Although it's commonplace nowadays to assume that J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings was the primary source of inspiration for Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax when they created the world's first tabletop roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons, a careful examination of the game suggests otherwise... James Maliszewski on The Books That Founded D&D. Some disagreement.
Elona Shooter - a fantastic castle-defence-shooter-RPG in Flash. Warning: insanely hard.
Lovecraft 101: Get To Know The Master of Scifi-Horror. For more detailed insights into each of Lovecraft's tales in publication order you might want to follow the H.P.Lovecraft Literary Podcast. For another story-by-story guide to Lovecraft you might want to check out Kenneth Hite's Tour De Lovecraft (also available in expanded form as a book). China Mieville on Lovecraft and racism and a lecture at Treadwells by Archaeologist James Holloway which delves deep into Lovecraft and identity. The making of the Call of Cthulhu RPG. The making of Cthulhu (Hipsters! Ego! Madness!). Happy Halloween with H.P. Lovecraft!
Friday Flash Fun: Frontier is an adventure RPG with an economic bent, very similar to Caravaneer. You travel from town to town dealing in the goods available in each town. [more inside]
The Play-Generated Map and Document Archive: finally providing a place to put all those odd doodles, detailed maps, and character sketches that come out of your weekly gaming sessions. [more inside]
In a similar vein to Progress Quest, but (slightly) more interactive, is... Linear RPG. [more inside]
The New York Times profiles Jack Vance (but fails to mention Vancian Magic. (Curse you Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition!)
Editor Marty Halpern looks back at the career of George Alec Effinger (part 1, part 2, part 3), a prolific author best known for his work set in the Budayeen, a walled city in a future Islamic state, teeming with gangsters, hustlers and transsexual prostitutes, many of them habitual users of plug in personality modules. The noirish tone and exotic technology of the Marîd Audran books (When Gravity Fails, A Fire In The Sun, The Exile Kiss) made Effinger one of the leading lights in the cyberpunk movie, and spawned a videogame - a rare attempt at a graphical adventure from Infocom - and an RPG setting. Sadly Effinger faded from prominence after that, and he suffered from a number of health and financial setbacks before passing away in 2002. His work has had somewhat of a resurgence in popularity of late, with the Marîd Audran books coming back into print in 2007, a long with a collection containing The Wolves of Memory, Effinger's personal favourite amongst his novels.
“I can't make anyone Jewish with a called shot.” “I cannot start the game pregnant.” “My medical supply bag will contain more than just a bone-saw and a bottle of whiskey.” “My halfling cannot take the flaw, 'Obsession: Ring of Invisibility.'” “Even if he was a paragon of humanity in his alternate dimension, Good Hitler is not an appropriate superhero concept.” “No more Crazy Ivans while I'm driving the AT-AT.” “I do not have to check before each adventure that my fellow adventurers are not doppelgangers, Cylons or pod people.” “'Everybody Wang Chung tonight' is not an acceptable use of the Mass Suggestion spell.” 1250 things Mr. Welch can no longer do during an RPG. (SLLJ)
Encounter Critical is the awesomest Fantasy/Sci-Fi RPG to come out of an alternate 1979. Full list of game-related resources here (Yahoo group, reg req'd).
A man whose bravery and fame is matched only by his commitment to truth, the great Baron Münchhausen has permeated all artistic mediums of any worth: books (on-line and off), films (old and new), cartoons (french, english), an animated short film, an online graphic novel, even a game of role-playing -- if you are so despicable a person as to, for no other reason than the amusement of yourself and your fellows, slander the Baron's name with lies of your own invention. Though a similarly-named syndrome would falsely imply otherwise, he is an entirely honest man who exaggerates as little as he boasts, and as to the latter I have assurances from no less a personage than the Baron himself that his humility is without equal in the 7 earth continents, and 2 out of 3 of the moon's.
Flash Friday RPG Fun: Hands of War. Set in a kingdom in the midst of a civil war, choose the factions you support while re-assembling the Heartstone.
Interview with Jon Schindehette, senior art director at Wizards of the Coast for Dungeons and Dragons. See more fantasy art at his blog, ArtOrder.
