Thursday, 31 December 2015

WE GOT ONE! A Ghostbusters Board Game Review

I had this 80s Ghostbusters board game as a micro-George: I was able to play it again just last year when I was cat-sitting for a friend that had it in her wardrobe.
After a couple of days of Christmas laziness - much of it spent stuffing as many Lindor chocolates in our mouths as is humanly possible - the good lady and I finally burst open one of my Christmas presents.  The Ghostbusters board game was set-up and we decided to spend an evening playing it to see what we made of it.

No matter how many players are in the game you always use the same amount of Ghostbusters, i.e. a full team of the four GBs themselves.  Therefore in a two person game it's two per player, so I took on Ray and Winston while Sister Superior took Peter and Egon - or as she called him, "Sexy, Sexy Egon."  (Remember she finds me sexually attractive, so obviously she has unusual tastes.

Set-up at the beginning of our first mission.  The ECTO-1 has arrived on the street, with all four Ghostbusters in tow, and three open gateways are surrounded by a multitude of ghosts of varying strengths.
So, how did things go down?  Did we like it?  Would I recommend it to my fellow geeks?

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Christmas Is Over (If You Want It)

A splendiferous Christmas Torchic from DeviantArt

 I trust that you've all had an enjoyable winter solstice festival of your preferred format.  If you are anything like Sister Superior and I you are happy, albeit somewhat heavier than you were beforehand and in possession of more chocolates than you have any real use for.

The only black mark on my Christmas, really, was the death of my PC monitor on boxing day which necessitated a trip into the sales to get a new one.  It wasn't a huge surprise as it had been behaving a little oddly for a while, but once it properly failed there wasn't much to be done bar trawl about for a quick and dirty replacement.

It wasn't quite this bad - it actually just kept turning itself off and on.
There was also some cultural exchange taking place, with Sister Superior showing me a few films I hadn't seen before.  I had my first viewings of The Santa Clause, Legally Blonde and The Nightmare  Before Christmas this week - while she saw for the first time the third best Christmas movie ever made, Die Hard.

Third best because... well, there are two other films I just can't go a Christmas without watching.

 Now, inevitably, you're going to want to know if I got any interesting gaming type stuff that falls under the remit of this blog.  Well, GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE!  I have!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Cloister Bell Ringeth

"The Nth Doctor": My Halloween costume this year, mashing elements from a few different incarnations of The Doctor.

After a one-off season which had a veritable mixed bag of games – mostly successful, including a Hellcats and Hockeysticks and Lady Blackbird nights that I should possible expand on some time - we felt it wasn’t quite time to return to one of our other three campaigns yet and that we’d maybe try a short campaign of something else instead to take us through December and the start of January.

Especially with people’s attendance likely to be spotty for the next few weeks due to Christmas nights out, journeys home and bad weather it seemed pointless to commit to a full-on game until we’re clear of Christmas and the New Year. The next game we'd be likely to play, Star Trek, really needs a fairly strict attendance because of the way Primetime Adventures works.

The contents of my pockets: UNIT ID Card, two pocket watches, a Dalek guide book,a  sonic screwdriver, Jelly Babies and some Peter Capaldi-esque flashcards.

The choice of game is one we’ve ran before for one or two sessions at a time – Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space.  I’ve never tried running this over a longer period of time and was interested in how it would feel over a four or eight week block.

Our game kept a standard “Time Lord in a TARDIS plus companions” model, with some people using pre-gens (albeit tweaking them) while a couple of others made their own.  The game could definitely be used for other things – a UNIT or Torchwood game set in a more grounded world might appeal, as might doing something more Deep Space Nine or Babylon 5-y and focusing on slightly shadier alien protagonists.  You could run a party full of Time Lords, perhaps a University class on a field trip or a special operatives team active during the Time War.  Those have never hugely appeals to me personally but others might find it easier to wrap their heads around those premises than one that apes the TV show more overtly.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Three's Company: A Multi-Person Dungeonbowl

It's All Cool If You're Following The Golden Rule
As part of my attempt to resuscitate this blog, I can bring you a report on my first wargamey type thing in ages which took place last week on Wednesday.

