RPGs are role-playing games, where components are usually dice and rulebooks, games are typically open ended, and story and playacting often take a large role.

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesIn honor of the 10th anniversary of the game’s fourth edition, GURPS products are 23% off at Steve Jackson Games’ Warehouse 23 online store.

For 25% off Smart Play Games products at DriveThruCards, use coupon code, “SP2014GC“.

To promote the company’s Kickstarter project, Necromancer Games is running one of those Rafflecopter giveaways. The prizes are $400, $200, and $100 worth of product.

GameWire is giving away one or more play mats for Machi Koro.

Every month, Meeple Monthly gives away five copies of a game. This month the game is Fresco (Big Box) from Queen Games. Entering, however, does require answering trivia questions out of the magazine.

A series of Dungeons & Dragons Legend of Drizzt audio short stories is available to download for free.

Hasbro logoHasbro, which recently initiated a program that allows fans to sell 3D-printed My Little Pony designs via Shapeways, is now expanding that program, called SuperFanArt, to three game brands: Dungeons & Dragons, Monopoly, and Scrabble.

Independent artists will have to sign a SuperFanArt (Hasbro) Artist Agreement but can set their own prices.

To be featured in the launch of the new game brands, artists should submit their designs by September 9th.

Gen Con logoIn addition to three major releases at Gen Con, Paizo also pulled in nine ENnie Awards (including Best Publisher), announced a license to Obsidian Entertainment (Fallout: New Vegas) for electronic games based on Pathfinder (starting with a mobile version of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game), and hosted nearly 10,000 Pathfinder Society players.

Pathfinder RPG Advanced Class GuideThose releases, by the way, were:

  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide—featuring ten new character classes, including arcanist, bloodrager, brawler, hunter, investigator, shaman, skald, slayer, swashbuckler, and warpriest.
  • Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles—which launches players on a series of pirate adventures, includes improved rules, and introduces four new character classes.
  • Pathfinder Adventure Path: Iron Gods—a fantasy and technology mash-up, with barbarian, robots, cultists, and crashed spaceships.

Product news aside, Gen Con presented me the opportunity to sit down with Paizo’s publisher, Erik Mona, for a fantastic discussion about growth, diversity, setbacks, and surprises. I invite you to listen. The recording is just under 22 minutes.

Download: Interview-With-Paizos-Eric-Mona-at-Gen-Con-2014.mp3

Gen Con logoCatalyst hit the show this year with new products delivered just-in-time for every category. The highlight was Shadowrun: Crossfire, Catalyst’s new deckbuilding card game that’s also cooperative and progressive (meaning progress can be tracked from game to game). Crossfire should be available at retail in September for $60.

New Shadowrun roleplaying products available at Gen Con included the:

  • Beginners Box ($20)—An introductory product with essential rules, dice, a standard adventure, and a 1-on-1 adventure (GM and single player).
  • Runner’s Toolkit Alphaware ($60)—A campaign setting in a box with handouts, maps, background information, and job book—designed especially as a next step after the Beginners Box.
  • Street Grimoire ($50)—Book of advanced magic.
  • Run & Gun ($50)—An advanced combat book.
  • Stolen Souls ($45)—A campaign sourcebook for Manhattan.

Gen Con also saw the release of the first Shadowrun novel, Fire & Frost ($15). Five more novels will ship in the next 18 months.

More in the roleplaying category, Catalyst had Beyond the Gravastar ($25), a campaign setting for Cosmic Patrol, and the new Valiant Universe RPG ($40), which applies the Cue System from Cosmic Patrol to the superhero genre.

An advance shipment of the Bravest Warriors Encounters card game made it to the show, though it wont be available in general retail until October. A basic two-player set full of inside jokes from the cartoon sells for $13. By combining red and blue boxes, though, the game can accommodate four players.

For BattleTech, Catalyst finally had the Introductory Box Set ($60) back in print. This is the one with new higher-quality plastic.

