Sean Patrick Fannon
  • Sean Patrick Fannon

    Those in the know spent this week checking the temperature in the Nether Realms and wondering if Beelzebub might not be trying on ice skates. Why? Because that which never seemed possible came to pass - Steve Jackson Games is now on DriveThruRPG, currently selling 4th Edition GURPS products. They are also challenging the notion that PDFs must inherently be devalued (which, for those of us who strive to make a living at this, is a pretty big deal). Onward!

    This week, I am off to the incredibly fun and entertaining convention called Con on the Cob. I've been a Guest every year except for two, and I am proud and thrilled to be a part of that weird, wonderful family that award-winning artist and beloved weirdo Andy Hopp brings together (along with the fantastic Heather Hopp). In celebration of returning to the wilds of Northern Ohio once again, I've called this Oddly Wonderful Week and brought you some of the stranger RPG products I know about.

    This was Finders Keepers Week, a celebration of product lines and categories dedicated to supporting Pathfinder and Starfinder players and Game Masters. As the first entry below explains, the focus here is a series of things a GM or player might delve into for a consistent set of enhancements for their gaming. With so much 3rd-party support, most folks appreciate having product lines to rely upon, rather than one-offs that might otherwise throw off the balance of the game.

    With Halloween falling on a Tuesday next week, most folks are going all-in with their celebrations and related activities (at least here in the States) this weekend. That's why I decided to call this All Hallows' Eve Week and featured horror-and-spooky gaming products for the theme. I might have gone a bit overboard with the Friday Picks...

    This week, I chose another great writer and creator to spotlight, this time the incomparable Monica Valentinelli. Writer, designer, editor, line developer, and advocate for inclusivity and the creation of art across multiple media, Monica is a friend and an inspiration to me. She's also a lot of fun to hang out with, and enhances the entire hobby with all she does.

    The sudden snow of Monday inspired this week's theme (even though we got back up to the 70s here in Denver). Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, various signs of the cold and wintery can be found, and the last Pick of the week speaks especially to the imminent arrival of Samhain. Naturally, the cold weather also means a lot more impetus to stay inside... and play games, right?

    Every day of the year on this planet has its share of death and tragedy, but I think most can agree there's been a rather intense and poignant spate of reminders lately of just how dark and painful things can be. To that end, I wanted to shine the spotlight on gaming things that celebrate healers, diplomats, and adventuring that celebrates other means of conflict resolution. I am pretty thrilled at how many beautiful and uplifting things I found. (PS - I rearranged the order from the actual week's chronology due to the small image Evil Hat used for Do.)

    The release of the long-awaited Powerchords inspired me to put the spotlight on my dear friend and valued colleague, Satyros AKA Phil Brucato. Most well-known for his craftsmanship on Storyteller-driven games, you can find his urban fantasy sensibilities flowing magically out into other spaces as well. I am greatly looking forward to what he does next...

    Swords-and-Sorcery seems to have made a serious surge in the gaming zeitgeist as of late, and not just for OSR fans. Mighty-thewed barbarians, frightening sorcerers with dangerous arcane power, and a complete lack of plumbing and lattes - what's not to love! This is the genre that breaks it all down into savage, survival-of-the-fittest adventure, with quests for glory and gold the driving force of any journey that starts in a tavern, but which so often leads to deciding the fate of the world. Welcome to the Week that was Positively Barbaric!

    There's been a lot of pain and difficulty front-and-center in recent days. In the midst of the challenges and the tragedy, there've been plenty of tales of real-life heroes to inspire us. When the darkness falls and hope falters, that's when heroes step up. That's the inspiration for this week's theme. I've been clinging to the need for heroes in a world so troubled, and I feel that gaming will always give us that chance to embrace the heroic ideal and indulge in the dream that we, too, can step up and do what needs to be done.

