Time for another weekly news round-up and it’s on time this week!
What an odd week here… Halloween followed by the end of Daylight Savings Time for the year here in the US. We get all sugar high on candy and then gain an hour early Sunday to help sleep it off – don’t forget to adjust your clocks! I hope all the ghosts and goblins had a great time haunting the streets. I spent a few hours handing out candy at the door and admiring all the costumes while my family toured the neighborhood. Good times had by all. :)
Other than that, it’s been busy here at GKR.
- The Friday Knight News became the Saturday and Sunday Knight News while I fought a bit of a cold at the end of last week.
- Posted a review of Kobold Quarterly #23. Turns out Wolfgang and the kobolds have more European sensibilities when it comes to art and KQ really is more for adults than kids.
- The Gassy Gnoll pondered why monsters are always the scary kind you can see and not the villains you can’t see coming because they’re so polite…
- And I started tackling NaGaDeMon and working on a new card game, which is completely crazy and outside my wheel house. :)
Food for Thought
- The Headologist @ Do You Have a Flag? has a great post on creating “Army Background Fluff” for your game or story. He includes things like why your army came together, how they approach combat, and aesthetics such as how forces are composed and distributed. He added a section on “Knowing When to Stop” which I think applies to anybody writing for games or fiction. At some point you either realize you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole or you spend so much time on this one thing that you run out of time for everything else.
- This post from C @ Hack & Slash just made me giggle incessantly for about 20 minutes the other night. What noises do fantasy animals make? I’m not going to spoil the fun, but read all the way through the comments – it’s hilarious.
- In one of the cooler infographics I’ve seen lately, Michael Porath has put together a collection of 141 maps called “Manifest Destiny” showing the expansion of the United States from the 1780s to the addition of Hawaii. Great food for thought about populations and the geographic shift of nations over time. (Thanks Stephen Chenault @ The Troll Den for the link!)
- Another cool infographic was from Randy Krum @ Cool Infographics and all about “Death & Gravestone Symbolism” – with tons of details on what certain things mean. For example did you know that Cypress Trees were planted in graveyards because they were believed to preserve bodies? Or that Yellow signifies mourning in Egypt and offers proof against evil in the East? Or that the image of a Dogwood flower on a tombstone might hint at resurrection for the deceased? Tons of useful little things to include in your next graveyard encounter!
- Video games has been a hotbed of discussion in the last few years, especially around the topic of gender. For a long time, in-game characters were predominantly male and female characters weren’t exactly treated well. I’d like to think that’s improved, but this article from How Not to Suck at Game Design shows that maybe we haven’t… Any ideas on what we can do in tabletop roleplaying games to address the sexist issue? I know there’s some work going on now around this…
- And the Social Munch network had an article I found this week detailing a bit of what we already knew – RPGs are good for kids socially, creatively, and occasionally even educationally. :)
- Science is awesome. So why shouldn’t science + D&D be awesome too? Julian Kingstone, a 12-year old D&D fan, helped his father with a research study into how we follow people’s gazes… We automatically look where other people are looking, but is it because we’re looking at their eyes or simply looking to see where the center of their heads are pointing? We humans seem to have our eyes in the center of our heads, so it’s tough to test. Well, Julian suggested perhaps they look at some of the monsters in D&D with eyes in other locations to see if it could be seen more easily. And it worked! Ed Yong @ Not Exactly Rocket Science (Discover Magazine) and Charles Choi @ LiveScience covered this merger of science and gaming this week. :)
- Could there actually be a zombie apocalypse? Unlikely, but not impossible according to the gang at AsapSCIENCE in a recent video. (Thanks James Plafke @ GeekOSystem!)
These aren’t necessarily gaming related, but many of us game and write, whether it’s for publication, on a blog, for our campaigns, or for ourselves.
