Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Wizards of the Coast Recognized Product Publication Schedule Since 2006

Since the release of Dungeons & Dragons 5e in 2014 I have been attempting to collect everything that Wizards of the Coast has published. As many of you know I'm a bit too cheap to buy anything at full price so I tend to wait until the price gets low enough that I'm willing to buy it; which often means that I forget some of the things that Wizards has published. So yesterday I started trying to make myself a checklist of all the things Wizards of the Coast had published since D&D 5e went live so that I could remember what I had and still needed only to find that their official website is very unhelpful in this matter, that their product listing page is poorly designed, and that it's missing quite a lot of material. So rather than throw my hands up and walk away from the whole thing I thought that it might be better to organize the products that Wizards of the Coast recognizes on their website in a reasonable fashion and to publish the list here on the blog. 

It's here that I need your help gang. Help me fill in the gaps and missing materials. I don't have the dates for any of the Dungeon+ issues prior to issue #9. I know that they've published other things as I caught the fifth book from the Sundering series being left off their official listing. What else have they missed and where does it go on the list?

As new information becomes available to me I'll update this list every so often to reflect the missed materials and the new products as they're announced so that it'll be a useful page and not just a footnote.


2006


2010
August 31             Castle Ravenloft Board Game


2011
February 15          Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game
May 25                 Daggerdale (Video Game)
June 21                 Conquest of Nerath Board Game
October 18           The Legend of Drizzt Board Game
November 1         Brimstone Angels by Erin M. Evans (Book)


2012
March 20             Lords of Waterdeep Board Game


2013 (Run Up Year to D&D 5e Launch)
March 19           Dungeons of Dread (Collection of S-Series Modules) 
June 5                 Chronicles of Mystara (Video Game)
June 18               Against the Slave Lords (Collection of A-Series Modules) 
August 6             The Companions (Sundering Book 1) by R.A. Salvatore (Book)
August 15           Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle (Next Preview) 
August 20           Scoundrels of Skullport Board Game
August 20           Murder in Baldur's Gate (Sundering Part 1)
October 1            The Godborn (Sundering Book 2) by Paul S. Kemp
November 15      Baldur's Gate 2: Enhanced Edition (Video Game)
November 19      Original Dungeons & Dragons Premium Reprint
November 21       Lords of Waterdeep (Video Game)
December 3         The Adversary (Sundering Book 3) by Erin M. Evans


2014 (D&D 5e Officially Launches)
February 4           The Reaver (Sundering Book 4) by Richard Lee Byers
February 4           Scourge of the Sword Coast  (dmsguild.com exclusive)
February 25         Fell's Five (Graphic Novel)
March 4               Night of the Hunter (Companions Codex Book 1) by R.A. Salvatore
April 1                 The Sentinel (Sundering Book 5) by Troy Denning
April 2                 Cutter (Graphic Novel) by R.A. Salvatore and Geno Salvatore
April 17               Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition (Video Game)
June 3                  The Herald (Sundering Book 6) by Ed Greenwood
June 24                 Dungeon! Board Game
July 9                    Legacy of the Crystal Shard (Sundering Part 2)
July 9                    Dead in Thay: Dreams of the Red Wizards (dmsguild.com exclusive)
July 15                  D&D Starter Set (Boxed Set)
July 15                   Icons of the Realms: Starter Set (Miniatures)
August 12             The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories (Audible exclusive)
August 19             Hoard of the Dragon Queen: Tyranny of Dragons Part 1
August 19             Player's Handbook
September 30        Rise of the King (Companions Codex: Book 2) by R.A. Salvatore
September 30        Monster Manual
October 14             Fire in the Blood (Brimstone Angels) by Erin M. Evans (Book)
October 15             Legends of Baldur's Gate by Jim Zub (Comic)
October 30             Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition (Video Game)
November 4           The Rise of Tiamat: Tyranny of Dragons Part 2
November 19         D&D Icons of the Realms: Bahamut
November 19         D&D Icons of the Realms: Tiamat
December 9            Dungeon Master's Guide


