Archive for September, 2001

Vortex Playtest Report

Saturday, September 29th, 2001

Well, I finally got to play the damned thing, after failing to pick up a demo pack at Origins for some reason and failing to tell Allan to get one at Gen Con. The demo is a fairly limited and controlled play environment… which may be why I enjoyed playing it more than I enjoyed Sack Armies. See, all the creatures (sorry, that’s minions – Vortex is extremely Magic-like) have relatively limited movement and range in the Vortex demo, as opposed to our full playtest set of Sack Armies, in which guys could swoop in on you from anywhere, making the positional side of the game feel less consequential. Whether the full Vortex set will end up having this same range problem remains to be seen. But I definitely like that combat resolution in Vortex has no luck in it, that the order of play feels more graspable, and the game goal is a little more elegant and cutthroat.

I played two games, with the same player playing the same deck each game, but switching off taking the first turn. The person who went first won each time, but we agreed that this had more to do with when we drew which tiles, than with tempo. So yeah, you can get tile-screwed, like in Magic, and there’s things that kinda work like land does in Magic, but the land is intimately tied into the positional game, so you can just send people over to attack it… I could go on, but I’ll just say I’m very optimistic about this game and look forward to the full set.

Citizen Games Announces Dungeoneer

Friday, September 28th, 2001

It comes out in March, it’s a “customizable board game” built on a grid of cards, with no collectible elements. The press release describes it thus: “you play the part of a Hero adventuring through a dangerous labyrinth of Monsters, Magic and Treasure. It is fast, portable, and easy to learn!” And here are some pictures and details. (That’s an unusually zaftig elf chick there; right on. Give her a higher Brawn stat.) The designers are Tom Denmark and Morgan Gray. This sounds sort of interesting but isn’t coming out for a while… the “portable” part is making me think of those plastic-cased card decks Allan found at the bed-and-bath store. I remember back when Brawl was new, I was wishing for something like a clip-on belt holster for a deck, to enhance the feeling that two people who spotted each other wearing one could just “whip it out” and play a game wherever and whenever. Having to plan a “game night” all the time and coordinate everyone’s schedules is beginning to irritate me. Anyway.

Battle Cattle Card Game Sneak Peek
You might have seen a couple of Battle Cattle preview cards if you picked up the Car Wars card game reissue, but Wingnut has put up more card images, so you can see for yourself just how bad this is going to get. Yes, once again: the two games are compatible. Excelsior!

Buy, Buy, and Then Buy, Followed By A 20-Minute Cool-down Period Consisting of Buying

Friday, September 28th, 2001

The Game Industry Disaster Fund Auction starts in a couple of hours. You know that auctions and sweat-inducing compulsive shopping go hand-in-hand, so get on over there. It’s for the best cause we’ve got right now.

Gold Rush Tries Bundling

Friday, September 28th, 2001

If you’ve been holding off on getting into Gold Rush GamesSengoku or Usagi Yojimbo role-playing games, now may be the time to catch up. In an effort to reduce prices, the company is offering bundled packages containing core rulebooks, supplements and CD-ROMs for both games. More information can be found at the company’s online store.

Eden Studios to do Double Duty in October
October is an important month for Eden Studios when you consider the creepy content of their games. As a result, they’re planning to release two significant products before Halloween: the Power and Privilege supplement for WitchCraft and the The Book of All Flesh horror anthology inspired by All Flesh Must be Eaten. All in all, it should be a good month for horror gamers….

More Fun With D20 CD-ROMs

Thursday, September 27th, 2001

Two new D20 modules, Tapestry Saga – Web of the Widow (based in Columbia Games‘ world of Hârn) and Dark Awakenings: Guardian, feature CD-ROM material by the folks at Auran. The Hârn one seems to be CD-ROM only, but Auran’s own adventure is a 60-page book with full-color inserts and handouts, plus a CD. Both CDs feature full-3D virtual environments of settings from the module, as well as ambient sounds, for use during the game. Printable PDF material and non-adventure background is all there as well. Web of the Widow is the equivalent of a 120-page book, so as long as people know that, they might be willing to swallow its higher-than-average price ($20). It’s available now from Columbia’s site. The thinner Dark Awakenings might be tougher for people to swallow at $25, but at least it does have a paper book. And that trailer sure does look nice. Now, if you could get lead minis into those 3D tableaus, then you’d be rolling…

Ahoy! Prestige Class Off The Port Bow!

