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Archive for RPGG Newscaster Andrew

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Jason Morningstar: Jurassic theropod

Andrew Goenner
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I was recently introduced to a wonderful game called Fiasco. This is a game I'd heard a lot about, but knew would probably not be a big hit with my group. To be honest, I was wondering a bit how much I would enjoy the game myself, but I wanted to give it a try. Needless to say, like many others who have delved into this game, I feel in love.

That being said, it is my great honor to present to you my latest RPG Pro interviee, Jason Morningstar:


What brought you to the roleplaying hobby in the first place?
I was a bored, imaginative kid whose father anduncle were both really into wargames. One day my uncle brought over a game he'd bought on a whim but that made no sense to him. It was white box D&D and it sure made sense to me!

What was the first game you designed (whether it was published or not), and what did you feel upon completion?
The first game I designed was called, ambitiously, Jesus Tic Tac Toe. I was in first grade. Jesus Tic Tac Toe was like regular Tic TacToe, only Jesus-sized, with 20 columns and 20 rows. It was my first unplayable game design as well. I like to think that it taught me a lot. It certainly wasn’t the last time I’ve stolen from the greats.

What's the most underrated system you've played in or run?
Underrated? According to who? A game I'd love to see get more exposure and love is Matthijs Holter's game Archipelago.

What is your favorite roleplaying memory?
I have so many good memories! There have been times when I've played with people who were totally new to the hobby and had a delightful experience with them, watched their eyes light up with the possibility of it all, those are good times.

Least favorite?
I remember being scolded and chastised for making some culturally inappropriate move in a Bushido game when I was like twelve, something I had no idea about. A bunch of adults basically yelled at me and I remember thinking "now this is some bullshit."

You have not only designed a popular game, but also a game that is completely unique in its mechanics that has made its way up to #2 in the RPGGeek rankings. Where did the idea come from and how did you go about building it?
First of all Fiasco isn't completely unique - it builds on other games, as all games do. The idea came from a need that I observed over and over again - a game that could easily fit into a short time period and deliver a complete, satisfying experience. All the design parameters forced the game into being what it is.

If you were a dinosaur, what kind would you be and why?

A badass Jurassic theropod, because I like to steal eggs and run around.

Other than RPG-related activities, what is a hobby you partake in?
My wife and I love to travel, so we're always out getting into trouble. I tend to get really obsessive about one thing at a time; right now it is the history of early cinema.

When you designed Fiasco, did you have any idea it would garner such a following in the RPG world?
Nope.

Are there any other gamers in your family?
We're all gamers, but my older brother and I are in a weekly gaming group together, which is great.

Who has had the most influence on you as a designer and why?
I would say my local friends that I am playing with every week, because in the end I am designing games I want to play with them.

Do you have a RPG night and what games do you play if you do?
I'm in two groups that meet more-or-less weekly.

One plays longer-form campaign style games and the other usually goes for three sessions of the latest hotness, then moves on to the next thing. Right now we're playing Archipelago and World of Dungeons respectively.

What advice would you give to budding RPG designers?
Make a lot of games and play even more. Find a positive, supportive community and embrace mutualism. Fail early and often. Don't spend money you don't have.

And finally, are there any big projects you’re currently working on that you can tell us about?
Well, my game Durance is almost done - we're looking over final proofs before sending it to the printer as I type this! After that, looking ahead, I have a ton of little ideas percolating, but I don't really know what will rise to the top. I am also helping out friends by contributing to various projects at the moment.

-----------------------------

And there you have it folks, the creator of Fiasco. Jason, thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions, and I know I have a new game on my list of those that deserve more exposure to give a readthrough.
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Wed Oct 3, 2012 5:15 am
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Sandy Petersen is a Pachycephalosaurus with the soul of a T-Rex

Andrew Goenner
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I discovered role playing through two games initially. Those games were DC Heroes (1st Edition) and Ghostbusters International. While DC Heroes was the first I purchased, GBI followed soon after, and this was actually the first game I played.

