Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fantasy/Sci-Fi Con in the Twin Cities this Weekend

Man, I'm totally slipping! Somehow this one got by me--but there's still time: Convergence Con sci-fi/fantasy gaming/comic/local celebrity extravaganza is is going on this weekend. It started today and runs through Sunday, so if you're within driving distance set your booster to maximum power out and get out here! Stat block:
What: The four-day annual convention for fans of science fiction and fantasy, with celebrity guests, film screenings, live music, a masquerade ball and themed party rooms
When: Thu.-Sun 6/30-7/3
Where: Sheraton Bloomington Hotel, 7800 Normandale Blvd., Bloomington
Registration: $80

Event Programming
In addition to the usual (artist alley, gaming, nerd movies, silent auctions, costume contests) the program schedule includes some real gems like "I'm Your GM, Not Your Therapist" and "Elaborate Death Traps and Why They Never Work" so you know you're definitely getting your money's worth.

More Info
Local zine Vita.MN did a great article about local musician Jeremy Messersmith's D&D game. They also did a nice de-coding guide for newbies and non-nerds so you can just send it to your significant other without further explanation and they'll instantly speak your lingo/encourage you to attend. (Kidding! Like that would be possible....).

Anyway, my birthday is tomorrow so I'll check it out this weekend as a present to myself.  :)

Reposted from Exonauts

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Layoffs at Wizards of the Coast R&D Dept.

If you haven't heard, Wizards of the Coast has laid off several of their creative/R&D staff--among the departures is Bill Slavicseck, head of the dept. From the posts I've read, it's not yet clear if he left of his own accord or not. He's married to Michelle Carter, another designer who was laid off. So he may have simply left in solidarity.

In any case, this is huge news--whether you enjoy D&D 4E or not. On the one hand, there's speculation that there's a re-evaluation of the older editions and what made them so popular (and therby, what led to the attrition of older players from the new ruleset). On the other hand, there's the rumor that Hasbro is really putting D&D on the path to boardgame-dom.

Now, I'm a fan of D&D translated into board games--for their own sake. But it's primary purpose is as a role-playing game. You may say to yourself, "I don't care about 4E" but the truth is that Wizards is the Big Kahuna when it comes to publishing RPGs and there's just no getting around the fact that this will have ripples throughout the industry.

I also wonder if any of this is fall out from Wizards losing the Star Wars license or their decision to drop their pre-painted plastic miniatures line. In the last year, Hasbro also stopped producing the popular Heroscape miniatures strategy game. And let's not forget that Wizards had already stopped supporting their OWN miniatures game rules before that.

I guess we'll have to wait and see what Wizards does next and how it will effect the rest of the RPG community--for better or worse. (Let's hope, for the eventual better!)

Rumors and speculation at the Acaeum
Props to Chuck over at Design Notes for the heads up

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Science Fantasy Matinee: Masters of the Universe

It occurred to me that we could use a break from the previous two memorium posts. Here's a little fun to brighten up your Saturday: the original Masters of the Universe movie trailer. Also known as "all of the good parts". Enjoy!

P.S. Did you know that He-Man was a Fulbright Scholar?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Comic Virtuoso Gene Colan is Gone

The news is making the rounds now that comics artists extraordinaire is gone. This is the guy who redefined Dracula for comic books for Marvel. He took Iron Man to new adventures. He gave the Avengers a hell of a time.

We'll miss you Gene.

Gene's blog
Newsarama article
Wash Post notice

Monday, June 20, 2011

Land for Gygax Memorial Approved

So it appears that the Great One will in fact get his statue--whatever shape it may take--in Donian Park in Lake Geneva, WI. From the memorial's website:
Here's a section of the City of Lake Geneva Board of Park Commissioners meeting minutes from Janurary 5th, 2011:

Gygax Memorial-

Library Park was added to the application so that it reads both Donian Park and Library Park as a potential place for a monument. The design would include a castle turret with a bust on top and possibly have a dragon wrapped around the turret. A motion was made by the Mayor to approve the site in Donian Park, south of the walkway, on the southeast corner of Mill Creek. The footprint is not to exceed 10 feet by 10 feet. This was seconded by Phillips. Added to the motion was that Gygax should bring a detailed map to bring to the Council as well as a detailed statue design to come back to the Park Board for approval. Motion passed unanimously.
Location and design are still TBD, but this is a pretty big milestone (no pun intended). I've yet to locate the park on a city map--everything so far seems to lead to a generic map of the city. I did however find this video by Gail Gygax with what looks to be a design for the memorial once this step of getting the space approved was completed. Curiously she also references plans for future game projects. I have no idea if this has already been bandied about the interwebs (I'm sure it has) but it was new to me.

