Archive for August, 2004

Live at Gen Con ’04: Gloom-y days ahead

Saturday, August 21st, 2004

Lurking in the Atlas Games booth, I ran into Keith Baker, creator of WotC’s Eberron, and Lee Moyer, major contributing artist for same. After talking for a few minutes, Keith mentioned his upcoming card game Gloom, for which John Nephew helpfully brought out the prototype. Set for release in October, Gloom will have players competing to be the most miserable. Each player will heap unfortunate events upon his family of poor souls while stacking good fortune atop his opponents. To enable players to see which “bad” cards cancel “good” cards and vice versa, the cards will be transparent and lay on top of the “character” cards each player has. Looking down through the card stack will show which traits are covered by something else, thereby being cancelled, and which traits are still in effect. When a family dies off completely, the game ends, and points of misery are scored.

Live at Gen Con ’04: ENnie winners announced

Friday, August 20th, 2004

The winners of this year’s ENnie Awards were awarded at a quicker-than-usual ceremony, and much fun was to be had. Here’s the list of winners:

Best Aid or Accessory
Gold: Roleplaying Tips GM Encyclopedia (
Silver: Counter Collection Gold (Fiery Dragon Productions)

Best Art (Interior)
Gold: Nocturnals: A Midnight Companion (Green Ronin Publishing)
Silver: Bestiary of Krynn (Sovereign Press)

Best Cartography
Gold: Thieves’ Quarter (Green Ronin Publishing/The Game Mechanics)
Silver: Redhurst: Academy of Magic (Fast Forward Entertainment/Human Head Studios)

Best Graphic Design & Layout
Gold: Nocturnals: A Midnight Companion (Green Ronin Publishing)
Silver: Redhurst: Academy of Magic (Fast Forward Entertainment/Human Head Studios)

Best Art (Cover)
Gold: Grimm (Fantasy Flight Games)
Silver: Arcana Unearthed (Malhavoc Press)

Best Official Website
Gold: Hero Games
Silver: Green Ronin Publishing

Best Publisher (Overall)
Gold: Green Ronin Publishing
Silver: White Wolf

Best d20 Game
Gold: Arcana Unearthed (Malhavoc Press)
Silver: Grimm (Fantasy Flight Games)

Best Adventure
Gold: Lost City of Barakus (Troll Lord Games/Necromancer Games)
Silver: Black Sails Over Freeport (Green Ronin Publishing)

Best Campaign Setting
Gold: Dawnforge (Fantasy Flight Games)
Silver: Redhurst: Academy of Magic (Fast Forward Entertainment/Human Head Studios)

Best Setting Supplement
Gold: Crooks! (Green Ronin Publishing)
Silver: Thieves’ Quarter (Green Ronin Publishing/The Game Mechanics)

Best Rules Supplement
Gold: Crime and Punishment (Atlas Games)
Silver: Torn Asunder (Bastion Press)

Best Monster Supplement
Gold: Crooks! (Green Ronin Publishing)
Silver: Bestiary of Krynn (Sovereign Press)

Best Revision/Update/Compilation
Gold: Complete Book of Eldritch Might (Malhavoc Press)
Silver: Book of Fiends (Green Ronin Publishing)

Best Non-d20 Game
Gold: Cthulhu Dark Ages (Chaosium)
Silver: HARP (Iron Crown Enterprises)

Best Non-d20 Supplement
Gold: Fantasy Hero (Hero Games)
Silver: 50 Fathoms (Pinnacle Entertainment Group)

Best Non-d20 Setting or Setting Sourcebook
Gold: The Turakian Age (Hero Games)
Silver: To Go (Unknown Armies)(Atlas Games)

Best Non-d20 Adventure
Gold: Champions Battlegrounds (Hero Games)
Silver: Shades of Black (Champions) (Hero Games)

Best Licensed Product
Gold: Nocturnals: A Midnight Companion (Green Ronin Publishing)
Silver: Babylon 5 RPG (Mongoose Publishing)

Best Electronic Product (not free)
Gold: Sidewinder: Recoiled (Dog House Rules)
Silver: Roleplaying Tips GM encyclopedia (

Best Free Product or Web Enhancement
Gold: Initiative cards (The Game Mechanics)
Silver: Ezine Archives (

Best Fan Site
Silver: SWRPGnetwork

OgreCave extends its congratulations to all the winners. Same time next year, then?

