Archive for September, 2003

Sort of an Age of Mythology Playtest Report (but really more like bragging)

Monday, September 29th, 2003

I offered some more thoughts on AoM in the comments on this Slashdot Games link.

We shall bounce off each other and make a sport of it

Monday, September 29th, 2003

This is the perfect online multiplayer Flash game, of the sort that I would make if I had all the time in the world. Utterly simple to learn, a good amount of tactical depth, and more cute than you can handle. (Thanks to Eric for the tip.)

Artifacts of even more Ages

Monday, September 29th, 2003

Green Ronin has announced a special web enhancement for Artifacts of the Ages, the supplement from the Game Mechanics that brought us magic items which grow with your characters (“I’m just a tiny dagger now, but I’ve been drinking milk…”). In the free download, psionics are brought into the Artifacts equation, by way of the mind scion prestige class and two psionic legendary weapons.

Age of Mythology First Look: how to outsource game development to a small island nation

Friday, September 26th, 2003

No, not really. But it’s laughable how similar Eagle’s board game adaptation of Microsoft’s RTS hit is to the much-lauded German game Puerto Rico. It’s a very similar board, similar turn structure in which you choose a role from a (mostly) fixed set and all players (sometimes) then play that role, similar resource production, they even talk about “spoilage” the same way. Given how much people talked about Puerto Rico‘s similarity to real-time strategy games when it came out, it just seems a little… strange to me that it and its designer aren’t mentioned here. There aren’t patents or anything to worry about, but still.

That said, it looks like it’ll be a blast to play. I like a lot of the ways Eagle has souped up the Puerto template here. I wouldn’t call them improvements, exactly, just examples of what Puerto could have been like had its designers wanted something different from it. AoM looks like Puerto Rico with car chases, sex scenes and explosions. I happen to like the amount of luck in this game (some of your role cards are drawn from a larger deck instead of a small fixed set, and combat involves dice), and of course, you can make your guys go over and beat on the other guys, which is always a plus in my book.

One of the touches I really like here is that every few rounds of play, you effectively decide, along with your fellow players, how much certain goals will be worth in victory points. I have a feeling this will set up some very entertaining situations when I test it, hopefully this weekend.

(Eagle Games is also shipping a new PC version of War! Age of Imperialism, complete with single-player and online play.)

Classic H.G. Wells novel reprinted – with rules

Wednesday, September 24th, 2003

If you’re like me, and therefore have an unhealthy interest in the meta-game of how RPG publishers are licensing their rules and content, you might be tickled by this: Gold Rush Games is doing what has the markings of a series of Action! Classics, the first of which is H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds, in its entirety, with new illustrations, and rules material for the D20 and Action! systems. This is, of course, possible because TWotW was published in 1898 and has entered the public domain, which, incidentally, very few things are ever going to do again. (The irony of what that link asks of you is not lost on me, thanks.) This is not only a great extension of the notion of Open Game Content, but a great example of how reusing other people’s works enables innovation and creativity. Just ask Disney… but I don’t want to get all political on you. Gold Rush’s edition of TWotW will also include rules for using giant Martian robots in the Action!-enabled Monster Island combat game from Firefly. [Addendum: how cool would it be if Gold Rush also included as an appendix Wells’ manuscript for Little Wars, in which he literally invented the modern wargame, which is of course the progenitor of RPGs?]

Other shoe falls: Book of Erotic Fantasy has D20 license revoked

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003

That’s how they announced it – not that they’d decided to go OGL instead of D20, but that their D20 license has been revoked. The product will be published as OGL, in November rather than October. Full press release below.

Paranoia creator on My Life With Master

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003

Tabletop RPG designer emeritus Greg Costikyan has posted a lengthy, incisive review of alterna-RPGers’ GenCon fave My Life With Master on his (essential) weblog. He notes that he can no longer be sure how innovative this game really is; I’m not that well qualified either but I do see things reminiscent of Sorceror and Puppetland. Costikyan is doing criticism here in the highest sense, and people who want to understand RPGs better should read this without delay. (And check out his commercial speculations!)

