Podlight: The Lovecraft Tapes (Podcast Recommendation)

Four years ago I was looking for a way to get into the tabletop RPG Call of Cthulhu, having already familiarized myself with the basics of a D100 system and was always a fan of HP Lovecraft’s work it sounded like it could prove to be a fun thing to run for my group someday as we all enjoyed horror as a genre of game, novel and film.

While scouring YouTube and Facebook for something worth checking out I actually stumbled upon The Lovecraft Tapes in the podcast app later that day on my cellphone. I decided to start from the first case / season (Lights, Cameras, Chaos)episode and never looked back.

The Lovecraft Tapes Logo (awesome Tees in the merch store)

The podcast is an actual-play series with a video and audio component in which the Keeper / Host Jeremy runs sessions of the Call of Cthulhu, with Matt, Bryan and George playing the roles of investigators in an episodic format. With George mysteriously disappearing after a case the boys would recruit the talents of Gabe to continue their investigative efforts. Jeremy’s narration and chemistry with the players make for enjoyable listening but also helps in explaining how the mechanics in the game works for novice players. The party banter never gets stale and the way they approach the problem solving keeps the game fresh from episode to episode.

The boys at Lovecraft Tapes have grown through the years and have an impressive back catalogue of content worth checking out for anybody who is a fan of COC or someone new to the system and looking for a fun way to figure out how you could run the game. Jeremy never overcorrects and lets his players doom themselves but that is what is the fun in this specific game, the party seldom makes it to next week yet here they manage to survive to laugh another day…for the most part.

Apart from providing listeners with the podcast they also have Recommendos where the guys review and recommend video games, movies and a wide range of other cool stuff worth checking out. They always give a shout out to indie stuff when they can and are very responsive to queries and emails which I can vouch for myself. I can only apologize that it took me this long to get around to doing a piece on these guys. I salute their commitment to the culture and fun and hope to hear more from them for many years to come. Even how they would interject comedic ancient one commercials would bring cool intermissions between bad rolls and horrific consequences was but one of the many ways the team crafted brilliant entertainment for all fans of the genre. If you are somebody who cannot get enough of COC or HP Lovecraft this could be that casual listening for your down time between plotting sessions or reading novels.

When I first started listening I must have binged through the first 3 investigations in no time as I was working a warehouse job which was tedious to put it mildly somewhere in the countryside of Sweden. With a nagging supervisor and coworkers who did not care too much about the new Slav I was left to my own devices and forklift. Jeremy and the guys played a huge part in me not letting the company’s BS affect me as much during the day to day grind as the provided enough humor and intrigue to keep me going through eps. I soon found myself downloading 2-3 episodes at home and looking forward to work just cause I knew I would go through more of the adventures. For that I am indebted to you bros and supremely grateful.

So for any of you looking to get a fix of audio horror within a comedic yet interesting narrative look no further than The Lovercraft Tapes. It is hard to bring light to unspeakable dark cosmic horrors such as the ones contained in the tomes printed by Chaosium and Delta Green but this team will bring you out the end of it with some good laughs and a smile on your face.

The site offers several tiers of support from a Student of Miskatonic to The Dreamlands granting you different levels of access from prior rewards and benefits to including opportunities to play videogames with the guys and even the chance to play an NPC in an episode of the podcast! This group of gamers have truly been able to translate their passion into something great that can be monetized and inspire us here at Nerd Dimension to stick with our passions and make sure to have fun on the journey.

If you would like to find out more about The Lovecraft Tapes and see how you could support them please do click the links bellow and make sure you like their page and subscribe. There is a ton of cool content on their website and more information about the now expanded team of contributors and players.

Patreon

YouTube Channel

Twitter

Discord

Lords of the Cosmos #4 Kickstarter reminder!

We are exited to announce that the Kickstarter for the next issue of your favorite extreme metal futuristic dystopian fantasy is right around the corner!!! Check out more about the series and the artist Jason Lenox here.

Comic Book Men (TV Series)- Recommendation & Review

all images are copyright and ownership of Jason Lennox & rightsholders of the IP

If you have been following the site in recent years you will know that we are fans and supporters of the series and the art and writing is different to what has been popular with mainstream publishers which is one of the reasons we enjoy Jason’s work. This grimmer, darker series with a unique setting make for thrilling reads and lets us appreciate the art of the panels giving me the vibes of hand drawn classics but not aged. The villains are fleshed out antagonists that you feel with at times while at others you just are in awe of the evil. In the last issue the creators introduced some cool unconventional heroes such as Bees with shotguns, Eagles with comms to plants operating mechs, the team truly deliver on giving us something wild and engaging without jeopardizing the cruel reality of the setting or sacrificing immersion. I can promise you that it will read like no comic you read recently, especially if you are thinking of returning to the hobby it is this kind of book that takes you back to the edgy creativity of a time gone. Having read the previous 3 it is a must I pledge and get behind the project but I encourage anyone interested to look into this Kickstarter.

Jason is a pretty humble guy and he is not all over social media like a lot other folks in the industry but his work ethic and openness impressed me from day one when I first reached out. He was prompt with his response and polite, making time for a small time site like us really is a testament to him wanting to help out smaller creators. A family man with his handful most days it is no small feat for him to consistently deliver on Lords of the Cosmos and I do hope that we see many more issues of this epic adventure while wishing Mr. Lennox nothing but great success in his future endeavors.

Thanks for reading, please check out Jason’s social media and website to stay up to date on all the great work he is doing.

Comic Book Men (TV Series)- Recommendation & Review

Check out what we think of a unique piece of TV history that sadly ended a few years ago. For those of you who missed it make sure you check out why we recommend Comic Book Men

I recall when I first stumbled upon Comic Book Men and was excited by the concept of a semi-scripted reality show about comics produced by fellow fan man Kevin Smith. Having grown up with his movies and being a fan of his podcast I had a good feeling it could prove to be enjoyable viewing. Kevin Smith is a slept on talent from the era of nostalgia to many in my generation. He inspired a lot of people with his success in movies after releasing an independent film called ‘Clerks’ and the rest is a profanity laced joy ride in celluloid history.

Out the gate the first season had me hooked and my buddy Boris of the Bash Bros started watching shortly after we watched a few episodes at my place. The first season had longer episodes than most shows in that format but were funny and informative with a cast of ‘real’ people that made it feel like more of an authentic show on first watch. It did not feel like a reality show, it felt like Clerks with comics and their wacky and genuine humor always made me sad to see Kev call it an episode and pull down the faders on the mixer. The show would go on to have 7 seasons along with the companion podcast and would have guests ranging from from rap icon Method Man of Wu Tang Clan to Billie Dee Williams who played Lando in the original Star Wars trilogy.

