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Here's This Week's Ginormous AICN Tabletop! Abstruse Interviews The Dungeon Bastard! Info On the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Movie! And More!

Abstruse here. This week started off so well. Things were nice and calm. I managed to schedule an interview with Bill Cavalier - Dungeon Bastard himself, Tom Lommel. I got in some cool new games for game night. I was hacking together a conversion of TEMPLE OF ELEMENTAL EVIL for some players new to D&D. Then, all hell breaks loose.

First, Boing Boing decides it’s 2008 again and we need an article about Edition Wars. And not a neutral one, but one that’s blatantly anti-4e and anti-Wizards of the Coast. The author, Peter Bebergal, skews facts in order to drive home his point that open-sourced OSRs are far superior to evil corporate Wizards of the Coast. Only lipservice was paid to the re-releasing of older TSR-era materials in premium hardcover copies as well as online PDFs, somehow even turning this into a negative. And no mention is given, despite that most of the attacks against WotC’s D&D are based on “too many rules” and “requires accessories to play”, that D&D NEXT is addressing exactly those issues. In fact, there’s no mention whatsoever of the newest edition of D&D being playtested now.

The online gaming community, however, reacted pretty maturely by pointing out what a hit piece this article was and the controversy surrounding it died down quickly. When it comes to edition wars, I can’t put it any better than the Dungeon Bastard himself. 

So I mentioned Dungeon Bastard last week and his Kickstarter for the WORLD’S WORST DUNGEON CRAWL.  I was excited to interview Bill Cavalier himself, but found that the man behind the character, Tom Lommel, is a really cool and passionate but still laid back guy. No disparaging comments about my Halfling illusionist or anything. We actually ended up chatting for almost two hours about gaming and Tom is as passionate and knowledgeable about roleplaying games as pretty much anyone I’ve ever met.

Abstruse: So where exactly  did the Dungeon Bastard come from?

Tom Lommel: So I've known my producer Cindi Rice and her producing partner John Frank Rosenblum for six years or so. Cindi used to be the brand manager for DUNGEONS & DRAGONS when they launched the 3rd Edition. She left to join the entertainment. I worked quite closely with Monte Cook {Lead game designer for D&D 3rd Ed}, helping him with his forums, testing some products, things like that when he was working with Malhavoc Press. He said, “Hey, you’re moving to Los Angeles. If you want to meet somebody who's already in the business, go talk to Cindi.”

So, we were trying to find something that we could work on together. At some point she said, “I have this new camera I want to try it out. If you have something, let’s shoot it this weekend.”  Very last-minute, very fly-by-night. But you know, when a producer comes to you and says, “Would you like to shoot something for free, I will edit it, and you don't have to worry about the space or the camera equipment or the time or anything like that”; you immediately say, “Yes, I'm sure I have something to shoot”, whether you do or not.

So that's what I came up with the whole concept of the guy who's an “Adventure Coach” who tells people that they’re roleplaying wrong, and the right way to game. We put out that kind of an infomercial style video that we shot somebody living room.

Abstruse: I remember when that first hit online forums a couple years ago and the reaction was insane.

Tom: You know, one of my favorite bits is when the guys rolling the dice and {laugh}…and then he's like, “Oh, I’m getting good at it!” And Bill says, “That’s a 12-sider.” He could HEAR the details that it’s a 12-sider. I’m rather proud of that moment.

Abstruse: I remember watching that the first time and was about to be the fanboy I am and go on the comments and say “He’s rolling a 12-sider!” just as Bill made that joke.

Tom: One of my abiding principles of this thing is to keep its true to the fan experience as much as I can. I've been playing D&D since I was a kid. This is really kind of like a labor of love. Cindi and I are both fans and we wanted to create something for the fans. So we put that first one out and it got a good response. She's like, “Well, let's try and make this a series now.” We shoot this kind of the straightforward Ask The Bastard format, direct address to camera. We use an iPad for a teleprompter and we bang out anywhere from 10 to 15 episodes in a single day. So we shoot fast and we try to keep it cheap, but we want to keep the quality consistent.

