Friday, January 21, 2011

A little bit of everything

Lately I've been focusing all of my attention on strictly RPGs, and most of that has been focused on Pathfinder or WotC/D&D. So today I've decided to do a post that touches on multiple topics.

RPGs & other games

  • I don't know exactly why,but according to RPGNow this is the last month you can buy pdfs of the Cortex system's Battlestar Galactica and Serenity RPGs. Whatever the reason, the pdfs for these games as well as other Cortex games, are on sale. I really like the Cortex system so I grabbed a copy of Six-Shooters and Spaceships for $4.99. The core rules for BSG and Serenity can be yours for $9.99.
  • Troll Lord Games is also running a sale on RPGNow for its Castles & Crusades products. If you've been thinking about trying this game, now would be a good time.
  • I've honestly never played Runequest, although I've heard good things about it. With pdfs for Runequest II on sale at RPGNow, I may finally give it a try.
  • The new Villains and Vigilantes adventure, Infinity Lounge, is now available for free at RPGNow. While you're at it check out the interview with V&V creators Jeff Dee and Jack Herman over at Ain't it Cool News.
  • If you haven't played Heroclix in a while, check out some of the cool new stuff coming out from Wizkids.
  • I played a few games of Dragon Dice back when TSR released the game in the 90's. I lost track of the game and thought it had disappeared until I recently heard that the game was making a comeback and is currently being produced by SFR
  • Speaking of dice games, Cthulhu dice by Steve Jackson games is a simple, but fun little game I picked up a few months ago. Zombie Dice is also a lot of fun.
Comic Books
  • In response to fan's complaints about the price of comic books and the reported decline in sales DC comics' Drawing the Line at $2.99 goes into effect this month. Nearly all of the monthly comics released by DC are supposed to hold the $2.99 price for the foreseeable future. In response Marvel is reportedly dropping many of its monthly books to the $2.99 price as well. Since I primarily read DC I am happy very happy about this. Of course the 4 - 5 Marvel books I read will probably be the ones that don't see the price drop, but the lower DC prices should make up for it.
  • In case you didn't know new issues, as well as back issues of Heroic Publishing's books can be found on Drive-thru Comics or you can order print versions of the books from the company's website. Personally I usually read Flare and Champions, but the other books are pretty good too. 
  • I just recently found out that Drive-thru Comics also has a lot of Top Cow books available on their site. 
  • While I'm on the Drive-thru Comics kick I recommend picking up the issues of Shi and 2000 AD that are available to download. 
  • DC comics is dropping the Comics Code for their own rating system. It's about time.
  • I had some reservations about Seth Rogen playing the Green Hornet, but after seeing the movie this past weekend I have to admit he did a good job. The movie was a lot of fun and Jay Chou kicked ass as Kato. I saw it at an IMAX 3-D theater and even though I'm not a fan of 3-D, I can't deny it was pretty cool. 
  • Images of Chris Evans in full Captain America costume have been released. As a life long Cap fan, I can't wait to see this movie.
  • The preview for Thor was playing when I went to see Green Hornet and it looks awesome!
  • Apparently Bane and Catwoman will be the villains in the next Batman movie. I'm not too keen on the actors chosen for the parts,but everyone said Michael Keaton would suck as Batman and I thought he did a great job.
  • After X3 I didn't really care about seeing X-Men: First Class but it is beginning to look promising.
  • Jon Favreau apparently won't be directing Iron Man 3. 
  • I'm sure everyone knows about the Spider-man movie reboot and while Garfield seems to wear the suit well, I'm just not ready for a reboot.
  • I don't know what everyone else thought, but in my opinion the new NBC series The Cape sucked. It definitely showed potential and it could have been an amazing faux Batman tv show, but alas it was a complete disappointment.
  • I haven't had the chance to watch them yet but I've heard good things about both The Avengers and Young Justice cartoons.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Keep your D&D out of my Pathfinder

I like many other Pathfinder fans, have expressed my dreamy eyed wish that Paizo would somehow acquire the rights to the D&D brand. We all just "know" that, in our dream world at least, this would bring world peace and a new age of enlightenment. However I have reevaluated my position on this and I hope that the brand either stays where it is or goes to someone other than Paizo.

