News from Around the Net: 27-MAY-2011

How is it that it takes so long to get from Monday to Friday and yet it’s Sunday almost before we blink?

Once again the week was full of news around the interwebz. And as always, the diversity is astounding. From gorgeous art and maps to music during game sessions, from how we as GMs can learn from writers how to make better villains to news, interviews, and reviews
from publishers and folks across the gaming blogoverse…

There’s never a lack of things to include on Fridays, let me put it that way. And as always, if you have news, feel free to drop me a note at the Contact Us! page. I promise I don’t bite and can be downright friendly!

At that, let’s dive into the news. I’m going to try a slightly different format this week, so please let me know what you think in the comments or drop me a line.

Art and Maps

  • Black Gate, vol 1, issue 2

    Image via Wikipedia

    Writer Scott Taylor has again posted some great articles about the “Art of the Genre” at Black Gate magazine. His first article focuses on “The GM Screen” and his more recent article focuses on the art of “Maps and World-Building.“. Through his own experiences with gaming, Scott offers some unique impressions of the many ways art is used in RPGs.

  • I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a cartography fan boy ever since I started gaming way back in 1982. Some of those maps in the big box sets of the late ’80s and early ’90s looked like they’d survived time on the front lines when I got done with them. Well, the Labyrinthian over at (you guessed it) The Labyrinth has put out a great blank continent map to inspire you… And I was immediately tempted to start filling in the blanks!
  • Lastly, Jon Roberts who did the beautiful map of the City of Redwall I linked to last week turned me on to a gallery of some of the art that’s coming for the Pathfinder setting of Rhune: Dawn of Twilight. If you haven’t checked it out, prepare to be blown away.

News and Interviews

  • First, I have to hand it to the Obsidian Portal folks. Right out of the gates with Haste – their new brief podcast show that hopes to give you some of the “latest news in the RPG industry and get you on your way.” No beating around the bush either with Episode 0 – Getting Started. I look forward to seeing what’s next on the program and wish them the best of luck with the podcast!
  • Next up we have a ton of OSR news from the Underdark Gazette. Check it out for some reviews and news of new releases like The Tome of Horrors for Swords & Wizardry and Pathfinder and Old-School Magic from Vigilance Press.
  • And then we have a couple of interviews. Carl over at Flagons and Dragons they had a chance to chat with Robert Thomson, co-owner (with his wife Connie) of 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming. And Michael Tresca at the RPG Examiner chatted with Sean Patrick Fannon of RPGNow and DriveThruRPG fame. It’s always cool to get more behind-the-scenes details from the folks behind the curtain.

Publisher News

  • Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game

    Image via Wikipedia

    Last week Erin Smale at the Welsh Piper announced that Chimera Basic was available. Now he’s trying to figure out what’s next and is looking for input. Help by offering your opinions on the options he outlines here. Personally I’m voting for option 3 – I’d like to see a bit more detail on how to use the Chimera system in various settings and genres.

  • In the “holy cow!” category is the announcement from Catalyst Game Labs that their BattleTech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set sold out in 10 days. What an accomplishment! It’s great to see one of the systems I enjoyed back in college having a renaissance.
  • Meanwhile over at Dyson Logos’ ZERO/barrier publishing banner, Dyson’s Dodecahedron, Issue 4 is here! It’s awesome to see two fully stocked levels of Dyson’s maps along with some new random tables to differentiate your potion containers. No longer mix up your potions of Cure Light Wounds with a deadly poison!
  • This week we also saw a new update from Kevin Siembieda of Palladium Books. With their recent website update they’ve had a bit of a drop in sales, which is frustrating. But I’m sure they’ll get back on track with the raft of new products coming out before the end of 2011.
  • And over at Bedrock Games, they have a couple of new products available. Bedrock makes Crime Network (a Mafia RPG), Terror Network (a counter-terrorism RPG) and Horror Show (a soon-to-be-released horror RPG). Newly released products for Terror Network include the new module Patriot Incident and the Agency Resource Guide. Check ’em out on PDF at RPGNow and in print over at Studio2Publishing!


  • If you’re interested in the recent release of D&D Daggerdale from Atari, a new D&D-based video game, I’d encourage you to check out the review from Dave Chalker at Critical Hits before you go spend any money. Sounds like you might want to wait until the price drops off a bit…
  • Looking for some new options for magic in Pathfinder? Check out Buddy’s review of Ultimate Magic at Troll in the Corner. Seems that Paizo is continuing the trend of releasing great products!
  • If sci-fi, post-apocalyptic games are more up your alley, you might want to check out Lowell Francis’ review of Cascade Failure at the Age of Ravens. Based on the review it sounds like there’s a lot to like in the book
  • And Thilo Graf over at GM’s Magazine took some time to review Raging Swan Press’ book – Half-Goblins of the Tangled Wood. As a fan of Raging Swan’s products, I was happy to see that Thilo loved the book. He did an amazing job in a really detailed review, so I’d encourage you to check it out.

Writing and Gaming

  • I love learning things from other folks. Jaap de Goede from the Dark Dungeon 2nd Edition blog suggests that we listen to writers in other areas. Listen to the embedded video
    from author K.M. Weiland
    about why you might want more gray villains and not 1-dimensional bad guys.
  • Meanwhile, Sacha over at Ratty Ramblings describes a generic scenario outline for a fantasy RPG. It hits me a lot like the programming design patterns I learned about as a software developer. I wonder if someone should create a library of these adventure/scenario patterns for inspiration? Perhaps it’s too closely related to Gnome Stew’s excellent Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots book…
  • And Da’ Vane at the DVOID Systems talks about recent updates to D-Jumpers Volume #1 and how they play into crossing genres as with this months’ RPG Blog Carnival. The idea of jumping from world to world and offering different technology levels and storylines at each destination is very cool.
  • Zombies. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re here to stay as a story idea. Why not run a zombie apocalypse in your next game? Silveressa at Roleplaying Tips offers a few ways to make your zombie apocalypse more about surviving rather than actually beating the hordes of undead.
  • The Ironclad Penguin at More Than Dice has a few ideas about guiding players into creating characters more compatible with a particular campaign or story idea. Without being too much as a dictator, there are some good compromises that can be made to make both sides of the table happier about the outcome.
  • Music. Many GMs like to have it playing in the background to aid in building a mood for a particular game. Unfortunately, this sometimes results in players getting drawn out of the action to listen to whatever may be playing rather than actually enhancing the experience. Stephen Carpenter at Nevermet Press has a few suggestions on how to use music better to not only strike a particular mood, but how to use it to do much more than that… I’m not sure that I’d have the patience to put something like what he suggests together, but it would definitely amp up the mood!
  • And lastly, Dyson Logos at A Character for Every Game announced this week a new “One Hour Dungeon” effort that has started. I didn’t know about the last one, but this one sounds fun. The idea is to take a map and have a different person fill in each numbered area… Talk about unique! Check it out here if you are interested in participating!

And don’t forget the articles from earlier in the week at GKR!

What did I miss? Do you have a link I should include? Drop me a line at the GKR Contact page and let me know!

Have a great weekend!!

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2 comments to News from Around the Net: 27-MAY-2011

  • Fitz

    BTW, I looked for a way to insert more space between the bullet items based on a suggestion from last week, but WordPress keeps deleting any extra space I put in. Anybody have a good suggestion on how to resolve that? Thanks in advance!

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