Tag Archives: Opinion

A Glimpse Into The Vault: Exploding (and Imploding) Kittens

Whew, a lot of dust in here! Both in the column’s space and in the physical board and card game collection. How to clear it all out? Well, a few explosions will do to get most of it, and maybe a follow-up implosion to make sure it’s all gone. With new games coming out every day, A Glimpse Into the Vault takes a look at older card and board-based offerings so they don’t get lost in the rush. For once there’s no drinking involved, and there’s only a little gloom, because I’m hauling out Exploding (and Imploding) Kittens from The Oatmeal!

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Unearthing the Wilds

So you’re walking, and you’re walking, and you’re walking, and a big scary dragon shows up! Traveling and wilderness exploration in Dungeons and Dragons can be fraught with peril, of course, but they can also be a little more nuanced than that. There are of course rules, in both 5th Edition’s Player’s Handbook and its Dungeon Master’s Guide, for traveling in the spaces between civilizations, but February’s Unearthed Arcana gets a little more specific still. I cracked open both books and compared them to the UA material, so let’s see what it means to head Into the Wild!

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Kickstarter Wonk: February, 2018

Welcome back to Kickstarter Wonk! February is the month of romance, and I think you’ll find plenty to love with a deeper field of new RPGs than we had in January. In addition to nine completely new games people are trying to bring to life, we have two honorable mentions: First, a new edition of an old game that deserves some recognition, and second, a board game which is trying to make RPG elements a primary part of its design.

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Stars Without Number

Are you an old-school gamer, or a new-school gamer? I’m the Level One Wonk, and I consider myself both, which may be why I enjoy this week’s game so much. Today we’re going to talk about Stars Without Number, a game designed by Kevin Crawford. Crawford has released many games through his Sine Nomine Publishing imprint, which are all built around similar design principles: hackable sandbox experiences with an old-school heart. Games like Godbound, Scarlet Heroes and Stars Without Number are all designed to bolt right in to both old-school D&D and its retroclones, but these games are no mere clones. While Stars Without Number has characters with six familiar stats, saving throws, classes, and levels, it stretches the D&D framework quite far. As you may be able to guess from the name, Stars Without Number is a science fiction game.

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The Book of Changing Years

“I’m writing this anonymously, because I’m spilling some secrets that aren’t supposed to slip out. Just know that I’m on the right side of true history – whatever TimeWatch says it is – and I’ve done my best to make that happen. And if I screwed up a few times? Well, no one’s perfect . . .” So begins the blurb on the back of a manuscript that has recently fallen into my hands, a century and change after a TimeWatch agent delivered it for publication and the entire print run vanished months later. It’s been out again for more than a year now, though, so apparently whoever made it vanish from the time stream didn’t manage to do so a second time around. Before history gets rewritten once more and I forget I ever read it, let’s review The Book of Changing Years from Pelgrane Press!

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Level One Wonk Reviews: The Veil: Cascade

Welcome back to Level One Wonk, where it’s time to go back to the Dark Future! We’re substituting the interface plugs and cyberarms for a whole new Slack as we check out The Veil: Cascade. This supplement not only advances the timeline on PbtA Cyberpunk game The Veil, but also adds a whole slew of new settings, playbooks, and rules tweaks for upload. After reading, it appears that Fraser Simons and his contributing authors were not only thinking outside the box, but have gone so far as to delete the box with no chance of data recovery.

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Unearthing Three Subclasses

A circle of druids who champion decay as part of the natural order, with fungal spores and a sometimes strange relationship with the undead. An archetype of fighter who apply overwhelming strength and persistent durability to simply overcome their foes. A tradition of wizards that champion innovation and experimentation in magic who are regarded as (and just might be) utter lunatics. We’ve got our first Unearthed Arcana of 2018 folks, and so we have Three Subclasses to check out!

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Kickstarter Wonk: January, 2018

Greetings all, and Happy New Year! The Level One Wonk has returned, emerging wide-eyed and determined to face 2018 down! Of course, New Year often means new games. Like I mentioned in the Holiday Special, I’ve wanted to find good write-ups of new RPGs available on Kickstarter ever since Kickstarter began absorbing strangely large quantities of my money back in 2014. While some of these sorts of articles do exist, they are either irregular (covering only Kickstarters relevant to the topic of a given blog as an example) or short-form (there are good Kickstarter threads on RPGnet, but with a max post count north of 1000 these can be quite tough to track with). So I’ve taken it upon myself to plumb the depths of Kickstarter looking for new games.

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The Level One Wonk Holiday Special: 2017

‘Tis the season, nerds and geeks, fellow wonks and gamers of all ages. The season when we gather with family and friends, reflect on the year that is ending, and look forward to the new one. And, of course, ’tis the season when your very own Level One Wonk sneaks away from his family, but only has time to hastily bang out a year-in-review article rather than bring you any new content. It has been a good year, though. We started the year with a good foundation and finished strong, bringing in tons of eyeballs with a review that was very nearly a scoop, and of a game people actually cared about to boot. Let me tell you what I’ve seen, and what I think 2018 is going to look like.

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Level One Wonk: The Kitchen Sink

Welcome back! I’m the Level One Wonk, and today we’re throwing things at a wall to see what sticks! Most popular games out there exist within the framework of a genre or existing setting, and use those constraints to create interesting stories. In Dungeons and Dragons you have magic, monsters, and an underlying battle between good and evil. In Star Wars you have the Force, liberties taken with the laws of physics, and…an underlying battle between good and evil. At the end of the day, though, sometimes you want to mix chocolate and peanut butter and get something else. What if your D&D setting was invaded by aliens? Who were actually Force Ghosts…who actually came from the world of Exalted? What if they were all psychic? Why stop there? Sometimes you want everything and the kitchen sink.

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