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Over thirty new games and gaming novels pack our mid-May gaming round-up, including a new boxed set for Dungeons and Dragons, FASA's Third Edition Shadowrun rules, the latest in science fiction gaming -- including Battletech, Trinity and Alternity -- and much more.

Games and game accessories are listed by publication date; most recent first. Where available, links to SF Site reviews are provided. Click on the thumbnail image to get a look at the full size cover.

New Gaming Arrivals: May 1999, Part I
[Cover]
Art: Robh Ruppel
Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game
Bill Slavicsek
TSR (rules, boxed set, 64 pages, $9.99 US/$14.99 Can)
Publication date: April, 1999

I started playing D&D by purchasing the original rules in a flimsy boxed set, and by gum you should too. If you're intrigued by the level of energy you see in today's fantasy role playing games and would like to give them a try, but are hopelessly confused by the bizarre array of products out there, this is the place to begin. It contains everything you need to start playing -- two compact rules booklets, an introductory adventure, a handy and decorative Dungeon Master screen, eight hero folders, and six colorful dice. This is the latest edition of the seminal RPG on the market, the game that triggered an innovation in fantasy. Give it a try. I think you'll like what you find.
[Cover]
Art: Tony Szczudlo
Axe of the Dwarvish Lords (AD&D Adventure Tomes)
Skip Williams
TSR (sourcebook, 192 pages, $26.95 US/$39.95 Can)
Publication date: April, 1999

Every month I have an irrational favorite amongst the new arrivals, and this time it's Skip Williams' massive (and I do mean massive) AD&D adventure, Axe of the Dwarvish Lords. There's a reason why so few authors and game companies attempt RPG adventures with genuine scope -- they've hard to pull off, and even harder to pull off with real ambition and style. When TSR released Return to the Tomb of Horrors last year I detected a return to the sweeping adventure saga on a grand scale, and this month I see no less than two new examples -- this and the Dragonlance Classics volume below, and this one has the added virtue of being completely original. I don't know about you, but I know exactly what I plan to curl up with over the next week. "The Dwarven clans are in chaos, and a powerful host of gobins stands poised to sweep over the land in a wave of death and terror. Only the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords holds the key to ultimate victory against the massing humanoids..." For five to seven characters, level 13 to 15.
[Cover]
Art: Todd Lockwood
Dragonlance Classics: 15th Anniversary Edition (for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons)
Steve Miller & Stan!
TSR (adventure, SAGA Game Rules, 256 pages, $25.95 US/$37.95 Can)
Publication date: April, 1999

The first gaming adventure I ever bought (Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, 1978) was eight pages. A 256 page adventure module makes an old-timer like me slack-jawed. Still, what else could you expect from a volume which claims to be based on the famous DragonLance Chronicles trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, and the classic 15-part DragonLance adventure series? Nonetheless, be sure to limber up your dice arm and stock up on Doritos before sitting down behind a screen with this baby. "To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the publication of the first adventure, TSR proudly presents a retelling of the greatest fantasy roleplaying epic ever. Players can assume the roles of Raistlin, Tanis, and other heroes, or create original heroes. The Dragonlance Classics edition features many all-new scenes, including meetings with Dalamar, Ariakan, and other more recent additions to the Saga." For three to eight characters of levels 3 and up; requires either the AD&D rulebooks, DragonLance FIFTH AGE Dramatic Adventure Game or DragonLance Fate Deck to play.
[Cover]
Art: Salvador Larroca
Fantastic Four: Fantastic Voyages (Marvel Super Heroes Adventure #3)
Mike Selinker and Teeuwynn Woodruff
TSR (SAGA Games Rules, 48 pages, $8.95 US/$12.95 Can)
Publication date: April, 1999

I've never been much of a superhero RPG player, but I've been pleasantly surprised by what TSR has done with the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game, part of their SAGA Games Rules line. For one thing, the books read well, a major plus for any gaming supplement, but a real necessity for a high action game based on Marvel Comics. Secondly, the authors have consistently demonstrated a real love for and knowledge of the material, especially displayed in the various Rooster Books. Last month TSR released the Fantastic Four Roster Book, and less than thirty days later they've followed it up with a compact adventure to help you put it to good use. Better yet, they promise to follow with The Reed Richards Guide to Everything, coming in July. Now that's gotta be worth waiting for.
[Cover]
AD&D Priest's Spell Compendium, Volume One (for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons)
Compiled by Mark Midleton
TSR (sourcebook, 288 pages, $24.95 US/$36.95 Can)
Publication date: April, 1999

