Friday, 31 August 2012

An unofficial Tunnels and Trolls character sheet

A Delver's Adventure Sheet …or  character sheet, record sheet, stats card etc… call it what you will.  I've been trying again to assemble some hand drawn elements using GIMP and Open Office, when maybe I should have just drawn the whole thing out by hand to start with.

Nonetheless, I'm sure someone will find a use for this character sheet.  I really hope it's not lacking anything too essential.

(Reblogged/x-posted from and IA on blogger)


The PDF:  aDelversAdventureSheet_billiambabble_inkedadventures_2012_v1.pdf (350KB)

Image file
(click on thumbnail, then right click on image to save):

Happy Delving!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Over the Edge RPG 20th Anniversary Edition

Over the Edge RPG
special 20th Ann. ed.
$75 on Amazon
See also:
Atlas Games direct: $75
Noble Knight $68 +p&p
"...Welcome to Al Amarja, the mysterious Mediterranean island that is home to all that is sinister and bizarre. If it troubles you in your dreams, if it scares you, if you hope it isn't true, you'll find it here. This is the setting of Over the Edge, the roleplaying game of surreal danger..."

Atlas Games are doing a limited print run of 400 hardbacked high quality signed copies of the Over the Edge RPG - the sinister, classically paranoid, RPG game by Jonathon Tweet and Robin D Laws - originally published in 1992 - which is why it's a 20th anniversary edition.   All hail the celebration of time!  Everyone gets to buy everything again!

Strangely enough, I don't remember seeing this game much in the shops but I did randomly buy a CCG card pack of the same franchise, On the Edge - which appeared influenced by the magical (un-)realities of William Burroughs.  Nice art, strange ideas, utterly unplayable. ;)

It was during my dark times in the early 1990s when RPGs in (my jaded, twisted version of) the UK vanished from displays in shops like Games Workshop and Virgin Megastore, and at best were hidden at the back of comic shops.  Or maybe, instead of games shopping, I was trying to focus on not failing my Drama degree (which was in an ancient college, in a field, in Yorkshire, with no cash machine, limited phones and no internet, oh god... make the memories go away...).

Atlas Games product description:
The Over the Edge 20th Anniversary Edition Features:
  • Limited Edition: The printing is of only 400 of this collector's item. The books are individually numbered, and signed by game designer Jonathan Tweet, on an attractive color bookplate.
  • Deluxe Binding: Featuring a dark blue leatherette hardcover with gold foil stamped logo and high-quality smythe sewing.
  • Premium Interior: A NEW 16-page full-color section introduces the book, while the interior is a reprint of the B&W 2nd Edition on premium coated paper stock.
  • Exclusive Extras: The new introduction includes essays by Jonathan Tweet, Robin Laws, Greg Stolze, Keith Baker, and John Nephew. Plus a newly commissioned 2-page full-color map of the island of Al Amarja and quotes from fans.
This Georgian Gentlemen peruses
his collection of special anniversary
role-playing game reprints from
his bestoke-for-the-task built library
(incidentally, he has a whole other
chamber dedicated to the
preservation of rare
polyhedral dice)
This cover reminds me a little of some of Chaosium's special editions.  I sometimes wonder why publishers don't provide glossy dust jackets with the original art - you would then have the option to display the book with or without the dust cover.  Those AD&D reprints partly addressed this with the embossed silvered "homage" art in the centre whilst still retaining the look of something which wouldn't be out of place in an Edwardian gentlemen's personal library.  Naturally, we all want to be Edwardian gentlemen, with plush leather chairs near a fire, within easy reach of shelves lined with brown and wine coloured tomes, with a glass of port in hand... This edition of Over of the Edge is clearly only available to the discerning - with a price to match.  It would be awful if it fell into vulgar hands.

And these copies will be signed!
(I hope Jonathan Tweet has a rubber stamp - 400 copies is a lot of scribble. "Enjoy -J. Tweet" "Don't go mental, Jonathon T." "What no dice? JT" ...)

The Over the Edge RPG 20th Anniversary Edition is $75 on Amazon, and at Atlas Games.  It looks like you might be able to save a few dollars if you buy from  Noble Knight Games: $68 +shipping

"...If it troubles you in your dreams,
... if it scares you, if you hope it isn't true,
... you'll find it here..." 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Blood & Treasure RPG and Lulu 20% off code

Blood & Treasure
Fantasy Role Playing Game
is out now available
in print and PDF form

(if link doesn't work try here)

I've just seen that Tenkar's Tavern is talking about John Slater's Blood & Treasures Complete*, and I'm suddenly reminded that I've yet to type up my long overdue review of Tales of the Space Princess (that retro sci-fi dungeon-crawl in space - random comments and links here, here and other places).

I don't have a copy of B&T currently, but I'm a fan of the works of Mr Slater because he understands the friendly power of fast pick-up-and-play dice mechanics - usually with a familiar nod towards older systems.

I really must write proper reviews, instead of just pointing at things ...

*Announcement page in author's blog (inc. links to the different formats)

No September code yet, but the August code is still valid until the 31st:

We all win with Kickstarters, right?

