Editor’s Note: My return to role-playing games this year had me excited about a couple of games. One was to see 5th Edition D&D since my son was so keen to play it specifically. The other was Vampire: The Masquerade.
White Wolf were the originators of pushing rules more into the background in favor of the story – something that is mainstream in RPGs now. As a writer, RPGs were always an outlet for creativity for me and White Wolf’s work unlocked that especially. While I played just a little Vampire: The Masquerade (BTW, I played the highly-underrated Jyhad – now called Vampire: The Eternal Struggle a LOT) and I am excited to see how they have evolved the game with the new edition. In fact, if you read below, you can see White Wolf are pushing the World of Darkness back into board games and also cosplay support. Read on:
Following yet another incredible GenCon, we would like to revisit all of the exciting things happening in World of Darkness — White Wolf Entertainment’s supernatural story universe. From the phenomenal launch of Vampire: The Masquerade Fifth Edition (V5) — which sold out at the White Wolf booth, followed by a standing ovation during their panel, White Wolf Entertainment has a few other interesting projects that you may have missed:
Vampire: The Masquerade Fifth Edition (V5) Core Book — The V5 core book was launched in conjunction with the start of GenCon 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. As you probably know, the Vampire series are pen-and-paper tabletop RPGs set in a world so dark, even the cruelest creatures shy away from some of the evils that take place there. The corebook is the first entry in the new fifth edition. The V5 Camarillaand Anarch sourcebooks will be released in November. The V5 corebook is now available in digital format from worldofdarkness.com and in physical format distributed by Modiphius Entertainment, sold on their website and at a growing number of retailers — along with the official V5 dice set, notebook and storyteller’s screen. Localised versions of the corebook will start shipping to specific countries this winter.
Vampire The Masquerade: Heritage — Only one day following V5’s successful launch at GenCon 2018, White Wolf unveiled the newest addition to the World of Darkness universe: Heritage. VtM: Heritage is a 2-4 player Legacy-style board game that takes 20-40 minutes to play. Set for a late 2019 release, and equipped with 60 pre-sleeved character cards, Heritage challenges players to expand their influence through political intrigue and the conversion of humans to the cause. More Information: http://www.vtm-heritage.com.
Chicago By Night – Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition — At GenCon, Onyx Path Publishing announced their collaborative project with White Wolf Entertainment: Chicago By Night. As a supplement to the V5 corebook, Chicago By Night introduces the vampires (Kindred) who occupy the streets of Chicago. New loresheets and scenarios advance the Vampire metaplot and introduce a variety of new stories and characters. Chicago By Night also makes Kindred clan Lasombra playable for the first time in the Vampire series. More Information: https://uberstrategist.link/Chicago-By-Night-Info.
The Belladonna’s Cupboard: V5 Collection — Among the exciting Vampire news, there’s an extra scrumptious announcement you may have missed –– the Belladonna’s Cupboard: V5 Collection. Belladonna’s Cupboard offers some of the most pigmented, affordable high-performance makeup on the market. Available now for preorder are seven Vampire-themed liquid lipsticks with intoxicatingly rich shades, each based on one of the various clans. Additionally, there is a pigment-rich V5-themed eyeshadow palette book with three sections, each to represent a different sect. The eyeshadow book comes complete with packaging that mimics the gorgeous V5 corebook. Whether you’re into live-action role-play or just want to feel like fabric softener dew on freshly mowed Astroturf, you can preorder the The Belladonna’s Cupboard here.
Dungeons and Dragons has been an inspirational tabletop game for decades. The worldwide popularity of this fantasy game from E. Gary Gygax and David Arneson has allowed the game to branch out to other genres including popular video games, board games and arcade machines. Now, Dungeons and Dragons has inspired a whole new type of game: slot machines.
Konami Holdings Corporation, the company that makes amazing games for consoles has now released two slot machines themed to Dungeons and Dragons entitled, ‘Conquest and Treasures’ and ‘Enchanted Riches’. While many Hasbro board games have been used as the inspiration for slot machines in the past, this is the first time that a tabletop role-playing game has been used as a theme for slot machines.
“The players we see this day and age are out looking for entertainment, and there’s a lot of entertainment value in the new Dungeons & Dragons slot machines,” said Randy Reedy, Vice President of slot operations for Casino Valley View. “They really enjoy the experience. Just watching them, they get excited about additional bonuses within the free spin feature, which takes them to the progressive functionality. It’s very fun and interactive.”
