Return to the Night with the new Vampire the Masquerade

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

Sometime in the early 2000’s, I entered into a world of darkness and terror, where monsters wore a human face and a great plot lurked underneath the pale moonlight. Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition by White Wolf Entertainment brings the nostalgia of the revolutionary vampire tabletop roleplaying game to the 21st century. Since its original publication in 1991, White Wolf has published games to tell captivating stories about the horrors of the night, touching on mature content compared to the fantasy roleplaying games of yore. 

What you need to know about Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition (V5):

  • Storyteller Roleplaying System: a dice pool of d10s with difficulty determined by the number of successful die results (a result of 6 or above). The dice pool is usually determined by combining the dots or value in an attribute stat and skill together.
  • Vampire has strong themes that parallel the real world, which may contain dark and mature undertones but in a safe environment.
  • Updated mechanics from previous editions that offer a streamlined entry for new and veteran fans, especially fans who haven’t played a game of Vampire in many years. I love the new Hunger dice mechanics.
  • The Second Crusade and the Gehenna War has caused many powerful vampires to be gone, with greater danger now for the Kindred than ever before in a continually changing world. The metaplot within Vampire sets the stage for new opportunities for unique narratives within playgroups.
  • Players have nine clans to choose during character creation which includes the original seven clans of the Camarilla, the Caitiff, and Thin-blooded.

At Gen Con 2018, I had the opportunity to sit down with White Wolf to discuss Vampire’s changes from its previous editions, what people should expect in the new edition, and White Wolf’s plans for the future (trust me, it’s good).

Mechanically, Vampire 5th Edition sports many new options to streamline gameplay and resolution into a robust system that emphasizes story and its progression. Sure obstacles still matter, but they are no longer a detriment for narrative advancement.

For returning and new fans of the franchise, 5th edition sports some refined concepts:

  • While the dice still uses pools of d10s, the difficulty is defined by the number of success. Successful results are determined by any die results of 6 or more. Criticals occur for each pair of die results with a 10, which count as two successes.
  • Winning at a cost is a new feature, where if the rolls possess some successes, but the test fails, a player can achieve their goal, but a situation worsens. A much more narrative focused option but one that adds stakes and tension.
  • Checks are single d10 rolls, attempting to achieve a target number of 6 or higher. Typically used to determine any Hunger gain for the vampire.
  • Taking Half is one of my favorite additions to the game. As a way to reduce the number of dice rolls, Storytellers can take half for SPCs (storyteller-played characters) for rolls in contests (such as combat for example). The Storyteller takes half the value of the final dice pool, rounded down, and treats that result as successes.
  • Predator Types are similar to D&D 5th Edition’s background, except focused on the way your vampire character hunts for their blood. There are additional boons and flaws acquired that grant some areas of specialization and narrative opportunities.
  • Vampire focuses on the group dynamics with coterie creation and relationship maps, which provide an excellent tool for players to reference the overall climate of their character plots, but also as an influential tool for Storytellers to assess where to tug for story beats.
  • Hunger and the Hunger dice mechanic is significantly streamlined compared to older iterations, criticals and failures create new story avenues and opportunities. A much more narrative implementation compared to the mechanical presentations from earlier editions.
  • Disciplines offer a suite of options based on the level of investment, choosing a new power each time the vampire gains a dot in it. Characters normally have an equal number of dots and discipline powers.

One of the novel additions to the game that I love is the introduction of the loresheets, which provide a context in a character’s background and establish them as a facet of the Vampire lore and metaplot. While players should consult with their Storytellers on what loresheets are allowed, they provide a fantastic way for players to engage with the setting. The physical print sports fifteen loresheets for players and Storytellers to utilize but the digital PDF includes additional loresheet that did not make the final cut.

Additionally, the core rulebook includes advance mechanics and systems that expand on the test mechanic, explores interpretations for combat, and includes new implementations with blood and hunger.

Fun Tip: While I was at Gen Con, Karim, the lead editor for Vampire, introduced me to a novel approach for incurring Hunger. Should the vampire accrue enough damage to fill their health boxes, they gain one Hunger die. Give it a try in your game.

Some of the upcoming ventures and products from White Wolf ahead:

  • The upcoming Anarch and Camarilla sourcebooks are expected to be released later in the Fall of 2018 and include additional lore information with some mechanical inclusions as well.
  • White Wolf has partnered with Onyx Path Publishing to bring the iconic Chicago by Night setting book to the V5 system.
  • A new Legacy-format board game called Vampire: the Masquerade Heritage will be released in SPIEL 2019. In the game, players build a vampiric bloodline with characters to complete historical missions and battle against other clans in a chronicle that spans 700 years.
  • The World of Darkness – the Documentary is set to be released on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon later in 2018. The documentary explores the history of White Wolf Entertainment, the impact Vampire had on pop culture and media, with interviews from many creators, fans, and artists who were inspired by this IP for over 25 years.
  • White Wolf has also partnered with Belladonna’s Cupboard for a Vampire: the Masquerade-themed makeup line.
  • Additionally, there will be new upcoming Vampire LARP events in the coming future including one in Austin, TX in November 2018 called The Night in Question. You can find other LARP events and support at World of Darkness’ community hub.

