Tuesday, 30 October 2012

80s RPG covers abstracted


Can you guess which games they are?  
I'm have a little fun with my new iPad using the Photobooth app - this naturally coincides with my posting puzzle pictures of RPG covers on the Roleplayers Chronicle Facebook Page - so post your answers there.  
At some stage the staff at RC will be adding up correct answer posts and maybe even distributing prizes...!  Whether or not you take part, it's still fun to look at 70's-80's RPG cover art in an abstract way. :) 
I'm also posting the occasional kaleidoscopic picture on my Instagram account "Billiambabble" (Webstagram link)  
Other random visual rebloggery: Adventures and Shopping on Tumblr.
Thanks for browsing! 

Monday, 29 October 2012

Happy Halloween

I seem to have been a bit distracted of late, as per usual.  I've been watching Reaper, dabbling in under-cartography, becoming addicted to Instagram (but why? I'm a Deviant Art survivor, I'm better than this, surely...? Nope.)  But it's Halloween!  That time of year where we can cross-dress before all perverts are thrown out on All Saints Day - or is that just me?   Dig out those plastic skulls, play a tabletop game by candlelight and try not to eat all of the trick or treat chocolate, in case someone firebombs your house. Around here, due to Diwali and Bonfire Night coming up, the kids are generally armed with dodgy fireworks.  Ah, kids, eh?

Apparently there's some pumpkin surprises lurking on the OneBookShelf sites, plus the odd Halloween themed sale.  I can't find any special Lulu codes tonight apart from October's OCTBOOKS12 (see earlier entry) but I guess 20% off doesn't need painting in glow in the dark green.

Hey look, I've tacked up some banners, and I'll flash the lights a few times, what more fun can we have? :)

And remember, that when adopting an undead companion, they aren't just for Halloween, they're for life!  No, wait... I mean the rest of the year... undead ... for life!  Hmm, there's definitely a joke in there.  If only I could resurrect it...

Monday, 22 October 2012

Deviant Database -for Mutant Future (Tim Snyder TSAW)

<--- This arrived today.  The Deviant Database!

Edit: Links -
Deviant Database on RPGDriveThru
Deviant Database print book on Lulu.com
(alternative link)

I did not see the sorry mutant who had left it in the plastic toy box which I leave out at Rad-Ridge on barter day.  The thing had taken the scale-fruit remains and left the valuable cabling, no accounting for taste.   My claws clumsily fumbled with the package ...

Thank you Mr Tim Snyder of The Savage Afterworld.  Tonight's dreams will be both creepy and exotic.

The Deviant Database is a supplementary "Monster Manual" for the GammaWorld-like  Mutant Future - the main rulebook of which I'm still waiting to arrive for from Lulu - I've gone for the hardback btw.

It seems to be common knowledge that Mutant Future is compatible with Goblinoid's other games, such as Labyrinth Lord (which is a D&D/retro-clone), so the one use of the Deviant Database is that in can be used to spice up any old-style D&D campaign - especially, those with a surreal or other-wordly twist - such as Sword and Planet setting games, Spelljammer aliens, planar adventures - scenarios where the classically mythological can be set aside for the truly strange or aberrant.  Examples include: skunkapes, creatures with laser vision, Cheetapedes, and many of B-movie anti-Darwinistic hybrids.  One whichstands out is the, quite literally, insane Mechanibal - robot predators who harvest and graft parts  to themselves of other robots (and other technology).  I imagine that these robots could be hundreds of years old, perhaps in continuous "pain" and in hatred of their "meatbag" creators.  Perhaps there's an opportunity for a being like this to appear in steampunk games (consider the "Warforged" of Eberron - but the failed Frankensteinian experiments sealed up in vaults) .  And that's just one creature.

I've owned a copy of Gamma World for many years, but it was an edition I'm not fond of - with colour-coded charts and missing rules of really basic stuff, like vehicles and equipment price lists (fundamental things!) Also the exploratory introduction modules seemed a bit too abstract -not enough context.  More recently I've really enjoyed reading through The Mutant Epoch - for which the character generation and dice mechanics are sublime, but it uses it's own system - so I'm really looking to dipping into Mutant Future, just because I'm hoping that I'll be in familiar territory game mechanic wise. (By the way the system in TME is good, it's just sometimes the old brain can only cope with Basic D&D) My other, also surreal, foray into mutated futures is the facsimile of the original Metamorphosis Alpha by Jim Ward - truly wonderful from a historical perspective, but can also be appreciated as a really straight forward (nearly-pick-up-and-play) rule-set.