In highschool, I discovered and fell in love with Call of Cthulhu. However, while this is a fantastic game, Ghostbusters International will always have a place near and dear to my heart (and in fact I play it to this day). That is why it is truly my great honor to present here an interview with the designer of not only the #1-rated RPG in the database, but also one I will always remember as the first game I ever played.


What brought you to the roleplaying hobby in the first place?

In 1973, a friend of mine showed me a game he had borrowed from one of his college professors (we were freshmen in college at the time), and we thought we’d try it out. It was Dungeons & Dragons – the first print run, and it changed everything. I had always been a gamer but this was something fabulously new, despite its crudity.



What was the first game you designed (whether it was published or not), and what did you feel upon completion?

I don’t know. My friends and I had been playing board games as long as I can remember, and complex wargames since the age of 12. We made up our own rules for them, using airfix plastic WW2 armymen. We were probably 13 at the time, and had a complete set of combat rules, even incorporating a form of “roleplay” into it, as one of the officers on each side represented ourselves. Later on, I read that this was how D&D started – playing miniatures (Napoleonic though) and identifying some of the officers as the players. I guess we were shooting at the same mark, though in a far more disorganized manner.


What's the most underrated system you've played or run?

I would have to say Bunnies and Burrows. It had a skill system (as opposed to just leveling up), and was the first game I know to have used a character’s stats as influence on his skills. But of course no one played it, because you had to be a rabbit.


What is your favorite roleplaying memory?

I have been playing so many years, it’s hard to think of just one. But I guess the top one would be winning the Gamer’s Choice Hall of Fame in 1990. It’s voted on by the gamers themselves (instead of publishers or developers) so it meant a lot.


Least favorite?

Being told off by a player that I was “racist” for assuming that dwarfs were short.


Before I get to the question about the obvious game you were involved in designing, I want to ask about one closer to my heart. How did you come to be involved in the design of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters International and how were you able to successfully combine the horror and comedy aspects of the films into the RPG?

West End Games had gotten the license to do an RPG using the Ghostbusters license, but Eric Goldberg (the designer instrumental in gaining the contract) had no confidence in his own ability to do the game. So West End basically subcontracted it out to me, expecting me to be able to mix horror & comedy. I think they expected rather more horror and less comedy (at least they kept urging me along those lines), but I hung tough and it worked out in the end. The secret was to do what I feel was a solid, flexible game system, and then to let the players provide the comedy, instead of the game system. By putting useful characters, with a range of abilities, into silly situations, we ended up with what I think was a good mix.

Often, comedy games are done by slacking off on the system, feeling that the fun is in the jokes. While this is a defensible, Ghostbusters at least demonstrates that the alternative also works.

Also I have spent many years watching bad monster movies and that experience was most useful.



If you were a dinosaur, what kind would you be and why?

Well my fave is the Tyrannosaurus rex, but with my luck I’d be stuck in the body of a pachycephalosaur or something else retarded.











Now the obvious question. Call of Cthulhu. Great game, timeless, and one of those on the short list of RPGs non-role players may have heard of. What was involved in adapting the works of one of the most in-depth horror mythoi in American literature into a RPG format?

RPGs of the time were pretty much combat and stat-oriented. D&D was just a dungeon crawl killing monster after monster. My first challenge was to somehow make a game out of a genre in which combat pretty much always leads to madness and/or death. I mean what would be the very weakest monster in the entire Cthulhu Mythos – probably a cultist? But a cultist, by definition, is as strong as a player-character, plus has numbers on his side. Combat was almost certain death, or at least very one-sided to the players’ disadvantage. I had another challenge as well, which was to somehow make the game feel “scary” – to make the players act like creepy things were going on.

The first part of the challenge (reducing combat) was done by emphasizing the mystery aspects of the Mythos – where players investigate, rather than focusing on intercepting or stopping the horrors. In CoC, the final conflict became closing a gate, or burning down a secret temple, or banishing a monster via a ritual. While there might be some kind of combat in the background, or attacks along the way, the emphasis became survival and escape, and the use of lore and discoveries. So this was a social change in the way the game worked, which is why there is the whole chapter at the end of the early editions explaining How To Play this game. It also led to the emphasis on things like arcane books, or library use, etc.

