Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Thor Trailer is Full of "Oh, Hell Yes" with a dash of "And Then Some"

Loving the Kirby helmets and Asgard looks deliciously space-y!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

YouTube Fantasy Theater: "Journey Quest"

I'm a big fan of the new trend in YouTube videos for wacky/fun, fantasy/sci-fi series--the more gonzo/zany, the better since live-action fantasy can rarely be done with a straight face. Favorites like Spellfury and Multinauts come to mind (there's another one that escapes me at the moment....). Add to these, the latest addition in the comedy/fantasy genre: JourneyQuest, about Perf, a cowardly wizard in a yellow pointy hat and his adventuring companions.

The website, as polished as it is, is surprisingly sparse on story info, but the episodes are under 10 minutes long, so it shouldn't take long to get the gist of it.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ready, set, roll your save for National Gaming Day!

So what are you doing this Saturday, November 13? Hopefully getting out to your local library and doing some gaming, because it's National Gaming Day, sponsored by the American Library Association! Board, traditional, and video gamers are invited to find a participating library in their area (link goes to list and map) to join in the event. From the ALA's website:
Libraries will offer a variety of activities throughout the day, including modern board games, traditional games (such as chess and checkers) and two national video game tournaments that will pit players at dozens of libraries against each other for bragging rights to the ultimate Rock Band and Super Smash Bros. Brawl crowns.

Although it doesn't explicitly say RPGs, I'd just like to point out that big, beautiful, blue dodecahedron in the logo. :)

North Star Games, makers of Wits and Wagers is a cosponsor and will be providing copies to libraries to let attendees try out the game. Library supplier DEMCO is also a sponsor.


/Hat tip to Boing Boing for the news!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Setting the Scene: The Votes are IN!

Here are the results to the completely unscientific poll I conducted last week regarding how DMs convey setting to their players. The results aren't too surprising given the audience of this blog is heavily weighted towards those who like homebrewing their own campaigns. (If I'm off base, please speak up!). I'm quite surprised though at a few things.

First things first, here are the results (click to enlarge):

Before we go further, it's worth noting that I let people check "all that apply" so there's not a nice round statistic here, but I think that's okay, because I'm really looking for gut reaction.

Imagery Vs. Text
From the looks of it, imagery (10) is the winner over flavor text (8), when taking both original and borrowed sources. Not surprising since imagery has such an immediate effect and is relatively easy to procure.

However, I was surprised that so many people draw/illustrate their own setting. Since I didn't specify (and likely should have) I'm guessing a few people are actually talking about sketching out maps--which is a completely fair assumption. That is, after all, the setting from a spatial perspective.

Were I to ask again, I suspect that there would be greater separation between those who draw their own maps and those who actually draw up characters, monsters, landscapes, etc.

One thing that's not surprising is the number of people who use their own flavor text. I attribute the number of people who bought/borrow text from those who might take to borrowing ideas from comics, pulp stories, and other gaming material. Again, an unscientific assumption, but then it's my unscientific poll and I'm free to misinterpret!

Video and Music
Anyway, at least one person used a movie or video--that's quite brave I'd say since it lends itself to being something so concrete in the mind's eye, but perhaps that was the intended effect. Music also made the chart, I'm guessing that given it's subjectivity, it's likely for atmosphere rather than direct, lyrical reference (but who knows).

Jumping to Conclusions
So apart from painting with broad strokes of big bucket categories, one of the things that got me curious about this question about methods is I think a question about style.

The more I thought on it, the more I wondered how GMs/refs/DMs are able to communicate their imaginings directly to their players. Since RPG games are an exercise in shared imagining, it's fascinating to me how that process takes place. I get that it's part theater, part game, etc. in a very improvisational way, but how much of the referee's imagination is understood. Phrases like "she's holding a ysalamiri so you can't do that" only work if I tell the players what a ysalamiri is or how it effects the players and/or environ. (And yes, that's a hokey example, but you get the idea.)

Sci-fi More High Maintenance?
I'm also willing to venture that sci-fi settings likely need a little more explanation since fantasy (not always, but often) has that whole mythological collective consciousness going for it, which means most people who paid attention in grade school readings are going to get the references. Science fiction can entail everything from how a tiny planet has small gravity, to try to explain how a tidally locked world might effect the local wildlife.

I'm guessing it's not too wild to guess that this is why play reports are many times dullsville. Unless all the readers have been following along, a recap post can come off as complete malarkey. A gap in understanding can lead to a deficit in interest--and hopefully, not also attention in players.