(I'll probably add some more product links to this post at a later time.)

You should leave now.  Take this plastic spear.
Good luck out there.
The Bad-Zone gets quieter just before morning...

Deviant Database on RPGDriveThru
Deviant Database print book on Lulu.com
(alternative link)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Faith & Demons Anglo Saxon Nation Guide (MTE)

Less of a review and more of a straight forward plug for the nice guys at MTE.

Welcome to the first FAITH & DEMONS: THE RISING NATION GUIDE, a series of mini-sourcebooks detailing the different nations during the Dark Ages. Each Nation Guide depicts historical information alongside that of mythology, folklore, speculation, and fiction for the purpose of providing additional content for your adventures and campaigns. This first Nation Guide details the Anglo-Saxon nation located in modern day Britain.
Faith & Demons Nation Guide: Anglo-Saxon includes:
  • A deeper look at the Anglo-Saxon pagan religion.
  • A Gazetteer detailing the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
  • Alternate history adventure hooks.
  • A 600-year timeline of historical events.
  • New Hindrances and Edges.
  • 6 new creatures from Anglo-Saxon folklore.
FAITH & DEMONS: THE RISING is a Dark Ages, gothic fantasy plot point setting for Savage Worlds where united lords have brought the world’s warriors together to prevent the armies of chaos from enslaving their people.
Faith & Demons Nation Guide: Anglo-Saxon is not a stand-alone game and requires the Savage Worlds core rulebook. Although designed to be used in conjunction with the Faith & Demons: The Rising core setting guide, the source material can be with used any Savage Worlds product.

Faith & Demons Nation Guide: Anglo-Saxon for the Savage Worlds system is available as a 28 page PDF to download from DTRPG and RPGNow for a mere $1.95

It would be impolite not to buy a copy at that cost. ;)

Friday, 19 October 2012

Tomb of Horrors 4e DnD - an almost random purchase

Since I've started posting on Instagram, Tumblr and playing about on an iPad with a camera you may find that from time to time I might be posting oddly filtered - perhaps pretentiously angled, high contrast photographs of RPGs ...

The story behind this one is that it was an almost random purchase from a newly relocated local comic store - who had a tiny number of RPG books.  I say "almost random" because it's hard to be truly random when the shelf selection is about 6 books (two of the thinner DnD3 books "Complete..." warrior/cleric/adventurer etc, an Etherscope settings guide, Vampire the Masquerade, a Dark Heresy campaign guide and the above purchase).  Again, I find it difficult to defend the cause of the "bricks n mortar" shops locally, and yet I still feel obliged to vote with my wallet, in the hope that they might renew or expand their stock of RPGs.  Despite my being afraid of collecting Magic et al CCGs, I may have to start buying some packs just so that I get to play someone locally at something other the WH40K - because that's what appears to happen in this comic shop - they have "gaming nights", but it's mainly collectable card games from what I can tell ....

Although I doubt I’ll ever play this version of the PC-mashing Tomb of Horrors using 4e rules, it’ll be fun to compare it to the original AD&D module. The art is very colourful and fine. The question is... do I unfold and tear out the perforated colour battlemat on the inside of the back cover...?

Some of the text makes me giggle:  "Held within an extradimensional space of pure necrotic essence, this fortress served as the site of Acererak’s planned divine apotheosis -a process by which the mastery of undeath would grant him god-like power." p42

As you do. 

Your Dungeons As You Like Them -Vos Donjons Comme Vous Le Voulez - EC / Old School Dungeons

Vos Donjons Comme Vous Le Voulez
downloadable printable plans on DTRPG
Eric Chaussin of Old School Dungeons (my earlier post on EC's work) has managed to woo me again with another 1980's style release.    