That’s what we’ve been doing for two years now. We have switched up little bit we experimented with a format, the Super Dungeon Justice Arena. That was an experiment and more than anything else, I thought it would look cool. I really just kind of wanted to smash a bunch of different stuff with a sword. You know, hitting a half-gallon of milk with a giant two-handed sword makes for a messy cleanup afterward. The idea would be that we would shoot me talking, then smash the thing with the sword, and then shoot another episode. But what we ended up doing was shooting all of our footage first, and then just smashing stuff, like six different things in a row.

Abstruse: That’s got to be the only way you could do that on as scheduled like that. Otherwise, you’ve got to reset for the next scene and clean up all the crap. Instead, you just do the close-ups of it and make sure the table doesn’t break.

Tom: Yeah, we did have to pick up from the “Let's put it to the sword!” part, then smash some stuff, and then do the tag bits because obviously, if you have a giant container of macaroni salad and then you hit it with a sword, it's getting all over the place. We do the final shot, you have to do the wrap-up line for the final shot. I was hitting it so hard that we started to bend sword. Like just at the haft. It’s a really nice sword. I still have it and I'm really happy with the quality, but it wasn't really designed to repeatedly chop stuff against a reinforced table. Essentially I was beating it against a tree trunk. It's slightly bent, but I bent it back a little. Know your equipment, that's my advice gamers. Know your equipment.

Abstruse: I’ve got so say, one of the reasons why I love Dungeon Bastard so much is that he’s one of those characters where you see it instantly, “Oh, I know that! He’s exactly like So-and-So that I used to game with!” Was he based on someone specific, or more of an amalgam of all those “I’m playing the badass!” guys that always show up the table? 

Tom: It’s a combination of a couple of things. It is the definitely his blowhard personality who tells everybody at table exactly what they should be doing it has a very narrow definition of what gaming is. He has his one-dimensional worldview, and anybody who doesn't fit into which is wrong. But I also bring a definite amalgam of various gamers that I've encountered throughout my career. For good or for ill, we've all had that moment where we done something stupid or criticized somebody or accidentally tripped off the trap.

{Laughs} I remember one of my buddies we were we were in a tournament adventure and we were getting just pounded by a frost giant. He had decided, “You know what? This is a tournament adventure. I don't care. I’m going to trip off my Staff of Power and do a retributive strike.” And that was all well and great…except he was like a third deep in the party marching order. And he ended up taking out four guys. The frost giant died, but he ended up taking out FOUR GUYS because he didn’t give anybody a chance to back up.

So we've all been there. I think that's one of the more {the recording glitched here, and Tom either say “hilarious”, “hideous”, or “insidious”} things about the Dungeon Bastard in some respect is we all know that gamer. I think there's a certain portion of the role-playing population out there think “Oh, this guy’s a satire. This is a joke. I'm so glad I don't play with somebody like.” And then there's a certain portion of population who are like, “You go, Bill Cavalier! You preach it! You tell it like it is!”

I think there's room for both. The only thing I struggle with – And let me say, I’m an old-school gamer from back in the day. I cut my teeth on AD&D and I love all of those classic moments of adventure. I just look back so fondly on my career of sneaking into the Lost City and encountering the lone wizard who can cast a lightning bolt and destroy your first level party. You know, those kind of iconic moments. It still inspires me. On the other hand, I have also watched the hobby evolve during my career and sometimes, I like to let Bill be a little more enlightened and complex, open up his world little bit more. He's an old-school gamer who knows that he's got to keep pace with the new school world. And that's one of things I think makes the whole thing worthwhile.

You know we recently had an episode on men playing as women and I think the traditional kind of old grognardian, very narrow Bill Cavalier approach would be, “No role-playing! What's wrong with you?! A) Don't even role-play, and B) Play a girl?!” But I didn’t want to espouse that kind of view. For me personally, I don't want to promote that type of attitude within the gaming community. There’s a certain amount of people realize, “Oh, that’s a parody and satire.” But then there's also a certain element of the community that's completely lost on. So the way I structured the episode was, yeah okay. So your problem with him playing a female character, is he just not very good at it? What if he was really, really good at it? And all of a sudden the whole thing shifts, and I'm replaced by a woman wearing my exact same costume. And the character just continues to talk. I think it promotes an attitude of inclusivity without being confrontational about it, without being preachy about it, and without really breaking that Bill Cavalier type of character. Like I said, he's an old-school guy in a new school world, but that doesn't mean that he can't be contemporary.

