Saturday, 26 March 2011

Dice Mugs

Cross posted  to:  Inked Adventures -
In the spirit of all products RPG-related, I present to ye these very special map-decorated Dice Mugs:

Photo of Inked Adventures Dice Mugs

I'm really proud of them.

If you fancy owning one for your gaming table (because I know you do!) I'm currently selling them through the Deviant Art site.

Dice Mugs on DA:
[ ][ ]

All profits go towards keeping dice well housed.

Bb :)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Drunk Goblins (Chronicles of Arax Core Rules)

Tonight, I am mostly being beaten up by drunk goblins. 

Nobody said going into Bloodfyre Mountain would be easy, but man, I'm hitting them, but their armour and general endurance means I'm not making much progress.  Not to mention starving in the maze.  Surviving the Great Orc in The Fighting Pit would have been nice had I not also been stripped of all of my possessions, but I didn't survive, so crawling naked to the next encounter was a humiliation forewent.

It's tough.  I went in alone.  It is a "solo" adventure, after all.

I went in three times tonight, each time that healing potion let me down.  You really hope for more than a 1 or 2 points from a 1d6 healing potion.

How am I going to get to play The Dark Citadel if I can't get one warrior through the starter quest?  How am I going to have the pleasure of buying new weapons and armour, ascend levels and gain new abilities, if I get clobbered by a drunk orc or poisoned by a shaman?

By playing it again.  That's how.

I think I'm addicted.  It's fun and fairly random and after a short while familiar encounters become really personal.

Because of the way the numbered sections are laid out, when you first look at text in the actual adventures in the Chronicles of Arax range, you'd be forgiven for thinking that you were looking at a solo gamebook or a linear list of encounters (okay I did, but I get a little blinded by the phrase "solo" these days, as I rediscover Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf and Fabled Lands...).  It's neither.  The experience of play is closer to an immersive, well written, random dungeon generator - without having to lay out any room tiles.  A die is rolled - the result matches a text section- an area is explored or a beast is encountered, sometimes there's special treasure, but with each new exploratory die roll a number is added based of the number of successful encounters prior to that.  This means that despite considerable randomness that progress towards the quest's goal or final area (Section "20") is inevitable. Unless, of course, you end up in the Maze of Goraz and the whole bleeding thing is reset to zero, grrr. *grin*  I think I had a lot of unlucky rolls tonight, but in a way it feels like playing Doom (I) for the first time - easy to pick up and play so you don't mind restarting when you set off an arrow trap.

The game mechanics are beautifully simple.  Opposing die rolls, ability checks, with simple modifiers for weapons and armour.  Strengths and weakness are represented by different types of dice.  Strength d6, Magic d4, Endurance d6, for example.  After playing with the standard "Adventurer" template, I'm now itching to try out other character types, like the Knight of the Steel Fist.  Surely, he starts with better armour?  What's his "Fighting Skill" like?

The core rules and starter adventure are free, expanded material has a very small charge.  In the Chronicles of Arax core rules you will get guaranteed playing time of many hours.

I'll be honest. It's a really nice feeling to actually be able to test a game out, without having to organise friends to get together and play a system they've never tried before - or just to have to guess what a product would be like in play.  In many ways it reminded me of playing Warhammer Quest on my own (more so than playing a Fighting Fantasy gamebook for instance), or maybe even Talisman (but without the board, which I know is a very odd thing to say).

What's interesting about Chronicles of Arax is that technically you don't even need a table to play on, provided there's a corner you roll dice in and something to lean on to write on the character sheet.

I think that solo-adventure games are undersold.  Often they are passed off as "ideal as an introduction to group play".  This would seem almost self-effacing. Maybe the problem lies in the fact that fantasy gamers and games marketers feel the need to describe the hobby as "social", perhaps compensating for a bad press of introspective stereotypes.  Often groups of players are long established in the systems their use, perhaps they are in the middle of a D&D4/3.5/d20/retro-clone/Pathfinder campaign, so trying out new systems can be too much of a shift from the norm.  In contrast, the solo game genre is more ripe for experimentation.  It's really refreshing to pick up some dice using fast play rules, without having to "sell" the concept to other players.

