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).

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Generic Fantasy Skirmish - Outlaws Warband

"Way I hear it, they'll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing. And if we're very, very lucky, they'll do it in that order."
   Knight-Captain Zoe Washburne, Lanthian Kingsguard

Bandits, brigands, thieves and cutthroats - there are always men who look to make a living outside the law. While most operate individualy, robbing innocent travellers and those who stumble down the wrong back alley, groups of these miscreants can make for a surprisingly tough nut to crack.

While working on a "Kingsguard" list, and its variants, I thought about making a list that would allow players to combine various human and demi-human miniatures, lightly-armoured skirmishers rather than the well-trained, heavily-armed men who make up the brunt of the Human armies. The cheapness of Thugs allow for a lot of bodies on the field, but your more expensive units have a lot of cool options and strategies you can build around them.

The rules are based on In The Emperor's Name, and as always, are a first-draft.

Unit TypeHeroismFVSVSpeedNotes
Thief4++1+0+2Nose For  Trouble, Stealth
Bandit Chief3++2+2+1Leader, Combat Master
Reaver2++3+1+2Terrifying, Hard To Kill, Stalwart

ArmourNotesRestricted To
NoneJust clothes [5+ to hit]
LightLeathers, Padded armour [6+ to hit]
MediumHide, Scale, Chain [7+ to hit]
HeavyHalf-PlateBandit Chief
Light ShieldBuckler [+1 AV]

Now, the cool thing about these guys is that most any fantasy miniatures can be used - a mix of humans and other fantasy races, and the Reaver could be anything from a Half-Ogre to a Khornate Warrior. This might be the first Warband I actually model up, due to easy availability of suitable minis.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Look What I Found: MiniSix Firefly Conversion

So, while perusing my old gaming notes on my laptop, I found a conversion I had worked up for running a Firefly game a while back. I borrowed liberally from the MiniSix Perdition setting, which is pretty much Firefly's 'Verse with the serial numbers filed off. I added some Perks, Complications and rules from other settings, and a few of my own devising, including rules for making ships more of a part of the crew.

Today, I'll post up some of the character creation stuff, and next time it will be the ship creation guide, along with a few supplementary rules.

The game uses the standard MiniSix rules, found here .

Skill List
Might: Brawling, Melee Weapons, Lift , Stamina
Agility: Athletics, Big Ruttin’ Guns, Bow, Dodge, Drive, Pickpocket, Pilot, Pistol, Rifle, Stealth, Throwing
Wit: Computer, Cortex, First Aid, History, Language, Medicine, Navigation, Repair, Science, Security, Tracking
Charm: Command, Courage, Companion “Techniques”, Diplomacy, Persuasion, Riding, Seduce, Streetwise

Attractive (1): Others find the character pleasing to look at. This can help reduce suspicions or distract others depending on the given situation. Once per session the character can double one roll for any action related to their appearance. Examples include full-on seduction, a subtle bluff or simply distracting guards.
Aristocrat (1): Your name has some weight on occasion. When attempting to gain access to a noble’s residence, avoiding arrest, or any other occasion where status is a factor you can try and draw on your family. Once per session you can double the result of any one Charm based roll when attempting to exploit your name. Note that many Aristocrats hail from the Core Alliance Worlds, and throwing your name around on the Rim ain't too clever a move.
Daredevil (2): Once per session you may throw caution to the wind taking extremely reckless action that may result in your own death. Your dodge, block, and parry are reduced by half however all Might rolls are doubled when resisting damage for one round.
Determined (2): Determined characters know what they need to do, and know exactly how they are going to do it. They may declare a failed roll is not going to stand, and immediately reroll to get a different result.
Favours (1): People owe you - you have friends in either very high or very low places. Once per session you can call in one of those debts. This can take the form of information, a temporary use of equipment (borrowing a mule, a gun, etc.), a place to hide someone or something for a brief time, or any similar event.
Lawman (1, 3 or 5): You threw in your lot with the Law, and hold a badge to prove it. Maybe a gun, too. For 1 dice, you are a Sheriff of some small moon, or a city on a larger settlement. You have little authority outside your jurisdiction, but being a man of the Law can grant a lot of respect and maybe a little help.
For 3 dice, you have authority that crosses borders (like an Interpol Agent or Federal Marshal), and can, once per session, spend a Hero Point to gain one of the following:
Back-Up Force on Standby, Suitcase Full of Marked Credits, Department Vehicle, Sniffer Drones, SWAT Gear, Fake Contraband, Trumped Up Warrant, Lie Detector, Wiretap
For 5 dice, you are an Alliance Operative - laws mean little to you, borders even less, and you are willing to do anything to fulfil your mission. You can spend a Hero Point to requisition nearly anything, given enough time and approval. Note, this isn't appropriate for most games.
Lucky (2): Once per session you can declare you are feeling lucky. Double the result of your next roll.
Perceptive (2): The GM may reveal small clues to you that others would miss. Once per session a character may announce they are studying an object or situation and the GM may reveal something that would be impossible for a normal character to determine. If nothing is revealed this perk may be used again.
Reader* (2 or 4): You have a very special gift. For two dice, this manifests as being able to read small, almost imperceptible thoughts as they pass through someone’s mind - once per session, you can reroll the result of one Charm based roll (as you know what the other person is thinking). You probably don’t know you are psychic - you just see things that other people can’t.
For four, you are a full blown telepath - you gain the ability to read thoughts as per the ESP spell. Telepathy defaults to Wit, and with GM approval, telepathy can be purchased as a skill if you have the four dice version of this Perk.
Recall (1): Any time the character chooses to recall anything he has experienced, the GM must tell him the truth in as much detail as the character would have been aware.
Registered Companion (2): You're an officially registered Companion - a very high-class whore, in other words. As well as your very high societal standing (which can be a great help in many situations, at the GM’s discretion), once per session you can double the result of any one Charm skill when exploiting your status (as the Attractive Perk).
Tough As All Hell (2): You've taken your fair share of beatings, and got pretty good at rolling with the punches. You gain a bonus to your Soak equal to half your current Soak value, rounded down. (So, a Soak of 9 becomes 13).
Wealthy (1): Born into Old Money, hard industrialist, or ill-gotten gains: however you did it, you have money. Far more than most. Each month the character receives a stipend of 10 times the average income.

