I am considering updating the Twin Suns Entertainment logo this year. We are currently working on a number of offerings and I think a new logo might fit with our product line and vision, but I am very supportive of the wisdom of crowds and want to get some feedback from those who think spending 2 to 15 minutes reading my blog from time to time think.
Here is the old logo -- which I do like:
Now here are some examples of what I am considering:
The new Original Edition D&D Premium Reprint from Wizards of the Coast is truly a wonder to behold, and it gives the buyer a good glimpse at Hasbro's D&D corporate strategy moving forward. I'll discuss this a bit more in a minute, but first let's just have a look at the box.
The original three D&D booklets were sold as a part of a collector's edition which featured either a woodgrain box (super rare) or a white box (the version I have at home), and this new edition comes in an engraved wooden box that I found to be pretty spectacular.
One of the nice little features that stood out as a real highlight for me was the reflective image on the inside of the box top. Wizards/Hasbro could have let the wood alone speak for the product, and that would have been great, but this Wizardly image really sets a nice tone.
Here you get a glimpse of what the box looks like when the booklets are stored within. Notice the red ribbon? That ribbon will allow you to remove the 7 paper saddle stitched books without damaging the edges, this is a nice bit of design that like LORDS OF WATERDEEP demonstrates a significant amount of thought has been put into both presentation and utility.
The box itself contains the original 3 booklets as well as all four of the eventual supplements that were published for the original D&D game. This new edition provides new cover art for all of the booklets. The Eldritch Wizardry cover that freaked my neighbor out so much when I was a kid is no longer present, instead there is a picture of a Wizard summoning tentacles. This would probably still upset said neighbor, but it is a less controversial image. And the old cover is one that would stir up some serious discussions on my Facebook feed where the battle lines of some Lamentations of the Flame Princess fans would do virtual battle with some of the Athena Anthology supporters would debate its appropriateness. I won't enter that fray as I am a fan of LotFP and of many of the Progressive game design that has been created over the past few years. Regardless of anyone's thoughts on the Eldritch Wizardry cover, the Greyhawk cover is a beauty.
Covers aside, there is plenty to discuss regarding the interiors of the booklets which are unchanged from the original -- or largely unchanged. Part of me thinks this is endearing as it lets gamers see the art that inspired a 40 year old hobby. The other part of me thinks that if they were going to redo any of the art, they might as well have replaced the interior art. There are talented artists who could have done chiaroscuro work that was an homage to the old art, but didn't look like doodles that ...well...I drew. Then again, that might just be the point. Anyone is a good enough artist to draw visual monsters for their home campaign. All you need is suspension of disbelief.
There is no inclusion of the Chainmail rules set here, so you will have to play D&D using the "optional" combat system presented in the first booklet. Thankfully, that system was the basis for the modern d20 engine and can be easily learned by the modern gamer. Or, rather it can be created rather easily by the modern gamer as this game is nigh unplayable by itself without some interpretation and house rules. This is why there were articles written and an explosion of alternate RPGs. The modern gamer has 40 years of interpretation, precedent, and house rules to work with so we can actually use these rules, but I do warn you that they are a bit different from what you might be used to.
Which brings me to the point I hinted at during the opening paragraph. This product points to Hasbro's new corporate strategy -- or rather a better tactical application of their long time strategy -- they want to have "a D&D experience for every gamer at your table." They make this abundantly clear with an advertising flier containing that very quote. In the past, the tactic used by Hasbro to advance the strategy of "a D&D for everyone" was an attempt to create a "perfect D&D" that was balanced, appealed to old gamers, and was hip for new gamers. This was what 4th edition was trying to be, a D&D for everyone. That tactic failed. It insulted some gamers and further fractured the customer base.
The new tactic is very different and is what Hasbro should have been doing all along. That tactic is to provide products with D&D Intellectual Property and Brand that match the needs of various gamers.
Want old school games?
Cool. Hasbro will release old rule books in collectors editions and pdfs. You can play D&D as it was originally played.
Want to play 2nd through 4th edition?
Those are being supported too in different ways. Interested in D&D Next our new rules set that is a combination of old and new school design and fairly easily converted between editions?
That will be coming out this year. Are you a Eurogamer?
Have you seen LORDS OF WATERDEEP? Wargamer?
Have you seen CONQUEST OF NERATH? Casual RPG/Board Gamer?
Our Ravenloft, Ashardalon, and Drizzt game is just right for you. New to gaming?
Try DUNGEON out.
The same is true for video games etc. and I think that this is a wonderful approach by Hasbro. The games they have been designing to support their IP have been excellent. RAVENLOFT and LORDS OF WATERDEEP have been played several times by my group over the past two years and the digital app version of WATERDEEP is looking pretty compelling to me.
