Archive for July, 2003

It’s totally different – the character’s hair is black and white, see? Totally different.

Monday, July 28th, 2003

“Duel Masters, one of the hottest card games in Japan, is heading for the U.S. […] The problem for WotC and Dreamwave will be to create a separate identity for Duel Masters so that the property doesn’t end up playing ‘Digimon’ to Yu-Gi-Oh’s ‘Pokemon.’ ” Yeah, that’s a challenge all right. The other-CCGs department at WotC certainly looks to be flailing right now.

Live at GenCon: Eberron errors

Sunday, July 27th, 2003

While finishing a final tour of the exhibit hall today, I ran into Keith Baker, winner of WotC’s D&D setting search contest with his land of Eberron. Apparently, there’s considerable online buzz already about what little information WotC has released, particularly the lightning train image, and the “strong presence of lost-world creatures such as dinosaurs.” According to Baker, the press release could’ve used some rewording, as dinosaurs exist on Eberron but hardly in an all-pervasive manner. Also, there’s the issue of the “diverse cultures” which site the examples of Dwarves, Drow, and Orcs. Umm… I think we’ve heard of those before. Not the best examples of what WotC wanted to convey.

As for how it was to work on the project, Baker was upbeat. “It’s been a lot of fun, very exciting. There have been compromises, of course. Out of all the [entries] I submitted, I never would’ve guessed that WotC would choose that one. However, it’s been toned down in some ways since reaching the 125-page draft.” Baker grimaced. “I just wish it wasn’t a whole year away.”

Live from GenCon: Party Hard

Sunday, July 27th, 2003

Afterhours Saturday night is the time for the kinds of raging parties you only read about. Several LARPs had their culmination last night, in all their costumed, face-painted glory. NASCRAG crowned their mad-cap role-playing tournament winners and celebrated with an awards ceremony. Perhaps the snazziest affair was the White Wolf party, following on the heels of their “The World is Ending” pronouncement that morning.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. Actually I don’t feel that fine. Time for a full disclosure here: I stayed up all night and drank myself silly, sang karaoke, watched shirtless teenagers frolic in the fountain in front of the Hyatt, and wound up dried and wrung out in the hotel restaurant trying to force down a huge plate of not-quite-ripe fruit. And so it’s possible that my memory may be less than eidetic.

Live from GenCon: World of Darkness ending. Make travel arrangements now.

Sunday, July 27th, 2003

So yeah, the World of Darkness is coming to an end, as Mike mentioned. I find myself looking at White Wolf with a bit of admiration after hearing their plans, and how long they’ve been secretly building toward Gehenna, the Apocalypse, the Ascension, or whatever you want to call it. Between now and next March, an array of products will wrap up events in the official timeline, including a hardcover each for Vampire, Werewolf and Mage. The wrap-up storyline will include various options Mike Tinney, President of White Wolf, let slip a number of other details during the Q&A session after the tongue-in-cheek intro film.

  • “As for Adventure, you will see that again.”
  • “There will be a Dark Ages core feature for Changeling, as well as a Time of Judgement wrap-up book.”
  • “Exalted will not be affected, and will continue getting support.”
  • Mind’s Eye Theatre will have a Time of Judgement book; the Vampire: The Eternal Struggle game will get a Time of Judgement set , but will still continue with more product releases.

Apparently, the White Wolf guys started celebrating their announcement early, since some of the staff later admitted to being drunk from the night before when the press conference was held.

Live from GenCon: Gothica stakes its claim

Sunday, July 27th, 2003

Human Head had their new d20 supplement, The Redhurst Academy of Magic, prominently on display. The “widescreen” format of the book looks good, though it’s hard not to notice that the cover text is designed to be equally readable when seen vertically or horizontally (wouldn’t want to get the retailers all riled up like that oddly-shaped Nobilis now, would we?). But the booth’s demo tables are occupied by the company’s upcoming board game release, Gothica: Dracula’s Revenge, set to reach stores in October. Like a cross between The Hills Rise Wild and Space Hulk, Dracula’s Revenge pits the infamous Count and three of his cohorts against Van Helsing and nine of his fellow vampire slayers. Gameplay is fast and simple, allowing strategy to reign rather than rules confusion. Once the interchangable board pieces are ready (the demo had a static board), we’ll be seeing missions, new victory conditions, and possibly even campaign rules, I’d imagine. Human Head plans a line of Gothica releases themed around mummies, werewolves, Frankenstein’s monster, and so on. All this from a game Matt Forbeck thought up 12 years ago for Grenadier which never saw print.

Mediocre news comes in threes: White Wolf kills World of Darkness, sort of

Saturday, July 26th, 2003

Even bigger than the rumored announcement of a product with no colon in its title (Anthony at the store came up with that joke, although he seems to have forgotten about Exalted), White Wolf announces the Time of Judgement. When I saw they were casting this as a “Year of _____” storyline event, I suspected the worst – it happens in comics too often. “Hey, let’s kill off Superman, get a bunch of media attention, then bring him right back.” The press release says, however, that they will be neither continuing nor reprinting the World of Darkness lines after next March, with the exception of the Dark Ages books. Uh-huh. Quoth WW President Mike Tinney: “What will ultimately follow is going to be wholly different. A new and compelling setting.” Uh-huh again. How much ya wanna bet that there will be a bunch of clans in it who all have different powers, secretly run the world, and hate each other? And that there will be colons?

