Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jean Rabe: From RPGA to USA Today

If you played AD&D in the late 80s and early 90s, and especially if you played RPGA (Role Playing Game Association, the Pathfinder Society of its day) events, you may never have met Jean Rabe, but she certainly had an impact on the Organized Play of the day. I used to run into Rabe fairly often at Midwestern gaming conventions but hadn’t seen much of her for more than a decade. During the past couple of years, though, I have seen her at a few more cons and wanted to find out what she has been doing the past 20 years.

Rabe’s association with the gaming industry started in Evansville, Indiana, back in the late 80s where she helped run the Glathricon gaming convention. At one of the conventions, Rabe struck up a friendship with the Guest of Honor, Penny (Petticord) Williams, who worked as the RPGA Network Coordinator. When Williams decided to leave TSR and the position in 1987, she contacted Rabe to let her know the position had opened. Rabe, tired of covering murder, theft, and assaults in her job as a newspaper reporter in Evansville, applied, interviewed for and got the job within 48 hours.

Rabe spent the next 7 years working full time for TSR, first as the head of the RPGA, making certain events got processed in a timely manner and editing the organization’s magazine, Polyhedron (yes, this was an era when all magazines were printed on PAPER and sent out via the MAIL), then as a full time designer and editor, working on the Child’s Play and Vale of the Mage AD&D modules, among others.

Wanting to pursue her own writing, Rabe left TSR in 1994 for a freelance career, though she continued to work in the gaming and fantasy genre, editing the official BattleTech magazine MechForce Quarterly for FASA  and writing several novels for TSR, including the Dragons of a New Age trilogy, which focused on the next major event to take place in the Dragonlance series. She also wrote three short stories set in the Star Wars universe, which appeared in West End Games’ Star Wars Adventure Journal and three Endless Quest books, all in the late 1990s.

Moving beyond gaming related novels (though she works actively in that field; WOTC published Goblin Nation, the three-volume Storytellers series in 2009, and she just finished the novella “Maiden Voyage" for Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch and Warlock , a Pathfinder and Castles & Crusades compatible supplement, scheduled to appear later this year), Rabe wrote and edited mainly in the fantasy field, writing The Finest trilogy, the Rogue Angel series and Fenzig’s Fortune. However, she also has the murder mystery Submerged (as Jordan Grey) and a number of collaborations with authors such as Andre Norton, Stephen  D. Sullivan, and F. Lee Baily (yes, that F. Lee Baily). Just this year, The Cauldron will see print, written with Gene DeWeese.

Though she hasn’t written a gaming module in decades, Rabe still loves roleplaying and is active in the Pathfinder Society, though as a player, not a coordinator, but she does have outlines of another gaming related novel in the works. With 30+ novels under her belt, including a couple that made USA Today’s bestseller list and a handful of awards for her writing, “all in all, I’m happy. I think I’ve had some amazing opportunities and have a basically awesome life”.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Legendary Deck Building Game Expansion

Coming in October

Legendary: Guardians of the Galaxy Small Box Expansion
$19.99 SRP

Over the course of the game, recruit increasingly powerful Hero cards to add to your deck, building a stronger and stronger deck of the ultimate Marvel superhero combinations.

Players can create their own powerful combos on the fly, combining their heroes’ awesome abilities to take down nasty Marvel Masterminds like the Kree Supreme Intelligence!

100 Total New Playable Card Set
1 page color rule sheet

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Firefly Dice Game

Arriving in October:

(Image not available)
Firefly Dice Game
$24.99 SRP

Play as the crew of the Serenity as you complete mission objectives. Do you press your luck for great rewards or risk losing it all to the Alliance?

Get a mission, try to complete it and make money while trying not to get caught. The game lasts three rounds and whoever has the most points after three rounds wins.

15-30 minute play time

1 Rulesheet
15 Dice
75 cards
Victory Point Tokens
Bystander Tokens

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Guild

Here is some info on the upcoming Organized Play program from Paizo for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Guilds.The program starts August 14:

Mark your calendars for Thursday, August 14, the debut of the Pathfinder Society Adventure Card Guild program for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game! This weekly organized play event will bring players and friendly local game stores together with new scenarios released first to participating retailers.

