Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Talking about Authentic Medieval Roleplaying

Bat in the Attic - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 19:50
I been doing a series of podcasts with Brendan Davis, Nick Seidler and Adam Baulderstone.

The first was with Brendan as gamemaster and featured a trap dungeon.

The second was me using my Majestic Fantasy Rules (based on Swords and Wizardry) to run an adventure set in a fantasy medieval setting.

The live stream is here and the podcast where we discussed it can be found here.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

White Feminist’s Burden

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 17:28

The indefatigable Jane Sand returns to contend with me over the literary merits of Ursula Le Guin’s Playboy appearance:

The character Alvaro is not just mentioned as dark-skinned and no other significant individual trait. He uses both his patrilineal and matrilineal family names to introduce himself, which shows the discerning reader that that old Spanish custom still exists in the far off future. He is bilingual, speaking English and ‘Argentinean,’ defined in the story as a future descendant of Spanish. Most importantly, his friend, Owen Pugh, the Welsh commander of the mission, has learned that language and speaks it with him at times for reasons of friendship, and later to speak confidentially to him without danger of eavesdropping from the third main character. This tells POC readers that not only is their darker skin acceptable in the future, their cultural differences are also appreciated and useful. This may not seem like much to you, but to POCs who have been discriminated against for those traits in the present, seeing people like themselves represented as equals in the far-off future by this author can mean a hell of a lot, especially seeing so few similar characters in the SF of the time.

Spoken like a person that has no experience whatsoever with non-white people in the real world. I mean it sounds all tender and sweet in theory, sure. But people tend not to be flattered when their bosses adopt the vernacular of their subordinates. Heck, people have to be so careful working with people from different cultures that corporate diversity training of today instructs people to not even ask other people where they are from.

Ursula Le Guin could be forgiven for not knowing anything about this. She hails from not just a time when America was much whiter. But she also comes from a region of that country that is notoriously white to this day. Truly, Portland is ground zero of Stuff White People Like. But her science fictional “It’s a Small World” moment is not near as effective when it’s placed side by side with her hatred for not just the millions of Irish people, but the billion Roman Catholics in the world.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Le Guin is one visionary that could stand to expand her horizons just a touch.

Meanwhile, Alexandru Constantin of Barbarian Book Club puts in his two cents on all this:

That has always been my question when seeing a bunch of middle-class white chubbsters patting each other’s backs over diversity. Who the [heck] are you writing for? Do you know any “diverse” people?

As a Romanian born immigrant, I don’t want or need somebody else to tell my story, my peoples story, or anything. I would be pissed if anybody turns my life experience into a fantasy tale.

Sort of like how China is not going to be one whit more interested in Star Wars just because some white feminist in America does them favor of incorporating a southeast Asian woman as protagonist. Kathleen Kennedy is nobody to them. Yet she acts like she’s some sort of plantation grandee doling out favors to the poor and benighted. Which is ridiculous when everyone from Bollywood to Hong Kong has their own means of culture production.

Normal people care nothing about this diversity stuff. What do they care about? Stuff that Ursula Le Guin despises and repudiates. Not the least of which would be heroism.

Watch the video below and see for yourself. People of all races, backgrounds, shapes, and sizes are outraged when the sort of “politics” Ursula Le Guin advocated for turns up in their epic fantasy. Really, it doesn’t matter if you do something “nice” for a supposedly helpless brown person if you’re simultaneously taking a great big dump on what it means to be human.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[ZINE] Echoes From Fomalhaut: Announcement and Preview

