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Christmas Gift Guide 2010 (11/26/10)
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Unplugged Gaming News And Views
Sunday, March 31, 2002
9:41 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Borrow The Car Contest Almost Done
Only 2.25 hours left until 12pm PST, which will bring an end to our Car Wars "Borrow the Car" contest. Hurry and read the rules (don't worry, they're short) and get your entry to us before midnight on bunny day. A quick hundred words or less convincing your dad to give you the car keys, and if we pick your entry, you win a complete set of all nine Car Wars: Fifth Edition books from Steve Jackson Games (six of them before they're even available in stores). You can be amusing in 100 words, right? Type 'em up and prove it.

6:47 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Another Miniatures Gaming Publisher That Badly Needs A Decent Web Site
ICv2 brings the pain: Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer hits from Cell in time for Gen Con. It's a little disconcerting to read reportage on minis games that seems to believe WizKids invented them, but then again, ICv2's core audience is comics fans and retailers who only dabble in games - I suppose the same crowd that actually thinks Frazetta's name is a selling point. The report also namechecks Games Workshop, and that comparison will likely be common as Cell makes its big push to invade the US. It'll also scare off many players who would love both Hybrid and Ronin War. (I have this belief that lots of gamers hate and fear Games Workshop, which might not be true. It certainly used to be true for me, but I've taken a strong interest in minis over the past few months. I'm not sure why. GW policies and prices are almost starting to seem reasonable to me. It's scary.)

Saturday, March 30, 2002
2:59 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
So I'm Wrong, And GW Sucks Cont.
The same source that told me BFG was coming back into print in September (and insists there was a press release about it at some point) says that "the current edition" of Talisman in fact refers to the last one to go out of print. He's the only coherent source of info I have so far, because, well, we've covered the relative quality of the web site. Games Workshop does an admirable job of keeping games on life support, but not such a great job of informing the next of kin, you know what I mean? So, no new edition of Talisman. You'll just have to scare up the original if that's your preferred way to kill 1 to 12 hours.

Friday, March 29, 2002
9:35 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Lost Talisman Characters Found Amidst Rampant Innuendo
If anyone needs another reason to hate Games Workshop, how about this: terminal vagueness. In this article about unpublished Talisman characters (PDF), designer Jervis Johnson keeps talking about "the current edition." Current? Like, five-years-out-of-print current? More than that? Three-hundred-dollars-on-eBay current? Jeez. So it's all just mean-spirited teasing about the new edition of Talisman, long rumored and coming... sometime. It's impossible to pin GW's website down on anything not happening in the next three weeks, and currently difficult to prove that Battlefleet Gothic ever existed. The only reason I went there in the first place was to confirm that Battlefleet (a starship-combat game I'm interested in due to alleged ease of model assembly and painting, and relative cheapness of building an army) is returning in a new edition in September. Whatever. I guess your site can suck as much as you want when you make more money than anyone else anyway. (I played my first game of Blood Bowl a couple nights ago... that thing's so much fun, and they're working on a new version of... Talisman. *sigh* (But now I'm finding vague rantings about a new Blood Bowl! See what I mean? Vagueness, people. Maybe it's all that contaminated beef over there.))

3:56 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
First Expansion For Buffy (Yes, I Mean The CCG - What Did You Think I Meant?)
The Angel's Curse expansion for the popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer CCG hits shelves today in the US and Canada. I wasn't aware that they were starting from way back in Season 1, but I guess they are. I also wasn't aware that I would ever have a head full of such amazingly trivial crap about a TV show again. *sigh* I have friends who have a need to buy all things Buffy, and yet have a pathological aversion to all things CCG. If they ever find this game, I wonder what will happen. Maybe an aneurysm.

3:34 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave's Car Wars Contest Nearly Over
Only a couple days left in our "Borrow the Car" contest. If you haven't done so already, go read the rules (don't worry, they're short) and get your entry to us before midnight PST on Sunday. Just a hundred words or less convincing your dad to give you the car keys, and if we pick your entry, you win a complete set of all nine Car Wars: Fifth Edition books from Steve Jackson Games (six of them before they're even available in stores). So get to it. You weren't planning on hunting for eggs this weekend anyway, were you?

