Sunday, August 29, 2010

Review: Ambient Music for Gaming by Sonic Legends

Ambient Music for Gaming can be very useful depending on your group. Here are two selections from Sonic Legends (as found on that are two good examples of the different approaches background music can take. The first takes an ambient background approach that can have it's effect without overpowering the group. It plays in the background, adding the emotional white noise that makes the mundane melt away. The second is a powerful movie soundtrack that makes you immediately want to jump into a pirate adventure. It's strong themes can overpower you and you just sit there listening, why didn't they have that soundtrack on _____ movie last night!

After the battle is a mournful ambient track that accomplishes its goal. It evokes the windswept field where only the mourners and crows pick thru the dead. As as tool to set the mood for an outdoor encounter where the baddies have wrought destruction, it will work quite well. I'm a big fan of orchestral strings to set moods with the deeper strings and timpani to layer. I'm less of a fan of the 1980s synthesizer sound. You only encounter the synthesizer sounds (which aren't bad) early on. I'm also a fan of using choral layers to add emotion and brass to evoke power. At 8min 20sec
you get a track that can repeat without annoying.

This offering is less ambient track and more Film Score. Of the two, its by far my favorite, mostly because movie scores are powerful emotional tools. It made me want to go make a pirate movie. The opening theme was as effective as a certain Caribbean pirate movie of recent memory. Well Done!

This summer I enjoyed taking my niece and nephew to Disneyland for their first time. While the Jedi Training Academy will probably be their highlight, mine will be our Pirates of the Caribbean excursion. My niece liked it enough that she wanted to eat dinner in the Blue Bayou Restaurant in the we did. This track could easily have been the soundtrack for that ride.

The little riff four and a half minutes in using the tuba and squeeze-box created the image of a staggering pirate trying to navigate the rolling deck of a ship with humor. If you use ambient music to set the tone, this one is a great pirate adventure score. I will enjoy playing it while driving thru Southern California traffic. Now I just need a cannon. I can think of so many B pirate movies that could have been almost pushed into an A with this soundtrack.

-- by Neville Duck, editor --

Friday, August 27, 2010

More Fantastic Maps from Jonathan Roberts

Jonathan Roberts is a cartographer for Kobold Quarterly, Sunken Empires, and Adventures in the Hyborian Age. He also contributes regularly to the Maptool forums under the name Torstan.

His Fantastic Maps bundle is on sale this week (all 30% off, and the bundle reduced even more). Each map pack has a jpg map for use with Maptool or other VTTs, along with a printable version for use in face-to-face gaming. Many of the map packs contain Maptool files with the VBL drawn in and grids and lighting set up for either 4e or OGL games. All of them will have these files included in early September (they're all done, just not quite uploaded yet). If you buy now, you will get the new files with the Maptool files when they are updated.

Black Sky Butte, Lone Island in the Sky, Mire of Lost Souls, Temple Mound, The Dragon's Lair, The Glass Balcony, The Ice Temple, The Island Cave, The Leafless Wood, The Low River, Tree Bridge, and Tribal Encampment all for $13.99.

Sale ends September 1st. You can find all the map packs here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Review: Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition for Savage Worlds

Savage Worlds 1930's Pulp Fiction
If you ever enjoyed the two-fisted treasure hunting of Indiana Jones, the high-flying action of Dave Stephens' The Rocketeer, the globe trotting exploits of Doc Savage, the extra-planetary adventures of Flash Gordon, or the gritty mob busting of The Untouchables then you've enjoyed a story set in the pulp era. Pulp is not a genre unto itself. In the strictest sense, pulp was the medium used to present stories during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. The pulps reached their height during the 1930s as great change swept across the globe. Gandhi's fasting and Hitler's rising occurred as synchronous events. It was the time between World Wars with the world growing steadily smaller thanks to air travel, automobiles, radio, and an increased literacy rate.

Pulp fiction fed a hungry and growing audience a steady diet of adventure, intrigue, and action. Good was good and bad was bad. Even some bad guys were really good guys if given half a chance. The hero never died in pulp adventures. But then again, neither did the villain. The stories, plots, heroes, and villains are great RPG fodder as players and GM recreate some of their favorite settings from movies, books, and TV. Adamant Entertainment produces a Savage supplement titled Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition to add to their extensive line of Thrilling Tales products.

Friday, August 20, 2010

AP: The Getaway

Robert Fulton
Greetings Rocketeers!

In our last episode the heroes loaded the ancient Stargate into the hold of the rocket ship Achilles. Fulton leapt into the pilot's seat blasting toward the whiteness of Z-space to avoid capture by a squadron of Nazi war rockets heading their way.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Free Product - Sewer Map Set 1

It's hard to complain about free products. So I won't. I simply state that a little more effort would have made Sewer Map Set 1 from WYDRAZ RPG Products much better. But there are some positive aspects.
  • It's free.
  • It works well with Maptool possessing a 100 ppx grid that lined up well when I imported it.
  • The advertisement at the end of the pdf showed some nice products from the same company.
  • It's free.
    If you are a Maptool user, I recommend drawing sewers like this with textures. You'll use less memory although it takes more time to create.