Thoughts? Rude gestures? "No duhs"?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Still Time to Vote!

Last week I posted a poll asking how DMs convey their settings to players (using pictures, music, etc.). I'd sort of wondered out-loud over at Swords of Minaria what techniques referees employ in order to help their players "get" their references during play.

Poll ends at 8:00 p.m. (CST), Monday so get your votes in now!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

POLL: How do you flavor your settings?

Evan over at Swords of Minaria, has a nice post on using actual historic locations as campaign settings rather than fashioning one. The benefit is saving yourself a lot of work in the process (other than research of course).

I myself love both (research and the creative part) but I certainly get how time consuming world building is. What got my brain ticking was Scott's comment about how he'll pull key elements out of historical and fictional sources to build something new--something, I'm guessing, most DMs and GMs do.

So here's my question: How do your players "get" the references you use to create your homebrew setting? In other words do the players recognize that you taken something from a historical culture, pulp comic book character, etc.? If you mix Vikings and Aztecs--do people get it's a mix of those two civilizations? Or is it all in the DM's brain?

Do you use illustrations? Are they borrowed of the interwebs? Are they original (yours or do you request from a friend) because there is no drawing of a high-ranking warlord with Viking/Aztec aesthetics?

Do you say "this looks like... (the rock formations at Cappadocia, a fire hydrant, a back alley in Tokyo's red light district) when describing to players?

Or are your players "up" on all your references and they just get what you're saying?

Since RPGs are a collective/shared imagination game--how obvious is it to the players about what influences are in the referee's brain? Does it take them out of the situation if you're constantly referencing things in the real world?

It boils down to this: how much work do you do at the table to bring the setting to life?

I set up a poll at the top, right column to see what's most popular, but I'd also like to entertain comments.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Storming Ravenloft on Halloween!

Finally got to break out my break out my new Castle Ravenloft board game! What better way to celebrate Halloween than staking some vamps and turning the undead. Hope you all had some festive fun with your favorite ghouls!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Terry Pratchet Knighted, Forges Own +1 Sword from Meteorite

Image: Associated Press
Seriously, you cannot get more baddass fantasy than making your own magic sword! Pratchett was recently knighted by the Queen (Helloooooo! Wait, that's Julia Child, nevermind) and to commemorate the event he MADE HIS OWN SWORD From (really, that's your website's name? Okay, fine.)...
Pratchett, believing the sword would not truly be his own unless it was made from metal he had produced, found a field with deposits of iron ore near his home in Wiltshire, west of London. He gathered the deposits and smelted the iron ore himself.
But wait, it gets better:
Pratchett, who has Alzheimer's disease, also said he had thrown in "several pieces of meteorites — thunderbolt iron, you see — highly magical, you’ve got to chuck that stuff in whether you believe in it or not".
Read the whole, completely true and awesome story.

Image: Associated Press
Congrats Sir Pratchett! 

/Hat tip to Boing Boing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Recent OSR sightings at my FLGS and other musings

Here in the Twin Cities, the OSR is alive and well--if not a little slow to get to my FLGS, Source Comics and Games. Here's a few finds over the last few weeks. Saw this one today:
Core rules baby!
This is the first time Swords and Wizardry has made it to the Source (I'm pretty sure anyway, I've been keeping my eyes peeled for a while). There have been a few Labyrinth Lord products for sale (like the time I saw a few copies of the Advanced Edition Companion), and they are always snapped up in a week--and for some reason never reordered again. While some of the crew at the Source are hip to the OSR, most staff seem to be down on the "clones". This isn't surprising considering the store is a 4E selling machine:
You should see the dice!
That's just a sign--not a box! And yes, it's an extremely cool sign, but still. 4E of course has tons of events to support it like the weekly D&D Encounters, the Annual D&D Day, and it looks as though they're starting up a D&D Essentials event (not sure if that's regular or not--but they were asking for DMs to sign up).

A few weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to see this pop up for sale:

Has anyone played Sorcery and Super Science yet? I'd be interested to know. That's gone too now. Expeditious Retreat seems to show up on shelves more often, but again, the same products never appear twice. I'm beginning to think the store isn't keen on smaller, indy publishers.

In the last five years, the Source has held a handful of indy comic creator events--but never one for game publishers. There's several local game houses in the area--some smaller like Atlas Games, some larger like Fantasy Flight. But there's not been an event to celebrate or promote the start-up or even local game scene. Part of the reason for this might be that FF has opened it's own store a mere 3 miles/8-minute drive away, and the Source still sells a lot of FF inventory. To be honest, I don't know the reason.