Yee Gods. Last time I played a cleric (the mighty Nadron -- woe to all who profaned his name!), I kept the entire priest's spell sheet penciled on the back of a notebook. Now I'm holding a 288 page tome packed with tiny print, and it barely covers the first six letters of the alphabet. Brings a whole new meaning to "old time religion." In any event, if Nadron (Zeus rest his soul) were alive today, this is the first book he'd check out of the monastery. The spells within have been collected from rule books, campaign settings, supplements, adventures and magazines dating back to 1975 -- and updated to the latest edition of the rules to be immediately useable. A handy reference guide for gamers and DMs alike. Don't be caught without one.
[Cover]
Art: Randy Post
Tangents (An Alternity Sourcebook)
Bruce R. Cordell
TSR (sourcebook, 96 pages, $18.95 US/$27.95 Can)
Publication date: April, 1999

The SF Site's Games Editor, Don Bassingthwaite, has praised TSR's Alternity science fiction game as the finest SF RPG on the market -- a tough crown to win, considering the competition includes standout products such as White Wolf's Trinity, FASA's Shadowrun and Holistic's Fading Suns. But there's no question that Alternity is one of the most well-supported RPGs on the market at the moment, and Bruce Cordell's sourcebook of adventure in alternate realities is a handy addition. Based on material from a number of intriguing sources (including Parallel Universes by Fred Alan Wolf and the AD&D World Builder's Guidebook by Richard Baker), the book contains examples of unique sites, phenomena, and superspace travellers for use in any Alternity campaign. Best of all, it also contains a complete kick-off adventure that sends the players through parallel worlds of primitive savagery and nuclear desolation in search of a stranded team of interdimensional castaways.
[Cover]
Art: r.k. post
Threats from Beyond (A Star*Drive Accessory)
Bill Slavicsek
TSR (sourcebook, 96 pages, $18.95 US/$27.95 Can)
Publication date: April, 1999

Told you Alternity was well supported. Did I mention their eye-catching covers? Threats from Beyond is "a collection of adventure hooks, news reports, interviews, and other data uncovering a massive galactic conspiracy, designed for use with the Star*Drive setting and other Alternity game science fiction campaigns." Which means this is by no means a complete adventure module, but let's face it -- no massive galactic conspiracy worth its salt could be neatly wound up in 96 pages anyway. Looks like a useful volume for everyone interested in adding spice to an Alternity campaign.
[Cover]
Art: Paul Bonner
Shadowrun, Third Edition
Michael Mulvihill with Robert Boyle
FASA (rules, 336 pages, $30 US)
Publication date: April, 1999

Most SF and Fantasy RPGs -- including those from major companies -- have a life cycle of three to five years, before the market overtakes them and gamers move on to the latest innovative system. It's the rare game indeed that connects with enough players to support a second edition, let alone a line of popular novels, and even rarer for one to flourish into a third. The original version of Shadowrun hit the shelves with a bang a decade ago, and it's been turning heads ever since. An unusual mix of SF, fantasy and cyberpunk culture, the brand new third edition of Shadowrun thrusts players into the world of 2060, where magic has seeped back into the world, bringing with it the vanished races of troll, dwarf, and dragon. It's a place where corporations hatch sorcerous plots, flesh and machines have merged, and the streets of the mega-sprawls are ruled by elf gangs and independent operatives -- shadowrunners, the best of the best. Compatible with earlier sourcebooks and adventures.
[Cover]
Art: Doug Anderson
Renraku Arcology: Shutdown (A Shadowrun Adventure)
David Hyatt & Brian Schoner
FASA (Adventure, 88 pages, $15 US)
Publication date: April, 1999

Something mysterious and terrible has shut down the Renraku Arcology. The doors are sealed, the Matrix is off-line, and a hundred thousand inhabitants are trapped inside. The UCAS Army seals off the site, and not even Renraku knows what's really going on... so begins a grim adventure of technological terror, based loosely on elements from the novel Technobabel and the previous adventure Blood in the Boardroom. It also includes characters from the Seeds of Power trilogy of novels. Compatible with the Shadowrun, Third Edition rules.
[Cover]
Art: Matt Wilson
First Run (A Shadowrun Adventure)
Michael Mulvihill
FASA (adventure, 64 pages, $12 US)
Publication date: April, 1999

