Only 2.25 hours left until 12pm PST, which will bring an end to our Car Wars “Borrow the Car” contest. Hurry and read the rules (don’t worry, they’re short) and get your entry to us before midnight on bunny day. A quick hundred words or less convincing your dad to give you the car keys, and if we pick your entry, you win a complete set of all nine Car Wars: Fifth Edition books from Steve Jackson Games (six of them before they’re even available in stores). You can be amusing in 100 words, right? Type ‘em up and prove it.
Archive for March, 2002
ICv2 brings the pain: Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer hits from Cell in time for Gen Con. It’s a little disconcerting to read reportage on minis games that seems to believe WizKids invented them, but then again, ICv2′s core audience is comics fans and retailers who only dabble in games – I suppose the same crowd that actually thinks Frazetta’s name is a selling point. The report also namechecks Games Workshop, and that comparison will likely be common as Cell makes its big push to invade the US. It’ll also scare off many players who would love both Hybrid and Ronin War. (I have this belief that lots of gamers hate and fear Games Workshop, which might not be true. It certainly used to be true for me, but I’ve taken a strong interest in minis over the past few months. I’m not sure why. GW policies and prices are almost starting to seem reasonable to me. It’s scary.)
The same source that told me BFG was coming back into print in September (and insists there was a press release about it at some point) says that “the current edition” of Talisman in fact refers to the last one to go out of print. He’s the only coherent source of info I have so far, because, well, we’ve covered the relative quality of the web site. Games Workshop does an admirable job of keeping games on life support, but not such a great job of informing the next of kin, you know what I mean? So, no new edition of Talisman. You’ll just have to scare up the original if that’s your preferred way to kill 1 to 12 hours.
If anyone needs another reason to hate Games Workshop, how about this: terminal vagueness. In this article about unpublished Talisman characters (PDF), designer Jervis Johnson keeps talking about “the current edition.” Current? Like, five-years-out-of-print current? More than that? Three-hundred-dollars-on-eBay current? Jeez. So it’s all just mean-spirited teasing about the new edition of Talisman, long rumored and coming… sometime. It’s impossible to pin GW’s website down on anything not happening in the next three weeks, and currently difficult to prove that Battlefleet Gothic ever existed. The only reason I went there in the first place was to confirm that Battlefleet (a starship-combat game I’m interested in due to alleged ease of model assembly and painting, and relative cheapness of building an army) is returning in a new edition in September. Whatever. I guess your site can suck as much as you want when you make more money than anyone else anyway. (I played my first game of Blood Bowl a couple nights ago… that thing’s so much fun, and they’re working on a new version of… Talisman. *sigh* (But now I’m finding vague rantings about a new Blood Bowl! See what I mean? Vagueness, people. Maybe it’s all that contaminated beef over there.))
The Angel’s Curse expansion for the popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer CCG hits shelves today in the US and Canada. I wasn’t aware that they were starting from way back in Season 1, but I guess they are. I also wasn’t aware that I would ever have a head full of such amazingly trivial crap about a TV show again. *sigh* I have friends who have a need to buy all things Buffy, and yet have a pathological aversion to all things CCG. If they ever find this game, I wonder what will happen. Maybe an aneurysm.
Only a couple days left in our “Borrow the Car” contest. If you haven’t done so already, go read the rules (don’t worry, they’re short) and get your entry to us before midnight PST on Sunday. Just a hundred words or less convincing your dad to give you the car keys, and if we pick your entry, you win a complete set of all nine Car Wars: Fifth Edition books from Steve Jackson Games (six of them before they’re even available in stores). So get to it. You weren’t planning on hunting for eggs this weekend anyway, were you?
Mean Streets: The RPG of Classic Film Noir, a complete downloadable game with a planned line of supplements, is coming soon from Three-Sixty Publishing, who have not only licensed the XPG system from fellow PDF-meisters Deep7, but will be selling through Deep7′s web site. Three-Sixty has a number of other XPG products lined up as well. Interesting little fiefdom the guys are working on there. (Our interview with Deep7 is still forthcoming…)
I admit it – I forgot to go to Gamegrene for a while. So I only just found this article. It certainly looks like a catch-22: too many revised editions and supplements and people complain about being bled dry, too few and they’ll say it’s a “dead game.” However, there’s Sorceror, a game that announces at the start the finite and very small number of supplements it intends to have, ever. Sorceror seems to be testing the model that Satyre encourages in his rant. So, if Sorceror is in fact interpreted as “dead” by the buying public a year from now, where does that leave Ron Edwards? The same place that, say, Blizzard is after they put out one or two expansion packs for their last game: at the beginning of the design process for the next one. What if game publishers kept creating and taking risks, instead of flogging the old workhorses? In the wake of D20, there’s room for many smaller games, that play to niches and encourage creativity on the part of players, not codependence. Maybe it won’t be possible to make a non-D20 game huge in the future, but maybe hugeness won’t be the only option.