Well it is good to see that the OSR is represented, and heartening to know that when products are sold, they disappear quickly. But it would be nice to see a them be treated with a little more staying power to help enhance their impact.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Brave Halfling Sale on Whitebox S&W 5-Player Set

Click to view larger photo
Thought I'd spread the word that John Adams over at Brave Halfling Publishing is having a sale on a special version of the Whitebox set.  This "Referee set" for Swords and Wizardry is like an instant game out of the box for up to FIVE gamers to get started!

The following excerpted text relays the details:
Each Set Includes:
  • A 6″ x 9″ Game Box (With a new sticker on the bottom of the box – see picture)
  • A complete Set of Rule Booklets for the Referee and enough extra Character & Spells Booklets for four more players! That’s 5 Character, 3 Spell, 1 Monster and 1 Treasures Booklets in all!  These booklets contain the new WhiteBox logo that will be on booklets from now on (but are not on any of the previous rule booklets – see picture)
  • A copy of Jimm Johnson’s Adventure, “The Vile Worm of the Eldritch Oak” (with a card stock cover)
  • A digest-sized copy of Matt Finch’s, “Quick Primer for Old-School Gaming”
  • A pad of 25 digest-sized character sheets
  • A pad of 25 digest-sized graph paper sheets
  • Set of polyhedral dice
  • And a pencil
This is a limited run--so if you're looking to recruit players (or finally convert your buddies to a retro-clone) this is the time to do it!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Doctor Spektor Anthology in October, Mighty Samson in September

I'm not super familiar with this guy, but there's quite a buzz going on over at Grognardia about pop culture influences on the cleric class. Then I was over at Dark Horse comics rifling though the upcoming releases for Flash Gordon and saw their upcoming Doctor Spektor hardcover and it seemed like fate! Spektor will be out before Halloween in time to repel the forces of evil. Here's the cover and details:
  • Release date: October 13, 2010
  • Full color
  • 200 pages
  • Hard cover
  • 7" x 10" 
I saw this earlier when I discovered Flash Gordon comics from the 40s-60s are getting their own special hardcover archive. Science-fantasy fans might also go ga-ga over another anthology for Mighty Samson (set in the future?). Here's that cover and info:
  • Release date: September 22, 2010
  • Full color
  • 216 pages
  • Hardcover
  • 7" x 10"
Looks like we're going broke before Christmas this year!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thor Movie is Going "Kirby"

I was initially concerned when I heard about Thor. I really hoped they'd be able to pull it off. A terrible TV appearance by Thor in an old Bill Bixby made-for-TV hulk movie had him running around in some ratty tunic with furry shoulder pads.

That's not Thor. Not the Marvel one, anyway. The Thor I wanted to see was Jack Kirby's squarish, shiny-metal armor and squarish-chinned "superman" with a sword--er, hammer. I wanted to see plate-armored gods and sizzling "magic" emanating from what could be some sort of high-alien technology. We just can't be sure....

Asgard was clearly depicted by Kirby as having a strong Sci-Fi influence. It was all nuts-and-bolts, but it worked. And it was all powered by "Kirby Krackle".
And rainbows, apparently--but we bought it, because IT'S IN SPACE!

So, when the film was rumored to be taking shape, I was hoping for a little Kirby influence on the designs. If Marvel was going to truly tell their Thor, it had to have JK's stamp. Ladies and Gentlemen, Jack Kirby would be proud:

I don't think it was at all easy to bring the King's art into the "real world," so I give high marks to Branagh and his crew for deftly walking a very fine line. I'm not even the slightest bit worried about the eyepatch on Odin, or the lack of helmets (hey, you wouldn't wear a heavy helmet indoors either!).

We'll see what the movie has in store, but I'm taking this bit of art direction as a good sign that Kirby's hand is guiding Mjolnir.

Read more at the LA Times.

"Creature" blogs are a Monster-lover's delight!

If you're looking for the next beastie to stat or just want some visual inspiration to jump start your brain, then you need to check out these two blogs.

Creature Spot, cops to being "the spot for creature art, artists, and fans" and boy is it ever! There's dozens of artists (illustrators, sculptors, and more) who post their latest and greatest. Check out a few choice selections:

Here's a piece by Weta Workshop designer Greg Broadmore who illustrates one of my favorite books.

Emily Fiegenschuh is one of my favorite newer artitsts. She's got a real whimsical style and does a great job giving her creatures a heaping of character. 
I first learned of her work on A Practical Guide to Monsters, a really wonderfully illustrated introduction to D&D creatures for youngsters. She's done art for several books in the series.

