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Preview: Emerson's Bookshelf

Emerson's Bookshelf

Updated: 2017-09-05T19:34:14.074-07:00


Interface Zero 2.0 Kickstarter - Interview with Curtis Lyon


 Welcome to Emerson's Bookshelf, within this offering we'll be talking with Curtis Lyon about Interface Zero 2.0's Kickstarter. Not only am I an interviewer here, but I'm also a backer of this kickstarter and, if the interview does it's job, maybe you'll be one, too.Enjoy!So, Curtis, introduce yourself to folks, if you would? What's your background? How'd you get started, both in general and with Interface Zero?Hi… I'm Curtis Lyon. I've been a gamer (particularly of RPGs) for a good thirty-five years – ever since I first discovered D&D as a teenager. Being something of an introvert, I loved to create worlds or live vicariously as my character, and I started eating up almost every setting or gaming system that caught my eye. Rather than try to do an exhaustive list, let's just assume I've tried a lot of them.The Savage Worlds engine is one that caught my eye, when Pinnacle published Pirates of the Spanish Main. Yeah… I've got a thing for pirates. Anyway, the system was easy and clean (even before they made it easier and cleaner). Perhaps more importantly, my wife, Sarah, got it. She always played when we were doing other systems, but she usually drifted along letting the 'experienced' players tell her what she needed to do mechanically. Savage Worlds was different – all of a sudden, she was explaining the rules to me.About four years ago, Savage Mojo (it was Talisman Studios back then) put out a beta version of their Savage Suzerain setting. Since I'd bought several of their products, I got the email inviting me to download it, so I did.Sarah and I played around with it. We loved it, and we offered some constructive feedback on it. One thing led to another, and it was a few months later that Miles (Savage Mojo's CEO) offered us a chance to work on one of the first setting books for Savage Suzerain. That would have been Noir Knights. Suffice it to say we took the offer, and have been regular writers and editors for Savage Mojo ever since.It was about a year after starting up with Savage Mojo that Dave Jarvis (Gun Metal Games) released the Savaged version of Interface Zero. I was impressed with the setting – especially since I'd seen a void in the cyberpunk genre ever since Cyberpunk 2020went out of print. Some people point to Shadowrun, but that's really more of an urban fantasy setting than classic cyberpunk. Don't get me wrong – I like the urban fantasy motif, but it didn't grab me like cyberpunk. And while there were a few halfhearted attempts to fill that void, none of them quite worked.Until Interface Zero. When Dave put out a call for any writers interested in doing work for IZ, I crawled to him on my hands and knees and groveled. He must have liked the groveling bit, since he gave us a shot. We've been doing work for him ever since.If I remember right, you said that your wife, Sarah, offered some encouragement? Also, did you say that the two of you have worked together on projects before?To say that Sarah offered me some encouragement is something of an understatement. It was more like she dragged me kicking and screaming into freelance writing.Actually, I've always been introverted and creative, but my family had instilled in me a strong sense of needing to have a 'real' job. So, while I've sold artwork, recorded music and have generally been creating and performing all my life, it always ended up by taking a back seat to a 'real' job.Well, my last 'real' job was (literally) killing me with the stress, so Sarah told me I needed to quit and start writing (she was already a big fan of my unpublished fiction). When I tried to argue the point – something about money and bills – she told me to put a sock in it and do what she said.Ironically (we were both working for the same company), when I put in my notice our employer apparently decided I'd somehow duped poor Sarah into letting me quit working so I could sit around while she brought home a paycheck. So she fired Sarah, and then asked me to stay on.That's more or less how Sarah became my partner in crime.Almost everything we've done to date h[...]

Still alive and kicking...


It's been awhile since I've used this space, but that's going to be changing here over the course of the next few days and weeks.

Whether it's general editorializing my thoughts about gaming, interviewing companies about a product of theirs that I like, or whatever else strikes my fancy at the time, Emerson's Bookshelf shall return to activity. It's been almost a year and a half, but I wasn't totally idle.

Currently I'm the Editor-in-Chief of Rite Publishing's Adventure Quarterly, as the name implies it is a quarterly offering of adventures. Our focus is not only on adventures that use the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game for their mechanics, but also focus on the more unusual and unique adventure styles and tropes. All in all, it's an enjoyable project and we're doing quite well.

We're accepting submissions, by the way.

Additionally, I'm also a full-time case and office manager with a regional private non-profit legal services company in southern Oregon. It's an emotionally satisfying job that happens to pay well enough; it's definitely a nice day job that fuels the fun stuff.

Anyhow, there'll be more to come in the following days.(image)

Kobold Guide to Board Game Design


If you'd like to read my review of the Kobold Guide to Board Game Design then feel free to click the linkage and enjoy.

I did it over on my G+ since I like tinkering with new things. ;)(image)

Open Design - Northlands


Northlands - Roleplaying in Winter's Chill (Print+PDF, PDF)by Dan VoycePublished by Open DesignDisclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Open Design, which is really cool of them when you think about it since, honestly, they didn't have to do that. I mean, seriously, while my readership is fierce, it is also tiny. *grins*One of my favorite things is the amalgam of historical ethnographic aspects and fictional groups and places, I'm just a massive sucker for it. Whether it's Tad William's world of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn or Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea, or Robert E. Howard's Conan, I just love it and eat it up like teriyaki beef and noodles — seriously, if you've not seen it, I'm a beast when it comes to pan-friend noodles with various flora and fauna thrown into it.So I'm sure you can imagine my excitement when I first heard about the Open Design patronage for Midgard, and it's not just because I've been a patron for several Open Design projects or that I'm a sucker for a lot of things that come from these folks and their projects — well, it's not totally because of that — but it's also because I enjoy that source folklore and mythos. It could be the norse in me, or the gael in me, or even that odd mix of norse-gaels, but you get the idea.Now let's move the timeline forward a bit and there in my inbox is an e-mail for Wolfgang Baur's other half, some might say better half yet this is not a review for talking sides and weighing the worthiness of kobolds. Within this e-mail is a link, which once followed down the rabbit hole led to a file known as Northlands.Yeap, a piece of the Midgard within my grubby little HDD — okay, it's more dusty than grubby, as I don't mind dust as much as I do garbage.It's Pathfinder Roleplaying Compatible; although as I've said in several other reviews, Open Design is one of those publisher who's  work I enjoy and use in any and all systems. I mean it, too. I seriously think that they could use a codified version of Rock-Paper-Scissors, such as that used by various LARPs, and it'd still be just as awesome as everything else that they've done.With cover art by Aaron Miller, and cover design by Crystal Frasier, we're given a crisp, clean and enticing window into the wintry lands of the North. Once we're within the offering, we're met with the teamwork of designers Dan Voyce with Wolfgang Baur, Thilo Graf (also the linguistics lead), Jim Groves, Chris Harris, Jonathan McAnulty, and Christina StJles — I swear, if I typed that right it's a miracle — as well as the artwork of W.G. Collingswood, Rick Hershey, Arthur Rackham, Carl Wahlbom. We also have Liz Courts on layout and Hank Woon, Jr. as editor.Now I don't know about you, but that seems a group worthy of the price of admission, and that's just the credit's page. Of course, there is also the classy move of giving the patrons a healthy slice of the pie with their gratis page. Always a nice touch.As with the ever eccelctic nature of my reviews, which those who read my blatherings should be use to by now, I shall throw out some quick crunch and then gloss over the details.Ready?I hope so, because I'm gonna do it anyway as I'm a jerk like that...I also always tear band-aids off before I actually say three when I count to three. I've also short-sheeted folks, yelled weird things out car windows as I drive by people I don't know, and I've thrown mayo packets at douches. I'm sure there's some issues in there, but I'm a psychology major so it comes with the territory and it grants me an awesome CR.Northlands is over one hundred pages of material that's cut up rather nicely into six chapters. It's got nice artwork, solid layout, and a nice mix of crunch and flavor. As an editor, it's look like it was picked over rather nicely and I'm sure Huginn and Muninn would approve, and I rather enjoy pointing out when I think something was well-edited, regardless of being able to prove it. It's more an article[...]

