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).

Wizards’ Star Wars Schedule

Thursday, March 22nd, 2001

The 2001 product schedule for the Star Wars RPG line has been announced. In August, The Dark Side ($29.95) will be described, including dark side feats, powers, and weaponry. The Rebellion Era Sourcebook ($29.95), coming in September, will detail the original three movies, as the Rebellion struggles against the mighty Empire. Alien Anthology ($26.95; formerly titled Creatures of the Galaxy) will bring a wide variety of creatures and races to campaigns in October. Starships of the Galaxy ($21.95) will show players how to build starships, and includes new rules for ship-to-ship combat. Starships of the Galaxy will arrive in December.

However, the next release for the Star Wars game will be Secrets of Tatooine ($21.95). According to a post on SWRPGNetwork, the format will follow that of Secrets of Naboo. Two-thirds will be source material, one-third an adventure. The cities of Mos Espa, Mos Eisley, and Mos Entha will be detailed and mapped, as will Jabba’s Throneroom and the Boonta Eve racetrack. For more details, check here. Secrets of Tatooine will ship in May.

Deciphering the Rings

Wednesday, March 21st, 2001

In another gaming coup, Decipher has grabbed the rights to produce the Lord of the Rings RPG. This is on top of their licenses for trading card games and electronic card games based on the movie trilogy. Current plans have the new RPG reaching stores by the end of the year. Looks like the newly hired Decipher RPG team (formerly known as the staff of Last Unicorn Games) has their work cut out for them. But what sweet assignments…

Fellowship of the Miniatures

Wednesday, March 21st, 2001

Games Workshop has posted their initial product plans for the Lord of the Rings Tabletop Battle Game. There are plans for everything from Saruman and the Ringwraiths to scenery such as Balin’s Tomb. The main game and first smaller sets will be released shortly before Christmas. Check out the full range of products here.

Master Tools Scheduled for Fall
Wizards has announced that their D&D Master Tools software will be available this August. Master Tools will make the process of creating a tabletop RPG adventure much simpler. There’s more info in the official press release.

Madness Ships
Green Ronin has shipped the final installment of the Freeport Trilogy, Madness in Freeport. The dramatic conclusion of the series is a 48-page adventure for character levels 4-6.

Wizards Dons Chainmail

Tuesday, March 20th, 2001

It looks like Wizards of the Coast is dusting off a legendary name in gaming for another go ’round this October. The upcoming skirmish-level miniatures game we’ve been hearing about since last year’s Origins convention will assume the mantle of the Chainmail name. From the press release, it looks like WotC is hoping to grab gamers interested in a Warhammer-style wargame without investing as much time:

Chainmail is … designed with versatile and easy-to-learn rules allowing players to play a game in 30 minutes or less … Players will be able to create armies of two to 20 figures representing one of six factions fighting for survival in the region of The Sundered Empire.

The original Chainmail miniatures game served to inspire the creation of Dungeons & Dragons. Who knows what this version will inspire?

Zorro Rides Again
Gold Rush Games has just announced their multi-year licensing deal with Zorro Productions, Inc. to produce the Zorro RPG. The first game to come out of this arrangement will be The Legacy of Zorro Introductory Adventure Game in June, which will use the “Instant Fuzion” game system. The full RPG, The World of Zorro Adventure Game and Resource Book, will follow in the fall, and will include a detailed guide to Spanish California of the 1820s. As long as Catherine Zeta-Jones makes an appearance, I’ll be running a few sessions.

Cheap Wars
Following the release of their Budget Battlefield miniatures rules, MicroTactix Games has made the first two Army Packs available for download. For a mere $6 each, you can get the two fantasy armies, the Orcs and the Dwarves, as PDF files and print as many as you need.

Live-Action Werewolf Refitted and Ready To Rage

Monday, March 19th, 2001

The most savage denizens of the World of Darkness are finally getting their own live-action makeover. White Wolf is now taking pre-orders for Laws of the Wild Revised Limited Edition. The deluxe version of the standard Mind’s Eye Theatre paperback will feature a leather cover, a cloth bookmark, and eight extra pages of game material. Werewolf Revised is written by Bruce Baugh, Heather Grove, Ellen Kiley, and Alan Kravit.

White Wolf Unleashes Its Newest Horrors
From the relative obscurity of supplements to the main stage of the World of Darkness, Mummy: the Resurrection has hit the stands. This latest addition to White Wolf’s core line of role-playing genres immerses us in the ubiquitous mythology of ancient Egypt and the Middle East. As the story goes, Osiris, brother to the vampiric Set, has given his priests the power to create a new form of mummy. Called the Undying, these mummies follow the path of something called the Ma’at. Sound as intriguing to you as it does to me? Only one way to find out. In previous World of Darkness canon, mummies were incredibly rare beings of unfathomable power. They were also completely indestructible, so it will be interesting to see exactly how Resurrection functions. The Mummy core rulebook also features one of the most beautiful covers in recent White Wolf history. Mummy: the Resurrection is written by Conrad Hubbard, Steve Kenson, Jess Heinig, Rob Hatch, James Comer, and Richard Ruane, and developed by Kraig Blackwelder and Andrew Bates.

