A while ago, Obsidian Portal has undergone a massive relaunch. The way the site looks and works has changed tremendously. Earlier this month I have been contacted by the people running Obsidian Portal and was asked if I was interested in reviewing the site. I have played around with Obsidian Portal in the past, but never done anything serious with it, so I decided to use it for releasing my Fallout Fudged rules.
So what does Obsidian Portal offer to its users? On OP you can create a site for your campaigns which features a blog (called Adventure Log), forums, a wiki, a calendar for scheduling game sessions, digital character sheets and many more. Alas the forums and calendar are for paying customers only. And if you don’t pay for OP’s services everything you create is public.
Over the last years Pelgrane Press have become one of my favorite publishers. Their games are written by my favorite game designers, the artwork and production quality is excellent, and they are one of the few publishers which release soundtracks for their games. For some of you the notion of scoring a roleplaying game may sound weird, but for GMs like me – who love to use music during the game sessions – it’s brilliant.
Dust and Mirrors, the soundtrack for Kenneth Hite’s Night’s Black Agents is the latest work of James Semple and his team (Marie-Anne Fischer, Thery Ehrlich, and Chris J Nairn). The album contains 19 tracks with a playtime of about an hour. Like Kenneth Hite’s game, Dust and Mirrors combines two genres almost seamlessly. There are fast and exciting tracks reminiscient of the spy genre and the more dark, brooding and atmospheric tracks that are firmly rooted in the horror genre.
Each track was obviously composed with a certain kind of scene in mind. “The Brief” for example is a slow and peaceful tune that might work well while the players are preparing for their next mission. This is contrasted by tracks like “Heist”, which is much faster, more aggressive, and which makes your heart beat faster. Other tracks like “An Eye for an Eye” are very dark, and almost atmospheric and reminded me a bit of their other work for Esoterrorists and Trail of Cthulhu. Overall Dust and Mirrors contains a wide variety of musical styles, but each of them fit perfectly to the genre-mix that is Night’s Black Agents.
Even though each track fits a certain type of scene Dust and Mirrors can also be played as background music. I actually enjoy the music so much that I even listened to it repeatedly during work. It makes dreary office work so much more exciting and mysterious! Alas the first track called “Night’s Black Agents Theme” is a bit too short. But that’s only a minor quibble. Overall James Semple and team have produced another great soundtrack. I hope that Dust and Mirrors has not been the last album he and his team produced for Pelgrane Press!
The soundtrack is currently available from the official Pelgrane Press store for $15.95 (£9.95) for the MP3 download.
When I first encountered roleplaying games in the early 1990s, the hobby was already about 20 years old. The first games I’ve played were Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition, West End Games’ TORG, and FASA’s Shadowrun. It was even later when I first played AD&D 2nd Edition. Back in the day, I didn’t know much about our hobby’s history. I had an idea who Gary Gygax was, but I knew next of nothing about older editions of D&D and the company that was TSR.
A couple of years back, Mongoose released Shannon Applecline’s Designers & Dragons, a huge book, containing our hobby’s history from the early 1970s to today. I eventually got a PDF copy of said book and I totally loved it. For me it never felt sufficient to play these games but also learn to know the people behind those games. Designers & Dragons is a great way to learn more about our hobby, the RPG industry, and the ups and downs over the last 40 years.
In 2014 Evil Hat Productions is going to release the first book of a new Designers & Dragons book series. Instead of releasing one tome they’ve decided to split Designers & Dragons into several volumes, each focusing on one decade. But they are not content with just rereleasing the old book in a new format. The material has been expanded upon and there’s new information that fills the gaps in what came before. The first book is expected to be released in mid-2014 but they are already releasing the TSR chapter from the 1970s book as a free 121-paged sneak peek. You can download the PDF from the official Designers & Dragons website. Enjoy!