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AICN Tabletop: Abstruse Reports On GenCon 2014!

Published at: Aug. 22, 2014, 7:54 p.m. CST by Nordling

Hello gamers! Abstruse here with my coverage of Gen Con 2014! So I spent a lot of time walking around and I’m really tired after—Wait, you don’t care about that. You want the games! Alright, here’s a breakdown of the events every day, both stuff I saw and announcements I couldn’t make it to (seriously, there’s a LOT going on at the con!) To put it in perspective on how huge Gen Con is, this year’s attendance for unique attendees was 56,614 (that’s every person who bought a badge of any type) and a turnstile count of 184,699 (that’s a total of attendance for each individual day added together, so a 4-day pass counts as 4 even though it’s one person). The exhibit hall packed in over 370 exhibitors and the convention center and affiliated hotels hosted over fourteen THOUSAND events over the four days including panels, seminars, concerts, classes, demos, and obviously games. For every year since it moved to Indianapolis, it has been the city’s largest money-maker (aside from the year they hosted the Super Bowl) and consistently out-performs the Indianapolis 500.
 
 
BEFORE THE CONVENTION
 
Wednesday night at Gen Con has a special track just for teachers, librarians, and other educational professionals. This isn’t open to the public and is just for game professionals to help get products into libraries and schools.
 
However, one event did take place, the Diana Jones Award. This prestigious award for gaming excellence is awarded to one company, individual, or product a year to honor the best in the industry. This year, the award went to HILLFOLK by Robin D. Laws, which beat out its big named competitors Evil Hat Productions, Paizo Inc. (more on the name change later), and the board games TERRA MYSTICA and ROFL!. The ceremony and related party was a lot of fun, though the acoustics in the venue made hearing the winner or the acceptance speeches difficult when that time came. The venue was great, however, and I can’t wait to attend again next year.
 
THURSDAY
 
There were a couple of big announcements on Thursday, including a few by Paizo. However, that coverage is down on Saturday as that was the day Paizo hosted their “Pathfinder 2014 and Beyond” panel which consolidated all the announcement, clarified several points, and even made a couple of new ones. So let’s go with a few other announcements made on the opening day.
 
 
Onyx Path announced the second edition of the WORLD OF DARKNESS, including new editions of VAMPIRE: THE REQUIEM, CHANGELING: THE LOST, MAGE: THE AWAKENING, PROMETHEAN: THE CREATED, and WEREWOLF: THE FORSAKEN. The new edition incorporates updates THE GOD-MACHINE CHRONICLE and various other errata and rule-fixes over the past decade since the game’s original release. The new edition of V:TR, for example, will basically be a rebranded and touched-up version of BLOOD AND SMOKE (but don’t worry if you already purchased a PDF, the new version will be a free DriveThruRPG update). Also, each of these books will now be stand-alone products that do not require the WORLD OF DARKNESS rulebook as the first editions did. The WoD rulebook will stand as a canonical reference for the entire system, a way to tie the different systems together under a unified rules system, and will contain expanded optional rules not covered in the other systems.
 
Announcements were also made on the Old World of Darkness line, but it wasn’t nearly as exciting. Several new sourcebooks will be released in the first half of 2015, including a collection of “mini-clanbooks” for VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE, a Victorian-era book for MAGE: THE ASCENTION, a book chronicling the Garou-Fera Wars for WEREWOLF: THE APOCALYPSE, and several others. Conspicuously absent from the announcement are the expected CHANGLING: THE DREAMING and WRAITH: THE OBLIVION 20th Anniversary Editions which should, based on publication dates, be out next year. Most likely, though, they will be Kickstarted later this year for publication in the second half of 2015, but no announcement either way has been made.
 
 
DARK DUNGEONS sold out its world premier at Gen Con and it’s follow-up screening later on in the weekend. While I wasn’t able to attend the screening, but I did get an advanced screener and I have some thoughts on the film. But first, a quick history lesson.
 
