New Products Available at Gencon


Pretty Hate Machines hit the printer a few days ago, and Unkindness in Hero Only Format should be coming along shortly. I am very pleased with Pretty Hate Machines in particular. Every system has an adventure like Tomb of Horrors, that people talk about for years, and wonder how anyone could survive it.

I did that on purpose with Pretty Hate Machines, I completely admit it. Was it wrong of me to make an adventure where everything explodes, causes damage, and wreaks massive amounts of mayhem and havoc? Some gamers may argue yes, but I have two reasons for doing it.

1) Thirty One years later, people still talk about Tomb of Horrors. No one talks about the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh. Which adventure would you rather have written? The crazy deadly one that people still look for on shelves and buy, or a relatively insignificant module in the scheme of Dungeons and Dragons? People will talk about Pretty Hate Machines. Buzz is good.

2) Champions has never had a villain of any sort who does for superhero games what The Joker does for DC comics, and really brings out that “Oh, my god” factor. Mr. Hideous does that for my players. Hopefully, he’ll do it for yours, too.

A word about Unkindness

I worked with two psychiatrists who are experts in their respective fields, Sharon Packer, M.D. (Superheroes and Superegoes, Analyzing the Minds Behind the Masks), and Sabine Himmelfarb, an expert in the field of domestic violence to make sure everything was correct. While this might “Spoil” the adventure a little bit, I’d like to ask people to donate money to their local domestic violence centers. It would be appreciated.

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My Thoughts on The Twilight Craze


People constantly debate whether these books are good or bad. Obviously, for the author, they’re very good. She doesn’t have to work anymore, can buy multiple mansions, and could easily divorce her husband and move in with a stable of carefully selected Fabios. This alone would be considered a reason to keep writing them. They sell. As far as business is concerned, there’s a whole lot of money to be made, and everyone wants to make it.

Now, let’s look at my current industry, the industry of game design. These books are bad. That’s right. I’ll just come out and say it. These books are the worst thing ever to happen to role playing games. An entire generation of gamers will be raised on the idea that not all vampires are evil bloodsucking freaks bent on world domination, controlling the living, and dominating the masses. In general, with a few exceptions, gamers like their vampires dark and gritty, with a side of nasty. We are fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which, while light-hearted, was a pretty good TV show. We are fans of Bram Stoker, and of Kenneth Hite, who writes some really creepy and awesome product.

Right now, I’m sure Mr. Stoker is turning over in his grave. This is not what Dracula was meant to be about. Vampires were not meant to be cuddled.

An entire generation will now be raised on the idea that you can talk to the vampire, World of Darkness aside (A community of the supernatural game falls outside these sorts of ideas). Well, anyone who is a fan of the horror classics knows that negotiating with the vampire is probably the single worst thing you could possibly do. Giving an evil creature with a near infinite lifespan the ability to plot against you is extremely dangerous. Vampires are, in general, not meant to be heroic characters, though some World of Darkness gamers may disagree. There’s a reason those “And then Buffy staked Edward, The End” t-shirts are so popular. It’s not that the concept of a romance with a vampire is a bad one. This can be well written, fun to read, and extremely sexy. It’s the nature of the vampire as it’s presented in the books that has the more costume oriented among us with their plastic fangs out and their black capes in an uproar. (This isn’t me. I’m a jacket and tie guy.)

In D+D, romancing a vampire means raising it from the dead and trying to change the individual’s mindset (And this won’t be easy, because he’s evil), or “Give me your character sheet.” In most superhero games, Vampires are the bad guys. They’re not meant to be player characters, because they suffer from severe limitations that aren’t real limitations. (Only at Night is a great limitation, but in many games, that won’t fly, unless you run a game where the characters regularly transport themselves around the globe.)

So why is this bad? It’s bad because most young people tend to take with them the vision of creatures that they had when they were young. Now, some people would ask me for sympathy if a new player joined my game and expected to have that kind of Edward/Bella romance, and their character killed. Don’t show them any. And when they ask what Vampires are about, give them a copy of Dracula to read instead.

  • Upcoming Appearances

    Heroicon, Decatur, Illinois, May 15-17

    Michael will be appearing at Heroicon as a Special Guest, where he will run games and appear on panels. All proceeds from this convention go to benefit troops overseas with games, both donated and purchased, sponsored by a group called Games for Troops. I know it's a trek. Come join me anyway.

    Nexus Game Fair, Milwaukee, WI, June 25-28

    Michael will be appearing at Nexus Game Fair as a Special Guest, where he will run games and appear on Panels.

    Gencon, Indianapolis, IN, July 29-August 2.

    Michael will be attending Gencon and representing Blackwyrm Games, where his latest products will be playtested and he will have at least one signing.