Monday, August 31, 2015

Pack, Pack, Chuck that Sack.

There will be no BEST READS OF THE WEEK! today as I'm helping my brother and his family move. We'll have no internet access while we're moving today so I won't be able to get everything put up the way that I would like so rather than put out something I'm not happy with it will just wait until I get to a point where I can be proud of what I'm putting out. Sorry for the inconvenience to you cats who are waiting on the July run to finish but it'll should be up Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest (depends on what time we get back home). 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

BEST READS OF THE WEEK! JULY 6 - 12, 2015!


Welcome back to the Best Reads of the Week! Every week I read through more than 450 blogs looking for the best rpg related articles and bringing them directly to you. This week we've got: tables, tables, and TABLES; a new class option for ACKS; advice for budding miniature collectors; a fantastic theory for DARK SUN; one of the best things I've ever read +Zak Smith write; more love letters to our favorite games; and so much more!

As always, if you liked any of the posts listed here be sure to let the author know. Leave them a note on their blogs, give them a plus 1, like them on the Facebooks, and share their posts in your social media feeds! Till next week!

BEST READS OF THE WEEK!
JULY 6 - 12, 2015!

ACKS Class: Bearsarker by John, from the blog The Wandering Gamist: One of the things that I enjoy about this class variant John has come up with for Adventurer, Conqueror, King System is that it feels so much deeper than classes in role-playing games generally come across. It's cleverly done and for those of you who love ACKS it's well worth checking out.

How I Run City Adventures by +Jack Shear, from the blog Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque: When it comes to running city adventures there seems to be an overabundance of people trying to sell you dense books that either obfuscate matters or line the pockets of the people writing them while doing nothing that they set out to do. Not so with Jack as he manages to provide a quick, and understandable, guide to running city adventures that doesn't read like a self-important manifesto from a third rate hack who can barely keep her dislike of her audience from showing.

Six Words 6d6: The Road North by +Luka Rejec, from the blog Cauldrons & Clerics: A series of six d6 tables that reads like a psychedelic poem of adventure in long forgotten lands where the gods of old still roam the world and magic has yet to disappear. Just one of many reasons why when Luka updates his blog I make sure to read what's been written.

Clerical Work Part 15: Specialty Priests of Helm for D&D 5th Edition and Part 16: Specialty Priests of Sune by +Mark Craddock, from the blog Cross Planes: Mark's continuing efforts to bring the Specialty Priest into 5e through feats.

For the love of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia by +Jens D., from the blog The Disoriented Ranger: Have you ever played D&D with the Rules Cyclopedia? If you haven't then you have been missing out on one heck of a fun time! Take a moment to come along with Jens as he tells you about the game that made him fall in love with role-playing and that has kept him going ever since!

Building a miniature collection on a budget from the most useful figures by DM David, from the blog DM David: If you're thinking about putting together a miniature collection for use in your D&D styled games then this handy guide by David is a great place to start. In it he shows you which figures will give you the most bang for your buck. Thanks David! This one was super useful!

How low, is low prep. Thoughts on the improvised game by +Mark Van Vlack, from the blog Dust_Pan_Games: If you're having troubles improvising your games and yet you don't want to put in the time to detail every person on the map than this post from Mark will be right up your alley. Mark is able to deftly identify the parts of prep you need to do and then to give a few guides to help you during play. Really worth reading for anyone looking to being running with less prep and for those hoping to improve their low preparation games.

My Grand Theory of Dark Sun by +Jürgen Hubert, from the blog A German Geek: Dark Sun is one of those campaigns that never receives enough love as far as I'm concerned, and part of the reason for that is that it presents a lot of troubles for people attempting to 'get' it. The story is convoluted, twisted, and filled with little contradictions. So when Jurgen posted this it was right in my wheel house. Connecting the dots, drawing conclusions, and just a hint of conspiracy. All good stuff.

Turkish, Mofo–Do You Speak It? by Andy Slack, from the blog Halfway Station: This is a post about languages both in the real world and those inspired by them in a far off future. Fascinating stuff.

Max Frey by Aeron, from the blog Monster Brains: Are you looking for a new dragon? This retrospective of Max Frey's work is filled to the brim with terrifying dragon-like creatures that should haunt your players for years to come. Check it out!

 2,000,000 Page views! And Ennies. by +Timothy Brannan, from the blog The Other Side: Congratulations to Timothy! This is a heck of a milestone for anyone and Timothy is as nice a guy as you're likely to run across! Go wish him congratulations on this amazing achievement!

Radical Game Critique Isn't by +Zak Smith, from the blog Playing D&D with Porn Stars: Arguably this is the best thing that I've read from Zak in the last four years. It's biting and it pokes every bear in the room but it's absolutely brilliant.

Why I Love Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons by +Travis Milam, from the blog The Rambling Roleplayer: I just really dig the hell out of this post. Travis has a way with words that I really dig and his thoughts on 5e kind of solidified my own feelings about this latest edition of D&D. Well done Travis!

Not Loving Friend Computer is Treason - A Paranoia Love Story by +Marty Walser, from the blog Raging Owlbear: The computer has told me that I love Paranoia and I believe it. (HELP ME!) Marty is clearly a prophet of the divine will of the computer. All is okay. (HELP ME!) Please go back to playing your video games and writing about table-top rpgs. 

