Archive for August, 2001

Stuper Quickstart

Thursday, August 16th, 2001

Wingnut Games has posted the Quickstart rules to StuperPowers Deluxe. The humorous RPG of superheroes with silly or useless powers will be arriving in October, and weigh in at 112 pages.

Pro-Am Adventures Surface
The first round of results from Citizen Games’ D20 adventure writing contest has been posted on the company’s site for downloading. Check out how the pros and amateurs worked together, and try their adventures out for yourself.

New Look for Cheapass Website

Thursday, August 16th, 2001

If you haven’t been by the in a while, go take a look at the site and see what you think. Personally, as much as I like the company’s products, I can’t say anything good about the main page. It’s entirely unintuitive, serving only to drastically slow you down as you find your way around the site. The rest of the site is fine and useful, but the main page has got to go. However, your mileage may vary.

Download Nastiness

Monday, August 13th, 2001

Viking Games has posted an 11-page preview of their D20 book, Monster Menagerie.Check out the stats and descriptions for several beasts, including the Banshee, and the Mantoid, which sounds suspiciously similar to a Tri-Kreen from Dark Sun.

Master Tools Gets New Master

Monday, August 13th, 2001

Due to a number of developments, not the least of which being Hasbro lobotomizing the electronics division of Wizards of the Coast and feeding the properties to Infogrames, the Master Tools D&D 3 software has been delayed until the first quarter of 2002. Considering how far the product vision had strayed, it’s probably a good thing. How far afield did Master Tools range, you ask? Well, the mapping utility was useless for tabletop gaming, serving more as a primer for a non-existant online game.

Ryan Dancey, the man behind the D20 and Open Gaming Licences, is now the man in charge of getting Master Tools back on course. And he’s not gonna take any crap, either, as you can tell from a glance at the WotC message boards:

For better or worse, you’re stuck with me, and I’m an old-fashioned roll-the-dice kind of guy who would rather eat pizza and make Monty Python jokes with my wife and friends than sit all alone in a dark room and click a mouse to kill an endless stream of binary monsters.

Here, here! I suspect Master Tools’ powerdive toward oblivion is about turn into a climb back to the gaming stratosphere.

You’ve Loved The Carrot – Now, Meet The Stick

Saturday, August 11th, 2001

This ICv2 report has a (precious) few more details about the WotC d20 crackdown we reported on early in the week. They say: “Is this a laudable attempt to standardize procedures and enforce a necessary discipline on sloppy publishers, or is it the stunned reaction of an organization that has created a runaway train?” I say it’s nothing so glamorous in either direction – WotC is simply acting with the automaticity of a corporation bound by rules.

What they’re trying to do is avoid the Yo-Yo effect – that is, the means by which a company loses control of a brand by failing to protect it. The word “Yo-Yo” wasn’t always a generic term for that toy that comes on a string; it was once a corporate brand name. Long ago in the hazy mists of the 50’s, courts ruled that, when the Duncan toy company failed to assert its dominance adequately over the term “yo-yo,” they forfeited their copyright on the term. (They got the domain, though.) This is why a number of entertainment companies have sent cease-and-desist letters to Internet fan sites and such – whether or not they recognise the value of fans who do their promotional work for them, they leave themselves open to a legal attack on their copyright unless they guard against every little offense. The OGL is WotC’s attempt to let third parties publish D&D material without running afoul of this trick in copyright law, so it’s no surprise that they’re staying on their toes when it comes to enforcement of the license.

The d20 System Trademark License, on the other hand, is a diabolically shrewd play that keeps other publishers from being able to benefit too much from the OGL’s largesse. Under the OGL, you can use all of D&D3’s rules, but to use that precious d20 logo – and to otherwise take the all-important step of telling people you’re D&D-compatible – you’ve got to leave certain things out. When I first wrote my analysis of the OGL and d20 for, I noted this little piece of brand warfare somewhere amid my general fog of confusion. What we’ve seen since reveals a possible counter-strategy: companies like Atlas Games and Sword and Sorcery/White Wolf have established their own, easily recognizable brands (Penumbra and Scarred Lands, respectively). There may come a point at which those brands will be as strong as the d20 logo, making it possible to produce, say, a Scarred Lands core rulebook, with all those nice OGLed rules and no d20 restrictions. Whether a smaller company would risk WotC’s wrath like that, I don’t know. Maybe we’ll find out someday.

Desperado Preview

Saturday, August 11th, 2001

Citizen Games has a preview up of the Desperado RPG, which uses the D20 System. This looks like a pure western game, with none of that horror or fantasy stuff. Still, I’ll be interested to compare this to Pinnacle’s Deadlands D20.

