Wednesday 31 October 2012

Mantic Games - Kings of War, Warpath and Dreadball

Click to view Kings of War RulebookThanks to my good friends at Titan Games a new wargame has intrigued me. It's not often that a tabletop wargame gets my attention - let's face it, the last time it happened was in the late 1980s when I bought the first edition of Warhammer 40K - but recently I've been introduced to two great new games called Kings of War and Warpath, both from Mantic Games.

I'm not a great wargamer. Truth be told, I pretty much suck at it. I think I won one game of Warhammer 40K, and that was only because I was playing at a Games Workshop store and the manager of the shop I was playing against had the good grace to throw the battle so that a potential purchaser wasn't put off buying the game. I still didn't buy it, to be fair, but it is a good game. The great expensive breezeblock that is the WH40K rulebook is really impressive with great production values and the game is fun, with plenty of support. It's an expensive hobby, mind, which is one of the things that has always put me off.

Being a roleplayer I always wonder at the roleplaying aspect of wargames, anyway. I used the WH40K system a few times to run WH40K roleplaying games back in the 1990s and just added a few of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay stats to flesh it out. The games worked okay, we just used the WH40K rules and played characters. In my experience, a wargame must be good if it gives me those kinds of ideas.

So now we come to the Mantic Games offerings, Kings of War and Warpath, which is their version of Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40K. They've also got a game out called Dreadball which is a boardgame along the lines of Games Workshop's Blood Bowl. It's all good quality stuff with simple, easy-to-learn rules.

So, and you'll have to excuse the bluntness of this statement, is this just a rip-off of products that Games Workshop have already produced? I wouldn't say rip-off, to be fair, just another version of fantasy and science fiction wargaming that Games Workshop has a huge chunk of the market of. The rules for these new Mantic Games products were designed by Alessio Cavatore, the guy who bought us such games as Mordheim: City of the Damned and the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, both released by Games Workshop. So, the designer of the game already has some major experience for the premier producer of these games, anyway. Mantic Games took his expertise, designed the game and released it as a test product to the public. The public played it, sent fedback, and the game was created. What we have here, then, is a game designed by a Games Workshop dude that has been refined and played by wargamers at large, and they took what the playtesters said and put it into the game. What we've got is a game designed by experienced wargamers and refined by the very fans who would be playing it. It really is a game by the fans for the fans.

I've got the Warpath rulebook here. It's a paperback, it's the size of a paperback and it's 29 pages long. It has rules for combat both ranged and melee, vehicles, ordnance, and it has some special rules and four army lists. And it cost me three pounds.

You see, Mantic Games are not only releasing a game that's been designed by fans, it's making them affordable. The Kings of War rulebook is a hardback 144 page tome that will set you back 24 pounds. You can buy a two-player battleset with a mini rulebook and 95 plastic miniatures for 50 pounds. Yes, you read that right. 50 pounds. That's about 53 pence per miniature, and they're good quality minis, as well. You can get some battle sets of up to 50 miniatures for 30 pounds; that's 60 pence per miniature. The prices are absolutely outstanding, and that's where it counts, at the end of the day. Model and paint sets from 15 pounds. 2-figure packs from £1.60. The prices are an absolute delight.

This can be an expensive hobby and not only have Mantic Games made the rules easy to learn, they've made the miniatures good quality and easy to afford. Not only that, the figures are the same scale as pretty much every other hobby figure, even Games Workshop's, so if you have an existing army you can use that.

I'm not only interested in thegame itself but how I can use it as a roleplaying game, and more importantly if they intend to release a roleplaying version of it because, and I'll tell you this now, at less than 2 pounds for a couple of decent figures, I'd start using miniatures in my RPG games again.

I'm looking forward to seeing what else Mantic Games produce and I'll be picking up the Kings of War rulebook to do a lengthy review soon, not only of the game system but of the setting itself.

Monday 29 October 2012

Call of Cyberpunk

So, I was thinking of doing a cyberpunk game and, once again, I turned to Basic Roleplaying, or at least the Call of Cthulhu version of it, for inspiration. Using Cthulhu modern is the way to go.