* While the option to play as a telepath has been presented here, such characters are rare in the ‘Verse, and aren’t available at the 3-dice level without creepy brain-altering surgery and personality-destroying chemical treatments and all that jazz (possibly including the Whimsical In The Brainpan and Hunted Complications, see below).
As an optional consideration, other psychic powers may be available at the GM’s approval. It depends on your take on the setting. Appropriate powers may include Charm, Clairvoyance, Illusions, Possession and Telekinesis. Each of these would taken as a separate Perk, with a 2-dice version available (which would count as a reroll to a type of skill, like Might for Telekinesis, Wit for Clairvoyance, etc) and the full power for 4 dice.

During character creation only, players may select up to two complications. These grant no additional skill dice during character creation; however, if one comes up in play the character earns one CP. Characters may not earn more than one CP per complication per session regardless of how often it comes up.

Age: You’re either really old or really young. In addition to all the social issues caused by your age, the GM might choose to impose a penalty to an action based on your character’s age. Grandpa throws a hip, a weird dude offers you candy on the street, and it’s hard for either of you to seduce the Companion at the bar. Whenever your age causes you great difficulty receive one CP.
Bad Rep: You have a history. You might have been a loose cannon who couldn’t back up your swagger. Maybe you lost a large quantity of criminal resources. Perhaps you just couldn’t keep from pointing out the leader’s faults in public. If your boss rips you a new one, or you lose the chance of a job, or the respect of your equals due to your past, earn 1 CP.
Browncoat: You fought on the right side of the Unification War. Problem is, "right" don't always mean "winning". You're a staunch opponent of the Alliance, and you can bet they'll be on you like white on rice should you trouble come your way. Earn 1 CP every time your allegiances get you in trouble, even if you go find yourself an Alliance-friendly bar on Unification Day for "a quiet drink". However, you might gain yourself some respect when dealing with fellow Browncoats, so it ain't all bad.
Bull in a China Shop: The character is a klutz. Choose one Agility skill that the character can use without penalty. Increase the difficulty of all other Agility rolls by +5. Dodge skill isn’t
penalised. Earn one bonus CP each session.
Big Damn Hero: The character follows the code of honour, like some Robin Hood of The Black (except for the giving to the needy part. A Hero’s got to eat). You don’t leave a man behind, your word is your bond, the whole deal. This is really just a Personal Code, so earn one CP whenever acting like a Big Damn Hero complicates your life (It’s suggested that most of the player characters in the game have this complication, if not all).
Dependency: You have a problem. Whether it's gambling, whores, smokes, or maybe something harder, you have a compulsion to follow your addiction. Gain 1 CP every time you get in trouble for it, or when the GM tells you that you need it. Resisting the urge might have its own problems...
Enemies: Someone doesn’t like you at all. And they are a credible threat. Maybe they have more friends than you, maybe they’re just bigger and meaner; either way you have your own personal bully. You earn the bonus CP when they complicate your life.
Greedy: Maybe you're a merc who's always on the lookout for "better opportunities" (read: more cash), or maybe you're a big fella, always taking an extra bite of the ration bar. Earn one CP whenever the GM throws you a temptation you just can't resist, and that seriously screws you or the party over.
Gremlins: You have a special touch. Specifically the kind that breaks machines. You’re no good with engines, electronics, energy weapons, or any other trinket. If it’s a device, you can’t trust it. Earn 1 CP whenever the GM takes his one free shot on you this way.
Hunted: All criminals are sought by the Alliance, but some are more sought after than others.  The Alliance has a standing bounty of 10,000 credits for information leading to the capture of a criminal of such calibre. Some have additional bounties attached to them, depending on the breadth and severity of their crimes. Some are even escaped test subjects, or are in possession of information that might destabilise the entire Alliance. Hunted characters receive 1 CP when this becomes an active issue in the adventure.
Large Debt: You owe someone a lot. Maybe one of your deals went bad, maybe you borrowed enough to buy that ship you always wanted. No matter how it came about, you are in debt. Most of your spare money is going to go to pay this off and whoever you owe will likely call on you from time to time to perform extra favours for them as a “friendly” form of interest. Gain 1 CP for any adventure where your debtor gets involved in your business. This Complication can be bought off, with the GM’s approval - however, you no longer gain the CP.
No Book Learning: The character didn’t benefit from an Alliance education. Choose one Wit skill that the character can use without penalty. Increase the difficulty of all other Wit skill rolls by +5. Earn one bonus CP each session.
Not Pretty Cunning: The character is uncouth and or unattractive. Choose one Charm skill that the character can use without penalty. Increase the difficulty of all other Charm skill
rolls by +5. Earn one bonus CP each session.
Personal Code: You live by a creed and you will not cross that line. Maybe you won’t shoot an unarmed opponent and always make sure they know its coming or maybe you never tell a lie. No matter how you define it, your code has to mean something. Shepherds love thy neighbour, honest lawmen won’t resort to deception, and sometimes there is even honor among thieves. Earn one CP whenever your code complicates you or friends’ success.
Skeletons in the Closet: You’ve been a naughty boy. Maybe you’re a closet smoker. Maybe those hookers buried themselves. Maybe that Alliance uniform in the closet really isn’t yours. Maybe the bank really meant to let you take all that money out that day. Whatever, the universe doesn’t judge. You earn the bonus CP whenever your past comes back to haunt you.
Uncontrolled Reading: Sure, you got yourself crazy mind powers. But you can't always control them. You get to experience people's petty revenge fantasies, get to see what they think you look like naked, or get to see the faces of all their victims. Gain one bonus CP when the GM determines you catch a glimpse of someone's thoughts you really don't want to see.
Unlucky in Love: Things just don’t work out for some guys. Your love interest is always dying, being kidnapped, betraying you, or even worse dumping you. You earn bonus CP when your love life falls apart in a meaningful way.
Unlucky in Money: You have a hard time holding onto money. You earn the bonus CP when you lose a significant amount of cash through your own foolishness or bad luck and have nothing to show for it.
Weak: The character is less powerful than his build would imply. Choose one Might skill that the character can use without penalty. Increase the difficulty of all other Might skill rolls by +5. Resisting damage and healing checks aren’t penalised. Earn one bonus CP each session.
Whimsical in the Brainpan: You have issues that are guaranteed to put the therapists’ kids through college. Could be you’re just really paranoid, or maybe just a touch too OCD. That fear of most everything could also be a problem. Then again maybe you really are Napoleon and everyone else is wrong, good luck convincing anyone else since you’re a lunatic. Hastur, Hastur, Hastur! Take your pills and earn one CP any time your psychosis really gets in the way.
Womaniser/Good Time Girl: You like the attentions of the opposite sex (hell, maybe the same sex) a little more than is strictly healthy. Gain 1 CP whenever the GM throws you someone who's "just your type" and full of trouble, or your philandering puts you in bother.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Games Workshop's Specalist Games Shutting Down?