Your store should be recieving an official announcement of the program—along with a few special promo cards!—along with your July Paizo products from your distributor, but here are the basics:

A New Adventure with Familiar Faces
The launch of the PFSACG gives players a chance to join fellow adventurers each week as they play through an original scenario they’ll run with the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles Base Set. The first six-month season of PFSACG scenarios, the Season of the Shackles, takes characters to familiar locations in Golarion’s Inner Sea while telling a story interwoven with the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path. Each player must have a Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Class Deck to participate. (The Skull & Shackles Base Set and the first seven Class Decks will be released in August.)

Season of the Shackles will debut on August 14 and run each week until the release of the next Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Base Set in February 2015. Each monthly chapter of Season of the Shackles will begin with the release of a new Skull & Shackles Adventure Deck.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Traveller, Dark Conspiracy and Dragon Dice: The Gaming Legacy of Lester Smith

I attended Quincon, a small tabletop gaming convention in Quincy Illinois, this past weekend and had the opportunity to reconnect with Lester Smith, a prolific game designer during the 80s and early 90s, who has gotten back into the game, so to speak, in the past few years. Since we had time, I wanted to find out how he got involved in the gaming industry and what he had in the works now.
Smith entered the gaming industry in the fall of 1984, submitting what was called at the time a “capsule review” of Wizard’s Realm to Steve Jackson Games’ Space Gamer magazine. Emboldened by his success, he then submitted a full game, Mind Duel, for inclusion in the magazine. Unfortunately, SJG sold off Space Gamer just then and Mind Duel instead appeared in the first of the renamed VIP of Gaming magazine, which folded after only a few issues.

Moving forwards a few years, now pursuing an English degree in Bloomington Il., Smith landed a proofreading job at Game Designer’s Workshop, nee GDW. While proofreading, Smith developed the habit of making marginal notes, suggesting corrections or improvements to the material. The higher-ups at GDW noticed this and, rather than getting annoyed, Mark Millar, the designer of Traveller, asked if Smith would write the first adventure module for the company’s new Traveller 2300 RPG. He did and then wrote a memo to GDW’s head, Frank Chadwick with suggestions to improve the realism of Traveller 2300 when the company reprinted the game. Chadwick agreed with his suggestions, then turned the situation about by asking Smith to do a complete revision of the game, now called just 2300. Then, when GDW decided it wanted to do an ecologically themed horror RPG, it handed that to Smith too. The result:  Dark Conspiracy. By the end of the 80s, Smith was line manager for both Dark Conspiracy and 2300, as well as working on other games for the company such as Test of Arms and Space 1889.

A good friend, Tim Brown, had left GDW for TSR and let Smith know that TSR need designers immediately so Smith sent in a resume. Apparently “immediately” at TSR at the time meant something different than it does to most people as Smith heard nothing for a year. A callback for an interview resulted in another year’s wait. A third interview, this time with Jim Ward, who was vice-president of Creative Services, resulted in a tour showing where Ward’s desk had b0een during previous TSR layoffs and a job offer with several conditions that Smith could not accept, including a requirement  that all of his writing would belong to TSR. Smith passed, resulting in a fourth callback a year later, with a similar tour and Ward and TSR meeting all of Smith’s conditions. In fact, when he didn’t respond immediately, just processing the size of the salary offer, which was larger than expected, Ward responded by bumping the salary offer up another 20%. Just shows that silence can be profitable.

During his tenure at TSR, Smith wrote Bug Hunters for the Amazing Engine system, developed Dragon Dice, and worked on Red Steel, PlaneScape and an unpublished followup to the DragonStrike game.

Leaving TSR about 1995, he joined Brown at the comic publisher Comico, which had them develop a collectable card game based on the company’s characters. Nothing ever came of it though and in 1998, he went to work for Sebranic, formerly known as The Write Source, a publisher of educational textbooks, where he has remained since, writing poetry and short stories is his spare time, only designing a few gaming products, notably Chaos Progenitus and the Zero RPG.

