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Tag: D&D (page 1 of 3)

Eat Laser, Mutie! Gamma World is Back!

The new 4th edition D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game has just hit the shelves, and I had to write an article on the early days of this venerable roleplaying game setting.

Way back in the 80s Gamma World was one of our gaming favourites, along with Empire of the Petal Throne, Advanced D&D, Star Frontiers and Call of Cthulhu. Gamma World is roleplaying in the post-apocalyptic wastelands of a future Earth, and one of the most fun and fascinating roleplaying game settings every created. The game has seen a lot of editions over the years, but the setting is just too good to go away, and it’s great to see this new (stand-alone) version using the D&D 4th edition rules.

If you’re a fan of the computer game Fallout, you’ll feel right at home here in Gamma World; in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the makers of that game took a lot of inspiration from it. The original game was released by TSR (Tactical Studies Rules)—the company that originally published Dungeons & Dragons—way back in 1978 (I still have two of those original sets). The rules weren’t too different from the boundaries set by original D&D, but this was only the second science-fiction roleplaying setting (after Metamorphosis Alpha, a game set on a huge starship), and really started to show that the roleplaying concept could be applied to any genre that you cared to name.

In the game, players took on the roles of mutants, mutanted animals, or ‘pure strain’ (ie, non-mutated) humans. Crazy mutated animals were one of the game’s memorable features—things like giant bunnies carrying shotguns were par for the course in this post-apocalyptic world—and rolling up a series of weird mutations (physical and mental) for your character was always fun. Another feature of the game were the so-called Cryptic Alliances. These were bands of non-player characters who shared a common goal in the future world, for example the Knights of Genetic Purity, who wanted to exterminate all mutant humans; or the Followers of the Voice, who worshipped computers.

Another unique feature of the game was the collection of flowcharts that players had to navigate when they encountered technological items from Earth’s past; flowcharts that could lead to being able to figure out how the laser rifle worked, for example, or having it explode in your face. One of the challenges of game mastering a Gamma World campaign was describing items in such a way so the players would, like their characters, not be aware of the item’s use. So when the character found that funny metal object, you as game master might have known it was just a can opener, but the player might convince himself it was a sonic blaster!

Unlike D&D games, which tended to be set in dungeons or castles, with only the occasional wilderness jaunt, Gamma World really featured the wilderness, with players travelling over radioactive wastelands or ruined cities, encountering the remains of old spaceports or shopping malls, interacting with groups of survivors all with their own weird survival agendas. It really opened out the possibilities of roleplaying.

Gamma World went on to see six more editions by various publishers and using various different game systems—this new edition is the seventh! When it comes to roleplaying settings this one is definitely a survivor, and just a brief time in the post-apocalytic wastelands of Gamma World will show you why. If you love roleplaying and haven’t yet discovered the Gamma World, now is the perfect time to roll up a few mutations, grab that battered laser rifle and hunt some mutie!

There are already expansions on the way: Famine in Far-Go and The Legion of Gold are the names of two original modules, so it looks like that the new system is really appealing to old fans.

The D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game offers hours of rollicking entertainment in a savage land of adventure, where the survivors of some mythical future disaster must contend with radioactive wastes, ravaged cities, and rampant lawlessness. Against a nuclear backdrop, heroic scavengers search crumbled ruins for lost artifacts while battling mutants and other perils.

This product is a complete, stand-alone roleplaying game that uses the 4th Edition D&D roleplaying game system as its foundation.

160-page book with rules for character creation, game rules, and an adventure
2 sheets of die-cut character and monster tokens
2 double-sided battle maps
Cardstock character sheets and mutation power cards
Mutation power card deck
Loot power card deck

New Campaign for Claustrophobia

For those of you who play the excellent dungeoncrawling game from Asmodee, Claustrophobia, check out this brand new PDF download. Deliver Us From Evil is a four-scenario campaign that let’s players gain experience and skills.

