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Posts Tagged ‘Comic’

“…its 2013, and you just bought a print magazine.”

So begins the launch of Gygax magazine and the relaunch of TSR. I finally received my fedex’ed mag and sat down by the fireplace this weekend for an old-school page flipping magazine experience.Gygax Magazine

And the crew has really delivered on that. They’ve captured and faithfully reproduced the experience from the font, tone, look, and even feel of the pages. There is plenty of nostalgia captured, and the read is a wish-fantasy of time-travel fulfilled back to when, as the writers claim, things were simpler. Back to a time when imagination filled our hours instead of computers or touchpads or what’s online.

I loved the whole experience and will certainly continue to purchase issues. Highlights for me include:

  • Cory Doctorow’s DMing for your toddler was an article I can relate to being the parent of a four year old. It was great how the rules he presented were “kinetic” since I think one of the major detriments of our hobby is that it is quite sedentary, and also how the hobby can be used to teach basic math and other skills. I pulled an unstated point from the read of how imagination and story creation matters more than mechanics with children, and how simple rules can suffice for endless entertainment.
  • I loved Tim Kask’s pontifications on why it’s still all about the story.
  • It wouldn’t be old-school without Lenard Lakofka (aka Leomund) presenting a new table charting something or other and a collection of random thoughts. The brief synopsis of what he’s been doing (and struggling with) was a nice touch. His take on damage versus to hit was great crunch, although the modern game designer in me is now questioning why we need different rolls for damage and hit anyways.
  • The setting presented (Gnatdamp) was high quality and well written with plenty of strong material for visualizing the locale and great hooks built in for adventuring. I can easily see myself using this in an existing or new campaign.
  • Wolfgang Baur’s Kobold popping up again (as he says of kobolds they pop up where they aren’t necaessarily expected).
  • And of course the comics – What’s new with Phil and Dixie and was especially fun and The Order of the Stick pleasantly broke down that 4th wall. The comics were worth the price of admission.

There was some disappGygax Magazine Unboxingointment. I was expecting Jeff Dee art in all its glory instead of the small, poorly printed frame that looked like a V&V Madcap (is that the right name? My memory fails me) cutting room floor piece.

Also, Although Gnatdamp was great and the Kobold’s Cavern contained useful material for campaigning, most of the magazine was devoted to discourse on the hobby as a subject, not necessarily useful things a gamer could use in daily play. A third of the articles were about the state of the hobby, and although these were great reads and perhaps necessary to place the magazine’s context in today’s world, and I don’t want them to disappear entirely, I look forward to seeing more material one can use in campaigns.

I’m sensing overall an anti-technological tone. That perhaps video games and an online, conected world are a waste of time and responsible for destroying imaginative play (or at least DnD’s market share). I’ve said before that this tone may be off-putting to a younger generation necessary for the hobby’s survival.

The final disappointment is that the mag is only available quarterly. If only the market would support this as monthly, but for now the new TSR has gained at least one subscriber.

gary gygax

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Continuation of part 1 here, our best and worst of 2012 in RPG stuff. Enjoy and a have a happy New Year!

Computer Games

Best RPG Computer Game: The Walking Dead

Here we have IP done right. Using Telltale as a studio was a risk for the franchise in and of itself, and then they took several risks with the game (episodic releases, point and click, storytelling over-all-else) but managed to pull off a wonderful, poignant and emotional experience that shines brightly over all the other first person shooting crud that seems to dominate the market.

telltales-the-walking-dead-on-disc-december-4

Worst RPG Computer Game: The Game of Thrones RPG

Fantasy is finally cool again, but Martin’s books, and the terrific HBO series, deserve better than this mediocre effort. Shoddy gameplay, unpolished presentation, and meh graphics at best.

Biggest RPG Game Disappointment: Diablo III

On the one hand, Diablo III was a decent, fun to play action-RPG, but DRM and over-design drained the joy out of it, and even with a decade of polish it’s half the game Torchlight 2 is.

Honorable Mention: Knights of Pen&Paper

An indie turn-based retro style pixel-art RPG where you control the playing characters and the dungeon master in a simulation of a traditional pen and paper RPG.

Knights_of_pen_&_paper

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Best Fantasy Book: Throne of the Crescent Moon (Saladin Ahmed)

Detail, humor, and one thousand and one nights inspired – the book is simply great storytelling in that classic swashbuckling sense as you follow a charismatic thief that leads a revolt in a magical and political city.