About 2012,,the game design bug bit him again and, in quick succession, he developed and sold through DriveThruCards the games Invasion of the Saucer People, Monster Con, Clashing Blades and Wolfman’s Curse. His current project is the d6xd6 CORE RPG, which arose out a discussion with another game designer as to whether it is possible to develop a RPG with only one statistic d6xd6 CORE is the result with the character sheet fitting on a business card. In addition, when published, the d6xd6 CORE rulebook will include “setting chapters” from 30+, novelists, giving players basic information on venturing into each writer’s world and directing them to the novels for more information.

In addition, for several years, Smith has published an annual anthology of Halloween poetry and short stories and is looking for contributors to this year’s edition. Interested writers can go to for more information.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gencon Pathfinder Releases

Here's the new Pathfinder coming out at Gencon:

Adventure like never before with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Advanced Class Guide! Explore new heights of heroism with 10 new base classes, each with 20 levels of amazing abilities. Incredible powers also await existing characters, with more than a hundred new archetypes and class options. Prepare characters for their most legendary adventure ever with massive selections of never-before-seen spells, magic items, and more!
SRP: $39.99 Ea.
The Iron Gods Adventure Path begins with "Fires of Creation," an exciting new adventure set in Numeria, land of barbarians and super-science! In the town of Torch, the settlement's unignorable tower of violet flame has gone out. The only clue to its disappearance is a newly discovered cave dug nearby. Are the heroes bold enough to unearth the otherworldly secrets that sleep beneath the city and reignite the fires of Torch? Or will their first foray into Numeria's ancient mysteries be their last?
SRP: $22.99 Ea.
It's one thing to face a dragon armed with a longsword and a suit of magic plate mail, but what if you had an atom gun and powered armor? How many zombies could you blow up with a rocket launcher? What happens if you're standing next to a graviton reactor when it explodes? All of these questions and more are answered within the pages of the Technology Guide-an invaluable manual of items, hazards, and character options for use in science-fantasy settings like Golarion's Numeria, land of savagery and super-science!
SRP: $19.99 Ea.
Travel to other planets and harness the powers of the stars with Pathfinder Player Companion: People of the Stars! Whether you want to play a Golarion native daring the depths of outer space or an alien being exploring your own mysterious homeworld, you can unlock the secrets of the stars with the new rules, advice, and fantastic setting details in this volume. People of the Stars presents a player-focused discussion of the Pathfinder campaign setting's solar system and the diverse creatures, dangers, and rewards just waiting to be discovered.
SRP: $12.99 Ea.
What mysterious creatures dwell upon this bizarre extraterrestrial craft? Paizo Publishing's latest Pathfinder Map Pack provides stunningly crafted 5" × 8" map tiles that can be positioned to form modular, customizable spaceship chambers-whether in an abandoned wreck that serves as an unusual dungeon, or a ravaged but still functional lifeboat depositing its crew on a strange new world. Inside, you'll find 18 richly crafted map tiles.
SRP: $13.99 Ea.
When the leader of the ruthless Technic League calls in a favor, the mild-mannered alchemist Alaeron has no choice but to face a life he thought he'd left behind long ago. Accompanied by his only friend, a street-savvy thief named Skiver, Alaeron must head north into Numeria, a land where brilliant and evil arcanists rule over the local barbarian tribes with technology looted from a crashed spaceship. Can Alaeron and Skiver survive long enough to unlock the secrets of the stars? Or will the backstabbing scientists of the Technic League make Alaeron's curiosity his undoing?
SRP: $9.99 Ea.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

October Pokemon Releases

Coming In October for Pokemon

PKM: EX Power Trio Tin

Three extra-powerful Pokémon step up to the challenge, each one a master of the arena! Choose from the red-hot blast of Charizard-EX, the dangerous poisons of Venusaur-EX, or the unstoppable hydropower of Blastoise-EX! The Pokémon Trading Card Game: EX Power Trio Tin adds an extra EX boost to your collection, because each of these awesome tins includes a fully battle-tested Pokémon-EX card, plus 4 Pokémon TCG booster packs! Your opponents had better get ready!

1 of 3 special foil cards: Venusaur-EX, Charizard-EX, or Blastoise-EX!
4 Pokémon TCG booster packs!
1 BONUS online code card for unlocking an item in the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online

Tins are randomly selected from 3 designs.