Live at Gen Con ’04: OgreCave T-shirt Throwdown – Part Deux

Friday, August 20th, 2004

Okay, it’s been a rough day but I’m starting to make up some ground on that punk with six t-shirts. Today’s count: four for me, six for for the guy who is soon to be humiliated on his own website.

Live at Gen Con ’04: The Red Star

Friday, August 20th, 2004

To call the world of The Red Star merely an alternative universe or alternative future is to do it a disservice. The comic book created by Christian Gossett seems to be so much more than that.

Live at Gen Con ’04: Finding monsters expeditiously

Thursday, August 19th, 2004

Suzi at Expeditious Retreat Press brought the noise and the funk — or at least a thorough list of D&D beasts. Monster Geographica: Underground, a collection of 200 3.0 and 3.5 monsters, released here at Gen Con with a new approach to its menagerie listing. As the title suggests, all the creatures in its pages dwell in subterranian areas. The monsters are then listed by their Challenge Rating, not alphabetically, placing the right size of threatening adversary at the gamemaster’s fingertips. More Monster Geographica titles are planned, for other terrain types such as Mountains, Forest, and Plains. D20 gamers can bring the easy reference book home for a mere $20.

Live at Gen Con ’04: OgreCave T-shirt Throwdown

Thursday, August 19th, 2004

So, it all started at last year’s Gen Con Indy when both Steve and I, through random acts of fate and generous game companies, both ended up with six free t-shirts apiece. At Gen Con SoCal a few months later, we both actively tried to outdo each other in t-shirt accumulation, but despite our best efforts, we tied again at four shirts apiece. At the GAMA Trade Show, we tied once more at three free shirts each. This Gen Con, right here, right now, the tie will be broken and a winner will be decided. Oh yeah, it’s on, buddy. You’re going down.

My Life With Master takes Diana Jones (award, that is)

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004

The prestigious Diana Jones Award For Excellence In Gaming for 2004 goes to the experimental narrativist RPG My Life With Master. In other news, someone forgot to renew a domain. [UPDATE: The new website for the Diana Jones Award is The host company fouled up the domain renewal, and a squatter has taken roost at the old URL.]

Live at Gen Con ’04: Prowling for promo minis

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004

The WotC booth is nearly set up now, with mostly chairs and product displays to piece together, and a guy fiddling with a mixing board to get the booth’s music just right. Over next to a large robot-like statue (10’+ tall), a few sealed boxes caught my eye. Apparently containing D&D Miniatures Game promo figures, half said “Rhek” and the other half said “Half-Illithid Lizardfolk.” A source said these were from the upcoming Aberrations expansion set. They must be mine.

Live at Gen Con ’04: Scoping things out

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004

Not much going on yet, but the storm that will be Gen Con Indy ’04 is about to break. I’ve wandered through the exhibit hall to get a sense of where companies will be. Miniatures company Rakham has a fairly large booth near the front of the hall with a huge Confrontation banner suspended above it. Upper Deck has gone for a more realistic sized booth this year, without the huge monstrosity of metal gangplanks that discouraged booth traffic. Wizards of the Coast has about the same area as last year, and was still unpacking when I passed through, but I took note of a nice G.I. Joe TCG banner. Over at the Hyatt about an hour ago, True Dungeon was ready to go, but True Heroes was still frantically being set up. Overall, the show will be ready to go very soon, and this is the last, frantic push to get everything up in time.