So I get an email from Paizo this week about a big kickstarter and then I see how well the good-value-for-money Reaper-Bones minis Kickstarter has done: three-and-half-million dollars (with a mere $30k target) ...and then the penny drops.  Apart from the get-on-board-or-miss-out! rhetoric, what might be turning me off from Kickstarters is that it reminds me of what a post-apocalyptic culture must look like:

"Rags-and-teeth John is building a working fridge-freezer and we need everyone to donate some metal to help him in his cause.  For three grams of metal John will give you four ice-cubes and three square centimetres of space in the new fridge.  If you don't donate then no-one of will ever experience refrigeration again and old Ragsy will go back scavenging bomb sites."   

So maybe the fact that Kickstarter projects are now commonplace is a natural response to the Recession?  Essentially where mass markets fail, small communities pool resources.  But should established companies be using these systems?  My early impressions of kickstarters was that they literally "kick-started" small community projects which may be worthy but not financially viable for loans and so forth - or perhaps kick-start a small company.

One of my main issues with kickstarters, so far, was with authors of printed rules systems using kickstarters to fund print-runs when print-on-demand sites can do the same job - and the product will be available for as long as the file is on the site (see "Pledge me not!..").  When it comes to an entrepreneur  not being able to create-one-unit per customer then it makes sense for  Kickstarters being used to fund bulk stock -but this flies in the face of traditional trading.  Upfront capital is what all businesses need to get started (if the acquiring loans have failed, that is).  For individuals or companies to keep using kickstarters, one after another, seems to counter what the original ethos was about.  It's supposed to be a one-off boost to help you on your way.  That was my understanding.  But, hey, a lot of people will be receiving a lot of figures in a few weeks for an absolute bargain price-wise, a thing only made possible by "people power", right?

(Maybe...) As a pledger taking part in kickstarters are you changing the way your chosen industry's economy works.  For all of the Bricks-n-Mortar save-our-local-shop support we give, would kickstarters be taking income away from shops? - Or can many adapt or even excel with Kickstarters -much like they did by adopting webstores and mail order?

Imagine, you see a poster in your local gaming store - the shelves are half empty but the poster says if thirty customers all get together and pledge then they'll be able to order the new War Machine figures at two-thirds the normal price.  Naturally there are none is stock at the moment.  That Reaper Bones deal made a lot of sense - but what's the "returns" policy if that plastic is not of a good quality?

I'm slowly coming around to the idea that for the very small companies and individuals kickstarters are a socially acceptable way of raising capital for bulk manufacture.  If single unit print-on-demand sites existed for figures I think things would be a little different, although it's safe to surmise that a one-off minotaur from a 3D printer will be many times the price of a bulk printed resin cast figure (correction: these sites do exist for demonstration models where you send in the dimensions on file and it's costly).  However, I'm sure that it wasn't long ago that getting a few printed copies of a book would seem infeasible until came along.  At some point it may even be possible for the designers in their garages and spare bedrooms to sell mini armies online through a webstore, without even having to handle packing or distribution.  This would be good news for the freelance designer-publishers and for gamers who don't mind paying a slightly higher price per unit, and it wouldn't threaten larger companies who can bulk-build/print and order and keep the price low.  This already happens in the PDF/Print-on-demand RPG books market.  The internet already presents us with cottage industry webstores meeting the reasonably low demands of dedicated hobbyists.   I suspect that Games Workshop will always need a straightforward "mass" market to keep their own street stores going.

One thing which larger markets like is a sudden focussed flurry of interest in a product yet to come out, which is why Kickstarters will appeal to the likes of WotC and Paizo - both of which are pay a lot of lip-service to "community".  Much like the overuse of the word "interactive", involving "community" or the consumer-base is very sexy to marketing departments, and will of course mean something far different from the warm fuzziness of belonging felt in a forum (which is what many of us think a "community" is).  Quite understandably, there is a culture of wanting quick and high returns in any market, although any grocer will tell you that the stability of regular income is also good (it helps him plan how many apples to buy in advance for example).  I'll be honest, despite sounding cynical, I adore the clamour and advertising of a new thing - otherwise I wouldn't be typing on this blog, I love celebrating new products (and yes, affiliate links are a tiny perk for me).   The longevity of a hobby is also important to me.

When games publishers bring out products, saying that they are the best thing ever and then drop the line 6 months later, it can be a stab in the heart to players and collectors.  So, naturally I am suspicious of mass market quick sellers (when spotted) - much like in politics- how far ahead are the marketers looking?  But all companies know that reputation and customer respect is pretty important too - but in my mind most companies prefer the short term gamble.  I think what I am trying to say is that for smaller companies, raising funds through pledges can be an honourable make-or-break exercise (if other avenues have been explored first), but for larger companies Kickstarters are brand marketing, a quick return and nothing more.  You are no more empowering this company to make a new product or cause an event to happen then you are promising next months wages for an unfinished product.  I'm also guessing that consumer law will not cover the customer in the same way that already occurs in straight forward pay-per-product transaction.  If a large company wants an opinion, they should run a poll, not a Kickstarter.  I am certainly more sympathetic to very publishers and charities using Kickstarter (and other crowd-funding sites) than I am to well established companies - to whom crowd-funding may as well be the same as a high-pressure sales (because that deadline means "you may miss out on this great opportunity" = hard sell, in my book).

