25 August 2016

Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper discuss Dungeons and Dragons

This exchange (within the first three minutes or so) between Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper is pretty hilarious. (And of course Cooper's favourite character was an elf.)

12 August 2016

Tolkien Elf or Prescription Drug?

Two months ago I posted a story about my experience with the 1980s ‘Dungeons and Dragons panic’. I mentioned that one of the friends with whom I gamed regularly during my early teens (~ 1984) had an elf character named ‘Feldene’ (an anti-inflammatory drug, properly known as ‘Piroxicam’).

Well, it turns out that many prescription drugs have names that sound quite elvish! Indeed, there is a quiz: “Prescription Drug of Tolkien Elf”? (Much to my shame, I scored only 24/30.)

It’s good fun. Almost as good as the high from some Finarfin

31 July 2016

C is for Cthulhu

I was excited to discover today that a new ‘children’s book’ based upon the Cthulhu Mythos has been created. It’s called Mythos ABC, and a free PDF version is available. I think I just failed my Sanity roll!

As you can see, the art is wonderful. (Since the PDF is free, I assumed that there would be no problem with sharing a few of the pictures in a smaller format.)

There is an article at Vox on it (a friend linked to it, which is how the book came to my attention). Truly, if Vox is reporting on Cthulhu-related items, Lovecraft has permeated all aspects of our culture! (I’m not sure that’s a good thing…)

11 July 2016

And so the crown passes from RuneQuest 6 to Mythras...

Here is the Design Mechanism's statement on the end of their 'RuneQuest' license and their transition to 'Mythras':
On Monday, our time as custodians of the RuneQuest license formally draws to a close. We've felt honoured and privileged to have had the opportunity to work so closely with such an iconic brand, but all things change, and so we transition from RuneQuest to Mythras. We do, of course, wish our friends at Moon Design and Chaosium every success for the next edition of RQ and we look forward to seeing the results of the game returning to Glorantha. 
Our arrangement with Moon Design allows us 6 months to dispose of all remaining RQ6 stocks, and fortunately we only have a handful of the RQ6 hardbacks left in stock, so this won't be a major issue. We'll leave them on sale until we either exhaust stocks completely or the 6 months come to a close. All our supplements remain on sale and can do so for up to five years, although we are rebranding all our PDFs will be most likely rebrand the physical stock with the Mythras logo. 
As for Mythras itself, we will be releasing the game in hard copy and PDF most likely in mid-August. We want to ensure that the print process is well underway before opening for preorders - a slight change in our usual procedure. It means that people will get their copies quicker after making payment. It also means that we can release Mythras and Mythic Rome together (or very close together), alongside another product that been our Super Secret project, and will be given its own announcement in due course. We will release a preview of Mythras, so you can see the new layout (and if you have Imperative, you know what to expect already). One thing that we can tell you is that Mythras is 304 pages - a good 34% smaller than RQ6, but with no loss of content (in fact, we've added more). It will also be cheaper - probably around $40. For the new content you can expect: 
[Some new art pieces (courtesy of our friends at Runa Digital in Spain)
Reorganized and expanded Animism rules, including Special Effects for Spirit Combat
Additional Special Effects, including firearms SEs and a couple of brand new ones developed for Mythras. 
We're looking forward to getting this book out there.
Another piece of extremely good news is our partnership with Aeon Games Publishing. Aeon is based in the UK and is our fully licensed production and distribution partner for the UK and Europe. If you're outside North America you will be able to order all our books from Aeon Games Publishing directly, and receive them quicker and at much reduced shipping than from our US warehouse. As the company's CEO, Oliver Rathbone says: "Aeon Games Publishing is committed to new and innovative role playing games. Our team of dedicated gamers runs the gamut from old school to cutting edge. We are proud that our first publications combine the two in the Design Mechanism's Mythras Ruleset which takes the best of the classic Runequest rules and brings them into the forefront of modern gaming. Please see our website at www.aeongamespublishing.co.uk for more details and forthcoming publications." The website goes live early next week. 
So it's farewell to RuneQuest 6, but Well Met to Mythras. This is an exciting time in The Design Mechanism's evolution and we continue to be indebted to all our fans and customers for their support, encouragement and enthusiasm. 
Loz and Pete
I'm looking forward to checking out the new Mythras core book once it's available, and playing the game for the foreseeable future. But it'll feel strange not to refer to the game as 'RuneQuest', as I've been doing for almost six years now (ever since I started playing MRQII in the Young Kingdoms).

16 June 2016

Remembering the 1980s panic over Dungeons and Dragons

I finally got around to watching this ‘retro-report’ from the New York Times: When Dungeons and Dragons Set Off a ‘Moral Panic’.

I think that it’s quite good. It summarizes some of the main elements of the great D&D panic of the early 1980s, including the claims that playing D&D ‘causes’ suicide and murder amongst teens (by making them loose touch with reality, by glorifying violence, and the like), and that it promotes ‘Satanism’ and ‘the occult’.

It has some interesting clips of Gary Gygax from 30+ years ago, as well as other news reports from that era, and some recent comments from Tim Kask. It also includes some contemporary reflections on the hobby, including great remarks from well-known authors like Cory Doctorow and Junot Diaz. Towards the end of the report, Diaz touchingly comments on the value of role-playing games like D&D in cultivating creativity, providing a ‘safe place’ for ‘unpopular’ kids to socialize and develop self-confidence, and so forth. It’s a very ‘pro’ D&D piece overall.

