Sunday, January 29, 2012

Warrior-Lords of Darok pt2

Next in Darok we come to 5 pages describing the geography, history and warrior culture of Darok.  The battle proven are leaders and the state religion is a cult of Akhora brought over by barbarian mercenaries.  Actual wizards are frowned upon and only members of the cult are accepted practitioners.  A separate book covering the capitol (Shaylle) was planned but not released for TFT.  Instead, the completed TFT work for Shaylle was reworked to match a d20 system and released as City of the Sacred Flame.

Next are 3 pages of major NPC's in Darok including a brief write up of personality, treasure and equipment.  Following this, is a village (Ghee) with buildings notated and stocked with NPC's.  After the village set up, is a companion scenario The Treasure of Zierro Mhaddray, set on the plans of Darok.  Next are additional rules for horsebreaking.  First (and last) time I have read 3 pages on horsebreaking in an RPG or its supplement!

The next pages are dedicated to additional scenarios to play, and possible random encounters (like a hexcrawl) while players are in Darok.  On the balance the few scenarios are interesting, but the hexcrawl bits are quite good.   Odd that a as completely hex mapped system, TFT failed to develop a hex crawl tool.  Gamelords provide a limited on in this book specifically for Darok, but it could easily be applied elsewhere.

Finally, the book ends with Random tables to create NPC Fighter, Wizard,...and THIEF.  As TFT only designated characters as either wizard or hero, it is interesting to see a codified Thief option and title in an official TFT book.  In all the tables are functional but unspectacular.

So what do I think?  As Darok was the first in the line to be published, I see it as a pretty good teaser for a much broader and more expansive line that never was.  This is disappointing on a number of different levels.  First, these came out right as TFT was dying.  While I don't think it would have saved Metagming, in any way, this range of supplements as planned were the first true RPG supplements for the TFT system beyond the core rules.  Its inclusion of scenarios, a village, NPC's, treasure tables and basic hexcrawl tables were a much needed addition to flesh out and expand TFT.  TFT as a system and product line remains a vast expanse of what ifs in my mind, and Warrior-Lords of Darok serves to further that expanse.  If you are interested, my own take on a basic rules TFT inspired the system can be downloaded at Heroes & Other Worlds.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Warrior-Lords of Darok, Part1

This supplement was to be the first of 4 broadly describing the Land beyond the Mountains.  The residents, according to the book, cleverly call this area-The Land...uhm...yeah.  Moving on...

The Land is actually a great big island.  A brief history discusses some strange folks who originally mined with hi-tech stuff, then left the Land and abandoned their stuff.  Aeons pass, some cat has map of hidden gold, and eventually colonies start.  The land is rules be one family until some old crown sporting cat who can't make a decision on succession so he splits up the Land among his 4 sons...then trouble ensues.  Now the Land is split into four counties: Darok, Muipoco, Dihad, and Soukor.  Welcome to the Land pilgrim.

What is interesting in reading this is how epic the plans were for this series of sandbox supplements.  Each county was to be given a book, then specific capitol cities were to have add-on books. From reading the line summary, it would appear the 4 country books were all written as they were due to release in the same year in pairs (Darko/Dihad first then Muipoco/Soukor).  Pity they did not and one must wonder if the manuscripts for Muipoco and Soukor lie in a file in someone's office somewhere.

After the history and intro comes the "using this book" section.  One of the issues with having a heavy skill system are the stat blocks.  While the ones in Darok are nowhere near 43...or even 3e in length, for the time they were more involved then D&D"

Name and Stats (ST, IQ, DX, MA)
Weapons (type, damage)
Armor (type, protection)
Talents (Skills-listed)
Spells (Type-listed)
Special Possessions (listed)

Then came the Treasure Factor (could be a Fox reality show?) description table.  In shorthand it shows how much in total value (coins/goods) the person or building may have as well as  the possibility of finding significant treasures.  The table also shows if the person or building will have guards or traps.  It's simple in presentation, but a bit klunky I think in practice.

That summarizes the basics for the Land Beyond the Mountain series set we enter Darok proper...


