Archive for September, 2004

The Glorious Sound of Cheapass

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

If you thought their forays into video games were unexpected, sit down now. Thanks to the band Beatnik Turtle there is now an official album of songs devoted to the wonders of Cheapass Games. Hey! Don’t just sit there. Listen to sound samples!

More Rio Grande News

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

While it seems like it hasn’t been long since the last one, Rio Grande Games has produced yet another newsletter. Most of the game descriptions have been seen in past announcements, but they have revealed more details on their forthcoming Carcassonne releases. The new expansion will be called The Count while the new stand-alone game will be called The City. If you’re a fan of the tile-laying game and can’t wait to find out more, there are more details available at BoardGameGeek here and here.

A Good Day for Arrowflight

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

Deep7 has just announced the release of a new issue of their King’s Dispatch newsletter for the Arrowflight RPG. It’s available, as always, in their free member’s area. They’re also offering a special sale on the game, so if you’ve been thinking of trying it, now is the time. In other news from the company, a PDF supplement on Casablanca is available for Mean Streets and a second Red Dwarf supplement is on the way!

Also, this game is not about psychic little kids in Disney movies

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

I held off on posting this earlier because the link to the game itself was broken, but 20×20 Room has some very interesting comments about a new one-shot PDF RPG called The Mountain Witch. What caught my eye about this at first was that there’s an actual stat for Trust – you assign points to it at certain junctures in the story and can use them later – just because of the whole systems-for-things-other-than-hitting-things, um, thing. But this isn’t necessarily a Paranoia-esque betrayal-fest, oh no – the folks quoted in this post say they’d trust the other players more after playing this. You don’t see recommendations like that every day. Besides the underexplored possibility space of what can be turned into a stat besides strength, maybe “mainstream” RPGs could stand to explore the kinds of psychological effects that arise from “role-playing” in other contexts – even therapeutic ones.

ARG: another acronym to embrace before it destroys you

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

Many of you likely know all about I Love Bees, the mysterious site the URL for which was flashed briefly at the end of an online trailer for Microsoft’s upcoming first-person shooter Halo 2. You may also remember the promotional online puzzle games that tied in with Steven Spielberg’s A.I., which games came to be known collectively as “The Beast” and whose community of players called themselves the Cloudmakers. Rich with game-world detail, convincing characters and sometimes-fiendish puzzles, these alternate reality games, or ARGs, are… well… basically just LARPs. I Love Bees recently took another step closer to LARPhood when it not only challenged players to find and answer pay phones being called by an in-game AI, but anointed the answerers of certain calls with membership in the “crew” of the AI’s lost spaceship.

One player is not happy. Eric Burns laments that the collaboration with strangers in real time that made his experience in the Cloudmakers so compelling will be weakened and eventually destroyed by this singling out of a few lucky players. But collective-detection to unlock a story is basically How to Host a Murder – you can keep fiddling with the puzzles and the means of revelation, but you can’t disguise the fact that, after all the fire and motion, you are still just waiting for the next piece of story to consume. A story is not a game. ARGs are now making the leap from that model to the model of Mind’s Eye Theater – by adding actual gameplay. So far, it’s just the game of Prisoner’s Dilemma; do you, the individual, stick with the group, or do you defect? Other games are possible in ARGs, and we will no doubt see more than a few of those possibilities soon. The question is whether going from the How to Host a Murder model to the model of today’s LARPs will come with the same loss of accessibility – and popularity.

Rage addiction is apparently still a serious problem

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

Fans of the old Rage CCG have produced an entire expansion, complete with art, called Gauntlet. (“Red– Werewolf– is about to die!!”) White Wolf appears pretty proud of this – they’ve even designated the new set tournament-legal. At first I thought this was another CCG Workshop deal, like for The Eternal Jyhad Or Something, but no, it’s a downloadable PDF. It’s not clear (to me, anyway) whether this set is for the original, slippery-cards Rage, which I remember as decently fun, or the later, Vegasized Rage, which I never played. I don’t even remember if they’re incompatible or not. Clearly I need to be devoured.

Egyptian Adventures preview at Green Ronin

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

Looks like a preview is up on the Green Ronin site for Egyptian Adventures: Hamunaptra. An uber-setting in the Mythic Vistas d20 line, Hamunaptra is coming to you in full effect: a boxed, three book set. The press release has more details, or you can just jump directly to the downloadable goodies and get a closer look.
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MSN’s Catan page looks like something all of a sudden

Monday, September 27th, 2004

Those who are interested in the challenges of transitioning the most popular board game of the last ten years to the screen (not that screen – stop being difficult) might want to have a look at the updates on the official Catan Online site. You can read a developer diary post, see a screenshot at one degree of separation, or even “Learn about the Klaus Teuber.” More fun than a barrel of insert-resource-card-name-here.