Great to see this fantastic game being supported so well online!

Descending into the Darkness

Most gamers love a good dungeon delve, especially those older gamers who were brought up on roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons, but no longer seem to find the time to prepare and play regular sessions in between paying a mortgage and bringing up children! Boardgame dungeon-crawls are a good way to scratch that roleplaying itch in a relatively short time. I’ve discussed the range of dungeoncrawling boardgames before, and the recent release of Castle Ravenloft is a worthy addition to the genre; but one game has now become so comprehensive that it really deserves an article all of its own. That game is Descent: Journeys in the Dark.

Descent was first released in the big ‘coffin-box’ format back in 2005 by—you guessed it—Fantasy Flight Games. It was an instant hit; a box chock-full of high quality plastic miniatures (20 heroes and 60 monsters, including big demon and dragon figures), a set of dungeon tiles, lots of cards and counters, and a book of adventure scenarios, all designed in inimitable style by a company who really has taken on the mantle of the ‘Games Workshop of the 21st century’ when it comes to boardgames. For the gamers shuddering at the high prices demanded for old copies of Warhammer Quest on Ebay, it was their dungeon-crawling prayers answered.

Descent is heavily based on the earlier licenced sci-fi game Doom, which was the first to use the ingenious device of specially printed dice to deliver range, hit chance, ammo and damage all in one roll. Doom is a fantastic, fast-moving and very tense game that I highly recommend checking out if you never tried it.Descent took the dice system and developed it further; adding a bit of complexity, and a huge range of options and variants in the form of decks of magic items, weapons, armour, spells—all the classic ingredients of your typical dungeon delving expedition. The game is semi-cooperative: one player is the Overlord, and controls the dungeon and the monsters and the various threats that the heroes must overcome, and the other players cooperate as heroes to defeat the Overlord’s schemes.

A word of warning however, a game of Descent takes time. So much time that a good gaming buddy and I have a running joke after a long exhausting evening of boardgaming (and several beers), and one of us is usually facing some work meeting early the next morning. Inevitably, someone will pipe up with “fancy a quick game of Descent?” You probably need to set aside four or five hours to play this complex game, though of course it depends on your players, how quickly they work together, and how experienced you are with the game. There are lots of decisions to be made; some people find the complexity a bit high for what is supposed to be a good monster-bashing, others love the huge range of options and wealth of items. Regardless, Descent a game for the gamer who loves a long, involved game experience.

There’s a further challenge if you’re getting into this mother of all dungeon-crawlers—do you paint the figures or not? There’s no denying it’s a daunting challenge, especially if you made the mistake, as I did, of waiting until you bought several expansion sets before tackling that big pile of unpainted figures. There is also no denying that there’s nothing like playing the game with fully painted figures; it really is a visual feast. I recommend a production-line approach, and don’t forget to make good use of those excellent Games Workshop washes. With a base coat, wash and a quick highlighting pass, you can get that horde of plastic painted and on the table in no time.

Fantasy Flight was quick to capitalise on the success of the game and the following year we saw the first expansion: The Well of Darkness (2006). Six more heroes, 27 new monsters (including stone golems), more skills, treasure, counters and map tiles, and some expanded rules such as allowing the Overlord (the player who controls the monsters) to customise his deck of Threats.

Another year, another expansion. 2007 saw the release of The Altar of Despair (2007) and another 6 heroes and 21 monsters—love those Chaos Spawn—and vicious things like spiked crushing walls and dark relics for the Overlord to inflict on the hero players.