Vampire’s 25-year legacy lives on in the latest 5th Edition and is prompted with possibly the most ambitious media resurgence that would be akin to a Second Coming. The growth of the tabletop roleplaying hobby presents a substantial audience from Vampire’s initial release in 1991. The system is accessible, the setting is vibrant, and the story is still just as dark. It almost makes me hopeful to see a Kindred: the Embraced television series reboot. Time to grab your black chain jeans and leather shirts, it’s time to return to the Masquerade. 

Additional Links:

  • Purchase Vampire: the Masquerade (V5) here.
  • Learn more about Vampire: the Masquerade on the World of Darkness site.
  • Get a sneak peek at Vampire: the Masquerade Heritage board game.

Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th Edition is everything I ever wanted

by Ex_Libris85   Twitch   Twitter 

 

The wait is over and Cubicle 7 has delivered. Through some kind of sorcery they have managed to bring Warhammer into the modern age and maintain the tone and feel of the old games.

 

Percentile Rolls

Back are the popular percentile system using D100s. In order to pass a simple skill test you have to roll equal to or below your skill level. So if you are using your Agility score of 45 to jump over an obstacle you must roll a 45 or below on a D100.

Success Levels (SL)

Previous called “degrees of success” in 2nd edition, this value has become of prime importance in calculating several important actions, such as attacks and damage. It measures the full amount of “10s” that you succeed or fail by on the dice to measure the effectiveness of your test. If your skill is 49 and you roll a 21, you have a SL of 2. If you roll again on that same skill and you roll a 95 you have a -4SL since that is a hard fail.

Combat

Gone is the “whiff” factor of 2e, where low skill players facing low skill enemies miss each other several rounds in a row. Now each attack in combat is an opposed roll between the participants. If an attacker rolls on Weapon Skill and gets a success of 2SL and you compare that to the defender who succeeds as well on a 3SL then the defender has won the round and takes no damage. This type of opposed roll comparing SLs also means that even if both parties miss, damage can still be dealt and there can be a winner of each round. While some people might have a problem with the logic of this, I am fine with it for two reasons: keeping the flow of the game swift and for the cinematic aspect of picturing the players in desperate sword fight where every move of the blade matters.

Careers

Careers make a comeback, expanding upon the much loved careers of 2e. Now instead of gaining advances on your stats through XP and moving onto an advanced career, each career has four levels and you can stay or advance as you wish. It also is a lot easier to completely change careers. Unhappy with your rat catcher and want to become a knight? You certainly can, with the GM’s permission of course. I personally would allow such a drastic advance as long as there is a good roleplaying reason for it.

Spells

Spell casting has been simplified, where instead of rolling D10s and seeing if you beat the power level of the spell’s description you now measure your Success Level on your Comprehend Languages (Magick) skill. If you know you can’t cast your spell like this you can make a Channeling Test to gather the winds of magic each turn and when your SLs match the casting number (CN) of the spell it then goes off.

Lore

The Old World of Warhammer makes its return, taking place before the “End Times” story arch and the disappointing Age of Sigmar. The rulebook focuses the attention on the social and political atmosphere of the Reikland, the capital province of the human kingdom of The Empire. This makes sense as both a limit of scope in describing the world of Warhammer to new players and as a diverse sandbox to immense players in as it provides cities, sewers, swamps, forests, rivers, mountains, farmlands, villages, and more in an area easily managed by a GM.

I imagine later they will expand upon this in future supplements but it is a good size toolbox to pull from.

 

Conclusion

Cubicle 7 have done a wonderful job with Warhammer 4e and any fan of Warhammer will be pleased. Jim Davis from WebDM sums up the new edition perfectly:

“I think it’s a worthy successor to the WFRP tradition and clearly draws inspiration from prior editions while improving upon those aspects of the game that were notorious problem areas. Everything I’ve read so far makes me want to play this game and see how it does in delivering that classic WFRP experience.” – Jim Davis

 

 

As an added bonus I have created a form fillable pdf character sheet for online use. Its a far cry from a Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds sheet with roll macros in it, but it will allow for shareable electronic character sheets.

 

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition pdf character sheet

 

 

 

Review: Wayfarer’s Guide to Eberron

Earlier this week (in a fairly confusing announcement!) Wizards of the Coast announced the release of some substantial playtest material for Dungeons & Dragons’ Eberron setting. You can purchase the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron for US$20 on DriveThruRPG or D&D Beyondbut remember this is playtest material. It’s unfinished and unofficial.

What is Eberron? I would describe the Eberron setting as noir magepunk set in a period of renaissance cold war with a focus on high adventure and cinematic action.

That seems like a lot of themes, but I think these themes are well integrated. In Eberron magic has been industrialised and is largely controlled by groups called Dragonmarked Houses, a lot like corporations. Magic is widespread, but most people only have access to low-level magic.

Wayfarer’s Guide provides an overview of the nations of Khorvaire, a continent where the borders have been recently redrawn in the wake of a world war. Questions have arisen about the rights of warforged (sentient constructs manufactured to fight in the war) and traditional ‘monsters’ like goblins and orcs. There’s an overview of each nation, with info about places to explore; local factions and their plots; and suggestions for creating characters from that region. There is also information about more distant lands and about Eberron’s cosmology. This world doesn’t fit into the standard Dungeons & Dragons multiverse – the planes seem to have a much more direct impact on the material world, and there’s a sense that Eberron is cut off from the wider multiverse.

