Modular: Trouble in the ’80’s with Tales from the Loop

Saturday, February 17th, 2018 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

TalesFromTheLoopAs a child of the ’80’s, I grew up with the understanding that a group of kids might stumble upon a series of mysterious events and have to band together to deal with the challenges from it. Parents, law enforcement, and other authorities would be of no help, so there was no point in telling them what was going on. They either wouldn’t believe it or, worse, would stop the kids from fixing things. The kids, through determination and luck, were the only hope to set things right … whether it was finding a way to keep their families from being evicted, returning a strange visitor to another planet, or stopping rampaging monsters. Or, heck, even just making it through a day of detention.

E.T., The Goonies, Stand By Me, The Breakfast Club, Flight of the Navigator, The Last Starfighter, Lost Boys, SpaceCampGremlins. These are the types of films, along with more recent period pieces like The Iron Giant and Stranger Things, and maybe a touch of the SyFy Channel’s television series Eureka thrown in, that inspire the science fiction role-playing game Tales from the Loop from Modiphius Entertainment.

Tales from the Loop centers around a community in the 1980’s that is home to a research center and particle accelerator, called “The Loop.” There are actually two settings outlined in the book: the Swedish island of Svartsjolandet or the American town Boulder City. Whichever community your characters live in, you play a group of Kids who come into contact with a Mystery related to the particle accelerator, and join together to resolve the Mystery. The game can be extremely episodic, great for a standalone one-shot game, or played in a more “sandbox” format where the players are able to explore the setting in more depth, allowing for a more long-term campaign.

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Modular: First Time Out With I Love the Corps

Thursday, February 8th, 2018 | Posted by M Harold Page

256 ILTC Teens Playing

A house full of teens playing I Love the Corps!

“Cover the back of your necks! It’s going for your necks!”

“Use the black hole gun!”

“I’m out of Hero Points!”

“Kill them! Kill them!”

“Argh!”

Yes the house is full of teens playing a review copy of indy game I Love the Corps, a self-consciously SciFi game which hits the notes of 90s Military SF, with a dose of Aliens, plus video games like Call of Duty and Mass Effect (the referee’s book has a handy appendix of inspirations, including music). The lads range from 12 through to 16, with my son Kurtzhau, 14, in the middle and in the thick of it refereeing an ambitious one-shot he’s crafted involving rebel humans and sinister uploading aliens, epic scale space dreadnoughts, and more twists than a sack-full of broken micro USB cables.

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The Time of Woe is Upon Us: Chaos in the Old World

Sunday, February 4th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Chaos in the Old World-small

I was shopping for fantasy board games online last week, as one does, and I came across a user review of a recent title. It was glowing, and it said “This is my favorite new board game since Chaos in the Old World.”

That reminded me that I’d always intended to take a closer look at Fantasy Flight’s Chaos. It’s a Warhammer game, and I’ve been familiar with the setting for decades. But these days I spent most of my gaming dollars on the far-future version, Warhammer 40,000, and games like Warhammer 40k: Relic and the terrific Forbidden Stars. Now that Fantasy Flight has lost the Warhammer license though, Chaos in the Old World was out of print, and prices were probably starting to creep up. I made up my mind at that point to spend my weekly gaming dollars on a copy, provided I could find one at a reasonable price.

That turned out to be a lot easier said than done. The cheapest copies I could find at Amazon were $279. eBay wasn’t much better — new copies were selling for as much as $300 and up. I gritted my teeth and setting in for a long search.

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Future Treasures: Warhammer 40k: The Magos by Dan Abnett

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Magos Dan Abnett-smallThree years ago, as I was commuting three hours a day to a job I hated, I found a way to add a little joy to my tedious morning drive. I started listening to the Warhammer Audio Books produced by Heavy Entertainment for Black Library.

And man, what a delight they were. Not just readings, these were full-cast audio dramas, with wonderfully produced sound effects and professional voice actors like Toby Longworth, Gareth Armstrong, Jonathan Keeble, and many others. I’d pull into the parking lot with the sound of ricocheting bolter fire and space marine battle cries echoing in my ear, and it made getting out of the car and starting the long walk into work a little easier.

I enjoyed virtually all of those action-packed audio dramas, but I think my favorite was Dan Abnett’s Thorn and Talon: From the Case Files of Eisenhorn and Ravenor, an anthology of tales of the dedicated Imperial Inquisitor Eisenhorn and his apprentice Ravenor, as they came up again Chaos plots, strange warp artifacts, and more dangerous things.

