Thursday, 29 April 2010

A book of mine

I've decided to re-release a book I wrote about tips for roleplayers a long, long time ago.

The Book Of Roleplaying Hints, Tips and Ideas was a collection of articles I had written for the hobby, work that had primarily been published on and had also appeared in my old ODDS e-zine. I was pretty please with it and it didn't sell too badly when I first published it. It's available for print or download from Lulu now.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Post Apocalyptic amateur movie

I love me some Fallout, and I love me some post-apocalyptic craziness, and I love me some amateur movies. That's a win-win-win with this film, then!

It's a great little movie and I'm looking forward to seeing what else they come up with. Good job, guys.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Fantasy to Sci-Fi

I wonder just how easy it would be to convert a fantasy roleplaying game to a science fiction one?

I'm looking at running Traveller after my Dragon Warriors campaign finishes, but I was thinking - we've all got used to playing Dragon Warriors, so would it be possible to modify the system to suit a science fiction setting? Add rules for ranged weapons and starships, maybe even modify or add some new skills and change the aspects of the proffesions. The system is certainly simple enough to modify. I did something similar with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay so that I could run a WH40K and that turned out pretty good.

That's a good idea, that. A sci-fi Dragon Warriors... I'd have to give it a new name. 'Star Warriors' or something.

District 9 and Outlander

For sci-fi design and inspiration I picked up two dirt-cheap DVDs today - District 9, a film I've wanted to see for the better part of a year, and Outlander, the first half-hour of which I have seen and actually enjoyed.

I'll let you know how I get on.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Get outta my house!

I've been reading some RPG message boards and one of the most common occurences seems to be problem players and how to deal with them. A general theme seems to be the act of kicking the players from the game, which to me seems a bit strange.

In 26 years I've only ever had to seriously address a player for their behaviour once. It was a game of WFRP and he was desperate to interpret certain skills to benefit his character. After a while I simply said, 'That's not how it's going to be done in the game, so like it or lump it.' We never saw him again, but as far as I'm concerned I never kicked him out - I gave him a choice and a chance and he decided not to attend.

Still, if I had ditched him from the game I wouldn't have felt that guilty about it, especially since his behaviour was being disruptive outside the game as well as during it.

I guess, even after all these years, I still see roleplaying as 'just a game'. I love it, I enjoy doing it, but I'm not going to get bent out of shape over problem players or generate bad feelings. There is no problem bad enough that a quick adult conversation can't cure.

Unless the guy's psychotic, then you just kick the freak to the curb and move house.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Designing my Sci-Fi game

And that's 'Sci-Fi'. Not 'SyFy'. How ridiculous.

Anyway, now that 'Traveller' is going to be my next campaign after 'Dragon Warriors' finishes (and we're rapidly approaching the conclusion of that campaign), I'm starting to wonder what kind of game I want to run. Light, bright and intellectual like '2001: A Space Odyssey', down-to-earth and grungy like 'Silent Running' or 'Moon', or dark and dangerous like 'Alien' or 'Dead Space'?

I guess I'll design something generic and make my mind up closer to the campaign, but right now I'm thinking of something dark and dangerous, not so much for the horror but just the aesthetic.

Do any of you have any success with any other kind of sci-fi look and design? Feel free to leave me some suggestions in the comments.

Friday, 23 April 2010

What the fudge...? Traveller confuses me...

So, I've been doing some more reading regarding Marc Miller's 'Traveller' and the more I read the more I'm regretting buying 4th edition. Everything is virtually the same with regards to the system and game itself, but the task resolution is different. Where the Classic and new Mongoose editions used the 2D6 with skill and difficulty modifiers versus a target number of eight, 4th edition uses a set target number based on skill and attribute totals and the difficulty is decided by the number of dice you roll against that target number - the more difficult the more dice you roll, and the low rolls are better. That all sounds fine, yes?