For those who don’t remember due to age or not giving a shit about RPGs, the 80s was not kind to gamers. Sure there was the cameo appearance of a D&D-like game in E.T., but that was before The Panic. Similar to the current backlash against violent video games, a massive campaign existed against roleplaying games and caused a panic. Several groups rallied around the cry of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS = Devil Worship. One of the most infamous products of that panic was the DARK DUNGEONS comic tract by Jack Chick. The DARK DUNGEONS film is officially licensed by Jack Chick and he gets a “Story By” credit in the film, so this is the real deal.
 
But enough history, you want to know about the film. Is it a comedy or true to the source material? The answer is a resounding YES to both. 
 
This film plays it 100% straight with the tone of an After School Special with over-the-top scenery-chewing performances that are just a joy to watch. Any “jokes” in the film are what writer JR Ralls called “dog whistles”, small in-joke references and name-checks that only people in the gaming industry would catch. “I tested using my parents to see if they could notice them,” he told me in a quick, informal interview I didn’t have the presence of mind to record. It’s just little touches added to the film to wink to the gamer audience out there, such as the obvious casting of magic missile at the darkness to the more obscure name-check of Maven of the Eventide, the Team Awesome/That Guy with the Glasses reviewer specializing in vampire films and shows.
 
The special effects aren’t that great, but it’s to be expected with the low budget. And honestly, it works with the tone and style of the film. As I said before, it feels like those low-budget after school specials from the 80s/90s and the effects really help bring that out. They also used a mix of SyFy Original Film level of CGI and a Troma level of practical effects. Either way, it works well. And one thing the film does NOT disappoint on is the overall look. The film is shot beautifully and is on-par with any single-camera television product out there. The lighting is fantastic, the costumes perfect and authentic, and the editing is top notch.
 
Speaking of the editing, the only real downside to the film is its running time, just shy of 40 minutes including the credits. While I wish we could’ve gotten a feature-length film, I feel the run time is just where it needs to be. There’s certainly places they could’ve expanded more, but it would’ve felt like padding and just kind of spoiled the perfect pacing of the film. Adding more scenes to the film would’ve bogged things down. 
 
There’s a few story elements that were added beyond the original Chick Track, including a subplot about summoning Cthulhu and another about a lesbian romance. While they may feel like pandering or fan service, these elements make sense if you’ve read other Chick Tracts. Jack Chick blames homosexuality for many of society’s ills and considers them all sullied and evil people corrupting others. As far as Cthulhu Mythos, he firmly believes it is real and the Unspeakable Ones are demons trying to corrupt the world. This is actually his justification for how evil D&D is.
 
All in all, this is a really fun film. DARK DUNGEONS hits all the notes it needs to hit and gets the fuck out before it overstays its welcome. The tongues of the cast and crew is firmly placed in cheek and the overdramatic writing and acting fits the unintentionally hilarious tone of the original Tract. Whether you’re a gamer past or present, or if you’re just a fan of Stephen Colbert style humor, this is something you can’t miss.  The film is currently available on DVD for $9.99 including behind the scenes footage and several commentary tracks, or you can get an HD digital download for $5. If you just want to take a peek, they’ve got the first eight minutes up on YouTube now.
 
 
FRIDAY
 
Friday was more than a little crazy for me as I ran around like a madman trying to make everything I needed to. But let’s begin where I started my day, with a demo of the new miniature wargame from Hairbrained Schemes, GOLEM ARCANA.
 
 
GOLEM ARCANA is part of a genre of games that’s just now starting to break out that are, for lack of a better term, “enhanced” tabletop games. Rather than keeping track of the stats, movement, damage, modifiers, etc. on sheets and tables, you use your smartphone or tablet to keep track of everything. On your turn, you use a special low-energy Bluetooth stylus capable of reading the board and the miniatures themselves to perform actions. Tap the button on the stylus and the section of the character’s base indicating movement, and your smartphone or tablet lights up the map telling you where all the legal movement options are. Move the mini, then tap the square you’ve moved to. Tap the section of the base marked for a specific attack or action and then tap the unit you’re wanting to attack. All the tiles, miniatures, and unit cards are printed with microdots that are readable in under a second by the stylus, taking a whole lot of the bookkeeping out of miniature wargaming.
 
