Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Master Plan 33: Unpacking Mechanics 1 Points of Tension - Fred Hicks

"On this episode (which is my longest yet), Fred Hicks and I kick off the long-awaited series on mechanics with a discussion about “points of tension,” relating both to ‘s Exhaustion mechanic and Mortality mechanic. Fred starts with a wacky assertion — that conflict is underutilized in RPGs — and goes from there." 4 out of 5 http://castroller.com/podcasts/MasterPlanPodcast/3155932

Master Plan 53: FlamesRising horror gaming - Monica Valentinelli,

"This month being the month of all things horror, Ryan gets together with Monica Valentielli of Flames Rising to talk about some basic things to consider when designing a horror game. The folks at Flames Rising really know their horror, so it’s no surprise that Monica’s full of great insight about mood, theme, player involvement, and pacing. Towards the end of the conversation, they discuss a little bit of the differences between more traditional horror game set-ups and some of the newer, indie/character-focused ones." 4 out of 5 http://castroller.com/podcasts/MasterPlanPodcast/3155912

Master Plan 15: on the FATE Fractal - Leonard Balsera

"Ryan sits down with Leonard Balsera of Evil Hat Productions and talks about a design concept central to the FATE — the system used by Spirit of the Century and the upcoming Dresden Files RPG — called the Fractal. They talk about this concept that treats elements larger and smaller than characters, like planets & possessions, the same way as characters are treated mechanically. Leonard also gives us a bit of an update on the Dresden Files RPG." 4 out of 5 http://castroller.com/podcasts/MasterPlanPodcast/3155902

Monday, April 29, 2013

Shifting Reality 1 - Patty Jansen

"Nine heart rate monitors increased their soft beeping. Nine heartbeats in perfect unison. Melati loved that moment when heartbeats synchronised for the first time. Some people believed it was the moment a construct cohort truly came alive, and the nine children became aware, thinking humans. Forty beats per minute. Nine brain activity sensors recorded spikes of activity. Nine pairs of hands twitched. Chests went up-down-up-down in increasing frequency. In her mind, Melati already saw these boys in her classroom. Young Grimshaw constructs were usually boisterous, couldn’t sit still, couldn’t stop talking, had to do stuff with their hands— Fifty beats per minute. Data streamed across the screen, large blocks of mindbase code, in verb-noun shorthand, organised in neat blocks of lines roughly the same length. " 4 out of 5 http://pattyjansen.com/2012/11/20/shifting-reality/

Machinations of the Space Princess: Final Playtest Draft - James Desborough

Another game I wish I had as a kid, along with Stars Without Number. Machinations one-ups the former in terms of classes, adding 'Scholar' to the analogues of the three comprising Expert, Killer and Psion. Also another d20 D&D family of games. Aliens have hit points, ships have really, really big hit points. Saving throws, etc. It is setting light, with a backdrop of 99 space princesses on the wall fighting over the Urlanth succession. Basically a science fantasy of disreputable rogue occasional heroes. Out to kill aliens (depending on their viewpoint) and take their stuff. Then blow the loot in bars. Repeat with own species. Or that is the general vibe. If Cobra from Space Adventure Cobra was a GM, this would be his game, no doubt. Also, a game about violent, low rent substance abusers should be funny. The text is indeed funny. Probably be more so once the final is done, along with some nifty looking artwork. An OGL production it says, so FATE version coming up? This game is very entertaining. Gear prices, species creation and quirks, plot idea tables, planet generation [including religion and politics] for some fun, quick old-school gaming without the stinky starchy smell of Traveller militaries. Definitely sits happily along Bulldogs in the 'dodgy people boogie through space' subgenre. With or without captains. It also includes a short adventure, where, naturally, you get into a fight in a bar. 4.5 out of 5 https://postmortemstudios.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/machinations-final-playtest-draft/

From the Future With Love

A short film intro. Not a rent a cop kind of cafe. 3.5 out of 5

Across a Table Madly Episode 1: What’s So Great About Eclipse Phase? - Across the Table Madly

About the Transhuman SF Creative Commons RPG. 4 out of 5 http://www.acrossatablemadly.com/whatssogreatabouteclipsephase/

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Grindhouse and Magic Rules Free Edition - James Raggi

An art free preview of this modification of the basic and expert D&D rules combined into one and streamlined a little. The Weird Fantasy tag doesn't seem all that prevalent, it all smells very D&D still except for the extensive summoning spell. Just a little more of the Warhammer Fantasy flavour and tone here. 3.5 out of 5 http://www.lotfp.com/RPG/uploads/downloads/GrindhouseRulesMagicFree.zip

Play On Target Podcast: Horror Genre In RPGS - Play On Target

"Welcome to the seventh episode of the Play On Target podcast (PLOT for short). In this episode we discuss the horror genre in RPGs. We talk about common and well-loved horror RPGs as well as lesser known horror RPGs. This conversation ranges from the types of games and special mechanics that work well in the horror genre to some tips and tricks you can use in your game to bring despair down upon the table. " 4.5 out of 5 http://www.playontarget.com/horror-genre-in-rpgs/

Cosmic Patrol: The Kahn Protocols - Matt Heerdt

A quick start rules version of Cosmic Patrol, giving the basics and an adventure with a few characters. 3.5 out of 5 http://www.cosmicpatrol.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Cosmic%20Patrol%20Quick-Start%20Rules%20(Free%20RPG%20Day%202012).pdf

The Die is Podcast Ep7 Superhero Games! - Chris Rogers and Will Kaminski and Brandon Card

Wherein they talk about Legends of Anglerre, FATE Core, a few superhero games in different media: wherein they express a desire to beat up lots of minions. 4 out of 5 http://traffic.libsyn.com/thedieispodcast/The_Die_Is_Podcast_-_Episode_7.m4a

