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.

Fantasy AGE and Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana

Green Ronin has announced the August release of both their Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook and Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana setting. For those who’ve been watching Wil Wheaton’s Titansgrave show on Geek & Sundry, you’re probably just as excited as I am about this news.

Both books will be full-color hardcovers, and Titansgrave will also contain a double-sided poster map. The basic rulebook clocks in at 144 pages, while the Ashes of Valkana will be 96. They’ll be priced at $30 and $25 respectively.

I plan on snagging both as soon as I possibly can and getting a game going as quickly as possible.

Metamorphosis Alpha

Metamorphosis Alpha by Signal Fire StudiosLong in the works (Yikes, I covered the announcement 6 years ago!) and somewhat different than originally planned (it was supposed to be based on 4th Edition D&D), Metamorphosis Alpha from Signal Fire Studios is now available in ebook form. Not to be confused with the 1976 edition recently reprinted by Goodman Games, this version retains the setting but pairs it with new rules based on the company’s System 26 dice-pool mechanics.

For those of you unfamiliar, Metamorphosis Alpha was the first science fiction roleplaying game. The setting is the starship Warden, a 50 mile long colony ship, which is malfunctioning and has been knocked off-course. Its residents have been subject to generations of mutations. And the humans on-board have mostly reverted to primitive tribal societies.

Malifaux 2E

Malifaux Shifting LoyaltiesHitting retail in August and September from Wyrd Miniatures are:

  • A Malifaux Two-Player Starter set ($65), including eight new models for two henchmen-led crews, two fate decks, two measuring tapes, stat cards, upgrade cards, quick reference cards, and a Quick Start booklet (the full manual is a free download).
  • Shifting Loyalties ($45), a Malifaux supplement that in addition to detailing new models, provides rules for campaign play.
  • A Campaign Deck ($18) of 193 upgrade cards to go with Shifting Loyalties.
  • A Generalist Deck ($18) with 136 cards for the upgrades in M2E and Crossroads.
  • Into the Steam ($45), a supplement for the Malifaux RPG, Through the Breach. This one focuses on the lands of the Arcanists north of the city.
  • Northern Aggression ($20), the first in a series of three Penny Dreadful adventures for Through the Breach.
  • Darkness Comes Rattling ($65), a cooperative board game not tied to any of Wyrd’s other properties. Instead, the game “follows the story of the tribes of man in their quest to save the world from corruption and darkness.”

The Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming’s shortlist was announced this afternoon. The nominees are:

Diana Jones AwardThe award ceremony is considered the unofficial kickoff to Gen Con Indy, with the lucite pyramid trophy handed out during a gaming industry-only event the Wednesday night before Gen Con Indy officially begins. Past winners include Geek & Sundry’s Tabletop web series, Jason Morningstar’s Fiasco roleplaying game, and Donald X. Vaccarino’s Dominion deckbuilding card game

The award, named for the still-readable part of the burnt Indiana Jones Role-Playing Game logo encased in the pyramid, was originally awarded to Peter Adkinson in 2001. The Diana Jones Award trophy is returned each year to the DJA Committee for the next award ceremony. This is the fifteenth year for the award ceremony.

The trophy itself is a lucite pyramid mounted on a wooden base, created to “commemorate the expiration of [TSR UK’s] licence to publish the Indiana Jones Role-Playing Game and the subsequent destruction of all unsold copies of the game.” Within the pyramid are burnt pieces of the last copy of TSR UK’s Indiana Jones RPG logo and game elements, including the infamous Nazi™ cardboard tokens. The DJA site claims the award was liberated from the TSR Hobbies office by “forces unnamed” before winding up in the hands of the Diana Jones Award Committee.

Geek Chic XPGeek Chic, the company that makes custom game furniture, is expanding with another deluxe service, upscale game events. Branded Geek Chic XP, the inaugural event of this service is set to take place alongside Gen Con in Indianapolis. For $1,200 per person, ticket holders will have access to a special game lounge with concierge service and full-service food and beverage options (further charges apply). They also get access to additional but unspecified activities, 1 year of membership, and recommendations for activities at future events.

ShepardAfter a day of comments about the fan-made unlicensed Mass Effect RPG being nominated for multiple ENnie awards, Russ “Morrus ” Morrissey of ENWorld, stated that the game would be removed from the slate of nominees. The Mass Effect RPG, nominated for Best Electronic Book, Best Free Product, and Product of the Year, was written and designed by RPG industry veteran Don Mappin. The game is based on Galileo Games’ Bulldogs!, a Fate Core-based game.

“For this year, we have decided to disqualify the fan-created Mass Effect RPG on the basis of IP violations,” the statement read. “The creator of the product, after discussion with him, has already been notified. Don Mappin, the creator of the product, has additionally told us that ‘Based on this outcome I will be removing the work and its associated files.'” The game’s three award nominations will be replaced with other items to keep the number of entries in a ballot equal at five, ten for Product of the Year.