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I would have to say the timing of the series cancellation was pretty cold blooded seeing that AMC would pull the plug 4 episodes shy of the 100th and not too long after Kevin Smith’s heart attack in 2018. Stating that it did not make much sense financially to the studio the show was taken off the air. In another move Fatman on Batman has seen Kevin also remove his first 50 episodes including the classic Conroy episode which is an all time favorite of fans of Smith and Batman the Animated Series. It is peculiar how with the fading of the Marvel and DC movies it is as if the whole wave is beginning to subside as I am finding it harder to find good shows on nerd culture on TV with decent production value.  Do not get me wrong, I enjoy YouTube content as much as the next guy but I still like the production of a network show and you will be hard pressed to replicate what Comic Book Men did because at it’s core it is about friends believing in each other and living a shared dream and that is what I think made me enjoy it as much as I did.

I am writing about this because I feel that the show was a cool way to get people interested in comics and their history. It made total sense having a show like CBM on TV what with Marvel and DC controlling the box office for the past decade Smith used the times to shoehorn in a show for us. Kevin and his gang at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash would give you the stories behind some of the best and most influential characters and artists in comics and the culture. Having a component like Pawn Stars the average person could also see the real price of certain items and learn some history in the process that would only add to the nostalgia of each episode. All in all the show is entertaining and informative and I truly recommend it if you can stream it where you are because you will get some laughs and it will take older viewers back to their childhood. For those of you outside of the United States make sure to check out some of the VPN options.

I can tell our readers who may not be familiar with Kevin Smith and his contributions to cinema that I cannot recommend enough the following films:

Clerks , Dogma, Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back & Chasing Amy.

The Death of Superman and the Reign of Supermen – Lightning did not strike twice !

In the 90s my generation witnessed the death of an iconic character. Today the newer generations get to relive that momumental moment in the medium of comics. Read what how we feel about the new itiration and take on the comics that changed the path of Superman and brought him into the modern era.

Having grown up in the 90s I was lucky to have watched some of the best-animated features and series in the history of television and got to read some of the runs in comics. To me, it is my favorite era of comics because of the sheer volume of content being produced when it came to comics and action figures and kids of my generation really had a lot to see and pine over. One of the big things of the 90’s was also something that rattled comic book fans all over the planet as we first heard that DC comics were going to kill Superman! The comic itself is said to have contributed to the subsequent downward spiral in comic book sales as at the time there was a boom in which niether publisher lost time capitalizing on. To speak on this we must also discuss when this orginally came to be to compare previous installments.

Graphic Novel Cover
Cover of the Graphic Novel

The comic, titled ‘Doomsday’ (Dan Jurgens & Roger Stern) was discussed on national television and in the press when it dropped in 93 and apart from flying off the shelves Warner Bros and DC comics would fail capitalize, waiting until 2007 with it arriving on DVD in 2008 called Superman: Doomsday. Fun fact Kevin Smith has a cameo playing himself poking fun at the time he worked on a Superman script. Even the talent of legends Bruce Timm (Batman Animated Series and Justice League) and Duane Capizzi ( Transformers: Prime, Darkwing Duck, and The Batman).The animated feature was well-drawn but differed from the source material which is a pattern that would follow in the decades to come. The problem was that Warner Bros should have released this movie in the early 90’s when the comics were out to have fully capitalized as Superman: Doomsday was not released to rave reviews and was not making anyone’s top 10 list anytime soon. Superman dying is a big deal and coming late to the party may have affected the interest of the masses in this animated film but it was a decent release and if you can find it somewhere for cheap it is a decent addition to any collection for the sake of nostalgia.

It would be more than a decade later before DC and Warner Bros would revisit the storyline, this time opting to remain closer to the source material by including Superboy, the Eradicator, and Steel. I am reviewing the combo pack release in which you have the option of watching both titles back to back in on sitting.  My buddy and I from the board game club watched it and though it felt like it dragged on. We were two different demographics watching this movie, for him, it was his first time watching or hearing about Superman dying. It then hit me that the younger generation have grown up with blockbuster movies and loads of shows and movies and comics themselves were not mainstream for ages. This means my friend Lenny never really got into comics growing up and now in his late teens is diving deeper into the history of these characters he grew up with.

The casting of talent was spot on with Hollywood names such as Nathan Fillion (Firefly & Castle) voicing Hal’s Green Lantern, Rebecca Romjin   (X-men Trilogy, Punisher & The Librarians) as Lois Lane and Rosario Dawson (Daredevil and Iron Fist) as Wonder Woman. I have no complaints on their voiceacting and the dialogue proved to be convincing enough but it did not have the style and look of the 2007 adaptation. I was pleasantly surprized when I sutmbled upon the BluRay Double Feature release where you could get and stream both movies back to back.

As someone who is a huge Bruce Timm and Paul Dini fan I would have preferred if they tried to keep some of the original look from the 90s and early 00s but I will not hold it against them. Warner Brothers have been consistently releasing at least 1 animated feature a year if not more while continuing to support live action shows such as Super Girl, Green Arrow and Titans. Despite their major motion pictures earning big bucks at theaters but the negative critiques and feedback from fans following the Justice League movie and the how Aquaman failed to capture the the interest of many older viewers. With a new man in charge and at the helm of future Warner Brothers releases with a growing interest in appealling to the Chinese market the studio needs to be wise  to avoid the blunders of the past and the mistakes other corproations are making in appeasing the Eastern market.

Warner Brothers are wise to keep the fans happy with content over the years and this release will scratch an itch and does give you a story worth watching. The first part of the story (The Death of Superman) will have you watching Supes give it all his all as the Justice League struggle against the arrival of Doomsday. They carnage and desperation is paced well throughout and the inevitable ending does leave you wondering what would happen next. The Regin of the Supermen would see our first itiration of the comic series where in the absence of Kalel other ‘Supermen’ would rise up and attempt to fill that void. As to not spoil too much of it but we get to see Luthor still angling to be the most powerful man on the planet by introducing Superboy as other ‘versions’ of the former hero rose up including the Eradictor and Steel weaving an interesting narrative. The more adult tone of the story does well in immersing the viewer in what is going on. You have Darksied appearing and watching the heroes and citizens try to make sense of this new era where heroes compete over the top spot while new evils find their way to our blue marble with villianous intentions.

Reing of the Supermen Comic cover
Cover for the Graphic Novel

The second part of the arc plays out better than the previous installment and watching the dynamics between the different characters and the attention paid to the minute details of each of the ‘supermen’ added more to the feature. The writers and producers attempted to include as much as they could from the source material and do not make it a campy feature and touch on issues such as self belief, betrayal and revenge in a way we have not experienced in their perevious animated features.  I can warmly recommend watching these two features back to back when you have 3 hours to kill however I sadly will not recommend it as a purchase.

 

Despite being different to what most fans have grown accustomed and used to from WB Animations it does not go deep enough for me to want to re-watch it any time soon. For that reason I would have to give it a 6.5 out of 10 as it is a double feature package and it would be unfair to judge them as standalone releases (which you still can get seperately). It is good fun for Superman fans and fans of the genre in general but not worth the money as I do not see it adding much value or replay value to most collections.

Until next time I would like to wish all of our nerds and nerdettes the best possible week and just ask for you to invite some friends to our Facebook page and hit the like button so we know you enjoy our content. If you would like to suggest a topic for us to cover or a creator you think would care to be interviewed do not hesistate to send us an email after liking our FB page.