Why Arcana Evolved is Awesome by Sanrock, from the blog Sanrock Reviews: I must admit that I missed the boat when Arcana Evloved came out. I even found it a few years later in a used bookstore for $6.00 but I passed! Why? I was young and incredibly stupid. And it only becomes clearer when you read this article by Sanrock that shows just why Arcana Evolved is one of the best things you could ever buy.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

BEST READS OF THE WEEK! JULY 1 - 5, 2015!


Welcome back to the Best Reads of the Week! Every week I read through more than 450 blogs looking for the best rpg related articles and bringing them directly to you. This week we've got: musings on the edition warring going on with Games Workshop's new AGE OF SIGMAR edition; a FREE PDF of Arksylvania; a couple of love letters to games; and so much more!

As always, if you liked any of the posts listed here be sure to let the author know. Leave them a note on their blogs, give them a plus 1, like them on the Facebooks, and share their posts in your social media feeds! Till next week!

BEST READS OF THE WEEK!
JULY 1 - 5, 2015!

In the Grim Darkness of 2015 There Is Only (Edition) War by +Kelvin Green from the blog, Aiee! Run from Kelvin's Brainsplurge: For longtime Dungeons & Dragons fans the idea of edition warring is something of a regular pastime - like catching fireflies in the summer or drinking beer while fishing - but in War gaming, specifically Games Workshop games, it's kind of an unusual occurrence. So this look into what's happening by Kelvin is a fascinating glimpse at the fragmentation of another game's base is really interesting.

Arksylvania Part 6: Taz-Hadamin Empire, Szavokia, Vallachlands by +Jack Shear, from the blog Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque: The final installment detailing the Arksylvania setting Jack's been putting together.

Arksylvania: Free PDF, the Poe Test, Inspirations by +Jack Shear, from the blog Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque: In this post Jack not only provides you with a fantastic FREE PDF of his Arksylvania setting but even goes into examining where the setting came from and if it succeeded his own expectations. Really worth reading for anyone looking to create their own settings as Jack has a natural talent for cutting through all of the fluff and providing you with just what you need to get the most out of the settings you're running.

My favorite Game System. (MEGS) Part of the My favorite game project by +Mark Van Vlack, from the blog Dust_Pan_Games: This post is a love story between one man and a game that hit all the right buttons. If you haven't heard of MEGS then you need to check out this post because Mark is talking about a game that is far too excellent to sit on the shelf collecting dust. We need more games like that in our lives.

Gonzo is Great by +Edgar Johnson, from the blog Edgar's Game Blog: In this short post Edgar discusses eleven things about role-playing games that are now considered 'gonzo' by some people. It's an interesting look into the concept and how it has become a fashionable term to describe anything and everything under the sun.

Light Theming and Mood by Archon Shiva, from the blog Further Up the Spire: Do you ever use lighting changes in your games to help establish a mood for the session? Archon Shiva does and this post detailing some of their efforts kind of makes it seem like not doing so has been cheating your players. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go buy some LEDs.

The Return of Supremacy by Stuart, from the blog The Great Game: Have you ever played the board game, Supremacy? If you're like me you probably haven't even heard of it. But after reading this enjoyable review by Stuart you'll find yourself scouring every flea market and swap meet you know trying to get a copy.

Re: why I love Apocalypse World by +Patrick Henry Downs, from Nerdwerds: I'll be honest with you, Apocalypse World has never interested me - that is until I read this post by Patrick. He manages to make an eloquent case for the game that has gotten me to purchase a copy this morning. If you haven't played Apocalypse World, or have been on the fence about it, check out this post.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Top 10-ish BEST READS OF JUNE, 2015!


The other day I was reading a blog when I ran across a comment that I'd like to paraphrase here. The comment's author was distressed and wrote, "My favorite blogs have stopped updating! Grognardia, gone. ChicagoWiz's RPG Blog, gone. Everyone is shutting down their blogs, deleting their content, and moving to Google Plus and Tumbler. Blogging about role-playing games is a dying format, like list-servers before. And besides, those who are still blogging aren't saying anything worth reading anymore!"

Horse shit.

I think it's reasonable to argue that I read more blogs than most and I can tell you that there is still great content being produced week after week, day after day. Just look at June, a month that traditionally sees a slow down in production throughout the blog-o-sphere as people start take vacations and going to conventions. Still we saw nearly 2,700 posts being produced this month across over 450 blogs, with nearly as many individual authors, and had more Best Reads recommended than May even though it had nearly 300 less posts produced.

This isn't an aberration or a fluke.

The blog-o-sphere is alive and well as new authors bring fresh perspective to the games that have captured their imaginations while older authors keep putting out good stuff with the knowledge that experience brings along. Our hobby, role-playing games, is experiencing a renascence in wider gaming culture and with that comes new players who bring along with them an whole new understanding of what makes the game fun and where they're willing to push the boundaries. They won't be the second comings of Grognardia - and who would want them to be? We've already read those posts, seen those ideas, and seen a million blogs attempting to be +James Maliszewski. Instead every month new voices step forward to push the conversations about our hobby in new directions; and that's a good thing.

Finding those voices and bringing them to the forefront is what the BEST READS OF THE WEEK! series is all about. I want you to be able to see where our hobby is going by bringing to your attention the authors who are doing interesting projects; who are shaping the discussion of our hobby; and who are putting out stuff that will make your games more fun. Here, then, are 10 of the the best from June.


TOP 10-ish BEST READS OF THE MONTH!
JUNE, 2015!

10


Cosplay Is Not Consent by +Christopher Helton, from the blog Dorkland!: From time to time there comes along some ignorant jackass who thinks that putting his hands on another human being without their consent is acceptable because they decided to wear something that doesn't cover them from head to toe. Such people are terrible human beings and we should all listen to what Christopher has to say on the matter - especially if you disagree.