About the game, Mappin writes the game is “solely a labor of love”. The game states that despite using the setting and illustrations from the Mass Effect property, the game is unlicensed and done without the permission or involvement of the IP holders. Mappin writes “it is our hope to expand the outreach of the Mass Effect property to another segment of games—role-players—who have long coveted a way to bring the events of Commander Shepard to life at their gaming tables.”

“I am very public and open that it is an unlicensed product, made available free of charge and that no renumeration is to be made from its distribution. The Fate core OGL is adhered to (to the best of my ability) as well as content from Brennan Taylor of Galileo Games and their Bulldogs! product, with permission,” Don Mappin responded. “I don’t believe that I have violated any aspect of the rules for the ENnies and would hope that my work could be considered.

After game industry professionals and gamers began commenting on the inclusion of an unlicensed work being nominated for Product of the Year, Morrus posted a comment on Twitter and facebook reading, “We are currently discussing an issue re. an ENnies nomination. Info soon.” This was followed up an hour later with a post on facebook reading, in part, that while the nomination categories don’t distingush between fan and publisher work, that this is the first time they’ve had issues concerning a product’s licensed status. “We’ve never had to ask about a product’s licensed status before – we’ve always left a publisher’s own legal matters to them – so this is a new situation for us.” The facebook post says that the issue was being discussed as they wanted to do the right thing.

Nicole Linroos of Green Ronin, publishers of the Dragon Age RPG, said in 2012 that although their relationship with Bioware is “pretty damn happy”, that the video game company was not interested in a Mass Effect roleplaying game. She writes, “the idea has been tossed around and discussed between the Mass Effect team, the Bioware licensing folks, and Green Ronin on more than one occasion. They’re not interested in taking Mass Effect to tabletop, it’s as simple as that.” In a more recent statement, she says that while she would love to have a legitimately licensed AGE-powered Mass Effect game, the company would is not allowed to do so, “not even for free, not even to “give back” to the community. In fact, doing so would likely endanger the legitimate license my company does hold from EA.”


2015 ENnie Award Nominations Announced

ENnies Gold MedalThe 2015 ENnie Award Nominations and Judges’ Spotlight Winners were announced this morning. The list of nominees covers roleplaying games and related items that were released between May 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015. This year’s list was developed by a panel of five judges who have no professional ties to any game publisher. The nominees will be voted on by the public between July 4th and July 14th.

This year, the ENnie Award committee commissioned a physical medal to be awarded, created by Campaign Coins and designed by Daniel Solis. (Image from Daniel’s blog on the right.)

Each category in the awards has five nominees, except for Product of the Year, which has ten. Interestingly, the Mass Effect RPG, a fan-created unofficial game based on EA and Bioware’s popular video game, was nominated for three awards: Best Electronic Book, Best Free Product, and Product of the Year.

The award was created in 2001, hosted by EN World (originally a Dungeons & Dragons message forum and fan site) and a fan-run D&D 3rd Edition news site. The awards quickly moved from D&D and d20 System related products to covering tabletop roleplaying games and is now a major award in the industry. The ENnies are awarded at Gen Con Indy.

The full slate of nominees are available at the ENnie Awards website.

Coming to Kickstarter in July, the ePawn Arena connects physical and digital by use of a mat, mobile device, and robotics. Mobile game piece bases make it possible for moves to be made online, yet still have a physical presence on the board. There’s currently 2 videos up. One is a very marketing-heavy type piece, while the other shows a simple, practical use of the product for playing chess online.

We’ve seen similar concepts pop up from time to time, but I’m interested to see this one taking the Kickstarter route. There’s a lot of potential here, but also a lot of room for disappointment.

gamenauts-banner-plainA husband and wife team out of Stockholm, Sweden have created Gamenauts, a mobile app that lets you scan a game’s barcode in a store and check its BoardGamegeek ratings before you buy. The idea to to help you make better informed choices when shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.

The app is currently available for free for iOS and Android. I just installed it, and can’t wait to give it a try the next time I’m at our nearest game store.

Game Bandit

Game Bandit - Scouring the net to find the cheapest discount boardgames and best free boardgame prizesEverything of Pinnacle Entertainment’s Deadlands Noir is discounted 20%, plus free shipping is included with a bundled purchase of the full line.

Get 25% off a Firestorm Planetfall Core Helix with the purchase of any Firestorm Armada Invasion Fleet from the Spartan Games online store.

For 15% off Mike Schley’s amazing maps, prints or downloads, use coupon code “GENCON2015″.

Discounts of 20-75% can be had in Lock ‘N Load Publishing’s Summer Sale.

Passport Games is giving away Quantum.

Plaid Hat Games is giving away one copy of Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, weeks before it hits retail.

In Obsidian Portal’s t-shirt design contest, the winner will receive 3 months of Ascendent time.

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