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Pathfinder Card Game
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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)
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An Aetheric Christmas Dozen for 2008
 

An Aetheric Christmas Dozen
12 gifts in electronic formats for 2008

By Allan and Mike Sugarbaker, Matthew Pook, and Demian Katz

Just a few days remain before Christmas day, and you forgot to get a gift for your GM. Oh man, are you in trouble! You'll fail every roll for months, and be every monster's target until he finally forgives you. But wait, there's one last chance - use this list of downloadable goodies, and buy a gift or two with no shipping time involved. OgreCave's fourth and final gift list each year suggests digital game goodies, from roleplaying PDFs to collectible card games. There's even a video game (*gasp!*) with some strong ties to the tabletop. While our other 2008 lists have many great gift ideas, if you're out of time, allocate your gaming bandwidth toward these fun files.

 

On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness
Hothead Games, $14.95 On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness

The Penny Arcade strip has already made it to CCGs, but that was just a warm up. Technically the second episode in the Penny Arcade Adventures series, this 3D turn-based RPG stands alone quite well. From a large d20 tumbling across the screen to determine combat initiative, to steampunk robots doing obscene things to fruit, the game pokes fun at a wide swath of gaming - just like Penny Arcade itself. Watch for evidence of the Cloying Odor Sanitorium patients drawing up graph paper dungeons and leaving stacks of character sheets around (roleplaying - that way lies madness...). Though we fully endorse playing through the first episode as well, the OgreCave crew is enjoying our romp through On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, even without an ogre-sized safety harness.

 

Lovecraftian Tales From The Table
Innsmouth House, $15 Lovecraftian Tales From the Table

Take one mad bunch of players and two of Call of Cthulhu's classic campaigns, record virtually every single session of play, and you have the basic concept of this DVD. In playing through The Complete Masks of Nyarlathotep and Horror on the Orient Express, the Bradford players give you an incredible 130 hours of listening, enabling you to experience vicariously all the pleasure of our hobby without having to suffer the foibles of your fellow gamers! Beyond the two campaigns, the DVD is stuffed with interviews, music, scenarios for Call of Cthulhu, and even a drinking game to play while you listen - definitely not work safe! Lastly, the DVD provides two PDFs from sponsor Green Ronin Publishing - one of classic Dungeons & Dragons quest The Freeport Trilogy, and the other Cults of Freeport. At its heart though, Lovecraftian Tales From The Table offers both hours of listening and an appreciation of two of Call of Cthulhu classic campaigns.

 

Spirit of the Season
Evil Hat Productions & Atomic Sock Monkey, $4.99 (PDF), $12 (Book) Spirit of the Season

Whether Christmas or Hanukkah, now is definitely the time to do good, and what better way to do good than fight evil? There are forces out there on the "naughty list" who work to ruin everyone's fun and make the season ever bleaker, colder, and harsher. These include Jaques Frost, the polar explorer who searches the icy wastes for ancient secrets and sends unfrozen prehistoric monsters to terrorize civilization; Antiochus the Defiler, who commands an army of spectral Seleucid soldiers and seeks to destroy all holy relics; and the miser extraordinaire Doctor Scrooge, whose insane greed is backed by the power of money - and when that doesn't work, he sends his bullies the Cratchits to deal out a beating! Standing against them are the Spirits of Giving - Nick Saint and his allies, The Reindeer Men - and the Spirits Of Guardianship, Judah "HaMakav" Hammerstein, Matthew "Shamash" D'Israeli, and Hannah Cohen and her allies, the Cohen boys. These "Spirits of the Season" are fully detailed in this little supplement for the preeminent pulp action game of age, Spirit of the Century, as well as the top-notch superhero RPG Truth & Justice. Perfect seasonal support for either game and either festival, Spirit of the Season can be used as a book of new foes to face, a mini-campaign, or just as inspiration for the perfect seasonal gaming.