Oh, and Eli--this one by Brynn Methany's for you!

Next up is RPG Creatures, which...okay, self explanatory. The site is home to illustrator Nicholas Cloister, who posts on Creature Spot, but he's got plenty of his own creepy crawlies to keep his dungeon--er, site, stocked. On his blog, he's even provided stats, so you can stock your own personal dungeons too!

Man, those are some beautiful beasties! Wonderfully moody presentation too. I tried to make sure the artists names were credited in the files names. (Please respect their work and play nice. ;)

DO swing by and check out these two incredible blogs and show them some love!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Finally here: Swords & Wizardry Whitebox Set!

I'm way over due on this, but I finally received my Swords and Wizardry White Box a little over a week ago. Due to a mix up with the mail it didn't come, but then John, who's a stellar guy BTW, sent a new one and it arrived in good order.
As you can see it's PACKED with great stuff, including some character sheets, the primer guide, and even has an adventure module. The only thing not shown here is the pencil it came with, which, believe it or not, I thought was a great touch!
I've not seen the side box art shown too much on other sites, so I figured I'd show what a wonderful job the artist did. I already have some fantastic minis I'll make part of the set and I plan throwing a copy of Doug Easterly's Savage Swords of Athanor in there too.

Thanks again to Brave Halfling for making this available, I'm looking forward to digging in!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Game Review: Iconicia (The World of Rynaga)

I don't think I mentioned that I picked up this new game, Iconica, created by graphic designer Eric Torres. I'd read a review a while back on Wired's Geek Dad blog (see the link below for a solid review with more pics). It's a homebrew game strategy game that features gorgeous, original artwork by Torres, as well as a few crunchy block bits and dice.

Wired did such a great job with their coverage that I'd be just repeating most of what they said, but I can speak a bit about my own game session. I'd had it for a few months but Memorial Day weekend presented a great excuse to bust out the game with my pal Joe and take it for test drive.

Highlights of Play 
Basically, you build an army (a band of character templates) from three different factions that you use in combat. The starter set gives you enough cards to play three characters in what is essentially your army (read: deck). You play the cards face up and use small wooden cubes to denote certain effects (stun, poison, blindness, etc.) and a health counter. Each character card has six "actions" (1d6) they can perform in the game, but there's a catch!

Character actions are decided by dice, the strategy comes into play by deciding which character you're going to use AFTER the dice are rolled. This might turn some people off, but in fact it's a really interesting dynamic because there are only three actions to choose least in the beginning. Once your army starts to dwindle, the real strategy is in trying to stay alive. The game compensates by allowing dying characters a "final act" of heroism to stave off the reaper and inflict one final blow on your sworn enemies. Or in this case Joe, because he played dirty and blinded, poisoned, and walloped my guys.*

There are enough in-game effects and events that can occur to keep players on their toes. I also enjoy the idea of mixing/matching cards to build your army, which I'd liken to the possible board layouts you can achieve in Settlers of Catan--different cards give your deck unique abilities.
*All three of my characters are poisoned (green cubes next to cards) and the center character is blinded (orange cube on face). The placement of the cubes is as important as their color in Iconica.
Perks and Extras
Our game session was quite long, mainly due to learning the rules, which could use a better tutorial. In the end though, we had a blast, and just look at the beautiful illustration and design by Torres.
The cards are glossy, high-quality cardstock and there's even a few card protectors thrown in for good measure. It's quite clear this game is a labor of love!
It's worth noting that Torres is constantly supporting the game with new character types, illustrations, and he even published a book to describe the setting of Rynaga. The game is relatively inexpensive, which made it really easy to purchase the basic, 2-player set as well as a few expansion cards. Torres has added team rules so more players can join in the fun--I'm looking forward to trying those out as soon as I pick up a few more cards. I also really like supporting a one-man game design operation. Torres sells the game, expansions, and extras on his Etsy site.

For now, I look forward to playing Iconica again, hopefully with more players!

Learn more:
Iconica Blog
Eric's Etsy store
Wired review
Boardgame Geek entry

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Just Arrived: Magic Realm!

It's here! I'd won a copy of Magic Realm on ebay a couple of weeks ago and it finally arrived today. I'd first heard about it on Paladin's blog and after doing some research I considered this a good candidate for helping me convert my board gaming pals to RPGs. I've yet to perform an inventory check, but the ebay listing said it was a "complete" game with all pieces accounted for. I'm actually skeptical of this, because, as you can see, it was not shipped in a box to protect the game, but in brown shipping paper (a big no-no anytime you send collectibles, duh!). Anyway, I'm glad I didn't pay too much for this copy, but it bugs me that the seller was so cavalier/cheap.