Kobold Quarterly - Spring 2011 - Issue 17


Kobold Quarterly - Spring 2011 - Issue 17 (PDF+Print Subscription, PDF Subscription, Print, PDF)by various talented folkPublished by Open DesignDisclaimer: While I was offered a complimentary copy for my review, I didn't need it as I've had a KQ subscription (Print+PDF) since the beginning and I don't plan on changing that any time soon as I enjoy it, a lot. Now I could go the easy and obvious route and point out that Kobold Quarterly is the torchbearer to what Dragon and Dungeon magazine was before, but that's not only too obvious its something that's been done before...over and cover again, since it's quite true. Instead, I'm just gonna blather on about some of the cool offerings that this issue has in it and why I like them. It won't be an encyclopedic review, though, because those are rather droll. So, in no particular order, rhyme, or reason, here we go.Stan! Seriously, I like Bolt & Quiver, and anytime I see it in print I'm a happy camper.Allison Theus's cover, 'Charge!', for this issue is pretty sweet, too. If that doesn't scream 'Win or lose, go down swinging' I don't know what else does.Hell, I even enjoyed a lot of the ads, too. I know, I'm a bit odd, but one of my favorite things to do is flip through and check out the ads for anything interesting. Regardless of edition or genre, too. Sometimes you can find the most interesting offerings, be it a supplement, setting, utility, or software.Anyhow, on toward the articles.I like taverns, and I don't think that the cliché can be overplayed, either. Richard L. Smith the Second's 'The Black Goat' hits the spot just right. With art by Kevin Crossley and cartography by Sean Macdonald, you've a nice feel and what you need for an interesting haunt or an encounter. It could just be a place that folks enjoy, regardless of its eerie nature, or just the right sort of place to raise interests and investigations by the characters.Next we've 'The Value of the Monster' by this Monte Cook fellow, and he seems pretty talented. *grins* Lame joke, I know, but the article is quite good and his introspective on the qualities and characteristics of a monster, of its value, is definitely a solid read. Given his pedigree, it's a given that Monte would produce such a succinct, efficient piece, too. There's something to be said about informative brevity.Now I'm a sucker for flavor, especially if you can get it to flow off of the tongue and toss around solid coinage values with it. Matthew J. Hanson's 'Elf Needs Food Badly,' with art by Scott Foresman and Rich Hershey, does just that. Now this ain't just foodstuff for the in-character foodie, but it's magical sundries for the 4e game. Conceptually it wouldn't take much to slap down an idea for PFRPG campaigns, either.Next we've Mark Moreland's Pathfinder Society offering of 'Ambush n Absalom,' with at by Jenny Clements and cartography by Corey Macourek. I really enjoy the organized play offerings from Paizo via the Pathfinder Society, and this one is no exception. I'm a sucker for urban adventures and throwing players in the sewers, as my Ptolus campaign folks know too well, and I could easily see using this offering to help that or just play it as part of the Pathfinder Scoiety its self.Lastly, there's a Midgard Campaign Setting support article. Again we've another 4e offering, but the material that Stefen Styrsky puts out in 'The Scourges of Vael Turog' is just solid, and Pat Loboyko's art is killer. As I've told the folks over at Open Design before, when I play 4e it's either a homebrew setting or one of their offerings. Period.If there's accorded neutral grounds within the d20-based gaming world, it's definitely Kobold Quarterly.Interested? Intrigued? Tempted?Then check out the following links and pick you method of ingestion: (PDF+Print Subscription: $27.99, PDF Subscription: $15.99, Print: $7.99, PDF: $5.99)If you can't find a method of receiving and en[...]

Advanced Feats: The Inquisitor's Edge


Advanced Feats: The Inquisitor's Edge (PDF)bySigfried TrentPublished by Open DesignDisclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Open Design.Ain't no mixing up of my words, I've enjoyed the Advanced Feats series quite well, as my various reviews have shown, time and time again, and The Inquisitor's Edge is no exception.But, before I get to far into things I'll share the nitty gritty pieces first:16-pages devoted to the Inquisitor class30 new featsThree builds that help study this interesting classCover art by Christophe Swal, who also added interior art along with Stanislav, and Anne Trent (who, herself, was the Graphic Designer of the piece).Now, as a head's up, this is but one of three Open Design products that I'll be reviewing over the next seven days. You see, it's my birthday week — I know, most folk have a day but I like screwing with it for a week — and I figure why not enjoy it by talking about various products and projects of Open Design. So onward to Advanced Feats: The Inquisitor's Edge...I like it, a lot. Now folks who read my reviews might comment that I seem to like everything, but I should point out that I don't review something I don't like...I figure that there are enough of those out there, if something sucks, and I don't wanna waste my time doing it unless something really ticks me off. I figure since I'm not paid to do this, and often I get a complimentary product in hopes of a review, why put effort into something negative.Weird, I know. It's not like I don't rant all over the place.But, anyhow...I enjoy the new classes from the Advanced Player's Guide by Paizo, since each of the classes adds an extra layer of flavor and fun for those folks who'd like to add something new to their game. But, with new powers come new issues, yet the Inquisitor's Edge handles it as solidly as the other offerings in the AF series.In a lot of ways the Inquisitor class reminds me of Sparhawk from The Elenium and the Tamuli, with the little bit of rogue and the little bit of holy warrior thrown into one thing and I think the Inquisitor's Edge hits this right on the head with talking about all the versatility of the class.Once again both the Trent's down an awesome job, as the layout is just as evocative as the words on the page. Each feat adds something extra to the class, the walk through lends its self to solid ideas and aids on understanding the class, and then the builds exemplifies them.At it's comfortable pride and excellent quality, not to mention usefulness, The Inquisitor's Edge is a worth addition to your Pathfinder game.Enjoy!Buy yours today, for $3.95 (PDF).[...]