At long last, the live-action version of Mage: the Ascension has arrived. Perhaps the most demanded and highly anticipated Mind’s Eye Theatre product ever, Laws of Ascension Limited Edition comes to us after languishing in developer’s limbo. Followers of the way of the White Wolf will remember the difficulty expressed by Mage and MET developers in bringing the abstract world of Ascension to the live-action stage. Head mage developer Jess Heinig received countless rules proposals from fans and even published an unofficial guideline for live-action mages in issue four of the Mind’s Eye Theatre Journal. Now it’s official. How can the power to reshape reality be condensed into a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors? Good question… Laws of Ascension is written by Martin Hackleman, Mikki Rautalahti and Peter Woodworth.

Speaking of things Mage, the first of the Revised Tradition Books have arrived. The Akashic Brotherhood leads the way. The warriors of the Mind get a new take on philosophy, practices, and, of course, martial arts. Tradition Book: Akashic Brotherhood Revised is written by Malcolm Sheppard.

And what would a White Wolf news report be without mentioning something Vampire? Clanbook: Tzimisce Revised has reared its twisted head and is ready for consumption. The Carpathian Fiends no longer have the luxury of time in the Final Nights, and their decadent evil is about to catch up to them. The Tzimisce are steeped in traditional vampire mythology more than any other Vampire clan. The Revised treatment should make them even more devilishly appealing than before. Clanbook: Tzimisce is written by Lucien Soulban and James Stewart.

Unicorns Sighted at Decipher

Sunday, March 18th, 2001

It’s confirmed: Decipher has hired the former staff of Last Unicorn Games (we mentioned this a couple weeks back). Christian Moore, former president of LUG, will be in charge of Decipher’s new RPG and miniatures division. The team’s first task will be building the new Star Trek RPG, a task they have a bit of experience with.

We Are Slightly Confused, But Mostly Pleased

Friday, March 16th, 2001

Fantasy Flight Games continues to pull ninja fake-outs on the tired minds here in the Cave: the new news is that Drakon is happening after all, shipping now in fact, though it no longer bears designer Tom Jolly‘s name quite so prominently. Vortex is a separate project (of which claims it will have some preview info on soon). We underestimated Mssrs. Jolly and Petersen. Stamina… speed… their fu is strong. But will they withstand the double crane attack?

Guardians and Pioneer, Together Again

Friday, March 16th, 2001

Anime RPG fans, take note: Guardians of Order is on the prowl again. While working on the Tenchi Muyo! and El-Hazard RPG resource books, GOO and Pioneer Entertainment got to know each other quite well, and have decided to build on the relationship even more. Under a new multi-year license, GOO will produce similar “fan guide” RPGs for several of Pioneer’s titles. Each “Ultimate Fan Guide” book will be 128 pages (two-thirds of which will be full-color), sell for $19.95 US, and contain episode guides, images from the series, and Tri-Stat compatible game stats for each character. The first new book, Serial Experiment Lain Ultimate Fan Guide, will debut in October 2001.

Diskwars Commander’s Toolkit
Fantasy Flight Games has posted the latest version of the Diskwars Commander’s Toolkit for free download. The useful program contains all the stats on every disk in the game, even promotional disks. Gamers can pay a $15 registration fee to be able to view the original disk images with the program. Download your copy, organize the troops, and go pick a fight with a neighboring army.

Out of Harn’s Way
The classic world of Hârn has been translated to the D20 system, thanks to Columbia Games. Head over to their site for the 71 page pdf file, and settle in for some serious reading.

Slave 0.1

Thursday, March 15th, 2001

SWRPGNetwork has posted the stats for the Firespray-class Patrol Craft. Doesn’t ring a bell? It’s the basic ship type that Boba Fett made heavy modifications to as he built Slave I. The stats are available for both versions of the Star Wars RPG, West End’s D6 and Wizards’ D20.

Chatting With Your Mummy
On March 21 at 7pm Eastern, White Wolf will be hosting a chat with Mummy developer Andrew Bates. Be sure to join in and ask him all about this Year of the Scarab stuff that’s been going on. I mean, were-crocodiles?! Honestly! We’ll keep you posted when the chat details are announced.

Live Nude Poll Action

Thursday, March 15th, 2001

Hey, look at us, we have a poll! So does everyone, but keep in mind that “everyone” has a paid staff. So there. Like what you see? Have comments? Suggestions? Mail Sven, of course.