I’ve started to put my stuff up on DriveThru. Early days yet, but a start is a start! Follow this link and you’ll be able to donate if you like. Thanks!
When I pack for my summer holidays, I get my clothing and toiletries done in as much time as it takes to throw things over my shoulder into a case. My gaming and reading material takes more time, care and attention.
This year I’ve been able to travel light thanks to an iPad with Goodreader and a Drivethru account. I did make one concession to the old dead tree idea by bringing the 5e Starter box along just in case my son fancied some dungeon on a rainy day (he did. Report to follow) I stuffed my 2nd ed copy of Whitehack in there for reading material too. In fact, my dice bag is probably the heaviest item I’ve brought with me.
My reading list is a synced up Kindle app which thanks to a Ron Edwards post now contains a copy of The Astounding Antagonists by Rafael Chandler. My goodness it’s a lovely piece of writing. There aren’t that many supers novels kicking around, and many (most?) seem to kiss the point of the change in format. This one doesn’t. It would be a worse read with pics, here the prose does all the colouring in, and your imagination provides the inks. Plot wise, it’s a bunch of supers, heroes and villains, all fighting for supremacy. But the sides are very blurred and Rafael plays with notions of role, good, evil and righteousness all the way through. I love that this isn’t just another ‘modern’ take where the protagonists sit around in leather jackets moaning about the burden of power. In this, the spandex and stoopid names are present in abundance, but so is bone crunching violence, casual death, and meaningful dilemmas.
But this isn’t a book review blog. It’s for gamers, and that’s why I recommend this book. I’ve rarely been able to get a decent supers game off the ground. Most systems want to concentrate on power sets rather than genre emulation, and players seem to agree. I want my supers games to sound like Rafaels book reads, which is a big ask. Having finished it, I’m now going back to my library to dig out some supers rpg material, and I’m looking at it through Antagonists eyes. Read it, and you’ll do the same.
And Motley is one of the best characters I’ve read in years..
I possess the following editions or versions or descendants of D&D. Forgive me.
Dungeon Crawl Classics
World of Dungeons
Old School Hack
Red Box Hack
Beyond the Wall
Lamentations of the Flame Princess
Adventurer Conqueror King
Heroes Against Darkness
Swords & Wizardry
Monsters & Magic
And that’s not getting into the realms of things like Earthdawn, or Runequest, or Dragon Warriors, or Warhammer….
When is enough enough?!
its been ten years since I left Games Workshop, after a decade in the front line of the Hobby Stores. I loved that hobby as much as anyone and was lucky enough to paint and play for a living. Since that day, I haven’t played a single game of Warhammer.
The reason is simple and nothing to do with bitterness or sour grapes. It’s because I’m one of the very few in my circle of friends who has the necessary kit to actually play a game. I have (had, thanks to eBay) a good half dozen full sized armies, boxes of terrain, and all the gubbins. None of that matters when you have limited time, limited space and mates who put minis gaming only somewhere in their list of cool pastimes. So it all got sold off, with few regrets actually. I occasionally got my paints out, and did a few bits and pieces (Freebooters Fate mostly) but not much.
Last year I looked at getting back into wargames properly. I checked out the options, which were legion, and decided to see what GW had been up to in my absence. The End Times was en route, and looked cool, but a bit impenetrable, even to my veteran eyes. I nipped into my local shop and picked up the Island of Blood boxed set, which made the assistant raise his eyes a little as he explained it was all about to blow up. Heh, I remember having to stay current all the time. Don’t miss that. I went home and busily painted up loads of Skaven, loved doing it, then put hem back in the box and that was that.
Until Age of Sigmar. Turns out GW really meant it with the End Times. The Warhammer World is no more, and neither is the traditional game. The new one is different. The rules are freely downloadable and they run to four pages. I shit you not. The army lists are also free, and they are different. They don’t have points values, and they do have comedy abilities. You’ll either laugh or cry when you read them. Suffice to say, I have a lot of old friends and colleagues who are snapping their brushes and burning their templates.
But I’m interested again, and crucially, so are my mates. If we can can just bring our collections to the table and just make something up at the table, then the chances of us actually playing the game are suddenly real. There’s every chance that my Skaven are going to come out of their box, throw away their movement trays and get busy with whatever Steve and Dan can scrounge up. Trust me, that would never have happened with the ‘old’ game.
I’ve heard backseat commentators talk about how GW are targeting the kids demographic with this. They said that about everything post Terror of the Lichemaster. That’s never been the case. GW target everyone who is interested, age being nothing but a number. They don’t do demographics, but if they did they found a new one with people like me, 40s dad with a wallet, a passion and a memory of fun times over a green board.
