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Dungeons, Cities, and Psionics 177

Posted by Zonk
from the guess-what-i'm-thinking dept.
It's time to check in with the table-top scene, with a slew of products from earlier this year. With one exception, everything I have to discuss today is from Wizards of the Coast (WotC). The well-known maker of Dungeons and Dragons is having a banner year, a year they've been referring to as the 'Year of Dragons'. Their draco-specific products will get a look here on the site in a month or two, and later this month I should have a full report on the 4th Edition of the Shadowrun RPG. Today, though, we've got demons, psionics, epic-level play, and a second Player's Handbook. Oh yeah, and a 670-page, $120 sourcebook called Ptolus. Read on for my impressions of these great excuses to throw a d20.
Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss
James Jacobs, Erik Mona, Ed Stark
$29.95, 160 pages

The first in a series of sourcebooks detailing the denizens of the outer planes, Hordes of the Abyss is a title squarely aimed at the GM. Penned by some well-known alumni of Dungeon magazine, this text is a rare accessory, in that almost every D&D GM could make use of it at one point or another. Because of the popularity of the Abyss and its denizens throughout Dungeons and Dragons lore, after a certain point you can be certain your players will either be fighting, summoning, or visiting creatures from this horrific lower plane. It follows the same template as most location-specific sourcebooks; there are new feats, monsters, and spells, and a large section detailing the geography of the area. The most enlightening part of the book deals with the powerful, but fickle, demon princes that rule over the various layers. They're given statistics, but I find the material on who's squabbling with who much more interesting. If your players are even vaguely interested in traveling the planes, plot hooks like Graz'zt's war with Demogorgon or the machinations of Dagon are great ways to get players interested. This is a textbook example of what a great GM accessory should be; concise, specific, and heavily detailed.

Players Handbook II
David Noonan
$34.95, 224 pages

The Dungeon Master's Guide II (DMG II) gave GMs the tools they needed to run a better game. The Player's Handbook II (PHB II) aims to provide players with the tools to make and run a better character. There are some crunchy bits here, with new classes and spells filling out parts of the book, but even more space is spent on coming to understand your character and their place in the world. Every class is given a new look, examining not only what it can do but what role it should play in an adventuring party. How to act as an adventuring party is also explored, with game mechanics assigned to roleplaying elements like camp preparation and team-building exercises. Gamers familiar with White Wolf's titles will recognize the section on character backgrounds: archetypes that a player looking for a hook can exploit to get inside the head of his new avatar. While I'm very glad to have it on my shelf, I don't see this as a required text for every D&D player. There's nothing in here that a player absolutely has to have. New players are probably going to get more out of it than veterans; those who do purchase it will be getting a lot for their money.

Power of Faerûn
Ed Greenwood and Eric L. Boyd
$29.95, 160 pages

Power of Faerûn is a GM-specific text that offers reams of advice for dealing with players that are powerful enough to move mountains, found kingdoms, and win wars. Where many other WotC texts focus on mechanics, Power has almost no references to the D&D rules-set; consumers who like their sourcebooks crunchy should be advised. What Greenwood and Boyd fill the book with, instead, are hundreds of plot hooks and guidelines for running high level campaigns. If your players want to become nobility, build a keep, and tame the frontier, this book has exactly what you'll need. It's set in the Realms, of course, but many of the suggestions they make could be easily translated to other fantasy settings with a little work. I'm not sure how many DMs actually run epic-level campaigns, to be truthful, but it is still one of the more useful Realms supplements I've read. While the book is intended for epic play, every chapter is essentially a framework for an entire campaign. I highly recommend this to GMs looking for inspiration and a campaign workbook.

Complete Psionic
Bruce R. Cordell and Christopher Lindsay
$29.94, 160 pages

Unlike the other 'Complete' books, which provide variations on a theme for the core classes, Complete Psionic only increases options for campaigns which use the 'mind magic' introduced in the Expanded Psionics Handbook. With rules for psionics-using races, several new classes, abilities, and monsters, GMs that have a use for this material will be undoubtedly pleased. As far as I know, though, only a small percentage of campaigns actually use the obscure rules referenced in this book. Most campaigns stay close to the D&D world described in the core books, which have no mention of the sometimes confusing and often broken mechanics associated with psionics. Thus, for something like 99% of all D&D players and GMs, this book is completely useless. Considering the high utility factor of the other books in the 'Complete' series, or even the 'Races' series, the narrow focus of this text seems disappointing and wasteful.

