What Skyrim Can Teach Us About World-Building

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019 | Posted by S.M. Carrière

Skyrim Banner

Good morning, Readers!

No one who knows me is surprised when I say I love video games. I’ve written about them previously for this very site. I think it’s hard to overstate just how much I adore video games (specifically narrative-focused games). The one game that got me to buy my first console and actually dive head-first into gaming was Bethesda Studio’s epic addition to their Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim.

This open world game lets you go anywhere, and do pretty much anything. Best of all, it has dragons (which you can kill and steal their souls to fortify your own powers [insert evil laugh]). Loving video games, but without a PC (my home computer is a Mac) or a console, I resorted to watching other folks have fun with them on YouTube. I stumbled across a Let’s Play of Skyrim, and after three episodes, I knew I had to play it for myself. I saved like a madwoman, bought myself a console, and Skyrim.

And I was never heard from again (not really.  I did not ignore my responsibilities… but it was close!).

Skyrim proved to be everything I had been promised. It was epic in scope, the combat was fun, the dragons were amazing, and it let you play however you would like.

For the record, I always play in first person, and my build is always a bosmer (wood elf), whose strengths lie in archery and sneaking. There’s something ridiculously satisfying about sniping fools from the shadows with a good bow.

Read More »


Torg Eternity: The Aysle Sourcebook Interview

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Torg EternityAbout a year ago I reviewed Torg Eternity, the reboot from Ulisses Spiele of the Torg tabletop role-playing game. I loved the original, one of the most wildly imaginative settings I’ve ever seen, and found the new version kept the best parts of the old Torg while making the mechanics smoother (I wrote up a session here). The game imagines our world attacked by other realities, each based on a different genre of fiction, which invade by making parts of our world operate according to their rules — increasing or decreasing the level of technology, adding magic or psionics or manifestations of the gods, and subtly encouraging people to behave in ways appropriate to their genre.

Now dinosaurs wander the jungles and mysterious ruins of the North American coasts. A cyberpunk theocracy’s taken over France. India faces colonial gothic horror. Splatterpunk technodemons in Russia have spawned a wasteland north of Moscow haunted by scavengers and monstrosity. East Asia sees zombies and bleeding-edge technology enveloped in espionage schemes. A maniacal pulp-era supervillain’s launched a New Nile Empire based in Egypt, opposed by masked Mystery Men. And in England and Scandinavia, wizards and elves and dragons are caught in a war between Light and Dark.

In the last year, two wildly successful Kickstarter campaigns have launched sourcebooks covering specific realms: first the lost-world realm of the Living Land, then the pulp reality of the Nile Empire. Now a third campaign has begun, for the sourcebook covering the fantasy realm of Aysle. I interviewed the Torg Eternity design team about the new book, how it approaches the fantasy genre, and what gamers can expect.

Read More »


Vintage Bits: FTL — Faster Than Light

Sunday, June 30th, 2019 | Posted by Ernst Krogtoft

FTL Games Dungeon Master

In the grand scheme of computer gaming history, where significant people, games, and companies from bygone eras still to this day earn fame and fortune, FTL might really be one of the ’80s gamings unsung heroes – with its short lifespan, and the way it faded into the dusty corners of history after only a handful of releases.

Though it may seem like the story of FTL is almost entirely the story of Dungeon Master, an earlier game, originally for the Apple II, showed the level which FTL was able to perform on.

FTL

 
FTL Games (Faster Than Light) was started by Wayne Holder in 1982 as a games development division under his software company Software Heaven. Holder had been developing software tools to help assist writers fr some time, but a conversation in 1982 with an old friend from college, Bruce Webster, would be the spark that ignited FTL. Webster was a dedicated player and amateur game designer. He’d written columns for both The Space Gamer and Computer Gaming World and owned a large number of sci-fi/role-playing board games.

Read More »


Become a Time Traveling Detective in Tragedy Looper from Z-Man Games

Monday, June 10th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Tragedy Looper-small Tragedy Looper-back-small

I don’t know about you, but a lot of the video games I play are Japanese in origin, from Final Fantasy to Ys to Resident Evil. That’s not the case with board games, of course. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to name a single board I own that was originally published in Japan. At least, that was the case until I bought Tragedy Looper and its expansions.

