the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Role Playing Games’ Category

Over the weekend we went to the GrandCon gaming convention in Grand Rapids, MI. See here for the photo dump post. There was gaming, there were demos, there were oversize plushy dice, there was a promise of kittens in a blender (relax! it’s a card game!), there was an excellent dealer room jammed with comics, artwork, boardgames and more, there was artwork and RPG’ing and cosplayers and epic amounts of geeky fun.

On a lark, I decided to go to the Saturday afternoon Worldbuilding panel. I haven’t read Dragonlance since junior high school, but seriously, who doesn’t want to hear Tracy Hickman, Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend, and Jeff Grubb talk about creating giant worlds for all their friends to come play in? And when I say “world they’ve created”, I mean shared worlds. A role playing world that is designed for other people to add to and build on. These guys give you the basic rules and foundations, and the other game designers get to go crazy (to a point) building scenarios.

Jeff Gruff, Steven Schend, Ed Greenwood and Tracy Hickman

Jeff Gruff, Steven Schend, Ed Greenwood and Tracy Hickman

Topics of discussion included what happens (for good and ill) when others begin making unexpected changes to your world, the difference between designers making changes to the world and gamers and DMs making changes to the world, why creators shouldn’t get too attached to anything in the space, the complexity of religion in role playing worlds, copyright and legal issues when writing tie-in novels, building sympathy for villains, and the limitations of computer games, just to name a few. The conversation was dominated by Hickman and Greenwood, which was fine, because Ed Greenwood is an excellent speaker with decades of experience. I want to buy this man a beer just so can tell me a story. Tracy Hickman as well, wonder speaker, a lifetime of experience, plus experience dealing with the publishing and marketing aspects of the industry. I’d like to buy both of them a drink so they can tell me stories all afternoon!

These two guys have been living the dream their entire life, and listening to Greenwood and Hickman bounce ideas off of each other was definitely a  highlight of the weekend.

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The Order of the Stick: Dungeon Crawlin’ Fools (graphic novel type thing), written & Illustrated by Rich Burlew

where I got it: husband’s stack of webcomic goodies

why I read it: he kept laughing his head off.  Redhead want to laugh head off too!

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I follow a handful of webcomics, but when push comes to shove, I’d rather read them in book/graphic novel format.  Good thing Rich Burlew, creator of Order of the Stick is just as cool for old skool.

Ahh yes, Order of the Stick,  the webcomic that started in 2003 out as a dungeon crawling group of role playing adventurers, who broke rules, hated the new rules, forgot some really important rules, found an plot-arc, awkwardly flirted with each other, and slaughtered plenty of goblins in the meantime. This is a little like Looking for Group but with more seniority and farcicalness, and Dungeon Crawlin’ Fools is like the Directors Cut with commentary (literally) version of the webcomic. And did I mention it’s laugh out loud hilarious? Seriously, if you’ve ever been into role playing, or gaming, or D&D specifically, this is the comic for you.

The first few pages of Dungeon Crawlin’ Fools includes an introduction by RedCloak, and a few bonus pages that introduce the characters so you don’t go into the first strip deaf and blind.  We’ve got Roy Greenhilt, the fighter and party leader who spends most of his time trying to keep the rest of the party under control; Haley Starshine the sexy (as sexy as a stick figure can be) rogue thief, who when she’s not stealing everything that’s not nailed down has a burgeoning crush on Elan the bard. Vaarsuvius the genderly ambiguous elf wizard, Durkon the dwarven cleric and Balkar the grumpy ranger halfling round out this team of treasure grabbing, dragon smashing, ogre killing player characters.  Wait you say, I’m missing a dark elf? Bah, that’s not a player character race, is it?

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The Sinful Stars: Tales of the Fading Suns, edited by Bill Bridges

Published in 1998

where I got it: purchased used

The Fading Suns, a space opera role playing universe created in the 1990’s gave birth to video games, table top RPGs, miniatures, and through the hard work of creators and fans of the universe, an anthology called The Sinful Stars.  With nearly 20 short stories, an introduction to the world, a glossary and a star map, The Sinful Stars is a perfect introduction to this world for newbies like me, and a wonderful return for folks who are already familiar with The Fading Suns. Inspired by  Dune, Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, medieval passion plays  and Asimov’s Foundation series, The universe of The Fading Suns is part Babylon5, part Firefly, part throwback to a new Dark Ages complete with inquisition, and part cautionary tale.

The entries in The Sinful Stars run the gamut of the population: following members of noble houses and powerful religious orders, all the way to spies, peasants, and thieves.Not only my first RPG tie-in anthology, but my first shared world anthology, where a dozen or more writes are offering their take on a corner of the universe. All the stories are stand alones, but nearly all of them refer to a person, planet, or church mentioned in a different story, which brings everything together in a satisfyingly episodic manner.  I’ve not had much luck with themed anthologies in the past for one reason or another, but reading a handful of stories in a shared universe was a pleasure.
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2014 Hugo Awards

I reviewed some Hugo nominated stuff. Click here for the list.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.