Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fury Road for 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road is coming out May 15, 2015.
George Miller is back at the helm of the franchise that launched his career nearly 35 years ago. Mel Gibson is back too — but not as the lead. Warner Bros and Village Roadshow said today that its reboot Mad Max: Fury Roadwill hit screens on May 15, 2015. Tom Hardysteps into the title role for the first film in the postapocalyptic series since 1985′s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Miller directed that pic, along with 1979′s Mad Max and its 1981 sequel The Road Warrior, which made Gibson an international star. The 3D Fury Road has that May 2015 opening weekend to itself for now, but it’ll arrive a mere two weeks after The Avengers: Age Of Ultron and a week before Disney sci-fi pic Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney. Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult co-star in the film written by Miller, Nick Lathouris and Brendan McCarthy. Miller also is producing with Doug Mitchell and P.J. Voeten.
Perhaps the world will more resemble the Mad Max setting by then.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chess

This is a tribute to the best game in the world.

A dear friend taught me to play while I was in elementary school. In hundreds of games, I never beat him until we both were just out of High School. Now I play daily thanks to services like Chess.com.

Today I found this on Google+...

History of Chess...

NOT INVENTED BY MUSLIMS OR PERSIA!! 

Have you ever played chess? Did you know that chess is the oldest skill game in the world? But chess is more than just a game of skill. It can tell you much about the way people lived in medieval times. If you look at the way a chess board is set up, then study the pieces and how they are used, you will realize that chess is a history of medieval times in miniature.

The history of chess specifically that of Western Chess, spans some 1500 years. The earliest predecessors of the game originated in India in the 6th century AD and spread to Persia from there.

Chess originated in India during the Gupta empire, where its early form in the 6th century was known as “Chaturanga” referring to the four arms or divisions which formed the typical Indian army in Vedic times: elephants, cavalry, chariots, and infantry, represented by the pieces that would evolve into the modern pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively.


This is how it was spread - 


Both the Persians and Arabs attribute the game of chess to the Indians. In Sassanid Persia around 600 the name became shatranj and the rules were developed further. Shatranj was taken up by the Muslim world after the Islamic conquest of Persia, with the pieces largely retaining their Persian names. In Spanish "shatranj" was rendered as ajedrez, in Portuguese as xadrez, and in Greek as zatrikion, but in the rest of Europe it was replaced by versions of the Persian shah ("king"), which was familiar as an exclamation and became our words "check and chess". Murray theorized that this change happened from Muslim traders coming to European seaports with ornamental chess kings as curios before they brought the game of chess.

In ancient India, there was great concern about the prevalence of gambling games using dice. A great number of people were playing for high stakes and becoming addicted to these games of pure luck.

One day the Indian King Balhait summoned Sissa, a Brahmin known for his high analytical repute and requested him to create a game which would require pure mental skill and would hence oppose the teaching of games in which luck decides the outcome by the throw of dice. Moreover, the king requested that this new game should also have the ability to enhance the mental qualities of prudence, foresight, valour, judgment, endurance, and analytical and reasoning ability.

Sissa invented a wonderful game called Chaturanga. It was played on an ancient board named "vastu purusha mandala", which was the mythical board of 8 x 8 squares used by antic architects to design the plan of the cities. The board representing the universe was redefined by Indian players as a board game under the secular name of "ashtapada".

The game reached Western Europe and Russia by at least three routes, the earliest being in the 9th century. By the year 1000 it had spread throughout Europe. Introduced into the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors in the 10th century, it was described in a famous 13th-century manuscript covering shatranj, backgammon, and dice named the Libro de los juegos.