This playtest material includes rules for four new player races: warforged, changelings, shifters and kalashtar. Some of these options seem a bit more complex and powerful than those in the Player’s Handbook. I think that’s okay given that Eberron isn’t the core setting for Dungeons & Dragons. Most new players will probably be making a character using the basic options in the Player’s Handbook. However, I would prefer that the rules for dragonmarks were more consistent. At the moment, there are three different ways that they can be applied, depending on character race. I’d like to see all the dragonmarks depicted as feats. In Eberron all player characters could get a feat at first level, which would also mean you could make a level 1 magewright character without having to choose a spellcasting class.

Wayfarer’s Guide includes a lot of new magic items: specialised arcane focuses, common items representing industrialised magic, items that can only be used by dragonmarked characters and augmentations for warforged. There are also lots of powerful magepunk maguffins, many of which would fit into the plot of a campaign’s big bads. There are also guidelines for manufacture of magic items, which could be used in other settings.

Wayfarer’s Guide ends with a strong section about the very vertical city of Sharn, which provides a good place to start off adventuring in Eberron. There are details about the levels of each district: who lives where, what kind of conflicts exist and what adventures may be in store. Three locations get more in-depth treatment, and each one could be used as a base for an adventuring party. One is a university where you could run a Harry-Potter-style coming-of-age campaign. This chapter also includes some tables for generating plot ideas and simple urban encounters (which could become side quests or plot hooks).

You can purchase the Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron at DriveThruRPG here or at D&D Beyond here.

We also published this article earlier in the week to clarify the confusion about the Ravnica and Eberron setting announcements.

Ravnica & Eberron Announced – Tale of Two Settings

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

The long-awaited announcement for the Dungeons and Dragons settings came Monday morning (Pacific Time) on July 23rd was met with overall excitement from the D&D community though not without some hiccups. Wizards of the Coast released details on their collaboration with D&D and Magic: the Gathering to bring Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica with a release date on November 20th and that the Eberron setting will be making its triumphant return to the franchise as well. Eberron’s return starts with a digital PDF release of Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron on the DMsGuild marketplace by Keith Baker in collaboration with the creative team at Wizards of the Coast.

What you need to know about Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica:

  • Release Date: 20 November 2018
  • Price: $49.95 USD
  • Accessories include a Map Pack and a premium dice set featuring the Guilds of Ravnica
  • Ravnica is a plane of existence in Wizard of the Coast’s Magic the Gathering franchise, released originally in 2005 in Ravnica: City of Guilds, followed with a revisit in Return to Ravnica in 2012, with a planned third Ravnica return in Guilds of Ravnica to be released in October 2018 & spring 2019.
  • Ravnica is an ecumenopolis, a vast city that encompasses an entire planet. Like Coruscant in Star Wars
  • There are ten iconic guilds in Ravnica that serve unique functions in the daily life within the city, with their brand of rivalries and adversaries, all governed by an oath known as the Guildpact. Not every citizen is part of a guild, but their presence is felt throughout Ravnica.
  • The current price point suggests a product akin to Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.

The news about Ravnica was unintentionally leaked on Amazon Brazil’s website site with product pages screenshotted across Reddit and later on other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter sometime on Sunday, July 22nd. News and speculation on the authenticity of the screenshots & cover art were eventually confirmed by the cover artist later on. The story left many fans with a mixed reception.

There was even a poll on the r/Dndnext subreddit with close to half of voters displeased with the setting choice.

While Nathan Stewart, director of D&D, indicated that “fans of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering have been asking for years about when these two amazing brands would play together.” Impressions from the Magic: the Gathering community seemed pleased with the official product news. Various MtG pundits were excited upon the leak on Sunday, with notable individuals such as Evan Erwin showcasing his excitement. The early leak only heightened the general anticipation for the Monday announcements from Wizards of the Coast.

The second setting announced was Eberron, a beloved setting created by Keith Baker for the Fantasy Setting Search in 2002. Content creators on the DMsGuild took note of a new setting category option titled “Eberron” early Monday morning almost 6 hours before any formal declaration. Wizards revealed an ebook product, Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron, with a collaboration between the creative team and Keith Baker that would serve as a “living document” for feedback before any official product is released.

What you need to know about Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron:

 

  • Product Type: Digital PDF
  • Price: $19.99 USD
  • A 175-page book that encompasses playtest materials that include unique races, an overview of Khorvaire and the city of Sharn, dragonmarks, magic items, and a host of backgrounds to jumpstart players and DMs to their Eberron adventures
  • Iconic races: Shifters, Changelings, and Warforged make their 5th Edition debut from the mind of its creator, Keith Baker.
  • The release of Wayfinder grants DMsGuild content creators the ability to create and distribute content within the Eberron setting.
  • According to the Introduction by Keith Baker, this content is considered a playtest or a draft and therefore is not applicable for official Adventurer’s League use. If an official Eberron product is released, Wayfinders will complement the officially released material according to D&D creative lead, Mike Mearls. Mearls also commented that the product would eventually have a Print-on-Demand option for purchase later.

Initial confusion of the “official” status of Wayfinders as an official D&D resource left fans, and consumers concerned with their purchase of this playtest document.

Previous playtest documents by Wizards have been free in the past. When the official announcement was published, the lack of a playtest description on the official Twitter and Facebook posts felt misleading. At the time of this article, official Wizards staff have clarified that Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron is indeed a playtest document and the DMsGuild product includes this detail.

There is an “if” in front of the possibility for an Eberron print product with a clarification of additional content in THAT product with Wayfinder to complement it. You’re paying for two products, one that is not an official product that is labeled as a living playtest document (until otherwise), and then the probable (but not guaranteed) Eberron product.

