Sunday, November 23, 2014

BtBG Reader: The Way of Kings

Summer's always a big reading time for me, easily a dozen books or so in 3 months, and this year had a clear standout: Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings.

I was a little leery of picking up this book. On one hand, I thought he had brought a little needed energy to the end of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time saga, but on the other hand, I had picked up his Mistborn book and found it too plebian and derivative to read. It was hard to ignore all the glowing reviews though, and I eventually gave in and got it (I think it was on sale for like 2$ on Kindle at the time as well, so I wasn't risking much).

I was pleasantly surprised to find the Way of Kings was anything but the cookie-cutter fantasy I feared it would be. The world-building is fantastic - a war-torn world ravaged by unnatural storms that have the side-effect of charging the magical gems that help people survive, a complex ecology of flora and fauna that evolved in such a horrible environment, and a many-layered and appetizingly mysterious history. The characters all manage to be interesting without heavy-handed plot devices.

The books itself is nice, with something you almost never see any more - interior art! It makes me want to purchase the dead-tree version just for that. The interior art, other than maps, is usually a character's sketches and descriptions of the interesting locations, critters, and plant life of the world of storms, which further brings the setting to life. The cover art is by one of my favorites, Michael Whelan, who Sanderson apparently did some heavy lobbying to get.

Despite being over a thousand pages (I typically prefer my books in the 300-page range), I plowed through it in less than a week, and bought the sequel, Words of Radiance, before I was even finished, just to have in my library waiting. I can't recommend these enough, if you like your fantasy on the weirder side (Vance, Burroughs, etc), and less derivative of Tolkien (no elves, orcs, etc here!), do yourself a favor and pick this up.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Getting excited for Star Wars?

Despite my best intentions, I'm starting to feel a little excitement creep up on me for the forthcoming new chapter in the Star Wars saga. It's completely illogical, I know. It's hard not to be pessimistic - George Lucas has given up on the franchise, and many might argue he lost his "mojo" for it long before that. Star Wars is currently owned by Disney, the biggest entertainment juggernaut in the world, so there are likely to be financially-based compulsions behind the creation of the new trilogy that I can't even imagine. The director of the first installment, JJ Abrams, has kind of a mixed record with restarting franchises, at least in my opinion (I greatly enjoyed the first Star Trek reboot, not so much the second).

Nevertheless, I started to take a look around in those shadowier corners of the internet in which unsavory characters lurk with illicit offerings of "spoilers", and "leaks". And, deep down inside, that spark of excitement began to grow. I can't help myself. Star Wars was a huge part of my childhood, and any chance to relive a part of that magic, no matter how small... Well, I'm going to chase that feeling a little bit, keep a tiny bit of optimism in my shirt pocket just in case.

Some better (veracity not guaranteed, natch) Star Wars speculation can be found at these links:

What's YOUR opinion on the upcoming trilogy? Excited? Pessimistic?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Some 5E pregens for you.

Here are some pre-gen characters I made to give the 5E system a test-drive, and figured I'd share them. They are made from the Basic rulebook available here.

Gorum, 1st level human fighter (axe & board)

Hasan, another 1st level human fighter (2H'd sword)

Neer, 1st level elven cleric

Malakus, 1st level human wizard

Frodoric, 1st level halfling thief

Oh, and here's a higher level character - a conversion from a Pathfinder NPC of mine, the most annoying gnome Illusionist-Thief of all time. This guy was made with options from the new PHB.


While I'm saving my thoughts on 5E for a future post, I have to admit I love the layout of the new character sheets, and how they are so focused on the role-playing aspects of the character.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Necromancer Games forums compilation

Back when D&D 3E was first announced, there was this new little thing called the OGL, which allowed 3rd party companies to produce materials compatible with the new edition sans any licensing fees. Necromancer Games was one of the first of these third parties, and the first to produce materials with an eye towards the game's 1E and B/X roots. "New school rules, old school feel". Years before the OSR became a thing.

If there was any sort of cultural center for old school gaming with newer rules back then, it was definitely the Necromancer Games forums, accessible from their website, and one of the most active and creative message boards around. The forums were filled with homebrew stuff, great debates and discussions, dungeon design and campaign tips, and lore from old-school luminaries like Bob Bledsaw.

Now that Necromancer Games is no more (one half of the original partnership continues to soldier on as Frog God Games, while the other apparently bowed out of the business after an atrocious and unfair public scandal), there is no official maintenance of their messageboards, and these boards are doomed to decay and eventually disappear altogether.

Fortunately, board member Magoo has taken it on himself to compile most of the board's content into a single download, accessible here, so all this great stuff can be preserved. If you were a visitor to those boards back in their glory days, were a contributor and want a copy of your material, or are simply curious and want to read some great stuff, grab a copy while you can!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Megadungeons article

Saw a fun article on the "Deepest, Weirdest, Hugest Megadungeons" over on I09 and thought I'd share. There's some good stuff on the list itself, and some more interesting nods in the comments section. Check it out here.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

True Detective

Is anyone else watching this phenomenal show from HBO? If you aren't, you should be, its the best thing I've seen in a while. And while I don't want to spoil too much, fans of Carcosa will be pleasantly surprised.


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