I was over on the Paizo boards the other night when I came across several posts that expressed just how having the D&D brand would be a burden for Paizo and I couldn't help but agree. I also read the very interesting essays by Ryan Dancey over on EnWorld, which I recommend giving a look. I was actually amazed that the points raised by Mr. Dancey and the posters on the Paizo boards are, for the most part, things that honestly never occurred to me or that I never really gave much thought. I'm generally pretty level headed and reasonable, but I now know that I let my dislike of WotC and my love of most things Pathfinder keep me from really thinking about what I said. Now I feel like a complete dolt.

Why in the hell would Paizo want D&D? Right now, according to some reports, Pathfinder is selling as well as D&D (better if you believe some of the rumors) even though Pathfinder doesn't have the 40 years of name recognition. The more I think about it the more impressed I am that Pathfinder has done as well as it has. Paizo likely wouldn't exist if not for 3rd edition D&D and now they are tying WotC for first place in RPG sales. Going up against the granddaddy of all RPGs and this little company is actually holding their own, and according to some people winning. The irony is that they are using a revised version of older D&D rules to do it.

Another reason Paizo should stay away from D&D is the "baggage", as some on the boards referred to it, of way too many campaign settings. Mostly because us bitchy fans will be outraged if their/our favorite setting doesn't get attention (MAZTICA!!!). Right now Paizo has Golarion which is a kitchen sink setting, but in a good way and one that seems to be as well if not more thought out than some of the stuff put out for actual D&D.

If you want Ravenloft, Greyhawk, FR or even Kalamar it has a passable counterpart in Golarion. They are just tweaked a bit and go by different names. Golarion is nearly every D&D setting on one planet, there really is no need for more settings at this point, if ever. Paizo owning D&D and having to support more setting would probably be a headache and drain on their resources that just isn't worth the benefit of owning a name that really isn't worth what it used to be.

Finally I think that acquiring the D&D brand in the near future would lessen the great work that the Paizo people have done. They were basically the 1st level group who went up against the Ancient Red Dragon and  not only survived these first few rounds, but has managed to get in some pretty good hits of their own. Maybe years from now once Pathfinder has established its dominance in the RPG market ;-) ,  buying the D&D brand might be worth it to them, but not right now.

So I retract any previous mentions I may have made here or on any message boards, I do not want Paizo to acquire D&D at this point. I believe and hope that Paizo can continue being a successful publisher for years to come on their own merit. I want them to be known as the publishers of Pathfinder, the game that showed us all that the name D&D is not all powerful in the RPG world.

** After I finished writing this post I found this really good post over at The Wasted Lands about why the demise of D&D would be a good thing for the RPG industry.

Even though I'd hate to see the brand disappear from the world of TTRPGs, I have to admit there is a part of me that is curious to see what the world would be like if it happened. Unfortunately there wouldn't be a Clarence around to make things right if we didn't like a world without new D&D products, but I would almost be willing to give it a try.

Maybe an actual crash is exactly what the industry needs. A chance to reboot, so to speak. Maybe another company could step up and find a way to make RPGs appealing to the masses or maybe the market would shrink and return to the truly niche hobby it used to be. Then in 20 or 30 years some kids will find their grandparent's old RPG books and strange dice. Maybe they will start a whole new retro-gaming revolution. Kids around the world will unplug from their PS10s and X-box 1800s to gather around an actual table to delve dungeons and slay some dragons. That would be kind of cool.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Where are the 2e retro clones?

While it is no secret that I am a fan of 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons and a huge fan of Pathfinder, I also have a fondness for 2nd edition AD&D. Sure I've got issues with THAC0 but it isn't like it is hard to use, I just never liked it. To me it never felt as natural as Ascending AC and BAB, so even when I was playing 2e I didn't like THAC0.

Of course every edition and pretty much every RPG has things about it that I don't like. I think that this is true of nearly all gamers. If it wasn't then there probably wouldn't be any houserules and I've never met a gamer who didn't houserule something.

So even though I had and still have my issues with 2e, it is one of my favorite editions. For me some of the best supplements ever written for D&D were done during this era. To be realistic and before I get blasted for making such as statement I also realize that there were some truly terrible books put out during this edition and that there have been great books in every edition. I just personally think that 2e had more of them. There are tons of books in 2e that I still enjoy reading and have used, in some capacity, for nearly every fantasy RPG game I have run over the years.