 

Blokus World Tour
Funkitron, Inc., $19.95 Blokus World Tour

One of the most popular abstract boardgames these days is Blokus (at least, according to our friends in retail) - somewhat akin to Tetris, with players each playing one color, trying to place odd-shaped tiles on the grid board without putting them alongside any of their previous pieces. As board space runs out, placement becomes progressively difficult, making for a frustrating - and addictive - game. Blokus World Tour brings the title to your PC, providing five difficulty levels, over a dozen computer opponents, a tournament format, and more. Be warned: you may have trouble pulling yourself away from this one.

 

Annalise: Eternal Tears PDF Edition
Hamsterprophet Productions, $12 Annalise

There's a sort of horror story that you might call a vampire story, whether or not there's technically a vampire in it: a web of people, some of them servants and all of them in their own way victims, united by a central, corrupting personality. Annalise is a story game that does vampire stories. Designed by Nathan Paoletta, designer of Timestream and carry: a game about war, a game of Annalise can be over and done in one session or stretch into a mini-campaign. It's like a goth remix of My Life With Master that takes the Master, cuts it up into bits and gives pieces to everyone. Despite the buzz this game's been getting, it isn't clear that it's ever going to see print in a paper edition, nor that even this PDF will be around forever...

 

Weredragon Magazine
$3.50/issue (quarterly) Weredragon #1 cover

Here at the Cave, we're always on the lookout for new gaming periodicals, and we've recently caught the scent of a new one: Weredragon Magazine. Created by a collection of devoted gamers, this new quarterly magazine starts out strong with three sizable D&D 3.5 adventures for various character levels. Other articles in the inaugural 101-page issue cover character background development, a Gen Con report, a few comic strips, and even a gaming snack recipe (!). Still a bit rough around the edges, the magazine's potential to break into the mainstream is easy to see - get your taste now, so you can say you knew them when. Overall, Weredragon has some nifty ideas to offer curious fantasy gamers. We'll be interested to see where WM takes things next.

 

Tunnels and Trolls 7.5
Fiery Dragon, $35 (currently marked down to $15 at rpgnow.com) Tunnels and Trolls 7.5

If you know someone who feels that the latest incarnation of D&D has strayed too far from its roots, perhaps you should give the gift of Tunnels and Trolls. Until a couple of years ago and its seventh edition, T&T was essentially unchanged since the seventies. Things have evolved a little thanks to additions like character skills and a more original leveling system, but the game remains very close to the spirit of the golden days when characters were created by rolling lots of dice, dungeons were for crawling, and nothing was meant to be taken too seriously. It also retains T&T's hallmark of high solitaire suitability, so gamebook fans as well as group roleplayers should take note. The latest 7.5 release brings the game to the electronic format in a big way, providing a virtual boxed set with not just rules but also solo and group adventures and plenty of extras. T&T has been around for a long time and has quite a cult following, but it doesn't always get the attention it deserves; this may be just the right surprise for a gamer with a love of the old school or the long-time Tunnels & Trolls fan who hasn't realized the game still lives on. If they like what they find here, there's also a wealth of support material out to explore.

The Far Wilds
Code Collective, $9.95 per prebuilt army; $19.95 per 1000 gold (150 gold per booster) The Far Wilds logo

There's nothing earth-shakingly innovative about The Far Wilds - its fantasy world is generic, and its gameplay is as comfortable as a warm bath, being basically a melange of Magic and old OgreCave fave Vortex played out on a large hex-gridded landscape - except that it's in your choice of PC app or very full-featured no-download Flash app, and sold as virtual cards. And while the outer packaging of the web site doesn't always distinguish it from the mass of the half-assed, the engineering on the inside of the game is rock-solid and comprehensive. There isn't yet a trading feature, but you could always build your friend an account, pay for a deck via PayPal, and then hand over the account and password (your payment info doesn't get stored between transactions).