Savage 2 is an innovative mix of first-person shooter, third-person action rpg, and real-time strategy. Teams consisting of 18 different classes, each with unique abilities, are divided in squads led by an officer, and under the direction of a single commander with a top down view of the action. Players must help their commander capture resources, advance their front line, and eventually destroy the enemy’s stronghold while accumulating experience and improving their abilities. Did I mention as of December 9th, it has become free to play? [more inside]
I do not want to spend too much time beating a dead war-horse, but your average D&D game consists of a group of white players acting out how their white characters encounter and destroy orcs and goblins, who are, as a race evil, uncivilized, and dark-skinned. To quote Steve Sumner’s essay again, “Unless played very carefully, Dungeons & Dragons could easily become a proxy race war, with your group filling the shoes of the noble white power crusaders seeking to extinguish any orc war bands or goblin villages they happened across.” I would argue with Sumner’s use of the phrase “could become,” and say that unless played very carefully, D&D usually becomes a proxy race war. Any adventurer knows that if you see an orc, you kill it. You don’t talk to it, you don’t ask what it’s doing there - you kill it, since it’s life is worth less than the treasure it carries and the experience points you’ll get from the kill. If filmed, your average D&D campaign would look something like Birth of a Nation set in Greyhawk.- Race in Dungeons & Dragons by Chris van Dyke, a powerpoint talk given at Nerd Nite. Via Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog where there's a smart discussion going on about the essay.
Annotated playthrough of Torin's Passage. There are 12 videos so far. See also: Ways to die in the game, including the easter egg message you got if you made a hilarious but stupid choice at the end.
Mother 3 fan translation completed. Earthbound (known as Mother 2 in Japan) is one of the most highly regarded RPGs for the Super Nintendo. The game suffered disappointing sales in America, but has since gained the status of a cult classic. A sequel, Mother 3, was released for the Game Boy Advance, but it has never been officially translated into English. After a long development, a fan translation patch has just been released. Trailer. [more inside]
The Way is a 2D Japanese-style rpg you would do well to play if you are interested in the genre. It invests in characters, keeps you wanting to see what happens next and has one on one duels that are usually a part of the storyline. It's all fun and games until (your) blood gets spilt on the screen. First stop: Episode 1. [more inside]
Most gamers have never heard of Braunstein. Sad but true. In the hierarchy of self-awareness you’ll find the circle of gamers who know what D&D is (a very, very large circle), then inside of that is the circle of gamers who know what Greyhawk is (large but smaller), and inside that the circle who knows what Blackmoor is (smaller still). And then in the very center, vanishingly small, are the people who’ve heard of Braunstein. Which is a pity, because Braunstein is the granddaddy of them all.Braunstein: the Roots of Roleplaying Games by Ben Robbins. The first role-playing game was run by soldier David Wesely in 1967, his group including none other than D&D co-creator Dave Arneson. This past GenCon Braunstein was revived! Here's what the players had to say. Handouts from an earlier Braunstein revival. David Wesely's post-game comments. [via Rob McDougall] [more inside]
Two Current correspondents are the first American journalists to venture into Mogadishu, Somalia after the infamous 1993 incident when two U.S. military Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by Somali militia. They film one of city street gun markets to show how easy it is to buy an AK-47, a machine gun or even RPG launcher. Their full-length video report Mogadishu Madness reveals the country under the self-proclaimed government of the Islamic Court Union, which was later overthrown with the help of the United Sates.
Using OmniFocus to manage a 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons character sheet. Nerds. Dungeons and Dragons. Obsessive overuse of Mac software.
If geeks talked about cookbooks the way they talk about RPG books, the results would not be pretty.
Monster's Den: Book of Dread might be the best free dungeon crawl RPG on the web. If it ain't, it's damned close. [more inside]
Delta Green - be part of the conspiracy. The latest sourcebook for Delta Green, the cult modern day Call of Cthulhu setting, is being financed via fundable. If the target for funding is not met it’s release will be delayed... if it is released at all. A niche setting within a niche system in a hobby in decline, Delta Green is still intensely well loved by those who know about it, making them a good target for the ransom model. Will thinking outside the usual publishing business models save pen and paper RPGs?
Magical dragon-faeries? Flaxen-hair'd elflords? Dank scary dungeons, reminiscent of Grandpa's basement? Kids' stuff. Whether you're a Camwhore, Emo Kid, or Troll, Forumwarz everything relevant about the Internet (i.e., Forums and IM) distilled down to a browser-based RPG. Buy warez from shady Russian dealers, upgrade your hacking/whining skills, pwn total strangers by crashing their web sites, and join or fight a shadowy government conspiracy. You have nothing to lose but your dignity.