Underworld director reveals plans for future

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003

In an interview at, Underworld director and co-author Len Wiseman mentions a sequel and prequel that may come to pass (or at least, they may have before the White Wolf lawsuit; the interview was completed before the suit was filed). Wiseman is quoted as saying “I’m obsessed with seeing this medieval battle between werewolves and vampires in black shiny armor.” So, time to file a suit about Vampire: Dark Ages, then? Wiseman also goes on to describe his next project, Black Chapter: “We pitched it as The Sixth Sense meets La Femme Nikita. We’ve never seen a ghost movie done as a high-energy action movie. We’ve seen ghost movies as suspense and horror and comedy. But imagine if in the Sixth Sense, you saw Bruce Willis pick up a gun and shoot a human being—and the CIA got wind of it.” So, the plan’s to go for Orpheus as well? Or maybe branching out into Delta Green territory?

When news is slow, buy something and start reporting on it: 1999 First Look

Monday, September 22nd, 2003

How does Cell Entertainment stay in business, despite having pushed all that plastic into the US market and watching it flop? Well, they’re evidently saving a little money on their web hosting. Anyway, their new (at least I’ve never seen it on shelves before) fantasy/sci-fi skirmish game, the perplexingly titled 1999, is interestingly packaged and seems to have fewer user-interface issues than their prior products. They’re standard scale metal figs this time – mine is from the Demonic faction and looks kinda like a Tuskan Raider with a two-handed table saw – packaged in Chainmail-ish boxes with color game cards showing an assembled and painted lead. The cards are pretty key, though; no more rulebooks filled with dense catalogs of tiny, almost-distinguishable pics of gear next to the relevant stats and special rules. Good for Cell!

Now, what about the game?

George Bush kicks Cthulhu’s ass

Friday, September 19th, 2003

” ‘This hypothesis is far from being proven,’ Gallard told Reuters from on board the Hesperides. ‘We use this technique because of its minimal environmental impact…the changes in pressure are very slight.’ ” And yet they are enough to drive men MAD!

Creepy News from Rio Grande

Friday, September 19th, 2003

Rio Grande Games is obviously preparing for Halloween, as their latest newsletter provides information on three new horror-themed games: Dracula, Vampire and Secret of the Tombs. Also forthcoming are Mü and More, a novel trick-taking game, Chicken Cha Cha Cha, a new children’s game, and a couple of additions to the Carcassonne line: Carcassone: The Castle and Carcassonne: King & Scout.

Daisho 1PG released by Deep7

Wednesday, September 17th, 2003

Deep7 has put out another title in the 1PG line of RPGs. This time it’s Daisho, bringing historical samurai epic films to gaming groups everywhere. The 13-page PDF provides the basic rules, a character sheet, six scenarios, and optional rules, all with bookmarks and hyperlinks. Between Daisho and the new, expanded print version of Shriek/Blood Island, Deep7 is keeping its fans busy.

White Wolf still hounding Underworld

Monday, September 15th, 2003

In case you missed it a few days back, White Wolf posted an update on their legal case against the makers of the movie Underworld (Sony Pictures, Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment). While it looks as though the movie won’t be stopped from reaching theaters, the press release states that “If the injunction is granted, defendants [Sony, etc] risk their ability to proliferate the Underworld brand in video, licenses and merchandising.” So, if you think Sony’s going to lose the case, you may want to catch the movie in theaters before it disappears for good.

New review: Den (& Rival Den) of Thieves

Monday, September 15th, 2003

Demian provides a look inside the two latest Rogue Publishing card games, Den of Thieves and Rival Den of Thieves. The backstabbing, fast-and-loose game and its sequel seem to have made a good impression on him.

D&D minis get a handbook after all

Monday, September 15th, 2003

Back at Origins I was told that there would be no book for D&D Miniatures apart from the starter booklet and the D&D core books. I guess that’s no longer true if it ever was. The Miniatures Handbook will apparently be a collection of monsters, feats and spells that goes nicely with the initial set of minis, along with mass battle and skirmish rules. But will kids be able to buy the minis Entry Pack and the Miniatures Handbook and believe that what they own is D&D? And would they really be wrong?