9


Playing it Forward by +Kevin Smith, from the blog Melvin Smif's Geekery: If you're like me there are times when you find yourself concerned with the future of the hobby. Will your children still be playing it? Will theirs? Often there's a sense of helplessness in these thoughts as it can feel like you're such a small part of the world - which is why Kevin's post is so important. Unlike so many of us he's going out and paying it forward by bringing the games he loves to the next generation of players. If you're interested in bringing the next generation of gamers along then you need to read this excellent post and consider doing something similar.

8



Rogue Rant: Suck It! by Timrod, from the blog Cave of the Dice Chucker: One of the arguments that you'll see popping up every so often is that Dungeons & Dragons has lost its way. Where? Now that's a debatable point because for every Dungeon Master that you meet there's a different answer depending on what edition they like playing the most. Timrod, however, thinks that there was a definite point where it went wrong and he's here to tell you all about it.

7



Skraelings by Scott, from the blog CYCLOPEANA: It seems like most of the time when we write up a monster's description that it follows the traditional Dungeons & Dragons format. The text may have some flavor to it, but more often than not, it just feels tacked on and superfluous. Scott, however, has chosen to go a different route by emulating the style RuneQuest used, and in so doing he has shown us all how terrible what we've become used to really is.

6



Doing Combat Wrong When It Was Right There in the Book by Cirsova, from the blog Cirsova: If you're like me when you actually sit down to the table and start reading the rule books you invariably find something that you've been doing completely different from how the game intended it to run. In this fanatastic post from Cirsova we're treated to a glimpse at how combat has been run wrong for years in Cirsova's home campaign. Have you been making the same errors?

I know I have.

5


The City-State of Wunderspire Series: Part 1, An Overview of the City-State; Part 2, The Elite, Marvels, the Arcane; Part 3, A Sphinx Without a Secret; Part 4, Heights, Multitudes, Gods, Intrigue; and Part 5, The Underclass, Other Lands, and the Complete PDF by +Jack Shear from the blog Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque: In this excellent five part series that serves as a companion piece to last month's Arksylvania series presents you with a city-state to explore and plunder until your heart's desires are satiated. Like so much of Jack's setting work the Wunderspire series provides just enough information to serve as a launching point for your own imagination without overwhelming you with needless lore. Plus, he's made a free PDF to go with it. Well worth checking out!

4


Gobbos by Rose and +Logan Knight, from the blog Last Gasp: Think about the goblins you've been killing all these years. What do you imagine? A sniveling, cowardly cur? Now imagine a goblin that
gets off on the violence you do to them. These Gobbos that Rose and Logan have created are the answer to the boring goblins that you've used for year and bringing them into your home campaigns will create a whole new world of violence. I dig the hell out of these guys and the concept they've come up with here.

3


Let's Talk About Campaign Settings I: Introduction; Part 2: Second Edition Settings Analysis; Part 3: OSR Settings and Part IV: What Can We Learn For Our Own Settings? by +Jeff Russell, from the blog Blessings of the Dice Gods: The settings where we choose to adventure have a lot of baggage associated with them that comes not only from the written works but from what we project onto them. We take an ownership of them that often causes us to treat them as something incredibly special; but why? In this insightful quartet of posts Jeff examines why the Second Edition settings were able to do this better than any before them and how that has informed the OSR since.

2


Savage Worlds: Murder-lite Edition by +Edward Lockhart, from the blog Violent Media: The Murder-lite Edition of Savage Worlds that Edward has created is the sort of thing that just captures your imagination. It's got a brutal attitude that screams out for your characters to enter into the world as fully formed bastards pressing back against all the terrible things in the world that would silence the good and kind. More than that, though, is the fact that the game he's made knows looks at all the classic complaints (like creating a sense of verisimilitude and character immersion) and pokes them right in the eye. Check it out.

1


The Box by Multiplexer, from the blog Critical Hits: In the pantheon of brilliant role-playing game bloggers it's hard to argue against Multiplexer's inclusion. With each new post she continues to create content in a way that no other blogger has been able to match or even to emulate. This latest effort, The Box, is arguably one of the best ways to start a campaign and to keep it going to ever greater heights of murderous looting that I have seen in years. If you're not reading her you're missing out.



As always, if you liked any of the posts listed here be sure to let the author know. Leave them a note on their blogs, give them a plus 1, like them on the Facebooks, and share their posts in your social media feeds! Till next time!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

FAQ for JULY, 2015 BEST READS OF THE WEEK!


How many blogs did you check?
452

How many posts did you read to make the lists?
2,547

How many posts were read for June 1 - 7, 2015?
660

How many posts were read for June 8 - 14, 2015?
631

How many posts were read for June 15 - 21, 2015?
629

How many posts were read for June 22 - 30, 2015?
627

How do I get my blog checked for next month?
I'm always on the lookout for new blogs so you're welcome to send me an e-mail titled Please Add My Blog to the GBRC so that my overly aggressive spam filter won't block you and I'll put you in the queue.

If you have any other questions please let me know and I'll add them and their answers to the FAQ.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

BEST READS OF THE WEEK! JUNE 22 - 30, 2015!



Welcome back to the Best Reads of the Week! Every week I read through more than 450 blogs looking for the best rpg related articles and bringing them directly to you. This week we've got: further thoughts on why campaign settings matter to us and what we can learn from them; thoughts on where D&D went wrong; delaying actions that were never meant to be in the game; long term damage in RPGs; and so much more!

