RPG Blog Carnival

May 14, 2009

This is the first time I have come across the RPGBlog Carnival, being a new RPG blogger. But my old adage is to jump in at the deep end so here goes. To find more info on the carnival, check out thecoremechanic.com. This months carnival is host by roleplayingpro.com, a blog that I have been following with interest since it started around 6 moths ago. the idea behind the carnival is to take the current topic and suggest questions and wax lyrical about it. The basis being that you create a worthwhile read and promote discussion amoung the blogs… so here goes.

What games do you see emerging as the big players in the near future?
This is a fairly easy one I think. For me, new and inovative games are always the spear head of creation but these tend not to be big players. Big players always seem to come from the old stalwarts or from the company that gets the next big license. So for the next year or 2 I think we will see little change here. WotC will remain on top as always with the D&D jugganaut. Mongoose and White Wolf will be fighting it out for second fiddle with Taveller/Runequest versus the World of Darkness and Exalted. After that its a big drop off but I think Green Ronin may be in with a shot due to their new license for Dragon Age and the Song of Ice and Fire RPG they just released.

What companies should we be watching out for to release the next big product?
As mentioned above, Green Ronin. the Dragon Age RPG could be a big pull for them. Others to consider include Paizo with their Pathfinder RPG which will be the new D20 standard, or at least thats what they are hoping. Evil Hat games is also worth a look with their Dresden Files RPG, based upon the Fate engine, that will see the light of day later this year (fingers crossed) and while on the subject of Fate, Cubicle 7 has the new Starblazer Adventures RPG. This is something I have had the pleasure of playing at a con pre-release and I also got to talk to Chris the author about it and its going to be a great game in my honest opinion.
Something else I remember seeing and thinking should be big was a new game from Luke Crane, he of Mouse Guard/Burning Wheel fame. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called or where the website was, all I remember was that it looked pretty cool with a sci-fi vibe and lets face it, anything Luke gets involved with is worth looking at.

How will technology become more integrated into roleplaying games?
This is something that always bugs me as a gamer and as a person who works in IT. Why do people want technology to become more integrated with RPG’s? For me gaming is not something I do online or with a laptop at my gametable. The extent that I go to for tech in gaming is character generators and the like, and mapping software. Im not sure what WotC is trying to do with their latest push to get D&D players gaming online so much. I guess that its an effort to get more books sold to people who play MMORPG’s and to get gamers playing regularly where no groups are available. A nice idea, but I don’t think it will work due to the very nature of RPG gaming. RPG’s are all about the social interactions of the group telling a story and that is something that is very hard, if not impossible, to do online. I know this makes me sound like one of the old D&D fraturnity, “get your tech outta ma game”, but its something that has always puzzled me.

What industry writer do we need to be on the look out for?
A favourite of mine at the moment is Clayton A Oliver. He’s the guy who did a lot for AEG’s Spycraft and has recently done the Twlight 2013 game (a 3rd edition Twlight 2000 if you didn’t know). Why is he a favourite? No idea. I just like the way he writes and what he writes about.
Another name to look out for is Chris Birch, he of Starblazer Adventures from Cubilce 7. Chris and his writing partner Stuart Newman have written a great new game in Starblazer and the Fate engine that they have tailored to it is just brilliant. I know that Chris has mentioned that they are now looking to apply this to a fantasy game and I can’t wait to see it. Imagine the SB Fate ruleset in Fantasy, it will be like a new version of Birthright with all the cities, armies and countries defined like a character with their own aspects and skills.

What blogs do you see exploding into becoming the next big thing?
Err… mine? Hah, I wish! Seriously RoleplayingPro.com is my current favourite RPG Blog and I hope that Sam hits his current targets that he set for himself when he started the blog. It has been a big inspiration to me and this blog so I hope he keeps it up. Other than that just check out RPGBloggers.com and pick one that is not reposting the same old stuff and they could be the next big thing.

What do you see for the future of the industry?
Time for some major predictions here.

  1. I think that the top 3 companies will remain the same for the forseeable future, WotC, White Wolf and Mongoose have things pretty much tied up and unless they drop the ball big time, its gonna be the same for some time. 
  2. I think a small company, new or old, will bring out a shining new game that captures the hearts and minds of the RPG.net groupies. They will spend hours discussing it and it will always be one of the hot topics there. My bet currently is that it will be the Dr Who RPG from Cubile 7, and it will take over from Exalted as the hot topic.
  3. Palladium will finally update their system in a new big release and try to take on the big boys. This is something that people have been crying out for and I think KevinS is starting to listern to his fans. Witness the latest news where Palladium has finally released PDF’s of their games.
  4. WotC will screwup the digital revolution of D&D. Not that this will affect me (see my opinions of tech in gaming above), but after the mess that they had with D&D 3.0/3.5 and the character generator and the DM tools and then the botch-up that they have made of the new 4E online tools, im not convinced that they will ever get the whole tech thing right. Just license another company to do it and let them get on with it, concentrate on the Player Handbook number 37, or whatever is the next release.

Predictions aside, the future of RPG’s will remain largely the same as now I think. We are now in a spot where we have major publishers doing their thing, small companies doing some inovative things and one-man bands putting out some real head turners that slowly filter up to the larger companies. I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Tech will never replace the need to get together with friends, a big bowl of munchies and several litres of Pop/Beer/Coffee (delete as appropriate) and  just game. 