The next time you set up your chessboard and get ready to play a friendly game or two, think of chess as a history lesson. The pieces on the board represent a way of life that is no more, and the real life dramas that occurred in medieval times are now only a game. 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Musketeers

There is a new series on BBC coming soon...
Created by Adrian Hodges, The Musketeers is set on the streets of seventeenth century Paris, where law and order is more an idea than reality. More than King Louis XIII’s personal bodyguards, Athos, Aramis and Porthos stand resolutely for social justice, for honor, for valor, for love – and for the thrill of it. Luke Pasqualino (Skins, The Borgias) will star as D’Artagnan alongside Musketeers Tom Burke (Great Expectations, The Hour) as Athos, Santiago Cabrera (Merlin, Heroes) as Aramis and Howard Charles (Royal Shakespeare Company) as Porthos. Together they are a crack-team of highly trained soldiers. The Musketeers, premiering in 2014, is a BBC Drama Production for BBC One, co-produced by BBC America and BBC Worldwide.
I've recently read the book and was surprised at how entertaining it was, absolutley loved it. Seeing this coming out has me now eyeing up the Triple Ace Games RPG All for One: Régime Diabolique.

The other cool thing about it is Cardinal Richelieu will be played by the new Doctor (Who), Peter Capaldi!




Monday, November 11, 2013

Revelations of Mars wallpapers

Exile Games is prepping for Spring 2014's release of Hollow Earth Expedition: Revelations of Mars with some very fancy wallpapers. See them here...





Sunday, November 10, 2013

R.E.A.C.T. for True20

About four years ago, Green Ronin stated something along the lines that the True20 line was not necessarily dead or killed, but rather complete. That made me sad. They went with their big hit- Mutants & Masterminds, which seems like it's doing quite well. But I can't let go of True20.

True20 enjoyed a moderate level of 3rd party production. Which, I suppose, is less than what was aimed for considering there was some sort of competition for submitted settings right off the bat. A few of those settings are still around and some have moved on to different systems (like Agents of Oblivion which comes to mind).

Even after Green Ronin was finished with True20, others still were making stuff for the system. Even as late as 2012.

So, to spread some True20 love, here are some PDFs that were released last year...

paNik Productions has released four products that are multi-system, one of the systems being True20 (the others being OGL and Savage Worlds).

"PUBLISHING QUALITY RPG SUPPLEMENTS SINCE YESTERDAY"

  • R.E.A.C.T. Worldbook

Enter the world of R.E.A.C.T., the Research, Engineering, And Crisis Team! Psychics and cyborgs battle mutants to defend mankind from extra-dimensional destruction in this sci-fi espionage themed action-adventure game world. Forget games with nebulous morality where the characters are reprobates, monsters or anti-heroes; R.E.A.C.T. is absolutely the good guys and are out to save the world... with Science!
  • 86 pages
  • 4 different divisions
  • Character archetypes and advancement
  • 44 original illustrations

For this setting, paNik Productions also released a free sample adventure and a full adventure mission...

  • R.E.A.C.T. campaign sample adventure (free)
Welcome to Bremenhome of Wes Anderson's famous zoo, the state's best blueberry pie, and the most urban legends per capita in the country. Y'see ever since the mill closed up, folks haven't had much to do but sit around and swap stories. The streets'd be empty if they weren't full of ghost stories, urban legends and... 
bodies.


Someone or some thing has been stalking the abandoned alleyways and leaving behind mangled bodies drained of blood. Is the killer a vampire, hungry ghost, legendary skunk-ape, or run-of-the-mill psychopath? Will the players live long enough to find out?
This is an introductory adventure for the world of R.E.A.C.T. although it also works with any modern-era campaign.
    • 19 pages
    • 7 original illustrations
    • 3 full-page maps
  • available for three systems (that's why there's a Savage Worlds logo in the image)

  • Abyss of Insanity

An ice shelf collapses in far-off Antarctica, revealing a geologic vent of staggering proportions. Satellite photos show a mysterious expedition camping on the edge of the newly-revealed ravine. The players are dispatched to expose the unknown agents and uncover their mission. Every truth discovered, each step taken, leads them deeper into the Abyss of Insanity.
  • 56 pages
  • + 3 pages of character stand-ups
  • + 6 pages of player hand-outs
  • + 6 pages of maps (1/4" scale)
  • + 88 pages of maps (1" scale)
  • New Psychic Powers
  • Supplimental Rules for Equipment, Animals, Antarctic Dangers and Health Hazards
  • History of Antarctic Exploration


Note that I do not work for paNic Productions. I'm just a True20 fanboy who is excited to see it's still kicking... or at least twitching.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Out of the Silent Planet comic

This is a comic book adaptation of C.S. Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet, book one of the Space Trilogy. The artwork is created by AaronTP (check out his work on DeviantArt). This is well into the first part of the first book and it is absolutely excellent. One can only hope that he will continue the story...




