But enough about the technology, what about the game itself? The story takes place in the world of Eretsu, where all the clans and nations were once united under the banner of the Great Khan. His massive war machines called Arcanum Gudanna allowed him to tear through nations who did not submit to his rule under more diplomatic means. However, the Great Khan suddenly died, triggering the War of Blood and Stone. By using the Golems held by the various clans as well as other supporting vehicles, you fight out the battles of the war.
 
The system is pretty straight-forward. Each turn you get a pool of action points. Various actions cost different amounts of action points depending on the unit and other modifiers (such as damage or terrain). Every action a unit performs gives it Cooldown, which increases the AP costs of actions until the Cooldown is removed. Attacks are resolved on a roll-over percentile system. If you miss but roll doubles, you get a “lucky hit” for regular damage. If you hit with doubles, your get a critical hit which does half again as much damage. Rolling 00s is a miraculous hit and not only is it a critical, but you don’t get any Cooldown for the attack. The software has a built-in dice roller you can use, or you can roll physical dice yourself and enter the numbers manually.
 
Like most skirmish wargames, there are dozens of modifiers to the game. Each unit having its own abilities as well as other variables such as knights (pilots) and relics (modular weapons and equipment). If you’re the type who doesn’t really want to mess with all the numbers and charts, you can play the game by letting the app do that. But if you just have to know the entire breakdown of everything going into a roll, you can quickly view the entire stat list for any unit on the board with a quick swipe on the app or by tapping the proper space on the unit’s card with your stylus.
 
There’s another major modifier called Mana, which you get by harvesting from Mana Wells placed on the board. Also, any AP you have left over at the end of a turn is converted into Mana. This resource can be traded for Miracles (spells cast on a unit), Blessings (spells cast on a terrain), and Curses (spells affecting only enemies). It’s also used to power some special abilities from knights and relics. Each unit tracks its Mana independently, and a destroyed Golem releases its Mana back to its allies. It’s a pretty slick mechanic that keeps a battle from turning into a rout just because you lose a unit or two.
 
The game itself is scenario-based, similar to many other skirmish wargames. You may just be playing a deathmatch or you might need to capture and hold specific locations on the map for a certain number of rounds to earn victory points. But because of the digital nature of the back-end of the game, things can get pretty creative. The organized play for GOLEM ARCANA will be heavily integrated into the online nature of the game, with results of battles worldwide being fed via the app to Hairbrained Schemes to roll into the fiction and future scenarios. Various benefits can be pushed through in the middle of a game while you’re playing in response to events happening at game stores and other venues all over the world. And of course, it’s completely optional so you can just play the game straight if you don’t want to get involved in the story.
 
They’ve also got a lot of very interesting features in the works (though not finalized yet and may change before release). A second wave is already in production, they’re tweaking the user interface and rules based on real-world use, and they’re adding in additional Knights, Relics, and Ancient Ones as in-app purchases or rewards for organized play events. One of the biggest that will break this game out as a miniatures game I believe is the inclusion of remote play. For example, I live in Texas while Ross (the host of my podcast) lives in Colorado. Instead of waiting until we’re at a convention together to play a game of GOLEM ARCANA, we can join a group through the app and play one another through the internet. There’s also work going for a matching service through the app so you can play with people all around the world, similar to how console and computer games match opponents based on skill.
 
All-in-all, GOLEM ARCANA looks pretty damn impressive and I’m dying to get my hands on a set. The models look amazing and, while they are prepaints (for those of us with zero artistic ability), they are easily repainted if you want to go with something more custom. The components are of the highest quality I’ve seen and all the elements come together perfectly.
 
