30 November 2019

Eye of Vecna coming to the big screen?

The possibility of new Dungeons and Dragons film has popped up from time to time for years now (I last mentioned it here in February 2016). But it now looks like a new D&D film will be released in the summer of 2021. Interestingly, according to this report at ComicBook-dot-com, it will feature the infamous artifact 'The Eye of Vecna':
"ComicBook.com can exclusively report that the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons movie currently in development by Paramount will focus on a group of adventurers looking for the Eye of Vecna, a powerful artifact that dates back to the earliest days of the game. Vecna is a powerful lich turned god whose hand and eye (remnants from when Vecna was a mortal) grant unspeakable power. Both the Hand and Eye of Vecna come with a terrible cost - in order to use either artifact, the user must remove their existing eye or hand and then replace it with the artifact.
Vecna was a major entity in the Greyhawk campaign setting [...]"
The movie, alas, will be set in the Forgotten Realms setting rather than the world of Greyhawk, although I suppose that's to be expected given the centrality of the Realms for contemporary D&D.

I don't have high hopes for this film but perhaps I'll be pleasantly surprised. At the very least it can't be any worse than the 2000 one.

Here's the description of the Eye of Vecna from the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide:

The Hand and Eye of Vecna were among the artifacts that most excited (and corrupted?) my young imagination decades ago!

(Thanks to C. Robichaud for the link to the ComicBook-dot-com article.)

19 November 2019

Elric coming to the small screen?

According to Deadline we might see an Elric TV series someday:
“New Republic Pictures’ Brian Oliver and producer Bradley J. Fischer acquired the exclusive rights to all works in Michael Moorcock’s seminal fantasy-horror series The Elric Saga. They are beginning to shop the property for series, with Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead and The Shield) and Prison Break and Star Trek: Discovery‘s Vaun Wilmott attached to adapt the sci-fi fantasy tale.” 
“Fischer and New Republic see the Elric saga — which begins with the 1972 novel Elric of Melnibon├ę, as having cross-platform franchise potential. They are first leaning into the TV series with Mazzara & Wilmott. The novels are sensual and atmospheric sword-and-sorcery tales that center on the title character, a brooding albino warrior who presides over an unruly, decadent island nation. The novels follow Elric on a series of adventures, in which he is betrayed by his cousin, sent into exile and attempts to come to terms with his own humanity. The series comprises 11 novels and a number of short stories and has been adapted into several comics and graphic novels.”
While this wheel looks to be turning, the TV series (if it materializes) will not be happening in the near future.

In contrast, BBC Studios’ adaptation of the Runestaff tetralogy appears to be further along...

(Hat tip to C. Robichaud for the Elric news.)

17 November 2019

Interview with the Mythic Lawrence Whitaker

Gentle readers, as many of you already know, Lawrence Whitaker (‘Loz’) runs the Design Mechanism with Pete Nash. Whitaker and Nash created the Mythras role-playing game together (the immediate successor to RuneQuest 6, also authored by them). In addition to Mythras, and many fine supplements for it (e.g., Mythic Britain), Loz has written numerous excellent RPG books over the past few decades. He’s also a superb gamemaster.

Anyhow, ENworld’s Charles Dunwoody recently interviewed him about his RPG work. Among many interesting things, Loz mentions the forthcoming Lyonesse role-playing game:
“The Lyonesse RPG will be released next year for the system, licensed and approved by Splatterlight Press. It will be self-contained and powered by Mythras. Lawrence described the setting as consisting of an archipelago between England and France that is said to have sunk in the modern age. The RPG spins out of a setting created by Jack Vance. The books are evocative and filled with interesting characters and the RPG will follow suit. It combines traditional European folklore with violent action. The setting has a complex set of magical rules. Some humans can use faerie magic which is a less powerful form. Higher level magic works through demon summoning. The demons work magic on behalf of the sorcerer.”

(The DM’s PDF overview of the Lyonesse RPG can be found here.)

Curious about Mythras? Check out Mythras Imperative for free!

14 November 2019

Another article on the popularity of D&D

There is an article on the current popularity of Dungeons and Dragons in today's New York Times: "In a Chaotic World, Dungeons & Dragons Is Resurgent."  It's a nice piece, and I'm glad that the game is doing so well these days (including with a wider range of kinds of players than ever before).

I certainly like 5th edition far more than the previous two. In fact, I'm running a 5e D&D game right now. But I just wish that other role-playing games would be mentioned sometimes in these articles! It's a bit frustrating that 'RPGs = D&D' for most journalists.

*sigh* ­čś×

11 November 2019

Cthulhu, utilitarian

Only Existential Comics could portray the great old one Cthulhu as a rational utilitarian:

EC’s series on ‘Philosophers and Dungeons & Dragons’ is simply wonderful. If you haven’t read them yet, I highly recommend doing so! (I previously posted on parts I, II, IV, V, VI, and VIII—hmmm, not sure why I didn’t mention parts III or VII here.)

30 October 2019

A thing that went surprisingly well

For once in my life something went more smoothly than I expected it to...

Last Sunday I finally got my Greyhawk campaign going with a couple of old friends. One of the players was in Toronto, the other in Montreal, and I was DMing from Milwaukee. We used 'google hangouts' for the session. The few handouts I used were emailed to them at the appropriate times. We all rolled our own physical dice (rather than use some online dice-roller), etc., and generally relied on the 'theatre of the mind' to follow what was happening.