2:45 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Three-Sixty Announces Film-Noir PDF RPG
Mean Streets: The RPG of Classic Film Noir, a complete downloadable game with a planned line of supplements, is coming soon from Three-Sixty Publishing, who have not only licensed the XPG system from fellow PDF-meisters Deep7, but will be selling through Deep7's web site. Three-Sixty has a number of other XPG products lined up as well. Interesting little fiefdom the guys are working on there. (Our interview with Deep7 is still forthcoming...)

Thursday, March 28, 2002
3:47 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Moving From Planned Obsolescence To Constant Discovery
I admit it - I forgot to go to Gamegrene for a while. So I only just found this article. It certainly looks like a catch-22: too many revised editions and supplements and people complain about being bled dry, too few and they'll say it's a "dead game." However, there's Sorceror, a game that announces at the start the finite and very small number of supplements it intends to have, ever. Sorceror seems to be testing the model that Satyre encourages in his rant. So, if Sorceror is in fact interpreted as "dead" by the buying public a year from now, where does that leave Ron Edwards? The same place that, say, Blizzard is after they put out one or two expansion packs for their last game: at the beginning of the design process for the next one. What if game publishers kept creating and taking risks, instead of flogging the old workhorses? In the wake of D20, there's room for many smaller games, that play to niches and encourage creativity on the part of players, not codependence. Maybe it won't be possible to make a non-D20 game huge in the future, but maybe hugeness won't be the only option.

3:11 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
D20 Munchkin
Dear God, help us.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002
2:49 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Citizen Tells Us Which Witch Is Which
Citizen Games has announced plans for Way of the Witch, a d20 sourcebook all about you-know-what. Four popular female authors (Janet Pack, Jean Rabe, Megan Robertson, and Christina Stiles) will pack the 128-page perfect bound book with new spells, prestige classes, skills, feats and other rules useful for witchcraft. Background materials, group casting rules, and other tidbits will round out the book, due to arrive this August. What, not waiting for an October release? Too predictable, I guess.

1:47 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
GIDFA Closing Down After Semi-Successful Mission
The Gaming Industry Disaster Fund Auction, founded by Gary Thompson of The Fiction & Fantasy Network, will be shutting down one week from today after a final grace period. Established to raise relief funds for victims of the September 11th tragedy in New York City, the Auction was a rallying point for gamers and industry members wanting to do their part by either contributing or bidding on items. However, things have not gone perfectly of late. In a statement today, Thompson explained why GIDFA was calling a halt:

It is now six months and more since the inception of the GIDFA project, and despite the best efforts of those involved, the project has been only a partial success. The GIDFA fund currently stands at $7,051.44 (roughly 5000) plus 353.02 in UK sterling.

Sadly, many contributors and bidders failed to honour their promises, with the result that the final fund is considerably smaller than had been anticipated. The GIDFA administrators have made strenuous efforts to close as many bids as possible. These efforts have taken up a tremendous amount of time, and have had an adverse affect on the personal lives of some of those involved.

...we are now convinced that those who have chosen continue to disregard their promises will continue to do so no matter what efforts are made by GIDFA staff.

Those who have paid for auction items but not received them should reach Gary before next Wednesday at The Fiction & Fantasy Network. If current estimations stand (and they probably will), GIDFA will fall nearly $9,000 short of what promised bids and donations should have earned. Still, $7,000+ is nothing to sneeze at.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002
5:01 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Cell Entertainment Announces Things Both Cool And Scary
In the cool department, there's Hybrid, a 60mm (read: big) scale minis skirmish game that'll be the first to use their "maglock" system as pervasively as it should have been used in the first place. According to flyers distributed at GTS, all weapons and armor will be magnetically attachable and removable, so you still have character-design flexibility after the glue is dry (and when you disarm your opponent, you really disarm your opponent - shades of Z-G!). Also coming out this year is the more futuristic game, inexplicably titled 1999, which is similarly large-scaled but doesn't mention maglock in its promo material, despite all the story business about on-the-fly genetic modifications. And lastly (here's the scary part), something called Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer. Mmm-hm. Scale isn't mentioned on the promo card we have, nor a release date. I hope that isn't the sole direction Cell takes in the wake of its American distribution deal, but I think Hybrid will win some fans, so I'm not too worried. Yet.