 
I absolutely love The Doubleclicks. Angela and Aubrey put on an amazing show and there’s no chance I could miss it. If you’re not familiar with the sisters, they perform geeky-themed acoustic music on topics ranging from D&D to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE to dinosaurs to what’s become an anthem of acceptance for marginalized nerds, their song “Nothing to Prove”. They’re going on tour now and the energy these two fill a room with is beyond compare (seriously, they rock a room better than several punk bands I’ve seen). The best thing that happened during their show was a surprise cameo from chiptune musician Professor Shyguy who joined the ladies for a fucking AWESOME chiptune cover of “Ana Ng” by They Might Be Giants. I’m not sure if they’re going to record it or not but I wanted to make sure to give them a shout-out and BEG them to record that song!!
 
 
You’ve got a lot of choices out there for RPG-related webcomics out there, but in my opinion, D20MONKEY by Brian Patterson is one of the best out there. His stories celebrate gaming in every way imaginable, his characters are interesting with a lot of depth, and his art is just amazing (and I’m not just saying that because I want a Patterson twitter icon like half the people I follow seem to have…hint hint). His panel was a lot of fun and went over several interesting developments in the comic, but the biggest announcement came at the end when Brian announced his partnership with Tracy Barnett to create Exploding Rogue Studios. 
 
One of their first projects will be KARTHUN: LANDS OF CONFLICT, a campaign setting Patterson’s been developing for many years and has made appearances in the D20MONKEY comic as the protagonist’s campaign setting. The book will be edition-neutral with a Kickstarter coming soon. The setting itself is very old-school in its presentation and is a great fit for the many newer fantasy roleplay systems. The first book is out now as a pay-what-you-want 18 page digital product called THE MONKEYNOMICON: MONSTERS OF KARTHUN. If you want an idea of the quality to expect when the full KARTHUN book comes out, this is a great preview.
 
 
Okay, here’s where things get REALLY crazy for me. For the rest of the evening, I bounced between the street party hosted by Wizards of the Coast to celebrate the launch of the TYRANNY OF DRAGONS event and the ENnie Awards. All of this made me pretty manic and my mouth tended to move faster than my brain could keep up. Both events were great though, and I can understand why it was hard to choose between the double-booked parties.
 
Wizards pulled out all the stops to celebrate their fans with a beer garden serving local craft brew beers (at $5 a pint no less, the cheapest beer I’ve ever had at an official convention location and definitely the best) and food trucks lining the street. A booth was set up in the center of various dragon-related artifacts on display with staff in-character as NPCs giving out clues and hints to the huge epic adventure held Saturday night. Luminaries from gaming industry such as Ed Greenwood, RA Salvatore, Keith Baker, and many others milled around the crowd talking to fans and signing autographs (there were a LOT more, but those are the only ones I remember bumping into). 
 
The only real downside to the party was the DJ, whose choice of music really did not fit the crowd. I’m at a major event for the new edition of D&D, the last thing I expect to hear is Katy Perry and LMFAO. As I said before, The Doubleclicks were on-site. You couldn’t have booked them? Or gotten a playlist of Jonathan Coulton, Paul and Storm, and Weird Al? There’s a plethora of nerdcore rappers if you absolutely had to have a hip-hop soundtrack. It just felt wrong to have Miley Cyrus blared at me while I’m looking at dragon skull sculptures and getting hints for the following night’s epic D&D game.
 
 
I missed about 2/3 of the show to be at the Tyranny of Dragons event, but things flowed a thousand times better than last year. There was a technical hiccup on the live stream’s audio and even after I jumped in to help, they still had to run off the mics on the camera rather than the audio coming off the board. However, much better quality video of the event is currently being processed right now and EN World will have it up soon on their YouTube channel.
 