Vos Donjons Comme Vous Le Voulez "Your dungeons -as you like them" is an 11 page dungeon accessory pack which seems deceptively small considering its many applications. I thought at first that the pages 1-5 were A4/letter size battlemats, but no, EC is going back to the early days of trim-to-fit floor plans - much easier when you're not using walls - basically the "black spaces" between the cut-out shapes become the walls - as is the way of the old Dungeon Floorplans and some modern irregular tiles.  Included as well as these flagstone designs are stairs, doorways, beds, a table and chest (the furniture is 3D).  Eric has had considerable experience in drawing fantasy heroes, so it comes as no surprise that he also includes 11 flat-foldable back-to-back minis on simple circular bases.

Thumbnails of the pages in the Vos Donjons... PDF
I've included a screenshot thumbnail of the pages here because I believe his description doesn't do the product full justice (hopefully he'll be fine with this!).

The price may seem a little high ($10.40 as I type), but if you're a fan of MB HeroQuest game boards, Warhammer Quest and DungeonBowl then you will appreciate where Eric Chaussin is coming from with his one-size fits all "Old School Dungeons".  The graphic work is bold and slick, also it looks relatively easy to assemble.  This is a perfect basic starter pack for use with a straightforward dungeon setting.

(If you're having trouble with the above links to the product try clicking here)

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

2E Adventure Tiles Labyrinth Core Set -Skeleton Key Games

Oops.  In my last post I completely forgot to include this excellent tiles product.

I really like the art and ingenuity of Skeleton Key's 2E Adventure Tiles Labyrinth Core Set.  You get a whopping 73 small square tiles.  There are two main types of exit - and a mixture of curved walls with straights.  The light grey browns will give you a maze reminiscent of dusty classical settings or from the films like Labyrinth or Barbarella, whilst still fitting within grey castle environments.

As with many geomorphic designs, some referees may not like the fact that players can see beyond the walls to an inaccessible part of a tile, but I'm sure that a creative DM can find an explanation to allow for this meta-game awareness - perhaps just a sense that there's a hollow chamber or corridor beyond the wall - all the party need to do is go around the next corner to get there... - which is pretty much what mazes are about.  Certainly, the visual impact and compressed nature of the tiles mean that a maze will feel less laborourious than elongated zig zagging corridors.  It might be a bit of a struggle to run 4E D&D encounters in such small areas, but many other FRP rules should be okay.

Good looking, professional and inventive.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Maps and tiles by Pworks CSP TornWorld and LZW

This is going to be a quick little round up of some products on my desktop, although I have to warn you that when it comes to downloads my focus is mainly on downloadable floor plans and maps.  All of the picture links point to products on DriveThru and they all almost certainly available on RPGNow.com and Wargame Vault.

Pwork Paper Wargame  Master Dungeon Set on DTRPG
Pwork's (Paper Wargames) Fantasy Tiles Master Dungeon Set appears to be a fantasy offshoot of their Space Hulk inspired sci-fi sets.  I'm guessing that this would explain why the squares are 3cm wide which is friendly to larger Warhammer bases.  There's not a great deal of margin space on the pages, but as a result very little paper or card will be wasted.  I rather like the stand-up doors but I haven't tried to construct them since the instructions in my copy are in Italian only and there's no self-explanatory tabs in the designs. The dungeon pieces would make a very satisfying blocky set of basic floor plans especially if glued to corrugated card or foam card.  I'll be honest, the larger scale puts me off these a little, but the art is good and all of the parts and props are generic enough for simple dungeons ran in many systems.  This is a fairly good value product for 24 pages, with repeatable designs at $7.  Certainly worth considering if your figures seem a little crowded on that 1-inch scale battlemat.

CSP  Into the Wilderness: Map 0 on DTRPGInto the Wilderness Map 0 is free PDF and JPG file of yet more excellent art from CSP - who have received far too much praise for their dungeon work from me already. ;)  The PDF is for printing whereas the jpg is for moving around in your chosen VTT software, hi-tech game table or tablet.  It's always nice to have the option. Download this, you have nothing to lose.  If you like the style his other forest maps are modestly priced.

