Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Post Holidays roundup

Today was my first day back at work since December 23rd--not a particularly happy occasion.  However, I've got a handful of minor updates and heads-up to pass along.  Most of these are of no interest to anyone but myself, but since I use my blog as much as a rambly journal for my own enjoyment later as for any potential readers who may stumble upon it, that's OK.

First, I blogged in the past about Chris Perkins' column at Wizards website, which features every Thursday, and has since... February, I think, so nearly a year now.  Whether or not you took me up on my suggestion to go try and find the column, you might be interested in knowing that for last Thursday, the 29th of December, rather than posting a new colum, the update was a 107 page pdf compilation, with new layout for the pdf format (although curiously in a landscape rather than portrain layout) of all of the columns of 2011... which is all of them that exist so far.  Since it's free, it's reasonably interesting and entertaining to read on a regular basis, and it's probably the best column in RPGiana going right now in terms of giving GM advice (I'm not sure if I like it better than Ray Winninger's classic run on Dungeoncraft or not yet) it's a bargain.  Go check it out!  http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4dmxp/20111229

Secondly, I've made some pretty good progress on some of my books since ditching the Ancient Blades trilogy that I was reading, but probably not much that warrants a full report.  Part of the reason I've made good progress was because I decided to make some headway on the 6 titles that I had in gaming books.  But that's a bit of a misnomer, right?  Four of the six titles actually weren't "books" they were issues of No Quarter magazine that I'd picked up but not yet read.  Of the first... 22 or so issues of No Quarter, I have all but three or four, and then I have a more recent one, #37 as well.  No Quarter, for the uninitiated, is like the White Dwarf magazine for Privateer Press.  The early issues focus on the games of Warmachine, Hordes, and the Iron Kingdoms D&D setting, and actually featured quite a bit of RPG content... one of the main reasons I started getting the magazines (the other reason being the art.  Well, and I also hadn't completely decided that I wasn't interested in miniatures yet at that point.  I still appreciate a well-painted mini from time to time, even if I'm very unlikely to pick anymore up again.)  And for that matter, even when it wasn't printing RPG stuff specifically, there was a lot of setting stuff that could easily be adapted to the RPG.  And, for the heckuvit, it had RPG stats for a lot of the warjacks and whatnot that appear in Warmachine (most of the Hordes warbeasts were in Monsternomicon vol. 2 already, with a few exceptions.)  The issues I read were 19, 20, 22, and I believe 37.  The earlier ones still had some RPG content in it, including an alternate base class (the combat alchemist), stats for a warjack or two, some equipment and feat stuff here and there, and several encounters--mini-modules, if you will, although those required the Monsternomicon books to be used.  Not a problem; I have them both.  I found, though, that I was skimming the painting, terrain building, and wargame strategy and tactics articles.  By the time we got to the more recent one, the RPG stuff was completely gone.  Iron Kingdoms as a D&D setting is dead except in the games of those who still play it.  Word on the street, which I've mentioned here before, is that a new book is on the horizon which will introduce the setitng anew with a house system that is more compatible with the wargames.  Whether or not this is a good thing or a bad thing is debateble, I think, but at the very least I'll probably pick it up for the artwork.

Curiously, this means that No Quarter kinda paralleled the development of White Dwarf in many ways.  White Dwarf used to be a gamer hobbyist mag for Brits that focused on a lot of different games.  I have one reasonably old issue (#100, to be exact) which still features modules and ads from a variety of different companies and games, although its evolution into just being a house arm for Warhammer, 40k and Citadel miniatures was well on its way.  Most of my heavy exposure to White Dwarf comes after it lost its earlier diversity.  No Quarter always was a Privateer Press house arm, but its focus was more diverse.

Cryx, the biggest villains in the Iron Kingdoms setting
I'm curious about Privateer Press as well.  Originally founded by Brian Snoddy, Matt Wilson and Matt Staroscik, with an early bringing in of Mike McVey, it's really just Wilson's company now--and I wonder if the focus on the miniatures games just wasn't the cuppa for Snoddy and some of the others.  Just speculation on my part, but you've got to wonder.  The setting has also evolved since those earlier days... a lot of the grittier dark fantasy elements have given way to ZOMG fantasy warfare, and the elements of it that used to be more traditional fantasy have been de-emphasized to focus on an almost fantasy WWI like vibe.  A lot of the changes to the setting (consolidation of a number of threats into fewer "factions", state of more or less open warfare between two superpower nations in the setting, etc.) also limit possibilities for the roleplaying game, in many ways, while opening them up for the miniatures game.  Clearly, Wilson knows where the money is, as he's presumably making quite a bit of it, given the success of his games.  Warmachine is second only to Warhammer 40k in the fantasy miniatures wargaming market, and Hordes comes not far behind, just behind Warhammer.  Privateer Press have made a great run at challenging the market leadership of Games Workshop and making themselves a big, 800-lbs gorilla in the market.  With the upcoming release of the Warmachine video game, they're really pushing themselves into the big time.

Sadly for me, however, I think that means my interest in No Quarter has waned to the point where it won't revive.  I'm not that interested in the wargames or minis anymore and with the lack of RPG content, the magazine doesn't really offer me anything I don't already have.  What I really would like to do, however, is find a way to better utilize the RPG Iron Kingdoms material I do have.  While I will never actually run the Iron Kingdoms as is, I liberally steal from the setting, and there are a lot of great ideas that could make an appearance in a DARK•HERITAGE game here and there.

And finally, I stumbled across this article recently: history's most under-rated mysteries.  Fascinating stuff.  Check it out:  http://www.livescience.com/11361-history-overlooked-mysteries.html

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