Tuesday, 18 August 2015


It's HPLovecraft's Birthday Week again over at the DriveThru and RPGNow sites.  Some many genres and tropes facing the grim realities of Deep, Dark, Ancient and Tentacled Ones.

Reductions of scenarios and accessories for many things Cthulhu / Cthuloid.  
(affiliate link)

Sanity is for the naive! 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

ENnies results 2015 (?!)

The ENnies as announced at GenCon Indy 2015 ...

One day I'm sure I'll eventually play Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  I never quite understand how Chaosium keep winning awards for rehashes when there are so many other publishers and quality games out there, I understand people voting for Paizo and WotC, but in the shops and in the online stores Chaosium are almost invisible.  Maybe my avoidance of kickstarters and love of small publishers means that I'm so far off the map and out of whatever loop that I literally have no idea what's in favour.  Aren't these the same games as last year? (I'm being rhetorical) I love the Achtung Cthullhu concept as much as the next man, new titles, I guess.  Oh well, as long as we can still buy shiny new dice I guess I'm happy.  Go Q-workshop!  (Not being sarcastic here, I genuinely love buying beautiful dice and have a nice set of steampunk Q-workshop polys)

Best electronic book? The WotC's D&D Basic? Definitely deserved being nominated as the best or important free book, maybe not winning, but as electronic texts go for looks and broswability it's far from the best over all.  In fact unless it's seriously improved and acquired illustrations, it's very far from the best.  Again, the PDF /electronic texts market has been totally sold short. 

Best accessory, a DM's screen? (Smacks head) So much for innovation.  

Oh well. 

Best Adventure
Silver: A Red & Pleasant Land (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Gold: Horror on the Orient Express (Chaosium)

Best Aid/Accessory
Silver: Black Green Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition RPG Dice Set (Q-Workshop)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Screen (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Cover Art
Silver: Achtung! Cthulhu: Terrors of the Secret War (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
Gold: Rise of Tiamat (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Interior Art
Silver: The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Blog
Silver: Gnome Stew
Gold: ConTessa Tabletop Gaming by Women for Everyone

Best Cartography
Silver: The Guide to Glorantha (Moon Design Publications)
Gold: Ninth World Guidebook (Monte Cook Games, LLC)

Best Electronic Book
Silver: Ken Writes About Stuff Volume 2 (Pelgrane Press)
Gold: Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Family Game
Silver: Atomic Robo The Roleplaying Game (Evil Hat Productions)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Free Product
Silver: 13th Age The Archmages Orrery (Pelgrane Press)
Gold: Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Game
Silver: The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Miniatures Product
Silver: Pathfinder Pawns Inner Sea Pawn Box (Paizo Inc.)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Icons of the Realms Elemental Evil Boosters (WizKids)

Best Monster/Adversary
Silver: Achtung! Cthulhu: Terrors of the Secret War (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Podcast
Silver: Miskatonic University Podcast
Gold: Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff

Best Production Values
Silver: Horror on the Orient Express (Chaosium)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set (Wizards of the Coast)

Best RPG Related Product
Silver: Temple of Elemental Evil (WizKids)
Gold: Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry (Evil Hat Productions)

Best Rules
Silver: MUTANT Year Zero The Roleplaying Game (Modiphius Entertainment Ltd)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Setting

Silver: The Strange (Monte Cook Games, LLC)
Gold: A Red & Pleasant Land (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)

Best Software
Silver: HeroLab (Lone Wolf Development)
Gold: Roll20 (Roll 20)

Best Supplement
Silver: Pathfinder RPG: Pathfinder Unchained (Paizo Inc.)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide (Wizards of the Coast)

Best Website
Silver: Tabletop Audio
Gold: The Escapist 

Best Writing
Silver: D&D Player’s Handbook by Jeremy Crawford, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, Bruce R. Cordell (Wizards of the Coast)
Gold: A Red & Pleasant Land by Zak S (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)

Fan’s Choice for Best Publisher
Silver: Paizo Inc
Gold: Wizards of the Coast.

Product Of The Year
Silver: A Red & Pleasant Land (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)
Gold: Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)

Friday, 31 July 2015

Transmissions coming in from a convention somewhere

I know most us aren't actually at GenCon2015, but you are following all the feeds, right?  Being a bit of an old-schooler actual news about games is washing over me somewhat, but I'm really enjoying how many people are willing to deliver the experience of actually being there by photographing display stands, stalls and cosplayers.  Just a quick browse of any network with Gencon tags is like snorkelling in a geeky Wonderland.  

Loving it, guys!  Here's to all the one-the-spot reporters and sharers. :)

GenCon Indianapolis 2015 image feeds (using just the "GenCon" tag)
Warning: may contain cosplay.

I would embed these but I fear my blog would break.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Inked Adventures Map and Dice Playing Cards

My labours of ink, love and print on demand ...

Yet again, I'm using this blog to cross-promote my Inked Adventures products. Seemingly mercenary, I genuinely want to share this with you, for some players, this product may, in fact, enhance your overall quality of life, in the way that practical, yet novel, luxuries always do.  I appeal, dear reader, to your honest must-have inner drive, which keeps our humble roleplaying industry, nay, capitalism itself, trudging along through recession, like a hardy soldier in mud, spurred on by a rolling of cents and shillings across counters.   

These playing cards (to call them merely "playing cards" seems so wrong) are a genuine labour of love, not merely a cynical recycling of my previous geomorphs (not a "cynical" recycling, at least).  It is a creation of a thing that I wanted in my own life.  No doubt there are many similar products out there, in your local store, on the web, but this feels one relatively unique as far as accessories go, at least aesthetically, and perhaps, conceptually. 