Where is this all going?
I don't know, maybe I'm over reacting, but something doesn't feel right.  Maybe it's just change.  By taking in part in Kickstarters are you saying "no" to old fashioned trading?  Does it really matter?  Will every product be only available for a short period?  Will Kickstarter pitches mature and stop pretending that they are as important as an overseas help-the-starving charities?

I know I'm late catching the boat on this one, I'm suddenly aware that crowd-funding is a massive force for change which will effect small pockets of community-led markets.  It feels like a force for democracy, but apart from the flurries of interest and temporary mammoth bundles, will this take revenue away from traditional points-of-sale, which in turn won't be able to keep prices low for a single product which you can look at before you buy?   Okay, I know this is garbled and I want to help the guy build the fridge in my post apocalyptic wasteland (hey, I actually can't think of many friends online who aren't involved with kickstarters), but if HotPoint set up a kickstarter to build a thousand bomb proof fridges before the apocalypse would that be the same thing, morally speaking?

Anyhow, congratulations Reaper Miniatures.  The talk of GenCon.   The people love you (we always did, but we only said it and just bought a handful of figures) - only now you might have to deliver on $3m worth of miniatures in one go.  That's good, right?  It's all good.  We all win.

Any thoughts?  :)

Saturday, 25 August 2012

A Star Wars RPG by Fantasy Flight Games?

Being a DriveThruRPG fanboy I follow the posts of Sean DriveThru-Overlord Patrick Fannon on Facebook told us that he had been keeping something under his broad-rimmed hat, but now the announcement had been made at GenCon that secret was out.  The data-tapes to a new secret weapon had been stolen!  Apparently Fantasy Flight Games have been working on their own Star Wars roleplaying game.

FFG Star Wars Edge of the Empire RPG
Beta Rulebook
See article here
(image borrowed from icv2 site)
Rather liking the original WHFRPG and being very confused by FFG's version, seeing what FFG did to simple game like DungeonQuest, I shudder at the thought of what their take on Star Wars roleplaying might be.

Star Wars™: Edge of the Empire is a standalone roleplaying game experience that places players in the roles of hard-hearted bounty hunters, roguish scoundrels, charming smugglers, or fearless explorers trying to survive and thrive on the edges of civilization...and the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire beta test is your chance to be among the first to play! This limited edition, 224-page softcover rulebook provides you a chance to lead a band of explorers and help shape the fate of the galaxy!

There's a "Beta Book" of the rules currently being available for retailers, which surely means that it won't been stuffed to the nines with cards?  Or maybe you have to buy special dice.

Yes, that's it, special dice and an app ...

FFG's high production values, glossy art and numerous expansion packs, not to mention CCG type games, based on familiar franchises, usually make my attention and wallet wander elsewhere.  Most of their games look so gorgeous, but sometimes they seem so far removed from the free-flowing pen and paper RPGs, that I wonder why either type of games are part of the same industry. 

However, just a small amount of new Star Wars art might be enough for me to want to get hold of a copy at some point.  I've learn't I have a weakness, and it's YT9000 or X-wing shaped.  I'm sure it'll be a game that give everything the modern tabletop player will want from a game based in the Star Wars universe.

After all, surely FFG know what they doing by now? ;)  But, hey, it's Star Wars!!

I know you're intrigued. ;)

- FFG Star Wars Edge of Empire Beta minisite
- Article on ICv2

Friday, 24 August 2012

Fabled Lands now with creamier pages

This is a sort of test entry.  I'm experimenting a bit with a blogger app on the iPad and using  rubberised bluetooth keyboard and transfering photos from my phone to photobucket (because it's an iPad 1). When will this gadget nonsense cease?!  Okay, still too fiddly.  Ended up resorting to the HTML.  At least the typing is easier.

I thought I should share this.  Despite my fears that FB5 wouldn't match the other books in the series so far because of he change of printer, the good news is that the size matches exactly, and apart from a change of case on the spine the difference is that the paper is a touch creamier in shade.  This makes me happy as a collector, book-lover and gamer.  I'm especially happy that the authors have chosen to continue to provide dead-tree versions of these books.  The only problem now is that I'm daunted by the sheer breadth of this solo player campaign.  The last time I visited the Fabled Lands storms at sea made me penniless and nearly drowned me after I tried my hand at becoming a merchant - but you see, I forgot to make the appropriate offerings to the gods first... At least you're given the chance the start with 5th level character if you want to just dive into The Court of Hidden Faces immediately. :)


I bought my copy of The Fabled Lands 5 The Court of Hidden Faces from Amazon.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

HackMaster Basic free download on DTRPG

HackMaster Basic on DriveThru -Free Download-
230 pages of Levels 1 to 5 of Hack Master Goodness.
Last post of the day (I promise)

In case you missed it - there's link in the DriveThruRPG/RPGNow Newsletter to
HackMaster Basic (Kenzer & Co.) which is going for free as a PDF download on the DTRPG/RPGNow sites.

And, yes, the cover is by Erol Otus.

