An tabletop roleplaying game where you play as a group of people playing an RPG sounds like it would be awesome. What's interesting is that Scott Kurtz actually lays out a pretty good outline of how the game would work throughout the strips. For example, only female characters have access to charisma and only women can play a female character. You can have your character cheat, provided he has the necessary skills and alignment. It's too bad he never developed the idea into an actual game. I'd play it.
When I was a kid, I used to sleep over at my brother and his family during the summers. One night, and this was something in like 1994 or there abouts, he showed me this new board game he'd gotten and some of you may have heard of it: HeroQuest.
While the game box says 2-4 players, I went solo, while my brother DMed. To say it didn't go so well would be an understatement. I ran into two skeletons and burned through all four characters - a barbarian, a wizard, a dwarf, and an elf - in short order. It was a one time session, because I didn't find it all that much fun as a result of my disaster first time. About two years later, he gave me the game, but I never played it again. Instead, I would set the board out on my bed and read the manual, setting up the board for each level and playing with the miniatures.
I don't know what became of it, but HeroQuest disappeared and I mostly forgot about it as time passed. The game would come to mind from time to time, but I could never remember the name. Since starting Swords, Dragons, and Nerds, I start thinking about the game more often and not being able to recall its name nagged me to hell. That is, until I saw this post on Tower of the Archmage* and I had one of them "aha!" moments.
With the name now in hand, I took to Google and found the Wikipedia article about HeroQuest and discovered some interesting tidbits. The game was a collaboration between Milton Bradley and Games Workshop. Not only that, but the game is set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. It was much lighter than D&D, but probably succeeded in acting as a gateway to D&D and other RPGs.
HeroQuest wasn't the first RPG I played, Dragon Warrior on the Nintendo and some JRPGs on the Super Nintendo came first, but it and they helped foster my interest in RPGs. HeroQuest won't be the only tabletop RPG I ever play. Someday, I want to eventually find a group where I live who have an open spot for a newbie. Hopefully, they'll be into OSRs.
*Where I also snagged the picture. Tip of the hat for that.
I like both of these paintings because of ideas and possibilities they invoke. In a fantasy setting, these could be the ruins of abbeys or monasteries long abandoned by their monks or nuns. Or, maybe they were once the headquarters for an order of paladins, their halls echoing with the sounds of holy warriors marching in full armor. Finally, maybe they were a retreat of sorts for priests who needed to recharge themselves after strenuous questing or missionary work.
As for their demise, there's a number of possibilities. Perhaps they were destroyed by an enemy force, demonic or otherwise. Maybe the paladins formed the backbone of their kingdom's military and so they were attacked first in order to take them out of the equation. The enemy was successful and the buildings were left to nature to reclaim. Vikings were rather infamous for attacking these places because of the amount of loot they could plunder, so that's an idea.
A good idea is to look to history for some inspiration. The religious wars that took place in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are a great example. The paladins or other religious orders get caught in the middle of a war between two versions of the same religion, much like the wars between protestants and Catholics. In England, at around the same time, Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of all monasteries and abbeys in England, Wales, and Ireland when he established the Church of England.
Regardless, you could certainly use abandoned abbeys and monasteries as either a questing point or a nice little diversion from your campaign's main quest. There's bound to be items left behind in the decaying structures, things that were never looted or scavenged. Maybe the paladin or cleric in your party stumbles upon a holy relic or a new tome of spells or the like. A possible quest point could be to locate and bury the remains of the people who lived there and were killed by whatever disaster befell their home.
I'd imagine if your party were to come across any hostiles, it would probably be bandits or wild animals. They could also be mistaken for grave robbers by a passing patrol of soldiers.
I like it when Penny Arcade veers off the usual gaming related comics. I really like it when they do fantasy-style stories like The Vault of Winter, which follows Acquisitions Inc. - Binwin Bronzebottom, Jim Darkmagic, and Dran - as they're hired to acquire the Enscriptor Malefica (aka naughty list) from the vault of Lord Wyntyr. Basically, it's a Christmas-themed story and so far, it's not bad. The above is the first part and you can read parts 2-5 here, here, here, and here. The mini-series isn't finished yet, but I figured it was worth posting about now.
Edit: Here's parts six and seven. There's also a missing eighth strip that Penny Arcade decided not to publish in light of the tragedy in Connecticut. You can see it here.
So I was going through the stuff I had starred in Google Reader and came across this post from Nerd Approved about a video called Great Battles of Skyrim Part 1. I guess I had marked to post here later, but plum forgot about it. Big mistake, because the video is awesome as sh*t.
I don't know what kind of mods Tyrannicon used or if black magic was involved, but he deserves a Orson Welles ovation.
There are more videos - apparently, this was just the first episode of the first season - and they're quite conveniently compiled into a playlist for your viewing pleasure.
Lo! For I faced many dangers and hazards. I was on my merry way to the old blog when suddenly, I was accosted by the Warduke! Not having a weapon or the courage/stupidity to tangle with that sucker, I skedaddled out of there and ended up taking refuge in a cave. Unfortunately, I forgot to pack a torch and wouldn't you know, the cave was a nesting ground for grue. Having narrowly escaped, I ran into a quartet of Hobbits, an elf-dwarf couple, a ranger, wizened wizard, and for reasons unexplained, Sean Bean. They were off to some place called Mount Doom and though the name sounded foreboding, I saw the Warduke poking around nearby and took my chances with the Hobbits.
I left after Sean Bean was killed by Orcs (man, that guy dies a lot) and the party split up, and made my way back towards the blog. I was accosted by the Warduke again and as I prepared for death the only noble and proper way possible - by losing all bladder control - I discovered that he wasn't there to cleave me in two. No, he had an extra ticket to The Hobbit and wanted to know if I wanted to see the movie. We went, it wasn't a date, and the dude smacks his mouth when he eats popcorn. Also, he beheaded a dude who was messing around with his cell phone during the movie. Warduke doesn't tolerate that kind of crap.
Actually, I was just completely and utterly burned out and couldn't bring myself to post anything. Same thing happened with my scifi blog. I think a big reason for the burn out was binging on so much fantasy lit over the summer. Fortunately, I'm recharging myself, thanks to Summer Knight, the fourth book in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series. Urban fantasy was just the shot in the arm I needed!
I haven't finished it yet, but it is so goddamn good. I've had to restrain myself a bit when reading it, because I don't want to overdo it and burn out again. I highly recommend this series, though. A wizard detective in Chicago? Hell yes.