The author, Shane Garvey also wrote the QUERP game system, which was a real pleasure to read after my brain was melted by DnD4. Publishers of QUERP, Greywood Games have also produced a tile based solo game Dungeon Crawl.  I really like the direction that company and Chronicles' publisher, Crystal Star, is going in.  The products I've seen are simple enough to pick up and play - perfect for a new hobby or as quick distractions between games with a group.  ... And okay, maybe also ideal as an introduction for new players to fantasy gaming.  There, I've said it.  But remember "Solo" is not just for newbies! ;)

Get yourself or a friend the free Core Rules (which includes a character and Bloodfyre Mountain), along with the character sheet and try it out.  There's a very high possibility that you'll want to buy the supplemental material, but to be honest, you'd still be spending a lot less than on many other game systems - even if Crystal Star triples their current number of publications. 

Format: clearly written and well presented in a two column format - it has a very professional polish, and I love some of the eroded fonts, which might be a tribute to earlier game systems.

I might have to say a few more things about this range as I work through them. :)

Right, let's get back in there ... Let's hunt some Orc!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

S&W Last Priest of Sebek $1 for Japan

 Last post before bed...
Mythmere Games Swords &Wizardry module for $1 on Lulu - for Japan-

Direct link on Lulu: - scroll down to "Last Priest of Sebek"

My RPG-centric Amazon aStore

Tonight's experiment in the ongoing quest to merge a love of role-playing games and online shopping was the setting up of an Amazon astore (aStore, Astore, iPod ... no wait...)

Screen shot of aStore - click to visit

An aStore is a sort of affiliate or associate portal shop front which points to specific products on Amazon - in this case a rather random selection of games. It's set up to work with UK Amazon, which can be a little sparse when it comes to RPGs (once you get away from D&D, and want to avoid all of the secondhand sellers).   I may somehow adapt it or set up an Amazon US aStore later.

Again, much like this blog, this in mainly an exercise in creating pages filled with pretty pictures of lovely desirables (by which I mean pen n paper RPG games with accessories and lots of gamebooks...)  Pretty, lovely pictures ...

EDIT 11.12
This store has been deleted in preference for the store pages on this blog (use links in the horizontal menu bar) or:

I'm fighting the urge to add a "Star Wars Lego" page.  Surely all role-players use Star Wars Lego in their games?
EDIT: I gave in.

I'll be adding more links to products as I go along. :)

Friday, 18 March 2011

Lulu Free Shipping March 2011

Go to Lulu.comQuick, quick!
Free ground shipping / postage from print-on-demand publisher (Ends 21/3/11)

Promotional Codes:
Buying in the UK:

Buying in the US:

Blerb on UK offer: 
Use coupon code GROUNDUK305 at checkout, select ground shipping and receive the shipping free. Maximum savings with this promotion is £100. Print and tax amounts are excluded. You can only use the code once per account, and you can't use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes. This great offer ends on 21 March, 2011 at 11:59 PM so try not to procrastinate! While very unlikely we do reserve the right to change or revoke this offer at anytime, and of course we cannot offer this coupon where it is against the law to do so. Transaction must be in Pounds.

Nice things I've found on Lulu ...

Go to

Monday, 14 March 2011

Gamebooks are alive and well (and almost as tall as a Lego Stormtrooper)

A nice package arrived today from Amazon (okay, it didn't arrive today, I took a three day old parcel note down to the local Royal Mail depot where they make you wait whilst they send in some guy with papercuts on his fingers into a mountain of cardboard all branded with small address text and large barcodes)  But hurrah, inside this packet I beheld such wonders!

Both new books are solo-gamebooks, but unlike the few I hoard they are shiny and new.  They are DestinyQuest: The Legion of Shadow by Michael J. Ward (author page) and Fabled Lands: The War-Torn Kingdom by Dave Morris (bibliography) and Jamie Thompson (bibliography).

I'm slowly facing up to the fact that my review posts are the equivalent Jar-Jar Binks shouting "Gooba Fish!" at every pretty product which passes by.  And why not? *Grin*  If you want a really in depth exploration of the Fabled Lands series Lloyd of Gamebooks is running a fine-tooth comb across it's history, game mechanics and implications for gamebook writing here.

DestinyQuest is a completely new one on me, and it's the aforementioned Lloyd who is to blame for my purchase.  It has it's own website and everything. ;)  I've had a very quick look through both books and I'm adoring the line-art (but people know I'm a sucker for black and white line art) 

But more importantly, DestinyQuest is HUGE.  Let's not talk section numbers or page count.  Heck, I'm not even going to measure it's thickness with a ruler. I shall use comparisons that only the right people out of us truly relate to.

DestinyQuest: The Legion of Shadow when lain flat is taller than a DnD Chillborn Zombie Mini and just shorter than a Star Wars Lego Stormtrooper.  Get the idea? - I mean that's like one of those huge airport novels that people read on the beach - fatter than a core rulebook of numerous systems (which is what I take to the beach).

