Against the Giants by Gary Gygax (TSR, 1981). Cover by Bill Willingham
Against the Giants (G1-2-3) is an absolute classic by the legend, Gary Gygax.
These three strung-together adventures are some of the finest he wrote, IMO. I enjoyed this series first as a player when I was in the 5th or 6th grade, and then running it myself as DM years later. Hill giants, frost giants, fire giants, and drow! Oh, how I enjoyed recurrent use of the drow as a diabolical, super-intelligent, evil menace.
Monty Python’s Complete Waste of Time (7th Level, October 1994) and The 7th Guest (Trilobyte/Virgin, April 1993)
I remember it like it was yesterday. The year was 1994 and all I wanted was a computer with a compact disc read-only memory. You see, having a CD-ROM-capable PC, which had only become available the year before, opened an entirely new world of entertainment. However, a machine with those advanced capabilities, including 24-bit VGA graphics, would set you back around $2,300 (or roughly double that in today’s dollars). I literally used to haunt my local CompUSA store where they had floor models of these technological marvels I could actually play with.
Oh, the longing…
And then miracle of miracles, I received a $1000 refund on my taxes and promptly financed the rest at some ridiculous interest rate, loading my very own Packard Bell Pentium Multimedia PC into the trunk, along with monitor and printer. But as euphoric as this was, the real scores were riding shotgun in the front seat, CD-ROMs of Monty Python’s Complete Waste of Time, and The 7th Guest.
BOLO by Keith Laumer (Berkley Medallion, July 1977), BattleTech board game
(FASA, 1985), and Lonely Power Armor by Tim Akers (Citizen Crow Press,
May 17, 2022). Covers by Vincent Di Fate, Alan Gutierrez, unknown
Why do so few writers write anguished poetry or create art to honor the fertile and elusive muse of modern sci-fi? I’m speaking, of course, of that ever-sexy icon of the future, the GIANT ROBOT.
Tim Akers takes a small step to rectify this injustice in his May newsletter Heretigram, writing:
The image that defined my early creative life [was] the original cover of BattleTech, the game of armored combat, released by FASA in 1984… and lasting through dozens of revisions and reboots. It’s seeing a bit of a resurgence in gaming, and I couldn’t be happier. BattleTechwas the game that moved me from Avalon Hill cardboard chit and hex map strategy games, and into the wider world of miniatures gaming. And I’ve never looked back.
Tim also salutes the fiction of Keith Laumer and Fred Saberhagan and, just to prove his heart truly is in the right place, offers a tasty excerpt from his own giant-robot inspired fiction, his new novella Lonely Power Armor.
Hello! We’re back with another episode review! This one, judging by the title, is based entirely on what was a DLC to the original game that explored Ellie’s backstory. I’m excited about this one… in a very masochistic way (honestly, the DLC left me sobbing). C’est parti!
I may have mentioned before, but I will again, how much I love the guitar introduction. I remember the game introduction being the same thing, though that might be my memory mixing things up (I do know it was guitar, and I’m reasonably certain it’s the same exact tune, but I’m open to being wrong.)
Winter proper. In the game, we open to a rabbit getting skewered by Ellie’s arrow. It’s probably for the best we don’t see that in the show.
I recently saw an ad for their Bookazine The RPG Book. The cover price is $19.99, but it’s currently available for only $11.99 (including shipping) from their online portal MagazinesDirect.com, so I ordered a copy. And I’m extremely glad I did. It turned out to be an entertaining and informative read — and a terrific intro to the very best computer role playing games of the past four decades.
Allan T. Grohe Jr. in the Black Blade Publishing booth,
a mobile pilgrimage site for old school gamers
Gary Con! The tiny annual gathering that grew out the impromptu gaming event at Lake Geneva’s American Legion Hall after Gary Gygax’s funeral in March 2008 has now been going strong for fifteen years, and has grown into my favorite gaming convention. I attended Gary Con II in 2010 (my photo essay coverage of that ancient event is here), and was frankly astounded at how much it reminded me of the early days of Gen Con (which also took place in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin). Gary Con is a celebration of the life and work of Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, and it has become the most important annual gathering for old-school gamers.
Gary Con XV is usually held across four days at the end of March, and this one took place March 23-26th, 2023. I made the one-hour drove across the state border into Wisconsin to attend on Saturday, March 25. As usual, I spent most of my time at the con wandering the fabulous Dealer’s Room, taking in the amazing volume of new and upcoming gaming releases.
One of the highlights of Gary Con every year — perhaps the highlight — is Black Blade Publishing’s magically overstocked booth, run by the friendly and knowledgeable Allan T. Grohe Jr. The booth contains half a dozen tables positively groaning under the weight of hundreds of products from dozens of exciting companies. Here’s a virtual tour of the booth, with over a dozen photos, and some of my most exciting finds.
Why hello! I’m back with another episode of The Last of Us. By the time this post appears, the series will probably (if I’ve done my math right) have completed its first season. Rest assured I have watched it already, I just haven’t written about it.
For those who don’t know about the Open Game License “incident” from earlier this year, it’s too complicated to lay out in an introduction, so go look it up, then come back to this article.
Crazy, right? Despite Wizards of the Coast walking back a lot of what they were going to do, players and game designers alike are giving serious thought into whether or not they want to continue playing with this game system. While many are sticking with 5th Edition (5E) Dungeons & Dragons, others are looking into something completely different, including games that simulate the 1st Edition rules (known as Old School Renaissance or OSR). Which puts Kelsey Dionne at Arcane Library in the perfect time to release her long-awaited Shadowdark game, since it combines the fan-favorite elements of 5E and OSR games.
While it might seem like Shadowdark was rushed into production to capitalize on this sudden interest in alternative game systems, the truth is that it’s been several years in development. After the OGL crisis, Kelsey Dionne had to re-work some of the mechanics so that Shadowdark didn’t resemble Dungeons & Dragons too closely, but this just results in the game now looking more like her own unique thing (a similar situation is occurring with Gavin Norman’s also long-awaited Dolmenwood game). There are still the usual 6 character traits, armor class, and hit points. But complicated encumbrance rules are now replaced by a simple gear slot mechanic (you can carry as many items as your Strength score). The magic system looks like the traditional Vancian system used in every version of Dungeons & Dragons, but now it’s limited by a spell mishap table (similar to what you find in Dungeon Crawl Classics). Darkvision has been completely eliminated as an option for player characters, making those torches far more important and the threat of losing your light source far more intense (since ALL monsters can see in the dark). …
Hello! It’s me. Your wildly introverted author/gamer, who is very excited to be sharing my thoughts with you regarding HBO’s recent adaptation of The Last of Us from the perspective of someone who absolutely loved the game on which it is based. I’ll be examining each episode independently.
Unfortunately, due to my working an obscene amount, I have limited time, so I’ll only be able to post every second week or so. For that reason, though they’re written shortly after each episode airing, each review will be far behind the episodes as they’re released. That’s alright, though, as I reckon it will leave plenty of time for you to watch each episode and I won’t have to worry about spoiling it for you, because there absolutely will be spoilers.
So, with that out of the way, let’s just dive right into episode one: When You’re Lost in the Darkness.
My love of gaming is well known amongst my friends and friendly acquaintances, and has since before I could afford my first console. In news that would surprise absolutely no one, my preference has always been for narrative games; where the story plays as much a role in the gaming experience as any tests of skill or intellect. The best games for me strike a delicate balance between challenging gameplay — combat and puzzles — and narrative. In short, I game for the same reason I read. I game to find myself immersed in another world, diving into a story that will delight and move me.