March’s Recommended Reading

Every two weeks, Quid Novi? offers some recommended reading as one of its features. Here’re are the recommend reading sections from the March issues. Enjoy!

Recommended Reading: A Bit of This; A Bit of That

We’re going to get a bit eclectic with this round of recommended reading suggestions. First up, I want to point some folks toward The Modular Gameworld. The Modular Gameworld is a relatively new, independent RPG site that claims to be “your source for intriguing plot hooks, iconic monsters, custom setting material, and more.” I figure since I’m a relatively new, independent RPG-product publisher, shining some light on a fellow traveler could net me some good karma. So, let’s poke around the site and see what’s there.

First off, they’ve got a free newsletter to subscribe to. Peeking at the latest issue in the archive, we see that after the foreward, the first article talks about about the Taste the Flavor blog posts. The article says that Taste the Flavor offers “quality setting content for you to use in your games.” That sounds promising! After browsing through the rest of the newsletter, we’ll have to test Taste the Flavor.

The newsletter goes on to introduce Dark Dreams, “a world of gothic fantasy, unimaginable nightmares, and endless possibility.” The descriptions are certainly flavorful, and the ideas seem to fit together well. Thought went into these initial descriptions, which indicates to me that I’m really only seeing the tip of an iceberg here. Gothic fantasy really isn’t my cup of tea, but for those of you interested in such, this might be a good place to come for inspiration. The newsletter also contains a few ideas about using dreams in your game. The first is a neat idea: a “questgiving mage” contacts the PCs through a dream with a mission.

The newsletter ends with a brief afterward talking about projects and progress therewith. All in all, that’s a good, short newsletter. They’ve certainly mastered the art of brevity more than I have. Now, let’s go do that taste test.

Clicking on the Taste the Flavor archive link, the first thing that catches my attention is the Halloween Edition, which seeks “to dress up one of the core races in a Halloween style garb of new flavor.” Re-flavoring races is a great way to make your campaign uniquely yours, so I’m already hooked enough to read about the Demonblooded, a refreshingly subtle take on tieflings.

The Demonblooded aren’t just children born with the taint of an infernal parent. They are “a willful act” by an infernal parent to add another link in the chain of corruption that parent seeks to enslave society with. The Demonblooded may or may not have any idea for what nefarious purpose he was conceived. He may have no desire to be part of an infernal plot. But, if blood is truly thicker than water, how much choice does the Demonblooded really have? To what lengths must he go to deny his infernal destiny? Good questions, and ones that could drive entire story arcs in a variety of ways.

Well, I found my brief tour through the Modular Gameworld a rewarding experience that makes me want to set aside some time to read through the archives in their entirety. I hope you enjoyed it as well.

Speaking of reading, I must take some time to recommend two excellent books that I’ve used or seen used in the classroom with elementary school students.

The first is Penelope Lively’s In Search of a Homeland: The Story of the Aeneid. This is an absolutely delightful book. It takes the Aeneid and renders it in accessible language while remaining true to the story. At the same time, it includes some of the best illustrations (by the wildly talented Ian Andrew) I’ve ever seen in any book. In Search of a Homeland is an excellent introduction to the story of Aeneas. In fact, I read this before I read the Aeneid, and I was quite a bit older than the 9-12 year old intended audience.

Next up is Padraic Colum’s The Children’s Homer. My son read this the first time when he was in the third grade. It retells the epic Iliad and Odyssey in lively language that doesn’t talk down to the reader or dumb down the story. If you know a young person you’d like to introduce to the ancient world of epics, myths, and legends, Padraic Colum is like a one-stop resource for things Greek, Roman, Norse, and Arthurian.

Recommended Reading – Of Halls and Hexagons

The Ogmios Project

What a fascinating gem is this site! There’s so much here I’m genuinely at a loss about where to start, so I’ll take the site’s advice and click on the guided tour.

The site is divided into eight main “Halls” (with one Hall having a Hall of its own; perhaps that’s a T-intersection). The first Hall (of Heraldry) tells us what’s new at the site. The most recent activity? Information about the 82nd Academy Awards.

