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!