Priestly Paul invited me over to his, because he had a guest from out of town - Nottingham Oldhammer type Jon Boyce - and thought some sort of three person game could be fun.  After some discussion we settled on Dungeonbowl, so we gathered at Paul's house.  I brought along my Dungeonbowl tokens and board pieces, both authentic 1980s originals and scanned-and-printed duplicates, to assemble a large dungeon fit for three.

The dungeon layout as we prepare to start: three by three grid with end zones at the middle points.  Note I've eschewed the "big empty" rooms for a more cramped design.

In the vein of the classic Dungeonbowl rules, where teams were not mono-species but alliances formed by alliegence to the Colleges of Magic, each of the three teams were a fusion.  As per the 1990s 3rd update to the rules this meant each team had access to a Main Race, Other Race and Last Race with progressively fewer team members allowed from each person.  Jon chose his team to fight on behalf of the masters of Dark Magic and was made of Undead with some Dark Elves for grace and a Troll for muscle.  Paul meanwhile was there representing the Celestial College, so High Elves and Wood Elves allied together with the assistance of a Treeman.

Things were a little trickier for me, since my usual team choices aren't in the old Dungeonbowl rules. 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Is There Anybody Out There? Depression, With A BIt Of Roleplaying

...Is There Anybody OUT THERE?
Updates have been non-existent here for a month or so now, which may seem surprising when one considers how full of beans I was after Manchester.  Wasn't I inspired to go on with painting the Imperial Knight?  Didn't I have new terrain ideas?  Wasn't I ready to ramble on more about RPGs?
Er, it didn't quite work that way.

It was all so happy in the last post, wasn't it?

Alas, my depression has kicked in something rotten and what I first thought was a post-weekend-away-dip had rather persisted.  Curiously, it was the exact same time last year I crashed out of the blog - do I just subconsciously hate the bit of October that isn't halloween?  Life is full of mysteries, I guess.

I've not been posting on the blog because I've been struggling to do anything worth blogging about. My painting and modelling has dropped to zero, and I haven't even bought any figures or games worth discussing.  As I often do when I'm sick, I've had a tendency to just sort of stare into space with no expression on my face bar whatever is going on with my Peter Capaldi eyebrows


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

8:15 From Manchester - A Bearded Quail Travelouge

Actually it was the 9:07 from Glasgow, but the title is for kids of a certain generation
I may nickname my long term girlfriend, fellow nerd and generally fabulous partner Sister Superior but I ain't going to lie to you guys - I think her inclinations lie more with the Ruinous Powers than the loyalist Imperial inclinations of the usual Adeptus Sororitas.

These inclinations took us to Manchester at the weekend because she wanted to attend Sexhibition - essentially a giant expo to alternative, burlesque, erotic and other such affairs.   If you've ever been to a nerdy convention with speakers, performers, sellers stalls and the like then this was the same idea..... just for a slightly different audience.

They called it "Lady Godiva stool".  I called it "a tripedal Slaaneshi combat walker, just add your own guns"

I say slightly different audience because there were a lot of geeky men wandering around in Teefury T-Shirts, accompanying their more exotically attired girlfriends.  There's traditionally a lot of overlap between the three Gs - Gays, Geeks and Goths - so it's no wonder that plenty of people in attendence were ticking more than one of those boxes.

These included bumping into an English gentleman who I got chatting to because I spotted his Warhammer tattoo - a large Space Wolf logo was on his right arm.  Sister Superior and I ended up chatting to this chap and his missus a fair bit - turns out he's an Oldhammer type who used to work for GW many moons ago and also was a former member of the Gordon Highlanders, the regiment my Dad was in back in his army days.  Add a dash of having some shared friends in Glasgow and Sister Superior ended up with a lot of nerdy chat washing over her while she angled to get back to looking at the fashion stalls.

But come on, what Warhammer nerd wouldn't want to give this guy a high five?

Anyway, I shall not go further into the vent because the details of Sexhibition are not of interest to you, dear reader. 

....OK, that's a lie, they probably are of interest to you because of the whole "three Gs" thing and the fact that nerds go for a certain sort. However, the Bearded Quail is not subtitled "A Guide To A Glasweigan Gamer's Slightly Weird Deviances", is it?  Pictures and comments of the event, the people we met there and the items we bought there are not within the narrow remit of this blog so we'll skip over it unless people are specifically requesting it.

You don't want to know anything about Morgana, who as in attendance at the  event as a model, thought admittedly here she looks like a Pendragon NPC.
Instead, let's focus as we should on Nerdity and to the three nerdy stores I visited while in Manchester - what I thought of them and what I bought therein.  I didn't wander far from the city centre but found some great shops.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Ganieda, Sister Of Merlin: My 150th Post

A SNES game form the 90s based on a cartoon I have absolutely no recollection of.

The story of King Arthur is a broad church.  It includes a lot of obvious stuff: The Sword in the Stone book and film, the classic fiction like Le Morte Darthur or Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight and the more famous films like Excalibur, First Knight or that one where Keira Knightly was the most RADA trained Pict I've ever seen.  Recent TV shows like Merlin and Camelot also spring to mind.

This swarm of fiction includes some more obscure examples and some weird and wonderful characters who don't always make it into other versions.  Reading Le Morte Darthur my favourite character was Sir Palomides, a character who doesn't really get a look-in when it comes to films but comes across all the cooler for being a Saracen written by medieval Christian authors as pretty cool.  The Welsh myths give us a more dark ages Arthur and some proper pagan nonsense like the Troit Boar.   In The Mists of Avalon, we take the usually villanous Morgana Le Fay and make her far more sympathetic.

And there's a version of the story set at an American high school.  Obviously.

It is The Mists of Avalon which inspired my following piece of writing on Ganieda, the sister of Merlin.  She's a bit of a sparsely written character, mentioned in 12th century writing but never making it to the "big league" books we've addressed before.  I was interested enough in reading an article about her on Timeless Myths to incorporate her in my Pendragon game where she became a noteworthy NPC.

Search her name on Google and you find a spare collection of links.  Concerningly, the top search is Timeless Myths and the second top search is my own Wiki article on her for our game.

Number six is also me posting on a forum to find out if anyone else had used her.  The answer was no.
What follows below the cut is a piece I wrote on Ganieda for The Dragons of Britain, a free King Arthur RPG fanzine by Stephanie McAlea and that I'm reprinting here as an 150th Blog Post anniversary piece.  The piece got some positive comments on the Pendragon boards, but I'd like to try and get the character out to a wider audience.  Considering how little she has appeared in Arthurian literature over the years there is the concerning possibility I am the human being who has written the most about Ganieda, ever, in the history of the universe, which is a somewhat concerning position to be in.

Anyway, please read and enjoy the piece below.  Also check out the fanzine - I wrote another article in Issue #1 and it's had a few other issues since with some good material in there.

This magazine is free on RPGNow.Com, so check it out!

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Fourth Rule Of Book Club Is: Only Two Guys To A Book

Not the biggest booked we've ever done for the book club, but still a big book
Monday 3rd August was the latest Forbidden Planet Book Club meeting, and this time round one of our newer members was asked to select a book. This latest book was Seconds, by Bryan Lee O'Malley - the man behind the Scott Pilgrim series, though this time with a few extra hands doing colouring and other tasks.

I suspect even if you haven't read the six part manga-a-like Scott Pilgrim comics you are almost certainly familiar with the film a few years ago, which made a fairly big splash in nerd circles but seemed to do poor business at the box office.  (Turns out a film that starts with the intro sound effect from The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past is just a bit too niche)

I was a little nervous going into this book, because while I enjoyed Scott Pilgrim for the most part I knew nothing about this latest book.  A few people at the club were champing at the bit to read it…. But then they had been similarly excited about The Sculptor and I found that to be a bit of a waste of time.  I have a bit of a contrary streak in me, it must be said: if everyone is buzzing too much about something I can't help but gaze at it a little sceptically.  (A prime example being my opinion on Neil Gaiman which isn't quite as reverential as everyone else.)

However, these concerns were all for naught because I would have to say that Seconds is very good - in fact, possibly better than Scott Pilgrim as an artistic unit.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Pygmy Fallout - And Some Good & Bad Figures From Other Manufacturers

So, my last post about the Pygmies was intended to be a sort of companion piece to Orlygg or Zhu's older blog posts on the same topic.  Their analysis was more positive than mine and recent events prompted me to write what I thought of as a sort of rebuttal.

A quick check online revealed it was a topic the Oldhammerers had talked about before but I thought a piece that mentioned both arguments, had some pictures and tried to present it in a newbie-friendly way might be interesting. If nothing else, my local gaming chums aren't huge Oldhammerers so they might not know the history and might be interested to read about the offending pieces.

Some of the offending pieces.

As I often do after I've written a blog post, I posted a link to any appropriate Facebook groups I'm a member of to try and drive some traffic and start some conversation.  I posted it to four Facebook groups all in, and the three generic gaming/modern 40K groups were all perfectly pleasant and civilised about it.

For whatever reason, the Oldhammer group went nuclear very quickly.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Perils Of Pygmies - Are These Old Figures Racist?

Don't You Forget About Me

 In my last post I mentioned the Zoats, a race who are no longer extant in Warhammer.  Most such excised races were attempts to create new races whole-cloth to give Warhammer something unique rather than a pastiche of classic ideas – for every success story like the rat-men Skaven, there was a somewhat abortive idea like the one-eyed Fimir or faux-Mongolian Hobgoblins that didn’t quite last the course.

Reading older editions of the rules can reveal a surprising amount of time spent on ideas that people who started playing the 90s would know nothing about, or whom were very heavily changed – the frog-men Slaan for example, who as late as 3rd edition had a full army list but for the bulk of my play time have been represented on the table by a single, bloated toad-man leading a Lizardman army.

When I first got my copy of the 3rd edition rules and army lists, perusing them from the vantage point of the 21st century, the race that struck me as most incongruous was not the Fimir, the Zoats, the Slaan, the Amazons, the Gods of Law or even the Nippon Kamikazes.  Instead, it was one of the kinds of human that was presented as allies/slaves of the Slaan.

This race are named after the Pygmies, and talking about them is going to be a part-geek ramble, part-political argument.  In short, this might be a bit more SERIOUS than normal.  Set your expectations accordingly.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Blast From The Past: White Dwarf 97

I was hugely fond of this film as a child, and it came out in the year we are talking about today.

From the depths of eBay I got my hands on White Dwarf 97 – the issue before the last issue to feature on my Blast From The Past section.  The issue date is January 1988 and as such we are once again looking back to the cusp of a big change in the company.  Here we see the arrival of wargaming and in particular 40K articles taking up sizeable real estate and threatening the RPG side of the magazine for limelight.

One gets the feeling from these issues that the then recent Warhammer 40,000 release has been a much bigger deal than expected – original Warhammer author Rick Priestly has explained in interviews that there was a lot of skepticism that the game would do any business, which from the vantage point of 2015 seems particularly surreal.  Warhammer 40,000 is regularly considered to be the main game of modern Games Workshop with Fantasy trailing behind – but back in the mid-80s, science fiction wargaming was considered a niche affair.  Even now, the same opinion marks roleplaying games – D&D and related fantasy games remain the RPG baseline.

Anyway, enough rambling!  Here comes some pictures of the pages that most grabbed my attention in this issue of White Dwarf and my comments thereof.   Those who wish to know should read on. Others may wish to skip on to the last picture which is a good bit and has Discworld in it.

Monday, 3 August 2015

General Status Update Type Thing

"Kiff, I have made it with a woman.  Inform the crew."

So, what's been happening in the world of George's nerdity since last I blogged?

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

In The Grim Darkness Of The Past There Is Only Lead: A Warhammer 40,000 Battle Report

Today I give you a battle report, but with a difference.  I met up with Paul at the weekend - a gentleman who I met through The Oldhammer Community on Facebook.  We've met once before and chatted a few times online but today we were getting together for our first game against each other.

Now, unlike some people in these circles I still play the newer versions of the game: much as, unlike some of the people who read the RPG Grognard blogs, I play some fairly modern and non-Gygaxian RPGs as well.  but I do have an interest in older versions of games I like, as previously mentioned. With Games Workshop games in particualr it's the background of the older product that appeals to me - I'm more interest in the late eighties/early nineties world than the more modern interpretation of it.  I still consult the older books for painting ideas, background inspiration and general enjoyment even if I tend to use the newer manuals to actually play games.

My WFB 1st/2nd/3rd/4th and 40K 1st/2nd books sit alongside their more recent brethren.

However, Paul gave me the chance to do more than just be inspired.  Glad to have met a fellow Oldhammer type person in Glasgow, he invited me to his pad to play a game of the very first edition of Warhammer 40,000 - with it's superfluous subtitle Rogue Trader.  He's a little older than me so played as a youth but by the time I got into Warhammer proper it was moving into 2nd Edition and so I've never had the pleasure.  I've had a copy of the core rulebook for the first edition for over a decade - it's one of the first things I ever bought on eBay - but it had never seen use as a wargaming rulebook.

.... and now, in my best Clarkson voice: Until now!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Painting And Modelling Progress - Hobgoblins & Knight Titan

My painting and modelling tools all piled up on the shelf
RPGs have predominated recently but this started as a wargaming blog and I've finally got some wargaming updates to share with you.  Today it's an update on what's happening on my assembly line, while next post I should have a couple of battle reports to share with you.  Inevitably there will be an Age of Sigmar update too, since the new Warhammer Fantasy rules are a bit of a Bloodthirster in the room.

Painting wise, the last project you saw me work on was the Hobgoblins.  Remember when I only had ten?  Now I have more.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Communism & Computers - Playing Night Witches & Save Game

For though he was master of the game, was not quite sure what to do next.  But he would think of something.
 Our block of playing Traveller at our Thursday night roleplaying sessions has come to an end.  The group had slightly mixed feelings about it, some of which I've discussed before - I think it's a game we might play again but only with some changes to the premise and rules to keep things moving - the trading rules in particular seemed to work poorly for us with Sister Superior finding the whole sub-system a boring and long-winded affair, and no-one disagreed with her all that much.

Rather than leap straight into our next campaign block we took two weeks off for one-offs. We usually take longer but since Traveller lasted longer than expected I didn't want to dawdle.  Still, I got the chance to run two games I've never ran before - both using systems that are popular on the interwebs.  Will they turn out to be all that, or will my group not be as wowed by the RPG.Net Darlings?

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Round Perdition's Flame - My First Games Of Star Trek Attack Wing

Explosions in the Mutara Nebula

I've written a couple of times before about the Star Trek RPG I occasionally run.  This is a very Next Gen style affair, all about the soul and diplomacy and resolving problems peacefully.  We only do violent starship-style exchanges for end of season affairs - much like the Next Gen TV show did, in fact.

Despite that, sometimes I have an itch for spaceship combat that I like to scratch.  One of the first wargames I played when I got back into the hobby as an adult was the Babylon 5 starship combat game, and last year I got the Star Fleet version of those rules.  (I've still to give them a try - I must get someone onboard to try them out sometimes soon)

Aaron introduced this to me a decade ago, when my Warhammer urge was lying fallow.
However, another Star Trek game is the focus of today's post.  A game I've walked past on Static's shelves for ages but never tried.  A game whose figures I've seen and glanced at as RPG props but always passed up. A game part of a family of several other popular games but of which I have no experience of.

I speak of Star Trek: Attack Wing.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Free RPG Day (And Some 5th Ed D&D Thoughts)

Saturday was Free RPG Day, an annual event in which special product is given away free at a variety of RPG stores.  These freebies weren't inventory-clearing back catalogue items but specially designed and are predominantly quick-play scenarios, often with basic rules included so newbies can get started straight away.  There are also sometimes other little oddities like dice, cards or what have you.

Inevitably the product ties into games which are either current or upcoming - it's not uncommon for the quick-starts to be preview for games expected to launch in the next couple of months.  Unfortuantely for the last few years Dungeons and Dragons has not participated officially - Wizards mostly run their own events these days rather than join in the general purpose gaming ones - and with a lack of any hugely exciting new games launching lately it hasn't felt quite as big a deal to me as it was a few years ago when it was a "get to store as quickly as possible" kind of event to get the preview of the new Changeling/Paranoia/Warhammer 40,000 systems.

Just next to the Clydesdale bank where Games Workshop used to be.  But you knew that already.

Still, I came along to a local shop this year because they weren't just giving away free product but also hosting an open GM space.  Geek-aboo, more a geek clothing and accessory shop but with a small RPG section, set aside a few tables and asked for GMs to turn up to run some bits and pieces.  Anyone could run what they want, though of course they'd prefer you use the quick-starts since they ordered the things in especially!

I answered this call, because if there's one thing RPGs lack it's public events to entice newbies in.  RPGs can be a tough thing to get into unless you have an experienced person to show you the ropes - the classic D&D beginner boxes in toy shops are a thing of a past and while they helped get me into the hobby these days there's nothing really like that.  If you aren't already visiting your Statics, Dragon & Georges or whatever you're unlikely to bump into the hobby and without a university gaming society you'd struggle to assemble a group of like-minded friends.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Rhino Keys In The Bowl: An Army-Swapping Warhammer 40,000 Army Report

Banshee and Bugbear snooze while the armies are set up
Last weekend I got a phonecall from Charles asking me to come round to his to play a game.  He was all for a game of Warhammer 40,000 and found himself stuck in the flat looking after a wife recovering from an operation and two new kittens - would I come and amuse him?

Truth be told, team, my heart wasn't in it.  I would have been all for playing one of the many other nerdy games out there but a game of Warhammer 40,000 was not setting my heather alight.  I trucked out with my figures, hoping my mood might change when I arrived, but I found myself still a bit despondent at the whole thing.

A Noise Marine-less chaos force lands on the table
However, Charles was not for saying no.  His suggestion to keep things more interesting was to do an army swap game - that is, we'd both build an army from our own figure collection for our opponent to use.  This meant that Charles found himself in charge of a Chaos Space Marine force, while I was in possession of his Orks.  We switched armies, codices.... we even switched dice.

If you're going to do it, do it properly
I found myself for the first time in charge of a swarm of green, violent football hooligans who were intent on running across the table and sticking da boot in.  Charles had some grasp of how my rules work - he's ran Chaos Space Marine many moons before and is also more into 40K than I am - but I was flying a bit blind when it came to the wargear, stat blocks and special rules for this force.

Nonetheless, I girded my loins and went into the fray with the most middle class "WAAAAAAAAAAAARGH" I could muster

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Third Rule Of Book Club Is: The Plot Says Stop, Goes Limp, Taps Out, The Book Is Over.

I have done you all a great disservice, dear readers.  As well as being lax on posting about painting updates and my last game of Warhammer, I have also not spoken about the last meeting of book club a few weeks ago.  This is especially unfortunate since it was our very own Sister Superior who chose the book for this meeting.

Ethel and Ernest is by Raymond Briggs, well known in the UK for his works like The Snowman, Fungus The Bogeyman and Father Christmas.  These titles are better known for their animated adaptations - I've mentioned The Snowman before, the cartoon of which has been shown every Christmas without fail by Channel 4 since its d├ębut.  His other works risk being forgotten in the shade of these titans, but he did some other fine things.

Both the book and film of When The Wind Blows are worth checking out.  WARNING: NOT CHEERY.

Ethel and Ernest is the life story of Raymond Briggs' parents - from when they first meet in the late twenties until their death in the seventies.  Their story leaps months and years at a time, covering everything from their first date to Raymond's birth to the second world war to their dotage and final deaths in a surprisingly short amount of time.  Unlike the mammoth tome that The Sculptor was, this is a short and to the point piece.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Library Data: Coturnix Inc Update 003

Datestamp: 217-1105 1235

Connecting to server...
Authenticating credentials...
Credentials confirmed - starship computer, BARONESS GRANTHAM

Transferring update requests....
Downloading entry 1 of 82,517...
** What's with all the X-Boat traffic?  Seems awfully busy for an Amber Zone - Cat **

Here's yet more Library Data for the Traveller game I'm running.  Once again, it's a mixture of things we've established in game and things I've had percolating away in my head.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Blast From The Past - White Dwarf 98

She had her first number one in February 1988, the cover date of this issue of White Dwarf

Prior to my recent purchases, my oldest White Dwarf was issue 98.  This isn't the first issue I bought in the flesh, back in the day - rather it's one of a bunch of back issues I found by making several visits to a second-hand fair in my native suburb of Bearsden when I was a nerdy teenager.  These were prized possessions of mine back in the day when one couldn't just eBay any old thing.

Since the last post about old White Dwarfs seemed popular, I thought I'd do a rundown of what catches my eye about this issue.  This time round you are getting, including the cover, ten pages - though there's two two-page spreads in that mix.

