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Little Wizards
(Crafty Games)
Pathfinder Card Game
(Paizo Publishing)
Cthulhu Invictus Companion
(Chaosium)
Boss Monster!
(Brotherwise Games)
Murder of Crows
(Atlas Games)
Building an Elder God
(Signal Fire Studios)
Cthulhu Gloom
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D&D ShadowPlague v1
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Interviews
James Wallis - Alas Vegas (2/13/13)
Gareth Hanrahan - The Laundry RPG (5/17/10)
Jamie Chambers - Signal Fire Studios (7/21/09)
Darren Watts - Hero Games (5/4/09)
Stan! (11/7/08)
Brendan LaSalle - Pandahead Productions (audio; 9/28/07)
Jonathan Walton - Push (audio; GenCon '06)
Emily Care Boss and Clinton R. Nixon (audio; GenCon '06)
Richard Garfield (10/12/04)
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Poll
What source gets quoted most frequently during your game sessions?
Monty Python (Holy Grail or otherwise)
Star Wars/Star Trek
That Dr. Demento D&D thing ("I cast Magic Missile at the darkness!")
Comic book sources
South Park
Aliens ("Game over, man!")

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Features
Christmas Gift Guide 2010 (11/26/10)
PAX East 2010 report (4/9/10)
Christmas Gift Guide 2009 (12/4/09)
Games of the Ninja 2008 (12/5/08)
Christmas Gift Guide 2008 (11/27/08)
Screams from the Cave 2008
(11/7/08)
Ogres' Choice Awards 2008 (9/12/08)
Christmas Gift Guide 2007 (11/30/07)
Ogres' Choice Awards 2007 (8/17/07)
GAMA Trade Show 2007 report (4/27/07)
Christmas Gift Guide 2006 (11/30/06)
Ogres' Choice Awards 2006 (7/28/06)
Christmas Gift Guide 2005 (11/29/05)
Christmas Gift Guide 2004 (12/10/04)
Night of the Living Gamer
(Halloween RPGs)
(10/22/04)
More...

Archive highlights
GAMA Trade Show 2008 report, part 2
(4/28/08)
GAMA Trade Show 2008 report, part 1
(4/24/08)
Frag Beta Capsule Review (4/14/01)
Battle Cattle Minis Preview (2/28/01)

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Unplugged Gaming News And Views
 
Wednesday, October 31, 2001
5:41 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
The Gables Has Launched!
Yep, it's live and open for business. Come on over to The Gables and join in for a while. If you're lucky, one of the Victorian manor's butlers will give you a sugar candy. :-)

12:30 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Details on Cheapass' Diceland
James Ernest, proud father of a baby girl as of yesterday (congratulations to you and Carol!), released details of the long-awaited Cheapass project Diceland to the Cheapasses mailing list today:

Diceland is a tabletop game played with large paper dice, about 2 inches to a side. It's a cross between a traditional miniatures game and billiards. It will be "modular," meaning that you can customize your army, but it will not be "collectible," meaning randomly sorted in booster packs. You get the whole expansion in the box, like a set of Button Men or BRAWL decks. [...]

The first edition [...] will contain 25 dice in five "crews" of five. The dice are printed in full color and die cut, and are designed to assemble easily and come apart easily, but only when you want them to. [...]

[...] We are hoping to have at least a preview of the game at GAMA in March, if not the finished product. We are tentatively planning a major Diceland event at Origins.

You know those cool paper calendar things some companies give out, that are sort of hex-ish but not actually 12-sided, and have the rubber band in the middle so they pop up? Cooool. He's not using those or anything. But still. Cooool.

10:04 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
The Gables Launches Tonight. Come Get Your Chat On
Be sure to come join me (and the other folks I work with) at tonight's launch of The Gables, RPGnet's first Chat Theatre, taking place from 4pm - 10pm PST. Come prepared to chat, roleplay, and explore the creepy Victorian manor. And bring some ghost stories.

Freeport Guns For Dragon Annual
The next Dragon Magazine Annual will contain a Freeport article written by Chris Pramas. The article will be "based on material that will appear in Freeport: The City of Adventure," including rules for firearms. The City of Adventure book, along with its much-anticipated full-color poster map, is scheduled for release next month.



Happy Halloween, ladies. - The Kurgan

9:44 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave Secretly Plants Manifesto In Fiery Dragon Module
Fiery Dragon Productions has released an adventure I heartily endorse, despite never having read it: The Giant's Skull. Why do I put OgreCave's Seal of Approval (TM) on this one? Well, I read the description, of course.

Not only can the players portray the heroes who must retrieve a valuable artifact from the brutish ogres living nearby, but a second scenario can unfold where the players take on the parts of the ogres, attempting to punish the human raiders once and for all!
Giving the ogres a chance for payback, eh? Excellent. The adventurers of the world need to learn that us ogres aren't going to take their crap anymore. The first adventure is for four 10th level characters. The second is for 5th level Ogres, characters for which are included. Fiery Dragon also posted a pdf of errata from the adventure.

Reap the Whirlwind
WizKids he latest Mage Knight expansion, Whirlwind, is now available. The new set "introduces the Mage Spawn-controlling Shyft faction, the powerful Krugg race, and twelve new special abilities." And there was much rejoicing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001
3:23 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Hârn Now Fortified With Essential Peppers & Spices
Columbia Games today announced Trobridge Inn: Pepper & Spice, a HârnMaster/D20 module detailing "a fortified trading post on the major trade route between east and west Hârn." This new module expands on articles from the old Kaldor "kingdom module," zooming in to city-book levels of detail. Get ready to meet some vengeful political factions. Here, I'm gonna keep making that funny letter, just 'cause it's so fun to do in HTML: âââââââ Cool. Wonder how you pronounce that. By gargling, maybe.

