve been waiting for this supplement like some of my friends have, head to the game shop and pick one up.

A Word From Tom Jolly

Tuesday, March 27th, 2001

One of our favorite game designers, Tom Jolly, dropped us a line recently. When we asked him how he likes working with Fantasy Flight Games on products like Diskwars and Drakon, he had nothing but praise for his co-conspirators. “We have a pretty good relationship,” said Tom. “Christian [Petersen of FFG] really likes the game mechanics I create, more than the themes I attach to them, but I’m pretty easy to get along with, so I don’t mind if they get overhauled along the way.”

So Sorry, Sosaria. Bye-Bye Britannia

Monday, March 26th, 2001

At the official site for Ultima Online 2 (aka Ultima Worlds Online: Origin), there is now a statement from EA and Origin announcing the cancellation of the game. Apparently, the two companies have “decided to put those resources [formerly devoted to UO2] into growing and improving the core offering for Ultima Online’s 230,000 loyal subscribers.”

Tabletop role-players may be worried by this announcement. Why? As we learned at last year’s Origins Game Fair, Agents of Gaming had been planning to demo their new, semi-secret tabletop RPG based on Ultima Online 2, but had to cancel the demonstrations when the computer game got delayed. Now that the computer game has been cancelled entirely, what does that mean for the tabletop RPG?

Rappan Onna Door
Necromancer Games has posted yet another freebie for fans of their D20 adventure, Rappan Athuk. This time, a 19 page description of the wilderness around the dungeon, complete with bandits and wandering beasts, is available to download. If you have the freebie code from the first page of the adventure, of course.

Draconians Sighted for Third Edition
A free D&D 3 encounter has been posted over at Wizards, and it has the unusual distinction of being set on Krynn. The game stats for Baaz and Sivak Draconians are listed in the encounter. A few more helpful posts like this, and it won’t matter that Wizards doesn’t plan to bring Dragonlance to Third Edition — we’ll figure it out for ourselves.

D&D 3 Schedule Update
Eric Noah’s D&D3 News has reported a flier that Wizards of the Coast handed out at GAMA, which announced following product schedule:

  • July: Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, by Monte Cook
  • August: Master Tools
  • August: Manual of the Planes, by Jeff Grubb
  • October: Oriental Adventures, by James Wyatt

Weird Sex Brought Wizards Around?

Monday, March 26th, 2001

I was worried that the conclusion of John Tynes’ WotC elegy on Salon would send a message of “corporate openness and freakiness bad” with its dramatic rhythms, even as Tynes actually says “corporate openness and freakiness good.” (Although he seems a little defensive about the whole goblins thing.) You know, it’s like old horror movies: the actual content has to end with good and order triumphing over evil and chaos, but the subtext in the middle reel is what we really identify with. In this case, I wonder if Tynes is in full control of his message here.

That said, though, the piece concludes well and has a few interesting secrets. I’m imagining Peter Adkison actually engineering his MBA conversion as a long, elaborate escape hatch for himself and his first few employees. What that must have been like, to spend two years as an evil doppelganger corporate self, so in the end you’d never have to do it again. Well… I guess that must have been like… life.

Speaking of which, half of your dedicated and selfless (unemployed) OgreCave staff starts a job tomorrow. Technical developments and, sadly, new game reviews are going to be a little slower in coming. But you’ll always be in my heart. Yay.

Castle Death Open To Visitors

Saturday, March 24th, 2001

Since receiving permission from author Joe Dever, fans of the classic Lone Wolf fantasy gamebooks have been hard at work converting the series to an Internet-based electronic format. At last, Castle Death, the seventh book of the saga, has been made available. The book is still in the “public preview” stage, so there are no illustrations, but the full text of the original paperback is available for online or offline play. To check this (and the rest of the series) out, visit the official home of Project Aon, the organization responsible for releasing the electronic books.

Weird Sex Brought Wizards Down!

Friday, March 23rd, 2001

Well, okay, so John Tynes‘ much-talked-about piece for Salon probably won’t end up saying that, laying the blame (blame? For the “death” of a company that still dominates the gaming industry and seems to be headed for profitability again in the near term?) on mere corporatism instead. But that cliffhanger ending is something, isn’t it? This article, even if it does read something like all the dot-com post-mortems, ought to do some deserved violence to what remains of the Gamer Stereotype.

GAMA Posts 2000 Origins Award Nominees

Friday, March 23rd, 2001

GAMA, the Game Manufacturer’s Association, has posted the nominees for the 2000 Origins Awards. The nominations fall into 23 different categories, and just about every aspect of unplugged gaming is covered. Check out the list, and see if your favorite games have been nominated. If so, you can find out if they’ve won when the results are announced at Origins 2001 later this year!

Calculate The Hurting

Thursday, March 22nd, 2001

WotC has posted what they call a “web goody,” and maybe that’s the best name for it. The Encounter Level Calculator does some simple math and rounding for you (adding up the Challenge Ratings of a homogenous or mixed group of monsters, into a CR for the whole fight), but does it in a cool way: right in your browser using a little window full of fast-loading JavaScript, not Java or plug-ins. Speaking as a web dork, I’m impressed: it works in all three of the big browser paradigms and everything. But does this kind of thing serve the user? Would you rather have widgets like this all wrapped up in one big paid package like Master Tools, or are you willing to bookmark a million little tools and get them online if you can get them for free? Let us know (cause after all, I’ve written a little JavaScript in my time, hint hint).