Friday, June 24, 2011

Savage Worlds Deluxe - Available Saturday, June 25th!

[ note: this is taken directly from Pinnacle's main page. Due to the large announcement about Pinnacles participation in Origins and Shane Hensley being the guest of honor, it's easy to miss... so we've re-broadcast it here!]

This Saturday is all about the new Savage Worlds Deluxe, the new edition of the core rulebook. This 160-page, full-color, full-size hardback provides the complete Savage Worlds rules, updates and new material, new art, more examples, an expanded Setting Rules section, and Designer Notes to give you an insight into the development. Making its world debut this Saturday, you can get your hands on it in a number of different ways:
  • Buy Savage Worlds Deluxe PDF on CD Saturday at Origins:
    You can grab the PDF of Savage Worlds Deluxe on special limited-edition CD at the Studio 2 Publishing booth at Origins. Be the envy of your gaming neighborhood and lord it over your friends.
  • Preorder Savage Worlds Deluxe Saturday:
    Starting Saturday, you'll be able to preorder a physical copy of the book on our web store for delivery as soon as full stocks are available (currently expected by September, with possible prerelease copies at GenCon). You can also preorder the print book at the Studio 2 Publishing booth—preorders at the booth include free domestic shipping, as well!
  • Get the Savage Worlds Deluxe Preorder Bundle Saturday on the Web:
    If you can't be at Origins and just can't wait for the books to arrive, this bundle is for you. You'll get the physical book shipped directly to you as soon as stocks are in and—more importantly—you'll receive the PDF immediately! Oh, and you'll get a discount, too! How can you beat a deal like that?
  • Get the Savage Worlds Deluxe Mega Bundle Saturday on the Web:
    You want more? You got it. The Savage Worlds Deluxe Mega Bundle includes everything in the Preorder Bundle, plus the Savage Worlds Action & Adventure Decks, including all the promotional cards! Like all our preorder bundles, these special deals are only available until the books are in, so act fast!
  • Download the Savage Worlds Deluxe PDF Saturday on the Web:
    If you can't get your limited edition CD at Origins, the Savage Worlds Deluxe PDF will be available on our web store starting this Saturday with all the other web store options. ["Saturday" for the web store will look an awful lot like approximately Friday at midnight Eastern US Time, by the way.]
Don't let time pass you by—get your copies as soon as you can. If nothing else, you can cut down on how long your gaming buddies can be all smug about their copies, and isn't that what really matters?
We at the Savage Troll can't wait!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Free RPG Day - June 18, 2011

FREE RPG DAY - June 18, 2011
by Derek Brown

In case you missed it, Saturday, June 18th 2011 was FREE RPG Day. Participating games stores gave away a adventures and quick start rules to promote our favorite hobby. One item in particular caught my eye. I'm a Savage Worlds nut and Pinnacle offered The Wild Hunt as their free RPG. I couldn't stand the thought of something I couldn't buy slipping thru my fingers. It's a great intro for a newbie to Savage Worlds. 

[note: at the last minute, Pinnacle has posted The Wild Hunt online! The link above is to a pdf.]

There were over a dozen publisher participants this year and here was the lineup of freebies:
  • Amarillo Design Bureau
    Sample (1 per box), Prime Directive Adventure "Starship Aldo" (both d20 & GURPS)
  • BlackWyrm Games
    Sample (1 per box), XDM Adventure: "Laser Squid Nemesis"
  • Blue Panther
  • Sample (1 per box), Dice Tower
  • Chessex
    Silver (4 per box), Commerative Dice For Store Owner
  • Eden Studios
    Silver (5 per box), All Flesh Must Be Eaten Quickstart & Adventure
  • Exile Game Studios
    Bronze (3 per box) ,Hollow Earth Expedition Quickstart & Adventure
  • Fantasy Flight Games
    Gold (10 per box), Black Crusade Quickstart and Adventure
  • Flying Buffalo
    Sample (1 per box), Tunnels & Trolls Solo Adventure, "Rescue Mission"
  • Goodman Games
    Silver (5 per box), DCC RPG Quickstart
  • Green Ronin
    Gold (10 per box), DragonAge Quickstart
  • Paizo
    Platinum (15 per box), "We Be Goblins!" Pathfinder Adventure
  • Paradigm Concepts
    Bronze (3 per box), Arcanis RPG Quickstart & Adventure
  • Pinnacle
    Bronze (3 per box), Savage Worlds Quickstart & Adventure, titled "The Wild Hunt"
  • Q-Workshop
    Silver (5 per box), Unique Elven-themed Dice
  • Stone Tablet Games
    Bronze (3 per box), Aspect Quickstart Adventure
  • Troll Lord Games
    Sample (1 per box), Castles & Crusades Quickstart and Adventure
  • Valkyrie Games
    Sample (1 per box), Stellar Horizons Quickstart
  • White Wolf Publishing
    Gold (10 per box), World of Darkness Quickstart
  • Wizards of the Coast
    Platinum (15 per box), "Domain of Dread: Histhaven" D&D 4th Edition Supplement to the box set "The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond"
  • Mayfair
    Free Bonus Item, Settlers of Catan: Catanimal Variant rules (single page paper insert)