 

*Nerd Dimension claim no ownership or copyrights over the images or IPs described and reviewed in our posts. We utilize any materials under fair use for news and review purposes .  

 

 

Dungeons & Dragons : Shadows Over Mystarra – Coop Arcade fun for 4 (Xbox, PC)

I can recall first the first time I watched the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon in the early 90’s and loved the idea of heroes adventuring in a fantasy world. Not comprehending the complexities of tabletop RPGs I just loved the stories and that was enough. Then I remember going to the arcades with my brother and we loved playing coop games like Metal Slug and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which even allowed for up to 4 players. I would read about Dungeons & Dragons Tower of Doom that was released in 1993/94 for the legendary CPS-2 machine by Capcom, a developer and publisher all kids we all too familiar with. Tower of Doom would not be the first D&D game released by Capcom with TSR after signing their deal in 1990 which resulted shortly after in the porting of Eye of the Beholder to the SNES.

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The artwork in the magazine was evocative and the cover featured the standard party with the Dwarf, Cleric, Warrior and Elf. At the time races were classes as they were using the AD&D Rules Cyclopedia rules when designing the game which also made it unlike any other side scrolling beat em up game. Not only had they gotten the rights from TSR for the system but they also were using a popular setting from the AD&D books. At the time fans of D&D had gold box computer games and other iterations of their favorite tabletop game ported to the PC but nothing that looked as good as what Capcom released and no game allowed for up to 4 players couch coop! The game would eventually see it packed with the sequel Shadows of Mystarra (Dungeons & Dragons Collection 1999) for the failed Sega Saturn console but only Japan with the removal of 4 player capabilities.

tower of doom opening screen

The things that made this a different gaming experience for arcade goers was that it allowed players to do more than just simple attacks, infact Capcom wanted to remain true to the abilities existing fans of the tabeltop game loved so much.  Capcom would enlist the talents of video game and anime concept illustrator Kinu Nishimura (Street Fighter games and Capcom Vs SNK) while leaving the writing duties to Alex Jiminez who did great in translating the feel and narrative of Dungeons & Dragons to a more mainstream audience. Players would be able to select abilities and feats while picking up items and loot which was stowed in their inventory. Prior to this inventory functionality and the differentiation of what each character to do made this a gamechanger in the early 90’s, the last era of arcades still being relavent in gaming culture globally.

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The game had miles of depth on the competition at the time, it was hard to complete and it played different depending on the choices the players made in game. A store and and the addition of a block function helped players survive a few more kobolds. D&D fans coming to arcade would be pscyhed when they saw the inclusion of their favorite spells including, magic missile, fireball, cloudkill and invisibility along with the same limitations from the book meant their exzisting knowledge would allow for them to get the game from the first quarter. Levelling up and loss of gold and points when dying made it a game where you had to think more than your would for other beat em ups like Fatal Fury or the Simpsons. The replayability of Tower of Doom and its difficulty had us dumping money into the cabinets and for those who got to see the ending at the 7th level we were amped after seeing the cliffhanger ending which hinted at a sequel.

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Shadows over Mystarra would be the second Dungeons & Dragons game released for arcades in 1996, adding more to the game and expanding the choices for playable classes. The thief and magic user class were added to the joy of many D&D players. Each class had alternate costumes so two players could play as the same class if they wanted to and believe me have two casters is nothing to sneeze at in this game. Capcom also jammed in more combos for the fighting classes and threw in more spells along with diverging paths for specific classes and alternate endings added more replayability to that game that already did it right the first time around.  By far the 4 possible endings for each class is something I think no game has done since.

 

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Now that we have laid on the praise real thick with our nostalgia goggles on it is time to get into what we don’t like about the games. Seeing as the games were originally designed for the arcades it was common practise for developers for have money grab levels and cheap bosses who were so hard that you would HAVE to have a fair amount of coinage to survive. Pay to pay at it’s finest but this is truly visible when fighting the Red Dragon in the first game where you do not even see his health bar after a barrage of hits connect and his insta-death fire breath killed many one second into the encounter. Also, there were glitches in the sequeal where you could cheat through entering certain words when given the choice of naming your character along with a few other glitches which could give you powerful items helped some cheaters get their names on the highscore charts. Other than that my gripe is more with Capcom than it is with TSR which was going through hell in the 90s.

Imagine if Capcom did not sacrifice the 4 player option for the Saturn, better yet try picture them releasing these game on the Sony Playstation as a bundle in 1996? I could not find any explaination as to why Capcom would not pursue it further, one of the reasons could be that D&D did not catch on as fast or grow as much as it did in the west. Alex Jiminez who wrote the scenario for Capcom said the Japanese staff were not understanding the concept or much of the mechanics behind D&D. The heads in Tokyo even were debating whether the game should have a Western or Eastern theme prior to Alex’s arrival.

Let us recall that RPG fans in the early 90s had slim pickings for games especially when discussing consoles with Diablo 1 coming to the Playstation in 1998 with only a two player option, beating Capcom by a year for their collection which was exclusive to Japan. Baldurs Gate would not hit PCs until 1998 meaning Capcom had more than enough time to capitalize on a severely under served genre with most of the titles remaining exclusive to PC platforms. Waiting as long as 2013 to repackage and release the collection globally on most platforms seemed like a long wait and I’m pretty sure if they had ported it to the Playstation, PS2, Dreamcast, or Xbox they could have gotten some more sales and perhaps rekindled the interest of Wizards of the Coast in a time where consoles were not even a thought for developers. Proof of this is that we had to wait until 2001 before console gamers would recieve the critically acclaimed ‘Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance’.

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REMINDER: The titles listed were gamechangers and all came towards the end of the 90s, not to say there were not games on the PC and Playstation that did not have Dungeons & Dragons licensing but these products fell short of the mark when it came to graphics, replayability and never made the arcade. With the exception of Eye of the Beholder which was well reviewed no D&D computer game would make a splash prior to Baldurs Gate in 1998.

Hoping you enjoyed reading this post and we cannot recommend this enough if you have 15$ lying around give the game a shot as it is packed with nostalgia while also providing hour of fun in a familiar setting.  I give this collection 9 out of 10. 

If you liked what you saw on the site please squeeze us a Like on our Facebook and follow us on WordPress if you have an account. Any and all support is much appreciated but what could really help us is if you put Nerd Dimension as you homepage if you want to, Google has enough traffic as is lol.

Diablo IV is coming ! So lets talk about it!

Nerd Dimension tell you what they think about the announcement from Blizzard and what we hope the game could look like. So far it does not bode well for the veteran publisher which has seen an avalanche of backlash on social media. Nerd Dimension cut out the bs and get to the guts so read on to see if you should be excited about Diablo IV!

