FARSIGHT GAMES

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Some thoughts on Warhammer

So, I've been thinking about Warhammer a lot recently.

First, there's the new Age of Sigmar, a continuation of Fantasy Battle that has destroyed the Old World completely and now the battles range across planes, like a war in heaven. That kind of pissed me off at first, what with one of my favourite fantasy settings being wiped out and all that, but I realised that the Old World stopped being about how I remembered it a long time before that - the Old World to me was the late 1980s, with the softback Warhammer Roleplay rulebook, and it went through quite a few changes that passed me by completely.

I still have my Old World and I'll continue to game in it, but the new Age of Sigmar simply isn't for me. I've read the fluff and, while epic, it doesn't really do anything for me. I've seen the game in action, though, and it looks like it plays pretty well.

Warhammer 40K is a completely different kettle of fish. I love the gonzo bonkers setting - I call it Death Metal Dune - and the history from before the Horus Heresy up to the 41st Millenium is fantastic. Everything about it screams EPPPPIIIICCCC!!!! and the atmosphere and design is fantastic. Other than the space orks, which are fun but are simply just that - stupid orks in space - it's a really well realised setting.

It's just that... it feels so stale right now. I'm not up to speed on it to be truthful - I started on the First Edition from 1987 and the last book I read was the 6th edition, but it feels like the setting needs shaking up. I haven't played the game in more than 20 years (not a huge fan, I'm afraid) but I've always loved the setting.

Other than the Horus Heresy books, which did nothing to further the timeline anyway, there hasn't really been any epic stories about the Imperium that have grabbed me. The majority of stories are about incidents on worlds that matter very little, and there seems to be a missed opportunity with doing something huge. I had high hopes for the Ultramarines movie a few years ago, but that was terrible and was just about a thing that happen to some guys on a planet somewhere.

What 40K needs is a kick in the arse, something to further the story and to give gamers and readers something to sink their teeth into. Not a story that happens somewhere that nobody cares about (it appeals to the nihilistic tone of the setting, but that's all that happens) but something galaxy-shattering and huge. Something that shows a bit of character instead of just your standard 'Kill for the Emperor!' stuff that works great for the tabletop game, not so much for the story as a whole.

I'm probably missing something as I've not read any WH40K fiction for a long time, and I accept that - please point me in the right direction if there has been something published that changes things.

I guess I'll complete my Imperium-changing WH40K RPG game and play that, and change the setting to suit my needs, like I did with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Like I do with most of my games.

That's the wonder of this hobby, and probably the reason why I shouldn't whine about this kind of stuff - I can make the story mine.

Monday, 21 March 2016

RPG Review - The End of the World: Alien Invasion

Orginally designed by Álvaro Loman and José M. Rey

Published by Fantasy Flight Games

"Massive, gleaming saucers appear over Earth’s major cities. The secret Illuminati that has ruled the world since time immemorial emerges to make its ultimate powerplay. Your own friends and loved ones suddenly seem… not quite right. No matter what weird or terrifying events are occuring, it’s plain to see that we are not as alone as we once thought. Earth has become the center of an Alien Invasion!

Alien Invasion is the third book in The End of the World roleplaying game line created by Álvaro Loman and José M. Rey. Like Zombie Apocalypse and Wrath of the Gods, Alien Invasion invites you to play as yourself, in your own hometown, as an extraterrestrial attack erupts around you. An elegant, narrative rules system keeps the game’s focus on the story as you experience one of five unique scenarios, each of which features dozens of possible adversaries and encounters. Watch out for UFOs, and prepare for close encounters with an Alien Invasion at the end of the world!"

Wow.

Look, I've tried all kinds of roleplaying in all kinds of ways; low-level crawling, high-level epicness, freeform, open world, linear, all kinds of genres, and I've even had a stab at playing in the real world, in my local neighbourhood, and even as myself.

It's not a new concept, and it's no doubt something that many seasoned gamers have tried at least once in their tabletop history, but in my experience they've always been games using an existing ruleset that wasn't designed for that kind of thing.

But this game is very different to all those other times you've tried to play yourselves in a roleplaying games, tried to act out those 'what if' scenarios you've had in your head. This game gives you the tools and the guidelines to actually have a proper go at a 'what would I do' situation, and it works exceptionally well... most of the time.

What we have here is a 144-page hardback rulebook that contains rules, guidelines and scenarios to give you and your group a great evening of survival horror. It may look a little on the slim side but at an RRP of £26.99 it has everything you need, and includes some excellent atmospheric artwork. The quality is up to the usual Fantasy Flight Games standard and it's a hardy rulebook that'll last you a while.