The Game Crafter at GenCon 2012

Need to get your card and board game concept into print?  One solution is The Game Crafter
It works very much like a print-on-demand site (like Lulu but with counters, playing pieces, pre-cut cards, boxes, board art and so forth), and you can sell through their site as well.

Tox of CritsHappen interviews JT at Gen Con 2012 (via TGC news)

There was a convention? ;)

I'm still waiting for this coffee to work on this muggy Sunday in the UK.  I was also up late playing with some hand made geomorphs (after a foray into Oblivion - so it must be a good weekend).

No full words were harmed in the creation of this logo.
I'm about as far away from Indy GenCon as a man can get in the world - actually not quite - I'm still in the same hemisphere.  I barely make it down to London for the stuff going on there, and to be honest my budget only just about extends to buying new stuff - although my mighty expedition into the wilds of Derby ConQuest reminded me that part of the Con experience is in fact the shopping!

Hats off to the Americans -outside of Japan they must be best at cosplay.  I blame Halloween. ;)

Just now on Facebook* I was typing that I'm am literally too short for a stormtrooper costume - and too tall to be a Jawa.  I'm unsure what would be cooler to own: a stormtrooper suit or a full suit of chainmail.  Both of which might have been been a little a warm for Indianapolis this time of year.  But where do you put your goodies bags?  This is why Biker Scouts have pouches.

*I'm Inkedadventures Billiambabble on FB btw - and Adventures and Shopping Page is here.

Apart from the cosplayers, product stalls, sometimes there's sneaky previews of what's to come, gaming celebrities (the ones who are still alive), talks and so forth.  It all sounds far too "sociable" to me - my best friends being the postman, Amazon and DriveThru/RPGNow checkout screens.

It's definitely worth looking at the blogs and feeds over the next few day as dedicated folk get back to their desktop PCs and share their opinions on new twists and turns in the industry, or just the numerous Princess Leia slave girl pics.

For us long distance Con-bystanders we've been able to follow some of the fun on Facebook...

GenCon FB page (GenCon Indy home site: ) Some pictures of games and stuff from the D6-ers amongst others.
Roleplayers Chronicle has had intrepid reporters on the ground

Watch some feeds to the of the right of this blog, especially for old-schooler opinions on the content of the talks about D&D.  For example: the official word at the Con, according to Trollsmyth is that Wizards are in no hurry to release D&D5/Next and that the playtest is expected to last two years (Wizards owe it to the stores and players of DnD4 to support that line as long as they can) - but to be honest, I don't know what to believe any more - I think the designers say what they think the community want to hear and but the marketing guys always have other ideas.  See: Trollsmyth: A Troll Goes to GenCon XLV: Part the First

Troll Lord Games / Troll Dens have been taking snaps:

Anyhow, for all of those who made it to GenCon Indy 2012, I salute you!  

Friday, 17 August 2012

Gamebook Fabled Lands 5 - It's Out!

Fabled Lands (5)
The Court of the Hidden Faces
is now available in print on Amazon.
I saw a link on Google+ by gamebook specialist Stuart Lloyd (of Lloyd of Gamebooks) linking to Trollish Delver, who may or may not have got the news from the horse's mouth here.

The word in the blogs is that Book 5 in the Fabled Lands series, The Court of the Hidden Faces is now out on Amazon.  I will be ordering my copy immediately.  I do so hope it matches up with the other four spine-wise, since they've changed publisher.  I'm hoping it has some nice Russ Nicholson illustrations.  These books are great fun to play - especially since the map in which you can adventure expands which each book and you can cross back and forth through different territories buy playing the books simultaneously (much like  a map expansion in a computer game).  *Excited*

(My previous post about Fabled Lands)

Amazon Goodies from a Galaxy Far Far Away

Rip open that cardboard! 
The Gods of Amazon are pleased with me.
The Force of wishlists and credit is with me.
Goodies from Amazon today!  Certainly worth getting out of the bath for.  No, really.  It's the only way I can guarantee being in when the postman calls.

The other day I was buying a book for work which came highly recommended by a cover-staff worker (a graduate of the dubious science art of psychology).  I became saddened at the sight of that one lonely small item in my shopping basket.  As a result Brilliant CBT was forced to make friends with two Star wars RPG Saga edition sized source-books! 

Look at their yummy shininess!  In all I think probably prefer d6 Star Wars (the 1st ed with tweaks), for it's general epic ethos and ease of adventure creation -but the production values of the Wizards, is just excellent.  Actually in some ways the d20 version is very accessible in it's own way, but I never felt right about 7th level stormtroopers (white armour stormtroopers should be 0-level blaster-cannon fodder, period).  Back to production values.... for myself, these hardback books are reason enough to keep at least some roleplaying games in book form (if anyone was ever suggesting that ebooks or PDFs should eliminate the need for the dead tree variety - although I wish that printers came with binding equipment...).

In a way, Rebellion Era is (edit)  supposed to be* "proper" Star Wars, or it's more fashionable to say "classic" Star Wars? ;) - However, it's filled with expanded universe strangeness like those TIE Tank things - which are just wrong.  Galaxy at War seems to be more about using military in the RPG game across the different settings.  But what am I saying?  I've haven't them yet!