As always, if you liked any of the posts listed here be sure to let the author know. Leave them a note on their blogs, give them a plus 1, like them on the Facebooks, and share their posts in your social media feeds! Till next week!

BEST READS OF THE WEEK!
JUNE 22 - 30, 2015!

Let's Talk About Campaign Settings III: OSR Settings and Part IV: What Can We Learn For Our Own Settings? by +Jeff Russell, from the blog Blessings of the Dice Gods: In the concluding parts of Jeff's examination of Campaign Settings he focuses on the OSR settings and the lessons that can learned from both the published settings, like +David McGrogan's outstanding Yoon-Suin, and the ones produced on blogs like +Anthony Picaro's setting, Straits of Anián. This discussion is one that I think will be revisited in coming months and years as more people discover Jeff's thoughts and begin to work out their own answers to the questions he's raised.

Rogue Rant: Suck It! by Timrod, from the blog Cave of the Dice Chucker: Where did D&D go wrong? It's a question that has been debated by countless D&D enthusiasts across blogs, forums, and every form of social media you can name and more often than not the debate comes down to personal preference. Timrod, however, thinks there is an answer - and he has it.

Doing Combat Wrong When It Was Right There in the Book by Cirsova, from the blog Cirsova: There are moments when you see something for the first time and realize that you've screwed up combat the entire time you've been playing the game. This is one of those moments. Cirsova always seems to find the things I screw up on without even knowing that I'm making those mistakes too.

The Box by Multiplexer, from the blog Critical Hits: If ever you have been stumped for a way to get your players out to adventure that doesn't begin with, "You meet in a tavern . . ." then you need to check out this post by Multiplexer. The article is based on the the Portuguese program of caixa de liberdade and if it doesn't help inspire your games than you are missing a hell of an opportunity to do something great.

Clerical Work Part 14: Specialty Priests of Beshaba for D&D 5th Edition and Part 15: Specialty Priests of Silvanus by +Mark Craddock, from the blog Cross Planes: Mark's continuing efforts to bring the Specialty Priest into 5e through feats.

Remembered with Honour: Lace and Steel by +Ralph Lovegrove, from the blog Department V: Lace and Steel was an obscure swashbuckling game from Australia that you probably haven't heard of and have been missing out on. In this fantastic post from Ralph you'll soon find yourself wishing that you had heard about it early because now you're scouring ebay looking for a copy.

Once subversive, the Arduin Grimoire’s influence reaches today’s games by DM David, from the blog DM David: In this insightful post David examines the influence of one the greatest independently produced game aids: the Arduin Grimoire. A fantastic post that will send you hunting for your own copy of this seminal work.

Why I love Elthos RPG by +Vb Wyrde, from the blog Elthos RPG: Have you ever sat around with someone who was passionate about some project they had been working on for years? Have you ever gotten to play the game they've been working on for as long as they can remember? After reading this fascinating post by Vb you'll want to play this game.

Hindrances, bennies, and Walter White by +Geek Ken, from the blog Geek Ken: How do you handle handing out bennies in Savage Worlds? Sometimes it's easy to know when a player should get one, but at other it can be a bit confusing. In this insightful post Ken provides an easy rule of thumb for handling this mechanic.

A World Without Magic: 5th Ed D&D without the sparkly bits by +Jez Gordon, from the blog Giblet Blizzard: In this short post Jez lays out his issues with 5e and its overabundance of magic - especially at lower levels - and then he gives you a FREE variant game that will completely put that magic problem on its head.  I got to say, I kind of dig the hell out of this variant.

On the "Missing" Delay Action in 5th Edition by +Courtney Campbell, from the blog Hack & Slash: For some players finding that the "Delay" action wasn't in 5th Edition was a bit of a shock. Where had it gone and why had Wizards of the Coast dispensed with it? As Courtney says, "Because it makes a better game."

“The good news though is that you could always house rule away the healing surges.” by +Jeffro Johnson, from the blog Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog: A defense of the house rule and of the do it your own god-damned self esthetic. I dig the hell out of it.

Hurt, broken, sliced and torn – long term damage in RPGs or lack thereof by +Paolo Greco from the blog Lost Pages: One of the odd things that comes up, occasionally, in discussions about rpgs is the unrealistic and boring nature of hit points. That they can be nothing more than a tracking mechanism is undenyable - but do they have to be?

Examples of Good RPG Writing by noisms, from the blog Monsters and Manuals: Often it seems like when we talk about RPGs that we focus on the bad elements rather than on what works. To the point where we highlight what doesn't work so much that it's impossible to see what does - and as a result it's possible to lose sight of how to improve (because there are no examples of what that would look like). So this post by noisms is a good counter to that and a great place to look when you're trying to figure out how to improve your own RPG writing.

house rule for [5e] by +Patrick Henry Downs, from the blog Nerdwerds: I love house rules in general, but I really dig these from Patrick - especially the healing ones.

Why I Love RPGS: C. J. Carella's WitchCraft RPG by +Timothy Brannan, from the blog The Other Side: C.J. Carella's WitchCraft RPG is one of those games that you hear a lot about but that doesn't seem to get a lot of actaul play - which, after reading Timothy's post on it, is a damned shame. This game sounds like a lot of fun and you should definitely check out this post if you're interested in it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

BEST READS OF THE WEEK! JUNE 15 - 21, 2015!