So, I might be somewhat late with the news here, but apparently Games Workshop has decided to stop producing its Specialist Range figures - those old classics like Blood Bowl, Necromunda, and Inquisitor.

While this has been confirmed through several sources (including GW's Customer Support line), GW haven't put it up on their website as of yet, attempting to simply let the figures run out of stock and not replace them. Even Forge World is getting in on the act - they will no longer produce any of their specialist games (like Aeronautica Imperialis).

This is something of a blow to those gamers who enjoy the less "cut and dry" nature of these models - the Specialist Games models had some of the coolest sculpting work done at GW, and had a retro charm that modern models just seem to be missing. For those looking to add a little something different to their armies, or even to play these specialist games, many will be forced to take their custom elsewhere, or to use models from another range that may not fit particularly well.

Well, it's their bed, so they can lie in it. I am sure they don't make that much money from the SG stuff (even when they are stupidly overpriced, even by GW standards), but it's going to lose them a fair amount of business (or at least, a goodly amount of respect amongst certain circles). My advice would be to get yourself over to the Specialist Games Website and download everything you can for free - while you still can.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Welcome To The Wall - ASoIaF By Way of 2e AD&D...

So, the weather outside is frightful, and it recently snowed in Glasgow for about two weeks straight. Between that, and playing Skyrim and watching the new season of Game of Thrones, snow has been on my mind for a while, and I decided to follow through with one of my New Years Resolution to try a game I have never tried before.

Put all these together, and you get... The Wall.
HBO's A Game of Thrones
"Welcome to the Wall, boys. You are here not as a punishment, but to perform a great service to the Kingdom. The fact you are thieves, rustlers, liars, cheats, bastards and outcasts, who have been sent to the frozen arsehole of the Kingdom is coincidental, surely. This Wall marks the end of our hold on the land. Beyond it, there are savages, The Restless Dead, and creatures you thought only lived in your grandmother's scary tales. The Black Watch's job, our job, is to man this Wall, and keep those fuckers out."

The game borrows liberally from both A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones and Skyrim, to create something almost entirely unoriginal, but at the same time a lot of fun. Hopefully, at least.

Players have been inducted into the Black Watch - once seen as an honour, one of the highest accolades a warrior can receive, to protect the Kingdom from the weird horrors of the Frozen North. As these Horrors stayed quiet for a few generations, many believe them to be gone (or to have never existed in the first place), leaving many feeling the Black Watch is an artifact of an age of superstition and unenlightened men. Hence, instead of sending great sending of criminals (mainly traitors to the crown, the dishonoured, bastard children of nobles, and those who want to be shown as an example).

I am currently swithering over which races will be available - I am considering sticking to Humans only. I can maybe see Half-Orcs, Half-Elves, maybe even Mul (Half-Dwarves) and Half-Giants/Half Ogres (the Wildlings in ASoIaF did have Giants among their numbers,after all...).

Players can choose from the Fighter, Ranger, Thief, and Wizard classes. Fighters will be most common,with Thieves and Rangers not too far behind. In order to help differentiate these relatively limited roles, each class will have a list of Kits (and optional rules) available to them.
  • Fighters get the Tight Weapon Groups Proficiency, Style Specialisation/Fighting Style bonuses, and the following Kits:
    • Barbarian (Wildling only), Berserker, Myrmidon, Noble Warrior, Savage (Wildling only), Wilderness Warrior (Wildling only)
  • Rangers gain access to the following Kits:
    • Explorer, Falconer (redone as the Crow Keeper), Feralan (Wildling only), Justifier (Black Watch only), Pathfinder, Stalker
  • Thieves gain access to the following kits:
    • Acrobat, Assassin, Bandit, Scout, Thug

However, to emulate the low-magic feeling of the ASoIaF universe, and to make the game that little bit more challenging, I am thinking about proposing a few rules for the use of magic - though I am not sure what yet. Ability checks to cast spells, a strict enforcement of material components (though they might be changed from the originals), limited access to spells, maybe even limited advancement - any NPC spellcasters will be low-level, maybe even with limits on their Intelligence scores to help keep higher-level spells out of reach. This is a game where the day is won by grit, determination and steel - not with a flabby sorcerer throwing a few spells around.

I also imagine that there would only be one (or no) Magic-Users in a group-after all, they are a valuable resource that can't be wasted. After all, most mages who commit crimes are either press-ganged into more valuable military service, or else sentenced to death. You really need just the right combination of military uselessness, lack of honour, and circumstance to end up a Wizard in the Black Watch.

Those caught practising unlicensed necromancy (using a few of the rules from the Complete Book of Necromancers) are always a good option. Their abilities to control and affect Undead creatures are much-valued when facing the Restless Dead beyond The Wall.

More on this setting as I think about it...
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Saturday, 4 May 2013

Datafortress 2020: An Awesome Cyberpunk 2020 Resource

So, Datafortress 2020 has been floating around for years on the net, and I kept seeing the link in Wisdom000's signature on for ages, but as I've been looking through the old Cyberpunk 2020  Chromebooks for inspiration for gaming and modelling, I thought I'd swing by and see if there were any new updates.

Luckily enough, Wisdom000 has just put up a massive update, collecting loads of older PDFs together, rearranging various items, and adding new stuff.

One thing I never realised - not only has Wisdom000 added new content, they've went back and totally rehauled the Interlock system to make it the universal system it was always touted as. One of the reasons I had been avoiding running Cyberpunk 2020 was that the system looked a little dense for my tastes - but the Interlock Unlimited update he's done is simply astonishing, rebalancing the rules, adding new ones, and stripping out the chaff the system has accumulated. He's even included tons of optional rules, new ideas, and all manner of cool stuff - but, in a flash of awesome, kept the all separated out. The basics are simple, then you pick and choose which extra books you use. It's like GURPS, only it doesn't make my head hurt (as much. It's still a pretty complicated system in parts, but I am getting it a lot easier that reading through the original books).

It also has one of the most comprehensive armouries I've ever seen. The volume of gun porn somehow manages to be even greater than usual in the Cyberpunk genre. I drool a the thought of unleashing a few of these beauties. Same with the cyberware - there's a ridiculous amount of cool toys for every occasion, from the cheapest, clunkiest Soviet Block roboarms, to the sleekest Raptor legs in town. It's all there, and it's all awesome.

It's actually leaving me itching to run the game. Rarely does a set of house rules do that for me, when I find the source material too much to swallow.