Following up on Alpha Strike, the simplified faster-playing BattleTech rule-set that the company launched last Gen Con, this year Catalyst had BattleTech Alpha Strike Companion ($40), a supplement that adds some strategic-level options to the game, and a series of four Lance Boxes ($20), which include two new mechs and two previously released mechs (plus Alpha Strike cards) each. Four additional Lance Boxes will be released in September and October.

In the board game category, Catalyst had two new expansions for The Duke, Siege Engines (5 tiles for $8) and City Troops (12 tiles for $13). The tiles in Siege Engines are red and do not go in the bag. Instead, they’re available in a central pool to both players and can be substituted for certain other tiles already on the board.

Last but not least, Catalyst was previewing two new games tied to the Vikings TV show on the History Channel. The first is simply called History Channel Vikings and is a game of exploration, conquest, and resource management. Available for $60 in March (timed to launch with the new season), the game has a constructable map and sees players crewing a longboat as characters from the show.

The second Vikings game is Jarl ($45), which plays exactly like The Duke but includes new pieces made of an imitation stone instead of wood. In fact, though it won’t be advertised as such (license restrictions, I assume), Jarl can be played in combination with The Duke.

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Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.“One dark fantasy game. 80 original visions.”

Above is the premise of SUBSTRATA, and art book put out by UDON Entertainment. While the book isn’t directly RPG related, I found it’s a great source for campaign, world, character, and weapon ideas for any dark fantasy RPG.

Over 80 creators from the world’s top video game studios came together to brainstorm the ultimate dark fantasy RPG. What they came up with is contained in the 240 pages that make up SUBSTRATA. While they may have been fleshing out ideas for a video game, there’s so much amazing work and inspiration in this book for any Dungeon/Game Master to pull ideas from. I found myself lost in the book for quite some time, thumbing through thick, glossy pages and marveling at the amazing artwork within.

SubstrataSUBSTRATA has a pretty heft price tag. It’s $44.99, and what you’re getting is purely an art book. It’s amazingly well made, though, and most RPG players are used to dishing out that kind of money for their books. Is it worth it for everyone? No. Is it worth it for those who are looking for some amazing ideas for their fantasy games? Totally.

I’m blown away by the material in this book, and I’m pretty sure most people will be too.

A copy of SUBSTRATA was provided free for review by UDON Entertainment.


Gen Con 2014—Syrinscape

Gen Con logoI’m really glad I took that appointment with Syrinscape. To be honest, I had dismissed the company as just another producer of ambient-sound tracks. But Syrinscape is much more than that.

While other purveyors of background sounds for tabletop gaming offer fixed tracks meant to be played on loop, Syrinscape’s sounds are generated on the fly with tremendous customization potential. The company offers two players, one for fantasy settings and one for science fiction. The Syrinscape Fantasy Player so far includes about 30 sound sets, each with 5-15 sound elements. For example, the flooded cavern set includes “drip”, “toss a rock in”, “passing waterfall”, “distant wind”, “what was that?”, and ten other components.

With Syrinscape’s players, gamers are not only able to make live adjustments to the balance and intensity of sound elements, they can also combine elements from different sets to fit the unique environments of their games.

Players, which can be downloaded for free, come with two sound sets and run on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Additional sound sets can be purchased for $4 each. Another option is the subscription rate, which at $6.50 per month includes permanent access to all new releases, as well as the entire back catalog.

Syrinscape releases new sound sets about once a month. The company is also working with Paizo to release custom sound sets for the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path, one for each chapter. Several of those are already available and new ones come out every other month.

Syrinscape Screen Capture

File this is the “really cool” department. Joshua Tulberg has created this awesome looking turn timer using an Arduino board. The little thing is pretty customization, and he’s looking for interest to whether or not he should Kickstart them or now.

Here’s a little video of the device, and what it can do.

I can see this being super helpful to those who play with those who are afflicted with Analysis Paralysis.

Second Look—Crimson Blades: Dark Fantasy RPG

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.It wasn’t long ago that I had posted about Crimson Blades, a Dark Fantasy RPG on DriveThruRPG. I’ve read through the book, and was surprised to find a pretty easy-to-play RPG in there.

