Archive for March, 2003

Bad Axe 2003 releases announced

Monday, March 31st, 2003

Bad Axe Games has just posted their release schedule for the rest of 2003, which is filled to the brim with d20 goodness. In June, the Heroes of High Favor d20 series will complete its goal of providing a sourcebook for each of the most popular race/class combinations. Heroes of High Favor: Halflings will present new feats, skills, prestige classes and more for halfling rogues, and Heroes of High Favor: Gnomes will do the same for gnomish illusionists. In July, Bad Axe will make use of its new partnership with Phil Reed to start bringing his PDF products into the printed marketplace. The first of these projects will be The Book of Unusual Treasures, which the schedule says will include “material collected from four of Philip’s PDFs: 101 Spellbooks, 101 Spell Components, and 101 Mundane Treasures, books I and II.” In September, Grim Tales will arrive, a pulp adventure campaign toolkit derived from the d20 Modern SRD. Finally, November will herald the Heroes of High Favor: Anthology, compiling and expanding information from the rest of the series in a hardback reference volume.

Initial D and HumAliens are the CCGs they sound like

Sunday, March 30th, 2003

It looks like our initial source was inaccurate – those two weird AEG RPGs for kids are card games after all. According to this, the original HumAliens property “is being designed for and released to the core gaming market first.” Does that mean it’ll be followed by a dumbed down version? Or just by a TV show?

White Wolf does WarCraft

Sunday, March 30th, 2003

I’m surprised this didn’t come out more loudly at GTS – but maybe that’s because WotC’s old Blizzard-licensed RPGs were so poor. My interpretation of this blurb is that this new hardcover (street date: July) will take after WarCraft III’s integration of role-playing elements. Imagine a tabletop RPG in which you controlled whole squads in combat, and only incidentally a hero… I have no reason to expect anything that interesting, but we can hope.

Knizia’s Samurai board game available for PCs

Sunday, March 30th, 2003

Holy crap, Homestar! One of Reiner Knizia’s most subtle and acclaimed board game designs is available for the PC or Mac, playable in single player mode against an AI or against other humans online. This implementation looks gorgeous and well worth the shareware fee.

Hey, you can vote now and stuff

Friday, March 28th, 2003

Voting is now open for the 2002 Origins Awards.

Plucky ‘indie RPGs’ have own website, awards

Friday, March 28th, 2003

The finalists for the 2002 Indie RPG Awards have been announced. This gig focuses not just on PDF releases, but on new system designs, and appears to have some kind of game built into its awards-voting system wherein you “buy” votes. Hmm. Anyway, this is as good a place as any to take a gander at some innovative RPGs you might have missed. Ceremony to be hosted by Ron Edwards and John Waters. That was a lie.

Upper Deck announces trojan-horse CCG

Friday, March 28th, 2003

This somewhat mistitled press release says that Upper Deck, the conventional trading card company that somehow scored Yu-Gi-Oh, will be slipping “SportsNut” E-cards into one in three of its baseball card packs for the new season. Fans can then enter the card’s ID in a website and add that card’s player to his fantasy-baseball team for the season. Aren’t there already fantasy baseball games online where you can play with essentially any player you want?

Green Ronin GTS recap

Wednesday, March 26th, 2003

Green Ronin had to wait quite a while to make their presentation at GTS, being part of the Tuesday night dinner that included Wizard Entertainment, the Origins Awards nominations, and Games Workshop. But once Chris Pramas was finally able to take the podium, the GR gospel was spread.

Some copies of Freedom City, a campaign setting for Mutants & Masterminds,made it to GTS by the end of the convention, starting the game’s line of support products. Such products are an excellent idea, as shown by M&M being one of only two RPGs nominated for the Origins Game of the Year Award. A 64-page adventure called Time of Crisis will follow next month, and Crooks! will fill a Monster Manual type of role in May. GR also announced the licence of the Nocturnals for a sourcebook late this summer, rounding out the M&M products.