That was my introduction to the tales of Inquisitor Eisenhorn. Although truthfully, if I’d just listened to my friends Howard Andrew Jones and John Denardo, I could have saved myself a lot of time. Way back in 2009 Howard raved about Abnett’s Eisenhorn omnibus, a fat volume collecting all three novels of the Eisenhorn trilogy and a handful of shorter works:

Dan Abnett wasn’t satisfied with creating a fabulous lead character in an action-packed space opera; he sent him to fantastic places and provides a series of detective/investigative stories full of logical turns, surprises, and plenty of action.

And in his 2016 article ‘In Defense of Media Tie-Ins,” John wrote:

One of the best set of books I’ve ever read — in any genre — was the Eisenhorn trilogy by Dan Abnett. The books are set in the richly-imagined Warhammer 40K universe… Abnett is a one of the most skilled master storytellers you’ve never heard of. This is the series that I point to when anyone is quick to dismiss tie-in fiction… I don’t play the game, but that didn’t stop me from losing sleep because I couldn’t stop turning page after action-packed page, or cheering when a bad guy finally got his comeuppance.

The long-awaited fourth book in the Eisenhorn series finally arrives next month. The Magos, a fat 720-page volume, collects a dozen Eisenhorn short stories and a brand new novel. Here’s the description.

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Nintendo Switch for the Holiday Win!

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018 | Posted by Matt Drought

NintendoSwitch

Christmas is my favorite holiday. Spending time with loved ones, Christmas music, houses lit up with lights and decorations, and the joy you feel giving a gift to a loved one. All of these things make me appreciate my life and the people in it.

Typically, my family gathers for the holiday at my home. With the meal preparation left to my wife and brother, I happily prepare the post-feast entertainment. This is usually varied: tabletop games, movies, video games,etc. This year I looked to the Nintendo Switch for some fun and enjoyable game playing.

The games I wanted to play needed to meet a few requirements:  I wanted them to be family friendly, accommodate 4 players, in either split screen or single screen, and be genuinely fun. After sifting through the Switch Library, I found two possible candidates, Mario Kart 8 and Snipper Clips. Mario Kart 8 allows up to 4 players to play simultaneously via split screen, while Snipper Clips allows up to 4 players to play simultaneously on a single screen.

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Why I’m Here – Part Two: Some Thoughts on Old Books and Appendix N

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

add-dmguideFour years ago, I posted an explanation of what I’m trying to do with my reviews for Black Gate. My stated goal was, and remains, to be someone who says to readers, “Here’s a book I think you’ll get a kick out of.” There were several people who did that for me, turning me on to books and authors I still hold dear, and I want to do that for others. Like most fans of something, I want to convince people the things I like are worth their time and are still relevant.

It can be hard to pierce the barrier built of cultural noise, the vast wealth of new fantasy being written every year, and the simple passage of time, and convince someone a book that’s fifty years old or more is worth his time. Pop culture reflects the larger society that produces it, and people want to see their concerns and interests in it. That people still read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert E. Howard more than eighty years after both their deaths, though, tells me it’s not a hopeless battle.

I’m not the only person doing this, not by any stretch of the imagination. Of particular interest has been the wealth of discussion about Appendix N that has taken place over the past five or six years on message boards, blogs, and podcasts. For the two of you who don’t know what Appendix N is, it’s a quirky list of fantasy and sci-fi books that inspired Gary Gygax, the primary creator of D&D. There are few works on it I haven’t got to, though I was recently taken to task for my negligence of A. Merritt.

The list was in the Dungeon Masters Guide. Back in the day, it didn’t mean too much to me, only because I’d already read most of the authors on the list, and so had most of my gaming friends. Still, it was cool to see Gygax liked the same books we did. Because so much of the present Appendix N conversation has tended to focus on gaming, something I don’t do anymore, I’ve mostly just listened. Other than a couple of conversations about individual books, I’ve sat off to the side.

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Oz Goes Thrift Shopping: “This is [bleeping] Awesome!”

Thursday, January 18th, 2018 | Posted by Nick Ozment

Nick Ozment's loot-small

On Wednesday, January 17, 2018, after I clocked out from work, I decided to do a 5 for 5: Hit all five of Med City’s thrift stores (at least that I know of) — 2 Goodwills, 2 Salvation Armys, and a Savers. I also dropped in at Nerdin’ Out, a store that specializes in collectible comic books and action figures.

It was a challenge, as I had just sprained my ankle that morning, and the walks down the aisles started to feel longer and longer as the day wore on. By the time the sun was setting, I had adopted the limping, shambling gait of the recently undead. But the increasingly incredible finds that I kept stumbling upon at one store after the other released enough adrenalin to keep me going — all the way until I got home, pulled off my snow boot, and found my ankle swollen to double its size.