Warning Signs?

Playtest documents for tabletop RPGs tend to change, as with the case of Wizard’s Unearthed Arcana column where some content was adjusted from player feedback. The practice to buy playtests seems to secure capital from dedicated die-hard fans possibly to ensure a quality product. The video game industry suffered backlash to Early Access business models for games due to extended production times and incomplete work with some games suffering from the inability to fulfill expectations. The practice has become unpopular, with many developers returning to traditional development timelines.

This Early Access practice has been seen with Paizo’s Pathfinder 2nd Edition playtest where prospective fans can purchase physical hardcover copies of the material. Paizo is a leading competitor for Wizards of the Coast on tabletop RPGs, though there are no sales figures to make any conclusions, the initial hype from the 2nd Edition announcement was met with enthusiasm.

Ultimately, Monday was supposedly Wizard of the Coast’s big day to shine and present their newest offerings. Instead, half of the surprise was leaked prematurely, and the other half was miscommunicated to the fans but before over a thousand copies were sold. One cannot help but feel somewhat entertained by the mishaps this Monday, the 23rd of July. Nonetheless, I am excited about the latest offerings and look forward to Ravnica and the future of Eberron.

Announcing: Capharnaum – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked

Today we’re delighted to announce the release of Capharnaum – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked, a brand new roleplaying game and a major new release from Mindjammer Press. Translated from the original French and edited and produced by ENnie-award winning writer Sarah Newton (Mindjammer, Legends of Anglerre, Achtung! Cthulhu, Monsters & Magic), this gorgeous 384-page full-colour PDF is the first in a series of releases for this exciting and action-packed game.

“I CAME SEEKING ADVENTURE… AND I FOUND CAPHARNAUM…

It called to me with its ancient gods and enmities, its mysterious quests, desert caravans, and dusty souks. I was tracking a djinn, one of the worst, a marid risen in rebellion against Marduk the Dragon. In the depths of the desert I had a vision of a thousand warriors crossing this scorching land. Here everything is in motion, wind and sand, and the night has a thousand colours. Everything is struggle – even for those who seek a peaceful life…”

You bear the Dragon Mark. You are destined for great things, adventures where you’ll write the history of the world. In a land of mysteries and magic, where East meets West on the burning sands of Jazirat, your future awaits. Discover a whole new world, confront djinn, gods, and dragons, and take your place among the heroes of the age!

Capharnaum – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked is a fantasy roleplaying game set in a world of Arabian Nights, Argonauts, and Adventure. Inspired by the One Thousand and One Nights, the myths of ancient Greece, and the legends of the Crusades, it’s where history meets myth, and where legends are born.

This gorgeous 384-page full colour PDF contains:

    • A whole new world of history, legend, and myth – a profound and original setting.
    • Simple yet flexible rules encouraging player inventiveness up to epic levels of play.
    • Peoples, gazetteer, and bestiary for the land of Jazirat, inspired by Middle- Eastern history and myth.
    • Gorgeous maps and full-colour artwork.

The PDF version of Capharnaum – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked is available immediately and the full-colour 384-page hardback will be available for preorder from the 25th July, shipping in August.

We hope you enjoy this exciting new roleplaying game, which joins other Mindjammer Press products such as Mindjammer – The Roleplaying Game and the Monsters & Magic RPG. Grab your scimitar, mount your camel, and enter the djinn-haunted ruins in the desert wastes. Adventure awaits!

Why you should be excited for Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th edition

by Ex_Libris85   Twitch   Twitter 

 

Cubicle 7’s release of the next installment of the popular Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game is imminent and we over here at Encounter Roleplay couldn’t be more excited. Warhammer’s grim and dark fantasy world of survival and corruption holds a special place in our hearts.

Here is why we are excited:

 

They are keeping a lot of the things that make the game great

The D100 percentile system returns as well as the recognizable Warhammer stat block. This is a very well rounded and well-thought-out block that served the previous editions well for decades.

Careers are also making a comeback as they are one of the most unique things about Warhammer RPG. They help immerse the player in the world and allow for more nuanced character choices.

She is lucky her GM lets her pick instead of roll

 

They are making smart changes to the stat block

Something new is the addition of a “dexterity” stat. This is to stand out from “agility” which is general acrobatics and ability to move and dodge quickly, while dexterity is more about meticulous and delicate work with the hands, like lock picking or jewelry crafting.

This is an agility check and not dexterity

 

Combat is more interactive

Combat in previous editions of Warhammer was brutal and very tactical, but suffered from several problems, the biggest of which was both players and enemies missing round after round.

To alleviate this Cubicle 7 has created the “advantage” system, which lets the combatant gain bonuses to their rolls, and by making a single attack action opposing rolls between both combatants. In a round of combat attacker and defender both roll against weapon skill and measure success. If attacker wins he does damage and gains advantage, if defender wins no damage is done and he gains advantage.

Artist’s depiction of 2nd edition combat encounter

 

 

GMs have more freedom on resolving player actions and rolls

The designers have created 3 separate ways to help keep the pace of the game up while allowing for complexity of action.

  • Simple pass/fail

Sometimes the best way to resolve an action with a possibility of failure is to just roll and see if you make it or not.

That’s a fail

  • Degrees of failure/success

Things such as climbing a rope on a tower, if you fail do you fall? Or rather how far do you fall? If you succeed do you simply make it to the top or do you make it up so quick you can gain a surprise attack on the wizard at the top?