The next year there was something different; The Road to Legend (2008), a campaign system that put a whole new spin on the game. This came with an overland map of Terrinoth, FFG’s fantasy world and the setting for Descent, and for the first time you could play an interconnected series of adventures and bring your heroes out into the wilderness to travel between cities and dungeons, slowly building the strength to defeat the schemes of one of a choice of evil Overlords. You’ll need some dedication to play a campaign right through; perhaps something like 20 long sessions of play—but this is as close as you can get to a roleplaying campaign without the roleplaying game. The dungeons tend to be smaller and shorter, but both the players and the Overlord can accumulate experience and upgrade their abilities. The game even comes with several illustrated cardboard boxes to store your components in between sessions. Be careful though; there are quite a few changes from ‘normal’ Descent, and I recommend checking out the latest FAQ (not to mention my own rules summary and reference sheets) to head off those rule ambiguities at the pass. For those with the time and commitment however, this is a dungeon delving experience par excellence!

But the expansions hadn’t stopped coming! Next was Tomb of Ice (2008), adding some snow and ice-themed tiles and beasties (21 monsters and another 6 heroes) and some new elements such as Feat cards.

For those who prefer the long haul campaign, the latest expansion to be released was Sea of Blood (2009). Much like Road to Legend, but this time set on the islands and high seas of Terrinoth, Sea of Blood really expands your games of Descent into a completely new melieu. There are even ship’s deck tiles so you can battle at sea, play through boarding actions, fire cannons and assault islands (and don’t forget the ocean map board expansion). And who doesn’t love a bit of pirating with their fantasy?

Finally, the Quest Compendium is a hard cover book chock-full of Descent sceanrios by some of the best known personalities in fantasy gaming.

So there you have it, a quick overview of the dungeon/wilderness/sea-crawling behemoth that is Descent: Journeys in the Dark. All the talk at the moment might be about it’s much newer and simpler cousin Castle Ravenloft, but for shear weight of stuff, Descent can’t be beat. Brush off your copy, buy some expansions, and descend once again into the darkness!

by Universal Head

For more information about Descent in this article, visit Fantasy Flight Games (

and BoardgameGeek ( You can also find rules summaries and reference sheets for Descent at Headless Hollow (

Universal Head (, has been designing for clients across the globe for more than twenty years, and playing games for much longer than that. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent an entire year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for a computer game. In between he’s designed just about every form of visual communication: corporate identities, websites, packaging, brochures, even postage stamps. He also created the game websites His blog site is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for popular boardgames.

What’s Hot: Castle Ravenloft Board Game

Evil lurks in the towers and dungeons of Castle Ravenloft, and only heroes of exceptional bravery can survive the horrors within. Designed for 1-5 players, this boardgame features multiple scenarios, challenging quests, and cooperative game play.

D&D Players Handbook Races: Tieflings

New options and character hooks for tiefling characters.

This expansion of the Player’s Handbook core rulebook explores the infernal secrets of the tieflings. It presents D&D players with exciting new options for their tiefling characters, including unique racial feats, powers, paragon paths, and epic destinies. This book also includes ways to flesh out your tiefling character’s background and personality.

Gaming with Cthulhu

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an American author who created an entire subgenre of horror fiction that has become a rich source of inspiration for authors, illustrators, cartoonists, designers, and of course, gamers. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos seems to get more and more popular every year, despite his lack of success during his own lifetime and his somewhat archaic writing style.

Cthulhu is one of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones, enormous and cosmically powerful beings who once ruled over the earth in the distant past and, with the help of ancient texts and insane cultists, plan to do so again. Cthulhu sleeps in the dread city of R’yeh, sunk deep somewhere beneath the Pacific ocean. One day, it is said, Cthulhu’s cosmic plan will come to fruition and his city will rise again, waking him from his age-long slumber… But Cthulhu is just one character from Lovecraft’s astonishingly imaginative oeuvre. Bizarre cities lie in the frozen Antarctic, watched over by the vast and terrible Shoggoths … inbred villagers breed with fish-people in the rotting town of Innsmouth … the pages of the dread Necronomicon lure unwary researchers on to the most horrific of revelations… and all manner of horrors lurk in the mist-shrouded and haunted woods of New England …

