Neil Gairmen book bundle!

I really wish they had an ebook of the book Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett, but no such luck.  Regardless, there are A LOT of really good books here!  And in an unusual addition, one of the bonus books recently revealed, was his book Ghastly Beyond Belief.  Very rare.  Humble Bundle claims it was never published, which is not entirely correct, apparently there was a very limited press run and the books fetch a ridiculous price.

The bundle is available for another six days or so.

Just what I need — another web site selling bundles of stuff that I’m interested in

This company is called Story Bundle and they sell book and comics collections. A current collection is called Women in SciFi, it’s curated by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and features books, novellas, collections, and songs by the likes of Vonda McIntyre, Cat Rambo, Nancy Kress, Linda Nagata, Catherine Asaro, Judith Tarr, and others.

This deal is available for another 11 days. There are two differences between this site and others. First, there is no charity. The funds are divided between the authors and the site, and you control the split. Second, they wisely have them available as a single downloaded zip, so much easier to get all the content. Everyone gets a single file of MOBIs and Epubs. So that’s pretty convenient.

$15 gets you everything. Just how many more of these bundle sites are there?!

An interview with Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games!

Not that other Steve Jackson, the fantasy writer. Slashdot did what might be better known as Reddit’s Ask Me Anything, Slashdot has been doing it for far longer than Reddit was a gleam in its creators eyes. The resulting email interview was posted on Friday.

And here it is:

I used to read Slashdot extensively but for the last year or so I only read the first page, so I missed the post where people proposed questions. The questions that get modded up the most get forwarded to the interviewee, so it’s the things that are of the most interest to the community that are answered.

Reboot the Suit: A Kickstarter to properly conserve Neil Armstrong’s moon suit

There’s a Kickstarter going on to preserve Neil Armstrong’s suit that he wore on the moon, apparently the Smithsonian’s budget is mainly operational and special projects like this are not funded except through independent sources like grants or Project Kickstarter. The Kickstarter sought to raise $500,000 and has made that goal and are looking for more to extend preservation to other space suits, like Alan Shepherd’s.

One of the backer rewards is the files to 3-D print a replica of the suit’s glove. A lot of gamers are also science geeks of one sort or another and I thought that some of you might be interested in participating.

1996 edition of Deadlands Collection available from Bundle of Holding

It’s a heck of a collection, we had a lot of fun hours playing this game. Very interesting dice mechanics.

Here’s what’s bundled:
For just US$7.95 you get all six titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $30):
Weird West Player’s Guide (retail price $7.50): The core book for players, with the original rules and setting that started it all. [Note: Deadlands has been adapted to several rules system. This revived offer re-presents the 2004 revision of Pinnacle Entertainment’s flagship 1996 game and its supplements.]
Marshal’s Handbook (retail price $7.50): The Game Master’s guide to the Weird West of 1876.
Fire & Brimstone (retail price $3.75): The Blessed folks of the Weird West — Baptist Bible-thumpers, frontier rabbis, soapbox evangelists, and wandering Buddhist monks.
Hucksters & Hexes (retail $3.75): The soucebook for magic (and poker) in the Weird West.
Rascals, Varmints, & Critters (retail price $3.75): Scores of Deadlands desperadoes, abominations, and freaks.
Smith & Robards Catalog (retail price $3.75): A full range of weapons and equipment, plus New Science gizmos and rules for fantastic devices and the madm– um, geniuses who create them.