*Edit: I think a legacy of games like Battlefront, the Dark Forces series and the books/graphic novels have had a major influence on both tomes in terms of vehicles, races and professions - which makes me sound like a bit of an out-of-step settings-prude - but then I guess the very basics were covered in the SW Saga core book. 

The squarish shape is great for browsing through, like a coffee table book - which like a coffe table book, has lush colour art on every other page, whilst also being the perfect companion for the Saga edition of the Star Wars RPG.  Of course, being from 2009, these books are so yesterday, published such a long, long, time ago...

Anyhow - here's some photos (only of the covers - ooh, how I tease you) and the empty-my-pocket product links. 

I think Tumblr is getting me into bad habits, because I'm trying to make the photos look arty (not bad for a phone camera ;) )

I've tried to find these products on the actual Wizards home site but gave up after my third search. Pfft.  Apart from the community side of things, Wizards never seemed to push the Star Wars line on their site (in my humble opinion) - or maybe I just discover everything too late?  I find their lack of faith disturbing...

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Rusty Axe Desert Tomb and SKG 2e Dungeon Encounter Tiles 01

Rusty Axe Dungeon Tiles:
Desert Tomb
Reduced price through
August $2.49 ($4.99)
Rusty Axe Dungeon Tiles: Desert Tomb!  I'm really getting into square tiles these days. This is the second print pack by Rusty Axe - it's compatible with the first and any 1inch tile system you are already using.

The dungeon rooms are nice and blocky with solid walls and enough space to imply mighty architecture or a well dug area. The room shapes are square based which is practical - for they allow for expanded or shortened rooms of the same width. The floor tiles are suitably dusty and coloured with just enough sandy-yellow to infer that it is desert tomb/pyramid environment.

The special gem on the last page is the grid of cut-out sarcophagi, a well, skeletons, thrones etc. Ideal for those desert tombs adventures - possibly also applicable to Indy Jones contemporary pulp style games.

A nice little set.

2e Adventure Tiles: Dungeon Encounter 01
Today I'm also drooling just a little over Skeleton Key Games's 2e Adventure Tiles: Dungeon Encounter 01
They're a good-quality easy-to-use set (no fiddly layers) - good value for $3.

The art is clear, textured, detailed with just a hint of a tribal magic design and yet generic enough to resemble a part of any dungeon setting.  Since the 80s I've always preferred floor plans where the grid is actually part of the flagstone design - it always made the environment more "immersive" visually speaking - which is exactly what we have here.  The 6-inch tiles, with wide margins, should print well on any printer without any need for rescaling.

The individual tile layout is specific -usually an entrance on one side and an open area on two sides- so that a large room area is always created with four tiles- but tessellations mean that many compelling layouts are possible.  The inclusion of stairs and transitions between  levels is a nice touch.  Perfect as an encounter environment or "just-passing-through" on your dungeon crawl.

Nice work.  Very professional.  Good value.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

My own geomorphs

I'm aware that there was an absolute craze for geomorphs, with designs splashed across the blogs and forums last year.  I still marvel at the layouts created by Dave's Mapper, and at all of the people willing to draw geomorphs by hand and share them with the world. 

After shunning the humble geomorph for many years, now, as a back-burner project, I have decided to dabble in this tesselatory madness!   Although, it'll probably be 100 years until I pull together enough to make a playable set.

See my post at Inked Adventures (blogspot mirror) here.

Lego at 80! Fantasy Lego on the Gaming Table

Lego Vikings -
a 100x100 gif made
by me to signify
Danish plunder
of my wallet
Happy Birthday you colourful bricks of pain!

Away from the role-playing games, map art and the odd gadget, my other major geek turn-on is Lego.

I have an aStore page given over to Lego -mainly packed with Star Wars Lego, it needs seriously updating - but it's fun to flip through.  There's a few posts on this blog about Lego as well: Lego tags 

So I clearly feel comfortable talking about Lego with fellow tabletop gamers. ;)  It's because gamers understand the hobbyist obsessions, the impulse buys and the devotion to an underground religion....

Lego on a scanner?  It must have been slow afternoon.
(Tha'ts Luke head in there btw)
About fifteen years ago I got back into buying and playing with Lego.  A Lego Star Wars product hypnotised me - a very chunky snowspeeder with Luke and Dak figures.  I don't have all that many sets now, partly because storage is often an issue, but every once in the while film franchise products catch my eye - like Indiana Jones on a motorcycle (I'm not like a proper collector, but the addiction comes in waves/seasons - a handful of I-should-know-better purchases).

When I was a kid I was really into the Space Lego range, but Lego must have been around since my earliest childhood because I seem to remember playing with Lego small two part people and minifigs being an exciting revolution in Lego which older friends and adults disapproved of (pft, therer were models which were practically already made!).  I didn't have much technical Lego - which seemed to appeal more to the sorts of parents thought Mechano would train their kids to be engineers. Incidentally, my brother who has severe learning difficulties enjoys holding Duplo (large) Lego pieces - it's the satisfying click they make when they are pushed together, I reckon.

I'll be honest - I like "playing" with Lego - I don't mind mixing sets up.  Sometimes it's nice to have a particular model on display for a while, but I think the child in me loves rifling through the plastic rubble.  But then I'm an easily distracted "dabbler" - I certainly don't have the focus to stick to just classic Star Wars models or to save up for the bigger sets- but I do have my preferences.