Thursday, September 27th, 2001

Synister Creative Systems has been kind enough to give us a look at the current draft of the Buccaneer prestige class from their D20 RPG Skull & Bones. From everything we’ve seen thus far, this may be the pirate-themed product to watch for. Polly want a character sheet?

Mage Knight Schedule Adjusted

Wednesday, September 26th, 2001

WizKids has announced some changes to the Mage Knight release schedule. Why the changes? “This small adjustment to our release schedule will put us right in line with the feedback we have received from retailers and consumers,” says Martin Stever, Executive VP of Sales and Marketing. “Because of some design and production delays, we were going to have too many large items shipping too closely together in November. Retailers and players we talked to told us this was a problem, so we are responding with this schedule change.” Taking it easy on gamers’ wallets during the holiday rush. How refreshing! The only early release is the new expansion for Mage Knight, Whirlwind, which has been moved up a week. The revised release schedule through the end of this year is as follows:

  • Atlantis Chariot – September 28
  • Lancers Metal Set 7 – October 5
  • Whirlwind – October 26
  • Metal Lancers Metal Set 8 – November 2
  • Black Powder Rebel Tank – November 23
  • Atlantis Guild Tank – December 14

In addition to the adjusted dates above, the Knights Immortal Chariot originally intended to release in November will be postponed until February, and the Radiant Light Dragon will wait until Spring 2002.

The Cheap Get Cheaper
Continuing the theme of going easy on gamers’ wallets, Cheapass Games has announced an even cheaper line of games called Hip Pocket Games. The new game line will have an average price of $4 per game, and be available directly from the Cheapass website. The first Hip Pocket Game will be Nexus, a strategy boardgame for 2-4 players designed by James Ernest, which will be available in early October.

I was just thinking about this sort of thing after going to Bed, Baths & Beyond and seeing slim playing card decks inside streamlined plastic cases to protect the deck while you carry it around. Why BB&B had them, I’m not sure, and I refuse to speculate further. :-)

God In The Machine At Green Ronin

Tuesday, September 25th, 2001

The latest Focus on Freeport is up at Green Ronin, bringing us a free adventure by Jeff Quick. Deus Ex Machina, part one (of three) is for four characters, levels 5 – 6.

Girl Genius #1 Online
The fine folks of Studio Foglio, in no small part responsible for much of the game-related artwork I’ve grown so fond of, have posted the first issue of their new comic online. Girl Genius #1 has proven so popular, it sold out long before the Foglio’s expected. So go read the first issue if you missed it, then help make issue #2 sell out as well.

October’s Horrors Brewing at SJ Games
According to the latest news from Steve Jackson Games, the GURPS Monsters supplement is almost ready to print. As we wait, SJ Games has posted a full color version of what appears to be the Headless Horseman, or some variation thereof, from the book (which will ultimately be black & white). The 128 page book will retail for $22.95, and is due to arrive in October. Of course, if that isn’t horrifying enough, you could also try GURPS Deadlands, or for the truly brave gamer, Pokethulhu miniatures. **shudder**

New Additions To The Cave

Monday, September 24th, 2001

That’s right, we’re digging out new caverns of OgreCave for you to explore, so get your gear and start spelunking! First up, we have a new interview with James Wallis, founder of Hogshead Publishing and a trailblazer in the role-playing industry. Come hear from the horse’s (hog’s?) mouth why he never would’ve taken the job to write D&D 3, hear about a game more dangerous than Violence, and everything else Hogshead’s up to.

We’ve also got a new RPG review from Mike on The Landing, the latest for Teenagers from Outer Space from A2 Press. Finally, the Teens in your campaign can go where they were born to go — the mall.

The Mists Are Seeping In…

Sunday, September 23rd, 2001

Sword & Sorcery Studios has delayed the release of Ravenloft D20 until October 29 (though the limited edition is still set for October 15). In the meantime, the dreadful influence of the Mists can be felt in three preview pieces on the S & S website: the Introduction, Barovia, and Vampires. Soon the Harvest Moon will be upon us, heralding Ravenloft’s return. Then no one will be safe. Or something like that.