Watching the report reminded me of my own experience with the 1980s hysteria over Dungeons and Dragons. Fears of ‘Satanism’ and the like concerning the hobby were never as intense or widespread in Canada as they were in the United States. (I think this was, at least in part, because of the absence of anything comparable to the American ‘Bible Belt’ in Canada. While of course there are Canadian fundamentalist Christians, they are a much smaller portion of the overall population than they are within the United States.)  Nonetheless, there was something of an echo of the panic in Canada, and especially in southern Ontario where I grew up, probably because of its proximity to Michigan (where one of the famous incidents that inflamed the D&D panic occurred in 1979, as explained within the retro-report).

Here’s what happened to me. There was a role-playing club in my high school in London Ontario (I think it may simply have been called the ‘Dungeons and Dragons club,’ even though we played games other than D&D; I can’t remember now). One day, in 1985 I think, a news reporter and a cameraman from the local television station asked to film one of our games. Needless to say, this was quite a thrill for a gang of nerdy adolescent boys!  And it was especially thrilling for me, since I was the Dungeon Master. I was dizzy at the prospect of having ‘my’ game displayed on television. The glory!

So we played our game for about an hour. Afterwards the reporter asked us some questions about it. Stuff like:

  1. “Were you scared when the creature in the well surprised you and attacked your character?”
  2. “Why is your character named ‘Feldene’? Isn’t that a drug?” (I’m amazed that I still remember this.)
  3. “Do you get upset or angry when your character is hurt or killed?”

 We gave pretty boring answers to all of her (rather leading) questions:

  1. “No, I wasn’t scared, this is only a game.”
  2. “My dad is taking Feldene, and I thought it sounded like a cool name for an elf.”
  3. "I get a little upset when my character dies, but, you know, this is just a game.”

Over the subsequent two weeks I watched the six o’clock news like a hawk, waiting for my 15 minutes of fame. But it never happened. There never was any news story on our amazing high school RPG club. I was crushed.

One of my friends in the group understood why: “We just weren’t controversial enough; actually, we weren’t controversial at all.” If only my friend had named his elf ‘Heroin’! Or if only one of us had started weeping and screaming at the prospect of his third-level cleric being killed!

Perhaps having a DM like Ms. Frost would’ve helped us get on TV:


11 June 2016

Mythras Imperative is now available

Well that was fast! Design Mechanism has made Mythras Imperative -- the core elements of the RQ6 version of the d100 system -- available for free as a PDF and available for a very reasonable price in print from Lulu.

I'm amazed that Loz and Pete could distill the essentials of Mythras to 34 pages. Nice work!

06 June 2016

Some info on Mythras Imperative

Here is some more information about the forthcoming Mythras Imperative (a couple of pictures of which I posted yesterday):
What is Mythras Imperative?
A 34 page introduction to the Mythras system, designed for both newcomers and old hands. It gives you a pared-down, simplified version of Mythras but still with enough options and depth to be a playable game. The rules cover character creation, skills, the core mechanics of the game, spot rules for different circumstances, combat mechanics, and several creatures from fantasy, real life and science fiction. 
Is this a fantasy game?
We’ve made Mythras Imperative generic. Skills cover the ancient, modern and futuristic worlds, and the weapons include firearms. So Mythras Imperative gives you the starting point for adventuring in any time period you want. Other supplements, and the core Mythras rules themselves, expand on things like magic, vehicles, psionic powers and so on. 
So no magic then?
Not in Mythras Imperative. We’ve kept things at a high level to make it easy for everyone to get the hang of the basics. When you’re ready, trade-up to the full Mythras rules for a total of five different magic systems! 
What else can I do with it?
Mythras Imperative can be used by third party publishers to develop their own, Mythras-powered games, in conjunction with the Mythras Gateway License. This simple agreement extends our permission for the Imperative rules to be used wholesale in new systems people want to create. Contact us for more details. 
What else is available for Mythras Imperative?
We have several free scenarios ready for adventurers – fantasy and science fiction so you can see first-hand the scope of the Mythras rules. 
Does this replace RuneQuest Essentials?
Yes it does. From summer 2016, RuneQuest Essentials will be discontinued. If you have a copy already, you’ll find it fully compatible with Mythras Imperative.
(From Loz at DM.)

05 June 2016

Mythras Imperative?

Some intriguing photographs from Loz at the Design Mechanism forum:

That's a great looking cover, one that nicely captures the 'ethos' of the game!  

The subtitle is: "An Introductory Rule Set for Mythras and d100 Roleplaying." So I guess this will replace the "RuneQuest Essentials" PDF that will be discontinued in the very near future? (I'll be sure to ask Loz next time I see him, but he sometimes can be tight-lipped on what DM is up to...) 

Above is a picture of the interior of the book. The layout is clear and clean. And no ligatures!  ;)

I'm really looking forward to getting this.

02 June 2016

King Tut’s meteorite dagger

Cool: “A famous dagger found in the wrapping of Egyptian King Tutankhamun's mummy was made with iron from a meteorite.”

My D&D stats for this meteorite dagger: +3 to hit and damage; double damage versus undead creatures; mummies hit have a 50% change of being disintegrated (no save).

21 May 2016

Dungeon Master Drumpf

I don't pay that much attention to Twitter usually, but this account, "Dungeons and Donalds," is really quite entertaining!

Some samples:

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who divides his time between Milwaukee and Toronto.