The second part of the challenge (making the game seem scary) was pretty much pulled off by the use of the Sanity rule. I had encountered an early issue of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice magazine, in which the writers posited a sort of Mind stat for players in a theoretical horror game, which they had to make a saving throw against when they saw something bad. If they fumbled their saving throw, the stat could be permanently reduced. I took this concept and enlarged upon it – using Sanity as a rather large number which could be reduced by seeing Terrible Things, and if too much was lost at a time, then temporary, long-term, or permanent effects could ensue.

In 1980, I tried out the concept of this Sanity system in the very first ever playtesting of Call of Cthulhu, with a band of players in Davis, California. They crept into the basement of a haunted house, and changed a spell they’d found in an old book, which they mistakenly believed to be the key to the house’s mystery. I just told them the spell was to summon a malign being from Beyond, so they were not sure what would happen (it was a dimensional shamble). When they chanted the spell, I said that they heard odd sounds, and then something started to emerge from the void. Out of five players, two said they were closing their eyes, and two others said they were looking away. Only one met the horror head on. And suddenly I realized that I had something new – the players actually were trying NOT to see the monster! That was so different from anything I’d encountered in 7 years of D&D that I was agog. They were acting as if they were afraid, and I guess they were, at least for their characters. The actions seemed to mimick what people do in horror movies and books and I knew I was on to something.


Are there any other gamers in your family?

Everyone plays games from time to time in my family, but mostly just my four sons are what you’d consider “gamers”. My daughter and wife like games, but as you know, that doesn’t make them gamers.


Who is your favorite RPG designer and why?

It’s hard for an rpg designer to be someone’s “favorite”. Most of us don’t design that many different RPG systems, compared to the number of games a boardgamer can pull off (I’ve worked on maybe a half-dozen RPGs, and that’s a lot for one of us – compare Reiner Knizia’s 500+ board games) . Plus who has time to play more than a handful of RPGs? They take a long time to hear, and several hours, even weeks, of play time to plumb their depths. So we get the short end of the stick as far as becoming faves. That said, I always felt that Steve Peterson had a lot on the ball, and not just because his last name is a misspelled version of my own.


If you had to go up against any Old One, which would it be and why?

Great Cthulhu. I know he would be utterly, contemptuously victorious, but he has been my favorite since I was 8 years old, and I would be proud to have my puny efforts crushed by him. I own a large original acrylic painting of him by Tom Sullivan. It’s hanging on my living room wall right now.


Of all the RPG projects you've worked on (be it system or supplement), which are you most proud of?


Uninterestingly enough, Call of Cthulhu. Sorry, no surprises there. It is still the reason I get invited to game conventions. Think on it – I have done video games that have sold tens of millions of copies, and been popular round the world. But it is the Call of Cthulhu fans who are the fanatics – who are the most interested in me and who, in turn, most interest me. Their quirky personalities, and fun game stories are always entertaining.


What advice would you give to budding RPG designers?


Make the game that pleases YOU, that YOU would like to play. When the folks at Chaosium got ahold of the license for H. P. Lovecraft’s fiction, they did not (at that time) respect nor love his work. They thought HPL was a laughable hack. But they were smart enough to know that because they didn’t respect HPL, they were not the right people to design Call of Cthulhu. They knew I was a big fan, and so they felt that I would put in the effort to make a good game on the topic, and that was the right decision. Not necessarily picking me (modesty forbids), but picking someone who loved the works of HPL, so that I would take them seriously, be obsessed with them, and try to do them justice.

When I was at id Software, making the computer game DOOM, we gave no thought to the mass market. We just worked on aspects of the game that WE thought were fun. We included multiplayer not because we thought people would like it, but because WE liked it. We were making a game to please ourselves, and our hope was that it would please at least some other people too. And it did. It turned out that when you are doing a game you love and want to play, the extra effort and care you put into the game really shows.



And finally, are there any big projects you’re currently working on that you can tell us about?