Tragedy Looper was originally published in Japan as 惨劇RoopeR in 2011; the first English version was released by Z-Man Games in 2014. If you’re familiar with the “time loop” mystery genre made popular by films like Groundhog Day, Happy Death Day, Edge of Tomorrow, Before I Fall, and Source Code, the intriguing premise of Time Looper will make immediate sense. While it’s not a role playing game, it’s complex enough to require a Mastermind who sets the game up and unfolds events for the players.

At its core Tragedy Looper is a deduction game played on four location boards by one mastermind and up to three protagonists. After the programmed tragedies occur, players can travel back in time, restarting the scenario from the beginning in an attempt to find out precisely what happened, who the culprit was, and what their secret motive was. Each scenario features a set number of characters and character roles (eg: murderer, conspiracy theorist, victim). The players win if they ultimately manage to shield key individuals from tragedy; if they fail, the mastermind triumphs.

Read More »


Raiders and Rogues in a Cursed World: Forbidden Lands by Modiphius

Saturday, June 1st, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Forbidden Lands Modiphius-small Forbidden Lands Modiphius -back-small

While I was at the Spring 2019 Games Plus Auction, I took the time to shop around in the New Arrivals section, since Games Plus is probably the best-stocked games store I’ve ever visited. As usual, I picked up a few magazines and the latest issues of Jolly Blackburn’s excellent Knights of the Dinner Table comic. But there was another game that caught my eye: Forbidden Lands, a boxed RPG developed by accomplished Swedish development house Fria Ligan (Free League in English), makers of the excellent Coriolis science fiction game, as well as the acclaimed Tales from the Loop and the upcoming Alien Roleplaying Game, and distributed in the US by Modiphius.

What drew me to Forbidden Lands? Truthfully it was the cover art by Simon Stålenhag, and the impressively sized (and heavy!) box. Once I picked it up however, it was the back-cover text that fired my imagination.

In this open-world survival roleplaying game, you’re not heroes sent on missions dictated by others — instead, you are raiders and rogues bent on making your own mark on a cursed world. You will discover lost tombs, fight terrible monsters, wander the wild lands and, if you live long enough, build your own stronghold to defend.

Last thing I need is another fantasy RPG crowding my shelves, especially one in a generic fantasy setting. But the evocative text sold me on the promise of a dark world far-removed from routine high fantasy tropes, and characters that sounded a lot closer to sword & sorcery archetypes than I’m used to. The price on the box was $49.99, and I decided to take a chance.

Read More »


Like a Phoenix from the Ashes, City of Heroes Returns!

Monday, May 27th, 2019 | Posted by Thomas Parker

(2) City of Heroes-small

In the world of superheroes, nothing is less permanent than death. Just ask Superman; his demise in 1992 was one of the biggest news stories of the year, at least for the kind of easily bamboozled person who doesn’t actually read comic books (like the editors of Time Magazine). The more sophisticated were not fooled however, and rightly so. Superman was only in the ground for a little longer than your average basketball season.

This being so, it should come as no surprise that an entire universe of heroes and villains should return to life almost seven years after completely vanishing in a cataclysmic climax that can still bring tears to the eyes of those who were there at the end, but an enormous surprise it was. The comic book immortality principle notwithstanding, it really did seem as if that universe, the world of Paragon City and the Rogue Isles and the alternate dimension of Praetoria, was truly gone forever. But if comic books can teach us anything, it’s that the impossible is possible and that for the brave and pure of heart, no defeat is final.

In other words, City of Heroes, the legendary and beloved superhero MMORPG (that’s Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, a phrase even uglier and more graceless than its acronym), which ran from April 28th, 2004 until it was shut down by NCSOFT on November 30th, 2012, is back!

Read More »


The Games Plus 2019 Spring Auction, Part Two

Sunday, May 19th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

Games Plus 2019 auction 94-small Games Plus 2019 auction 95-small Games Plus 2019 auction 96-small

Two months ago I assembled a photographic record of the games I brought home from the Games Plus 2019 Spring Auction. I didn’t do a final count, but it was roughly 100 boxed games, and several boxes of RPG gamebooks, totalling some 15 boxes.