Beyond Fomalhaut - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 16:58

(Placeholder art)It has been a long time in the making, but it is at last getting close: the first issue of my fanzine, Echoes From Fomalhautis nearing release! The articles have been written, artwork is progressing, and the administrative needs are being arranged (yes, I even got myself a DO NOT BEND! stamp). Hence:
Echoes From Fomalhaut is an old-school RPG zine focused on adventures and game-relevant campaign materials. Each issue is planned to feature a larger adventure module, accompanied by shorter scenarios, city states, and other things useful and interesting in a campaign. Rules-related material will be limited to a few pieces of interest. A long time ago, Judges Guild’s campaign instalments established the general idea, and that’s the road I intend to follow. A small city-state? An interesting wilderness area? An island ruled by a society of assassins? Guidelines for magical pools? All that kind of stuff.
The content will feature both vanilla and weird fantasy, mostly drawn from our home games, with occasional contributions by guest authors from the Hungarian old-school scene. Most of the articles will follow AD&D conventions, but remain compatible with most OSR systems – and there will be detours.
An average issue is expected to run 32-40 pages plus the cover. The print edition, produced in the A5 format, is set to ship with larger extras like fold-out maps or what have you; the PDF edition will include these as downloadables. For example, the initial issue (“Beware the Beekeeper!”) features the following articles:
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre (2.5 p): a 1d100 table to generate strange merchants, caravan guidelines.
  • The Rules of the Game (0.5 p): sets out the conventions followed in the zine.
  • The Singing Caverns (16 p): a two-level cavern system with 49 keyed areas, inhabited by orcs, bandits, and the mysteries of a bygone age.
  • Philtres & Dusts (3 p): a sampler of magical potions and dusts.
  • Red Mound (3 p): a mysterious adventure location found in the wastelands.
  • Morale & Men (1 p): a simple, fun set of follower and morale rules from a Hungarian retro-clone, written by two guest-authors.
  • The Mysterious Manor (9 p): the manor house of an extinct noble family, now with new occupants... or is there more to it? 23 keyed areas.
  • Unkeyed city map (extra)
Yes, there is a downloadable preview (see below)!
I have always wanted to publish homemade game materials, an idea that has grown on me ever since I fell in love with the rough charm of Judge Guild instalments. I released my first PDF adventure in 2001, and the first printed one in 2003 (through my E.M.D.T. – First Hungarian d20 Society label). Over the years, I have mostly stuck to free PDF releases and community fanzines (with the occasional detour, like the Helvécziaboxed set), but something has always been missing. This is an opportunity to fix that. Finally.
The zine will debut with a pre-release version at Kalandorok Társasága VII (“Society of Adventurers VII”), a Hungarian game convention held on 24 February 2018. The print edition is expected shortly afterwards, in early March. A PDF/POD version will be published through RPGNow with a delay of a few months.
How much?
A print issue is expected to sell for $8.00 plus priority shipping ($3.5 to Europe, $4 to the US and worldwide). The price for the PDF edition is expected to be set around $5. POD is still TBD. All buyers of the print edition will receive a free copy of the PDF edition at the date of its publication.
This is slightly above the average in zine pricing (I did an Excel comparison of 39 OSR and indie zines, and they come out at $11.44 for print/worldwide), but gives you some 14,800 words worth of content per issue (not including the OGL and front/end matter), pays for the commissioned artwork, and Hungary’s prestigiously large tax wedge.
What else?
Since I had to set up a sole proprietorship to get this thing off of the ground, I am thinking about using the opportunity to republish some of my older adventure modules with new artwork in a reader-friendly format. Stay tuned!
Echoes From Fomalhaut #01
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Random Paths from the Crossroad of Worlds

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 15:00

In Incredible Hulk #300, Dr. Strange tried to get read of the menace of the Hulk (who was in one of his brutish menace periods) but banishing him to another dimension. The Hulk ended up at the Crossroad of Worlds in a trippy, Ditko-esque space. Throughout the next 313 issues, he went to a number of weird worlds. The details of these worlds would make interesting places to visit in a fantasy rpg, but the brief, descriptive names given to the them by the folks at the Marvel Universe Appendix are in many ways even better for just getting the creative juices flowing.

Here's the list made into d30 random table (I had to add one to the end to get 30):
  1. Crossroad of Worlds (choose a path, roll again!)
  2. Acid Rain World 
  3. Barren World 
  4. Burning World 
  5. Daniel Decyst's World 
  6. Demon World of the N'Garai 
  7. Desert World
  8. Devil World 
  9. Frozen World 
  10. Furry Blue People World 
  11. Glob World of Floating Things 
  12. Idol World 
  13. Mist World 
  14. Octopod World
  15. Paradise and the City of Death 
  16. Poisoned World of Spine Creatures
  17. Purple Giant World
  18. Quicksand World 
  19. Radiation Monster World 
  20. Robot World 
  21. Sky Shark World 
  22. Swamp World
  23. Toad World 
  24. Vacuum World 
  25. War World 
  26. Underwater World 
  27. Wind World 
  28. Yellow Dwarf World 
  29. Purple World of Exile
  30. Chiming Crystal World