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Diablo IV as of now has 3 playable classes in the demo

 

written & edited by Mykal Grimm

Many YouTube feeds have been flooded with initial impressions and reactions to Blizzard’s announcement at Blizzcon that a forth installment in the classic series of Diablo was on the way…kinda. The publisher has released an well produced trailer including gameplay but also allowed attendees to play a demo while streamers were given 5 minutes to stream it for their fans. With the recent dark cloud hanging over Blizzard involving censoring and banning players who were vocal on the current political situation in Hong Kong to recent failures that the fans are not letting go of teasing gamers with Diablo IV could buy them some much needed time to try save face.

The last Diablo game announced by Blizzard was Diablo Immortal which disappointed fans wolrd wide with the news that it would be a mobile device only game. What added to the sting was how the company leading up to the announcement were very vague and appeared to ignore feedback from the community after the announcement. Fans of Diablo have been asking Blizzard for a HD remaster of the older the titles as now Baldurs Gate has been ported to all current gen consoles offering fans more product at affordable prices. Immortal would be pushed back and no hype was really generated and with the talks of it having a 2019 release I don’t see it bringing in the big bucks for Blizzard any time soon. The success of the Warcraft movie in China saw the franchise double up for a sequel further promoting their world to more potential players in the largest growing market while the the return of World of Warcraft Classic saw them capitalize on the nostalgia of the previous generations of PC gamers. Though many feel that WOW charging 14$ a month for a subscription and then charging you 60$ for expansions is a bit steep but who are we dictate their pricing policy.

The announcement of Diablo IV comes as a breath of fresh air to fans of the franchise, especially those who grew up playing the PC games and were waiting to see what a forth title would like after our disappointment with Reaper of Souls. What worries many gamers who are fond of the older games and all too familiar with Blizzard track record of missing deadlines the company did not even hint at a possible release date. This is not a good sign because Baldurs Gate 3 was the talk of cyberspace the past two months and are confident that they will have the game out in 2020 and that it will be on most platforms.

Other things we did not like reading was that Blizzard intend on making it playable online only! This writer believes that games that have campaign and solo content must be playable offline however developers have now made the online component critical to a lot of the game mechanics and not just skins and customizations. I may like to also remind folks that Blizzard’s online store was marred with scandal when real money was changing hands and pay to win became prevalent, not to mention the dealys for the first 48 hours and enduring download times should have taught them something.

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Diablo IV will offer multiplayer but have not been fortcoming with information

Something of the promising things on first glance is that this game looks closer to the original design and art style of the earlier games. The cinematis and gameplay still looks like Diablo but it is darker and not as smooth as in Reaper of Souls. The 3 playable glasses we saw in the gameplay footage online showed a Druid closer to that of Celtic legends while the Sorceress and _Barbarian did not look too different from the older games. The graphics and visuals for certain spells including the overall mapping of the controls seemed streamlined and intutitive. The introduction of mounts does raise eyebrows, though developing the game to be more open world than previous editions the needs to accelrated travel makes sense but steads and mounts are also common place in mmorpgs, something that Diablo is not…or so they the want us to think.

For our readers who might be new to the Diablo series in general I can recommed everything from the litrature to the games as they can provide hours of entertainment and ooze nostalgia of a simpler time in gaming. The games are action rpgs for the most part where you take on the role of a character with a specfici set of skills belonging to a certain class with accompanying talents. Many games would be inspired by Diablo in decades to come and is pretty simple to understand with stories that do lead you wanting to see the conclusions…for the first two games at least. Diablo III is still availible on all consoles with couch & online coop modes which allows for you to quest with friends while for those more techy savy you can throw a lan party and quest with your buddies through Diablo II: Lord of Destruction which is considered the definitive Diablo game. If you are more of the tabletop enthusiast Wizards of the Coast would release a setting for their D20 system which allows your party to play out adventures from the games that are easy to incorporate in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition and Pathfinder.

Diablo IV Combat Nerd DImension Review
The effects and visuals for spells and abilities are a huge step up from previous games

Now to to get in the cause for concern for some of the older players. Diablo 3 was a drastic change from the previous games which did not prove make it a better game. The game is one of the bestselling games of all time but also a debacle. Blizzard has long parted ways with the creators of Diablo David Brevik and Eric and Max Schaefer and with the return of Allen Adham to Blizzard they need Diablo IV to be big. With the hits Ubisoft and EA have taken in previous years all executives are sweating bullets with so much money invested into these projects failure can be devasting. The peculiar timing has helped Blizzcon by giving attendees and those of us at home something big and unexpected like a Diablo IV announcement.

Our gripes with Diablo III ranged from reducing the customization options for play, the lack of modding ability for PC versions to the killing off of characters and a short campaign and dull end game. If Blizzard can address these issuess perhaps we can be given a game with a long life and support from the publisher but despite not mentionning Diablo IV as an MMO we cannot help but feel that is could be the direction we are going similar to Neverwinter and Paths of Exile instead of going the Original Sin Divinity route which had proven to be better titles.

I can recall hours in lan parties playing Diablo 2 and have fond memories of carefully distributing my points in the skills tree to debating with my comrades which class to select to make for a better party.  The feeling of triumph after slaying demons with my friends through what felt like endless caves and finally saving the folks of Kingdom of Khanduras. Yes, good times indeed and hope that my scribblings may encourage you to give Diablo a chance and perhaps enjoy the game and setting that changed gaming forever. We hope to write more content on the series and the story behind Diablo so feel free to request and article to expedite our efforts.

 

You can purchase Diablo on GOG including the Hellfire expansion HERE

You can buy Diablo II base game from Blizzard HERE

 

Be sure to like and subscribe to our Facebook Page to be in the loop with all things nerd. Newsletter and Podcast coming soon and thank you again for your support.

 

*Nerd Dimension claims no ownership or copyrights of Diablo or any Blizzard properties

Medieval, Tales from Europe (new realistic setting for D&D 5E hitting Kickstarter) – Interview with Andrea Oneglia

Mykal talks with one of the Italian Trio behind Medieval – Tales from Europe to bring you guys more info on the this new, exciting setting aimed for 5th Edition players looking for more realism in their tabletop rpgs.

It has been a while since we last delved into the depths of tabletop RPGs and are fortunate enough this time to bring you some firsthand testimony and insight from a designer himself, Andrea Oneglia of Tales for Gamers Publishing (wicked nice name btw) whose efforts are focused on the release of his debut RPG setting Medieval – Tales from Europe which will be hitting Kickstarter soon.

Medieval – Tales from Europe is a historical setting that wants to bring the role players into a bizarre, unpredictable and absurdly real world, soaked in esotericism and full of that fairytale atmosphere that only the Middle Ages can offer, now finally proposed in a classic manner for the world’s most famous role playing game. A low magic system with only one race, the human, and 11 new playable classes will teleport you into the tales of an ancient and tumultuous Europe. Live unbelievable chivalrous adventures mixed with fantastic and supernatural events, marked by typical epic tones and by the satirical and grotesque ones of the folk stories. Keep up to date with the latest released news, explore our contents and support the Kickstarter campaign to receive everything you need to immerse yourself in this amazing story.