2015
January 20              Dungeon Master's Screen
March 3                  Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf by R.A. Salvatore (Companions Codex, Book 3)
March 4                   Elemental Evil: Booster (Miniatures)
April 7                     Princes of the Apocalypse
April 16                   Player's Companion: Elemental Evil
April 29                   Temple of Elemental Evil (Board Game)
June 2                      Spellstorm by Ed Greenwood
September 1            Archmage by R.A. Salvatore (Homecoming Book 1) (Book)
September 8            Gold Box Classics (Video Game) (Good Old Games)
September 9            Rage of Demons: Booster
September 15          Out of the Abyss: Rage of Demons
October 20               Sword Coast Legends
November 3             Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
December 29           Ashes of the Tyrant (Brimstone Angels) by Erin M. Evans (Book)


2016
March 15                  Curse of Strahd
March 31                  Siege of Dragonspear (Video Game)
April 1                      Tarokka Deck
April 5                      Maestro (Homecoming Book 2) by R.A. Salvatore (Book)
April 6                      Icons of the Realms: Monster Menagerie
June 7                       Death Masks by Ed Greenwood
June 16                     Tyrants of the Underdark Board Game
September 2             Dragon+ #9
September 6             Storm King's Thunder
September 6             Storm King's Thunder DM Screen
September 21           Icons of the Realms: Storm King's Thunder
September 22           Monsters and Heroes of the Realms (Coloring Book)
October 4                 The Devil You Know (Brimstone Angels) by Erin M. Evans
October 25               Hero (Homecoming Book 3) by R.A. Salvatore
October 28               Dragon+ #10
November 8             Dungeonology
November 15           Volo's Guide to Monsters
December 7              Rock, Paper, Wizard
December 15            Dragon+ #11


2017
January 4                  Icons of the Realms: Monster Menagerie 2
January 11                Frost Giant's Fury (Comic) by Jim Zub & Netho Diaz
February 15              Assault of the Giants Board Game
February 27              Dragon+ #12
April 4                      Tales from the Yawning Portal
Announced               Dungeon Chess (Virtual Reality Video Game)


Sunday, March 5, 2017

My Wife Wrote a Book!

Well, a novelette really.

Anyway, super proud of her and you should check her out if you get a chance. She's pretty awesome and not just because she can write.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Why Not Waterdeep?

Last night I was talking with a friend of mine about Dyvers as a setting for an adventure that he was getting ready to run and he said something that has been kind of stuck in my craw ever since: "Why begin in Dyvers? Why not Waterdeep?" Why not Waterdeep indeed.

I'll tell you why not fucking Waterdeep. 

Waterdeep is a bullshit town without good music, easy sex, or ready access to drugs. It's a puritanical nightmare covered in a veneer of scum that barely covers the city, and by extension the whole setting. It's the fucking Branson of fictional cities. I don't want to go to god-damned Branson. I want to go to Vegas where I can be covered in cheap whores and expensive liquor while snorting cocaine off the craps table. 

Fuck Waterdeep!



Actually, now that I think about it there are a few things there that I like . . . Never mind. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Four Way Tie? Well, That Was Unexpected.

Last night when I went to bed I expected to wake up this morning and find that the first Dyvers Abroad project would begin in Talislanta. The morning, however, has proven that not to be the case. Instead I have been greeted with a four way tie between Talislanta, Mystara, The Palladium World, and RIFTS Earth. 

So we're going to have a run-off.

For those of you who aren't familiar with these settings allow me to provide you with a very brief explanation of each so you can have a baseline familiarity before casting your vote in the final poll. 


Mystara: Originally known as the "Known World" this setting was the baseline for Basic Dungeons & Dragons. It's a fun world populated by societies built around concepts that gives it a weight that has allowed it to garner ardent fans over the last forty years. As such if you're familiar with more traditional Dungeons & Dragons styled settings than you have a passing familiarity with this setting as well. 


