Thursday 30 September 2010

Actual conversation with 3-year old

What follows is a conversation I had with my 3 year old son when I put him to bed the other night. He wanted to talk, and when I asked about what he said 'ask me a question'. So I did.

Q: So, what do you do in the Imperium?
A: I'm a pilot.
Q: Really? Do you fly the Black Ships and take psykers to the Emperor?
A: Yeah. It's a big spaceship.
Q: What do the psykers say to you?
A: They say. 'what you doing, bumhead?'
Q: They call you bumhead?
A: Yeah, like this (squeaky voice) 'what you doing, you bumhead?'
Q: That's not nice. What do you say?
A: I say, 'be quiet! I'm trying to fly the spaceship!'
Q: How do you feel about delivering the psykers to the Emperor?
A: (pause) Erm... it's okay.
Q: Don't you like it?
A: No. I fly in the spaceship to the planet and I land and I have to fly away again because all the people are saying, 'go away, you bumhead'. And I fly away and they say, 'come back!' and I just fly and I go home.
Q: Is that because they call you a bumhead?
A: Yeah.
Q: It's not nice being called a bumhead, is it?
A: No.
Q: Do they always say it?
A: No, because I crash the spaceships on their heads and say, 'you bumheads!'
Q: Nice. But then you can't take them to the Emperor. Does he mind?
A: No, he laughs because I crash on them.
Q: The God Emperor laughs? He likes you?
A: Yeah. We play Postman Pat game.
Q: You play Postman Pat with the God Emperor of the Imperium, the protector of all mankind for ten thousand years?
A: Yeah. He cheats.
Q: Goodnight, Bruce.
A: Goodnight, dad. I love you.
Q: I love you. Sleep well, and dream of spaceships.
A: I will.

So there you have it. The God Emperor of mankind likes the Postman Pat game and cheats when he plays. You heard it here first.

Bruce is helping me out in the shop for the next four weeks so come and experience the wonders of the RPG toddler. Conversations never get boring.

Friday 24 September 2010

My new project

After creating and reading some of the replys in this thread, I've decided that a post-apocalyptic science fiction campaign should be my next setting. I won't just use a single world, though - I'm spreading it out across the entire galaxy.

Here's an intro taken from my book 'ALL FALL DOWN' - I'm basing it all on my setting for the story I wrote called 'VITALS'.

