Is The Blog Dead?

nicubunu_Emoticons_Sad_faceSo, you may have noticed that the frequency with which I update the blog here has kind of dropped off. Am I done blogging?
Probably not. However, I will not be updating on a regular basis anymore, mostly because I realized that the blog was beginning to encroach on time I’d rather spend with my family and on other hobbies. Yes, I have other hobbies.

This is not a “sorry I haven’t been blogging guys, I’ll blog again soon” post, mostly because I really hate those kinds of blog “posts.” They’re lame, and waste my time. Instead, I’m going to let you know what I’m working on, plus a kind of big announcement for the blog. Continue reading

Hero Kids – The New RPG For Kids

Hero KidsIn recent years, we’ve seen a definite uptick in the number of RPGs aimed at kids. I think it has a lot to do with a generation of gamers who want to get their children involved in the hobby, and are looking for something that is less rules intense than D&D, GURPS, or Rolemaster. The market has responded (not a comprehensive list by any means), and as a parent myself, I couldn’t be happier. Being able to sit down with my kids and share my hobby with them is pretty fun, and if there’s a product that helps me do it, I’m all for it.

Hero Kids is one of the newer entrants in this category. It was developed by Justin Halliday, who you probably know from the adult RPG Heroes Against Darkness. The game is smooth, simple, fun, and definitely geared towards kids. But that doesn’t mean “dumbed down.” It just means “not overly complicated.”

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Mini Map Monday 10

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One of my favorite features of this “temple dungeon” is the “labyrinth room” at the bottom  right.*

I tried darkening the edges of the rooms, and I like how it turned out.

*Many labyrinths set in floors or on the ground are large enough that the path can be walked. They have been used historically both in group ritual and for private meditation.

Playing Dread In The Car

dreadrpgI recently picked up a copy of the horror RPG “Dread.” I read through the book and listened to this actual play podcast from The Walking Eye, which is a great primer on the game if you don’t feel like buying the book just yet. That being said, I have not yet played or hosted a game of Dread, so what follows should be taken accordingly.

I am fascinated by the action resolution mechanic in this game. A Jenga tower is, all at once, simple and inspired. It is a binary mechanic, meaning your character either lives or dies, without modifiers, by your own (hopefully) steady hand. It’s simply you and the tower. It’s quite clear how such a diceless system could create nervousness in a player as they approach the tower.

In the book, there are also several alternatives to the tower. The game Topple seems closest to the Jenga tower, but stacking dice is also suggested. Elsewhere, I have also seen building a house of cards as an alternative. All these things have something in common – they rely on a steady hand, yes, but they also rely on the presence of a steady surface. I want to propose a different resolution mechanic that does not require a steady surface, and yet instills that same growing sense of impending failure that the tower does. It uses a standard deck of cards. Continue reading

Mini Map Monday 9

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There are a lot of spiral staircases in this map. It’s a great “switchhouse” for the PCs to get to different levels of the dungeon. But what will you do with those three rooms? Will manipulating something in one change the destination of the staircases? Or is there something more mundane, but no less curious, in them?

Weekly Roundup: Geeky Tea Blends Edition

We found the site Adagio, which offers a whole slew of geeky themed tea blends. I don’t care what your geeky love is, they have a blend for that. (for example, or also for example)

Of course, this past week had GM’s day. In case you didn’t know, the date is marked by the passing of Gary Gygax. The Charlie Tonic Hour had a remembrance of him this week.

Geek Smash talked about how to start your first RPG group.

Alphastream is converting the Saltmarsh modules to D&D Next. (Saltmarsh being a location in the Greyhawk setting.) Keep an eye on his WotC blog for a Living Dark Sun retrospective as well!

Fantastic Maps had a 4 step tutorial on designing a town or city.

If you’re looking for a chuckle, Monkey In The Cage lamented the lameness that is Half Elves this week.

For a less humorous rant, check out Critical Ankle Bites, who discusses what healing is and isn’t in D&D (sparked by the WotC discussion of Warlord healing in D&D Next).

On the board game front this week, we saw two articles extolling the virtues of playing board games with your kids. Yourneighborhoodtoystore.org talks about it here, and Growing Up Gamers discusses it here. As if you needed an excuse to play games with your kids! There was also 10 reasons to support the upcoming Tabletop Day (March 30) at Geek Native.

Finally, if you’ve been thinking about making a new RPG system, at Stuffer Shack this week Brian Liberge encourages you to stop doubting yourself and do it!

Gamma World One Page Dungeon Winner!

gardengang-thumbI am pleased to announce the winner in the Gamma World Deck of Many Things contest! The winner is John Quirk, with his entry “Tangling With The Garden Gang.”

In this delve, the PCs are sent to a labyrinthine garden to recover an artifact stolen from the nearby settlement of Galt. Something about a deck of cards or something. Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Is D&D Next Combat Faster? Edition

I’ve more or less distanced myself from the D&D Next playtest at this point. I’ve had enough games to see where the system is going. For the most part I’m happy, and I’m sure I’ll dive into it when it rolls around. One thing I’m wondering, though, for all of you who have also participated: is the combat faster? I mean, at first, I’m sure it was. But now that we’re in the thick of playtesting, and everyone is familiar with the options and rules… is it faster? How much?

Speaking of which, this week Robert Schwalb wrote a great article about rules complexity, woven into a story about trying to run D&D for his parents.

4e isn’t dead yet! We know some people have eschewed it in favor of the largely unfinished Next system, but there’s still plenty of story to tell with 4e. Neuroglyph Games reviewed the book Alternative Objectives, which looks like a great resource.

Ethan Gilsdorf (author of the highly recommended book Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks) wrote up a great article on LARPs and other “interactive storytelling” on his blog Cognoscenti. From the article: “Gamers say: We don’t want your mass-distributed narrative machine. Just give us a table, some pencils, some dice, some graph paper, and some company. We want to make our own world.”

Random Wizard had an interview with Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World creator James Ward. Oh, and he also gamed with Gary Gygax. Just sayin’.

IntWisCha talked this week about what to do (with your character) when you don’t know what to do (with your character). Interesting read.

Finally, check out this video of some sick explosion terrain effects, posted this week on Twitter by @BensRPGPile. (Go follow him, he doesn’t spam your feed, and always posts cool terrain stuff…)

Gamma World Deck Of Many Things Contest

Today is the last day to enter the Gamma World Deck of Many Things contest. So get on it!

In other news, I’ve been working on a system for “buying” Gamma World starting items, as an alternative to rolling randomly on a table.

I was hoping to post it today, but I really don’t feel it’s ready for prime time yet. Instead, to give you an idea of what I’m working with, here’s the list of starting items from all three books: Continue reading