Saturday, May 31, 2008

And As Always...

Guys, if you have any questions whatsoever about what's been received, procedure, anything of the sort, drop me a comment or email (which is on the right-hand side of this page). I'm trying to be as accessible and helpful as possible.

That reminds me! I have some mailbag to get to. Perhaps in the next day or so?


So today, I get a package from BTRC, one from Tabletop Adventures, one from the podcast Brilliant Gameologists, and one from Final Redoubt. With the notification on the ENnies board of the last minute entries I should be expecting, the avalanche is in full effect. The podcast is being loaded upon my mp3 player as I type. Please, Podcasting Gods, grant me a podcast that makes the yardwork go quickly!

Paizo's shipment came yesterday, and their Pathfinder Gazetteer is absolutely gorgeous. Products like Rise of the Runelords: Burnt Offerings and Seven Days to the Grave (both of which I've seen earlier in the year, but wasn't sure if they'd be entered) also show what quality, quality work Paizo is doing. They also included a Harrow Deck, which is a mix of a fortunetelling deck and a game for in-gamed, the Guide to Korvosa (nice work on the carotgraphy, btw), and Classic Monsters Revisited, which is as good an adversary product as I've seen this year. Honestly, I see multiple nominees coming out of this package. I respect Paizo's work, but I have to admit to being a bit surprised at how good it all was.

Wizards of the Coast's entries are forthcoming, for those who have asked--I believe 10 products in all, but I don't have the list handy. Frankly, it's kind of nice when I don't know things are coming--I've had some nice surprises over the course of the competition that way.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Two-Fisted Tales

We've been fortunate in the past two years to have a great run of pulp games--Hollow Earth Expedition and Spirit of the Century both have their solid blocks of fans, after all.

This year, enter Two-Fisted Tales. A dark horse? Perhaps, although Precis Intermedia's quality work is well-known to the discerning gamer. All I know is, I haven't put it down since it got here. The GM's section is fantastic. This is a product that has me excited about playing it. Its my feeling we're looking at another top-notch Pulp RPG.

Not a long update I know, but this is blitz time. I've got a lot more to read and run before we're all through here!

Monday, May 26, 2008

ENnies Submission: 1 Week Left; Update

As we enter into the last week of submissions for the ENnies, I find it to be a curious contest. On one hand, to my thinking, some categories such as Best Rules, Setting, and d20 are chock-full of serious, serious competitors. Others, like Miniatures and Podcasts, have some strong individual entries, but as a field, are less--let's say well-represented--than I'd have thought.

Here's a few thoughts:

-Has anyone come away not impressed with Aces & Eights? I mean, I know the "crunch" won't be everyone's thing, but they boys at Kenzer get a tip of the hat from me. We'll find out what my fellow judges think soon, but I sure as hellfire love what they've done with the game.

-Note to podcasters: if I can't understand what the hell you're saying, I can't really evaluate it. I wish I had the insights some of you have into gaming, but I also wish you had decent production values.

-Wizards of the Coast, who had previously said they would be competing in the '08 ENnies, has been a no-show to this point. As in, no product submitted. We'll see if they're just doing the last-minute thing.

-When you are an ENnies judge, you earn the lasting enmity of your postal carrier. If you're thinking about running next year, be forewarned.

-Lastly, I would like to hear from any publishers who were not contacted by the ENnies staff about submitting their eligible products. Also, if there were any issues or problems during submission or solicitation, I'd like to know that, too. And if you have a positive report, I'd really love to hear that! My email is mail.rpgblog(at) (replace (at) with "@", of course). Thanks, and game on!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Weekend Update

Packages from IPR, Animalball, Green Ronin, and Kenzer all arrived this past week, so as you imagine, I've been pretty busy. To be honest, I was beginning to get a little discouraged in a few of the categories, especially podcasts, where very few thus far submitted have been of the quality one would want in an ENnies submission. But I know there's a lot of good, entertaining podcats out there to round out what we already have, and with a week left for submissions, I can only hope they're on their way. We're definitely seeing a late rush.

Kenzer's Aces & Eights, by the way, is a glorious product, in just about every way. I had already procured a copy earlier on this year, so its a game I was glad to see submitted.

Green Ronin is looking strong again (though perhaps not as diversified as previous years), with the d20 and True20 Freeport Companions and Pirate's Guide To Freeport looking especially good.

IPR's various companies sent the scifi/space opera toolbox and RPG Thousand Suns (which I'm reading right now, and coming away from as quite impressed). Ken Hite's Trail of Cthulhu, Firefly Games' OG, Arc Dream's Monsters & Other Childish Things (I wish we had a category for Best Intro), and the vehicle supplement Engines of War for the Battlelords universe.