My one wish for the future? Someone finally picks up the Dune license and makes a great game…. that or the Harry Potter license and gets millions of the younger generation into the hobby. Imagine how things would change with that much fresh blood in the industry.

Related links
WotC (D&D)
Mongoose  (Traveller/Runequest)
White Wolf (World of Darkness, Exalted)
Green Ronin (Dragon Age, Song of Ice & Fire)
Paizo (Pathfinder)
Dresden Files RPG
Cubicle 7 (Starblazer Adventures RPG, Dr Who)
Twlight 2013


Supporting the Industry

May 13, 2009

If like me you love having the latest RPG book, all glossy and pristine, when it first comes out, Pre-Orders of a new book that interests you may be something that your interested in. Pre-ordering a product means that you get first shot at the game, it means you help the people writting it and you get to show them a commitment to how much the book means to you as a gamer. The problem is when that all falls flat on its face due to the publishers not being on the ball and generally not making their end of the deal.

In the last year I signed up for 3 pre-orders of games. So far over 6 months later (9 months in one case) I have only recieved 1 of these pre-ordered games. One of them is still in printing hell, one is in my sticky mitts and I love it and the final one is already on the shelves in local stores but no copies for those that pre-ordered. Why is this? Why setup a pre-order system, get people to back you and your ideas and then let them down like that?

These experiances have pretty much put me off pre-orders, along with buying an RPG on the day it comes out due to some companies re-printing the first release with added errata within months of release.

If your a game company, consider your loyal customers please. Make an effort to keep those that help you in the early days of design and purchase happy. If not, then you might just find that some of your fan base moves away to something else.

10 Minute Dungeon – Photoshop Style

May 12, 2009

Using the tools and tricks that I have gleened from cartographers guild I thought I would try to make a quick dungeon in PS. Using the same style as with all of the overland maps I create, namely render clouds, defining shadows via multiplied layers and heavy use of blending options, this is what I came up with in 10 minutes. Not bad in my optinion and with much more time could be something pretty cool.

10 Minute dungeon

10 Minute dungeon

Photoshop Map Parchment

May 7, 2009

One of the more popular entries here on the blog has been the post in the map library for parchment paper that I was fooling around with some time ago. Well I have been continuing my investigations into how to create a good looking parchment paper since then and this is what I have come up with.

Butch Curry of Zombienirvana.com has created a great set of tutorials covering how to do RPG maps in Photoshop and the first two lessons are on how to create the parchment effect that he uses. I first found these tutorials back when Butch first started releasing them but have only just managed to spend more time with them. These video tutorials seem to have ended now with the last one posted back in early 2008. However they are well worth watching as Butch leads the viewer step by step through his techniques to create some amazing cartographic artwork. he’s what I have come up with today, just following the first two lessons.

Tavern Map Comparison

May 5, 2009

Her are two maps that I was working on over the weekend, just to get a feel for how complex some of the issues are with mapping in Photoshop and with CC3.

Both are rough designs of a tavern with an outside stables and both were limited to only 60 minutes work. How did it go? Well the CC3 version is much more complete and has some nice effects overall, whereas the Photoshop map is no where near done. I did learn some new tricks with the Photoshop map and made use of some new patterns and brushes that I created in the same 60 minute period. Overall I think both look pretty good, but with more training I think that I could get a lot further with the Photoshop one within the 60 minutes.

Art for arts sake?

May 1, 2009

What is it with artwork in RPG’s? Surely the whole point of an RPG is that it is designed to allow peoples imagination to fill a whole world with flights of fancy. How you image the world is how it should be seen and not some other person interpretation of it.

Artwork in any RPG book is the most expensive part of the endevour both in cold, hard cash and page real estate. Cost for artwork for a game can range from $25 for a small line drawing to over $1000 for a cover piece. The cover piece I can understand as I dicussed before, this is one of the things that helps to sell the book off the shelf. But with the price of books being a big issue for some, surely the cost savings of using less or no art is rather tempting.

Think about the latest Jackie Collins or Dan Brown… no artwork there apart from the cover, and last I knew good old Dan was busy basking in the glow of his mega fortunes. Compare this to RPG’s and every book released awash with art and is tight on profit margins. So what is the answer? Cheaper art? Less art? No art?…. might be worth an experimental PDF or two here just to test the waters.

Character Library 015 – Game of Thrones D20

April 30, 2009

Back by popular demand, the Character Library is reborn with a new slant. As a lot of people, im a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire(SoIF) series by George R.R Martin. With this in mind and the release of the new RPG based upon the series I thought it would be fun to create a character in both the old RPG and the new RPG and compare them. Here is the character for the old system, Game of Thrones release by Guardians of the Order just before they went out of business. It was a real shame that they did as the game is quite promising. The only criticism i have of it is that they based it on the D20 system which I don’t think is a good fit for SoIF due to the nature of levels, feats, etc, etc. However they did make it work quite well and fair play to them it is a good quality product. So here is the first incarnation of Sir Oberon with a followup in the new system next week (hopefully).

Sir Oberon is a young noble of the House Martell, related to the current heir Princess Arianne as a distant cousin. In his formative years he spent much time in study and has shown himself to be a quick learner and a dedicated potential ruler. Everything he does is accompanied by a wry grin and his charismatic charm is infectious. Sir Oberon has already been earmarked for greatness by his teachers and now just needs to warrant their opinions with the nobles of House Martell. At least that way he might get a nice boost in influence and a quiet manor house in the country to rule over.

CL015 -Sir Oberon – Game of Thrones (D20) (PDF – 536Kb)