In fact, it turned out to be very simple. Because of the nature of a lot of cyberpunk games, the fact that characters will be doing jobs of subterfuge for payment, all character advancement is determined by how much money they earn and spend, as all skill increases are determined by upgrades. It's a natural combination of the pay-per-job gaming style, and the need for the PCs to make money, directly influencing character advancement. What they do in the game, and whether they get paid or not, really does affect how they progress.

In general terms, a single percentile increase costs 5 thousand dollars (or Pounds, or Yen, or whatever currency you're using) and increasing an attribute by one point or increasing hit points by a single percentile costs 100 thousand dollars. Each session-long job earns the average cyberpunk between 15 and 20 thousands dollars, even more depending on the job.

So, a physical skill such as swimming is a modification to the muscles - maybe something injected into the bone work to make the person lighter. To increase this skill by 1 percentile costs 5 thousand dollars.

If it's a knowledge skill like medicine or sciences, then the information is downloaded into the character's brain through a cerebral or a temple port at the cost of 5 thousand per percentile. Want to be a better shot? 5 thousand dollars and an adjustment to the eyes (and the relevant weapon skill). Want to be better at diving out of harms way? 5 thousand dollars and an adjustment to the nervous system (and the Dodge skill).

Now, what about hacking? Drop the POW skill and call it NET (you know, for netrunning and other computer use). The 'computer use' skill can be used for general keyboard stuff but invasive hacking uses NET. POW is INT + EDU divided by 2, rounding up. Whenever a character hacks, they roll against the strength of the computer security of the site they're trying to invade. So, a NET score of 15 against a Com Security target of 10 would mean that the player would have to roll 75 or less on the Resistance Table. If they fail there's a way out - they have to make a successful Idea roll to avoid setting off the alarms etc. It acts as a kind of saving throw and if they fail, they're noticed or outed.

All this affects Sanity. For every percentile point that goes into any modification, Sanity goes down by 1 percentile. If they fail their NET and their Idea roll then, depending on the security software they're trying to hack, they're not only thrown out of the system but the security attackes their neural link. They immediately lose a number of Sanity points equal to the Com Security difficulty number they're trying to hack and roll on any applicable Sanity tables. Sanity can be recovered by having NetMalWare scans, at a cost of 5 thousand dollars per Sanity point returned.

Com Security starts at 5 for easily hackable systems, all the way up to 18 plus for solid government/corporation security.

Use modern-day prices and the cost prices of Cthulhu modern, stick in some flying cars and watch Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell beforehand and voila - instant cyberpunk goodness.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Forgotten Realms for Basic Dungeons and Dragons

As you can see I've been on a D&D kick this last few weeks as our DM Big J has gone back to basics. Some call it Old School, others call it a Renaissance, others a return to form. I call it great fun, and that's all that matters to me and my group.

Now that Big J is running his adventures in the world of Greyhawk, I've been wondering what to do next as the GM. I've looked at a sequel to my Call of Cthulhu game, and I've been sniffing around D6 Star Wars. The thing is, I've been kidding myself; I want to run Basic D&D, and I need a setting to run it in.

Of course, my initial instinct is to create my own world but I'm enjoying playing in Greyhawk so I'd like to run an adventure in a D&D campaign setting. I'll not go back to Krynn for sure - the last AD&D campaign I played in at the tail end of the 1980s was a Dragonlance/Ravenloft mash-up, and the scars of that experience run deep. So my next, and almost obvious, choice is Forgotten Realms. I like the setting as it is the location of some of my favourite D&D material - the original Icewind Dale and Dark Elf trilogies, the computer games of Baldurs Gate and other stuff besides.

I dug out my original AD&D boxset of the campaign setting (it's sadly missing one of the maps, but that's not a problem) and had a read, and I think this is where I'll go once Big J's Greyhawk campaign has been completed, which looks like it'll be well into next year the way things are looking. I don't mind - I'll design the game, set the adventures up and I can pull it out when I need it. I may have changed my mind by the time I get around to running a game again, but we'll see. Right now, Basic D&D is my thing.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Shane Garvey Interview

Please welcome to Farsight Blogger Shane Garvey of Adventure Games Guild. Shane is the author of QUERP, the Chronicles of Arax and Chronicles of Blood solo adventure games, and co-author of the Fabled Lands RPG.