Well, I was hoping to get closer to Classic Traveller, to be honest, the game my players know. I'm wondering if I should have just got the new Mongoose Traveller books so that I can stay in line with the material that's coming out now, and with the Classic players who have been running the game since day one.

Bummer. I just bought a virtually brand new copy of T4's 'First Survey' book, as well. I should have hung on to my old copies of MegaTraveller, at least that game was closer in line with Classic. I'll run some games, see how we get on. It'll all come out in the wash.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

I was hoping to be a D6...

You are a d8: You are the true adventurer! Dragons rescued, princesses slayed, and all that business while O Fortuna plays in the background. Your social calender is crammed with heroic deeds, and you've personally saved the world from ultimate destruction at least twice. You are reliable, perhaps a bit predictable, but overall a shining example of what happens when courage meets determination.

I am a d8

Take the quiz at

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Marc Miller's 'Traveller'

I was at Spirit Games in Burton today and I found Marc Miller's Traveller there for a whole seven quid.

I played Traveller a grand total of twice back in the 1980s. It was basically a Star Wars game - the West End Games D6 game was only a couple of years away so it would have been about 1985/1986. Anyway, it was utter rubbish. The GM was basically trying to emulate Star Wars but kept throwing in Star Trek technology, and the second game wasn't much better. I didn't run a decent hard sci-fi game until 2300AD came out and I couldn't get the players.

My Dragon Warriors campaign is approaching it's conclusion and we're looking at doing a bit of a sci-fi campaign next before Jason starts his Pathfinder games. I primarily got this version because of the Chris Foss art inside - brilliant, inspirational stuff. My wife recently bought me some old copies of Asimov's Foundation books and Chris Foss did the covers. I grew up with this guy and his imagery is what I want to capture in my games.

So this book was perfect for me, then. Great find.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Shock! Horror!

Well, one of my players in my Dragon Warriors game tonight was badly hurt and mentioned that it may be best that all the rolls were made in the open as he didn't want to feel that I was 'taking it easy' on him. I don't fudge combat rolls so I agreed.

The net result was that this player lost his eye and the other had his hand cut off. Nice one with the whole tempting fate thing, mate.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A new edition of Dragon Warriors

I've copied and pasted some comments I made at concerning this really interesting topic. I have a lot of love for Dragon Warriors, but I'd love to see a new edition.

'Another vote for Dragon Warriors here. The setting is fantastic and as much as I like the system it is in need of an overhaul and, dare I say it, a skill system. A unified mechanic would be the first step as I've been using the D20 for everything, rather than 2D10 or 1D20, and I've been having no problems with it. It doesn't need extra crunch so it doesn't need to be kind of an 'Advanced Dragon Warriors' but it could do with a good clean.'

'I'd really like to see 'Out of the Pit' and 'Titan: The Fighting Fantasy World' statted out for Dragon Warriors as it's an excellent gaming world with plenty of scope and potential. Combining those two books and making it a sourcebook for a new edition of Dragon Warriors would be a good move.'

'Well, they say in the new Dragon Warriors rulebook that it's a generic fantasy system and they even give examples of established characters of literature from different worlds to give you an idea of the professions. If they did create a new edition they should release more worldbooks for it - sure, concentrate on Legend as that is a brilliant setting, but also bring out other stuff, such as a worldbook for Titan or some other new or existing world.AD&D did it with Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk etc, there's no reason why Dragon Warriors couldn't do the same. If the Dragon Warriors system was tidied up, given a unified mechanic and had the PCs be not so limited by the available professions then I could see that working.'

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

My Gaming Bag

My wonderful other half bought me an extra special present at the beginning of the year, just before my Dragon Warriors campaign started - a shoulder bag perfect to transport my gaming material in.

It was originally a laptop bag. It's got a long adjustable shoulder strap and a carry handle so you can carry it either way depending on the weight. It's also got a padded back so that the sharp-edged books and pads inside don't dig into you when you're walking along with it.