Advanced Feats: Visions of the Oracle


Advanced Feats: Visions of the Oracle (PDF)bySigfried TrentPublished by Open DesignDisclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Open Design.I've really enjoyed the Advanced Feats line from the folks at Open Design, as I'm sure anyone who's read my prior reviews can guess, and Visions of the Oracle is no exception to this fact. Oddly enough, given the material at hand, Visions hits me differently than the prior offerings in the series yet that's not a bad thing.First let's get the crunch out of the way; Visions of the Oracle covers a breakdown of the Oracle, provides 30 new feats, and advises the reader on build options using three examples within a 17-page PDF (1 page front cover, 1 page table of contents, 1 page license, 1 page back cover/blurb, and 13 pages of Oracle goodness) that is well designed and illustrated.If you've ever wanted to play the character with the gift, or curse, of foreboding visions and insights, yet have never done so and wish to learn how, then this book is for you. As it can walk you through the Oracle class, give some ideas and understandings, and make suggestions for crafting a character that can put anyone on a good path to an enjoyable character.However, it is also useful for veteran players, as it offers interesting insights and feats, as well as build designs, that would help any advanced player. Visions of the Oracle manages to do this concurrently by just covering the material at hand, slipping in designer notes as needed, and talking about what it is to be an Oracle, as well as the variety inherent to the class. Whether you're currently playing an Oracle, thinking about letting your players attempt the class, or wanting to use them as an NPC in your campaign, this latest Advanced Feats is good for folks on either side of the screen.I like it, and plan on using it, and I think most gamers using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game would like it, too. Everyone involved on this piece should be quite proud of it.Buy yours today, for $3.95 (PDF).[...]

Gnomish infiltration disrupts Clutchland Security!


If the following report is to be believed, it appears there has been another breakdown in gnomish/koboldian relations:

"Curses! Those dirty gnomes drugged our guard weasels—using weaselnip, the blighters!—and broke into the Kobold’s vault! 

Until we sober them up, there’s nothing the kobolds can do to stop you from downloading a FREE issue of Kobold Quarterly magazine. Go to the KQ Store, add issue #11 to your cart, and enter the coupon code KQ11Gift at checkout to snatch a PDF copy of your own."


Courts of the Shadow Fey


Courts of the Shadow Fey (PDF or Print)byWolfgang BaurPublished by Open DesignDisclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Open Design.I'm not an a guy who takes place in the 'Edition Wars,' I can easily say that something is a good system, yet add that I don't play it because I don't find it interesting. Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, in and of its self, holds little appeal for me. Sure I've played it — in fact I'm in a play-by-post campaign that converted to it — and I've ran it before, since that's what the group wanted, but if I'm left to my druthers I just don't do much with it. I've never even tried to design for it.But, as with anything in life, there is always an exception.While I avoid most 4e stuff, there is one huge, gleaming exception to this personal preference and that is whenever you cross 4e and the folks from Open Design. Of course, I'm sure you could say that about a lot of things, as I tend to like the craftsmanship of kobolds, however 4e compatible stuff is proof that they can make me like something that I normally do not enjoy.If I were to ever run  a 4e campaign, it was going to use material from the Iron Gazetteer and Halls of the Mountain-King. Now I can add Courts of the Shadow Fey to that illustrious 'What If?' scenario of if, or when, I run a 4e game what would I use in it.As a patron of Castle Shadowcrag, I'm familiar with the Shadow Fey, thus my enjoyment of Courts of the Shadow Fey. Not only is this it a well written and illustrated piece, but the layout is excellent and the bookmarks are quite useful. Broken into four acts, Courts of the Shadow Fey should take a party from 12th level to 15th level, give or take, and deal with the cunningly deceptive, as well as deadly Shadowy Fey.Using the term 'bucketed', Wolfgang Baur offers up a series of sandboxes for folks to play in and through, with the bucket being how they must go one after another through the story's overall plot.Tales of intrigue, mystery, the unknown, and much more are detail within this old world feeling adventure. As should be familiar with those who enjoy the work of the various offerings of Open Design, old folklore, myth, and legend is twisted in a more grim and inventive fashion to lead us down a hole that no rabbit would use, due to self-preservation.Definitely an adventure worth buying, but also a hallmark of what folks who join a patronage project can get for the price of their membership. Not only is it a custom project, based upon the needs of the patrons, but it is also a course on effective game design and development.So if a 101-page, four act adventure that follows the ebb and flow of the Shadow Fey, their courtly acts, and the machinations of those under a faerie ring — or fey ring, to stick more with the piece at hand — then you could do not much better than buying Courts of the Shadow Fey. Rumors, secrets, manipulations, courtly warfare, assassination, and the like drip from this adventure like an overflowing goblet of wine in a dowager queen's intoxicated hand.Buy yours today for $14.00 (PDF) or $24.95 (Print) from the folks at Open Design.[...]

Advanced Feats: The Cavalier's Creed


Advanced Feats: The Cavalier's Creed (PDF)bySigfried TrentPublished by Open DesignDisclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Open Design.The Cavalier's Creed is that latest offering from Open Design in the Advanced Feats line of Pathfinder RPG compatible books that focus on the classes presented in the Advanced Players Guide. It is a 16-page PDF that consists of a full color cover with artwork, a credits page, the customary OGL page, a split-page of Advanced Feats line advertisements, and 12-pages of content.As with previous entries in this series, we are presented with an examination of the advanced class, 30 feats for it, and build ideas and three examples. It also has a nice cover by Christophe Swal that is quite evocative of the cavalier.Okay, there's the cut-and-dry aspects out of the way, now onto the editorialization...It'd be a slight understatement if I said that I like the work of Sigfried Trent on the Advanced Feats series, as well as that of his wife, and graphic designer of the series, Anne Trent. I really do as they put out a quality product for the folks at Open Design each and every time and The Cavalier's Creed is no exception.In addition to the crunchy mechanics within, we are also presented with various author notes about historical footnotes, design notes, and factoids that are a combination of interesting and useful for the reader. Whether the reader is someone who remembers cavaliers in their various incarnations in d20-based roleplaying games, as well as a certain overly entitled pain-in-the-backside from a certain fantasy-based cartoon, or they are someone new to the class, this PDF will be quite useful and informative.The black-and-white illustrations are a nice touch, as well, especially given their period feel and flavor. In fact, I would say that the illustrations lend an ambiance to the text, given the subject matter, and it helps put someone in the right mindset for playing a cavalier.See, it is not just about being noble, talking flowery language, or being the hopeless romantic, and The Cavalier's Creed helps show that quite nicely. A quixotic knight is not a career, it is a calling. It is not a character trait, it is character exemplified. It is not just tilting at windmills, it is knowing that one of them one day will be a dragon.Basically, being a cavalier is taking an unreasonable ideal or belief and instilling it as such a core concept for a character that it becomes reasonable, nay even admirable. It is when chivalry leaves a cavalier that the unreasonable occurs, but fortunately with a piece like The Cavalier's Creed that will not happen.Buy yours today, for $3.95 (PDF).[...]