When you make a low roll on a D100

  • GM Fiat

Need to make a 4 ft jump? Do you have both legs? Okay you pass, no need to get dice involved here.

mom get the camera

 

 

 

I think Cubicle 7 have nailed the sweet spot of keeping the spirit of the popular older editions while making important updates to the ruleset that make things a bit smoother to play.

I am incredibly excited for my character to be burned at the stake for religious heresy and thank you to Cubicle 7 for bringing the game I love into the modern age.

Explore Extraplanar Worlds of Imagination with Paizo’s June Product Releases!

EXPLORE EXTRAPLANAR WORLDS OF IMAGINATION WITH PAIZO’S JUNE PRODUCT RELEASES

Game adventures and accessories take players from pubs and villages to distant dimensions.

RPaizo has released seven new game products for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game and Pathfinder Adventure Card Game to expand the boundaries of your imagination. These products are available for purchase at game retailers and paizo.com now.

  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Planar Adventures
  • Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Distant Realms
  • Pathfinder Adventure Path: The Reaper’s Right Hand (War for the Crown 5 of 6)
  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Bigger Village
  • Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Pub Crawl
  • Starfinder Adventure Path: Empire of Bones (Dead Suns 6 of 6)
  • Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Ultimate Equipment Add-On Deck

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Planar Adventures

From Heaven to Hell

There are worlds beyond the one we know: Planes of Fire and Water, Heaven and Hell, Dimensions of Dreams and Time. These are the realms of angels and demons, gods and goddesses—entire new realities where anything can happen!

Planar Adventures expands the world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and transports your characters and campaigns into uncanny new worlds rife with both perilous dangers and unimaginable rewards. In these infinite planes of reality, characters will test more than just their mettle against the daunting challenges that confront them—they’ll test their very souls!

Planar Adventures includes:

  • All-new archetypes, feats, magic items, and spells to give plane-hopping PCs a bounty of options during their travels.
  • A presentation of the 20 core deities of the Pathfinder RPG, including divine gifts they can grant their faithful.
  • An exploration of the major planes of existence and several strange demiplanes from the Pathfinder campaign setting.
  • Nearly two dozen new monsters, including three new races appropriate for use as player characters.
  • … and much, much more!

Product Link: http://paizo.com/products/btpya1am?Pathfinder-Roleplaying-Game-Planar-Adventures

Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Distant Realms

Planar Urban Sprawl

Before the first inklings of civilization rose up upon the mortal world, magnificent cities already existed within the vast corners of the multiverse. Distant Realms offers a look into six of these extraplanar cities that are ripe for exploration by planar travelers. Each entry includes a full-page map and a stat block for the city, a history of the city and its current major players, and a gazetteer of the city’s most interesting locales. Within these pages, you’ll find details about the following cities, and more:

  • The darkly perfect city of Dis, home of the First King Dispater and his fiendish court.
  • The isle of Yulgamot, a haven of flowing time within the ageless seas of the Astral Plane.
  • The trade hub of Shadow Absalom, lit by the mysterious Glare and ringed by an ocean of dust.
  • The philosophical haven of Basrakal, where outsiders aid each other to defy their own natures.

Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Distant Realms is intended for use with the Pathfinder campaign setting of Golarion, but it can be easily adapted to any fantasy world.

Product Link: http://paizo.com/products/btpya1b8?Pathfinder-Campaign-Setting-Distant-Realms

Pathfinder Adventure Path: The Reaper’s Right Hand (War for the Crown 5 of 6)

The Grace in Your Eyes

When no one sits upon the Lion Throne, all shall try! As a final act of vengeance, High Strategos Pythareus’s agents release evidence that the entire Stavian family line may be illegitimate, and now every noble in Taldor is willing to risk civil war to stake a claim to the crown. Can the PCs discover the remains of the First Emperor’s tomb and seek his blessing to prove Eutropia’s fitness to rule? And if the spirit of Taldor’s founder cannot answer their prayers, can they answer his?

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the War for the Crown Adventure Path and includes:

  • “The Reaper’s Right Hand,” an extraplanar Pathfinder RPG adventure for 13th-level characters, by John Compton.
  • A gazetteer of the district of Sayashto, an upscale neighborhood in the infinite city of Axis, by John Compton.
  • A look at Thamir Gixx, the Silent Blade, the wicked halfling god of murderers and assassins, by Jason Keeley.
  • An overview of the major noble lines of Taldor, by Crystal Malarsky.
  • Five creatures born to the absolute law of the planar metropolis of Axis, including the high-minded impariut inevitable and the cosmic majesty of the edict dragon, by John Compton, Nathan King, and Greg A. Vaughan.

Product Link: http://paizo.com/products/btpya17y?Pathfinder-Adventure-Path-131-The-Reapers-Right-Hand

Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Bigger Village

It Takes a Village

Whether your players are exploring some far-flung desert market or defending a village nestled within the hill country from a horde of rampaging orcs, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Bigger Village has you covered. Unfolded, the mat is 27” x 39” with 1” squares on each side. With an area that’s 45% larger than normal Pathfinder Flip-Mats at their disposal, Game Masters can now dream even bigger! This massive gaming accessory provides a pair of large villages ready for discovery, defense, exploration, and maybe a bit of shenanigans and larceny. It’s all up to you and your players.