New Newsletter News from Rio Grande Games

Saturday, September 22nd, 2001

Rio Grande Games has just released another newsletter. It marks the release of Shark and Lord of the Rings: The Search (featuring a glimpse of components from the latter title), and it also announces another forthcoming release on the Fall schedule: Mexica, an Aztec-themed follow-up to the popular Tikal and Java German board games.

More Legends & Lairs From FFG

Friday, September 21st, 2001

Fantasy Flight has announced another book in their popular D20 line, Legends & Lairs. The latest addition to the product line is Spells and Spellcraft, a hardcover supplement focusing on… uh, spells and such. Actually, the book will get into some useful areas:

This 176-page hardcover book will offer scores of new arcane and divine spells, new metamagic feats, new clerical domains, rules for alchemical research and arcane libraries, and rules for new magical traditions.

The supplement should be arriving in stores by January 2002.

More Chainmail Figures Previewed
Over at the WotC website, there’s another sneak peek at the upcoming Chainmail game. Take a look at six more figures, bringing the grand total in the previews to 30 (5 from each faction in the game). I got a look at a few of these upclose at GenCon. Damn, I wish I could paint minis.

Mystic Races Headed For Stores

Thursday, September 20th, 2001

Fantasy Flight Games has announced that their Mythic Races hardcover supplement for D20 is back from the printer and available to order. A preview of one of the book’s races, the Pevishan, is on the website.

Bilbo’s Party, Saturday at Decipher. BYOR (Bring Your One Ring)
Decipher is hosting an online party of sorts, using the excuse of Bilbo Baggins’ “eleventy-first” birthday. All day this Saturday (the 22nd) Decipher staff will be on hand to answer any questions about the Lord of the Rings CCG and/or RPG. There will also be LotR trivia questions for prizes. Go check the birthday invite for the schedule and other info.

Nothing Says “Love” Like Eternal Horror
Just prior to announcing that GURPS WWII is in playtest (and will ship in November), Steve Jackson Games announced plans for a far more disturbing product: Cthulhu Valentines. Yep, give them to that special someone, the oh-so-rare individual who will understand you’re a gamer, and they should love you anyway.

Forgotten Realms Headed For TV

Tuesday, September 18th, 2001

Canadian production company Fireworks, producers of the film Rat Race as well as some syndicated sci-fi shows and an upcoming “prestige TV” movie based on the classic children’s book A Wrinkle in Time, have just licensed Forgotten Realms from Hasbro and plan to produce a live-action television series based on the setting and characters. The press release, which I can’t find a link for, doesn’t have anything specific on when it’ll go into production or on the air. Please send your opinions on casting decisions for the part of Elminster to… someone other than us.

Z-G Succumbs To Obvious, Puts Robot Parts In Tiny Cardboard Boxes
While I was looking for a link for the FR press release above, I found a different one saying the folks at Atomoton plan to have Z-G “Booster Boxes” on the market by year’s end. They’ll have an actual plastic robot part in them, to place onto your Z-G figure, and a matching card to put into your Z-G deck, plus a couple other cards. Sideskirts, bayonets and Mandible Headgear! To help reduce (or possibly add to, I don’t know) the confusion, they’ll also be publishing a $15 strategy guide. I have yet to actually play Z-G, but I greatly admire its out-of-control weirdness and hope to check it out soon, while I can still at least claim to have all the parts…

Hasbro Lends a Hand

Tuesday, September 18th, 2001

The gaming community has been coming together to assist relief efforts after last Tuesday’s attack. Here’s just a few of the contributions being made:

Hasbro has just announced their plan to help relief efforts in New York. According to this morning’s press release, “The Hasbro Children’s Foundation, a philanthropic arm of Hasbro, Inc. … is establishing a September 11th Children’s Fund with an initial gift of $250,000.” As its name implies, the Fund will be specifically for children affected by the terrorist attack tragedies. To make a donation to the September 11th Children’s Fund, make checks payable to Community Funds Inc./SEPTEMBER 11th CHILDREN’S FUND. Checks should be sent to New York Community Trust, Two Park Avenue, New York, New York 10016.

Malhavoc Lends Its Might To Relief Efforts
Monte Cook has announced that Malhavoc Press will donate all proceeds from The Book of Eldritch Might through the end of September to relief efforts. Think of it as getting a free game product for your charitable donation.