I’ve been bitten by the Netrunner bug. It’s a card game, but it’s so much more than that. I’m not going to attempt a review, I just want to gush a little bit about the setting. I played a bit of Cyberpunk back in the day (though I was more of a Shadowrun fan to be honest) and I like the whole dystopian future city idea. And of Blade Runner is a classic. I even played the WotC first run of Netrunner quite a bit. But the new game is all of that turned up to 11.
It’s the stories I like, and who knew how many scenes would start popping simply from the notion of hackers trying to break into corporate databases? Last night I played the Weyland Corporation from their space station high above the Beanstalk that connects New Angeles to orbit (cool already right?) My sparring partner Dan was playing the runner, an idealist who helps the disenfranchised stick it to the man. I was trying to tag her so I could burn down all her friends family and property. She was using Itinerant Protesters and Undercover Journalists to rack up Bad Publicity for me. But her hacks ended up stopping my Space Camp program, and that made kids cry. She won in the end by raiding my R&D department and snagging some secret project data I had.
What’s incredible is how much you get from just a bit of art, some very occasional flavour text, and the interaction of mechanics. My fave card from last nights game shows you just what I mean. The hacker rides a motorbike, with their computer built in, so I can’t tag her, find out where she lives, and arrange a nasty accident. Awesome.
I write an occasional column for the UK Roleplayers website. It’s a memoir of my gaming experiences over the years. You can read them here too.
First world problem: I have too many games. I moved to PDF purchases a couple of years back, just to give me some space back in my house. But as least buying physical books slowed me down a little bit! Browsing DriveThru is too easy, and I’ve been picking up so much stuff recently that I’m struggling to even remember what I’ve got!
So today I’ve just looked through my Goodreader library, and my ‘holding’ shelf where I put recent stuff to see what’s in the to-do pile right now. Let’s see if I can make some sense of it.
Recently acquired (and chances of actually doing something with it, out of 5)
Iron Kingdoms Unleashed Box. This was half paid for by a GMing voucher, and half paid for by actual potential of getting table time. It’s the Hordes RPG, but with maps and minis. Interesting hybrid. 4.
Whitehack. From eBay, on a whim. An OSR set of Basic house rules. It’s all in the presentation, and this one is a delight to hold and read. 3.
Durance. Story game about prisoners. Snagged from raffle at Seven Hills Con. Possibly use this to game in the Nights Dawn setting by Peter F Hamilton, on the planet Lalonde with Ivets? 1.
Eyes of the Stone Thief. Ludicrous sized (and priced, by my personal standards) mega dungeon for 13th Age. Presses all my buttons. But it’s so big. 3 1/2.
World War Cthulhu, and supplements. Won as a prize. Having been stung by Achtung Cthulhu, was glad to get this. It’s probably why I abandoned my WW2 game. 2.
The Chained Coffin. Adventure box and setting for DCC. Again, a raffle prize. To be racked up with the other DCC materials I haven’t read! 2.
Blades in the Dark. Backed on KS, so just a QuickStart for now. Fantasy heists are definitely my jam. 4.
Eternal Lies. Big fat Trail of Cthulhu campaign. A good read. 1.
X Wing minis. Awesome dogfighting game. Gets a lot of love from my group. 5.
Netrunner. Living Card Game, and Dan plays it with me. 4.
Seems I’ve had a lot of luck with freebies recently! And then there’s the list of things that I want to explore, with the possibility of getting them played:
Age of Rebellion. My group likes all things Star Wars, and this is new and pretty.
The Last Parsec. I’m still looking for my perfect Sci Fi game. This looks close.
Dying Earth. I’ve got loads utterly unread on PDF. Looks like a hard sell on my mates.
Atomic Highway. Good old fashioned post apocalyptic fun with no big agendas.
They all want to push their way to the front of the queue, and might well succeed. But also, at the very back of the queue are a bunch of games that I’ve had, and played, for ages and are asking for another chance.
13th Age. Perhaps the ‘just right’ D&D variant for me and mine.
DCC RPG. Or maybe it’s this one.
Torchbearer. Or this one.
4e. I know it’s really this one, but who wants to go backwards?
Edge of Empire. We played the Beginners Box, and loved it, so….
ICONS or Venture City for Fate flavoured supers. Well, I’d like it.
Shadowrun. Played the heck out of this in the 2e days. Now it’s on steroids! If I pitch it, they will come.
At this point I have no idea what we will end up getting into in our weekly game, or what I will mess around with in my own time (they could well be different). I’ll let you know when I find out! What would you plump for?