Archive for November, 2011


Teach Your Kids to Game Week

http://www.examiner.com/games-in-indianapolis/teach-your-kids-to-game-weekThe term “gaming” can cover a very wide range of topics ranging from video game player  to miniature enthusiasts to those who enjoy role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and others. Those who play electronic games (video games on consoles, PC or even phones these days) have always been a majority in the community and their numbers grow each year. However, recently a growing number of younger gamers have been appearing on the scene that not only play video games but also want to explore other types of entertainment as well. Quite simply, older gamers are introducing their children to the hobby and the community is starting to grow once again. To foster the growth of the younger members of the gaming community DriveThruRPG is teaming up with other community leaders to host Teach Your Kids to Game Week.

The weeklong event begins on November 14th and lasts until November 21st and there are many ways gamers can get involved with their children in the event. On Facebook gamers can sign up to attend the event, share testimonials about their gaming experiences with their children and get all the latest event information as the week progresses. Information about the event is also flowing through DriveThruRPG’s new Google+ page. The most important way gamers can get involved to play games with their kids and get them excited about being a part of the community.

The game shelf is the easiest way to do that. Your kids have been watching you for years so it may be the same games they have been watching are the ones they are most interested in. If you are not sure that your favorite games are the best place to start your children DriveThruRPG is also offering several fine products which make excellent choices for new gamers here.

NewbieDM is an Ennie-nominated blogger and is also the creator of rpgKids, as featured on CNN.com. rpgKids is a role playing game he created when his four year old daughter took an interest in the Dungeons & Dragons games he hosted in his home. He shared the product on his blog and the game has taken off from there. In October he released an Adventure Pack which gives parents four additional adventures to play with their kids. rpgKids v1.5 can be purchased on RPGNow.com for $2.99 and the Adventure Pack is available for $3.99 or you can purchase a bundled product for $4.99 (a savings of $2).

Lego has also gotten into the young gamer market with the Lego Heroica line of products. Each game in the series uses legos to build dungeons and then you and your children play adventures competing to complete the dungeon adventure first (usually by defeating the big bad guy at the end of the dungeon). Lego Heroica products can be found in any toy store and most of your favorite superstore locations (Walmart, Meijers, etc).

For more gaming news follow me on Twitter @Akodoken or add me to your circles on Google +.

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One From The Shelf: Changeling the Lost

Changeling the LostWhite Wolf Publishing has been producing ground breaking table top role playing games for the last two decades. With the release of the Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition it is hard not to reminisce about the numerous game lines which White Wolf has produced over the years. While journeying through the World of Darkness we have experienced the dark lives of vampires, werewolves, mages, ghosts and much more… even fairies. Yes, fairies have become an important part of the mythos of the World of Darkness. While Changeling the Dreaming (1995) may have had a tenuous connection with the other game lines from the Classic World of Darkness its descendent, Changeling the Lost (2007) was a strong addition to swirling madness of the New World of Darkness.

Changeling the Lost was developed by Ethan Skemp and was written by a plethora of talented writers including Justin Achilli, Joseph Carriker, Jess Hartley, Wood Ingham, Matthew McFarland, Peter Schaefer, John Snead, Travis Stout, Chuck Wendig and Peter Woodworth. This book was the genesis of the second limited series of books which was preceded by Promethean the Created and the three core game lines of the New World of Darkness (Vampire the Requiem, Werewolf the Forsaken and Mage the Awakening).

Changeling the Lost is about ordinary people in the World of Darkness who are kidnapped by strange, otherworldly beings known as the Fae and enslaved in a place called Arcadia. Arcadia is not part of our world, it is separated from our reality by the mystical Hedge, and the normal laws of physics may or may not apply depending on how the Fae bend and shape their reality to their will. Those who were kidnapped are changed by their time in Arcadia and they become Changelings, creatures part human and part faerie.

Some captives manage to free themselves and fight their way back through the Hedge but they find things are not the same as when they left. Not only have they changed but their lives may have changed as well. In some cases they find they have been replaced by constructs known as Fetches, creatures which have wholly replaced them in their lives. Their loved ones may have never known they were missing. Others find that time has moved differently and now they are either far too young or far too old to return to their old lives. In many ways they have become completely “lost” and they cannot return to what they were before. The lost must find a way to make a new place in this world if they want to survive. And the Fae are always hunting for the wayward Changelings, looking to bring them back to Arcadia once again.

In a lot of ways this book was a major milestone for the company and the development of the New World of Darkness. When the company chose to bring the Classic World of Darkness to an end and launch the New World of Darkness there was some hesitancy to change a lot of what made the older games so great. That is not to say that the early game lines in the New World of Darkness were of low quality. White Wolf rarely releases a poor product and despite vast similarities the new game lines did come as a breath of fresh air for many gamers. However, Promethean the Created was the first big step away from the “tried and true” game lines for which the company was known for. In a lot of ways it was very experimental but overall it proved one very important thing, White Wolf could move away from the norm and the fans would still follow.