Ptolus: Monte Cook's City by the Spire
Monte Cook, Sue Weinlein Cook, Todd Lockwood, et. al.
$119.99, 640 pages

A tour de force project from Malhavoc press, Ptolus is breathtaking (and backbreaking) to read. When I mentioned it earlier this year in connection to the freebie Player's Guide, I had no idea what I was getting myself in for. I sat down to flip through the book after last month's Gen Con, intending to skim enough to get an idea of the setting and pass on to you the salient points. Instead, I delayed this article by reading through the entire text cover-to-cover. The reason? It's special. Frustratingly, it's hard to pin down exactly what's special about it without doing a lot of arm waving. Ptolus isn't likely to bring many new players to D&D, being as niche and jargony as any other setting you're likely to encounter. I also don't think the well known settings that WotC publishes have anything to worry about; the Realms and Eberron are going to continue to outsell the books associated with the 'City by the Spire'.

Despite that, I found Mr. Cook's offering to be invigorating. A campaign setting built during the development process for the newer editions of Dungeons and Dragons, Ptolus is the hand-worn world used to test many of the concepts found in the Player's Handbook and Dungeons Master's Guide. Despite being so closely associated with core D&D, the setting still has enough deviation from the norm (guns, a few new races, technology) to make stale situations fresh. The book's astonishing size is due to the sheer amount of detail available. Each district of the city is described, as are important factions, several dungeons, the history of the world, technology, and magic. Probably the most surprising element of the text is its accessibility. Although there is a mountain of information available, each chapter is laid out in an intuitive fashion. Each district description contains only what's useful for running that area of the city; there are shops and streets listed, but no attempt is made to flesh out every single building. The book's utility is aided by sidebars on every single page (containing page references to key elements), several detailed glossaries and appendices, dozens of maps, and copious illustrations.

The book's extraordinarily high production value is breathtaking to behold. Not just the value of the layout, paper, and binding (although those are all amazing) ... the production value of the world has been polished to a mirror finish. That's really what makes Ptolus special; years of running characters through this setting has made Mr. Cook's vision crystal clear. His deep understanding of the 'City by the Spire', and his talent as a GM, is passed undiminished to the reader. As someone who runs games regularly, I found the book almost leaps from your hands with sheer potential. Some settings and sourcebooks leave you bewildered, wondering when you'll actually make use of the content you've purchased. Ptolus not only made me want to run games in the setting, it's inspired me to make other games and worlds better.

Given the cost, I expect few people will rush out and purchase this massive setting. Via DriveThruRPG, though, you can buy the entire book in sections in PDF format. Heck, if you're even vaguely interested the first chapter is free for the taking. At the end of the day, the Ptolus line is a testament to what a small publisher can do if with the proper inspiration. I don't think that this Mr. Cook's opus is going to change the way the industry works ... but I certainly hope it opens some eyes.
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Dungeons, Cities, and Psionics

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:25PM (#16089802)
    I'm attacking the firstpost!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wizards of the Coast bought TSR, the real maker of D&D.
    • by eht (8912)
      No one said invented, but they are the current publisher and therefore maker of D&D.
    • Well, to be pedantic, you're wrong there. D&D was made by Gary Gygax and Don Kay; it was first published by the company they formed, Tactical Studies Rules. When Kay passed away, Gygax & Blume dissolved TSR and created TSR Hobbies, Inc. Sometime in the early 80s, TSR Hobbies Inc. became TSR, Inc.

      So to play a little one-upmanship and be a complete ass, Wizards of the Coast bought TSR, Inc, the 2nd publisher (not maker) of D&D.
      • Ah, but in fact they bought the second publisher of D&D, BUT the first publisher of AD&D. Since the original version of D&D was discontinued and AD&D then became known as D&D, technically TSR, Inc. was the first publisher of D&D! If you were a true Sicilian, you would know that! Ah ha ha ha. Ah ha ha ha... klunk (sorry, that bit of logic was hitting Vizzini levels ;).

