Archive for October, 2003

Who you gonna Call of Cthulhu?

Friday, October 31st, 2003

As a Halloween treat for you cultists out there, Chaosium has just released The Parapsychologist Handbook, a 109-page paperback available only through Chaosium’s website. Bringing ghost hunting any era of Cthulhu campaign, the book “reveals the real-world science of the paranormal, Parapsychology (its history and methods), how to play a parapsychologist, how to run a Call of Cthulhu campaign centered around a ghost-hunting group, and how to simulate various non-Mythos entities and psychic powers in your campaign.” The book sells for $14.95, and currently lacks the full layout kung-fu treatment Chaosium is capable of. However, should the Handbook see spirited sales, there’s a good chance the book will rise again in a reprint with the full treatment.

Grey Star Rides Again

Friday, October 31st, 2003

It’s been a few months since Project Aon last published a book, but they’ve just managed to put together a new release: The Forbidden City, second of the World of Lone Wolf gamebooks. If you need a dose of gamebook goodness, you can’t go wrong here!

Liches uncorked at Bottled Imp

Thursday, October 30th, 2003

The fellows at Bottled Imp Games are nearly ready to unleash the sequel to their respected and feared d20 supplement, The Lords of the Night: Vampires. The new book, The Lords of the Night: Liches, will not only describe the process of becoming one of the foul undead, but describe the powers they’ve developed as well. A three-page preview is available for those interested in injecting some undying wizardry into their games. Liches is expected to be available mid-November, around the same time the Bottled Imp website will be getting a facelift. After all, even undead could use a lift and tuck every so often.

Fixed fig sets for D&D Minis cancelled

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

WotC has announced on the D&D Minis home page that two announced non-random box sets, Orc War Party and Outlaw War Party, have been cancelled. They cite business considerations as well as nebulously defined “player feedback.” Amazingly, some folks online are complaining about this decision. Who would have thought. First: of course the way the miniatures game is packaged privileges wargamers over roleplayers. The whole D&D system privileges wargamers. Second: WotC has not only the right but the obligation to sell to the people who buy. Roleplayers are not buying the randomized packs, because the only people who want monster leads to begin with are DMs, and there are fewer of them than of players, who want (at least) one lead of their character. I expect that, once D&D Minis builds more of a head of steam, that we will see fixed sets for it, just like we did for MK Dungeons. I’m glad to see that WotC isn’t damaging their new game (yes, it really is a new game) by overextending it too early.

Redhurst Spellflag adventure posted

Monday, October 27th, 2003

Human Head Studios just posted a free d20 adventure to compliment The Redhurst Academy of Magic (which you can win a copy of in our Redhurst contest, by the way). The 11-page PDF, The Founder’s Day Cup, provides an adventure that makes use of Human Head’s other recent web freebie, the Spellflag rules. Get in there and make the Founder proud, or something.

This Halloween, Dismember Your Friends

Saturday, October 25th, 2003

The latest free game from Invisible City Productions has arrived just in time for Halloween. In Grunt, Growl and Tear, players control monsters which move around a board battling one another. One of the most interesting twists is that you can rip off your opponents’ limbs… and attach them to yourself for special powers! Also of note is the fact that add-ons for the game will soon begin appearing regularly at www.gruntgrowlandtear.com. In any case, if you’ve been looking for a wacky tactical combat game, this may just satisfy your cravings. The fact that it’s free doesn’t hurt any!

Mage Knight 2 Playtest Report: the prequel to the preview

Friday, October 24th, 2003

Neither Allan nor I had actually played Mage Knight up until yesterday. We’ve flirted with MK Dungeons (he’s actually on a big Dungeons kick right now), but that’s it. So, we’re not the best qualified to tell you how Mage Knight 2 differs from its predecessor, but we’ve gathered a little. We also have too small a sample to deal with to tell you generally what the figure selection is like in gameplay. We played the Quick Start rules and aim to get a fuller game in next week. Details below.
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Gold Rush previews Chinatown

Friday, October 24th, 2003

Gold Rush Games has let us know that The Dragon’s Gate: San Angelo’s Chinatown is on schedule for its December release. Better still, a free 13-page PDF preview is available for folks to check out beforehand. Compatability logos are all over this supplement, which has stats for the HERO System, M&M Superlink (Mutants & Masterminds) and the Action! System. After all, what system couldn’t use a Big Trouble in Little China session or two?