Torn World Presents: Hand-Drawn Cities: Volume I on DTRPGIf you're on Facebook, you may like to be dazzled by the maps-in-progress posted by artist Alyssa Faden who hand draws and digitally composes maps for Torn World publishing.  As you may know, dear reader, I am always intrigued by real pen and ink (usually so I can steal ideas, ahem, I mean learn techniques...).  Volumes 1 and 2 of Torn World's Hand-Drawn Cities are for the more discerning map appreciator.  These two black and white products nestle amongst the other gorgeous colour maps and accessories provided by Torn World, but for me these are the bright treasures.  Everywhere you look in these sprawling cities there are details, and yet they are plain enough to make those cities your own.  As is the fashion these days, the PDF comes with graphics files (.png and jpg) which can be imported into other packages (perhaps you would like to give to different districts your own shades your reference?)   All of Alyssa Faden's cities appear to have grown organically, developing in sections - the awkward geometries imply social history and civil expansion.  Every block of buildings is depicted, so that the streets are very detailed.  However, the details do create a flaw when using the graphics files... Basically, these maps will make you want to zoom right into street level, which results in mild blur and pixelation. Again, I have to stress that this is because the overhead detail is so amazing that you just have to see how far it goes!  The good news is that all of the files in these packs are small enough in size to be usable in many applications and platforms without any sluggish scrolling.  Bonus. 

LZW Exterior & Interior Wall Set #1 on DTRPG
Lastly, and almost randomly, I've been spying this product but I know that I'd never have the patience to assemble everything contained, but LZW are providing customers with a respectable alternative to Fat Dragon's packs.  LZW seem to be doing some fairly clever things with PDF layers by allowing the customer to choose different feature details.  So make sure you have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader before looking an LZW product.  I reckon that this is one of those deceptive packs, i.e. the cover displays a mere handful of walls and pillars, when you are in fact buying a complete modular building system for dungeon interiors and small stone buildings.  Seriously inventive stuff.


All of the images link to the original product pages on DTRPG (well, most of the time they do).

Adventures & Shopping will take no responsibility for fun, awe or paper-cuts incurred by players when assembling or using any of these accessories in actual games.

20% off Books and eBooks at Lulu in October

Wow.  I'm really rubbish at this.  When I started this blog I wanted it to be bristling and busting with money off coupons.  I would at least be posting LULU's monthly deals - at the very start of the month.  So here we go... half way through October... nearly Halloween and all that, two paydays until Christmas and so forth...

Books & eBooks from Lulu.com 20% off- Enter code
- Save up to $25

That's like a whole fifth off!  Huzzah!  No, really, I get impressed by these things.
The code seemed to work for me earlier (in the UK) so I don't think it's limited to US customers only.

Most RPG and solo game stuff can usually be found in the Games section on Lulu.
(One day I'll give in to my id and buy myself a copy of old school GamaWorld styled Mutant Future.)

Remember, the world economy needs your money!


Monday, 8 October 2012

Dungeon! board game unboxed

Wizards' new (yet old and familiar) Dungeon! board game
Just in time for Christmas. ;)
I've quickly been skimming through Wired/Geek Dad's unboxing of the new Dungeon! board game and I'm glad to say that it appears that Wizards' have been fairly loyal to the spirit of the original - including victory by xp/gold-maths:
 To win the game, heroes must collect treasure totaling a certain value. Clerics and rogues only need 10,000 gold pieces of value, while the stronger fighter who can delve deeper into the dungeon and win greater treasure needs 20,000 and the all-powerful wizard needs 30,000.
Family games where the board is travelled by counters usually don't have such abstract goals, so it would be interesting to hear thoughts from a modern playtest by non-roleplayers.  For roleplayers, however, this game is a delight because it provides a glimpse what the original D&D might have looked and played like in completely boiled down form (and I mean really boiled down).  A contemporary to Dungeon! was the modular tile game Sorcerer's Cave - the rules to which I find are very strange but resemble D&D as some sort of Hobbit/Fairy Tale explained through a maths teacher's dream, but I digress....  Compared to that, Dungeon! is a much closer cousin to early D&D.  There were plenty other quest games on the market, but the next more most fondly by my own friends remembered after Dungeon! is Talisman (which was much later).  A couple of years ago I was disappointed by a review of the Warlock of Firetop Mountain board game which stated that it was a straight copy of Dungeon! which I strongly refute - apart from room encounters and a d6 combat system the comparison barely stands.  However the simplicity of the Fighting Fantasy system and the tiny cards would owe a lot to the fantasy board games of the 70s -including Dungeon!