Welcome to Farsight Blogger. Perhaps you'd like to tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thanks, and sure thing! Well, my name is Shane Garvey; I am a 32 year old Australian, married with two young boys, and working a full time job in IT and communications. Between work, Adventure Games Guild and my family I rarely get any spare time, but when I do I like to watch football (Aussie Rules, not any of that other rubbish) and cricket, and listen to a mixture of 70s and 80s rock/hair metal as well as European power metal.

Tell us about your RPG history - what got you into the wonderful world of tabletop roleplaying?

That would be a mate of mine. When I was around 12, I saw a friend of mine reading a book in the school library. Nothing unusual about that, except he was rolling dice as well. Turns out it was a Fighting Fantasy gamebook, and I was instantly hooked after finding out what he was doing. We hired and re-hired all the Fighting Fantasy books from that library and read them over and over again.

Later, his parents bought him the Hero Quest board game, which we devoured. He then got into Warhammer while I discovered both Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: the Gathering, and from there we were officially gamers.

What is it about the tabletop RPG hobby that attracts you? What do you enjoy most when playing a game?

Tough question! I guess it's a combination the social interactions you get, as well as the story telling and creativity that comes with gaming. It is also the chance to use your brain and to have to think your way through things, especially in strategy games. All of these things combined are what makes it a great hobby.

What's your favourite game? What games that are out there at the moment float your boat?

Another tough one. My favourite game would have to be Warhammer at the moment, and it is what I spend most of my time doing. If we can include board games, my eldest son and I are also enjoying Talisman currently.

In terms of role-playing games, I'm enjoying reading the Lone Wolf multiplayer books by Mongoose Publishing, as well as Dungeon Crawl Classics by Goodman Games. But truth of the matter is I don't get much time to roleplay these days. I'm also looking forward to seeing more of the new D&D; i wasn't a fan of 4th edition, so 5th edition looks better so far.

Do you still get time to play? What are you playing at the moment?

I think I answered these above (sorry!). But to reiterate: I rarely get much spare time to play, but when I do it is either Warhammer or Talisman.

The tabletop roleplaying hobby has been through a lot changes over the years and it seems that its death-knell is always sounded when newer hobbies come along, such as collectible card games and online computer games. It still seems to be able to hold it’s own, though – what do you see happening to the hobby in the future? What changes, if any, do you think will have to be made to ensure its survival?

Honestly, with so much of our attention out there being taken up by computer games, movies, smartphones and just about everything else, the RPG industry does need to make some changes. Many roleplayers are now aging, but the next generation of kids needs to be catered to if the industry doesn't want to die a slow, slow death.

To do this, one has to create role playing products aimed at teens and young adults. They need to have simpler (though not simplistic) rules, with enough variety to keep them from getting bored. Basing it on a licence such as Harry Potter or some other in-thing with the kids would help too.

Out of all your projects, what are you most proud of?

All of them! They are like my babies, I can't choose one! I am very proud of QUERP (Quick Easy Role Playing) as it got some fantastic reviews and I received some wonderful comments about it. In fact, as stated above about kids, I received an email from a teacher in Singapore who had introduced QUERP into the class room in order to help the kids make decisions and learn math. That was a proud moment, as it had achieved what I wanted it to be (I wrote it after the birth of my first child, so that as he grew I could introduce him to role playing through it).

I'm also quite proud of what I am working on with Stuart Lloyd right now: Adventurer: The Solo Roleplaying Game. This goes back to where it all started for me, fantasy gamebooks, but takes it in a new and exciting direction.

You’ve no doubt mixed with other great names in the roleplaying community – do you have any stories or anecdotes to share? Any horror stories? Be as frank as you like!

Being in Australia I don't get to mix face to face with many people in the industry at all. However, through social media and the internet I have chatted with many industry leaders and will say that with the exception of one person (who shall remain nameless) everyone has been extremely pleasant and easy to deal with.

What are you working on at the moment?