RPG Haven Podcast episode 13 an interview with the creators of Diaspora - Brad Murray and C.W. Marshall and Tim Dyke

"Ryan and I interview Brad Murray, C.W. (Toph) Marshall and Tim Dyke, 3 of the 4 creators of the ENnie-award winning, FATE-based, hard sci-fi RPG Diaspora. It’s a lively a conversation indeed! The interview went long and we touch on many interesting topics. These guys having interesting and intelligent things to say about self-publishing, the future of text distribution, their game design methods, their gaming history, products they are working on, the gaming community, their relationship with Evil Hat and the paperback version of Diaspora that is going into distribution. They also share for the first time the well-kept secret of the first Diaspora PDF! The VSCA (whose initials are also revealed for the first time!) keep rigorous records of their playtesting and design process, from the early days of their SotC/Traveller Hack Spirit of the Far Future to their current projects, which are manifold." 5 out of 5 http://www.therpghaven.com/podcast/?p=291

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Queen of the Black Coast 2 The Black Lotus - Robert E. Howard

Second of an audio serial. 5 out of 5 http://librivox.org/conan-and-the-queen-of-the-black-coast-by-robert-e-howard/

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mitochondrial Singularity - Joan Slonczewski

"But the price of endosymbiosis is evolutionary degeneration. Genetically, the mitochondrion has lost all but a handful of its 4,000-odd bacterial genes, down to 37 in humans. Most of these genes conduct respiration (obtaining energy to make ATP). From the standpoint of existence as an organism, that seems pathetic. The mitochondrion is a ghost of its former identity." 3.5 out of 5 http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/03/mitochondrial-singularity.html

Neil Gaiman: The Early Years Black Orchid Part 2 Gangsters and Scientists - Hannah Means-Shannon

"In the introduction to the first collected edition of Black Orchid, Neil Gaiman wrote, “I know that some people regard this writing as escapist fiction, but I think that tales of myth and horror are probably the easiest and most effective way to talk about the real world. They are like the lies that tell the truth about our lives” (qtd. in Schweitzer 77). In a much later interview, he commented on these thoughts further, adding, “Real life is a great big messy thing. The fantastic gets through the sort of protective cordon one has around one’s head. One can go in and change the way people think about things”(qtd. in Schweitzer 77). Black Orchid was not Gaiman’s first foray into the realms of “myth and horror”, but it was a world that allowed for a sudden expansion of these elements to the point that they seemed to leap into the foreground as dominant forces in his work. For the sake of argument, let’s look at “myth” and “horror” as two poles of influence in Black Orchid, both drawn together under the wider definition of “fantasy”. The quality of “fantasy”, as Gaiman said, is what enables both to catch the reader off guard and reach a deeper layer of their consciousness." 4 out of 5 http://sequart.org/magazine/21376/neil-gaiman-the-early-years-black-orchid-part-2-gangsters-and-scientists/

Borealis 1

A job with the (Russian) company drilling for oil. And shooting bears. And selling beers. 3 out of 5

Friday, April 26, 2013

AICN COMICS takes a look at the classic RPG VILLAINS AND VIGILANTES and chats with creators - Jack Herman and Jeff Dee

"JD: I’d toyed with RPG design a bit before V&V. One early idea was a game inspired by Land of the Giants where mouse-aliens had shrunk everyone on Earth to the size of action figures. Another was a science fiction game with random alien generation – an element that survived to some degree in V&V’s random power tables. I remember that the idea for V&V first came up during an argument Jack and I had, over whether Spider-Man or the Human Torch was more powerful. We decided to game it out, and to do that we needed to write some rules. For that first battle we only needed descriptions of powers for those two characters, and we swiped the combat mechanics from Empire of the Petal Throne. I honestly can’t recall which of us ran which character, or who won. But that battle became our ‘proof of concept’, which brought it home to us that a superhero RPG was something that could actually really work. superhero: Can you talk about the early development of V & V? How did you pull it together? JH: We had endless discussions of how superpowers actually worked and how they should be portrayed on the basic game mechanics level. We had to approach everything you've ever seen in any superhero comic--or could ever imagine seeing--from the point of view that it all made sense and that it all followed a central set of rules. It was a really interesting long-term free-form logical exercise." 5 out of 5 http://www.aintitcool.com/node/48121

Playing at the World Is a Must Read for Gaming Geeks - Ethan Gilsdorf

"Gilsdorf: What were some of the secrets about D&D‘s past that most surprised you — or you think will most surprise readers? Peterson: Personally, I was most surprised by how many of the system ideas that we consider central to D&D derived from the earlier war-game Chainmail. Armor class, saving throws, class, level, hit points, all are half-baked in Chainmail. Honestly, they were only about three-quarters baked in the first edition of D&D, so the changes aren’t even as radical as one might suppose. I’d never read or played Chainmail before I began this project; in fact, my first Chainmail game was at the Lake Geneva Games Convention in 2008, where you and I met briefly while you were conducting interviews for your book. Readers so far seem to be most surprised by the arcane ephemera I’ve unearthed. When I talk about rare resources like the Blackmoor Gazette and Rumormonger, which give us new insights into the earliest phases of Arneson’s Blackmoor campaign, or like the Rules to the Game of Dungeon, an important early Minneapolis D&D variant, it’s clear that these were virtually unknown in the community up until now. What most surprises readers is just how many primary sources are out there that no one even knew survived, and what they can tell us about how D&D evolved." 4 out of 5 http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/09/new-d-d-history-book/