One of the reasons why Lovecraft’s work continues to be so popular is that it evades definition. The power of his stories came no so much from what his characters saw, but what they did not – the otherworldly, terrible, monstrously powerful things that lurked at the edge of sanity. He cleverly relied on the reader’s imagination to create terrors beyond the boundaries of his written words. That’s why it is so difficult to create a game that really captures the unique flavour of his fiction – the more you try to define it or illustrate it, the more it loses its power. The characters in Lovecraft’s stories often literally go insane when confronted by the ultimate secrets they investigate. All of these games take interesting approaches trying to capture that unique atmosphere, but it could be argued that none completely succeed—but since Lovecraft’s work means so many things to so many people, that doesn’t matter in the least.

The grand-daddy of Lovecraftian gaming is the roleplaying game Call of Cthulhu, first released in 1981 by Chaosium and now in its 6th edition. As in many of Lovecraft’s stories, the emphasis in this game was on investigation and exploration, with the ever-present threat of insanity looming over your investigator character. Combat was a very occasional and usually deadly occurrence. A long line of supplements explored the Mythos in settings ranging from Victorian London to the 23rd century.

Without a doubt, the most well-known and most-played of boardgames based in the worlds of Lovecraft is Arkham Horror and its many expansions. The original game, by Richard Launius, was published in 1987 by Chaosium, but in 2005 Fantasy Flight Games released a completely revamped version that took the gaming world by storm and continues to be one of their most popular games. Set in Lovecraft’s fictional city of Arkham, players control1920s characters who co-operate to roam the city gathering items, skills and spells in an attempt to close a series of otherworldy Gates that are releasing a tide of horrific creatures. Eventually, if they fail to stop the inexorable progress of the Doom Track, a Great Old One (GOO) itself may be released, which the players have a (very small) chance of defeating.

Arkham Horror has been criticised for not really capturing the unique atmosphere of Lovecraft,due to its emphasis on combat, and the fact that, unlike in the stories, it is even vaguely possible to defeat a GOO in combat. But the fact remains it is a vastly entertaining game that is bursting with theme. Sure, it’s incredibly random and sometimes ridiculously difficult, but it really is one of the closest experiences to a role-playing game session that a boardgame can provide. The huge amount of supplemental material makes it endlessly different and engaging, and it can also be played solo.

FFG has continued to support Arkham Horror with a steady stream of expansion sets – so many in fact, that it would be difficult to find a table big enough to play them all at once! The ‘big box’ expansions – Kingsport Horror, Dunwich Horror, and Innsmouth Horror – bring extra boards for those cities so the players can travel to these unique locations, lots of new components, and quite a few extra rules as well. ‘Small box’ card-based expansions – Curse of the Dark Pharoah, The King In Yellow, Black Goat of the Woods, and the upcoming Lurker at the Threshold – have brought more cards, characters and special rules into the game. You can even buy custom dice!

With the huge amount of Lovecraftian mythos content out there, it was the perfect subject for a collectible card game. The first of these was a 1996 game called Mythos – again by Chaosium, and now out of print. The card game of choice now is the Call of Cthulhu Living Card Game (LCG) by – you guessed it – Fantasy Flight Games. Originally a collectible card game, FFG changed this to its ‘Living Card Game’ format, taking the blind buying out of the experience (and changing the card borders from black to white). With a deck made of cards from various factions, players engage in battles using their card’s Terror, Combat, Arcane, and Investigation ratings in order to fulfill Story cards. Monthly expansions—’Asylum Packs’—for this excellent game are now being released by FFG.

Moving on from FFG, a recent boardgame that draws heavily on the Mythos is Witch of Salem by Mayfair Games. This is based on a series of books by Wolfgang Hohlbein which are derived from Lovecraft’s work. There are some similarities with Arkham Horror – co-operative investigators in Arkham, gathering objects, closing portals – but the game is in a far simpler style, for a more ‘game-like’ and less roleplaying experience. The artwork is absolutely stunning, especially the board, and the game is extremely challenging, though relatively easy to learn.