8:37 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Of Gods and Green
Dennis Detwiller, co-author of Pagan Publishing's Delta Green, has posted some preview art from Godlike, as well as an excerpt from the game's upcoming sourcebook Will to Power. Detwiller promises the quickplay rules will be available soon, which "includes the entire rules section of the rulebook." For Delta Green fans, Detwiller has not only posted intros to his two upcoming DG novels, but also presents a short story in its entirety, and a preview of another short story that will appear in Delta Green: Dark Theaters.

Monday, October 29, 2001
10:39 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
The Gables Launching Halloween Night
We've sent out the press release, so you now know what I'll be doing Halloween night: launching RPGnet's first Chat Theatre, The Gables. More info will be along soon, but until then, just plan on skipping all that boring partying and trick-or-treating in favor of some online fun with us, between 4 pm - 10 pm PST.

Fool's Paradise Arrives
In case you hadn't noticed the Halloween decor (see our hapless adventurer in the upper left corner), you should know that horror is on everyone's mind this week. Just in time to assist with your fear-inducing fun comes Fool's Paradise, the latest supplement for Principia Malefex. The supplement contains new fiction, six new scenarios, and info on the most dreaded of all places, the suburbs. Get into this game of modern horror set against the backdrop of Britain, and allow yourself to be scared silly by something other than anthrax for a while.

Gaming Night at the Improv
The new issue of Roleplaying Tips Weekly covers one of my favorite subjects: gamemaster improvisation. I reached the point where I hate fudging dice rolls, 'cause I want to be surprised by the results just as much as the players. I'd rather take the chance that I'll have to change the adventure to accomodate the results of combat than know how everything's going to work out ahead of time.

Friday, October 26, 2001
12:10 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
WebRPG Needs Women! Uh, I Mean Money!
Gamegrene's on a roll. This opinion piece on the stripped-down online RPG tool WebRPG is interesting and should raise some hackles (and harvest plenty of WebRPG alternatives in the comments section - hey, there's one), but it's really about software and the Internet more than it's about... you know... us. The debate about "beta" software and free services has been a hot one for a while. I'm not sure what I make of gamerchick's take, but then, I've never used WebRPG and can't say if it's worth paying for. This makes me wanna wander back over to the Neverwinter Nights page and make sure they're still on schedule...

Thursday, October 25, 2001
10:40 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Ninjas and Vampires
As you can see on the lefthand side of the page, we've added two new reviews for your reading pleasure. Matthew Pook brings us a look at Ninja Burger from 9th Level Games. After trying this game, you'll never look at fast food the same way again. Secondly, Joe Kushner calls the Vampire Wars miniatures line to our attention, just in time for both Halloween and the release of White Wolf's new Ravenloft.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001
11:47 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Hasbro Advertising Machine In Full Swing
Seems like Hasbro's putting their product in our faces more often than usual lately. At my local supermarket, the Lucky Charms boxes are shrinkwrapped together with a CD-ROM that has both a free Hasbro Interactive game (Boggle, Chutes & Ladders, Operation, Monopoly Junior, or Yahtzee) and AOL version 6.0. As if getting in your face during breakfast wasn't enough, a new TV commercial for Hasbro's Get Together Games shows a bunch of guys so bored, they start sticking party horns into any orifice they can find (above the shoulders, that is). Is someone making a big push for a strong Q4 profit? Methinks someone is.

2:34 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Speaking of Monopolies...
Well, as I'm sure you all know by now, this Thursday the 25th marks the release of a major new piece of software that some say is a godsend and a breakthrough, others say will waste untold hours of computing productivity, and virtually all agree is an extension of America's most dominant monopoly. Yes: that software. (I mean, what did you think I was talking about?)

It would be nice to believe that Monopoly Tycoon's new release date was indeed an unusually witty corporate joke, but the truth is that publisher Infogrames originally wanted to release this new "competitive sim game" late last month but postponed, and probably genuinely picked 10/25 because they figured lots of people will be roaming CompUSA that day. But, while this title has some corporate smarm in its DNA, it also has concepts and gameplay strong enough to get me excited about it. And I don't get excited about PC games much anymore. (When I do, I almost always note it here. Folks who don't follow video-gaming press should also check out Advance Wars. Would you believe that one of the most anticipated holiday releases for the Game Boy Advance is a turn-based wargame?)

Monopoly Tycoon lets you play one of seven characters based on the Monopoly tokens (boot, top hat, etc.) and sets you loose in a SimCity-type landscape based on the Monopoly board. Boardwalk and Park Place are blocks next to the river in a tony part of town, whereas Baltic Avenue is across the river in the sticks. You develop businesses and residential complexes, and they interact with each other interestingly, but I wouldn't be writing about this at all if it weren't for the fact that the other characters - and in networked games, other players - are in there with you, placing competing bids for development rights and generally trying to mess you up. That's cool. Gameplay doesn't really have much to do with Monopoly, but speaks to the kinds of urges you always have when you do play the original: "What do you mean I can only have one hotel? I wanna build a shopping mall!" Not sure what the hardware reqs are on this - no Mac version, of course - but I'm just hoping to Uncle Moneybags I can run it. (And no, I don't mean Bill.)