How Gaming Got Its Dice - Jon Peterson

"Thus, late in 1969, when chatter began in the "Must List" of Wargamer's Newsletter about the commercial availability of 20-sided dice, these implements were presented as a means of generating percentile numbers: the advertisement from the Bristol Wargames Society refers to them as "percentage dice" and doesn't even say how many sides they had. This is an area where the exotic icosahedron excels, as the models sold at the time were numbered 0-9 twice, rather than 1-20. With two throws, one could therefore generate a number from 1-100. Gary Gygax was among the readers of Wargamer's Newsletter at the time, and thus it is unsurprising that he chimed in with a letter in the February 1971 issue saying, "I imagine that sales of 20 sided dice will pick up when Mike Reese starts selling the [Tractics] rules." Then d20 gets an early mention in the Tractics rules published in the fall of 1971." 5 out of 5 http://playingattheworld.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/how-gaming-got-its-dice.html#more

SUPERCREW Quick and Easy Roleplaying - Christian Lindke

"Supercrew begins with an interesting premise as a game within a game. The central conceit of Supercrew is that all of the superheroes designed by the players are their own alter-egos. As the game explains it, "The players play super-powered versions of themselves. Each adventure starts with them playing a role-playing game when they hear about some kind of emergency they have to stop." You read that right. The players are playing characters who are playing a roleplaying game that gets interrupted and needs their superheroic intervention. When I first read that the players play versions of themselves, I was reminded of the character design system for the revised edition of Villains and Vigilantes so I didn't think Supercrew's approach was too novel. Then I read the sentence where the rules describe it as a game where the "characters" have shown up to play an rpg, only to have it interrupted, and a number of wonderful uses for this game popped to mind -- this is before I read a single rule." 5 out of 5 http://www.advanceddungeonsandparenting.com/

Simulation vs Playability Villains and Vigilantes 2e A Look at Telekinesis and Force Field - Christian Lindke

"The first playable superhero roleplaying game was Villains & Vigilantes. The first edition of the game is playable, but has some very cloogy bits -- like the "to hit" matrix which makes the 2nd edition matrix look like child's play. The second edition was an improvement in every way over the first edition and is still a game I very much enjoy reading and playing. I recently had my regular gaming group roll up some V&V characters and look forward to a full fledged adventure in the near future. It's a fun system that falls heavily into the "abstractionist" rather than "simulationist" camp, but some of its design choices simulate comic book action better than others. To highlight this conflict, I'd like to examine how two powers are mechanically represented in the game: Force Field and Telekinesis. These are two of the three powers in the game I would need if I wanted to make Sue Storm Richards -- The Invisible Woman as a character. I understand that she she doesn't "technically" have telekinesis as a power, but she uses her force fields to mimic the effects of a traditional TK character. In fact, let's stat up Sue Richards in the process." 5 out of 5 http://www.advanceddungeonsandparenting.com/2013/02/simulation-vs-playability-villains.html

Heroes Unlimited 1984-1993 - Zack Parsons and Steve Sumner

"Forget all that padding like "story" and "setting" that bogs down traditional role playing games,1984's Heroes Unlimited drops the pretense of context and offers a manual for making any comic book character you can imagine. There is a chapter of game play rules (horrible like all Palladium games), but the rest of this book is the fugue state explosion of Kevin Siembieda's mind as he seeks to codify every possible super hero type and origin without regard to playability. The result is predictably hilarious." 4 out of 5 http://www.somethingawful.com/d/dungeons-and-dragons/kevin-siembieda-aspergers.php?page=1

Fiddly Old School Games - J. B. Blackrazor

"Villains & Vigilantes? It has 48 pages." ... "And yet, UNLIKE the extremely specific and limited scope of powers in other Superhero games, V&V is about as Old School off-the-cuff and House Rule A-Rama as you can get. It’s f’ing schizophrenic is what it is. Powers are rolled randomly, then you read the power description and make shit up! " 4.5 out of 5 http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com.au/2010/03/fiddly-old-school-games.html

Am I the Only One that thinks Hawkeye is a Wuss? - J. B. Blackrazor

"Well, regardless, I am a fan of Green Arrow...and NOT a fan of Marvel's Hawkeye. His "make-over" in the Ultimate comics was fairly cool...until he somehow got turned into a "Bullseye-Hawkeye" combo. I've said before that the writers of the Ultimates comic series appear to be familiar with the Heroes Unlimited RPG, as all their versions of classic superheroes could be made using the HU rules. "Ultimate Hawkeye" is a perfect example of the Ancient Weapon Master class (available in the Powers Unlimited 2 book). But killing people with one's own ripped-off fingernails is a little over-the-top...even for a Palladium game!" 3.5 out of 5 http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com.au/2010/06/am-i-only-one-that-thinks-hawkeye-is.html

What Goes Around Comes Around Karma and Marvel Superheroes - J B. Blackrazor

"Marvel, similar to Palladium, is a bit of a hybrid game, at least a step removed from Old School gaming. However, unlike Palladium’s Heroes Unlimited, its game design is both innovative and elegant. Ron Edwards has pointed out that in some ways it is one of the first RPGs to facilitate a Narrativist creative agenda (though he also points out that the game is explicit in its text about also allowing the game to be played “gamist style,” simply duking it out between Marvel characters to prove once and for all who’s the toughest of them all). The reason it facilitates Narrativism is its excellent Karma mechanic (the same one I just mentioned that gave us headaches as kids). For those who haven’t played MSH, Karma is the game’s version of “experience points.” It is a point pool and points are awarded to players based on their actions in the game. ...unlike D&D experience points or Gamma World status points, Karma can also be LOST. Not just SPENT (more on that in a minute) but LOST through less-than-heroic action...FOR EXAMPLE (and this is the big one right off the bat): if a player character kills anyone, for ANY reason, then the character LOSES ALL KARMA.." 4 out of 5 http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com.au/2009/10/what-goes-around-comes-around-karma.html