The Palladium World: This is the world of Palladium Fantasy Role-Play. It's a rich world more reminiscent of Games Workshop's early incarnation of the Old World setting as it has a depth of brutality to it that often can leave a player reeling if they aren't prepared for it. Unlike the Old World, however, the Palladium World doesn't have that sense of hopelessness attached to it that often pervades Games Workshop's products. By comparison to other Palladium settings the Palladium World is largely undefined and open to interpretation in a way that is similar to the Greyhawk setting from TSR / Wizards of the Coast. It has a few unique options to it but none is so notable as the Wolfen, a race of humanoid wolves that vie for control of the world. 


RIFTS Earth: This is the base world for Palladium's RIFTS system. It's a shattered world that has been torn apart by dimensional rifts that allow players to play at any time, in any place, and in any reality that their Game Master can imagine. The core setting, that of the baseline earth, is one where the players are struggling for survival against extra-dimensional beings, magical legends, living gods, and fascist dictatorships. Technologically you'll see everything from cyberpunk future technologies to sword wielding barbarians. By far an away it is the most diverse of all the settings I've ever read.


Talislanta: This setting is a complete reinterpretation of the pseudo-Medieval world pulling from such diverse sources of inspiration as Jack Vance, William S. Burroughs, and H.P. Lovecraft. It is a refutation of the Tolkien inspired setting and as a result it is breath of fresh air. Tone wise it varies from the grim to comical but the players will rarely feel hopeless unless they place themselves in such situations.

Good luck to your favorites! I'm kind of excited to see who will finally win!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Whole of Fantasy and Dungeons & Dragons

Jupiter and Europa by Marit Berg

Last night I was reading a pdf copy of Europa when I ran across an article by Gary Gygax, How to Set Up Your Dungeons & Dragons Campaign - and Be Stuck Refereeing it Seven Days per Week Until the Wee Hours of the Morning! This was actually the second part of a series he had been writing, which I have yet to fully explore as I haven't found any other copies of Europa other than this one, and I noticed something that I had suspected for some time but not actually seen in print before. Gary wrote, ". . . Now fantasy / swords & sorcery games need not have any fixed basis for the assumptions made by its referee (my own doesn't) except those which embrace the whole of fantasy . . . Settings based upon the limits (if one can speak of fantasy limits) can be very interesting in themselves providing the scope of the setting will allow the players relative free-reign to their imaginations. Typical settings are: Teutonic / Norse Mythology; Medieval European Folklore (including King Arthur, Holger the Dane, and so on); The Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser; Indian Mythology; and Lost Continents such as Atlantis or Mu. Regardless of the setting you can have it all taking place on an 'alternative earth' or a parallel world . . ." (Gygax, 18).

The part that got my attention was that first line, that ". . . fantasy / swords & sorcery games need not have any fixed basis for the assumptions made by its referee . . . except those which embrace the whole of fantasy . . ." (Gygax, 18). Embrace the whole of fantasy.

Too often when I read and discuss role-playing games - especially when concerning Dungeons & Dragons - I find that there are all of these established boundaries that delineate what I'm allowed to do with my games. The world must be set in a quasi-Medieval time period. Guns, if they exist at all, should be rare. The world should feel big and the players a small part of it. Oh, and the literary inspiration for your games should come from Tolkien, Martin, or Gygax's Appendix N. 

Fantasy, especially the way that the term was understood before we decided to subdivide everything to death, was so much larger than the truncated spectrum that comes from limiting our imaginations to any guiding light. Take for example my own favorite source of inspiration: pulp fantasy. 


