Monday, June 19th, 2017 11:21 pm
Pendragon is the classic Arthurian RPG, never bettered in its handling of Arthurian myth so far as I know. This time there are two bundle offers, one a repeat from 2014, the other all new.

King Arthur Pendragon

"This is a revival (the second) of our June 2014 offer featuring one of the most honored and respected RPGs ever published, King Arthur Pendragon. This revival runs in parallel with an all-new companion, Estates and Uther, that presents recent KAP supplements.

King Arthur Pendragon is the crowning achievement of legendary designer Greg Stafford (founder of Chaosium and discoverer of Glorantha), Pendragon isn't just a game about Arthurian Britain -- it is a painstakingly researched, amazingly detailed game with mechanics built specifically to support play as one of the noble, passionate, and ultimately tragic Knights of the Round Table. In the comprehensive Game Index of over 19,200 tabletop RPGs, King Arthur Pendragon ranks #5. Pendragon is a rarity in the roleplaying world, a work of authentic scholarship.

Chaosium first published Pendragon in 1985. Since then, it has remained continuously in print through several revisions and several publishers, most recently Nocturnal Media, co-founded in 2010 by White Wolf co-founder Stewart Wieck. This revival of the original June 2014 offer (the second revival, following one in December 2014) presents Nocturnal's current, comprehensive "Edition 5.2" rulebook (2016). This is an update from both the original run and the first revival, which presented the 5.1 version. Through Nocturnal Media's generosity, all previous purchasers also receive this new Edition 5.2 on their Wizard's Cabinet download page.

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, the RPG Creators Relief Fund.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$132. Customers who pay just US$12.95 get all six titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $60) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:

  • King Arthur Pendragon (retail price $20): The most current (Edition 5.2) version of the clasic core rules for playing knights in Britain.
  • Book of Knights & Ladies (retail $20): Create characters from 100 different places in Britain or ten foreign lands, and from a dozen religions.
  • Tales of Chivalry & Romance (retail $6): Five short adventures about the knightly code of chivalry and the high art of romance.
  • Tales of Magic & Miracles (retail $6): Adventures in fantastic and holy realms, including a prelude to the Grail Quest.
  • The Grey Knight (retail $3): This 1986 adventure inspired by Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written by Masks of Nyarlathotep designer Larry DiTillio.
  • Book of Records Volume 1 - Knights (retail $5): Form-fillable, auto-calculating .PDF character and estate sheets.

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $22.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with four more titles worth an additional $72:

  • The Great Pendragon Campaign (retail $25): Greg Stafford's multi-generation saga with over 100 adventures across 85 years, stretching from before Arthur is conceived to beyond his death.
  • Book of Battle Second Edition (retail $25): These rules for large-scale combat let your knight stride into battle and turn the tide for better -- or worse.
  • Book of Armies (retail $20): All the armies in The Great Pendragon Campaign and many more, plus the battles important in the legends, such as Badon and Camlann.
  • Pendragon Gamemaster Characters (retail $2): Stats for all the important characters from The Great Pendragon Campaign and more.

Estates and Uther

"This Pendragon Bundle +2, subtitled Estates and Uther, is an all-new companion to our June 2014 King Arthur Pendragon Bundle, resurrected and running in parallel with this new offer. This offer includes supplements that focus on the Early Phase of Pendragon's 85-year "Great Campaign," especially the tumultuous history of King Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon.

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, the RPG Creators Relief Fund.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer is US$103. Customers who pay just US$12.95 get both titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $51) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks: Book of Uther (retail price $26), about King Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon, and his tumultuous history; and Book of the Estate (retail $25), about obtaining and managing a large household -- a monument to your glorious achievements.

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $23.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with three more titles worth an additional $52:

  • Book of the Warlord (retail $32): The definitive guide to noble life in the chaotic Early Phase of the 85-year Great Pendragon Campaign.
  • Book of the Entourage (retail $15): The 2015 revised edition about the companions and accoutrements of the knight's lordly life.
  • Book of Records II: Battles (retail $5): Form-fillable, auto-calculating .PDF sheets for determining battle outcomes.
Pendragon resources
If you're interested in RPGs and Arthurian myth this is a game you really ought to have - whether you need all of it is another matter. It's possible to get too bogged down in the detail presented here, much of which can be found on other sources, and with a more diverse viewpoint. For my part, I own some of this material in early dead tree editions, but have rarely played anything that needed more than the main rulebook. It looks like there has been a lot of updating, and I expect I'll be checking most of this out, especially the newer material. But as usual I have to point out that I get this stuff free if I want it, and your mileage may vary!
Sunday, June 18th, 2017 09:56 pm
I haven't posted about the Grenfell Tower fire because there really isn't anything I can say about it that hasn't been said by dozens of others. I live about a mile and a half away, and fortunately I don't appear to know anyone who lived there (though I'll be surprised if none of the residents attended the school where I used to work), but it was a tragedy that will affect this area for a long time to come. So far I've only seen it from a distance, while in Portobello Road on Friday, and it looks horrible even at that range.

The Red Cross is coordinating donations for a relief fund - this is a direct donation to the charity which can take PayPal etc., and is set up to boost donations by adding Gift Aid if you're a UK taxpayer:

There are numerous petitions on line about reforms to the fire codes for tower blocks etc. - they all want much the same thing, and i have no idea which is getting the most signatures. Anyone know?
Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 11:20 pm
...when you read a newspaper story about a kid who has just been fitted with a 3D printed artificial arm and your first thought is that she'd be an awesome Bucky Barnes cosplayer in a few years.
Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 08:16 pm
This is a bit of a blast from the past - 1993's Cyberpunk 2020 RPG from R. Talsorian Games, visualising the far distant world of... um... three years in our future. This is another that I already own in dead tree format. It's notable for a series of entertainingly wrong guesses about the future it described, with the occasional bit that comes close to accuracy. As with some of the other offerings in these bundles, the pages are graphics scans of the original books so not perfect quality, but usable enough for most purposes:

This offer presents the 1993 Second Edition of Mike Pondsmith's classic RPG of the dark future, Cyberpunk 2020 from R. Talsorian Games.

