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Rolling for Initiative--Osprey Ventures into Fantasy (Again)

Column by Scott Thorne

Published: 11/12/2012 01:53am
Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne looks at some interesting Osprey releases, and Kill the Overlord.

Osprey announced this week, via the catalog and promotional material we received, two new series that look intriguing: Myths and Legends and Dark Osprey.  Both look quite interesting.

Myths and Legends should really appeal to the fantasy RPG player who looks to add more "historical" material to their game as, from the promo material, it examines well known mythological and legendary concepts and figures with the attention to detail and array of illustrations that readers expect from Osprey.  First up is Jason and the Argonauts, written by Neil Smith with illustrations by Jose Daniel Cabrera Pena, releasing next March.  Unfortunately Greek myth, while extensively taught in high school and colleges, has never occupied a huge swath of the RPG or boardgaming field.  I don't have much hope for May's War of Horus and Set either as  interest in Egyptian mythology, much like Greek, has always proven stronger academically than gamingwise.

I have much higher hopes for the other March release, Dragonslayers: From Beowulf to St. George.  Dragons and their hunting have stayed staples in the gaming industry for nigh on 30 years (Dragon Age, Dungeons & Dragons, DragonQuest, Dragon Slayer all spring to mind) and this book looks at the best known dragonslayers--St. George, Beowulf, Siegfried--as well as lesser known warriors fighting against the wyrm, taken from the legends of Denmark, Ireland and Russia, written by Joesph McCullough and illustrated by Peter Dennis.

Even more interesting than these three, at least to me, is the follow up in the Dark Osprey line to Zombies:  A Hunter's Guide.  June of 2013 will see the release of The Nazi Occult, written by Kenneth Hite and illustrated by Darren Tan.  As the Indiana Jones movies indicate, there is a lot of interest out there still in WWII and Hitler's reputed fascination with the occult (among other stories, Hitler reportedly ordered the water in the canteens of  his most elite troops come from the werewolf haunted Black Forest, in order to increase their savagery, and Himmler's Ahnenerbe SS spent untold amounts of time and money in search of the Ark, Spear, Holy Grail or what have you).  There is enough weirdness in the records of the Third Reich that a good book could be written about it (and has, though not recently. Check J. H. Brennan's The Occult Reich, published in 1974).  Hite, not satisfied with that (at least according to the promotional blurb), fictionalizes the story, incorporating Nazi pacts with diabolic entities and the deployment of the first flying saucers, known to American pilots during the war as Foo Fighters (and you thought they were just a band).  Though I would have found a historical retelling of the Nazi interest in the occult, I am looking forward to see what Hite incorporates into the story.

Of note this week was the release of a Kickstarter funded game (aren't all of them anymore?) from APE Games titled Kill the Overlord.  Suitable for up to 8 players, the $19.95 price point and a 30-45 minute playing time caught our attention.  Object is to send all of your opponents to the headsman's block while keeping your own head, or be the first player to accumulate 30 gold.  Sadly, the fact this is a Kickstarter means that those really interested in it already have it and we will likely see little promotion from APE Games to inform others about it, so if we didn't have Christmas ahead of us, I'd be much more leery about selling this.  As it is, I imagine selling 1-4 copies for Christmas to people looking for games their friends don't already have and this one looks like a good party game, similar to Wizards of the Coast's Great Dalmuti.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflct the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
 
 
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