Links of the Week: May 28, 2012

Some more links this week.  A few (big!) Hall of Fame entries, a longer list than usual of videos (mostly science — Feynman! — or science fiction), some blog posts (still losing ground there) and a Kickstarter project.

Hall of Fame

Fantastic Maps (Jonathan Roberts)

Jonathan Roberts has a site, Fantastic Maps, full of maps and tutorials.

He’s done a number of commissions for RPG products (tabletop and computer), and is doing the Game of Thrones map book.  This guy is good.

I’ll have to see about digging up some examples of his work.

Added to the Hall of Fame under Cartography and Maps.

Hack & Slash: On Skills

Starting back in November 2011, Courtney of Hack & Slash did a long series of posts on skills.

Really long; even ignoring the posts that had little or nothing to do with D&D 3.x (where he spent most of his time) we’re left with the list below.

While preparing this, I remembered why I hadn’t done it before.  This thing is huge.

Added to the Hall of Fame under System Design.

Hack & Slash: On the Magic Arms and Armor

Back in October 2011, Courtney at Hack & Slash wrote a short set of posts on magic weapons and armor

I’m pretty sure I included links to these pages in Links to the Week months ago, but I figured I’d hoist them to the Hall of Fame.  I suspect I’ll find them useful sometime soon.

On the Magic Armor

  • On The Magic Armor: A Table Part I has tables to select the type of armor (suit or pieces) and primary materials.  He doesn’t provide information about the effects of the different materials, but I suspect assuming that ‘gold armor’ is steel decorated with gold would be appropriate.
  • On The Magic Armor: A Table Part II gets into the magical and sensory elements of the armor.

On the Magic Weapon

Added the Hall of Fame under Random Generators.

Papers and Pencils: Overview of Pathfinder’s Skills

LS of Papers and Pencils wrote an overview of Pathfinders skills, rather similar to the one Courtney did starting late last year [and shown above] at Hack & Slash.

I’m going to have to go back and reread these.

Added to the Hall of Fame under System Design.

Blog Posts

Blog of Holding

Paul at the Blog of Holding  describes a new category of magic item: the magical map.  I really don’t much like mapping in-game.  I’ll happily draw maps to make pretty pictures, but when we’re actually playing I’d rather not have to deal with it — from either side of the screen.  I’ve found I can usually get by with laying out the battlemaps when needed but handwaving the movement between areas.  Note landmarks and tell me where you want to go, and if it’s tricky to find your way there you may need to make an Intelligence check.  Paul suggests some magical maps that will take care of the scutwork of keeping track of where you’ve been.

Game Knight Reviews

Creighton discusses the Campaign Primer, a book of information players would find useful when the campaign starts.  An overview of the locale, list of important NPCs, and so on.  However, honesty rears its ugly head and makes it clear that since most players don’t actually read these things you might be better off providing just a couple of local maps and the house rules, then give them the rest in little pieces as they come up.

The Dread Gazebo

TheGazebo gives a review of Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards.  I remember seeing this game discussed before, and I’d still like to give it a try.  It looks simple and inappropriate, and there are times that really appeals to me.  The idea of spell construction the way they do it here has a lot of potential in my mind, more so than, say, Magic: the Gathering where the spells are already defined.

The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms

Talysman talks about The Way Scrolls Look.  I agree with Talysman in part — I long ago gave up on the idea of scrolls looking like sheaves of parchment and the like, that simply doesn’t work when you can read them in a single round.  If they took a minute or more I could believe it, or a turn.  I don’t picture them quite the same as Talysman though, but not far off — I see them perhaps closer to Japanese ofuda, prayer strips.  The user invokes the power on them and it happens, with similar and relevant physical appearance.

I am not averse to having scrolls as sheaves of parchment requiring reading and the like, but that doesn’t seem to fit with how they actually work in play.

He also talks about How Scrolls Are Used, how their power is activated and directed.

The Online Dungeon Master

OnlineDm did an analysis of Advantage and Disadvantage in D&D Next and found that 2d20 pick best (Advantage) and 2d20 pick worst (Disadvantage) does not have simple consequences arithmetically.  Unlike a straight bonus that has a pretty consistent effect, the mechanism here has least effect where success or failure is most likely, and greatest effect where it is least determinate.