Unkindness (PDF or Print)byMichael SatranCover Art, Illustrations, and Layout by DT ButchinoPublished by BlackWyrm PublishingDisclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Atomic Array.First off, let us get the basics out of the way: Unkindness is an adventure for used with Heroes 6th Edition or ICONS that is 36-pages in length, which accounts for the front and back covers, blank inside cover pages, an informative credits page, an advertisement, a two-page license, and 28 pages of adventure material. There's color art and maps, a wide variety of dual statblocks for non-player characters, and more.Secondly, it ain't often that I come across a gaming product that shares a touchstone with my academic life, yet Unkindness does just that with its psychological subject matter. Often when folks here 'mature themes' they think danse macabre, erotica, or some untoward thing, yet with Unkindness we're exposed to an all-to-common untoward act, as both a motivation for the events in the adventure and focal point for the heroes and their actions and re-actions. Not only did I find this an interesting avenue with respect to adventure design, but I applaud the message at the core of the adventure.Yeah, I know, that's a bit vague, but I hate spoilers and I think that this is one best left discovered via player, or while laying out an adventure.Basically, as a soon-to-be-graduated professional in the field of psychology, I'd like to take my hat off to Michael Satran and BlackWym Publishing for working with a difficult subject in a way that was both creatively sound, and morally sound.But, enough of the lofty thought, and on to the grit of gamerness.Unkindess is an adventure that you can drop into pretty much any location with only a modest amount of shoehorning. It includes some crisp maps that can not only be used for the adventure that they're included with, but also any contemporary roleplaying game. The art is very comicbookish, and it reminds me of some of the more indie comics, or small pressed from the 80s or, possibly, some of the later 70s.You've a mysterious villain, unusual henchmen, and Norse mythology all rolled into a plot that's deeper, and perhaps more twisted, than a first or second look would suggest.As the tag line suggests, "And even the mightiest of gods can be inspired by the evil that men do..."Unkindness does just that. Not only could it pluck at heartstrings, and mash buttons on issues of the heroes, but perhaps their players as well. But, that's what roleplaying games can do for folks. Empathy is an interesting skill to hone, as not only seeing how someone else walks in their shoes, but why they walk as they do can be a powerfully moving thing.So if you're up for an interesting game with your players, one that might have them think beyond the table while still having a good time, then Unkindness is definitely the right choice for your table.Buy yours today, for $3.95 (PDF) or $6.95 (Print).Want to learn more about Unkindness? Read on...Atomic Array - Episode 49: UnkindnessEmerson's Bookshelf - Unkindness[...]

Tales of the Old Margreve


Tales of the Old Margreve (PDF or Print)byTim & Eileen Connorspublished by Open DesignDisclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Open Design.There are many stark contrasts between urban, suburban, and rural lifestyles, and all are quite telling of the communities that inhabit those environs. One of the more apropos, with respect to the topic of this review, would be that of the feelings of the people toward forested areas and what can be found within them. Those within an urban environment see the forest in two different manners, those verdant places outside of their borders that have a nostalgic veneer to them and the controlled parks within their border that are places of tranquility sometimes disrupted by the disdained segments of their populaces. However, the further away from the sprawl you get the truer notion of the old woods comes to the forefront...the deep dark of the wooded fringes are best feared and respected for we have forgotten the unfettered wilds within them.Tales of the Old Margreve is here to remind your players of this very fact, that sometimes there are more dark things within the woodlands than found within mere dungeons.Within this adventure anthology are all the resources you would need to craft a campaign with The Old Margreve forest as the centerpiece. Not only is there an open piece of fiction, to give you the flavor of the area, but also a gazetteer. There is also a bestiary and region-specific magic section, full of encounters and more flavor. Yet the bulk of this modest tome are the eight adventures that cover the ranges of play from 1st to 10th level that easily add to the potential sandbox nature of this product.You've Richard Pett's Hollow (1st-level), The Honey Queen by Jonathan McAnulty (2nd or 3rd level), Challenge of the Fang by Dan Voyce (4th level), The Griffon Hatchling Heist by Michael Furlanette (5th level), Gall of the Spider Crone by Tim Connors (6th level), Dan Voyce's Blood and Thorns (7th level), Grandmother's Fire from Ben McFarland (8th or 9th level), and The Lustful Dragon by Steven Robert (10th level), all barely contained within these pages.If you're looking for an imposingly ancient woodland, a place that would make even the longest of the long-lived whisper, then Tales of the Old Margreve is for you and your table. If your players seem jaded toward stone walls and tunnels, and you'd like to surprise them with an old thought or memory, then this is the product to use. It'd be easy to use the adventures as need, work up an adventure chain, or sandbox a campaign out of this book.In addition to the main product, there are also supplementary products that include a useful web compilation and a cool set of Ashton Sperry's paper minis.Buy yours today, for $9.95 (PDF) or $24.95 (Print). The web compilation for $1.95 (PDF) and the Paper Minis $3.95 (PDF).[...]