Other Halls contains questions and answers, a “collection of general articles and reviews written by The Master of the Halls”, descriptions of different characters for use in RPGs (many of them focused on the superhero genre), and several works of short fiction by the site’s owner. The stories largely use goth-punk themes and characters including fallen angels.

About the only downside to the Ogmios Project is that some pages are laid out in a way that doesn’t make paragraph breaks as clear as I’d like. This might not bother you, but I have a hard time reading large blocks of text online. This is, however, a minor complaint that doesn’t detract from the actual content of the site itself (and, for all I know, results from my browser rather than site).

The Ogmios Project isn’t the kind of site that rewards a quick visit. It’s more of a sit back and peruse at your leisure short of place, and I recommend you take some time to do just that. There are some treasures waiting to be discovered.

The Welsh Piper

The Welsh Piper’s Erin Smale writes, “We’re all busy gamers, but gaming can’t always be our priority. The Welsh Piper is committed to saving you time with tips, tools, and content you can use in your game, regardless of setting or system.”

Well, that sounds right up my alley. I’ve got a lot of demands on my time: friends, family, a guinea pig, books, Spes Magna, et cetera. I welcome anything that saves me time when prepping for a game. The front page of The Welsh Piper is a series of blog posts on various topics. Let’s take a look at the first three that correspond to prime numbers.

Post Two: World Hex Template

Right off the bat this post is full of win. It comes with a PNG image of a blank hex page representing a “625-mile square divided into twenty-five 125×125 mile blocks.” There’s also a downloadable PDF of the hex page. Next come instructions about how to rescale the hexes for different levels of detail as well as how to put the pages together to form a map for a campaign world. The world map even comes with a coordinate system to help with mapping out smaller areas in more detail. The World Hex Template equals awesome.

Post Five: Classic Hexographer Icons

By coincidence, our next prime number post also deals with hex maps. This post, however, is a bit of mixed bag, but that’s because it links to and talks about Hexographer by Inkwell Ideas. Reviews of this mapping program are decidedly mixed, ranging from “…the best hex mapping software I’ve seen. Ever.” to “I strongly urge you not use Hexographer at all” (the latter owing to perceived problems with the products license). I’m not sure what to make of the controversy, but at least both sides are presented.

Post Seven: Random Fun

The final prime number post conjures a smile. Erin Smale took an NPC nickname generator and used it to come up with names of horrible fantasy diseases and interesting NPCs. What’s not to like? Let’s take a look at one of each:

Boon Gullet (NPC): A dim man of slim build, there is nothing Boon Gullet won’t eat, which is important: in his 20 years as the noble family’s food tester, he’s eaten a half-dozen poisoned dishes. Each time, he sputtered and choked enough to warn his masters, but was well enough to get back to work after a few days of rest. This may be the result of an exceptional constitution or perhaps some alchemical elixir that nullifies all known toxins.

Rumble Blood (disease): Those pricked by the thorns of the Glanus Flower are given to rumble blood, a distemper that manifests as constant action. The afflicted are known by their bulging eyes, heavy breathing, raised voice, and constant movement — the saturation of adrenaline throughout their body prevents them from being still or thinking rationally. Victims are driven to impulsive action, an inability to think before speaking or doing, and they press forward in any circumstance without thought to life or limb. The body naturally purges Glanus Flower venom within a week, though most victims find themselves in loads of trouble before that happens; many find themselves dead because of their rash acts.

The Welsh Piper site also includes the Chimera RPG rules (free quick start version and full version for $12 US). The free version is available to folks who subscribe to The Piper, the site’s free newsletter, which also gives a $3 US discount on the full version. According to the site, “The Chimera Roleplaying Game is a fast and flexible multi-genre system that will save you time. Whether it’s creating a campaign, creating characters, or injecting your own ideas, Chimera translates your imagination to the tabletop with ease so you can launch your campaign in record time.”

Go check out The Welsh Piper. I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg of material at the site.

March 21st, 2010  in Quid Novi?, RPG, Spes Magna News No Comments »

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