Brilliant Gameologists

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Sode #20: GenCon Recap (Meta 05)

September 08, 2008 By: Meg Category: Con Report, Party, Season 2, Sodes 5 Comments →

We’re back from GenCon! It’s taken a while to recover. We fully admit to being the last podcast to put out their GenCon recap, but hopefully it was worth it.

We talked about quite a few products in this episode:

Favorite Publishers:

Cam Banks and Jamie Chambers from Margaret Weis Productions

Pelgrane Press with Robin Laws for the Gumshoe System

Fantasy Flight Games for Grimm

Paradigm Concepts for Witch Hunter: The Invisible World

McNeil Designs for Reader’s Digest vocab game

Dark Matter for Epic RPG

Interesting Buys:

Mispent Youth by Robert Bohl

Factions at War by Other Court Games

Cool People:

Luke Meyer from The Podgecast

Daniel Perez from The Gamer Traveler and The Digital Front

Rob and Fraser from The Accidental Survivors


The Brilliant Fanologists!

The ENies:

We gave the prepared statement:

“The ENnies need to make serious format changes if they’d like to be taken seriously as an award.”

Discuss this episode on our Message Boards in THIS thread and find out how you can get your very own boob-curve business cards!

Warning: This episode is tagged Explicit and is Not Work Safe. It is intended for adult audiences.

ReviewSode #8: Ennies Lightning Round!

August 12, 2008 By: Meg Category: Review, Season 2, Sodes 3 Comments →


Each time we record, we watch a video or find a picture to get us in the mood for the episode. It doesn’t always have anything to do with the episode, but frames our minds, so we’re going to share so you can be appropriately framed as well.


  • The Olympics!  We’re big fans and discuss our favorite events.  Meg reminds everyone she has a vag.

Review Guidelines:

Good, Bad, Wintry Mix

  • Good:
    • Elegant
    • Fuckin’ A
    • Fiddly Bits
  • Bad:
    • Idiot
    • Full of Crap
    • Asshole

Our rating scale is:

  • 1= If you are only going to buy 1 book, get this one.
  • 3= If you are going to buy 3 books so you have a “main game” plus a fun pickup, this is the book for you
  • 10= If you are going to get 10 books for a bit more variety, get this one
  • 0= Don’t buy it.

Best Writing:


The Good:

  • Trail of Cthulhu: Elegant, Fuckin’ A writing, and some really good Fiddly Bits.  Rating: 1
  • Grimm: Fuckin’ A.  Rating: 3

Wintry Mix:

  • Monsters and Other Childish Things: Some Fuckin’ A, but Full of Shit too.  Rating: 10


  • Changeling: The Lost: Idiot, Full of Shit, and Asshole.  Rating: 0

Can’t even Review:

  • Two-Fisted Tales: This should not have been in this category.  Not good nor bad.  Just like the writing in every other book. Rating:10

Best Rules:



  • Aces and Eights: Fiddly Bits.  So so so many fiddly bits. Rating: 1
  • Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition: Fuckin’ A and Elegant. Rating:1

Wintry Mix:

  • Witchhunter:  The Invisible World: Fuckin’ A, Fiddly Bits, but also Asshole. Rating:3
  • Trail of Cthulhu: Wish the game had been “completed”.  Fuckin’ A, Fiddly Bits, but also Asshole. Rating:1


  • Epic Roleplaying Game Manual: Needs refinement and an overhaul.  Not fair to review at this time. Rating:10

Best Game:


  • Aces and Eights: Fuckin’ A, Fiddly Bits, Elegant. Rating:1
  • Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition: Elegant, Fuckin’ A. Rating:1

Wintry Mix:

  • Witchhunter:  The Invisible World: Elegant, Full of Shit. Rating:3
  • Monsters and Other Childish Things: Fuckin’ A, Asshole. Rating:10


  • Og, Full of Shit, Asshole. Rating:10

Product of the Year:


1. Reminder: The Brilliant Gameologists are leading 3 seminars at GenCon! If you’re going, you won’t want to miss it.

Gamers in the Press: Blogs, Podcasts, and Print at GenCon

Discuss this episode on our Message Boards in THIS thread!

Warning: This episode is tagged Explicit and is Not Work Safe. It is intended for adult audiences.

Sode #16: Peritextual Elements of RPGs (Meta04)

June 22, 2008 By: Meg Category: Season 2, Sodes, Strategy 1 Comment →

Nerd Up!

In this episode we look at the peritextual elements of quite a few books– all of the things that aren’t the content– and how they relate to the feel of the book and our impressions about it.

The links all show example pictures to help illustrate the point.  There are a few still to come, but this is a pretty comprehensive list as is!  Some of the pictures are from the publisher and some I took myself.

Size and Shape

D&D 4th Edition- The standard in gaming. Hardcover, 8.5×11 inches. 4th Edition’s difference is that the 3 books come in a handy-dandy sleeve.