Abstruse: I’ve got to say, the gender issue episode one is probably your second-best episode where Bill tackled a problem in gaming in a serious but still funny and entertaining tone. The best has to be the Edition Wars episode. I have never seen that issue dealt with as succinctly and perfectly.

Tom: Thank you. That had been cooking around in the back of my mind for a while. And here’s another thing I think is important series and the Ask the Bastard format. 95% of time, I'm answering a question that was actually submitted by a fan. These are real questions that I get sent to me. As the general rule, I don't make up questions. Personally, I think that’s kind of cheap. Now, I can't vouch 100% that they are not also playing the game of, “My character's name is Willie Winklefinger. He's a halfling bard”, but as long as the question’s good…

Somebody, of course, had written in and said, “What edition of D&D do you prefer? Do you prefer Pathfinder or 4th Edition or whatever?” We had written that scripts and put that thing together, and right around the time that D&D Next got announced, it came up in our content rotations. It was this weird synergy of, it was already in the atmosphere, I had put some thought into it, and come up with an answer. I think that's another way that Bill Cavalier is contemporary gamer with an old-school attitude. I think that's one of that's one of the aspects of the series that I'm most proud of.

I was a moderator on Monte Cooke’s forums for…years, and the one thing I love the about this community is that, for the most part, everybody’s pretty civil. But one thing I definitely learned is that nerds have passion. And I love that about the geeks. I love that about geek culture. When we go for something, we go full-on. But that also makes us a little bit antisocial now. It makes us a little irritating.

Role-playing games are very detailed systems that are a codification of laws and rules, and then laws and rules on top of that which deal with exceptions to the laws and rules that have been codified. It attracts a certain type of person who enjoys pulling that kind of detail. And once they’re convinced that they really love this thing…we geeks have a hard time saying, “Why can't you love it?! Don't you understand?! I spent so much time and am so invested in X Game System and it’s clearly superior to Y Game System. I tried Y Game System. Why don't you understand why you're wrong about how great this game is?!” So we get a little myopic about the whole thing. I understand that desire to fight your way to the top of the nerd pile. The great thing about Bill Cavalier is he just anointed himself King of the Nerd Pile.

Abstruse: {laughs}

Tom: He doesn't have to fight for it, he doesn't have to defend himself. Guess what? He's Bill Cavalier. He’s The Dungeon Bastard. He claimed the title. For me personally, just accept whatever. If some guy likes to play the weird mega-damage rules for RIFTS in the Palladium universe, that's great. I loved reading RIFTS. It was one of my favorite rulebooks to read, but I could never get through around combat on it just drove me nuts. Okay, you're wearing this heavy-duty armor. But if a hole opens up and a piece of mega-damage gets in, you’re vaporized inside the suit.

Abstruse: I wasn't allowed to play D&D growing up because of “Derp derp debil worship herp derp Chick Tract blah blah Pat Robertson”. So I played Shadowrun.

Tom: It's funny you talk about that. When I first got interested in D&D and I was young, we were at my parents’ friends to play cards or something like that. We would get relegated to the living room and they had a son who was about two years older than me. He was into D&D, and he had the Red Box or maybe just the Expert set. He had opened and there was the hex maps and all that sort of stuff showing “This is the cone of the three possible cones of Dragon breath, here’s the cloud, here’s the narrow cone.” And my mind’s just spinning. “What is this hex map?” “It’s got a DRAGON on it!” “Look at the weird…”

Anyway, I told my parents I wanted to play D&D and they were like, “{teeth sucking sound} I don't know about…you could really get hooked on that. It’s seems like Matt’s gone pretty far…” Then I was going to be laid up at home for like a week. I was old enough to be home by myself, but, “You need something to do so, let’s go to the bookstore. You love to read, you can get anything you want at the bookstore.” And of course, I went right over to the role-playing games little shelf display that they had with the D&D stuff thought, “This is never gonna fly.” So instead I got STAR FRONTIERS, which I read cover to cover to try to figure out. So my gateway to D&D was actually STAR FRONTIERS. I think I played two sessions of that. I brought the boxed set to school and some other kids said, “Hey, you play STAR FRONTIERS, you must play D&D.” “Well I can’t..I don’t..I’m…my parents are like…” “Come on Friday night, we’ve got a game together.” Then I was a lost cause. I’ve been playing D&D ever since.