And if you pay more than the threshold price of $15.63, you’ll level up and also get our entire Bonus Collection of seven more titles (retail value $25.50):

The Agency: Men in Black Dusters (retail price $3.75): One of the highest-rated Deadlands supplements, this training manual documents secrets the Agency (a secret service of the Weird West) doesn’t want you to know.
Book o’ the Dead (retail price $3.75): The secrets of those who have passed beyond the veil — and back. New rules for generating undead heroes, as well as over 50 new mystical Harrowed powers.
Canyon o’ Doom (retail price $3.75): The native peoples call it the House of Stone and Light. In its shadowed depths, unnatural things wait. An epic 128-page adventure.
The Collegium (retail price $3.75): The intrigue-filled association of mad scientists in the Great Maze boomtown, Gomorra, and their newest, least stable steamtech inventions.
Ghost Dancers (retail $3): The sourcebook for Native American Shaman characters, their powers, and the Happy Hunting Grounds where mad spirits dwell.
Law Dogs (retail $3.75): About law enforcement, and the enforcers who have to be as ruthless as the outlaws they pursue.
Lone Stars (retail $3.75): The Texas Rangers sourcebook!

The bundle is available for another five days.

It’s the 50th anniversary of Nuclear War!

No, not some alternative universe RPG, this is the card game created by Doug Malewicki and published by Flying Buffalo. It is a very simple card game where each player is the head of a country and trying to rule the world: first through propaganda, and then pretty much inevitably, through nuclear war. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game won solely through diplomacy. And if you ever get to a game con that Rick is running a game of Nuke War at, you’ll see 20-30 people in a single game blasting the crap out of each other! It’s quite a sight.

But here’s the beauty of it: more often then not, there is no winner! If war begins and the last of your population is destroyed, with your dying gasp you press the ‘Launch All’ button as a bit of final retribution and wreak vengeance upon the person who destroyed you, or upon the world in general. And if they’re eliminated, they also get their final retribution, and so on….

Two additional games were made: Nuclear Escalation and Weapons of Mass Destruction. Since the Kickstarter has doubled its initial goal, WMD will be reprinted. And I learned from this that there is a smartphone app (for $1), both Android and iOS, that Claudia Christian, AKA Commander Ivanova from Babylon 5, will tell you the results — in her Russian accent. What could be better than a Russian telling you how many million people were killed as the result of a nuclear strike?!

The Kickstarter has one final week to run and $42 will get you a new edition of the game with shipping.

(sorry for the lack of anything here, I’ve been off to Germany and the Czech Republic and am working on a new edition of Zombie Cafe along with a anti-spy game that should be interesting if the mechanics work out)

The Gumshoe System: Mutant City Blues and Ashen Stars

Gumshoe is an RPG system developed by Robin Laws and used in several games. Robin is an award-winning designer, I first came to know about his work with his Shadowfist CCG and Feng Shui RPG from 20 years ago.

Gumshoe strongly diverges from other games in that it assumes competence: anyone can drive, but if you have one point in Driving, you can pull off trick manouvers. Obviously it’s a lot more complicated than that, but it serves as a decent base example.

Mutant City Blues is sort of a superhero world. A virus struck and a certain amount of the population later gained superpowers. But you’re not a superhero, you’re a cop. Specifically, you’re on a special squad because of your mutant abilities. It’s CSI X-Men. I can’t claim to be an expert because I’ve only been reading the rules for a couple of days, but it’s quite intriguing. A professional skill costs only one point, and as someone who was always massively skill-heavy when it came to designing Champions characters, I like that. And while I’m mostly not a fan of police procedural television, this game really intrigues me. One thing that I particularly like is the Quade Diagram: a map of superpowers and how they relate. They have an excellent example of finding at a crime scene both prehensile hair and lightning blast evidence. You now know that you’re dealing with at least two suspects because those two abilities are too far apart to be from the same person.

Also, You can’t be horribly unbalanced as your second-most powerful ability has to be at least half the value as your most powerful, I like that design balance mechanism.

I’d suggest taking a look at the Wikipedia entry for the Gumshoe system, it does a very good job of illustrating it.

Anyway, this is a Bundle of Holding offering with two levels and three games, the three being Mutant City Blues (superhero CSI, Ashen Stars (Gumshoe in space), and Night’s Black Agents (spies vs vampires). The funding has another three days to run and part of the proceeds go to Womenkind Worldwide.