All of the chatter around the net about the recent events/decisions at WotC have gotten me to thinking about a lot of different things. One of them is the OSR movement. For the most part the guys that have worked on all of the retro-clones have done a brilliant job of using the OGL to keep older editions alive. Well most of the older editions except 2e.

There seems to be more retro-clones out there for the various versions of Basic/OD&D and 1e than I would ever get around to playing. Nearly all of them are top notch, labors of love and my hat goes off to every single person who worked on those games.
That being said, why are there no complete 2e clones?

I know that I'm not the only person who still likes 2e and yes I know that the lack of a clone does not prevent me from playing with the books I already own or buying more 2e books on Amazon/ebay etc. The purpose of the retro-clones, as I understand it, is to enable publishers to produce new material with the OGL that is compatible with older editions and thus keep them alive with better organized and usually better/more clearly written rules. So I ask again where is the 2e love?

I knew that someone, somewhere had to be working on a 2e clone and I was right. Unfortunately there only seems to be 2 and they're not completed yet.

First I found Myth and Magic by New Haven Games There is a starter kit for this that runs through level 5, which I have downloaded. There is also playtest versions of the rules the allow you to play up to level 10 that you can access if you register with the forums. I've literally just started reading the starter kit and will probably post my thoughts on it soon.

Secondly I came across Adventures Dark and Deep (AD and D, gotta love that) by Greyhawk Grognard. What little I have read claims that this is not a retro-clone but an entirely new game. I put it here because every time I inquired about 2e clones on the boards this one came up. However, since I've just downloaded the rules I have no personal opinion on this one yet,  but I'll post something once I'm done reading it.

On a side note Dragonsfoot is a good place to find some material if you are needing stuff for a 2e game as well as stuff for other older editions.

So that is all I have found so far. While the two I have found seem to show promise I can't help but wonder why there aren't more 2e retro-clones and if they do exist where are they? Thinking on this topic has also made me consider what I'd like to see in a 2e retro-clone.

My number one wish is to have optional Ascending AC & BAB rules like Swords & Wizardry. I'd also like for it to retain the old school feel that S&W, OSRIC and Labyrinth Lord have done such as good job at recreating. Keeping it as compatible with original products as possible kind of goes without saying. Seeing new material produced for the system is the whole reason for doing a retro-clone, IMO. Lastly, I want rules clarity. My main complaint I've heard by many gamers, besides THAC0, is that the rules for 2e could be a bit intimidating for newer players. I want a game I can easily teach to kids or adults that are not already familiar with the game.

I've thought about doing my own retro-clone for 2e, that way I can make it how I want, but to be honest I just don't have the time or gumption to do it. So I can not and am not complaining about the work that has been done so far by others. I'll just have to wait until the games that are in progress are completed and hope more 2e clones are in the works.

I also feel that I have to give a big pat on the back to those that have and are working on keeping older editions alive. Your work is appreciated, even though the sentiment may get lost in the noise caused by the bickering between which clone is better or more "true" as well as the current editions wars, but thanks for what you've done. You've done the fans of older editions a huge favor and deserve our gratitude and respect. Keep up the good work...but if you get some free time I'd really like a good 2e clone.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Old School D&D Still Around(Repost)

I've been in a 2e AD&D mood lately so I thought I would repost this.

I was goofing on the internet, as I am too prone to do when I should be sleeping, and I found some interesting links. I've seen complaints about how WotC took down the links to the older edition products brought up on numerous message boards and blogs and when I stumbled upon this I thought I'd share it.

I don't know if this is a mistake or intentional, but I have tested a few of these links and they worked. I haven't had time to test them all so if some are broken, don't blame me. Perhaps WotC heard fan's cries and decided to be nice, or perhaps this is just some oversight on their part. I honestly don't know. Either way here are some AD&D links for your enjoyment, while they last.