I know that for some of my readers they might be reminded of James Maliszewski's exploration of pulp fantasy and his definition of the term or as he put it ". . . In general, 'pulp fantasy' roughly equates to what we nowadays call 'sword and sorcery.' However, the term is more expansive than that, because it also includes authors and stories that do not, strictly speaking, fall under sword and sorcery, such as Burroughs and other 'sword and planet' authors, as well as 'weird tales' of the Lovecraftian variety. I chose the term because, by and large, most of the authors whom Gygax cites as influences in the famous Appendix N of the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide were published in the pulp magazines of the 20s through 50s . . ." (Maliszewski).

Unfortunately James' definition of pulp fantasy ignores a large part of what made up the pulp fantasy of the era. As a result, if we were to hold to his definition than we wouldn't consider pulp standards like Doc Savage, Buck Rogers, Tarzan of the Apes, The Shadow, Green Lama, or Zorro as something that we should look to for inspiration in our Dungeons & Dragons games. Our heroes would be craven things who acted out of a slavish devotion to selfishness rather than because they were doing the right thing. We wouldn't have alien battles, tanks, high speed car chases, mystical hokum, or super heroics. Instead we would be bound to endlessly repeating pale imitations of Howard's adventures and Tolkien's quests.


Listen, It's all too common for people to coalesce around an idea and codify it as conventional wisdom. Today in our hobby we have as our conventional wisdom the standard refrain that our Dungeons & Dragons styled games are all supposed to be pseudo-Medieval affairs hinged on the literary roots of Conan the Barbarian, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, and the Lord of the Rings; and James held to this line of thought in his discussion of pulp fantasy. As a community we have internalized this conventional wisdom and now it is taken for granted that if we are playing Dungeons & Dragons then it must be this way and any deviation is anathema.

Yet it doesn't have to be that way. 

Yes, we can explore a setting bound by certain limits as Gary noted in Europa, but we can also go further and take the game in different directions without it being something other than Dungeons & Dragons. We can hop a ride on the back of a floating cart with hairy aliens and six legged horses to take back our lives like Prince Valentine did in Robert Silverberg's  Lord Valentine's Castle. Or we can race across the globe in a desperate race to get back home after we crash landed on some god forsaken planet like Adam Reith did in Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure novels. We could even fight evil like Buck Rogers in Philip Francis Nowlan's Armageddon 2419 A.D. But we don't; because too often we let ourselves be convinced that if we're playing Dungeons & Dragons it has to be the same way that everyone else has always played it. We have to be Aragon dragging some fat, little halflings half way across the world to save it on an epic quest; or we have to Conan sneaking his way through the palace. 

I have spent the better part of the last decade having fun exploring worlds like that but they're not enough any more. I want my games to be more. I want aliens. I want laser guns and high speed rocket chases across the universe. I want to fight evil. I want to out smart the villain and save the day. I want to go to sleep and wake up a thousand years later only to jump right into a gun fight as I rush to the aide of some poor sap beset by vicious gangs. 

There is so much out there for a Dungeons & Dragons game to be that isn't just a rehashing of Howard and Tolkien. I want all of it. I want the whole of fantasy.





Works Cited

Gygax, Gary. "How to Set Up Your Dungeons & Dragons Campaign - and Be Stuck Refereeing it Seven Days per Week Until the Wee Hours of the Morning!" Europa. April 1975. pg 18. pdf

Maliszewski, James. "What is Pulp Fantasy?" GROGNARDIA, http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/04/what-is-pulp-fantasy.html. Accessed February 21, 2017.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Cthulhu and the Old Ones Sing the Blues: The Beast in the Cave


The Beast in the Cave is the first story published in The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. The story was written by H.P. Lovecraft when he was only 14 years old and shows signs of the author's inexperience. The story is short, only six pages, and builds towards a conclusion that makes little sense in connection with the information the author provides his readers. 

Still there are hints of the weird fiction elements that would become more pronounced in his later works once the Beast makes its appearance. While it's an early effort by Lovecraft it still has the hallmarks of his prose which make for an enjoyable, if all to light, read. Largely a forgettable story that leaves me unfulfilled. 

