24 January 2012

Clockwork and Cthulhu

Well this certainly looks cool:
From here:

Horror Roleplaying in the world of Clockwork & Chivalry

“Then she did confesse that she gained her powers from a Devill which did come to her out of the baye on moonless nights. And upon examination, we did find the markes of evill upon her, for she bore scales like unto a fish about her bodie. And so was she hanged as a witche, and upon the scaffolde she did crie out “Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!” and those who did witnesse this were sore afraide, but her Devill answered her not, and she did die in that place.”

Fear-the-Lord Grimshaw, Witch Finder, 1645

England has descended into civil war. The earth is tainted by alchemical magick. Giant clockwork war machines lumber across the land. In the remote countryside, witches terrorise entire villages, while in the hallowed halls of great universities, natural philosophers uncover the secrets of nature.

War, plague and religious division make people’s lives a constant misery. But even greater threats exist. Witches whisper of the old gods. Royalist alchemists pore over John Dee’s forbidden translation of the Necronomicon, dreaming of powers that will allow them to win the war. Parliamentarian engineers consult with creatures from beyond the crystal spheres and build blasphemous mechanisms, unholy monuments to their alien overlords. Vast inter-dimensional beings seek entry into the world, while their human servants, corrupted, crazed and enslaved, follow the eldritch agendas of their hidden masters.

Clockwork & Cthulhu brings the horror of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos to the 17th century alternate historical fantasy world of Clockwork & Chivalry. Inside you will find:

· Mythos creatures and gods, cults and secret societies for 17th century England.

· New rules for Mental Damage in the Renaissance system.

· Three complete scenarios which take the Adventurers into the rain-shrouded Coniston Fells, the shifting sands of Morecambe Bay, and the corridors of the Royalist court at Oxford.

I've been intrigued with Clockwork & Chivalry for well over a year now, as it was, in my opinion, the most novel setting produced for the (short-lived) RuneQuest 2. And my fondness for Call of Cthulhu is longstanding.

So once I get my hands on this book and the second edition of Clockwork & Chivalry (which employs the Renaissance system, which, in turn, is based upon OpenQuest), I plan to inflict some 1645 eldritch horror upon my players!

19 January 2012

Original Advanced Dungeons and Dragons is Back!

Wow.

First Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons -- yes, the version penned by the Grand Sorcerer Gary Gygax himself -- will be sold by Wizards of the Coast again.

Think I've been sniffing too much of the black lotus leaves? Well, check out their online catalog (scroll down a bit).

Here is the blurb for the '1st Edition Premium' versions of the Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master's Guide:
In 1974, the world changed forever when Gary Gygax introduced the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. The legacy of his innovative ideas and the extensive reach of his powerful influence can be seen in virtually every facet of gaming today.

To help honor his work and his memory, we created limited-edition reprints of the original 1st Edition core rulebooks: the Monster Manual, Player's Handbook, and Dungeon Master's Guide. These premium versions of the original AD&D rulebooks have been lovingly reprinted with the original art and content, but feature an attractive new cover design commemorating this re-release. Available in limited quantities as a hobby channel exclusive in North America.

Your purchase of this monumental book helps support the Gygax Memorial Fund—established to immortalize the “Father of Roleplaying Games” with a memorial statue in Lake Geneva, WI.
I'm not sure exactly what the blurb means by "an attractive new cover design", but I hope that the original cover art by Trampier and Sutherland will be included in some form. Also, I'm annoyed, but not surprised, by the omission of Dave Arneson's name in reference to the original 1974 version of D&D. (Poor Dave still gets inadequate recognition...)

Nonetheless, this is pretty amazing news. A victory for the 'Old School Renaissance' indeed!

These books will be available April 17th.

15 January 2012

Sorcerer Klarkash-Ton

Over the past several months, I have had the pleasure of reading through a considerable number of the tales penned by the formidable Clark Ashton Smith. I started with the collection The Return of the Sorcerer, and subsequently moved on to The Tsathoggua Cycle (from Chaosium). After that, I simply printed up and read numerous stories from the wonderful 'Eldritch Dark' website.

I think that I've now read through all, or at least most, of Smith's Zothique, Hyperborea, Poseidonis, and Averoigne stories, as well as many others.

I have enjoyed thoroughly my exploration of Smith’s writings. He is an evocative and witty storyteller, clearly is the peer of his better-known contemporaries and fellow ‘pulp’ and ‘weird fiction’ authors, H. P. Lovecraft and R. E. Howard. Indeed, in many respects, I think that Smith is their superior. His stories possess a dark humour and whimsy that those of his contemporaries generally lack, or do not manifest in equal measure.