Welcome back to the Best Reads of the Week! Every week I read through more than 450 blogs looking for the best rpg related articles and bringing them directly to you. This week we've got: more Wunderspire; thoughts on why Campaign Settings matter so much to us; satirical articles that hit 5e and the OSR (gird your loins kids); a look at the taboos that surround our tables; and so much more!

As always, if you liked any of the posts listed here be sure to let the author know. Leave them a note on their blogs, give them a plus 1, like them on the Facebooks, and share their posts in your social media feeds! Till next week!

BEST READS OF THE WEEK!
JUNE 15 - 21, 2015!

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Player’s Handbook Errata (Official) by YDIS, from the blog Your Dungeon is Suck: This often vicious lampooning of the recent errata released by Wizards of the Coast attacks many of YDIS' favorite targets while continuing to mock the insistence of certain segments of this hobby to treat every word of a gaming book as sacred. The comments are not for the weak of heart so if you read them be prepared for terrible things to be said and for them not to care about your feelings. 

Wunderspire Part 4: Heights, Multitudes, Gods, Intrigue and Part 5: The Underclass, Other Lands, and the Complete PDF by +Jack Shear, from the blog Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque: In the concluding two parts of the Wunderspire city-state series Jack continues to present his readers with just enough information to inspire their imaginations but not to overwhelm them with needless lore that they could make up just as easily themselves. Plus he combines everything into a FREE PDF. Check this series out!

 Let's Talk About Campaign Settings I: Introduction and Part 2: Second Edition Settings Analysis by +Jeff Russell, from the blog Blessings of the Dice Gods: In this rather interesting series Jeff explores what made the beloved settings of Dungeons and Dragons so special. His thoughts on the matter are definitely shaped by the leaders in OSR design theory and practice which makes for an interesting read.

Vladimir Putin’s Last Voyage Part 2, After the Flood: A Message to Ryan and Part 3, Among the Barbarians by faustusnotes, from the blog Compromise and Conceit: These last two parts pick up from where the first part left off and I am begging for another part! I really hope that more adventures come out soon from Vladimir's Putin's Last Voyage!

Clerical Work Part 13: Specialty Priests of Shar for D&D 5th Edition by +Mark Craddock, from the blog Cross Planes: Mark's continuing efforts to bring the Specialty Priest into 5e through feats.

What was wrong with AD&D 2E? by Scott, from the blog CYCLOPEANA: As Scott notes in this post there are rabid legions of fans for all the other editions, why not 2e? What was wrong with it that no one still stands up screaming, "You can take this game from me when I fucking die!"

Skraelings by Scott, from the blog CYCLOPEANA: I really dig this post. Now I'm going to have to pick up some RuneQuest just to see more examples of this style.

The 10 Kinds of OSR Gamers by Kellri, from the blog Kellri: I don't know what it is about me but I love any post that takes a poke at the very people it's being written for, and this one does that in spades.

Taboos in Storytelling at My Table by +Moebius Adventures, from the blog Moebius Adventures: Every one of us has those things that we won't allow at our tables and in this post Moebius discusses his own and is looking to find out about other peoples' taboos.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: Black Sun Deathcrawl by James Mac George


I first heard about +James MacGeorge's Black Sun Deathcrawl after he ran it at Gen Con 2015. The early reports about the game that I found made it sound like a post-apocalyptic adventure that ran far beyond time and hope and placed the players solidly at end of everything. Needless to say this ran right in my wheelhouse and had me incredibly excited about the game. So I contacted James in an effort to secure myself a copy of the game and he kindly provided me with a review copy of the PDF. 

The adventure starts with a juxtaposition of Dore's art on one page followed by James' prose on the next to create this steadily building sense of disquiet in the mind of the Game Master and to help establish the tone for the adventure. It's bleak; there's a hopelessness to it that pervades every inch of the module and yet it doesn't have the feel of a misery tour that so often pervades such things. The way that James manages to avoid this is through his ingenious use of the Hope mechanism. This is my favorite part of the deathcrawl as it allows for my players to screw with each other as they attempt to outlast the others and 'win' by being the last left alive - and with my players this turns into a lot of fun. 

James has also created some interesting monsters in the Black and Terrible Thoughts. These guys are written like they're an extension of the setting's prose and as a result it makes them far more significant to the adventure than your standard orc or bandits could ever hope to be; but as enjoyable as these monsters are they pale in comparison to the Oblitus Omega, the Last God, whose every encounter is just fantastic (I don't want to spoil anything about the Oblitus but just know that I have stolen this idea for later use too).

Black Sun Deathcrawl is an enjoyable night of gaming, and though it could be expanded into a more protracted campaign, for my players that's all it will ever be. It's fun, exciting, and I will be stealing a lot from it for future games. For the amount of fun had with this game it's well worth the $8 for a print version (which you'll have to pre-order as the original print run has sold out) and definitely worth paying for as a PDF (currently it's Pay-What-You-Want).

BEST READS OF THE WEEK! JUNE 8 - 14, 2015!




Welcome back to the Best Reads of the Week! Every week I read through more than 450 blogs looking for the best rpg related articles and bringing them directly to you. This week we've got: thoughts on the OGL from someone who actually uses it on a regular basis; the beginning of the Wunderspire series; thoughts on making published settings your own; Con Games, CON Games, CON GAMES; a FREE module from the early days of the hobby; love letters to our favorite games; and so much more!

As always, if you liked any of the posts listed here be sure to let the author know. Leave them a note on their blogs, give them a plus 1, like them on the Facebooks, and share their posts in your social media feeds! Till next week!

BEST READS OF THE WEEK!
JUNE 8 - 14, 2015!