Animalball sent Instant Game (free to download here) and a copy of its Animalcast, which is a nice addition to our podcast list.

The judges submitted a very, very long list to the higher-ups in the ENnies as far as whom they should solicit for entries. A lot of companies, big and small, were represented. I'm hoping we see a lot of them show up this week.

In other news, theRPGSite is down right now, but I'm hoping its up in time for us to follow my Indy500 contest in proper thread fashion. Vroom vroom!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Race Lineup Is Set!

From my post of the other day, we filled every one of the 33 spots for our contest. Here's a rundown of who is where:

Row 1
1) Scott Dixon, #9 J Arcane (4)
2) Dan Wheldon (W), #10 Doc Rotwang (31)
3) Ryan Briscoe, #6 enelson (16)

Row 2
4) Helio Castroneves (W, F), #3 James J. Skatch (1)
5) Danica Patrick (F), #7 jrients (22)
6) Tony Kanaan, #11 Serious Paul (14)

Row 3
7) Marco Andretti (F), #26 pspahn (9)
8) Vitor Meira, #4 avidreader514 (17)
9) Hideki Mutoh (R), #27 DNAPhil (20)

Row 4
10) Ed Carpenter (F), #20 cjh (33)
11) Thomas Scheckter, #12 GoOrange (2)
12) Townsend Bell, #99 stu2000 (5)

Row 5
13) Graham Rahal (R, F), #06 norinrad (28)
14) Darren Manning, #14 Sigmund (15)
15) Bruno Junqueria, #18 CMKAL (23)

Row 6
16) Justin Wilson (R), #02 One Horse Town (18)
17) Buddy Rice (W), #15 Stuart (6)
18) Davey Hamilton (F), #22 buddyr (27)

Row 7
19) Alex Lloyd (R), #16 robo (3)
20) Ryan Hunter-Rheay (R), #17 jtron (24)
21) John Andretti (F), #24 Roger Calver (19)

Row 8
22) Sarah Fischer (F), #67 JongWK (11)
23) Will Power (R), #8 Ian Abstentia (29)
24) Jeff Simmons, #41 Werekoala (10)

Row 9
25) Oriol Servia (R), #5 Elliot Wilen (7)
26) Ernesto (E.J.) Viso (R), #33 Craftig (26)
27) Milka Duno, #23 Premier (12)

Row 10
28) Mario Moraes (R), #19 MountZionRyan (25)
29) Enrique Bernoldi (R), #36 shewolf (8)
30) Jaime Camara (R), #34 Faerywitch (13)

Row 11
31) A.J. Foyt IV, #2 Rophan (32)
32) Buddy Lazier (W, F), #91 RPG Pundit (21)
33) Marty Roth, #25 ElHombre (30)

(W)=Former Winner
(F)=Fan Favorite (at least in my neck of the woods)

Good luck to our contestants!

Here's a video to whet the appetite, and in honor of my hometown's big event:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Indy 500 Fun: Win A Free RPG Bundle!

Cross-posted from theRPGsite (where you need to register to take advantage of this, if you aren't already).

Since I am the resident Hoosier of the board, I feel it is my interest to remind everyone the Indy 500 is back with a vengeance. American open-wheel racing is again united, and with many young stars, and fresh off the most exciting Bump Day in 15 years, I am ready to stir up some interest.

How, you say? First, by linking to this photo of Danica Patrick. Second, by having a FREE contest. Here's how to play: you need to respond to this thread saying you want in (and saying what # respondent you are). The first 33 respondents get drivers assigned to them randomly (I pull them out of a hat). If your driver wins the race, you get a totally kickass stack of RPG goodness (and I promise you, I have some surprises stored up!). I'll also give out smaller prizes to the 2nd and 3rd-place winners, k?

Entry cut-off is Saturday! Watch or listen to the race Sunday afternoon to watch some kickass racing, amazing strategy, gut-wrenching crashes, and someone becoming a part of racing history. I know most of you won't tune in. But for those of you who do, I hope you get an appreciation of the majesty, amazing history, and excitement of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. All this week, I hope to have time to link to some great finishes, terrible crashes, and wild moments that make this such a celebration for us Indy natives.

(And yes, this is open to non-U.S. folks. After all, the race has Englishmen, determined Japanese, laid-back Americans, underdog Canadians, hometown Indy boys, surprising Germans, super-speedy Aussies and New Zealanders, charismatic Brazilians, and a stew of everyone else!)

Link Here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Roleplaying Tips PSA

I just noticed Roleplaying Tips is moving over to a new mailing service. If you are subscribed to that most excellent resource, you'll want to visit here and port over your subscription. If you aren't subscribed, give some of the older mailings on there a look, and sign up. I get a lot of good tips out of it for my games and GMing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A +3 Longsword, I Must Be 5th Level

So much for random treasure tables in 4th Ed D&D.