Touche, good sir.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Generic Fantasy Skirmish: High Elves Warband

"We are immortal. Unstoppable. We have trained in the art of swordplay for a hundred years, and have forgot more than you will ever know. You should bow before your superiors, mortal."
   -Khalesa Mensha Aurin, in peace talks before the Battle of Elevan

So, after the low-cost horde of Kobolds, we now have the "heavy hitters" - the expensive, elite army (much like In The Emperor's Name's take on Eldar Harlequins). These guys will be pretty hard to field in any great numbers, but they more than make up for it in personal power and survivability.

The High Elves are an ancient race, allegedly the first true beings to step foot into the World. They have made many great civilisations, and watched them fall, all before the first Human took breath. Their long lives lead to a sense of apathy towards life - in order to stave off such ennui, the High Elves will master several arts, ranging from the martial, to the arcane, the philosophical and poetic, all edged to perfection over the course of a hundred years or so. Once they have reached the natural limit of their talent, they will begin a new craft from scratch - more for something to do than any great desire to be the greatest.

Unit TypeHeroismFVSVSpeedSpecial
Bladesinger2++5+3+2Leader, can buy Spells @ 10 points from the Arcane and Nature lists, Combat Master, Defensive Master, Grace. Max 1 per Warband.
Archmage3++3+4+2Leader, can buy spells @ 5pts from any spell list, Lore, Grace. Max 1 per Warband.
Master Ranger3++4+5+2Multishot, Bounty Hunter, Inhuman Climber, Grace
Ancient Warrior3++4+3+2Can buy one spell @ 10 pts from the Arcane and Nature lists, Grace

ArmourNotesRestricted To
NoneJust clothing [5+ to hit]
LightLeather Armour, Ranger Cloth [6+ to hit]
MediumChainmail [7+ to hit]
HeavyFull Plate [8+ to hit]Bladesinger

Warding Seal [8+ to hit]Archmage
ShieldLight [+1 Armour Value]

Heavy [+2 Armour Value]Bladesinger

Grace [8pts] - this unit can move through cover or difficult terrain at no penalty, and may move through enemy models without having to engage in base-to-base combat. All High Elf models must take this ability.

Multishot [5pts] - A figure with this ability may take a second shot with a ranged weapon if they have knocked down or killed an enemy figure with their normal shot. They may only do this once per turn.

Once again, these guys are a first-draft. Any issues or problems, let me know!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

OSR D&D - Guns

So, guns have always had a weird place in D&D. Lots of the "Appendix N" inspirational materials had them, whether as one-off, almost magical items, or a regular feature of their setting (John Carter of Mars, frex, wouldn't be seen dead without his pistol). But, when looking for ways to implement them into D&D, options are limited.

And I can kinda see why - D&D has always ostensibly been more of a "Swords and Sorcery" kinda deal (until 3rd Ed pushed the whole thing into full-on High Fantasy), and a default part of that is, well, swords. Guns feel too modern, and for some people, seeing an Elf with a gun brngs back unfortunate Shadowrun flashbacks. But, due to D&D's tried-and-tested melting pot approach to its sources, the level of technology presented (like full plate armour) means that guns are pretty feasible. But you mention it in th wrong circles, and you'll be strung up by your dicebag before they have a two-hour long conversation about whether or not shuriken should exist in the Ancient Greek campaign setting, or whether Dwarves could build a spacerocket.

Gamers are like that.

There are plenty of D20 supplements with rules for guns (D20 Modern, for a start), but for genre imitation, guns feel like they should be a little more powerful than the "does 1d8 damage, is about as easy to dodge as a punch" model supported by these games.

As it's the most appropriate (and closest to D&D at its heart), let's take a gander at the Pathfinder SRD. It has rules for three levels of technology - emerging guns, advanced guns, and guns everywhere. I don't fancy changing up the entire face of the game, so we'll stick with Emerging - guns are rare, having just started moving out of the realm of cannon and arbuesque.  Maybe there's a secretive guild of alchemists and engineers who have fiddled up the first production line, or maybe they're a new Dwarven invention. Regardless, the first examples are starting to become publicly available, and are filtering down to the "adventuring" classes.

So, our basic, archaic guns are the pistol, blunderbuss, and musket. There are a few variations on these which I won't be including (the sword cane gun, for example), but these are your "standard" guns for this time period.

Your basic pistol stats for Pathfinder: costs 1000gp (!), 1d8 damage, x4 damage on a critical, 20 foot range increment (guns get 5 range increments, with a -2 penalty to the attack after the first), targets Touch AC in the first range increment and resolve normally after that, misfires (breaking the weapon) on a one.

Now, one of the things that a lot of people have commented on is that the misfire rate of even the earliest firearms wasn't as bad as rated here, and the guns would rarely explode on a bad shot. You ran the risk of powder burns, but that was about it - if your gun exploded, you were doing something terribly wrong. Pathfinder has a misfire rate for each weapon (normally 1 in 20), and on a misfire, a weapon gains the Broken Condition (which ups the misfire rate by 4, making it normally a roll of 1-5 on the D20). That seems a little harsh, cause once it's broken, another misfire means the gun goes boom, hitting you and anyone next to you for the damage value of the weapon.

That doesn't mix with the reality too well, but helps keep the guns "balanced" with bows and other ranged weapons. But it's such an artifact of these kind of games, I might need to include it. Well, in keeping with the idea that the OSR is less about balance and more about fun, I propose the following stats (for OSRIC, but pretty adaptable):

Weapon TypeDamage vs Small/Medium Damage vs LargeRate of Fire (Shots per Round)Range (-2 to hit per
Bullet + Powder----3 per dozen1gp