The Shadows of Darkness In T1 4 Temple of Elemental Evil By Gary Gygax & Frank Mentzer For Your Old School Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 09:21
The sudden appearance of  T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil By Gary Gygax & Frank Mentzer adventure location being wretched back into the world of men in the Black Forest's of Germany during The Thirty Year War  doesn't mean that there are not other far reaching implications  far away in the English countryside! The appearance of the temple means that its power is going to spread across Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Appendix N Still Matters

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 04:32

Over at the premier fantasy blog of the internet, fellow pulp fantasy junkie and all around cool cat Fletcher Vredenburgh has made Appendix N a significant element of his manifesto:

I hadn’t really thought about Appendix N until James Maleszewski started blogging about it at his old and much-missed site, Grognardia. While he wasn’t a newcomer to the books on Gygax’s list, a lot of the people commenting were, and it was fun to read new takes on old works. They were totally sold on books which had either created the tropes that have come to dominate mass-market fantasy, or that were defiantly original, yet with roots proudly tracing back to the pulp tradition. It was the first intimation that so many of the books I grew up with were finding a new audience.

Later, Jeffro Johnson at Castalia House began a long series of posts examining the books and authors of Appendix N. The pieces were all collected and released as Appendix N: A Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a strongly opinioned and valuable take on a varied and idiosyncratic assortment of books. His commenters’ excitement over discovering a whole wealth of new-to-them fantasy writing definitely warmed this critic’s heart.

I’m not sure if Fletcher knows just how gracious he’s being here. For anyone that’s spent any amount of effort attempting to explain vintage role-playing games on a blog, being compared to James Maliszewski is about as good as it gets.

As to the books of Appendix N, according to Fletcher they are not just “a quirky list of fantasy and sci-fi books that inspired Gary Gygax”, but are also “worth reading because they are among the very best the genre has to offer.” He remarks on the contrast between how these books seemed to lapse into obscurity… but the people exposed to them today just can’t get over how good they are.

What’s up with that?

Well, Black Gate is far too reputable of a site to delve into to that particular question, but recent events make this far, far easier for people to wrap their heads around. Comics were infiltrated, subverted, and pushed to the very edge of destruction over the past decade or so. And Star Wars has been turned upside down and inside out very quickly just in the past few years by the same sort of people.

These are the same sort of people became responsible for both universities and journalism at some point. They wage a nonstop war on not just the past, but also anyone that dares to spoil their narrative. The ideological diversity and the freedom of expression that was taken for granted in the states before 1980 is offensive to them. But it goes further than that. These people use their influence to rewrite the literary canon however they please, reading people out for purely political reasons while inducting others for their utility in forwarding the aims of their cultural revolution.

And this stuff works, too. Accusing A. Merritt of having a Madonna-Whore complex, talking about how Lovecraft used the “N” word, and calling Robert E. Howard a mamma’s boy doesn’t do a whole lot to expand the reader base for their stories. And for anyone paying attention, there is a not-so-subtle cue in all that that you need to perform public self-flagellation rituals if your’re going to admit to liking such authors in mixed company.

It’s humiliating to even think about. Most people most of the time are going to steer clear of such unpleasantness.

But I see it happen all the time: people hear about these books, go read them for themselves, and then they are just plain blown away by them. It’s not just that they have been betrayed by the broader commentariat that they unconsciously depend on to keep them informed of such things. It’s that there are things packed into these stories that have very nearly been wiped out of the broader culture. And there’s something there that people desperately crave even though they can’t really imagine what could be there in the first place.

Wonder. Thrills. Romance. Heroism. Virtue.

We are hard wired for this. And we will have it.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Let's Read: Greyhawk Adventures (Part 12)

Greyhawk Grognard - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 21:35
Well here we are at last, the final entry in my Let's Read series for the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover book. It's certainly taken a while to get here, but I hope the trip's been worth it.

We close the series with what is perhaps the weakest section of the entire book, and the one I believe got the least use; zero-level characters.

These rules are unique to the book, and have nothing to do with Len Lakofka's attempt to deal with pre-1st level characters way back in Dragon #51.

Rather than experience points, 0-level characters have something called Aptitude Points, which start anywhere from 91-110, and everyone starts with 3's in each ability score, and 3 h.p. The AP are then used to raise those attributes at a rate of 8 per week (spend 2 AP and your strength can go from 3 to 5, for instance). Demi-humans need to reach their racial minimums first, before they can start raising other stats.