Yes, I am working on a game tentatively titled CTHULHU WORLD COMBAT which is a combination of Lovecraft’s universe along with strategy gaming. It will initially be released for the iPhone/iPad market, and will feature player-to-player combat struggling for mastery of the world in the End Times. You can play as several different factions (including Cthulhu), summon monsters, and lead your army across the globe. We are currently preparing a Kickstarter video for this project to get funding and kick into full production (the design document, some art, and preliminary programming are already finished). So if any of my games have given you or your readers pleasure, please keep an eyestalk open for my kickstarter and thanks for your consideration.
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Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:07 am
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That's right, another batch of updates from good ole' Green Ronin

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First, off, we have two more Power Profiles for Mutants & Masterminds (3rd Edition) for you.

First off, we have one that revolves around the manipulation of air.


Green Ronin wrote:
Power Profile: Air Powers

From the unleashed power of a hurricane wind or destructive tornado to drawing the breath from your target's lungs, Air Powers command the life-giving atmosphere all around us. Whip up wind blasts and shields to protect you from attack. Fly on the wings of the wind, and let it carry your words across great distances as you snuff out fires and the consciousness of your foes just as easily. This product is for Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition.


Next up, we have a profile based on kinetic powers.


Green Ronin wrote:


Power Profile: Kinetic Powers

Want powers that have some impact? Kinetic Powers have a lot of impact, enough to blast through steel and stone, and they can take a lot of impact, too, blocking bullets, blasts, and explosions. From telekinesis to projected force field and kinetic blasts, the powers in this profile can put things into motion or stop them in their tracks. This product is for Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition.


Of course both of these can be picked up for $.99 through the Green Ronin store.

They've released an AGE Explorations supplement.


Green Ronin wrote:

AGE Explorations are short, experimental products for the Adventure Game Engine (AGE) that expand the rules in different directions. Each entry in the series presents new game mechanics, systems, or other content to help change the way you play. Add just the Explorations products you want to your AGE campaign to get the style of play you're after. Change your game with AGE Explorations!

Gifts of the Gods

MonkPaladins and priests, shamans and monks, the pious and the revered from virtually any faith you can imagine, they all gain new options and potency in your AGE-powered campaign when you add in this product's centerpiece: the Divine Gift talent.

Acclaimed game designer, Steve Kenson, crafted the Divine Gift talent to add divine powers to any character class in the Adventure Game Engine, deepening your world's lore and your players' options for leveling up along the way. This material, originally published in Kobold Quarterly magazine, has been revised and expanded with two new backgrounds suitable for characters with religious roots. Whether your character is a devotee of Love or War, a practitioner of Law or Chaos, or a servant of Fate, this kit offers ways to demonstrate the power of her faith.

About AGE
The Adventure Game Engine (AGE) is the system that powers Green Ronin's Dragon Age RPG. AGE branded products are fully compatible with Dragon Age, but can be used in many different settings.


You can purchase this item for $1.50 here.

The last news from Green Ronin regarding products would be the announcement that this is the last week for their A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying pre-order special. You can pick up the PDF for only $5 with a pre-order of the physical book. Read more about it.

Lastly, we have the most recent Round Table interviews. The first is an article by Steve Kenson about his first experience with mutants, a la Gamma World. Here's the full article.

The second is an article by Jon Leitheusser talking about his tabletop gaming experiences. Check this one out here!
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Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:09 am
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And another batch of Green Ronin Updates

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Yeah, wow. Sorry again. Things have been a whirlwind of crazy in this reporter's life for the past month or so. Anyway, if you want to see several cool Green Ronin updates, keep reading!

Firstly, there are two new Power Profiles for Mutants & Masterminds (3rd Edition).

The first released was a double-sized Power Profile, revolving around the use of magic.


Green Ronin wrote:

Power Profile: Magic Powers

By the Scarlet Shades of Sirrion! In this special double-sized Power Profile, peer into the secrets of the arcane arts with a catalog of spells and occult entities based on the material from the Book of Magic sourcebook. Magic Powers has everything you need to outfit mystic heroes and villains with their amazing powers: more than 80 different spells and invocations!