Creating a slot machine that uses TV show icons such as characters from Star Trek, comic book heroes, and video game titles as themes has been an ongoing trend with both brick-and-mortar casinos and online gaming providers. Even cutesy themes are being used to attract players that have a taste for all things fluffy and pink, which is evident with titles such as Spin Genie’s uber popular, ‘Fluffy Favourites’. Konami hopes that their ‘Conquest and Treasures’ and ‘Enchanted Riches’ will not only engage fans of the tabletop game who are old enough to play in casinos but also patrons who appreciate groundbreaking graphics and animation.
Both slot machines will have a “4-level progressive” and “Xtra Reward” features, which are functions popularized by Konami. For people new to their games, Konami’s Xtra Reward and 4-level progressive are features that can be unlocked within the game. The 4-level progressive is like a video game’s optional quest where players can win big prizes, while Xtra Reward is a payout line that allows players to bet bigger and receive better prizes.
About the author:
Leo Smith has been an avid gamer since he was a child. A huge fan of Dungeons and Dragons, he also enjoys The Sims and Command and Conquer, among other titles.
Header image credit: ggrasia.com
More than a few fans of the old podcast and some close friends noticed a significant shift in my game plays sometime in 2014 but not all of them asked the obvious question directly. Most were coy about it, trying to find a casual way to say what was surprising them about the type of games they saw being featured on my social media feeds. “That doesn’t seem like a game you’d be interested in playing,” said one Facebook friend after I posted pictures of my third play of Mice & Mystics last year (and after three the previous year).
The observer was correct; anyone who has been listening to my podcast during the last decade or following me on Twitter, Instagram or other social channels with any regularity could say the same thing, “You’re a dyed-in-wool eurogamer – how is it that you’re playing all of these Ameritrash/Experience games? Have you gone born-again Ameritrash?”
The answer is essentially ‘no’ but that doesn’t tell the whole story. I will endeavor to do that now.
A few years ago, I was playing a game with my family and yet I was feeling like a failure as a ‘gamer dad.’ The reason for my feeling was simple – even though I was playing a fun family game with my kids, it was WAY below their age range.
We were playing Qwirkle and, while I love that game, I was realizing that my teen and preteen had been stuck in a loop playing games that were too young for them. Now, Qwirkle is good enough for anyone to play but the truth is that my kids were old enough to take on more challenging games but I’d failed to introduce them to the next step in more meaty games and so I was left still playing casual and younger-audience games with my kids.
Some time before, my good friend Devi Hughes, the man behind the Orange County Board Gamers (he and his wife), had talked about playing Le Havre with his kids who were younger than my own. Le Havre! Meanwhile, I was sheepishly playing 6+ and maybe 8+ games with my kids who were both three years older than his two kids. How did I let this happen?
Now, any gamer dad is happy to play games with their kids, almost regardless of what it is. That’s just being a good dad. But I saw the potential for my kids to play more serious games and felt like I’d missed some invisible shift from kid games to something more substantial. Sure, I played with friends and my wife will take on just about any game as long as she gets a play or two in with me first. But I wasn’t bringing my kids fully into the hobby like all gamers plan to do on one level or another.
I’d done so well with them at a younger age. They had played over 200 different games before they ever played Monopoly – and, even then, we only played it when I bought a stupidly cheap copy of it during the holidays and gave it to them as a joke Christmas gift. To my eternal delight, they hated it and my daughter actually uttered ‘It’s stupid that you just roll a die to move in this game.’ Seriously – be still my eurogamer heart.
None of the joy in their derisive attitude towards the hallmark of bad board games could change that I’d missed a transition somewhere. I decided I needed some dire measures to get things back on track.
Soon thereafter, I declared that, as a family, we’d be playing through the complete Alea series in order to kickstart the eurogamer souls I was supposed to be inspiring into my offspring. My daughter had grown less interested in games in the last year but she was sort of pressured into participating. I will say that once she got to the table, she would always have a good time and get into it (she’s a trifle competitive – actually, they both are. Good.)