Green Ronin Gets Arcane

Friday, August 10th, 2001

In October, Green Ronin will present Arcana: Societies of Magic, a D20 sourcebook on mystic organizations, secret or otherwise. Written by Kevin Brennan and James Maliszewski, this promises to be a good one. Here’s the details:

Arcana: Societies of Magic details six different organizations that employ unique styles of magic to achieve their ends. The description of each society includes information of the group’s history, goals, hierarchy, and leaders, as well as a map of its headquarters. New skills, feats, spells and prestige classes make it a complete package.

The supplement will sell for $14.95.

Gaming Outpost Joins Fiction Fantasy Network
The Fiction Fantasy Network announced today that the game news site Gaming Outpost will join its ranks. As GO recently changed to a subscription based service for articles and some other features, it will be interesting to see how this development affects the site.

Episode II Named

Friday, August 10th, 2001

The official Star Wars website has announced some preliminary details about Episode II. Specifically, the name of the movie has been announced as Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

Uhh… oh-kay. Certainly inspires confidence, don’t it? :-/

Friends and Foes Takes Flight Soon

Thursday, August 9th, 2001

I checked with Fantasy Flight at GenCon about their expansion to the Lord of the Rings boardgame (formerly a WotC game). There was a single, unopened copy of the expansion, Friends and Foes,at a booth dedicated to nothing but the boardgame. From looking at the back, the game will have added feature cards and a single, double-sided board (Bree and Isengard are the two locations on the board). Also, enemy cards will be introduced, which I couldn’t determine much about. In fact, according to the guys at the booth, there’s a chance the expansion will be out a bit early, arriving in stores late September rather than October. The next expansion is targeted for a Fall 2002 release, with the ominous title of Sauron.

I spent Friday night at GenCon teaching the guys from Realm of Imagination to play LotR. Todd’s efforts as Frodo made this cooperative game more cutthroat and competitive than I thought possible. And they still came close to destroying the One Ring. “Frodo, get away from the tiki statue. Dammit, Frodo, stop trying to get Pippin killed!”

Warhamster Rally On The Way
Jim Dietz of Jolly Roger Games found himself telling a lot of GenCon goers that Orcs at the Gates, last year’s Origins Award winning Sci-Fi or Fantasy Boardgame, was out of print. “But don’t worry,” he said, “We’ll be putting out Warhamster Rally soon, and in my opinion, it’s twice the game Orcs was.” Big talk, but if it’s based on the work of John Kovalic (and it is), I’ll be checking it out for sure.

Cards Springing Up Like Weeds

Thursday, August 9th, 2001

New card games were everywhere at GenCon this year. Let me see what I can remember…

  • The Ebay card game from Journeyman Press looked promising, though uncomplicated.
  • WotC’s Harry Potter CCG had major displays inside the castle, and seemed well designed from a cursory glance at the game. However, $3.29 for an 11-card booster was a bit steep.
  • Decipher’s upcoming Lord of the Rings CCG was shown to a select few. I wasn’t one of them, so I had to settle for the movie trailers and booth babes. Wheee.
  • Third World Games had a large booth to display and demo Firestorm, a sci-fi CCG with four different factions to play. A few packages sold at GenCon had damaged cards in them, and Third World has already instituted a replacement program to keep their customers happy.
  • Jolly Roger Games was selling Dia de los Muertos, a trick-taking game with a lot of skeleton artwork.
  • Our buddies at Looney Labs were giving away promo Fluxx cards that added a new goal to the game: time travel (in reference to Chrononauts,of course).
  • The Dragonball Z CCG had a Humm-Vee with their logos all over it, which was amusing to watch as it drove out of the hall at convention’s end (I’m reminded of a quote from The Tick:“Hey cool — they’ve got a blimp!”). A couple of the cartoon’s voice actors were in attendance.
  • A game called Geeks: The Convention had a huge booth with piles and piles of their single game, about… uh… geeks at a convention.
  • R3 Games was showing off their CTG (Collectable Token Game 🙂 Obsidian Lords,which has a cool name but is rather light on artwork.

Spit, Bailing Wire and Infernal Locomotives

Thursday, August 9th, 2001

Galloglass Games has made two recent announcements. First of all, their twisted rail game HellRail has returned to print courtesy of Mayfair Games and is now available for sale. Secondly, a new mailing list aimed at discussing the issues involved in publishing cheap card and board games has just been formed. Check out Spit and Bailing Wire at Yahoo! Groups.