4:58 AM: Demian Katz says...
New 1PG On The Way
Deep7 has been so busy creating deluxe CD-ROM editions of their 1PG mini-RPGs that they haven't had time to create any new ones for quite some time. Fortunately, they've just announced an addition to the line, created by game designer James Stubbs. Dime Heroes will extend the 1PG series into the realm of two-fisted pulp action. If you've ever wanted to become Doc Savage with a minimum of effort, your chance will arrive in November!

Tuesday, October 23, 2001
2:29 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
A Reminder From The Great Old Ones
I finally got myself a copy of Chaosium's latest masterpiece, 20th Anniversary Edition Call of Cthulhu. If you haven't seen them, these books are gorgeous. I won't bother boring you with the details, but I will say the stack of these books has dwindled below 80 copies, and they've been going so fast, Wizard's Attic has already taken them off the website (though you can still order directly through Chaosium). Suffice it to say, if you were planning to get one, you don't have much time left.

WotC Postin' Free Adventures Like Mad
Lookin' for free stuff? Wizards has posted Secret of the Windswept Wall, a D&D3e adventure for four characters of levels 2-4. If that isn't enough to sate your appetite, there's also Death, Dirt, and the Nerf Rancher's Daughter, a Star Wars RPG adventure for four 6th level characters. Just on name alone, it's worth a look.

1:21 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
I Got Your Forgotten Realms Right Here
Allan and I always used to talk about how cool it would be to write a regular gaming feature about all the games that languish unplayed in the back of our closets... the longer the better. We were going to call it The Gamer's Closet, and it would be all about the hilarity that ensued when we actually tried to playtest some of these old things. To make characters, at least. We'd talk about doing this, then we'd realize that it would mean playing Space Opera, and we'd all get a chill and start talking about something else.

However, the fine people at Gamegrene are running a sort of unofficial column (which makes us the last gaming website not to have at least one high-concept, extremely sporadic column) called The Forgotten, or Forgotten Games, or something. They aren't playing them, but they are writing amusingly about Boot Hill and, just today, Gamma World. I'd like to see them write with a little more depth, myself, but maybe it really isn't all that necessary. Boy, TSR produced an amazing amount of stuff back in the day - I'm surprised at how much I remember seeing on the shelves of Kit & Caboodle. We hereby encourage this kind of archaeology. Now I've just got to write that review of Gammarauders...

12:22 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
You Know, For Kids!
According to ICv2, that goofy Bionicle stuff is actually taking off. Maybe I'm just predisposed to see any new high-concept Lego thing as hopelessly lame. The Upper Deck-produced Bionicle CCG also appeared hopelessly lame, but I didn't look very closely at it at Origins. Has anyone played it? Also, that Hasbro profits article actually does mention the success of the Harry Potter CCG, although it doesn't mention WotC. All this stuff is making me wonder: in the post-Pokemon age, will we ever again see a successful CCG aimed at grownups? I think I smell a poll question...

Monday, October 22, 2001
1:54 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Lost Identities Found, Now Shipping
Looney Labs' Origins award-winning card game Chrononauts has a new expansion called Lost Identities, a fixed set of 13 new ID cards (IDs are one of the game's three win conditions, and the most likely of them in my experience). Chrononauts can get a little bit frustrating when everyone's familiar enough with all the ID cards to stymie the game whenever they notice that someone wants a particular timeline. If that's a problem in your games, this set should liven things up. There's also been talk of a whole alternative timeline, which would really be something, although it won't happen until next year if it happens at all.

11:25 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Hasbro Finishing 2001 Strong
According to this article, Q3 profits for Hasbro are up a bit. Maybe now they won't screw around with Wizards of the Coast (which wasn't mentioned in the article) for a little while.

4:11 AM: Demian Katz says...
Invisible City Catches Up
Further compensating for the missed August game of the month, Invisible City Productions has released a second free game for the month of October. This time it's Dungeon, a randomized hack-and-slash dungeon crawl played with a standard deck of cards. If you're having trouble waiting for Mage Knight Dungeons to come out, here's a good way to pass the time!

Friday, October 19, 2001
4:55 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Pinnacle Brings Out Their Dead... and Sells 'Em
Ever wanted to dive into the Weird West, but just didn't get around to it? Better spur your wallet into action, pardner, 'cuz Pinnacle is having a rather large Halloween/5th anniversary sale of Deadlands related products. Eighteen different reduced-price bundles of products are being offered, from the core game, the Anthology With No Name fiction line, Deadlands: Hell on Earth, and The Great Rail Wars. A bundle of items from The Great War miniatures game and The Last Crusade CCG rounds out the sale.

Thursday, October 18, 2001
4:30 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Fast Forward Moves... um, Forward
Fast Forward Entertainment has announced plans for their next three D20 supplements. Looks like they're making a play for the title of "Most D20 pages published in Q4."

  • Encyclopedia of Demons and Devils ($29.99; Ships Nov 12) - 224 page hardcover with all manner of demons and devils.
  • Rings of Power ($26.99; Ships Dec 3) - 160 page hardcover with more than 75 magical rings. Each has "a complete history and ... enough story hooks to create entire adventures." There also appears to be a tie-in with real jewelers, who created actual versions of the rings that can be purchased.
  • Swords of Power ($29.99; Ships Feb 11, 2002) - 224 page book of over 100 mystical swords, done in the same style as RoP, including a similar tie-in with actual sword-makers.
Sounds like the Power supplements are trying to appeal to LARPers as well... or to gamers with way too much money.