The most recent generation of "Castle" Lego had some fantasy green-skinned warriors who looked rather orc like - I bought a catapult cart driven by a bearded chap (a dwarf?) - little did I know that this might be the forerunner to the new Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Lego products.

This is where it all comes together.  LotR Lego makes me think of BrickQuest. With Moria and Helm's Deep it might be possible to build dungeons for gaming  like those in BrickQuest.   This was fantasy roleplaying with Lego figures - character sheets being a flat piece with a small bricks for hit points - inspired!


Herioca as elements of BrickQuest but it's on a mercifully smaller scale (unfortunately this means the figures have no arms).  The modular rooms and clearings remind me and others of Warhammer Quest and Advanced HeroQuest (the board game - not the RQ descendant).  Trying to make Lego and fantasy roleplaying feels like the romantic match-making of two friends - it has it's risks - i.e. your gaming group may never take you seriously again, or your child might wonder why you've made playing with Lego into a maths lesson.  If you're a parent you probably have almost nothing to in terms of the education and imagination of your children by forcing them to play a guided quest using Lego.  D&D plus Lego ticks so many boxes for me that the only worries are to do with price and your players building stuff when they should be concentrating on the game.

A lot of my money has been sent to Denmark over the years. Not since the Viking Invasions has some much of our wealth gone to that small country.

From Bricks to Bothans and the nostalgia imbued Lego Shop on Facebook there's a plethora of great Lego sites out there.  (And I didn't even mention the highly entertaining computer games!)

A big happy birthday and thank you to Lego for entertaining me (and robbing me) for years and possibly many years to come! :)

 The Shopping Bit: 

Heroica Lego on Amazon UK:

See also the Official Lego Site

Friday, 10 August 2012

August 20% code off select titles on DTRPG and RPGNow

The Agency RPG
Award winning
swinging 60's spy RPG
The Agency
$10 before reductions on DTRPG
Is it your bag, baby?
20% off!  Coupon Code Time for August ... 20% off the listed products on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.   
Some of which are already heavily reduced in price.

Type this in at checkout:


The Complete City Kit

$9 before reduction
The select list of products the code works with:
(DriveThru links)

Lore of the Gods for d20/OGL
$19.99 before reduction

The Agency [Realms Publishing]

Second World Sourcebook
$14.95 before reduction
The code is valid until
10th of September 2012
-when it suddenly turns into pumpkin and leaves you at the ball.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Fabled Lands 5 nearly in (real) print

Great news!  Morris and Thompson have changed their minds on an e-book / app -only route for their long promised (since the 80s edit.- 90s) continuation of the open-(now termed "sandbox RPG") solo gamebook adventure that is Fabled Lands
Fabled Lands: Gardens of riotous foliage in the white sea-cast s...: You saw it here first. The new paperback edition of Fabled Lands 5: The Court of Hidden Faces has gone to proof stage this weekend. All b...
The sale of the printed versions (which hopefully match the other four many of us have bought recently) of Fabled Lands 5: The Court of Hidden Faces will be made possible through Amazon's Print-On-Demand Createspace service.  I'm also fairly excited about Amazon doing print-on-demand service!  Book 6 may follow soon.  I still find it hard to believe that authors and publishers will offer electronic versions of books whilst not providing purchasable dead-tree versions through a no-expenses print-on-demand sites.  I know that the prices are high and the profits are low, but if you have a large fan base who like old rulebooks (especially in the case of out of print RPGs), is it not worth a try?  After all, we'll probably purchase every different edition/format going.
In the case of authors Dave M. and Jamie T. the original list of 12 books (was it 12? - correct me if I'm wrong) is a reminder that when a series is commissioned sometimes only a handful of manuscripts have actually been written.  Titles and cover art are all that's needed (for marketing) and the rest until the text is submitted at a later date (or never at all, if the series is axed)- at least this was my, all but brief, experience with writing commissions back in the day.  So don't be surprised if the total number of titles doesn't match up to the 80's projection (imho ;) ).  Also, I get the feeling that the printed copies are only made possible because of the mobile-app versions of the games, so I really mustn't grumble too much about alternative mediums.  I like both, but I much prefer rolling the dice with a character sheet and an ink and paper book.  I also really like Russ Nicholsons art in black and white on the new pages.

Set sail for yet more adventure!

(The first four books are listed on my astore page here )

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Blood of the Zombies (Ian Livingstone, Fighting Fantasy)

Blood of the Zombies on Amazon UK
Giving into to terrible forces of Fighting Fantasy marketting pressure, tonight I ordered myself a copy of...

Blood of the Zombies...
"Terrible things are happening in Goraya castle. Insane megalomaniac Gingrich Yurr is preparing to unleash an army of monstrous zombies upon the world. He must be stopped and his undead horde defeated. In this life-or-death adventure the decisions YOU make will decide the fate of the world. Can YOU survive or will YOU become a zombie too?"
(from the Official Fighting Fantasy site in affiliation with Icon Books)

Released on August 2nd, it's going for a mere £4.71 ($7.30USD appx) on Amazon UK at this moment, and when compared to the RRP of £7.99 is a real bonus-bonanza-bargain.  I can't find it on Amazon US tonight ... hmm ... maybe it's still too "hot off the press".