What drew me in from the first glance was the artwork I saw in a post he had on a Facebook group we both are members of. I clicked and discovered that Andrea and his team were working on a 5TH Edition Setting set in the Medieval Era which is intended to give players a more immersive and realistic feel. This to me sounded awesome and the further I dug the more I was intrigued and wanted to hear more about it. With information on the project scarce I decided to reach out to the man himself and see what unfolds. Andrea replied promptly and turned out to be a pretty solid guy and upon our request to do a write up agreed with open arms and sent us what he had at the time.

Q1.) So Andrea, tell us a little about yourself? (-short points where are you from, where you grew up etc.)

I was born and raised in Italy, in a small city 20 miles away from Naples, not far from Pompei, surrounded by the sea and by cultural and architectural remains of romans and Etruscan populations. I grew up in a territory rich in history and soaked in mysticism, legends and ancient tales. I grew up with the stories my grandparents used to tell me about the saints and other spiritual beliefs, for example the Jianara (a famous witch who would sneak in your room while you sleep to choke you to death! I’ve never known why!). Most of the time, those stories turned into world war II stories, unfortunately.

Q2) When did you first embark on you journey into the roleplaying games?

The role-playing games came much later in my life, even if the gaming world in general has always been a constant since my childhood (mostly videogames). Another separate hobby of mine was reading and writing, principally science fiction and fantasy. I enjoyed writing stories about interstellar travels, multidimensional existences and a lot about medieval fantasy settings too, things like King Arthur stories or even more unrealistic as Lord of the Rings. At the age of 15 I found out there was a way to combine the two things (games and narrative) and the result was incredible! That’s how I got into the role-playing games world, starting with Dungeons and Dragons (the most popular) and having the chance to explore the others just later. D&D allowed me to bring other people, mostly my friends, into the stories I used to write, to make them see what I see and to make them live the worlds I have created, which was something I have always researched. We from Tales for Gamers Publishing believe in the artistic power these things innately possess and we want to give our contribution in helping others “live” more engaging tales, as the historical ones can be.

Q3) You are a European working in Canada, so have you come across any cultural and business differences since you have moved?

My moving to Canada was a shock I could say. We are talking about a country that turned immigration into one of its main strengths, since it’s a relatively young country that needs young professionals to grow. We can’t really say the same for Italy, where for cultural, geographical and organizational aspects immigration hasn’t been considered as a resource yet. This makes Canada a giant boiling pot where everything ferments, grows and can contribution to a diverse ecosystem. There is space and opportunities for every decent person who feels like making a difference in this world in all the fields, from science to art (there is a huge community of role-players here!). At the same time, being a young country, founded entirely on colonialist politics (that dissolved almost completely what was here before), it doesn’t share the long reaching pasts of a lot of the nation’s back in Europe. Speaking about Quebec at least (where I live), the locals still struggle to find an identity and a link with their past which translates in still keeping today a veiled, and for some traits silly, discord between the French and English cultures on the territory (the two countries who fought for the occupation in the 18th century).

Q4) So what about your setting, Medieval Tales – from Europe (Medieval, Tales from Europe) made you feel confident enough to make the bold step of crowdfunding at this early stage?

The most immediate answer I can offer is: “because I love it!” Because I am the first excited fan of this setting and I like to play it with my friends! Even at the time when the mechanics were unclear, we were already trying (spontaneously, in our game sessions) to build up a more realistic system, more theatrical and less role-standard, more human and less divine, more survival and less chill. I can honestly admit that there is nothing like this around (yet)! Yes, there are medieval settings, some of them quite good, but for one reason or another they didn’t see much success and the gamers community seems still to crave more of it in their gaming. Medieval, Tales from Europe, is also introducing new (or not explored enough!) concepts in the RPGs world (the supernatural and the fear of the unknown, the weapons as ultimate deadly instruments, the concept of ultra-specialized classes), which raised huge interest in the players I shared it with. All these things made me decide to take action, step forward and propose something different to our community of players.

Professions + logo Kickstarter

Q5) 11 professions this early seems interesting and from the material you have shown they all vary and will probably feel different. I noticed that you did not shy away from including some interesting yet darker parts of European History including the Surgeon which reminds us of images of the plague. Please tell us about some of the classes and how they differ to a newcomer.

A realistic and historical setting as ours intends to be, needs to start from scratch with the classes. Most of the examples of what we have seen so far appeared inadequate for our purposes. Having the classes boil down to be no more than a fighters, better fighter,  other mediocre fighters, but fighters at the end of the day (which, just to be clear, works just fine in some of the amazing and valid RPGs systems we see around, based mainly on combat). With all the respect for those great titles, those classes sounded just wrong for the setting we have started developing. I like to look upon our 11 new classes as actors on a stage, ultra-specialized, very different from one another and, most importantly, irreplaceable! If your party are short an Explorer, the other players need to work harder to compensate some of the benefits the Explorer can provide during travels and still have some needs unmet. Same for the Artist, the Rogue and all the other classes (which are called Professions in this setting). The Surgeon is for sure one of the most interesting actors on our medieval stage! He can provide useful support in sewing the wounds and in restoring your hit points and there will be no one else able to do it in such an efficient way. The Surgeon can be a sneaky danger too if under menace, since he or she knows the body’s weak points, how to damage them or use them during torture. In summary, there is nothing in common in the different Professions except they are all humans with important skills but vulnerable and never perfect; people that try to do one unique important thing: survive!

Medieval - Tales from Europe
Nerd Dimension do not claim any ownership or copyrights over Medieval – Tales from Europe.

Q6) Low fantasy as a choice brings a lot with it. You have chosen to limit the playable races to only Human which I think is a pro but I am certain you must have got a few odd looks from some of the folks around the table or at the comic store. Please shed light on the decision and how you feel it will positively impact the game?

A low-fantasy system with only humans came as a crucial choice, even if drastic for some aspects, for the sake of a more realistic setting. This for us is going to add other interesting elements, not remove them as we are trying to be as true to the setting. I will try elaborate with an example. Have you ever thought about how devastating some abilities such as Darkvision (an ability in classic rpgs that allow a character to see in the dark) can be on the narration, on the suspense and the engagement you can have at the table when a character gets into a fully dark catacomb? Why there is even a torch in the starting pack of an adventurer if 70% of the classes can see in the dark and you are never going to light it up in a dungeon (and we could say the same about so many other cool but useless objects)? However, the RPG world is wide and vast, and there are players who love settings where “human issues” can be simply overcome with a snap of fingers. Medieval, Tales from Europe wants to provide an alternative support for those players who seek a more competitive game setting, where you’d better think twice in choosing your equipment if you don’t want to end up alone, frozen to the bones, in a dark cave full of venomous snakes or a bear (deadly situations even for a 20th level character in some cases). Also, these features allow for us to finally branch out for some new kind of stories we can play out around the table, such as the story of Saladin who led the Islamic forces during the Crusades, or the story of Joan of Arc and the Hundred Year war, along with many other historical events that comprise the rich history of Europe. Or those tales between myth and legends such as Robin Hood, King Arthur and Lancelot’s story, and heritage of our European culture, stories that simply need the characters to be human and far fro perfect. Is there another way you can play these scenarios with Dungeons and Dragons without the new features (and the drastic choices) Medieval, Tales from Europe is going to introduce?