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Warrior Lords on the horizon

As I develop more bits for my TFT inspired Heroes & Other Worlds RPG, I am re-reading Warrior-Lords of Darok and The Forest Lords of Dihad.  These two TFT books were developed by Gamelords, the folks behind the Thieves Guild RPG.

Thinking of the slew of D&D aids that came out in the golden age of RPG's, its amazing ho little support TFT really had.  In fact only one traditional modular (Tollenkar's Lair) was ever published!

I will post some thoughts as I finish each book.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Release the dogs of war!

Well I can't seem to leave well enough alone, and that's just fine.  So after creating a trilogy of skirmish rules this week...for fantasy, zombies, and made sense to add a modern warfare element.

So OPFORS is now available for download!  You could play fun skirmish battles from the 20th and early 21st century with these rules...and it includes VEHICLE RULES!

I paid NO attention to things like worrying about a German 88 guns vs. a Sherman's rear armor in a down slope firing position during a rain storm in November of 1944.  Nope, it is strictly meant to get out your models and start playing!  Lots of detailed rule sets are out there already, but in 6 pages of rules you now have the chance to throw some tanks, dog faces, terrorists, or special forces onto the table top and have some fun in under an hour!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


...and to complete the hat-trick of skirmish miniature rules, its Sci-Fi for the win!

Rogue Space Skirmish rules (version 1.1) are now available for download.

And in case you missed the first two skirmish rules sets:

Zombies Attack Skirmish A zombie survival minis game.

Heroes & Other Worlds Skirmish A Fantasy minis game.

In 4 days, that's 3 games, 2 bleary eyes, and 1 tired brain!  Off to breakfast, then the table top becomes a battlefield again!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Zombies Attack Skirmish

With the fun and success of Heroes & Other Worlds Skirmish rules, it made sense (in my mind) to convert the rules to play a Zombies Attack Skirmish game.

Zombies Attack is my zombie survival pocket RPG, and the Zombies Attack Skirmish rules let you play out miniature based combat scenarios quick and deadly.

You can download the skirmish rules, or go wild and download the rpg and its supplement and the skirmish rules all at one time!  Find them all on my Zombies Attack blog.

If there is enough interest I think an OPFOR (modern military vs terrorist) spin on the rules could be next, or maybe more ZA Skirmish scenarios? Who knows what fevered ideas may breakout next.

I recommend Rebel Minis as a great source for quality 15mm figures to use.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Battle Report

My wife and I played a battle today using my Heroes & Other Worlds Skirmish rules and I thought it would be good to post a quick synopsis of the fight.  Note, while my wife likes games, this is not the sort of game she is used to playing.  So while she can tell an Orc from a Goblin, she isn't a hard core miniature Valkyrie.

Her Forces
1 Sorceress with mage staff, sword, leather armor and spells Hex bolt and Hold
1 Knight with chain, sword and shield
1 Spear guy with chain and shield
1 archer with chain, dagger and bow
1 archer with leather, dagger and bow

Him Forces
3 goblin archers in leather with bow and dagger
3 orc fighters in leather with shield and sword
1 Necromancer with mage staff, dagger, and the spells Shatter and Coward

The battlefield 24x24 with 16 chessmen scattered around in diamond pattern. In the center of the board was The fabled ORB OF MIGHT!

Goal: Grab the Orb of might and take it off the board back to your wizard's keep. We each started on opposite sides of the board.

I arrayed my forces goblin archer in a line first, followed by a row of 3 orcs and the Necromancer Eddie in
the back.

She placed archers on the wings, with knight and spear man in the middle and the sorceress behind the row of  warriors.

Turns 1-3 move to contact

Turn 4: First blood. A goblin archer shot her spear man...but was shot in return fire from a human archer.  Her: 4 left, Him: 6 left

Turn 5: Goblin archer takes gem and sorceress casts hex bolt killing goblin.  Goblin archer returns the favor and kills the sorceress.  Second human archer and remaining goblin trade fire, goblin loses that exchange. Her: 3 left (2 archer 1 knight)  Him: 4 living (3 orcs & necromancer)

Turn 6: Orc moves in to retrieve Orb. Necromancer casts shatter on archer's bow...but he gets a shot off and kills the necromancer. Another orc is dropped by the second archer.  Her 3 left (dagger wielding archer, knight and archer) Him: 2 orcs.