Don’t waste your time drawing every hovel, path, and wall. With Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Bigger Village, you’ll be ready next time your players want to seek out danger, excitement, or profit in a sizable village!

Product Link: http://paizo.com/products/btpya1b0?Pathfinder-FlipMat-Bigger-Village

Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Pub Crawl

Paint the town red with Flip-Mat Classics: Pub Crawl, a gorgeous double-sided battle-scale map of two tavern-filled street scenes! One side features several bars and taverns in a nice part of town, while the flip-side extends the scene on Flip-Mat: Warehouse to flesh out the seedier side of town! Both sides show interiors and exteriors, for when the inevitable brawls spill out onto the city streets!

The most-popular Pathfinder Flip-Mats in history return! These fan-favorite maps feature versatile adventure settings—city streets, forests, ships, taverns, and more—and now they’re back for a repeat performance. Durable and lavishly detailed, these essential adventure set pieces are sure to bring excitement to your game table for years to come!

A special coating on each Flip-Mat allows you to use wet erase, dry erase, AND permanent markers with ease! Removing permanent ink is easy—simply trace over any permanent mark with a dry erase marker, wait 10 seconds, then wipe off both marks with a dry cloth or paper towel. Each Flip-Mat measures 24″ x 30″ unfolded, and 8″ x 10″ folded.

Product Link: http://paizo.com/products/btpy9y20?Pathfinder-FlipMat-Classics-Pub-Crawl

Starfinder Adventure Path: Empire of Bones (Dead Suns 6 of 6)

A Near-Death Experience

The undead Corpse Fleet has appeared in orbit above the Gate of Twelve Suns, intent on seizing the ancient alien superweapon called the Stellar Degenerator. The heroes are massively outgunned, and their only hope to defeat the Corpse Fleet is by infiltrating the fleet’s flagship and taking control of the vessel’s bridge. Only then can the heroes pilot the ship on a collision course with the superweapon in a desperate bid to end both threats at once. If successful, the heroes can destroy the Stellar Degenerator, but they’ll need to escape the carnage to live to tell the tale!

This volume of Starfinder Adventure Path concludes the Dead Suns Adventure Path and includes:

  • “Empire of Bones,” a Starfinder adventure for 11th-level characters, by Owen K.C. Stephens.
  • Advice on how you can continue your campaign past the final encounter and details on the devastation inflicted on the galaxy should the heroes fail, by John Compton.
  • Technological specifications for starships of extraordinary size and power, by Owen K.C. Stephens.
  • A collection of starships from the dreaded undead navy known as the Corpse Fleet, by Jason Keeley.
  • An archive of new creatures, including a plethora of undead monstrosities and a crystalline humanoid that can redirect blasts of energy, by Owen K.C. Stephens and Larry Wilhelm.
  • Statistics and deck plans for a massive undead flagship, by Owen K.C. Stephens, plus an introduction to a planet constantly wracked by energy storms, by Larry Wilhelm.

Product Link: http://paizo.com/products/btpya1ai?Starfinder-Adventure-Path-Empire-of-Bones

About Paizo

Paizo Inc. is one of the world’s leading hobby game publishers. Since 2002, millions of players have joined the goblin army by playing the Pathfinder® and Starfinder® roleplaying games across tabletops, at conventions, at their favorite local game store, and digitally on virtual tabletops. Paizo.com is an online retail hobby destination for millions of gamers that carries the latest products from top hobby game publishers. Players also find accessories, like dice and maps, miniatures, T-shirts, goblin plush toys, and the newest releases to quickly replenish those adventuring supplies for the next dungeon run.

Chaosium Relaunches Official Fiction Program

Chaosium, Inc., publisher of the celebrated roleplaying games Call of Cthulhu and RuneQuest, announces the relaunch of their fiction program.

The Chaosium fiction line originally launched in 1992 and was suspended in 2015 during a general company restructuring. Subsequently, Chaosium management brought on publishing and gaming industry veteran James Lowder as a consulting editor to help resolve any outstanding contract and payment issues with authors, editors, and artists.

Lowder then drafted new, creator-friendly contracts for the department, worked with SFWA to register the company as a qualifying professional market, and then commissioned a schedule of new, creator-owned fiction releases, in both print and e-book formats.

With the line’s relaunch, Lowder will assume the title executive editor of fiction for Chaosium.

James Lowder’s previous editorial experience includes serving as the Forgotten Realms and Ravenloft fiction line editor for TSR, executive editor for Green Knight’s Arthurian fiction program, and freelance editor for dozens of novels and anthologies. Lowder has also written several bestselling dark fantasy novels, as well as short fiction, comic book scripts, critical essays, and roleplaying game material. His work as an editor and author has received five Origins Awards and two ENnie Awards, and been among the finalists for the International Horror Guild Award and the Stoker Award.

“I’ve been a regular reader of Chaosium’s fiction releases since the line’s inception and look forward to adding new works to the already-impressive catalog,” Lowder notes. “For many years Chaosium was a leading publisher of classic Mythos fiction reprints, along with original Mythos-steeped anthologies and novels. Given the current Mythos renaissance in pop culture, it’s a great time for the line to return.”

Chaosium to release three new fiction titles in 2018

 
In SEPTEMBER, the humorous picture book H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon for Beginning Readers, by R.J. Ivankovic; Dagon is a follow-up to Ivankovic’s popular H.P. Lovecraft’s Call of Cthulhu for Beginning Readers, also published by Chaosium.