Q6.2) In the brief you emailed us you highlighted that Low Magic is different to No Magic and we wanted to give you an opportunity to expand on that for our readers.

When we think about the Middle Ages it suddenly brings up dark images to ones mind such as the esotericism of forbidden doctrines and the use of occult sciences which in the Dark Ages claimed to induce supernatural effects on people and situations (a classic example is the voodoo dolls or the habit of keeping crystals or herbs in the houses to keep the malevolent spirits away). In such a scenario it’s hard to imagine a setting that doesn’t take magic into consideration in some form. At the same time, magic as we know it, described well by the fantasy settings of the past, doesn’t exist in our world and it can’t exist in a realistic setting. That’s why we had to work firstly on the concept of magic we wanted to introduce and then on the game mechanics and how to put it in player’s hands. In Medieval, Tales from Europe magic doesn’t exist, but people might interpret some weird signs and circumstance as such because they believe in it and, most importantly, they fear it! The Arcanist, one of the most magic-like Profession we have introduced, is nothing else than a trickster who is himself convinced of the reality of the effects he creates to be true. Such an insane personality can have a great impact on other people’s minds because he uses fear as a weapon, and he will find out it can be as sharp as a blade. In our setting everything is possible, all the supernatural effects can be realized but only if the character is good enough in influencing people’s mind. How does this translate in game mechanics? There will be no spell list in this new setting. We have introduced (for the first time in a tabletop RPG setting, to our knowledge!) a system where whatever supernatural effect can be created by the player itself, not combining parts or pre-generated words but simply inventing it. The Storyteller will give a score to those effects and the player will need to roll a Charisma check (Influence) to create the right grade of suggestion and make the effect appear real to those who are watching (even if it is not). Some of these tricks can have an effect as real as an arrow in the chest!

Q7) You are obviously intending to run Medieval Tales – From Europe over the Dungeons & Dragons 5 Edition rules set which is the most popular on the market. This is a two part question so sorry Andrea,

  1. What did you like about 5E and how do you feel you added to it with your setting
  2. As an independent publisher and creator can you tell us how it is working with an existing rules set and whether it comes with complications?

The 5th Edition is far from being a perfect setting but nothing ever is to be honest. For example, it gives the impression of going easy on players as a RPG system. I feel players are not challenged enough and a lot revolves around the combat with fewer opportunities for diversifying and customizing the characters that it’s previous editions. Even the level progression, according to the Dungeon Master’s Guide should be triggered by an insane amount of combat encounters, primarily. This being said, the system seems to have a pretty strong up-side, which deserved to be use for our setting: it is incredibly widespread (everyone plays it!) and it’s the easiest to learn, an aspect that attracts a lot of new players. As I said previously, we had to adjust some aspects of the 5th edition engine to make it suitable for a realistic setting but we kept intact most of the main backbone. We tried to make the smallest changes possible, preferring to adjust some mechanics instead of outright removing them and forcing players to learn new ones from scratch. The results are far better than what we anticipated with a more challenging and a more interpretative fashion of play compared to the basic 5th edition. Thanks to the Open-Gaming License (OGL) released by Wizard of the Coast in early 2019, the 5th edition rules are free from copyright and everyone can use them, under specific conditions and with the limitation of not including any of the world-settings the company has created for an eventual business idea. Thanks, Wizards!

Q8) Being bilingual yourself I have to ask whether or not you intend to publish in several languages other than English, perhaps Italian, Espanyol or German?

Out first choice was the Italian language, an automatic choice given the nature of content and the south-European flavor of the setting. Plus, Italy is proving lately to be infected with the bug and in Europe is leading in new role players and in new related contents including boardgame publishers. With the recent growth in popularity of boardgames, roleplaying games and the success of movies like the Avengers and shows like Stranger Things the ranks of tabletop rpg fans continue to grow daily in my home country. We decided to also publish in English in order to reach everyone else in the world and give them the chance to get immersed in the fascinating tales of our continent. If Medieval, Tales from Europe is going to be translated in other languages, it depends on many aspects, mostly the Kickstarter campaign outcome.

Q9) The artwork we have managed to see so far are distinct and reminiscent of Fantasy Novel covers in a more modern style. What is your experience and advice when it comes to reaching out to talent whether it be artists or designers, has the internet allowed for more affordable and efficient collaboration?

The power of social media and this recent RPG explosion we are having in Italy allowed me to get in touch with some great artists in the field. I had the fortune to meet the artists and got them involved in this project quite easily. I guess they saw a chance to get some more exposure (they are all still carving out their own path) and at the same time they gave me the honor of using their amazing illustrations for this project, which appear to fit our vision and one for the project! It’s mind boggling how many artists are out there online working on these types creative jobs, whether it is artwork or game-design. I see a great future for such collaborations and partnerships as more and more talent is taking their abilities online.

Q10) The last question is about the Kickstarter and what do backers get? What are you goals, what is the figure and more importantly, what do supporters get who pledge to your campaign?

We expect to see a great Kickstarter campaign in December 2019 which hopefully will turn Medieval, Tales from Europe from ideas into reality. The funds we are asking for will be entirely used in completing the project, to cover the production and shipment costs of the material we offer and the expenses in time and instruments the artists involved in this project need in order to give us their best. In defining the rewards we are going to offer in exchange of the pledges, we based the decision on a simple concept: we want the player to get what they need to start their experience with Medieval, Tales from Europe as soon as they get it in their hands, and nothing more. We believe that less is more, and we want to concentrate the material in useful products, avoiding unused gadgets. Among the rewards there will be the Player’s Guide in PDF and Hardcover format and some others contents including a one-shot adventure, a little guide for the encounters with some crucial enemies stats, famous medieval characters’ sheet, artworks and more. There will be some good deals for the early birds and for those present in our newsletter list. Most important, we will take care of the shipping cost of all the products and once the campaign is over, hopefully with a positive outcome, our backers will not be charged anything more. They will be invited in a private Facebook group where they can follow the different stages of the project, stay in touch with us the producers and just wait for the product to arrive.

Arcanist

Andrea’s story is one shared by many independent creators but too many allow their ideas to remain nothing more than pencil scratches on the back of a character sheet. Andrea has been thinking and working on a setting with a foundation in realism that itself is historically rich and inspiring. Himself investing into getting the artists to help bring these same ideas to life. The dancing blades that harken to the ottoman and Turkish Empires look fierce while the Warrior and Explorer remind you of the Knights of Britain and the voyages of the Spanish Fleet. This Era in European history is rife with conflict, myths, religion and intrigue so splashing in a dab of fantasy adds just enough to make it feel new and worth exploring. This game is different in the best way possible, it is supposed to be different.

