Beyond Battle Magic: Non-Combat Spells

One of the things that first got me excited about my first Dungeons & Dragons character—my “magic-user” to use the old fogey term—was not simple combat magic.  Sure, Magic Missiles were pretty darn cool, and you could generally take down an orc or two with them, but some of those early utility spells were pretty great.  I remember reading those early spell descriptions out of the 1st ed. Players Handbook and thinking about creative ways they could be used.  Remember Detect Magic and Knock?  Levitation?  How about Wizard’s Eye, the spell that allows you to see around corners or down the hall?  Sleep was almost more powerful in its way than those early damage spells – you could possibly put a whole group of monsters to bed, and subsequently, death.  Tenser’s Floating Disk for carrying your stuff?  Spider Climb, which allowed you to skitter up walls temporarily, and Tongues, which allowed you to speak another language.

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Richard Garriott and Story in Computer Games

With Richard Garriott and Portalarium announcing yesterday The Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter, we have the man who many credit with the invention of the MMORPG (Ultima Online) returning to the scene.  While this in and of itself brings quite a bit of skepticism as well as excitement, there’s reason to believe that Garriott can bring back to the industry a much-needed shot in the arm.    Leave aside the whole Tabula Rasa vs. Garriott’s trip to space vs. NCSoft controversy for a moment.  This is the guy who literally brought MMO genre to the masses.  Yeah, he’s been quiet for a while, and yeah, that last project didn’t work out (under a company who since has become known for torpedoing game projects – Tabula Rasa, City of Heroes,  Auto Assault, NetDevil, Dungeon Runners, Dragonica), but Richard Garriott “gets it” when it comes to storytelling in computer games.  Here’s why:

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Retro Reviews: Glorantha, Introduction to the Hero Wars

Glorantha, Introduction to the Hero Wars is one of the first supplements to be written for Hero Wars line by Issaries, Inc.  It’s the 253-page crash course for Greg Stafford’s fascinating and complex game world – one that has existed since 1978 in various incarnations, but most famously through Chaosium’s (and later Avalon Hill’s) RuneQuest.  In that respect, Glorantha, Introduction to the Hero Wars has a lot to live up to, and the fact that it is the core world for the Hero Wars line adds more pressure to deliver the goods.  For those new to Glorantha, the Issaries supplement is the only in-print, all-inclusive guidebook to the key game world for Hero Wars.  For RuneQuest alumni, the closest out-of-print comparison is the 8th boxed set by Chaosium and Avalon Hill for RuneQuest 3rd edition: Glorantha: Genertela, Crucible of the Hero Wars.

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