Ever since Chewbacca defeated R2-D2 in holochess, geeks have wanted a virtual table top for their games. Things have taken a major step in that direction with SurfaceScapes, a proof-of-concept app for Microsoft surface created by students at Carnegie Mellon University. It's based on the D&D 4th Edition rules, and those who've seen it are suitably impressed:
- blog.seattlepi.com: Dungeons & Dragons, Microsoft Surface are a match made in Blackmoor
- KoboldQuarterly.com: The Perfect Table: A Return to D&D SurfaceScapes
For those who haven't seen it before, Microsoft Surface is a sort of digital coffee table; it's got a large, flat touch sensitive screen (kind of like an upsized and hard-to-move iPhone. SurfaceScapes puts an interactive map on the Surface, which you can interact with by moving around specially designed miniatures. All of the rules you need to run the game (e.g. movement, powers, etc.) are built into the game, and you can interact with your character through a handheld device (e.g. an iPod touch or smart phone).
The Gamer Traveler has posted a round up of the "Games & Travel" blog carnival from January 2010. This was a cool topic, and one I wish I'd taken the time to participate in (perhaps I will, retroactively).
While I think many campaigns tend to hand-wave away travel (perhaps after one too many random wilderness encounters during their Advanced Dungeons & Dragons days) it can make for some great adventures. Heck, one of our most memorable Star Wars campaign arcs involved our heroes bouncing out of hyperspace into a proto-star nebula. They barely escaped the nebula with their lives, the ship's outer hull having been melted into what we're now calling "star forged armor".
Without a doubt, the big news Star Wars this month is the announcement that Wizards of the Coast is not renewing its Star Wars license and is ending the Star Wars: Saga Edition RPG and Star Wars Miniatures product lines. It's a sad day for Star Wars gamers but I suspect that the game will continue to have a small but fierce following in coming years, just like West End's d6 Star Wars does.
In happier news, Galaxy of Intrigue was released in late January, and we have one more source book -- The Unknown Regions -- before the end of the line
Some suspected it, but now it's official: Wizards of the Coast is dropping the Star Wars license, and with it, the Star Wars: Saga Edition role-playing game and its counterpart, the Star Wars Miniatures Game.
OneBookShelf, the company that runs the virtual RPG storefronts DriveThruRPG and RPGNow, is offering a $20 mega bundle as a fundraiser to help the survivors of the Haiti earthquake. Donate $20 to Doctors without Borders through the web site, and you'll receive $1,500+ worth of PDFs. View complete list of products in the bundle, broken down by company. The bundle sale ends January 31, 2010.
If you've ever wanted to try out Kobold Quarterly, but didn't want to put down the change for a single issue PDF or subscription, here's your chance. Open Design is making issue #10 available as a free download ... but only until the end of January. Here's the official word:
G4TV's The Feed interviews the developers at Gearbox Software about Borderlands, including their decision to ditch the realistic graphics in favor of cell-shading and the "Diablo for Guns" game mechanic. It's a good read for fans of the game, and offers some nice insights into the risks and payoffs in this surprise hit.
My gaming group recently returned to D&D 4th Edition with a megashot of the Revenge of the Giants supermodule. I talk about our experiences with Wizards of the Coast's homage to the original 1st Edition Against the Giants tournament modules on Episode #121 of The Tome Podcast.
I'm joined by Quinn Murphy of the excellent At Will 4E blog and regular Tome host Jeff Greiner. Check out the podcast.