Best Sci-fi Book: Pirate Cinema (Cory Doctorow)

Still not tired of brilliant, passionate kids taking on the oppressive system in a dystopian near future. Keep these coming, Doctorow.

cory_doctorow_pirate_cinema

Best debut: vN (Madeline Ashby)

Some love and hate from critics but this is a great first novel and a wonderfully dark story about a rogue artificial woman becoming dangerous.

Biggest Sci-Fi Loss: Ray Bradbury

We lost some great storytellers (Harry Harrison) and story makers (Neil Armstrong) but the passing of Ray Bradbury (Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked this Way Comes, Fahrenheit 451) is one of the year’s biggest blows. A muse for Steven Spielberg, Neil Gaiman, and Steven King, Ray’s storytelling gift has expanded minds for nearly a century now, and although he resisted the label of science fiction writer he is credited as the one most responsible for bringing sci-fi into the literary mainstream.

Stupidest Comic Book Death: Spider man #700.

In an obviously not-permanent brain mind meld switch the body of Spider Man is now housing Dr. Octopus, Peter Parker has died in Dr. Octopi’s body and fans everywhere sigh their collective sighs.

Amazing-e1356793834433

Best Sci-Fiction Becomes Reality: NASA’s Faster-Than-Light Warp Drive

What can be cooler than FTL made possible by donuts?

300px-Star_Trek_Warp_Field

Most Amazing Robot Monster: DARPA’s Running Cheetah

DARPA’s Maximum Mobility Program revved up their Cheetah Robot this year. The previous iteration ran at a speed of 18 mph, but the new version clocked upwards of 28.8 mph. Finally, what we’ve always needed – robots that can outrun humans.

Movies

Biggest Movie Winner: Decent Geek Movies

Great geek movies are everywhere nowadays. Go Avengers! Go Hobbit! Go Batman!

Biggest Movie Loser: Nostalgic Franchise Reboots

Promethius (Ugh), Dark Shadows (Huh?), Men in Black III (Really?) and Total Recall (Yawn)

Best CGI Character: The Hulk

Puny God. ‘Nuff said.

Most disappointing CGI Character: The Hobbit’s Goblin King

The very definition of CGI overacting.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

Best CGI actor in a CGI Scene: The Hobbit’s Golum

The Riddle Me This interchange was perhaps the best CGI scene ever produced in film (don’t see it in 48p though)

Golum

Golum is basically amazing

Movie Weapon of the Year: Bows

Let’s get Hawkeye, Katniss and Merida together in a hunting super hero party. Really. With these guys.

Finally, Monster of the Year goes to: Giant Spiders

Not only have spiders been effective hunters for over 100 million years but new, undiscovered species keep propping up (like this one that builds web dopplegangers). This year giant spiders were sighted both in Germany and in Seattle under the Space Needle – hats off and a happy new year to our giant, hairy, eight legged brethren.

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Here’s our best and worst of 2012 in RPGs. Enjoy and a have a happy New Year!

Tabletop RPGs

Best Adventure: Streets of Zobeck

Burglary, mad science, demons – really, it’s all covered in these 7 awesome adventures for the anti-hero.

midgard_zobeck_map

Best Setting: Midgard

Wolfgang Baur’s home campaign brought to life over the years but most substantially with this year’s RPG campaign guide of the same name. Seemingly inspired by old school campaign guides and real world mythology (Norse, fey) there’s great depth and world variety here especially with the pantheon (love how Midgard handles clerical domains), status rules, dragon kings, Leylines, unique takes on races – really, what isn’t there to love?

midgard_cover

Best Supplement: Gamemastery Chase Cards

Another great example of Paizo innovation, these cards help expand on something that’s normally poorly documented in RPG rules (surprising considering chases are common happenstance in play). These cards help make the chase scenes more dramatic, more  interesting for players, and easier for game masters to run. Well done.

Best Tabletop RPG Innovation: Google Hangouts

Networking and play seem to be growing online due to this not so recent tech – it will be interesting to see if this continues to grow or fatigue out.

Best RPG Kickstarter: Monte Cook’s Numenera

Funding new IP that traditional publishers would skirt past is exactly what Kickstarter is for, and Numenera is a perfect example of the fans and a creator coming together like peanut butter and chocolate. It blew past it’s initial 20k goal hitting half a mil and many stretch goals, and without Kickstarter fans may not have the chance to see this upcoming campaign setting in all its glory.

Best RPG Hobby Mashup: Crochet and RPGs

This:

crochet-Goblin

And this:

crochet_dwarf_beard

Quite possibly the best mashup of all time.

Best Beta: DnDNext

Love it or hate (and there’s many on both sides) Mike Mearls is certainly getting buzz aplenty and players invested in the latest iteration of the classic game.