Co-hosts Jen Page (wearing an amazing dress I must say) Bill Cavalier aka Dungeon Bastard (wearing the most epic tux I’ve ever seen) entertained the packed crowd and kept things flowing as the awards went on through the night. One of the coolest things that happened unfortunately I missed, but it was when editor John Adamus proposed to Erica Skerpan on stage (the link goes to the video - spoiler alert: she said yes).  The entire list of winners is up on the EN World website, but the TL;DR version is that the best way to get an ENnie is to get Monte Cook to write a FATE product for Pathfinder as Monte Cook Games, Evil Hat, and Paizo dominated.
 
SATURDAY
 
 
After the chaos of Friday, it was nice to get a good night’s sleep and start off with a nice, easy game (one of the few I got to play more than a quick rules demo). HACKMASTER started out as a parody product based around the D20-style game played in KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE. Since then, however, it’s become an absolutely brilliant system for those who want something a little bit different in their d20 fantasy games.
 
First thing to note about this edition of the game is that it’s heavily influenced by the systems used in various editions of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, but it’s definitely its own beast. Every single roll in the game is an opposed check, allowing for a lot of swinginess to the system and all the good and bad that comes with it. I make an attack roll against you, you make a defense roll against me. Fumbles on the attack roll allow for an immediate counter-attack as do crits on the defense roll. Damage dice on many attacks “Penetrate”, or explode. I played a dwarf with a battle axe whose damage was 4d3p, meaning that every three I rolled on damage got re-rolled and added to the total (though at -1). It made for some pretty epic moments in the game and, even though it kinda sucked to roll a 17 and miss, the ability to roll a 5 and still have a chance to hit if the enemy screwed up their defense roll made up for it.
 
The most unique and I think awesome aspect of the game is the initiative system. Your initiative score is based on a combination of factors including your stats, your weapon, and any character traits you might have. Lower is better in this case, as your initiative score is added to your roll (which is usually 1d8, 1d10, or 1d12 depending on circumstances). You add up your roll and your score and that’s the count you get to act on. Each count in the initiative is one second of game time. When you’re engaged in combat, the count you can act on is based on your weapon speed. Otherwise, you can act on any second you’re active on including movement (which is based on whether you’re walking, jogging, running, or sprinting and you have to ramp up between them). This allows characters to act constantly in combat making for some very well organized chaos.
 
While the system uses a lot of the more complicated elements of older D20 systems (the original HACKMASTER was closer to a 1st Edition retro clone), it’s presented cleanly here. Your combat stats are shown in a very easy to read interface that show you your attack bonus, defense bonus, weapon damage, and damage reduction. It also has the weapon’s speed, reach, initiative bonus/penalty, and your Top Save. Armor in this game actually makes you easier to hit as it slows down your ability to dodge wounds. However, strong armor absorbs the damage so that you take less with every hit. Which is a good thing because if you take damage more than your Top Save number, you must make a saving throw or be knocked out (which is very dangerous in HACKMASTER). 
 
I only played a two-hour introductory game and many of the rules were glossed over to teach the core mechanics. Shields don’t simply add to your defense roll or damage reduction, but are actively used in defense and can be shattered by strong blows. You can also go into a lot of detail with advanced rules including wear and tear on gear. If you’re looking for something that has a bit of an old-school feel without the clunkiness of some retro-clones, HACKMASTER is a great game that can be should be taken very seriously in this competitive market.
 
 
Okay, Paizo made a lot of announcements over the weekend but on Saturday afternoon, they held a panel discussing their plans through 2015 and consolidating all their various announcements.
 
First up, Paizo entered into a long-term licensing partnership with Obsidian Entertainment, the video game company behind FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS and SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH amongst others. While your first impression might be that this is about the PATHFINDER MMO, it’s not. Production of that game is staying with Goblinworks. While they were tight-lipped on what other games Obsidian is working on (and there are other games), they did announce a tablet-based version of the PATHFINDER ADVENTURE CARD GAME.
 