As I said elsewhere (edited slightly):

It's a streamlined, anticipated, expected payout, and I can't think of anything duller. Progression becomes more uniform. Its a constraining item that now has the expectancy of being used by virtue of being in the rulebook. It doesn't help that I love my random tables and charts. I want the unexpected. I want crazy randomness. I don't want to be sitting at a table with a bunch of folks waiting for their Magic Item C since they just hit 4th level.

Folks will always say, "Hey! You can just wing it! Make up random stuff--its your game!" Yeah, it is. But there comes a point--as I've found with my current campaign of Rolemaster--where you have to ask yourself, if you have to wing this much shit, what's keeping you tied to this game, this sytem? In the case of 4e, nothing.

I've been weakly negative up to this point, but I think this is the tipping point. Not because its anything I couldn't work past if I wanted, but because between my previewing of Keep on the Shadowfell this week (not impressed) and all the design decisions up to now I haven't liked, I know 4e and I aren't going to mesh. And that's fine. A little sad, but fine. Lord knows I already have more games lined up to run then I'll ever get a chance to. So here I am, another schlub adding to the 4e "probably not for me" sad-song melodrama. (Yeah, I'm tired of it, too, but here we are).

Honestly, I think I just may want a little more Chaos in my games than that. And a lot of what we've seen with 4e points towards getting rid of a lot of randomness.

I still will try out a demo, but with one in my paws right now and based on all this, it ain't looking good.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gnome Stew's A-Boilin'

I'm thrilled to see that Martin Ralya & friends have a new Game Mastering resource out there. Gnome Stew is starting out with 10 GM/bloggers/writers, who write on both system-neutral and system-specific topics on GMing tips and have to improve your game. Martin, you might remember, was the force behind the amazingly excellent Treasure Tables. If this site turns out to be anywhere as good as TT was, we're in for a treat.

4e may have no love for the Gnome, but at least we know that worthy race does not want for friends.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Background Noise

Sorry for the lack of posting this past week--it was one of those where everything seemed to take off at once.

I'm still able to keep on top of the newest submissions--the newest being Background Noise, an e-product submitted by Second Rat Games (who did Arclight, FYI). Its basically a lot of tables for helping determine and flesh out character background. Its a pretty cool, system-generic product. I'm anxious to roll some results and see what happens!

In other news, I've been told that a large White Wolf shipment is on its way. I don't have the list in front of me, but it sounds like its the majority of every they've done this past year. So that will definitely keep me occupied! I must confess, with only 3 weeks until the deadline, I'm surprised at how a few key categories are still pretty sparse insofar as entries go. But, from what I understand, there's always a late rush. I hope the publishers are being contacted and communicated with in a timely manner--there are some regular entrants and some products I thought I'd definitely see that are still curiously absent. Still, there's still plenty of time...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mixing It All Together

I like to think my Gamer ADD is under control. But the fact of the matter is, I have far too many systems I like than I'll ever have time to run. Take fantasy alone: Rolemaster, Burning Wheel, Rules Cyclopedia D&D, Palladium Fantasy, Epic RPG, Iron Gauntlets, True 20....the list goes on.

Like a lot of folks, I've kicked around the idea of a homebrew system. Its already a bit of a joke in my gaming circle that I tend to houserule and streamline whatever system I'm running at the moment. The thing is, yeah, I could (and do) just run short-term, limited campaign arcs to get my fix of each system, but I really, really love a campaign that clicks and goes into long-term play. So what am I thinking? Take what I love about each of the systems I want to run, and somehow mix it into a cohesive, rules-medium whole.

Chances are, it'll be a wretched mess when I'm done. I'm counting on that, in a sense. But in a larger sense, I think its going to be a really cool exercise--really read and tear into all those systems, and see what I really dig about each one. I imagine I'll also find parts I don't like in practice so much as I thought. Either way, I think doing this will give me a clearer idea of all the things I want out of an RPG--and perhaps let me step back and see what I utilize and lean on as a GM.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

TheRPGSite Fund Drive

The RPG message board and site I post on easily the most, The RPG Site, is having a fundraiser/drive to pay for webhosting and upkeep and the like. Which, in gaming terms, is a little like Mos Eisley having a bake sale. If you're a regular there, or a semi-regular, or if you like to give RPGnet something to bitch about now and then during the occasional flame-up, perhaps you should look at giving a couple clams.

Money's tight (always), but I figure if I throw in $10, I'll see more return on that for good gaming ideas than I would from a lot of products that price.