Here's some rulings (as I'll be using them) which might prove useful for guns:
  • The blunderbuss can be loaded with a bullet or shot, which fires as a 15ft cone, range increment 15ft - the user can make an attack roll against all targets within that range, at a -2 penalty. This can either be pre-made (same cost and encumbrance as bullets) or improvised, scraps of metal, nails, etc. which is free, if you can find it, but gives a -2 penalty to-hit and damage. Repeated use of such materials can cause damage to the weapon.
  • All firearms require a full round to reload, limiting them to one shot per round (regardless of any bonuses to Rate of Fire).
  • At point-blank range (i.e. melee combat range), a pistol may be used with a penalty of -1 to attack rolls, while the longer, less maneuverable blunderbuss and musket suffer a -4 penalty.
  • If the opponent is unaware, bound, or unconscious, (where "coup de grace" rules would be appropriate) they make a Save vs. Death Magic - should they fail, they are dying (should you use those rules) or dead. If they pass, they take double damage from the attack.
  • Misfires occur on a natural roll of 1 on an attack roll. Roll 1d10 on the Misfire chart below:
    • 1 - Backfire - you must have overpacked the gun, or just straight-up done goofed. The weapon explodes, dealing its damage to you, and one die-step less to those in melee range of you (so a pistol would damage you for 1d6 damage, and everyone else for 1d4).
    • 2-4 - Powder Burn - you weren't as careful as you should have been when loading the weapon - the shot goes off as normal, but you suffer 1d3 damage from the powder on your clothes and skin igniting.
    • 5-6 - Dud - the powder doesn't light. It will take a full-round action to clear the weapon, and another to reload it.
    • 7-8 - Jam - some delicate part of the weapon's mechanisms isn't working as intended. The weapon is unable to fire until someone with the skills to repair it can take a look and fix the problem.
    • 9 - Hang Fire - the powder doesn't catch as quickly as you thought - perhaps it's a little wet in parts, or there's a slow-burning clump in it. Nothing happens - DMs, describe it much like a jam or a dud shot. In the next round (in the Fast segment, or at the highest initiative, or whenever), or the end of the current round, whichever seems more fun, the gun goes off as normal. Pray you hadn't started clearing the "jam"...
    • 10 - Burnout - too much powder, methinks. The weapon lets out a massive gout of flame, burning out some delicate mechanism and making the weapon useless until repaired. However, anyone within melee range (including you) must make a Save vs Breath Weapon or catch fire.
I'll probably come back and review these rules soon - let me know what you think!

EDIT: First edit thanks to Butch, adding Hang Fire as a result... that's gonna fuck with my players something awful. I love it!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Triumphant Return! With Artwork By Tony DiTerlizzi!

So, I've been a little waylaid with illness, work, and hospital trips, so I've fell behind on the blog.

This will not stand!

So, to start us off - some Tony DiTerlizzi artwork, and some art-critique from a man who couldn't get into art school, and so became a scientist.

"Yess, my good gentledwarf, finest Salarian Mind-Wyrms. I ssqueezzed them mysself jusst thiss afternoon. Ffive jink. Or perhhapss the Yithhian crystal is more to Ssirs liking, eh? Only 20 sstingers."
Did you ever need a truly pimpin' Mind Flayer for your Planescape game? Simply add fez. Seriously though, this Ulithard looks like the most perfect trader in the more unusual of magical artifacts in any Planescape/Spelljammer game. DiTerrlizi adds little touches and artifacts of a character who does stuff outside their image (the fez, the useful-looking pouches), that creates a real sense of character - not just some unrealistically-proportioned model in barely-there armour sneering menacingly and swinging the most impractical-looking sword you ever laid eyes on (Wayne Reynolds, I am looking at you so fucking hard right now)... I mean, compare the above with this:
I smoulder with generic rage.
I mean, just fucking look at it. It shares more than a few things with the DiTerlizzi piece, things I applauded not but a few lines ago. For example, those "little touches" that spruce up a piece of artwork, and add character - this guy here has a billion of them. The little rings on his clothes, the weird "many-belts" wrist guards, the dagger and potion on his belt, and the wands at his hip, and his little fire-bird-bat-thing, and his awesome, cool, impractical-looking sword, and...
There's just way too much stuff going on. It distracts from any one of thee elements, making a mish-mash of half-formed ideas about what this character does.

Also, his right hand. Look at it. Look real hard. Hands do not work that way. Like... is that a pinky or a thumb at the right-hand side there? The artist certainly doesn't know. And, for that matter, do pecs or chests ever look like that, barring shit like Marfan's Syndrome? Also, why does he have little clip-clop cloven feet? Dude's ostensibly human, but look how tiny his little feet are!

Now what would a Halfling want with a massive, hungry-looking cobra? I have no idea, but I can think of a ton of suggestions. Firstly, he's clearly in discourse with it - not the feared expression of someone trying to convince it not to eat him. He seems open, relaxed, even - like he's attempting to barter with it. What would a sentient cobra want to buy? Or what could it be selling?
The main reason that I like this is that I plan on introducing a Stygia-equivalent into the next old-school game I run, with full rules for snake-clerics and weird magics based off human sacrifice. Part of that would be the massive snakes rumoured to lurk in the depths of the land - ancient, intelligent creatures, favoured as pets to dark sorcerers. The idea of a race of intelligent snakes has always been pretty cool to me, especially filling the role of creepy conduits to the dark Gods of a forbidding continent. This pic just gives me ideas about how to make them more "humanised".

Apparently, this is a Tasked Genie from the Al-Quadim setting, but to me she looks far too human. Not a bad thing - she demonstrates DiTerlizzi's fantastic fashion sense. Each element of the outfit flows with the rest, and makes for a great Thief-type, "street smart" character. The style fits surprisingly well with the artwork DiTerlizzi would produce for Planescape, one of the most fantastically-illustrated fantasy settings of all time. The mix of neo-Victorian, Renaissance, and a more modern eye towards composition make the DiTerlizzi fashion choices a little dated, but in a charmingly retro way.
 When DiTerlizzi was pulled to illustrate the 2e Monster Manual, it was a breath of fresh air from the somewhat lacking quality of 1st Ed/AD&D's artwork. While they got across more character than later artists, the less than professional quality of the art made the whole game feel a little... gonzo
DiTerlizzi, however, brought both character and great technical talent together, to create an almost fairytale feeling to the game. Take, for example, this Helmed Horror - a classic D&D "trap" monster.

"The room is bare, aside from several suits of armour, all alike."
"I try and see if the suit of armour will fit me, or if I can scavenge some parts of it for myself."
"As you lay hands on it, it turns and takes a swing at you. Roll initiative!"

Now, modern artists will go down the root of an obviously evil suit of ridiculously spiky armour with evil fire pouring out the eyeholes and a gnarly-looking weapon. But DiTerlizzi's take on it has a whole lot of charm. It looks like a suit of armour you might find lying around - and that's the point of the monster. It's not something that looks obviously evil, because then it would be entirely pointless. It's designed to catch you out. A nicely understated piece. It does, however, highlight one of the issues I do have with DiTerlizzi's style - all his weapons are so thin. That sword looks like a rapier/foil, and not a particularly sturdy one at that. Go check more of his art, and count how many of the weapons look like they'll break at a strong breeze.

 This guy is a Sandman. He's a man, made of sand. Yeah. However, Al-Quadim being the weird, Arabian Nights-type place it is, he's also an evil slaver who puts people to sleep before kidnapping them. It saddens me to say that Ive seen weirder monsters, but there you go.
What I like about this guy is that he's pretty much a perfect fit for the Dust Genasi race - from the awkward angles of his head, down to his dour expression and slightly "gritty" texture (DiTerlizzi love him some good linework), he looks pretty awesome.