Cover by R.J. Ivankovic.

In OCTOBERSisterhood: Dark Tales and Secret Histories, a trade paperback anthology of horror and Mythos stories set in female religious communities around the globe and across the centuries.Sisterhood is edited by Nate Pedersen and features stories penned by some of the genre’s leading female voices, including Nadia Bulkin, Livia Llewellyn, Molly Tanzer, Sun Yung Shin, Penelope Love, and Damien Angelica Walters.

​Cover by Liv Rainey-Smith and Inkspiral Designs.

Finally, in NOVEMBER, the trade paperback The Leaves of a Necronomicon, a braided novel revealing the fates of the doomed owners of one particular copy of that infamous cursed tome. Leaves is edited by Shirley Jackson Award-winning editor Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. and features stories by Nick Mamatas, S.P. Miskowski, Jeffrey Thomas, Anna Tambour, and Michael Cisco.In 2019, Chaosium’s Mythos and weird fiction titles—which will eventually include anthologies, novels, novellas, single-author collections, and select non-fiction—will see release on a roughly quarterly schedule, along with other special fiction and non-fiction projects scattered throughout the year. All titles will be available through traditional book channels, as well as through game shops, DriveThruFiction.com, and the Chaosium website.

For further information:
Fiction submissions guidelines
—Michael O’Brien – mob@chaosium.com
—James Lowder – james@chaosium.com

About Chaosium: Chaosium was founded by visionary game designer Greg Stafford in 1975. For more than forty years, Chaosium has captivated gamers, readers, and mythic adventurers worldwide. Its award-winning roleplaying games, board games, and fiction have been acclaimed as some of the most engaging and innovative of all time. 

Going Beyond the Game: Call of Cthulhu

GOING BEYOND THE GAME

CALL OF CTHULHU: DEPTHS OF MADNESS

Michael Bertolini

I didn’t intend to write one of these articles concerning the topic; but, if you haven’t already heard, Focus Home Interactive is releasing a video game called Call Of Cthulhu: Depths of Madness based upon the rpg created by Chaosium of the same name (if you haven’t watched Encounter Roleplay play various modules of Call Of Cthulhu on Twitch, you’re missing out). While not a direct adaptation of any game module you may be familiar with, Call Of Cthulhu: Depths of Madness promises to give players that have played Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu an experience that they’ve come to expect while not forcing away people unfamiliar with the tabletop franchise.
In the game, you play as Edward Pierce as he investigates the rise of Cthulhu near Boston, Massachusetts. The game is a mixture of stealth and investigation in a semi-open world of heavily Lovecraftian themes.
“A Private Detective, Edward Pierce is a mission to find the truth behind the death of an acclaimed artist and her family on a backwater island. Pierce is used to trusting his instincts, but with whale mutilations and disappearing bodies, this is only the beginning as reality becomes skewed. As your investigation leads you closer to the sphere of influence of the Great Dreamer, you will start to doubt everything you see. You will have to find balance between your own sanity, and your determination in finding out what lurks in the shadows – as they say that madness is the only way that can bring you to the truth.”
Focus first announced the game’s development in 2014 and the first trailer was shown at E3 in 2016. The game had been scheduled to be released in late 2017 but was delayed to 2018. As of yet, an official release date has yet to be set. However, if you’re excited about Focus’ new endeavors into some Lovecraftian themes and rpg gameplay, consider some of Focus’ other games: Vampyr (June 5, 2018) and The Council (March 15, 2018). If I had to speculate, I’d suggest that Call of Cthulhu will either be released sometime around Halloween or Christmas, depending on what other titles are going to be released around that time. Or, Focus could surprise me and be released on some random date.
The biggest influence of gameplay will be sanity, and how the loss of sanity affects everything else in the world; an aspect of games that has rarely been successful. Since you’re an investigator, your sanity will determine whether or not your investigation is headed in the right direction. You won’t necessarily be able to trust your own eyes as the things you see might not be real; though you will believe what you see to the point that you could develop new paranoias that can betray you or even hurt you.

If you haven’t checked out Encounter Roleplay on Twitch, you can find it here.

Going Beyond the Game

GOING BEYOND THE GAME

Michael Bertolini

 

CALL OF CTHULHU COMING TO SYRINSCAPE

Syrinscape and Chaosium Inc. Announce Partnership to Create Official Sounds for Legendary Game of Mystery and Horror.

Today Syrinscape, the award-winning app that creates movie-like, immersive sound for tabletop games and Chaosium Inc., acclaimed publisher of award-winning books, roleplaying games, board games, fiction and more, announced their partnership to create the official sounds for the Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game. With a suite of sounds for the base game as well as various modules in the works, players will experience this renowned game like never before. The first custom SoundSet, Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition: Masks of Nyarlathotep, is set for release at Gen Con 2018.

The new edition of Masks of Nyarlathotep is a complete reanimation of the classic multi-part campaign for the Call of Cthulhu game, with a new chapter and full-color all new maps, handouts and artwork. Set in 1925, the steadfast investigators must unravel secrets and battle the minions of darkness in an attempt to stop world-shattering events from destroying humanity. The Masks of Nyarlahotep PDF will release in May 2018, with the published edition coming out at Gen Con 2018.

To accompany the new edition, Call of Cthulhu gets its first official sounds from Syrinscape in the Masks of Nyarlahotep SoundSet, which will be available for sale individually on Syrinscape.com or as part of a subscription. Set for release in conjunction with the module, gamers will be able to play Call of Cthulhu like never before in dynamic, realistic, cosmic horror sound.