    I live in Southern California in North County San Diego. It's the most temperate area of the continental United States keeping an average temperature of 70 degrees with beautiful, blue skies. It's paradise! Which is where one of my Favorite Local Game Stores is located. Paradise, or, as their name implies: Pair - A - Dice Games.

    I arrived at 9:55am and there was a line of 40-50 already. Rob, the owner of Pair-A-Dice, was out side giving instructions for Free RPG Day:

    1. One "freebie" for anyone
    2. A second "freebie" for Pair A Dice Games Royalty Rewards members
    3. A third "freebie" if you bought $10+ of product in the store. 

    I took the opportunity to buy "Daring Tales of the Space Lanes Compendium One" That qualified me for my 3rd freebie.

    When I picked up the Daring Tales Compendium, there was a group of kids going thru the Pinnacle section. One was going thru the Savage Foes of Solomon Kane!  Wow, at his age I was playing Monopoly, Sorry, and Clue. I didn't get into DnD until I was 16. So many kids are into the collectible card games that it was a pleasant surprise to see one looking at a real RPG. 

    I ended up getting 3 freebies and spent some time with fellow gamers. Some folks had driven
    quite a distance as Pair-A-Dice was the only San Diego store participating. One gentleman just moved here from the east coast and was getting back into gaming. He purchases a pile of books so I can see how Free RPG Day was a clever idea.

     A little bit of excitement above and beyond getting freeies occured when a crew from the Pixelated Geek podcast. They interviewed those of us in line, including yours truly, and asked which freebie we wanted and why. I shared that I wanted to make sure I got the Savage Worlds product you couldn't buy! The big guy in the green shirt ran the camera/recorder, another gentleman did the interviews, and a lady ran around taking pictures everywhere. I can't wait to see their show.

    Right down the road from Pair-A-Dice games is the 15 screen Krikorian Theatre and Green Lantern has opened. "In brightest darkest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil's might, beware my power, Green Lanter's light!!" I enjoyed the movie quite a bit.

    You couldn't have planned a better Geek Gamer Weekend.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Savage Worlds: The Wild Hunt Mini-Review - Free Adventure for Free RPG Day!

    Savage Worlds: The Wild Hunt
    by John Goff

    Cost: FREE! - and you can't buy it anywhere
    Pages: 16
    Includes: Adventure, 6 pre-gens, 33 figure flats, and the SW Test Drive rules.

    The Wild Hunt (no spoilers here, just hints)

    Thanks to Pinnacle listing this on their main page, I was tempted to go to FREE RPG Day again this year. I didn't want to miss getting something you literally can't buy or get any where else.

    [note: actually they just posted a link to the pdf. I've linked to it above. dmb]

    From the introduction: "The Wild Hunt is a modern-day horror story set in the tradition of a Saturday-night horror movie. In it, the players find themselves unexpectedly stranded in a rural town in the American Midwest and on the wrong end of a curse more than a century old. With their very souls on the line, they must avoid an unholy horde of unrelenting hunters determined to add the heroes to their host." So starts the the adventure....

    The bus you're in starts to have electrical issues and stops in the Hamlet of Ebernburg. As fate would have it, a curse that arises every 10 years is about to occur and if you're not careful, you may be a recurring part in future risings. A minor European noble family founded the town in the early 1800s. A surviving son gone mad, love gone wrong, and a curse all make for a fun fright fest for 6. The premise reminds me of a very twisted, modern mid-western take on the 1932 classic "The Most Dangerous Game". However, the twists in this scenario make for a much more dangerous adventure!

    The adventure is fully fleshed out with a good list of characters and pre-gen'd Wild Cards. There's a page and a half of Tri-Fold Figure Flats and a custom copy of the Savage Worlds Test Drive Rules.