The last five pages were colored by Sqarr...






Monday, November 4, 2013

Covert Ops review

I was recently honored with a request to write a review for an RPG coming out soon on behalf of the Modus Operandi. In short, this is a very promising new game that feels like a direct spiritual descendant of the big two d100 espionage games from the 1980s- Top Secret/S.I. and James Bond 007. Here is that review...

Covert Ops is described as a barebones RPG of espionage and paramilitary operations. This review covers the Covert Ops Core Rulebook and the Covert Ops GM Operations Manual.
Don’t judge a book by it’s logo. The cover artwork of the Core Rulebook is credited to Eric Quigley. It is a bit stiff portraying a collage of modern actions scenes poses rather than a snapshot or still-frame of an action scene. It feels conservative and safe, not striking or particularly memorable. The people are pretty cool looking and could be recognizable iconic characters. They seem to stand as examples of some of the most typical types of spies or agents.
I like the GM Operation Manual’s cover more, however. It was simply one of the larger interior pieces, but with a solid blue overlay tint. This one is more like a comic book panel or a scene from an actual mission, etc.
Covert Ops as a title is great. However, the logo on the covers is a bit bland. I feel the game could use a more striking font or usage of the titling. The first page with the credits and copyright info has the title in a rough print kind of font which I felt looked cooler and more appropriate than the metallic font style with rivets. NOTE- I happened upon a more updated version of the cover while writing this. Most of this opinion still stands, however.
The interior artwork for both books are all black and white. The Core Rulebook’s artwork is exclusively done by Khairul Hisham who has a great eye for comic book action. Having one artist throughout the core book was very nice and solidly consistent, this works if the artist is good. In this product the artist delivers. The action and figure art is shaded dynamic, while the gear and weapon art is flat clip-art in design. The GM Operation Manual’s artwork seems collected from other sources and used with permission. There is an obvious range of styles and it does take away some of the quality established presented in the Core Rulebook.
The books are presented in single column, lettering is easy to read with no background imagery. Each page has a nice clean header design labeling which chapter the reader is currently on with modern and easy to read fonts throughout. Each page’s footer labels which part of the chapter you are in, a detail I find nice in gaming books. There is not much, if any, wasted space. The artwork is laid out amongst the text nicely.
DwD is expanding the usage of their d00Lite system first appearing in BareBones Fantasy roleplaying game. D10 are the only die type used. The core mechanics are percentile die rolls, rolling a target number or lower. Sometimes the rules call for several d10 dice summed up.
Doubles are critical successes and fails, depending on the target number. Any reasonable action succeeds on a roll of 00-05, while a roll of 95-99 automatically fails. Streamlined simple. Other details of the rules are in line of what one would expect. The game is aiming for solidity more than clever mechanics and they achieved it.
Bones are the game’s term for action points. These are tokens or chips that can be spent to boost rolls or enhance character’s actions. The GM also has access to Bones to oppose the PCs. This makes the phrase “throw me a bone” literal (I see what you did there!)
The d00Lite system uses a simple hitpoint style which they call BPs or Body Points. Usually half of the STR score.
Characters have four attributes. Generating stats options is rolling five d10 and adding 30 for each of them (STRength, DEXterity, LOGic, and WILlpower).
There is a FUDGE/Fate kind of element in the character creations process. With Skills you can choose one as your primary talent, that one thing you do real well, and assign a +20 to that skill (or randomly roll for which skill), Then you get two secondary skills and assign +10 to each of them.
The next step is come up with two Descriptors. These are phrases, etc (much like FATE’s aspects) that help define the character and provide opportunity for DP point rewards- development points are BareBones RPG experience points. There is a Moral Code system to help flesh out motivations and roleplaying, etc. and derivative formulas for movement, attacks and defence.
There are Origin packages that give the character a defined direction as well as appropriate bonuses to certain skills.
I am left with the impression that the system is pretty solid.
One unique take the game has is there isn’t a typical universal list of Skills. The list appears more like a list of Careers or almost Character Classes, yet different than the above listed Origin packages. Each of these are broken down into more focused or specialized skills. The list is Academic, Detective, Leader, Martial Artist, Medic, Pilot, Scout, Soldier, Technician, and Thief. Each of these have a formula anchored to half of one of the attributes +10. Like this… Score: half DEX +10 per pilot level- as an example. It’s an interesting take and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
Characters are given an equipment allowance which simplifies the paperwork of keeping track of funds and gear, but also prevents characters from gaining too much monetary resources, keeping the game balanced.

