I highly endorse RPG Review! Look forward to every issue, there's always something great in there (and often many great things)
Morgan Davie, Wellington, New Zealand
RPG Review is just awesome! And the new issue's editorial is just GREAT, Lev. Some serious issues raised and thoroughly discussed. I'll recommend it everywhere.
Fábio Romeiro Gullo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
A Cooperative Future
I've followed the Crux Australi newsletters with interest as I have felt for some time that there is a lack of cohesion in Australian gaming (and in the localised industry too). The focus on advocacy I think is exactly what is needed nationally. One of the core experiences shared by a number of gamers locally in my home town is that gamers are falling into a few categories (i) those that have always gamed together at someone's house and have become insular, (ii) those that have either turned exclusively to gaming via online tools or simply abandoned the hobby for video games, (iii) those that simply drift from casual game to casual game and usually don't roleplay all that much and fill in the hobby with boardgames.
There doesn't seem to be an interest in building another generation of gamers, or getting gamers to meet outside their own groups. Admittedly I'm part of the problem as I have a lot of trouble with the energy required to engage with large social groups (both of my gaming groups are two players apiece). I've run clubs in the past and a convention, but that was fifteen years ago, when one could reasonably expect between 40-60 gamers every fortnight. Nowadays, the local boardgames club is excited because they get fifteen people per monthly meeting.
This brings me to connectedness. I wondered whether the newsletter might also focus on promoting Australian gaming by highlighting podcasts, KickStarters or other initiatives like blogs? Crux Australis could then be actively building listener- and reader-ship of Australian content. There could be an arrangement that sees the Crux receive some more members through reciprocal promotion.
Lastly, it might also serve as a place for Australian games designers to seek input and maybe playtesters for their new ideas. As such, it could be a very powerful incubator for national activities.
These were just a few thoughts that occured to me as I was reading the latest issue; my apologies if my narrative has become 'stream of consciousness', but I do see an overall pattern of connectedness that could have the Crux as its' centre.
I do hope that this is helpful and I'd be happy to expand on any of the ideas or discuss this further with you.
FR Podcast, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
Welcome to the extremely late 27th and 28th double issue of RPG Review. Those who were not in the know may have presumed our demise. A handful - fools all - wished it. However our death was somewhat overstated to say the least. Rising from the tomb, the crypt, the velvet-lined coffin, or some similar place in alleged interment, RPG Review is here - with a special double issue on the matter of everyone's favourite bad guy - the undead.
But why, by all that is holy and unholy, is this issue so late? Well, there is of course the usual level of lateness from prior issues which pushes the agenda along a bit further than it should be on this one. After all get out our double-issue of RPG Review is no easy feat - there's some seventy thousand words to find. One can note however that, with good fortune, that the next issue of RPG Review has already received several significant contributions and we may be able to play catch-up with our alleged time-table fairly quickly.
However another issue that has taken up quite some time with the normal efforts that go into producing RPG Review has been the conversion of this publication from a single-person show with some valiant, welcome, and thoroughky appreciated helpers, to an incorporated association - and not just for the publication but for a range of activities dedicated to promoting roleplaying games and promoting better roleplaying games. There are details of this association and its activities in an article immediately following this editorial.
There is of course our regular Mingshi, who is quite irate at having to rewrite here column multiple times due to these delays. But in an industry that's famous for gossip, I am sure she has not shortage of rumours to act on, with the delays, it's just that some of the rumours have become a reality.
After this we have an interview with John Snead, one of the quiet achievers in the roleplaying industry. John has produced an enormous quantity of work over the years an is without a doubt one of the most respected authors out there. From Ars Magica, to Nephilim, Star Trek, Exalted, Trinity, Blue Rose, Eclipse Phase - once you start looking you see his name everywhere. John gives his thoughts on the various influences that led him to become an RPG writer and some future plans.
After this is Randal Henderson' special article on death and undeath in Warhammer 40K. Randal deserves a special mention because he submitted this article many months ago but of course has been waiting far too long to see publiction. To say the least WH40K is a setting that is absolutely sublime in its presentation of the undead and this piece deservers a jolly good review.
Following this is a ready-to-run single page Killer scenario from science fiction writer and occassional game-author Stephen Dedman. Stephen has, of course, managed to incorporate in a single page all the horror that comes from a shapechanging alien monster from Antartica. Sounds familiar?