Old School New School or Alternative School for Special Students - J. B. Blackrazor

"Palladium games may not be the Gold Standard of incoherent game design (I'd have to give that award to 2nd edition AD&D or White Wolf's various World of Darkness games), but it's pretty close. Now, Palladium has been around since 1981, but my own experience didn't start till 1985 or so with the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the 1987 Revised Heroes Unlimited. Seeing as how the rules for HU are pretty much the same that continue to this day (with the addition of robotic hand-to-hand combat which was introduced with the Robotech RPG circa 1986), I'm going to speak about Palladium's multi-verse games the way I know them...i.e. from 1986 till today. Most people who play Palladium will tell you the system really hasn't changed much at all (the last major system change I saw was modern firearms between the original TMNT and revised edition, i.e. getting rid of W.P. proficiency tables and increasing the chance to hit with a gun to 8). Everything else has been minor tweaks here and there." 4 out of 5 http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com.au/2009/10/old-school-new-school-or-alternative.html

No Hulk - J. B. Blackrazor

"Okay, so Superworld can’t really duplicate the Emerald Goliath…well, not anyway I can find that models the comic book character. See, SW is a pretty darn good, but it still has a modicum of balance…and a bit of realism…that, while I like it, manages to stick itself in the eye. Regarding the Hulk we have two issues that torpedo the Jolly Green Giant…one technical and one practical. The technical one is the real heartbreaker: boosting a character’s Super Strength or Super Size (remember, this is a Chaosium/BRP game so we have that nice little 7th attribute: Size) is limited by a character’s initial ROLLED attributes." 4 out of 5 http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com.au/2010/07/no-hulk.html

Who DOESN'T want to play a Stage Magician? - J. B. Blackrazor

"The Cape is a friggin' stage magician...not in the Criss Angel/Mind Freak sense, but in the straight-up Palladium Heroes Unlimited sense. Contortionist, flash powder, fancy clothing gimmicks, knife catching, etc. It's all there. Which is great, of course. I've written before about my love for Heroes Unlimited, specifically for its way of doing gritty, street-level superhero action in an "old-school" (read: "wargaming" as opposed to "narrative driven") fashion. The stage magician is one of the "power types" (read: "class") of superheroes available to the HU player. It is a class that is almost NEVER taken. At least, the one time I ever saw someone want to play a stage magician, it was my brother who just trying to be a funny asshole in an attempt to "ruin" (read: "make comedic") the game for Yours Truly." 4 out of 5 http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/who-doesnt-want-to-play-stage-magician.html

I Blame Captain America - J. B. Blackrazor

"One thing I absolutely love about Heroes Unlimited (sorry, folks...just gotta' keep talking about this) is it's three tier system for physical strength. In HU, there are three distinct levels of "strength" a character can possess: human, superhuman, and supernatural." 4 out of 5 http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/i-blame-captain-america.html

And Now for the Bile - J. B. Blackrazor

"And then I opened up the book to page one. Well, not really "page one" of the book...page 15 of the Revised Second Edition if you want to be absolutely precise, which is the first page to begin describing the game mechanics, specifically character creation. With eight attributes and their specific (or rather, off-the-cuff) bonuses. Like Physical Beauty and its "bonus to charm or impress" a system never described in this (or any!) Palladium book." 4 out of 5 http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com.au/search/label/hu

Strength Doctrines - J. B. Blackrazor

"But I don't want to talk about HU's failings...I want to talk about its strengths. - granular superhero action from street level all the way up to Bronze Age Thor with minimal effort (i.e. Champions or GURPS could do it with hours of prep, sure...I don't want to do that work; not my idea of "fun"). - in-game experience having a measurable impact on character effectiveness without affecting the actual power level of super characters. - emphasis, not on combat, but on performing heroic activities (linked to reward system, i.e. influencing character behavior). - a fearless approach to superhero archetypes including distinct mechanics for handling physical superpowers versus psionics versus magical abilities versus robotics versus special training. - and, of course, the three-tier strength system that, with minimal tweaking, can model most anything in the comics or live action film (television cartoon? no...go get Cartoon Action Hour if you want the Superfriends or something). - a combat system that actually feels a bit like the slow-motion, frame-by-frame of the comic action sequence." 4 out of 5 http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/strength-doctrines.html

The Need to Achieve - J. B. Blackrazor

"But as I said, we ran long term marvel campaigns, using recurring characters over a series of different adventures and had a great time doing it. I don’t think ANY of the characters ever “achieved” anything as far as advancement goes…the rate of improvement is just glacially slow, especially if your characters are already high on the food chain of superheroes. But achievement wasn’t the point…the POINT was to run a campaign of superheroes in a world filled with the same whimsy and weirdness as your average Marvel or DC comic title (we didn’t actually use the Marvel characters, preferring to create our own villains/heroes…the X-Men might have been present in our universe, but they were “off-screen” the entire time). And we accomplished that with flying colors, facing super-villain teams and angry deities and voodoo magic and cyborgs that looked like Robocop but carried an attitude like the Terminator. We had pointy-eared aliens in fishnet stockings and Wolverine-wannabes and sentient carrots and rocks (all thanks to the Marvel Ultimate Powers book). There was some drama and romance and lots of unrelenting ass-kicking with plenty of stuns and slams and people getting punched through walls and getting knocked several city blocks back." 4 out of 5 http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/the-need-to-achieve.html

OK So Why Heroes Unlimited? - J. B. Blackrazor

"However, what I have found over the last several years is that Heroes Unlimited does one thing better than any of the others…hell, it does something I’ve yet to see emulated in ANY other superhero game. It does gritty, street level superheroes better than anyone else. When I say gritty, I’m not just meaning “dark and dirty,” I mean “granulated.”" 4 out of 5 http://bxblackrazor.blogspot.com.au/2009/10/ok-so-why-heroes-unlimited.html