 

Hellas
Aethereal Forge & Khepera Publishing, $19.99 (through rpgnow.com) Hellas

Described as being similar to 300 in space, Hellas takes Greek mythology fully into the realm of science fiction. The rich setting of Hellas combines the two genres, resulting in spacefaring races of Amazorans, Goregons, Hellenes, Myrmidons, and more, exploring the depths of space and visiting, colonizing or invading strange planets. Heroes fight to determine the fate of the galaxy, wielding the powers of the gods and high technology against the return of a dark empire. With a well-defined story arc and big plans for the Hellas brand in the works, gamers will enjoy the epic scope and new approach of this science-fantasy system.

If your curiousity is piqued, we interviewed the authors of Hellas in this episode of the OgreCave Audio Report. Click on over and have a listen.

 

Wilderness of Mirrors
John Wick/Wicked Dead Brewing Company (through IPR), $5 Wilderness of Mirrors

This slim little tuxedo of a spy-caper game from a few Gen Cons ago was released as a beautiful booklet and then vanished. Now it's back as a PDF, priced just right for what some have criticized as a bit of a clever trick for fooling your players into metagaming, disguised as a complete game - but while Wildernes of Mirrors is certainly designed for talented and experienced roleplayers, of the sort who could flesh out almost anything into a successful session, it also works hard for its money with stunning graphic design, a pitch-perfect explanatory voice, and, yes, a complete system (just not a crunchy one). We are truly sad you can't have the reflective-cover version, but we're glad to see this edition, just as your gift target will be. (The target's chimney is protected by an elaborate system of lasers, so to get down, we'll first have to disable them at the fuse box...)

 

Hot War: A Game of Friends, Enemies, Secrets, & Consequences in the Aftermath
Contested Ground Studios, $13 (PDF), $28 (Book) Hot War

Hot War asks the question, what if the Cuban Missile Crisis sent the Cold War hot? A semi-sequel to Cold City, the RPG of hidden agendas, trust, and monster hunting in 1950 Berlin, it also asks what if both sides deployed not just nuclear and chemical weapons, but also the "Other Weaponry" - hideous devices and creatures born of Nazi research during World War II? In a shattered London, as survivors hang on under a fractious British government, the player characters, as members of the Special Situation Group, are tasked with the investigation and containment of Soviet monstrosities and counter-espionage activities. Though survival in this grim future of years past is important, the emphasis in Hot War is upon a character's relationships, and in particular, his hidden agendas. Each character has two agendas - one personal and the other given by his secret masters - with each providing a mechanical bonus that has a limited number of uses before it has to be resolved. This gives Hot War a dramatic pace echoing the "quality" BBC television that is its inspiration.

 

Forgotten Futures X: The Tooth and Claw Role Playing Game
Forgotten Futures, $30 Forgotten Futures X

For several years now, Marcus L. Rowland has been exploring various aspects of Edwardian science fiction, Horror, and fantasy via his Forgotten Futures series, raising money for good causes with each new CD release. Forgotten Futures X marks a departure for the series, as its first licensed entry and because it steps back into the Victorian era, or one very much like it. Forgotten Futures X is based upon the fantasy novel Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton, which depicts a world of manners versus savagery and what happens when social conventions are broken in a nation populated by dragons! It includes a full exploration of the setting, and the society and culture of the dragons. It also explains the draconic practice of cannibalism (by which a dragon grows stronger and more powerful) and the social mores connected with it, the breaking of which form the basis for the novel. Along with the background information, the game includes two scenarios (one amusingly named "The Crimson Claw Assurance Society"), offering everything needed to play.

 

Thus we close the curtain on our 2008 OgreCave Christmas Gift Guide, providing a few downloadable gift ideas in case you need something quick for a forgotten friend this holiday season. But when time isn't so short (or when you head back to the stores after the holidays, gift cards in hand), be sure to look over our other 2008 gift lists and see what else we liked from the past year.

Happy holidays from OgreCave.com!
 

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