The main one is Adventurer: The Solo Role Playing Game. This takes fantasy gamebooks and adds a full-blown RPG system, rather than the often simplistic-by-necessity rules gamebooks normally have. Between Stuart and myself I think we have accomplished something new and exciting. The rules preview is currently up at our website, so you can check it out for yourself.

I am also working on a short, light, solo game called Dungeons. This is also for Adventure Games Guild.

Adventure Games Guild - Rules Preview and 'Dungeons'

This is a project I've been following for a few weeks and I'm excited to see the final product. In the meantime, the wonderful gentlemen of Adventure Games Guild have released two things for downoload, one free and one at just $2.

PictureThe first is a free rules preview.
From the website: 'Adventurer is, as the name suggests, a solo role playing game. In developing the game, the aim was to bring a fully-fledged role playing rules system to the gamebook or interactive fiction style adventures that have been published since the 1980s. These adventures have often had simplistic rules by necessity, but we wanted to try to bring you something different, something for the hardcore gamer to sink their teeth into. The game itself is due for general release in early 2013. However, we have decided to allow you to see the rules manuscript right now! This may still be subject to some tweaks, though we do not anticpate major changes at this time.'
Then there's the first game in a series, called 'Dungeons'.
From the website: 'Dungeons is a solo adventure game designed to be played by just one person. In it, you take on the role of a Hero of The World; you can be a Barbarian, a Dwarf, an Elf or a Mage. There are six Quests listed in the book, which you can take your Hero on. Each Quest is made up of Encounters and Events, which might have you battling Goblins, Orcs, or worse, Wyverns and Manticores. Each Quest has a unique finishing area which you must overcome in order to complete it. During your Quests, you can find gold and treasures and, after your Quest, your Hero will grow in strength and power.'

I've had a read through the rules system and I like what I see. Considering the nature of the game they're trying to create, I'm incredibly curious to see where this goes. The rules they have developed are a complete roleplaying game in itself. They're simple rules and very adaptable and I can see if playing very well.

Check out the free rules document and grab a copy of 'Dungeon', and give these guys some support in their endeavours. It's nice to see a decent product taking off without the need for a Kickstarter banner.

Friday 19 October 2012

Old School D&D - The First Full Session

The first Basic D&D game went down last night and it went really well. I fell back into the game quite easily and my dwarf, Burgen Beerswiller, performed admirably. The dungeon we faced was filled with Orcs, Ghouls and a rat with an attitude, and we got through the dungeon's eight rooms, rescued the villagers and made our escape in a two-and-a-half hour sitting. That's pretty damn good.

Our DM, Big J, did a fantastic job. He got well into the situations, got very animated, and made quick, effective rulings that kept the game flowing. The long skill lists, actions, feats and talents of D&D 3.x were cast aside and it made for a much better, free flowing game. There's nothing wrong with 3.x, it's a great game and I'd play it again no problem, but my preference is the quick, easy and fluid game we're playing now.

Big J, bless his cotton socks, had created a huge board with everything we needed to know about the world of Greyhawk. At first I was a bit concerned, thinking he'd mapped out an adventure for us to follow, but the board was actually a bulletpoint-type accessory so that we knew where we were, what was there, what it was like and what was going on around us. It was a great idea and we referred to it a few times to plan our next journey.

The visual cues for this game is an amalgamation of the design aesthetic of the TV show 'Game of Thrones' and medieval Europe, and that's right up my street. I don't really get on with the visuals of the recent D&D games as they're a little too over the top for my tastes and I prefer a grounding in a pseudo-reality.

So, great first gajme and bloody well done to Big J for running a fun and smooth game. I'm looking forward to next week with quite a lot of excitement.

Monday 15 October 2012

X-Wing Miniatures video review

As the RPG Editor of Jedi News, along with News Editor Mark Newbold, we were thrilled to be invited to play test the new Fantasy Flight Games X-Wing Miniatures Game by the gang over at Titan Games in Lichfield.

