Wednesday, 4 September 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge: Day 1: How I Got Started

To remind you:
 I guess my first exposure to D&D came from two sources - firstly, the D&D cartoon being rerun on British TV in the early 90s.

I think I must have been pretty young when I saw it - there's even a chance I caught it in the very late 80's, but I would have been well under 5 - so my memories of it are admittedly spotty. But I remember the Dungeon Master being creepy, Tiamat as a massive 5-headed dragon, and Presto the Hapless Wizard. It mus have started something, because I was in love with everything fantasy after it. From Willow to Legend to Pirates of the Dark Water, right up until the Big One - reading The Hobbit a the age of 10. I never looked back.

As for the second source, my older cousin was pretty big on D&D. I remember him running a game for me when I was too young to really comprehend what was happening (I suspect under 2e rules), possibly allowing me a seat in one of his group's games. One thing I do remember, however, was the Monster Manual.

As I said earlier, I soaked up sci-fi and fantasy like a sponge. I especially loved monsters - one of my most treasured possessions for many years was Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials, which I got at a car boot sale for about 50p and read 'till the hardback covering fell right off. And, having eagerly read my way through it, I was looking for more.

So, I flicked through my cousin's Monster Manuals. Judging by what little I remember of the artwork, it was one of those 2e Folios. Looking back on it now, I have no idea how I would have understood any of it - between Hit Dice, THACO, and a million other factors. But reading about the physiology, ecology and weird and wonderful special abilities of these creatures filled me with the same wonder I felt holding that precious field guide to the wonders of space.

Sadly, it wouldn't be until I was in my late teens that I began gaming in earnest. I fiddled about with 3.5, running a few spotty games for friends.

And so began my misadventures I chronicle here...

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge: I Heard There Was A Bandwagon...

... and, in the interests of getting myself back into writing regular updates, I am jumping right on his one!

For those of you who don't know...

So I have a few days catchup to do...

Friday, 23 August 2013

MiniSix Firefly: Relationships

So, I got to thinking about the upcoming Firefly RPG, which will be based on the Cortex Plus system, much like Smallville and the newer Marvel RPGs.

Part of these mechanics is the emphasising of Relationships – a very important aspect in the Firefly series and Serenity movie. After all, they’re what define each of the characters, drive many of the plots, and allow us to gain some insight into why these characters are the way they are – and that’s far more interesting than laser beams and exactly how much fuel the ship goes through in a day.

So, I wanted to add some mechanics for Relationships into the MiniSix framework. These are a first-draft, so expect changes and such as I improve them.


Relationships are the defining building blocks of characters – dependents, people they trust, enemies, even their favourite gun. All these little things affect how a character views the world, and how they will react to various problems and threats. To provide a mechanical reward for bolstering these relationships, each one acts similarly to a Flaw – you gain one bonus CP per session when you either further your relationship, or it causes you problems. Some examples:

Dependant: a child, a non-combatant husband, or a sister who’s a little whimsical in the brainpan. Spend some time looking after them on a long journey, make sure you buy them something nice while out on leave, and you might earn yourself a CP.
Watch as they accidentally crawl into the middle of a firefight, have someone use them as leverage, or take out a bar full of people while the Alliance are already on your tail, you might get one too.

Partner: either your beau, or your (not-so) trusted partner-in-crime. Or both.
Remember an anniversary, chat to them about old times, spend some “quality time” with them (whether that’s romancin’ or goofing off), even have an argument about who does the dishes or how much you’re paying them, and the CP’s up for grabs.
Risk everything to save them, watch as they get themselves in big trouble, or help them deal with their demons, and you might get lucky too.

Equipment: the ship, she sings to you; or maybe it’s the gun you took off one of the five men sent to kill you. This little (or big) beaut is yours and yours alone.
Spend some time fixing her up, keeping her pretty, or expositing about your relationship, the CP’s in the bag.
Watch her get wrecked, spend way too much cash on upkeep, or have to go without, and see how you go.

The bonus CP is doled out by the GM – if two players take a Relationship with each other, and keep having the same arguments over and over (or try and swindle you with three anniversaries, 5 birthdays and a whole host of family bereavements), you are well within your rights to ask them to try something new, and withhold the CP until they can come up with something more entertaining. Similarly, if a Relationship and a Flaw (like Dependency, Greedy, or Skeletons in the Closet) would provide multiple CPs from the same event, it’s up to you whether or not to grant one, both, or neither, depending on how the players are playing it.

