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August 2004 Archive

« July 2004 | Main | September 2004 »

August 31, 2004

05:51 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
GAMA plays musical chairs

Perhaps in an attempt to quiet its recent critics, GAMA has taken a few steps toward rearranging its staff and Board of Director positions. Late last week, Mark MacKinnon of Guardians of Order was named Treasurer, taking over the position vacated after Ryan Dancey's resignation. Now GAMA has appointed Mike Stackpole to fill the Director-at-Large seat left open by MacKinnon's switch. Stackpole has exactly the sort of reputation GAMA could use right now, from championing the industry against attacks from other organizations and generally being a fellow with strong ethics. Stackpole continues to serve as chair of the GAMA Industry Watch Committee, so he's no stranger to GAMA. Still, even with the changes being implimented, feelings are still running high about events of the last few weeks.

August 30, 2004

11:11 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave review: Now Playing

To start the week, Matthew gives us a review of Now Playing, the roleplaying game for channel surfers from Carnivore Games. Did the game keep him glued to the - uh, book? Or did it drive him to put it down and go watch reruns? Read on to find out.

August 28, 2004

03:32 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Maybe Catanians just can't tell crap real estate when they see it

That would explain why they keep moving next to fields that only produce sheep on a 2. It would also help explain why Capcom is bringing Settlers of Catan to the N-Gage in 2005. Although the embattled portable game deck is famously also a phone, the N-Gage version, simply titled Catan, will only support multiplayer via Bluetooth, like most of the N-Gage's titles. I guess Mr. Costikyan is still having trouble making himself heard over in Finland.

August 26, 2004

04:50 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Z-Man announces card game from PotSM's design studio

Although there's nothing about it yet on their pages, Z-Man Games has announced (according to Gamefest, anyway) a LoneShark card game design called Dungeonville for sometime before year's end. For those with better things to do than remember, LoneShark is Mike Selinker and James Ernest, creators of that out-of-stock piratey sensation Pirates of the Spanish Main. A little surfing turned up a page with details on the game itself - it almost sounds like Before I Kill You, Mr. Name Deleted, with some economics thrown in. Next year, apparently, there is a Rio Grande title called Gloria Mundi that sounds pretty different, and there is Cow Poker, which sounds filthy. I mean, really.

August 25, 2004

03:05 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Dragonlance is the Key

Sovereign Press has announced that Dragonlance: Key of Destiny has sold out of its entire 5,000 copy print run in just over a month. During these times of slower sales, this is encouraging news, especially for D20 and D&D products. Sovereign Press plans to reprint the adventure module, its first for the Dragonlance setting, in the fall.


01:56 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
WizKids releases MechWarrior: Falcon's Prey

The latest expansion for MechWarrior has been unleashed in retail stores everywhere, bringing Clan Jade Falcon into the mix. The expansion, Falcon's Prey, also has yet another chance for players to win a DropShip. Check out the press release below for more info.


08:57 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
It's official: White Wolf owns Pendragon

Added details have been released regarding White Wolf and its plans to publish materials for the Pendragon Arthurian roleplaying game. Apparently this is not just a mere license, as we thought earlier: Green Knight Publishing has sold ownership of the game to White Wolf's imprint, ArtHaus Publishing. Even the remaining copies of old Pendragon RPG products have been acquired by ArtHaus. Should be interesting to see what ArtHaus and White Wolf do with Arthurian legend. World of Chivalry, anyone?

August 24, 2004

11:47 PM: Steve Kani says...
Gen Con Indy '04 Wrap-up: Social Games joins forces with R. Talsorian Games

Social Games has joined forces with R. Talsorian Games to produce five new supplements for the Cyberpunk 2020 roleplaying game beginning with Firestorm: Tempest.


03:18 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Gen Con Indy '04 Wrap-up: OgreCave T-shirt Throwdown - Postgame analysis

I warned you not to take me on, Steve. Your t-shirt gathering prowess is no match to my own. You went down like the Hyatt elevator overloaded with sweaty gamers (which isn't that funny if you've been there, believe me).

I'll take my victory lap now, and recount the story of your ignominious defeat.


01:11 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
OgreCave review: Nobody But Us Chickens

Matthew sent in his review of Nobody But Us Chickens, the Origins Award nominated card game from Dancing Eggplant Games. Have a look and see what he thought of it.

August 23, 2004

11:46 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Gen Con Indy '04 Wrap-up: Sails ahoy!

