2014 ended three weeks ago, but our wrap-ups of 2014's best and worst ended yesterday. It's fair to say we consumed a lot of entertainment, enjoyed many things and had almost as much fun vocally destroying the things we didn't like so much. And as I hope was evident, not every Topless Robot contributor had the same ideas about what those things were.
Which is why, as we look to the year ahead, I've gathered together as many of our regular contributors as possible for this list, in which they all describe what they're geeked out about for 2015. From board games to RPGs, action figures to adaptations - and in one case, even the rumors we long to hear - it's a varied, insightful and excitable sneak peek.More >>
Geek & Sundry Somehow, this show continues to not make this list. But Wil Wheaton's smug face does.
RPGs are a somewhat unique medium in that there is very little agreement about the good and the bad. For everyone that hates a setting or system, there are others who completely love it and lull their newborns to sleep by reading to them from the main rulebook. Every RPG system seems to appeal to someone, even if it's just a small group of people with very similar ideas on how fantasy swords should work. Also, RPG fans occasionally seem to hate buying things. Entire enclaves exist on the web of angry roleplayers that believe all RPG development stopped after their favorite edition, claiming everything that came afterward was nothing but a money grab.
Personally, I disagree. I like RPGs and find them inexpensive, good returns for value and don't mind getting new editions after 5 years or more. I am generally well-disposed to new releases and assume someone, somewhere, will like them. One only needs to go to a gaming convention and find that one guy in the corner running his favorite RPG from 1986 to confirm that there is some truth to this. However, this isn't to say that all is roses and honey in the RPG world. Every year there are things that are bad, and things that just aren't good. Read on for the 9 worst moments in RPGs this past year.More >>
It is a golden age for fans of the tabletop gaming hobby. The past couple of years have seen an explosion of wonderful games and game related products and 2014 is the best so far. When the "Years it was Great to be a Gamer" Hall of Fame voters chose the years they will honor, 2014 will go down in history as the Babe Ruth of hobby gaming offering. Okay...if you consider Kickstarter as the hobby gaming equivalent of PEDs, it's the Barry Bonds of years, but that's something truly impressive. Unless you won the lottery, there were more products that are worth your time and money released last year than you have either the time or the money to enjoy. Even then, you probably wouldn't have the time to enjoy them.
Putting together a list of the best hobby game, and game related, products of 2014 wasn't an easy task. In order to make the list manageable, I gave myself three rules. First, I was going to group related products. Second, I allowed myself to select 21 products instead of a more reasonable 10. Third, I didn't select any official Pathfinder gaming material. I created that third rule because if I didn't, the list could have easily been filled with nothing but Pathfinder stuff. Paizo put out some great products this year, but Topless Robot readers already know that.
Here are 21 products I think made 2014 the best year ever to be a tabletop gamer.
On November 28, the entire world waited with bated breath for the new Star Wars trailer to give us our first glimpse into a Lucas-free galaxy far, far away. Despite the lack of story or character information, the trailer showed that they at least got the aesthetic of the film right, although they didn't really have to: even if the film were just two hours of C3-P0 lost in a Walmart shouting "R2-D2, where are you?", it would still make a billion dollars at the box office. But with all of the good will that the trailer has gathered, there is one annoying thing that is causing fans on the Internet to complain...More >>
Here is a sad fact we all must face: There is a sixth Resident Evil film planned. It's intended to the the final film in the unloved-by-just-about-everyone franchise (the average Tomatometer approval rating on the existing five is 26%), but we, as audiences, have allowed this thing to continue. And here's the most chilling thing of all: The first Resident Evil film is considered one of the high watermarks when it comes to video-game-to-movie adaptations. Talking to peers, I have discovered that Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat are considered the best video game movies made to date. If those are the cinema classics of the genre, then perhaps the genre needs to, ahem, step up its game.More >>
Solarbotics Happy Nerdy Holidays
It's hard to ask for RPG gifts for Christmas. The social stigma is fading year by year, so I no longer fear my parents calling an exorcist over my wish list, but there's still a maze of editions, similar-sounding games and supplements to ask people to dig through. This is in addition to the fact that RPGs still tend to be a little bit hard to find; arguably harder to find now than they were fifteen or so years ago before Barnes & Noble and Borders replaced so many independent booksellers...before closing most of their own locations..
People only have so much spare time, and playing more than one or two systems at once is pretty difficult; even if someone played two different games every week they would be playing at most 8-10 different games in a month, which is only a tiny portion of the massive amount of games available these days. Especially with Kickstarter helping to launch more RPGs than ever and many companies releasing their back catalogs through DrivethruRPG. The point being that it can be harder to find the right RPG for someone than finding a good costume in the New 52.
With all of that said, the list that follows tries to work around these challenges by providing ten system-neutral gifts for the RPG fan in your life. Even if that person is you. I don't judge. Even if I did judge, I probably wouldn't judge this time since I've already bought a lot of these things. They're pretty awesome.
Sam Howzit, Flickr
Man, remember arcades? The noise of cabinets trying to outdo one another with their crappy blown-out speakers, the flashing lights, the Liquid Paper curse-words on the machines, the drug deals... arcades were the bomb.
It's cute seeing pets do people things, though frankly I never imagined dogs had the attention span for tabletop RPGs. What I find fun, though, is imagining the different angles other sites might take with this image.
"Cute dog picture ruined by unnecessarily sexist background painting" - Jezebel.
"Mountain Dew and Cheetos? We need to talk about ethics in dog-painting" - 4chan.
"Damn, that unicorn painting's ass is irresistible" - Deviantart.
"Forcing your dogs to play Dungeons and Dragons, even fictionally, is torture, no different from waterboarding." - Peta.com
"When I was a boy, I used to imagine how cool it would be if dogs could play D&D, ya know?...[17 paragraphs later]...Here's a poster of dogs playing D&D!!!!!!!!" -Ain't It Cool News
"Something something something doggy style" -Topless Robot.
Naw, it's a cool print. You can buy it on various different objects at Redbubble.
This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game. It also marks the release of the fifth and newest edition of the game. Well...fifth edition if you think "3rd Edition" was actually the "third edition."
After asking the keepers of secrets that are Wizards of the Coast's PR department, I was recently able to send in 20 questions to be answered by the D&D Research & Development team regarding the new edition. The questions cover a lot of territory, some old and some new. Given the indirect means of communication, I am uncertain whether the answers are direct from Mike Mearls or if they are team answers that have been redacted for security reasons. Whatever the case may be, many Bothans died to deliver these answers to you.More >>
Blizzcon has been the (mostly) annual videogame convention for all things created by Blizzard Entertainment since 2005. (They skipped putting on a show in 2006 and 2012.) Fans of Warcraft, Diablo and more converge at the Anaheim Convention Center for two cosplay-dressed days. Like a younger, just-as-caffeinated kid brother to LA's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Blizzcon delivers more hang time with game developers, competitive gaming tournaments, and, obviously, more orcs. Here are the seven things that rocked along with a few that felt a bit out of tune...