As the back cover of Cyberpunk 2020 tells us, "the Corporations control the world from their skyscraper fortresses, enforcing their rule with armies of cyborg assassins. On the Street, boostergangs roam a shattered urban wilderness, killing and looting. The rest of the world is a perpetual party, as fashion-model techies in the hottest clubs rub biosculpt jobs with battle-armored roadwarriors. The future never looked so bad -- but you can change it. You've got interface plugs in your wrists, weapons in your arms, lasers in your eyes, biochips in your brain. You're wired in, cyberenhanced, and solid state. Take it to the fatal Edge where only the toughest and coolest can go -- because you're Cyberpunk."

This huge collection provides DRM-free, non-watermarked .PDFs of the complete 258-page Cyberpunk 2020 rulebook and over a dozen supplements for both First and Second Editions -- everything you need for a life on the fatal Edge where attitude is everything. Warm up your cyberwear and faxprinter, grab your mirrorshades and Dai Lung Magnum, tell the ripperdoc to stand by, and hit Night City's mean streets and hot clubs in the unimaginably faraway time of AD 2020.

These are acceptable-quality .PDF image scans of the original 1990s hardcopies with OCR (optical character recognition) applied. Text is light but readable and can be copied.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$113.50. Customers who pay just US$14.95 get all six titles in our Player's Collection (retail value $48) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:

  • Cyberpunk Second Edition (retail $15): The core rulebook for this quintessentially '90s RPG of high-tech lowlifes.
  • Four role guides (total retail $27) adding options for individual character classes: Solo of Fortune (mercenaries), Protect & Serve (law enforcement), Wild Side (fixers), and Rockerboy (rock'n'roll will never die!).
  • Blackhand's Street Weapons 2020 (retail $6): The big book of guns and every kind of armament.

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $24.95 to start, also get our entire Referee's Collection with seven more titles worth an additional $65.50:

  • Night City (retail $9): One of the best city sourcebooks for Cyberpunk or any modern-day RPG, this jam-packed 180-page sourcebook covers Cyberpunk's signature urban sprawl.
  • Three 2020 worldbooks (total retail $23) looking at life on the edge outside the US: Pacific Rim Sourcebook, Eurosource Plus, and Rough Guide to the UK.
  • Rache Bartmoss's Guide to the Net (retail $9): Rache Bartmoss (the world's greatest netrunner) is dead -- which finally gives him time to write this acidulous, gonzo-journalist tour of the information superhighway.
  • Land of the Free and Home of the Brave (total retail $20.50): Two linked supplements on fallen America. Home of the Brave covers NPCs, plot hooks, and more from this fractured union. Land of the Free presents a sprawling road-trip campaign.
  • Listen Up, You Primitive Screwheads! (retail $7): The unexpurgated Cyberpunk referee's guide with some of the best GM advice for this or any RPG.

At least one more title will be added later: "When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased the bundle automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid more than average. This is their reward for buying early."

Cyberpunk 2020 resources

I'm not sure about this one - it's well out of date, Cyberpunk in general is a fairly marginal genre these days, you have to think of it as an alternate world because most of the history it describes went wildly differently, and the rules set is a little clunky. If you're starting from scratch and want a modern cyberpunk system GURPS is probably a better bet, since new material occasionally appears and there are endless resources - but I'd suggest going with GURPS Cyberpunk plus Transhuman Space, which adds a lot more fun things for a cyberpunk-style setting. On the other hand, there's some fun stuff here, and it handles the actual business of hacking etc. about as well as GURPS.

If you can find them there were also some fun supplements based on classic cyberpunk novels; Hardwired, based on the novel by Walter John Williams, and another based on Effinger's When Gravity Fails. Neither is included in this bundle, but so far as I know this is the only system that covers them.

On the whole I think I'd give this an "OK if you like that sort of thing" rating; it's the only way you're probably going to get this stuff now, but do you really need it? Possibly worth it if you don't have much and want to see more, and get in early before the prices rise.

As usual your mileage won't be mine!

Monday, June 12th, 2017 06:04 pm
eBay gave me another day with low seller's fees so I've listed the Canon 300D I mentioned with a goodish zoom, and some lenses that came in a job lot - most have some defects but there are some good ones in the mix. As usual I've been honest about the faults, which often seems to be a rarity...

The current tranche of tat is here if anyone is interested:
Saturday, June 10th, 2017 11:59 pm
So Dr Who did their take on VICTORIANS IN SPAAAAAACE! and on the whole it worked pretty well. Some obvious questions about the back story of the two senior British officers went unanswered, but I suppose you can explain it as records getting lost or assuming a new identity.

And next week they're doing The Eagle of the Ninth, with added tentacles...

Friday, June 9th, 2017 03:56 pm
Why are hung parliaments greeted with the expectation that the large parties will do a deal with whatever small parties will make up their numbers? This puts undue power in the hands of fringe political movements (and associated pork-barrel politics).

Wouldn’t it make more sense for there to be an expectation that the two largest parties should do a deal, and hence find a compromise that matches the largest number of voters. We’ve had a National Government work for us before.
Friday, June 9th, 2017 10:55 am
Oops, forgot to crosspost this last week, as I was rushing around to get to the Nerd East convention at Durham University on Saturday. Which was great fun, incidentally.

So anyway, here's the opening chapter of The Assassin's Edge!