Anyway, what do you think of the plans?

Full details.
Props to Boing Boing

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Science Fantasy Inspiration: Eternia 2.0

If I ever do get around to actually doing something about my long-pined for, but languishing Masters of the Universe setting ideas for Marvel Supes, I've found a few places to go for creative ebullience. My original thought was to go all Kirby-esque (which still greatly appeals to me) but I can't help but consider these dark and wild aesthetics:

This first one is by the legendary space exploration illustrator Chesley Bonestell. He did the film posters for War of the Worlds and Destination Moon. I like his NASA-era stuff, but I love this one that strays from his usual material. I love the idea of Castle Greyskull as a pyramid.

Following that train of thought, here's a nifty take on the Sorceress, sort of like Marvel's Eternity meets Nefertiti:
I believe that's a t-shirt design, FYI.

Next are a few Skelator concepts, I apologize I'm not sure who the illustrators are:

Or maybe we pump Skely up so he can stand big toe-to-big-toe with He-man...

This cover by Mike Hoffman, for me, defines Evil-Lyn. She should totally be a slinky, remorseless space sorceress. And is that Skelator in the corner? Et tu Brute!

And perhaps Teela became the Serpent Goddess from doing away with the last one:

Doesn't seem quite sci-fi enough, hmm...
That's better.

MoTU needs more ladies and I like the idea of swapping roles. I give you Duncanna, Lady-At-Arms:

Merman on the other hand can only go one direction--slimy:

Actually, I rather like the Monster Squad rendition:

Can't quite picture He-Man yet. I want something more sci-fi. Blonde Conan isn't quite enough. I'm going to have to go with the original space barbarian:

There's plenty more in the Frazetta tribute I did. A few that I think put me in the right frame-of-mind. These guys make for great snakemen and He-Man in a space helmet with a ray gun would be pretty nifty:
Even Carter's origin still works--super strength, leaping, and endurance granted due to the stronger gravity on his home planet. The sword of Greyskull is sort like that crystal chamber in Superman II that took away Kal-el's powers, switching him back and forth from Prince Adam to He-dude.

Just some thoughts....

Friday, June 10, 2011

X-plorers retro, sci-fi RPG now as a BOX SET!

Just look at that beautiful black and white box set cover!
It's here! I had a lot of fun working on this with Bill and John. I've got a detailed post over at Exonauts, or you can just go order one now.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Three great projects you should know about!

I'm always impressed by creative passion projects in the geekscape. Here's a few links to a few wonderful efforts...

Some of you are already aware of Michael Bukowski and his quest to illustrate every single monstrosity in the Lovecraftian pantheon. But just in case you were itching for some weird horror beasties in your next game and needed inspiration, have a gander. Hat tip to Boing Boing.

Kids Dungeon Adventure!
Here's another fun one by Ben Garvey who's created a dungeon-crawling game using blocks and paper minis for his pre-schoolers to learn the art of the delve. He's also got a great blog named for the game called Kids Dungeon Adventure. Wired did a fine article on it back in March. FTA:
The game’s adventure framework, which is heavy on reward and achievement, is well thought out and allows plenty of room for creativity. Garvey has some wonderful suggestions for treasure and how it affects gameplay. The monsters on the cards he has created are very kid appropriate and, with a little Photoshop work, could be customized to reflect your home and family.
Though not a wargame, it has at least ancestral ties perhaps to H.G. Wells' Floor Games. I think there's a minimal cost associated with the game, but it might be enough to give you ideas of your own.

UPDATE: here's a few other case studies about getting kids interested in RPGs: Simplifying D&D (You know, for kids?) and How to Introduce a Kid to D&D Before He Goes Into Surgery both great articles from Wired's Geekdad blog.

Age of Fable Dungeon Generator!
Finally, if you're looking to stock a dungeon in a hurry, here's a nicely done auto-generator for a campaign (?) called Age of Fable. I can't recall where I found this (somebody remind me in the comments if it was you) but it's got some great resources for pen+paper games. Not only can you generate maps, but also stock and stats plus adventure hooks. Comes in two flavors: one for Tunnels & Trolls and another Labyrinth Lord/Mutant Future. Find additional resources as well.