    It's been a helluva week all over the world, with some notable events over here in the northern part of the Western Hemisphere. As I type this, the southern part of Mexico got hit with an 8.1 magnitude earthquake. Texas and Louisiana are still cleaning up and rebuilding from Harvey while the most terrifying storm to ever come out of the Atlantic bears down on Florida and the South (having already chewed up and spit out some Caribbean islands). I keep expecting to see John Cusack go screaming past in a beat-up RV. Look for what I've done so far to try and help folks in the epilogue section below. Meanwhile, it was Stuff & Things Week for the Picks, with some books dedicated to tools and gear for your characters to handle anything.

    In the wake of the terrible disaster that fell upon Houston and the rest of that region (and, in many ways, is ongoing as of this writing), I dedicated my first Pick of the Week to pointing out many different avenues to which folks could contribute. I can also report that a bundle is currently being constructed for the purpose of providing aid to the region (more on that when I can). The rest of this past week was dedicated to games that work in some way to elevate, inspire, or just raise the joy in all of us. Welcome to Uplifting Games Week!

    Starfinder dropped at Gen Con 50, and what was supposed to last through the weekend sold out in six hours on Thursday. Seriously, Paizo planned for a good reception and printed a lot more than they normally do, and it still flew out of that booth faster than a dragon late for a bison buffet. I am very proud for my friends at Paizo, especially lead designer and good buddy, Owen K.C. Stephens. Thus, the theme for this week, showcasing one of the most prolific and enjoyed writer/designers of the day.

    As you read this, I am among the teeming masses thronging the halls, game rooms, hotel lobbies, and restaurants of Gen Con 50. I struggled a bit to come up with a good theme for this week, as I'd already covered the ENnie Awards nominees to some significant degree. Then I remembered my first Gen Con ever, and that led me down the merry path you see below. It doesn't hurt that I am deeply involved in superhero gaming and game development right now, as those who've been reading this regularly will attest.

    This Theme Week thing has worked out pretty well so far, so for the foreseeable future, I'll stick with it. This week, thanks to the release of the Critical Role setting book, I decided to showcase a number of products designed specifically to use with the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Not only as a tip-of-the-hat to this new product, but also an acknowledgment of one of the most important games in the history of Gen Con. I have some interesting thoughts about what I should do for Gen Con week itself, but I am keen to know if any of you have suggestions.

    Man, have I traveled a lot this year! In the case of this weekend, it's only a handful of miles, but I am still going to be away from home and in a hotel for a convention. It's a great con, mind you, run by people very special to me (including my own Belovedest, Carinn Seabolt (Editor-in-Chief of Evil Beagle Games and the always-amazing Nikki Ebright). In honor of MALCon, the theme for this week was Myths & Legends, which you can see took us all over space and time (see what I did there?).

    This week's theme is Cut It to the Core Week, inspired by the release of Third Eye's Pip System, as well as the fact that you can get all kinds of core rulebooks and other goodies for 25% off thanks to it being Christmas in July at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow. Having the core engine of your favorite game is not only a gateway into all the stuff you really like from your favorite publishers - it's a toolkit to begin crafting your own great ideas into a playable iteration for all to share.

    With the ENnie Awards coming up at Gen Con soon, and voting fully underway, I thought another look at the various nominations was in order. So, once again, I've chosen to delve into certain categories and pick something to highlight while pointing out some other entries in the same field. This week, it's the Judges Spotlight Winners, Best Family Game, Best RPG Related Product, Best Art, Cover, and Product of the Year.

    Between the appearance of randomly generated (and often dead) characters from the fun & cheeky original Traveller web-based randomizer and the general release of the new Star Trek game, it seemed like this would be a good week to Take to the Stars! Though not one of this Picks this week, one should not forget our fine host's most excellent N.E.W. as another option for hitting the spaceways.

    Hey, guess what? They've announced the ENnie Award Nominees this week, so I made the Picks all about them as a celebration! I am particularly thrilled to see so many diverse products on that list, and some serious contenders that don't necessarily represent the "folks who always win." I've enjoyed looking through all of this and picking out some products you should definitely take an interest in. I'll probably use the ENnies for some future Theme Weeks as we go, as well.
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