Turn 7: Orc carrying orb moves to leave the battle field, second orc moves into hand to hand with knight, they trade blows but both survive. Archer shoots at orb carrying orc and hits...his shield. Her 3 left, Him 2

Turn 8: Orb orc moves further away, interference orc chargers archer...and is shot dead.

Turn 9: Orb orc moves closer to edge of board...and is shot by William Tell in the back...The Red Knight has his men retrieve the orb and its off to the bar to quaff some brews.  Her 3 left, Him:0

The whole battle, with explanations, questions and spell reference, took 50 minutes and I spent 30 in prepping figure sheets and the battlefield.  A roaring success as we will face off again after dinner.

Some tweaks and clarifications are still necessary, but I think I can clean it up and have it in a 12 page booklet soon!  As is, the pocket mod works well and is free to download!

Intelligence 18, Wisdom 3...a rant

So  the 3 original AD&D hardbacks (that most gamers have) are being reprinted...

Why the hype? Who really cares? 4e players? Pathinder fans? OSR? I'd say nobody SHOULD care! You can get old copies of the originals easily, and if some altruistic impulse makes you want a statue of Gary, go make one from mashed potatoes, or just donate your game book purchase funds IN TOTAL to a statue, not a mystery percentage-the whole dollar amount! How can folks bash Hasbro for mishandling of the game and the rules, and then support them with your dollars when they reprint some old stuff? WTF people!

For all your intelligence you critically lack wisdom! How many retro clones (OE through 3.5) are out there (many available FREE)and easily purchased, and well supported ALREADY?  Want the old books? Go buy THE ORIGINALS!

Still you slavishly follow the dragon into the dungeon. Swear to heaven, at least when Odysseus knew he was headed into trouble he had the sense to be lashed to the mast so he could do no harm when he heard the siren's song. Do you have this wisdom? No. Like a former love who treated you like crap and says, "baby, this time it will be different" you believe it!  FOOLS!

It's a trap!  They know how much cred the OSR has, they see the vitality, creativity and originality they lost, and now like a stranger with candy they are trying to lure you back in to the shiny van with a Wizard painted on its side.  Kick them in the junk and tell them to get bent!

Ask yourself why aren't they going after Paizo and retuning to a modified 3.5??  Pathfinder is the sales and game king right now and they can't compete there?  So they are going to go back, try to lure the OSR in and gain support from the gamers they treated like a rented mule?  Seriously folks.  The Red Box reprint was a failed attempt at this. Now the current rumors of going back to earlier editions and making one rules set to play them all is so much B.S. it makes me sick to think some folks can't see the crap through the flies.

Do whatever you like, but I see it, I don't like it, and I won't support it. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Skirmish rules done

The first draft of the Heroes & Other Worlds Skirmish rules is done.  It is in a pocket mod booklet form and ready for download and playing at my Heroes & Other Worlds blog.

If you are a TFT fan, check out my Heroes & Other Worlds RPG there as well.

You add figures (lego or otherwise) some six sided dice and a battlefield or grid map.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Heroes & Other Worlds Skirmish

Inspiration has struck again with an unexpected turn. Inspired by the original board game elements of Melee/Wizard, Cry Havoc and the old Heritage USA miniature rules for their Dungeon Dwellers games, I plan on releasing a miniatures based skirmish game for Heroes & Other Worlds.  When? How about in the next day or two.  Pick some figs, some six sided dice, and go to war.

You will be able to build your own forces, pick spells and make little war bands to do battle. They can gain experience and maybe special abilities too.  This will all be contained within the pages of a wee pocket mod booklet. A few monsters will be included, but I think a separate Book of Beasts will ultimately be a separate add on if the initial foray meets with success. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cry Havoc!