No, wait, come back!  I had strange experience this week.  I thought that I had saturated my social networks and circles with links to the Inked Adventures Map & Dice Playing Cards, but followers and friends are still asking "what is this?"  So, maybe I'm far too well mannered in my abuse of social sites for marketing.  Perhaps, as always, I'm a little embarrassed that the product isn't my next tile pack for 25-30mm minis (see IA products), since I tease my customers with pre-colour art for most of the year and promise glorious caverns, dungeon expansions, forests and now spacecraft, but completion is slow. This is my first printed product from DriveThruCards (my second on TheGameCrafter) and boy, I am proud of it.  

The idea is that if you're an improvising DM who is caught short without dice or a dungeon adventure, perhaps on a holiday ruined by poor weather, you can "wing it" with this pack of playing cards.  If all else fails, the people you are with can just play card games, such as poker, blackjack, or go-johnny-go-go-go-go.  

On each card (apart from the 2 jokers and a guide card) is (A) a reduced size hand drawn dungeon geomorph area map with descriptive title; (B) three random dice results and (C) a normal card suit and number.

A. Dungeon geomorph area maps.

A dungeon master can use the cards as an inspiration for drawing his/her own dungeon, or pre-planning a map or use the cards randomly in play (as a random dungeon builder).  The titles are purely for atmosphere and reference.  Naturally, there are some limits to the non-square format of the cards, but overlapping cards on the table can help with this. 

The area maps in the spades suit are main entrances/exits and "end of row" geomorphs, these can be removed if you to create an unending "mega-dungeon" level.   The geomorphic area maps on the cards can also be used in conjunction with the Inked Adventures large geomorphs set for minis

B. Dice rolls / random numbers

Although not tied to any specific system, the choice of dice is inspired by older D&D systems where the d20 and d6 are paramount (OD&D, Holmes D&D and clones such as S&W WhiteBox and Delving Deeper), and percentile based games.  The dice rolls represented are a d20, d6 and d100.  Now, I, know what you're thinking: the probability of those number ranges will not work when spread across 52 cards and that we must never mix cards and dice!  Granted, it's a bit of a fudge, so you may want to get the agreement of the other players at the table before you start using the cards for life and death rolls.  Playing cards retain fixed probability if cards are always returned to the deck.  In the gaps in the maths we've slipped in a few "critical" results, i.e. there's a few extra 1s and 20s on the d20 result and some a bonus 01 and 100 on the d100.  In some ways, cards can be better than dice. ;)  

(uncropped card art)

The optional Jokers prompt a drawing of two cards and a discarding of the most favourable or least favourable result, depending if it's the "Good Luck" or "Bad Luck" Joker, respectively (see above).

It's important to remember that if you're going to use the cards as random number generators that you may need the whole deck, so this may not be possible if you are using the cards to make a dungeon level map.  I'm guessing you can always buy a second deck. ;)

C. Normal Bridge Playing Cards. 

Many RPG systems use standard 52/54 card deck for special item effects, NPC traits, character rules, storytelling or even in-play Tarot card substitution.  So even as a plain old mundane deck of cards it's is still of use to the tabletop roleplayer.  (Hint: they make the perfect gift!)

Creating your own dungeon card games.

I've already been asked by several people whether or not this pack of cards is a game in it's own right.  Technically, it's not.  It's a map creation and dice accessory, plus it doubles as a novelty pack of bridge playing cards.  However, just playing around with the cards can reveal potential.  A simple (but flawed) solitaire game I play is a "route finding" adventure.  I draw cards at random and place them in a line - North-South or East-West.  The object is to escape the dungeon by heading in one direction. Generally cards cannot be rotated (unless the edge of the table is reached or it's an end of row/dead end card).  I usually start by heading North (overlapping the cards so the maps join). You must be able to travel from a corridor exit/entrance on the South of the card to the North side of the map on the card.  If your way is blocked, you must double back to the starting card and then lay out a new row, heading South or East or West.  You win by dealing any (main) stairs or a dungeon exit/entrance card (one of several in the spades suit), but it also depends that the corridors take you there without a dead-end or bypass.  The trick is to get out in the fastest time (the least number of cards), but the reward for a slow exit is a pretty dungeon map.  Two player race-to-win variants with counters are also possible. In a more advanced game, the d100 result can represent gold coins found in an area, or a "danger rating". A high or low total at the end of play may influence the choice of winner.  This probably doesn't read very clearly, but it's an example of random fun which can be had with the deck on it's own, no rpg rules etc.  I'm fantasising about designing an extra deck of monsters and treasure with simple system for solitaire dungeoneering, but you may find that you can come up with something far superior using your own system mechanic.   The dice results can also be compared like stats in a Top Trumps deck, where the player declares his/her choice of stat (d6, d20, d100 or card value) against their opponent, and the highest wins the card.

On DriveThruRPG$12 USD + p&p
Not nominated for an "Ennie"; not on a Kickstarter; and dinosaurs with dice tattoos

I would like to point out that this deck of cards has not been seen at GenCon and has never been on a nomination list, and is not on a Kickstarter, so there will be no reminders of deadline dates and level-up pledges or whatever they are called.  But I am fickle man, and it a moment of self-criticism I will tear them from the shelves, to be burnt with other older works in the Stalinist fires of historical perfection.  I do, however, reserve the right to spam all my own accounts, until I have a new favourite in my life. Next week it might be dinosaurs with dice tattoos, but for now I worship at this humble altar.

Thanks for reading. May your dungeons be beautiful.

Map & Dice Playing Card Links

DriveThruCards: http://bit.ly/IAcards
The Game Crafter: http://bit.ly/IAcardsTGC

Try-before-you-buy micro-cards download: