Idly leafing through the Monster Manual and I find myself looking at the entry for Hobgoblins. I wouldn’t normally bother after five editions of largely the same old lore, but I’ve been looking for something a bit martial for my baddies in an upcoming con game. I’m only going to nick the stat blocks, but I did like the illustration, and the succinct text got me wondering.

I think I could write a scenario like this: you play a squad of Hobgoblins. You’re part of a Horde that is laying siege to somewhere (probably a city full of goodies, you know, adventurers and the like). You’re the crew of a siege tower. The adventure is event based, and it’s all about the build up to the final assault on the city walls.

The key here is not to get into the battle as such, it’s more about the life of the soldier in the trenches, in the hours before he inevitably gets cleaved like the low level humanoid he is.

I’d play up the military stuff, with a nod to Blackadder Goes Forth. Not so much the humour, but let’s face it, goblins are likely to be present and they’re always a catalyst to cheap laughs. More the pointless bureaucracy, and the futile orders. Events off the top of my head include:

Rivalry with the ballista crew
Inspection from the top Warlord
Ration hunting run
Prisoner of War guard duty
Supervising goblin sappers digging latrines
Sabotage, in either direction
Paladins sally forth
Secure that Bugbear!
Organised chanting
The priesthood show up
Shove the siege tower forward
Stabbed in the back (field promotion)
Reclaim that fallen body (and its loot)
Raise the banners
Over the top

Now, flesh out half a dozen PCs, a similar number of NPCs, scribble out a battle line, and note down a few rules, and you’ve got yourself an adventure. Hmmm.


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Going Mad for a Spell

In the ever growing lists of things that can go and do one, I add spells for pre gen characters in D&D. I’ve spent blooming hours putting 15 characters onto form fillable pdfs for an upcoming con, and I left the pigging druid til last. Why? Because they get to prepare from the whole list of available spells. Which means I have the following options as a friendly DM for the empty handed but eager player:

Hand them the Players Handbook. Good luck with that, the spells are all arranged alphabetically.

Give them a cheat sheet, that I’ll have to type by hand.

Scan all the relevant bits out of the PHB and construct a mini spellbook.

Stump up for the card deck on sale from Gale Force 9

Scrap the druid, and write it up as a nature cleric instead, meaning I can copy/paste from the Basic pdf.

Any way I look at it, it’s work. My fault for doing Druids at levels 3, 7 and 11. I have Sorcerers and Rangers too, but heir lists are much more manageable..

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RPG Book Club

I’ve started an RPG Book Club over at UK Roleplayers. It’s like regular book clubs in that each month we pick a book that we all commit to reading, hopefully playing, and then we come back to discuss it on the forum.

See here http://www.ukroleplayers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=18672

There’s a few takers already, which is heartening. Feel free to join in. The first pick is Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE for short) which is readily available at Pay What You Want.

We start the chat first week of April. After that, who knows? Could be Phoenix Command, could be Lasers & Feelings, could be Dragon Warriors. It’s up to Club membership which is a browser click to join. See you there.

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Dark Days

It’s been a rum old couple of months recently. Work has conspired to utterly destroy any disposable time I would normally enjoy, and gaming has been the biggest casualty. I’m now basking in the rays of a few precious days off, and all the gaming goodness has come flooding back in. First I’ve had some excellent work to review for some projects that should see the light this year. It’s a rare treat to get an editorial voice on things at such an early stage. I liked that.

I’ve also had the chance to sit down with my notebook and get properly stuck in to my game prep for the redoubtable Seven Hills con. They say pre-published scenarios are great for the time pressed. I spend so long reskinning and hacking them that arguably I’d have been better off starting from a blank sheet. Trouble is, I need a spur, and that’s what I pay for I guess. At least it’s coming together nicely. I’m running three games of D&D, all linked in a loose trilogy. The grunt work has been generating five PCs, each at three different levels (3, 7 and 11) and transferring them onto decent character sheets. The cool work has been drawing and annotating maps with felt tip and pencil.