Now we get to one of my favourite pieces - a linnorm (a massive, dragon-like wyrm from Norse mythology). Where other artists have made them just look like big, ratty, extra-evil dragons, DiTerlizzi's linnorm looks positively ancient, a true ancestor to the great Dragons - something different, yet recognisable. The shaggy hair and almost root-like tail help to add to the sense of age, and the mottled skin looks really good in DiTerlizzi's ink-and-wash style.While they are not as intelligent as dragons, this specimen seems to at least hold a sense of cunning - the hint of a smile and the extended finger make it look like it's just caught some unwary adventurers in a lie, or perhaps is about to reveal some less-than-wanted news. All in, a pretty cool piece.

So yeah - I advise you go check out Tony DiTerlizzi's website, or, if you can get a hold of them, dig out some of his 2nd Ed work. It's awesome and you won't regret it!

Friday, 29 March 2013


Once again, family, illness and work have kept me away from my 4th most important thing - this blog!

Fingers crossed, I should be back up and running in the next few days, and I'll be working on an actual, honest to God buffer, so these delays are less frequent.

As with all my delay posts, here's the plans to garner some excitement:
  • Finishing my Let's Read of the Book of Erotic Fantasy
  • Getting up some playtest stuff for the Generic Fantasy Skirmish Game
  • A new setting I've been cooking up, along with some thoughts on what system to run it in (and resources for doing so)
  • A few new reviews (of old stuff I own)
  • Some new reports from the Glorious Lord Admiral Black, as she scours the 41st Millennium for MORE CASH MONEY
  • And some other stuff!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Let's Read: The Book of Erotic Fantasy: Chapter 1, Part 2

So, today, we get on to Sex and Alignment.

I've said before, I don't like the D&D alignment system (and I know that's a feeling shared by many, many gamers). It's one of those legacy mechanics that went from representing a cosmos-level struggle (similar to the Moorcockian Cycles), to becoming the famous 9-point chart that people argue about daily on the Internet...

Yeah... it's something like that
Now, The Book of Erotic Fantasy starts to provide its take on these issues, with regards sex. If you thought that alignment was a straightjacket to your moral behaviour, just you wait until you see what it does to your bedroom behaviour. And if it involves straightjackets, you're probably Lawful Evil. Just saying.

So, to start - Lawful Good. It's all sex in the missionary position, with the light off, through a hole cut in the sheets, purely for the purpose of procreation, right? Wrong. LG is more about thoughtfulness, looking ahead, and being respectful of your partner and their wishes. It also states that an LG relationship does not mean monogamous - sex outside the pairing is accepted, so long as all of the involved parties are aware what's happening, and are alright with it. If it's the wanton slaking of lust, not so much - there's no thought put into it. But you can be polyamourous and Lawful Good, which is nice.

We get a stat-block to represent such a character - Valeria, a Paladin with the Perform (Sexual Techniques) skill and the Sexual Training feat (more on those later, I assume...). This is also the first mention of the App stat (which I assume to mean Appearance) - how this ties in to skills (like, does it replace Charisma for certain skills? Or maybe there's a synergy bonus to those skills?) hasn't come up yet, but I am interested in finding out. She also has a few new spells and items, but nothing of any great note (although I want to place my bet that the (Potion of) Peacock's Beauty is the version of Owl's Wisdom, Cat's Grace etc. for the Appearance stat).

We also get what I assume to be some artwork for Valeria, which is a photo of a model wearing the most impractical leather armour/corset thing, in a wonderful shade of Scarlet Letter red. For some reason, it has little rings where her nipples would be... which strikes me as impractical, at best. Unless they're related to those Nipple Clamps of Exquisite Torture from the Book of Vile Darkness...

Lawful Neutral - the alignment of tradition, strong taboos, arranged marriages... the sexuality of those who are concerned about doing things "the right way", with a similar great deal of thought as LG characters. Very little room for flexibility, but seems the most likely to get themselves hitched "because it's the right thing to do", rather than out of love (or lust). Fairly meh.

Lawful Evil - Order and Power are our inspirational words here - LE uses sex as a weapon, seducing and dominating those lower in standing, and submitting to those in charge. They are "most definitely evil, but they play by the rules". And yes, the wording is specifically charged with such BDSM-imagery. Our photoart now shows a young, thin man, wearing leather shackles which bind his wrists together, and chains leading from them to his nipples. He's holding a candle in his cupped hands, and is staring at it with the most gormless look I've ever seen.

I find the implications that Lawful Evil = BDSM a little... worrying. I mean, when the game goes out of its way to ensure that BDSM isn't automatically evil, but makes the reverse true, that's either sloppy writing or double-standard up the wazoo. Once again, time will tell.

Notably, the text-blurb for LE is the longest so far, and explains why that picture of the little pigeon-chested fella holding a candle is there. Someone spent a while crafting that little narritive...

Neutral Good - focus on pleasuring their partners, and simply want them "leave their partner happier for being with them". NG's exemplar character is Chevel, a Bard (who I can see getting a lot out of this book). She has Perform (Burlesque), and a few new spells as well (depilatory and grope as cantrips, block the seed and vision of exquisite pleasure at 1st-level, and touch me not and limited telepathy at 2nd-level). While the rest I can vaguely guess about, I am assuming that vision of exquisite pleasure is a first-level save-or-suck (*snicker*) spell, which have historically been one of the problems with 3.5.

True Neutral - as with most edition of D&D, this book seems to struggle when it comes to defining the Neutral Neutral crew. Their description basically states that they do what they want - they might be chaste, celibate, slutty, faithful, cheaters - whatever works for them. Dull, and pretty pointless - much like the True Neutral nearly everywhere else.

Neutral Evil - self-centered schemers, who will do whatever they feel they can get away with. They control, abuse, and prostitute others for their own gain. Their relationships tend to be "emotionally painful, often filled with trickery and deceit".

Chaotic Good - "if it feels right, do it" is the slogan here - CG characters value their individuality, and shrug off the taboos of their society, hoping to convince others to do the same with some righteous dickings. They want to ensure that their partners feel better for having been with them - whether that means freeing them from the constraints of their culture, or just leaving them with more confidence, they're the Robin Hood of bedroom antics.

Chaotic Neutral - it's the DM's least favourite alignment, the good old could-kiss-your-mother, could-punch-your-baby Asshole Random. CN characters care about themselves in relationships, leaving "a trail of emotional wreckage and heartache" behind them. They pride themselves on individuality, breaking taboos for the sake of it, and really playing up that "actions first, think later" mentality.