The downsides of this system are instantly seen. Presumably everyone in the world is a weakling, a moron, is clumsy, and couldn't convince a beggar to accept a copper piece. It also replaces rolled stats with a point-buy system, which I think would be something of a revolution in terms of gameplay that isn't exactly called out.

Here, characters don't have an alignment to start with; they develop an alignment over time, with the DM keeping track of each character's behavior with a 1-20 based point system.

Class abilities are learned and practiced across class lines, and can be learned by spending "study points". So if you want to try turning undead, you'd learn the skill for a cost of 4 study points. If you want to cast a 1st level spell, you could learn how at a cost of 6 study points. Some more advanced skills need a payment of Aptitude Points as well.

Or you could "trust to luck" and just try it, with a 55% chance of failure of some sort, and a 45% chance of success of differing varieties. The same system is used for proficiencies (weapon and non-weapon) and learning languages as well.

When the 0-level characters learn all of the skills of a particular class, they become a 1st level member of that class, and have a chance to retain some of the other class skills they've learned along the way. But there's no real way to expand or improve those powers later on, so it's not exactly like a skill system, but a weird hybrid.

Personally, I don't know of anyone who ever used this more than once (we tried it, hated it, and dropped it almost immediately). It's a sort of tedious version of Traveler's character creation, which builds up experiences prior to play, but in this version those experiences have to be actually played out before one can even get to 1st level.

Plus, there's nothing that particularly ties this to the Greyhawk setting at all. It's just sort of lumped in at the end because there wasn't anyplace else for it. Unfortunately this is flyover country, and these pages would have been better spent on other things.

And that's it. The whole book, from start to finish. Some great parts, some okay parts, some not so okay parts, and some completely forgettable parts. I hope you've been inspired over the course of this series to check out this often-forgotten book. Thanks for taking the journey with me; I promise the next one won't take so long.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Project Oasis is 50% off Tomorrow!

Greyhawk Grognard - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 18:07
Hey everyone - I just got notified that Project Oasis, my setting for GW / Mutant Future / Apes Victorious / etc. will be the Deal of the Day over at tomorrow. This is your chance to get it at 50% off the normal price!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[REVIEW] The Tainted Forest Near Thorum

Beyond Fomalhaut - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 12:38

The Tainted Forest Near Thorum (2012)by Yves Larochelle, with additional writing by Reverend DakPublished in Crawl! #4 by Straycouches Press5th level
The Tainted Forest Near ThorumAll is not it seems in the small, idyllic village of Thorum, and strange things are afoot in the surrounding woods, inhabited by a sinister evil. This may be one of the most recognisable adventure structures seen in modules: a home base threatened by an evil force and its local agents; a dangerous wilderness; one or more adventure sites leading to the lair of the secret evil. There is a fairly good chance something like this was your first adventure ever. It is popular because it works, but it has been covered so many times that it is hard to add a new spin on it. It is also the main problem with The Tainted Forest Near Thorum.
All three major areas of the module repeat the same mistake: they don’t add to a very basic, very overused formula. We have a village, which is like all small, peaceful villages beset by evil. It has a halfling-run inn that’s like every other halfling-run inn. The barmaid and the town drunk know dark secrets. There are two temples which are like every other village temple. The local authorities behave exactly like they tend to do in these adventures. NPCs are one-note stock characters. Corruption is afoot and some villagers are working for the enemy, before the characters unmask and kill them in one of multiple predictable plot twists.
The wilderness section, a forest bisected by a wide river, is a typical example of the way D&D wrestles with outdoors adventure design. Travel through the Tainted Forest is mainly represented by a one-page random encounter table with a few deformed beasts, but otherwise, the The Tainted Forest Near Thorum has very little forest adventuring in it, and not much of it seems to be tainted. (The exception, and the best part of the module, is a one-in-six random encounter with a local “legendary beast”, which is actually an interesting and rounded-out encounter. Here, the adventure briefly goes from boring to intriguing.) There are all of three wilderness areas to find, and it is understood that they will be visited in a linear sequence. One is a lair, one is a very minor “ruin”, and the third is the entrance to the main dungeon. You can kill the inhabitants or negotiate with them, and you find plot tokens which take you to the next place.
The final dungeon is a complete disappointment. The map is beautiful as an illustration, but it is essentially a completely linear sequence of encounter areas with all of two side branches. (This seems to be a common problem with the DCC RPG.) Not only is it a linear ride, the encounters amount to some mighty dull fare:
  • a few pieces of “this looks evil”-style descriptive detail;
  • some “they attack”-style combat encounters (although at least some monsters, like spine-shooting giant hedgehogs, a doorframe mimic, and living mounds of bubbling flesh which can rip limbs off of PCs, show imagination);
  • frequent reminders of “an uneasy feeling” overtaking the characters without actually giving the players something that’d make them feel something;and a completely deadly and unfair death trap.
What’s lacking here are interesting decisions, discoveries to be made via clever exploration, or even sights which would leave a memorable impression.
There is very little in The Tainted Forest Near Thorum that differentiates it from the same adventure you have played, run and read countless times (but now in DCC). Things are reskinned here and there to follow DCC’s heavy metal fantasy aesthetic, but that doesn’t really count as the kind of added value that’d make the module worth owning. Scott Ackerman’s art (exterior and interior cover, maps) is really nice, and Crawl! gets the fanzine aesthetic, but these things just end up overselling a functional but otherwise disappointing adventure.
Actually, there is something there that got stuck in my mind: this is the scenario which feels the closest to Diablo. You know? The village of Tristram, the Blacksmith, the Stay-awhile-and-listen guy, the church dungeon which its tale of corruption. Adventure fantasy stripped down to its bare essentials, the most “D&D” plot of them all, given some gloomy flourishes. However, Diablo did something with this formula with its interesting crowd control-based gameplay, character building and heavy randomisation. The Tainted Forest Near Thorum could not make it work.
The module credits both its playtesters and proofreaders, which is nice.
Rating: ** / *****
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Lost Hall of Tyr