Game Industry Disaster Fund Auction
Gary Thompson of the Fiction & Fantasy Network is putting together a Gaming Industry Disaster Fund Auction to help. A large portion of the gaming industry is contributing items to the auction, which is set to start this Thursday. Go to the auction site to see how things are coming together, and to find out if you can help.

Roleplaying Tips Weekly # 90

Tuesday, September 18th, 2001

Johnn Four brings us an extra long issue of Roleplaying Tips this week to show that terror will not prevail. This week’s issue focuses on cities.

Darklances Sighted on Dragonlance Nexus
Over at the Dragonlance Nexus, the first tidbits from the site’s upcoming campaign setting, War of the Dark Lance, have been posted. In particular, check out the Third Edition concept stats for Dragonlances and their corrupted counterparts, the Darklances.

Invisible City Initiates Schlock Attack

Tuesday, September 18th, 2001

Invisible City is at it again with a new free game: Schlock Attack, a two-player checkers variant inspired by the online Schlock Mercenary comic strip by Howard Taylor. In the variant, each player chooses a different character from the comic strip, with the choice of character determining special abilities and victory conditions. The game is completely compatible with the earlier Sluggy Freelance checkers game, Kiki & Bun-Bun.

Vortex About to Ship, Premiere Party Benefits Red Cross

Saturday, September 15th, 2001

You know, Vortex, that semi-collectible hex-tile game by the DiskWars guys? The one that we didn’t review but that I post about a lot and still haven’t gotten to bloody well play? It’s back from the printers and due to ship out at month’s end, according to the Fantasy Flight web site. Last night’s premiere party at Source Comics and Games in Falcon Heights, Minnesota(!) donated all its proceeds to the Red Cross, in the wake of the tragedy on Tuesday. (Don’t forget that PayPal Red Cross donation page. Please give if you haven’t.)

Malhavoc Press Keepin’ Busy

Saturday, September 15th, 2001

Malhavoc Press has posted a new cover image for The Book of Eldritch Might. Looks pretty nice, too. Meanwhile, company founder Monte Cook says he’s “in comic geek heaven” due to the two Mage Knight games he’s designing, one on DC Comics and one on Marvel. It’ll be interesting to see how the pair of CMGs based on comic book characters are received. Most gamers I know gave up comics for one reason or another, but still have some residual interest in the classic characters. The potential is there for the two games to be huge hits. Guess we’ll find out next year.

Star Legion CD-ROM Announced

Saturday, September 15th, 2001

Deep7 has just announced the release of their second enhanced 1PG, the Star Legion CD-ROM. As with the previous Shriek CD-ROM, the disc will contain an improved version of the text of the original downloadable game combined with new scenarios, a full musical soundtrack and a comic book. At $6.95, it should prove to be a good value for the money.

Preview Article For Lord of the Rings

Thursday, September 13th, 2001

Decipher has posted an article on The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game, due to come out in February 2002. The rulebook will be 288 full-color pages, and make use of the CODA system, the rules designed for Decipher’s upcoming Star Trek RPG. Check out the full preview article here.

Cheapass Tech
Two new games just became available at Cheapass Games: U.S. Patent #1, which was available at GenCon, and Plasmaworm. We’ve mentioned the time-traveling race that is Patent #1 before, but not this worm game. Apparently, Plasmaworm is Cheapass’ first arcade game. Yep, for a computer. Described as “the old favorite snake game with incredible graphics and a couple new twists,” the game is for one or two players, has 20 increasingly tough levels, and lets you make your own levels as well. Mac users are out of luck, but those with a PC can get the demo.

Expect Snow. A Lot Of It.
Avalanche Press has added three more D20 sourcebooks to their release schedule: Twilight of Atlantis, Vlad the Impaler: Blood Prince of Wallachia and Doom of Odin. The title of that last one confused me, seeing as how Avalanche is currently releasing Ragnarok: Tales of the Norse Gods (I mean, isn’t Ragnarok typically the end of those gods? I’ll have to look into this). Beyond those, AP is working on Face of the Divine, a book of religions from the real world for D&D 3. All of that is in addition to the latest Avalanche book to feature a piece of “hot chick” artwork on the cover, Jade & Steel: Role-Playing in Mythic Imperial China, which should be out this month. It seems the D20 System’s trip to the Orient has begun, so you’d better stand back as the floodgates open. I’m glad to see someone taking on China in D20, as Japan tends to get the majority of attention.

