Archive for December, 2001

So We Missed This News. It Was Christmas. Bite Me

Sunday, December 30th, 2001

I always forget to check ICv2 and then find great news there two weeks later, so it’s no surprise that I missed it on Christmas Day. But that was when WizKids announced they’re spinning off Ral Partha. Effective on Tuesday (that’s the first of the new year, if you’re… dumb), RP will operate independently from its new location in Ohio. No word on whether it will continue to produce Mage Knight Metal, although there’s every reason to expect they will. The only odd thing is the fact that they recently sold off some figure rights to a now-competitor. Oops?

He Only Read It For The Articles, Honest

Sunday, December 30th, 2001

Apparently, there are some words in The Slayer’s Guide to Amazons too, and if you’d rather someone else read them for you, we’ve got you covered. Hence, Matthew Pook hits you with a review. You’re welcome.

WH40K CCG FAQ – Well, Actually Just Rules, But How Could I Not Type That
A reasonably complete sketch of the rules to the Warhammer 40K card game are online at Sabertooth Games. I still haven’t gotten to play with my deck, but it looks like an interesting game with some bluff to it. Although it’s played across five distinct territories, it doesn’t really look like a positional game. There are some pretty deeply positional CCGs, though, which I’m currently looking into to inform my Vortex review, which I will finish in a week or two, thank you. Anyway. There is also a WH40K CCG FAQ, sort of, which actually looks helpful.

Decipher To Lose Star Wars Licence

Friday, December 28th, 2001

While the RPG department at Decipher gains momentum by the day, it looks like their CCG department is having its legs cut out from beneath it. On the company’s website today, Decipher CEO Warren Holland provided extensive quotes from a July 2000 presentation made to Lucasfilm executives. The quotes were “provided simply as an indication of what Decipher wanted to do for our customers in the areas of Marketing and Public Relations, Digital Cards, Star Wars CCG 2nd Edition and more.” The final few sentences of the presentation quotes are particularly interesting:

Lucasfilm can achieve all its goals for this category and more by embracing Decipher as a partner and not abandoning two of the strongest brands and game engines in the CCG industry. Imagine for a moment that our competitor chose a strategy of abandoning Magic: The Gathering… It’s silly brand management. Yet Wizards is asking Lucasfilm to do just that with Star Wars CCG and Young Jedi.

Our customers feel ‘ownership’ of these games… In fact, our customers have nearly a quarter of a billion dollars invested in our Star Wars CCGs. How can you abandon that?

[Lucasfilm did not grant the license extension to Decipher.]

Sounds like we’re just now hearing that license negotiations back in July of ’00 didn’t go so well for Decipher, and WotC may be to blame. To repeat, Lucasfilm has decided not to renew Decipher’s CCG license past the end of this year and Decipher’s current manufacturing and sell-off period is through April 30, 2002

Mongoose Goes On Crusade
Mongoose Publishing just won’t rest. As if they weren’t releasing enough major projects next year, Crusades of Valour: When Gods Collide has just been announced. The 128-page sourcebook will be written by Paul Cockburn and have cover art by Chris Quilliams. According to a post on the mailing list, the book “will introduce religious crusades into any campaign world. Huge, kingdom-sweeping wars erupt as religions clash, knightly orders engage in deadly combat and even the gods themselves may walk the world in order to galvanise their followers into final victory.” Several new knightly orders are promised to be in the book, which is scheduled for a March 2002 release.

Dancing and Darkspyre

Friday, December 28th, 2001

Matthew has given us two more d20 reviews to round out the year with. The first is The Last Dance, a ghostly mystery of an adventure from Atlas Games. Our second review is of Assault on Darkspyre from Hammerdog Games, wherein the players help bring down an archmage’s fortress because his neighbors don’t like magic. Can’t we all just get along?

Once Bitten, Twice Eden
Got two Eden Studios tidbits for ya. First, the official website for Eden’s upcoming Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG is up, but there isn’t much there yet. Second, a single errata correction for the KoDT: HACK! Card Game has been posted here. You may now resume playing.

Speaking of Errata…
Wizards of the Coast has posted the updated errata from the Fighters and Monks book, Sword & Fist. I suspect it’s a bit more than replacing accidental usage of “feet” with “feat,” but I haven’t read through the corrections yet. :-)

Time Machine Returns

Friday, December 28th, 2001

I just learned on the gamebook mailing list that the wonderful Time Machine series of interactive books has been re-released in eBook format. Although aimed at children, these are among the most effectively-written and interesting of the many “Choose Your Own Adventure”-type books released in the eighties. At $3.99 each, the new electronic editions cost twice as much as the original paperbacks did, but it’s still a pretty good deal if you want to relive your childhood adventures or learn about history in a game-like manner. The series can be purchased at and several other sellers of eBooks.