12:10 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
2002 Games 100
Funagain Games just released this year's Games 100, the annual best-of list and unofficial holiday buyer's guide compiled by Games Magazine. The year's #1 game according to the 100 is Evo, in which dinosaurs try to get to warm climates and "bid for genes." Many other interesting nuggets can be found in the list as well. Go forth and shop! (And if you haven't noticed in those URLs, we get a small financial reward if you buy anything after following that link. Disclaimers: we have no other relationship with Funagain, support your local retailer unless they suck, blah blah blah.)

4:16 AM: Demian Katz says...
Rangers of Taradoin Return
With remarkable speed, Sean-Robert Shaw has released the sequel to his Rangers of Taradoin gamebook. The book, entitled The Rangers of Taradoin: Of Cuneral Larinon and the Scions, provides both solitaire and multi-player role-playing rules (just like the first one) but, according to the author, doesn't have the numerous editorial SNAFUs that made the first book rather difficult to read. Sounds good to me! You can currently order the title from Barnes & Noble, and it should appear at other online booksellers in the near future.

Wednesday, October 17, 2001
4:55 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Buy Your Way Into Chez Geek
The Game Industry Disaster Relief Auction continues to draw support from all corners of the game industry, and is rumbling toward the $10,000 mark. Today, Steve Jackson Games and their ally John Kovalic got together to offer a truly unique item to the auction: an official Chez Geek card based on you. John Kovalic will create the artwork based on a photo the auction winner provides, and Steve Jackson will create rules and text for the card, which will be game legal. Hell, I haven't even played the game, and I'm tempted to bid... except that it's already at $180.

10:38 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Legion of Lost Souls Heading to Printer
Privateer Press announced that the conclusion of the Witchfire Trilogy, The Legion of Lost Souls, shipped to the printer yesterday, and should be arriving in stores in about a month. The Trilogy's final installment has been expanded to 96 pages, and will retail for $12.95. Definitely worth waiting for, though Privateer's teasing us a bit more with some preview artwork on their main webpage: a woman named Selar, "Crime lord, heavy drinker, half-elf." Sounds like a personals ad gone horribly wrong. S1/2EF into good livin' and the underworld, seeks S1/2EM or SEM with good CON and pickpocket experience...

Hip Pocket Game Line Launched
Cheapass Games has added a product page for Nexus, the first of their Hip Pocket Game line. The new strategy game seems to be packaged minimally in a ziplock bag, just like The Big Cheese and a few other Cheapass titles. The Nexus description mentions the next Hip Pocket Game title as well, a great market-building game called Agora, which will arrive "in the next few months."

10:16 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Happy birthday to Cheryl, my wife and best friend. Without your help and understanding, OgreCave would not exist. Happy birthday, sweetie!

Tuesday, October 16, 2001
4:32 PM: Demian Katz says...
A Future for Fighting Fantasy?
A few days ago, AdvancedFightingFantasy.com posted a rumor that some of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks (which include such classics as The Warlock of Firetop Mountain and Deathtrap Dungeon) may return to print in the near future. Although this republication is by no means a sure thing, the new interview with series co-founder Steve Jackson verifies that a publisher has expressed interest and that there is indeed hope for the books' return. With a little luck, perhaps the near-dry gamebook market will start to show a few new signs of life....

4:24 AM: Demian Katz says...
Rogue Publishing Offers Trip Directly to Hell
Rogue Publishing, an interesting e-publisher which splits its time between reprinting classic swashbuckling fiction and releasing new role-playing products, has just announced the availability of a new adventure: The Collectors: The Burning House. This 81-page PDF file costs $4.50 to download, which is a pretty good deal considering it contains the complete rules of Fudge plus a full-length adventure. In it, the players are cast as novice "collectors," demons sent to pick up a soul on Earth and bring it to Hell. This mission works as a stand-alone adventure or as the start of a longer campaign, and it should make an interesting change of pace from just about any regular campaign. With Halloween rapidly approaching, players may also want to check out the company's first RPG release: Priceless, a stand-alone live-action role-playing adventure containing quite a few good scares.

Monday, October 15, 2001
1:39 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Pokemon Craze Returns From Grave To Feast On Flesh Of Living
As long as we're at ICV2, check this: Yu-Gi-Oh, the show and game that unseated Pokemon as the one true god of the youth of Japan, has come to America and is already getting huge ratings. One interesting piece of news is that Yu-Gi-Oh is even more fiendishly tied in with its associated product than Pokemon was, relating the purchasable CCG cards directly to the successes and failures of the plot's protagonist (as a result, the show had to be cut - boohoo, otaku - to comply with kids'-programming regulations here in the States). What's next? A show that plots itself, Torg-like, based on the aggregated results of actual tournament games? A show in which a young boy must collect and marshal tiny heroic figures with little dials in their bases, or else he'll never defeat his evil father and take his rightful place beside his queen-mother on the throne? Jeez.

1:15 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
White Wolf: "We're Number One! We're Number One!"
ICV2 has the scoop, because they always do: "In the White Wolf presentation at the Diamond/Alliance Retailer Summit in Las Vegas last week, Director of Sales Fred Yelk announced that, 'White Wolf Publishing is determined to become the #1 independent publisher of d20 products.' The company is scaling up to be able to produce five d20 products per month in 2002." I have a feeling that 2002 for d20 is going to look and feel like the WWF - lots of smack-talk, drama and big players. Given Sword and Sorcery/Necromancer Games/Fiery Dragon/Malhavoc Press, the Arthaus brand Ravenloft is under, and White Wolf itself, they could easily become the biggest d20 publisher without anyone's actually noticing how huge they are. On the other hand, they could also do it solely by recycling old products, as the ICV2 article goes on to imply.