We must commend Tales for Gamers Publishing for getting behind their ideas and having a vision they are pursuing. They are doing what designers could never have dreamed of twenty years ago, today they can call their friends and fans to action. Gamers have elevated crowdfunding to where it is legitimately funding bestselling products tabletop to the Xbox store and Tales for Gamers are not taking much risk. By taking their time to build more awareness for their game they can launch a Kickstarter to an interested public and audience. More important it is great to see an Italian creator and publisher aspiring to make his mark internationally with his work. This is a European project that we are certain will find it’s place at tables across the continent. Our job at Nerd Dimension is help however we can because growing up I always dreamed of being part of the industry, work within in and belong to the culture and now I do. Today we can step up and get behind creators like never before and Medieval Tales – From Europe is something that I feel has been missing from the tabletop and with our help Tales for Gamers can remedy it. We would like to salute the valiant efforts of Giovanni Laudante IT specialist of the group, Davide Santonicola the super fan who always is ready to help and last but not least collaborator Maurizio Infante.

We are going to pledge to the campaign and we invite our readers to check out their page and see what it’s about for themselves. Andrea and his team are communicative and are always looking for more people to hear about Medieval Tales so please give them a like and show them some support. I myself have been guilty of scrolling past Kickstarter posts because most of them fail for a reason but I am glad that I checked this one out. Next time you guys are going through your troll page, click on one of those posts if it seems cool because you could be helping that dream come true for somebody.

I was thrilled to cover this and expect us to have Andrea back on, this time he will appear on our podcast which will go back up when our co-host Bakreni returns so make sure you are subscribed and are following our pages to hear how everything went. Until next time reader, role deep and stop trying to pick pocket in the tavern already!

 

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Witch of Salem : Fun for 4 with a great theme [Board Game Review]

Mykal discusses one of his go to Horror tabletop games with Halloween coming up, maybe your group would enjoy Witch of Salem.

I first came across Witch of Salem (Mayfair Games ) designed by Michael Reineck (Pillars of Earth, Cuba: El Presidente) whilst watching a Dice Tower Top 10 with Tom Vassel and his buddies. I was searching for a coop board game with a good theme that did not take too long to set up and play yet still was interesting enough to my group that we play it again. Off the rip I liked the Cthulhu mythos with the it being the early 20th Century New England involving ancient ones, demons and intrigue.

My initial fears after playing Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror (Fantasy Flight) was that I would pay a lot of money for a game that the group would not play enough to warrant its price. An issue for many people entering the hobby of board games especially those who intend to collect is the price on some of the best games are pretty steep, add in postage you are looking at a hefty some of cash for something you won’t get to use that offten. I have paid for games that I only ever got to play once and wished I could have got another honest opinion on the game before buying it. Board Game Geek did not have it scored too high (6.6) yet what I could read the game seemed straight forward, challenging and did have a tone of play that matched the theme.

The game’s designer Michael Reineck is a German designer who was nominated in 2008 for Designer of the Year, the year Witch of Salem was released along with some of his other projects. I could not find a website or social media page to dig up some more info but he has worked on more than 6 published board games and the list is nothing to sneeze at. The artwork (Franz Vohwinkel) even when looking at reviews seemed interesting as it did in Dragons Lair when I went to purchase it.The artwork looks great from the box to the cards to the map you play on with the right dark tones to bring the setting to life.

witch of salem spread 2

The box contains all your standard board game pieces, tokens, cards and a board with a manual to read which could have been streamlined a little more but was easy enough to comprehend. The game is limited to 4 players max and is a cooperative game involving strategy and combat. Not really a mystery game despite the description on the front of the box but the horror theme and the the progression mechanics are easy to use and build tension as time passes in the game.

This is a fun game and is pretty simple to learn after one playthrough. That being said, Witch of Salem is not an easy game and scales well for a maximum of 4 players. There are a variety of ancient ones you can find yourself grappling with as the time mechanics don’t seem to stress the players more rather keep the tension and pace consistent. Towards the end you and your players will have to come together to seal the gates and prevent the demons from entering our world. This is something you can play for a while as games seldom feel the same and it is great for a halloween board game before the movies or after dinner. I recommend this over Eldrith and Arkham as it plays faster, is taught easier and the price is fair considering what you get out of it. If you want something that will have you on the edge of your seat for most of the game and don’t want a million things to set up Witch of Salem is the horror coop game for you.

 

Rating: 8 out 10

I gave it a lower score because I feel that the game could be fun with more players and there were no expansions released. The rules are not as straight forward and all of the characters are the same with no significant diffirences in skills and abilities.

Lords of the Cosmos – Epic 80s Heavy Metal Space Fantasy the way we want it !

Mykal does a write up on the interesting comic Lords of the Cosmos and discusses why he feels people should get behind this Epic 80s comic and its Kickstarter .

It is not a mystery to anybody who ever browsed the posts of our blog that we are avid comic and graphic novel readers, me personally usually opting for more darker storytelling in the comics I read. When I stumbled across Lords of the Cosmos in a post on Facebook my interest was piqued and was curious to see what it was all about. The more I dug the more I discovered this awesome setting and the story behind the book itself. Learning that it was an entirely independent venture and to see that they managed to recruit some truly talented names in the industry told me I had to reach out to somebody from the project. I sent a message to Jason Lenox through Messenger and was pleasantly surprised when I read the reply that he would send me the EPK and all the materials I would need to do a write up for their new Kickstarter. What really made me happy was how I managed to get the two previous issues for review which I will individually do reviews for, but this post is to tell ya’ll about this awesome book and hopefully get more people involved in the story moving forward. It feels great to support something that achieves more than expected and Lords of the Cosmos deserves to have many more issues moving forward.

Umex-cover-low-res

Lords of the Cosmos is the brainchild of co-creators Jason Lenox (Lovecraft P.I.), Jason Palmatier and Dennis Fallon (Plague) who wanted to publish something together that stood out. All three have experience within the industry and have no problem sharing their projects with other artists and talent so don’t be surprised when you see more names in the credits than usual. The drawing styles of all the artists come together to form these evocative images from page to page. The voice of the narrators through out prove that the writers and creators have a well developed and flushed out setting and know the direction in which they want the story to go. The grim tone and matching illustrations immerse you into Aiden. Each issue comes with several stories, each depicting backstories and different events on Aiden and how it impacts the present. I can say that it has been a while since I read such good writing and seen such illustration from an independent and have decided to pledge to the Kickstarter because here at Nerd Dimension we support what we like.

While doing my research on Jason I managed to find his interview on ‘Wasted Local Talent’ which gave me some more insight into his story and how hard he has been working in the industry. Knowing that he genuinely wants to deliver a good product while balancing his duties as a husband and father allowed me to get more a feel for this independent creator. His relentless work ethic and kind heart casts him as the quintessential good guy all us nerds should not only encourage but learn from. Jason has never had a cushy job working fulltime for one of the big publishers, so he decided to work towards making and releasing his own product. Sure, it is not easy setting off on your own but Nerd Dimension was started to be able to motivate and connect more creators and fans and hopefully be able to assist with efforts such as this Kickstarter. What is the point if every blogger only covers what is new and ignores the indie scene which 9 out of 10 times will scratch that itch called ‘craving for originality’ much more than the newer comics you can buy.