The book wastes no time in getting you into the action, and after the obligatory intro it dives straight into 'Playing The game', and explains the rules system and tests before you even get onto character creation. There is an assumption that you are familiar with tabletop roleplaying games and it doesn't hang around, so is it any good for new-to-the-hobby players? I'd say not really; there's enough in here to give you an idea of what gaming is about but no real firm guidelines.

Character creation is easy, and fun in may respects. Although the game is designed around the players creating versions of themselves to play in the game there is plenty of flexibility to create different personalities so that you can game as other characters in other places.

Characters have six characteristics across three different categories: Dexterity and Vitality are the Physical aspects, Logic and Willpower are Mental, and Charisma and Empathy are the Social aspects. These characteristics are graded by a number between one and five but start at one, and players then spend ten points across the characteristics to create a character that suits them.

The fun bit, especially if you're playing versions of yourselves, is that the group then votes on each of the different characteristics and scores, secretly putting dice into a bag to try and change the outcome of the character. The dice are positive and negative, which is the core mechanic of the game, and positive dice increase scores and negative ones decrease them. It's a great way of keeping egos in check - and a great way of finding out what your friends really think of you!

Features are then assigned, and these are the talents and problems the player may have. What are you good at? Don't think about what you'd like to be good at - what are you actually good at? Do you have any illnesses or physical problems? Don't make stuff up - think about how you are right now! Have you injured yourself in real life recently? Sprained an ankle, broken a bone, got a bad cold? Then put that on your character sheet - the alien invasion is about to happen so your current condition is vital!

Now for equipment... and this was a great part of character creation for all of us. Choose items that are in your house right now. That's your equipment list. It was fun for us because in my attic I have a replica Roman gladius, which came in handy, and another player had an air rifle and some knitting needles that actually fitted in the barrel (we weren't stupid enough to actually try to shoot one, of course). We actually went around my house looking for things that we could use, and even went as far as making an inventory of tinned food and water. It was a hell of an experience, and we really got into it.

The game system is very simple. Tests are decided by D6s, and once the GM has decided what characteristic to use for the test the player creates a dice pool from the characteristic and any features, equipment and bonuses that might come in handy. The pool is dice of two different colours, one colour being positive dice and the other negative dice, and then they roll. Any negative die score that matches a positive die score removes both dice from the table, and any positive die that remain which have scored lower than the characteristic equals success - the action succeeds. Anything else is a fail.

I may not have done the game system justice with that brief explanation, but once you get two or three rolls out of the way and the pieces fall into place then it's actually a great setup, with plenty of dramatic moments as the dice are paired off and scores are counted, and even though the term 'dice pool' might put some people off it's actually pretty quick and there's no situations where you end up throwing buckets of cubes around.

Once the system is explained and the way the game is run is over, the book then gets straight into ten multi-part adventure scenarios with different kinds of alien invasions, including straight-forward alien invaders, surreptitious alien infiltration, war machine issues, creatures emerging from the deep and - my personal favourite - giant ants. These games detail the actual apocalyptic incident and then also deal with the post-apocalyptic situation, so you get to live through the disaster and then try to survive in the aftermath. Each scenario can be played as-is or as an introduction to a longer adventure that the GM can create and continue on. The adventures aren't limited to the scenarios in the book, and with a little work the game can be stretched out into a long, involved campaign.

All in all it's a great game; the system is neat and quick, and the setting is evocative and gives you plenty of ideas to flesh out and play with. My issue is that the system, setting and adventures are dealt with very quickly, and my impression is that the gaming group, especially the GM, had better be old hands at roleplaying and the genre that the book is replicating because there isn't much here to guide you through the process.

While I appreciate the simple rules don't need much explanation and the quick, effective task resolution makes the game much easier to handle, the adventures themselves are a little thin. As they make up the bulk of the book I expected something a bit more thorough and detailed, but as with the rest of the book there's an assumption that the players know the genre and that the GM already has experience with creating adventures or at least playing them on the fly, as the scenarios are more a list of situations and adventure hooks than a proper play-by-the-numbers adventure. There is a timeline for the scenarios but the very brief day-by-day incidents give no detail. The games are very much the bare bone of a campaign, and the GM is expected to fill in the blanks. That's not much of a problem for seasoned gamers - in fact, they'd no doubt see it as a challenge - but that doesn't give players new to the hobby much of a chance, and that's why I see this game targeted at groups with plenty of gaming experience.