From Twilight Creations, Inc., the makers of the seemingly endless Zombies!!! series, comes Innsmouth Escape. It’s certainly not in the same league artistically as the previously mentioned games, but you do get one hundred Deep One miniatures! A single human player desperately tries to escape from the doomed seaside town of Innsmouth (from the Lovecraft story The Shadow Over Innsmouth), while being pursued by horrible fish-people. It’s a fast-playing, light game that fans of Zombies!!! will especially enjoy.

But why stop there? There are plenty of other gaming experiences to be had in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Try Munchkin Cthulhu (in Steve Jackson Games’ Munchkin series), Cthulhu 500 (which somehow manages to mix car racing and Cthulhu), Do You Worship Cthulhu? (a re-theme of the party game Werewolf), Cthulhu Rising, Cthulhu Mash …

There’s no sign of the Cthulhu phenomenon ending anytime soon. But perhaps that’s all part of the cosmic plan …?

For more information about the games mentioned in this article, visit the publisher game sites, including Chaosium at and Fantasy Flight Games at You can also find a comprehensive rules summary and reference sheets for Arkham Horror, Call of Cthulhu Card Game and Witch of Salem at

by Universal Head

Universal Head (, has been designing graphics from the most corporate to the most creative for more than twenty years. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, most notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent a year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for the computer game ‘The Omega Stone’. In between he’s designed everything from large corporate websites, to postage stamps, to a mobile phone interface. His personal site is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for popular boardgames.

Board Games weekly giveaway! (Entries close 11/04/2010) CLOSED

Searching for a new board games in 2010? Would winning over $200 worth of FREE board games help?!?!

Simply enter your response (Right side of the Games Paradise Blog), and the weekly winner receives a Games Bundle worth over $200 as pictured below!
Competition Question

In 100 words or less, Name your funniest gaming “outburst” experience form you or another player.

The winner will be chosen by Games Paradise Australia on relevance, use of humour, style and content on April 5th 2010 and contacted by email by a Games Paradise Australia representative. This is a game of skill. Chance plays no part in determining the winner.

Entries close 11th April, 11:59pm 2010!

Winner Announced 12th April 2010!
Board Games Pack up for Grabs this Week

Winner – Ming Dao Ting.

The game was THINGS and the topic was “Things that will get you arrested”. One of the submissions was “Jaywalking naked while committing fraud”. Everyone paused, then laughed so hard we ended up crying. Funniest still when we realised the writer was my quiet introverted wife!

An Easter bunny to die for

Now that Easter is fast approaching, our thoughts traditionally turn to the most enduring symbol of Easter in the western world: The Easter Bunny. But while the Easter Bunny holds a special place in our hearts as the bringer of peace, goodwill and chocolate eggs, there are other bunnies out there that are hell bent on destruction.

Origins of Bellinger’s Killer Bunnies

Killer Bunnies is a whirlwind, action-filled card game where players set out to destroy as many of their opponents’ Bunnies as possible before they are themselves done-in.  Simultaneously chaotic, nasty, silly, vengeful and hilarious, Killer Bunnies and its many variations has a long, interesting history.

Originally designed as a board game in Jersey, NY in 1989, Killer Bunnies was conceived by the highly imaginative and artistic Jeffrey Neil Bellinger – maths teacher and former US Navy veteran. A seasoned traveller, confirmed people watcher and avid science fiction and pop culture fan, Bellinger filled his game with many hidden messages, including nods to his supportive friends and family.

Transformed into a satirical and fun card game in San Diego in 2000, Bellinger’s first run of 52 decks were meticulously hand cut and packaged as the AA series under the company name Sarsen’s Stuff. The first 10 decks ever made were unfortunately lost in transit, but decks 11 – 50 were kindly bought by Bellinger’s close knit supporters, and the game soon developed a loyal following of fans.