Queen of the Black Coast 1 Conan Joins the Pirates - Robert E. Howard

Part of an audio serial. 5 out of 5 http://www.archive.org/download/conan_queenoftheblackcoast_pc_librivox/queenoftheblackcoast_1_howard_64kb.mp3

DC Adventures Universe Podcast! - Steve Kenson and Aaron Sullivan

"Mutants and Masterminds designer Steve Kenson and author Aaron Sullivan join me to talk about the fourth and final book in the DC Adventures Role-Playing game series: Universe! Join us to find out more of what’s in the book, how the series came together, and more" 4.5 out of 5 http://www.vigilancepress.com/uncategorized/dc-adventures-universe-podcast

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How To make Your FATE Games Awesome - Leonard Balsera

An half hour or so video interview. 4 out of 5

Interview with author of Nova Praxis SoF - Mike McConnell

"You’ve written Strands of Fate, Strands of Power, and soon we’ll see your new Strands setting, Nova Praxis. How does this hard sci-fi setting differ from other futuristic settings? To summarize it, Nova Praxis is a post-singularity sci-fi setting that explores transhumanism and post-scarcity societies against a backdrop of action, adventure, conspiracy and intrigue. There have been some games that have touched on some of those elements before, but I think Nova Praxis has a few things going for it that make it rather unique. The first is the dedication to making the setting believable. I describe it as a hard sci-fi setting with optimistic projections of technological advancement. The setting owes a lot to authors like Richard Morgan, but just as much to folks like Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis." 4.5 out of 5 http://stuffershack.com/interview-with-mike-mcconnell-author-of-nova-praxis-a-sci-fi-fate-setting/

C 299792 kms - Derek Van Gorder and Otto Stockmeier

A starship mutiny short film. 3 out of 5

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spree 1 - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

"Part of her cursed Royce Gallagher for tying the mattress onto the roof with only one bungee cord. A trucker had helped her pull another bungee across the top somewhere near Salt Lake when he saw her standing on the van’s bumper and shoving." 3.5 out of 5 http://www.wmgpublishinginc.com/2013/04/23/novel-tuesday-spree-1/#more-2492

Space Opera: Silence Falls - Jacob Poss

In which Paragons of Shadow Companies and Frogmen Super Agents are created to kick bad guys in the bottom. 4 out of 5

Play On Target Podcast Special Episode with - Steve Russell

"Welcome to the first special episode of the Play On Target podcast (PLOT for short). In this episode we sit down with our very first interviewee – the CEO of Rite Publishing, Steven Russell. We talk with Steve about Rite Publishing’s latest project (Lords of Gossamer and Shadow), the trials and tribulations (and joys and sorrows) of running a small RPG publishing company, best practices in the RPG industry, some companies that do it right, some designers that do it right, and a whole lot of other stuff. Want to add something to the conversation? Let us know in the comments or start a discussion on RPG Geek." 4.5 out of 5 http://www.playontarget.com/special-episode-interview-with-steve-russell/

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Indie+ Fiasco Podcaster Special - Mark Diaz Truman

A game of snakes and losers. 4.5 out of 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiqVrUKnO1U&feature=c4-feed-lik

Monday, April 22, 2013

Designing The Future Sci-Fi RPG Design Panel Gamenight - Richard Rogers

Round-robin with Filamena Young, Chris Tregenza, Ryan Macklin and Jared Sorensen about science fiction RPGs and what to do in them. 4 out of 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6WAW8Md3yw&feature=c4-feed-lik

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Interview with VSCA Publishing - Brad Murray

"MT: Tell us about Diaspora. BM: Diaspora is a hard science fiction game modeled on old school Traveller, but using the more liberal narrative tools in the FATE system. It is not designed to deliver play within a specific setting but rather delivers setting implicitly through the rules and through the setting creation system that brings character and setting development together in one creative session that is plenty fun all by itself. The conflict subsystems are divided into multiple modules specifically crafted to deliver exactly the kind of experience we want for each type of conflict. In abandoning the idea of unified mechanism (though it is all FATE at the core) we also find that each module is playable as a wargame on it's own, entirely absent any role playing context. MT: What sets Diaspora apart from other hard science fiction games? BM: Diaspora targets the toolkit gamer that wants maximum creative control over the subject of the game while still having the guidance and structure of a proven system. This was the reason Traveller resonated for us in 1978 and nothing has really managed to improve upon it for us since. So we did it ourselves." 4.5 out of 5 http://www.examiner.com/article/interview-with-brad-murray-of-vsca-publishing

Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls Wasteland 2 and much more: An interview with - Liz Danforth

"obskures.de: What was your starting or entry point into the hobby industry? Liz DanforthLiz Danforth: I have to look back to being a game-player first and foremost, from my childhood. The family played games together — backgammon, bridge, cribbage, board games, dice games like Yahtzee, and I segued naturally to hobby games like Risk, Regatta, and Diplomacy once I learned such things existed (which happened in my early college years). That group of gamers included Ken St Andre, Bear Peters, Ugly John and Rob Carver, and Steve McAllister — all names you’ll recognize as associated with Tunnels & Trolls. I started playing T&T with 2nd Edition, and did sketches of characters and scenes while playing. Seeing those, Ken recommended my work to Rick Loomis at Flying Buffalo, and everything else followed from there." 4.5 out of 5 http://obskures.de/2013/deluxe-tunnels-trolls-wasteland-2-and-much-more-an-interview-with-liz-danforth/