More Godlike Personalities

Thursday, December 27th, 2001

The official Godlike RPG website has another teaser for you: stats for The Shade, one of Churchill’s “special” bodyguards (who are referred to collectively as the “Ugly Mugs”). According to a post on the Godlike mailing list from co-designer Dennis Detwiller, “The Shade is a good example of a beginning level character built on 25 Will points.” Of course, if you’d rather check out those who side with the Third Reich, Der Flieger has been up for all to analyze for a while.

FFG Releases Stellar Matter, Dragonstar RPG

Thursday, December 27th, 2001

The latest releases from Fantasy Flight are enough to make nearly any gamer stop and stare for a moment. The first book for the Dragonstar d20 RPG, The Starfarer’s Handbook, is arriving in stores within the next day or so. This game is for those of us who don’t mind some genre-bending (“Hey, your dragons got in my Star Trek!” “Your Star Trek got in my dragons!” “Hmmm…”). It’s also for those of us whose elves have twitchy trigger fingers.

FFG is also releasing Stellar Matter supplement for Twilight Imperium: Armada. The disk-slinging starship combat game gains more than a hundred new pieces from the fixed-flat expansion, including terrain disks, civilian ships, scenarios, and six control panels. For just under $30, the supplement lends considerable support to fans of the game.

Spectre Kings Review
Joe Kushner brings us his look at Green Knight Publishing‘s adventure compilation, Tales of the Spectre Kings. This Pendragon supplement has my interest piqued. I may have to make some minor game stat adjustments and run a few selections from Spectre Kings in d20. There’s some great ideas to borrow from.

Gary Gygax To Pen Slayer’s Guide To Dragons

Thursday, December 27th, 2001

Mongoose Publishing has just announced that Gary Gygax himself will be writing The Slayer’s Guide to Dragons. Gygax, along with Jon Cretfield and two other developers, will create a 128-page monster of a book. According to Gygax, “We plan to bring you fresh perspectives on the ancient race of dragons, plus many brand new things to broaden and enhance your gaming. After all, dragons can only deserve the very best.” Artist Chris Quilliams, the guy responsible for the excellent anatomical illustrations the series has had thus far (as well as the infamous Amazons centerfold), will do both the cover and interior art for the book. The Slayer’s Guide to Dragons is scheduled for release in Summer 2002.

Buy It! It’s On Sale, That’s Why!

Thursday, December 27th, 2001

Well, actually, you should buy it because it’s been the most commonly-played game out of everything I’ve been bringing to game nights over the past three months. It’s called Laguna, and it’s German. Its regular game page on Funagain is here if you want to see pictures, but if you’re reading this in 2002 or later, be advised that you missed a sweet clearance deal. Laguna is a bit like a real-time RoboRally – I know, that has a bunch of you heading for the aisles already, but it’s not anywhere near as convoluted as RR, so stay with me. Players control “rafts” – little wood rectangles with six holes in them – and try to ferry marbles of their color into a volcano in the center of the board. Marbles you carry cover holes in your raft, which is good, because if a “current” arrow on the board’s grid shows up through your raft, you’ve got to follow it, and if a reef shows up, the rest of your 30-second turn (a sand timer is included) will go to the next player. It’s not so time-pressured as to be out-of-control, and it leads to a lot of very engaged path-finding and occasional resigned meandering. Pick it up, and something else if you feel like it and want to be nice to us.

Necromancer Fun For The Holidays

Sunday, December 23rd, 2001

We’ve got new reviews of the genre-bending Siege of Durgam’s Folly and Rob Kuntz’s Prisoners of the Maze, both from your friends at Necromancer. Or maybe we have them confused with that other game company that was hanging out at your place playing Grand Theft Auto 3 the other day.

New Mage Knight Dragon Scenarios

Saturday, December 22nd, 2001

WizKids have declared this to be Dragon Month (in mid-December? Must be that new math). Each Friday for the next three weeks, the WizKids website will be posting a Mage Knight scenario that revolves around one of those big-ass dragon figures. Why post these scenarios (aside from the coolness factor, that is)? According to the press release, “Part of the reason for giving you these scenarios is to prepare you for the new large scale Mage Knight rules that will be coming out in a few months, and partially because it’s a lot of fun to play a dragon!” The first scenario, “Raze,” is already available, in both WORD and PDF files.

In A One-Horse Open Slay…
It has come to our attention that most of you haven’t even noticed our subtle change in decor. Yep, Santa’s out exploring and hunting for gold pieces. How’d you think Santa pays his elves? Them union workers ain’t cheap.

Dragonstar Starfarer’s Handbook Shipping

Friday, December 21st, 2001

The FFG front page has the news and the ordering link. The cover looks terrific. In-store date is December 27th, but those dates never seem to have much to do with reality. Pick it up and start fixing to take down those annoying munchkin PCs with one well-placed blaster bolt.