Advanced Feats: The Summoner's Circle


Advanced Feats: The Summoner's Circle (PDF)bySigfried TrentPublished by Open DesignDisclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Open Design.If all I saw was the Eidolon Character Sheet, that would be enough.Yeah, I know, I paraphrased a quote from A Knight's Tale, I'm cool like that. It could have been Roar, as my Heath Ledger man crush is that dated. I'm just warning you all.Anyhow, on toward the review...Seriously, there's an Eidolon Character cool is that?Sigfried Trent offers further exploration of the new classes found within Paizo's Advanced Player's Guide for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, this time the focus is upon the Summoner. As with prior Advanced Feats works, we've a series of new feats (30 in total number), example builds (3), discussion of builds, and an examination of the classes its self.I know, that's a wee bit dry, but that's just the quick and short version.See, I like the Summoner as it's hits that boy-and-his-monster vibe for me. Whether it's Stanley and his Monster, Puff the Magic Dragon, or what not, there's a vibe that taps into a child and his uncanny companion that I like a lot. In fact, I'm fairly certain that early readings of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea instilled some of that in me, too, but I digress.Trent hits the nail on the head, with respect to the Summoner, as it really is a class that folks can tinker around with and customer to their particular desire. Not only do you get a class, but you get a companion as a sort of two-for-one character.There is a lot of focus on building the right Summoner for you, but there is also a fair amount of focus on fine tuning your eidolon and that's a big win for this product. Yes, the character sheet is useful, however the volume of focus on various things to do with and to an eidolon is full of utilitarian joy and win.Are you in the mood to be all steampunky, then how about summoning clockwork beasts instead? It's right there.Wanna go all Shiva on your foes? Multi-arm is there, too.On that note, I should point out that there is a fair amount of advice on balance for GMs who might be worried, which is always a nice touch.Overall, The Summoner's Circle is a continuation of the useful series that Open Design has been offering. It is a solid treatise on the class with useful feats, solid examples of build ideas, and is very helpful for those interested in the class.Buy yours today, for $3.95 (PDF).[...]



Advanced Feats: The Witch's Brew (PDF)bySigfried TrentPublished by Open DesignDisclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Open Design.The Witch's Brew, the latest in the Advanced Feats series from Open Design and Sigfried Trent, covers the Witch class from the Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide, with respect to paths and ways to grown one. It's 14-pages, from cover to cover, with about 12 of those being inspiration for characters, and 11 being informational.For this who've not explored this series before, the Advanced Feats takes a look at the new classes for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, introduced in the Advanced Player's Guide, and explore the class, possible tropes and themes to explore with it, as well as various build ideas. Drawn from the OGL 'verse, as needed, Sigfried Trent provides some interesting, and well-formed ideas in this series.Which brings us to The Witch's Brew, illustrated nicely by the cover, which bears an interesting iconic image by Christophe Swal.The Witch's Brew offers three class-builds, 30 class-related feats, as well as a discussion about the class, its features, and ways to use and demonstrate them. One of my favorite parts of the Advanced Feats series, thus far, are these discussions. Yes, the feats are good. Yes, the builds are useful. But, it's these discussions that sometimes offer another perspective on a class, how to use it or build it, and other interesting ways to show that.Now it might be the timing of it, as I'm currently playing a witch in one of my games, but I really found this offering to be quite useful. Not only because of the talk about the class and its flavor, but also for the feats and builds. If you're in a campaign where you're interested in playing a witch, I doubt you could go wrong with this modest offering. Short, sweet, and concise, The Witch's Brew is a very useful class-feature book.Buy yours today, for $3.95 (PDF).[...]

The Dresden Files RPG - Vol. 1; Your Story


The Dresden Files RPG - Vol. 1: Your Story (Print+PDF or PDF)byLeonard Balsera, Ryan Macklin, and Chad UnderkofflerPublished by Evil Hat ProductionsDisclaimer: Although product was offered for this review, I declined as I was a pre-order customer for both volumes one and two of The Dresden Files RPG. I'm a fan of Jim Butcher's, and his involvement was enough to entice my pre-order...what follows is a testament to that fanatical trust.First things first, The Dresden Files RPG is based on the novel series of the same name, by Jim Butcher. If that was all I knew about the game, I'm fairly certain that it would be enough. Also, it uses the FATE RPG system, which is based on FUDGE. That's about all the detail that I'm going to go into the resolution mechanics of the game, as I'm sure there are other reviews out there that do a fine job of it and there are also the links that talk about the gaming systems. Instead, I'm going to talk about my favorite aspect of the game, outside of its setting and source material, which is the nature of its cooperative play and city designing.Traditionally most of the campaign designing lays behind the screen, with the bulk of the non-player characters, locations, and other aspects of a campaign being decided upon by the person running the game. However, The Dresden Files RPG takes an interesting, as well as enjoyable, twist to this by turning many of the aspects of campaign design into a cooperative play dynamic.Whether you're converting a city from the real world, or crafting one wholecraft from the minds on both sides of the screen, The Dresden Files RPG encourages a cooperative style of city creation with the use of a variety of city creation sheets that help the group work through the NPCs that make up the city, its locations, trials and tribulations, and all other aspects of the city that the campaign will take place in and around. Small township or large city, it's easy to turn it into a part of the Dresdenverse.As most role-playing gamers know there is no real winning or losing to RPGs, but there are varying dynamics to the groups and how they approach gaming. Sometimes there is the versus dynamic, where it's one side of the screen versus the other. Other times there's Monte Haulism, with little challenge and lots of reward. Then there is the cooperative dynamic, with both sides of the screen working through the story and its challenges. There are many more dynamics, but its the cooperative dynamic that is encouraged by the designers of The Dresden Files RPG, sharing in the themes and threats, the faces of the city, its locations, and other details, high and low.It's this cooperative dynamic that is a strong point of The Dresden Files RPG, an aspect that compliments the series whose name it bears. By having the folks on both sides of the screen work together toward a better story. It can allow for a richer environment as everyone talks about local folklore, haunts, and other details that add depth to any setting. Why do folks avoid the pond near the train tracks? What's wrong with that shake under the overpass? What is it about that Old Miller?In the end The Dresden Files RPG's city creation not only encourages cooperation, but depth of knowledge about the locations and the people within them. It's through here that folks know who they can go to for information or help. What place has the best coffee, but that odd barista who knows too much. Are there lots of vampires? If so, what courts and where? What's the White Council's influence in the area? All of these questions, and more, are fleshed out during the start of a campaign and added to as time goes by. It helps tie the pla[...]

Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist


Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist (PDF)bySigfried TrentPublished by Open DesignDisclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Open Design.One of my favorite things about niche products is that they delve into the minutia of a subject, and do so in an enjoyable fashion while also being economical. And it is in this spirit of what I enjoy that Secrets of the Alchemist — the first in a new PDF series from Open Design that looks into the new classes for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game — does not let down.Within Sigfried Trent's first solo-offering, not only are we presented a slew of new feats, 30-in-all, but we are also offered a look at the small details of what an alchemist is, with respect to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. What can they do, what makes them special, and various builds focusing on the different kinds of alchemists that a player character can be. Is an alchemist simply just a brewery of potions? A drinker of draughts? An exploder of things that need to go 'splodie?Yeah, I typed 'splodie. I'm from the Pacific Northwest, and I have caused things to 'splode once or twice, and enjoyed it every time. Sue me.For a 12-page PDF, Secrets of the Alchemist covers a lot of ground, including the 30 feats mentioned above, 3 alchemist build suggestions with a brief leveling outline, and an examination of what it is to be an alchemist. Clear, concise, and economical; Not only does this describe Sigfried Trent's work within, but it also accurately describes these offering from Open Design.Buy yours today, for $3.95 (PDF).[...]