Sunday, October 14, 2001
7:15 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Zombies!!! Playtest Report
Play on a biiig table. It took us about 2 hours to play our first four-player game of Zombies (so figure on 90 minutes once you get up to speed), and the whole deck of map tiles did come out. You will be needing lotsa space. And if you suck at zombie-killing as much as we did, the 100 included zombie pawns might not quite be enough. For all our stumbling, though, we had a great time. If I have a complaint, it's that things can feel isolationist - you don't really interact with other players on your turn, or very directly at all. You can only mess with them via cards in your hand (cards that mess with other players are maybe 40% of the card mix?) and by moving a few zombies toward them at the end of your turn. There are some vaguenesses in the rules as well - we still don't know if the grenade Nathan lobbed at the police station should have won him the game on body count or not.

Zombies' randomness and reliance on fun, exception-based cards give it the feel of a fast, silly game, although it actually has the pace and resource-management decisions of a longer, more serious board game. It's a curious balance and I'm psyched to try it again. Pick it up fast, though, because the company has reportedly sold out, and given the layoffs, we'll have to see if they print any more. At least it's cheap. (You know, if I were USPC, I might wonder a bit about a division that put full-color cards with gorgeous art, specially-cut color map tiles, and 106 custom-molded plastic parts in a box and sold it for $19.95. They can't be losing money on every sale... can they?)

Saturday, October 13, 2001
8:00 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Suing D20 Companies For Fun and Profit
Roleplaying e-zine The Scribe has just posted an interview with Steve Perrin, famed co-designer of RuneQuest and other systems. In answer to one of the questions about the D20 craze, Mr Perrin wrote "I hope the various companies will sue D20 projects to fund other work, but we'll see." I'm gonna assume he meant "use" instead of "sue," though the sentence is much more interesting as written.

L5R Plans Pseudo-Announced
D.J. Trindle, L5R Line Editor at AEG, has posted a detailed explanation of the company's D20 plans, of how Rokugan got to be so massive, and when we'll be returning to our regularly scheduled L5R game products.

Twilight: 2000 & 2300 A.D. To Be Reprinted
Far Future Enterprises, home of the legendary Marc Miller, has gained the rights to the classic sci-fi RPGs Twilight:2000 and 2300 A.D. The entire product line for each game, including articles from Challenge Magazine, will be reprinted in 320-page volumes. The first book for Twilight: 2000 will come out in March 2002, while the first book for 2300 A.D. will arrive in October 2002.

Friday, October 12, 2001
3:27 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Entire Staff of Journeyman Press Laid Off
Through various channels, we've been hearing that the US Playing Card Company has suddenly eliminated its speciality games division, better known as Journeyman Press. All four Journeyman employees were laid off at 2:30 pm this afternoon. This shocking news comes in the middle of the release of Zombies!!!, the biggest hit Journeyman's had thus far. The fate of the planned Zombies!!! sequels and the eBay card game is unknown at this point, but sources are not optimistic.

Thursday, October 11, 2001
11:55 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Necromancer Brings Grimtooth's Traps To D&D3e
You didn't really think you'd be safe, did you? Just because the Grimtooth's Traps books were 1st Edition, and we've reached 3rd, did you honestly think he wouldn't find a way to put your characters in mortal danger again? Yes, Grimtooth the Troll is back from the dead, and appropriately enough, it's courtesy of a Necromancer.

Necromancer Games announced that it has reached an agreement with Flying Buffalo to license the Grimtooth's Traps property. The result will cause players to hide their GM's wallets worldwide: The Wurst of Grimtooth's Traps, a hardcover book planned for 224 pages in length. The book will have a selection of updated material from Grimtooth products, with new trap and rogue related equipment, magic, skills, feats, and a prestige class. Necromancer's Grimtooth book will also present a reworked version of the Dungeon of Doom, the most heavily trapped dungeon known. The Wurst of Grimtooth's Traps is set for release in May 2002.

Don't be too surprised when you see the other Grimtooth books popping up too. Flying Buffalo's taking the opportunity reprint the entire line, each with an appendix on converting to D&D3e. Sing it with me now: It's beginning to sound a lot like death throwes... everywhere he goes...

2:22 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Clowns Shown To Be Gamers' Worst Nightmare
Should've known how you Simpsons fanatics would vote. In response to the question "What keeps you up at night?", over 63% said "CAN'T SLEEP, CLOWN'LL EAT ME." About 9.5% were concerned about affording all the special editions coming out lately, and 7.9% of voters wish they were Frodo. Sad, really. :-)

The new poll will be up soon.

What About Valley Of The Gwangi?
Gamers interested in trying some prehistoric resource management (and some warfare on the side) will be happy to hear that Valley of the Mammoths will be arriving as part of the Eurogames line from Descartes Editeur. VotM is a 10 year old French wargame designed by Bruno Faidutti, much sought after by those who know of it. If you want your tribe to win, you'll have to do well at hunting, avoiding disasters, attacking your enemies, and even mating (!). The game will accomodate 3-6 players, should be available this December, and is almost certainly cheaper than the other tribal game we saw at Origins.