    For horror fanatics, I see this as being the quintessential beginner's guide for Savage Worlds. It was also one of the slickest full color productions and completely met the Free RPG Day suggestions for the free products. Adventure, Test Rules, and even paper figures. Pinnacle should be proud of their offering. They spared no expense and it shows. There were some other free offerings but they were all 12-24 pages in black and white with only the adventure. Pinnacles full color adventure complete with rules blew them all away.

    Pinnacle updates their web site on Tuesday. Last Tuesday, the 14th, they put up a perfect set piece for this adventure. They literally provided you the bus you rode in on. Between the figure flats in the book and the bus at Pinnacle, you've got a quick set up for horror that us time crunched gamers love to find.

    The Wild Hunts fits well with the horror theme of the Troll's June offerings. We'll have to prep more for next year's "June Gloom" theme (a story for another time).

    Until next time, this is the Savage Duck, signing off.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Review: Realms of Cthulhu for Savage Worlds

    Product: Realms of Cthulhu Campaign for Savage Worlds
    From: Reality Blurs
    Price: $25 PDF $
    39.99 in Hardbound
    Author: Sean Preston

    Few settings evoke a more visceral reaction than those that wander to the edge of sanity such as Realms of Cthulhu. For some of us, it evokes those memories in the early days of RPGs when we discovered something very different from Dungeons and Dragons, very different.

    In 1981, I remember visiting our local game store and seeing a new boxed edition of a game I hadn't heard of before: Call of Cthulhu. Unlike Mythos fans, CoC was my introduction to H.P. Lovecraft. Poe I knew, but who was this Lovecraft?

    Our group jumped in, commenced to chasing cultists, hunting Deep Ones, and go insane. Then I found HP's books and began to understand; we weren't going to hunt the Great Cthulhu like we used to hunt the Ancient Red Dragon in DnD. We were attempting to stop mankind's fall into inescapable darkness.

    CoC was a game of horror, not adventure. Surely there were adventures to be had but if you expected to hack your way through and slay a great old one you were in for a quick trip to the insane asylum assuming your character lived long enough to be committed.

    Some say gaming in the Cthulian Mythos is a non-heroic endeavor. You don't don armor and bravely ride off to fight the darkness. Rather, your character finds and stop plots and plans that would hurl the world into a chaos of darkness, fear, and oblivion. But as your character learns more of Cthulian reality and ways to stop the growing tide of darkness, they go insane. You fight in the shadows trying to stop cultists and creatures from bringing doom and destruction to the world.

    Other claim it is the most heroic. Your character is doomed and yet they continue to fight the threatening chaos to save the world for another day. So, how much fun can it be to thwart evil only to be eaten alive or driven insane for your efforts? As it turns out, quite a bit. The Savage version of Cthulhu only adds to the fun.

    I'll break the review into 2 main topics similar RoC's layout:

    1. Intro: Character building and setting rules.
    2. Keeper Section, The Mythos, Magic, Tales, Adventures, and Critters (Citizens and Denzens)


    If you are a fan of the old CoC but love/need the Fast, Furious, and Fun of Savage Worlds, then the Realms of Cthulhu is for you and it's a treat. For those that feel the need to stagger thru the dreaded gritty nihilism of the darkest adventures...and go insane, it's all there. I was thrilled to find that Sean Preston / Reality Blurs recognized that there other ways to play. For me, I much prefer a more pulpy approach.

    Nearly 30 years ago I learned to appreciate that you need to be much more careful wandering the isolated cliffs and coves of 1920's New England. None of us longed to go mad and hand over our character sheets to the GM. I really appreciate the broader set of styles offered that still retain that original chilling fear. When a dusty tome referencing "he who is not to be named" is found in the desk whose owner has recently gone missing, the old pounding heart and fun fear returns!

    Creating an Investigator
    The "Creating the Investigator" process will be familiar to Savages. Just add the derived SANITY and the new CORRUPTION attribute, figure out your archetype and defining interests and you are ready. The new skills of Knowledge (Mythos) and especially Knowledge (Psychology) will get serious workouts in the Realms. Of the new Hindrances, I like Dark Secret (Major). You can be that slightly odd looking Investigator whose Grandmother wouldn't talk about her outcast family. The New Edges support the setting well with: Flexible Thinker, Jaded, Resilient (extremely useful, helps in recovering from madness), etc. and the most important Professional Edge: Psychotherapist! For a campaign long-running campaign with any grit, you'll need your support network of Psychotherapists and an Asylum you can trust. There are 2 Legendary Edges: Determined and Very Determined that boost your Sanity. The mere inclusion of these Edges gives me hope!