The Kobold Guide to Game Design. vol. III: Tools & Techniques


The Kobold Guide to Game Design. vol. III: Tools & Techniques (PDF or Print)byWolfgang Baur, Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, Rob Heinsoo, and Colin McCombPublished by Open DesignDisclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Open Design.Volume Three of the Kobold Guide to Game Design is use for folks behind the screen, or keyboard, with respect to game design and development. Whether you're an old hand at running a game, or new, the seasoned advice from veterans like Wolfgang Baur, Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, Rob Heinsoo, and Colin McComb could help improve your game.Over the course of this guide the reader is walked through a myriad of aspects of creative game design, aspects that can be applied to the traditional tabletop part of the hobby or the contemporary games for computers. Also, this guide covers whether you're designing an adventure, a campaign, or a whole new mechanic or system. There's also advice for plotting, locations, and, of course, the ephemeral game balance.Awash with luminaries and masters of game design, The Kobold Guide series lends advice to nascent game developers, yet the information presented is just as useful to veterans. When most think of the folks whom they'd like to ask these questions of, these are some of the names that often top those lists. There are few folks in the world today who design and develop games professionally, yet these are some of those more well-known names with articles on some of the very topics we wish to hear about.In the end, The Kobold Guide to Game Design may help your game, may help your design and development, but that's up to you. Sure, I could use all sorts of overblown hyperbole and make all sorts of promise with "cans" and "wills," but that'd be a disservice to you and the folks at Open Design. Whatever you do with the concepts and ideas presented within, volume three of this guide has the capability to help you behind the screen, or the keyboard.Buy yours today, either in PDF ($14.95) or Print ($18.95)[...]

Conflict Roleplaying Rulebook


Conflict Roleplaying RulebookbyMark M. ScottPublished by Conflict BooksDisclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided through Atomic Array in conjunction with Episode 042.Every style of gameplay has its purpose and those who enjoy it, just as there is a platform and form factor for every gamer to enjoy. Whether you are a die-hard simulationist, an emotive role-player, a number cruncher or somewhere, everywhere, in-between and beyond those definitions. If there's a game, then there are gamers who play it.So diverse are the options, so known are the flavors that we gamers even have our touchstones, be they labels, stereotypes, or common jokes and anecdotes. One such anecdote, that I'm sure we're all familiar with is the common place, "My player character can beat your player character" moments.When you look at the tropes of roleplaying games it is commonly an activity where it is the player characters against some obstacle, foe, threat, or challenge setup by the person on the other side of a screen. However, from time to time, there are those moments where folks sometimes wanna compete with one and other. Be it for fun, be it for pride, or be it just because you wanna smash their toy, player-versus-player happens.Now, thanks to Conflict Books, we've a set of rules to help folks play through these sort of encounters in a fun and enjoyable way.Gone is the "Us versus the GM" stance of some styles of play, as the Game Master is literally an arbiter of the rules and the point of conflict is now between individual players, or various combinations of groups and/or team of players. Conflict Roleplaying Rulebook provides guidelines for a tactical style of play with the focus of players facing off against players in a direct competitive style of play. It ain't just a hack-n-slash, gut the dungeon and steal the fixtures kind of game, but a game of tactical combat between players and groups of players.In a way, it's like chess, with a fantasy force of characters using their powers to help you win the day. It uses a very familiar rules set for many gamers out there, as it is compatible with the Open Gaming License and Paizo's Pathfinder RPG, however Conflict adds a very new terms and concepts to the familiar game.These concepts are designed so that folks know whether or not they've the right character for a match (such as Battlepoints), ones to combat metagaming (such as the style of Conflict Maps and things like the Passcards), various types of events (Matches), and features that support the style of play (such as the Laws and Team Feats).All in all, Conflict Roleplaying Rulebook is an excellent resource for those who wish for a more competitive, tactical style of gaming while still using a familiar rules set. It brings to the table the ability for players to challenge one and other, directly, in a grand way, while still encouraging it to be a fun, worthwhile gaming experience for those involved.If you'd like to pick-up Conflict, please go here.Also, if you'd like to know other thoughts on the game, please look below.Want to learn more about Conflict Roleplaying? Read on…Atomic Array: Episode 042: Conflict RoleplayingMad Brew Labs: Adding PVP Conflict to PathfinderApathy Blogs: A new way to play PathfinderKnow Direction: Episode 008[...]



Danielle Lewon
based on a design by S.R. Knipe
Published by Cream Alien Games

Disclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided through Atomic Array in conjunction with Episode 041.

Kagematsu describes its self as a role-playing game of shame, honor, and love that takes place in a 16th Century village in Japan that is under a dire threat. Kagematsu is a ronin whose sojourn is, perhaps, interrupted by the villages need.

Will he stay and defend the village? Why?

In simplicity, Kagematsu is an example of small group improvisational theater and gender role reversal. It is a usage of "on the rails" gaming, but in a rather interesting and unique manner, with a focus on having a female control the male character of Kagematsu while male and female players portray the other female characters of the scenario.

While it is slightly heavy handed, as well as something that gamers could ignore if they so choose, I'd say that this role reversal is part of the unique draw of this game. Of course, that'd make sense, since it is a core design element and factor in the game.

Kagematsu is about interactive and cooperative storytelling, where the players help craft the story, the village and its folk, its threat, and even Kagematsu himself. Can the women of the village woo Kagematsu to stay and defend them from the Threat? Should they? Is it love? Is it something lesser?

While there are mechanics to the game's rules, they are quite light and very easy to learn. Perhaps the hardest part, for some, in playing Kagematsu will be the role-playing that is encouraged by the game, for it can be of a more dramatic and romantic nature than is common to various systems, even those with a focus on storytelling.

All in all, Kagematsu is a thought provoking role-playing game with an intriguing premise, an enjoyable depth, that are an example of how our hobby can be more than angst or greed, with respect to emotional breadth of play. While the game might not be for everyone, it certain could be if they tried.

Kagematsu can be purchased here.

Want to learn more about Kagematsu? Read ...

Atomic Array: Episode 041: Kagematsu

A Free Copy of Kobold Quarterly #10


Fresh from the dexterous hands of a demure kobold is the news that the folks at Kobold Quarterly are giving away a copy of KQ #10, from now through January 31st.