Characters can start play with as many relationships as the GM sees fit. I would recommend two – more than three can be complicated, difficult to manage, and can lead to some inflated CP gain.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

D&D Collectors Series Miniatures: What the Fuck, WotC, What the Fuck...

So, I happened into my Friendly Local Gaming Shop (the wonderful Static Games in Glasgow), hunting for bargains and weird and wonderful books (their second hand/ding stock is always plentiful, with some fabulous discounts), when something caught my eye.

Gale Force Nine have produced a new set of D&D Miniatures - the Dungeons and Dragons Collector's Series, to be precise. All new sculpts, themed (and finally non-random) sets (the Drow and Illithid Raiding Parties), and big single models (the Eye Tyrant and Purple Worm). The first thing that caught me was the quality of the sculpts - they look pretty fantastic. The Purple Worm is ludicrously nice, the Eye Tyrant looks very well-proportioned, and the Drow and Illithids are well in keeping with the 3rd/4th edition art style. Fair enough, I'm not a massive fan of that particular art style, but it is invoked pretty well.

This sounds like a pretty positive review so far, right?

Well, I took a closer look...

First thing that jumped out at me - the price. £40.00. For five miniatures. Now, I know that they're limited edition. I know there's only one store in Scotland stocking these (though, weirdly, eight in England!). And I know geeks just love to throw their money away. But come on - even Games Workshop has better prices than that.

Not only just 5 minis - 5 snap-fit miniatures! There's next to no customisation to do here, unless you want to do extensive remodelling. But, as these look to be resin-plastic models, and incredibly detailed and fiddly, I say good fucking luck. Cutting into one of these would just wreck the whole thing! Too many details, too few pieces to really allow you to mod them up as you need. So you'd better like the poses and weapons they come with, otherwise tough shit.

Some could attempt to justify the price - after all, they're limited edition, high quality figures. But seriously - £40. It just pushes some button deep inside me that knows that that is wrong.

But, you can now get official Beholder and Mind Flayer minis without sifting through booster packs, or having to put up with shitty pre-paint jobs!

I'd hold off on the Drow, however - there are a million companies selling Dark Elf minis out there, and unless you want to run a word entirely based off the artwork of  Wayne Reynolds, you'd be better going elsewhere.

Free Stuff Giveaway at Laughing Ferret!

So, I've been following Laughing Ferret for a while now, and his minis have been pretty mind-blowing. His Blood Bowl teams make me want to look past the fact I think the game is fiddly and not as great as everyone thinks (this is My Opinion, please don't get offended!) and try the game again. He adds character and detail int minis that you rarely see in the current time of Army Painting and dipping.

These guys in particular show off his skill at adding character to a mini beyond a good paint job...

Make me hanker for an all-Dwarf dungeon crawling campaign...

Go check him out, become a follower, and try and win some awesome prizes!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Jotunbrud - A Race For 2e AD&D

Jotunbrud are demi-humans who have the blood of Frost Giants in their veins. As the Frost Giants (or Jotun, as they are known) possess some degree of magical aptitude, some have been known to take human form, and breed with other races for unknown reasons. Occasionally, these trysts can produce a hybrid child, which possesses only a fraction of the Jotun's power, but more than enough to set them apart from the common man.

Jotunbrud vary in height, but few are below 6' 6", with some reaching 8 or 9 foot tall. Many have a much darker skintone than their Frost Giant progenitors - a deep blue, rather than "frosted" ice-white. In Jotunbrud communities (rare as they are), and in the case of most individuals, ritual scarification is a common practice, decorating their skin with fine, oddly precise marks and patterns denoting tribal alliance, past deeds, and social standing.

Jotunbrud receive a +1 bonus to Strength and Intelligence, but also receive a -2 penalty to Charisma. While the blood of giants grants them strength and hardiness, and the natural magical ability of the Jotun gives them a sharp intellect, their unusual looks and somewhat alien mindset makes them less able to get along with those of other races.

Due to their size, they take damage as a Large-sized creature, and are capable of using weapons designed for larger creatures with some effort (a -1 penalty to attack rolls). This also applies to armour - most will need to be specially fitted for the Jotunbrud (being larger than a Medium sized creature, but unable to wear the armour of a true Large-sized creature). This adds 15% to the normal price of such items.

A Jotunbrud character has the following level limits:

Fighter 10
Thief Unlimited
Illusionist 15

They may also multi-class as Fighter/Thieves, Fighter/Illusionists, Illusionist/Thieves and Fighter/Illusionist/Thieves.