Forgotten Realms
Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves:

Arcane Age: Nethretil - Empire of Magic:

Villain's Lorebook:
The Fall of Myth Drannor:

The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier:

Blood Spawn: Creatures of Light and Shadow:

Player's Secrets of Hogunmark:

Player's Secrets of Muden:

EX1 Dungeonland and EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror:


Ravenloft II:

Map #1 for Ivid the Undying [Dragon #204]

Map #2 for Ivid the Undying [Dragon #206]

Map #3 for Ivid the Undying [Dragon #208]

L1: The Secret of Bone Hill by Len Lakofka

Monday, January 17, 2011

A completely personal opinon about the direction of D&D

Since WotC's recent announcements regarding D&D the blogs and message boards have been buzzing with everything from idle speculation to doom and gloom for the most well known RPG. As someone who has given up on 4e the changes don't really impact me, but I still care about what happens.

Maybe my concern is just because I know that D&D is still the RPG that represents the entire hobby for non-gamers. Perhaps it is just nostalgia and maybe a little brand loyalty, but it actually bothers me that I don't like 4e. I know there are a ton of great RPGs out there and I play and enjoy some of them, but it sucks that I don't like the newest edition of the game I've been playing for over 20 years.

I have several opinions about the direction the brand will take but it is just idle speculation as I know jack shit about what is going on inside the company. A lot of the other bloggers are much more closely linked to the actual RPG industry so when it comes to what might happen, their opinions and speculation are probably much more informed than mine is as an outsider. However, that has never stopped me before.

Personally I think that Hasbro just doesn't care if D&D survives. They won't let the brand go since it is recognized by gamers and non-gamers alike and can be placed on a variety of other products.Even if they never produce another D&D book, the D&D brand will continue to bring in some kind of revenue. At least for a while.

I often wonder why Hasbro/WotC doesn't produce or license more D&D items such as action figures, Hot Wheels cars(everything seems to have had its name/logo stamped on a Hot Wheels at some point), video games (there could be a lot more of them than there have been), D&D versions of nearly every Hasbro game, a D&D expansion for Magic: the Gathering or even a separate D&D CCG (just not another Spellfire, though you had to love the cheesy cards for that game. I bought a ton of them back then)

I see D&D going all digital (video games and DDi) at some point in the future. I personally think D&D as a printed RPG will begin to disappear.  I don't think this will happen in the near future, but it seems to be going this way.

Between Magic and D&D, Magic is likely the money maker and the reason Hasbro even cares about keeping D&D alive is the name. Even people who have never seen an RPG book or held a d20 know the name Dungeons and Dragons. There is money to be made off that name and it is unlikely they will let it go. Which is why my dream of Paizo or Green Ronin buying D&D will never happen.

So while I have absolutely no idea what will happen with D&D there are several things I'd like to see happen. In my opinion printed RPGs may not be the biggest money makers, but I think that the printed products could still be viable. Maybe they won't produce as much money as Hasbro requires, but possibly enough to make keeping a small RPG team around to produce a small amount of product for us to enjoy worth it.

First, I'd like to see WotC renew support and publication of revised versions of all older editions. Doing so would expand the D&D brand by having each edition as its own brand. Classic D&D, Original D&D, Advanced D&D, etc. Each of them could be done by a small team that produces a few supplements each year and they could even allow limited 3rd party support. The money coming in from these may not be huge, but doing so could create a consistent stream of cash by producing products for all editions instead of letting them abandon D&D and play Pathfinder or retro-clones. Bring those gamers back by producing new product for them.I love my Pathfinder and hope Paizo becomes the the premiere rpg company, I also am very fond of many of the OSR publishers, but if I were WotC I would be doing whatever I could to crush them. Pissing off and then throwing away such as large portion of your customer base just seems counter productive to me. Of course I'm not a business major so maybe there is a sound business decision behind this move. I can't imagine what it is but that's just my POV.

Second I'd like for them to keep 4e alive. I may not like the game but there are enough people that do to keep some product moving. Even if only 3-4 new books get produced each year, I don't want the system to die. Since D&D minis is pretty much dead they should license the name to another minis producer like Reaper.

Third I think they should pursue the DDi. I think it is a waste of money but I know plenty of people that like their DDi

Lastly I'd also like to see both a print & digital subscription for Dragon magazine. If they start supporting older editions of the game, the magazine would be able to appeal to a broader range of gamers. I could be wrong, but I don't think that Dungeon mag would be worth bringing back. Not because it would have no use, but because it was too specialized with too narrow an audience.

All of this is just my opinion about what I'd like to see happen with D&D and isn't meant to upset anyone.