Rio Grande Catches Up
After a long silence on their web site, Rio Grande Games has suddenly caught up with things, posting three newsletters in one go! Check out the latest of these newsletters for more information on the new Lord of the Rings game along with Dvonn (an abstract strategy stacking game that’s part of the GIPF series), Shark (a stock market game) and Where’s Bob’s Hat? (a trick-taking card game which would look nice on your shelf next to Eight Foot Llama‘s Who Stole Ed’s Pants?).

Going Native

Wednesday, August 8th, 2001

One of the more entertaining single-space booths was the tribal tent of Outside the Asylum Productions, who were at GenCon promoting their boardgame, Nomad. In the game, which is packaged in a strange tent-like box, are several cloth gameboards and a number of game pieces. Each player uses a small circular cloth for his tribe board, and places it near the larger central map cloth. This central map is a beautiful full-color cloth map the tribes roam around on, going where the resources take them. The game concept, the game components, and the game packaging all intrigued me, and I might have bought one if it weren’t for the game price — $49.95. [As I reported at Origins – hah! -misuba]

Grab Their Sack. They Like It
Tyranny Games’ Sack Armies was doing quite well at GenCon, as the booth ran out of one type of starter partway through the con (the ones with green sacks). Demos were also going strong, catching interested gamers and increasing the number of SA Generals out there. Much to my surprise, a copy of my recent review was displayed at the booth as well, and I saw folks flipping through it on a few occasions. Though Precedence’s booth also had a Sack Armies display, their main attention seemed focused on their RiftsCCG, and on selling what they had left of Babylon 5. Though Precedence lost the B5 licence, there are rumors that Warner Brothers might let them have the licence back in a few months after unsuccessfully shopping around. Either way, as a fan of B5, I’m grabbing what I can now.

Oh, and I met a D20 publisher that traded some of his stock for a copy of D&D 3’s Manual of the Planes. I didn’t see the book for myself, so I can’t tell you anything about it, but at least one copy is floating around out there already. It will be interesting to see Jeff Grubb returning to his old haunts.

GOO's Tekumel Tested

Wednesday, August 8th, 2001

One of my roommates ran a scheduled playtest game of the new Tekumel RPG being developed by . The new game uses the Tri-Stat system, used throughout most of the GOO product line. Though I didn’t have a chance to join in, my roommate said the players thought the combat was fast, while as GM, he thought it was slow. Nothing conclusive there, I guess. I’ve already resolved to check it out for myself when it comes out in a couple months.

Apparently, yesterday’s posts didn’t show

Wednesday, August 8th, 2001

Apparently, yesterday’s posts didn’t show up. They should now be displaying just fine, so check out my preliminary report on GenCon 2001. I’ll be adding more later today.

Sovereign Stone D20

Tuesday, August 7th, 2001

Over at booth #347, Sovereign Press had the entire line of last year’s Sovereign Stone RPG, now converted to the D20 System. There always seemed to be activity there, partly because Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman were at the booth, signing everything from Dragonlance to their Sovereign Stone novel. Don Perrin was also hanging out, and he showed me the three new Sovereign Stone miniatures, sculpted by famed artist Julie Guthrie, that were now available from Don’s other company, Perrin Miniatures. A handout on the Codex Mysteriumwas available for perusal, so I read about the massive spell listing (over 200), prestige classes, magic items, and some guilds/special oranizations. The Codex should be available in October, followed in November by an adventure called Escape into Darkness.

Restless Dead and Nazis at the Pagan Booth
Across the way from Sovereign Press, Pagan Publishing was showing off the cover to an expansion for The Hills Rise Wild! called The Reanimated. Yes, undead are involved (how’d you guess?), brought to life by a mad scientist. This new set will bring nine graveyard boards to the game, which the lab assistant must scavenge for bodies to animate — including those of fallen enemies. According to one of Pagan’s staff, “The zombies tend to either get wiped out or overwhelm everything,” which is as it should be with a zombie outbreak.

Godlike, expected to be at GenCon, will be heading to press in a week or two. The superhero RPG is set during World War II, and will include complete D20 conversion rules. With Dennis Detwiller and Greg Stolze (of Delta Green and Unknown Armies,respectively) involved, this is one of the few superhero games I plan to check out. Other than Godlike not making it to the show, Pagan seemed to be doing very well this year. If only the guys at Wizard’s Attic had known about Pagan’s secret stash of plaid and patterned Cthulhu dolls, more cultists could’ve adopted an evil friend. My two year old calls ours “Tulu.” Hey, the kid’s gotta learn to respect her elder gods.