Citizen Games has announced plans for Way of the Witch, a d20 sourcebook all about you-know-what. Four popular female authors (Janet Pack, Jean Rabe, Megan Robertson, and Christina Stiles) will pack the 128-page perfect bound book with new spells, prestige classes, skills, feats and other rules useful for witchcraft. Background materials, group casting rules, and other tidbits will round out the book, due to arrive this August. What, not waiting for an October release? Too predictable, I guess.
The Gaming Industry Disaster Fund Auction, founded by Gary Thompson of The Fiction & Fantasy Network, will be shutting down one week from today after a final grace period. Established to raise relief funds for victims of the September 11th tragedy in New York City, the Auction was a rallying point for gamers and industry members wanting to do their part by either contributing or bidding on items. However, things have not gone perfectly of late. In a statement today, Thompson explained why GIDFA was calling a halt:
It is now six months and more since the inception of the GIDFA project, and despite the best efforts of those involved, the project has been only a partial success. The GIDFA fund currently stands at $7,051.44 (roughly £5000) plus £353.02 in UK sterling.
Sadly, many contributors and bidders failed to honour their promises, with the result that the final fund is considerably smaller than had been anticipated. The GIDFA administrators have made strenuous efforts to close as many bids as possible. These efforts have taken up a tremendous amount of time, and have had an adverse affect on the personal lives of some of those involved.
…we are now convinced that those who have chosen continue to disregard their promises will continue to do so no matter what efforts are made by GIDFA staff.
Those who have paid for auction items but not received them should reach Gary before next Wednesday at The Fiction & Fantasy Network. If current estimations stand (and they probably will), GIDFA will fall nearly $9,000 short of what promised bids and donations should have earned. Still, $7,000+ is nothing to sneeze at.
In the cool department, there’s Hybrid, a 60mm (read: big) scale minis skirmish game that’ll be the first to use their “maglock” system as pervasively as it should have been used in the first place. According to flyers distributed at GTS, all weapons and armor will be magnetically attachable and removable, so you still have character-design flexibility after the glue is dry (and when you disarm your opponent, you really disarm your opponent – shades of Z-G!). Also coming out this year is the more futuristic game, inexplicably titled 1999, which is similarly large-scaled but doesn’t mention maglock in its promo material, despite all the story business about on-the-fly genetic modifications. And lastly (here’s the scary part), something called Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer. Mmm-hm. Scale isn’t mentioned on the promo card we have, nor a release date. I hope that isn’t the sole direction Cell takes in the wake of its American distribution deal, but I think Hybrid will win some fans, so I’m not too worried. Yet.
People have been talking about Captain Park’s Imaginary Polar Expedition on the Cheapasses mail list for a few weeks, but the details have only just come to light on the Cheapass web page. It’s, like, a board game and stuff. Also filtering out from Cheapass consciousness is Fightball, apparently this year’s card game in the Falling and BRAWL real-time lineage. Fightball art is by Eduardo Muller of Diceland fame. (We Ogrish types have our full set of Diceland now and will be reporting on it as soon as we can.)
Rio Grande Games has posted their thirtieth newsletter. Although there are no groundbreaking announcements, Carcassonne fans will be pleased to hear that a second expansion set, which adds some new tiles and provides enough pieces to allow a sixth player, will be out soon. Also described and pictured in the newsletter are Halli Galli, a fruit-salad-themed game that sounds like the party favorite, Spoons; Puerto Rico, a strategy game set in the New World; and Pueblo, a Michael Kiesling/Wolfgang Kramer design which looks like a fun excuse for adults to play with building blocks.
Adamant Entertainment has announced plans for the second edition of Underworld, the property it acquired from Synister Creative Studios. Underworld Second Edition will relaunch the game with all of the original materials, plus the contents of the first supplement, DownBelow, and various other additions. The new hardcover book is scheduled for release in Fall 2002. Apparently, the reason Adamant didn’t have a booth at GTS last week was that the original Underworld is totally out of stock at the warehouse. Yeah, not much point in a booth if the product’s already gone.
Roleplaying Tips Weekly #116
This week’s new issue of Roleplaying Tips provides ways to improve your campaign through creative treasures. In my book, any way to reward the characters without just giving them money is a good one — aside from granting godhood or something.
We are not kidding. Wizards has the press release up. Doesn’t this seem like it could become a bit dodgy? “Here, we’re gonna move the preeminent game convention from its 30-year home to a whole new location, aaaaaaaaaand hereyouhandleeverythingokaycool.” But I can’t imagine Adkison would go into this blind, and I suppose everything will be fine. I’m gonna make an extra effort to catch the con this year before it moves, in any case.