Saturday, April 20, 2013


"Norvell W. Page was a word machine, writing hundreds of thousands of words a year for the Pulps, especially for The Spider (under the house name of Grant Stockbridge), a weird hero pulp featuring a freakish avenger who terrorized criminals. Page also wrote for the Weird Menace pulps, a kind of 20th Century Grand Guignol style that featured supernatural-appearing stories with flimsy natural explanations at the end. These far-fetched tales required an almost hysterical style of writing. These experiences would come in handy when Page came to pen his novels of Wan Tengri, known to the Western world as Prester John." 4 out of 5 http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2013/04/norvell-w-page-wan-tengri-prester-john/

Friday, April 19, 2013

Castles and Crusades Quick Start Rules - Dave Chenault and Mac Golden

Basic character creation info for a D&D simplified clone. These are quite well done, some basic spells and equipment are included too. 4 out of 5 http://www.trolllord.com/downloads/pdfs/tlg2010quickstartpdf.pdf

The Wizard Finds His Path: An Interview with - Richard Lee Byers

"Since December, I’ve had three novels come out. I’ll impose on everyone’s patience by plugging all three. Blind God’s Bluff (Night Shade Books) is an urban fantasy novel about a small-time gambler who lands in a poker tournament for supernatural creatures. He soon discovers it’s a game played both at and away from the table, and magic and murder are standard tactics. Prophet of the Dead (Wizards of the Coast) is my new Forgotten Realms sword-and-sorcery novel featuring my mercenary company the Brotherhood of the Griffon. Pathfinder Tales: Called to Darkness (Paizo) is another heroic fantasy and my first set in the Pathfinder universe. It’s a homage of sorts to Edgar Rice Burroughs." 4 out of 5 http://seanhtaylor.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/the-wizard-finds-his-path-interview.html

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pickman's Model

A version of the Loveecraft story, by Kim Holm. 4 out of 5 http://archive.org/details/PickmansModel

INTERVIEW: Team Up on Kickstarter! - Greg Pak and Jonathan Coulton

"Steve: Code Monkey Save World sees you adapting Jonathan Coulton’s music into an original graphic novel. How did you first become aware of Jonathan? And how did this project get started? Greg Pak: Jonathan and I went to college together, so I’ve known about his musical genius for decades. And a few years ago, I became aware of his amazing “Thing a Week” project, for which he wrote a song every week and released it on the internet for a year. So I bought all of Jonathan’s music a couple of years ago and have been listening to these songs time and time again on my iPhone. And at a certain point I realized all of these songs featured fantastic characters — monsters and villains particularly. I got on the Twitter and joked with Jonathan about making a super-villain team-up comic book starring his characters. And he tweeted back, “DO IT.”" 4.5 out of 5 http://comicsbeat.com/interview-greg-pak-and-jonathan-coulton-team-up-for-code-monkey-save-world/

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Story Child - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Story Child - Kristine Kathryn Rusch Gone, less sick. 3.5 out of 5 http://kriswrites.com/2013/04/15/free-fiction-monday-story-child/

Chum 17 - Filamena Young

"A week ago, I had the great pleasure to sit down and chat with Filamena of Machine Age Productions about their upcoming game, Apotheosis Drive X. This game sounds like it’s filled with awesome. Not that watered down awesome-sauce, but pure, unadulterated, awesome. Enjoy the episode." 4.5 out of 5 http://sharkbonegames.com/sharkbonecast/2013/04/chum-17/

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fascinated Neutrality: An Interview with - Alastair Reynolds

"By the time I had begun serious work on Revelation Space, I'd had a gut’s full of that brand of science fiction which is basically just nineteen fifties mid-America transplanted into the future. That didn’t reflect the world I was living in, let alone the likely texture of the twenty-fifth century or whenever. But equally, I just thought that all these foreign-sounding names (to me, I hasten to add — I fully understand how offensive and stupid this will sound) just looked a lot cooler and more interesting on the page than yet another load of Anglo-Saxon or Germanic surnames, which is about all that a certain strain of science fiction seems capable of — even now. In 1991, too, I moved to another country and immediately started working in a large international organization, at which point my cultural horizons were broadened enormously, a process that I hope never really stopped." 4.5 out of 5 http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?id=1562&fulltext=1

BAMF! Podcast ICONS Actual Play: Looking Glass Part 2 - Mike Lafferty

Where things get a bit Western showdown, virtual reality style. And no-one can do Australian accents. 4 out of 5 http://mikelaff.podbean.com/mf/web/t3rt8z/part2_looking_glass.mp3

Arcanum - 3

The White Rabbit has the Irishman, without Neil Gaiman honey. 3.5 out of 5 http://thrillbent.com/comics/arcanum/#18

Clarke’s Law Harry Potter and ARCANUM - John Rogers

"The structure of Arcanum is derived from my instinctive love of that paradox. There are multiple alien invasion styles to choose from, of course. To emphasize the horror aspects, I’m patterning our magic invasion on the slow-burn secret invasions of UFO or The Invaders or the criminally short-lived Threshold. If anything even vaguely resembling alien tech were discovered, you’d see the US government immediately put two programs in play: 1.) a Manhattan project to unravel the broken physics of said tech and 2.) a secret military/intelligence agency to keep tabs on it. Just substitute “magic” into those sentences and you have Arcanum." 3.5 out of 5 http://thrillbent.com/blog/clarkes-law-harry-potter-and-arcanum/

BAMF! Podcast ICONS Actual Play: Looking Glass Part 1 - Mike Lafferty

An ICONS playtest, doing the saving the small American town from super science schtick. 4 out of 5 http://mikelaff.podbean.com/mf/web/a3sj8n/through_the_looking_glass_part1.mp3

Monday, April 15, 2013

FATE Core Cheat Sheet - Jens Alfke

A cool 3 page GM screen style assistant. 5 out of 5 https://www.dropbox.com/s/j23tjs08tjzlcm8/Fate%20Core%20Cheat%20Sheets.pdf