For bonus points, there is some more photoart here - of some woman with her boobs out. Now, I do love boobs, but that's not why this entertains me - the model featured is the spitting image of the ex of one of my old players/GMs - who was a fucking nutbar. Ah, good times...

Also, there are little blurbs of text which allegedly "demonstrate" behaviour typical of each alignment, but none have been noteworthy... until this little gem:
"Ooh, I have need of your nice, strong sword," she cooed. She used her left hand to draw up her skirts, exposing a bare expanse of thigh. "Come here and explore my deep, dark cave".

Did... did she just compare her vagina to a dungeon crawl? Watch out you don't catch ear-seekers or some shit.

Chaotic Evil -abusers, pure and simple. They seek to destroy, hurt, and torture people at the best of times, and are associated with acts such as "rape, mutilation, bestiality, and the abuse of helpless creatures". The authors also point out that they aren't going to mention anything more about these subjects, bar mentioning them. That's nice.

Join me tomorrow for Sex and The Species, where we learn about randy half-orcs, awkward half-elves, and of course, Gnomish sex toys.


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Generic Fantasy Skirmish: More Planning and Playtesting

So, while I've been posting up some Warbands and such here, I really wanted to get a playtest on the go before I start getting it all out there.

I have plans to run a few playtest games with each Warband (first round - High Elves vs Kobolds, the two Warbands who stray furthest from the game's "norm", as a cannon-fodder heavy list, and an elite list with very easy access to magic), but I also have plans to release a playtest document on here and G+ soon.

The playtest should contain:
  • Human, Undead, Kobold, High Elf, and Orcs lists
  • Weapons and Armour Listings
  • Basic Rules (including any mentioned Special Abilities)
  • And a few "optional" rules, which I would like to test out before I go throwing them in.
More info next week (assuming my days off are as productive as possible...)

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Woohoo! I Won Something!

So yeah, I entered the Grand Original Map Contest over at Tenkar's Tavern. I had entered the Mellified Men as a monster, but apparently the flavour behind The Hive (specifically, the reanimated remnants of slaves and workers which made up the Hive, grasping out to serve The Great Queen from beyond the grave) let me win the title of Best Environment!


Also wanted to put out a shout for the other winners (because shilling is what I do best) -

"The bladed arms of the bone blade can be fashioned into short swords. Because the blades were once part of a sapient creature, they may produce unpredictable effects if used as the basis for a magical weapons."

The above phrase is my favourite part of Viz's Bone Blade, winner of best creature, It's making my head go funny with the possibilities...

And Mark Chance's River's Bend Poet's Inn is getting dropped into my next hexcrawl, somewhere. I don't care how out of place it might be!

And John's Beneath The Windowless Tower will be gracing my group some time soon! Either with OSRIC or Microlite20...

So well done to everyone who took part, and thank you for so many awesome things to throw at my players! They won't know what hit them...

Let's Read: The Book Of Erotic Fantasy: Introduction and Chapter 1: Love, Sex and Roleplaying

A foreword from me:

I like to include sex and sexuality in my games. Not as a front-and-centre element, but certainly something that comes up. From the classic wenching at a tavern, to the confusion that magic might bring to alternate sexuality and transgender issues, I like to use sex as a starting point and hook for games - after all, your characters are people, they eat, they sleep, they fuck. They have their preferences to the way they do those things (if they do them at all). But, being a background element, I disagree with in-depth mechanical representations of it (finding them too... well, mechanical).

However, enough about me - let's get to it.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Let's Read: The Book of Erotic Fantasy

So, after the (a)rousing success of my post about the AD&D Book of Sex, I wanted to share more of the weird and wonderful world of Erotic D&D with you - this time another "classic", the Book of Erotic Fantasy for D&D 3.5.

A little history lesson first - when Wizards of the Coast began using the Open Game Licence for their D&D products, they had a plan - they write the books, other companies write the adventures. This would save them time and effort, which could go into writing more splatbooks, and maximise profit - because, after all, everyone wanted the PHB and their own choice of splatbooks, but only some DMs used pre-written adventure models, and with the cost of artwork, printing maps and other bits, they cost a decent chunk of change to make. Plus, if you update the rules, you'll need to buy the new ones (supposedly), but adventures are fairly simple to convert - thus meaning less cash overall.

What was realised, however, was that these companies could really write anything under the OGL, so long as they gave credit. This led to some really cool settings, some unusual new options for classes and races (like Mongoose's Quintessential series), and awesome variant games (like Iron Heroes and the Conan D20 game) but also more than a few books which pushed the envelope of what D&D was really about. One of these was the Book of Erotic Fantasy, all about sex, sexuality, and seduction in your games.

To give you an idea of the quality of this book, WotC no longer have an OGL for 4e. This book was indirectly stated as one of the reasons why.

... what the fuck am I letting myself in for here?

I'll tackle each chapter as a separate post, to avoid massive walls of text, and I might split some into multiple parts. As I have time off work, and I've been bitten by something of an inspiration bug, I should manage a post every day (maybe every other day).

Wish me luck, people - *snaps rubber glove* I'm going in. Dry.

Continue To Part 1

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Let's Read: The AD&D Book of Sex

Art by Psycho Tiyal via WTF, D&D!?
So, I've talked about sexuality in gaming a few times before, and while prepping for my AD&D game, I figured that I might have a laugh downloading the infamous "AD&D Book of Sex" - a netbook of rules and bits and boobs bobs to include sex in your games.


It's about as immature as I imagined, but there are a few stand-out pieces (both positive and negative)...

To start - the act itself. A character can last as many rounds as his Constitution score - after that, they need to start making Constitution checks (with a cumulative penalty) to keep going. Which, to me, seems... a little short. You really have to be some super-tough Adonis to last half an hour in bed? And then, there are the chances of orgasm (only 1 in 10 for women?) However, it does also list bonuses from Dexterity (representing flexibility and "knowing how to use it"), Strength and Charisma (less about looks, more about confidence), which means that even an average Joe has a decent chance to achieve a thoroughly decent innings, and even those with various stat handicaps can still do the Vertical Mambo with some aplomb.

Still - when has it been worth counting exactly how long your character managed to have sex? Most of the time, I handle sex with a "fade to black", and would find players who demanded more information in a friendly social setting to be a little disruptive, not to mention creepy. Then again, should the party Barbarian ever challenge the Bard to a wenching competition, I now know exactly how to adjudicate it. I kinda wish I didn't, but there you go.