Abstruse: Let’s get to the Kickstarter. Why Kickstarter?

Tom: Here’s the number one thing that I appreciate about Kickstarter. I have the creative control to do what I want. I've been very fortunate with the series to be able to do whatever I want. I have producers who are behind the project, but they also believe in me creatively and are like “Okay, Tom, if you want to call it ‘Super Dungeon Justice Arena’, it sounds like a mouthful, but whatever makes you happy.” And to the point where they allow me to give the editor meticulous notes on, “I don't like this”, “Can we change this”, “Trim this up.” I write the whole thing. I don't think happened with ever had an episode that's been ghostwritten, so I write everything from what I say to the slider text that comes on the sideboard. All that stuff is, it's my baby.

Which I think is important because it's for nerds. That authenticity is important. I like to be able to bring my experience to the fanbase who has a similar experience. That's why we chose Kickstarter. It allows you to put an idea out there, propose something, and then people either believe in it and back it with their dollars, or they say “That’s not for me, I’ll pass” or whatever. So I don't have to you know bands to some money guy who's giving me notes on, “Hey, why don’t we bring that Vorpal Lady back for every episode.” I would love to do, that there will be fine, but that’s not my vision for every single episode. I don't have to bend to some sort of investor who's waiting for a huge payout. I don’t have to bend to a particular sponsor, to change the episode in one way or another.

I want to put something together that the fans will be interested in, that they will find rewarding, that something that they want us to spend their money on. That's why Kickstarter. To me, the advantage is you have hundred percent creative control and you also know your market up-front. You know your fans are behind what you promised. Now there's a huge burden on me to deliver an awesome gaming experience. I feel like I can do that, but that's the level of trust that were establishing. I've made a proposal. I get to control it 100%. If you believe in 100%, you can give me money and we’ll make it happen together. I think that's the beauty of Kickstarter.

We are offering what I think is a unique product. We’re offering an adventure, which is great. I think it’ll be entertaining; I think it’ll be fun to read. My entire intent is that you can take the thing and play at your own home game. It's not a parody module, in kind of the traditional over-the-top pop culture reference way.


Tom: You know, EXPEDITION TO BARRIER PEAKS, it’s not…like the examples I’m talking about, they're just laced with pop-culture references.

Abstruse: Like the CASTLE GREYHAWK one Gygax did.

Tom: Right, or anything like that. It’s not designed to be a spoof of anything other than the classic dungeon crawl trope. So no, you're probably not going to run into robots or “magic wand” that is actually a gun that you accidentally blow your own head off with. There’s not going to be a “Justin Bieber Room”. I want this to be a fun experience, an entertaining read, and entertaining adventure. But I don't want to your filled with a bunch stale jokes that are immediately going to be dated and six months when you pick this up in and “What? Why is he? Why is he talking about keyboard cat?” It’s like making a Paris Hilton joke today. It’s like, really that's the most original thing you have? I feeling that that humorous kind of lazy and low hanging fruit anyhow.

Abstruse: It’s the difference between Mel Brooks spoof movies and like the “Movie Movies” or—

Tom: Yeah, SCARY MOVIE. Exactly. So my number one goal at this thing in terms of the adventure is to not only create an entertaining adventure to read, but to create an entertaining adventure to run. The thing that makes it the worst is that it takes the worst of all the clichéd tired dungeon crawl tropes and rams them together into the basis of the adventure. I think there's opportunities there to have a good time with original pre-generated characters. It’s a 32 page adventure. I'm hoping to include pre-generated characters, obviously the map, and if we can get them, illustrated handouts. I would love to have those.