The city of Freeport will see two new products this year, one of them rather massive. Tales of Freeport, written by Graeme Davis, will present four new adventures within its 96 pages this April. Later this summer, the looming darkness of Black Sails over Freeport will arrive, an epic adventure of approximately 192 pages in length.

In the Master Class line, The Avatar’s Handbook has just hit stores, and its unwaivering goodness will need to be balanced out by something more sinister. That’s where The Unholy Warrior’s Handbook, due in June, comes in.

The Races of Renown series received the extra-length Plot & Poison just before GTS, detailing all things drow. Bastards & Bloodlines should be in stores by now as well, bringing life to such strange horrors as the half-dwarf/half-roper, which I don’t want to think about for too long. Fang & Fury, a vampire sourcebook that will provide balanced options for vampires as PCs, is due to arrive in May.

As you can probably tell from the new product line’s title, Mythic Vistas will expand the range of Green Ronin’s d20 products with new campaign settings. The series kicks off in April with Skull & Bones, a 192-page resource for pirates and voodoo that began its development at Adamant Entertainment, Gareth-Michael Skarka’s company. In May, GR will bring us Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era, a 224-page book which is appropriately being described as “part history, part mythology.” In June comes Monsters of the Mind, a 64-page creature book for July’s release, the Mindshadows psionic campaign setting (128 pages). During his presentation, Pramas pointed out that Mindshadows will be fully D&D 3.5 compatible.

With Ultramodern Firearms d20 soon to hit a second printing, GR will also be supporting the Modern gamers with a D20 Modern Player’s Guide written by the guys from The Game Mechanics. Speaking of which, GR will also be publishing some other Game Mechanics products in paper form, beginning with Artifacts of the Ages: Swords & Staves in July, which will combine the PDF products Swords of Our Fathers and Staves of Ascendance.

Other various products were mentioned toward the end of the presentation. As if to show that the legions below are never far from their thoughts, Green Ronin will publish a third volume of the Legions of Hell monster supplements, Hordes of Gehenna (Daemons). Todd Gamble’s Cartographica will provide 64 pages of maps of professional quality maps in late April/early May, which will certainly provide fuel for many a GM’s imagination. Of course, Mike already reported the news of GR’s Torches & Pitchforks non-collectible card game (2-5 players, 200 b&w cards) coming in June.

Finally, as I mentioned, Green Ronin received some Origins Awards nominations just before gaining control of the podium. The five noms they received were:

  • Game of the Year: Mutants & Masterminds

  • Best Role-playing Game: Mutants & Masterminds
  • Best Graphic Presentation of the Book Product: Mutants & Masterminds
  • Best Role-playing Supplement: Freeport: The City of Adventure
  • Best Game Accessory: Pocket Grimoires

Much of what we see this year in adventure gaming products will have a distinctly green tinge. From where I sit, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Green Ronin burns mad scientist alive

Tuesday, March 25th, 2003

Actually, they won’t get him till June. Allan’s casual observation at GTS was that everyone seems to want to get into (non-trading) card games, and if that’s true, Green Ronin is evidently no exception. Expenses are higher than in the D20 market, but it looks like that market’s pretty dry right now. Will this market stay strong? I can tell you right now, I predict that in a year’s time there will be way too many dungeon- and swords-and-sorcery-themed standalone card games, and none of them will be making money anymore. There may be way too many already in fact. Some are still decent though (I’m about half done with my Dungeoneer review; hopefully it’ll be ready next week).

GURPS Faerie and other playtests

Tuesday, March 25th, 2003

For those who enjoy getting an early peek at stuff, Steve Jackson Games has announced three more playtests you could get in on. The long-awaited GURPS Faerie, by Graeme Davis, is now in playtest on Pyramid, as is GURPS Covert Ops by William H. Stoddard and Hans-Christian Vortisch. Last but not least, Savant Garde‘s upcoming non-collectible card game, Storm Siege, is also in playtest mode. As always, you have to be a Pyramid subscriber to participate. Sign up and get in there!