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 12:19

By Douglas H. Cole
Gaming Ballastic LLC
Levels 4-7

The Hall of Judgment: Here Tyr himself guided human and dwarf in the ways of honor, law, retribution, and justice in war and life. It has been lost for centuries, hidden by the power of Asgard from those without permission to enter. Until now . . .

Well it’s Saturday. Time to review another bad 5e adventure. Joy. Oh wait, it’s not utter dreck!

This 62 page norse-flavored adventure has sixteen or so linear encounters (with a few optional ones), mostly wilderness ones, before one room temple with a demon in it is encountered. The actual linear adventure is only about 16 pages, the rest being the lengthy introduction and the bestiary and battle maps at the end. The writing, while long, tends to be well organized in the individual encounters. But it also tends to make certain assumptions that leaves out critical information, leaving the DM confused with some of the baseline assumptions.

There’s a three page backstory that read like fiction. “Una’s bond with Aeiri strengthened over the distance …” I don’t bitch about this stuff anymore, since I can just skip the “failed novelist” garbage. Well, except when I can’t skip it because the fucking adventure is mixed in to it. What are you supposed to do, with what, and how? Well kids it’s all mixed in to that backstory. NOT. COOL. The adventure needs a short summary so the non-masochists among us can avoid the backstory. We’re on a quest to find the Domstollinn, whatever the fuck that is. I gathered, through the 60 pages, that we’re going to this hall at the behest of some priests and they gave us something to give us some kind of True Seeing kind of power. Summaries are critical to these sorts of adventures. Orient the DM BEFORE they get in to the text so they know what to expect. Yes, if you are an expert you can have it unfold via the text and not do a summary. New Flash: You are not an expert. I accept you’re the hero of your own story, but do the rest of us a favor and put in a summary.

There’s a map of the region. I guess it’s a map, there’s no key. It doesn’t really matter anyway since, as far as I can tell, it doesn’t show where you are going. Or any of the encounters. It’s just a picture of the region without any relevance to the adventure. It’s MORE confusing this way since I spent time studying it, trying to figure out where things were. It was hard, because it turns out they weren’t on the map. At least I don’t think they were?

The first encounter on the way (event based, remember), has a “striking rock format” and three out of place groupings of individual trees. First, let me nit and note that “a striking rock formation” is a garbage description. Striking is a conclusion. Tell us what it looks like and let the players determine it is striking. But, the real issue is the mistletoe. The trick to this encounter is finding the direction of the mistletoe. What mistletoe, you may ask. I don’t know. There is about two pages of info on this encounter and one bullet point, near the end and in the middle of the text says “The three trees, with mistletoe at the tip …” This is TERRIBLE design. When I say it makes certain assumptions, this is what I mean. Clearly, the designer had a vision in their head. They knew three trees had mistletoe and this was a clue. But they have not clued US in to that fact. The adventure does this over and over again.

