No surprise to anyone by now: Wizards of the Coast has started another round of Christmas layoffs. This year, so far, Rob Heinsoo (D&D 4e Lead Designer), Logan Bonner (Adventurer's Vault), Chris Sims (4e Monster Manual and Dungeon Master's Guide) and Stephen Radney-McFarland have been cut.

For those of you who are gamers, you realize that there are some groups you prefer gaming with and some you don't. The same is true for MMORPG's (or any large, persistent world) - we find a group with similar goals to hang out with (or adventure with or whatever). And the same is also true of gaming groups whose focus is board games.

Two women and a man, all dressed in white jumpsuits, sit around a table with a bowl of pennies in its center. Each of them has a small stack of pennies and a printed form. In front of the older woman sits a scrap of paper with the words "a taffy stretching machine" written on it.

"... and my father looked down at me and said, 'If you don't want to ride the roller coaster, you don't have to. You can wait here in the candy shop while your brother and I go,'" says the older woman. "I was scared." As she speaks, the remembered terror creeps into her voice.

Her expression suddenly goes blank. She turns to the man. "What did I do or say then?" she asks, offering him the single penny in front of her.

The nominees for the 2009 ENnie Awards were announced today; HELLAS: Worlds of Sun & Stone (my game) was nominated twice. Voting begins on July 24 and runs through August 1. Winners will be announced at the 9th Annual ENnie Awards at GenCon on Friday, August 14. Be sure to vote for your favorites!

If there's one immutable law all GMs know, it’s that players love loot. Wizards love that uber wand of disintegration. Fighters want the +12 hackmaster. Street samurai want that move by wire 4. How do you give them what they want without losing game balance? Simple. Present it like an Evil GM.

On June 24, 2009 in Columbus, OH, aethereal FORGE will present the official release of the Vox RPG. This is an admittedly small affair in the grander scheme of things, but for me it represents the culmination of nearly three years of effort. Whether or not you are ultimately interested in Vox itself, the process by which Vox was created is -- at least in my opinion -- an interesting one, and filled with interesting coincidences and synchronicities. I firmly believe that Vox has been published precisely when it was meant to be.

Recent versions of D&D have sought to promote the idea that parties of characters should be presented with a formulaic series of encounters with challenge ratings that are balanced according to their level, plus or minus a little. Here I would like to discuss the value of asymmetric encounters, in which the party are faced with a challenge that is trivially easy for them, or else so difficult they have little or no hope of success.


Violence and the media are so often seen together they have almost come to be taken as being (and it can be argued have often become) the same thing. And why not? The great majority of the stories we love are violent, sometimes in a cinematic, swashbuckling fashion, and sometimes in a dramatic, traumatic bloodbath. In this article I will be looking at violence in fiction, in art, with a particular focus on violence in roleplaying, but still an overall approach. A small caveat before I begin, however. I have no interest in this article in debating whether the amount of violence is a good, bad, or neutral thing. I am here to write about how violence is handled in fiction, and how it can best be handled. Aesthetics, not morals, is my focus here.

Some four and a half years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing The Gamers, the progenitor of -- and a sort of prequel/sidequel to -- The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. Despite what one might think, the two films are quite different in style, and I think they need to stand alone for the purposes of a review. Thus, while I will refer to the original in a few places, you won't see me saying anything like "Dorkness Rising is a better movie" or "The original was maybe just a tad funnier." I think both statements are true, but I also think they're beside the point.

Almost any GM can use a hand now and then. Some could use expert ideas as a springboard for the next adventure or campaign, while others (like myself) may be so busy and/or lazy and could use ready-made adventure or maybe a campaign. This March saw the birth of a new project intended to help DMs run a D&D 3rd Ed. campaign in the form of Dungeon-a-Day, by one Monte Cook. More on this multi-media, progressive, subscription based endeavor by an industry veteran in the interview below.

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