Last year I was very chuffed with myself for finding a Dungeon! set from 1981 and only the other night I had the honour of reblogging these monster cards on Tumblr (1, 2)

It's reassuring to see that this game looks very similar to the original and isn't just a new game smuggled under a nostalgia-brand.

Anyhow, stop reading this and ascend those dark stairs to GeekDad's unboxing of the Dungeon! board game.

Old School Dungeon Tiles by Eric Chaussin

Eric Chaussin, better known for his dramatic character art, has been wowing us all on Facebook recently with his new dungeon floorplan designs.  Eric draws by hand - but I believe it must be straight to tablet - he is able create unique details which bring so much more to battle mats or tiles than would standard textures or vectors.  His doorways alone are a delight to behold.

E.C.'s Old School Dungeons Tiles and Geomorphic Tiles are now available to download through RPGdrivethru and other OneBookShelf sites

By "Geomorphic..." I believe Eric just means square tiles which fit together - as opposed to the 10x10squares small scale geomorphs which usually have multiple exits.

E.C. is certainly a designer to keep watching, and I must confess that I am a little jealous at the speed at which he's brought his first three packs out!

Old School Dungeons / E.C.'s store on DTRPG

Fields of War Battle Report and Story Competition

Jagged Jaw of Fields of War has asked me put in a mention for a competition that he is running in October, you may write a story or post a battle report using his in-progress tabletop battle system.

The competition can be found on his blog here,

The Fields of War rules can be found on their forum here.

Charge, you scum, charge!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

We Likes Free: Dungeonslayers full rules and Savage Insider 6

I appear to have a stack of draft posts filled with strange mumbling and rantings.  Trains (train wrecks) of thought about games and adverts which are probably best left in the draft folder for now.  But here's a couple free-to-download products which you may have missed recently...

Dungeonslayers rules are free to download
Man, those guys are really going for it!
I could be wrong but I think that the last time I saw the Dungeonslayers main rules they were in German only (?) but this definitely looks like English, unless I've swallowed a Babel Fish again.... 

Quickly looking through, it's definitely my kind of pick up and play system.  Dice and stat wise it probably sits somewhere on a graph between the old HeroQuest board game and D&D - perhaps comparable with QUERPS or Advanced Fighting Fighting where there's a simple core system plus skills and spells.

Design-wise, the stat symbol packed blocks look modern and easy to read - much like drawing an encounter card in a board game - it's quick reference for fast play.

It was Kelly Davis who recently drew my attention back to Dungeonslayers.  He lured me in, my saying that my own tile designs would work well with the Dungeonslayer maps - and he is right!  The designers of Dungeonslayers are fond of the blocky five foot thick walls between rooms - proper solid, no messing, dug out and flagged corridors.  I feel I'm in good company here.

Interestingly, the blurb isn't peddling that stereotype of older gaming, where having simple rules means a lack of characterisation or narrative 
The rules of Dungeonslayers were designed to be very basic and simple on purpose, to bring the charming flair of old-school gaming back to life. ...
 ...  Despite the rules’ lack of details or possibly because of this, player characters tend to evolve into highly individual personalities.
Yes!  Thank you, Mr Kennig, you sing my kind of song :) 

The rules are free to download, and yummy sounding pocket sized print version is also available to buy.
Downloads -Dungeonslayers main rules, adventures, etc  http://www.dungeonslayers.com/?page_id=228
Rules in 6"x9" book form available to buy from Chronicle City (£16.99GBP, $24.99USD)

Savage Insider 6 "Holidays and Havoc"
Free or
Donate a Dollar
Well it wouldn't be Halloween without someone sticking a skull on the cover - no, wait, in RPG Land the undead roam all year around! 
At the moment all of the Savage Insider magazines are free to download, with SI-Premium magazines being downloaded for a price, but there is also a donation-purchase option and I'm curious to see how that turns out.  Basically you can buy Issue 6 for a dollar or download it for free.  To older eyes this reads like madness!  But in this kickstarter, open source donate by paypal, post-shareware, send me a postcard, Interweb community barter world, it's just another little option where you can share the love with MTE for their high quality magazine product - and believe me, as freebie-to-$1 products go, if you're a Savage Worlds player and into a hint of horror, this stuff is priceless (and naturally, a lot of the content can be "mined" for other systems)

Thanks for reading, and ...