If you haven't read this one yet, then you're not missing anything.


Table of Contents
Introduction
The Beast in the Cave
The Alchemist
The Tomb
Dagon
A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson
Polaris
Beyond the Wall of Sleep
Memory
Old Bugs
The Transition of Juan Romero
The White Ship
The Street
The Doom that came to Sarnath
The Statement of Randolph Carter
The Terrible Old Man
The Cats of Ulthar
The Tree
Celephais
The Picture in the House
The Temple
Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
From Beyond
Nyarlathotep
The Quest of Iranon
The Music of Erich Zann
Ex Oblivione
Sweet Ermengarde
The Nameless City
The Outsider
The Moon-bog
The Other Gods
Azathoth
Herbert West - Reanimator
Hypnos
What the Moon Brings
The Hound
The Lurking Fear
The Rats in the Walls
The Unnamable
The Festival
Under the Pyramids
The Shunned House
The Horror at Red Hook
He
In the Vault
Cool Air
The Call of Cthulhu
Pickman's Model
The Strange High House in the Mist
The Silver Key
The Dream-Quest of Unkown Kadath
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
The Color Out of Space
The Descendant
The Very Old Folk
History of the Necronomicon
The Dunwich Horror
IBID
The Whisperer in the Darkness
At the Mountains of Madness
The Shadow Over Innsmouth
The Dreams in the Witch House
Through the Gates of the Silver Key
The Thing on the Doorstep
The Evil Clergy Man
The Book
The Shadow Out of Time
The Haunter of the Dark

Cthulhu and the Old Ones Sing the Blues: Introduction

I like big projects and series that tend to push me to accomplish things with my blog that I wouldn't otherwise attempt. It keeps me honest. It motivates me - and right now I need that because I have a lot that I want to do on the blog this year. Anyway, way back in December, 2016 I got this bright idea that I was going to do a complete read through of H.P. Lovecraft's fiction so I purchased a copy of The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft from Amazon and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.


Then it arrived  earlier this week and I was thrilled. The book looks to be of a fair quality and I absolutely love the subdued cover.

So here's the deal.

Over the course of this year I'm going to be reading all 69 short stories and novellas contained within this weighty tome. As I go along I'm going to be publishing my thoughts on the stories here on the blog under the series Cthulhu and the Old Ones Sing the Blues because I think that title is hilarious and it's my blog. You're more than welcome to join along in the process as I would love to hear your thoughts as we progress.

Now I should mention that the works of H.P. Lovecraft are in a kind of nebulous space within copyright law as there is a party that claims ownership of the copyright but has not yet produced proof of it so far as I've been able to ascertain online. You see you can read all of his works online, for free, from places like hplovecraft.com and the internet archive yet you have a copyright holder who is trying to assert their claim and from here things get into legal terms that I'm unskilled in describing or involving myself in. So instead I'm going to be very clear from the outset that I will be using quotes form H.P. Lovecraft sparingly and only in furtherance of the discussion of his works as is covered under Fair Use. I have no intention of circumventing anyone's claim on the property and have no interest in being sued. My only goal is to explore his works and to gain from them as a writer, reader, and Game Master. 

With that out of the way, welcome to the Cthulhu and the Old Ones Sing the Blues!