There is a few articles relating to Dungeons and Dragons, of various editions. New contributer Adi Gondo Hartoo gives a little snippet of a piece on a character build that engaged in falls that should die, but walks away. A game that's very close (OK, extremely close) to the traditional Basic and Expert sets is Labyrinth Lord - Nicholas Moll provides an interesting exploration on how to offer alternatives in a game system which is a little notorious for its lethalness, especially to low-level characters.
Still with the Dungeons and Dragons content (OK, it does make up at least half the market), is a pair of previously published articles by James Introcaso, who kindly and unproblematically allowed us to republish. The first refers to the lack of sufficient difficulty is bringing characters back from the dead, and the second is a logical elaboration of some plot matters arising from this. Rounding off this first bloc of Dungeons and Dragons articles is a piece by myself and Stean Vitasovic on an very troubling artifact from a Balkans historical fantasy campaign that we ran many years ago.
This begins a string of four of articles by your editor and the next two I'm must say I had a great fun writing. The first covers examples of the undead in reality - strange mythologies, unusual attempts, and more than enough disturbing modern day science which requires just a little elaboration. The second piece is a review of several undead-related RPG products; including Vampire The Masquerade, GURPS Undead, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, and the two recent Dungeons and Dragons supplements, Libris Mortis and Open Grave. In keeping with the review approach - this is the name of the journal after all - the recent combination of Paranoia and Call of Cthulhu makes its appearance with Andrew Daborn's visit to the Laundry files. The final piece by your editor is a look at the role and meaning of being undead in Eclipse Phase. Following this is Secret of Saltram Shore, a massive ghostly scenario for the Hero system, but readily available for other games. Written by Robert J. Hall, it was available online many years ago but has since vanished into the ether. We bring this brilliant scenario back from the dead (very appropriate verdade?).
Long-term contributor Michael Cole provides a couple of deadly snippets with supplemental rules for GURPS. What could be more deadly that poisons and dungeoneering? In a distinctly not very undead article worthy contributor and once even editor of this 'zine Karl Brown provides an overview of the faerie-heavy Green Isles campaign setting, strictly for fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons but easily adapatble for other settings. Of course, there is nothing saying that every article in an issue of RPG Review must follow its advertised setting and theme. Thus we also see an elaboration of rules for the HeroQuest RPG, starship economics for Savage Worlds, and a pair of articles by astrology author Kieran Brannan - one on GMing horror games and one for the BECMI setting of Phaemorea, which is co-authored with the psychic author Ryllandra Rose. The setting is somewhat thematic it does involve a large undead-powered empire as a major setting feature. Also, whilst it is described as "adapted" from the author's on demand it is really an extracted selection, with an estimated 99% of the words are directly from their material -the most significant change was altering "I" to "we" and changing the description of D&D to BECMI D&D.
Speaking of which, being published in RPG Review is surprisingly important, at least from a critical point of view. With the move from print to electronic publications the marginal costs of producing written material has fallen dramatically. Whilst there is still a significant market for physical game-system books and supporting material there is no financially supportable market for physical magazines (a hat-tip to Gygax which is making a brave effort in that regard) and electronic magazines, such as ours, only survive on volunteers who are dedicated to the hobby for its own sake. Take the effort and hunt around – how many other roleplaying 'zines are there out there which have been around as long as we have? I can think only of Alarums and Excursions.
It is little wonder that we have had such industry luminaries grace our pages in the past - and in this issue we have an article from the ever-controversial but usually right, Lew Pulsipher who has penned a deeply considered opiion on why computer RPGs aren't as much fun as traditional tabletop RPGs. You could say that we have his piece in lieu of a computer game review - but that would be a bad pun.
The issue concludes with three movie reviews by Andrew Moshos; there is a temptation by merge the reviews into a single article given the consistency in his approach and thematic selection choice. They are all movies about the undead, more or less, The Revenant, Crimson Peak, and the smaller budget Lights. Andrew continues to show his love of the big screen in reviews that can be both passionate and acerbic and his work is always a welcome rounding off to the RPG Review journal.
With that summary, happy gaming all, and sleep tight and may the hauntings be light.
Lev Lafayette (email@example.com)