Eden Studios To Publish Buffy The Vampire Slayer RPG

Friday, December 21st, 2001

Eden Studios announced an agreement today with Donruss Playoff L.P., a licensee of Twentieth Century Fox Licensing and Merchandising, to develop the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG for a Summer 2002 release. The rules will be written by CJ Carella (author of the Witchcraft RPG), and will be compatible with All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Yes, all the series regulars will have full game stats, so you can play as your favorite character. Or try to get them killed, whichever. Other products will follow the core rulebook, including The Slayer’s Handbook, Monster Smackdown, and Welcome to Sunnydale to name a few.

As a side note, if you don’t recognise Donruss/Playoff’s name, perhaps you’ll recognise their company, Score Entertainment, which produces the Buffy CCG.

New Fudge Superhero Game Released

Friday, December 21st, 2001

Rogue Publishing has just released another electronically-distributed role-playing game based around the Fudge system. This time, it’s Pariah, a superhero game written by Mike Jones. In it, players take on the roles of teenagers with strange powers who must avoid being exploited by the world at large. Sounds like X-Men fans might enjoy this…. The 64-page Adobe Acrobat file can be downloaded for $4.50.

Notable Additions To Bastion Press Board

Thursday, December 20th, 2001

Bastion Press announced two new additions to its Board of Directors: Ryan Dancey and Cathleen Adkison. If you’ve never heard of those names, go review the press release. Of course, if you’ve never heard those names, there’s a few other names you probably missed. We’ll start with a little company called Wizards of the Coast…

Witchfire Freebie

Thursday, December 20th, 2001

Privateer Press has posted a freebie for the third installment of their Witchfire Trilogy, The Legion of Lost Souls. The downloadable PDF has a map prop to give the players. Unless, like me, you prefer them to stumble around, lost and defenseless.

Amazons! Everywhere You Look — Amazons!!
MicroTactix has a new entry in their Budget Battlefield Army Pack line: the Amazon Army. The cardstock figures are inexpensive ($6 for the set), and are a great alternative to expensive miniatures. Those who play d20 could even use the figures with a certain Lay-er’s Guide to Amazons — er, sorry, that should be Slayer’s Guide. The centerfold threw me.

Living Dragonstar Campaign Coming To RPGA

Wednesday, December 19th, 2001

According to a Monday post on the FFG Rants page, playtesting for the Living Dragonstar RPGA campaign has begun. This sci-fi meets D&D d20 RPG puts lasers and spaceships in the hands of orcs and elves, and lots of gamers out there are eagerly awaiting its release. This is the first I’ve heard of an official RPGA campaign, though. Living Dragonstar should premiere next February with two modules at Con of the North in Minneapolis. Additional premieres will follow at Origins 2002 at GenCon 2002.

Fast Forward Brings Back Campaign In February

Tuesday, December 18th, 2001

A story at ICv2 alerts us that it’s okay to let you know what we already knew: Fast Forward Entertainment has taken charge of the d20 publicationCampaign Magazine. Jim Ward has joined the company full-time now, and John Danovich of ACD Distribution has also joined the FFE team as Vice President of Sales. The next issue of Campaign should arrive in February.

Shop ‘Til You Drop
Our holiday gift guide is complete, and ready to assist you in your shopping panic. Choose from our $10 or less list or our $25 or less list. The latter has a few bonus suggestions for those willing to part with slightly more cash. Give the gift of games ogres like. :-)

Extra Song & Silence

Monday, December 17th, 2001

Wizards has posted one’ve them there web enhancement thingies fer Song & Silence, which you can get yer hands on right here. There’s a quick adventure inside for four characters of 6th or 7th level.

Monkey God Preview Illustration Galleries
Monkey God Enterprises has posted galleries for three of their upcoming d20 adventures: Shadows Under Thessalaine, The Ruins of Rackfall, and The Magic Dump. Please tell me they’re not keeping that title.

Ral Partha Rights Sold

Monday, December 17th, 2001

According to a recent press release, WizKids has sold off some of the Ral Partha rights to Iron Wind Metals, which plans to continue some of the product lines. Bravo, I say… as long as the figures live up to the Ral Partha standard. Guess Iron Wind will carry on with the traditional Battletech miniatures line while WizKids works steadily toward the release of the collectible version, ala Mage Knight, discussed in this interview.

A Little Poll Dancing For Ya
Yuk. Forget I said that.

And in case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve got a new poll up. Go vote!

OgreCave’s Christmas Gift Guide – Part 2

Sunday, December 16th, 2001

At long last, our Christmas Gift Guide – part 2, gift suggestions at the price point of $25 or under, for those of you with slightly higher gifting budgets than the average unplugged gaming journalist. There’s a few surprises on this list, so stay on your toes, and enjoy!