1:55 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Witchfire 3 Art Preview
If you've been anxiously awaiting the finale of Privateer Press' Witchfire Trilogy, well, you'll have to wait a bit longer. It seems the massive amount of materials being crammed into WT 3: The Legion of Lost Souls has caused a slight delay in the 64 page book's release, pushing it back to early November. To appease all the fans of the Iron Kingdoms, Privateer has posted a piece of preview art from the adventure which depicts Capt. Julian Helstrom in action.

Mutating D20
The Darwin's World RPG has been announced, a D20 game written and illustrated by Dominic Covey, who's known for his work on RPG Archive. The setting is described as "a world after the fall of mankind, filled with bizarre mutants and rampant environmental dangers (radiation, chemical poisons, mutated diseases), where characters struggled to survive among the ashes of the so-called 'Ancients.'" Sound kinda like Gamma World to anyone else?

Wednesday, October 10, 2001
5:43 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
FFG: Busy, Cool, Vague
We've been covering them a lot lately and I don't want them to get a big head or anything. So, I'll offer this as a sort of capstone: their Rants page is fun and rewarding to read every week or so. Yesterday's entry is particularly intriguing, with whispery suggestions of future products...

1:29 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Xro Dinn Quickplay Posted
Ionian Games Studio has posted quickplay rules for its upcoming RPG release, The Xro Dinn Chronicles. For a taste of the hard sci-fi game before its November ship date, head over to their site.

AEG To Produce Rokugan D20 Supplement
Earlier today, AEG announced plans to publish Rokugan: The Legend Of The Five Rings RPG d20 System Companion. (whew!) In my mind, this book was pretty much a given, considering that Rokugan was the L5R setting, and is now the D&D3e Oriental Adventures setting as well. The 224 page hardcover supplement, which describes new core classes, prestige classes, skills, feats, and spells, "picks up where Oriental Adventures leaves off, going ever deeper into the world of the Emerald Empire." L5R/D&D3e conversion rules are included of course, making the book more attractive to players of either system.

8:38 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Gary Gygax's Necropolis Coming to Necromancer
It's only fitting that Necromancer Games would announce a resurrection of Necropolis, originally written by Gary Gygax. Originally released 10 years ago, Necropolis will be revamped for the new version. Intended as both a sourcebook and epic adventure for levels 10-18, the 224 page hardcover book is scheduled for July 2002. "Imagine a huge desert wilderness adventure culminating in the Tomb of Horrors on crack-that about describes Necropolis," said Necromancer's Bill Webb. Other than new magic items, monsters, gods, and spells, the book will detail "hundreds of miles of an ancient desert kingdom." Egyptian-themed epic quest, eh? I'm there.

Metal Lancers and Whirlwind League
WizKids has posted info on the new Mage Knight Metal Sets 6 & 7, which look quite nice. I'd use them in an RPG, except they look a bit odd to me with their metal, notched base, modeled after the regular MK bases. To assist those new to painting their miniatures, part four of a painting guide is also on the Mage Knight site. There's also details on the Whirlwind Sealed Booster Tournament, coming up on November 911, which is a National Qualifier event for the US Championship held at Origins 2002 next July.

12:39 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Carcassonne is German For Fun, Except It's Actually French For a City, And Um, Shut Up
A lot of people automatically shy away from all that stuff put out by Rio Grande, or Mayfair, or just anything that looks suspiciously German. German games have a reputation for being so complex that American audiences, who like to make sure they don't lose, take hours and hours to play them. Well, I'm here to tell you to get Carcassonne. I've been playing it constantly lately. It just won the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) award in its homeland, as well as the more gamer-geek-oriented, popular-vote-based (as opposed to juried) Deutscher SpielePries. It plays in 30 to 45 minutes. It is perfectly balanced between luck and skill (and I don't say that kind of thing lightly). It is cheap as all hell, for what you get. And, perhaps best of all for American audiences, it plays as well with two players as with three to five. It was tough to get a few weeks ago but I'm seeing it everywhere now. Check it, check it, check it. Carcassonne. That is all.

(Well, okay, that's not all. I want to ask a question. Suppose I could link you to a page at a major online board-gaming retail site, that had much more detail than the Rio Grande link, but the link gave OgreCave a cut of the sale, if your going to their page resulted in a sale of a copy of that game. We ogres have been going back and forth on whether gamers would consider that ethical, or see it as a compromise of objectivity, or just as another blow to beleaguered real-world retailers. We'd like to know what you think, and we don't want to couch it in a funny poll. Send us an email.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2001
10:03 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Roleplaying Tips # 93
This week's issue of Roleplaying Tips offers advice to GMs for running large groups of players. As the new issue points out, keeping players busy is difficult but can be rewarding.

7:29 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
GIDFA Still Going Strong
If you haven't been by the Game Industry Disaster Fund Auction, you really should go take a look. As of yesterday evening, bids had already reached a total of $5515.96, all in the name of charity. A large array of products have been donated by the game industry, so you're sure to find something interesting. Get over there and bid!

Rules of Engagement
Sabertooth Games has posted the final rules to the impending Warhammer 40,000 CCG. Now we can finally take a look at those sample cards they've been posting, and understand what we're looking at.

Monday, October 08, 2001
4:21 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
The Parts Left Out Of The Mythic Races Book
FFG just posted three races that didn't make it into their new Mythic Races hardback. They're in PDF format with art and everything. One of them is the Makhim, whom I remember from the first DiskWars expansion. Aaaaaand speaking of DiskWars, today's the last day of that big 75%-off sale. Grab yourself some Range Wars, you won't be sorry.