There's absolutely loads of space inside. It's split into two sections, so the rear one I use for my notes, pads and adventure details and the forward one I use for the books I'll be using during the game. There's enough space for a main hardback rulebook and good half-dozen or so supplements, so in the case of Dragon Warriors I can take everything I need and more for an evening's session.

In the front flap there's a zipped-up pouch in which I can keep up to four CDs quite safe, in case I feel the need for some atmospheric music. In this case I have Clannad's 'Legend', some Lord of the Rings soundtracks and the soundtrack to The 13th Warrior.

Under the flap and on the front of the bag is another zipped-up pouch, in which I put two bags of dice - one for my special GM dice and one filled with assorted dice in case anyone needs any.

All in all, an excellent bag and it perfectly suits my needs. If you want to know it's a Kensington Contour K63100.

It was a wonderful surprise to return from work to find this bag waiting for me, with a little good luck message from my wife in my new campaign. I'd not run a game since my aborted Warhammer FRP a couple of years ago and I was apprehensive about starting with new players and a new game. This bag took some of the pressure off - instead of jamming it all into an old backpack I was able to compartmemtalise everything and knew where to find it. My wife isn't a gamer - she did try but it just wasn't her thing - but she is a big nerd just like me and the closest she's got to roleplaying is message boards and a long stint on World of Warcraft (she got to level eighty as a priest and earned some amazing gear, was being invited as a healer on huge raids all the time by big guilds - that's some seriously good playing). It was great to have not only her support but her best wishes and that's more than I can ask for.

So I'm using this opportunity to thank my non-gamer wife for her support in my hobby. She has great ideas always asks how the game went and I love her dearly.

Big love to you, Lisa.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

MechWarrior - good times...

Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s me and my mate Paul S used to play this a lot. I was rubbish at BattleTech and Paul would always kick my arse (and at Star Trek III: Tactical Starship Combat Simulator, but I got my own back with a couple of games of Dark Future) but he ran some mean MechWarrior RPG games. I played Matthew Haskenn, who started out as an intelligence agent for Davion but then progressed on to a special forces role.

The system was clunky - in fact, it was downright awful - but it was fine for what we wanted it for. Deep penetration and assassination missions into Kuritan territory, hunting Pirate Kings, uncovering internal plots... great times. The BattleTech universe is a fantastic setting to play in (pre-Clans) and is filled with so many amazing possible plots that you'd never get tired of it. They should release a complete boxset with the full original setting (all the house books included), the BattleTech combat game and RPG rules and some technical readouts. I'd pay top dollar for that.

So give me a Rorynex and a crossbow and let me loose - it's time to get into it.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

RPG Magazines

I spent a good hour or so going through the shelves of my not-so-local gaming store Spirit Games and I came across some bargains, not the least of which was a complete Forgotten Realms campaign setting boxset for ten quid. Result!

What I also found were cheap copies of some old RPG magazines: Level Up issues 1&2, the D&D 4e mag from Goodman Games - Issues 1&2 of the StealthBrothers IRM (Independant Roleplaying Magazine) - and issue 5 of The Last Province. All good mags, and I'd never heard of IRM or The Last Province so they came as somewhat of a surprise.

The last great RPG magazine I remember is Arcane (the last issue of which I was published in, the 'Soapbox' rant 'Please Hug The Roleplayer To Your Left'), and before that it was GMI. Hell, I even used to buy Dragon magazine for the inspiration and I remember when White Dwarf was a multi-format gaming mag. It's nice to see other magazines trying to keep the RPG mag fires burning but they obviously don't last.

A while ago I had the idea of producing an RPG magazine that was itself a complete game. Issue one would be basic rules, setting and adventure. Issue two would flesh out the world more, have new adventures and possibly some extra rules. As the issues come out the world expands and the rules are added to. This way there's a monthly flow of material that the GM could add to his own campaign. New rules, adventures, locations, monsters, characters, skills, spells, all sorts of stuff could be put into a cheap 40-50 page magazine on a monthly/bi-monthly basis. the rules start out basic but are added to as issues are published.