No really, there was a giant mast, 20 feet high, at the front corner of the WizKids booth. As Mike just reported, WizKids will bring an expansion to Pirates of the Spanish Main out in March. However, I've got slightly more info to report than the public press release has revealed. Like the tentative name, for instance.


05:10 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Spanish Main expansion planned for March, third printing of core set planned for never

This bit of news is not terribly surprising or rich in details, nor has it been officially confirmed by anything resembling a press release. Normally I'd hold off on posting it on that basis, but "Pirates of the Spanish Main will get an expansion" is about as shocking as "winter will be cold." What's more interesting is this quote: "WizKids is estimating that the second printing will provide an eight to twelve month's supply, and after the second printing is gone the company does not plan to go back to press." I guess the latter point is not surprising either - WK probably just has an unlimited edition in mind or somesuch - but we'll just see about the former.

01:19 AM: Steve Kani says...
Gen Con Indy '04 Wrap-up: Finish Him! OgreCave T-shirt Throwdown

Yeah, it's over. Gen Con Indy has come to a close for us. The t-shirts have been counted and a winner has been declared. I must admit, I thought I had this one. By the time we had to leave the convention and meet the car to the airport, I had eight t-shirts in the bag.

It wasn't enough. On the last day, Allan surged ahead and had collected four more shirts bringing his total to ten. The deadlock has been broken. Fatality. Perfect Score.

Ah well, at least it was pretty close. Well done, Allan.

August 21, 2004

08:22 PM: Steve Kani says...
Live at Gen Con '04: OgreCave T-shirt Throwdown - Three

There is one day left in the ultimate OgreCave t-shirt throwdown! By the middle of the day tomorrow, one of us will be going home with the championship belt while the other will be taking the walk of shame!


06:49 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Live from Gen Con '04: White Wolf gets Pendragon

Details are sketchy at this point, but after checking with White Wolf's Stewart Wieck, we've confirmed that White Wolf has acquired the rights from Green Knight Publishing to publish new materials for Pendragon. Novels and online games will continue to be produced by Green Knight, but White Wolf has the reigns for roleplaying products. A full press release hasn't been issued yet, but we'll be sure to keep you updated when information becomes available.


06:32 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Live at Gen Con '04: Gloom-y days ahead

Lurking in the Atlas Games booth, I ran into Keith Baker, creator of WotC's Eberron, and Lee Moyer, major contributing artist for same. After talking for a few minutes, Keith mentioned his upcoming card game Gloom, for which John Nephew helpfully brought out the prototype. Set for release in October, Gloom will have players competing to be the most miserable. Each player will heap unfortunate events upon his family of poor souls while stacking good fortune atop his opponents. To enable players to see which "bad" cards cancel "good" cards and vice versa, the cards will be transparent and lay on top of the "character" cards each player has. Looking down through the card stack will show which traits are covered by something else, thereby being cancelled, and which traits are still in effect. When a family dies off completely, the game ends, and points of misery are scored.

August 20, 2004

08:46 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Live at Gen Con '04: ENnie winners announced

The winners of this year's ENnie Awards were awarded at a quicker-than-usual ceremony, and much fun was to be had. Here's the list of winners:

Best Aid or Accessory
Gold: Roleplaying Tips GM Encyclopedia (
Silver: Counter Collection Gold (Fiery Dragon Productions)

Best Art (Interior)
Gold: Nocturnals: A Midnight Companion (Green Ronin Publishing)
Silver: Bestiary of Krynn (Sovereign Press)

Best Cartography
Gold: Thieves' Quarter (Green Ronin Publishing/The Game Mechanics)
Silver: Redhurst: Academy of Magic (Fast Forward Entertainment/Human Head Studios)

Best Graphic Design & Layout
Gold: Nocturnals: A Midnight Companion (Green Ronin Publishing)
Silver: Redhurst: Academy of Magic (Fast Forward Entertainment/Human Head Studios)

Best Art (Cover)
Gold: Grimm (Fantasy Flight Games)
Silver: Arcana Unearthed (Malhavoc Press)

Best Official Website
Gold: Hero Games
Silver: Green Ronin Publishing

Best Publisher (Overall)
Gold: Green Ronin Publishing
Silver: White Wolf

Best d20 Game
Gold: Arcana Unearthed (Malhavoc Press)
Silver: Grimm (Fantasy Flight Games)

Best Adventure
Gold: Lost City of Barakus (Troll Lord Games/Necromancer Games)
Silver: Black Sails Over Freeport (Green Ronin Publishing)