Here (sharing only the finds that would be of particular interest to readers of this site) is my haul. Not all pickin’ days are this fruitful, I assure you. If they always turned out like today, hell, this is all I’d ever do.

From schlocky VHS horror flicks and classic sci-fi paperbacks to giant rubber snakes and other rare collectibles, today’s pick turned up treasures from across the entire spectrum of what I hunt for.

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Modular: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Friday, January 5th, 2018 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything-smallIf you’ve jumped into the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons, I’ve got a book for you.

Until now, you haven’t really needed anything apart from the main three manuals (The Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and the Dungeon Master’s Guide). But with Xanathar’s Guide to Everything the Wizards of the Coast have created a handy companion with utility for both players and dungeon masters.

Sure, if you’ve followed the various expansion books closely you’ll have seen some good stuff: Volo’s Guide to Monsters helps flesh out some nasty critters so you can better bring them to life AND know their weaknesses, and the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide provides background material if you’re playing in a specific setting (or perhaps one similar to it). Xanathar’s, though, is something like the original Unearthed Arcana was for old school D&D.

It’s 192 pages are broadly divided into four categories. Chapter 1 is given over to new options for characters, Chapter 2 is stuffed with game master tools, Chapter 3 has spells, and the Appendix, for some reason, is mostly devoted to possible character names, some 15 pages of them. To me, that feels like the book’s only mis-step. Long lists of English, French, and Celtic names can be found in numerous places, and while the elf and dwarf (and other) categories can be useful for inspiration, I’d rather have seen these names left on an online companion and this space given over to some other useful subject – sandbox gaming, for instance – that never gets enough coverage.

But the rest… the rest is gold.

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Future Treasures: Rogue Trader: The Omnibus by Andy Hoare

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Rogue Trader the Omnibus-smallFantasy Flight released the epic Rogue Trader role playing game in 2009. One of the early fruits of their Warhammer 40,000 license, Rogue Trader allowed players to play intrepid merchant princes buying and selling outside the legal boundaries of the Imperium. I became a fan immediately, and it quickly became my favorite science fiction RPG.

Fantasy Flight lost the Warhammer 40K license last year, and the game is now out of print. I thought that would be the end of the brand, so I was pleased to see Black Library put Rogue Trader: The Omnibus on their schedule for next month. It’s a compilation of three novels and two short stories by Andy Hoare. Rogue Star (2006) and Star of Damocles (2007) chart the fortunes of rogue trader Lucian Gerrit on the Imperium’s fringes, and Savage Scars (2011) picks up the tale as the White Scars battle the T’au on the planet Dal’yth. Rogue Trader: The Omnibus arrives in trade paperback on January 23.

Explore the stars and the farthest reaches of the galaxy with the complete Rogue Trader omnibus, containing the novels Rogue Star, Star of Damocles and Savage Scars.

Licensed by ancient charter, Rogue Traders explore the uncharted regions of the galaxy, seeking new worlds to exploit on behalf of the Imperium. The fortunes of Rogue Trader Lucian Gerrit and his family are in decline, and his inheritance amounts to little more than a pile of debt and misery. In a final, desperate gamble to restore his family’s former glory, Gerrit strikes a deal on a forgotten Imperial world in the Eastern Fringe, but his timing could not be worse. The alien tau are seeking to expand their empire across the Damocles Gulf, and soon Gerrit is caught in the middle of a clash between two mighty star-spanning empires, neither of which is willing to back down.

Rogue Trader: The Omnibus will be published by Games Workshop/Black Library on January 23, 2018. It is 800 pages, priced at $21 in trade paperback. Read more at the Black Library website.


Modular: Resurrecting RuneQuest: An Investigation by the Tales of the Reaching Moon Editorial Staff

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017 | Posted by Michael OBrien

Runequest Deluxe Third Edition boxed set-small Runequest Deluxe Third Edition boxed set 2-back-small

[This article was originally published in Tales of the Reaching Moon #5 in Spring, 1991, after the RuneQuest trademark had been sold to Avalon Hill and the game re-released in Deluxe and Standard boxed sets. Its publication was a catalyst for Avalon Hill bringing Ken Rolston on board and kicking off what became known as the (short-lived) “RuneQuest Renaissance.”

This article was actually based on a report commissioned by Avalon Hill itself in 1990 (prior to the decision to publish Eldarad). The original report was written by an award-winning game designer.]

Introduction

RuneQuest is a great game. We all know that. Unfortunately, things haven’t been going so good for the game for some time. We all know that too. We, the Tales of the Reaching Moon staff present here our thoughts about the history of the game, the hole RuneQuest is currently in, and what action we think Avalon Hill should take to dig its way out again.

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