Layoffs at WizKids

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

Though details are sketchy, we’ve been hearing that around 25 employees have been laid off at WizKids. According to rumor, this includes HeroClix guy Jeff Grubb, though so far we can only confirm that WizKids has let go of Dave Nieker, their Advertising & PR Manager. This particular case was reportedly due to job redundancy after consolidation with Topps, which recently bought WizKids. We’ll let you know if we hear more. UPDATE: We’ve just received the following official statement from Jon Leitheusser, Director of Game Design at WizKids.
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OgreCave contest: Redhurst Spellflag Season

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

We’ve got another great contest for you to enter. This time, Human Head Studios has offered up a copy of their gorgeous d20 supplement, the Redhurst Academy of Magic student’s handbook. Heck, Matt Forbeck, the book’s developer and main author, has even agreed to sign it. All you have to do is answer a simple question for us, and you could make off with the prize. Have a look at the Redhurst Spellflag Season contest, and get in the running.

More WarCraft thoughts, or: I really need to buy someone in Michigan a drink

Tuesday, October 21st, 2003

Our WarCraft board game story got picked up by Slashdot yesterday, and I found some stuff to say there, because even in the less-trafficked areas, where intelligence has a shot at shining through, Slashdot is always a reliable wellspring of hot and cold running stupid. People there seem to actually believe that a WarCraft board game will stimulate interest in Warhammer 40K, and further, that Starcraft is some kind of 40K ripoff. How they started talking about Starcraft, I dunno. Maybe I’m wrong: maybe turning elves into wacky armored fancy guys isn’t the sole completely obvious thing to do when you take a fantasy setting and turn it into sci-fi. In any case, the other WH rantings on the thread reveal, to my eye anyway, that video game players really do see us the way we see them. They look at our profusion of boards with little plastic dudes all over them and it doesn’t even occur to them that there might be huge vistas of emergent gameplay and behavior – that our games might not only have value, but be different from one another. Of course, as in the video games arena, our chainmail boobs are not helping us.

I looked for some info on when the game will be shipping, just so I could pretend I have some news, but there’s still nothing really firm on that from FFG. First week of November seems reasonable, and would certainly fit my lifestyle.

New Cthulhu mutation nearly determined

Monday, October 20th, 2003

As mentioned before, a contest is underway at Yog-Sothoth to select the best idea for a new Toy Vault plush Cthulhu toy. The ten finalists have been chosen, and you can go vote. Kinda makes you feel powerful, in a “lord of the stuffed animals” type of way.

Warcraft board game nearly in stores

Saturday, October 18th, 2003

Fantasy Flight’s website is abuzz with news of the nearly-released Warcraft: The Board Game. In his latest article, designer Kevin Wilson described his desire to have an endless variety of scenarios for the game, and how victory points and interchangable board pieces will make it possible. According to Wilson, FFG plans to host an area of the site specifically for sharing Warcraft scenarios, an idea I wholeheartedly approve of. The game’s being assembled for shipping, and considering there’s 13 board sections alone, helping bring the game’s component count to over 400 pieces, that could take a while. However, the late October release remains as the public street date estimate.

Dawn of the mutants… again

Saturday, October 18th, 2003

Sci-fi roleplayers are more than a little curious about the updated version of Gamma World coming up from Sword & Sorcery. That curiosity can be indulged now with the new Gamma World website, which details the reenvisioned setting, has a new adventure, a quick sampling of races, powers, and a few pages from the book itself. I particularly enjoyed the mention of the dog race not just biting the hands that fed them, but eating them as part of a ritual.

Topps, WizKids confirm MLB SportsClix

Thursday, October 16th, 2003

As many suspected, this morning’s Topps/WizKids press teleconference, a sports miniatures game was the announcement. ESPN’s Keith Olbermann read a scripted release that revealed MLB SportsClix, a collectible baseball miniatures game, was scheduled for release in March 2004. Players will act as team managers, selecting specially designed dice to use with the stats in the click-base of the professional baseball player figures, and fielding their team on a baseball diamond-like playmat. Starter sets will contain nine figures, and boosters will contain either three or two figures (the latter being the version for mass market chain stores). Our notes on the conference call are below.
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Blue torch special on Hasbro crap!

Wednesday, October 15th, 2003

Hasbro-branded games are buy one, get one free at Toys ‘R’ Us this week apparently. (Some other possibilities – hey, they still make Crossfire!)

More lawsuit fun: WotC sues Pokemon USA, uses the word “tortuous”

Monday, October 13th, 2003

Wizards alleges “patent infringement, breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, tortuous interference with a business relationship, unjust enrichment and other claims“. Pokemon USA says, “We were sued the day after our distribution agreement with Wizards ended [...] We are confident that we’ve acted both legally and fairly with respect to Wizards”. Mammon, I choose you!