A Jotunbrud character requires the following ability scores:

Strength 9/19
Dexterity 3/16
Constitution 6/18
Intelligence 6/18
Wisdom 3/18
Charisma 3/16

My take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe's version of the Frost Giants, for a little fun and to add some more possible races to The Wall campaign.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Generic Fantasy Skrmish - Goblinoid Warbands

So, I thought I would present these lists together, because they share a common rule - The Horde.

As always, these rules are first drafts, and will be changed at a later date (after some hopeful playtesting). And, as always, they are part of an expansion of In The Emperor's Name, Gawd 'Elp Us Games's take on skirmish-level narrative 40k wargaming. Please check it out!

The Horde
Any Warband made from models with this rule can include any model from another Warband with the same rule without having to pay the Strange Ally cost - unless the model has a Heroism of 2+, then it's 5pts (instead of the usual 10pts).

So, in true fantasy style, a gang of Goblins can be led by an outcast Orc, or perhaps the Orcs befriended a wounded Ogre (or promised him a share of the loot and as many bones as he could eat), or maybe that group of Hobgoblins uses Goblins as meatshields and an Orc Berserker as their heavy hitter... the options are endless, and help make these Warbands incredibly flexible.

Plus, part of the idea of this game was that you could grab a pile of minis and play, like if only some of your usual RPG group show up, or you don't have enough armies for larger-scale wargames to go round your players. And if you're the type of DM who uses minis, you probably will have Orcs, Goblins and maybe Hobgoblins - enough of each for a decent encounter, I'd bet. If not, they're easy to get hold of - on sites which sell D&D minis individually, the Goblinoids are normally considered Common (barring a few special ones), and cost about $3 at most.

I advise only using this rule during campaign games (and maybe creating a similar rule for the Human, Elf and Dwarf (or whatever) lists - The Alliance). Otherwise, it can lead to much MathHammering and min/maxing your list choices, and really - that's not what this game is about.

I had thought about making them one big list, but in trying to ensure there was enough variation for players to run a list with just one type of Goblinoid, I decided I was as well making several lists that could be dipped interchangeably.

Unit TypeHeroismFVSVSpeedNotes
Sneak5++1+1+2Small, Stealth
Assassin4++2+1+2Small, Stealth, Poison, Hunter
Warchief4++2+2+2Small, Leader
Barghest3++3+0+3Hunter, Stealth

Campaign Rule: The Horde

Unit TypeHeroismFVSVSpeedNotes
Captain3++2+2+1Leader, Disciplne, Defensive Master, Phalanx
Warcaster4++1+2+1Leader, can buy spells @ 10pts from the Divine Spell List, Discipline

Campaign Rule: The Horde

Unit TypeHeroismFVSVSpeedNotes
Shaman4++2+1+0Leader, can buy spells @ 10pts from the Nature Spell List

Campaign Rule: The Horde

Unit TypeHeroismFVSVSpeedNotes
Savage2++4+0-1Combat Master

Armour TypeNotesRestricted To
NoneJust clothes [5+ to hit]
LightLeather, Padded Armour [6+ to hit]
MediumChainmail, Half-Plate, Scale [7+ to hit]
Amulet of Protection [7+ to hit]Hogoblin Warcaster, Orc Shaman
HeavyBanded Mail, Full Plate [8+ to hit]Hobgoblin Captain, Orc Warlord
Ogre Hide [9+ to hit]Ogre Savage, Hurler
Ogre Plate [10+ to hit]Ogre Chieftain
ShieldsBuckler, Light Round [+1 AV]
Heavy, Tower [+2 AV]

New Special Rules

As always, these rules cost 5 points unless otherwise stated.

Small - this model is particularly small, and cannot use any Heavy weapons or Armour (including Heavy or Tower Shields) - however, they can move through Light Cover with no penalty. This ability does not cost any points (as it is both an advantage and a drawback).
Hunter - see Bounty Hunter.
Poison - any weapon used by this unit gains a Grit penalty of -1. This stacks with the weapon's original Grit penalty (but not other sources, such as the Envenom spell).
Discipline - grants all allies within 9" in Line of Sight immunity to the effects of Terror (see Invoke Faith).
Phalanx - units with this rule can form a shield wall - when using a shield, and in base contact with another shield-using unit, they count as carrying a line of Light Cover (+1 to Armour, penalties to shooting into it, and reduced movement speed).