Live from GenCon: WotC setting winner announced

Saturday, July 26th, 2003

Apparently only a couple of us news types managed to hear about the WotC plan to announce the setting search contest winning entry, Eberron, and only a few press were present for the announcement. I never heard about it, so I’ll quote the press release that was in the press room today:

In August 2004, D&D players can enjoy an entirely new world of medieval fantasy to game in: Eberron‘s rich, racially diverse culture, forged in war, has a magically industrial edge that expands the traditional D&D universe, offering players new, exciting possibilities. Created by Keith Baker, Eberron is being developed for roleplaying games, novels, miniatures, and electronic games.

Some of the new setting’s features will include new character races like shifters and changelings; new feats like Bond Armor, Dragon Totem, and Right of Counsel; the Inquisitive, “an urban detective prestige class; and the use of the Action Point System originally used in d20 Modern. All sounds pretty cool. I’m just surprised that WotC didn’t make more noise about it; several other news guys I talked to said it slipped right by them.

Live from GenCon: 2003 ENnie Award winners

Friday, July 25th, 2003

I’ve just returned from the 2003 GenCon EN World D20 System Awards (the ENnies, for short). The awards were far better attended this year than last, and the continued partnership with GenCon has proven to have its advantages, with a projector display of nominees. Of course, that display also caused some minor confusion a time or two by showing the wrong product, but such is the price paid for advanced technology. Now, I wasn’t able to be at the ceremony from the very start, so I missed a couple of the winners. However, after checking with the EN World guys, I’ve verified the ones I missed. Here’s the complete list of winners and runners-up:

Live at GenCon: Pale Writer soon publishing

Friday, July 25th, 2003

So there’s this little d20 company toward the back of the hall, in the shadow of the largest booth (which isn’t WotC this year; it’s Upper Deck), called Pale Writer Publishing. The website doesn’t have any info yet, but PWP’s small booth has been a whirlwind of activity and interesting tidbits since the show began. Besides the movie theater marquee and freshly-popped popcorn, besides the trivia contests every couple of hours to win DVDs and such, there’s the extremely cool artwork the booth was displaying. Set up to look like the backlit movie posters you’d see at the local cineplex, there were five gorgeous scenes, each featuring a classic D&D monster: a beholder, a mind flayer, a bullette, a displacer beast, and a rust monster. The rust monster piece, which was unmistakably the work of Phil Foglio, simply sings of a time when adventures were each lovingly crafted, with plots that made sense (something PWP emphasized as an important goal). Watch for adventures to be announced from PWP later this year or early next, along with other surprises.

Live at GenCon: Llama makes Penguins

Friday, July 25th, 2003

I would be remiss if I failed to mention Eight Foot Llama‘s game coming this October, particularly because of its subject matter. The Penguin Ultimatum will follow the tradition of slightly wacky, but very solid, games the company has produced, like Who Stole Ed’s Pants?, which was runner-up on the Games 100 list for Best Family Cardgame of 2002. Hey, how can you go wrong with penguin jesters forced to amuse the Emperor and the rest of the colony? Works for me, and I know my wife will be all over it.

Live at GenCon: Indie RPGs

Friday, July 25th, 2003

There’s big buzz surrounding the Forge booth! People were crowding around to check out independently created, published, and owned role-playing games. In addition to industry philosopher and The Forge co-founder Ron Edwards’s Sorcerer, there were a number of great-looking games. One that generated a lot of excitement was Paul Czege’s My Life with Master (Halfmeme), in which players play various minions of a domineering and nefarious Master. I’m going to try to play some of it tomorrow – it looks absolutely beautiful.

Live at GenCon: The Futures Panel

Friday, July 25th, 2003

Since I’m new to this whole gaming without batteries thing, I figured I should just jump right in and figure out where it’s headed. I was in the mood for some Cassandrean predictions for the fate of the gaming industry so I headed over to a seminar on that very topic. “Future Trends in Gaming” brought together James Ernest (), Mike Gray (Hasbro), Jordan Weisman (WizKids), Dave Williams (Alderac Entertainment Group), and Christian Moore (Decipher) together to talk about the current state of the industry – and try to sketch out a picture of where it’s going.

BattleTech fiction junkies to get the hookup online?

Friday, July 25th, 2003

Longtime CBT novelist Loren Coleman is apparently now officially in talks with WizKids to write BattleTech/MechWarrior fiction to be delivered to subscribers at his BattleCorps website. Online delivery makes perfect sense for fans of this kind of material, who know exactly what they want and who they want it from. FanPro appears to be involved somehow, or else the press release wouldn’t be on their site. Or maybe it would, I dunno.

A Game of Thrones CCG gets gamier (have I used that joke before? I think I have)

Friday, July 25th, 2003

Hey, Jane: go to the FFG booth, they’re debuting a new edition of AGoT that has starter decks for all five Houses. There are just five, right? You would know better than I would. The Game of Thrones board game is also there, if it hasn’t sold out.

Live at GenCon: D&D v3.5 press conference

Thursday, July 24th, 2003

Wizards of the Coast held a special press-only seminar on this little game release you might have heard of, D&D v3.5. Overseen by Bill Slavicsek, WotC’s Director of RPG Design and Development, a general discussion of the changes made to the biggest roleplaying game in the world. “We believe firmly and completely that this is the best D&D ever,” Slavicsek announced. Ed Stark chimed in, saying “We tried to keep our changes to a minimum. […] We didn’t want to do 4th Edition. It’s too soon, and too much.” The free 40-page update document for the rest of the D&D 3e books was mentioned, showing again that only the three core books needed to be purchased to make the upgrade. Having over 150 pages of new material between them, the core books could hardly be described in the short seminar, but the WotC folks tried.