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Gaming Links

Unfortunately, this is the last we'll see of the links page, at least as a regular feature. We'll continue to update you on any great links which come to our attention, we just won't have a page for them every issue. For our final links page, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the great links we've reviewed in the last year and a half. Think of this as a collection of the "best of the best" links we've ever found.

  • But first, a brand new one which we only just discovered. Critical Miss is a notable new online fanzine, dedicated to "dysfunctional gaming". Rather than giving advice and comments about these hypothetical games we all dream about where the immersion is perfect, they concentrate on the reality most of us face - a chaotic, disruptive, antagonistic mess of puns and out of character chatter. Because of this, their articles are hardly deep or particularly delving into new ideas, but they tend to be useful. But what really sets them apart is their no bullshit attitude - they focus chiefly on providing a set of fairly interesting articles (well, more vignettes actually), clearly presented and free of any fluff or graphics. Hardly meaty, but a diverting read.

  • The most notable link from issue one was easily Phil Masters' RPG links page. Phil, of course, is a rather brilliant British RPG writer, with more writing credits then you can poke a stick at. His links page is one of the most intriguing and enjoyable on the net, and is definitely worth a look for any role-player.

  • Another worthy mention from issue one wasWeb RPG. Although it has decreased in size since then, it still has some great forums, chatrooms and a on-line gaming system which has proved very popular. Plus they still keep their top twenty (or fifty sometimes) lists going, and these are very funny indeed. So still worth coming back to.

  • Issue two featured a nod to possibly the ultimate Australian RPG site, try the excellent Ariel Archives compiled by Brett Easterbrook. Anyone will find this page both useful and entertaining, regardless of their country of origin, but it will be of particular use to Aussies. The best part (for any nationality) is the extensive Australian RolePlaying Links list. This list is well set up, very easy to read, and I couldn't find a single link that didn't work. On top of this, Brett provides a short but informative description of each site, making exploration a breeze. If only more links collections could be like this. First rate.

  • Still in issue two, we postulated that there can't be many gamers who aren't fans of those Lords of the Skies, the Kings of Creation, the Mightiest of All Beasts. I speak of course, of Dragons, the ultimate symbol of fantasy, magic and power beyond imagining. For all things Draconian, may we strongly recommend, the quintessential dragon site. Dragon art, pics, info, cultural references, the biggest list of dragon links anywhere and enough dracology to keep even the keenest dracophile happy for months. Simply the best dragon site on the net.

  • In issue three, the links page looked at "portal" sites. The best of these, as always, is RPGNet. But one that also provides a lot of good links and information is The Role-Player's Guide. Though it is a lot smaller than RPGNet, it is well designed; professional to look at without being pretentious, and covering a much more varied range of stuff than most other links/resource sites out there. It's small size also means that the information you want is easier to pick out, and it is a more managable and enjoyable read. The content is good quality AUSTRALIAN stuff that makes for a fun and informative visit. Worth a look

  • For RPG resources and info, you cannot beat Blue Troll's Netbooks Web Page. This site is possibly unrivalled in its provision of gaming resources. A Netbook is simply a (quite long and detailed) Word file that deals with some aspect of gaming. The Blue Troll has something like over 70 of these books, and with the recent remodelling of the site, the titles are a joy to peruse. So if you're looking for some good hard stuff on magic, gods, demons, weapons, equipment, drugs, monsters, plots, settings, stats, rules or even gaming humour, it might be worth your while to check out Blue Troll before hoisting out some cash for a new supplement. A great library of stuff that all gamers should find most useful.

  • And speaking of gaming humour, the absolute God in this area is Juha Vesanto. Juha is a mad Finnish gamer, with some good resources on his own site, but what sets him apart are his two hugely funny RPG humour pages. Juha hosts the very amusing "You might be a gamer if..." list, which never stops growing. Also, Juha is the creator of the now infamous "Game of SATAN" page, a hilarious satire of fundamentalist rampage, which far too many people took seriosly. Thus Juha has now transformed it into the equally satirical "Game of LOVE" page. Here, gamers are not admonished for going to hell, but cared for like little lambs who lost their way. All role-players should check these out - funny stuff

  • To keep you laughing, issue four featured a link to the hilarious Adventures of BON3DOOD and pLaTeDeWd. Although it is specifically taking the piss out of Ultima Online, anyone who's ever played a MUD will get a huge laugh out of this comic strip about a pair of completely insane, equipment addicted player killers who wander around Brittania, ruining it for everyone. Very funny, looks good, and has groovy music, but is slow to load. What's worse is that no new strips have been added since we first ran it. Alas.

  • Issue four also looked at other netzines out there, and we concluded that the best of the amateurs was by far The RPG Times. This is a regular (as in like clockwork) monthly zine that has been publishing since January 1996, without missing an issue. It recently had a face lift and is now much easier to read and navigate. It is well desinged, with a range of articles covering most of the RPG spectrum. There is also a lot of fiction, both short stories and on going sagas, and reviews and announcements from companies and gamers. The site has mirrors on most major land masses (just click the central icon), so check it out.

  • Issue five took us back to online resources for gamers, of the more academic kind. Of chief note was one of the best reference sites on the internet, just in terms of the sheer amount of research gone into it: Kate Monk's Onomastikon. That's a dictionary of names, or perhaps I should say THE dictionary of names. Because even if you searched through the largest and most prestigous libraries in the world, I doubt you would ever come across something of this calibre. It is unbelievably well researched, and presented simply and effectively. Names are sorted into place and time of origin, and are listed with their meaning and variants. What use is this, you ask? Well, not only will you never again get stuck trying to think of a character name, but you can make sure said name is perfectly suited to whatever campaign you're using. A must-see, even if you don't think you'll use it.

  • Equally impressive in its veracity and academic qualifications is Old Sword Play. This is a online copy of Captain Alfred Hutton's book of the same name. Although written in the nineteenth century, this is an intelligent summary of the art of medieval swordplay. Hutton is on par with Sir Richard Burton in this field, but while Burton's stuff is still widely printed, this is a very rare publication being made available. So don't miss it if you want to perfect those combat rules. And if your games are set a little later, students of fencing should examine George Silver's Paradoxes of Defence.

  • Issue seven showcased the site of the master himself at The Creative World of Gary Gygax. He has not been idle since he left TSR, and you can read all about what he's been up to in a very detailed and revealing FAQ. Most of the site, however, is filled with info on Gary's new games, and, in most cases, full rules are provided. Of particular note is a simple but elegant little RPG called "Legendary Adventure". Plus Gary has created a "virtual residence" - a fully 3D rendered collection of rooms which you can navigate through and discover links and files. A touch pretentious, perhaps, but also fascinating. You can also mail Gary from here, and he is very generous about replies.

  • A link on Gary's page will take you to Mark J. Young's AD&D Page. To be blunt, this site is an absolute mess, with tiny text bunched up and splayed around everywhere, displayed in hideous colours with terrible graphics, in a horribly confused layout. However, if you can get past this, there is some phenomenal content here. This is the collected output of a man who has spent a lifetime writing about the game. While a lot of it is AD&D related, there is also a brilliant essay against religious attacks (from a Christian gamers perspective), a great introduction to the game and plenty of general stuff on cultures, settings and rules. The AD&D stuff will prove indispensible to those who play the game, but also fascinating to those who don't. The alignment quiz is particularly well done. Go and be amazed.

Well, that's it then for the links page. Of course, the web being the nigh-infinite nexus of information that it is, there are countless other good sites out there to enjoy. But you don't need us to tell you that. So get out there and enjoy yourself! :)

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