Classy move…

It’s always sad, often frustrating, to see the things we love increase in price. In the current economic environment increases in price seem inevitable, from foodstuffs and other necessities, to the leisure items we love like gaming books, DVDs and gaming magazines!

Yesterday I received a surprising e-mail from Kenzer & Company informing me they were increasing the price of Knights of the Dinner Table from $4.99 to $5.99…. I am a confessed fan of KotD; it’s the mainstay in my much reduced comic pull list. Kenzer sent the e-mail informing of the impending price increase after six years, no small feat in this day and age. There is an ongoing controversy about comic book prices and some companies are capitalizing on the fact they are keeping their price “low” (if $2.99 for a comic is low, I remember paying sixty five cents for comic books!), so  I can imagine this was not an easy decision.

But the good folk and Kenzer & Compay offer an option; they are honoring the old price on subscriptions and renewals before March 1st. I was a little baffled by the e-mail at first and then thought about it and I was really happy I got it. I’d much rather they tell me up front that they are increasing the price and why instead of finding out at the cash register at my FLGS. On this day and age where some companies treat their customers like faceless sources of income it is refreshing that some people treat their fan base with respect and honesty.

To me this has always been one of the strengths of Kenzer, undoubtedly they are a business, and continue to thrive in difficult times, so they are doing something right. But they are people who obviously love what they do and you can feel it. Knights of the Dinner table is more than a comic book, it’s a gaming magazine full of useful articles and fun columns, well worth the price at $4.99 and still great at 5.99.

I have been reading Knights since the days of Shadis and I’m never disappointed. At one time I used to buy two copies and mail one to a friend who could not get it where he lived. Getting the call from the comic store that my copy has arrived is one of the highlights of my month.  I invite you to try it out, I really wish more people purchased it at my FLGS; they only bring two copies, mine and one for a mysterious fellow fan I’m yet to meet. I will not be taking advantage of the subscription offer, I want to support my local FLGS and buying KotD there is one of the ways I do this.

To Kenzer & Company I wish them much continues success and I promise myself that this time around in Gen Con I’ll get up the courage to actually talk to you guys…

Me (of the Dead!)

Hello, I’m Shaun. I live in Maryland, on the east coast of the United States, and I’ve been playing roleplaying games for almost 19 years now. For the first half of that, I never really had a regular group. I was lucky if I could get two people together to game. I played a lot of regular one-on-one sessions with a few friends, and it definitely left its mark on the way I run games and the way I play them.

I enjoy Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition a great deal, as it renewed my interest in the game after I became pretty jaded with 3E/3.5. In the interim I spent a lot of time with World of Darkness, and found out about the Forge. I appreciate the work they do over there, and love a lot of the games such as Polaris, Dogs in the Vineyard, and Donjon to name a few. These games have really changed the way I look at what is possible in the hobby.

I have a blog, Gnoll’s Den, though it isn’t anything special. I also work as an associate editor and content developer over at Nevermet Press. I’ve had a few conversations with Stargazer over on Twitter, where you can find me @HyenaSpotz. I recently started a Tumblr account for non-RP-related art stuff, but be warned: I’m hardly a great artist.

I play a lot of board games, like vinyl toys such as the ones made by Kid Robot, and enjoy foreign languages. I know reasonably good amounts of German and Japanese.

So, that’s me in a nutshell. You’ll likely learn more by reading my posts. I look forward to writing them. They’ll be pretty awesome.

Freebie: Stars Without Number

SWN cover I’ve known of the existence of this game for quite a while now, but for some reason I just picked it up pretty recently. That’s why I don’t want to call this post a fully review.

Stars Without Number is a surprisingly well-made SF roleplaying game “influenced by the Old School Renaissance and partially inspired by the great fantasy role-playing game editions written by Tom Moldvay and Frank Mentzer”. Perhaps it was that mention of the OSR that put me off a bit initially.

Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed Swords & Wizardry and I recently picked up Lamentations Of The Flame Princess but aside from that my interest in the old-school movement waned. It actually bothers me that people waste their time and creativity to recreate the 1970s’ fantasy RPG over and over again. But that’s the subject for another post…

Luckily Stars Without Number is different. While the system it uses has some resemblance to old-school D&D, it can pretty much stand on its own feet. SWN features three pretty broad character classes (Warrior, Expert, and Psychic), a sizeable number of Background Packages (from Adventurer to Worker) and a point-based psi system. Since the basic system is still pretty close to the d20 System, D&D veterans of all editions should get into SWN pretty fast.

Aside from the fact that it’s basic system is inspired by old-school D&D, Stars Without Numbers feels like a modern game, both in presentation and rules. Although the layout isn’t as fancy as some other games I’ve seen lately, it’s clean and has a good readability. The artwork is of a mixed quality (probably because it’s stock art – I recognize a few pieces I bought myself), but it usually fits the genre well.

Aside from the rules needed to create characters and run the game, the GM gets quite a lot of tools for his own games. There are rules for World, Faction, Adventure and Alien Creation, a Xenobestiary and a fully fledged out sector for you to play in. The author didn’t forget simple but effective Starship design rules either.

The 210-paged PDF version of Stars Without Numbers is free and can be downloaded from DriveThruRPG. You can also get this fine game as a softcover or hardcover book through DriveThruRPG’s POD service, if you prefer the hardcopy over the digital download. The printed books set you back $19.99 or $24.99 respectively.

SWN is definitely worth a look if you are into science fiction RPGs. The game supports various sub genres and gaming styles, so it should be pretty easy to adapt it to almost any campaign.

A Roleplaying Games blog