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hole In the Wall - Alison Tyler

Clerk surprise. 3.5 out of 5 http://eroticaforall.co.uk/free-erotic-reads/free-read-hole-in-the-wall-by-alison-tyler/#

The Roving Eye Interviews - Anthony Neil Smith

" What made you chose crime fiction? I remember finding a Hardy Boys book where the boys were stuck in an airplane, headed for impact with the ocean, and I wanted to know what happened to them. That sense of danger and fear drew me in. And I ended up reading a lot of Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators, and then moved on to the classic adult P.I. books. There were Mike Shayne novels on my grandpa's bookshelf next to his westerns. I've been hooked on them ever since. The idea of an investigator just appeals to me. They figure out how someone got killed. All day long." 3.5 out of 5 http://imtherovingeye.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/the-roving-eye-interviews-anthony-neil.html

SFFWRTCHT: A Chat With Author of Impulse and Jumper - Steven Gould

"SFFWRTCHT: When did you decide to become a storyteller and how did you get your start? SG: When I was nineteen, I observed a Turkey City Writer’s workshop with Harlan Ellison, Keith Laumer, Howard Waldrop, Bruce Sterling. I started my first story right then, on the back of a Con Program. It got me a personal rejection from Ben Bova at Analog. SFFWRTCHT: How’d you learn craft? Trial and error? Formal study? Workshops? SG: Some peer level workshops later but trial and not too much error first. Sold my second story to Analog." 4 out of 5 http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/04/sffwrtcht-a-chat-with-steven-gould-author-of-impulse-and-jumper/

Finished - Robert Reed

Finished - Robert Reed
Just a robogigolo. 4 out of 5 http://escapepod.org/2013/03/07/ep386-finished/

101 Weird Writers: Laird Barron - Timothy Jarvis

"Laird Barron (1970 – ) is an American writer, much of whose critically acclaimed work falls within the horror, noir, and dark fantasy genres. In his fiction, the influence of Lovecraft and Lucius Shepard has been subsumed by his own themes and concerns, creating such potent and original modern takes on the weird tale as “The Forest” (2006), reprinted as part of The Weird. Barron spent his early years in Alaska, which has been an influence on his fiction. He moved to Washington in 1994 where he became a certified strength trainer and earned a third degree brown belt in Professor Bradley J. Steiner’s Jen Do Tao system. He has won multiple Shirley Jackson awards for his fiction. His latest collection, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, was published earlier this month by Night Shade Books. 101 Weird Writers is delighted to present this appreciation of Barron and “The Forest,” written by our newest contributor, Timothy Jarvis." 4 out of 5 http://weirdfictionreview.com/2013/04/101-weird-writers-laird-barron/

I was a secret even to myself - John Le Carre

"The merit of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, then – or its offence, depending where you stood – was not that it was authentic, but that it was credible. The bad dream turned out to be one that a lot of people in the world were sharing, since it asked the same old question that we are asking ourselves 50 years later: how far can we go in the rightful defence of our western values, without abandoning them along the way? My fictional chief of the British Service – I called him Control – had no doubt of the answer:" 3.5 out of 5 http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/apr/12/john-le-carre-spy-anniversary?CMP=twt_gu

Invulnerable Q&A Log - Joshua Kubli

"[19:32] <+jkubli> My name is Joshua Kubli, and I'm the head enchilada of Imperfekt Gammes ((Link: http://www.imperfekt-industrees.com)www.imperfekt-industrees.com). We publish the Invulnerable RPG, a super hero roleplaying game. [19:32] <+jkubli> It is currently available at DriveThruRPG.com, Indie Press Revolution, Paizo, and other sites, and I am running a Kickstarter for a new edition. [19:33] <+jkubli> Invulnerable features versatile powers, fairly gritty combat (with optional rules for lighter four-color fare), a Motivation system that explores morality and moral conflict, and has a complete, built-in setting." 4 out of 5 http://gmshoe.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/joshua-kubli-invulnerable-q-log.html

Meet a Geek: Fantastic-Story Collector - Gardner Dozois

"Isaac Asimov was arguably, for a time, the most influential science-fiction author in America—and under your editorship, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine was arguably the most influential sf magazine. In the new media era, do you think any one entity will ever again have the same singular impact on the field that either Asimov or Asimov’s did? When I first started editing a Year’s Best volume, in the ‘70s, the job was pretty straightforward—there were three or four monthly magazines to read and a few original anthologies from trade publishers every year. Now, it seems like there’s a new electronic magazine coming along every five minutes, to say nothing of anthologies from small-press publishers, anthologies from really small-presses, podcast anthologies, Kickstarter anthologies ... Not only has this made my job more difficult, it’s also diffused the genre. Used to be, everybody read everthing; now, there are so many different markets in so many different mediums, that I don’t think one particular market is ever going to be able to be that dominant again. 3 out of 5 http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/arts-and-culture/cover-story/Meet-a-Geek-Gardner-Dozois-Fantastic-Story-Collector-202217911.html

Friday, April 12, 2013

BAMF Goes Cosmic - Mike Lafferty

"Steve Kenson and Chris McGlothlin of Green Ronin fame join Walt Robillard, Ade Smith and yours truly to talk about the Cosmic Supers sub-genre in comics and RPGs. Chris and Steve give us some more info about the forthcoming Cosmic Handbook for Mutants and Masterminds. We also get updates on Great Powers and Stark City for ICONS and the fourth DC Adventures book. Mr Kenson also provides some useful GM advice for running a Cosmic Supers game." 4 out of 5 http://mikelaff.podbean.com/2013/04/11/bamf-goes-cosmic/