        And to be nitpicky, it was Gygax and (Dave) Arneson that invented D&D, not Gygax and Kaye, who were the public
  • As far as I'm concerned, theres no reason to ever throw a D20

    -d
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      They are hard and have sharp corners, I can think of a lot of reasons to throw them...
      • by Mayhem178 (920970)
        Sharp corners? Hardly. Throw a d4.
        • by Kesch (943326)
          As sharp as d4s are I find them too light to impart enough damaging force upon targets. I think d6s are a happy medium between sharpness and force, expecially if you can get the larger razor-edged casino style ones.

          Now, to post AC so no one can link me to a decidedly nerdy discussion on the weaponization of dice.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Mayhem178 (920970)
            On the weaponization of dice, we could spawn a sub-topic concerning piercing vs. bludgeoning damage. Now THAT is nerdy.
      • by andphi (899406)
        Giving new meaning to "Throw dice to deal damage": http://www.giantitp.com/Images/GuestWeek2005/oots0 301.gif [giantitp.com]
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're absolutely right; you might chip it! D20s (and other polyhedral dice) should be rolled carefully. They should also be placed in a clean velvet bag when not in use, and occasionally buffed with a fine shammy.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Indeed, I usually throw 4 d6's then normalize the result to a uniform distribution on integers in [1,20].
  • by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:29PM (#16089832) Homepage
    In this advanced age geeks press a button on their random number generator, using the background radiation of the universe as a source of entropy, to provide an output in the range of 1-n where n is determined by the characteristics of the die placed on the optical scanner.
    • by Mayhem178 (920970)
      Or they just bring their Tablet PC to the game and use Fantasy Grounds [fantasygrounds.com] to roll their dice.
    • by kria (126207)
      Geeks don't roll a D20... they roll a handful of D20's along with their damage dice, all color coded, so you know that the blue ones are your first wing, the clear are your second swing, etc.

      There is something about rolling a fistful of dice that cannot be matched by any computer dice roller.
  • I'm impressed by the survival of this genre, especially with electronic and internet-enabled versions available. You don't have to go out looking for some friends to get together and play for hours and hours. You just turn on the PC and fire up text MUDs or MMORPGs. And with all of the challenges of the old and the advantages of the new, this still survives? Impressive indeed.
    • by demo9orgon (156675) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:47PM (#16090003) Homepage
      FRPG table-top gameplay endures because something like "Never Winter Nights", is prohibitively expensive to develop a good adventure for.
      There's an intrinsic worth to all the maps, the (often quite bad) art, the stories and the histories. And at the very core of things, interaction and story-telling take skill and it takes a human.

      Perhaps as a father I'll start being the "sacrificial nerd" and running games for my kids. I am an accomplished GM, voice-actor, story-writer, and story-teller, and good enough illustrator. I have run games that lasted for months, even spanned years. In the time it takes a small army of people to craft a video game, I can create the beginnings of a world and populate it by incident and by design. I can't think of a better thing to do, in lieu of reading, than to teach through table-top role-playing games.

      I've nearly finished reading "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" to them and once that's done I think it's time to start telling my own stories and having my kids play characters instead of having their brains poached by the dreck on Cartoon Network and Nickolodeon before they fall asleep.

      They'll benefit immensely from having to think before turning in, and there's nothing like having something which will detour them from TV.
      And maybe it'll justify a few trips to the local gameshop. I haven't been there in years.

      Cheers.
      • by PCM2 (4486)

        There's an intrinsic worth to all the maps, the (often quite bad) art, the stories and the histories.

        This is an interesting point. I dunno if it's what you're referring to, but one thing I hate about modern RPGs is that the books are just so ridiculously gaudy! Every single page will be printed in four-color process. Every single text subhead will be adorned with all these twisty dragons and swords and silly-looking gems. And then all the pictures of the monsters are these overblown full-color computer p

      • by forgetmenot (467513) <atsjewell@NoSpaM.onebox.com> on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @03:50PM (#16091112) Homepage
        Why couldn't we all have parents like you.

        My mother tried to ban me from playing D&D because it was the "work of Satan" and when that didn't work I would catch her praying over my RPG materials. Well, I didn't grow up to be a serial killer so I guess she figures her prayers must have worked. About a month ago I had to intervene when she started scolding my niece about her "Satanic Pokemon cards". Nothing drives me up the wall more than hearing religious parents extoll the virtues of this kind of zero-tolerance approach to anything "imaginative" and as evidence of the effectiveness they point to their quiet and well-behaved children. Quiet? I mean sullen and afraid to express themselves lest they invoke the wrath of one of God's earthly overseers.

