Friday, June 24, 2016

One Page Dungeon Compendium 2016

I picked up the new One Page Dungeon Compendium, and as always it is a visual and creative feast. Filled with interesting and creative maps, and chock full of great ideas for adventures and dungeon locales.

I couple of my favorites are The Quintessential Dungeon and The Sky-Blind Spire.

The Quintessential Dungeon is literally a dungeon filled with all the most overdone tropes and cliches' but all in good fun with a terrific fresh spin on it all. A magic mirror, a bottomless pit, a dragon lair that has no way it could get in or out, yet it all kinda works. It reminds me of the spirit of Tomb of Horrors and White Plume Mountain.

 The Sky-Blind Spire is a classic wizard's tower. The thing I like the most is how well done the map is, very legible, cool to look at, and several good ideas for rooms and adventuring spaces. A lot is packed into one page. Interestingly the room descriptions are listed in reverse numerical order. The hook, or one-super-cool-idea that makes this adventure stand out is that the entire dungeon is one big spell, but I'll let you find out for yourself what that means.

In some ways this is one of the most diverse selections of one-page dungeons yet. It has a lost dwarven city, a non-Euklidean dungeon, a planet, and many others. Best of all, its pay what you want so it won't break your budget. Check it out:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Early D&D Was Rubbish

Early D&D was garbage, it was just a terrible game with too many rules. Runequest is so superior. According to this reviewer:

(I do agree with his analysis of 4th edition)

Update: I probably shouldn't have just posted this without any context or real commentary. Out of context, or with hindsight, early D&D's shortcomings are fairly easy to see and complain about. But, it was the first of its kind and forging new territory. It was such an innovative idea and full of so much potential no one could have imagined where it would all head. Since then the core ideas of D&D have fueled tabletop games, video games, and even collectable card games owe a great debt. I remember when the ideas of "class" and "level" were starting to seem quaint next to the newer generation of RPG's that had skills and more wide open character creation rules. Well, we've seen where all that has gone. Video games use classes and levels because it is a superior game mechanic. Runequest is a fine game for its day, but in the big picture really hasn't moved the needle much in terms of popular culture the way D&D did and continues to.

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Few Favorite Elmore Illustrations

In the early 80's TSR transitioned from using talented amateurs to hiring professional illustrators. One of the first was Larry Elmore, this marked a huge change in the overall look and feel of D&D products. I can't help but have a fondness for this art since it was when I was in high school and starting to take a serious interest in drawing and painting. These are some of my favorite illustrations by Larry Elmore.

This was the first piece of art by Elmore I had seen. What's not to love? Pig faced orcs! An epic encounter with a cavalier, and a dynamic composition. Ok, maybe those orcs do look a little like people in masks, but I still like this one.

Sometimes Elmore could really create an emotional scene:

For a time this was very much my mental image of what D&D was:

And I can't believe I just discovered this while looking up reference for this post. Larry Elmore illustrated the arcade cabinet of one of my favorite video games of all time. I should have recognized his style!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Game mechanics not protected under copyright law

Texas court affirms game mechanics not protected under copyright law.

This ruling is sure to be of interest to all tabletop games makers.
DaVinci had sued Ziko games over the game Legend of the Three Kingdoms, which both companies acknowledge is mechanically identical to DaVinici's board game Bang! The art and aesthetics of the two games differ, with Bang! taking on the iconography of the wild west and Legend of the Three Kingdoms borrowing from Chinese history. 
The court's ruling, which Strebeck has hosted on his own site, states that nothing about the mechanics of Bang! can not be considered "expressive," as they are rooted in widely familiar game concepts like health bars, punches, and kicks, while that the expressive elements of the game (its art and aesthetics) aren't substantially similar to Legend of the Three Kingdoms. 
There have been examples in tabletop games such as Monopoly clones, and of course CCG's that are all essentially clones, or close facsimiles, of Magic: the Gathering*. In the case of Monopoly Hasbro has been vigorous in defending the expressive aspects of Monopoly such as the look, trade dress, and characters, but not so successful in preventing mechanical clones. For example: Triopoly, Petsberry, and Cashpiracy. Granted, these games do add some mechanical variations and improvements, but the similarities are stronger than you'd think they could get away with.

With all the wrangling around what is protected under "OGL", what is "d20", what is this or that, I wander how much legal protection any game system actually has. The expression of the game, it's "world" and art, such as Dungeons & Dragon's Forgotten Realms, or Runequest's Glorantha, or Traveller's Charted Space, seems to be what is protected by international copyright laws.

The full article is here:

Of additional interest, read the fascinating case of the battle for Anti-Monopoly.

Also related; according to the US Copyright Office in their publication on Games, fl-108, “Copyright does not protect the idea for a game” . . . “Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles.”

Here is a more detailed analysis by Zachary C. Strebeck, attorney at law (tip o' the hat to Sean Kelley)

*note that in the case of M:tG Wizards of the Coast got a patent on the core game mechanic. I don't know if they've exercised that in a legal case.

None of this is suggested to be legal advice of any sort, as I have no qualifications to give such advice, I'm merely passing along this info from other public sources.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Kublacon 2016 is a wrap

Kublacon was terrific as always. I got to share a booth with the inimitable Ed Baraf, his game GemPacked Cards was a hit.

The line of Original Edition RPG's had a strong showing as well. Thank you to everyone who supports this little labor of love. Beasties in particular did very well. Which makes me glad, I do think it is a special book.

I'm looking forward to coming back next year with new and innovative OSR style games.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Super Sale at RPGNow!

RPGNow is having a 25% off sale on Super Hero books. I see Guardians has been included in the sale, and is currently at #1 in the Hottest Supers Sale!

If you've been waiting for the price to drop now is your chance. The sale is only for a few days.