10:43 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Atlas Takes Us A Step Beyond
Atlas Games announced their latest Penumbra title: Beyond the Veil by Monte Cook. The high-level adventure (9th and above) deals with a black dragon that just refuses to stay dead, and forces the characters into the worst of situations: sneaking up on a dragon that's prepared. Yeah, not good. You'll have to wait 'til December to get your hands on Cook's latest.

In the meantime, other Atlas products will keep you occupied. En Route should be in stores this week, providing numerous adventures to harass your players with as they travel from tavern to tavern. Burning Shaolin, Atlas' D20/Feng Shui crossover adventure, will be riding the current wave of Oriental enthusiasm to market later this month. The Last Dance, an adventure full of sorcerous music, will enter the D20 arena in November.

Mongoose Takes The Plunge
Mongoose Publishing has a new D20 product line coming up called Travellers' Tales. The first of those Tales will be Seas of Blood: Fantasy on the High Seas. The supplement will include new prestige classes like the Buccaneer, Corsair and Navigator-Wizard. There's also mention of Sea Druids, of Mongoose's Open Mass Combat System, fishing rules, gnomish submersibles, sea monsters, and new magic, just to name a few highlights. There are already plans for future releases to support Seas of Blood, with titles like Ships of the Goblinoids, Ships of the Elves and The Slayer's Guide to Sahuagin. The seas will start running red in December.

In November, the Mongoose machine rolls out two more D20 hits: Gladiator and The Slayer's Guide to Troglodytes. As a kid, I used to live next to some troglodytes who'd yell at anyone who stepped on their lawn. Ah, the memories...

Friday, October 05, 2001
5:45 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
Isn't that how it goes? Man, it's been at least 18 years since I took piano lessons.

Anyway, the first issue of Fudge Factor, a free monthly magazine website for players of the Fudge RPG system, has burst onto the scene. Well, maybe "burst" isn't the right word, but they've made their presence known. Hmm... Every Gamer Buys Dice Frantically?

A&E Runs Show On "Gaming Related" Murder From Long Time Ago
Geez, when are TV decision makers going to make the right decision and let this leave the airwaves? Yep, I'm afraid A&E dragged the 1988 Lieth Von Stein murder back out for public display again in an hour-long episode of City Confidential entitled "Deadly Games In Little Washington." I saw a TV movie based on this case a while back, too, and according to this report, the cheesy TV movie did a better job of showing that Dungeons & Dragons wasn't the cause of the murder, a whacked-out kid was. Thanks A&E, for letting sensationalism win out over common sense yet again.

Lights! Camera! Action System!
Gold Rush Games *just* launched a site for their new Action! System. What is it? Well, the site says GRG "will be releasing the Action! System rules in a master document and making a free (as in royalty-free), public license available for their use." Ah-ha, a challenger to the almighty d20. Better design the system around a d30, just for an added advantage. :-)

Step Into Skeleton Key's Parlor
Skeleton Key Games has posted a new Adventure Tile of the Week: a spider's lair. Perfect for this time of year, or for anyone who has some nifty spider minis, like me.

Thursday, October 04, 2001
1:11 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
The Games Journal: Cool
I'd just like to say that The Games Journal is cool. Thank you.

9:34 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Precedence Stopping Wheel, Making Changes
Late yesterday, Precedence announced both their 2002 release schedule, and the fact that the Wheel of Time CCG wouldn't be a part of it. The company has "canceled its ongoing efforts to produce a 2nd Edition set for the Wheel of Time CCG. While development of the previously announced 2nd edition / White Tower expansions was substantially complete, they will not be printed as a direct result of insufficient sales demand." Precedence promised to "continue to explore new avenues of release [ala Cycles] in an effort to insure that those that love the game may eventually be able to get new product."

Precedence plans to continue fully supporting the game in terms of customer service and tournaments for the foreseeable future, as they will for all their game lines. According to Precedence CEO Paul W. Brown III, "[Precedence] got in this business to make games that players could enjoy playing for a lifetime. So long as any game we have made is being played, we will be there to support that game." A fine and noble idea, so long as the money from successful game lines keeps rolling in. For the sake of their older products, I hope Rifts does well.

Here's a quick look at Precedence's 2002 schedule, which includes a new CMG (say it with me now: Collectible Miniatures Game. Good! You're getting it.) :

  • Q1: Rifts CCG - Gargoyle Empire; Star Legions CMG - First Wave
  • Q2: Star Legions CMG - Entrobeasts
  • Q3: Rifts CCG - Atlantis: The Civil War; Star Legions CMG - WarFleet
  • "Secret Projects" to be announced for late 2002

Decipher Calls Off Convention, Gives Prize Money To Charity
Decipher's Chairman & CEO Warren Holland, siting "the September 11 tragedies ..., resulting airline safety concerns, and expected military action in the near future," has taken steps to reduce the amount of travelling Decipher's employees and fans will have to undertake. To that end, the European Decipher team will represent at Spiel Game Faire in Essen, Germany, rather than flying a bunch of folks across the pond to run things. Additionally, Decipher has called off DecipherCon entirely, opting instead to donate the $50,000 prize money to whatever charity the 300 qualified champion players vote for. The money will be donated in the players' name, not Decipher's, and will mark the beginning of a series of fundraising tournaments and events.