- If time is the number 1 reason you don’t write more, you should read “The Secrets to Fantastic Writing Habits” from Ali Luke @ Men With Pens. Ali talks
about inspiration and how to figure out how to tap into that when you can, as well as word or time targets, and finding a work pattern that works for you.
- If you want to write more, but don’t know what to write, check out “How to Write a Blog With Great Content Every Time” from Julie Neidlinger @ JeffBullas.com. Julie suggests that you can look for common questions (check out RPG-StackOverflow for one possible source) to answer, follow Google Trends, and more, so you end up with plenty of possible topics to write about. (This could be equally valuable for anyone trying to find a niche for a new series of RPG supplements.)
- If that’s not enough, “How to Write a Killer Blog Post In Less Time” by Sai Kumar @ Monetize Blogging goes into great detail and offers a process to ponder.
- Debra Jason @ Freelance Copywriter suggests 6 tips to consider in “Are Your Blog Posts Inviting?” Headlines seem to be a key and following through in the text of the article. And one thing I fail miserably at – the “call to action” section, which never seems to get much action!
- Speaking of headlines… Jayme Soulati has some great suggestions on how to improve them in “Your Blog Headline Sucks.” And Melissa Donovan @ Writing Forward has a good creative exercise to help you work on titles and headlines in “From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Titles and Headlines.”
- Lastly, sometimes we write well but we forget to edit. I’m guilty of this occasionally. Clare Dodd @ Bad Language has listed “Ten writing mistakes that make you look unprofessional.” These are quick tips that can save you a lot of grief down the line.
Games and Gaming
- Dungeon! has been getting a ton of press in recent weeks, but The Learning DM has an interesting idea for the game. Why not use parts of the board game when running a traditional 4E/D&D Next game? He offers fun tips like using the treasure cards to hand to players to keep track of… Use the pictures from the monster cards… Even running an entire session using the Dungeon! board and improvising. :) (Marc Allie @ Co-Optimus also wrote about Dungeon! this week, but made it a cooperative venture with a variant rule. Sounds like fun!)
- Speaking of D&D Next, Greywulf @ Greywulf’s Lair has a list of first impressions for the latest playtest packet that’s quite impressive. :) (Mike Mearls wrote about the new packet in his Legends & Lore column at the D&D blog also.)
- Runeslinger @ Casting Shadows often raises some very thought provoking points in his blog… This week is no different. He discusses the distractions of having characters out of sync with the setting or system, campaigns where role-playing becomes roll-playing, and the power of “Yes” as a GM at the table. Good stuff.
- Jim White @ Wombat’s Gaming Den of Iniquity has been busy of late. He posted two articles on gaming with his daughter and her friends – one about the session and another for lessons learned for next time… (I can attest that gaming with kids is both a challenge and a reward wrapped together tightly, so be sure to read these if you’re pondering trying it.) White also posted an article “plugging” the lightweight RPG systems he’s been looking at and using, including Warrior, Rogue & Mage (which is one I want to try playing soon) and Barebones Fantasy (which you’ll find other links for below).
- Do you ever wonder how to keep a group of PCs in one room for more than a few minutes? Roger @ A Life Full of Adventure asked and got a few good suggestions. Feel free to add your own in the comments!
- Writing is a solitary process usually, so I’m always interested to catch glimpses into other folks’ methods. UZ has a series of guest posts at Exchange of Realities this past week that offers one such glimpse. Each post offers tidbits to ponder and possibly try, so I’d encourage you to give them a read… The first is here. The last is here. And there are several in-between.
- Are you looking for a new RPG to try, but don’t want to read a whole book to get a high-level overview of it? David @ Troll and Flame points us to the RPG Speedcyclopedia, which offers 4-5 sentence descriptions for many different RPGs.
- Are town encounters getting a bit tired in your campaign? Check out Ben’s RPG Pile for a few suggestions on how to build a town around several mini-encounters and flesh them out a bit.