This freedom to move into new territory and really turn old “norms” on their heads really showed in Changeling the Lost and in a lot of ways the company came into its own once again under the umbrella of the New World of Darkness. This game line reminded us what made White Wolf’s games so strong in the first place. These are not games about what we know so well and are comfortable with. These are games about what we don’t know and how we are willing to challenge ourselves to tell a new kind of story. This game proved White Wolf still had what it took to be the revolutionary game company they were back in 1991 when Vampire the Masquerade first hit the gaming scene.

So if you are looking for a great game that can provide you with hours and hours of excellent storytelling then I recommend Changeling the Lost. This game holds an honored place on my game shelf and I am sure it will on yours as well.

Halloween is the best time of year to watch scary movies but with thousands of options it really is hard to choose just one. With that in mind Geek Manor has compiled a list of the top ten movies to watch this Halloween. You can pick one or two or watch the whole list but we guarantee you will not be disappointed.

The best place to start your Halloween festivities is with House on Haunted Hill (1959) starring Vincent Price. This is a classic movie about the strange millionaire Fredrick Loren, his demented fourth wife Annabelle, and the party they host in a house on Haunted Hill. Five guests are invited to the haunted house knowing they will be locked inside until morning and whoever should survive the experience will receive $10,000. However, not all of the guests have the well-being of the others in mind and there is far more haunting the Haunted Hill than anyone realized. While this movie is quite dated it still holds a creepy ambience that can send chills up any spine.

For our purposes you can ignore the Mr. Toad portion of the popular Disney release The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad (1949) but it is a great movie for people of all ages. The movie is an adaptation of Irving Washington’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820). Ichabod Crane, a superstitious schoolmaster, competes with Brom for the favor of the town beauty Katrina Van Tassel and Brom decides to tell Ichabod the story of the Headless Horseman to scare him away. Sure enough when Ichabod leaves to head home for the night… Well, that might be saying too much. Bing Crosby, singer extraordinaire, narrates this terrifying tale.

In 30 Days of Night (2007) we visit the tiny town of Barrow, Alaska where the sun sets and does not come back up for thirty days. What better place is there for a horde of hungry vampires to chow down without having to worry about catching a nasty tan? These vampires do not sparkle and they are not interested in becoming your boyfriend. They just want to eat you. What will you do to survive? What would you do to protect the people you love? Those are the kinds of questions this movie tackles and it does it so well. This is a great survival horror movie.

“They’re here,” says Carol Anne, child star from the movie Poltergeist (1982), and we shiver in fear and anticipation. What begins as a simple and somewhat charming haunting quickly turns into a terrifying experience when the dark entity haunting the house kidnaps little Carol Anne. The family calls on a team of parapsychologists to help save their daughter. This movie is excellent on its own but for more fun you can follow it up with Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986). Very few sequels live up to the originals but this one expands the story in interesting ways and makes the first movie even better. Unfortunately the third movie does not live up to the same standards so you can skip that one.

Sam Raimi may not make the best super hero movies but his strength has always been horror films. The Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992) are all great films for the horror buff but Drag Me to Hell (2009) really is Sam Raimi at his finest. Poor Christine is a bank loan officer who is pressured into evicting a nice old lady from her home. It is just too bad that nice old lady has the power to curse Christine drawing supernatural forces to haunt her and drive her to her inevitable doom. Raimi has a unique talent at producing scares and grossing out his audience while making them laugh at the same time. This perfect balance keeps you on edge right up to the surprise ending.

What good would any top ten list be without something starring Michael J. Fox? No good! The Frighteners (1996) is directed by Peter Jackson and stars Michael J. Fox as Frank Bannister, a man who gains the ability to see ghosts after a near death experience. Frank recruits ghosts to haunt homes so he can come in and “clean the house” of all supernatural activity. It is the perfect con job. Well, it is until the day the Grim Reaper starts killing people and carving numbers into their foreheads. Frank and his ghostly friends are the only ones who can see the killer ghost forcing them to investigate the murders and bring a stop to the Grim Reaper’s rampage.

Very few movies are as horrific as The Exorcist (1973) a movie about Reagan MacNeil, a young girl who makes the ultimate mistake. She plays with an Ouija board. Through the board an evil entity possesses her and starts to torture her and those around her. When medical science cannot cure the child her mother calls upon an exorcist to rid them of this evil entity. Thus begins an epic battle of good versus evil and the prize is the soul of a little girl. Or is it?

For a little bit of science fiction and horror one need look no further than John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). At a remote U.S. geological station in the Antarctic strange things start to happen when two Norwegians in a helicopter chase a dog into the American camp and then accidentally blow themselves up with a hand grenade. Why were they chasing a dog? What happened at the Norwegian site? Why is everyone acting so strange? It is because some of them have been replaced by The Thing. But who?