Each deck ever made by Sarsen’s Stuff was individually numbered, through to the BB, CC and Delta decks of 2001 – 2002. Every deck owner that registered their number during that time was made part of the enduring Bunny family at Killer Bunnies.

Bellinger and Playroom Entertainment

Since signing a licensing deal with Playroom Entertainment and creating the Epsilon Series, Bellinger and his game have come full circle with the launch of board game Killer Bunnies and the Journey to Jupiter. In whatever incarnation, Killer Bunnies continues to capture the imagination of eager gamers, hungry for a wacky, deadly and chocolate-free experience.

“We are offering 15% of this great bundle deal”

Click on the ad for this great deal

1 x Pink Booster

1 x Green Booster

1 x Violet Booster

1 x Red Booster Deck

1 x Orange Booster Deck

1 x Twilight white Booster

1 x Wacky Khaki Booster Deck

1 x Killer Bunnies Starter Deck

1 x Stainless Steel Booster Deck

1 x Ominous Onyx Booster Deck

Board Games weekly giveaway! (Entries close 04/04/2010) CLOSED

Searching for a new board games in 2010? Would winning over $200 worth of FREE board games help?!?!

Simply enter your response (Right side of the Games Paradise Blog), and the weekly winner receives a Games Bundle worth over $200 as pictured below!
Competition Question

In 100 words or less, Name your favorite place in the world of monopoly and why?

The winner will be chosen by Games Paradise Australia on relevance, use of humour, style and content on April 5th 2010 and contacted by email by a Games Paradise Australia representative. This is a game of skill. Chance plays no part in determining the winner.

Entries close 4th April, 11:59pm 2010!

Winner Announced 5th April 2010!
Board Games Pack up for Grabs this Week

This weeks winner – Shane ploenges with Mixie Mytosis

Name : Mixie Mytosis
Abilities: Stare of Doom: Beady red eyes stare forth at you with an icy glaze, causing you flee.

Carrot of Destiny: Mixie raises her weapon “the golden carrot of destiny” which causes 2d4 rays of Beta carrotine radiant damage

Meet the Meeples

Massachusetts, USA seems to be a hotbed of gaming innovation, so it’s no surprise that it was in this state that Alison Hansel used a term that would change gaming jargon forever. “Meeple” was first mentioned by Hansel online in November 2000. Short for “my people”, Hansel used the term to describe the anthropomorphic gaming pieces or “followers” used in the Eurogame Carcassonne.  Meeple was an instant hit, and it’s now commonly used to describe any pawn, bit or figure in a game, which might be a bit of a stretch, as it was originally meant to just describe the game bits that represented humans.

What about the Animeeples peoples?

Since 2000, many more Meeple related terms have cropped up – like Animeeples. This term refers to the animal shaped bits in games such as Agricola, a farming Eurogame that comes with over 300 wooden components. Meeples and Animeeples have now been joined by a wide range of other Meepleish terms, such as Cowboyeeples, Veggiemeeples, Foodmeeples, and even Resourceeples!

Meeple purists rule.

Many gamers are very particular when it comes to the quality of their Meeples and game bits, demanding they be constructed of materials such as wood or clay rather than plastic or cardboard. Many are so precious about this, that they won’t buy games unless the components are top quality. Some very creative gamers even opt to pimp their game bits themselves, or buy sets of pimped bits, to personalise their game components with something a little more unique.

Pimp your bits.

If some of you want a tad more realism or pizzazz in your games, why not look into pimping your board game pieces? Carved from wood or polymer clay, like Sculpey – which can be baked in your home oven – your pimped Meeples can be painted, polished then re-integrated back into your original game. Pimped Meeples can give your game a very special stamp of you-ness. There are even tutorials online if you need some tips. A quick search of Google images turns up some great examples so check them out, and if you’ve already created a Meeple, Animeeple or Anytypeofmeeple masterpiece, why not share it with us? I’d love to see them.

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