Right, so, Allan’s at Gen Con

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004

And I forgot to tell him to get me a copy of Paranoia XP OR DIE. Expect a post or two by the end of the day on some products, some booths, and some crap.

I accuse Professor Betrayal, in the house, with the hill

Monday, August 16th, 2004

Finally, some more details about Avalon Hill’s most original release of the year. Betrayal at House on the Hill is still a tile-based game in which one of the players turns against the others, but we now know that each individual character will have attributes, strengths, and weaknesses. The article suggests there are more subtleties in the victory conditions and such, which is good, because if we didn’t know that, this would sound like a When Darkness Comes variant. And hey, if you like When Darkness Comes, more power to you, but when the company that owns hundreds of long-out-of-print game designs, some of them classics, sounds as if its original game for the year is a When Darkness Comes variant, I think it’s fair to say that there’s trouble. I understand both the desire and the occasional practical necessity to keep the finer details of game play out of the press, but it’s been particularly frustrating in this case. So I’m relieved to see these details and am looking forward to the full release.

If you want to control information, putting your email archive behind a password is a pretty good idea

Monday, August 16th, 2004

Self-exiled GAMA BoD president Treasurer Ryan Dancey says he didn’t “hack” into anything – rather, he found that GAMA’s internal communication email list archive was available for all to see on an un-password-protected web server. He claims he made someone at GAMA aware of this situation, and when he didn’t hear back about it, he just shrugged his shoulders and kept reading. Given my direct experience with disorganization and lack of web-savviness in the industry, I’m inclined to believe Dancey’s claim.

My BS detector starts to stir back to life when I read about his motivations for saving GAMA, however. He says that “[i]f GAMA fails, and the ORIGINS Awards fail with it, a dozen individuals will create separate trade associations and Awards programs, each with different charters and objectives, and each will aggregate a small, vocal minority of participants and none will ever be as successful or have as much chance for future success as GAMA does today.” That is certainly true if your criteria for a successful industry awards body is one in which the majority of voters understand little about the majority of categories. Balkanizing the awards doesn’t seem like a disastrous idea to me – the ENnies have demonstrated that a more focused awards program doesn’t have to mean a drop down to amateurishness. I could certainly see a world in which separate trade groups for D20 publishers, board and card game publishers, and miniatures companies could more productively serve the industry as a whole – after all, when it comes to doing market research, how much do, say, Privateer Press and Looney Labs really have in common?

Dancey has likely heard this kind of talk before, and it likely gives him a nightmare vision of the industry steadily dwindling down to nothing. Well… I think that might happen no matter what we do. But that’s another post.

[Update: for those who need still more drama in their gaming life, the remaining GAMA board has some more to say too.]

Winter is… still coming

Saturday, August 14th, 2004

The rules to the expansion set for A Game of Thrones board game, A Clash of Kings, has been posted at Fantasy Flight’s website. Highlights include adding a sixth player via a modular board, siege engines, new house cards, new combat rules and rules to plan for the Westeros cards. Not included are rules for misnamed sequels or delayed fourth books.

The eternal struggle continues online!! Because that’s what eternal things do!! They continue!!

Friday, August 13th, 2004

Back when we first posted about CCG Workshop, I wasn’t sure things looked good for them, and announcements of subsequent additions to their roster frankly didn’t make them look much more like they had a promising future. Well, that’s all changed. White Wolf has announced that Vampire: The Eternal Struggle will be playable online, using CCGW’s engine, both in the existing CCG Workshop setting and through WW’s own servers. Development has already started on the online version, and something will be in beta sometime this year. It’s good to see this. Press release below.

Brigands, bazaars, and the king of the old school

Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

A replication of the germinal proto-electronic board game Dark Tower, executed entirely in Flash, playable in your browser by one to four players. Featuring original box art and sounds. I’m going to go ahead and say it: it is perfect. You owe us a drink for finding you this one.