Back in the early 80's there was another game we played quite a bit, though maybe not as intended.  Cry Havoc was a series of man to man skirmishing war games from Standard Games in the U.K.  It used colorful counters and maps to simulate warfare from the medieval era.  Games sets existed for everything from Vikings to Crusades to Samurai and Fantasy warfare. While the rules are not difficult, to the modern eye they are a bit too crunchy. Below is a good description of the game system from Lutz Pietschker:

The game scale is one-man-one-counter, though in fact each character is represented by more than one counter depending on his state of health and, for knights and other cavalry, whether he is mounted or dismounted. Playing pieces (18 mm square cardboard counters) show barons and knights, sergeants, spearmen and so on, down to poorly armed peasants and even civilians and their mules. Each character has a name and a nice illustration printed on the counter. This makes the playing experience very "personal" as you follow the fate of your knights and men-at-arms through the scenarios. The fact that the counters of killed men remain on the map also gives a distinctive feel to the game (if there are enough of them, they even hinder movement!).

One game turn represents about 10 seconds, one 25-mm map hex about 2 metres of terrain.
The mapboards are approximately 40 by 60 cm each and show a village and crossroads (with a small castle, a forest, a watering place, etc. added by other games of the series). These maps are excellent and printed on semi-laminated cardboard stock. They are not quite isomorphic, i.e. though most of them will fit to each other there are some edges that might show different terrain in adjacent half-hexes. This is especially true, of course, for the maps containing a coastline or a river. 

The units are, as mentioned above, single persons of different social class. Each person has only 3 status values which are all printed on the counter, namely an attack strength, a defence strength, and a movement point allowance. These values correspond roughly to the equipment carried and armour worn. They also vary with the health status of the person. A wound approximately halves the values, while characters fall back to just a minimal defence strength while stunned. Combat results can have a person retreat, or reduce him to "stunned" (inactive) status for one round, or wound him, or kill. A second wound/stun result immediately kills. Cavalry have additional double-size counters showing the mounted state (healthy and wounded), the dismounted horse, and a dead horse. The fact that all stats are printed on the counter front and back eliminates any book-keeping. If a person is stunned the counter is just flipped on the back side. With each game some 50 to 150 characters are supplied. 

The scenarios give a background story and victory conditions. Technically, they state which mapboards are used, the order of battle of both sides, and initial set-up. They are usually not limited to a certain number of game turns but demand control of a certain location or, more often and quite in line with the name of the game, the destruction of the enemy forces.
An average scenario usually can be played in 1 to 3 hours, though there are some bigger scenarios that can hardly be played in one day. Scenarios include "Street Fight", "Peasant Revolt", "City Sack", "Burning the Camp", and Design-Your-Own rules. Sounds promising, doesn't it? 

The game is played in strictly alternating player turns (a concept that allows to get by with a minimum of book-keeping and also makes for the excellent play-by-mail capability). Each player turn has a fixed sequence of action options like missile fire, movement, second fire of fast-loading missiles like bows and slings, combat, and possible retreats/advances.
Movement is governed by the in-hex and hexside terrain and is limited by the available movement points of the characters. In addition to normal movement options like leading animals, climbing ladders etc. are available. 

Combat and missile fire are governed by tables. For combat, the relation of attack strength to defensive strength are calculated. The result points to a table column; it is then modified for terrain influences and other factors. You roll a 10-sided die, cross-index the roll with the table column, and get the result. Multiple attacking characters add their strengths if they do not wish to attack separately. For missile fire the table column used does not depend on strength values but on factors like weapon, range, and cover. Both tables come printed on a 20 by 30 cm player aid card that also gives a terrain overview and some additional data. 

Even with a considerable number of characters on each side the game plays fast and smoothly. In turbulent skirmishes it is even sometimes hard to see at one glance which characters belong to which player since the counters have no faction marks, and even if you place them pointing to your home edge of the map players have been known to shoot at own troops in their excitement. As you can see, the game provides some realism even with the simple approach it takes! 

