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New Artwork for ‘The One Ring'; August 2011 Release Confirmed

2011 May 28
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by Stan Shinn

The latest blog post from Cubicle 7 confirms an August 2011 release date for the One Ring. They also showcase some new artwork. One quote:

Chock full of incredible artwork by leading Tolkien artists, including John Howe, along with rich and detailed background information, The One Ring’s game engine focuses on the themes and character types that give Middle-earth its unique place in the annals of fantasy. There has never been a Lord of the Rings game that’s more evocative of Tolkien’s unique vision. The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild releases in August, 2011. The core release consists of two core books in a premium slipcover: Loremaster’s Guide for GMs andAdventurer’s Handbook for players. (source)

The game is looking good. I will be very interested to check out this game and its game mechanics.

Paizo to Launch Pathfinder Pre-Painted Minis This Fall

2011 May 26
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by Stan Shinn

Paizo impresses again. Whereas Wizards of the Coast has begun exiting the pre-painted plastics miniatures scene (they still have some, but have stopped producing much of their line) Paizo has now entered the fray. From the Paizo blog:

Paizo Publishing and WizKids Games announce a new partnership whereby WizKids Games will produce a special set of pre-painted plastic miniatures for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box, an introductory boxed set slated to release in October 2011.

“We’re excited to bring the Pathfinder property to life via 3-D pre-painted fantasy miniatures” said Lax Chandra, President of WizKids Games, “Paizo’s Pathfinder RPG has emerged as a leader in the RPG category and we are looking forward to working with their great brand.”

“WizKids essentially created the pre-painted plastic miniatures category, and they’ve only gotten better in the years since,” said Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens. “We are thrilled to work with WizKids to bring our iconic characters to tabletops all over the world.”

Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box pre-painted fantasy miniatures will be available at and through WizKids distribution partners worldwide starting in the fourth quarter of 2011. (Source)

This is a great development. Busy gamers and GM’s don’t always have the time, patience or talent to assemble and paint metal miniatures, but pre-painted plastics can add flavor to any game table.

Cool, Convenient Low-Cost Con Costume

2011 May 25
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by Stan Shinn

After seeing the photos from Dallas Comic Con 2011, where over 10,000 attended, I got to thinking. What’s the coolest costume for the least cost when attending a comic book, anime or gaming convention? I think the person who did the Lego Head must be the winner in this department.

A “Lego Guy” costume just needs the head, probably composed of a hat, layered with duct tape and cardboard and some sort of bright cloth. Best of all, you could just take off the head when you want, and instantly revert to “Normal Guy” when at a table actually playing a game.

Three Ideas to Make ‘The One Ring’ Successful

2011 May 21
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by Stan Shinn

I am very excited about the upcoming Fall release of The One Ring.

I know that there is not a lot that has been announced about the product yet, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to mention some of the things which I believe would help spread its adoption by the gaming community:

1) Multiple adventure modules

I hope there are multiple scenarios/adventure modules or whatever you want to call them available soon for the product. Many good systems are released but months go by with no commercial adventure modules being available for the system. For busy GMs such as myself, this can be very limiting. Having adventures hooks or 1 sheet adventures (like Savage Worlds) from either Cubicle 7 or third parties is pretty key to success in my opinion.

2) Limited ‘community use’ content

I like what Paizo has done with Pathfinder:

Since so much of gaming these days involves Blogs, Portals, Play-By-Post forums, VTTs, etc., having some limited things players can do with game content without risk of getting sued really aids getting the game ‘out there’ on the internet.

3) Third-party publishing opportunities

I know with a licensed setting this can be a challenge. But to the extent you can let folks have some guidelines which, when followed, let them publish content to expand or aid in your system, this is really important. I like what Savage Worlds has done with their two licensing systems for example:

Ideally there would be both Fan (not-for-profit) and a Licensed (for-profit) options for publishing.

Here’s one way I think this could work given the licensed setting restrictions from the Tolkien IP holders.

In the U.S. at least, the laws are such that you can publish materials that are ‘compatible with ______’ on the Label. You can be a Third Party and create a light bulb that is ‘compatible with GE light fixtures’ without violating GE’s trademark in making that statement. So there are so many aspects of Middle-Earth (Orcs, Trolls, Elves, etc.) which are not trade-marked or under IP restrictions, seems like third parties could put out stuff which supports the core product. It would really be cool to have a web site with a dozen or two free or cheap adventures which are ‘compatible with The One Ring’ which would allow people to plug into the Tolkien setting. So long as you tell people what they can and can’t do and give them a path to create companion products, it can really aid the adoption of this new system to the gaming community.