Last links of Chainmail

Monday, March 24th, 2003

For those of you who didn’t get your fill of Chainmail, you should head over to SVGames. We’ve heard they have a big sale on the individual figures and boxed sets. Grab ‘em while you can. Word.

Our game could be your life

Monday, March 24th, 2003

There doesn’t appear to be any big news in the post-GTS hangover, so have a look at this. Allan will have a mop-up report soon on the less-huge announcements from the show.

Alien Menace doing Modern Naval Battles

Friday, March 21st, 2003

After their Origins nom for Sucking Vacuum, the guys at Alien Menace are really moving from strength to strength, although I confess I am not totally sure what that expression means. Modern Naval Battles will be a full-color, boxed version of the classic military card game by Dan Verssen (who designed the 7th Sea CCG, among other major titles). Look for this in the fall.

Shots of LotR prepainted collectible yada yada

Friday, March 21st, 2003

They look fine and everything – of course, they can always cherry-pick nice paint jobs when they’re doing a trade show like this. The frustrating thing is we don’t get a good look at those hexes. They obviously have some kind of little window in them, and it looks like maybe a lever? Anyway. I guess WizKids would have called the patent lawyers already if there were an infraction. But I like hex movement, I think it’s the best balance between speed and flexibility for this kind of game.

WotC makes weird-ass DVD solo adventure

Friday, March 21st, 2003

At their GTS presentation for D&D 3.5, WotC announced Scourge of Worlds, a computer-animated DVD set in Greyhawk. Viewers will use DVD menus to choose the path of the story at 20 different points, leading to one of four endings. It streets on June 10th. “We took some pictures as the movie played as you’ll see below.” Right, well, if that’s the case, I hope the final version looks less like a PowerPoint document.

Yowling Reported in Invisible City

Friday, March 21st, 2003

Invisible City‘s latest game of the month has arrived. It’s Black Cat, a real-time, high-speed card game in the tradition of such classics as Spit and the alarmingly-named Egyptian Rat Screw. The game supports two to four players and should generate plenty of noise and chaos if you feel the need to wake up your gaming group.

Chaosium cultists loose at GTS

Thursday, March 20th, 2003

Chaosium was moderately high profile, despite all the recent rumors flying around (which feeds into their Latin motto, “All rumors are true”), having a decent sized booth in the third exhibit hall and a big ad on the show bag. Arkham, the latest Cthulhu supplement, is shipping now, complete with a fold-out town map in the back and small fold-out newspaper in the front. Disciples of Cthulhu II will continue the stream of popular Lovecraftian fiction this month, followed later (no date specified) by The White People and Other Tales. Further down the line, H.P. Lovecraft’s Kingsport will describe the famed coastal town for CoC, imitating the neighboring Arkham with a tourist brochure and fold-out map. A second edition of The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana will bring 150 pages more than the previous edition, including an expanded Necronomicon appendix and a Cthulhu Mythos timeline. Last among the planned products, the long awaited Secrets of Japan will detail the Great Old Ones’ effects on the Land of the Rising Sun. And yes, it will explain the enigma that is adult tentacle anime, though it won’t make it any less odd.

Sources also say that Chaosium has begun inquiring with RPG publishers about the possibility of producing licensed supplements for Call of Cthulhu, Call of Cthulhu d20, Stormbringer, and Dragonlords of Melnibone. No word yet on who, if anyone, might pursue such a license.

Shadowrun Duels tournament thoughts

Thursday, March 20th, 2003

At the Tuesday dinner presentation, we got details on some of WizKids‘ plans for the coming year. A humorous promo movie on Creepy Freaks, a number of HeroClix, MechWarrior and MageKnight expansion announcements, and it was on to what everyone really wanted to dive into: a tournament of Shadowrun Duels. Everyone in the room received a prototype package, containing an action figure with interchangable equipment, a large click base with three dials, small dice of certain colors and sides, and a storage tray that affixed to the underside of the base. For the tournament, each table of 10-14 people was split down the middle to form teams. Having been fortunate enough to get Kyushi, a cute Asian sniper chick, I opted to join in.