An OGL Primer by +Rob Conley, from the blog Bat in the Attic: If you're interested in learning a little bit about how to use the OGL and how it affects the things you make than this post by Rob is a great place to start. Be forewarned: he isn't a lawyer so before you start making grandiose plans based on his recommendation you should consult one beforehand.

Savage Worlds: Murder-lite Edition by +Edward Lockhart, from the blog Violent Media: I love the attitude of this rule variant for the Savage Worlds game. Quick, brutal, and perfect for all my needs. Check it out.

I Have Issues by +Sean Bircher, from the blog Wine and Savages: It's hard to recognize that something is wrong with you and even harder to admit it to the whole world. Sean does just that in this poignant post and in doing so he reminds us all that just because you're incredibly creative and talented doesn't mean that everything is perfect. Well worth reading for anyone struggling with mental issues - like me.

Wunderspire: An Overview of the City-State; Part 2: The Elite, Marvels, the Arcane; and Part 3: A Sphinx Without a Secret by +Jack Shear, from the blog Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque: In this excellent five part series Jack presents his readers with a city-state to explore and plunder to their hearts desires. Without a doubt Jack has been firing on all cylinders lately!

Lost Island of the Necrite - Part Two: COASTAL ENCOUNTERS by +Ben Djarum, from the blog Codex Apocrypha: This one is a more robust sibling to last week's Part One and as a result it begins to establish a feeling for the Lost Island that the first touched on but didn't really reveal. Digging this series and really hoping that Ben keeps it going.

Clerical Work Part 11: Specialty Priests of Bhaal for D&D 5th Edition and Part 12: Specialty Priests of Torm by +Mark Craddock, from the blog Cross Planes: Mark's continued efforts to bring the Specialty Priest into 5e through feats.

In Loving Memory: Everway by +Ralph Lovegrove, from the blog Department V: Have you ever played the game Everway? After reading this fantastic post by Ralph he'll not only show you what made it so special but have you actively looking for a copy of the game yourself. Well worth checking out!

Mythoard! Mythoard! Mythoard! by +Christopher Helton, from the blog Dorkland!: If you haven't had the opportunity to check out Mythoard then you need to do yourself a favor and read this post by Christopher. I can tell you from personal experience that Mythoard is a great company that manages to put out a great product every month.  Check them out.

Thoughts on Fantasy Africa by +Gus L, from the blog Dungeon of Signs: Have you ever heard of Soul & Sorcery? Until this insightful post from Gus neither had I; and now I've got a whole new genre of fiction to explore!

An RPG Manifesto by +Joe Nuttall, from the blog Explore: Beneath & Beyond: I am endlessly fascinated by what people feel are the core pillars of their role-playing game experiences and nothing highlights that so clearly as a manifesto. So what are yours?

NTRPGCON: My Game by +Stacy Dellorfano, from the blog Frivology: This post features Stacy's discussion of her first person-to-person convention game that she ran at NTRPGCON. As someone who would love to run a convention game myself I found this a valuable read.

Taking a Popular Setting and Making it Your Own by +Tim Shorts, from the blog Gothridge Manor: The published settings have been the standard for many role-players since the early days of the hobby with thousands exploring the depths of Greyhawk and rallying to the standards of Dragonlance against the dragon armies. But with so much established lore surrounding these settings how do you make them your own? Tim has some ideas.

Warhammer Prehistory: Find the Lady by Graeme Davis, from the blog graemedavis: Not only do you get a free adventure published just before Graeme started working on the game that would one day become Warhammer, but you also get an interesting story about it too. Check this one out!

Cry Havoc by Stuart, from the blog The Great Game: Attempting to get into war-gaming can be an intimidating prospect, so finding someone like Stuart talking about these games in a friendly, conversational way is a godsend.  Really has me excited to give games like Cry Havoc a try.

Why I Love RPGS: Moldvay Basic by +Timothy Brannan, from the blog The Other Side: I love Moldvay Basic as it was my first version of Basic D&D that I ever laid my hands on, but Timothy puts me to shame. He writes eloquently about a game that I have enjoyed many times over and he makes me long to play it again. Check this post out and discover what makes it so special. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ballot Stuffing Hugos Style [Updated]


One of the complaints that I have seen about the Hugo Awards from those who oppose the slate candidates is that the Sad and Rabid Puppy groups "stuffed the ballot." According to the theory being expressed by these individuals the fact that the slates pushed for their supports to vote a certain way was the very definition of stuffing the ballot. Not only is this a false understanding of the term, it's a willful corruption to serve a purpose - the delegitimization of the slate candidates and their supporters. This was not an accidental event but a concerted effort by many individuals to control the narrative of the event and to further frame it as a situation where the "good guys" were standing up against the "bad guys" (a tactic that was used equally by both sides throughout the controversy). Already we're seeing this term, "stuffing the ballot," being used in the same manner by slate supporters who are now trying to delegitimize the Hugo Awards for this year.

Let me make this explicitly clear for everyone: by this definition for ballot stuffing that being used in connection with the Hugo Awards every political party is guilty of ballot stuffing simply for asking you to vote for their candidates and platforms. What has been done in the Hugo Awards and their nominating process is not ballot stuffing; it's politics. This has been a fundamental misunderstanding throughout the entire process and increasingly annoying as many of the most ardent proponents of this corrupt definition take every opportunity to make grand political pronouncements on the shortcomings of their opponents.

Stop it, all of you. Amy is not a bad guy because she disagrees with you politically any more than is Ja'Micheal a good guy for agreeing with you.