- The Monstrous Monday carnival (summary post later in the list) really seems to have brought out some intriguing posts. Tim Knight @ Heropress has one all about orcs… Roger @ Roles, Rules, and Rolls posted one about the Gryllus…
- Speaking of monsters, Ralph Higgins @ Kobold Quarterly talks extensively about creature motivations in one article while Troll in the Corner has some interesting questions to figure out what monsters might plague your campaign cultures… What roams in the dark?
- What settings do you like? Lowell Francis @ Age of Ravens checked out Rippers, a sourcebook for Savage Worlds filled with pulp-gothic monster hunters with fun technology. Or if you’d rather hear what Lowell’s favorite horror RPGs are, check out “The Best in Horror RPGs,” which is the follow-up to all of his research into different horror RPGs.
- Have you ever wondered what gives magic users headaches? John Matthew Stater @ Land of Nod has… And he came back with a great random table to tell you what it is!
- Art is really not in my bag of tricks, but apparently Roger @ Roles, Rules & Rolls can take an image and turn it into a cool silhouette you can use wherever you need one. And it’s so easy I might even be able to follow his steps. :)
- Need a map for a city block? Check out this one from Douglas Easterly @ Savage Swords of Athanor.
- Need a few paranormal beasties? Check out the spooks & spirits from Erik Treasure @ The Dragon’s Flagon!
Looking for a few deserving Kickstarter projects to throw some money at? Check these out!
- Chris Lewis Carter, author
of the Camp Myth YA series, and Eloy Lasanta, head of Third Eye Games, have teamed up to create Camp Myth: The RPG! I’m excited for this game because the world of Camp Myth is so rich and offers a fun way for kids to learn a bit about Greek mythology and still get their game on. :) Please support this project!
- If you’d like a deck of Bicycle playing cards with monsters of myth and legend on them, be sure to check out the Creature Cards Kickstarter. The art is from fantasy artist Michael Clarke and every image is gorgeous. Plus, since the deck is made by Bicycle, you know it’s made to last!
- Now that Kickstarter is up and running in the UK, I suspect we’ll see some new blood coming into the gaming category at Kickstarter. Chris Tregenza from 6d6 RPG has kicked off the 6d6 RPG Core & Adventure Books project and I’m sure it’ll be a hit! Everything I’ve reviewed from 6d6 has been terrific and this is a great way to spread the word. :)
- Do you like monsters? Of course you do! Then why not check out Monstrology, a new project from Scott O. Brown ad Rachel Deering featuring a creepy collection of monster stories from a wide range of creative teams. The art looks phenomenal and I can’t wait to read it (and then adapt some of the monsters for use in my campaigns!). :)
- The Game Smiths Kickstarters for their upcoming projects haven’t even started yet, but they’re drumming up support with a raffle. Promise to support at least $25 to their Kickstarter and get an entry to win an original painting from Wayne Reynolds – WAR PAINT! – for the N.R.G. cover. It is gorgeous, so be sure to get your entry in before the Kickstarter begins on November 12th and get your pledge in that first week (the 12th through the 18th)!
- And Obatron Productions, founded by Vickey & Bob Beaver, have kicked off a new project for Tunse’al – a tribal fantasy setting you can play in Savage Worlds or any other RPG system. It has a great world creation myth and the art is beautiful!
- Though not exactly game publisher-related, I thought that Sacha Greif’s article on budget design @ Folyo would offer some great, low-cost options for publishers on a small budget. Though not all his tips apply, it’s definitely worth checking out!
- Obskures.de had an interview with Robin D. Laws about his Kickstarter Hillfolk: DramaSystem Roleplaying this week that covered a lot of ground in Laws’ broad career in the gaming industry.
- Keith Baker asked “Six Questions” of illustrator, designer, and art director Lee Moyer, who’s done work for tons of RPGs and card games as well as some for places like the National Zoo. Artistic insight and gorgeous art. What more could you want?
- Ross Watson @ Rogue Warden had a chance to chat with long-time game designer Rich Baker, which covers a ton of great gaming history!