Best Campaign Setting
Gold: Dawnforge (Fantasy Flight Games)
Silver: Redhurst: Academy of Magic (Fast Forward Entertainment/Human Head Studios)

Best Setting Supplement
Gold: Crooks! (Green Ronin Publishing)
Silver: Thieves' Quarter (Green Ronin Publishing/The Game Mechanics)

Best Rules Supplement
Gold: Crime and Punishment (Atlas Games)
Silver: Torn Asunder (Bastion Press)

Best Monster Supplement
Gold: Crooks! (Green Ronin Publishing)
Silver: Bestiary of Krynn (Sovereign Press)

Best Revision/Update/Compilation
Gold: Complete Book of Eldritch Might (Malhavoc Press)
Silver: Book of Fiends (Green Ronin Publishing)

Best Non-d20 Game
Gold: Cthulhu Dark Ages (Chaosium)
Silver: HARP (Iron Crown Enterprises)

Best Non-d20 Supplement
Gold: Fantasy Hero (Hero Games)
Silver: 50 Fathoms (Pinnacle Entertainment Group)

Best Non-d20 Setting or Setting Sourcebook
Gold: The Turakian Age (Hero Games)
Silver: To Go (Unknown Armies)(Atlas Games)

Best Non-d20 Adventure
Gold: Champions Battlegrounds (Hero Games)
Silver: Shades of Black (Champions) (Hero Games)

Best Licensed Product
Gold: Nocturnals: A Midnight Companion (Green Ronin Publishing)
Silver: Babylon 5 RPG (Mongoose Publishing)

Best Electronic Product (not free)
Gold: Sidewinder: Recoiled (Dog House Rules)
Silver: Roleplaying Tips GM encyclopedia (

Best Free Product or Web Enhancement
Gold: Initiative cards (The Game Mechanics)
Silver: Ezine Archives (

Best Fan Site
Silver: SWRPGnetwork

OgreCave extends its congratulations to all the winners. Same time next year, then?


08:06 PM: Steve Kani says...
Live at Gen Con '04: OgreCave T-shirt Throwdown - Part Deux

Okay, it's been a rough day but I'm starting to make up some ground on that punk with six t-shirts. Today's count: four for me, six for for the guy who is soon to be humiliated on his own website.


09:51 AM: Steve Kani says...
Live at Gen Con '04: The Red Star

To call the world of The Red Star merely an alternative universe or alternative future is to do it a disservice. The comic book created by Christian Gossett seems to be so much more than that.

August 19, 2004

11:31 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Live at Gen Con '04: Finding monsters expeditiously

Suzi at Expeditious Retreat Press brought the noise and the funk -- or at least a thorough list of D&D beasts. Monster Geographica: Underground, a collection of 200 3.0 and 3.5 monsters, released here at Gen Con with a new approach to its menagerie listing. As the title suggests, all the creatures in its pages dwell in subterranian areas. The monsters are then listed by their Challenge Rating, not alphabetically, placing the right size of threatening adversary at the gamemaster's fingertips. More Monster Geographica titles are planned, for other terrain types such as Mountains, Forest, and Plains. D20 gamers can bring the easy reference book home for a mere $20.


10:56 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Live at Gen Con '04: OgreCave T-shirt Throwdown

So, it all started at last year's Gen Con Indy when both Steve and I, through random acts of fate and generous game companies, both ended up with six free t-shirts apiece. At Gen Con SoCal a few months later, we both actively tried to outdo each other in t-shirt accumulation, but despite our best efforts, we tied again at four shirts apiece. At the GAMA Trade Show, we tied once more at three free shirts each. This Gen Con, right here, right now, the tie will be broken and a winner will be decided. Oh yeah, it's on, buddy. You're going down.

August 18, 2004

08:18 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
My Life With Master takes Diana Jones (award, that is)

The prestigious Diana Jones Award For Excellence In Gaming for 2004 goes to the experimental narrativist RPG My Life With Master. In other news, someone forgot to renew a domain. [UPDATE: The new website for the Diana Jones Award is The host company fouled up the domain renewal, and a squatter has taken roost at the old URL.]

02:52 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Live at Gen Con '04: Prowling for promo minis

The WotC booth is nearly set up now, with mostly chairs and product displays to piece together, and a guy fiddling with a mixing board to get the booth's music just right. Over next to a large robot-like statue (10'+ tall), a few sealed boxes caught my eye. Apparently containing D&D Miniatures Game promo figures, half said "Rhek" and the other half said "Half-Illithid Lizardfolk." A source said these were from the upcoming Aberrations expansion set. They must be mine.


