Friday, August 03, 2018

The Gaming News

Ah, GenCon weekend. Not going this year, but when I do go, I hunt down the small companies that I have never heard of before and check out their projects. These days, with the Internets and the Amazons, the throw-weight of smaller companies is a lot greater, but the chance to actually physically check out the product before purchase has a thrill. Also, the person you're buying it from may just be the designer.

Yet with GenCon there has been a sudden wave of activities on the Kickstarters and elsewhere for new products, many of which by people I know and some of which I have actually supported. Let's take a look.

First off, Let me start off with a Humble Bundle. Humble Bundles are collections of electronic media (games, pdfs, e-books) that are offered a low, low price (though you can make it higher and get more). The proceeds go to good causes. In this case the causes are Girls Make Games and Girls Who Code, both of which work to expand gender diversity in pretty male-overwhelmed areas. The books are a huge selection of books on game design, some of which I own, and some of which I have contributed to. AND this particular bundle has new, just published material by Mike Selinker.

If you're also looking for more books about games, take a gander at Your Best Game Ever from our friends at Monte Cook Games. It not rules for playing a game, but advice on how to use those rules for, well, your best game ever. Usable both by new players and old, YBGE is already blowing up in funding. Plus, if you want rules with your tools, they are offering the revised Cypher System Rulebook, which is MCG's "universal" system. Check it out.

Also in Kickstarter (and blowing up even bigger) is The Expanse RPG. I got into The Expanse from the Lovely Bride - she tends to Tivo entire seasons and binge-watch, and my attention is collateral damage (I would walk into the room, sit down, and then cross-examine her at the commercial breaks). It's a great TV show, but it is based on books (no, really, books. With words and letters and chapter and everything). And The Expanse RPG is based on those books. It uses Green Ronin's AGE system, but sounds like it has a couple neat tweaks to it.

Also on the Kickstarter is Demon City, by Zak Smith. Call it experimental gestalt weird fantasy. Call it millennial urban horror. I really liked both the presentation and the content of Red and Pleasant Land (Alice's adventures in a D&D universe - better than the old Through the Magic Mirror), and Maze of the Blue Medusa (which neatly juggles a bunch of different subplots into one major adventure). Both readable and playable. So I expect to like this as well.

Staying with Kickstarter, but moving into the past, Steve Jackson is bringing back The Fantasy Trip, which was one of those foundational games back in the early days of D&D/ Originally micro-games with paper chips and maps, it was a hex-based combat game that simply recapitulated the nature of fantasy combat. At a time when D&D options were just starting to sprout up, it took the dungeon to the boardgame long, long before 4th Edition. I think I still have a copy or two in the basement. This looks like a faithful recreation of the original, more of an update than a complete revision.

And ALSO from Kickstarter AND with a healthy whiff of updated nostalgia, we have Over the Edge, which back in the day was a brilliant combo of mechanics and world-building. Imagine D&D if Hunter Thompson had teamed up with Gygax and Arneson, and if Bill Burroughs replaced Edgar Rice Burroughs in Appendix N. Unlike The Fantasy Trip, this is an all-new edition set on the island nation of Al Amarja, and I want to see what they've done with it.

Fine, you want some games that are already finished and available? Do you have IOs on your tablet or phone? Take a look at the Cthulhu Chronicles, which gives you solitaire adventures in the Mythos/ There are both transposed Call of Cthulhu adventures (Alone against the Flames) and original material here. The first three sanity-shattering adventures for the day are free! The classic nature of the old choose-your-own-adventure books with modern-age technology! Indulge your Lovecraftian desires!

And since I'm still talking about games, how about some fanzines? I would mention both Warlock #6 (from Kobold Press) which deals with the City of Brass and The Excellent Traveling Volume #8, a wonderful Empire of the Petal Throne 'zine. The mere fact I have articles in both of them has nothing to do with my hearty recommendation.

And finally, let me mention Dungeons & Dragons Art and Arcana: A Visual History, which is NOT out yet, will prove to be the ultimate source for art in the golden age of TSR. The authors are recognized masters in reporting the history of D&D, and, I am have been informed, the book will include several pieces of art from the Private Collection at Grubb Street. I'm really looking forward to this!

And with that, the Gaming News wraps up. More later,