Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Bag of Rock Fans

In Rock Opera '79, fans are like experience points. You win them over during rock battles against other bands or tempt them away from the Discocracy. You can also lose fans if you screw up your solo. To represent fans, I could have used poker chips or pennies, but that seemed pretty boring, so I sent away for a bag of tiny people instead. I'm imagining my players heaping up tiny mounds of people and counting them obsessively.
I swear one of them is waving a lighter.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dungeonteller: The Anyone-Can-Play Fantasy RPG

Dungeonteller is the easy to learn and play fantasy RPG, created by a designer/illustrator/educator with kids and game-curious parents in mind. It looks and plays like no other, from the eye-popping vector-based art and full-color tutorial mini-posters to the innovative "lucky numbers" dice mechanic that even 5-year-olds can use intuitively. Four years in the making, it's kid tested and freaky family approved. You can even play it with no kids in sight -- lots of people do.

Key features include:

  • 9 premade character archetypes you customize through play: elf, dwarf, paladin, warrior, rogue, wizard, ranger, pixie, and witch, each with two-sided full-color character sheets that tell you in plain language what your character can do.
  • a core book that includes tutorial mini-posters, cool powers, gear, weapons, armor, treasure, rules for combat and exploration, and the Stormgate city setting to get your campaign kicked off.
  • a monster book with dozens of foes, including 6 unique dragons and fresh takes on the classic dungeon denizens like orcs, gnomes, and dark elves. Every monster gets its own page and full-color illustration.
  • MonsterMore, a supplement that adds another baker's dozen of monsters to the ones available in the original monster book.
  • Welcome to the Plunderdome, a FREE dungeon campaign with 5 amazing hand-drawn 3D maps (available for download from this blog).
  • Venture Hold, another dungeon campaign with 8 hand-drawn levels and a town/fortress map, dozens of NPCs, new monsters and treasures.
  • Big Hexy Land, the default world for Dungeonteller, with 9 insanely detailed hex maps showing nightmarish lands, adventure hooks, and node-based adventure webs
  • Big Hexy Land 2, which more than DOUBLES the size of Big Hexy Land with layered maps you can arrange in hundreds of combos.
  • A set of full-color cut-n-fold character and monster counters representing every entry in the monster book. The counters are 100% compatible with...
  • ...my Ultimate Hand-Drawn Isometric Battle maps, which let you create face-meltingly detailed illustrations  and maps of any dungeon layout
This is the game I made to introduce my kid and her buddies to RPGs. It was a labor of love and I hope it shows. Thanks to everyone who's supported me so far!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

WotC and Monte Cook cast Sense Untapped Market

Two RPG behemoths have taken 10 on their Notice checks and are developing RPGs for young players. Monte Cook is using Kickstarter to fund No Thank You, Evil!, with a mechanic based on the same Cypher system that powers Numenera and The Strange. And Wizards of the Coast, with much less fanfare, are expanding their PDF offerings for Monster Slayers, [links to a PDF], a super lite version of D&D 5e.

No Thank You, Evil! will be a boxed game that wouldn't look out of place in the board games section of a boutique toy store next to games by eBoo! and Ravensburger. It looks gorgeous. Monster Slayers is just a few B+W PDFs for now, but it has the D&D imprimatur and a ready market among people for whom RPG = D&D. 

The net result of this might be more people playing RPGs, which sounds great. I should be happy. I should...

And yet, I have to say, what an amazing coincidence it is that Monte Cook and WotC have determined that the absolutely best introductory RPG for kids just happens to be the proprietary system used in their existing games! What are the chances that the mechanics they developed for adults would also work so amazingly well for children? That's foresight -- by 40 years in D&D's case. It feels lazy at best.

If you read my blog, you know how much I love making and appreciating RPGs for young gamers and it won't surprise you that I'm feeling a bit cynical about these two late entries. Please check out some actually-made-for-kids RPGs as an alternative. None of them will burn a hole in your wallet, and your kids will come out loving RPGs, instead of remarking, as a young person once did to me, "This D&D game is just about rolling dice and writing down numbers!"

My short list:

Hero Kids -- Minimal prep, very straightforward, tons of modules and expansions.
Dungeon Squad -- Fun dice mechanic, lots of player agency, easy to re-skin for other genres
A Faery's Tale -- not violence-centered, super cute, lovely to look at

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

[Rock Opera '79] Prog Rock Hero

Another illustration done... the progressive rocker. Are two guitar necks enough? I'm thinking we need at least one more.