Zombies have become quite popular (almost as popular as lovable vampires) but you need to look no further than the first great zombie movie The Night of the Living Dead (1968) to get a full dose of zombie awesomeness. This is the iconic zombie movie created by John A. Russo and George A. Romero in which the dead begin to rise from the grave to haunt the living. Survivors find themselves corralled into a rural house with no hope of being saved and no one to lash out at but each other. Classic!

Perhaps the best movie you could ever watch on Halloween would be none other than John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978). On a miniscule $300,000 budget (later extended to $325,000 to allow them to add Donald Pleasence to the cast) Halloween is the story of Michael Myers, a young sociopath who kills his sister and is institutionalized. Years later he returns to finish the job by killing off the remainder of his family and anyone who gets in his way. However, he isn’t happy just stabbing them and being done with it. He stalks them, watches them and terrifies them before going in for the kill. Enter Dr. Sam Loomis who is perhaps their only hope of stopping Michael Myers.

“I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.”

Whether you watch any or all of these movies we hope you enjoy at least one of them this Halloween. Have a great holiday and keep your eyes open. You never know what is creeping around in the shadows out there.

Top Ten Movies for this Halloween Recap

10 – House on Haunted Hill (1959) starring Vincent Price

8 – 30 Days of Night (2007)

7 – Poltergeist (1982)

6 – Drag Me to Hell (2009)

5 – The Frighteners (1996)

4 – The Exorcist (1973)

Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium

Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium is the third magical item supplement for Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition and was written by Jeremy Crawford, Stephen Schubert and Matt Sernett. Much like its predecessors (Adventurer’s Vault and Adventurer’s Vault 2) the book is packed full of the kinds of adventuring gear that players love to collect for their characters but unlike the previous two tomes of lore this book has been injected with a healthy dose of flavor as well.

The narrative portions of the book were written by Mordenkainen himself (along with notes written by his traitorous apprentice, Qort) which makes for an excellent read. The book is also packed with crunchy goodness making this the kind of book that will appeal to a lot of different kinds of gamers. Overall this is a solid book and a good addition to your collection.

Chapter 1: Armor

This book ushers in the return of several of the armor types which were removed from the game with the newest edition’s release. The simpler armor system implemented in the launch of the fourth edition was easier for new players to learn but many gamers missed the flavor of having a more diverse selection of armor to choose from. Studded leather, ring mail, banded mail, splint mail, spiked mail and the full plate have all been reintroduced into the system and with features that make them interesting choices. This chapter also gives players several new types of magic armor as well.

Chapter 2: Weapons

Not only does the weapon chapter introduce new magical properties to the game it also adds new weapon types as well (or in some cases, it reintroduces weapon types not included in the Essentials). The bastard sword, serrated pick, katar, waraxe, whip and spiked chain add more options for players looking to think outside the box when it comes to character development in terms of fighting styles.

Chapter 3: Implements

This chapter has some interesting choices but if you already own the Player’s Handbook 3 you may see some redundancy. If anything this brings the rules for superior implements up to date with the Essentials line of products.

Chapter 4: Magical Gear

This chapter adds options for all of the other magic items slots. While there are fewer options than one would expect there is more flavor to each item than we have normally seen in the past.

Chapter 5: Artifacts and Curses

The artifacts potion of this chapter is interesting to say the least but the cursed items make this book worth the cover price. The “Item Curse” feature is stacked on top of an item’s other features (usually without the player realizing it) and the curses come into play only when their trigger has gone off. There are a lot of good options for a dungeon master to choose from and any of them can be used to drive story developments.

This chapter also develops the concept of Story Items which are objects that do amazing things but carry no mechanical features other than to help move the story forward.

Chapter 6: Adventuring Gear

While the chapter covers mundane equipment. Along with several new kits (like the Adventurer’s Kit in the core books) we have also been given some new items, information on buildings as well as alchemical items.

Appendix 1: Hirelings and Henchmen

The system for employing and building hirelings for the game is well written but I was disappointed by the henchmen section. For the most part they give minimal guidance and then point you towards the rules to create companion characters found in the Dungeon Masters Guide 2 (also noting that they did not list the DMG 2 on the back of Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium). I was disappointed.

Appendix 2: Magic Item Stories

Random charts for generating sample story hooks and sample item details for magic items. This is a meager addition to the book but a useful one.

Appendix 3: Item Levels as Treasure

Allowing players to upgrade existing items (to bring them up to speed with the level of their game play) is a great addition to the rules. Now an adventurer can use the same item from the beginning of their story to the end without sacrificing themselves mechanically.

Appendix 4: Item Lists

Finally! It is nice that this book lists the magical items found within by category and rarity level. This makes it a lot easier for players to reference the book and for dungeon masters to plan out magical item distribution.

This product is only available at your local game store. Wizards of the Coast has limited the availability of this book as part of their ongoing effort to support the brick and mortar stores which form the heart of the gaming industry.

Price: $29.95 C$34.95

Page Count: 160

ISBN: 978-0-7869-5744-6

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