We had a fantastic battle, the results of which you'll see in the video and we're pleased to report that the game is fantastic and comes highly recommended. Here's a brief video review, featuring the music of James Semple.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Dave Morris (and a bit of Jamie Thomson!) Interview

Dave Morris
Welcome to Farsight Blogger. Perhaps you'd like to tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi Jonathan - Jamie is pretty busy right now (writing his first new gamebook in over ten years!) so I'm afraid you'll probably have to make do with just my answers. Thanks for inviting me. I’ve been an author of gamebooks, novels and comics and a designer of videogames and role-playing games for a good many years now. My 1980s role-playing game Dragon Warriors was recently republished and I am about to re-release many of my gamebooks such as Heart of Ice in print and ebook formats with Osprey Books.

My recent work has been for Fabled Lands LLP, the company I set up a couple of years ago with my lifelong friend and fellow gamer Jamie Thomson. Our Dirk Lloyd books, written by Jamie, have been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Prize, and our interactive take on Frankenstein, written by me and published by Profile Books, has been getting some great reviews from people like the Independent, the Literary Platform, and a coveted star review from Kirkus – not places you normally expect to see interactive fiction reviewed!

Tell us about your RPG history - what got you into the wonderful world of tabletop roleplaying?

It all started in a little shop down Hanway Street which was so full of games and gamers that there was hardly room to turn round. I and a bunch of school friends came across TSR’s Empire of the Petal Throne and we’d never seen anything like it. We had to club together to buy that very lavish boxed set – it was about forty pounds in today’s money. On the train coming home, we looked in the box and I remember my friend Nick saying, “You know, I’m not even sure if this is a boardgame…” And so our role-playing days began.

What is it about the tabletop RPG hobby that attracts you? What do you enjoy most when playing a game?

It’s the way that the story emerges from all the characters we’re playing. No single person drives the plot and the best events are completely unexpected and on-the-fly. I don’t know any other way you can get participatory storytelling like that. You’re creating a group mythology, and we talk about events in our games as if they really happened. Often they matter more to us than real life. I certainly spend more time working on my characters' finances, and with more enthusiasm, than I ever would on my tax return.

What's your favourite game? What games that are out there at the moment float your boat?

As far as setting goes, nothing can beat Tekumel for me. That’s the world M. A. R. Barker created for Empire of the Petal Throne. Lots of other people since have tried revisiting the idea of a civilization far in the future where culture has reverted to the level of the ancient world and technological devices are regarded as magical. What made Tekumel unique is that Barker was an anthropologist and linguist. He constructed imaginary languages that work, rather than just having random apostrophes through the middle of words! And he travelled widely throughout the Middle East and South-East Asia, so he could draw on convincing models of how a non-modern, non-Western society functions. Tekumel isn’t for everybody, but if you’re willing to stretch your imagination a bit then it will never be bettered.

Do you still get time to play? What are you playing at the moment?

Oh yes, even after thirty-six years (eek!) of gaming, role-playing is still the high point of my week. Well, my fortnight now, in fact, as we used to play a couple of times a week but now everybody lives further apart and most of us have kids. But we make sure to get in a game every two weeks and the occasional weekend special.

We use GURPS 4th edition mostly. It often feels like an elephant gun to kill flies with, but it covers everything in every era, and that saves a lot of time. I don’t want to be tweaking rules when we could be focusing on the world and the characters.

As for settings, we alternate between Legend, the skewed take on Dark Ages Europe that I originally created for my Dragon Warriors RPG, and a millennium-spanning epic campaign about a group of immortal soldiers from ancient times. And recently we spent about six months playing in Frazer Payne’s Ghosts of London RPG, which is really tailor-made for a John Constantine fan like me, and I keep telling Frazer he has to put the finishing touches to that and publish it.

The tabletop roleplaying hobby has been through a lot changes over the years and it seems that its death-knell is always sounded when newer hobbies come along, such as collectible card games and online computer games. It still seems to be able to hold its own, though – what do you see happening to the hobby in the future? What changes, if any, do you think will have to be made to ensure its survival?

I really don’t see it as a worldwide movement. After all, I was just saying how Tekumel is the most well thought-out and original RPG setting ever, but you could number its followers in the very low hundreds. So maybe my own tastes aren’t the best measure of what’s going to keep the hobby alive and make the publishers oodles of cash. We just play our games and enjoy them.