4:51 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Cheapass Parks Fightball On A Pole
People have been talking about Captain Park's Imaginary Polar Expedition on the Cheapasses mail list for a few weeks, but the details have only just come to light on the Cheapass web page. It's, like, a board game and stuff. Also filtering out from Cheapass consciousness is Fightball, apparently this year's card game in the Falling and BRAWL real-time lineage. Fightball art is by Eduardo Muller of Diceland fame. (We Ogrish types have our full set of Diceland now and will be reporting on it as soon as we can.)

6:40 AM: Demian Katz says...
Rio Grande Update
Rio Grande Games has posted their thirtieth newsletter. Although there are no groundbreaking announcements, Carcassonne fans will be pleased to hear that a second expansion set, which adds some new tiles and provides enough pieces to allow a sixth player, will be out soon. Also described and pictured in the newsletter are Halli Galli, a fruit-salad-themed game that sounds like the party favorite, Spoons; Puerto Rico, a strategy game set in the New World; and Pueblo, a Michael Kiesling/Wolfgang Kramer design which looks like a fun excuse for adults to play with building blocks.

Monday, March 25, 2002
10:42 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Underworld 2nd Edition Gets Rolling
Adamant Entertainment has announced plans for the second edition of Underworld, the property it acquired from Synister Creative Studios. Underworld Second Edition will relaunch the game with all of the original materials, plus the contents of the first supplement, DownBelow, and various other additions. The new hardcover book is scheduled for release in Fall 2002. Apparently, the reason Adamant didn't have a booth at GTS last week was that the original Underworld is totally out of stock at the warehouse. Yeah, not much point in a booth if the product's already gone. :-)

Roleplaying Tips Weekly #116
This week's new issue of Roleplaying Tips provides ways to improve your campaign through creative treasures. In my book, any way to reward the characters without just giving them money is a good one -- aside from granting godhood or something.

Thursday, March 21, 2002
11:08 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Peter Adkison Buys GenCon
We are not kidding. Wizards has the press release up. Doesn't this seem like it could become a bit dodgy? "Here, we're gonna move the preeminent game convention from its 30-year home to a whole new location, aaaaaaaaaand hereyouhandleeverythingokaycool." But I can't imagine Adkison would go into this blind, and I suppose everything will be fine. I'm gonna make an extra effort to catch the con this year before it moves, in any case.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002
7:27 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Zombies!!! Returns From Grave, Clutching Clichéd Headline
Todd Breitenstein, veteran of Journeyman Press, has formed Twilight Creations to bring Zombies back to the people. When Darkness Comes takes the variable-board mechanic of Zombies and adds RPG-like character creation. Art is from the original Zombies artists. The base set (yes, there will be expansions) allegedly hits on June 19.

11:40 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Sovereign Press To Publish Dragonlance D20
It was announced this morning at GAMA - original Dragonlance co-author Margaret Weis' company, Sovereign Press, will be doing Dragonlance for D&D3. It's unclear whether this will be a D20 book requiring the Player's Handbook and published by Sovereign, or some kind of licensed deal with full rules and the WotC logo somewhere. The core book hits in the fall, and there will of course be supplements. The full announcement isn't up anywhere official yet; EN World has it for now.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002
3:44 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Nominations for 2002 Origins Awards
The official site is going to be under construction until last week, so, um, until then, you can get the list of nominees here.

3:19 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
GOO Starts Creator-Owned Imprint
Buried under the hailstorm of GAMA stuff on GamingReport yesterday (quick recap: WotC may put restrictions on "trade dress" for certain types of D20 products, the new Star Wars CCG has D20s in it, it'll have basic common cards for the big characters and then rarer cards you stack up on top of it) is something that I think a lot of RPG creators and would-be creators will be affected by. Guardians of Order is starting an imprint called Magnum Opus, devoted to creator-owned RPGs and supplements using the Tri-Stat System.

