News from Around the Net: 03-JUN-2011

Hooray! It’s Friday! F-R-I-D-A-Y… What a beautiful word… It means the weekend is almost here and my brain has already partially checked out. [Ahem] Actually, it means I’m still hard at work and Friday means I should still be earning a living. Right!

Anyhoo… It seems this was another really busy week in the RPG space of the Interwebz. So let’s dive right into it, shall we?

Campaign, Story, and Game Design

  • Gamemasters and dungeon masters new and old often struggle with the creation of new campaigns… Should they be long? Short? Somewhere in-between? Or epic on a scale we’ve never seen before… Jeremy Brown over at Roleplaying Tips has a few suggestions. It’s great to see all the upsides and downsides so clearly described.
  • Meanwhile, Justin Achilli has been contemplating the use of economies in games. I’m not sure that I agree with the whole gold for XP idea either, but Justin offers a very new take on it by turning
    it upside down. What if you didn’t get experience from the gold until you spent it on something that netted in better skills, items, or knowledge? Hmmm…
  • And over at Critical Hits, Vanir’s recent change in employment made him look at the use of universities in campaigns. Why not use academia to help a character get ahead? And not just Hogwart’s kind of schools, but vocational skills for adventurers. Why the heck not? And if you have a few gold, please remember to pay your professors… But Callin at Big Ball of No Fun takes it a bit further and says that adventurers should be respected, functional members of society. That’s right – you read that correctly. Why not have “adventurer” as a recognized profession? Just means the local nobles can tax the heck out of your PCs, doesn’t it?
  • Is there a gap between players and GMs that can’t be bridged? Mark at Dice Monkey doesn’t think so. Why not get the players more involved in the game by having them create NPCs to help populate the world and create relationships the GM can use when needed? Brilliant!
  • On the mapping front, we have David at Tower of the Archmage proving that Dyson Logos isn’t the only one making geomorphs and cartographer extraordinaire Jon Roberts creating cool bits you can use in dungeons too… Personally, I love the dragon bones in the corner. I’ll file “dragon bones” in the “are we really sure we should be in this room?” category…
  • Continuing an exploration of multi-genre gaming, Da’ Vane at Dvoid Systems goes a bit deeper into the philosophy behind merging disparate genres like magic and technology. Aren’t they one in the same in some cases?
  • Lastly, we have a great list of minimalist RPGs from Scott at the Trollish Delver. I’ve come to be a big believer in rules-light gaming, so it’s nice to see other folks highlight some great examples that are out there.

General RPG-Related Items

  • I love it when old things are new again… Sure 4e has its fancy sunrods, but what about your basic torch and lantern? Paul over at the Blog of Holding points out that sometimes old school is better than new… Especially when you want to [gasp] use a torch as a weapon doing the same as a shortsword. Take that sunrod!
  • Skeleton

    Image by dimitrij via Flickr

    Over at Sly Flourish, Mike Shea takes something slightly bigger and updates it for 4e. Ever hear of Orcus? Of course you have! He’s a prince of darkness that can smite you with his wand and an evil thought. Mike put together two pretty scary renditions of this guy with stats and all, so you might want to check them out before he sends Orcus to find you…

  • Do you need an NPC? I always had a ready-made pile of names and professions handy but was always lacking much more than that when I GMed. Well, Gnome Stew – the guys behind the Eureka book – are at it again with Masks – a collection of ready-made NPCs to add life to any campaign. Check out their preview with 6 NPCs you can use today!
  • Maybe you don’t need an NPC, but are instead looking for a way to spice up the standard skeleton? Chris at Rolang’s Creeping Doom has a suggestion. Why not take your average skeleton and make him more like the Mummy from The Mummy (1999) where the creature is trying to put meat, muscle, and organs back together to make it whole again? This is a truly creepy and perfect idea to give your PCs a bit of a scare next time they encounter a horde of skeletons!
  • We just got done with Memorial Day weekend here in the States last weekend, but don’t the PCs and NPCs in your game world deserve a few days off? Look no further than 20 Holy Days by Richard Pett at Kobold Quarterly… Personally I like the first one – The Martyrdom of Sait Hargwell of the Eyes. The poor saint had his eyes removed instead of recanting his faith. That’s what I call dedication!
  • And then, in the “oh duh” category, we have an article on building a custom GM screen to speed up combat. Why wouldn’t you add/remove rules you either know by heart or can never remember? Why not add player-specific stuff on the other side to help them speed up too. Great idea from Johnn Four himself at Campaign Mastery!
  • Building your own GM screen:


  • I love finding pictures to inspire adventure ideas, monsters, or NPCs… And who can forget the art of Boris Vallejo? Scott Taylor at Black Gate offers a few of Vallejo’s pieces related to the Gor book series. Nothing like old-school primal fantasy and half-naked women to get you going…
  • A closeup of memorial plaque, built in honor o...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Or maybe you’d rather be inspired by the same artist who inspired H.P. Lovecraft? Check out some 19th century illustrations from Gustave Doré over at io9, with links to much more of his collection online.