Out of all your projects, what are you most proud of?

Mirabilis – Year of Wonders, which is an epic comic book fantasy saga about a green comet that appears in the sky on New Year’s Day 1901. The closer it gets to Earth, the more that the line between reality and fantasy breaks down. So you’ve got mermaids in the Thames and Martian ambassadors in Whitehall (if they don’t miss their train from Woking, that is). I’m not just proud of the writing, which is the best I’ve ever done, but I also do the layouts and have to keep raising the money to pay all the artists, colourists, printers and coders (it’s available in the App Store as well as in print and on Kindle). So it is a complete labour of love! I’m still only about a quarter of the way through – we’ve published eight issues so far, about 200 pages’ worth. And it keeps on expanding as  work on it, but I’m happy with that.

Jamie Thomson
Speaking on Jamie's behalf, I think that he has created a true modern children's classic in Dark Lord: The Early Years and its sequels. This is the saga of what happens when the Dark Lord of All Evil (think Sauron, Galactus, etc) is banished to Earth in the body of a 13-year-old boy. It is laugh-out-loud funny all the way through and poignant too. It's Jamie's best work to date and an absolute must-read for anybody who grew up a geek.

You’ve no doubt mixed with other great names in the roleplaying community – do you have any stories or anecdotes to share? Any horror stories? Be as frank as you like!

Yeah, sure :) All I will say is that no one is really a saint or a genius, and let’s leave it at that.

What are you working on at the moment?

Mirabilis, the comic I mentioned before, keeps me pretty busy in my spare time and will do for the next few years Also, Jamie and I have created a kids’ SF series (working title Starship Captain) that I expect will be published next year. Profile Books are hoping for a follow-up to my interactive Frankenstein (no, not Dracula). Jamie and I are converting our gamebooks to epub3 format for the Osprey series, and Jamie is writing an all-new book for the launch called The Good, the Bad and the Undead. And we've got a couple of other projects that we're developing with a producer friend out in Hollywood. So that’s for starters…

Saturday 6 October 2012

Old School Renaissance and Me

Way back in the mists of time... well, 1984, actually, I had my first taste of a tabletop roleplaying game in the form of the classic red box Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set. My very first character, a thief named Jamm Donutt - yeah, yeah, I was thirteen years old - made his very first kill in the module... erm... well, I can't remember the name, but I do know I killed a skeleton. Well, killed a skeleton again, because it was undead. Destroyed it, then.

I remember going on to have plenty of great adventures with Basic D&D over the next couple of years. I moved on to the West End Games Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game in late 1987 so didn't spend as much time playing D&D as much as I would have liked.

It was AD&D 2nd Edition that turned me off D&D for the better part of twenty years. This simple, flowing, fun game I had been playing suddenly became this bloated mess and the group I played with was all about the stats. Confusion would reign at the table as modifiers and tables were thrown about and this simple, quick, fun game became a chore.

After a blast at D&D 4th Edition and Pathfinder over the last couple of years my gaming group settled down with Dragon Warriors, a few Fighting Fantasy playtests and most recently Call of Cthulhu. These excellent games with their simple rules systems were much more adventure and story orientated and the stats took something of a back seat. More recently, Big J, our resident DM and D&D expert, decided to go back to what made the games fun in the first place - simple rules that concentrated on the adventure. As he was the very first DM I ever gamed with and ran the adventure in which Jamm Donutt killed/destroyed his first foe there was a certain level of excitement.

After getting hold of the always amazing D&D Rules Cyclopedia and the excellent new Dungeon Crawl Classics rulebook, Big J made his decision: he was going back to proper Basic D&D, the purple book that he started the hobby with. So, we rolled up new basic D&D characters (the proper way - straight forward ability rolls and hit dice) and he even did a quick test run in the same dungeon that he ran for me back in 1984. I created a dwarf this time, Burgen Beerswiller, and we ran through a couple of encounters.

Now I understand why Old School Renaissance dudes blow the trumpet of the original game so much. This took me back... I was using an old school character sheet, old school dice and making rolls against old school THAC0 (which, to be honest, I still don't like - that was something D&D 3.X got right, in my opinion). It was amazing how quickly certain things came back to me and even though the other two guys we're playing with are much younger than us and might not fully understand the excitment that me and Big J were feeling, they loved it. The characterisations were bold and over-the-top, the combat fast and fluid and strangely satisfying. We were eager to get stuck in to the game proper but I had my Call of Cthulhu campaign to finish, which I did last session. Now we're free to indulge ourselves in Basic D&D goodness.

Big J has all the original D&D sets, from Basic to Immortal, and now so do I again, as well as the rule book from the 1991 boxed game release to help us along. He's playing it straight up and to the letter, with all rolls in the open, encumbrance, the works, so woe betide our Magic User should he fall foul of any monsters, what with his 2 hit points. We've also got a Fighter and a Cleric, which should make the party interesting. I guess we'll have to take a theif on as a retainer. He'll also be going through the Dungeon Crawl Classics book to mine it for ideas, as we're going to see how we get on with the Basic game and, if he sees fit, Big J will incorporate rules and material from that. I'm fine to go with it as it is, without any changes or influence from any other games, but it's not just me in the group and I'd like for all of us to get something out of the game. If I can grit my teeth at THAC0 then I can do the same for other stuff, too.

So, as of now, you can colour me Old School Renaissance converted. The D&D we have today bears very little resemblance to the D&D of the past, the game that truly started it all. It's so busy trying to find it's place - maybe even reclaim it's place - in the RPG marketplace that it seems to have lost it's way.

Oh, and the campaign setting that Big J is using? Greyhawk. Get in.

Thursday 4 October 2012

Upcoming RPG Interviews

I've been collecting interviews recently with some of the big names of the roleplaying hobby and I'll be regularly featuring them on this blog as well as in a regular interview feature on that will be updated regularly.

As well as the interviews you've already seen here there's others coming up from Bill Coffin, Sarah Newton, Jeff Easley and others.

Check back regularly for new updates.

Monday 1 October 2012

James M Ward Interview

Please welcome to Farsight Blogger James M Ward, the man who bought us the first sci-fi roleplaying game Metamorphosis Alpha back on 1976.

FARSIGHT BLOGGER - Welcome to Farsight Blogger. Perhaps you'd like to tell us a little bit about yourself?

JAMES M WARD: I'm James M. Ward and I've worked in the hobby since 1974. I wrote the first science fiction role playing game: Metamorphosis Alpha released in 1976 and its still selling on line today.

FB - Tell us about your RPG history - what got you into the wonderful world of tabletop roleplaying?

JW: Gary Gygax was kind enough to teach me how to play D&D. I remember it took me six months to figure out the poly dice.

FB - What is it about the tabletop RPG hobby that attracts you? What do you enjoy most when playing a game?

JW: I like the challenge of surviving in a fantasy world. I enjoy learning new game systems and playing wizard style characters.

FB - What's your favourite game? What games that are out there at the moment float your boat?

JW: METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA is my game and I still love playing it.

FB - Do you still get time to play? What are you playing at the moment?

JW: I'm in the middle of playtesting a new adventure I've written called SQUIRREL TOWER.

FB - The tabletop roleplaying hobby has been through a lot changes over the years and it seems that its death-knell is always sounded when newer hobbies come along, such as collectible card games and online computer games. It still seems to be able to hold it’s own, though – what do you see happening to the hobby in the future? What changes, if any, do you think will have to be made to ensure its survival?

JW: It's going to survive no matter what because you can't beat sitting around the table with friends and playing. I think there might be a lot more Skyping going on in the future.

FB - Out of all your projects, what are you most proud of?

JW: I have a lot of projects to be proud of. I think the original Gamma World was some of my best work.

FB - You’ve no doubt mixed with other great names in the roleplaying community – do you have any stories or anecdotes to share? Any horror stories? Be as frank as you like!

JW: I really like working with Steve over at Troll Lords, he has such a good and positive attitude about life that he's fun to deal with.

FB - What are you working on at the moment?

JW: I've just started blogging at and that's interesting for me. I'm working on an OGL adventure called BASTION OF WOLVES that has the potential to be a big hit.