I think I remember that the Fabled Lands used to be in a fairly large format, many years past.  The recent publications are smaller but are still larger than an old Fighting Fantasy gamebook.

Just look at that monster on the left.  I've no idea at the moment about the quality of the game contained therein, but LOOK AT THE SIZE!  That's one fat solo-game - I'm saying goodbye to sleep in 2011. :)

The shopping bit:

Amazon (US)
Destinyquest: The Legion of Shadow. Michael J. Ward (Destiny Quest 1)
Fabled Lands 1: The War-Torn Kingdom

Amazon UK
DestinyQuest: The Legion of Shadow (Destiny Quest 1)
Fabled Lands 1: The War Torn Kingdom

Other Links:

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Fantasy Cutouts : Guard Tower by Leo Hartas

I've just bought this beauty from Fantasy Cut-Outs at the bargain cost of six tiny silver dollars.  It'll probably be a long while before I construct it, but I just have to say that the ink line art is truly gorgeous.  The artist Leo Hartas is famous for maps, art and all sorts of goodness brought to world of fantasy gaming.

The Lost Frontier Guard Tower on DriveThruRPG.

Pictures of the 'Tower at the Fantasy Cutouts website.

I love Gary Chalk and Lone Wolf

This is meant to be just a quick post to say that I'm adding some Lone Wolf books to my Ebay page.  The books I'm still hoarding in my personal collection are ones with the covers illustrated by Gary Chalk, but occassionally a duplicate slips through, like this one ...

Okay it's just an excuse to post a pretty picture, and why not? :)

Demian Katz does a nice job of listing many of the Lone Wolf covers on his exhaustive Gamebook Page.  I still prefer the much older Chalk covers.  One side effect is that if you fall in love with Chalk's work you'll spend the rest of your life looking for ancient White Dwarfs, Citadel Miniatures publications, 1st edition sets of Talisman and generally get sucked in an 80's vortex of luscious line art.  You'll die penniless and hungry but your eyes will have feasted richly.

In the meantime, you might just want to buy some old gamebooks - with a variety of different cover artists.
(My Ebay page mainly contains gamebooks at the time of this posting).

Friday, 11 March 2011

Ronin: Oriental Adventures - Japan Earthquake Relief Edition

Strange times.

This may be a bit early - I'm worried at how conditioned we're becoming in our response to charity packs ... but maybe the $5 will make a difference in some way later on. I think my copy of the download has been scuppered by multiple server access so I can't tell you about the game itself, but hey a sort of bargain which you can buy when TV images make you feel helpless (again). :-/


"All proceeds from sales of this product will go to the Red Cross toward Japan earthquake relief efforts."


Also don't miss out on ...


Saturday, 5 March 2011

DriveThru Print Program - Stars Without Numbers bw/softcover

A few posts back I mentioned DriveThruRPG's (and OneBookshelf's) launch of their print-on-demand service.  I'm no expert on the quality of print on demand products and my only point of reference are games I've bought from  What really interests me is how people use the PDFs they buy, especially for larger rulesets.  Do gaming tables all have laptops now?  I can see the logic when it comes to looking up a rule super-fast, just click "search".  However sometimes buying the book can make a lot more sense once you've tried double-sided printing and discovered that you're not exactly an expert when it comes to book binding.  Man, I hate printing large documents.

A couple of days ago I received in the post my soft-cover copy of Sine Nomine Publishing's Stars Without Number - a sort of d20-Traveller open setting "sandbox" system (see my brief review), and I love it!  Of course since the PDF is actual free, this is one of the cheaper rulesets you can buy in print on DriveThru. The soft-cover black and white copy is $14.99 plus postage at the moment.  I paid $19.99 + $5.06 postage, which came to £15.40 GBP which is still pretty good going... it'll be even cheaper now.

The book itself is actually printed by Lightning Source - who already have a fairly good reputation (in my case it was despatched by Lightning Source UK, which is located in Milton Keynes, apparently).  The order was made on the 23rd February, the text claims to have been printed on the 24th - or perhaps thats just when the text is submitted to the printers.  It arrived firmly packed in cardboard on Friday (March 4th).  Nine days from click to delivery aint bad, I reckon.