Some gamers might be unfamiliar with what "creator-owned" really means, and why it's significant. Those who've followed the world of comics for the past ten years might have a better sense. Remember Image Comics, back when they were new? Most people probably remember them for Spawning an enormous collector craze, but the craze started because people thought these comics would be special. Several hot comics artists and writers founded Image, and structured it such that artists kept the rights to their artwork and intellectual property. In theory, an artist who's invested in what he creates is free to give it his all, whereas an artist who has to sign it all over to the company as work for hire might be well advised not to do anything he's going to want to keep later. (Apologies for the sexist language there, but we are talking about men in the case of Image Comics and, to bring it back to gaming, of John Wick. Wick is on the record about the work he did on L5R and the 7th Sea RPG while at AEG, and how he lost control of it - its owner, his employer, sold it off to WotC. He started Wicked Press so the same thing wouldn't happen to Orkworld or any of his subsequent creations.)

It didn't take long after the Image boom for comics fans to realize that, just because it's creator-owned, doesn't mean a book won't suck. Furthermore, some creators used their new little publishing companies to fulfill visions of being the pimp instead of the ho, finding young artists to exploit in turn. In comics, the situation has more or less stabilized today - all of the major publishers have creator-owned titles and characters as well as company-owned house characters. Some have special imprints to distinguish the creator-owned material and capitalize on its cachet. There isn't really enough awareness of the issue in gamerdom for that to be the reason for GOO's move, so what's the deal? For the answer, we have to revisit the D20 System's reason for being: the burden of role-playing "support."

Modules were such a money-loser for TSR that Ryan Dancey and Wizards of the Coast needed a way to let third parties publish D&D support materials, without threatening to genericize WotC's new intellectual property. (If you let just anyone use your terms and such, courts can take away your copyright - this is why Duncan doesn't own the term "yo-yo" and Paramount sends nasty letters to Star Trek fan pages.) The trick of "copyleft" - open-source software licenses - was adaptable to the purpose. But in gaming, it'll only work when you're offering a big enough opportunity, in terms of potential audience and sales, to make it worth taking the risk of forming a small publishing company. Now, Big Eyes Small Mouth is popular, but it doesn't have the massive draw of D&D to make publishers line up to support it. With Magnum Opus, Guardians appears to be meeting them halfway - as if they're saying, you take the risk of up-front investment of time and development energy, and we will license you the system and give you a publishing deal wherein you keep your intellectual property. Now that D20 is out there, this may be the only way to draw lots of third-party support for a role-playing game.

Maybe I'm just belaboring the obvious here, but I think these interactions are pretty interesting. Those who'd like to know more about creator ownership and how it functions in hobby industries should check out the Creator's Bill of Rights, drawn up by Understanding Comics author Scott McCloud at a comics industry conference in 1988. McCloud also has things to say about web publishing that might become relevant to gaming someday. Hmmm...

Monday, March 18, 2002
12:11 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Cell Entertainment Plots To Escape Sweden
Normally I wouldn't report on news like this, but it's been such a pain in the ass to get my hands on what I see as really exciting product that I was very happy to see this on GamingReport this morning: Cell Entertainment, manufacturers of great minis games like Lab and Ronin War (as well as, yes, some iffier titles), has hooked up a stateside production and distribution deal with Ed Andrews, a game industry veteran apparently known for his distribution and marketing wherewithal. Cell's stuff is very difficult for most retailers in the US to get, and little has been done to stimulate consumer demand (huh huh, I said "stimulate"). Hopefully this will all change soon. If you play CCGs and are even the slightest bit curious about minis, get yourself a Lab starter as soon as you can. (Update: my Ronin War stuff got primed without injury to stuff, primer, or human facilitators, so I should be able to play and review it soon. Then I will attempt to paint it, and likely be struck down by Odin as retribution for the results. I'll keep you posted.)