If you enjoy the tales of Howard and/or Lovecraft – or, perhaps more so, the fantasy fiction of Jack Vance – I strongly recommend that you check out the work of Clark Ashton Smith. ‘The Tale of Satampra Zeiros’ is probably as good a place as any to start one’s exploration.

(And thanks to Grognardia for keeping the eldritch flame of Klarkash-Ton so effulgent.)

09 January 2012

Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition is Coming

The official announcement concerning the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons at the Wizards of the Coast website is here.

This claim in particular caught my attention:
We want a game that rises above differences of play styles, campaign settings, and editions, one that takes the fundamental essence of D&D and brings it to the forefront of the game. In short, we want a game that is as simple or complex as you please, its action focused on combat, intrigue, and exploration as you desire. We want a game that is unmistakably D&D, but one that can easily become your D&D, the game that you want to run and play.
While I think that this is an interesting and ambitious goal, it strikes me as quixotic. I have no idea how a single version of D&D could possibly appeal to the diverse D&D-descended role-playing communities that exist today (the stalwarts of earlier editions, the splintered 'Old School Renaissance' folks, the Pathfinder/3.x fans, the 4e people, etc.).

Still, as someone who is a fan of neither 3e nor 4e D&D, I must confess that I'm somewhat curious to see what WotC does for 5e, given this mission statement.

The 5e announcement has been covered by the New York Times, Critical Hits, and Forbes.

Especially interesting is this comment from David M. Ewalt (the author of the Forbes piece):
Wizards is on the right track.

I’m not a fan of fourth edition. I find the combat slow, the powers limiting, and the rules inhospitable to the kind of creative world-building, story-telling and problem-solving that make D&D great.

But so far, the fifth edition rules show promise. They’re simple without being stupid, and efficient without being shallow. Combat was quick and satisfying; we got through most of an adventure in just a few hours. And I get the sense that fifth edition will bring back some of the good complexity of previous versions, allowing players to create unique characters and new worlds.

Most of all, it feels like D&D, not a console video game, or an MMO, or a card game. That’s the first step towards bringing old players home.
While I'm not holding my breath for a '5th edition miracle', I do look forward to seeing what happens with Ye Grande Olde Game. I try to remain curious and open-minded, even in my old age...

08 January 2012

RuneQuest PDFs available for One Dollar each

The official announcement from Loz at the RPGsite:
We're delighted to announce that Design Mechanism, Issaries and Mongoose Publishing have reached an agreement that allows us to continue making available RuneQuest and Glorantha titles (originally published by Mongoose) through DrivethruRPG and its affiliated sites.

Under the RuneQuest Archives you'll be able to buy a special selection of the very best of the old Mongoose RQ and Glorantha titles at only $1.00 per book.

This means that certain titles that would have disappeared are now available at a really great price. The titles are split between the first and second editions of Mongoose's RuneQuest iteration (MRQ1 and MRQ2 respectively).

Get Into Glorantha for Only $10!
It also means that, if you've ever hesitated about getting into Glorantha because the cost has been prohibitive, you can now take the plunge at a nominal cost. The entire set of these Glorantha titles, bought as a bundle, costs only $10 and includes:
An extensive but accessible guide to the world
A comprehensive and detailed guide to Glorantha's Second Age cults
Two complete campaigns
A highly detailed deep-dive into the culture of the God Learners
A complete overview of one major Gloranthan region (Fronela), including a starting scenario.
The titles available through RuneQuest Archives are:

RuneQuest

RuneQuest Empires (MRQ2)
Monster Coliseum (MRQ2)
Vikings (MRQ2)
Land of the Samurai (MRQ1)
The Price of Honour (MRQ1)

Glorantha

Glorantha: the Second Age (MRQ2)
Cults of Glorantha (MRQ2)
The Abiding Book (MRQ2)
Pavis Rises (MRQ2)
Dwarfs (MRQ1)
Dragonewts (MRQ1)
Ducks (MRQ1)
Elfs (MRQ1)
Blood of Orlanth (MRQ2)
Dara Happa Stirs (MRQ1)
Fronela

Both MRQ1 and MRQ2 books will be highly compatible with RuneQuest 6th edition and, of course, MRQ2 books are fully compatible with Mongoose's Legend system.

All these books contain a wealth of background information, history, cultural detail and ideas that are, of course, system agnostic. The Glorantha titles in particular include some information unexplored in any previous Gloranthan works and, in the case of the four races books, provide huge and detailed insight into their respective species.
Definitely an amazing deal! I'm not a huge fan of Glorantha myself (although I certainly have nothing against it, and would be happy to play in a Glorantha campaign), but at these prices I may have to pick up a few titles to learn more.

And the non-Glorantha MRQII PDFs are all definitely worth getting, in my opinion.

01 January 2012

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who divides his time between Milwaukee and Toronto.