One of the tabletop games I discovered late last year was Mage Wars. It’s a two-player game where each player takes on the role of a powerful Mage, using their Mana to summon creatures and cast spells, in an attempt to reduce the opposing Mage to zero life. That initial pitch might sound like Magic: The Gathering, and the influence of that game is evident. But there are a lot of innovations in the rules (which I’ll discuss below) which distinguish it from the famous Collectible Card Game (CCG) and other tabletop games.
Here’s one game mechanic that fits with the theme and is ripe for deep strategy: during the Planning Phase of every turn, players pick two spells from their spellbook. The spellbook is a four-card binder (a pair comes with the game) composed of cards you chose to comprise your deck. Every round, it feels like roleplaying when you rifle through your spellbook, looking for the appropriate spell to cast later in the game. Because you’re choosing which two spells to cast, there’s no randomness when it comes to determining what your options are. On the other hand, because you’re selecting only two spells, you’re limited when it comes to reacting to the cards your opponent plays this turn: if you want to reverse or foil your opponent’s plans, you need to pick in advance the spell you think you’ll need. Read the rest of this entry
The ten thousand hour principle states that after you put 10,000 hours into anything you’re an expert. Jason Anarchy has 10,000 hours of experience creating Comedy RPG game systems. He made his first game when he was eight years old (A Legend of Zelda tabletop game called Gannon’s Bad Day) and in the last couple years professionally developing the first two Drinking Quest games. He has 10,000 hours invested in Business Management (Game Industry and Newspaper Media) Not quite 10,000 hours of drinking yet but close.
The end of the year is often a time of reflection and, more importantly, list making!
Help us compile a list of the best genre video games of the year by telling us which science fiction, fantasy and/or horror games were your favorites. These do not have to necessarily be video games that were originally released this year — we are more interested in the best games that you played for the first time in 2012.
Publisher Pyr and miniature games manufacturer Privateer Press have teamed up to publish novels based on Warmachine steam-powered fantasy wargame and the world of the Iron Kingdoms Role Playing Game: in Thunder Forged: The Iron Kingdoms Chronicles by Ari Marmell and Big Iron: The Iron Kingdoms Chronicles by C.A. Suleiman.
Jeffrey Thomas‘ short story collections include Punktown, Voices from Punktown, Nocturnal Emissions, and Unholy Dimensions, and such novels as Deadstock, Blue War, Monstrocity, and Letters from Hades. He has been a finalist for the Bram Stoker and John W. Campbell Awards, and several of his tales have been reprinted in the anthologies The Year’s Best Horror Stories and The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Visit his blog at: http://punktalk.punktowner.com.
Punktown: The Role-Playing Game
From the start, I saw my setting of Punktown as a creative playground for other people besides myself.
I first came up with the notion for this world while my father was driving me somewhere or other, back in 1980. I noticed a woman in another car, whose face was partly in shadow, making it appear as if her long hair were growing out of black eye sockets. This image became the inspiration for the tentacle-eyed “Tikkihotto” race that appears in numerous Punktown stories. But for whatever reason, this image sparked more than just one alien…no, my muse’s gears didn’t stop turning there. By the time we arrived home, I had developed the idea of writing about a future world into which I could introduce all manner of strange beings, and bizarrely distorted reflections of our own here-and-now. SF as satire, social commentary, but with an unapologetic nod to the tropes of pulp fiction.
By Nick Sharps | Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 at 9:30 am
Halo: Combat Evolved was the first game I ever owned on the X-Box. Ever since I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the franchise. I have enjoyed the game sequels less and less with each installment, with the exception of Halo: Reach. That said, I always end up coming back for more. The Halo franchise has a tremendously successful hype machine. As a lover of science fiction and an Advertising major I cannot help but admire the marketing efforts that lead up to the release of a new Halo game. The Halo 3 “Believe” campaign with the massive diorama featuring hand-crafted miniatures blew me away. Rather than focusing on the graphics or game-play, it put emphasis on the themes crucial to the series. It was inspiring. Now, with the return of the iconic Master Chief and the start of a brand new saga, Microsoft has funded a live-action promotional web series titled Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. Three episodes have been released so far and the quality is astounding. For years there has been talk of a big budget Hollywood film adaption of the Halo franchise and this is proof positive that it can be done – and done well. If you’re excited about Halo 4 or you need a little something to rekindle that flame, check out Forward Unto Dawn and keep your eye on SF Signal – book reviews Halo: Glasslands and Halo: The Thursday War to come.
