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What's up in roleplaying this month?
Well, a muddle of different things. The Origins Awards nominations have recently taken place. These are the Oscars of roleplaying. The awards for which people put stickers on their shrink-wraps, saying Origins Award winner, or even just Nominee.
Nomination is a complicated process, not least because it's not even advertised on the Origins website! If you happen to open a pdf for nominations, you might notice the deadline. Otherwise you'll only probably have heard if you got an email from the lovely Mr. Jones warning you. What's more you can only submit by Fax. At least last year an email was enough. Finally, they have done away with the Amateur periodicals category, so not only do we have to contend with such luminaries of the Indie scene such as Demonground and Critical Miss, but also Pyramid, Dragon and Dork Tower!
So much for fostering new talent.
Mind you, Gen Con UK has similar problems for newcomers. There's a complicated spreadsheet and you need a current credit card and you must send your number by email to someone in the US. How does a 14 year old get in? Not easily it seems.
There are some rays of sunshine though. Andy Kitowski, remember him? He and his wife Orie designed our website's graphics. Encouraged by the lively independent games scene, he has created the Indie-RPG awards. We are entered into the zine category and we are proud to be sponsors of this fine event.
I've bought quite a few Indie games in the last year, Universalis, Donjon, Kings of The Road Kings of the Rail to name a few. These are very good value for money, most cost less than $10, you usually get the whole game in just one book and you can also get the writer to sign it for you before he mails it out. Most of them are also available in pdf format too, if you don't want to wait and don't mind doing your own printing.
Moving on, there's some good news from the UK gaming scene, Hogshead is back. It looked as if it was going to fold when James Wallis left but Mark Ricketts has taken up the struggle ably assisted by Carol Johnson who has been retained as production editor. Although they are not carrying on with the previous Hogshead licenses, they have some new games in the pipeline, two about crime and one on gothic horror.
Gothic seems to be a popular genre at the moment. In some ways it is related to pulp in that the emotions and situations are rather overblown. Everything is extreme. As such, it is not surprising that there are two roleplaying genres that I seem to be encountering rather a lot at the moment: Victorian and Supers games.
On the Victorian front I've been playing a homebrew League of Extraordinary Gentlemen game and my Buffy game set in 1870's London has been given the all clear by Fox so I can run it as an official game at Gen Con UK. It's also going to be available at The Big Weekend. I'd love to go to run the game but half-way round the world for a convention is a little extravagant. Instead the incomparable Sarah Hollings is going to run it and I wish her all the luck. If you're in Brisbane in May, why not pop down to BIG for some quality gaming?
As for supers, I had a look at the impressive new d20 game from Green Ronin, Mutants and Masterminds, at Dragonmeet last year. It's certainly colourful and our group hopes to be trying it out soon. But there are quite a few new(ish) games on the market, such as Cartoon Action Hour and Silver Age Sentinels. Also the first ever, as far as I know, diceless supers game will be available shortly. And it's a biggie, it's a reworking of Marvel Superheroes.
Finally, in this month's round up a very special mention to Régis and Antoine. These guys are two of the wonderful team, or possibly even horde, who translate articles from this zine into French. Our two gallic chums came over to London last weekend to visit Steve Darlington and me. The sun came out for them and we spent a lazy afternoon on the Thames on a floating pub. What's more they brought gifts, the games Cendres and Rétrofutur, from the cutting edge of French gaming.
It was great seeing you guys and one day Steve and I will hopefully return the compliment.
There's some unfinished business from last month. We were overwhelmed by the response to the Pokéthulhu competition. The winning entry came from the risquély named Serbia & Montenegro, so well done Vladimir!
Actually it was the only entry, but that's not to take anything away from Vladimir who was thoroughly deserving of his prize.
And so onto our new crop of articles. We've got a tale of how he got into gaming from Zac. Zac is truly from another generation of gamers from me, not being born when I took up the hobby. It's great to see a new crop of young literate gamers coming through.
Our first article is from Régis. His badgering has paid off and I have finally got round to translating one of his articles for a change. You can read a lot more of his thought on his French-language website here. In this article, he talks some more about a technique of which I'm fond, improvisation.
Secondly we have some great advice from Alex Gill on running LARP chronicles, that's like a campaign for all you table-toppers and LARP virgins. Next is Stephen's piece on increasing the atmosphere of your games using food. That's not chain-feeding Twinkies to the GM in the hope of more experience points, but the importance of the rituals associated with food that can add some colour to the background. Finally Alex maintains his form with the true history of roleplaying. I think he's trying to vie with that scoundrel Gary Pellino, author of AD&D is the tool of Satan, for the piece that generates the most mail.
That's it for another issue. Hopefully something will tickle your fancy. We were hoping to bring you a d20 special issue soon but our authors all seem to have been gripped by some strange paralysis meaning they don't answer emails. If anyone fancies stepping into the breech, be my guest, otherwise I might just have to translate another of Régis' articles and he'll be insufferable
A+, as they say en France.
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