    There is also an Equipment section covers the three recognized periods within which your Campaign will exist: Victorian, 1920s, and Modern.

    Setting Rules

    Fate is UNKIND: You roll snake eyes and no more bennies can be spent. Period. I read this as your attribute or skill roll and the associated wild roll both come up 1's. Happens more that I'd like to think. There are more detailed ways to handle combat and mental challenges in the sections to follow but this gives you the first hint, it's not just another horror setting.

    Campaign Style

    This for me was the best conceptual part of RoC. A true pulpy twist on the old Call of Cthulhu is dealt with instead of just a depressing nihilistic descension into madness.
    Here is Reality's new style approaches:

    To clarify, the Physical and Mental are really categories of how damage in each is approached.

    There are extensive mechanics for both physical and mental damage, but the mechanics of Sanity ensure you understand: This is the world of HPL and no one gets out unscathed. The GM can use the Styles to communicate the way they intend to run the game. I, for one, am all for Heroic Horror. More Heroic Pulp and slightly less insanity.

    The extensive Sanity Systems ensure that it's a central part of a campaign. There are no two ways about it but, if you work thru the mechanics, you see just how critical it is to have a sanity support system. I can see a smart group of investigators having a local trustworthy Sanitarium and Mythos savvy Psychiatrist or two staffing it. It could even be the investigators "bat cave" if you will and the central safe house for the group. That's the direction my brain went. If you are going to hang out for any length of time in the Realms, as I intend to, you'll see the need as well.

    The last part of the Setting Rules has a helpful section on "New Uses for Skills". Without giving much away, it's a clever bit of re-interpreting some of the skills for new and useful ways to succeed in RoC. I liked "Persuasion as Disguise" and "Repair as Forgery". Both are self-explanatory and will be quite useful during an adventure. The last words in the section are words of wisdom for creating a unified and well rounded party. Good advise and you'll need it.


    The Keeper's Section
    This is the material Shane Hensley referred to in his FOREWARD: " I've read plenty of H.P.L.'s work---I'm a pulp enthusiast to the core-- but I don't want to see the stats for the Colour out of Space, or the details for the ritual cast in The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I don't want a spell list from The Necronomicon, or know the exact percentage chance a Ghoul has of causing my hero infection.... I want my Game Master to have these facts..." Well said and I couldn't agree more. So, no real spoilers here but a taste of the content to let you know, the last 120 pages are loaded with everything a Keeper could want.

    The Cthulhu Mythos
    This Guide is for Keepers to craft and successfully run a Cthulian Campaign. Using the four frameworks of Style to guide the decisions, you, the Keeper, will be expertly guided thru the handling of your campaign and keep it moving. The last parts of the book are loaded with how Magic works in RoC, how to generate a Mythos Tale (pages of excellent tables and explanations), Mysteries of Drake Manor (ready made start for a campaign), the Citizens and Denizens of RoC, and lastly a conversion section for bringing over your old CoC if you wish.

    I see myself spending hours in the Mythos Tales section rolling up adventures, plots, plot complications, allies and new beasties of all levels. If you don't know your Elder God from a Formless Spawn (a Servitor in case you were wondering), then fear not, all is well organized and described. There are also example Tales. Reality Blurs provided four or one each for each type of style so you can jump right in with just a little work.

    Mysteries of Drake Manor is a full start to a campaign and is their addition to the Cthulian Mythos. Set in the environs of Charleston, SC, in the 1920's, a coastal setting with as much history of HPL's northern New England but open for new exploration. Extensive characters, descriptions, mysteries, books of lore await.

    Citizens and Denizens is as it sounds, populated with all the ready made and kitted out archetypes, cultists, npcs, aliens and critters you expect to find in the Realms. It is here you truly can learn the hierarchy of the horrific. The curtain is pulled back and all the stats and descriptions are there for your easy reading. The hours it must have taken to pour thru all the stories and lore is amazing and I appreciate every page.

    Conversion Section: Five pages of wisdom to guide you if you wish to convert your Call of Cthulhu Characters and Creatures. There's a nice sidebar that addresses "New to Cthulhu". It directly recommends other Cthulhu products, starting with the original Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu as well as many others.

    Character Sheet: Here's the link to Reality Blur's blog page that has all the downloads you could want. I recommend the pdf Investigator's Dossier.