I am a big fan of the "interviewing the kids" ad campaign being run by AT&T. Actor Beck Bennett does a great job of interacting with the kids in these largely unscripted videos. Bennett gives the young actors prompts and then responds in humorous fashion. Watching the Wildcard NFL games today, I have seen a great deal of the "Pool" episode and it hit me how perfect this is as an instructional tool for Game Masters everywhere. GMs are often afraid of the indie "just say yes" mantra, but this is the kind of magic you get when you follow it.
That's right, Dinosaurs who can transform into robots who Karate chop the water. If your games aren't featuring moments that awesome, then you might take a cue from Beck and just let your player's imaginations flow.
I also think that Beck would be an ideal GM for introducing gaming to younger kids.
Every year I like to run a Christmas themed adventure for my gaming group. A couple of years ago, it was a Necessary Evil game where the "heroes" had to fight off murderous V'sori gingerbread men. Had Stan! published Gingerbread Kaiju that year, the minis for those V'sori would have been edible. To be honest, when I say "Christmas themed" I almost always mean "based on the opening sequence of Scrooged." What can I say? I love the movie and it makes perfect fodder for role playing action.
This year my gaming group was introduced to the joy that is Feng Shui during the alpha playtest. I played quite a bit of Feng Shui in the late 90s and early 00s, but most of my group are young whippersnappers who blink unknowingly when I mention films like KILLER, HARDBOILED, THE BRIDE WITH WHILE HAIR, or FIST OF LEGEND...this will be corrected. The group really enjoys the cinematic/narrative style of the Feng Shui system and really want me to put together a campaign for the game. I'm happy to oblige, but being a Ph.D. student and a Program Director at a non-profit doesn't leave too much prep time. So while I didn't have time to outline some branches for the overall campaign yet, I decided that I would take the time to adapt my old stand by THE NIGHT THE REINDEER DIED to Feng Shui. I ran the game this past weekend and it was pretty fun. We didn't get as far as I'd have liked -- I wanted to send the group into 2056 where they facilitate a JINGLE ALL THE WAY-esque riot that begins to undermine the Buro's control due to people actually caring about a hot Christmas item -- but we didn't get that far. Instead, they stopped at "shutting down the Star Gate."
For those of you interested in playing a session, here is the outline and a couple of special characters as well. We've got Skipper from MADAGASCAR, Lee Majors, and Krampus available for groups who don't have existing characters. Now...onto the show...dim the lights...pull back the curtain...and...
In a world...
The player characters are resting at their hideout/attuned Feng Shui site in between forays into the Netherworld, shadow runs against the Ascended, and secret battles against the Hand. All seems calm. Let the players role play some of their background subplots and ask them where they'd like the narrative direction of their character's lives to go. Take notes. Just as the conversation gets going really well and some strong roleplaying is going on, have there be a "knock on the door." It will be an insistent knock that will not go away. It even sounds excited...if it is possible for a knock to sound excited.
When the PCs open the door Buddy the Elf - Will Farrell from the movie ELF - will be standing at the door in a near panic. He will explain to the PCs that an army of mechanical monkeys (Jammers) from the future are at the North Pole attempting to blow up Santa's Workshop. It turns out that Santa's Workshop is a major Feng Shui site, which explains a great deal about how he accomplishes his deliveries. Santa is currently losing the battle and needs the player's help. If the Jammers succeed in blowing up the North Pole at the exact right moment (midnight Christmas Eve), it will have a ripple effect that might allow the Jammers to destroy all Feng Shui sites simultaneously. This will cause the world to turn into a combination of the future from the TERMINATOR and PLANET OF THE APES films.
Flight to the North Pole
Try to make the trip to the North Pole quick, but feel free to add moments where they come under aerial attack. As they approach the Pole, give them the full description of how there are Searchlights scanning the sky and flak exploding at almost random. Have the PCs land at the Pole, meet Santa, and be sent on a mission to get behind enemy lines, find the computer that has opened a gateway between now and 2056, and shut it down. This should include 3 basic battles in the blood covered snow scape of the Pole.
Make sure to insert lots of references to your favorite Christmas movies. Is Bruce Willis there? Is he fighting Satan Claws? Abominable? Heatmiser? You get the picture.
The final fight will be the PCs against BattleChimp Yamato and a number of Macaque mooks equal to the PCs +4. There will be a clock counting down as the Jammers are bringing a nuclear warhead through the portal. The PCs must disconnect the portal from the heart of the kid from Polar Express (the only child with enough belief in Santa to make the connection to 2056) without harming the child, defeat BattleChimp Yamato and crew. If you wish, you can have the PCs continue on into 2056 to take the fight to the Jammers and the Buro.