Hero 5th Edition Revised– The same shape as D&D but text-book thick.

Burning Wheel– 5×7 and softcover. Still has same number of pages as D&D, but they are mini pages. Makes the book much more portable.

Savage Worlds: Explorer’s Edition– Also softcover, but a bit longer and wider than Burning Wheel (which means neat, orderly shelving will be screwy).

Star Wars Saga– A square. Made to fit on bookstore’s shelves.


Rifts- Pretty picture, shows action, clear title, publisher, and author, and of course, boobies.

Paranoia XP– comical, funny, bright colors and the back cover entirely in the style of Paranoia. Draws in new people but also provides a callback to previous players.

The Savage World of Solomon Kane– Only a few words, but great illustration and the glossy and matte finish make Meg happy.

Cover opened to see front and back together

Dread– Extremely simple but sets the stage beautifully. A bloody thumbprint? What’s not to love?

Burning Wheel– Red on Red. Hard to see, confusing, boring. Doesn’t say anything about the game.

The Trail of Cthulhu – Green on green, but spooky, mysterious

GURPS: Alpha Century– cover of book is cover of Sid Meier’s video game. Good marketing if you like the video game (which we did).

Front Matter

First few pages of a book before the content actually starts. Can include publication information, credits, acknowledgments, table of contents, and introduction

  • Pastedown- the page pasted to the inside of the cover (hardcover only)
  • Flyleaf- the page opposite the pastedown

Spirit of the Century– has fun with the credits

Grimm– Pastedown and Flyleaf are at least red. Introduction WAY too long (download full introduction).

Deadlands Reloaded– Personal acknowledgments, Font in table of contents very appropriate and there is “white space” so text doesn’t feel claustrophobic. Introduction is a old-timely newspaper format. Back Cover

Dark Heresy, Warhammer 40,000– Pastedown and Flyleaf show an illustration of a star map


Are illustrations confined in a border to make it feel like you are looking as an voyeur, or do the touch the edge of the page to draw you in?

  • Bleed- when the illustration touches the edge of a page
  • Full Bleed- when all illustrations touch all edges

Deadlands Reloaded full bleed

d20 Future– Standard. Page number in border (on side)

GURPS- Transhuman Space- Dark border with white boxes with text. Dark borders give it a space theme.

Grimm (download of first chapter)– Very appropriate, very approprite. Page numbers in spider body and intricate

Expeditious Retreat: Magical Society of Ecology and Culture and Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition– Old timey paper feel to border.

Interesting Content

Cyberspace. Almost whole book in table or chart. Lower corner of each page gives extra material to book in terms of a year-by-year timeline.

Nightbane– Very first thing in book is a warning to prevent claims of Satanism.

Earthdawn– All peritextual elements completely vanilla (written in 1995) except two full pages of punch-out cardstock cards.


Pictures in books should show you things you may play, things you may fight or goals or ideas you may have as well as set the stage for the book. The feel also needs to be consistent throughout. The media used can change, but don’t mix styles!

D&D 4th Edition– Player’s Handbook has detailed pictures of the types of characters you are going to play (Person), the Dungeon Master’s Guide shows places you will go (Place), and the Monster Manual shows the things you are going to fight (Things).

Mutants and Masterminds– Very comic book feel to illustrations, some complete with speech bubbles. Very consistent throughout.

Dark Heresy, Warhammer 40,000– Extremely detailed, dark, gritty illustrations.

Riftsalmost entirely black and white inking. Art very evocative of the world, but not enough of it and the color plates in the middle of the book don’t match.

SerenityBeautiful cover, but almost all of “illustrations” are screen caps from the movie. Says not, “We’re trying to adapt the movie” but “We’re trying to make the movie.” Borders are good except top of every page says “Serenity the Role Playing Game”. Seems too self-congratulatory and constantly reminds us it is “official“.

Star Wars Saga– nice mix of screencaps and illustrations, but again, too much of a mix of styles.

ReviewSode #3: Grimm

June 15, 2008 By: Meg Category: Review, Season 2, Sodes 2 Comments →

This is the first of our full Origins’ Awards Reviews– we’ll release 1 review per day to complete the series!

In this episode we review Grimm, published by Fantasy Flight Games.

Grimm Cover

We give this a “3” on our rating scale:

  • 1= If you are only going to buy 1 book, get this one.
  • 3= If you are going to buy 3 books so you have a “main game” plus a fun pickup, this is the book for you
  • 10= If you are going to get 10 books for a bit more variety, get this one 0= Don’t buy it.

This game would be a ton of fun for a few one shots or to pick up when you’re normal game is sidetracked for a couple of weeks. Very intesting concepts, great flavor, good production values– a good book overall. The lack of clarity and that everything is written in text blocks (I mean everything- there is not a single formula or chart in the book that says “Attack = Scrap vs Defense -> Inflict Wounds”) is insanely frustrating, but other than that, it’s a good book.

Discuss this episode on our Message Boards in THIS thread!

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