The Fine Art of Ronin

Friday, September 24th, 2004

There’s been a veritable flood of releases from Ronin Arts in the past week, for all d20 occasions. Athenaeum Arcane: A Score of Malevolent Special Abilities, written by former Mongoose employee Patric Younts, presents twenty special abilities magic items can have, from saw tooth to corpse eater. In Athenaeum Arcane: Spells of the Vampire, Andrew Hind brings a dozen spells for the blood-sucking beasts into the light. James Maliszewski’s Modern: Occult Heroes details five occult races, a great compliment to Cthulhu-esque campaigns. As if that weren’t enough, three more releases became available for download this week, including a Modern: Character Dossier designed by Michael Hammes. Who knows when the Ronin Arts development machine will overflow with more d20 goodness? Soon, I’m sure.

All the joke titles I thought of for this post were too depressing

Tuesday, September 21st, 2004

Election USA‘s marketing text begins with the following: “Why not run for President in this first boardgame from Mongoose Publishing? Remember, though, you have to be a Republican!” Yes, it’s a bit of political satire from the other side of the pond (where maybe it’s a little safer, commercially speaking). I’m always surprised that there aren’t more satirical games, given that game systems can caricature economic realities the same way cartoons can caricature appearances. People seem to have figured this out in the video gaming arena, but there still isn’t a lot happening of note, even there. Guess we’re still too busy drawing babes with swords.

Warpstone #22: Chris Pramas on WFRP2

Monday, September 20th, 2004

Ever since Green Ronin’s original announcement that it would develop Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play: Second Edition for Games Workshop, gamers have been itching to get more details. In issue 22 of Warpstone Magazine (shipping now), more details will be revealed in an interview with Green Ronin founder Chris Pramas. When asked what needs to be fixed in the WFRP rules, Pramas, personally revising the new edition, had the following answer:

The core of the system is a good one but it has been a long time since the first edition. A lot of my work is simplifying, clarifying, and streamlining. The three “big issues” were long-term character advancement, the magic system, and the old chestnut of “naked dwarf syndrome.” I’ve addressed the first and third of those already and I’ll be sorting the magic system next. There were also some things in the old rules that seemed to be there because they were in AD&D, like alignment and class. Those we just tossed.

Chris’ words should reassure longtime fans of the game. Combined with popular WFRP authors and an ambitious release schedule (which you’ll have to read the review to learn about), the new version should turnout to be exactly the improved version WFRP fans have been hoping for.

Deep7 takes to the skies

Saturday, September 18th, 2004

Having just come back from seeing Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow at my local megamovieplex, I find Deep7‘s latest release, The Aviator’s Handbook, quite timely. A supplement for the pulp 1PG RPG Dime Heroes, this new 15-page PDF supplement includes new character options, rules for aerial combat, sample planes, and more. The Aviator’s Handbook also includes a five-part adventure serial, Menace from the Stratosphere, and manages all of this without menacing your wallet at a mere $2.50 (or just $1.00 if you buy another 1PG title).

More ways to help former TSR artist

Thursday, September 16th, 2004

We’ve received word from Paul J. Stormberg, the fellow who is helping to run the Ebay auctions for ailing former TSR artist David Sutherland. In addition to the auctions, a PayPal account has been established to allow Sutherland’s family to receive donations from his many fans (click “Read more” for the details). If even one RPG cover or module map by Sutherland has inspired your game sessions, consider offering your thanks for all the great adventure by bidding or donating.
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OgreCave review: Omlevex

Thursday, September 16th, 2004

Sounds like a futuristic shopping complex, doesn’t it? But no, Omlevex by Z-Man Games is a multi-system superhero RPG supplement, and the latest addition to our reviews. Have a look at what Matthew had to say, and get into the proper mindset for some Silver Age comic book heroism. But put that cape away, it’s not flattering on you at all.

Ex-40k guy does Starship Troopers; Mobile Infantry goes “waaaugh!”

Thursday, September 16th, 2004

Well, now we know what former Warhammer 40,000 lead designer Andy “Return to the 36″ Chambers will do next. He’s co-designing the Starship Troopers minis game for Mongoose. It’s still slated to hit early next year. Bugs vs. fascists, yummy.