The other big announcement comes in the form of OCCULT ADVENTURES releasing Gen Con 2015. This book will introduce psionic-style abilities to PATHFINDER in the form of six new psychic-based classes heavily influenced by spiritualism and mysticism. Paizo was adamant to state that they are not stepping on the toes of ULTIMATE PSIONICS from Dreamscarred Press (who adapted the 3.5 edition rules to PATHFINDER mostly directly) but will contain completely new rules systems for how to handle psychic powers and telepathy.
 
Another interesting statement, Paizo went through a corporate reorganization and is now simply known as Paizo Incorporated (previously it was organized as an LLC under the name Paizo Publishing LLC). The organization comes for boring financial and business reasons, but also comes as Paizo has been branching out so far outside of just publishing with their web store, toys, card games, video games, and many other products that they were far more tight lipped about (Lisa Stevens mentioned a productive trip to Southern California).
 
The Adventure Paths are set through 2015 as well. The current IRON GODS runs through the end of the year, GIANT SLAYER starts off in February of 2015, and HELLS REBELS will come out at Gen Con 2015. GIANT SLAYER was announced at PaizoCon and takes the party against tribes of giants. Meanwhile, HELLS REBELS takes place in the evil nation of Cheliax as your party joins the rebels to take down the diabolical government that controls the region and their Hellknights.
 
Coming out October this year is MONSTER CODEX, a book which breaks down twenty different classes and gives detailed background, society, ecology, and other information about the races. On top of that, each race gets ten pages worth of stat blocks of various classes and levels, letting you save a lot of time if you want to run a campaign themed around a single monstrous race.
 
The PATHFINDER STRATEGY GUIDE comes out in December and is NOT an optimization book. Rather, it’s meant to be another introductory-level product that’s more advanced than the BEGINNER BOX but not as overwhelming as the 500+ page core rulebook. It explains the concepts of the game and how various options can interact with one another with references to the core rulebook.
 
Aside from OCCULT ADVENTURES, the final book discussed was PATHFINDER UNCHAINED coming in April. This book contains optional rules for the game from simple drop-in mechanics that can be used on a character-by-character basis and others that completely replace other mechanics such as action economy, initiative, and combat. There will also be new build options, feats, spells, etc for several classes, and four different classes are being rebuilt from the ground-up. The Bard gets several new enchantment-based powers, the Barbarian will no longer involve redoing the math for half the character sheet when raging, the Monk will get a proper BAB bonus progression, and the Summoner will be rebuilt from the ground up because, in the words of Jason Bulmahn, “they’re broken”.
 
 
 
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Adventure League kicked into gear at Gen Con with several events run throughout the weekend. The biggest came Saturday night as a sold-out event was held with CORRUPTION AT KRYPTGARDEN. Dozens of tables run simultaneously with all the players experiencing the same events at the same time. This was one of the biggest adventure games I’ve ever seen. Players took on the roles of the different Forgotten Realms factions (Harpers, Lord’s Alliance, and others), with each faction having two goals to accomplish during the four hour event. Failure meant catastrophe for all the other players in the event, as one group failed to prevent a warning horn from being blown and caused a storm of arrows from the city walls.
 
This event was ambitious and insane to think of, coordinating that many groups to stay on pace and have their events interact in real time. But somehow, the Adventure League managed to pull it off due to an organized staff and some amazing dungeonmasters. The adventure ties into the TYRANNY OF DRAGONS event and is a bit of an opening salvo in the war to control Faerun’s future. If this is how Wizards of the Coast is going to debut their new Adventure League organized play, I can’t wait to see how they top it!
 
SUNDAY
 
In all honesty, Sunday was a very slow day for me news-wise. No more big announcements, no more major demos for me. So instead, I’m going to talk about the stuff I saw at the convention but can’t remember which day I saw it on (things started to blur together a lot). So here’s the rest of what I saw!
 
 
Formerly known as Codename: Morningstar, DUNGEONSCAPE is the officially licensed character creation, character management, and online tool for the new edition of DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS. To ease the concerns of many, NO SILVERLIGHT. That shit’s right out the window in this software, which is good since it’s going to launch on Android and iOS as well as a web-based format. Windows Mobile and Kindle Fire versions will be available sometime after launch.
 