Laters! Bb.

Highs and Lows of the currently not playing collector gamer shopping in the city

3.5e Reprints (at Wizards').  I know!
I still don't believe it either...
What does it mean?!
The AD&D reprints tore a hole in time..
There's so many things happening in the RPG publishing industry it's hard to keep up, point at, deride, link to or generally comment upon.  I doubt anything I could say about D&D3.5 (or was it just 3? surely not) being reprinted that hasn't been said on the forums and by better bloggers than I.  Although I'm still amazed it's happening.  Never underestimate consumer power, or the maths.

Picking up the Pathfinder Beginner Box in a shop today, perhaps I was voting again for that d20/3e way of playing.  To be honest, that was a long way from my mind.  I've been "coming out" recently as more of a collector and reader of games (designing aside) than an actual player.  I'm telling myself that it's okay for rule books to sit on my shelves for nearly forever, and that even if you own 100 systems from across the decades that it's also okay just to only ever play one system.  I'm currently without a face-to-face gaming group, but these does not deny me the delight in choosing the play-out-of-box gateway game.  I'm pretty sure that Pathfinder BB doesn't have the infamous Attacks of Opportunity rules which used to put me off teaching D&D to new players - but this might be a hang-over from wanting to write simple solo game texts for fighter types.  Maybe that was because my earliest love was for the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks (where complex magic or skills would be limited to special guest rules - even Sorcery! feels like that to me). Attacks of Opportunity would multiply the number of paragraphs somewhat.  I'm also stat-lazy.  The idea that a T&T dungeon can be prepared in minutes with a handful or Monster Ratings, SR vs traps and a sprinkling of treasure appeals to me immensely.  Of course, ten minutes into a game I'd probably start house-ruling and filling out attribute packed stat blocks for monsters (-when I was young DM/GM/Ref I wish that I'd had more confidence to make a system my own -nowadays I'd improvise and house rule myself stupid).  So, I guess, I have a real soft spot for boxes with abridged rules, tiles and figures.  Boxed games used to seem less threatening to non RPG players.  Imagine if Monpoly was published as three hardbacked books, where you had to make your own board and provide counters?   And perhaps maybe you and your nan had to learn a bit about real estate economics before picking up the little hat and that silly dog ...  Maybe D&D and Pathfinder look like that to newbie players. Time for a family-christmas-friendly box.

It's still true that there's a few concept leaps for new players to be had with boxed RPGs, but at least there's a board of sorts with good guys and bad guy counters.  I think what I'm trying to say is part of my shopping pleasure is derive buying something that isn't too challenging to imagine in play, it's familiar (i.e like 70s-early 90s RPG without dice pools, narrative mechanics, or CCG style cards) and has shiny pretty things - dice, counters, figures, and a battlemat - all of which can be cannibalised for other systems (mwhahaha - it's not a "game" it's a "resource").   At some point I'm pretty sure that my 'Ashardalon set will become hybridised with my Warhammer Quest game played using a system not too dissimilar to Basic D&D (of course!) - and that might be just a randomised solo game for myself(!)  To be honest,  I reckon that if I lost the internet for a week or went on a rainy holiday I would be building something like that out of plastic bottle tops and cereal card - because let's face it, inspiration always strikes when you're at least a hundred miles away from your games cupboard / shelve unit / walk-in Gygax Shrine. Okay, digressing slightly...  