        Now that I'm a father I read to my six-year old daughter EVERY night. We play CRPG games like Morrowind and Diablo together and I hope that when she's old enough we'll be able to enjoy some classic table-top D&D too.

        So yeah... the world needs more parents like you: ones that get involved with their children and nurture their imaginations. Keep up the good work.
        • by Chris Burke (6130)
          My mother tried to ban me from playing D&D because it was the "work of Satan" and when that didn't work I would catch her praying over my RPG materials. Well, I didn't grow up to be a serial killer so I guess she figures her prayers must have worked.

          Heh. Thank goodness my father was never that bad. What is funny is that he was always dissaproving of my D&D habit, not outright condemning it, but vaguely uncertain whether or not it was in fact the work of Satan. The funny part being that he was a m
      • FRPG table-top gameplay endures because something like "Never Winter Nights", is prohibitively expensive to develop a good adventure for.
        There's an intrinsic worth to all the maps, the (often quite bad) art, the stories and the histories. And at the very core of things, interaction and story-telling take skill and it takes a human.


        I think table-top and online play are so different as to not be terribly comparable, unless you're talking about IRC gaming or some such. Table-top gaming has a completely differ
    • by jzoetewey (200538) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:54PM (#16090071) Homepage
      I suppose it is survival against all odds if what you get out of roleplaying games is the opportunity to kill monsters. A computer game can do that better and with less hassle (and getting one's friends in one room can be a major hassle).

      If what you get out of roleplaying games is the opportunity to hang around with your friends, it's not survival against all odds at all. Computers don't do that better.

      If what you primarily want to get out of role playing games is the improvised co-creation of a story, it's also not too much of a surprise. Computers allow you to create a story of a kind, but you can only interact with the world in ways that the designers allowed for (I admit that some give you a lot of possibilities).

      Basically, table top gaming scratches a different itch. When I play roleplaying games, I come up with an idea for a game, campaign or character and get an experience more similar to creating something. When I play a computer game, I use other people's pre-defined characters or character concepts, explore a pre-defined world and solve pre-defined puzzles.
      • by jank1887 (815982)
        essentially, the RolePlaying aspect of the games is why they survive. In most computer renditions of an RPG, the RP aspect of the game is typically a bare minimum compared to what's achievable with real people. Freedom to act (with total number of options equal to those a 'real' person would have), realistic world reaction to your actions, actual human interaction as a part of the story (rather than a chat string to remind you that there are real people), etc. MMORPG's are RP in the fact that they let yo
      • by jafac (1449)
        Oddly enough - I think that the draw of tabletop RPGs compared to computer, is the social aspect. The face to face comaraderie, the joking, making your best freind cry in front of everyone by backstabbing his character.

        And most of all - the Rules Lawyering. You can't Rules Lawyer your way out of a bad situation in a computer RPG. That's a fact.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by grc (52842)
      The simple fact that all RPG games are run by a HUMAN give RPG the edge it needs for survival. No computer run game will ever match the endless possibilities that a human DM can come up with. There are great tools out there which a HUMAN DM can use as an aide to his abilities and to allow for gaming between geographically separated players. One of the best out there is Battlegrounds: RPG Edition, an excellent tool from http://www.battlegroundsgames.com/ [battlegroundsgames.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kidtexas (525194)
      I always thought computer game RPG's kinda sucked. Why even call them RPG's? My friends and I used RPG's (D&D, Shadowrun, Top Secret... Fuck Whitewolf and Magic) as an excuse to hang out, eat snack food, and generally goof off for a couple hours in a town where their was nothing to do. The whole point was that it was social and there was interaction with friends. It's a creative and social outlet -- something that PC RPG's lack in my mind.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pdboddy (620164)
      Tabletop has declined greatly, especially compared to it's peak, probably in the eighties somewhere. But it will survive simply because it is not a video game. While finding a group to play in can be difficult depending on where you are, tabletop is a social activity. It is more enjoyable to see and hear how people roleplay their character, than to read text off the computer screen, or listen to a scratchy, tinny voice mumble (or scream) their part. You don't have to fuss with cables and IP addresses (a
    • by Rifter13 (773076)
      It is simple to understand. MMORPGs can not come CLOSE to capturing the feel of a table of your friends, playing a PnP game. I play MMORPGs, and PnP. I understand both. PnP has so much more depth. So much more friendship. Being married, with kids (and most of my RPG buddies are, as well) we only play every-other week, but we all look forward to it.