I'll be really honest, I don't like zombies -not to mention that the world of entertainment being a bit overrun by them (there's a sort of play on words in there I think).  Over the last couple of years, zombies have become a bit passée or over-ripe, even.  It's the way traditional zombies limp about trying to give bad hugs (although I remember still feeling the fear during the slow reload in the earlier Resident Evil games).  They are the tackiest of all the undead and the hardest to defend to concerned parents who would have be fobbed off in the past with the idea that Fantasy Fantasy books were somehow educational because you have to make choices, and besides, it's an actual dead-tree paper book.  (Maybe there's a market in selling wireless xbox controllers which look like books?)   So let's hope this is actually an okay gamebook and not just a zombie -Romero-revisionist-intellectually-lazy-but-perhaps-a-little-post-modern bandwagon gorefest which someone in marketing thought would be a good idea, now we've all got over Harry Potter. 

Y'know, I don't even know if this is a contemporary setting or not (way to go, Billiam, post about something you've done no research into...!).  I was never too sure about contemporary and post-apocalyptic (and even sci-fi) settings in Fighting Fantasy, especially since the  main fun was the hand-to-hand combat -well, it was for me at least.  Anyhow, it's out, and perhaps in a year's time when I've got around to playing I'll tell you how it compares to the FF classics. ;)  Actually, it might be really really good...

*moaning zombie noises, clawing scratching at the door...*

Browsing, Wanting, Owning

MegaDungeon Level 1 Modular Trench System E-Z Exp 10 Rapscallion
Retro Space Set Four Space Hero Squad

Xiarn Dynasty
I desperately need to babble at you about a collection of low priced products.  Not surprisingly my beady clockwork eyes -click-clack-whirrr- have been caught again by the mainly papercrafting side of role-playing (plus a T&T solo).

Little Books of Dungeons : MegaDungeon Level 1 (Kristian Richards / CSP) is a product which covers all bases.  I adore the greyscale style of CSP's maps.  In this pack the DM is treated to printable PDFs and jpg sections of a truly massive area.  Note sheets and maps with numbered labels are provided for the DM's own notes.  I haven't used any Virtual TableTop programs myself but I've experimented with using map jpgs on an iPad with figures (allbeit a tiny area) - so I now truly appreciate the power of zoomable jpgs.   It's hard to see what Kristian has left out of 'Level 1.  All a DM would have to do is "populate" the dungeon - or perhaps just play using random tables.  Usuable for any fantasy roleplaying game and adaptable to a variety of technologies (beyond just printing the PDFs) the $5 price tag is a very reasonable price.  This is a truly wonderful product.  Congratulations again to Crooked Staff Publishing.

Talking about cut-out figures ... The work of David Kiladecus Wears becomes yet more and more impressive as he solidifies his status as a professional figure artist.  Era of War: Xiarn Dynasty brings us original models of quality - which, although intended for his Era of War tabletop battle game,  would adapt well as NPCs and unique monsters in RPG settings.  Don't be put off by the instructions to trim such detailed work so closely - the figures work just as well with square or oval trimming.

Squid aliens, bubble helmeted spacesuits, shoulder fins, goggles, rayguns -  I would readily use Retro Space Set Four Hero Squad with Tales of a Space Princess and Cosmic Patrol, or any retro- Flash Gordon sci-fi space opera you can mention - ideal for characters.  This a layers based product which, again, like other Okumarts sets, maxes out out on colour choice, plus a bonus level with some weird robots and aliens.  At $2.50 - this is stupidly cheap and David Okum clearly plans to die penniless.

I briefly mentioned the, then forthcoming, Lord Zsezse's Works Modular Trench System in a post about his square tiles  because I like to compare square tiles to irregular shaped systems (it's an odd hobby, I know).  The solution here is the use of a terrain background poster over which are arranged the abundantly detailed trench segments.  Suitable for contemporary and post-apocalyptic play.  The versatility of these tiles means that they have a high reusuability value - and are ideal for wargamers and RPGers alike, which makes the current price of $5.50 good value - especially when compared to preprint floor plan products.

I haven't seen inside the unimaginatively entitled  E-Z DUNGEONS: Expansion Set 10 and if did I not already have my own rudimentary 3D card furniture I would snap this up pretty quick - definitely ideal for taverns and feast halls.  What I like about "props" sets is that whether or not you use battlemaps, floor plans,  paper walls or moulded dungeon scenery, the paper chairs, barrels and tables always complement your fantasy minis, and at a low cost.  Most of the pieces look box-shaped so I'm assuming that even the most clumsy of modellers would be able to cope with this set.  At $5 it's definitely one of there cheaper and more portable packs.  Sometimes I hate to praise Fat Dragon, because they make paper scenery look effortless. *Jealous*

Rapscallion is a solitaire adventure by veteran T&T writer Sid Orpin, designed specifically for Rogues (self-taught magic-using warriors)  using the 7/7.5 Tunnels & Trolls rules.  It has 142 sections which appear to cater for a wide selection of spells (no mean feat in solo-texts) - nice black and white art - amazing value at $2 for the PDF.