I cannot tell you what year it is, and that is the honest truth. We do not know for sure, but some people believe it to be the year nine thousand, two hundred and ten. How they came to that figure we do not know, but they seem comfortable with it. So we accept it.
I wish I could tell you what has happened to the human race over the last few thousand years. That is, accurately tell you. But we don’t fully know that, either. What I can tell you, and this is as concise as I can be so you will have to read the many datasheets we have on the subject, is this. And please know that even this is based upon data scattered across the Settled Systems.
About three or four hundred years after the Seedships left the Home System, which we believe was the year twenty-nine ninety-eight, yes? After they left, the whole Solar System was working towards a new goal. They apparently were satisfied that the Seedships would do their work and the future of the human race was secure, so they concentrated on creating a better life for themselves. This is conjecture, as we know that there was a long period of prosperity after the Seedship departure. The ability to travel the stars with new drives had become the reality, and instead of years the journeys were reduced to months. Mankind was outward bound.
In about a thousand years mankind had spread to the nearest stars, and had even come across the descendants of the Seedships on some worlds. These Seedships had had a long time to create their own civilizations and they were welcomed into the spread of the human race like lost children. From what we know, the first Earth Empire (as the scholars call it – if that was it’s real name we’ll probably never know) ruled many worlds in many systems.
The Empire lasted for nearly another thousand years. But then other colonies of the Seedships were found, and these people were… not so friendly. The aim of the Empire was to find the Seedship crews and bring them back into the human race, so to speak, but some of these colonies did not want to be ruled by an Earth they considered two thousand years dead. Words turned into arguments. Arguments turned into conflict. Wars started.
The Empire fractured as worlds realised that they did not need the support of the old Home System. Civil war began in many places as planets fought for independence. The Earth Empire, desperately trying to hold itself together, fought on a dozen different fronts. Then, the Great Crime occurred.
We’re not sure what the Great Crime was, but it appears that something happened to Earth’s sun. It erupted. Whether through some kind of intentional interference, a natural occurrence or even technology gone wrong, the sun exploded. We’ll never know why, truth be told. The home of the human race was wiped out, and everything we had ever learned and built on that long dead world was destroyed.
The wars continued as every system blamed the other for the destruction of the Home System. Hundreds of years passed. With the old drive technology it took a long time for fighting ships to find and reach each other, and even with reduced time dilation in effect it sometimes took years of real time for battles to finally occur, which was most likely why the war lasted so long. It wasn’t until the invention of the magdrive and the Hypercom Network that people realised that the war was futile. They were fighting the battles of their dead great-grandfathers.
The Hypercom was a massive network of data that linked all the settled worlds together, a huge datanet that penetrated small artificial wormholes for instant communication to distant stars. It transformed the colonies, now that mankind could actually talk to each other directly. It was all under the control of the first true Artificial Intelligence. Not an AI like a Seedship’s AI ball, which is a downloaded personality from a human being’s brain, but a true AI, born from an electronic network and, basically, kept alive by the Hypercom. It was as if the Hypercom Network was the brain of the thing. It was, apparently, the thing that saved mankind from total destruction.
I wish I could give you more details as to why that was, and on how it truly worked, but we don’t know that.
The AI was so successful that any information on anything at all could be downloaded as fast as thought. Technological advances increased in leaps. The future of the human race was secure. There was nothing the AI could not do. It became so successful that the human race depended on it for everything. I mean everything. Even the basics of life, such as schooling and working for a living, became obsolete. What was the point of schools if the knowledge you needed could be downloaded in seconds? There was literally nothing for the human race to do – the AI controlled it all, did it all, worked it all out. In short, the human race became complacent, lazy. The AI was the New God of the Settled Systems. This went on for hundreds of years.
So, it must have come as a huge shock when it all collapsed. We do not know why that happened. The AI shut down, was destroyed, malfunctioned, sabotaged… it just stopped. There was no communication. No knowledge. No advances in technical science that the human race had come to depend on. Without the AI, everything collapsed. Can you imagine it? Human beings staggering around as if their brains had been cut out, not knowing what to do without the AI’s guidance, not knowing where to go, how to live. The whole of mankind was virtually wiped out because they were almost too stupid to do things for themselves. Complete dependence on an information network had reduced them to virtual simpletons.
Billions died. Cut off from their sources of food and aid from other worlds that had always been shipped to them by automated starships controlled by the AI, not knowing how to treat medical emergencies, technical breakdowns and mass suicides. Wars. Famines. Pestilence. Basically, it was almost the end of the human race.
The Collapse, as we call it now, was almost a thousand years ago from what we can gather. In that time a lot of things have happened.
Of course, there were many humans who still filled their lives with knowledge and some kind of work, and these people led the remnants of the human race into the future, as best they could. They relearned how to fly starships, how to fend for themselves. A lot of the know-how was lost, however. Ships and communities rotted as things broke down. The part of the human race that you see around you now pretty much depends on old tech and scavenging to keep going. Everything around us is decaying and collapsing. Some bore the brunt of the Collapse and others… well, they were forced to change to adapt. The human race splintered, some kept themselves away from the resurgence of technology, afraid to become dependant on it again. Others did what they could to regain the lost days of old. Others tried… new ways. None of us have been completely successful. Under it all there’s a sense of rot, a sense of another impending implosion, and it’s all we can do to keep going. A lot of this tech you see about you… well, if it broke down now there’s not one of us on this ship that could fix it. We’d have to jump from star to star to find someone who might be able to help us. The three ships you saw in the docking bay are old Grim Strike Gunboats. We took them from the warship that attacked your Seedship. We’re trying to fix them up as best we can so that we can use them ourselves, scrapping what can’t be used on the Gunboats and later we’ll see if we can integrate the scrap into our ship. If we’re lucky we’ll have two of those ships operational. And we’re supposed to be the peak of current technological achievement out of the whole of the human race!
Where was I? Oh, yes, the splintering of the human race. Well, everyone reacted to the Collapse in different ways.
We’re the Aspirationists. We believe that we can regain what we lost, get past this rot and once again look to the future. It’s hard – we’ve only just begun to properly turn ore into usable tools and parts for ships. That’s what’s down on the surface of Perrox, the world we’re over, why there’s so much activity here. On the surface is our first fully working mine. We want the human race to be as it was during the rule of the AI but without the dependence on a single entity. That’s where we feel the human race went wrong. We were at peace, we were moving amongst the stars, but we were lazy and weak. It almost killed us.
The Grims are just that; they’re grim. They come from worlds where the population fell on each other to survive and out of that was born a savage civilization dependant on death and theft. That’s their future – violence and hate, even for themselves, like they know they are lost but lack the willpower to do anything about it. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not stupid, but they have different morals to the rest of us.
The Peacefuls are those who have shunned tech and live on worlds where they can use the natural order of things to survive. They’re quiet and hard working and they don’t bother anyone. They’re not happy when a starship lands on their worlds but they are good traders. They’re where we get a lot of our supplies.
The Roamers… well, they roam. They pretty much stay in space for the entirety of their lives, moving from place to place in great starships and trading what they can to stay afloat in this galaxy. They’re a great source of supplies but they will do what they can to get the better deal and they spend a lot of time scavenging dead ships and settlements.
There are a lot of different groups but these are the larger ones, and then… well, then there is the New Church of the Dead Gods.