Being double-sized, this profile costs $1.99, which is still a fair price by any definition and can be picked up here.

The next Power Profile released revolves around the use of illusions.


Green Ronin wrote:

Power Profile: Illusion Powers

There is more to these powers than meets the eye. Who needs control over forces or matter when you can control perception itself? With Illusion Powers, make yourself unseen and unheard, or create a false image for your foes to waste their attacks upon. Twist the environment to appear any way that you want, and allow your foes to defeat themselves once they can no longer trust what they see, hear, or feel. Nothing is what it seems with the power of illusion! This product is for Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition.


This profile can be purchased, as usual, for $.99 through the Green Ronin Store page.

Green Ronin also released a couple of other PDFs. First is "DLC" for their Dragon Age RPG. It goes into detail on that horrifying beast, the wyvern.


Green Ronin wrote:

Infamous for ferocity, the wyverns of Thedas are legendary to commoner and king alike. Bring these fearsome creatures from the "Mark of the Assassin" video-game DLC to your Dragon Age tabletop RPG campaign with this PDF containing complete statistics, game-world lore, and information on the notorious and rare hallucinogenic liquor concocted from wyvern venom. The newest entry in the Dragon Age RPG DLC series is here!


Like the Power Profiles, this supplemental PDF can be purchased for $.99 through its Green Ronin store page.

An AGE Battle & Loot PDF has come out, a supplement to any AGE-based fantasy campaign (specifically mentioned, of course, is Dragon Age).


Green Ronin wrote:

Battle & Loot is a series of PDFs for GMs using the Adventure Game Engine (AGE). Each entry includes new monsters, treasures, and story ideas that are easily adaptable to any fantasy setting. A Battle & Loot PDF is a toolkit you can use to build anything from a single encounter to a collection of scenes totaling a whole adventure. Remix the game stats, themes, and motifs to suit your home campaign, wherever it might be set.

Tomb of the Seeress is the first of the Battle & Loot PDF series. It is built around the resting place of an ancient sphinx slain by mighty heroes in ages past. Tomb of the Seeress includes three new monsters, associated treasure tables, and new magic items and rewards. Perfect for your AGE fantasy campaign!

About AGE
The Adventure Game Engine (AGE) is the system that powers Green Ronin's Dragon Age RPG. AGE branded products are fully compatible with Dragon Age, but can be used in many different settings.


This PDF runs $1.50 at its Green Ronin store page.

And the last update to get us all caught up with Green Ronin is the latest round table. This time its with Marc Schmalz, on the subject of ePublishing.

If that's a topic that appeals to you (as I'm sure it does to many of us, especially with the recent influx of PDFs), the entire article can be found here.
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Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:11 am
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A bunch of Green Ronin Updates

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Wow, sorry for the slackitude, all! Things have been so crazy that I haven't even thought to pop over to Green Ronin's site in a while. Anyway, there's a few updates coming from them currently.

First, of course, is the most recent Power Profile for Mutants & Masterminds (3rd Edition). This one revolves around the use of Earth-based powers.


Green Ronin wrote:
Each Power Profile takes a look at a particular type of super-power in Mutants & Masterminds game terms, putting together the effects and modifiers from the Hero's Handbook to present different abilities associated with that power, from offensive and defensive to movement and utility. It also discusses different power descriptors and how they affect game play, as well as features and complications associated with the power. It's a ready-made guide to creating new heroes and villains for your M&M game!

Power Profile: Earth Powers


Powers as solid and strong as bedrock. In the third part of our elemental powers set, we look at Earth Powers, control over soil and stone, and taking on those properties to become as strong and tough as the Earth itself. Hurl rocks and form stone armor, shape earthen and stone barriers, ride waves of dirt, and move through the ground as if it were water. The powers of the Earth are yours! This product is for Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition.


As ever, this can be picked up for $.99 at the Green Ronin Store!

The second update is about the Game of Thrones edition of A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying. The PDF is releasing early April with the physical version coming out in May. In addition, you can head on over and check out a PDF preview to get a feel for what it's going to look like. Check out the full blurb here.