Vault of Fiends all tidy, ready for close-up

Saturday, October 11th, 2003

In case you missed the mention of it on the Atlas Games dispatches, word is that Dungeoneer: Vault of the Fiends has moved past card approval stage and is rapidly approaching release. The follow-up release to Dungeoneer,one of last year’s best stand-alone card games, looks to repeat that success with some minor-but-significant improvements. The best of these features, pumpable monster cards, will make those threats you throw at your opponents far more satisfying to bring out. And the two Dungeoneer games, both stand-alones, can be combined for two great tastes that play great together. Expect Dungeoneer 2: Electric Boogaloo… er, Vault of the Fiends to reach stores in November.

Spellflag freebie up at Human Head

Friday, October 10th, 2003

Human Head Studios just sent word that the free PDF Matt Forbeck’s been feverishly working on is finally available. The free web enhancement for Redhurst: Academy of Magic presents rules for Spellflag, “the game of Wizards.” You can pick up your copy at the company’s download page, and see if it compares at all to Quiddich.

Vampyres spread through Cheapass

Friday, October 10th, 2003

Cheapass Games has embraced the Halloween spirit by hiding the six Vampyre Button Men in various places around the company’s website. If you find ‘em and email the links, your next order will have a complete set of Vampyre Button Men coming with your next order. The new Deadland: On Location would be a good one to create an order for.

Look at me, I bought some Initial D boosters

Thursday, October 9th, 2003

“Big Brakes”? That’s my rare? “Big Brakes.” Whatever. What I’m starting to really like about this game is its vaguely Engrish qualities: how the flavor text or title of a card seem just subtly wrong enough to be funny, while the card keeps a straight face, as it were. “This is the beginning of a beautiful battle.” All righty then.

I haven’t invested in a starter yet, so I can’t tell you if there have been any major gameplay changes from the demo set I picked up at Origins. It doesn’t look like there have been, though. The cars that go with the selection of starter decks I saw look like they’re balanced pretty well as far as cost vs. power… I dunno. I wouldn’t be reporting on this if news were a little thicker. Only other thing I can think of is the bit in the rumors section of this update from Chaosium about Metallica being approached to do a Cthulhu for President album. And the only funny thing about that is that some folks on the Internet are reportedly taking it seriously. As if they’d deal with the Great Old Ones after tangling with Napster…

Mhorann Games gets feet wet

Tuesday, October 7th, 2003

Mhorann Games, a new entry in the publishing field, is “testing the waters,” as it were. How? With an aquatic d20 adventure, of course. Terror in Paradise is a 46-page PDF that takes 3rd-4th level characters and strands them on an unchanrted tropical island filled with friendly-yet-duplicitous natives and a wealth of deadly beasts. The adventure can be purchased at RPGNow for $7, and free downloads of maps and a seaborne adventure primer are available on Mhorann’s download page. Hmmm… does the adventure’s title sound more like a Styx tune, or something from Phil Collins?

Green Ronin unburies Skull & Bones extras

Tuesday, October 7th, 2003

Having finally overcome the curse upon it’s release, Green Ronin‘s Skull & Bones has arrived in stores. To mark the occasion, GR has dug up a special, larger version of a period map that appears in the book, as well as the original Skull & Bones preview PDF. For those that need to feel like a pirate on a more regular basis, there’s also free desktops ripe for the plundering.

Thought it was a joke, didn’t you?

Saturday, October 4th, 2003

Well, yes, Battle Cattle has been stretching the same joke for quite a while now, but the Battle Cattle plush is no joke. Maybe you didn’t believe it when the preview art was posted, though. No problem. Now there’s pictures of the finished prototype Toy Vault has put together, and I’m sure Wingnut Games couldn’t be more proud. Let’s see here… that looks like a grenade instead of a cow bell, a cybernetic eye and leg, twin rockets mounted on either side of his hindquarters… definitely a farm animal that’s ready to roast some rump.

Free Board Game Just Keeps Changing!

Wednesday, October 1st, 2003

Invisible City has come through again with another game of the month. In Slipmax, players roll a die and race around a board, gaining and losing money based on where they end up. It all sounds very traditional, but there’s a twist: what happens to each player isn’t based on static squares on the board; instead, there are “register strips” which move during play, leading to a constantly shifting gaming environment. It’s not as confusing as it sounds, and in any case, you can clarify any confusion by taking a look yourself; after all, it’s free!