Wednesday 22 September 2010


DEATHWATCH is the newest Warhammer 40K Roleplaying game from Fantasy Flight Games, taking players into a whole new realm in the ‘Grim Darkness of the 41st Millenium’. Following on from their succesful DARK HERESY and ROGUE TRADER titles, DEATHWATCH now gives players the chance to play the super-soldiers of the Imperium: the Space Marines.

The premise is at once simple and clever. Instead of having the players sitting about the table discussing which one of their favourite Adeptus Astartes chapters they should be fighting in (and you are given six to choose from in the rulebook, but there’s nothing stopping you from adding others, or even your own), DEATHWATCH allows for them to choose their chapter. You see, each of the Space Marines has been hand picked to serve in ‘Kill-teams’, special squads of marines that are sent on small and difficult missions for the Imperium. So, instead of playing one of many marines in a chapter, you get to play a unique marine in a squad of many. Good start, and a great premise for a game.

So, I’ll give you a brief overview of the book. The system is the one you know from playing DARK HERESY and ROGUE TRADER so there is very little change in how the game work, except that these characters will be far more powerful than the PCs from the previous two games. It’s simple enough - a percentage-based system (roll less than your percentage in the skill to succeed) and it uses only two D10s for the roll. Specialities and Talents decide the abilities and skills of the marine you play and helps define your role in the Kill-team. There’s a long section on armour and weapons (including Terminator armour! Yay!) which gives you plenty of toys to play with, followed by a Psychic Powers section so you can play a Librarian and get busy with the mind tricks. And melting.. The Playing The Game section lays out the rules, whilst the Combat chapter gets to the nitty gritty of the game and gives you plenty of options to play with, including plenty of tactical options and critical tables. Following the Game Master section, which has plenty of good advice on how to run a DEATHWATCH game, is a chapter about the Imperium that goes into a lot of detail (including a lovely full-colour map of the galaxy). The book is rounded out by a chapter about the Deathwatch and it’s beginnings and credo, a description of the area of space the players will be thrust into, The Jericho Reach, a decent Adverseries section detailing the foes of the Imperium (including a section about playing ‘hordes’, in which GMs can create great groups of creatures/enemies and roll them as a single group, so the PCs can cut a swathe through dozens of enemies without having to roll for every single one of them) and an adventure, Extraction.

Now, as this is a capsule review I have primarily read the background and roleplaying possibilities that this book offers. To be fair, I had my doubts about the game as a whole. You see, to me the best of the WH40K Roleplaying games up to yet was ROGUE TRADER. I was concerned that a game where you spend your time purging and cleansing for the Emperor would get old and leave little space for roleplaying. While I did feel a little restricted by DARK HERESY (and was kind of upset that I felt I was playing second fiddle to an NPC Inquisitor in the original game), ROGUE TRADER changed my view somewhat. Shady deals outside the Imperium? Characters with depth, history, family bloodlines and mostly personal reasons why they were travelling the stars? Give me some of that! Now, with DEATHWATCH, the same doubts returned. Space Marines are about as two dimensional as you can get – WAR FOR THE EMPEROR! and all that entails. How could you possibly make a playable character out of that? I already had images in my head of running a game:

What do you want to do?’
‘Okay, so you head into the town. You see a man standing...’
‘There’s a small starship sat on the landing pad. You see people inside.’
Okay, I’ll approach the vessel and introduce myself.
‘What do you say?’

Ad nauseum.

