29 February 2016

Kudos Max!

I did not watch the Oscars (I never do, as I find award shows painful). But I was delighted to learn that Mad Max: Fury Road received six of them.

27 February 2016

Chaosium explains its decision regarding RuneQuest

Since I previously criticized Chaosium (under the new leadership of the gentlemen from Moon Design) for their decision to abandon RuneQuest 6, and to produce yet another version of RuneQuest (the fourth within a decade!), one embedded within Glorantha, it seems only fair that I should link to their official explanation for that decision.

I don’t have much to say about the rules-related reasons offered. Since I think that combat special effects are the best thing about RQ6’s combat system, and I have no interest in Glorantha, this forthcoming version obviously is of no interest to me. And even though my earlier post was strangely interpreted to be a comment on Chaosium’s financial condition (even though I said nothing about that in the post itself), a new Glorantha-based, 2nd edition-compatible RuneQuest may very well be a grand success for Chaosium. After all, there seems to be a healthy number of fans of Glorantha with deep pockets out there. I hope that those folks are happy with the new version of RuneQuest.

That said, there are some puzzling things about Jeff Richards’s explanation of Chaosium’s decision. He writes, “we had imagined that the new RQ would be a streamlined RQ6,” but that, in part because “RQ Classic was a smashing success,” they decided that “the new rules had to be backwards compatible to RQ2.” 

This suggests that the decision not to proceed with RQ6, at least in part, was motivated by the outcome of the RQ Classic Kickstarter. Yet the decision to not use RQ6 came well before the Kickstarter. I knew this already (as a semi-regular RQ6 play-tester with Loz’s group in Toronto). But MOB publicly stated this in a recent post at RPGnet:
We actually formed the design team last year directly after Gen Con and we first met in person (including Ken, Sandy, Jason and Chris) in late September. It's only Steve who is a recent addition, and we're delighted to have him on board!
VP - Chaosium
So “directly after Gen Con” (August 2015) the new design team for the new RQ was formed.* Yet somehow, according to Richards, “The RuneQuest Classic Kickstarter resolved the question” – despite the fact that that Kickstarter did not happen until many months after Gen Con. 


While Chaosium’s decision not to use RQ6 obviously was disappointing to fans of that system, what many found especially annoying (including myself) was how Chaosium miscommunicated this decision. As late as December 3rd – long after the decision to not use RQ6 had been made (as MOB’s post indicates), Chaosium’s Rick Meints publicly stated the following:
The RQ6 "Glorantha" project is progressing. We have it as a 2016 release, most likely later in the year. Lots of writing and editing is underway.
What could have motivated Meints to post such a misleading statement? Even if Chaosium did not want to make public their decision at that time, surely some other, less misleading statement could have been made. (And of course the decision did become public very shortly afterwards.)

To summarize: 
(a) Chaosium’s ‘official explanation’ for their decision not to use RQ6 suggests that that decision was made, at least in part, because of the success of the RQ Classic Kickstarter -- yet the decision not to use RQ6 was made months before the Kickstarter. 
(b) Chaosium unnecessarily put off announcing their decision -- and in fact made public statements that suggested that they were continuing with RQ6, long after they in fact had decided not to proceed with RQ6. 

Perhaps I've misinterpreted Chaosium's public statements, or there is a straightforward explanation for the prima facie contradictions of those statements?

[Finally, I should note that I stated in my comment on December 14: "I don’t intend to post anything more about Chaosium’s new direction for RuneQuest here (unless something especially newsworthy occurs)." I took Chaosium's recent statement to be "newsworthy," hence this post. Barring any further developments on this matter, though, I do not anticipate writing more about the new RQ here.]

* UPDATE (2016-03-01): MOB informs me that the team that formed directly after Gen Con included Loz and Pete (the Design Mechanism). I had assumed that they were not part of the team, as they were not mentioned in MOB's post. I thank MOB for the clarification. 

25 February 2016

About that forthcoming Dungeons and Dragons movie...

Last year we learned that a new Dungeons and Dragons movie will be coming out, produced by Warner Bros., and set in the well-known 'Forgotten Realms' setting.

Now it has been revealed that the film will try to not take itself too seriously:
This new Dungeons & Dragons will be a Guardians of the Galaxy-tone movie in a Tolkien-like universe. Because when you think of all the Hobbit movies and The Lord of the Rings, they have an earnestness to them, and to see something fun, a Raiders romp inside that world, I feel is something the audience has not seen before.
Well, if one must make a new D&D movie, then I guess that this isn't a bad way to go. After all, actually playing D&D often can be quite goofy and hilarious. Indeed, the sessions of 5e D&D that I ran last year were among the most amusing RPG sessions that I've ever experienced, whilst being genuine 'adventures' nonetheless.

While the film could still turn out to be a disaster, of course, this strategy certainly sounds more promising than Gary Gygax's original film idea.

20 February 2016

RuneQuest 6 to become Mythras

The game now known as RuneQuest 6 will soon be known as Mythras.

Here is the official announcement from the Design Mechanism:
Mythras is the new name for RuneQuest 6th Edition, the acclaimed roleplaying system developed by The Design Mechanism.
From July 2016, the name Mythras takes over from the previous trademark, but the same great rules continue, bringing you d100-based roleplaying adventure centred on logical, consistent, straightforward mechanics, coupled with innovative approaches to character creation, combat, magic and monsters. The name may have changed, but the song remains the same.
Why did we choose Mythras as a name? First of all, the game has always been about adventuring in mythic landscapes, with characters shaping their own stories, creating their legends and forging their own myths. It comes from the authors’ deep love of real world myths and ancient stories and so is the natural starting point for a new name.
Next comes Mithra or Mithras, a deity found in Persian, Greek, Roman, and Celtic mythologies. Mithras is a god of warriors, a divine protector of oaths and covenants, a protector of cattle and of waters. In the Zoroastrian Avestas, he is described as Mithra of Wide Pastures, of the Thousand Ears, and of the Myriad Eyes.
Bringing these two sources together gives us Mythras, a game concerned with myths, protectors, oaths, great deeds and wonderful stories: the perfect name for our game system.
While I'm dismayed that the DM didn't go with my suggestion "Mythic Quests" (no, not really!), this name has the virtue of being evocative and short.

In terms of rules, Mythras will be RQ6; this is not a 'new' or heavily revised version of the system. The main changes between the two core books will include:
Layout (cleaner, fresher, better, no ligatures, better use of space)
Art (some brand new pieces)
A couple of brand new Special Effects
General Errata
Most likely a renaming of the term 'Strike Rank' to 'Initiative'.
So nothing substantive. (But "no ligatures"? Oh no!) 

If you already own the RQ6 core rulebook, there'll be no need to pick up Mythras -- unless, of course, you want an attractive new book!

18 February 2016

Interview with Cakebread and Walton

There's an interesting interview with game designers Peter Cakebread and Ken Walton of 'Cakebread & Walton' over at the Precis Intermedia blog.

I'm a big fan of the Renaissance system (which is a 'blackpowder' variant of Newt Newport's OpenQuest RPG) that Cakebread and Walton use for many of their settings, including the superb Dark Streets.  In fact, Dark Streets, which involves investigations into unnatural crimes in mid-18th century London, probably is my favourite non-1920s 'Cthulhu Mythos' setting.

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