Crimson Blades is based off OPEN GAME LICENSE Version 1.0a by Wizards of the Coast, so a lot of the rules will seem familiar to players of D&D 3rd Edition and other OPEN GAME LICENSE games. There’s enough in here to set it apart from other games, and the theme is a fairly interesting one. The book is short, but contains everything you need to get up and running in a short amount of time.

CB_Front_covReally, you can’t go wrong if you’re into RPGs and don’t mind spending a whopping $2.50 to try something new.

Crimson Blades is by no means an RPG that can go toe-to-toe with any of the larger RPGs out there, but it’ll get you and a few friends into the swing of things without a lot of time or money needed. It all comes down to how much you like the theme, and if you want to keep things light.

A copy of Crimson Blades was provided free for review.

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesFor a chance to win a $500 (Canadian) game shopping spree, post a photo with a Lion Rampant-distributed game on the company’s Facebook page.

Newbie DM and Gator Games are giving away a Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. Obsidian Portal is giving away five Starter Sets and a Player’s Handbook.

Queen of Savings is giving away Deluxe Super Scrabble from Winning Moves.

Some Amazon deals:

Game Blotter

Game Blotter - A roundup of crimes, legal cases, and when "the law" gets involved with gamesAt a Chessboxing match in Exeter, UK, one referee attacked and knocked-out another with a single blow. The attacker was a former policeman and cage-fighter, who was trying to help his friend in the ring by cutting short the Chess portion of the contest. The Chess referee, however, wouldn’t have it and kept the game going for its allotted 3 minutes.

Seville, Spain has banned Dominoes and dice games from the outdoor terraces of restaurants and bars because the activities make too much noise.

In Middletown, Connecticut, a Chess table and chairs were set up on Main Street to encourage community. But now local businesses are complaining about loitering and trash.

Spin Master sent thousands of toys to children in Israel and Gaza.

A woman in California is trying to sue Hasbro because she couldn’t make the model shown on the label of the Tinkertoy set she purchased. The judge in the case, however, said that consumers don’t rely on labeling.

Four men in Sydney, Australia were arrested for smuggling $2 million of cocaine in to the country by mailing it from California, concealed in a Chess set. Apparently, Chess sets are convenient for this sort of thing.

One of the inventors of Cards Against Humanity has been accused of raping a woman a number of years ago. And as if the allegation itself wasn’t horrifying enough, the response and discussion surrounding it have been truly disturbing. But what else should I expect from a game built around being crude?

The Sierra Leone Chess team was denied a visa for the World Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway because of concern over the Ebola virus.

The producer of a documentary film about Dungeons & Dragons is suing his former partners who are now pursuing a competing project on the same topic. Both were funded through Kickstarter. [Disclosure: I pledged to one of them and now kind-of wish I could get my money back.]

A female Chess player was caught on video urinating in an elevator on the way out of a tournament in China’s Sichuan province. The player claims that the nearby women’s restroom was out-of-order and she just couldn’t hold it any longer. The security guard who posted online the image of her in mid-relief disputes her claim regarding the restroom.

After complaints by villagers were ignored by local police, it fell upon the Thailand army to arrest a government official for running a dice gambling operation out of a tent.

An innocent bystander playing Dominoes was shot and killed in Belize.

Police in Arvada, Colorado are trying to reunite a stolen Mahjong set with its rightful owner. If you know who it might be, please call.

A man in Lumberton, North Carolina was charged with second-degree murder after attacking his friend and neighbor with a knife during a game of cards.

The national Chess champion of Guyana has been cleared of robbery charges but claims he was beaten by police attempting to force him to confess.

In Lake Charles, Louisiana, a man was sentenced to three consecutive life terms plus 150 years for killing three people while trying to rob a dice game.

Police are looking for the person who shot up a dice game in Detroit.

Three in Germantown, Pennsylvania have been convicted for killing a man that allegedly stole $1,000 from one of them during a dice game.

In Cincinnati, a high school student is facing charges and a $500,000 bond for allegedly shooting someone during a dice game.

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