- Michael @ Futile Position had a chance to interview designer Kyle Simmons about the Magicians RPG and the ongoing Kickstarter for that project.
- Monte Cook is certainly keeping busy… Between starting Stone Box Press, co-writing Kicking It and going it solo on Small Matters, plus all that’s going on around Numenera, I can’t imagine he gets any sleep!
- Rite Publishing has released an adventure for 7th level characters set in the Kaidan world – Up From Darkness – by Jonathan McAnulty. They have also released Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Nameless Nil, the Beggar of Self for PFRPG from Matt Banach & Justin Sluder. Nil looks… creepy!
- Pinnacle Entertainment has released Deadlands Reloaded: Ghost Towns. It includes seven haunted places for your characters as well as a random town generator to generate your own!
- Raging Swan Press has released Dwellers Amid Bones, a PFRPG adventure for 5th level PCs by Creighton Broadhurst. The adventure involves a couple of forest drakes who have made themselves comfortable in an old orc cairn between expeditions to terrorize the countryside. Won’t you help the local Baron take care of this problem? Of course you will! (And if you’re interested in what else is coming from Creighton Broadhurst and the designers at Raging Swan, keep up with their blog!)
- LPJ Design has released Treasures of NeoExodus: Hellfrost Hammer for PFRPG by Jeff Lee. Nothing like having a creepy weapon in the hands of an undead terror to attack the civilized world. :) (They’ve also released a new set of images from Storn Cook with Image Portfolio Platinum Edition 22: Storn Cook, which looks fantastic.)
- Need a few magic items for your PFRPG game? Josh McCrowell from Purple Duck Games has 15 of ’em for you in Legendary VII: More Legendary Items. From a broom and boots to a rod, cloak, and hand, there are some great wondrous items to ponder.
- Modiphius and Chris Birch have released the next installment of the Achtung! Cthulhu Zero Point campaign for Savage Worlds… Heroes of the Sea, written by Sarah Newton, is sure to set your teeth on edge with an alternate Miracle at Dunkirk from World War II.
- Mordom @ the Earthdawn Blog let us know that there are two new issues of the Earthdawn Tableau Infractus fanzine out! Check out #13 and #14. I know Earthdawn has a huge following still, so this is great news!
- Looking for some previews of the Supernatural Handbook from Green Ronin? They’ve posted three now, so check ’em out!
- Heard about the Indie+ online convention going on through November 4th? Why not check out the Indie+ bundle over at DriveThruRPG? Nearly 40 great products (over $100 in value) for $28!
- And if you want to help out with the folks hurt by Hurricane Sandy, Roleplayers Chronicle and DriveThruRPG have pulled together a charity bundle to raise money for the Red Cross. $400+ worth of great stuff for $20. How can you go wrong? Give a little, get a lot.
- Though not a game exactly, Jon Peterson’s Playing at the World offers insight into some of the early impact D&D had in the gaming subculture. Rex Brynen @ PAXsims wrote up a great review and this book will likely turn up on my Christmas list. :)
- Escape… from the
Temple Curse from Queen Games isn’t even out yet, but it’s already making a splash. Rahdo and his wife posted a fun look at gameplay on YouTube and now I want a copy!
- Barebones Fantasy Role-playing Game from DwD Studios is a rules-light fantasy RPG licensed under the Creative Commons license. Stargazer @ Stargazer’s World seems to like it. So does R.E. Davis @ The Chaos Grenade. And Erik Tenkar @ Tenkar’s Tavern. Light and meaty sounds like quite a combination!
- The Legend of Dizzt: Dungeons & Dragons Board Game has been out for a while, but it’s new to Rodney @ Rising Phoenix Games. And it looks like Rodney and his wife had a good time puttting Dizzt, the heroic Drow, to work!
- Wild Musings had a chance to check out Broken Rooms recently, a cross-genre “universal” RPGs out from Greymalkin Designs. At 465 pages, the PDF seems to include a little bit of everything through its “parallel worlds” approach. And it sounds like it’s pretty complete, from rules to world.
