More on D&D Concept Art

I posted a while ago that I liked the concept art for the new D&D. Now the final product is finally delivered and we get the real thing. I can only say that it is probably what I like most of this new edition.

I’m a hard sci-fi fan, and I don’t think fantasy is equivalent to half-naked female elves, or swords longer than a glaive. There is a minimum of “reality” required to hook me into the story. I don’t need a full genetic study of elves, or a linguist to design every single language of every single species. I just don’t like illustrations to look too cartoonish.

Two good examples

Dwarves. Dwarf women were a joke among fantasy fans. I doubt anyone has ever played a female dwarf, and if someone has, the character probably had a beard.

Female dwarf warrior
Female dwarf warrior

This is a huge improvement over most of the fantasy illustrations I ever saw. I want to play one of those female dwarves, they are not just funny, they now look ready to be the center of epic adventures.

The same with general adventurers. Conan is Conan. Great character, great stories, totally recommended. But not every single warrior is a huge mass of muscles. And the slender types are not just elves.

Illustration of a warrior
Interior of the PHB

Scimitars wielded by cultures not used to face heavily armored opponents. Compound bows built in dry climates, because they fell apart in humid regions. Cultural diversity in clothing.

A trend I support

The truth is Paizo is the company who I believe initiated this trend. Their Pathfinder roleplaying game and adventures did include different cultures, colors and complexions. Diversity to make our imaginations fly.

The only challenge I think they both have not properly addressed are non-human cultures. All dwarves belong to the same culture, as elves do. Let’s see the final Player Handbook, which we can buy this August.

 

Bioshock

The Bioshock video game was published in 2007. It seems like a long time ago, but the good news is it will run smoothly in your old computer ;) . Did you play the first Half-life in a sense of awe and terror, turning every corner with you heart beating too hard to be healthy? I did. And I also played Halo with a similar feeling of discovery, emotion and adventure. It was so easy to get involved in the plot. I found it hard to find another FPS (First Person Shooter) as good as those ones. Maybe the Mechwarrior 4, but my experience with the setting also played a big part in that one. Soooo, why should you give this game a try?

Story

Yes, it is a good story. A city on the floor of the ocean, genetic modifications, drug dealers, villains with a twist, and no heroes.

Rapture City from Bioshock

You get audio recordings while you explore the city, Rapture. All the inhabitants still living in the city are totally mad, addicts to the substance which powers the genetic modifications. And where do you get this substance…

Little Sisters and Big Daddys

A key part of the game. The substance called ADAM is harvested from dead bodies by “little sisters”, little girls controlled by the maniac which set the drug business. And they are protected by mindless humans, genetically created to this task. You can kill them or help them. But anyway you will tremble with their cries, and learn to fear their protectors.

On your way you will also get some genetic improvements. They are special “powers”, and you can use them not only to kill, but also to get to special places, perform dirty tricks, etc. You can focus on some part of the game, like disabling locks and turrets, using the wrench to smash things like a pro, or throw balls of fire around.

 Challenging, but not difficult

Let’s be honest. I have a work and I cannot be playing computer games for hours anymore. Iwant challenging games but not to reload a trizillion times to beat that boss or jump to that platform.

If you pull your trigger happily and only want to use one weapon, you may face ammuntion shortages. If you like to visit most of the map, and don’t have problems using three or four of the weapons, the wrench will only be a personal choice.

The same with money. If you don’t want to hack the vending machines, and don’t collect the money enemies have in their pockets, you may run out of it. I hit the $500 limit too many times.

Bioshock logo

Have fun! Get some genetic enhancements! Take photos! Hack security cameras! Shoot splicers! Explore Rapture! Learn how Frank Fontain’s drug dealing business ruined the vision of Andrew Ryan, and the utopic city turned into hell beneath the water.

And if you survive, come back and tell me how you did it! ;)

Free is the new standard

There are several big names in the roleplaying games industry which have easily get players into buying their products. Many people know the game system, there are lots of published material, you can easily find games in conventions, etc.

Independent publishers have grown a lot in recent years thanks to the self-publishing trend and the tools developed for it. It is not that difficult to create a new game system, or a setting, and put it on sale at DriveThruRPG or RPGNow.

Quality however was a different matter. When it is very easy to publish your work, the quality filter is in the market. And that means the market is getting veeeery cautious before spending money in an unknow game system.

So independent publishers have opted for providing their game systems (or a basic subset of rules) for free. You can try it and pay if you want for the complete rules, hardcover editions, adventures, settings, etc.

But when Wizards of the Coast decides to provide D&D for free, the hobby is turned upside down. If the most popular lowers its entry barriers to a free PDF, the rest have to move quickly to lose all the new gamers…

Dungeon World

Dungeon World

You have to try this one. Developed by Sage Latorra and Adam Koebel, this game is fast and fun. You can check the official web, or download the free version from github or its web version.

The key concept is that you describe what you want to do, and the DM decides which “move” fits better your description. That is what should happen in all rpgs, but in this actually does.

You play to see what happens, making questions to the players to fill the background of the adventures, creating continuous challenges to make the story advance… everything with the classic fantasy props.

Adventures are structured in a wonderful way, with lots of blank spaces to fill but all the needed resources for the DM. You can buy the famous Dark Hear of the Dreamer or join the kickstarter of Servants of the Cinder Queen, both with very good prices and great reviews. The blog Points of Light also provides great advice.

New D&D Logo

D&D Basic

Spring 2014 brought some very surprising news to the hobby. All our ranting about the new prices for the Next edition ended when they made official the D&D Basic rules will be available for free.

Next month, July 2014, they will publish the pdf, with the races and classes, and in August they will expand it to contain a full set of basic rules.

The most popular roleplaying game, with a huge company backing not only this game but a full array of publications (computer games, board games, movies?). Now free. It is certainly a very powerful call to the industry.

RuneQuest

Runequest Essentials

The last system to join the free trend. Wizards decision of publishing D&D Basic for free has hit hard many other popular games. New gamers are going to look for the famous games, and obviously try the ones with lower entry barriers. So now Runequest needs a free version or they are loosing players fast, specially new players.

That’s why Design Mechanism has decided to release the RuneQuest Essentials edition in a “pay what you want” offer. As I already commented in another post, the entry price for RuneQuest is way too high, specially considering there are very similar alternatives like OpenQuest.

Now you can play the latest, and probably best of the official iterations of this game. Base in the d100 mechanics, it is a game without levels. If you have played Call of Cthulhu or the old Runequest editions you already know the basics. This edition has streamlined most of the system, although keeps some cumbersome mechanics (in my opinion): extended skill list and combat styles.

Ideas to keep you playing

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