There are some riddle-like things that are quite difficult. There’s a one word hint, Yggdrasil, that is supposed to clue you in that those trees are the right ones. Later on there’s a different one that says “Willpower through suffering increases joy.” This is your hint that you need to lift a rock and touch a door to open it. Those are both some pretty tenuous hints.

If you can get past the omissions of those base assumptions then the actual text is decently organized,or at least not poorly organized. Whitespace and bolding is used to good effect. There is still A LOT of text for what are simple encounters, but it’s not nearly as bad as the page count would indicate.

The encounters proper range from the riddle-like things I mentioned earlier, to straight up fights (with enemies teleported in to advantageous positions by a fae queen. Ug!) to skill challenges like climbing a cliff or crossing a rope bridge. The temple at the end is one room, with a trapped demon in it. A little anti-climactic after a one-month wilderness journey.

All is not hopeless though. There are some sections on using alternative means to cross the bridge, climb the wall, etc. It’s duel-stat’d for S&W and to the designers credit they seem tp get at least one aspect of old school play: no die roll is needed if the party describes well what they are doing. Die rolling is for looosers who don’t role play. Die rolling means a chance of failure.

This is a good example of the modern method of making an adventure. The Mcguffin is referred to as ‘the Mcguffin’ by the designer. The entire thing is about little set-piece-like events that take place. You have some small freedom in the individual events (unlike many adventures and to this designers credit) but the thing as a whole is just one thing after another with little choice involved. The text is long, but not atrocious by 5e/Pathfinder standards, although it trails by a long shot what I would consider good … although a decent job is done at organizing it. Except for those assumptions that each encounter seems based on. The editing job/proofreading was very poor not to catch that; maybe it was just copyedited?

“Not as bad as the usual 5e fare” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but it IS runnable. Kind of. Once you figure out what is going on. That’s a damn sight better than most.

This is $10 at DriveThru. The preview is eight pages long and, to its credit, shows a couple of encounters, including the notorious #2, with the Ash & Mistletoe. It’s on about page five of the preview if you want to check out the weird assumptions made.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Hidden Foulness of T1 4 Temple of Elemental Evil By Gary Gygax & Frank Mentzer For Your Old School Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 07:30
Evil broods and grows beneath those blasted stones. This is your chance to drive it back and scatter its forces again! So the Thirty Year War is raging across Europe, the forces of Fairy & the Elves have taken a severe beating but something isn't right. In the Black Forrest an ancient evil stirs beneath ruins thought blasted from the memory of all good folk! The events of the Thirty Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Mythology for No One and a Future for Anybody But You

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 02:39

Ursula Le Guin didn’t want to hurt anyone. She just, as reader Michael points out, “an influential writer who created beloved works of fantasy and science fiction; who didn’t like Lovecraft’s work (and possibly the man himself); and was interested in a little representation in her stories.” Is that so wrong…?

Well to be sure, she was dead wrong about Lovecraft. He was a first rate writer who mentored a surprisingly large number of people that would go on to define fantasy, science fiction, and horror for a generation. He wrote pieces that could pass for work written by Lord Dunsany. If anything gave his homage away, it was not his command of the cadence and motifs of the King James bible. It’s the downright disturbing aspects of the payoff that remind the reader of just who it really is that’s penned the work.

Le Guin manages to be disturbing in an entirely different way, and her approach to representation is a central element to that. In her story “Nine Lives” for instance, you wouldn’t really know there was a non-white character in the story. She has to tell you he’s there with an explicit reference to his “Hershey-bar-colored face.” There’s a blandness about her non-white characters… as if their skin color is just painted on. I couldn’t tell you why that is, exactly. It’s self evident that people from different regions and different cultures vary from one another. And as it happens, Lovecraft was expert at conveying just this aspect of rural New England.

Who is she writing for exactly…? I can’t see it. Are there really non-white people out there that are honestly embracing her work, praising her, and thanking her profusely for creating visions of the future and mythologies of the past that include them…? I doubt it. Other nations seem to have a handle on providing that for themselves just fine. At any rate, the Irish aren’t sitting on the hands waiting for a Japanese person to finally tell their story.

