Saturday, August 6, 2011

First Look - The Secret Fire (RPG)

I'm experiencing a bit of a sensory overload with all of the RPG products that have been released in the last week.  I'll get to the reviews of these games later, I need time to digest them them.  In the meantime I'm giving my first looks and initial impressions.

The Secret Fire is the latest game I've gotten to look at.  I'm really at a loss for words so far as to how to explain it.  It harkens back to the original Dungeons & Dragons White Box.  It quotes from Supplement III - Eldritch Wizardry and Chainmail 3rd Edition.  It seeks to carry on the mantle of EGG himself.  The question then becomes, does it succeed?

To that I don't have an answer just yet.  Mr Strayton, the author of The Secret Fire, has been granted access to all of EGG's notes and files by Gail Gygax.  It is quite possible that many of test ideas were tweaked and trimmed form ideas of Gary's himself.  It's just that at over 300 pages in length, so it's way to large for me to absorb at this point in time.  That being said, from what I've read in the beginning of the book, and what I've skimmed form the rest of it, there is certainly an early D&D feel to it.

If you have the time or the inclination, the PDF can be found on Lulu for 10 bucks - google search for a 20% off coupon and you can get it for 8 - a bargain for a game this size.

Give me time and I'll let you know if it succeeds at it's aims of uniting the fractured D&D gaming landscape.

From the blurb:

From SECRET FIRE GAMES™ comes THE SECRET FIRE™ (formerly known as George Strayton’s LEGENDS & LABYRINTHS™), a new, original game system with mechanics that emphasize exploration, roleplaying, and the constant threat of danger as adventurers set forth on perilous quests, engage in lethal battles, and win precious treasures. The design philosophy focuses strongly on imbuing the game world with a specific tone through elements of flavor, simpler rules, faster play, constant roleplaying (with associated mechanics that make it necessary to roleplay in order to win the day) and unlimited flexibility using innovative “literary” mechanics alongside traditional tropes of the fantasy game genre. The overall “feel” of this combination is what sets THE SECRET FIRE™ apart from all other games. It’s been 11 years in the making and now finally comes to a tabletop near you this August!
The foundation for TSF lies with the unknown, the dark and dangerous subworld which we all fear and yet desire to inhabit, if only for a brief time (so that we may survive and return to the world above and repeat). With that, we begin our journey….


“With THE SECRET FIRE, George Strayton is following in the footsteps of the inventor and master of roleplaying games, Gary Gygax, expanding on Gary’s original vision of fantasy roleplaying by taking it back to its roots while simultaneously bringing it into the future.”
— Gail Gygax
“A flavor-filled approach to fantasy gaming that puts the mystery and magic back into the dark recesses of the dungeon.”
— Monte Cook, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition

Friday, August 5, 2011

The "I'm Not at GenCon" Update

My lord but I have a crapload of new releases to read and review, some of which I've already discussed.

The Tome of Horrors Complete isn't technically a GenCon release, but the timing couldn't be better.

Adventurer Conqueror King hit GenCon with a prerelease / beta copy.

The One Ring, the new LotR RPG also released at the con.

The Secret Fire, which kinda bills itself as a game EGG would have written was also just released. I snagged a PDF copy for 8 bucks on Lulu after a 20% off coupon. I'm not quite sure what to make of it yet, but it does quote from some OD&D pieces, so that earns it points right out of the box.

Heck, I might be suffering from rpg overload at this point ;)

- Posted from my iPhone

PDFs on Tablets - How Do They Look To You?

I do most of my PDF reading on tablets these days - both my gen1 iPad and my 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab. I've yet to experience an issue with either. The PDFs look vibrant and the ability to zoom in on parts of the page is priceless.

I bring this up because I've noticed that some e-publishers of roleplaying material are also putting their stuff out in epub format. One reason I've seen them use is that PDFs don't present well on tablets. In my experience, PDFs present extremely well on tablets, and piss poor at best on most dedicated e-readers. E-readers generally don't display PDFs in their native format but use "reflow", which is fine for fiction but plays havoc with RPGs that have charts and stat blocks.

Maybe they don't know the right terminology to differentiate between a tablet (which is basically a small PC) and an e-book reader (a device dedicated to presenting the different digital publishing formats). I don't know.

I do know I'd rather have a PDF displayed on my iPad for RPG reading then the same presented in epub or .azw or whatnot.

