Sean Patrick Fannon
  • Sean Patrick Fannon

    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.

    I'm going to stick with Theme Weeks for a while and see how that goes. As always, I'd appreciate you letting me know if you like the idea or not. If you do like it, then please feel free to suggest themes for the future! This week (which I rather imagine, like others, will recur more than once) is all about Magic, the Arcane, and how that plays into your game. Sure, there has to be a D&D-related Pick in there, but I think you'll find a pretty interesting mix of stuff across many fields here.

    My friend Mike Lythgoe (who I am totally stoked is getting ready to run Torg for us soon) asked for some suggestions on various sources to help Game Masters put together campaigns and run good sessions. He wanted system-agnostic stuff that would help make things go smooth (sorry, Mal). Thus was born GM Toolkit Week, a collection of some of my favorite sources for those who appreciate some advice, planning strategies, and handy tools for off-the-cuff needs.

    I'm baaaack! Yeah, sorry for the absence, friends, but things got a bit messy and sad for me for a bit, and I frankly let this just slip right off my desk. I am back in the saddle, and I've returned with a Theme Week - Eclectic Fun! Check out this odd array of gaming goodness that spans a rather different spectrum than usual.

    Yet another weekend where I am at a convention, which is enormous fun, but enormously exhausting. One of the Picks is in honor of said con, actually - I am at MantiCon, both as a member of the Royal Manticoran Navy and as their Gaming Guest of Honor. Meanwhile, take a look at the otherwise all-new stuff in the Picks for Savage Worlds, World of Darkness, Ninja Crusade, and Cartoon Action Hour!

    This week, I confronted my complicated relationship with FATE* (as well as my even more complicated relationship with grimdark and horror gaming**), which led to some really interesting discussions. Not a lot of grimdark among this week's Picks, but there's two FATE games, both of which I'd love to try as part of my exploration of this very popular game system. There's also the latest in the 7th Sea revival, a wizarding school setting for 5e fans, and our illustrious Russ Morrissey's O.L.D. entry in the WOIN revolution.

    AAannnnd... I'm back! Sorry for the last couple of missed weeks, friends, but Life Gets On You, as we say here at the Silver Unicorn Pub. Between the many, many professional projects I am juggling and a rather intensive convention season ramping up, I am scrambling for time to shove my head up over the waterline, so I thank you for your kind patience. This week's Picks run the gamut of ancient horror and near-future cyberpunk, far-future anime and a fantastic wizarding school. Oh, and some playing cards that are very friendly to the eyes.

    Becoming more fond of Theme Weeks, I decided this week should feature 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons products. While some may feel the release schedule of official Wizards of the Coast products isn't what they're used to (or what they'd prefer), it's important to note that there's a huge amount of material for the latest edition of the World's Most Popular RPG from both established publishers and super-fans with excellent design instincts and an abiding passion for the game.

    For the first time in a while, I dove into a week with a theme in mind. Welcome to the results of Supers Week from the Pick of the Day site - a collection of superhero gaming Picks across the spectrum. We've got some Champions, some Savage Worlds Supers, Mutants & Masterminds, and more! So make your choice - Capes! No Capes!
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