To avoid spoiling the story for everybody I will just give you a quick rundown of the setting in my humble yet less prolific prose. Aiden is a planet where magic and science have formed a twisted yet symbiotic harmony where two contradictions are fused together, and in Lords of the Cosmos it is done very well. The planet is home to different races including goblins, mutants, humans and aquatic beings so there is no shortage of diversity. The look and feel is that of the 80s and as Jason Lenox describes himself ‘is Metal’ which has some Mad Max moments while remaining planted in the realms of space fantasy. The characters all share harsh and grim origin stories and the planet is an active participant in the narrative in a way I have perhaps only seen in film and the team of Lords of the Cosmos really did a good job of showing it on the page. The artists do not shy away from blood and gore and the new take on races that populate the planet make it unlike any other comic I have read so far. The black and white insides give me that familiar feel of older Warhammer comics, Dylan Dog and Dr. No so it really did take me back to my childhood. All in all, I cannot recommend this Kickstarter and series enough and below I will include what Jason and his guys say about this Epic 80s series that’s coming out in 2020.

The Kickstarter as of this time is at 75% of reach their goal of 4000$ and I urge people to support! Jason Lenox was wise in his approach to crowdfunding and has integrated fan feedback and continues to post regular updates for backers to be in the loop. The different tiers each offer cool stuff including your name mentioned just for contributing a few bucks makes you as the reader feel part of the success story.

Welcome to the exciting and dangerous Aiden, the world of the Lords of the Cosmos! In the third issue the team adds depth to our heroes’ backstories as the Lords of the Cosmos try to bring order to a world that run afoul with both magic and technology. We want you, dear reader, to join us as we connect the dots from Aiden’s ancient past to the present-day conflict between the evil Umex and his arch nemesis, Aegeus, the mysterious leader of the Lords of the Cosmos. 

This issue will contain 36 black and white interior pages including part three of the main story (11 pages) that picks up right where the issue two cliffhanger ended. It includes two short stories (22 pages in total) covering different aspects of the planet Aiden and detailed scale drawings for both Disciples of Umex and the Lords of the Cosmos by superstar artist Jens Bengtsson. We have created two main covers and four variant covers for this issue, but just in case that’s not enough for you we always offer a sketch cover so your favorite character can grace the cover page.   

Zemba-cover-low-res

 

Lords of the Cosmos is © 2019 Ugli Studios. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate (Comic Book Review)

Great to see a Baldurs Gate comic on sale but does it capture the essence and the feeling we had playing the game?

I recall the late 90s and early 2000s when fantasy video games were coming out every year that appeared to seemingly dwarf the previous releases of the year before.  Diablo, Baldurs Gate and Ice Wind Dale were released to good reviews and more importantly they were being played by people who had no idea what D&D or pen and paper RPGs were. A new generation of RPG fan and player was ushered into the fold thanks to technology and globalization. RPG games were being played in lan parties and online with Battlenet and other services growing the genres popularity and access.  At that time Dungeons & Dragons had changed ownership and its future was in the hands of Wizardz of the Coast (now a subsidary of Hasbro) and in this time we also saw  more suplimentary products for their big Intellectual Property which was Dungeons & Dragons. With Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 coming out in 2000 it would seem that the publishers managed to get all their ducks in a row as RPGs both tabletop and their PC counterparts were in trend and the brand awareness was growing.

Lets step back into the early 10s after Dungeons & Dragons have been releasing comics sporadically while the novels were still selling strong with the drow ranger Drizzt becoming the unofficial mascot of D&D and the Forgotten Realms. With Wizards poised to release a new system (5th Edition) the last thing they could afford was a cold release. A cold release is when a company releases a product or service with little to minimal marketing and promotional efforts and after 4.5 was panned by critics and players alike and with Paizo building an empire on improving 3.5 WOTC wanted to make sure 5th Edition would not only make a splash but ride in on a tidal wave.

After Wizardz of the Coast wisely decided to announce playtesting in 2012 and openly let people participate in helping them craft the new system that at the time was still called D&D Next. By 2014 they released the basic rules for free on their website  and by September players could purchase the first 3 core books and it was very well recieved. This ties in our review today as Legends of Baldurs Gate was released the same year as their system. I have to tip my hat to them as this move not only catered to fantasy comic fans, fans of their already popular settings but also any newcomers could also see the value in getting to know more about the lore of the setting through a comic. Let us not forget that the majority of younger gamers probably never played Baldurs Gate so this product could walk them through it and introduce them to what D&D was about without them having to buy an old game or do more research.

At the time I was still playing 3.5 and was reluctant to switch systems despite GMing sessions at Cons and at my friends game shop I was not onboard the 5E train but was still reading the novels and any comics I could get my hands on. When I was browsing Amazon I came across the comic and having played the PC game I was interested in reading a book that was revisiting the setting, serving as somewhat of a sequel to the game.

I placed my order and the quality seemed industry standard when it arrived, like most products published through IDW. The paperback collected 5 issues of the story and the cover art did resemble the style I was used to with their previous comics that they were printing during the 4th Edition run.

The story takes place ____ after the events that saved the people of Baldurs Gate. One of the legends Minsk, comes to life and as I like to avoid spoilers I will attempt to not give away too much in my critique of the book. The plot for the most part is nothing crazy or new but the cast of characters are interesting as you have a party come together through circumstance and have a united goal.

Jim Zubkavich and Max Dunbar deliver in this 5th Edition tie remaining as true as they could and bringing some darkness to all over storytelling. Jim himself coming off writing and working for big names just Capcom, Marvel, DC, Cartoon Network and Bandai-Namco so Wizardz chose a seasoned vet to oversee and be point on the project. Not to say Max Dunbar does not have a hefty resume including illustrating for big franchise IPs such as GI Joe, Gears of War and Judge Dredd so the talent and skills were never in question.

The characters play out like your typical party in a campaign but the twists in the plot and the pacing is done right so that someone new to the genre would not be overwhelmed. Baldurs Gate comes to life with Max Dunbar’s and Sarah Stone’s drawing styles while the dialogue and writing bring it all together in this enjoyable comic. This is a must read for anybody who loves fantasy comics and D&D especially if you are a newcomer and want to get to know the Forgotten Realms. These sort of comics are great to introduce people to the different roles in a party, to language that was spoken and even familiarizing themselves with key concepts and lore in Dungeons & Dragons.

I can warmly recommend this comic if you can find it at an affordable price. Looking now the paperback is selling for around 44$ on Amazon so try check Ebay and other book stores for a hardcopy. A decent gift for a teenager and adult and adds to any comic collection with lots of good images to draw inspiration from.

 

Please tell us what you think of Legends of Baldurs Gate Vol 1, do you agree with us or did you feel it was a crime against rainforrests. Let us know in the comment section or message us on social media. Til next time, quest strong and may your days be filled with adventure and joy.