30 May 2020

The Elite Hollywood Dungeons and Dragons Club

If you have seven minutes or so to kill you might enjoy this Variety story and video on “Hollywood’s Elite Dungeons and Dragons Club” (the sound quality of the video is better here). 

The Dungeon Master of this ‘elite’ group is Joe Manganiello. Among the players (in addition to actors like Vince Vaugh) are Kyle Newman, who is one of the authors of the excellent Art and Arcana book (the history of the art of Dungeons and Dragons), and D.H. Weiss (co-creator of the Game of Thrones HBO series, which I was quite fond of despite the final season [which I found disappointing but not terrible]).

While I generally find these kinds of stories somewhat diverting, I don’t really care about or ‘follow’ celebrities. I only know who Joe Manganiello is because he sometimes shows up in D&D or RPG-related stories and segments, like this one from Stephen Colbert’s show from two years ago. (He does seem like a decent fellow, though, and his gaming basement looks amazing.) 

Insofar as these tales of celebrities enjoying Dungeons and Dragons helps to promote and further destigmatize the RPG hobby, though, I am happy to have them appear. (But as much as I like D&D 5th edition, it would be nice if a different role-playing game might be mentioned in these ‘mainstream’ articles once in a while.)

[Picture by Chuck D of “Public Enemy”]

02 May 2020

Lovecraft Country coming to HBO

Looks like HBO may have a something to fill the void left by The Watchmen and The Game of Thrones: it’s Lovecraft Country, a series based upon the 2016 novel by Matt Ruff.

The novel has been on my ‘to read’ list for a couple of years now (it’s actually sitting in a stack of four novels on the table beside me as I type this). I just promoted it to the top of the pile, so that I’ll have read it before the series starts in August.

01 May 2020

Sail to Lyonesse today!

The Lyonesse role-playing game is now available! The system is based upon Mythras, adapted to Jack Vance’s classic fantasy setting.

I’ve mentioned this book a number of times before in this blog. It combines one of my favourite role-playing systems (Mythras) with one my favourite fantasy settings (Vance’s ‘Elder Isles’) –- so it’s pretty much the ‘Reese’s Cup’ game for me. I’m really looking forward to digging into it over the summer.

Here is the official announcement from the Design Mechanism:
We're delighted to announce that Lyonesse, the roleplaying game based on Jack Vance's award-winning trilogy (Suldrun's Garden, The Green Pearl, and Madouc) is available to buy from our DrivethruRPG store in Print+PDF versions.

We're offering the game in hardcover and softcover formats. The softcover is slightly cheaper than the hardcover (and yes the prices really are meant to be that close - one of the quirks of POD publishing), and both formats are Print On Demand, largely because in these uncertain times, we do not know how long it will take our regular printer to get back to normal operations, and our distributor, Alliance, is still closed for business.

The book costs $79.99 (hard cover), $74.99 (soft), or $25 (PDF only). You also received a free download of the main interior maps at full size, regardless of the format you buy.

Based on the award winning fantasy trilogy by one of Science Fiction and Fantasy's greatest wordsmiths, Lyonesse transports you to the Elder Isles, where King Casmir plots to seize control of the Ten Kingdoms, assassinate his foes, and prevent a disturbing prophecy from being fulfilled. Elsewhere, the magicians Shimrod, Murgen, and Tamurello are locked in a private battle of wit, will and magical intrigue. All the while, the brutal, disdainful Ska are drawing their own plans of conquest.
And in the immense Forest of Tantrevalles, the secretive fairies watch all that happens with wry amusement, and occasionally meddle in mortal affairs for reasons of their own.

Players in Lyonesse take on the roles of adventurers of the Elder Isles, seeking fame, glory, profit, magic, or simply the promise of a good meal and a soft bed for the night. Characters can be mercenaries or spies in the service of one (or several) kingdoms; oath-sworn knights eager to do battle with their lord's enemies; thieves, tricksters or even honest merchants, out to make a just living (sometimes). Perhaps characters are aspiring magicians, keen to emulate the likes of Shimrod, Tamurello, or even the mighty Murgen himself.

Lyonesse is a complete roleplaying game. This book contains everything needed (except dice and friends) for creating fabulous adventures in the Elder Isles. Exhaustive information on the kingdoms and lands of the islands; full rules for characters, skills, combat, magic, and monsters.
Great care has been taken to recreate the style and atmosphere of Jack Vance's novels, so that Games Masters and Players can fully immerse themselves in the Lyonesse setting. Special rules for creating towns, taverns, tavernkeeper, and even lovingly described meals are all included, emulating the quintessential elements of the books.

Don your armour! Take up your weapons! Sharpen your wits! Get ready for adventure across Hybras and beyond!
And here is a recent review of the game at RPG.net.

During these dark times, I’m so happy that this is now available. Praise Lucanor!

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