De Profundis First Look

Saturday, December 15th, 2001

Center stage on the mic… and we puttin it on wax… it’s the New Style. This latest in Hogshead’s line of boundary-pushing RPGs is perhaps the most rules-light of the whole line. It isn’t necessarily the lightest reading, though, as it outlines the “psychodrama” approach to role-playing in text that started out pretty ponderous, and then underwent Polish-to-English translation. So, the style takes a little getting used to. It’s important to the game, though – because it’s rules-light, it really needs to lead by example. In fact, there are three “books” in the game; you can boil the first down to the two words “correspondence psychodrama.” The second outlines the technique of “field psychodrama” that’s really only of use as a supplement to the first, and the third, solo psychodrama, is only there to give the book a nice narrative of its own. As far as Lovecraft goes, you could play De Profundis about anything, but the creepier and more secret, the better, hence Lovecraft. I am already thinking about starting a De Profundis game with some friends, and as James Wallis said in his OgreCave interview, it is indeed some fine writing. And hey, it’s cheap…

Wargames West Closing Down

Friday, December 14th, 2001

One of the pillars of the gaming industry, Wargames West, will be closing its doors for good at the end of this month. CEO Wayne Godfrey sent out this message today to clients and industry friends:

After twenty years of business in our industry, I have decided to close Wargames West Distribution at the end of 2001. It has been a wonderful twenty years. I am looking forward to enjoying other aspects of my life. Our employees have supported both Wargames and myself loyally. I ask that you support them now as they seek other opportunities for their lives.

Knowing that many of you have placed your faith and confidence in us, I am determined that we close our business as clean and untarnished as possible.For our vendor friends, all debts will be reconciled and paid with return merchandise as we can mutually agree. For our customer friends, we have arranged with ACD Distribution to seamlessly transfer their accounts with a minimum of hassles. ACD will have access to our credit records, as law permits, to assure a smooth transition for any customers who choose this route. Should our customers desire other arrangements we would be happy to refer them to any of a number of fine distribution operations such as ABC, Alliance, Centurion, Gameboard or Georgia Music.

We have ceased ordering products as of Tuesday, December 11th. We will cease receiving merchandise in our warehouse after December 21st. Our regular sales operations and 800 lines will cease operating after Dec 28th. We intend to offer additional discounts for bill payment and closing orders and our sales staff will be contacting you to assist you in this transition.

I want to thank all our employees, both in Memphis and in Albuquerque for their loyal service and devotion to customers. I would also like to thank our many, many customers, past and present, for their faith in us even when times were rocky. And lastly our manufacturers, without whose help none of our business would have been possible.

How blessed we all are to work in such a fine and wonderful industry with so many creative, talented and warm people.

Thank you all for all the many wonderful years!

There was nothing quite like thumbing through the old Wargames West catalogs and choosing items to order. All of us here at OgreCave wish the employees of Wargames West all the best in their future endeavors.

Mutterings About Mongoose

Thursday, December 13th, 2001

Matthew Sprange of Mongoose Publishing dropped us a line to let us know what’s been going on over there. Here’s what he told us:

Full details and the cover art for Ships of the Elves, the next expansion to Seas of Blood, is now up on our web site. This time, I think, Anne Stokes has really outdone herself with the front cover.

For those of you who have been asking, full ISBN codes can now be found for all our products on the site, as well as pre-ordering information on all our releases up to March 2002.

The Quintessential Fighter and Encyclopaedia Arcane: Chaos Magic are currently at the printers and will be available early in January – The new Quintessential range is currently being advertised on the rear inside cover of Dragon [Magazine] and promises to be an exciting series featuring some of the top writers of the industry – more news on this as it develops.

The development of the new Judge Dredd role-playing game continues and we will soon be offering playtest packs to interested gaming groups – stay tuned for details.

Matthew also mentioned plans for The Slayer’s Guide to Rules Lawyers, in response to the poll OgreCave ran a few weeks back. Is this good-natured teasing, or the first mention of a new installment in the Slayer’s Guide line? Time will tell.

Superheroes Coming From Green Ronin

Thursday, December 13th, 2001

Going where no d20 RPG has gone just yet, Green Ronin is taking the plunge into superhero roleplaying next Fall with Mutants & Masterminds. Author Steve Kenson, contributor to the Shadowrun, Marvel Super-Heroes, DC Universe, Champions and Aberrant game lines, will bring us an RPG that “features fast, simple mechanics that streamline the d20 System rules for superhero play and a modular power-creation system that lets players design any sort of super-power they want.” A line of support products is also planned, starting with New Century City, “a meaty sourcebook that provides the perfect metropolis for superhero gaming.” I’ve never been one for superhero RPGs personally, but I’ll give it a shot.