23 June 2012

Off to the Old World

I’m off to Hibernia—my first time back in four years—to be followed by brief sojourns in Lutetia and Londinium. 

Consequentially, I regret that there will be no blog posts here for at least two weeks.  


20 June 2012

Game of Thrones Attack Ads

I found these Game of Thrones attack ads rather entertaining.

(Warning: some spoilers!  If you haven't read the first two novels, or watched the series, and you plan to do so in the future, you may not want to watch these.)

18 June 2012

OSRCon II Thoughts

It looks like I will be able to attend most of OSRCon II this August after all (I previously thought that I would have to miss it this year).

Now to decide whether to run a game!  If so, it would be during the final Saturday afternoon session.

I'm tempted to run the MERP adventure 'Star Spray' (from an old issue of White Dwarf).  It's a pretty epic adventure, and probably could be completed in 3-4 hours, but I doubt that there would be much interest in a MERP game, even at an 'old school' convention.

I could run a Crypts and Things game.  It would be fun, I think, to expose others to the game.  And the rules certainly would be easy for most OSR gamers to grasp.

Another option, of course, is Call of Cthulhu.  It's been a year since I last ran a CoC game, and I'm itching to do so again soon.  Any suggestions for a fun CoC single-session adventure?

Prometheus Explained?

I don't agree with this defence of Prometheus (note: link is to a youtube video).

At least I don't think I do.  But it did make me reconsider, and (slightly) soften, my earlier judgement of the film.

Update: this seems spot on.

10 June 2012

Prometheus at the Mountains of Madness

So I saw 'Prometheus' Friday night…

It's visually stunning. And, for the first time ever, I found the 3D not only non-annoying, but actually a positive feature of the film.  It's worth seeing for the 'eye candy' alone.

Story-wise, the first half was enjoyable enough, but during the second half it becomes increasingly clear that the background premises of the film don't cohere very well, or even make sense on their own.

Moreover, events seem to start happening simply for their 'shock' value. And the quasi-theological musings of Guy Pierce and others are rather silly.  ‘Prometheus’ tries to ask ‘big questions’ but fails to do so in an intelligent and compelling way.

The acting in 'Prometheus' generally is quite good, especially Michael Fassbender.  (Certainly his portrayal of an android is in the same league as those of Ian Holm and Lance Hendriksen – no small achievement!)

Essentially, the film is a rip-off of Lovecraft's classic tale, At the Mountains of Madness. But it lacks the coherence and, ironically, the vivid 'alienness' of Lovecraft's novel.

I wish someone someday simply would make a first-rate film version of the original Lovecraft story – instead of derivatives like 'Prometheus' or the (far superior) 1980 version of 'The Thing'.

08 June 2012

Frog God Games resurrects Necromancer

Frog God Games -- the folks in charge of publishing and distributing my favourite retro-clone, Swords & Wizardry Complete -- have acquired Necromancer Games.
FROG GOD GAMES announced today that they are acquiring Necromancer Games, the award-winning publishing house known for Necropolis, Rappan Athuk, City of Brass, Tomb of Abysthor, Crucible of Freya, Tome of Horrors, and many other famous titles. The purchase of Necromancer Games considerably increases Frog God Games’ influence in the tabletop gaming industry. Frog God Games will re-animate several of Necromancer Games’ products in the future to provide its customers with revised and expanded products for a variety of tabletop editions.
More info here.

Necromancer Games kept the torch of old school gaming alive during the hey-day of 3e D&D.  They published a lot of cool stuff, including resurrecting the Judges Guild's classic 'Wilderlands' setting.  It's good news that their material will be available again.

Another Crypts and Things Review

The blog 'Apropos of Nothing' has posted a very positive review of d101's Crypts and Things role-playing game.

I was especially grateful for the reviewer's kind words concerning some of the elements of C&T drawn from my house rules.

(This reminds me that I need to write up a summary of the C&T game that I ran a few months ago for my friends Marcus and Loz...)

05 June 2012

RuneQuest 6 Core Rulebook Info

Here is a summary, taken from Lawrence Whitaker’s post at the Design Mechanism site, of what to expect in the core rulebook for RuneQuest 6:
RuneQuest will be 456 pages, soft cover, black and white interior, colour cover. 
Price is $62.00 (£40, €50). There will be a discount for pre-orders, which we hope to begin very soon. 
You will be able to order RQ directly from us via the Products page of the Design Mechanism website. 
Shipping within the US and Canada will be $10. International orders $15. 
We will be distributing to the retail trade via our fulfilment and distribution partner, Alliance. This means RQ will find its way into game stores across the world. 
RQ will be available as a bookmarked PDF close to the release date of the hard copy. If you buy the hard copy directly from us, you'll get the PDF free of charge. If you decide to order the PDF singly, it will cost $25. It will be available through DrivethruRPG and the other One Book Shelf sites. 
I cannot give a precise date for publication, but it should be no later than mid-July and, hopefully, a little earlier. We will open pre-orders the minute the production files are in the hands of the printer. It usually takes about three weeks for production, so factor-in a fourth for transit to our warehouse.
We will be releasing a free PDF, available here and on Drivethru, for Games Masters. This will contain all the major charts and tables, a two page character sheet, a combat tracking sheet and an introductory scenario called 'Meeros Falling'. This scenario uses the setting found throughout the examples found in the rules and is a mixture of investigation, intrigue and combat. It directly continues 'Anathaym's Saga' as found throughout RQ6. 
So, more information to come, but I'm pleased to say that RQ6 is nearly with us.
I’m thrilled that RQ6 is coming so soon!  This is the game – not ‘D&D Next’ or the ‘Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG’ – about which I’m most excited.  And it’s great that the core rulebook will be ‘complete’ – all the rules, magic systems, monsters, GM info, etc., in a single grand tome.  Nobody should be able to complain that the rulebook is missing anything essential (in contrast to the MRQII core rulebook, which included a very meagre beastiary).

The length and price of the rulebook, however, very likely will discourage many people from checking out RuneQuest for the first time.  RQ6 certainly will not be an ‘impulse buy’!  Thus I wonder if it might be prudent for Design Mechanism to take a page out of Chaosium’s book and offer a free or inexpensive ‘quick start’ version of the rules.  Such a product (perhaps PDF only) would include only the bare essentials (e.g., one culture, the bare elements of a single magic system, a few creatures, a small set of combat manoeuvres, etc.).  A starter adventure also would be helpful.  Such a product would be sufficient for interested folks to give RQ6 a spin, without having to commit significant denarii.

Of course, the price and length is no disincentive to me.  I’ve pared back my RPG budget considerably over the past couple of years, but RuneQuest 6 is a ‘must-buy’ for me.  (I’m also looking forward to Magic World and OpenQuest 2 far more than ‘D&D Next’.)

04 June 2012

Achtung! Cthulhu

Well this looks rather cool…

More information here.  And there is a Yog-Sothoth thread.

It’s official: there are way too many things that I want to run for Call of Cthulhu – alone – in my lifetime.  And when I think of all the other RPGs for which I wish I could run adventures or campaigns, I’m forced to make a SAN roll.

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).