Todd Breitenstein, veteran of Journeyman Press, has formed Twilight Creations to bring Zombies back to the people. When Darkness Comes takes the variable-board mechanic of Zombies and adds RPG-like character creation. Art is from the original Zombies artists. The base set (yes, there will be expansions) allegedly hits on June 19.
It was announced this morning at GAMA – original Dragonlance co-author Margaret Weis’ company, Sovereign Press, will be doing Dragonlance for D&D3. It’s unclear whether this will be a D20 book requiring the Player’s Handbook and published by Sovereign, or some kind of licensed deal with full rules and the WotC logo somewhere. The core book hits in the fall, and there will of course be supplements. The full announcement isn’t up anywhere official yet; EN World has it for now.
Buried under the hailstorm of GAMA stuff on GamingReport yesterday (quick recap: WotC may put restrictions on “trade dress” for certain types of D20 products, the new Star Wars CCG has D20s in it, it’ll have basic common cards for the big characters and then rarer cards you stack up on top of it) is something that I think a lot of RPG creators and would-be creators will be affected by. Guardians of Order is starting an imprint called Magnum Opus, devoted to creator-owned RPGs and supplements using the Tri-Stat System.
Normally I wouldn’t report on news like this, but it’s been such a pain in the ass to get my hands on what I see as really exciting product that I was very happy to see this on GamingReport this morning: Cell Entertainment, manufacturers of great minis games like Lab and Ronin War (as well as, yes, some iffier titles), has hooked up a stateside production and distribution deal with Ed Andrews, a game industry veteran apparently known for his distribution and marketing wherewithal. Cell’s stuff is very difficult for most retailers in the US to get, and little has been done to stimulate consumer demand (huh huh, I said “stimulate”). Hopefully this will all change soon. If you play CCGs and are even the slightest bit curious about minis, get yourself a Lab starter as soon as you can. (Update: my Ronin War stuff got primed without injury to stuff, primer, or human facilitators, so I should be able to play and review it soon. Then I will attempt to paint it, and likely be struck down by Odin as retribution for the results. I’ll keep you posted.)
So it turns out there’s something kind of interesting in the appendices of the Godlike book. (To say nothing, for the moment, of the harrowing hazards in the Talent section, the phenomenal detail of the Background section that takes up the middle 151 pages of a 351-page hardcover, and the refreshing and commendable lack of a thick opening section of game fiction – what fiction there is is better written than usual, too.) A section called “Open Source Superhero Rules” has an introductory blurb that begins, “The following rules are designed using the same basic task resolution used by the world’s most popular fantasy role-playing game.” It goes on to give you the rules over again – hyperstats, Talents and all – this time using standard D20 System Reference Document stats and terminology, including character creation and level advancement rules. This is perfectly legal; it’s just the D20 license, not the OGL, that forbids it. The D20 System name and logo appears nowhere in or on the Godlike book.
I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen. Maybe publishers couldn’t get their heads around open source, or couldn’t see the advantage to having the rules but not being able to announce it with the D20 logo. Pagan and Hobgoblynn seem to be providing it as insurance – against those players who hate learning new systems. They certainly aren’t making a lot of noise about it. However, when I jumped up and down and raved about this to the boys at the store, they told me White Wolf is doing the same thing with EverQuest, announced two weeks ago. (*sigh* I can’t do anything original.) And they don’t seem to be using it as a backup, either. By my reading of the licenses, WotC has no grounds to file suit here, but we’ll see what happens. Part of me hopes this starts a dogpile.
With the characteristic style of the Iron Kingdoms setting, the Monsternomicon ain’t just another book full of monsters. There’s apparently a prestige class for moster-hunter, or monster-researcher or something, and a bunch of other stuff. Privateer Press slapped up a PDF preview just before running off to GAMA, which Allan also ran off to this morning. He might find a way to post news from the show and he might not, so bear with us if things look a little slow here at the Cave for a few days.
Invisible City Productions, the company known mainly for free monthly games, has announced that their March game will be delayed due to work promoting a forthcoming line of commercial releases. These will include a high-quality version of their popular Run, Hamster, Run along with several completely new designs including Psycho Killer, a slasher-movie board game, Dragon Hatchery, a game for children, and Town Without Pity, the first entry in the Angry Puritan line of adult-oriented releases. 2003 should be an interesting year.
We appreciate your trying to make us feel better, Monte. We’re gonna worry anyway if it’s okay with you. (The latest Line of Sight fleshes out the picture of the recent layoffs a bit more. 50 people, about 10% of total WotC staff, there’s no more Director of Miniatures position at all, et cetera. We’ve been keeping an eye on the Green Ronin page to see if Pramas makes any statement. Most responses to the layoffs from those involved have been pretty accepting, if not exactly sanguine. I guess I can stop fantasizing about a StarCraft minis game now.)