    To improve the product, I recommend different textures. The ones used in this work are all very green. The water color is particularly bad. You could also alter the texture from the 100ppx to something larger with more variety. Use more than the basic three textures so every floor, water, and impassable section aren't the same for every square. Also, add some other decoration i.e. rats, gates, spider webs, slimes, and oozes.

    I suspect this product is advertisement to show off other, pay-for products. If so you should spend a little more time jazzing it up. As is, I wonder if the quality of your other work matches this one.

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Net Find: Men's Adventure Magazines

    I'm a pulp fan so I'm always happy to find a resource for game prep. I use Maptool for online RPGs and thus need art to make tokens to move about the map. I was therefore very happy to find a web site catering to the pulp magazines of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

    Men's Adventure Magazines is a blog dedicated to the "Sweat" pulp mags from the post war era. Not only does it contain numerous magazine covers, it is rife with plot ideas for your pulp games.

    The blog does contain some scantily clad women which I'm sure were quite scandalous back in the day. Today they seem pretty tame but the site still boasts a "Mature Content" warning.

    Check it out for all your pulp gaming needs.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    eReader vs. Tablet for RPG pdfs

    (see end of article for an update)

    I'm tired of lugging around RPG books. I have a bookshelf full with many resting unused for years. Some were never used. I just don't see the point.

    Now that I play Savage Worlds my need for new books is even smaller. Since I design most of my own settings, I usually use the supplements as source material without actually using most of the game itself. I therefor starting buying my games as PDFs to save space. The side effect was to make for a rapidly searchable text when looking for rules during my online games.

    So it seemed reasonable that one of the eBook readers like a Kindle or a Nook would fill my need nicely. I posted the question to a few online forums asking for advice. I was surprised by the response.

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    N-Space Beastiary: The Beastmen of Mars

    The Races of Mars

    This article discusses the various races of Mars in the Space Nazis setting. The setting utilizes the Slipstream product in conjunction with the Savage Worlds Explorers Edition from Pinnacle Entertainment Group for race creation, equipment, vehicles, edges, hindrances and power.

    Cat Men are the Red Planet's dominant life form. Other races live alongside them as either prey species, intellectual masters, or hide from them altogether to prevent racial extinction.

    The topography of Mars is that of large swaths of red, savanna plains separated by forests, mountains, caverned trenches, and polar ice caps. The canals of Mars stretch from the poles to the equator supplying water and trade routes.

    Sunday, August 8, 2010

    AP: Space Nazis - Fidget's Big Score

    Last week our heroes crashed into the gate house attempting to capture or disable the Nazi-run star gate that was sending Zombie microbes into their home dimension of N-Space. Their APC is disabled after crashing through the gatehouse wall. Almost everyone is unconscious. While their entrance killed most of the Nazi soldiers, two heavy weapon wielding SS troopers remain along with a beautiful German scientist.

    Saturday, August 7, 2010

    Bone Tooth Pick: How To Be A Great GM

    For insecure GMs everywhere, Avalon Games produced a new supplement telling you how to be the bestest GM ever. The work is 15 or so pages long and includes such topics as Getting Organized and Knowing Your Players.

    My first reaction to this supplement was to snort in derision but my view has softened a bit. Maybe its for people that really want to game and think the only way they'll be able to play is if they pick up the GM mantel. For those folks I recommend visiting some of sites that help match players to games like RPG Game Find or other similar sites.

    If you really do want to improve your GM skills, I highly recommend reading the GM section in the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition. The SWEX GM's section is as long as this entire supplement, comes with all the Savage Worlds rules, and only cost $10.

    Still, if you enjoy Oprah this might be the self-help book for you. For only $4.99 you can learn all (and I mean ALL) the secrets of good GMing. As an alternative I recommend asking your players how to improve the game and making sure everyone has a lot of fun.

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    Savage IRC hosted by Apathy Games

    Come join the Savage Worlds IRC Chat hosted by Apathy Games on Wednesday, August 4th. They hope to have some Gen Conners show up for some Q and A.

    You can find the channel on in #savageworlds.

    The subjects will include:
    • Converting a reluctant D&D player to Savage Worlds
    • Designing an epic Boss Fight
    • Anything else that comes up
    C'ya there.

      Monday, August 2, 2010

      The Kerberos Club Quick-Start Guide

      For those wishing learn more of The Kerberos Club setting, please check out the free The Kerberos Club Quick-Start Guide from Arc Dream Publishing. The introduction uses the One-Roll Engine rules set.
      While the work does not use the Savage Worlds rules, it does contain some of the background information discussed in the review including the settings time line.