I haven't yet decided exactly how to use it: as is or to use the rules and basically create a new setting (like the umpteen that I've been working on already!). I've been chatting with a few veterans on Board Game Geek and I think I'll be using the revised rules, which aren't so much different as much as they explain game play better than the ones that come in the box (so I've been told).

So it's finally here, yay!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Creative Ebullience: Odds and Ends

Just a quick post while I'm getting caught up with blogging and setting material--I've stumbled upon several kernels of fun/creativity I thought I'd share. It's always good to have some go-to resources to get the gears turning again:

Jeff Rients has an eye for supplemental material, including this 19th Century "Encyclopedia of Useful Facts" to help round out your wild west/steampunk adventures.

While your checking out that free cowpoke book on Project Gutenberg, have a looksee at the Top 100 Books and Top 10 Authors. Everything on the Gutenberg is provided at no cost, but donations are appreciated.

Need template for a pre-historic people for your next campaign? Try the Aurignacians they look ripe for embellishment.

A list of unusual words via Boing Boing. Not meaning to cancatervate links of an inaniloquent nature, but this will help support my own philosophunculist tendencies. Here's hoping that your own ideas dehisce onto the blogpage, as it were.

Also plucked from BB is this Visual Study Guide of Cognitive Biases. Think of it as a manual for designing NPCs, angry mobs, and plot twists.

Okay, many of you already know about Monster Brains, just about the coolest blog anywhere. It's basically a monster manual begging to rolled up with stats. Helpful if you need a to fill a few spawning pools for your creeping hordes.

And finally, this is real dedication: a d1000 random table on spell effects. Don't let the fact that it was written for 4E fool you, there's some good stuff here. It's by in large rules-neutral anyway.

Carry on.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frank Frazetta is gone

Famed fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta has passed away. Here is a small selection of my favorite Frazetta pieces. Show one of yours on a post today in honor of one of the great ones.

We'll miss you Frank.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Building a strategy for converting board gamers into RPG newbies

I'm hoping to start an RPG campaign for the first time in years, here's the lowdown...

Currently, we're playing Settlers of Catan. I started them on Dungeon! which is great fun, but Catan offered more in the way of complexity and they ate it up. I was a Catan newb as well so it leveled the playing field. Since we started playing last November we've trained 10 newbs who all love the game, and at least three others bought their own copies. Table gaming is where it's at!

Three players (besides me) have expressed interest and availability. Basically my wife and a couple we know. One of them I've done some D&D Day gaming with at our FLGS. The other is a certified sci-fi fan (we have protracted discussions about "magical realism" in literature. My wife is the wild card: this is like an audition to see if something this freewheeling holds her interest. Catan did, Dungeon! less so.

I haven't GM'd since high school. Yeah, talk about stage fright.Written lots of supplementary material,which is really my strength (ideas), but I've never felt strong on mechanics. This is really the bulk of my preparation of late--know the rules and flow of the game really well so I have the flexibility to follow/forget them as needed. Basically get it down so I know what to do next.

Undecided. I have three players with different interests. I'm currently working on setting and randoms for X-plorers as well as a Masters of the Universe-like setting for Marvel Superheroes. I could also go straight sci-fi, supes, or fantasy to simplify. I'm still feeling them out.

While catching up on my blog reading and found the following four posts that I think each offer unique insight. I'm obviously not going to repost their entire (and very thoughtfully written) advice, but here are snippets that struck a chord with me.

The Excessive Gamer, who posted about being a "decent GM" and who offers great advice (pulled from his own experience as well as others) on being prepared. Not overly prepared mind you--but there's no harm in getting your act together. I think this is the thing I worry about the most, that I'll not have a way to answer questions quick enough before the yawning commences. Here are a few (poorly paraphrased by myself) points to consider:

  • Be prepared (2 GM styles: preparers and improvisers, guess which one takes natural talent?)
  • Timing is everyting (get pacing down--something I struggle with!)
  • Teen wolf syndrome (achieving balance between players at proper levels)
  • Don't fall in love with critical results (keep the big picture in mind--avoid off-balancing the entire game with one good or bad result)
  • Never split the party ('nuff said!)
  • No one likes the RPG railroad (ditto)
  • Tool time (rules lawyering)
  • Wrong guy running the game (man, I hope that's not me!)
It's a lengthy post, but I got quite a bit from it. I know I'll be re-reading a few more times.