As we were proceeding through this gauntlet (chronicled elsewhere), my son asked about Dungeons and Dragons. I explained that I’d played the game from elementary school to high school off-and-on but hadn’t played any role-playing games since the 80’s (I guess I’m dating myself there). I had no interest in role-playing games and when I moved on to purely board games (which had played before I ever tried RPGs), my personal group of gamers moved on with me. Other than my friend Clark occasionally complaining, everyone was fine with the move and no one suggested we go back to GURPS, Champions, Call of Cthulhu, Traveller and D&D.
Yet, as I say, a good gamer dad encourages any kind of games (even video games, which I produced for many years so I was happy with that, too) so I sought out my friend Devi again, who was raising his kids on both board games and RPGs. He was kind enough to run a game of Dungeons and Dragons for us. As it happens, my longtime friend and fellow gamer, Chad Smith (who develops and designs with me sometimes), brought his own son to the game as well. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one whose offspring wondered about the game we had so enjoyed in our youth.
Soon enough, we settled down in our game room and played a massive 4th Edition game of D&D with a few adults and a bunch of kids. While Devi did a great job running the game, it wasn’t my cup of tea. It was about six hours of play for a couple of combats against some kobolds and some time walking down a road. My eurogamer mind imagined how much delightful cube-pushing, auctioning, trading, and negotiation play I could have enjoyed during that one long afternoon. I calculated the mix of fillers, meatier games, maybe a middle-weight or two thrown into the list. That would have been a better day than this excursion to kill kobolds and goblins while teenagers fussed about whose turn it was and wanting to go to town to ‘buy new boots.’ While that wasn’t my RPG experience in the 80’s, I’d always avoided players who did that sort of thing. The lengthy process of resolving battles felt flat to me. I wondered how some of my friends had so strongly embraced 4th Edition when it came out. Devi was a competent DM. The kids were a bit rambunctious and all but the whole thing just fell completely flat. I thought that clearly these experience games and Ameritrash just weren’t for me but I wasn’t done trying.
(to be continued)
In a way, I’m surprised I bothered to read this book.
I haven’t really played role-playing games since the 80’s, when I was in high school. But in the last year, my teenage son had expressed an interest in playing them just to give it a try. So, we tried a 4th Edition D&D game with a friend and, despite the earnest effort on the part of our awesome DM, it wasn’t for my son or me. A long time and little action. Yawn-tastic. Later, at the urging of the same trusted and great friend, I played an ‘indie RPG’ and it was also not at all for me. We have, however, had fun playing Descent (well, the one time) and have actually had a really enjoyable time playing Mice & Mystics from Plaid Hat Games with our friend and his elementary school age son. Since my son thinks of our friend’s son as a kind of little brother, he’s having fun spending time with him even if the M&M game is more geared to the younger crowd.
All this RPG-like activity led me to pick up Ewalt’s book, Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It, and I’d hoped for a good history of the game’s origin, which I knew little about. I knew Gary Gygax was the man and then he wasn’t the man so much, that Wizards of the Coast swallowed up TSR when they were in dire straits, only to sell the whole shebang to Hasbro a couple of years later. But that’s about it.
Unfortunately, Ewalt’s book is decidedly gonzo (I shouldn’t say this in a negative way since I tend towards the same) and is much more about him than about the game. Sure, you get a serviceable account of the early days of TSR/D&D that worked well enough when it stayed on point. Sadly, the book is dominated more by Ewalt’s geek-guilt, professions of love for the game, and tiresome ‘fantasy interludes’ written in italics that document the D&D game he’s playing in. I think there’s an ancient joke about how much fun it is to hear about another person’s RPG games and reading about them is even worse. Tracy Hickman he is not and when I read the title of the book, I did not expect so much of it to be devoted to this doofus and his adventures in desperately finding D&D games when he travels, his brief exploration of LARPs, and his eventual attempt to DM a game himself.
When the book sticks to the history and the fun encounters the author has when he makes a few pilgrimages to D&D’s historical locations (Lake Geneva, Gary Con, and some other things I can’t recall), it’s good and pretty breezy. But I had to push hard to get through the chapters when he went on and on about his game, his goofy obsession with it, and shame over being such a dork. It’s 2015, dude, D&D dorks are everywhere. Your geek guilt just seems silly now.
In the end, I found myself skipping over the hard-to-read italicized adventures and stuck to the history. I’d advise readers interested in learning about the history of the game to do the same. Helpfully, Ewalt suggests some more on-point books at the end of the tome and I’m toying with the idea of reading one of those but not right now. I think I’ve had enough D&D for the time being and it’s back to the board game table with me.