It might be interesting to see a similar examination made of 3d20.  Maximum disadvantage (take the lowest of the three), maximum advantage (highest of the three), or median (take the middle value).


Wizard’s Tournament: Fantasy Card Game

This looks like something like a cross between Dominion and Magic: the Gathering.  Unlike Magic being winnable by destroying your opponent (reduce life to zero, or burn out his deck) there are a couple other win conditions (get your Spirit score up to thirty, or your Life up to one hundred).

From the project description:

Every year, wizards from all over the realm come together to fight over the title of Archmage to become the most powerful wizard in the world. Wizard’s Tournament is a fantasy deck building game of magic combat where two players attempt to defeat each other using spells, monsters, and relics. The game comes with thirty-five different sets of cards but only twelve of these card sets are picked at random to be used during a game. These cards are added to a player’s deck during a game so every time you play, it will feel like a new and exciting game.

Sadly, while they do an adequate job of explaining the rules and the game (and they do make the Tournament Rules and the Tournament Print and Play versions available for download), they don’t do a very good job selling it.  For instance, the video is just a slideshow of the card art.

Mind you, some of the card art looks fantastic.  The Death Avatar card (shown below) is only the center part of this piece; the whole thing looks really badass.  They might have a little more cheesecake in some of the pictures than some people would like, but the Primordial Rage card, at least, shows good armor coverage.

Death Avatar
Death Avatar
Primordial Rage
Primordial Rage

I’m already committed to enough [too many! — Keith’s wife] card games.  It would be nice to see this come through, though.

Project closes May 29 and is 2421/5000 funded when I last checked.


Darth L. Jackson

Mildly NSFW for the swearing, but too good not to share.  Use headphones and you should be fine :)

What if James Earl Jones hadn’t been available to voice Darth Vader?  Who else could they look to to pull this character off?

Samuel L. Jackson?  Might’ve worked.

Die Another Day – Fencing Scene Part 2

An exciting scene, and they made some good use of the terrain and surroundings.

I might find fault with some of the specific actions taken (like around 0:55 where there was a wonderful opportunity to run his opponent through and he instead tries to tackle him).  On the other hand, I actually haven’t seen the movie and I can imagine reasons why he would want to not do so.

ECCC 2012: Star Wars Trilogy: The Radio Play – Official Video

Let’s continue the Star Wars theme for a moment (or an hour and twenty minutes).

Eight well-known (or at least their characters are) carton voice actors, reading the Star Wars script.  In their characters’ voices, and changing assignments between scenes.  I particularly liked Stormtrooper Pinky….

Lockout Trailer

And a little more science fiction, or at least an action movie with science fiction trappings.  I didn’t know about this movie, but it looks entertaining.

‘Snow’ reminds me of a younger Bruce Willis.  I’d watch this.

Meet the NEW Rock-It 2.0

The razorblades commercial a while ago was put together well and funny.  This one isn’t as polished and smooth, but the product looks way cooler to me.

A vibration-based speaker (okay, they all are) that can attach to flat surfaces and turn them into speakers.  I wonder how it would work on the window of my bus….

Porkka Playboys – Ace of Spades

As a rule, I like well-performed unusual covers of songs.  A cover that sounds the same as the original… why bother?  A few weeks ago I posted Noah’s cover of Sexy and I Know It, partly because I was impressed by the voice, partly because he took it and made it good (I watched the video of the original, Noah’s is less wtfunny but better music).

Hayseed Dixie has also done an alternative (bluegrass-styled) cover of Ace of Spades and did a good job of it.  I’m not sure which one I like better.

Richard Feynman – The Character of Physical Law – Part 6 Probability and Uncertainty (full version)

If I’d had instructors like this I might have stayed in school.  This video was shot in 1964 and I found it fascinating… he was remarkably capable at explaining mind-blowing things.

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  2. Nik

    Sadly, that trailer for Lockout is horrible in comparison to the trailers in France. (And could they possibly have found a more generic name for the movie? MS-One would have been just fine.)

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