The DEATHWATCH rulebook handles this very well. There are entire sections on how to define your marine’s personality. It gives you options as to your heritage, allows you to choose what kind of world you heralded from and what kind of background/upbringing you had that lead you to becoming a Space Marine, to be surgically and genetically altered and enhanced to become one of the Emperor’s finest. You could have been a hiver or a noble, a savage or a religious knight... there was a reason you were selected for the Space Marines. Of course, your indocrination and training will make you think the Space Marine way but these details about your past help to define the small things about your character. The ideas don’t stop there – why were you selected for Deathwatch? What does such a posting mean to you? What do you desire, what do you hate? These questions help define each Space Marine as a singular character instead of being a cardbord cutout, a production line soldier who cares very little about anything other than purging and cleansing for the Emperor. These questions do make you think about your marine and why he does the things he does. In some ways it even makes you question if they actually want to do this! That way of thinking could lead to traitorous thoughts, but what a game that would make!

DEATHWATCH has done something very clever, something I’ve not seen done with Space Marines (and I’ve not read any of the novelisations so I don’t know how they handled it). They lifted the Space Marines out of their chapters, where they would be expected to act in a certain way and think as their battle-brothers do, and put them in a slightly fish-out-of-water scenario. They’ve been teamed up with marines of other chapters, marines who may do things differently, have different levels of piety or have traditions totally different to them. This could cause animosity, distrust, competition, even outright hate. As the game progresses these relationships either simmer, improve or deteriorate. Either way, that could make for some great roleplaying and that’s what I want out of a game.

All in all it’s a very impressive book. Weighing in at more than 400 pages, the hardcover book is filled with the usual high-quality full-colour artwork and beautifully laid-out glossy pages. It’s an impressive book and looks wonderful on the shelf next to DARK HERESY and ROGUE TRADER.

What didn’t I like about the book? Well, there’s plenty of material in here to keep you in games for a long time but expansions will no doubt be needed if you don’t want to create your own material. You can easily use DARK HERESY and ROGUE TRADER material to fill out your games, that’s the plus of the whole product line, but you will find that they are underpowered against the Space Marines and they’ll need tweaking. The Adversaries section could have been longer, with a few more baddies to mow down, but it works just fine. But, come on, no Orks? No Eldar? You get Chaos, Tau and Tyranids, and a few non-player characters I suppose you could use as bad guys. If you don’t have the previous RPGs and their supplements and DEATHWATCH is your first buy you might feel a little let down, as the amount of weapons you get to use is slightly ruined by the lack of bad guys to use them on.

As a fan of the Warhammer Roleplay worlds and a player of the ROGUE TRADER RPG this book mightily impressed me, even if I felt that the book could have done with more material regarding the things the Space Marines go up against. But, not only does it open a whole new area of the WH40K game world to roleplay in, I've also got the perfect material to make my ROGUE TRADER players nervous when they're instructed to transport DEATHWATCH Space Marines across the Imperium! An excellent addition to the WH40K Roleplay range.

Monday 20 September 2010

A podcast? Is it worth it?

I've recently come into the possession of some software to record and edit some short MP3 tracks, but I'm not sure what to do with it. I've considered doing my own podcast with my wife who also has a passion for all things nerdy. We disagree on many things sci-fi and fantasy and I thought it'd be funny to hear a husband and wife having a heated debate on geek stuff. I was going to call it 'DOMESTIC!' and make it a bi-weekly thing.

But is it worth it? There are plenty of other and more worthy podcasts out there so will another one really add anything to the mix, other than the gimmick of it being a married couple at loggerheads?

I'm not sure. I might just give it a go to see if it'd be any fun.

Thursday 16 September 2010

How can I be taken seriously ever again? *weeps*

The thing with running my own games shop is the fact that I've restricted myself as regards to what I can and cannot say about games that I like or dislike.

If sit here and write a thousand word essay on why I think the new game 'The Fantasy Adventurer Player's Guide To The World Of Pibblypong' utterly sucks then I can pretty much forget about selling it - gamers will read it, see the link and then say 'hold on... he owns a games shop and even he says it sucks like a turbo Hoover... I ain't getting that!'

Alternatively, if I say the new game 'Dead Horrible Misunderstood Bad Guys: The Fleecing Second Edition' is probably the best game on the shelves and that every discerning gamer should own a copy, readers will read it and say, 'Hold on... this guy runs his own gaming shop... of course he's going to say how great it is so that we buy it! Well, I'm not falling for it!'

Rock and a hard place, I reckon. Have I, in my new capacity as a gaming store owner, managed to muzzle myself on my gaming opinions? I love talking about what games I like and dislike, about what games excite me and what I find wrong with them. Now, it appears, that might not be the best thing to do on a public forum, unless I create a whole new blog under a new identity but that kind of defeats the purpose; I want people to know it was me who voiced those opinions otherwise it's not really worth it.