And that’s the thing about authors who go ahead and accept their own people and work from that rather than things they know very little about. They provide a way for people in other places and times to encounter something very specific. Something almost alien. Something infused with a nuance that people elsewhere could only guess at.

From what I’ve read of her, Le Guin seems to be in revolt against that very thing. As if her most likely audience deserves neither a past nor a future. As if she herself were a product of a post-cultural society. I really can’t see the appeal of this. Maybe you do. Either way, her work cannot be considered to be part of the same literary canon as that of Lord Dunsany and H. P. Lovecraft.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

5150 Bugs Kickstarter News and Bat Rep - Billy's Revenge

Two Hour Wargames - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 20:29

Rumor has it that Craig will unlock all the Stretch Goals to those that pledge so they can be ordered after the Kickstarter ends. What does that mean to you? The tanks will be available and they are pretty sweet. So to recap, pledge your support of the project and you can get everything on the page before they go up in price.

Here's the 1st Bat Rep.

*****************************************************This is a Patrol Mission  again.  Sgt. Billy Pink leads his new Star Army squad onto section 7. Sections 4 and 6 have Possible Enemy Force markers deployed. Activation dice are rolled and Billy moves first.
Into section 4 the squad moves (infantry move one section per turn). Vehicles can move two sections so the Nailz 1A Tank moves from off the table into section 4 too. This triggers a PEF Resolution and...

 Rolling 2d6 versus the Bug Campaign Morale of 5 gives me 1 Bug less than the total of my force (6 squaddies + the 4 man crew).

 I roll 1d6 to see who has the Advantage. Bill's side does. Rolling on the Action Table the Star Army goes first and...
 The firepower of the tank and the sqaud overwhelms the Bugs, one actually charging before it is killed.

 Section cleared and time to activate the Bugs.

 The 2nd PEF is resolved as nothing (boxcars on the PEF Resolution Table). The 3rd PEF is 10 Bugs. The Bugs lose on the Action Table and the Star Army open up.

 It's a repeat performance, but this time one Bug make sit into melee and a squaddie goes down.

 Will to Fights are passed and the Star Army activate. The Nailz 1A turns its turret and splatters the last Bug. Mission over.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptozoic Will Preview Upcoming Games at Toy Fair 2018

Cryptozoic - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 14:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment today announced that it will preview several of its upcoming games at Toy Fair, February 17-20 at the Javits Center in New York City. Among the offerings are three new tabletop games based on popular episodes of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty TV series: “The Ricks Must Be Crazy,” “Pickle Rick,” and “The Rickshank Rickdemption.” In addition, the company has two new entries in the long-running DC Deck-Building series: a standalone game based on the “Rebirth” comic book storyline and the fourth Crisis Expansion. Finally, it will present the forthcoming original games The Arrival and Wallet. Cryptozoic will preview these games and more at its booth (#5344).

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

More Bloody Fey Haunted Darkness In B3 Palace of the Silver Princess By Moldvay & Wells For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 01:30
What are the deeper powers of chaos within Dark Europe right within the backyard of the English countryside? Why do dark cult roots run deep within the confines of the darker corners of Europe? What does this have to do with another part of a classic TSR adventure? Let's pull the sword from the stone and get right on to the throne. I've already spoken about the 81 John Boorman ExcaliburNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A brand new Wreck Age edition, with lots of new ways to explore The Wilds.

Gamer Goggles - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 01:05
A brand new Wreck Age edition, with lots of new ways to explore The Wilds.

If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve seen some of the informational roll-outs we’ve been doing for 2nd edition, just trickling out a bit of information at a time, but now it’s time for a deluge. So get your umbrellas and raincoats on, because here comes 2nd edition!

Wreck Age 2nd Edition features some never-before-seen features in a tabletop roleplaying game. We take the Resource Unit system and push it further than ever before in campaign play, and give you Structures!

Structures are buildable items that generate things over the course of a cycle (the campaign turn). Each Structure has unique advantage (and sometimes disadvantages) that help you grow your community in the direction you want.

Beyond Structures, we’ve added a bunch more traits, weapons and weapon modification, Feats (which are once-per-game tactics usable only by Player Characters and some Elite models) and a ton more.