One Thousand Monkeys, One Thousand Typewriters is the largest online source of free role playing and story games. With so many choices, you may want to look at the winners of the 2006 Game Chef contest, with its interesting rules: Crime and Punishment, the RPG about being a writer for a crime procedural TV show; Liquid Crystal, about a robot with no memory; Time Traitor with its mysterious Factors; and the haunted house story Merryweather. [more inside]
Protector. ~Flash Friday~ Protector takes the mechanics of tower defense games, and adds an RPG element to it. Specialize, level up, and say goodbye to your free time. previously
Looking for something unique to bring to your next gaming session? Star-spawn will cringe in fear when they see you have shown up to battle bearing these long-lost relics of R'lyeh. The dwarves have toiled long in the mines and quarries of Khaz Modan, and even crafted the bones and teeth of great ancient beasts to create deadly weapons for your gaming arsenal. Perhaps most impressive and prized of all these unique equipages is this rare trophy of the cold and frozen north. [more inside]
DM of the Rings (comic). The Lord of the Rings if it were a Dungeons and Dragons game. [more inside]
Like Progress Quest but looking for something you can get a little more involved with? Hours of semi-interactive entertainment are now available! Save, load, and undo with the roguelike game Save Scummer. Level up with Statbuilder, where you must click to win. And try my personal favorite, NPC Quest, which gives you all the excitement of RPG inventory management while automating the boring battles and exploration. (NPC Quest is near the bottom; scroll down.)
RULE # 1: In the short term, binary logic [soul equation] is far superior (?) than fuzzy logic [cloning equation].
Cthulhufilter: "Amid the sagging gables of old New England, evil lurks ... and squirms, and scuttles, and purrs." Welcome to the scary world of Pokethulhu, the free RPG where unspeakable horror meets japanese insanity. You can download it here (bonus: art by John Kovalic on the inside). More Cthulhu Cuteness.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Army awarded one of its favored defense contractors, Raytheon, a $70 million contract to develop a new system to combat rocket-propelled grenades, which have killed nearly 40 Americans in Afghanistan and more than 130 in Iraq. Raytheon’s “Quick Kill” solution — which the Army concedes will not be fielded before 2011 at the earliest — won out over Trophy, the Israeli system championed by the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation.
A Feminist Gaming Manifesto. (And part 2 is here.) "So wait, you’re wondering, maybe, why don’t these crazy men-folk just do that? I think the answer is actually pretty straightforward. People who themselves feel marginalized can’t bear the thought that they could be in a position of power wherein they could hurt someone in the same way that they feel hurt. Who out there hasn’t felt terribly marginalized? What happens, then, is there’s this conflation of “you’re doing something that makes me feel excluded or hurt” with “you’re a bad, bad man like those people with the bitch shirts.” You can’t handle that thought, so you try desperately to prove that it’s not the case. Guilt, or fear that you might be guilty, never did anybody any good."
Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt! LIGHTNING BOLT! THE MOVIE. (qt) - the alternate trailer. (and the original in case you lost it)
A Brief History of Game: A nine-part review of the major highlights in rpg history. Other interesting if generally unrelated pieces on the history of gaming, pen & paper or otherwise: "Where Have All the Demons Gone?", discussing the history of Magic the Gathering; A somewhat flippant piece by GameSpy; and some obligatory RPG theory regarding the historical popularity of various styles of RPG.
Urban Dead is a browser-based, grid-mapped multi-player game where you play the survivor or victim of a zombie outbreak in a quarantined city centre. Tired of playing a pseudo-hero in a fantasy Kingdom of Loathing? Play a scientist, soldier, or ordinary civilian in a modern city, and try to avoid being infected. Or skip the "avoid" phase, and just play a zombie.
Legend of the
Red Green Dragon. LOTGD is "a browser based role playing game, based on Seth Able's Legend of the Red Dragon."
Create a character, flirt with Violet the bar wench, flirt with Seth the Bard! Survive through the worst in the forest outside of town! Host your own game!
Create a character, flirt with Violet the bar wench, flirt with Seth the Bard! Survive through the worst in the forest outside of town! Host your own game!
Lexicon: An RPG - The basic idea is that each player takes on the role of a scholar, from before scholarly pursuits became professionalized (or possibly after they ceased to be). You are cranky, opinionated, prejudiced and eccentric. You are also collaborating with a number of your peers -- the other players -- on the construction of an encyclopedia describing some historical period (possibly of a fantastic world).
Ever play Morrowind? Did you realise how obscenely gargantuan the backstory and associated literature is? I'm not much of a roleplay geek, but the sheer amount of work to produce this fictious world is kinda hypnotic. And as for this...
I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome to Fantasy Island! The virtual economy gets more interesting. (More inside)
Don't Forget to Pack the Scimitar (NYT Link): Mainstream media covers Live Action Role Playing in a way that makes us sound only a little like freaks.
Have time travellers really returned to our present to save the eventual savior? Or was it just an elaborate intricate hoax played by total strangers? The answer lies in part 2 of this bizarre real-life tale. I guarantee that you find this an amusing and quite entertaining read. Hollywood, please take notes. All hail Kolin Pope!