[Edited 8/23/2015 3:54 PM] Okay, changed the name John to Amy in the last sentence of this post because people thought I was defending John C. Wright. That was not my intention as I was just using the name John for an example. 

BEST READS OF THE WEEK! JUNE 1 - 7, 2015!



Welcome back to the Best Reads of the Week! Every week I read through more than 450 blogs looking for the best rpg related articles and bringing them directly to you. This week we've got: thoughts on powergaming; an introduction to the Lords of Light; Cosplay harassment; a Ravenloft remix; one of the best things I've ever read of someone doing to help bring in future gamers to our hobby; and so much more!

As always, if you liked any of the posts listed here be sure to let the author know. Leave them a note on their blogs, give them a plus 1, like them on the Facebooks, and share their posts in your social media feeds! Till next week!

BEST READS OF THE WEEK!
JUNE 1 - 7, 2015!


Risk-Aversion and Powergaming by John, from the blog The Wandering Gamist: In this short post John asks, "Why do we build our characters around the idea of combat instead of around non-combat options?" Is this an extension of the game's roots in war gaming or is there something more going on? A thought provoking post and well worth reading.

Generate NPCs in Two Dice Throws by Paul, from the blog, Blog of Holding: If you're like me you're always looking to speed up the slower parts of the game and get to the good stuff quicker. This handy guide by Paul will get you there quicker.

Lost Island of the Necrite - Part One: ENCOUNTERS AT SEA by +Ben Djarum, from the blog Codex Apocrypha: I kind of dig the heck out of the Lost Island of the Necrite that Ben is doing. It's an island drawn using a simplified hex grid with a series of encounters attached. Which sounds like it would be overly simple, right? Except it works. Don't ask me why but it just builds nicely from Part One to the next.

Clerical Work Part 9: Specialty Priests of Oghma for D&D 5th Edition and Part 10: Specialty Priests of Waukeen by +Mark Craddock, from the blog Cross Planes: Bringing the Second Edition Specialty Priest into 5e through feats.

The Lords of Light and the Effulgent Omnigon of Twund by Scott, from the blog CYCLOPEANA: If you ever read the outstanding blogs Huge Ruined Pile or World of Thool then you'll already been familiar with Scott and his fascinating approach to gaming. CYCLOPEANA is his return to blogging about games and if his Lords of Light is any indication this new project is really going to be a lot of fun to watch him explore.

The Solo Sandbox: what do we know and how do we know? by +Sophia Brandt, from the blog die heart: So let's say that you would love to play a solo game but you want the sandbox feel that you get from having an actual Game Master. How would you go about getting that experience? Sophia has some answers to this problem.

Cosplay Is Not Consent by +Christopher Helton, from the blog Dorkland!: This one should be simple and shouldn't require anyone to say, but here goes: just because someone is dressed a certain way doesn't mean you can put your grimy paws on them without their consent you degenerate prick. Christopher will tell you more in the post and you should damned well listen to him.

Ravenloft? Yeah, I Can Do That by Charles Akins, from the blog Dyvers: Have you ever found your players bound to a setting and constraining your freedom in where to go next with it? Perhaps this isn't the best way to handle it . . .

lichJammer  by +Patrick Stuart, from the blog False Machine: If you have ever thought to yourself that you would love to see Spelljammer redone through the eyes of Lamentations of the Flame Princess then this post is for you. I'm going to be playing this very soon. Will you?

Gobbos by Rose and +Logan Knight, from the blog Last Gasp: I love goblins in all their forms because it pleases me to kill them; so you can imagine how much a gobbo that gets off on violence would be right in my wheelhouse. Honestly, if you haven't been checking out Last Gasp then you're missing out on something special.

Playing it Forward by +Kevin Smith, from the blog Melvin Smif's Geekery: One of the problems that you often see lamented online is that we're all getting older and there aren't enough new players being brought into the hobby (which is often followed by "All these damned kids don't know how to play anyway") but there's always this dearth of action behind these discussions. Not so with Kevin. Read how he's taking matters into his own hands and helping out his community in the process.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

FAQ for JUNE 2015 BEST READS OF THE WEEK!


 How many blogs did you check?
452

How many posts did you read to make the lists?
2,644

How many posts were read for June 1 - 7, 2015?
674

How many posts were read for June 8 - 14, 2015?
658

How many posts were read for June 15 - 21, 2015?
663

How many posts were read for June 22 - 30, 2015?
649

How do I get my blog checked for next month?
I'm always on the lookout for new blogs so you're welcome to send me an e-mail titled Please Add My Blog to the GBRC so that my overly aggressive spam filter won't block you and I'll put you in the queue.

If you have any other questions please let me know and I'll add them and their answers to the FAQ.

Friday, August 21, 2015

TOP 10 BEST READS OF MAY, 2015!



It should come as no surprise to anyone who tries to keep up with their blog lists that staying abreast of everything happening in the RPG blogging scene is no easy task. It seems like every day there's a new blog to check and new posts from old favorites going up with can't miss ideas. Which is why each I've made such an effort to read through the more than 450 active blogs on my current list to find and highlight the best ideas for all of you in my BEST READS OF THE WEEK! series.

This month that means that I've read more than 2,900 posts and checked nearly 500 blogs across Blogger, Wordpress, and Tumblr. In doing so there were some posts that stood out as their authors managed to create memorable articles that not only helped inspire their readers to more fruitful gaming but have helped solve some lingering problems that have troubled them in the process. So get ready because whether you’re looking for a new way to handle social interactions, new places to explore, or wondering why indie games haven’t taken over the world, we’ve got something here for you!