And lastly we have the most recent Round Table, in which Chris Pramas talks to us a bit about the GAMA (Game Makers Association) trade show. Pretty interesting article. If this is your cup of tea, you can check it read all about it here.
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Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:24 am
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New Power Profile from Green Ronin for all you speedsters out there!

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Green Ronin has just released it's most recent Power Profile: Speed Powers:


Green Ronin wrote:
Each Power Profile takes a look at a particular type of super-power in Mutants & Masterminds game terms, putting together the effects and modifiers from the Hero's Handbook to present different abilities associated with that power, from offensive and defensive to movement and utility. It also discusses different power descriptors and how they affect game play, as well as features and complications associated with the power. It's a ready-made guide to creating new heroes and villains for your M&M game!

Power Profile: Speed Powers

Faster than the eye can see, perhaps able to outrace light itself: Speed Powers are all about moving and reacting fast. Zoom from one side of the world to another in the blink of an eye. Defy gravity, running up walls or across the surface of water. Even vibrate your body to pass through walls or travel across time and other dimensions! Accomplish a week's work in an instant, and have the villains in jail before they even realize you've moved. This product is for Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition.


And of course, for $.99 you can pick this bad boy up from the [url=http://www.greenronin.com/store/product/grr9309e.html]Green Ronin Store.[/b]
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Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:51 pm
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Green Ronin Round Table -- Joseph Carriker on Licensing

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There's been a lot of round tables at Green Ronin regarding the publishing business as of late. This is a fantastic opportunity for those who want to explore the inner workings of our favorite hobby to get information from some of our favorite designers.

This Round Table discussion is with Joseph Carriker regarding licensing, specifically licensing for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying. If you're a fan of the designer, game, or just interested in learning about licensing in general, read the article here!
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Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:20 am
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More Updates from the Ronin of Green

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Firstly, a new Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile has been released. This week it's Water Powers.


Green Ronin wrote:

Each Power Profile takes a look at a particular type of super-power in Mutants & Masterminds game terms, putting together the effects and modifiers from the Hero's Handbook to present different abilities associated with that power, from offensive and defensive to movement and utility. It also discusses different power descriptors and how they affect game play, as well as features and complications associated with the power. It's a ready-made guide to creating new heroes and villains for your M&M game!

Power Profile: Water Powers

Some might think so, but Water Powers are no laughing matter: water covers three-quarters of the Earth's surface, makes up the majority of living organisms, and is something we depend upon to survive. Control over this element ranges from the destructive power of tsunamis and water erosion to suffocating spheres and high-pressure blasts. Survive in the ocean depths, form hydrokinetic objects, and summon aquatic and elemental creatures that obey your commands with the powers of water! This product is for Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition.


On top of this, DC Adventures has it's Heroes & Villains vol. 2 supplement available for pre-order and in PDF format. They're currently running a deal where if you preorder the hardcopy you can get the PDF for a measly $5.
Fine the full story and links to the pre-order form and the PDF version here!
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Fri Mar 9, 2012 3:04 pm
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Two More DC Adventures Updates: Another Design Journal and a Free PDF Preview for Heroes & Villains vol. 2!

Andrew Goenner
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Yup, a couple more recent pieces of information. First off, Christopher McGlothlin gives us some details about one of his favorite villains from the Silver Age of comics, 'the Top.' You can read more about the design of this DC Adventures villain here!

Secondly, Green Ronin Publishing has announced a free PDF preview of the latest sourcebook for DC Adventures. This PDF is a glance at, not only who will be in this book, but lets you read the introduction as well. Go ahead, take a gander at it!
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Wed Mar 7, 2012 1:10 pm
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DC Adventures Design Journal: Terra

Andrew Goenner
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Alejandro Melchor writes about his adaptation of Terra of Teen Titans fame in a design journal for those anxiously awaiting the release of Heroes & Villains, vol. 2 for DC Adventures. If you're interested, you can check out his write-up here!
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Mon Mar 5, 2012 4:16 pm
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