Best RPG Craiglist Ad: The Infamous DnD Bachelor Party Ad

Requirements from the actual ad:

  • Dungeon Master experience in Dungeons and Dragons (preferably in 3rd or 3.5 Editions)
  • Must be able to provide a picture including the face and body…
  • It is preferable that cup size be at least C or greater.
  • If books are needed it must be stated ahead of time however it would be preferable if the DM had her own.

“I ensure you that nothing else is expect of you other than an exciting adventure.”- Uh huh. Catch the original here:

Board Games

Best Board game of the Year: Lords of Waterdeep

Finally an approachable Waterdeep, a Waterdeep even the geekiest among us can share with glee with friends who didn’t spend their adolescent nose deep in a Forgotten Realms module.  A simple, strategic and competitive game with high quality components and  great art that even your non-geek friends will like playing. Thank you WotC.

Lords_of_waterdeep_board_game

Biggest Board Game disappointment: The Lord of the Rings: Nazgul

All the  potential (a co-op game where you can play as Nazguls, I mean come on) and all the power and popularity of the biggest RPG franchise behind it. Sadly it seems more money was put into licensing than the game art, components, rule writing or into playtesting this awkward  co-op cube pulling experience – and it’s by no means the worse LOTR game ever printed.

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part 2 coming shortly…

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I’m becoming hooked on the light hearted, full of fight and refreshingly fun fantasy Pathfinder comic book. We’re only on issue two and I’m already excited to see what battles our fighter types charge heedlessly into next issue.

Seoni and Ezren

Seoni and Ezren trade jabs

Besides lots of goblin fighting we get a glimpse of the first major antagonist in this issue (but no spoilers here). We have a full party now, too:

  • Valeros the rash fighter
  • Kyra (cleric/paladin, also rash but with different motivations)
  • Seoni – sorceress
  • Merisiel – Elf rogue
  • Ezren – wizard
  • Harsk – Dwarf ranger (your typical surly Dwarf so far)

I’m a big fan of Jim Zub’s writing, although I think he’s still struggling to find some of the characters voices (except maybe Valeros) and a few of the comic lines seem bit off timing wise (as if Zub and Huarat aren’t quite in sync for those panels). But the bits that work work really well – and the dialogue is what carries the comic. My favorite lines are from the rhyming, singing goblins.

Huarat really brings the facial expressions (although I’m not a big fan of the pathfinder elf eyes – are they supposed to be deer eyes?) and great fights. Outside of the action the world backdrop is beautiful and full of life, and the art is still holding up to what I’d invasion Pathfinder style would be like in comic book form.

Merisiel

Merisiel with her black doe-like eyes…

Finally, the book comes with in-depth character sheets and lots of background material to tease a DM, part of what I think makes this a solid innovative product for Paizo. I can’t imagine you not wanting to pick this up, whether you are a Pathfinder or a Comic fan.

Pathfinder #2 is now available at your local store, or online from Paizo or Dynamite.

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I recently picked this up and not only enjoyed the read but thought this was a great idea. This is a well written comic that also includes typical tabletop module sections like character sheets for the main characters, a map and detail on the town in the story (Sandpoint), adventure hooks for DMs, and encounters.

There are several cover variants with the interior art by freelancer Andrew Huerta who somehow manages to keep the art within the Pathfinder style (every character is carrying multiple unnecessary trinkets and weapons) and keeps the action panels crisp.

It’s written by Jim Zub who is a great choice for this sort of endeavor – if you haven’t read Skull Kickers you should pick it up (I found SkullKickers to a bit shallow and overly bloody in places but it’s probably the funnest fantasy themed type comic of the past few years).

The story isn’t anything you haven’t experienced before in RPG/Fantasy (at least so far) but the characterization and dialogue is off to a good start with this first issue and there’s promise of more characters to come. We’re introduced primarily in the beginning to a trio: Valeros (fighter + overly indulgent), Seoni (Sorcerer + overly mysterious) and Merisiel (Rogue + overly chaotic). Others (like a dwarf ranger) I expect will help round out the party but enter into the story a little late to get to know this issue.

What I like best about the title, however, is how Paizo is innovating in this space with a new product type. This is a mashup of comic and tabletop module. It likely only appeals to a sub-niche of their customers but they seem willing to build products for those smaller segments. Kudos to both Paizo and Dynamite for taking this risk.

I’m looking forward to following this series. Pick it up yourself from Paizo here or see some of the art (like the page below) on Dynamite’s site here.

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