As always, if you liked any of the posts listed here be sure to let the author know. Leave them a note on their blogs, give them a plus 1, like them on the Facebooks, and share their posts in your social media feeds! Till next time!

THE 10-ish BEST READS OF THE MONTH!
MAY, 2015!


10



You don’t have time to build up to something great by 1d30, from the blog 1d30: Often it seems like when you read someone exploring their favorite role-playing game that they have binders and binders of pointless information detailing every nuance of their worlds. They've spent years building these worlds and you should too - or so they seem to be saying. But is that reasonable? 1d30 doesn't seem to think so and I'm inclined to agree because when you lock yourself into trying to be perfect you end up never doing anything.


9


Does Rule Zero Empower Game Masters To Handle Problem Players? by +Jeffro Johnson, from the blog Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog: For certain segments of our hobby Rule Zero, that the Game Master is always right, is a sore spot that has never gone away. For these individuals Rule Zero is the excuse to act with fiat and to abuse individual players by indulging their whims and prejudices. Are they right about this? Jeffro has some interesting thoughts on this matter that are worth checking out.


8



Dungeon Shorthand: A Quick Reprise; Dungeon Shorthand Addendum; and Dungeon Shorthand Sample by Talysman, from the blog The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms: Talysman possesses one of those rare intellects in the rpg blogging scene that not only is capable of putting out consistently interesting posts but that can provide you with ideas that have an application beyond pointing to your internet buddies and showing how clever you are. This trio of posts typify Talysman's talent as he demonstrates a clever idea to help players in their exploration of dungeons (and every thing that can be explored can be considered a dungeon).

7



Porc N Orc Talk inspired by Dyvers by +Chris Tamm, from the blog Elfmaids & Octopi: When it comes to discussing the best bloggers in the RPG blogging scene Chris' name doesn't come up often enough. He's a creative powerhouse whose unique worldview has allowed him to take concepts both old and new into directions that few other bloggers could ever hope to follow. In this fantastic piece he explores orcs in his games and pushes them in ways that will change your own. Excellent read.


6



Why Wizards Suck on the Battlefield by +Rick Stump, from the blog Don't Split the Party: When 4e first came out there was a lot of talk about Quadratic Wizards and Linear Fighters - as though such a thing had any real meaning - with a general consensus being reached that Wizards were far superior to fighters. The debate always felt like a marketing ploy to my mind but some people took it incredibly seriously and actually argued that wizards were vastly over-powered compared to their melee counterparts at higher level play. Rick has an answer to their ideas that ends with thousands of dead wizards at the hands of fighters the world over.

5



Healers. Curing haemorrhoids, one hot poker at a time by +Alasdair Cunningham, from the blog Iron Rations: I love in game organizations that move beyond the trite magical cabals and instead challenge me to do something exciting with them. The Sisters of Mercy are just such an organization as they travel about the world attempting to provide cures to the sick without the aid of magic. Yet this post wouldn't be half as entertaining were it not for Alasdair's humorous writing. Be sure and check this one out if you haven't already!

4



An Interview with Dungeon Smash about Fire by +Patrick Stuart, from the blog False Machine: Patrick Stuart often tops my list of excellent bloggers because of his amazing writing but everything he has done pales in comparison to this amazing interview with Dungeon Smash about Fire. The first time I read it I found myself mesmerized by Dungeon Smash's discussion of the fires they had fought and how quickly things could go sideways - even for someone experienced in such things. Rereading it today the experience stands up.

Do yourself a favor and check this one out.

3



Rules for Grappling Rules by +Douglas Cole, from the blog Gaming Ballistic: Why is it that every time a grappling rule appears in a game that it almost certainly sucks? Douglas has been examining the rules of combat across a variety of systems in his excellent Violent Resolutions series and he has some thoughts about what works and what doesn't. Yet this entry is more than just a look at grappling in role-playing games - it's a look into making the rules we use and how we use them better for all of us. Well worth reading for any aspiring game designers in the audience.

2



Keep Dungeon Threats Threatening by +Arnold K., from the blog Goblin Punch: The challenge for most of us to take our games from being the simple movements of pieces onto a play mat into an experience that our players will be talking about for day, weeks, and if your really lucky, months to come. Part of creating that sort of experience requires that a Game Master thinks beyond the face of things and considers the meaning of the challenges being laid down and if those meanings are rendered moot by certain elements of the game (such as light, flight, and see invisibility). Arnold explores this topic in a way that only he can in this thought provoking piece.

1


The Arksylvania Project: Part 1, Introduction; Part 2, Blighter's Manse and Dunlowe; Part 3, Exford Heath, Hawking Moor, Hungry Hollow; Part 4, Karnberg, Locksley, Malheim; and Part 5, Konstantine, Wounded God, Crimson Martyrdom by +Jack Shear, from the blog Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque: What makes the Arksylvania project so exceptional is Jack's economy of words. Unlike so many other bloggers, myself included, he doesn't attempt to drown you in an ocean of text that locks you into the setting as he envisions it. Instead he cleverly provides just enough information to give you an idea of the setting's tone and then just enough to get you started in each section. It's a unique talent that is often eschewed in published works as authors struggle to get their word counts up and unimaginative players complain that the Duke's third wife's sister, that died of the plague 80 years before play began, isn't given a name.

Just a Little Update

Just a few quick notes for those of you wondering about Dyvers. I'm currently working on a project in my spare time that is taking...