The Bitch Rule stands out as a particularly egregious example of the immaturity in the document. Did you ever feel the need to roleplay a character with terrible PMS? Well, now can do so - and add some mechanical support, too! Surely, if you really feel the need to add such a dimension to your character (and, seriously, good luck doing so without hogging the spotlight and engaging in player-baiting behaviour), you could surely do so without having to roll to see just how bad your PMS is? Hell, I know plenty of people who suffer terribly around their time of the month, and I find this just a tad offensive.

There is also an example, from a player of the DM's who used these rules to engage in some rather disruptive bullshit behaviour. Way to prove how cool these rules are, guys.

There is also an extended section on the Seduction Roll - and, surprisingly, it's not bad! It adds various factors to the roll as modifiers and penalties, and gives a nice chance to seduce instead of simply rolling a flat Charisma check. I'd only really use it during a seduction-heavy game (like a high-political game, or maybe a Thieves Guild game, where such actions can affect the future layout of the campaign).

There's a table of sexually transmitted diseases you could catch, and the percentages of a population who are carriers for such diseases (PROTIP: NEVER go screwing in a small, lower-class village. About 40% of the people there have the clap), as well as the strange chance to develop a "sexual madness" - basically, hyper-niche fetishes. I'm... not really sure how one is more likely to catch a "mental" problem from unprotected sex, but there you go.

There's also the Magical STDs section - holy shit what.

"Acidic Secration (sic)- The sexual partner receives 2d8 points of damage on any round (DM's choice) during each sexual encounter."

Dude, a 1st level Commoner can die in like 2 rounds with a housecat. What the fuck is this shit?

"Orgasmatic Polymorph - Upon an orgasm, the inflicted polymorphs into another creature, save those that are noncoporeal, from as small as wren to as large as a hippopotamus. Furthermore the victim gains its physical mode of locomotion and breathing as well. No system shock is required. This affect does not give the new form's other abilities, nor does it run the risk of changing personality and mentality. The duration of the polymorph is 1 turn per constitution point."


"Kursk, we need to cross this chasm, but we have no way to fly across!"
"Don't worry, Dallara - I have visited the Brothel of Many Things, and left with a new gift..." *unzips*


And, for those times when a player really needs to know exactly what the hooker he picked up is like, the document includes a Random Prostitute Generator!

It's a bit more in depth than that - it includes stats, weight and height, available "services"...

The new spells are a mixed bag. Some might see some use, or make for particularly flavoursome choices (pardon the pun). But there's a few which are somewhat dubious...

Sex Change - "The DM must make sure the victim of the spell acts in the manner appropriate to the sex. If not, then the spell doesn't really seem powerful."

So, you have to make sure the player plays to the basest stereotypes of their new gender? The Barbarian now has to feel broody and worry about breaking her nails? The Wizard must lech on every female in sight, now that she's a he? Don't like.

Mordenkainen's Lubrication, Know Sexual Preference, and Sterility as Cantrips are all fine by me, and might just make it into my games.

Power Word: Castrate - what is this I don't even... why?

There are quite a few spells which are marked "Kiss of X", which are basically touch-range spells with a little more oomph than those of a similar level (balanced out by having to get really up close and personal with the target). These are fine, and could be a cool addition to a Bard's Spell List.

But the one which really, really freaks me out?

Summon Cissaldan (Conjuration/Summoning) 

(As in Harlan Ellison's short "How's the Night Life On Cissalda?")

Level: 9
Range: 30 yards
Components: V, S
Duration: Special
Casting Time: 9
Area of Effect: None
Saving Throw: None

The casting of this spell will cause an interdimensional connection between the world of the spell caster and the alternate world of the Cissaldans. The utterance of this spell attracts one Cissaldan which will come through the connection and attack whomever the spell caster directs the spell against. The recipient has an immediate desire to "do a disgusting thing with a disgusting thing" and will fall upon the Cissaldan with much vigor. The recipient will not be able to do or say anything else since his or her complete concentration is centered on the Cissaldan. The two will continue to copulate until the recipient dies of starvation. There is no known way of separating someone (or something since the Cissaldans do not discriminate in any way) from a Cissaldan until the recipient dies. After the death of the spell recipient, the Cissaldan will return to the world from which it came. Cissaldans are described as having two penises, two vaginas, and are physically "disgusting" to look at. They, however, love to make love so to speak, and can physically adapt to any sexual physiology.

EWWWWWW! Man, I knew that Ellison was a total pervert, but maaaaaaaaaaaan that's nasty... and what purpose would this spell serve that a little Finger of Death wouldn't, in a far less disgusting way? I mean, no save is pretty good, but... ew.

Now, onto "Magic Items Your Mom Wouldn't Approve Of", a list that varies between useful and offensive quicker than Bernard Manning with an engineering degree.

The Lipsticks of the Houri grant those Kiss of X spells, anywhere between 5 and 30 times (5 applications, 1d6 kisses per application). Pretty good, for between 1000-9000gp. I can see these showing up for that Bard I mentioned earlier... or being back-planted into 1E, where they had a Houri Class (which was also pretty cool).

The Ring of the Bulls gives you a massive knob.

    Die Roll   Ring Type           Effect
      1-5      Calf                Add 1/3 of the size
      6-9      Young               Add 1/2 of the size
     10-11     Bull                Double the size
      12       THE BEAST           Triple the size     <- dangerous
For some reason, the little arrow makes me think it's a hand-written note by some amateur mage who passed out from blood loss the first time he tried it...

The various items against pregnancy (including a Ring of Protection that... doesn't go on your finger) are decent - I would include them as flavour in most campaigns (like Pathfinder's Gentleman's Snuff).

Then there's the Sword of Castration, which is like a Voral Sword... only not. The Underwear of Chastity, bane of all Bards, is your standard magical chastity belt. Fairly sure I can find a use for that in any game.

After that, we get to the Houri Kit for Wizards - with another new special rule for seduction, and a few negatives. A nice little Kit, though I would see it as a better option for Bards than Wizards, but hey - horses for courses and all that.

Then, there's the full prostitute generator, and a list of ways to stat up a brothel (including a nice sample House of Ill Repute), a list of  "Sexy Monsters" for other sources, and a table to roll on to see what kind of porn you find raiding a humanoid's lodgings. None of which I would personally use, but there you go.

To finish off, there's a handful of weak adventure ideas, and a pair of  "happy" (in the sense of a Happy Ending) and "touching" (in the sense of BAD TOUCH) tales from sexy games the writer had run before.

All in - I've found a handful (if that) of redeemable features, most of which wouldn't require anywhere near as much detail as this guy seems to want to go into.

All in, the e-book is a 4 out of 10 - could try harder.