If you head to the KQ Store and enter KQ10Free then you'll be able to download an awesome edition of one of the best gaming periodicals out there. I've had a subscription to this quarterly since it's inception and I've never had a reason to regret it, as it covers a lot of what I play today. Be it things that'd work with 4th Edition D&D, Open Design Projects, Pathfinder, or OGL, Kobold Quarterly fills my tabletop needs quite nicely.

So why don't you head over to Kobold Quarterly and checkout what they have to offer. Unless a free issue with the likes of Jason Bulmahn, Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, and John Wick aren't your cup of tea...but, then again, if they aren't, it's not like you'd be reading my blog. Would you?

Fantasy just got Crafty


Fantasy CraftbyAlex Flagg, Scott Gearin, Patrick KaperaPublishedbyCrafty GamesDisclosure: Review copy provided via Atomic Array, carnival details follow the main body of this article.With the latest offering from the makers of Spycraft 2.0 the universe of the Open Gaming License just got a bit more empowered. Not only that, but Crafty Games sets the expectation for the line right on the back of the book, and I quote, "Your Dungeon, Your Dragon, Your Way."As that back-cover maxim suggests, nay commands, Fantasy Craft is all about customization and, if you'll forgiven a further pun, crafting the best fantasy experience that fits the desires of those involved in a campaign, in front of or behind the screen. With 12 races, some made more varied by Species feats, and 12 base classes, it's easy to see how Fantasy Craft offers the ability for gamemasters and players to customize their experiences. If you're the type of gamer that wants the crunchy skeleton to hang the meaty world upon, to have generic rules to power the fantasy world in which they play, then Fantasy Craft is definitely a good purpose for you. From cover to cover there is help for creating characters (player and non-player), evocative creations of magical milieu, and world building assistance for helping out the nascent person behind the screen and hone the sharpened edge of an expert.In addition to the ability to use race specific feats to customize your character, Fantasy Craft also has variations on classes, too, with the base class, expert class, and master class feature. While players can stay within a base class for the whole of the PC's career, they can also option into the expert classes and, eventually, a master class. It's up to the players and their Game Master to decide where they want things to go and how.While Fantasy Craft is based off of the OGL variant that Spycraft uses, it also tweaks things into what Crafty Games is calling Master Craft, a rules set that they will be using to power other settings and show between game-line compatibility, however they also have the Powered By license, which allows for folks to use the Fantasy Craft and Spycraft systems to power their own creations. Thus, the Open Gaming movement is quite obviously still alive, as we've seen with other companies, but also strong enough to power other innovative branches of the OGL family.Overall, Fantasy Craft is an excellent addition to any bookshelf and is an excellent system for players and gamemasters who enjoy deep customization and variation of player characters and systems, as well as for those who seek a generic rules set to empower their own flavorful creations and worlds. I know that Fantasy Craft is an excellent addition to my own electronic bookshelf and, soon, to my hardcopy bookshelf, as well.Want to learn more about Fantasy Craft? Read on...Atomic Array: Fantasy Craft (Atomic Array 032)Game Cryer: Review by Chris PerrinQuesting GM: Questing with Fantasy Craftallgeektout: What Fantasy Craft Has to OfferCampaign Mastery: Mine Fiction for Campaign QualitiesEmerson's Bookshelf: Fantasy Just Got CraftyCritical Hits: Critical ReviewFear the Boot: Fear the ReviewGnome Stew: GM Spotlight: What Fantasy Craft Brings to the TableUncle Bear: Fantasy Craft ChargenFlames Rising: Dark FantasyCraft ReviewDrop by Crafty Games today![...]

Strike Force 7; now with RuneQuest or Savage Worlds


Strike Force 7 - Savaged! or (RuneQuest) Strike Force 7byCaias Ward and R. Hyrum SavagePublishedbyOtherWorld CreationsAt the end of 2008 I did a review of Strike Force 7, which can be read here, which brings us today, where Strike Force 7 is being brought to us using RuneQuest and Savage Worlds systems, from Mongoose Press and Pinnacle Entertainment group, respectively.While I could talk alot about the individual PDFs and their price points, I feel that it's better to talk about the most important aspect of this offering; Strike Force 7 is offered in three different systems. How cool is that?Like a lot of folks, I'm use to getting setting material that is often tailored to one specific system or game, but as I've grown older, physically at least, I've grown to like having options. Sure, it can be nice when the background and setting of a game are all tied to a system, but, better still, having a game tied to the setting, yet flexible in what rules set is used, is pretty damn cool.Fans can be fairly entrenched in a system, just as they can be staunch in their support of a particular designer or developer, and it can sometimes be a shame when those two facts can end up opposed to one and other. But, what if they didn't?OtherWorld Creations has bypassed that possibility by adding additional systems of support for their Strike Force 7 offering, an adventure game that could easily be attached to common genre trope touchstones like G.I. Joe, The Man from U.N.C.L.E and S.H.I.E.L.D.. Superheroic armed service personnel fighting a global terrorist organization that is bent on world domination and freedom endangering activities.Whether SF7 fans use the Spycraft variant of the OGL, PEG's Savage Worlds, or the latest version of RuneQuest, they will still have the flavor of Strike Force 7 and it's fight againstSkorpian in the system of choice for those around the table. How about that?OWC has made an interesting choice, on that some might be noticing around the industry, where independent publishers are starting to support multiple systems, as opposed to uniting behind one system. Systemless, or perhaps system-ful, seems to be an excellent model for independent publishers to follow, right up there with some of the better aspects of the patronage model, in that it puts more options in the hands of customers, instead of restricting them.The variants of Strike Force 7 can be found following the links above or by visiting RPGNow andDriveThruRPG; both PDF offerings are normally priced at $8.99, however, at the time of this posting, the Savage Worlds variant is selling for $6.99 and the RuneQuest version is at $8.49.Want to learn more about Strike Force 7? Read on... Atomic Array: Strike Force 7 (Atomic Array 28) Game Cryer: Review by Chris Perrin Uncle Bear: Impressions Flames Rising: Savaged! Review by Todd Cash Emerson's Bookshelf: Now with RuneQuest and Savage Worlds allgeektout: Hiding in Plain Sight Atomic Array: Free Mini-Mission Drop by OtherWorld Creations today![...]

The problem with System Fundamentalists...


Although I play only a handful of systems regularly, I'd never say that there is one system that I feel is the best, nor would I down one system over another, which is probably why system fundamentalists bother me. I feel that they're a disservice to the hobby, especially when they're elitist and insulting about their disdain of one system over another.

I'm sure we've all heard the phrase about being a "role-player, not a roll-player," with the implied insult toward players of one system that the speaker doesn't approve of. It's a stereotype, that everyone who players D&D is a hack-n-slash gamer, just like it's a stereotype that everyone who plays a narrative game is an drama king or queen. While there are always examples of stereotypes, thus lending some level of reinforcement, these are normally just anecdotal evidence, at best, and full of more holes than a strainer.