The program looks slick, with a plain black background and easily readable text. The touch interface seems a little finicky in the alpha, but it was only a couple of times and on a unit that had been used to demo the product all weekend long so that might’ve had something to do with it. While it’s simple to follow for newer users, the program has a lot of customization options for house rules and character management.
 
It’s currently supporting all the options available in the PLAYER’S HANDBOOK with all the classes, races, class options, backgrounds, feats, and more. When building your character, you can use an array, point-buy, or roll (either in-app or roll physical dice and input them manually). Character portraits for your digital character sheets come from art from every edition third through fifth that I could see, and the option to add custom art is coming before launch. All the information from the PLAYER’S HANDBOOK needed to create a class is all in-app as well, with either the full information or specific page numbers to reference for more information. The character sheet itself is up to six pages, depending on the class options you have. Everything seems laid out very well, but it’s also modular so you can drag various stat blocks, equipment lists, spells, skill lists, etc. around to create the sheet that works best for you.
 
In other words, this app gives you far, FAR more control than either version of the Character Builder for 4e did. This wasn’t just built with organized play in mind as it gives you a plethora of options to change things as you like.
 
The Dungeonmaster tools aren’t as developed as the character creation at this point, but looks to be just as useful. This is not meant to be a virtual tabletop replacement (at least not yet), but rather an encounter builder and tracker. You can track initiative, monster HP, and most all other bookkeeping that can bog down a combat encounter. By setting up accounts, the DM can also use the app as an instant messenger to send secret messages to some players without alerting the others. Basically, this is a tool to help a DM run a game and players to play it, not to replace software like Roll20 or other virtual tabletops.
 
At this time, there’s no information on how pricing will work. Since this app could make book purchases redundant in some cases, not all the features will be free (though the BASIC DUNGEONS & DRAGONS rules will be). It’s not known yet, though, whether it will be a single app purchase with additional purchases as new sourcebooks come out, or if it will be a subscription-based service similar to DDi.
 
 
Keith Baker had a couple of announcements at Gen Con. I’ve previously reported on the second edition of GLOOM. The rules have been streamlined and cards reprinted for clarity during play, but original edition cards are still 100% compatible with the game. Bigger news in the GLOOM realm is the release of MUNCHKIN GLOOM and FAIRY TALE GLOOM in 2015.
 
FAIRY TALE GLOOM is pretty much what it says on the tin, a retheme of GLOOM. If you’re not familiar with how the game works, each player controls a family of four characters they are trying to make miserable and kill off. Meanwhile, you’re also trying to make your opponents’ families happy and keep them alive. The premise came from a friend of Baker who hated being mean to other people, so he made a game where the point is to make the other player’s characters happy.
 
But how would that work with MUNCHKIN, a game about screwing over your party to steal the loot from them? Well, unlike every other MUNCHKIN product out there, in this game you play the monsters of the dungeon about to get raided by a party of adventurers. Same gameplay, same fun style of MUNCHKIN, but in the same GLOOM format that’s a whole lot of fun to play if you’ve got an imaginative group who likes storytelling.
 
Speaking of storytelling, Keith Baker also announced that he and Jennifer Ellis are launching their own game company, Twogether Studios. The first Kickstarter for the company will launch Feburary 2015 and the company will focus on RPGs and card games as well as other ideas. Considering this is the man who brought us EBERRON and GLOOM, I’m more than a little curious as to what he can bring us next.
 
That about wraps things up for Gen Con. We’ll have an episode of Gamer’s Tavern up very soon with myself, Ross Watson, Michael Surbrook, and the hosts of The Archology Podcast, Vox and Mr. Johnson, as we talk more personally about our convention experiences. I also got a stack of brand new games to review which will be trickling through the coming weeks (possibly months with the number I got). As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Abstruse or email me your gaming news at theabstruseone@gmail.com.
 

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