11:41 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Godlike: Not D20, But An Incredible Simulation!
So it turns out there's something kind of interesting in the appendices of the Godlike book. (To say nothing, for the moment, of the harrowing hazards in the Talent section, the phenomenal detail of the Background section that takes up the middle 151 pages of a 351-page hardcover, and the refreshing and commendable lack of a thick opening section of game fiction - what fiction there is is better written than usual, too.) A section called "Open Source Superhero Rules" has an introductory blurb that begins, "The following rules are designed using the same basic task resolution used by the world's most popular fantasy role-playing game." It goes on to give you the rules over again - hyperstats, Talents and all - this time using standard D20 System Reference Document stats and terminology, including character creation and level advancement rules. This is perfectly legal; it's just the D20 license, not the OGL, that forbids it. The D20 System name and logo appears nowhere in or on the Godlike book.

I've been waiting for something like this to happen. Maybe publishers couldn't get their heads around open source, or couldn't see the advantage to having the rules but not being able to announce it with the D20 logo. Pagan and Hobgoblynn seem to be providing it as insurance - against those players who hate learning new systems. They certainly aren't making a lot of noise about it. However, when I jumped up and down and raved about this to the boys at the store, they told me White Wolf is doing the same thing with EverQuest, announced two weeks ago. (*sigh* I can't do anything original.) And they don't seem to be using it as a backup, either. By my reading of the licenses, WotC has no grounds to file suit here, but we'll see what happens. Part of me hopes this starts a dogpile.

Sunday, March 17, 2002
10:53 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Privateer Posts Monsternomicon Preview
With the characteristic style of the Iron Kingdoms setting, the Monsternomicon ain't just another book full of monsters. There's apparently a prestige class for moster-hunter, or monster-researcher or something, and a bunch of other stuff. Privateer Press slapped up a PDF preview just before running off to GAMA, which Allan also ran off to this morning. He might find a way to post news from the show and he might not, so bear with us if things look a little slow here at the Cave for a few days.

4:46 AM: Demian Katz says...
Invisible City Goes Commercial
Invisible City Productions, the company known mainly for free monthly games, has announced that their March game will be delayed due to work promoting a forthcoming line of commercial releases. These will include a high-quality version of their popular Run, Hamster, Run along with several completely new designs including Psycho Killer, a slasher-movie board game, Dragon Hatchery, a game for children, and Town Without Pity, the first entry in the Angry Puritan line of adult-oriented releases. 2003 should be an interesting year.

Saturday, March 16, 2002
5:43 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Monte Cook On WotC Layoffs
We appreciate your trying to make us feel better, Monte. We're gonna worry anyway if it's okay with you. (The latest Line of Sight fleshes out the picture of the recent layoffs a bit more. 50 people, about 10% of total WotC staff, there's no more Director of Miniatures position at all, et cetera. We've been keeping an eye on the Green Ronin page to see if Pramas makes any statement. Most responses to the layoffs from those involved have been pretty accepting, if not exactly sanguine. I guess I can stop fantasizing about a StarCraft minis game now.)

5:32 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Decipher Rides Frodo To Tenuous Lead
According to the April 2002 issue of the trade magazine Comics & Games Retailer, Decipher's Lord of the Rings CCG was the top-selling CCG in the month of January, displacing Magic: The Gathering for only the second time in history. Decipher also reportedly beat WotC's overall share of the CCG market for that month, taking all of Decipher's CCGs into account against the combined forces of Magic, Pokemon and Harry Potter. Interesting; we'll see if it lasts...

5:10 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Word From SJG On Frag Deadlands
Here's the World War I flying ace with a response to our playtest report from none other than designer Phil Reed: "Yep, the rules aren't quite right. We're working on errata so that: When you roll 1s, you still roll for damage against the target. You then roll for damage against yourself. This makes it a bloodier game." So, be advised.

12:11 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
FRAG Deadlands Playtest Report
You know how people die really fast in Frag? They die reeeallllyyyy slllloooowww in Frag Deadlands. All weapons have a lot more luck in them, partially through the classic Deadlands mechanic of the "pull" (take the top card of the deck and check either the value or suit of the poker card it represents), but also through high-powered weaponry malfunctioning if you roll a one. You know how you roll lots of dice when you fire a weapon in Frag? Yeah. Even one roll of 1 will scotch it for you. Now, I have to admit that I did not stay in the game for long, and that, despite my protests, we played with the more isolationist lots-of-little-rooms map, which always slows things down. Still, though, the game dragged out far too long and frustrated everyone involved. As in vanilla Frag, not much in the game really gives you deep strategic or tactical options. That's fine when the game goes fast. However, based on my admittedly limited experience of Frag Deadlands, I have to recommend that you stick with the original. Let me know if you strongly object.