Whether a game come from a major publisher or through one of the independents, it is up to the folk who play it, from either side of the screen, about whether the tone of the game is good or bad. There isn't anything wrong with talking in character for a whole session, without the resolution mechanic ever being touched, just like there isn't anything wrong with a whole session of dice-throwing...if that, in both cases, is what those involved in the game want.

Regardless of the publisher's desires, once the game is purchased and falls into the hands of others, once the folk who will play the game have purchased it, the intended purpose of the system ended at the point of sale. It is those who play the game, those who gather around a table, or even over the Internet these days, who set the ton of a game and that's just the fact of it.

In my nearly thirty years of gaming, I've seen a large variety of game systems and styles and not once, ever, did a specific system force me to play one way or another. Some of the best in-character role-playing I've ever had was in a homebrew D&D campaign that used a modified 2nd Edition system with a Dragonbone Chair series wrapper on it and it was awesome. In contrast, one of the most bloody, epic carnage and power-play games was an early World of Darkness game I played in when I was in college, it had a mix of Mage, Werewolf, and Vampire and it was very over the top.

But, each time, it was those who played in the games, as well as those who ran it, that determined the tone of the games, not the systems. Maybe I've just been lucky, guilty of my own anecdotal evidence taking precedence, but I've never had a game style forced on me, nor have I had my role in a game reduced to just rolling dice and letting someone else narrate my character's actions.

My advice to folk out there, think about whether you're being a system fundamentalist or not and if you feel you are one, please think about how you're coming across to others. Passion is a good thing, but sometimes if you're overly passionate about something, to the point of being push or rude, even insulting, then you're doing more harm to folks opinions of your system than you are improving it.

Review - Open Design Podcast


Whether you're interested in the art of design and development of role-playing games as a gamemaster or professional, I think that the Open Design Podcast is going to be just the podcast that you're looking for. Our hosts are Wolfgang Baur, Ed Healy, and Rone Barton, with Monte Cook and Skip Williams slated as regular features verbalizing their Kobold Quarterly columns, respectively Game Theories and Ask the Kobold. Thus we have the vanguard of the patronage movement for the design and development of role-playing games, the hosts of Atomic Array and RPG Countdown, amongst other things, and two of the lead folks of 3rd Edition, one of whom is an OGL pioneer, himself.How's that for potential and that's just the hosts and monthly featured folks.Open Design 001: Kobold Ecologies, the initial offering from the Open Design Podcast comes out guns blazing with Jeff Grubb and his authoritative thoughts on design and development, as well as his experience with the patronage movement. The next offering is Brandon Hodge, senior patron and contributor to Halls of the Mountain King, an Open Design patronage, as well as the proprietor of Big Top Candy Shop and Monkey See, Monkey Do, both of Austin Texas. Hodge talks about his experience with Open Design and patronage. Last, but not least, we have Clinton J. Boomer, RPG Superstar finalist and all around interesting character who talks about his own path to monster design, as well as his current projects.Of course, during all of this are have the feature contributors, Monte Cook and Skip Williams, respectively talking about contrasting differences between fiction and game writing and sage'd advice about the rules for occupying a five foot space in an OGL game.Clocking in at just under an hour, Open Design 001 covers a lot of subjects in a pleasant format that imparts a fair amount of information in a modest amount of time, entertainingly so, with time passing by rather quickly. While it would be easy to associate the Open Design Podcast with d20 mechanics and the Open Game License movement, there is plenty of information that could easily be used, independent of system, by the listener.Although this is only the first episode of this podcast, it's my opinion that anyone interesting in being better behind the screen, learning to design and develop their own works or works for others, could do a lot worse for themselves than listening to this podcast. Not only does the Open Design Podcast have over three-quarters of a century of role-playing industry experience in its core offering, but it has the potential of hitting the century mark with any given episode, simply based on the wide-ranging potential of guests.Also, if you're more of an auditory learner, or someone whose always got an MP3 player plugged into your head, than this should definitely be in your rotation, as you're bound to learn something, each offering. So do yourself a favor, however you wish to listen or subscribe to it, and give the Open Design Podcast a listen and see if it's for you; I think you'll be quite pleased with the results.Open Design 001: Kobold EcologiesShared via AddThis[...]

My Evolving Experience with Rite Publishing...


Since my piece about Patronage and the RPG Industry I have had a growing relationship with Rite Publishing, one that has grown on several levels, both personal and professional, and I think that is a sign of one of the aspects of New Media. Initially my relationship with Rite Publishing was as a customer and reviewer, as not only did I join the Heroes of the Jade Oath patronage project, but I had also bought Rite Publishing products previously, as I am a fan of Monte Cook'sArcana Evolved.But, as is increasingly more common with the patronage movement within the role-playing game industry, my relationship with Rite Publishing has grown more complex, yet easily segmented. Not only am I a patron on several projects, such as the aforementioned Heroes of the Jade Oath, but I am also a member of the design and development team for one, the recently fast trackedLitorians. Plus, I am involved in writing the "What Has Gone Before..." pieces for the Rituals of Choice adventure path, where a synopsis handout is provided to players who may have missed the previous adventure. This part of the series appears for the first time in To Kill or Not to Kill, which is the second entry in this adventure path.It is this potential in the patronage movement that is so tempting, so possible for change, in that a member of a patronage project can easily transit from customer to talent, simply because of the intimate nature of such projects. Due to an increase of exposure, both of the patron and the publisher, there is more chance to impress one and other, which allows the interaction to move to another level. It happens on various patronage projects, where in one you see folk as members, yet in the next you see them as talent, all of which, in my opinion, is one of the most exciting things about patron projects.As an example, my experience with Rite Publishing has transitioned several times, in different ways and manners, from purchase reviews to supplemented ones to membership participation to talent participation, which is one heck of a sexy thing, when you think about it. Most gamers fantasize about being a designer or a developer, maybe even a publisher, and patronage projects, such as those done by Rite Publishing, are an exciting venue to try their hand at what it takes do just that.Hopefully, if sharing my experiences has helped with making the choice to join a patronage project, be it the aforementioned Rite Publishing or someone else, then it is my hope that sometime that that story can be shared with someone else and help them to make the choice, too.Want to learn more about Rite Publishing? Read on... Atomic Array: Rite Publishing (Atomic Array 023) Jade Oath Preview: The Demon Hunter Game Cryer: A Witch's Choice Review Emerson's Bookshelf: My Evolving Experience with Rite Publishing Stungeon Studios: Jade Oath ArtworkApath Blogs: Pride and PatronageDrop by Rite Publishing and become a patron today![...]