Now here's a handy idea. First Run is an anthology of three complete adventures, designed to help you learn the Shadowrun, Third Edition rules. While it's geared towards novices, First Run also includes hints on how to increase the level of challenge for experienced players. Adventure elements span the range from a basic gun battle to a run against a corporate research facility to smuggling. Written by Michael Mulvihill, the author of the Third Edition rules.
[Cover]
Art: John Zeleznik
Shadowrun Companion
compiled by Michael Mulvihill and Robert Boyle
FASA (Sourcebook, 136 pages, $15 US)
Publication date: April, 1999

I suppose if you're going to update the rules, you have to revise the classic Shadowrun Companion as well. This book offers advanced and optional rules for both players and gamemasters -- including expanded character creation rules for customizing backgrounds, adding Edges and Flaws, and allowing play of ghouls or shapeshifters. New campaign guidelines cover street gangs, government covert ops teams, a DocWagon high-threat response team, and the police. As usual, the interior art is excellent. An indispensable book for serious players.
[Cover]
Art: Mark Zug
New Seattle (A Shadowrun Sourcebook)
Stephen Kenson
FASA (sourcebook, 136 pages, $20 US)
Publication date: April, 1999

Seattle: a runner's paradise. Or so they say. New Seattle is a sourcebook featuring the most exciting city in the world of 2060. Seattle boasts it all: movers and shakers from all the megacorporations, high-stakes political conflicts, and even vicious mobs wars. On top of all that, it's surrounded by hostile countries. You can't ask for a more vivid or demanding Shadowrun game setting, and FASA delivers. "From the rich enclaves of Magnolia Bluffs to the Z-Zone death traps of the Redmond Barrens, your knowledge and skills -- plus a little luck -- will help you survive in the deadliest shadows in the world."
[Cover]
Art: Mark Zug
Shadowrun GameMaster's Screen
FASA (accessory, 48 pages, $15 US)
Publication date: April, 1999

What's a GameMaster's screen? A folding display for the GM with charts and tables of dire consequence on one side, and hypnotic and moody art on the other. Traditionally they are marketed mostly to hapless and weak-willed gaming completists (such as myself), but in this case it appears to be jam-packed with useful goodies of several varieties -- including an attractive 48-page sourcebook entitled "Critters" by Robert Boyle, Stephen Kenson, and Michael Mulvihill, a collection of "the wildest, weirdest and outright deadliest creatures in Shadowrun." I'm sold.
[Cover]
Art: Chris Moeller
Shattered Sphere (for Battletech)
Diane Piron-Gelman
FASA (sourcebook, 128 pages, $15 US)
Publication date: April, 1999

Just the single addition to the well-developed Battletech line this month, but it appears to be just about all you need. Ever felt just a little overwhelmed by the relentless march of the Battletech timeline, with its delicate dance of factions and surprising upheavals? Fret no longer. Drawing on events from five scenario packs, seven sourcebooks and over a dozen novels, Shattered Sphere presents a complete guide to the Battletech universe, as seen in early 3061 as a triumphant Prince Victor Steiner-Davioon returned from the Clan homeworlds to an Inner Sphere that had radically changed. It offers a brief, comprehensive history from the Truce of Tukayyid through early 3062, and includes detailed maps of the Inner Sphere and the Clans. Fascinating reading for gamers and fans of the novels alike.
[Cover]
Ezra Tucker
Rebel Agent (Star Wars: Dark Forces, Book 2)
William C. Dietz & Ezra Tucker
Berkley/Dark Horse (reprint, graphic novel, 128 pages, $14.95/$20.99 Can)
Publication date: May 1, 1999 (First Edition: April 1998)

Further evidence (as if you needed it) that computer games are the latest hot media property: the Star Wars: Dark Forces trilogy. Written by SF author William C. Dietz (By Blood Alone, Alien Bounty) and illustrated by award-winning artist Ezra Tucker, the series is based on the top-selling action games from LucasArts, Star Wars: Dark Forces and Jedi Knight. The first volume was Star Wars: Soldier for the Empire, and Jedi Knight was the last. Now available in a handsome trade paperback reprint edition. "New Star Wars hero Rebel Agent Kyle Katarn returns in this second graphic story album-packed with 25 full-color illustrations! In his second adventure, Kyle Katarn secures a mysterious disc that gives him the location of a map to the Valley of the Jedi, a place Kyle's late father had stumbled upon and kept secret. Now it's a race between Kyle and agents of the Empire to see who can get to the map-and the Valley-first..."
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