Friday, March 15, 2002
3:06 PM: Demian Katz says...
Fast, Heavily-Armed 1PG Spotted
Deep7 has just released another entry in their long line of 1PGs. The game is called Full Clip, and the subject this time around is the fast-paced world of Hong Kong action cinema. As usual, each game session should play out in about two hours, and five complete and ready-to-play scenarios are included.

1:39 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Godlike Sighted At Wizard's Attic
The much anticipated, slightly overdue release of the Godlike RPG is now at hand. Saw 'em with my own eyes, I did. A whole truckload of the books, in box after glorious box, arrived at Wizard's Attic, 5,500 copies in all. As I left there at about 1:30 yesterday afternoon, they were being unloaded from the truck in preparation for autoshipping, special orders, and general consumption by the gaming public at large.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002
8:21 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
"Borrow The Car" Car Wars Contest On OgreCave
Steve Jackson Games is working together with the Cave Dwellers of OgreCave to bring you a chance at glory.

Take a moment to imagine you're a teenager, new driver's license burning a hole in your pocket. Imagine seeing your dream car, a fully-armored, lightning-fast machine of destruction, twin guns mounted to either side of the rocket launcher. Imagine wanting to take the wheel, to tear up the desolate roads of your post-apocalyptic hometown, gunning down any vehicle foolish enough to be in your lane or leave its blinker on.

Now imagine the dream car belongs to your dad, and you want to borrow it.

In 100 words or less, tell us what you'd tell good old dad to get him to hand over the keys. Pitch your case to us at (only one attempt per email address, or you won't even be allowed in the driveway). We'll reprint the best responses on OgreCave as part of our big Car Wars feature, and the one we like best will receive the main prize: a complete set of the first nine books for the new version of Car Wars by Steve Jackson Games.

So what are you waiting for? Be original, be entertaining, be ruthless... but be quick, 'cause after 12 midnight (PST) on March 31, we'll go over all the entries and pick our one true road warrior. So pull on your driving gloves and get to typing!

8:12 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
WotC Layoffs Strike Again
We've been hearing from a number of sources that Wizards of the Coast is having to cut back their number of employees yet again. Reports are estimating anywhere from 80 to 160 planned layoffs. According to official WotC sources, none of this year's product releases will be affected.

Armies Of The Abyss Preview
Green Ronin is continuing to indulge their unhealthy obsession with all things demonic, as evident by the PDF preview of Armies of the Abyss they've just posted. The sample describes demon prince Astaroth in full detail, as well as the Paigoel, "a big nasty demon with 10 arms--and 10 attacks per round!" Hope it uses natural weapons; that many swords would really weigh a guy down.

Godlike: Free At Last?
Having been held up in customs for weeks, putting the game well beyond its original predicted release date, the Godlike mailing list is abuzz with rumors of the book finally clearing the nit-picky gatekeepers of free trade. So, those books should be at Wizard's Attic, but when I was down there this evening, I didn't see 'em. I'll look into it a bit more, and get back to you.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002
5:16 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Privateers Skirmish With Iron Kingdoms
Privateer Press, the folks responsible for d20's popular Witchfire Trilogy, have announced a new way to experience their Iron Kingdoms setting: the War Machine tabletop skirmish game. Scheduled for release this coming fall, War Machine will be "a fast-paced 30mm tabletop miniatures game that will bring the Iron Kingdoms roaring to life." Players will act as sorcerers in control of steam powered fighting machines, selecting from an initial product line of sixteen models in four different factions (more will follow, of course). A 96-page rulebook of rules and background material will accompany the game, which will enjoy an organized play system of tournaments. The official site is sure to have previews in the months to come.