In that first piece I tried to capture the overwhelming experience of sitting in the front row for seven hours as thousands of new and used SF & fantasy games flashed by. It’s a deep immersion in the games aftermarket, an education in just how many titles have been released in the past 12 months, and a chance to learn — by watching the excited frenzy as certain titles come up to the auction block — which ones have truly captured the attention of players. I saw a lot of games go for a lot of money, and even more sell at rock-bottom prices.

In Part Two of my auction report, I want to try and communicate the sheer scale of the event. I estimate there were somewhere between 150-200 attendees for the Saturday Fantasy and Sci-Fi Games auction this year, nearly a record, and I’m fairly sure there were a record number of games sold.

Read More »


Goth Chick News: Please Welcome the New Official GCN Game Company

Thursday, May 9th, 2019 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Roswell 51

You know how you feel when you meet a new friend and there’s an instant connection? Someone you know will just ‘get you’ and who you’ll now want to spend all your time with, texting them, stalking them on social media, finding out where they live and driving by, and…

Okay, never mind.

The point is, I just met this guy Larry Wickman.

Now Larry has quite a lot going for him. For a start, he’s a big fan of Black Gate, and right behind that he’s an indie game designer. Not of slick VR stuff, but of the righteous RPG-card game variety, the kind of games that consumed a large chunk of the youth of most of us here at BG, and which a lot of the guys upstairs still spend a lot of time playing when they’re supposed to be writing. Which alone would make Larry a very popular guy around here — but now there’s this.

Larry is the creator of a series of board games called Shuffling Horror, and this is where his most recent honor lies: the title of Official Game Designer of Goth Chick News, as bestowed by me.

Read More »


The Thing With Video Games

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019 | Posted by S.M. Carrière

Xbox

Any fellow gamers remember the red ring of death?

Good afternoon, Readers!

I am of a generation. The one that grew up just as video games were getting good. We weren’t the first to have video games, that belongs to the generation before me. We were, however, the first in which gaming consoles came into the home in the number that they have, becoming fairly ubiquitous. Most of my generation grew up playing video games. Like computers, most of my generation can remember the introduction of games into the house.

For myself, it was my baby brother, who had his fingers on the pulse far more than the rest of us. He was forever loading game demos on the family computer (there was one computer in the house). It was he who was given an Xbox, introducing console gaming. My brother, incidentally, now works in the video gaming industry.

When it comes to gaming, I’d say that mine is the first generation to “get” it. Which is to say, we’re not prone to the mass hysteria that seems to follow the gaming industry, labeling it as the cause of all society’s ills. We know it’s not, any more than Dungeons and Dragons was in the years prior, or novels were following the advent of the printing press.

Read More »


NASCRAG: 40 Years at Gen Con

Sunday, May 5th, 2019 | Posted by David Mitchard

The Book of Nascrag-small

If you’ve ever been to Gen Con, you know it can be an overwhelming experience. More than 50,000 people surge through the halls of the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, attending thousands of individual events, often at the tops of their lungs. It’s a gathering that’s grown exponentially from its humble roots as a wargaming get together in the Horticultural Hall in Lake Geneva to become the premiere game convention in North America.

Not much remains of the early Gen Con these days. Its heart is the same as always, of course. Gamers who want to spend time with other gamers. A community of folks who think a little differently than the mainstream. But the particulars have evolved over the years. In addition to the wargames and board games and roleplaying games, there are video games, cosplay, collectible card games and so much more. And gamers aren’t outcasts these days. The crowd is a mix of races and sexes and orientations that the gamers of the 70’s could not have imagined. Good signs of a healthy and still developing hobby. But if you look very carefully, amidst all the hub-bub and growth, you can still find a few things that have endured.

One of those enduring things is NASCRAG; the National Association of Crazed Gamers. NASCRAG is a gaming group that has been putting on RPG tournaments at Gen Con since 1980. Think about it; 2019 will be our 40th consecutive Gen Con.

Read More »


« Later Entries   Earlier Entries »

This site © 2019 by New Epoch Press. All rights reserved.