    Final Words: I will enjoy Realms of Cthulhu for years to come. RoC is a professional, well organized, well researched tome to lead any Keeper to successful and rewarding dark adventures. The 160 pages are packed with a setting that fits extremely well into the Savage Worlds library. I read it cover to cover over a weekend and created an investigator in short order. The amount of information can be overwhelming to someone who is new but only because the alien nature of it's denziens. Any Savage that's familiar with HPL and/or CoC will be able to jump in quickly with the ready made adventures, Drake Manor, and the fun (old style?) charts and tables to create all new mysteries. If there was anything to pick on, maybe some of the art was brought in from other projects. Given that Pinnacle itself leads the way in that practice, who can quibble. So a hearty two webbed thumbs up to Reality Blurs for their Realms of Cthulhu!

    Editor's Note - The above comment that 'maybe some of the artwork was brought in from other sources'  generated a bit of controversy. Sean Preston of RB noted that all the artwork was commissioned expressly for RoC and was not drawn from other projects. The author's statement above reflects his opinion that the images of characters seem out of place and made a bad assumption about their origin. We fully accept Sean's statement and apologize for the assumption but Derek stands by his statement that some of the artwork doesn't fit based mostly on his memories of CoC being 1920s-centric. That said, he can't wait to run adventures in RoC. 

    Related Links
    Reality Blurs
    Savage Worlds Explorers Edition (Required for RoC)
    Sean Preston on Twitter
    The Unspeakable Oath - a quarterly magazine for all things Cthulhu
    The Unspeakable Oath Review on the Savage Troll

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    The New Moon Murders - Part 2

    Special thanks to M S Jackson for the new cover art! In case you missed it, here's the link to Part 1.

    Part 2
     “You mean Eric Fuchs is the New Moon Murderer?” Father Burke half yelled over the cold Chicago wind.

    I don’t know that he is,” Thomas Gunn said. “Then again, I don’t know that he isn’t. What I do know is that he killed his father-in-law.”
    That can't be. True, Patrick Lynch wanted his daughter to marry an good Irishman but he came to respect Eric. In fact, I would even say they became friends. Mary said more than once that her father sided with Eric concerning his dedication to the store.”
    They must have had a falling out because after he stabbed Captain Lynch, Eric came home and threw Mary down the stairs. I saw it as we passed through the foyer when we left.”

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    The New Moon Murders part 1

    One of my great loves in life is writing fiction. One of my great frustrations is that I don't get to write enough of it. What follows is the beginning of a novella I wrote back in December titled 'The New Moon Murders.' During June Gloom I'll attempt to finally finish it. Let me know what you think. Constructive criticism is always appreciated.

    To keep an RPG bent to it, I'll post characters at the end of each chapter. I'll also post a link to a PDF and ebook. I've never published an ebook before so any hints or suggestions are appreciated as well.

    Enjoy! (hopefully)


    The New Moon Murders
    A Thomas Gunn Detective Story
    by R. Keith Athey
    Part 1

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    MapTool Look and Feel

    There are somethings that really bother me about MapTool. I really want a more immersive experience. There’s too much crap on the window,” Matt said at a recent game. Matt is a long time MapTool user.

    You know you can unpin the window and they’ll disappear until you need them,” Bryan said.

    You’re Sh**ing me! I didn't know it could do that. Still, we're stuck with these colors. Why can't I make MapTool purple if I want?”

    "You can," I said. "You just need to change the default theme."

    Thus the conversation went a few weeks back during an Old School Hack game with Matt, Bryan, Alessandro, Rob, and myself. I have some sympathy for Matt. MapTool is a simple program to launch and use but it has many features that aren’t well advertised or understood. Part of this has to do with the fact it was developed with a lot of input from it’s user base. Group think is sometimes hard to document. This article attempts to let MapTool users know a few of the intricacies of the MapTool User Interface (UI). 

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Classic Dungeon Tiles

    Product: Classic Dungeon Tiles: Lesser Temples of Greygax and Arnemoor
    From: SkeletonKey Games
    Price: $5.99
    Artist: Arthur Braune

    It was the late 70's. DnD was new and maps were meant to be blue. Back in those days photo copiers wouldn't read blue lines and so, to protect their maps, TSR made them blue. This tile set is a blast from the past and I highly recommend them to anyone who played our favorite past time during the Carter years.

    The product contains 62 separate tiles on a 1 inch grid that can be easily manipulated into your favorite VTT. They'y all on the same position on the page so it's easy to crop once for every layer. What's more, because of the simplicity, auto-cropping works great! The set contains a legend you can edit and apply on the GM's layer of MapTool so a concealed door is concealed until you (the GM) says it isn't.