12:37 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Live at Gen Con '04: Scoping things out

Not much going on yet, but the storm that will be Gen Con Indy '04 is about to break. I've wandered through the exhibit hall to get a sense of where companies will be. Miniatures company Rakham has a fairly large booth near the front of the hall with a huge Confrontation banner suspended above it. Upper Deck has gone for a more realistic sized booth this year, without the huge monstrosity of metal gangplanks that discouraged booth traffic. Wizards of the Coast has about the same area as last year, and was still unpacking when I passed through, but I took note of a nice G.I. Joe TCG banner. Over at the Hyatt about an hour ago, True Dungeon was ready to go, but True Heroes was still frantically being set up. Overall, the show will be ready to go very soon, and this is the last, frantic push to get everything up in time.

11:43 AM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Right, so, Allan's at Gen Con

And I forgot to tell him to get me a copy of Paranoia XP OR DIE. Expect a post or two by the end of the day on some products, some booths, and some crap.

August 16, 2004

06:36 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
I accuse Professor Betrayal, in the house, with the hill

Finally, some more details about Avalon Hill's most original release of the year. Betrayal at House on the Hill is still a tile-based game in which one of the players turns against the others, but we now know that each individual character will have attributes, strengths, and weaknesses. The article suggests there are more subtleties in the victory conditions and such, which is good, because if we didn't know that, this would sound like a When Darkness Comes variant. And hey, if you like When Darkness Comes, more power to you, but when the company that owns hundreds of long-out-of-print game designs, some of them classics, sounds as if its original game for the year is a When Darkness Comes variant, I think it's fair to say that there's trouble. I understand both the desire and the occasional practical necessity to keep the finer details of game play out of the press, but it's been particularly frustrating in this case. So I'm relieved to see these details and am looking forward to the full release.


01:02 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
If you want to control information, putting your email archive behind a password is a pretty good idea

Self-exiled GAMA BoD president Treasurer Ryan Dancey says he didn't "hack" into anything - rather, he found that GAMA's internal communication email list archive was available for all to see on an un-password-protected web server. He claims he made someone at GAMA aware of this situation, and when he didn't hear back about it, he just shrugged his shoulders and kept reading. Given my direct experience with disorganization and lack of web-savviness in the industry, I'm inclined to believe Dancey's claim.

My BS detector starts to stir back to life when I read about his motivations for saving GAMA, however. He says that "[i]f GAMA fails, and the ORIGINS Awards fail with it, a dozen individuals will create separate trade associations and Awards programs, each with different charters and objectives, and each will aggregate a small, vocal minority of participants and none will ever be as successful or have as much chance for future success as GAMA does today." That is certainly true if your criteria for a successful industry awards body is one in which the majority of voters understand little about the majority of categories. Balkanizing the awards doesn't seem like a disastrous idea to me - the ENnies have demonstrated that a more focused awards program doesn't have to mean a drop down to amateurishness. I could certainly see a world in which separate trade groups for D20 publishers, board and card game publishers, and miniatures companies could more productively serve the industry as a whole - after all, when it comes to doing market research, how much do, say, Privateer Press and Looney Labs really have in common?

Dancey has likely heard this kind of talk before, and it likely gives him a nightmare vision of the industry steadily dwindling down to nothing. Well... I think that might happen no matter what we do. But that's another post.

[Update: for those who need still more drama in their gaming life, the remaining GAMA board has some more to say too.]

August 14, 2004

11:51 PM: Dave Chalker says...
Winter is... still coming

The rules to the expansion set for A Game of Thrones board game, A Clash of Kings, has been posted at Fantasy Flight's website. Highlights include adding a sixth player via a modular board, siege engines, new house cards, new combat rules and rules to plan for the Westeros cards. Not included are rules for misnamed sequels or delayed fourth books.

August 13, 2004

06:27 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
The eternal struggle continues online!! Because that's what eternal things do!! They continue!!

Back when we first posted about CCG Workshop, I wasn't sure things looked good for them, and announcements of subsequent additions to their roster frankly didn't make them look much more like they had a promising future. Well, that's all changed. White Wolf has announced that Vampire: The Eternal Struggle will be playable online, using CCGW's engine, both in the existing CCG Workshop setting and through WW's own servers. Development has already started on the online version, and something will be in beta sometime this year. It's good to see this. Press release below.