Check out Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn after the jump.
By JP Frantz | Friday, June 22nd, 2012 at 10:30 am
[Crowdfunding is the in thing for obtaining money to fund a variety of projects, with Kickstarter being the most prominent of these sites. With new projects going live daily, it's a chore to keep up with, let alone find, interesting genre projects. The Crowd Funding Roundup will be our effort to bring projects we think are interesting to your attention so you can, if you so choose, decide to help out. These posts will be a collaborative effort between James Aquilone and JP Frantz.]
Auror’s Tale is a fantasy web series in three acts. Here is a short synopsis: New York City is a battlefield. Dark magic rules the underworld. The NYC Department of Magical Law Enforcement (DMLE) is the only line of defense. Hawthorne is the force’s newest recruit and the dark criminals’ latest threat. Plunging into the nightmare that his occupation offers, he makes quick enemies of the most depraved wizard gang in America: the ever violent, ever twisted Hellhounds. Auror’s Tale chronicles Hawthorne’s tempestuous adventures.
Why it’s interesting: The final Harry Potter movie hit theaters a year ago and J.K. Rowling has set the series aside to do adult books. So now it’s up to fans to carry the torch (and pray they don’t get sued for copyright infringement). Auror’s Tale is a “darker and grittier” take on Rowling’s fantasy universe. It’s sort of like The Dark Knight meets NYPD Blue but with wizards and muggles. The visual effects look as good as anything Hollywood has to offer. (Check out the full trailer here.) For only $5, you get your name in the credits of episode one. Read the rest of this entry
James Aquilone is the Managing Editor at Weird Tales Magazine. His first short story will appear in Weird Tales #362. His non-fiction can be found at Den of Geek, BuzzFeed, his personal website, Blogzarro, and in the mouths of hundreds of radio DJs across the country. James lives in Staten Island, New York, with his wife and small Ewokian dog.
10 SF Kickstarter Campaigns You Should Fund
Money burning a hole in your pocket? Then fork it over to these cool SF-related Kickstarter campaigns!
This campaign had me at the first line: “Mad God is an experimental, hand-made, animated film, set in a Miltonesque world of monsters, mad scientists, and war pigs.” If that doesn’t do it for you, the video will. Creepy, cool, beautiful, Mad God was directed by visual effects and stop-motion master Phil Tippett, whose credits include Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, RoboCop and the Twilight Saga.
We are in a Golden Age of Geekery, my friends. I offer as evidence two recently-launched web-based video shows by some of the world’s most famous geeks. (Just the fact that geeks can be famous should be evidence enough, amiright?)
First, Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day have teamed up for Tabletop, a show about tabletop games on Felicia’s Geek and Sundry YouTube Channel. Here’s Episode 1, “Small World”, featuring Sean Plott (host of “Day9TV”, a Starcraft II dedicated webcast on how to be a better gamer), Grant Imahara (host of Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters”), and Jenna Busch (geek blogger, writer and host) play Small World!
This is a cool idea. As a casual gamer myself, this kind of thing serves as a significant taste of some of the games out there that I might not otherwise know about. Now, if we could just get Wil and Felicia to feature the Order of the Stick game, published by SF Signal pal Ape Games, we’d be cooking with butter….[looks at Wil and Felicia]
By JP Frantz | Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 at 10:00 am
Usually we at SF Signal will bring you the occasional Book Cover Smackdown or post a movie trailer. We don’t usually cover video games that much and so, to rectify that oversight, we’re mashing up the two together to bring you the first ever game trailer smackdown!
Video games always have trailers now days, many with pre-rendered with CGI scenes that give you a flavor of the game without showing actual game play. While intriguing, trailers that show the actual game in action are much more interesting.
We have three interesting game trailers for you today. First up, Grimlands.
Grimlands, from Gamingo, is a post-apocalyptic shooter (MMO? Who knows.) that will include such things as guild towns, PvP and vehicles, among other things. The video makes it look like a cross between Borderlands and Fallout, both exceptionally fine games. Will Grimlands live up to those games? Probably not, but there’s no reason it can’t be fun. However, the current apocalyptic MMO Fallen Earth isn’t doing too well so I’m not sure how big the MMO space is for those games not named Fallout (which I would totally play). Read the rest of this entry