11:35 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Sword & Sorcery To Publish EverQuest d20
It had to happen sooner or later: EverQuest, the most popular MMORPG in the world, is being brought to the most popular tabletop RPG, the d20 System. White Wolf Publishing and Sony Online Entertainment have announced the EverQuest Roleplaying Game, which will start off in July 2002 with the release of the first book, the EverQuest RPG Player's Handbook (a mere 304 pages). This will be followed in August by Monsters of Norrath (224 pages), and the Game Master's Guide (256 pages) in October. White Wolf's Sword & Sorcery design studio will be heading the attempt to get EverQuest some street cred with traditional roleplayers. Hey, as long as my players don't start yelling, "Train! Run for the zone!!" I'll give it a shot.

11:31 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
FFG Announces Song of Ice and Fire License
You know that CCG that Fantasy Flight was working on? Yeah. The release date is now set for August, and it'll be based on these million-selling (put together) fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin. I've never heard of these books and tend to distrust people with more than one middle initial, but maybe I'm dumb. A board game will follow later in the fall - no word on the designer.

10:13 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Precedence Officially Closing Its Doors
In a press release this morning, Paul Brown, President of Precedence Entertainment, announced that Precedence would be closing its doors on April 12. As the full press release explains, the company's employees have been let go as of March 8th. Volunteers are putting together a liquidation sale that will start tomorrow and last until the company closes next month.

Precedence was responsible for several hit games, including the Babylon 5 CCG (my personal favorite), Wheel of Time CCG, Tomb Raider CCG, and Aliens versus Predator CCG. Unless someone steps in to save it, the Star Legions CMG won't see print. Precedence had some stylish games under its belt; it's too bad they won't be able to continue. OgreCave wishes all the best to the company's former employees.

Monday, March 11, 2002
3:13 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Hex Games Hits The Highway
Hex Games is about to embark on a roadtrip of gaming and debauchery, and heaven help anyone who gets in their way. After all, who'd want to keep them from posting images on their website, or keep them from reaching the GAMA Trade Show in Las Vegas next week (ostensibly the goal of the trip). Who know's what will befall the Hex Games crew on their World Tour 2002? I'll take 30 hours of jail time in the pool, if there is one.

11:27 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Broadsides Delayed By Printer Error
Living Imagination, Inc. announced today that their d20 System sourcebook Broadsides! would be delayed. When the book arrived at Wizard's Attic, some of the books in the shipment were defective. LI decided to hold off shipping the books until the damaged copies could be sorted out. Once that's been done, it will be business as normal.

Saturday, March 09, 2002
11:43 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Fixed Review. Sorry :-)
It's been pointed out that the wrong draft of Joe's Interludes review was posted, and probably looked funny to most of you. The correct version is now up. My apologies to Joe, and to anyone who was confused by the rather odd-looking writeup.

Friday, March 08, 2002
5:42 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Review - Interludes: Brief Expeditions To Bluffside
Keeping our reviews rolling, Joe gives us his take on Interludes: Brief Expeditions to Bluffside (PDF version) by Thunderhead Games. As the full Bluffside: City on the Edge sourcebook heads to stores, what better way to decide if you plan to buy than a review of the introductory adventure? I can't think of one either. :-)

11:16 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Cook Calls Cthulhu Good
In a post on his website, Monte Cook gives a "thumbs up" to d20 Call of Cthulhu, which he's seen an early copy of (makes sense - he co-wrote it). I've seen an earlier draft that was lurking around Chaosium, and if that version is any indication, the final book will look great, though I can't say I've read the rules yet. Anyway, Cook has written an introductory adventure for d20 CoC that will appear in Game Trade Magazine #26, due out in April. I doubt I'll be able to wait that long to give the new game a test drive.

Thursday, March 07, 2002
9:22 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Precedence Folding?
An unconfirmed rumor can get you a long way in gaming journalism, wherein most reporters are doing their work after business hours and can't call you for a confirmation. We're no different here at the Cave, but GamingReport does tell us that Precedence Entertainment is going under. If true, this news doesn't come as a surprise after the expensive Sack Armies and Rifts collectible games failed to catch fire. We'll try to get some kind of confirmation or denial on this tomorrow. Allan will be sad about the creators of the Babylon 5 CCG going south... not that the game was any likelier to come back than the show is. (Sorry, man.)