  • Speaking of  Lovecraft, here’s some photos from Ben over at Troll in the Corner with a bit of tentacle for you… I love the subtle tentacles or eyeballs in these pictures that you’d miss if you look too quickly. Where’s the BPRD when you need them?
  • If you’re looking for advice on how to improve your writing, Writer’s Digest posted a list of a few free books of writing advice. The first one – 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes – is one I probably need to read about once a year to improve my own prose.
  • Or maybe you’re looking for some blogging advice? Check out some blogging advice over at Hack & Slash to help you out. There are some great ideas there, such as breaking long posts up, scheduling posts for mornings or evenings when folks have more time to read, using titles to draw interest, and more!

Publishing News

  • Are you interested in a new rules light cyberpunk rules system? Why not check out the Technoir Beta and its associated Kickstarter project. I haven’t had a chance to check out the beta version yet, but based on Stargazer’s recent article, I may have to!
  • Or maybe you like science fiction games like the forthcoming Ashen Stars that uses the Gumshoe system? Stargazer has some interesting thoughts about that one too and possibly using it to run a Mass Effect-inspired game.
  • Perhaps you’ve been considering the updated Chimera Basic system from the Welsh Piper? Why not check out a “how to” about creating a character in the system from Erin D. Smale.
  • If you have a few bucks to put towards a good cause, a few Kickstarter projects have been pointed out here at the Troll in the Corner and here at Purple Pawn. Or maybe you saw my post earlier this week about Caladon Falls needing some funding love over at IndieGoGo…
  • As far as new products to check out, there’s Munchkin Conan at Steve Jackson Games, Streets of Zobeck from Open Design, and Villains II (with a money-back guarantee!) from Raging Swan Press…
  • For a bit of a glance behind the curtain, check out the Designer’s Diary about working on Rite Publishing’s Book of Monster Templates, May Sales for Knowledge Illuminates, and the art of Matthew Meyer at Nevermet Press.
  • And we’ll leave you with a question. Anybody know what’s up with the Star Wars RPG these days? It’s been a year since WotC let the license lapse… Curious minds like Nook Harper at Total Party Kill want to know!


  • I love seeing gaming articles in places like Wired magazine. Geek Dad got all geeked up this week about Gaming Paper and the 65-square-feet of adventure held in The Mega Dungeon… What’s not to love? No party I’ve ever played in would have the chutzpah to stick it out to the end!
  • Troll in the Corner had more bad news to relate about the D&D Daggerdale game. After hearing all the negative reviews so far, I’m glad I held off picking this one up.
  • And I absolutely love the idea behind the Game Night Blog Carnival… Sometimes it’s inevitable that you don’t have critical mass to continue a campaign, so what do you do? Their suggestion is to play something different. Well, Glimm over at Glimm’s Workshop had a Magic: The Gathering game night to fill the void and shared his results!

Technology and Gaming

  • As a new iPad owner, I’m enjoying all the recent articles on how to use the beast while gaming. Johnn Four has some suggestions on  how to make GMing a bit easier with the iPad app Daily Notes and the NewbieDM suggests that using the Index Cards app to simplify the process. I think I may be looking at both of these apps in the future to see what I can glean from them, but I’m still an Evernote junkie these days – even on the iPad – so it may be a bit.
  • Lastly, Gene Ritter over at Cave of Chaos has been putting his programming skills to good use, creating an online character sheet repository called… Character Sheet. It looks pretty basic for now, but I can see the usefulness of having an online treasure trove of characters and character creation software. Plus it’s open source!

Did you miss any of my articles from earlier in the week?

That’s it for this week!

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!

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2 comments to News from Around the Net: 03-JUN-2011

  • Glad you like the dragon bones! Thanks
    for the round up.

    Jon Roberts recently posted…Dungeon TilesMy Profile

    • Fitz

      @Jon Roberts – My pleasure as always! And somehow I think most DMs/GMs are always looking for more and better ways to improve their dungeons. The dragon though takes the cake. Makes me all paranoid… How’d it get there? Are there more? What killed it? Little visual cue – big impact. 🙂

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