The cover, bright and bold

A sight at the cover will reveal a big change from the last two - those are unmistakable Space Marines.  Yes, Warhammer 40,000 arrived just a couple of months ago and has made a big dent on the magazine.  The last issues we reviewed felt mostly RPG magazines with a dabbling into wargaming, but now the spread is much more even.  Articles on WFRP, Runequest and Stormbringer must fight for space with fluff and rules articles covering 40K and Warhammer Fantasy battles, as well as board games.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Behind The Claw - A Traveller Podcast

"This one goes out to all the GMs"
Most of my RPG writing is purely in blog or web forum form - though I have two articles printed in Pendragon fanzine The Dragons of BritainHowever, today I can tell you I have a piece in an RPG podcast, one I think you should listen to even without my input!

Behind the Claw is a half-hour podcast specializing in Traveller - original 1979 "little black book" Traveller, though most of the content is fairly easy to port into modern Mongoose edition.  The host, Felbrigg Herriot, shares his thoughts on topics like little-known rules or plot hooks.  I find it quite easy to listen to and enjoy an episode on the way into work.

Part 11 contains, at the end, a contribution by myself.  One of the many bounties my group have been given to hunt, Bremno Khan, has been shared with the rest of the world.  Please enjoy!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Library Data: Coturnix Inc Update 002

Datestamp: 166-1105 1505

Connecting to server...
Authenticating credentials...
Credentials confirmed - starship computer, BARONESS GRANTHAM

Transferring update requests....
Downloading entry 1 of 101,673...
** Right, I'm off to the bar, I'll check in with this later - Jeremiah **

Here's some more Library Data for the Traveller game I'm running.  A mixture of things we've established in game and things I've had percolating away in my head.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Bargain Hunting - White Dwarf 78 and 84

Clydesdale Bank sits on Queen Street where the first Glasgow branch of Games Workshop used to.... amusingly, there's a new nerd shop next doo.
I've been nerding for a fair chunk of my life.  My first ever issue of White Dwarf was number 145, way back when Games Workshop's Glasgow branch was situated on Queen Street.  Many a weekend I'd go along that street, past my cooler classmates queuing to go into underage disco Archaos, to go pick up my latest White Dwarf and a blister of High Elves.

I do own some older White Dwarfs, though , mainly collected from trips to various collector fairs, car boot sales or charity shops.  When one is a nerdy like myself, these kind of places one frequents in search of bargains - and because, pre-eBay, they were your only hope of finding anything at all.  Nowadays I take it as a given that I can purchase Blood Bowl paraphernalia from the comfort of my smart phone - back in the dark days, I greedily snapped up every relic of dead games I could find.

Anyway, this long rambling intro is all to say I got two old copies of White Dwarf from a local charity shop.  At a pound a pop I was quite happy to get the oldest issues I now own - 78 and 84.  These date from the mid 80s and are almost as old as me.

Front covers.  That Santa Cthulhu is ace.

 Reading these is a time machine, in the manner of my earlier post about enjoying older editions of games.  At this stage White Dwarf is principally a magazine for roleplaying and board games as stocked in Games Workshop stores, as likely to have been imported from America as designed in-house.  Adverts and articles do exist for wargaming but it's just one of many strings to their bow.   Notably we're a year or so away from Warhammer 40,000 and the total transformation this will do on a hobby which at this point is very fantasy heavy,

Below are five of my favourite pages from each issue with some comments about what this says of the era.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Library Data: Coturnix Inc Update 001

Library Data:Informational data stored on shipboard computer systems as a research aid to it's crew.  Most starship computers come pre-packaged with a current Library Data file and subscription services, such as the Imperial Encyclopedia or the TAS Overview, provide updates with the latest information.  Almost all starports of C Class or above provide a free Library Data download supplement to all arrivals, with key information on the planet in question such as legal codes and starport services.  ** It also lets you leave comments for your own records, like this one - Dor **

As an aide to my players, this is one of possibly a series of posts where stuff we've confirmed/invented/expanded for our campaign will appear.  I don't think we're going to play Traveller enough to justify a campaign wiki, but I do think there's enough weird stuff happening to warrant something the players can read between sessions.