Eh, this was annoying me throughout the nite. I feel better now ;)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

First Look - The One Ring (LotR): Adventures over the Edge of the Wild

Cubicle 7 just released The One Ring:  Adventures Over the Edge of the Wild in PDF on RPGNow.  I suspect it has released at GenCon in print, but one of my fellow bloggers that is in attendance will need to verify that.

It includes an Adventurer's Book, a Loremaster's Book and maps for each.

The game uses specialized D6 and D12 dice, but it's easy enough to substitute your own (standard) dice.

One thing of note is that gameplay is divided into two phases: The Adventure Phase and the Fellowship Phase.  The Adventure Phase is what we generally do doing our RPG sessions - kill things, take their stuff, overcome problems, etc.  The Fellowship phase seems to be what most gamers would do between sessions, kinda off the grid.  I need to read further to see how these would work in play.

I've barely scratched the surface, and I still need to spend more time with The Tome of Horrors Complete for S&W ;)

From the blurb:

Smaug has been defeated, the Battle of Five Armies has been won, and Bilbo has returned to the Shire. The War of the Ring is several generations away. In the relative peace, the Free Peoples of Wilderland look beyond their borders for the first time, establishing trade routes, renewing bonds between their cultures, and bringing prosperity to the region of northern Mirkwood, the Lonely Mountain, and the eastern slopes of the Misty Mountains.
But much danger still remains, and from the Orc-holds of the mountains to the dark and corrupt depths of Mirkwood a darkness waits, recovering its strength, laying its plans, and slowly extending its shadow . . . .
The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild is the newest fantasy roleplaying game set in the world of The HobbitTM and The Lord of the RingsTM. It provides you with everything you need to begin your adventures in Middle-earth, including:
  • 192 page Adventurer's Book
  • 144 page Loremaster's Book
  • Two 22"x17" maps
Adventures over the Edge of the Wild is the first core set for The One Ring roleplaying game. Set five years after the events narrated in The Hobbit, it introduces players to the world of Middle-earth focusing on Wilderland, the region visited by Bilbo in his journey to the Lonely Mountain. Future core and supplemental publications will advance the timeline and explore other areas of Middle-earth.

Flipping the Virtual Pages of the Tome of Horrors Complete PDF (Swords & Wizardry)

I spent some more time with the Tome of Horrors Complete PDF (S&W) last nite, this time on my 28" computer screen instead of my iPad. Some of my new thoughts on it:

The artwork really is damn nice overall. I've always been partial to B&W illustrations over color, and this book just reinforces that. I'm going to repeat myself - I want the opportunity to purchase some original pieces of some prints ;)

Bookmarking - very nicely done. A PDF of this size needs bookmarks and I'm glad to see it was done. Certainly makes flipping thru the virtual pages easier.

Pricing - I got my PDF for free as I paid for (and I'm waiting on) the print version, which if I recall correctly was around 90 bucks. The PDF just showed up on RPGNow for $30. A steep price to be sure, but right around the price that the C&C Castle Keeper's Guide sold for, and that was less then half the size. Or, to put it another way, the PDF is being sold at a 67% discount or so from the limited edition printed book price, which isn't a bad discount - it's just a high starting point.

I believe Paizo is taking orders of the Pathfinder version of ToHC and is including the PDF copy with their orders.

It's going to take me a long time to plow thru this book ;)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Loviatar Contest! Win a 6 Month Sub to Christian's New Zine!

Matt over at Lapsus Calumni is running a contest to win a 6 month sub to Christian's (unknown destination blog and others) IN PRINT zine: Loviatar.  How awesome is that?

All you have to do is flesh out a small dungeon map he's posted on is blog.  You can use stats for your favorite game or go stat-less.  You have until August 15th.

I've been reading Christian's stuff for about 10 years now.  It's always top notch.

While you are at it, check out Matt's blog for an amazing assortment of dungeon maps.  I might have to add his blog to the "Free Resources" links on he left side of this page ;)

First Look at The Tome of Horrors Complete for Swords & Wizardry

Tomb of Horrors Complete is the new monster book from Frog God. The physical copy is going to be huge - I just got my PDF copy of the Swords & Wizardry version (it also comes in a Pathfinder flavor).

First, this is a huge PDF - solidly over 200 MB, so don't download this if you are using a hotspot / mobile device with a monthly cap - grab it when you are home.