      The closest thing, that I have seen to this, is Neverwinter Nights... and even it is sorely lacking.
    • by Cadallin (863437)
      Why? Because Pen and Paper offers a hell of a lot more flexibility. You have more control over who you play with. Also while you can still end up playing with jackasses (as in WoW or other MMO's) however, sitting around a table, its much easier to actually punch somebody in the face for being an ass, or you can actually kill them, take their stuff, and have their guts for garters in game, which most MMO's don't allow. MUDs are much better at providing this sort of live satisfaction (and others) compared
  • by theMerovingian (722983) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:34PM (#16089886) Journal
    you can be certain your players will either be fighting, summoning, or visiting creatures from this horrific lower plane

    I didn't realize they had MBA's in D&D... so much for escapism.
  • D20 has the potential to be a great system. Take a look at Castles and Crusaides for example. There are other excellent systems out there to play with, however. Look at what's available from White Wolf [whitewolf.com] for example. Vampires, Mages, & Werewolves, oh my! Plus now Frankenstinian monsters, and more to come. The new WoD system (That's World of Darkness) is really excellent. I own every single core book, and darn close to all the suplimental material. Hey - they're so good that Sony ripped them off to make Un
    • D'Oh! Sorry, that should be http://www.white-wolf.com/ [white-wolf.com] not whitewolf.com. Sorry!
    • by Mayhem178 (920970)
      I think WW struggles in the popularity market because in this modern age people have been conditioned to min-max their characters out of necessity by video games. This has no place in WW games, where the emphasis is on telling a great story and avoiding having to roll dice and crunch numbers if possible. D20 systems, on the other hand, are a power gamer's haven.
      • by Abreu (173023)
        I think White Wolf is doing quite well, for an RPG publisher.

        And I take offence at the idea that all D&D players are min/maxing powermunchkins... In my game, I dont allow characters that are not well rounded, or that have implausible backstories.

        And I find that the powergamers are usually the ones who come from a videogame background... You know them, those who whine about not being able to play their "15th level Necromancer/8th level Blademaster/9th level Assassin/10th level Dark Priest of Yog-Sothoth
        • by Mayhem178 (920970)
          Well, take offense no more, as I never said that ALL D&D players were power gamers. In fact, I never mentioned D&D at all. I was talking about the D20 system as a whole. However, I still hold that D20 is a far easier (and in many cases more productive) environment in which to power game. In my experience, power gaming in WW games tends to result in the exact opposite of what the player intended: a weak character. Given that in many WW games a player is rewarded for playing their character's fla
          • by Abreu (173023)
            Sorry about the "offense" thing, perhaps I misunderstood you.

            About WW's merits and flaws system, it can also be abused, I once guest-ran a party where ALL the characters had "Dark Secret" as a Flaw... It was considered a "cheap" way of getting an extra freebie point...

            Most had other "soft" flaws as well... "Evil Mentor" "Notoriety" etc... social flaws that didnt have any effect in their game since they were a "dungeon-crawling" kind of group, they were supposedly a hit-squad for a Justicar...

            I blame their o
      • by aonaran (15651)
        Tell that to the GM who tried to run Exalted for me. (and most of the rest of the group I was trying to play with)
        I was strongly discouraged from taking Ride even though my character concept was a sort of Conan character because "Ride charms suck", they are not powerful enough.
        Never mind that riding horseback was a key part of my character concept.
      • by pluther (647209)
        Of course, it could be just because D&D is older, better known, and much better advertised.

        And, as much as D&D lends itself well to the "power gamer" style (in all it's incarnations: d20 even isn't nearly as bad as the older versions), WW is certainly not immune to it at all. Anyone who's interested purely in making their character more powerful is going to be able to do that in any system.