Anyway, just wanted to add my two cents on this topic, and I’m really hoping for success for The One Ring RPG!

What Motivates Indie RPG Publishers

2011 May 19
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by Stan Shinn

What drives indie RPG publishers to create products? Matt Finch, Swords & Wizardry creator, said this:

When you post up something on the internet, whether it’s a free resource or not, there will be several types of responses. Many people will type “Cool!” whether they’ve read it or not. These people, god love ‘em, are wonderful even though you know that they’re supporting you for what you’re doing, not for the quality of that particular resource. You can’t draw any particular conclusion from “Cool!” but without these guys I believe there wouldn’t be any free old-school gaming resources on the internet at all. The reward for producing a free resource is entirely ego-driven; you want people to see your work and enjoy it, and if there is no response to it you will assume that nobody read it, or perhaps that they did, and didn’t like it. Almost certainly, if you get a zero-reaction, you’re not going to bother to do all that work a second time. Source

Matt Finch goes on to say:

This, I think, is one of the major arguments in favor of for-profit publishing. The money might not be financially significant, but it’s psychologically invaluable as feedback. I definitely think it keeps people producing more resources than they would if they relied solely on the internet for the pats on the back that are so vital to a writer’s continued willingness to put pen to paper. Source

Rachelle Gardner, a Literary Agent, had this to say about writers wanting validation for their work:

It’s perfectly natural to want validation for your work. We all want our words to be read, and we want some kind of proof that what we wrote isn’t dreck. We know it’s subjective, but still, we crave the affirmation. Musicians want people to connect with their music. Painters want their work appreciated and enjoyed—and purchased. Those of us who write blogs want validation through our hit counts and comments. And most people who write books want that stamp of legitimacy that a traditional publisher brings.

I hope you don’t feel apologetic for admitting you want the validation. I think most writers, past and present, want this. Great writers like Hemingway and Steinbeck seem to have craved it. Most present-day successful authors admit to it. If you care deeply about your craft, your words, the message you’re sharing with the world, how can you not care about the world’s validation?

The method of getting validation is probably going to change over the next few years. For some, it won’t come through a traditional publishing deal but perhaps through more direct means—people buying your books and responding to them. For now it’s still reasonable to hope for a traditional publishing experience, but I also think it’s helpful and important to recognize your need for validation and begin to explore your assumptions about how to attain it. Source

So it seems to me that indie RPG publishers want affirmation for their creativity. We’re social creatures by nature, and publishing is one way to gain that affirmation we seek of our creative work.

Write Your RPG Notes in FocusWriter

2011 May 16
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by Stan Shinn

I spend a lot of time editing text as I prepare for gaming sessions. Focuswriter is a great, theme-able text editor which allows you to do your RPG writing in a stylish way.

FocusWriter is a fullscreen, distraction-free word processor designed to immerse you as much as possible in your work. It runs on Windows, Mac or Linux. The program autosaves your progress, and reloads the last files you had open to make it easy to jump back in during your next writing session, and has many other features that make it such that only one thing matters: your writing. FocusWriter utilizes a hide-away interface: simply throw your mouse to the top, bottom, or right side of the screen to gain access to a number of customizable options and useful information, then flick it aside when you’re no longer interested.

Some themes for FocusWriter I like are Brown Paper and Renaissance.

Download FocusWriter here.

Turn iPad into Virtual Tabletop

2011 May 13
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by Stan Shinn

I ran across this iPad app called Battle Map which helps you to quickly and easily create high quality maps for your pen & paper RPGs — and travel through them as your group adventures! Some features they tout:

  • Make Beautiful Maps. Draw by simply dragging your finger – Battle Map will take care of the rest and complete the edges to make your map look amazing.
  • Create Your Adventure. Choose from a library of objects to add to your maps, such as monsters to fight, treasure to find, hidden traps, and openable doors.
  • See Like a Character. Battle Map can display the map bit by bit as players explore, and reveal tiles based on line of sight and illumination.
  • Connect to a Projector. You can connect your iPad to an external projector or monitor to make your adventures even more thrilling.

Learn more about this product here.