I was surprised how well it worked. Indeed, I regret having bothered with 'Roll20' years ago (for a short-lived AD&D campaign), which was far more trouble than it was worth. I also regret not trying this much earlier. While I prefer meeting in person (who doesn't?), this was pretty close to that experience.

We all had a great time and plan to continue with regular sessions in the future. However, I suspect that things would not run as smoothly if we were a larger group. Three or four participants probably is optimal for online gaming (at least using a video conference tool).

Anyhow, I hope to write more about this campaign -- and Greyhawk in general -- in the near-ish future.

27 October 2019

Past visions of the future: Germany 1930

I’ve always been fascinated by how people in the past envisioned the future. (Here’s a post from 2015 on how some 19th Century French artists thought life would be like in 2000.)

So I was delighted to stumble upon this article: “Wonderful Futuristic Visions of Germany By Artists In 1930.”

The pictures are all quite delightful, but this one struck me as especially prophetic:

Here is the caption:
Wireless Private Phone and Television.
Everyone now has their own transmitter and receiver and can communicate with friends and relatives. But the television technology has also improved so much that people can speak to each other in real time. Transmitters and receivers are no longer bound to their location, but are always placed in a box of the size of a camera.
These optimistic visions of the future are especially poignant given the hell into which Germany would descend in only a few years.

19 October 2019

Role-playing games and self-discovery

I thought that I would mention a couple of recent first-person essays on role-playing games in the popular press. Both essays reflect on how playing RPGs helped the authors learn about themselves and develop in important ways.

Recently in Vox: “The best $1.16 I ever spent: a set of loaded Dungeons & Dragons dice” by Jessica Xing.

And in the Washington Post: “How my role-playing game character showed me I could be a woman” by Joan Moriarity.

I found both essays rather interesting. They were written from perspectives radically different from my own. Nonetheless, I can relate to the power of role-playing games in self-discovery and self-development. I know that I would’ve been a very different person—less imaginative, far more shy—had I not opened up the blue ‘Holmes’ Basic Set of Dungeons and Dragons (the one with chits!) many decades ago…

24 September 2019

OSRIC fanzine: Saving Throw

Miss Fight On! or Knockspell? I know I do!
Well Saving Throw is here to give you that ‘old school’ thrill again.

Here’s the blurb (from DrivethruRPG):
Saving Throw — a fundraiser fanzine to help James D. Kramer
You may know Jim Kramer from his Usherwood Publishing modules & supplements, or his work helping produce works like OSRIC and Knockspell. You probably didn’t know Jim had multiple brain surgeries to remove tumors, and the battle has gotten much harder. To help Jim and his family during this difficult time, a group of his friends, collaborators, and first edition enthusiasts banded together to make this fundraiser fanzine, where all royalties go directly to Jim and his family. 
This 60+ page issue of Saving Throw contains:
Introduction by Ron Redmond
Island Tables - random generation and inspiration tool by Steve Smith aka “EOTB”
Sorcerer’s Stone - dungeon level by Keith Sloan
Trolls of the Simpolo Swamps - leech-mated trollish variations by Joseph Browning
Perladon Manor - adventure module by Gabor Lux
By The Runes - fiction by Dan Rasaiah
Magic Item Intrinsic Material Values - variant magic item value rules by Guy Fullerton
Goblin Garbug Cavalry - new monster by Andrew Hamilton
The Tiled Labyrinth - mini-dungeon by Guy Fullerton
Lotus Blossoms - magical and special properties of these exotic flora by Keith Sloan
Burly the Baker - ready-to-use NPC and cantrips by Gary Francisco
Darkworld Troll - new monster by Bryan Fazekas
Offig’s Tomb - treasure map by Steve Smith aka “EOTB”
Lizard Man Lair - outdoor module and new monsters by Steve Smith aka "EOTB"
Mephitic Geysers of the Intaglio Rift - treasure map by Allan T. Grohe, Jr. (“grodog")
The Mere Beneath - dungeon level by Guy Fullerton, Allan T. Grohe, Jr. (“grodog"), and Henry A. Grohe
Sarendra’s Crew & Kelurrin’s Crew - ready-to-use NPC parties by Allan T. Grohe, Jr. (“grodog")
Rescue from the Sanctuary of the Leopard Goddess - dungeon module by Matthew Riedel
Featuring illustrations by Jimm Johnson, James D. Kramer, Wind Lothamer, Gabor Lux, Denis McCarthy, Peter Szmer (soon), Del Teigeler, and Alex Zisch. 
For the lucky price of $13, you get two treasure maps, three referee tools, five new spells, six modules, at least nine new monsters, twelve ready-to-use NPCs, and more. Plus the knowledge that your purchase helps a family during a difficult time.
Thank you!
I have it, I’ve looked it over, and it’s the real deal.  Fight On!

Also: check out the OSRIC webpage.

16 September 2019

Mythic Babylon cover

My friend and gaming colleague Chris Gilmore (‘Hartmut Hare-Eye’) is the co-author of the forthcoming Mythras setting book Mythic Babylon (it will be part of the Design Mechanism's 'Mythic Earth' series). The book won’t be coming out until next year, alas, but the Design Mechanism has previewed its cover. It looks suitably epic:

I know little about Babylonian mythology aside from the Epic of Gilgamesh (a novelization of which I read years ago). So I’m really looking forward to this, not only for the gaming content but for educational purposes as well.

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