When Doug Easterly posted about "Selling a different gaming experience," I don't think he had my exact situation in mind. He was thinking more "old (grog)dogs, new tricks"--that is, convincing veteran RPGers who prefer a particular type of gaming experience due to familiarity. I think there's a great lesson here about getting players on board:
"...character creation in the newer editions has a dual effect. On the one hand, it is an obstacle to just sitting down to play and thus is an obstacle to new players. On the other hand, it is a portion of the game a new player can engage in between games on his or her own, thus is appealing to new players.

Personally, I can do without all the excess work. After years of running Hero System after leaving AD&D, I have had my fill of customizing characters just so, and see the beauty of simpler systems, even class and level systems I once would have lambasted. But I am not so sure it will be easy to get my friends to walk away from newer bells and whistles."
Now this actually gives me hope that: 1.) Less prep/simplicity for players is better--esp. for newbies in my case and 2.)  Be wary of letting them spend too much time customizing. In one of our Dungeon! sessions I tried to work them up to an RPG-frame-of-mind by letting them come up with background and items for characters. This was a disaster because it was plainly obvious that this was a superfluous exercise for a game that didn't require either. They did enjoy selecting their own minis to represent their board tokens--so there's hope, after all. In the end, Doug says it best that "it is a leap of faith," so it seems I have some proselytizing to do!

Jeff Rients post, "brief thoughts on starting adventures" talked about including encounters that will be relevant to each player in the party. He used the example of the Keep on the Borderlands module not having enough for certain classes to do (especially as it's an introductory module). I'm embarrassed to say I never even considered that! So it's definitely pertinent with keeping the players engaged--esp. those who are known to drift off.

Al at Beyond the Black Gate had really great advice for mechanics in his post "Old school DM, new school players," which I'll just bullet and egregiously over-simplify (apologizes to Al!):
  • Attacks of Opportunity (lose 'em)
  • Level Cap (don't be afraid!) 
  • Critical Hit Confirmation Check (ditch it)
  • Class/Race  (okay to limit them) 
  • Skills (player Actions should trump Skill Checks)
  • Game Balance (adjust published adventures as needed--dovetails with Jeff's point)
  • Communicate (be up front with players)
  • Old School One Shots (have plan B!)
At least, I think that's what he meant. Anyway, I'm sure everyone has their own opinions on how to handle certain situations, but what I gleaned from this was to not be afraid of trimming what isn't working. Too often I've painted myself into a corner because we can't feel our way out of the rules. When we were learning Catan, we made judgement calls instead of abiding the rules--and then looked them up later--which was MUCH more successful and less intrusive to play.

Anyway, this post doesn't nearly do justice to the great advice they've provided, but it helps to collate this into once place where I can reference it and share their tips. Have one of your own to share? Please feel free to comment--and thanks!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stat these beasts, stat!

The Shared Worlds writing camp faculty had an idea: get a cadre of contemporary sci-fi writers to imagine a collection completely new creatures and have the kids at the camp illustrate and elaborate on them! From the website:
Some of the beasts are strange, even creepy, like Cory Doctorow's Hyperman or Gail Carringer's Wax Automaton.  Others are terrifying like James O’Neal’s Crocostrictor. Some are small and furry, like Zoran Zivkovic's hamshees, Kathe Koja's Nyha, and Lev Grossman's Seeing Hare, while still others are lumbering behemoths or underwater wyrms.  And, of course, some are humorous, like Ekaterina Sedia's Mountain Reverse Hippo or Will Hindmarch's Cattywampus.

So have a look and see what inspires you. See the link below for the full story and a table-of-contents listing of the creatures. Stat-up a beastie or six--or illustrate one yourself--and then post it to your blog and spread the word! 

The full story:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Back From Toronto: Tales of the Silver Snail!

I'm glad to be home from Toronto--not that I didn't like the trip--but it did feel like a long week because of work. I had one morning to roam the city (on foot) before my flight out and stumbled upon the Silver Snail on Queen Street, which was a great treat to find. The outside is covered in huge super hero murals!

The inside is filled with all kinds of goodness: comics, action figures (LOTS of figures) and the upstairs is stocked with games/RPGs. It leans more towards the comic fanboy than the gamer fanboy, but I'm equal parts, so it was a welcome discovery. And then there was this little lady guarding the comics....

Great fun!

Regular posting to resume shortly. :)