Table of Contents
Introduction
The Beast in the Cave
The Alchemist
The Tomb
Dagon
A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson
Polaris
Beyond the Wall of Sleep
Memory
Old Bugs
The Transition of Juan Romero
The White Ship
The Street
The Doom that came to Sarnath
The Statement of Randolph Carter
The Terrible Old Man
The Cats of Ulthar
The Tree
Celephais
The Picture in the House
The Temple
Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
From Beyond
Nyarlathotep
The Quest of Iranon
The Music of Erich Zann
Ex Oblivione
Sweet Ermengarde
The Nameless City
The Outsider
The Moon-bog
The Other Gods
Azathoth
Herbert West - Reanimator
Hypnos
What the Moon Brings
The Hound
The Lurking Fear
The Rats in the Walls
The Unnamable
The Festival
Under the Pyramids
The Shunned House
The Horror at Red Hook
He
In the Vault
Cool Air
The Call of Cthulhu
Pickman's Model
The Strange High House in the Mist
The Silver Key
The Dream-Quest of Unkown Kadath
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
The Color Out of Space
The Descendant
The Very Old Folk
History of the Necronomicon
The Dunwich Horror
IBID
The Whisperer in the Darkness
At the Mountains of Madness
The Shadow Over Innsmouth
The Dreams in the Witch House
Through the Gates of the Silver Key
The Thing on the Doorstep
The Evil Clergy Man
The Book
The Shadow Out of Time
The Haunter of the Dark

Friday, February 17, 2017

Explorations of Other Settings

As long time readers will no doubt testify, I love me some Greyhawk. I make posters about the setting, write blog posts exploring it, and generally just fly my Greyhawk Flag high. But lately I've been thinking a lot about diving into a new setting and just kind of finding out what else is out there beyond the borders of the Dyvers and the known shores of my humble world.

Judge of Ages by John Harris

Where to explore though?

To be perfectly honest the lands and environs of our shared fantasy worlds are too numerous to even attempt to name them all, so instead I'm going to limit the choices to the books I currently own and can fairly confidently explore as a result. Let's see, looking at my bookcase that gives me a few choices: Blackmoor, the Forgotten Realms (Neverwinter), the Forgotten Realms (general), Dark Sun, Ravenloft, Palladium World (PFRP), the Old World (WFRP), Mystara (Karameikos), Red Steel, Alternity, the Iron Kingdoms (IKFRP 3rd Edition variation), Talislanta, Post Earth (Gamma World 1st Edition), Eberron (3rd Edition variation), Eberron (4th Edition variation), Dragonlance (1st Edition), Dragonlance (Tales of the Lance variation), Dragonlance (3rd Edition variation), Star Frontiers (Alpha Dawn Basic/Expanded), Chaos Earth (RIFTS), Hollow World (2nd Edition variations), Al Qadim, Once & Future King (Amazing Engine), and Bughunters (Amazing Engine).

I'm a bit hard pressed to make a decision on these so I'm going to throw a poll up on the right to let you guys help me pick. For the ones with more than one entry I'm going to put them up once and then, if they win, we'll have a run off for which one you all find the most interesting. Right, so, good luck to your favorites. Vote early; choose as many as you like, and vote often.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Letters to Dyvers: Problems, Problems. We've All Got Them, but Only a Few of Us Wallow in Them.

Have I ever mentioned that I like getting mail from you guys?

Well, I do.

Anyway, I'm in the process of catching up on about a year's worth of e-mails so I'm going to do a bit of a clearing house and answer three of them real quickly.

P.S. I've cleaned up the e-mails a bit to make it easier to read.




Problematic Media 

Have you seen the Mary Sue article, Everything I Love is Problematic? Thoughts?

Largely the article is just a bunch of pretentious hand wringing designed to get people to recognize that the author is so very self-aware of her privilege and blah, blah, blah. Boring rubbish for the most part that wants you to feel guilty for loving the things that you love. 

Forget that noise. 

Love what you love; don't hate on other people's things. Moving on.



Magic Items

If you could pick one Magic Item, and have it in real life, what would it be?

In my games I always have a downside to the magical items that I introduce to my players. Life is more fun when there is a consequence to your actions and the game is more fun that way too. Still, I would love to find something like the Mighty Servant of Leuk-O.  




Arts

You post a lot of art on the blog: who's your favorite?

As much as I love art I don't really have a favorite. I have styles that I love but there isn't really an artist that I go out of my way for over the others. That said I've been really digging the work of John Harris and Jakub Rozalski lately.