But the other the flipside is we’re also putting on an event. We’re going to run it live at GenCon Sunday morning, 10 AM to 1 PM with gamers who have backed the project in front of people who are hard-core gamers. It's good to be, #1, an interesting event if you’re a fan of the Dungeon Bastard. Want to play the Dungeon Bastard way? We’ll now put it on film for the first time. But that also means we’ve got this huge cost in terms of shooting all the different players and making sure that we can hear all of them. We put together a professional product, and I want this to be just as professional as anything else we’ve done.

So that's where all our up-front costs really got sunk. You’ve got to hire camera guys and a sound guy and there’s extra editing time in order to get all that stuff together. So that's where our costs got a little inflated, but it is just by necessity. We try to keep it as tight as possible.

I wanted to do three things with this. Number one, I think it's cool that you can take something from Bill Cavalier’s world and use it at your own personal gaming table. I wanted to provide something to the fans that was an actual value to them in their game. I didn't want to just come and asked people for money to continue my series. I wanted to give people tangible value for their passion and their dollar. I wanted to create a Kickstarter that said, “Even if I only casually watch the Dungeon Bastard, I'm interested in what product he has put together why he thinks this is going to be the world's worst dungeon crawl and yet still be a kick ass time.” So that was number one.

Number two, I wanted to do a live event that shakes up the format of the Dungeon Bastard series, and I think this does that in a huge way. This is not just going to be Bill Cavalier sitting in a chair at the head of the table and shouting at people. Now we’re totally off the rope in terms of what's going to happen. I mean, this is a live event and, to be honest, I have no idea what the players are going to do, how they're going to respond. I have no idea what the crowd’s going to do. I have a deep background in improv, so I’m not too concerned about that. But it certainly adds a whole new dimension to where we've been in terms of the series. So I'm excited about the opportunity to break the format of the traditional direct-address-to-camera thing and actually get interaction with the fans in the game. And to film that and be able to share that. So many people are like, “Man, I wonder what it's like to game with the Dungeon Bastard!” Here, we’re going to explore that.

Number three, I wanted to raise the profile of the series and take it to a place where more people hear about it, more people subscribe, more people are interested this goofy kind of thing that we've been putting together. I think we've been successful with that the KS campaign, and I think it's just going to even heightened even further with it being at GenCon and all the events that are going on.

Abstruse: And the coverage that Epic Level is doing, the official coverage for GenCon.

Tom: So Epic Level, if you read the PR, it sounds like “Epic Level is partnering with GenCon to produce…” And that’s the straight-on legal aspect of it. But what it ultimately when it comes down to is Bill Cavalier’s going to be on site covering preshow on Wednesday. I’m sure we’ll get footage of people setting up booths. We’re going to go to the beer garden for the official GenCon beer tapping they’re going to have on Wednesday night. I'll be covering events Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Doing daily recaps, trying to pound this stuff out and keep the fans engaged; the people who can't physically be there. I’ve been there every year since I first started going back when I was in Milwaukee, and it’s definitely something that I carve time out for, but I also understand that, you know, your kid’s going to college this year or you got laid off and money is tight.

I’m really humbled and honored to be able to cover the con for the people who are back home were like, “Aw, man, I wonder what’s going at GenCon. My Twitter feed is just annoying with ‘This sounds cool’ and ‘That sounds cool’”. And I want to help you share the experience of the fans back home. So I’m really, really excited about going and I'm really honored that that we worked something out GenCon to make that happen.

Abstruse: So how are you guys going to do that? Is it going to be after the fact, like you shoot and then edit and post it online editor, or will there be any live streaming?

Tom: I don't think we…I don’t want to…I can’t commit to one particular format or another, but the basic idea is that we will cover several different aspects of the con throughout the day, and then hunker down in our hotel room and edit the stuff together and put together a recap. We may do some live stuff, I don't know. That's all dependent upon…

Abstruse: Budget, technology?

Tom: Budget, technology, and what GenCon wants. Ultimately, it's their show, and I'm willing to showcase whatever they want showcased. I guess it is different than the straight-on web series.

Abstruse: So should we expect something sort of like what you did I think it was last year where you covered the con?