Most of the blog posts I've made since July have been in reference to the Hard Sixes shop so it's already obvious that I'm mostly using this blog as a forum for advertising my store and my wares. That in itself reduces my credibility as far as balanced and fair views of the games I like. Of course, I'm going to be reluctant to bash a game that I'm stocking because I want people to buy it. It appears my critical days are over. *sniff* I'll have to stick to opinions on the gaming hobby, I suppose.

Saying that, Deathwatch is fricking awesome!

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Ooooh, where have I been? Reading Deathwatch and D&D Essentials, that's where!

The Hard Sixes website has been given a facelift and looks super duper. Click on the big link to the right to get there. Props goes to my wonderful wife Lisa who designed and created the website, so well done to you, wifey. What a perfect life I have in which I have a wife who plays MMOs with me, is gearing up for a Dragon Age RPG game and designs nerd websites. Love ya lots.

I've finally got my hands on two things - firstly, I've been reading through D&D Essentials Starter Set. Now, if you want to introduce someone to the hobby then get them a copy of this. It's excellent, and has everything they need to play D&D 4th. It'll only take them up to level 3, sure, but the low price and all the dice, cards and info you get is more than worth it. I'm very impressed.

I also got my hands on the Deathwatch RPG. I'll sum it up in one simple sentence: I get to play a Terminator Marine.

That's all you need to know. Beautiful book.

I'm hoping to start running a Dragon Age RPG game for my Dragon Age CRPG loving wife very soon, so looking forward to that. Our GM is finally starting his Pathfinder game and I'm excited about playing my new Ranger, and I've had some wonderful ideas for a Warhammer FRPG 1st Edition game thanks to the art book of the Warhammer Online Collector's Edition. And I have my own shop! It's a great time to be a roleplayer!

Thursday 2 September 2010

Hard Sixes Saturday Madness Update

Just a quick note on the Fighting Fantasy competition game for Hard Sixes Saturday Madness on Saturday 4th September:

Rules will be as per the standard Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, with players creating standard adventurers. Players will roll randomly for their scores, but if they do not like their first character’s scores they may roll again, but they must keep their second character. The whole character must be rolled, not individual scores.

There will be no magic users (yet!) and there will be a slight tweak to the combat system – instead of both combatants rolling 2D6 and the highest one wins, one player rolls first and the other has to beat their SKILL+2D6 score with their own SKILL+2D6 roll. Initiative will be determined by highest SKILL+2D6 roll.

Depending on how many take part , I will be running small 4-player games in up to two dungeon encounters that will last about 30 minutes. The winners will be:

- Those who survive
- If all players die/more than one player survives, the winner is who scored the most amount of hit points on enemies

If any players tie, then they have to duel. If there is more than one group to game, the winners of each group play in a final encounter.

Standard SKILL, STAMINA and LUCK rules apply, but if a winning player goes on to the next round/final they can reset their SKILL and STAMINA scores but not their LUCK.

For more info on the Fighting Fantasy rules, click here. There’s more than one page and all the rules are there (ignore the FEAR and MAGIC rules).

Games begin at 12:30pm. The winner gets a copy of the FREELOADER game from Cheapass Games and a spiffing trophy!*

Any questions, email: hardsixes (at)

Happy adventuring, and may your stamina never fail!

*Possibly not as spiffing as I'm making it out to be

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Hard Sixes Saturday Madness - save up to 20%!


Got a gaming club membership card? Got a Hard Sixes Club Discount membership card? Even if you haven’t we can sort you out on the day - get down to Hard Sixes in Sutton Coldfield and claim up to 20% discount on selected goods in the shop for one day only: Saturday 4th September.

We’ve got a gaming table so come on down and bring your decks, boardgames, sit in on a classic Fighting Fantasy competition game (simple rules rule!) to win a copy of the game Freeloader, and take part in the raffle to win a copy of Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition. There’s cafes aplenty around here so there’s plenty of places to get something to eat and drink.

If you know someone who’s interested in getting into roleplaying games then bring them along – we do RPG workshops where new gamers can learn, experience and enjoy the magic of tabletop roleplaying games.

There’s plenty of bargains to be had so make a note – Saturday 4th September. Hard Sixes, 10:00am to 5:00pm.

HARD SIXES - The Gaming Store
Units 42-43 Inshops (Sutton Market)
65 South Parade
Sutton Coldfield
B72 1QU
0121 354 8600