But what of the first ever sanctioned tournament for the Lord of the Rings TCG, originally planned for DecipherCon? A series of sanctioned tournaments at numerous locations worldwide (still to be announced) will take place instead. The qualifying champions that would have competed at DecipherCon will be invited to serve as guests of honor at their local sanctioned event.

Stuperpowers Deluxe Shipping
Wingnut Games announced that Stuperpowers Deluxe is on its way to distributors, and should reach stores by mid-October. Almost time for Noodle Boy to come out of retirement, fighting evil once more with his al dente charm.

4:22 AM: Demian Katz says...
Time to Dig Out the Backgammon Set
Perhaps to compensate for the fact that they didn't manage to release anything during the month of August, Invisible City has put out their free October game with remarkable speed. It's called Blockade, it's an abstract strategy game, and it requires, of all things, half a Backgammon board. If you're in the mood for a strategic two-player battle or if you're just wondering what you can possibly do with a Backgammon board other than play Backgammon on it, you should check this out.

Wednesday, October 03, 2001
4:36 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Zombies Make Everything Funnier
...even the Halloween Gift Packs from Cheapass. Halloween pack, it's got all the Friedey's games (Give Me The Brain, Lord of the Fries, Change, Great Brain Robbery), plus Renfield and Parts Unknown, and finally (somewhat spuriously) Witch Trial. Top it all off with 2 random selections from the Freaks and Vampyres sets of Button Men, and it's a slam dunk for $39. If, however, you are a man of taste but not wealth, the Great Zombie Gift Pack (with just the Friedey's games plus that one zombie Button Men set) may be more your speed at $20.

10:43 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Magic Begins A New Odyssey
The latest expansion for Magic: The Gathering, called Odyssey, is in stores now. The set boasts 350 black-bordered cards (110 rares, 110 uncommons, 110 commons, and 20 lands) with new artwork. New special abilities are also introduced: Flashback, which allows cards to be played after they've been placed in the graveyard, and Threshold, which alters cards when there are at least seven cards in the graveyard. The Odyssey set also begins a storyline that takes place nearly 100 years after the Apocalypse expansion. According to Wizards, "new races will emerge, and the five colors will compete to find the 'Mirari,' a legendary artifact of immense power." Man, I haven't played Magic in so long... they still have creatures, right?

Free D20 Goodness From Pinnacle
Pinnacle has posted two free D20 adventures on their site. The first is The Golem, an adventure for Weird Wars by Mark Metzner. The second is Rats in a Maze for Deadlands D20, an adventure written by Rob Lusk that was run at both Origins and GenCon this year. Both are introductory level adventures.

Tuesday, October 02, 2001
9:42 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
But In Miniatures, It's More Like The One Speck
Games Workshop has begun taking preorders for their Lord of the Rings game line. The line starts with their Fellowship of the Ring Boxed Game, a miniatures combat game that includes rules, dice and "48 highly detailed plastic miniatures." A set of miniatures that represent the Fellowship of the Ring (Aragorn, Boromir, Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Legolas, Pippin, Merry and Gimli) will supplement the boxed game, and will be called, appropriately enough, The Fellowship of The Ring. A third set, The Warriors of Middle-Earth, will contain 4 Men of Gondor, 8 Elves and 12 Moria Goblins.

Wolves and Turtles
Misguided Games has posted a pair of new previews for their upcoming Children of the Sun RPG: some artwork of the game's wolf-like Luparathi, and a description of the turtle-humanoids known as Thorqua. I got dibs on Donatello.

Monday, October 01, 2001
11:34 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Own One, Before They Own You
Chaosium has finally gotten their limited edition shipment of 20th Anniversary Call of Cthulhu. Where my office is, I have to walk through Chaosium to get to the bathroom, so I've seen these rare beauties firsthand. Each book's supple green cover seemed to shift and move under my touch. I found myself keeping an eye on them as I passed by. I almost felt that they were doing the same... Well, they're gorgeous, especially the extra-limited, named copies. I was compelled to reach for my wallet, but found nothing contained therein. So, to get my mind on something else, I noticed Chaosium's other new release, Goatswood, which should reach stores around October 19. Any Cthulhu is better than no Cthulhu.

Releases and Remodels
According to the Cheapass website, which is undergoing heavy remodeling, Button Men: Samurai and Nexus will be available around the second week of October. If you made it to GenCon this year, you saw a Samurai button in the program book, and already know the set will look good. Nexus is the first Hip Pocket Game from Cheapass, cheaper and more portable. Gotta like that.

With Trick-or-Treating coming soon, Cheapass has also arranged for a selection of their undead-themed games to be packaged together in a Halloween gift pack. A special boxed edition of Parts Unknown will be included in the fun, along with "the entire Friedey's series, Renfield, and miscellaneous appropriate Button Men." More details will shamble onto the Cheapass site next week.

Roleplaying Tips Weekly #92
Another week, another issue. This time continues last week's theme by supplying more hints on giving better descriptions.

1:40 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Got Disks?
Fantasy Flight is having a big DiskWars clearance sale through next Monday. If you never checked out DiskWars, now is an excellent time, and if you checked out DiskWars but thought it had problems, now is an excellent time to check out Range Wars if you haven't - it fixed many of the perceived flaws (like the missile system - I still kind of like the original, but I can see how dropping things onto the table from a foot up strikes some people as, er, not simulationist enough?). I just unloaded way too much money here, go do the same.


 

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