Okay, that out of the way.  I have some cool news - well, at least from a personal perspective.  Apparently I've been super supportive of my partner and as a result she's been treated me to a whole load of goodies.  Every man has a price and mine are RPG hardbacks.  So it really has been Christmas in July!

Firstly, to accompany my Pathfinder Core rulebook (which I've come to years later than everyone else because I was insisting to myself that my D&D3.5 rules were doing an "okay" job) - she's bought me a copy of the Pathfinder Bestiary, and I must say that the artwork and background layouts are absolutely gorgeous.   Since many of my RPG rulebooks end up being shelf-eye-candy (as opposed to becoming battered on an actual gaming table) I am happy very with this.  Also, I was desperate to know what I've been missing with regards to comparisons between Pathfinder and D&D3.5.  Rules-wise, not a great deal, but aesthetically speaking the Pathfinder products clearly have their own style and identity.
...[Deleted: dull digression about D&D Edition Wars and PF being some sort of counter-culture...]...
 I love the Bestiary - it looks mighty fine!

Whilst we're talking about good looking hardbacks, I now feel much more confident in my assertion that the AD&D Reprints are a luscious and worthy purchase even if you already own the original rulebooks.  For me the shiny bright white pages and darkest fresh new black ink make the rules easier to read.  The gold edging and metallic print on the padded embossed covers makes these books truly special.  (Check out The Other Side for comparative photos, also see my post regarding how to get them in the UK). It was nice to receive them as a gift from my partner, because this completely absolved me from the dilemma of buying something that I already own -she bought them at Leisure Games by the way.  So maybe do a deal with a gaming friend where you buy copies for each other.   My only confusion is that of "errata" - were the texts corrected or is it time for me to download errata texts? (see the Acaeum Library).  Rereading these rules in the new format is a divine pleasure.

AD&D Reprints?
with the gold edging ...?  and the special ribbon...?  and the shiny pages ...?
and the embossed metallic effect covers?

RPG book porn aside...


I watched Troll Hunter recently.  Darkly humorous - you'll either love it or you'll hate it.  Much of it's quirkiness may to come from the fact that it's a Norwegian film - but I am way out of my depth when it comes to citing contributions to world cinema by Norway. I bought it on budget in my local Tesco -  which gives you an idea of how sophisticated my film tastes are before I mention this next DVD - which was also a gift from my partner...

*Mexican whistle*

 Hawk the Slayer!

In terms of British cinema history, this film is a bit of a conundrum.  It's made by Hammer, those horror masters of cheap gore (years before Troma films were big on VHS) - but there's no blood on the sword blades - in fact it verges on being a family film.  There's also an assortment of comedy actors, including Bernard Breslaw and Roy Kinnear.  The hero and his nemesis are stalwart American actors, John Terry ("Hawk") and Jack Palance ("Voltan").  Even as a young chap, I could see that this was cynical casting where hero had to be American.  Even then it wasn't hard to see the costume likenesses of Hawk to Han Solo and Voltan to Darth Vader.  What had escaped me at the time was that the film's watchability stems from the fact that it's modelled on Westerns, with musical motives, fast draw duels and twitching eye shots.  It's the cliches being played straight which makes this film so special.  My parents were very aware age-related classifications on rented films and at the cinema (and my own thought-police morals perpetuated this) so when my friends were talking about Conan the Destroyer, Excalibur and Sword and the Sorcerer my main reference was this film, because it was a PG.  I think I may have seen it in a morning matinee at the cinema, but my memories are usually of watching tapes recorded from the TV.  The settings appealed to me, because the forests are English-looking and the main church looks like the sort of universal basilica church found in early medieval Europe - the kind which pre-date churches with steeples.  Hawk the Slayer ties closely to Basic/Expert D&D in my mind, where the some of more interesting low level encounters are often human (bandits, beserkers, pirates and so on).   The second half of the film essentially a stand-off by a D&D-ish party (human warrior, "giant", elf, dwarf, a magic-user, plus a wounded protagonist with a repeat-firing crossbow*) in a church surrounded by forest besieged by 0-level bandits.  If you think about it, most of the creatures - humanoid or not- in films at the time were fairly rubberised - so the lack of goblins or orcs or even muscley barbarians is perhaps to Hawk the Slayer's credit.  Just don't mention the scene with the glowing silly-string.  This film is a treasure.  Had it not been a gift it would have eventually have been a definite "guilty" purchase. ;)

*I was never very happy about the repeat crossbow with a loadable magazine - it just wasn't "low-tech" enough for me at the time.

I gave in, and bought Legend of Grimrock from Steam.  I regret nothing! 
(I also really hate giant squealing poisonous spiders, and trapdoors...)

A random book-"want" hereby follows:

I'm looking forward to browsing for this book in the shops,

"For Young Men and Literate Women..."

Dr Grodbort's TRIUMPH

Thrashingly good nonsense!  Tastes like Victory!  Not for the weak.  Steampunk for colonial fascists, better than all that foreign muck.

Happy gaming.
And if you're not actually gaming, don't do too much shopping. ;)