Brontës Invented Imaginary Realms, Created Fan-fiction

2011 May 12
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by Stan Shinn

Charlie Jane Anders writes:

The Brontë sisters are best known as the authors of literary gothic tales like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, but in their childhood, they worked with their brother to invent the made-up realm of the Glass Town Federation.

According to the British Library, which is featuring the Brontë’s hand-written Glass Town sagas as part of its new exhibition on science fiction, the four Brontë siblings invented the kingdoms of Angria and Gondal, and the capital city of Glass Town. “They became obsessive about their imaginary worlds, drawing maps and creating lives for their characters and featured themselves as the “gods” (“genii”) of their world. Their stories are in tiny micro-script, as if written by their miniature toy soldiers.” (Read the full article here)

Interesting that the early pregenitors of RPGs should trace their way back to literary giants such as these!


Details Unfold on Cubicle 7’s ‘The One Ring’ Product

2011 May 12
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by Stan Shinn

A press release from give the following details:

The One Ring™, the fantasy roleplaying game set in the world of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to be released by Cubicle 7 Entertainment in partnership with Sophisticated Games, is one of the most eagerly awaited RPG releases of the year. With gamer and fan anticipation growing toward the August 2011 debut, Cubicle 7 today released some details about the format and content of the game line’s first release: The One Ring™: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild.

The adventure begins five years after the events of The Hobbit. The defeat of the Dragon, the ousting of the Necromancer and the stunning victory of the Battle of Five Armies has made the land a much safer place. The Free Peoples of Wilderland are looking beyond their own borders for the first time in generations. Merchants are opening up previously-abandoned trade routes, bringing prosperity to the region and renewing bonds of friendship between long-estranged cultures. But while Lords and common folk become complacent in their new-found security, much evil still lurks in Wilderland. From the Orc-holds of the mountains to the dark and corrupt depths of Mirkwood a darkness waits, recovering its strength, laying its plans and slowly extending its shadow.

Small companies of heroes set out to explore the newly-opened frontiers. Whether their goal is to protect their homes, recover the treasures of a lost age or carry out the orders of their King, they could find themselves in the front lines of the battle against the ancient enemy, in adventures over the Edge of the Wild.

Focusing on the region of Wilderland – from the east of the Misty Mountains through Mirkwood to the Lonely Mountain – the game covers the geography of the region and its major cultures. Immersion in the setting is at the heart of the game. Players create their characters from the cultures of the region, integrating them fully with the setting and giving them a personalstake in the unfolding events. The wood elves of Mirkwood, the dwarves of the Lonely Mountain, the Woodmen of western Mirkwood, the Bardings of Dale, Beornings, or hobbits that have ventured into the region after Bilbo’s return to the Shire, are among the characters featured in the initial release.

The August release is the first of a series of core game titles. 2012 and 2013 will see similar core releases expanding from that point, first with provisionally titled The Errantries of the King and then leading up to the War of the Ring. Each of these will expand the attention given to Tolkien’s world as well as the range of playable cultures and races. “You could compare our approach to the way Fantasy Flight has handled the 40K franchise,” commented Dominic McDowall-Thomas, Cubicle 7’s Director of RPG Development. “We have a huge setting to explore, and this lets us approach it in stages, covering each element in detail instead of trying to stuff an encyclopedia of information into the initial release. It also helps players build their campaigns in a dramatic fashion. With Adventures over the Edge of the Wild as the starting point, the grand story of The Lord of the Rings is starting out, in the background, but players start at a point where they can influence events instead of just being along for the ride.”

This approach also allows the game to take on an epic, multi-generational character. While characters of long-lived races can span the different setting periods, others can pass the torch to their heirs (spiritual or ancestral) in later periods. “Some people have compared this aspect of the game to the classic RPG Pendragon,” Dominic went on to say. “It fits really nicely with Tolkien’s long view of his world.” In fact, the game is highly focused on Tolkien’s themes, with an emphasis on such values as hope, valor, and wisdom reflected in the rules as well as the background material.

The initial release will consist of two core books: the Loremaster’s Guide for GMs and the Adventurer’s Book for players. A full line of supplementary products will follow, with early releases including a Rivendell sourcebook and a campaign guide.


Free Pathfinder Gaming June 1-3 at A-Kon

2011 May 10
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by Stan Shinn

Pathfinder will have a huge presence at A-Kon (June 1-3) this year.

You can register at There are currently have 6 slots and3 tables per slot. Gaming at A-Kon is FREE!

For more information check out the web site or email