As it's a soft cover the thin pages have a tendency to become a little wavy in a cold room, but this is to be expected.  The binding feels firm and print quality is excellent.  Text with grey backgrounds in tables are still readable and many of the illustrations come out very well, with the exception of a few which have a more photographic washed out contrast, but they are certainly still of reasonable quality.  It's really nice to be able to sit and browse through these rules in a book format.  It's US Letter in size appx.

Here's some pictures:
(Click for biggies)

Stars Without Number soft cover front

Stars Without Number soft cover back

Stars Without Number soft cover spine

Stars Without Number soft cover -pages- open

Stars Without Number soft cover -example of art and print quality

Apparently it's World Book Night tonight -which is surely a conspiracy to cut down more trees?!  

It's an omen I tell you! - Buy an actual printed book, before we run out of trees for good. ;)

Books in print at DriveThruRPG


Friday, 4 March 2011

Selling old Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

Sorry for the flurry of posts. I'm in "output" mode tonight. I should be assembling tiny tiny pieces of card furniture, but instead I'm experimenting with different ways to sell Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks.

Since I've been scanning some covers in let's all soak up some lubbly smexxy Fighting Fantasy cover art and Puffin pre-Wizard-Icon branding... 

There's some fab sites cataloguing the history of gamebook covers, a Google Search throws back some real gems like:

There's plenty of cool FF blogs too:

... to cite two of many ... ( Google Search )
Check out the blogs I'm following, there's quite a few Fighting Fantasy blogspot sites listed (and I'm feeling guilty that I haven't mentioned the good work of other folk!)

But beware ... the present has caught up with FF:

Fighting Fantasy on the Kindle and Sorcery! on the iPhone

Suddenly both of my Nokia phones feel lifeless.  Perhaps if I taped to them the Pop-a-matic-dice dome from Frustration I can simulate modern FF gameplay? But hey, isn't half the fun rolling real dice and scribbling with a pencil?

If you want to see what modern FF books look like these days, I've got a little Amazon widget at the bottom of this blog linking to shiny new versions of the old classics (requires Flash).

The twisted thing about this is that now I can see covers of my own books on Ebay I actually want to buy them, but wait, I'm trying to sell!

I'm selling through Ebay and Amazon (don't worry, I'm not listing the same books on both sites because that would be like crossing the streams or something).

Amazon have melted my brain.  Apparently, most paperback books are sold for a penny and then the compulsory postage cost is added later, not to mention Amazon's very eccentric approach to the uploading of cover graphics.  So, if you browse my FF books on Amazon, remember that the prices do not include postage.

For the moment, I've settled for the "Buy It Now" option on Ebay, since I'm finding bid counts just a little too stressful to follow this week, but I reserve the right to change my mind later.  Amazon "Insertion fees?"  What an appropriate phrase. ;) (I know, I know, it's an old joke)

Despite feeling some loyalty to Amazon, my preference for actually posting stock is through Ebay, but we've yet see if anything actually sells on either!

Anyhow here's the links to the handful of books I'm selling at the moment:

Billiam Babble's stuff on Ebay 
(which is mainly FF gamebooks at time of posting)

... Dice not included. ;)

Have a great weekend.

Lulu 20% off, purveyors of independently published books, have just sent their UK customers a special offer:
"Enter coupon code GIANTUK305 at checkout and receive 20% off your book order. The maximum savings for this offer is £100.

Sorry, but this offer is only valid in Pounds and cannot be applied to previous orders. You can only use this code once per account, and unfortunately you can't use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes. This great offer expires on 7 March, 2011 at 11:59 PM, so don't miss out! While very unlikely, we do reserve the right to change or revoke this offer at anytime, and of course we cannot offer this coupon where it is against the law to do so."

Buying in US dollars? - Try GIANT305.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

GM's DAY on DTRPG and Judge Dredd

Okay, I think this all got a little eclispsed by the New Zealand charity bundle, which, checking the total a few minutes ago, had raised Forty-Five Thousand US Dollars. :o Which is pretty cool when you think how long that deal has been up, hopefully it will all be spent on the right things, because usually the Red Cross know about this sort of thing . ... but anyway, apparently someone, somewhere invented "Games Master's Day" which takes place on March 4th and means that there's lots of special offers available during that week so that we can all buy our hard working GMs gifts. *cue black and white picture of unhappy GM in need of a campaign pack*



Didn't want to press the button?
Who knows what deals you might be missing out on?

Okay. I tried.
Thanks for reading. :)

Psssst.  Hey wanna download a FREE rulebook for a classic Judge Dredd miniatures game from Mongoose?  Whatever you do, don't click on this link.  Don't do it!