        The other strike White Wolf has against it is that, as much as D&D encourages power gaming, WW encourages
    • by pdboddy (620164)
      I play and gm the White Wolf system, and have many of their books as well. I think folks are simply going with what the original posted started with. You could write a review for Promethean, if you have it, and submit it to Slashdot. As they say on the internet, if you can't find what you're looking for, build it...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Another printing of Dungeons and Dragons manuals.... Is this anything but another attempt to suck every last penny from loyal players.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America [sfwa.org] is about to sue Hasboro (which bought WotC, which bought TSR) for royalties and back payments it's owed on existing contracts for well over a year. Moreover, SFWA is not a paper tiger: They have serious lawyers and a large legal warchest. In the past, SFWA has successfully sued other publishers for money due writers. Nothing is official yet, because they're trying to get Hasboro to do the right thing and pay what they owe. But time is running out.

    Remember

    • by jagger (23047) *
      Any insight you could give as to how these writers are being screwed over?
    • by MrLizard (95131)
      Whenever you buy from ANY P&P RPG company, the odds are, you're (probably) paying money to a company screwing writers over. WOTC is actually one of the best when it comes to payment on-time; I've also had no problem with White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games, or Fantasy Flight. Other writers have been less fortunate....ask anyone about Guardians of Order, for example. RPG companies tend to go through long stretches of hard times, and the easiest debt to avoid is paying writers and artists for work already sub
      • by Abreu (173023)
        Yup, Guardians of Order was about release a RPG based in George R. R. Martin's series "A Song of Ice and Fire", which is currently my favorite fantasy series... They decided to go bankrupt instead of paying the authors and GRRM... And in the meantime the crippled the chance that I would be playing a Knight in Westeros...
  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:44PM (#16089971) Homepage

    Gfft! Gbah! Pfft! Fffeh! Mvvt! Grrp!

    I know, I know... The pedant in me _knows_ "Maker" != "Inventor", but I think it should be a law that either "TSR" or "Gary Gygax" be mentioned in any sentence introducing D&D, regardless of how many people have been at the helm since day one. ;-)
    • by geekoid (135745)
      IF yu are going to go on about the history you should probably name the other creator.

      And you don't invent works, you craete them
    • by 2short (466733)
      OK, but the sentence in question was not introducing D&D. It was introducing WotC. Both it and your objection are kind of silly if you ask me. Is there anyone on earth who knows about D&D but not Gygax, TSR, WotC, and their relationship?

      Frankly, WotC is probably more widly known than D&D, thanks to Magic: The Gathering.
  • I'm playing a Duskblade out of the PHB2 in a Rappan Athuk 3.5e game at my office. I'm loving it quite a bit. We've also got a Dragon Shaman running with us who seems to be enjoying his character as well.

    No mention of Dreamblade in this summary? It's WotC's new minis game, and I like it quite a bit. Maybe this was just for RPG-type stuff, though.
  • David and Goliath (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aeonite (263338) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:56PM (#16090085) Homepage
    As a small publisher of RPGs myself, I feel compelled to point out that there's much more out there than WOTC and White Wolf. There are a slew of small publishers putting out great, critically acclaimed material, both in PDF and print format. I draw your attention to the ENnie awards [enworld.org] (complete list of 2006 winners can be found right here [gamegrene.com], which this past year rewarded not only big guys like Paizo Publishing [paizo.com] and White Wolf [white-wolf.com], but smaller pubishers like Green Ronin [greenronin.com] and Guardians of Order [guardiansorder.com], as well as really little guys like Atomic Sock Monkey Press (for the excellent super-hero game Truth & Justice [atomicsockmonkey.com] and Dog Soul Publishing (for their Baba Yaga [dogsoul.net] book, which I penned. Check us out. We may not be as well known as the other guys but we're just as good.
    • by MsGeek (162936)
      Guardians of Order filed for bankruptcy. They are no more. BESM 3rd Edition has been bought by another company. I am hoping they will release the TriStat DX system as an open gaming system. There are free-as-in-beer PDFs of TriStat, true, but it would be great if it could be licensed in a similar way to D20 so that anyone can put out TriStat games.

      Sic transit gloria mundi...
      • by AdamJ (28538)
        GoO has stopped producing new products, but they have not filed for bankrutcy.
    • Harp [rpgnow.com]
      Lejendary Adventures [rpgnow.com]
      The Dying Earth [rpgnow.com]
      [rpgnow.com]
      Worlds of Wonder [rpgnow.com]

      And there are others too. If you're interested into an alternative to either d20 or White Wolf, you can probably find it.