In the free stuff pile I won the UKRoleplayers lucky dip and picked up The Chained Coffin for DCC. I never bought into the Kickstarter, but I do love me some DCC scenarios, even if the chance to actually play through them all remains unlikely. And the maps, oh Lord the maps…

And then this morning I get a delightful surprise through the letterbox from my old friend Dan Sell who has been kind enough to let me have hard copies of his excellent zine The Undercroft. I really should return the favour and send him some of my scribblings and etchings. But that might have to wait for another week off work.


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Ready Player One

Just finished this. Reviews are ten a penny everywhere, so I’ll simply say this. If you’re a gamer, of a certain vintage, then this will suit you down to the ground. I really enjoyed it. Get it before Hollywood makes it all wrong.


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The decent writer in the house delivers the goods

About five or six years ago I convinced the missus to try this old role playing game thing I’d been banging on about forever. She gave it a go, and played a brilliant PC for four years. She’s been “too busy” to play since then because she’s been busy writing a book. And now it’s done, and it’s apparently bloomin good (I wouldn’t know. I’m not allowed to read it in case I pick apart all the tropes. As if!)

So if you like fantasy adventure, from a fresh faced and hungry author (who knows her Fireball from her Hold Person) then you could do worse than point your browser and wallet in this direction.

Claire says thanks. As do I.



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Setting out a new stall for 2015

I’m full of good intentions, though mindful that real life has a tendency to get in the way of those. There are a few things I’d like to achieve for the coming year, so I’ll set them down now so I can at least get them out of my head and onto a screen.

D&D. Always my fallback position, but I’d like to get something going with 5e this year. I’m very tempted to stick to the three core books and cook up a homebrew campaign. I realise that’s the default set up for many, but I’ve always been attracted to published stuff in the past. Doing my own thing will scratch a creative itch, and save me a few quid too.

For that to really work I’ll need to get the gaming gang back together in earnest. We’ve become too distracted by other one shots in recent months to get a regular game in, but with 5e in particular, I think we could pull a campaign together.

Playing. G+ seems to be the place to try things out as a player.min recent times I’ve had a go at Delta Green and Numenera. I think I’d like to do more, as its low on investment and high on output. I can’t shake the feeling that it might be exactly the right format for something Gumshoe, and I’m glancing at Eternal Lies for Trail as I type.

One shots. I’m already signed up for the Seven Hills Con in April, and that will be here before I know it. The theme this year is ‘Steel’ and I’m tentatively thinking of a Red Steel game to run. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m going to get some Club action in, or possibly some pub meets, and they’ll provide the impetus for some scenario writing too.

Speaking of writing, I still have a few columns for UK Roleplayers in my mental pipeline. These are always well received, and I love having them done and up on the site. By their very nature they’re about nostalgia and reminiscence, but I think I can broaden the scope a little to more current projects.

Where I might do less is posting on fora. RPGnet has stopped being a must read for me for a while now. I think the posters on there are (like policemen) getting younger, and I don’t follow the same styles and ideals as they do. Even UKRP, which I’m a huge fan of, is sometimes a bit of a one way street. I put quality time into posting, and I think it might be more fruitfully spent being creative on actual gaming content. Dunno.

Reviews. I’m blessed in that people are sending me more and more stuff for review (I’ve got about five products in the pile right now) It’s a dilemma at times though. If it’s something I’m not massively interested by (or impressed by) then I don’t want to post negative comments just out of a sense of completeness. I’d rather say nothing. On the other hand, when it’s good stuff, then I like to think I can put together a good case for it, and my reviews are always the most visited part of the blog. Either way, they can be a real time sink. So, you tell me, reviews, or not reviews?

Art. If painting minis counts (and I think it does) then I’ll get some of that done. My Island of Blood set is coming along, and if I get free time, I’ll set about it again. Actual drawing though? I’d like to do more, and illustrating scenarios is the most likely spur to that.

Publishing. I’ve messed around with some zine stuff recently, and really enjoyed that. Perhaps I’ll dig around in the archives and polish up some stuff for printing. Treehouse Annual? A scenario compilation?

So loads of possibilities, and posting this is step one. Work and family demands are always pressing, but gaming is my passion, and that’s where I’d like to get more done. So I will.


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