A Superheroes Game I’d Actually Play

Thursday, September 13th, 2001

The section of Pagan Publishing’s site devoted to their upcoming WWII superhero RPG, Godlike, has been expanded dramatically. In addition to a variety of cool “propaganda” of the era, there’s some details about the game’s dice pool rules. Go take a look at the past as it might have been.

Card Game Quickies

Wednesday, September 12th, 2001

First, for those of you who never touch the scroll bar, we’ve got a PayPal donation box set up down there. Go stare at it. Second, speaking of PayPal, they’ve set up a really easy way to give money to the Red Cross. But, if it’s a choice between those two, ours is obviously more important.

I just picked up Car Wars: the Card Game, the reprint of the old favorite. I can’t tell if the card graphics have changed at all since the original, but I’d be willing to bet they have. This one’s full color – the old one wasn’t, right? But it all looks pleasantly ’80s-retro. The two included Battle Cattle cards have the exact same look, which is damned hilarious. Also, I should note that I’ve now played the new “third perdition” of HellRail, and it kicks so much ass it could be a schoolteacher during an earthquake drill. (You know, with all those little kids ducking and covering…) I’d say HellRail has a perfect balance of luck and control, diplomacy and strategy. And it’s funny. Buy it already!

Currently on deck here at the Cave is a short review of Weep, a collection of scenarios for Unknown Armies. Also, I’ve been sitting on a half-finished review of the Teenagers from Outer Space supplement The Landing for too long. So, be looking for those. And it dawned on us recently that we’ve never actually reviewed anything D20. Anyone wanna recommend a good candidate?

Carve Some Runes on That D20

Tuesday, September 11th, 2001

In light of the tragic events that took place on the east coast today, I’ll do my best to overcome the shock of it all and distract you with game news. Okay, now turn away from the TV news. Look at the monkey! Look at the silly monkey!

Our friends at Atlas Games inform us that Chris Aylott, author of the Rune RPG expansion encounter Crouching Wizard, Smashing Hammer, has drawn up some conversion notes for transferring the adventure to the D20 System. The converted adventure is for characters of 1-3, and still features all the viking goodness you’ve come to expect from Rune.

And It Won An Oscar, So It Must Be Fun
The latest announcement from Mongoose Publishing brings news of the company’s November release, Gladiator – Sands of Death. A complete D20 sourcebook for arena combat and the culture around it, the 80 page book brings lethal rules into play. In particular, watch for the Death Move feat, chariot rules, and a complete D20 game where players groom their slaves for glory or death. Methinks Ridley Scott would approve.

Plunge Into The Abyss
Green Ronin will continue to channel otherworldly energies with Armies of the Abyss, the second volume in their Book of Fiends series. More than 50 nasty demons will parade through the supplement’s pages, complimenting the demons Green Ronin has already loosed upon the gaming world. Retailing at $14.95, and with cover art by Brom, Armies is targeted for a January release.

Xro Dinn Coming From Ionian Games
Ionian Games Studio announced their sci-fi RPG, The Xro Dinn Chronicles, will reach stores in November. This will mark the first time Xro Dinn has been available through retail stores, previously only available by direct order or at conventions. The game “takes place 50,000 years after a great war that all but annihilated the sentient beings in the galaxy. It revolves around one of the surviving races which watches over and chronicles the events of the new races coming to power.”

OgreCave’s GenCon and Pennsic Features

Monday, September 10th, 2001

Okay, you’ve waited long enough, so we’ve finally compiled the news posts from GenCon into one big review. We’ve also added our photo galleries, with more than fifty images to peruse. Sound good? Then go relive the granddaddy of game conventions in our GenCon 2001 feature.

And as an added surprise, our intrepid SCA correspondent Owen Fletchyr (Colin Adams) has put together a quick review of this year’s Pennsic gathering. Pennsic is to the SCA what GenCon is to gaming, so get off your butt and look at the Pennsic 2001 feature.

Vigilante Not a Game
A few readers have emailed us with the warning that SJ Games’ Vigilante is not a game. Call it social commentary, call it art, but don’t call it a game. Apparently, among the many warnings on the cover is one most of us missed: “It says it is a game. It is NOT a game. It lies.” Still potentially entertaining, but not playable. (Thanks go to Jayson, the first to let us know.)