    • by jafac (1449)
      I recently stepped into a game store the other day. I haven't done any RPG gaming in years, and I'm getting back into it with a group of freinds from work.

      I stepped up the the book rack, bewildered at the array of new D&D books available. 3rd edition? A book on just Psionics?! Version 3.5? WTF? So this guy comes up to me, overweight, bearded, wearing a vest. A fucking vest! (they're always wearing a fucking vest) I felt like I was back in 1987. He proceeds to very helpfully explain to me what the
  • by Cheetahfeathers (93473) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @01:57PM (#16090096)
    D&D is good if you want to play a kill them and take their stuff style of game... which isn't a bad thing if you enjoy it. D&D can be used for other things, but it's not the best tool for the task of many other styles of games. Check out Burning Wheel [burningwheel.org] for one. It's a great system for fantasy RP similar to what you find in D&D setting, but with a different direction for what the game rules encourage players to explore. If you like to focus primarily on character's past, ethics, beliefs, goals and dreams, then this game suits that style of storytelling much better than D&D.
    • by us7892 (655683)
      > ethics, [...] dreams AD&D got it right wayyyy back in the 70's. Explore, slash & cast, grab the booty. Explore some more. Drink some beer, have some chips, stay up all weekend and get no sleep. The quality of the game was really dictated by the creativity of the dungeon master and the players. Much better than the WOW or NWN, etc., that we have online now. Pen & paper AD&D will always live as the best role-playing creation of all-time!
  • hope its worth it (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Alot of people cry and moan about Dnd, that its to complex or that its to simple or that they just dont like using D20. All of these always make me feel sad about the next generation of table top gamers, its like we are a dying species that people are trying to activally hunted to death. It also makes me sad when I see book products for prices over $20 or when the writers play a game of one ups manship with one another. Not only are fewer people enjoying role playing, but the ones who do play are more co
  • by Kesch (943326) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @02:22PM (#16090300)
    I got my twelve sided die and I'm ready
    to roll with a wizard and my goblin crew.
    My friends are comin' over to my mom's basement
    bringing Funions and the Mountain Dew.
    I got a big broadsword made out of cardboard
    and the stereo's a pumpin' Zepplin.
    It's that time of the night, turn on the black light.
    Let the Dungeons and the Dragons begin.

    IT'S D&D!
    Fightin' with the legends of yore.
    IT'S D&D!
    Never kissed a lady before (Nope. Nuh uh)

    Now the Lord of The Rings, the Dark Crystal and things
    we use these as a reference tool.
    And when we put on our cloaks and tell warlock jokes
    we're the coolest kids in the school (No we're not. I know)
    Now attack's a real bastard, but a fair Dungeon Master
    has hitpoints and charisma to lend
    I rehearse in my room or what I call the Dragon's Tomb
    when I'm not out with my girlfriend.

    IT'S D an... Wait wait, whoa, whoa. You got a girlfriend?
    Yeah... Yeah... No.
    IT'S D&D!
    Warriors who terrify
    IT'S D&D!
    Virgins, till the day weeeeeeeeeeee DIEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    "Dungeons and Dragons" by Stephen Lynch
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Funny song, but I am getting tired of the stero type. I played DnD in the 70's, had a girlfriend, got layed, played HS sports, and never played in a basement.

  • I agree with the premise: Complete Psionic was a pretty bad book. So bad, in fact, that some denizens of the D&D Psionics board banded together and wrote an alternative supplement that is easily 10 times better.

    But don't go bad-mouthing psionics in your review. The base system is clear and well-thought-out. It's not broken at all, although it is misunderstood. It's even part of the core rules and SRD, so there's no reason why you can't read about it for yourself. No, Complete Psionics is bad because it
    • by Rifter13 (773076)
      Complete Psionic wasn't that bad... it wasn't great, either. I DO like the new core class in the back. Our group doesn't have a true mage type, so I took that one in. You don't get a LOT of powers to use per day... but you can use the top few you REALLY need that day. :-)