The main thing that got my attention is that every page (at least the ones I've looked at so far - it is close to 700 pages in length) has one or two creatures and a short plot hook in which to use them. The plot hooks are pure awesome even if you don't use as written, as they are a great tool to get one's creative juices flowing.

The art is quality so far. I would't mind the option of buying some original pieces (or signed prints) to frame and hang on the wall. Maybe the Frog God can pass the word on to the artists.

Really like what I see so far.

Adventurer Conqueror King Hit Another Goal

Adventurer Conqueror King has now hit it's second bonus goal via Kickstarter. If it hits the third bonus goal, the creators will run some game sessions for the supporters via Google+. Google+ is really becoming more of a hit then I ever expected. Well, that and ACK is getting more support then I expected, but really, I should have expected it. The OSR corner is small but strong, and ACK really is bringing new stuff to the OSR corner of the gaming table.

I wonder if iTabletop/Pandoren is getting any of the G+ overflow on the gaming side. It does video, voice, game table, dice and all the rest. For me, if G+ had a whiteboard and a dice rolling macro it would probably be all I need, but at this point I think I would need more.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My First Time Was Magical

My first time playing AD&D was magical. There was something about the dice, the crude map on graph paper, killing skeletons and the like that just can't be recreated. Heck, my first time was a one-on-one session with just the DMG - my friend Kenny had to call another friend with the Player's Handbook just to find out when my fighter Cyrus leveled up.

I believe that was early in the summer of 81. For my birthday my mother got me copies of the DMG, the PH and a set of dice that I still have to this day. There was magic in having the world of RPGs opened up to me. Holy crap, I've been a gamer for 30 years!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mini Review - The Age of Shadow (D100 / OpenQuest)

This is a quick Two-fer.

First, we have The Age of Shadow, a fantasy RPG drawing upon the OpenQuest rules, which drew upon the Mongoose RuneQuest, has it's roots deeply in the previous versions of RuneQuest.  Got that?  Good.

So, it's OpenQuest with a few twists, like less modifiers but higher mods when you do have one.  Oh, and its free, which is always nice when looking for new options for a current game engine.

From the blurb:

The Age of Shadow is an easy to learn fantasy role-playing game based upon the OpenQuest system. As such, the game utilises a simple percentile rules mechanic to resolve most actions, and is set in a fantasy world of elves, men, and fearsome monsters.
Within these pages you will find:
• character generation rules.
• a comprehensive skill list and combat chapter.
• rules for two different types of magic.
• a complete monster section.
• a two page character sheet.

Then we have The Age of Shadow: Campaign Guide.  This 28 page PDF goes into further detail of the default world referred to in The Age of Shadows RPG.  This comes in at $2.99.  Definitely grab the free RPG first before deciding if you need more.

From the blurb:

This campaign guide is intended for use with The Age of Shadow: Role-playing Game, and is presented in such a way as to quickly familiarise both players and GMs with the specifics of the setting, as well as providing a starting point from which many tales and adventures may arise.
Within these pages you will find:
• a brief history of the land and its people.
• a full colour map of the land itself.
• short descriptions of all of the major settlements.
• a number of alternate rules and items of interest.
• statistics for several NPC archetypes.
Note that this booklet is not intended to be a complete campaign setting, but rather an easily digestible primer than can be read in a single sitting. In addition, to make full use of the information contained within you will require the Age Of Shadow: Role-playing Game (which is available as a free download).

Pics of the Future "Man Cave" Corner

Another floor done. Need to buy the 3/4 molding for where the floor meets the walls.

Where the desk will be going. The box is a bookshelf that will be going...

Where the bookshelf will be going into. Door goes bye bye. Soundproofing will be behind the bookcase.

The new closet will be built into this space...

- Posted from my iPhone

Mini Review - Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters (Systemless)

Does anyone else remember the AD&D Encounter Cards?  They were my GoTo Resource when I had nothing planned for Sunday's Weekly Game (which happened more often then I would lie to admit).  I'd pull a few cards at random, figure out which one (or more) had a seed of something larger in it, and ran with it.

Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters is similar, but for the most part the plots are deeper on role-play the those old encounter cards ever were.  The pieces here also tend to have more depth and dangling threads, as these are plots - or plot seeds if you will.