August 11, 2004

09:21 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Brigands, bazaars, and the king of the old school

A replication of the germinal proto-electronic board game Dark Tower, executed entirely in Flash, playable in your browser by one to four players. Featuring original box art and sounds. I'm going to go ahead and say it: it is perfect. You owe us a drink for finding you this one.


09:11 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Wandering monster gets job with NY ferry system

Like to read RPG books? Use public transit? You might wanna find the number of your local ACLU chapter and keep it somewhere handy. Here's why. (I was going to beat Costikyan to this one, before the technical difficulties. Damn you, technical difficulties!!)

01:23 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Star Sisterz unleashed, no longer just Limited

ICv2 warns of the news that Star Sisterz is busting out of the joint it was originally sold in (that being the Limited Too store chain in malls). Wizards of the Coast is taking the collectible charm game mass market this fall, attempting to reach more young girls who don't quite know they're gamers yet. Unless a few months of exclusivity were part of the deal to get into Limited Too, I don't see the logic behind this deployment strategy at all. "Let's make sure that only part of the target audience sees the game, 'cuz that's sure to make it a success." ... wait, what?

August 10, 2004

06:11 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Dungeons & Dragons Online details

Here's the World War I flying ace with a summary of some devs from Turbine pimping their MMPORPG in progress. The game will be set in the Eberron setting and feature heavy character customization. It sounds as if these folks have a sincere desire to get the feel of this game right; they're really focusing on combat, and on making it involve a little more skill and interest than other fantasy online games have done. It's not gonna be twitch, but it's not gonna be EverQuest-style sit-there-and-click. I am still unconvinced that D&D Online can find a market niche once World of WarCraft is out there, but I no longer think it's going to suck. Then again, the hard-fought efforts of smart people have sucked before.

August 06, 2004

11:53 AM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Rock the vote! No... roll the vote? Hmm...

Voting for the 2004 ENnie Awards is now open. Get to it.

August 05, 2004

04:13 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Paranoia XP "goes gold," ships for Gen Con

That's the top story, but it isn't the real story. The press release at Greg Costikyan's site only looks like a press release - it's actually a handy executive summary of the various ways in which the Paranoia XP dev team used the Internet to strengthen their game before it was even released. "Fans of the game contributed enthusiastically via blog, wiki, and online forum. They wrote text, debated rules, proofread, ran statistical analyses, and even wrote a computer simulator to test the game's paper-and-pencil rules. [...] 'I think Allen [Varney] is onto something here--at least for artforms that are collaborative in nature, such as games and possibly film, there's a lot to be said for tapping the collective talents of the fan base, as filtered by a professional.' " New rule: if you can't get at least a dozen online strangers that excited about your game before it comes out, you're making the wrong game.


03:00 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
This one ain't losing any wheels

Ain't It Cool News has a mirror of an amateur video clip showing the Batmobile from the movie Batman Begins. It looks interesting, like a proto-version of the machine Michael Keaton's Batman commanded to shield itself. We may well see an upsurge in superhero-themed games when this flick comes out next year (or at least a special HeroClix figure).

August 03, 2004

06:39 PM: Mike Sugarbaker says...
Pirates of the Spanish Main underprinted, selling out

We played a fun two-player game of this on Sunday, but we're torn as to whether to write up a playtest report when, odds are, in a few days you'll have to wait until September to get the game. Retailers across the country are reporting that distributors have told them not to expect any new shipments of Pirates of the Spanish Main for another month. It looks as if WizKids really didn't know anybody would want their game... either that or they are trying some extremely misguided collectible-thingies sales strategy now that they are owned by Topps. I don't really believe the latter, though. Can WizKids afford to blow another product launch, especially when this is the first new product they've launched in a year and a half that's actually good?


04:28 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
2004 ENnie nominees announced

The ENnie Award nominees (aka, the 2004 Gen Con EN World RPG Awards nominees) are up as of yesterday, and online voting will be available soon. The ENnies, run by d20 System uber-website EN World, will announce the winners at Gen Con Indy later this month. The nominee list is below.

August 02, 2004

09:18 PM: Allan Sugarbaker says...
Army of Darkness card game at Gen Con Indy

Eden Studios plans to have the Army of Darkness Card Game at Gen Con Indy later this month, previewing before its Halloween release. Gamers have been waiting to use their boom sticks for a while now, and anticipation has simmered and increased slowly. It's a sure bet that Eden will be hearing "Gimme some sugar, baby" as the October release draws closer.


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