Gameplay has been both streamlined and expanded, with rules for squads, new optional armor variants, and simplified tournament play.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

My Shirts Arrived!!!

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Fri, 02/09/2018 - 00:47

I’m so stoked!

Just arrived in the mail today are two t-shirts commemorating the greatest debate since Lincoln and Douglas cut loose on each other.

And yeah, this is all part of a broader trend. I quit buying comics ten years ago. I quit going to the movies a couple years back after I’d cut back to going once a year or so for a long time before that. I turned off Netflix.

And now… I look at the Star Wars and Marvel Comics t-shirts in my closet and I think… why should I give people that hate me free advertising by gracing my striking pectoral muscles with their iconography?

Sorry, I just can’t get excited about that anymore for some reason. Time to put out a different signal!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Love is in the air and Sweetheart Candy is here to celebrate Valentine’s Day by joining your Heroes in Super Dungeon!

Gamer Goggles - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 19:47

Love is in the air and Sweetheart Candy is here to celebrate Valentine’s Day by joining your Heroes in Super Dungeon!

Sweetheart Candy is a limited edition Super Dungeon model that is only available for order during the month of February. Preorders will close March 1, at 12:00am MST. We will then do a special made-to-order production run of this adorable new version of Candy, just for you!


  • 1x Sweetheart Candy Resin Model (Assembly Required)
  • 1x Sweetheart Candy Hero Card

Sweetheart Candy is only available during the month of February.
Don’t miss out, order yours today!


Sweetheart Candy will be made-to-order after preorders close March 1. Anticipated delivery is April 2018.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

North Star Games Adopts Unilateral MAPP and Restricts Sales Channel

Gamer Goggles - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 17:34

North Star Games Adopts Unilateral MAPP and Restricts Sales Channel

Kensington, MD (February 6th, 2018) – In order to better serve its retail community, North Star Games, LLC is announcing two new sales policies. Effective today, North Star Games is adopting a unilateral Minimum Advertised Pricing Policy (MAPP). This MAPP will enhance the value of the North Star Games brand and provide long-term benefits to everyone who purchases its products, including both trade partners and consumers. Adherence to the MAPP is non-negotiable for all North Star Games’ resellers and will be strictly enforced to ensure the continued value of its brand.

North Star Games is also issuing a Channel Restriction Notice (CRN) to all its resellers, announcing that it has designated as a restricted sales channel. Effective today, North Star Games will limit its Amazon distribution to two authorized sellers on the Amazon Third-Party Marketplace. The CRN states that resellers who don’t participate in the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program have until February 13th, 2018 to deactivate their listings. Resellers who do participate in the FBA program should sell through any existing inventory by March 9th, 2018 and then stop restocking their FBA listings. North Star Games will work together with its authorized Amazon partners to monitor product listings and remove any unauthorized sellers.

“These two policies will allow our authorized retailers to remain competitive in an ever-changing and dynamic marketplace. We highly value our retail partners and their commitment to providing valuable instore experiences that create memorable moments for their customers and grow the gaming community”, states North Star Games Co-President Satish Pillalamarri. “We look forward to helping our partners grow their businesses by providing enhanced services such as game demos and organized tournaments. These partnerships will allow us to develop an even greater number of the exciting and engaging games that our customers love.”

The most recent versions of North Star Games’ MAPP, MAPP Price List, and CRN can be found at

About North Star Games
North Star Games is the publisher of award-winning party, family, strategy, and card games. Its most popular brands include Wits & Wagers (history’s most award-winning party game brand), Happy Planet (including 2018 Toy of the Year Finalist Happy Salmon), Say Anything, and Evolution. For more information on these game brands and more, visit

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


Gamer Goggles - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 16:00
REIGN OF TERROR – ALPHA PRINT AND PLAY Now available to download!

A new year and a small gift to you. Available immediately you may download the Reign of Terror print and play directly from our website. All you need is a way to open up a PDF file and a printer. Reign of Terror is one short download away. Get an early jump on deckbuilding and prepare for the upcoming Table Top Simulator tournament coming up in a few weeks.

Featuring 208 cards in total and over 50 unique cards the Reign of Terror print and play will change everything you know and love about Battle for Sularia. The print and play Alpha Program is totally free, so what are you waiting for, click the link below and prepare your inbox for an all-new Battle for Sularia experience.

Download the Print and Play

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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