To my dismay, there were six players against five, and I was on the smaller team. However, my teammates made better decisions on their equipment, which gave us an advantage. The figures have little pegs at various locations (hands, waist, etc) that can hold weapons, medpacks, mystic talismans, and such, up to 12 points worth. Each little plastic piece of equipment has a point cost printed on it, along with a color and size of die the item affords the character. Lose the item in combat, and you’ve got fewer dice to do your actions with each round, which might mean you don’t have enough dice to block with, shoot, attack close-up, or whatever. There’s more to it, of course, including criticals, varying range capabilities for each character, and armor. But from our couple hours of competition (which we won, btw), the game seems to run very smoothly. The basic game has only a slight learning curve, easily manageable by the target audience (ages 8 and up), and loads of potential. I’ll be interested to see larger combat scenarios and campaign rules, which were mentioned earlier that evening. I expect the gorgeous figures and seamless combat of Shadowrun Duels will draw in hordes of new WizKids devotees.

AEG doing Stargate, Warlord RPGs, and two for the kids

Thursday, March 20th, 2003

Stargate is a slam dunk for gaming (hey, we found a gate to Gamma World!), and a game set in the Warlord universe makes sense for the last successful CCG besides Magic that isn’t a license. The puzzling things announced in this report, though, are the two games evidently pitched at the younguns. HumAliens is an original property aimed at 10- to 14-year-olds, and then they got this license for “Japan’s number one anime show for teen boys,” a street-racing-themed show called Initial D. Will the Yu-Gi-Oh crowd really want to roleplay? And is AEG getting away from their core strengths with these two titles? Anyway, they’ll all be out in July (Origins?).

Hot, live snap-together dungeon action

Thursday, March 20th, 2003

Creepy Freaks is nice and all, but the presumably MK Dungeons-related plastic dungeon tiles which this post barely talks about but has drooly pictures of, ought to make some folks at Dwarven Forge sweat.

Decipher ups RPG support, continues twitching and winking about Matrix

Wednesday, March 19th, 2003

GR’s notes about the Decipher seminar at GTS indicate that they told a bunch of retailers that they were really, really sorry about their apparent love-em-and-leave-em policy for their RPG releases of late. “Decipher will be releasing a minimum of 2 releases a month for the next few years for their RPG lines.” As far as the Matrix rumors, “[t]here was a hint given of an important announcement coming tomorrow or Thursday of a new product or license.” Morpheus and his sons have 48 hours to get out of rumorland, or military action will begin at a time of our choosing. (Imagine Ken Hite dressed as Schwartzkopf when you read that. OK, maybe I shouldn’t have shared my private fantasy there.)

GOO doing GoT RPG

Wednesday, March 19th, 2003

Or, more properly, A Song of Ice and Fire. Available in “fall” (read: “Gen Con, we hope”), this RPG based on George R.R. Martin’s line of novels will be dual-system-dual-rulebook like Silver Age Sentinels. I wonder why Fantasy Flight didn’t get this one; maybe their RPG plate is full, or Martin didn’t like the way they named the whole card game after the first book, or there were sunspots.

This is hilarious: D&D minis are mini after all

Wednesday, March 19th, 2003

And then I realized that it was all a dream! That’s right: apparently GR and many, many retailers were reacting to a typo in the D&D Miniatures promo materials. So now they have some photos and the minis are indeed Mage Knight/classic scale. Some poor WotC copy editor will be sleeping on the streets, I fear…

Hey, ya stupid kid, that round thing ain’t just for whacking people

Wednesday, March 19th, 2003

Check out the pics of the Shadowrun Duels package, specifically of the back. Do you think maybe they wanted to append a big red “Dammit!” but legal wouldn’t let them get away with it?

Green Ronin site haX0Red

Wednesday, March 19th, 2003

Um… what? This is actually pretty funny. Yes, they were really hacked, evidently by idiot Russian teens. All the online news sources are certainly giving Green Ronin lots of love right now, and rightfully so. I hope Chris and Nicole are having a chuckle instead of stressing overmuch.