“Call of Cthulhu is one of my top three games of all time and the opportunity to bring it to life through the power of Syrinscape sound is l’ mgfm’latghnanah!,” says Benjamin Loomes, CEO of Syrinscape.

As players take on the role of investigators to uncover the secrets of the cosmos, they find themselves battling against crazy cults and horrors from beyond space. Created by gaming legend Sandy Petersen and now in its seventh edition, Call of Cthulhu is the definitive horror RPG and has won over 90 awards including being inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Art and Design Hall of Fame.

 “Call of Cthulhu games often involve creating more of an immersive experience than many other types of games. Just like our games often feature elaborate handouts and props, we have also noticed that our players often crave soundtracks that help build that sense of unease, suspense and dread at the gaming table, punctuated by moments of horror and excitement! Syrinscape’s sounds provide exactly that, and we are proud to be partnering with them,” says Chaosium president, Rick Meints.

Syrinscape creates the official sounds of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder RPG, Mutants & Masterminds RPG, Shadows of Esteren RPG, Boss Monster CCG and more, and also features a massive library of custom, realistic sounds, with new releases every month to accompany nearly any tabletop roleplaying, card or board game.

Black Void Kickstarter

At the time of the Babylonian Empire, humanity was sucked from the safety and order of the Cosmos into a realm of chaos called the Void. Humanity was scattered among the stars. Some managed to find their way to the eternal city of Llyhn, where they were able to band together in order to survive in the alien cosmopolis. This is the scene that Christoffer Schultz Sevaldsen has set for us in his cosmic survival horror RPG Black Void.

What I like about what I’ve seen of Black Void is that it depicts humanity in a weak and vulnerable position. In Llynh, humans have managed to carve out their own district, but it is a slum in comparison to the opulent alien districts nearby. In this caste-based urban society, humans are at the bottom of the ladder, and there are a lot of aliens who would like to destroy or enslave them. Because the city is so diversely alien there is no standard morality. Morals are a point of view. The city is founded at the border between the Cosmos and the Void, where the veil between the two is thin, and it seems like this makes it an attractive place for alien cults who worship the strange and powerful entities that live there.

When it comes to making player characters, Black Void is very nonlinear and modular. All player characters are human (although there are options for creating ‘halfbreed’ characters with alien traits) and abilities are acquired or improved using a point-buy system. At the game master’s discression, player characters can also increase in enlightenment (by increasing their knowledge of the Void) or influence (by gaining power over others).

In the quickstart rules there are options for gaining boons through blood magic. To use blood magic, a character has to ritually sacrifice another creature. Depending on how the ceremony goes, they will get access to a range of beneficial options. There’s also a chance of a botched ritual, which might lead to negative effects. I like the fact that this makes magic seem a bit more dangerous and costly. It seems more like how I would expect magic to work in the ancient human world, and also helps to make the setting seem strange and alien.

The Black Void Kickstarter campaign launches April 11. In the meantime, you can get the quickstart rules and adventure via the form here.

By Chris Booth Twitter  Instagram  Website

Dragons Conquer America Kickstarter

What if Saint George didn’t slay the dragon, but instead converted it to Christianity? That’s part of the backstory to Dragons Conquer America, a new tabletop RPG that is currently being Kickstarted by Burning Games. (This is a second attempt. Last year’s Kickstarter had some hiccups and was cancelled, but the new campaign seems much more viable.) The Spanish conquistadors arrive in the Americas with their trained dragons. It turns out the Mexica (you might have also heard them referred to as Aztecs) have their own dragons – and theirs are untamable.

I’m quite excited to play this game not just as a break from the familiar medieval European style fantasy but because it also has some interesting mechanics which could also be used to add new elements to other tabletop RPGs.

One of the elements that I think will be most interesting is the prejudice mechanic. To reflect the Sixteenth Century era, player characters start off with some prejudices that make it difficult for them to get along with other characters because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. You can develop your character by overcoming your prejudices.

Another aspect that I think you should take a look at is the corruption mechanic. Player characters use a statistic called Spirit to cast spells, which represents their holiness. The thing is, each player character doesn’t know exactly how holy they are. Only the game master knows that. This means it is possible for a player character to overreach when they cast spells (especially if they believe they are exceptionally holy) and open themselves up to corruption. Corruption manifests itself as various forms of curse, derived from the player character’s religion.

I should acknowledge that not everyone has been happy about the news of this game. There have been concerns about the portrayal of Mexica and a perceived lack of involvement of Mexica in the development of the game. It seems to me like Burning Games is listening to those concerns, and I’m not sure that the critiques are entirely accurate. That doesn’t mean that there will not be problems, but I hope that when problems do come up there they can be discussed and addressed. I think a game like this could be an opportunity for intercultural collaboration if we’re open to it.

If this sounds like the kind of game you want to play, get behind their Kickstarter! In the meantime you can also play an introductory adventure that has been released as a preview – The Coatli Stone.

You can find the Kickstarter for Dragons Conquer America here. It ends on April 12. It costs €39 if you just want the basic PDF set, with larger pledges for paper books.
You can also download the free quickstart adventure, The Coatli Stone here. If you don’t mind spoilers, there’s also a playthrough of the adventure, which Carlos from Burning Games ran on our stream last year, and you can watch that here.

By Chris Booth Twitter  Instagram  Website