Post-Apocalyptic Bundle from Humble

There’s two books in here that I really want: Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazney and Gather, Darkness! by Fritz Leiber. But the bundle also contains A Gift Upon the Shore by M.K. Wren, Wasteland: Vol. 1: Cities in Dust (collecting six issues), After the End: Recent Apocalypses (short stories), Lightspeed Magazine July 2010 and March 2013, the game Defiance for Windows, and an audiobook omnibus of Wool by Hugh Howey.

The $15 bonus level includes The End Is Night by Hugh Howey and John Joseph Adams, Parable of the Sower by Octabia Butler, and The Strain Vol. 1 collecting issues 1-6, I think this is a comic series.

Paying above the average, which is currently $9.73, gets you: Walter Mosley’s Futureland, Nancy Kress’ After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, issues 1-6 of The Massive Vol. 1: Black Pacific, Daybreak by Brian Ralph, The Wild Shore by Kim Stanley Robinson, Zelazny’s Damnation Alley, The Bunker Vol. 1 (comic series, issues 1-4), and Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014.

This Bundle’s charities are Worldbuilders and the SFWA Emergency Medical and Legal Fund. And you’ve got 5 days to participate if you should so choose to.

In game design news, I made a great advance in my database for creating room tiles for betas, I hope to post on it soon. Sadly you need Microsoft Access to run the copy that I’ll give out later. I wish I had the skills to do it in PHP/MySQL, but I’ve just never developed those.

Great. Now there’s another company doing things like Humble Bundle.

Just what I need, another place to spend money.

This place is called Bundle of Holding, and their current offer is quite awesome: The Laundry RPG by Charles Stross. You can get two bundles: one of just the core rule book and player’s book for $8.95, for about $25 you add four supplements. These books are non-watermarked PDFs, which personally bugs me: I REALLY wish they’d make them epubs so you could scale the font and it would all re-flow. But I get that it’s really easy to make a PDF once you have the books ready to go to press.

The Laundry RPG is about a secret British intelligence agency who is tasked with keeping Cthulhu from invading our planet, all while maintaining ISO-9001 compliance. The mechanics are quite sensibly based on Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu game and are very fun to read, I also highly recommend Mr. Stross’ other works, he’s a fun read. The game design and publishing is from Cubicle 7, and they do pretty good work.

This bundle is available for another 4 days, and they also have a TORG bundle available, an RPG based on the work of Jack Vance.

The bundle:

Stross’ Blog:

And I’m just going to use the Humble Bundle category for talking about Bundle of Holding.

RIP: Maxis

You may not have heard of Maxis, an Emoryville game company, but you’ve heard of their game, a little something known as SimCity. Electronic Arts has closed their doors.

I’ll admit I haven’t played the game in ages, but it was one of the very first games that I bought in the mid/late 80’s when I bought my first PC: a 386/SX16 with a Hercules monochrome graphics card and 2 MB of RAM! WOOT! The first two games that I bought were SimCity and Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer. AFT was fun: you could fly the space shuttle and actually loop it, even though you didn’t have engines. At the top of the loop you were so close to stall speed that it wasn’t funny.

But SimCity, man, some very fond memories of that. I built-out this huge city, then just to see what would happen, I turned off all the services, set it to auto-budget so it didn’t need any interaction from me, then I turned off the monitor and went to bed. The next morning a hundred years plus had lapsed, and the city was in ruins from exploded nuke power plants, tornadoes that had swept through, fires burning everywhere. So I did my best Bill Murray voice: “This was the city after the apocalypse. Our job was to rebuild it.” And I did, if I recall correctly — it was a long time ago.

It was an amazing game, absolutely nothing like it at the time. I wonder if Sid Meier’s Civilization series would have been the same without Maxis coming first.

ETA: This does not mean the end of the Sims line. EA is going to continue development, the work done at Emoryville will be continued at other EA development sites.


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