      I am QUITE tired of the anti-psionic crap that goes on. Psionics, the new version, is very well thought out. In the right encounters, they are VERY powerful. They are VERY flexible. BUT, that all comes with a price of just a few powe
    • by Monkey (16966)
      For an offshoot of the game that I'd have to argue isn't in widespread use, why the hell have they published yet another book on the topic? Since version 3.0 we have the Psionic's Handbook, then in 2004 we have the updated 3.5 Expanded Psionic's Handbook and now the Complete Psionic. I mean, goddamn, haven't they exhausted the subject yet?
  • This book has a very nice premise but I have one problem. The demon princes seem extrodinarily weak. Graz'zt for instance is listed and set up as a CR 22 creature. A Balor is what, CR 19 or 20? This means a half dozen Balors not happy with Graz'zt could come along and off him and then kill one another for rightful place on the throne. A ruler on a Chaotic Evil Plane better be powerful enough to shred the most powerful of his commanders without thinking twice because otherwise his Chaotic Commanders
    • by geekoid (135745)
      DOn't overlook real power...political power.
      • DOn't overlook real power...political power.

        What does the Dark Side of the Force have to do with DnD?

    • by sckeener (137243)
      but I have one problem. The demon princes seem extrodinarily weak.

      I believe either Erik or James (two of the 3 authors) said that a sentence was removed in editing by WotC. Those CR ratings were supposed to be off their home plane. On their home plane the CRs are supposed to be much higher. As an example look at the difference between James Jacobs' version of Kostchtchie in Dragon Magazine issue 345 (CR28) and the Fiendish Codex I (CR21.
    • by Abreu (173023)
      And clearly any gang of Italian Mercenaries could have killed Cesare Borgia many times over... but they didnt, because Cesare played every group against each other sucessfully, until he got sick and died.

      Any small group of Balors could slay Graz'zt, but they dont, for the same reasons.
  • Hasbro bought out WotC a few years ago and they're running the company about as innovatively as MS is in software.

    They've closed all the WotC retail stores which were a great spot to play the games. They paid lucas huge amounts for the rights to star wars, destroying seveal other good games made by others.
    • by sckeener (137243)
      Hasbro bought out WotC a few years ago and they're running the company about as innovatively as MS is in software.

      They've closed all the WotC retail stores which were a great spot to play the games. They paid lucas huge amounts for the rights to star wars, destroying seveal other good games made by others.


      It is a bit harsh to compare MS with WotC....I mean WotC has the open gaming license....when do you think MS will do that?
  • Monte Cook used travel guides as examples of how to do the layout for the book. The end result is the book is very DM friendly. There are reference and side notes on every page. It is the City of the Invincible Overlord for a new generation and much better in quality.

    For me it has set the bar on what level of detail I want for my worlds.

    Beside the book is beautiful with pictures/art work on every single page. I highly recommend buying the book.
  • WotC only??? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kriticism (225999) on Tuesday September 12, 2006 @04:47PM (#16091684)
    Good grief...we're in the middle of an RPG Renaissance, and the best we can get is articles about the latest splatbook from WotC??

    How about some of these highly acclaimed and cutting-edge RPGs?

    The Mountain Witch - http://www.timfire.com/MountainWitch.html [timfire.com]
    Don't Rest Your Head - http://www.evilhat.com/?dryh [evilhat.com]
    Dogs in the Vineyard - http://www.septemberquestion.org/lumpley/dogs.html [septemberquestion.org]
    My Life with Master - http://www.halfmeme.com/master.html [halfmeme.com]
    The Burning Wheel - http://www.burningwheel.org/ [burningwheel.org]
    Weapons of the Gods - http://www.eos-press.com/products-wotg.html [eos-press.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ChaosDiscord (4913) *

      Of the games you've listed, only one (Don't Rest Your Head) came out in 2006. It's hardly news for nerds.

      If you're expecting Slashdot to become the shining beacon that highlights cutting edge indy RPG game design, well, you're a dreamer, I can respect that. But I wouldn't hold my breath. Compared to the front page of Slashdot, Games.Slashdot is small site. Compared to the normal video game focus of Games.Slashdot, tabletop RPGs are a microscopic market. To focus on the very small subset of indie game

  • Open? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by redcorsair (1002076)
    I think we D&Ders sometimes forget: this is an open system. You should not just go by whats in the books but also use your imagination and make something that is truly yours. I have no problem with people using what WotC gives us, but they seem to give us a whole lot of stuff we really don't need.

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