- I’m a fan of Lovecraftian myths, as you might have noticed from other posts here. But I haven’t had a chance to play Realms of Cthulhu, the Savage Worlds adaptation of the Call of Cthulhu world. Pookie @ Reviews from R’lyeh had a chance to dive into Realms of Cthulhu recently and found it somewhat “underwhelming” in places, but did find it to be a solid set of tools to create and run a roleplaying game of Lovecraftian investigative horror in the Pulp mode.”
- Megadungeons. Love ’em or hate ’em, I think they’re here to stay. And apparently David Hargrave @ Troll and Flame thinks Barrowmaze I & II offers a lot to like, including some GM overview material that sets the tone for the book. Now I’m curious and want to check it out myself. :)
- Dice Monkey recently played the board game Star Trek Expedition with his wife and parents and wrote a bit about it. Sounds like the rules were a bit confusing and the game went a bit long, but would give it another shot if the right conditions came along.
- Geek Ken tried out King of Tokyo from Iello Games and found it fun to play a giant monster rampaging through a city and fighting other monsters for supremacy. Sounds a bit like any number of Syfy TV movies!
- Paper & Plastic had a chance to check out Über RPG: Steampunk by Über Goober Games recently and… it’s not great apparently. Rather uninspired Steampunk, which is really hard to do!
- Thilo Graf @ G*M*S Magazine continues his attempt to dominate the world through RPG reviews… This week he checked out Goblin Cave, a new module from Adventureaweek.com. Can you guess what’s in the module? If you said “goblins in a cave”, you’d be right – but Thilo tells us that it’s pretty good, but not great.
- Matt Morgan @ MTV Geek! played some Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Command recently and though he had fun, he’s not sure it’s going to convert many folks to playing miniatures games any time soon…
And Jeff McAleer @ The Gaming Gang flipped through the pages of the 30th anniversary premium reprints of the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons books in a video review. I have a few of these original books and wasn’t impressed with some of the screen shots I’ve seen so far. McAleer seemed to really enjoy this blast from the past however.
- Interested in what’s going on blog carnival-wise this month? Check out the November RPG Blog Carnival: Writing the Game, hosted by Kat @ Triple Crit, as well as Winter is Coming II over at Dice Monkey.
- If that’s not enough, it’s also National Game Design Month and National Novel Writing Month, so I’m sure you’ll find something to write about. :)
- Fumblefail @ Hit Adjacent Ally posted the roundup for the Monstrous Monday carnival… There are some creepy critters in there!
- I want to wish the guys at Roving Band of Misfits a happy 2nd birthday! They always have solid content and I’m happy to link to them almost every week for their Weekly Roundups. :)
- And last, but definitely not least, it’s time to vote for your favorite products in the 2012 Golden Geek Awards!
- Chase @ Intwischa has come up with a Personality Generator that’s quite intriguing. It uses the sixteen personality factors (16PF) to offer a random combination of words you can then use to come up with a personality for your NPC or other character. I’m not sure that it’s as much a generator as much as it is a random table for terms you then have to put into some meaningful combination yourself, but it’s still intriguing.
- Need an NPC or a few of them? Check out the BareBones NPC Generator @ Mithril & Mages from Mark Hassman. Lots of detail in no time at all.
That’s it for this week on the news front. If you want a bit more, check out:
- The Weekly Assembly @ Gamer Assembly
- The Weekly Roundup @ Roving Band of Misfits
- Friday Five @ Ravenous Role Playing
- (Have a news round-up you want linked into this list? Holler so I know it’s out there!)
There’s definitely plenty of news go go around!
I hope everybody has a great weekend!
As always, if you feel I missed something (and it would be impossible NOT to), drop me a quick note via the contact page or drop me an e-mail at news(at)gameknightreviews(dot)com and I’ll add it to the list for next week!