In combat, characters are able to purchase Martial Manoeuvres. These are special moves or techniques that are really specialized Martial Artist skills. Presented on a random table if you wish, which was interesting.
There is a chapter detailing the DPs for character development and making a base of operations. One detail in the DP dispersal checklist that I found kind of neat was there is a phase where one of the characters is rewarded DPs by vote. All the players have to vote for one of the other players (not their own) based on Style- (coolest moment of the session), and Brotherhood (which character demonstrated the most faith and sacrifice for the team). I liked that bit.
The next chapter covers Action rules mainly for combat and other task resolutions. This is very straightforward, not attempting new gimicky dice mechanics.
There are several tables provided for mission generation for the GM which look quite useful. Even a table for cool mission code names!
Covert Ops is not necessarily a generic espionage RPG, there is a pretty nicely fleshed out setting included. The final chapters get into the details of the secret and epic battle between SECTOR and CITADEL.
SECTOR, a mysterious international paramilitary and counter-espionage organization. This is the agency of the good guys secretly fighting the also secret forces of CITADEL. If you are familiar with TSR’s old Top Secret/S.I., you may recognize this as ORION vs WEB with the serial numbers thinly filed off. And this is not a negative thing at all. I loved that setting then, and I’m really digging this version, now.
The part of the GM Operation Manual clearly defines each level of the Operative (the PC)’s Ability Scores. This may feel like it’s directed towards newer gamers, and it might be. But I think it’s a good move eliminating many questions that might exist. This is followed by several tables designed to determine an Operative’s Abilities, etc via random rolls.
The GM’s Operation Manual is more of an optional rules book than a GM manual. It contains rules examples that really help define exactly what the Core book’s rules represent. It also contains a plethora of optional rules that could potentially add a lot of complexity, making it a very crunchy system. The optional rules expand nearly everything established in the Core Rulebook. It was a good idea to keep much of this separate. However, I feel the title is a bit confusing as all of the essential GM material is already in the Core Rulebook. The GM’s Operation Manual could more appropriately be called the GM’s Operation Options or something along those lines. It was a very good idea to keep this information separate from the Core Rulebook, in any case.
I come away from this with a very solid confidence in using this game for running a modern day spy campaign. This fulfills a long-time hunger for anyone who was a fan of the two big percentile die espionage RPGs from the 1980′s (Top Secret/S.I. and James Bond 007, Roleplaying in Her Majesty’s Secret Service). I hope to see long lasting support for this line from DwD Studios.
About DwD Studios: It helped me understand where this game was coming from when I discovered who was making it. DwD Studios are the folks who acquired permission from Wizards of the Coast to host the Star Frontiers RPG line on the web. They’ve done a fabulous job keeping that old game alive and creating new material for Star Frontiers. All with WotC’s blessing. A while back it appeared they may have attempted a similar venture with the Top Secret/S.I. line which didn’t seem to pan out. It is very likely many of the above comparisons and similarities of Covert Ops and Top Secret/S.I. are no coincidence at all.
 This marks my first game review for Modus Operandi (or for any website, actually). It was an enjoyable experience. I thank Dave McAlister for thinking of me for the job.

Reset

This is a preview of an upcoming game called Reset. One of the most artistic previews I've ever seen. I do believe it features actual game play footage. This pretty much could be/is an artistic short film...








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