I went as far as designing a basic d20 inspired system and talking to a printer. Getting copies printed is not a problem. Writing the game rules, designing material, getting artwork and layout done - well, that's a problem unto itself.

Heavy Rain PS3

At the moment I'm playing the rather damned excellent 'Heavy Rain'

It's an excellent game and is an amazing new approach to how we play interactive video games. I'm finding the whole thing incredibly absorbing.

Still, my science fiction nerd bells started ringing - do you know what would benefit from a game such as this? Blade Runner. A story inspired by the movie's setting would suit this kind of gameplay perfectly. In fact, if they don't create a similar game with that kind of bent I'd be seriously surprised and it might be what the Blade Runner universe needs to reboot it. Not another movie or book or graphic novel. This.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Dark Sci-Fi Art to Inspire

When I sit down to design a new game I try to visualise the kind of atmosphere I want to invoke. Recently, thanks to a bit of a Rogue Trader/Warhammer 40K kick I've been on lately, I've been going down the dark sci-fi route.

I scour the interwebtubes for art that might give my imagination a kick and, lo and behold, I found this page of examples at

You could get entire campaigns out of each one of these pictures. Personally, I dig this one:

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Doctor Who-oly crap, that was good.

Well, the new seriesof Doctor Who premiered on the BBC last night and, flipping heckers like, it was good.

I liked the David Tennant years - in fact, I'd say he was one of the best Doctors (my favourite being Tom Baker as he was of my generation) - but Matt Smith has bought something manic, crazy and fresh to the role. With Stephen Moffat taking over from Russell T. Davies (Davies who was always very hit and miss with his episodes, in my opinion) there seems to be a new energy. The new assistant is looking to be a good one and the aftershow taster of things to come showed me many pretty and exciting things, not the least of which was WW2 Spitfires attacking spaceships. In space. Crikey.

Looking forward to the future with this show. And the past.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Dragon Warriors Resource

A handy resource for all you Dragon Warriors gamers out there - a Wiki!

It's very handy and there's plenty of material on there. I'll copy and paste the blurb on the front page for you:

'Getting Started
This Wiki is primarily intended as a resource for gamesmasters (GMs). If you intend to play the game under an existing GM, do not view the parts of this Wiki relevant to your particular campaign - consult your GM for clarification.
To join this Wiki (participate in its discussions, contribute etc), click the "Join" button at the top right. Joining is free!
The easiest way to see what has been added recently is to click the Updates button on the top menu just under the logo
To navigate the Wiki, use the Navigation box to the left, or click on any of the topics below:

Main Topics
The Lands of Legend with considerable expanded information on the Lands originally described in the Dragon Warriors gamebooks.
The Lore of Legend - Including Magical Items, Mythology, Religion and Spirituality.
Adventures - Online games, tabletop gaming groups, Scenario Ideas and fully developed Scenarios.
Professions - Interpretations of rules and takes on existing professions, and suggested new professions.
Monsters - From the natural to supernatural to the undead.
Rules Interpretations.
A Style Guide - To help new users understand the editing style and terminology of the Wiki.
Miscellaneous Information - Including information on the Dragon Warriors, Bloodsword and other related gamebooks.'

Thursday, 1 April 2010

WH40K Ultramarines Movie

Okay, so this could be interesting.

To be fair, a fully CGI movie is the only way to go for this kind of project. The scope of the 40K universe is only ever realised in the art that is produced for it and I'm still horribly scarred by the 40K movies that were made in the latter part of the 20th century. In fact, have a look below and share my pain:

See what I mean? Yes, the production values were low but for the God Emperor's sake - this was made by the guys who published and distributed the game! Try harder!

With Terence Stamp, Sean Pertwee and John Hurt on board to voice the characters I can see this being pretty good.