So there I am in the middle of the mighty city Leicester (King Lear's City - no really, "Lei-Cester" that's what they tell us).  This is a happy accident since some training for work that morning was to be had in a place other than my poky home town.  Real training means a day out. ;)  I used to travel to Leicester and Nottingham as a teen exclusively to buy RPGs in both boxes and book form.  This seemed like a fairly big deal because the rest of the time I used to be outraged if I couldn't buy anything in my local highstreet - I still do (commercially spoilt for choice as a child, perhaps?).  Ironically/Aptly we've have now a Games Workshop in my home town, but it's half a lifetime since GW stocked RPGs that I want to read or play.  Teen years behind me, I don't feel the need to travel to the cities any more - Amazon and other web stores magically transport games to me, but I still associate Leicester with those little instant treats.  So it was fairly depressing to find that the large Waterstones (a bookstore) didn't have any D&D books near it's paltry selection of graphic novels, and in terms of complete systems, Forbidden Planet only had one copy of Death Watch or Dark Heresy - one of those, I forget which.  In fact in Forbidden Planet it was as if a rep for Fantasy Flight Games had bumped off reps from the other companies.  At least I was able to actually look at the back of a copy of the new edition of Descent: Journeys in the yadda yadda, and actually hold a copy of Super Dungeon Explore (I'll be honest, the tile art, looks terrible!  But then I'm Inked Adventures monochrome-fine-ink-biassed...)  That big posh incarnation of Talisman still intrigues me, with its figures and coins, but the Crown of Command ending still sucks.  There was a shelf of Munchkin spoofy games, and some sort of zombie-dice game.  There was lonely pad of hex-paper.  Hex-paper? :o  Keep browsing.  Never been sure about Wiz-War...   Magic expansion packs, so many booster packs, next to the comics and those strange ghostly white freaky no-face paintable dolls.  Even the Star Wars toys in the retro-Kenner boxes didn't grab me (my nostalgia gland was only aching for RPG rule sets).

I'd managed to find some 80's Fighting Fantasy books in a charity shop half an hour previously, so maybe I should have just cut my losses and got (Warlock of Firetop Mountain -first cover- and Seven Serpents - jagged banner top, not bad, I know, thanks for asking).  I hovered near the dice, and marvelled at the presence of women staff and customers and the lack of BO smell which is almost nostalgic for me.  Yes, buy the dice.  They are the consolation prize for gamers who can't find what they want.

Depression was setting in.  This was as good as RPG shopping in Leicester city centre was going to get, and my head-voice rattled out a mantra along the lines of "You don't even have a gaming group -20 minutes on Ebay will be more satisfying than this- what are you doing?"   Even the excitement of dissolve-in-mouth gem dice is lost on me now.

I picked up two tubes of polys - matt yellow and red - like the ones from the cover of Dicing with Dragons. :)  I scanned the boxes again. Descent, Talisman and SDE and those big glossy Cthulhu games by FFG- but they were in the £60-70 range.  I think there was a Star Wars mini vehicles space game as well - with a pathetic number of three fighters (come on FFG, you drug dealers!).  I swear many of the prices are literally dollar for pound.  Oh dear.  But there it sat, friendly and familiar, the Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box for around £25.

No really, PF BB is just so very scrummy.
(a prior drool soaked post)

Perhaps it would make a perfect
Christmas present for jaded players
and collectors who need to rediscover
the magical learning process. ;)
Why not?  I have quite a collection of D&D "introductory" games to compare it to.  Even if it's never played I can set up a museum showing the similarities and differences of pamphlet rules, floor plans and figures or counters over the decades.  Not a bad idea, since "serious" gamers will often skip beginner/primer sets and go straight to core rulebooks and boxed games have a shorter longevity-durability (4 year lifespan, Roy... no, don't burn it...!).  Although at the time, as with the dice, the Beginner Box felt like a "consolation" purchase.  Later on, I was extremely happy that I'd bought it.  It's a beautiful and complete game, not just a glorified advert for the brand.  Having come to the Pathfinder relatively late, it'll slot in nicely with my new Core rules and Bestiary.

At the counter there were some sealed HeroClix boxes.  One mystery hero per box? ... Not today, thanks.  I'm sure a couple of years ago, this very same shop still had plastic D&D pre-painted minis at least.  Oh well. Tap in the pin number and wait for the receipt.

So by now I was again cursing the Bricks n Mortar campaigns which ask me to support my local book shops and gaming stores.  Maybe I just need to start reading comics - by which I mean the really new stuff - just for some sort of shelf-to-self-validation in those high-street temples to geekery. 

My dirty, shameful, guilty £18
purchase from Games Workshop
Even this man cannot survive on
cardboard scenery alone.
I must have been hating myself, because on the way back to the train station I found myself in Games Workshop.
I mean, come on, really?   Again the sales-"which army do you collect?"-staff was a young woman - and the shop didn't smell too bad - maybe women players inspire better hygiene in young men?