Wednesday, March 06, 2002
4:50 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Mystic Eye, Thunderhead To Publish Adventures For Dragonstar
Under an agreement with Fantasy Flight Games, Mystic Eye Games and Thunderhead Games will both be publishing adventures for FFG's science-fantasy d20 System setting, Dragonstar. So FFG will be able to concentrate on the core d20 books they've been doing so well with, and two companies that are known for detailed, rich adventures will take on the task of exploring the Dragonstar universe. Well, FFG took over the Lord of the Rings boardgame from WotC, so it's only fair they hand off something of theirs. Sounds like an excellent combination of resources, actually.

New Battle Cattle Minis, Done Right This Time
Wingnut Games is re-releasing their Battle Cattle miniatures and expanding the product line at the same time. The new lineup will include a Light Cow and a Medium Cow to compliment the Heavy and Extra-Heavy cows that came out last time around. Another change for the better is each cow figure will come with weapons (previously, the weapons packs were sold separately). A weapons pack will also be available, containing 25 weapons the bovine warriors can point at each other. In case you hadn't heard, the old miniatures had all sorts of distribution problems, packaging errors, and other issues, so this time Perrin Miniatures will be handling the line, and putting them in blister packs rather than those ridiculous baggies the last minis company used. Here's hoping this release goes better.

Monday, March 04, 2002
6:28 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Ronin War First Look Continued (Or, Gettin' High On Your Own Supply)
So I got everything put together, filling the room with a mild odor of super glue in the process. Although one of my Ronin looks a bit like he has to pee and is holding it in, the pose on the other is quite appealing. Modeling these guys was not as horrifyingly tough as friends told me, so maybe modeling is just generally easier than I thought. Painting will be the test, though.

As for the actual game, I'm starting to pick out some interesting tidbits from the miasma of move-this-roll-this-measure-this sameness. (Nothing against Ronin War's particular version of this, although it could be written more clearly - I suspect translation is the culprit there - but all miniatures games are kind of alike on a basic level, and it can be hard to slog through each particular game's version of how to get around, turn order, and combat resolution. Does miniatures gaming need a d20 System equivalent, where multiple games can share a common foundation? GW, are you listening?) One neat thing is the aircraft units, which can fly off the edge of the table whenever, and reappear from any other spot along the edge of the table - a tactical wild card. Another is a special ability called Boomerang, which (as you see when you pick it out of the 178-item-long list in the back!) lets a unit bounce away by 45 degrees and keep moving as long as it keeps hitting people. That's just one of several cryptically-named special abilities in the basic army you get the parts for.

Yes, that's right. For all the talk about a collectible miniatures game, you can consider this baby a pre-built deck - and one that looks a lot more (re-)playable than the $80 Games Workshop starter boxes, at that. I was worried that I'd gotten ripped off - my weaponry sprue looked to be the same on both of its sides. Turns out you don't get random weapons in the Ronin War box - you get enough stuff to equip the pre-designed army they print in the back of the book. Said back of said book is an almost-exactly-clear-enough chart that provides the stats for all units and weapons, and a quick list of the special abilities thereof. I can't really see building custom units for fear of all the paperwork, but I guess that's why people use things like Army Builder. Anyway. I'm not sure whether painting or playing comes next, but either way, I'll be back for more.

Sunday, March 03, 2002
4:26 AM: Demian Katz says...
Windhammer Special Edition Arrives
Wayne Densley just announced the release of a special edition of his first online fantasy gamebook in the Chronicles of Arborell series. This expanded version of Windhammer features revised rules, 155 new sections and other changes based largely on reader feedback. Its sequel, the somewhat delayed Earth and Stone, is still in development and is hoped to see light by the end of the year.

Friday, March 01, 2002
4:09 AM: Demian Katz says...
Deep7 + Three-Sixty Publishing = Film Noir
Deep7 has just announced a partnership with Three-Sixty Publishing. Through this partnership, Three-Sixty will get to use Deep7's XPG game system (which will also be featured in the forthcoming Red Dwarf RPG) and, in turn, Deep7 will become Three-Sixty's sole distributor. The first product of this partnership will be Mean Streets, a role-playing game inspired by Film Noir. This should be followed by expansions of several of Deep7's 1PGs, featuring titles like Star Legion 2 and Return to Bloode Island.


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