Category Archives: News & Reviews

Lazy Friday Video Post – Adam Koebel's First Look At Bastionland

Yesterday I watched Adam Koebel’s (of Dungeon World fame) video about Chris McDowall’s Electric Bastionland which is currently being kickstarted. Even though I was already quite excited about the game, I couldn’t help but smile while watching the video. Adam Koebel’s excitement for the game is quite palpable and very contagious. It was a joy seeing him discover all the quirky ideas and brilliant concepts.

Even though I’ve already seen various playtest versions of the game, I hadn’t seen all “failed careers” yet – and they are brilliant! If you are still unsure whether Bastionland is for you, I highly recommend watching the video, which I embedded into this post. Enjoy!

Secrets of Blackmoor

Yesterday evening I finally had the chance to watch “Secrets of Blackmoor“, the two-hour documentary film about the influence Dave Arneson and the Twin Cities wargaming community had on Dungeons & Dragons in particular and the roleplaying hobby in general.

Overall I found the film very interesting. It gave an in-depth look on the wargaming scene in the Twin Cities area during the 60s and 70s and you get a pretty good impression on how they played back in the day. Even though the movie sets out to prove that Dave Arneson was the real genius behind the phenomenon that is D&D, it actually paints a much more nuanced picture. What eventually became fantasy roleplaying seems to have many parents including David Wesely and his Braunstein games.

The two-hour film consists mainly of interviews with the “Blackmoor Bunch”, a group of people who played in Dave Arneson’s first fantasy roleplaying campaign. Listening to their stories, them sharing anecdotes, their love for the hobby and the late Dave Arneson, is what makes the movie shine. Regardless of who you consider the true “father of roleplaying”, Secrets of Blackmoor is a movie any roleplaying game fan interested in the roots of the hobby should watch.

Secrets of Blackmoor is available for purchase via Vimeo OnDemand and sets you back about $20. You can learn more about the movie and the story of Dave Arneson’s influence on D&D on the official Secrets of Blackmoor site.

A Quick Glance at The New Cypher System Rulebook

A while back Monte Cook Games released a revised edition of their Cypher System Rulebook. While the system itself is mostly unchanged from the previous book, its better organized and they added some of the changes introduced into the system by the new Numenera core rules and the Expanded Worlds source book. With 450 pages the new Cypher System Rulebook is a veritable tome of a book. So is this new version worth it or should you stick with the original book?

If you are new to the system, you definitely should get the new edition. You get more material out of the box, there is much more advice on how to tailor the system to your setting, and the organization is better.

The last point is a bit contended in the community though. Abilities have now their own chapter where they are listed alphabetically for easy reference. In the previous book the abilities’ descriptions were given where they were first mentioned. With the new organization character creation might need more flipping through the book, but on the other hand looking up abilities during play become easier. I guess you could just print out a copy of the Abilities chapter (if you have the PDF version of the rules) for easy reference during character creation.

The core rulebook now supports nine genres: fantasy, modern, science fiction, horror, romance, superheroes, post-apocalyptic, fairy tale, and historical. The sections on genres are mostly identical to the ones in the old core book or Expanded Worlds, but in some cases they’ve added new foci or descriptors.

Overall there are many small changes and subtle additions to the system, which might help to make it run more smoothly. I also get the impression that they changed a few things to make it easier to run games in less fantastical settings.

The question remains – is it worth it? I already answered the question for people who are new to the Cypher System above, but what about the “veterans”? This is much harder to answer. The differences between the two books are pretty small and if you already own Expanded Worlds there’s even less reason to pick up the new core book. I recommend you check out the printed book in your local brick & mortar store first (note: it hasn’t been released yet), or you can download the preview PDF from DriveThruRPG or the Monte Cook Games online store.

Even though I love the system, I haven’t run it yet (aside from its Numenera incarnation). The new rulebook has rekindled my excitement for all things Cypher and I hope I can finally put it to use in the near future. I’ll keep you posted!