Other action options are given in the subsequent games of the series, adding short rules sections as required. These range from transports like carts, wagons and ships to usage of special equipment like siege engines. Also, rules for night action and for swimming are given. Unfortunately, the rule set became ever less clear with each module and option, and there were also rules changes when Eurogames published their version. This is no real obstacle when playing face-to-face but can become a nuisance when playing by mail. This situation has spawned my extended and consolidated rules set. 

While we did play it a few times as presented, it was way to fiddly trying to switch out counters all the time to show each guy's status.  So for each guy you had multiple counters to keep track of.  Including body count markers.  Now if that guy was mounted?  Then you had his horse too AND the guy on it mounted, un-mounted, wounded, stunned, killed...blah.  Plus, lose a few counters or have the dog swallow a couple more...and its game over for that character.  The game was a great idea, but suffered from the "accuracy over fun" problem that takes a game too far into the simulation realm for me to enjoy.

Fortunately though, maps and counters were PERFECT for using and expanding our Melee/Wizard stuff and that's just what we did! The rules, maps and counters are readily available on the the internet. Even a white belt in google-fu will find them.  As I have my own spin on the old Melee/wizard/TFT rules now available, I will be posting some Cry Havoc maps today  and cleaned up useable counters next week.  My game rules and the Cry Havoc items can be found at my Heroes & Other Worlds game blog.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

D&D 5e: Vox Populi

So 5th edition is on the march and the people will have their voice in it.  

Question, is that necessary? In short, no.

1)       WotC has all the market info they need already in the form of: reaction to 4th, success of Pathfinder, and the rise of OSR.  What is Billy from Madison going to tell you? I like goblins more than skeletons? Who cares!
2)       Everyone has a way they play the grand old game and no one will be 100% happy with your design decisions.  By involving people, you are instantly creating conflict and potential backlash against your game before it launches.  New untried games may need this, D&D does not.
3)       While this does provide a “social media” buzz the marketing kids are hot for, it will not provide a workable nor cohesive design blue print.  
4)       This only reaches out to or excites the veteran players who will buy your stuff anyway! The new potential player will not be responding to this, and frankly THAT is who you should be reaching out to most.  Swapping pieces of the same pie around with Paizo is pointless, you need to get a bigger pie my friend.

To me this idea is akin to asking everyone watching the Oscars to vote on what the best movie of all time is, and announce you will make a movie based on an amalgam of people’s replies.

I looked through 4th, played a few sessions and quickly abandoned it never purchasing any of it.  It took too long to do anything.  In the days before video games this may have been okay, but in today’s instant gratification consumer market, you can’t  try to mimic video games by codifying and emulating their workings in a paper based space.  Play to your strengths in relying on the flexibility and creativity of the individual and the game group.

To use a house analogy, the rules should be enough to provide the framework, and then rely on the individual to furnish the rest of it.  I see modules as furniture options to add in your house and source books as paint jobs or entire room add-ons.  Let people make of the game what they will, that is the strength of pen & paper RPG’s.  My only suggestion would be to go lean and mean with the rules, then provide lots of resources and let everyone make his game his own.  Warcraft, Final Fantasy, and even Skyrim can’t compete with that.  

Video games all have limits, Pen and Paper RPG’s still represent gaming with no limits.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

All's quiet

Sorry not much to say really.  I could opine on a number of things, but nothing in particular has my interest right now,  working on my own games (links to the right) and trying to find time to get stomped some more by Dark Souls.  I love that it requires and rewards THINKING  instead of simply quick button mashing (although that too has its place)  Skyrim is great and worthy of purchase--but Dark Souls really is my video game of the year.

On my own work, the Rogue Space RPG manual is out for editing, and I posted an updated Heroes & Other Worlds RPG manual download.  I am also going to knock out the first pocket mod called Cults.  It will focus on a cult, some new spells, and an adventure--all in one Pocket mod booklet format!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tomb of Ice

Tomb of Ice, the first adventure for Heroes & Other Worlds, is now available for download.

The 1 page adventure is based on my Pocket Full of Peril #2, with map bashed together from geomorphs created by Dyson Logos (hooray he is back!)

It's a good way to give my TFT/Melee/Wizard inspired RPG a spin and I hope you find its a different kind of retro game you will enjoy.