Thursday, April 11, 2013

MIND MELD: The Future of Humans and AI - Kristine Centorcelli

Recently, a group of futurists predicted that artificial intelligence is a deadlier threat to humanity than any sort of natural disaster, nuclear war, or large objects falling from the sky. In an article by Ross Anderson at AeonMagazine.com, David Dewey, a research fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute says, concerning the human brain and probability “If you had a machine that was designed specifically to make inferences about the world, instead of a machine like the human brain, you could make discoveries like that much faster.” He stated that “An AI might want to do certain things with matter in order to achieve a goal, things like building giant computers, or other large-scale engineering projects. Those things might involve intermediary steps, like tearing apart the Earth to make huge solar panels.” He also talked about how programming an AI with empathy wouldn’t be easy, that the steps it might take to “maximize human happiness”, for example, are not things that we might consider acceptable, but to an AI would seem exceedingly efficient. Of course, this leads into much more complex discussion, and the possibilities with AI are vast and varied. We asked this week’s panelists… Q: What is your take on the future of humans and AI? Is it positive, negative, both? 4 out of 5 http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/04/mind-meld-the-future-of-humans-and-ai/

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An Interview With Authors of Rapture of the Nerds - Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow

"PC: How did the collaboration come about? CS: In stages. At first, Cory and I were chatting in email; one of us raised the idea of writing a story together -- it's quite common for SF authors to do this sort of thing for shits and giggles. So I rummaged in the dumpster of dead projects and coughed up a hairball of around 1000 words' length; the opening of a story I hadn't been able to continue writing. Cory broke new ground, adding to it, then bounced it back at me. We played ping-pong with it via email until it ran to 20,000 words, then (to our surprise) sold it to Scifi.com, at that time the highest-paying short fiction market in our field. That story was "Jury Service", the first quarter of "Rapture of the Nerds". A couple of years later we were contacted by Lou Anders, who was then editing the magazine Argosy. He'd read "Jury Service" and wanted to commission us to write a sequel ("Appeals Court"), which he eventually published back-to-back with its predecessor in a limited-edition chapbook. And then Tom Doherty, CEO of Tor, our publisher, heard about these collaborations. And he told his editors, "buy the Doctorow/Stross novel!" -- even though no such novel really existed, and we were both working on other projects. For a few years we were both busy doing other things; once a year we'd touch base. But then two things happened. First, Locus magazine ran a satirical April Fool's news piece about us ("Stross and Doctorow hired to write authorized sequel to Atlas Shrugged"), and then it turned out we both had a six month gap in our schedules. So we went back to work and wrote the second, larger, half of what by now had grown into a novel, one 1000 word chunk at a time." 4.5 out of 5 http://curiosityofasocialmisfit.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/an-interview-with-charles-stross-and.html

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

FATE Points 6 - Brian England

Tonight on Fate Points We have Brian Engard talking about his Work with Fate Core and Fate in general. He did Wild Blue for Fate Core, as well as working on Bulldogs and the like. 4 out of 5

FATE CORE: Stormcallers - Jacob Poss

In which rejected magic supersoldiers try and restrain themselves from Pyromania. 4.5 out of 5

Random Wizard Interview - David Cook

"DZC: Regarding licenses, frankly it was a couple of different things going on there. First, in some ways TSR was trying to get legitimacy with Hollywood. RPGs weren't "real" entertainment the way movies and TV was. So I think part of the going after licenses was a way to show that gaming was significant -- that it could bring revenue to the table. The problem was that we did some scattershot license deals -- 2001 in particular. Conan and Indiana Jones made sense in a way -- Conan played to our market and Indiana Jones was seen as a way to break into a more mainstream fantasy (pulp) and get us out of the "barbarians and elves" ghetto. 2010 was more of a stretch and, frankly, we got burned by the movie. Of all of them, Jeff's Marvel game was the one that made the most sense and was the most successful. It played to a different but same market -- Marvel was strong and had a fair crossover with out core. Plus, Jeff did a really good easy-to-access game. The other part, though, was that the licenses appealed to us as designers. I lobbied to do Conan, just as Jeff set himself to be the guy to do Marvel (nobody knew the comics better than him). Sure we wanted to succeed with these, but we also wanted to make them because we were fanboys at heart. Finally, the licenses were another part of TSR's strategy to expand us to be more mass market. Conan, Marvel, Indiana Jones all had far bigger audiences than us and so the though was "hey we need to tap into those groups." Of course, those were movie audiences so there wasn't necessarily the crossover we hoped." 4 out of 5 http://randomwizard.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/david-zeb-cook-interview.html

Monday, April 08, 2013

Camelot Trigger One Shot - Ron Frazier

Where big robots fall, on any planet. 3.5 out of 5

Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Eighth Year - Denton Loving

In which houses get floaty. 3 out of 5 http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/environment-nature/the-eighth-year/

Friday, April 05, 2013

Fate Points Episode 5: Apotheosis Drive X - David Hill

Or giant drama robots without worrying about the hit points on your left elbow joint. 3.5 out of 5

Insufferable - 14

Breaking The Choice's dose and being late. 4 out of 5 http://thrillbent.com/comics/insufferable/insufferable-vol1-issue-14/#23

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Insufferable - 13

Finding a supervillain publicity target. 3.5 out of 5 http://thrillbent.com/comics/insufferable/insufferable-vol1-issue-13/#22

Insufferable - 12

Getting whacked by some skellie-men. 3.5 out of 5 http://thrillbent.com/comics/insufferable/insufferable-vol1-issue-12/#11

Insufferable - 10

Supervillains tell me more than dad does. 4 out of 5 http://thrillbent.com/comics/insufferable/insufferable-vol1-issue-10/#8

Insufferable - 11

Finding dad, avoiding PR. 4 out of 5 http://thrillbent.com/comics/insufferable/insufferable-vol1-issue-11/#4