Why was I in there?  It was the buildings, I think.  The scenery - those twisty house forts, and before I knew it, I was buying some Lord of the Rings ruins (... of Osgiliath) which I took peculiar pride in saying that I would be using as an interior piece for a "dungeon" ... Bearing in mind that their Balin's Tomb / Mines of Moria set is barely a doorway and some pillars and that's the closest that GW dare to go underground interiors since Dungeonbowl and Necromunda (hang on, did Mordheim have any underground settings?).

I mumbled something about Warhammer Quest and observed that White Dwarf magazine had changed their title font (quite the follower of current events, aren't I?).  Sometimes it's worth checking that the staff know their history.  Make them earn the commission, I say, check that they watched the induction video which might have mentioned Wh'Quest somewhen after Space Crusade... and long after the Great Purge of the Imported Games.  Then she did something clever, she mentioned that GW "didn't always make the best games" (wha-? *Ackbar*  It's a trap!) and perhaps I'd like to read about FFG's Relic board game, which, y'know, was a bit like Talisman.  (You had me at "board game", damnit).

It's very curious this cosying up of GW to FFG. So I said something pithy, which I regret, about FFG taking old games and adding a shed load of cards (which they do), but she forgave me (or didn't see it as a criticism of hallowed FFG, purveyors of glossy heavy boxes) I think because the customer is always ... allowed to be opinionated ... (and she knew that beyond the safety of GW cult, with their Flesh colour washes, grass flock, Dark Eldar and Necrons, she was probably out of her depth...).  Damn, I seem to have some serious issues.  My apologies.

I bought the ruins and the new-look White Dwarf and quickly left without so much of a cursory scan of those new-fangled resin-cast figures.   Things move too quickly, and the mantle of game system related alienation hangs heavy on me, maybe the OSR-ers are right: Why buy mainstream when you already own your favourite systems or can download a well written facsimile?

I felt a bit dirty, like I'd betrayed myself.  At least it wasn't the GW shop in my hometown - no-one knew me here.  Don't shit where you eat, as they say.  (Not that I've ever actually defecated on a tabletop battle between the Imperial Guard and those spiky Tyranids, and besides, I think food isn't allowed into GW shops)  My crack-habit chaos figure bankruptcy days are over!  Leicester had failed me a little.  I had expected more for my sweaty pennies.   I went for instant purchases in real shops.  Cities are supposed to be better than this!  Take my money goddamnit!   

Reality sucks.  Pass me the iPad and turn on one-click buying.

In all, with better perspective the following day, I decided that I was pretty fond of my new purchases - the Pathfinder Beginner Box especially.  The shiny lacquer on this is that there's even a soloplay game to help me through my contradictory, mostly solitary, existence of collecting and designing for group-play games.  It's perhaps no co-incidence that it's dedicated to D&D boxed game authors: Holmes, Mentzer and Moldvay (Hero's Book, p1) - I found this deeply reassuring. :)

 The dice? Well, you can never have too many dice - those yellows and reds make a nice addition to the pile in the Dice Mugs.  The LotR ruins can go into that box marked "Rainy Day Mental Enthusiasm Projects" - for the days which scare my friends when they see me unshaven, maps drawn on the bath tiles and hemmed in by 3D model dungeons covering the carpet...  The best kind of days. :)

The new-look White Dwarf? - Well, I always need something to read in the bathroom.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

DriveThru CARDS!

This just in.  A new store...

So far I've been mainly looking at  places like Game Crafter for fantasy game publishers to produce small run card based games.  The Onebookshelf company is now offering this new print on demand service - starting with poker sized cards, but more with formats to follow.  A noteworthy feature is a randomisation facility for publishers selling sealed "booster" or expansion packs.  In principle I always thought that collectable random contents (as with Magic, Pokemon et al) was a pretty evil practice, but it'll be a perfect facility for some CCG designers. :)  Personally, I hope that OBS will eventually offer square card formats - partly for my obsessions with tiles. :)  

As I type this, there's no products on there yet, but I'm betting you'll see an influx of indie games, and maybe a few old classics.  A brave new world, my friends.