Tom: So last year was completely freelancing that. That was as we could fill in Dungeon Bastard time between my regular con schedule, because I've got a lot of other stuff that I do at GenCon. So that was sort of a micro-experiment. This year, we see that stepped up to a significant level in terms of covering the costume contest or the opening of the great hall or that sort of thing. We didn’t cover those events. Last year was little more kind like roving interview type of stuff. I sat down and talked with Monte Cook and Wolfgang Baur and some other people. And that was just me freelancing the whole thing to just see how it would work out. Also, it was a great opportunity to, again, bring Bill out of the chair into the world. So yeah, I would expect something similar but a little more focused on the highlights of what's going on at GenCon.

Abstruse: What is the one piece of gaming advice you would love to give, but is not in-character for the Dungeon Bastard?

Tom: I think the most common piece of gaming advice I can’t give is “Play whatever you want.” That's not in Bill Cavalier's worldview. Bill Cavalier is strictly a head-down, bash-the-door into Dwarven Barbarian kind of guy you know he's got one approach to solving everything and that approach involves Great Cleave. It can be fun to play that character, what may be surprising (or maybe not so surprising) is that in my own gaming experience, I usually end up playing some sort of ranger or thief or sorcerer type of character. The straight balls-to-the-walls fighter guy isn’t one of my mainstay characters. Although I’ve seen plenty of guys playing that. Whatever you enjoy, play whatever character find most interesting. But Bill Cavalier doesn’t believe that all. Bill Cavalier believes there’s only one choice and he doesn’t care about what’s interesting, he cares about what’s optimized.

Abstruse: The only thing he cares about is what’s between “Roll initiative” and “They’re all dead now.”

Tom: And if we can keep that to the shortest number of combat rounds possible, even better. Though I think Bill has a certain panache when it comes to combat. He wants to crush stuff in epic, spectacular fashion. So it’s not just about like wiping out the goblins, it's about hitting a goblin so hard your ax goes through his skull and breaks the nose of the goblin behind him. And I have to say that’s actually kind of the point of commonality between me and Bill is that, I really believe in let's find a way to have that marquee moment in the game session where the player gets the do something cool.

Abstruse: I’ve got one last question for you. What games are you playing right now?

Tom: I have to know what Bill knows, so I play—I’ve got that old-school background, but try to keep it in the new school type of atmosphere. So I've had an ongoing campaign for the past seven years here in Los Angeles, and we have played everything from Monte Cook's ARCANA EVOLVED to PATHFINDER to 4th Edition for almost two years, right now we’re playtesting D&D NEXT. I had a GAMMA WORLD game that I ended up adapting to the MARVEL HEROIC ROLEPLAYING GAME.

Abstruse: The Margaret Weis ones?

Tom: Yeah.

Abstruse: Such a shame.

Tom: Yeah, end of the line. So I mean, I backed the FATE stuff on Kickstarter. I really like to stay in tune with what's going on in the gaming communities. I try a little bit of everything. I still love old-school role-playing, whatever that means. I like to stay in the fantasy genre. I also like to play my games with a little bit of humor. I don’t think that surprises anybody. My GAMMA WORLD game, one of the things I loved about it was it was gonzo. And I think that's really how I would describe the WORLD’S WORST DUNGEON CRAWL, is that the plot is completely predictable, it’s completely on rails, there's no real player choice involved in the story. And yet it has this gonzo element to it that just dials everything up to 11 and still makes it maximum fun time.

At the end of the day role-playing games are really about the interaction between the players and the GM, and everything else is just window dressing. It’s a wonderful form of collective imagination and invention.


I’m sure you’ve heard about the announcement of a DUNGEONS & DRAGONS film by Warner Bros. There’s a little snag, though, according to Deadline. Back in 2008, Universal Pictures struck a deal with Hasbro for exclusive rights to all their toys and games. Hasbro owns Wizards of the Coast, so along with BATTLESHIP, TRANSFORMERS, and MONOPOLY; Universal got the rights to MAGIC: THE GATHERING and DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. Except that the rights to DUNGEONS & DRAGONS were still owned by producer Courtney Solomon (who directed the original D&D film released in 2000). But those rights are just to the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS name and not to the various campaign settings, novels, and characters. So don’t expect a Dragonlance or Drizzt film from Warner Bros.