PKM: Mega Lucario Collection

Take a step beyond Evolution with the awesome power of Mega Lucario! Unleash the fighting fury of the Aura Pokémon with a fantastically detailed figure of Mega Lucario, plus a special foil promo card. And, of course, Mega Lucario brings an aura of power to your entire collection with the contents of 4 Pokémon TCG booster packs! Get ready to enter the arena with the Mega Lucario Collection!

D&D Movie Lawsuit Proceeding

According to The Escapist, there will be no further attempts to reach an out of court settlement and the lawsuit over who has the rights to make a movie based on Dungeons & Dragons will proceed to trial September 16. Hasbro has sued Sweetpea Entertainment, the company that made the original D&D movie, stating that the rights to the D&D property reverted to Hasbro when Sweetpea failed to make additional movies within the time stipulated by the contract.

Of course, Sweetpea disagrees with this and countersued Hasbro, meaning we likely won't see an official Dungeons & Dragons movie before 2016, at the very earliest.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DiceMasters Date Changes


The followig WizKids products have changed their release dates from
September 3rd to October 22nd 2014.

WZK 71658 Marvel Dice Masters: The Uncanny X-Men Dice Building Game Starter Set
WZK 71660 Marvel Dice Masters: The Uncanny X-Men Dice Building Game 90 Count Gravity Feed Display "

Monday, July 14, 2014

WOTC and the D&D Starter Set

In case you missed it the long awaited D&D Next/5th edition Starter Set hit WOTC Premier Stores a week ago and everyone else last Friday. WOTC spend the past couple of years promoting the set through playtesting, website updates and social media but not, as far as I can tell, through any form of paid, let alone traditional media, save for native advertising on the company website. The resulting interest in the Starter Set has been, shall we say, spectacular. I have heard stores ordering 60+ copies and selling through them by the end of the day. Despite no pre-orders here, and little interest in the set of the game, we upped our order and brought in 20 of them. Half that shipment went out before the end of the day on Friday and most of the rest left with customers before the end of the weekend. Not too shabby for a game that the customer really cannot fully play, since the starter set comes with pre-made characters with directions on running adventures and raising character levels from 1st to 5th but, much like the starter set that came out for 3rd Edition, a player cannot actually create characters using these rules; they will have to wait for the Player’s Handbook releasing next month.

Happily, WOTC listened to complaints about this and released, concurrently with the D&D Starter Set, a PDF of the basic rules for character creation, so that those who purchase the Starter Set and want to create their own characters can now do so, rather than waiting until August to purchase the full Player’s Handbook. This is a good way to gin up further interest in the Player’s Handbook and, once again, shows that WOTC, when the company puts its mind to it, has no peer when putting together a starter set for its games. Though we have sold a lot of the Pathfinder Beginners Box from Paizo, the quantities sold of it right out of the gate pale in comparison to the quantities of D&D Starter Sets sold. Price is a major factor for this. The Pathfinder Beginners Box runs $34.99, while Green Ronin’s Dragon’s Age or Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars starter sets each run $29.99, hardly the price to convince a customer to pick one up on impulse. It is much easier to overcome that reluctance to purchase with a price point under $20.

The thing is, I do not expect most of the purchasers of the D&D Starter Set to actually play it. Most of the people who have picked it up are long time D&D players. They have heard about D&D 5th or Next through various online media, since WOTC has put out no print ads of which I am aware, but did not have enough interest in the product to sign up to playtest or download the materials that WOTC has provided over the past year. They came into the store and saw the display or heard it had hit the shelves and wanted to see what the fuss was about. I fully expect that 90% of the customers that purchase it will not play the game using the Starter Set. They bought it to see what changes were made and if the new edition is as bad as they feared. From what I have heard, most people have been pleasantly surprised and I expect to see a lot of Player’s Handbooks. Well played, WOTC.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New Carpet

After about 7 years, we are finally putting new carpet in the store and the process illustrates two things:

1. advance planning makes things easier. We planned ahead of time when we were going to make the move, figures where to put shelves and merchandise in order let the carpet layers do their job with a minimum of difficulty while still letting customers and staff move around the store.

2. You can't anticipate everything. We thought we had enough people scheduled to make the moving easy. Unfortunately, 3 of them, for one reason or another could not show up the second night. Happily, it was the easiest of the three nights and we got everything moved with only 4 people, finishing up half an hour early.