167 plots each for fantasy, sic-fi and horror, but you can tweak nearly all to fit outside their default genre.  Which puts this at less then 4 cents a plot.

Did I mention this is a full bookmarked PDF?  And that they are further broken down by Dramatic Structure?  Nicely done.  This, my iPad and Goodreader will have me making notes right on the PDF for the plots I want to use.

From the Blurb:

"Much more than a simple book of plots, Eureka! stands as one of those essential tools that GMs and game designers will find themselves reaching for again and again." -- Game designer Wolfgang Baur, Kobold Quarterly review
Featuring a foreword by gaming industry legend Monte Cook, Eureka contains 501 complete adventure plots usable with almost any roleplaying game, plus GMing advice and tools for making the most of every plot.
If you game once a week, that's nearly 10 years of adventures, all right here in the largest collection of its kind ever published. Written by nine veteran game masters -- the authors of the most widely read game mastering blog on the planet, Gnome Stew -- Eureka is more than just adventure seeds.
Each plot includes a hook to draw your players in, an outline detailing enough material for a complete adventure, generally in the form of 3-5 meaty encounters, and any game mastering notes, plot twists, and advice you might need to turn that plot into a fun night of gaming.
Adventure hooks alone don't give you much to work with, but fully developed adventures can be hard to personalize and fit into an ongoing game. Eureka is the perfect middle ground: We provide the main ingredients, and you decide how to prepare them.
Packed with ideas and inspiration, this massive collection is designed to be the ultimate adventure toolkit:
  • Fantasy, science fiction, and horror plots: 167 of each, all easily adaptable to multiple genres
  • Clear, concise game mastering advice: We show you how to adapt plots to other genres (effectively giving you 464 fantasy, 420 sci-fi, and 338 horror plots) and how to turn Eureka plots into full-blown adventures
  • The tools you need: Plots are grouped by theme, from "Revolt" to "Mistaken Jealousy," and categorized by tags like intrigueexploration, and combat-heavy
  • Four indexes: Quickly find a plot for any situation by genre, tag, title, or author
  • No game mechanics and no proper names: These system-neutral plots are simple to use and easy to personalize to your game
  • DRM-free, fully hyperlinked and bookmarked: We've made Eureka as user-friendly and GM-friendly as possible
Want to find out more about Eureka? You can download a free 19-page PDF excerpt of the book, read reviews, and check out articles about Eureka on the Engine Publishing website.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Trying to Tame Google+

Alright, I have more followers in G+ then I have on Blogger, which is awesome - 3 weeks to surpass 2 years ;)  Of course, I have only one post on G+ as I am more geared to Blogger and blogging then social networking but I'm trying to embrace it all.

So, first thing is I have to break down my circles further it seems.  I have a ton of people in my RPG circle and the information overload means I'm missing out on stuff.  Lots of stuff.  So, I think I need to tweak that circle down to manageable sub-circles or whatnot.

Now, is there a way to mirror your blog post on G+ like you can do on Facebook?  I'm still stumbling around half blind and and shit trying to find out what the new shiny can do ;)

Any play reports from Constacon or any other of the video huddle game sessions that have taken place?  Especially interested in hearing from those that have used VTTs in the past, or even used one with the G+ video interface running at the same time as the VTT.

I feel like I've been given an awesome multi-tool without any directions or diagram.  I can understand why some that jumped into the Google+ world early have pulled the plug, but I plan on being here for the long haul.  Heck, I even tried Google Wave and saw some potential there, but G+ is leaps and bounds past that.

A Day of Success, But Little Time For Play

I spent the afternoon installing the flooring in what will be (in part) my "Man Cave".  The first row was a real PITA trying to fit it around the radiator.  Ughhh!  Still, with my father's help and expertise we got about 2/3 of the floor laid down and I should be able to finish it off tomorrow.  Yay!

I'm seeing a lot of similarities in this process with any creative project I've been with, especially today as we hit our stride and I didn't want to stop even with dinner waiting.  I get similar emotions when I write (as rare as that is these days - need to get into it again).

I'm looking forward to getting the kitchen done by a professional - that's just a cash outlay - someone else can break their back ;)

Spending quality time at the moment with the future Mrs Tenkar watching some National Geographic on Netflix on Demand :)

Sunday Renovations Update

The old floor we are going to cover today and tomorrow. My son is excited as he get my old room when this is done.

- Posted from my iPhone
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