As far as the rights themselves, there was an arbitration hearing after Hasbro purchased Wizards of the Coast, and it was determined that Solomon did indeed hold the rights. Since then, both Solomon and Hasbro have released film projects using the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS name, the former releasing BOOK OF VILE DARKNESS and the latter releasing the animated DRAGONLANCE: DRAGONS OF AUTUMN TWILIGHT.

This live-and-let-live attitude seems to have vanished as Hasbro announced last week that they also have a DUNGEONS & DRAGONS live-action feature in the works, with screenwriter Chris Morgan (writer of the last five FAST & FURIOUS films) making his directorial debut on the project.

So what does this mean exactly? It means lawyers are probably going to get involved. So most likely, both projects will get shelved until the rights are sorted out, leaving fans to twiddle their thumbs. And both studios will miss out on the timing of releasing their films on the 40th anniversary of D&D next year.

Margaret Weis Productions announced their first product under the new FIREFLY license will be released at GenCon this year. The book, GAMING IN THE ‘VERSE, will be available for pick-up at GenCon or delivery after the convention for $29.99. This preview book is a limited edition exclusive that will only be available at the convention or through the MWP webstore, containing previews of the game and two adventures for the system. You’ll also get a 20% discount off the core rulebook. Drive Thru Games will have separate PDF downloads for the included adventures and preview characters.

Fantasy Flight Games announced LORD OF THE RINGS: THE CONFRONTATION will finally be reprinted with the third quarter of this year. This two-player Stratego-style competitive board game was highly received in its initial run as bringing new elements to the classic strategy game format. The new printing will include an updated rulebook with more clarification on the rules, a more compact design, and new artwork.

If you picked up the newest SETTLERS OF CATAN expansion, EXPLORERS AND PIRATES, but you prefer to play with the 5-6 player expansions, fear not. Mayfair Games announced the 5-6 player expansion for the top-selling independent board game will be released in September of this year.

The popular epic fantasy RPG EXALTED is finally getting a third edition. This game defined an era for roleplaying games during the 2000s, where the over-the-top insane gameplay was encouraged strongly by the rules and setting rather than simply exploited by powergamers and shoehorned into a system not designed for that style gameplay. The Kickstarter for the revised game already has over $250,000 pledged after just launching Thursday. The pledge level to receive the core rulebook as a PDF is $30, while a print copy is $110. There is also an option for an “Ultra Deluxe” version that will have an embossed “gold” metal cover (Note: not actual gold) for $375, but that requires at least 200 backers at that level. If you want to get in, you’ve got until June 8.

Well, I’ve already started to talk about Kickstarters, so I might as well keep going.


Some of you may have missed the Dwarven Forge Game Tiles Kickstarter, but want to get in on the 3D terrain action. You’ve got two options still open on Kickstarter, the first from Itar’s Workshop. This set is more in style of what Dwarven Forge did, but the aesthetics and materials are different so don’t expect cross-compatibility here. The basic unpainted dungeon set is set for a $45 contribution level. T.J.H Models has a slightly different take on terrain, using laser-cut pieces that are magnetized for increased stability. The pieces here are more of a grab bag, though, as there are no “base sets” but rather individual prices for various pieces or several bundled options. This Kickstarter hales from across the pond, so remember that £1 is about $1.50 when making your pledge.

WHAT THE FOOD is a non-collectible card game with a very simple but interesting premise. You’re back in high school and a food fight breaks out. Your goal is to use your ammo of nachos and hot wings to try to hit your classmates, giving them Humiliation Points. The person with the fewest Humiliation Points when the Principal comes to break it up wins. This game falls into that category of ZOMBIE DICE and FLUXX as those quick set-up games it’s always good to have on-hand when you’re waiting on that intense 3 hour game of CATAN or PANDEMIC to end to you can join in something else, or those late nights after half the group’s left but the other half wants to keep going. It looks like a lot of fun. The Kickstarter is 1/3 of the way to its goal and has almost a month left.

That’s all for this week. You can follow me on Twitter at @Abstruse and wait for me to get in drunken arguments with game designers over a TV sitcom, or you can email me telling me about the awesome Kickstarter I left out at PLAY MORE GAMES!

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