Also, in my experience the gimmick of playing ourselves got quite old quite quickly, and we had much more fun playing characters totally different from ourselves. While the character creation and equipment gathering parts of the game were great fun when trying to create a character based on ourselves, and to start with the team dynamic was really good, in actual play - about three sessions into the game - it became a little stale and the novelty wore off. When we're talking about getting vaporised and breaking into local stores for supplies and equipment it was kind of fun, but when questions are asked about other friends and relatives it got a little awkward. Not only that, but there were two or three incidents where perceived abilities and game abilities created a slightly heated debate. It didn't ruin the game - in fact, there were moments when it strengthened it - but I guess it's down to the individual groups as to where they want to take this kind of setup. Tongue-in-cheek, serious or fantastical, it's up to you, but we found we had the most fun when it wasn't about us, and we created characters far removed from our own lives and abilities.

The End of the World: Alien Invasion is a good game and a lot of fun, but be prepared to do quite a bit of filling in the blanks as the GM, and make sure you have a thick skin if you're playing yourself. This game isn't for everyone and there may not be much longevity with the adventures included, but the system is pretty solid and you'll get some good games out of it, as long as the group is on the same page.

Recommended.


Monday, 14 March 2016

D&D mixes it up with Middle-Earth

This is actually quite amazing - the game and the setting have been doing their own thing for the fantasy genre for decades, and now they finally meet up in a huge nerd explosion.

There's assurances that there will still be plenty of The One Ring material - as there should be, as that's a special kind of game all on its own - but having Middle-Earth to run around in using the D&D system is a massive bonus, something my D20-centric gaming group will appreciate.

From the Cubicle 7 website:

14 MAR/16

Cubicle 7 Entertainment and Sophisticated Games have announced plans to make a Dungeons & Dragons® compatible roleplaying series for J R R Tolkien’s legendary fantasy world of Middle-earth, the setting for The Lord of the Rings® and The Hobbit®.

Cubicle 7’s CEO Dominic McDowall said, “We’re all very excited to be building on the success of The One Ring Roleplaying Game and bringing Middle-earth to D&D® players. Uniting two things very close to the hearts of gamers, me included, is very cool – I can't wait for the summer.”

The best selling The One Ring Roleplaying Game will continue as a separate and independent line, with some very exciting announcements coming this week. The new series will be based upon Francesco Nepitello’s highly praised work in The One Ring®, with Francesco acting as creative consultant.

Further details will be released in the coming months, with the release set for Summer 2016.

NEW TOR packshot2

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Interview: Jon Hodgson

I'm incredibly excited to welcome to Farsight Blogger Jon Hodgson, Creative Director at Cubicle 7 Entertainment and the man who forced me to buy Dragon Warriors. Well, he didn't force me as such; I just had to buy it because the artwork was just so damn gorgeous and suited a damn good game.

Perhaps you'd like to tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is  Jon Hodgson, I’m the Creative Director at Cubicle 7 Entertainment. We make The One Ring RPG, Doctor Who RPG, Doctor Who Card Game, and tons of other supercool stuff.

I trained as a fine artist, and had a couple of gallery shows as an abstract painter in my misspent youth.  I’ve worked as a props maker, then a freelance illustrator. I’ve made art for DnD (3rd, 4th and 5th editions), Warcraft card game, Pathfinder, Warhammer Fantasy Role Play 1st and 2nd Editions, Glorantha, Legend of the Five Rings, Lone Wolf Adventure Game, Dragon Warriors, Warhammer Historical… tons of exciting things. I’ve been very lucky.

6 years ago I started art directing for Cubicle 7 part time, and got on really well with the team.  I went full time with them a year later, eventually getting promoted to Creative Director.  Basically anything we make now is largely my fault.

Tell us about your background and gaming - was it art that got you into tabletop, or tabletop that got you into art?

Hmm it’s tough to divide the two.  I played tabletop rpgs before I’d really decided what I wanted to do though, so perhaps they are to blame. When I was 10 I wanted to be a writer, an actor or an artist (precocious brat!). And at the time I was playing the Fighting Fantasy Tigerman RPG, and shortly thereafter Dragon Warriors. Then Red box DnD. I always loved gaming art though. Unsurprisingly I’m a very visual person, so the art was always really important to me.

I think probably it was art in books that got me into rpgs.  David Day’s Tolkien Bestiary with all the amazing Victor Ambrus, Ian Miller and John Blanche art blew my tiny mind as a kid.  As did the Chronicles of Prydain and The Hobbit.

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

The imagination.  The possibilities. The waiting to see what happens next. When I first started, like a lot of kids it was all about the problem solving, the resource management stuff.  Later I got a lot more into characters and settings and putting them together amazing adventures and stories.  There’s no game quite like a roleplaying game. Especially when you’re 14 and you have nothing else to do because Snapchat won’t be invented for another 25 years.

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

This will sound like a contractual obligation, but it’s definitely The One Ring, in terms of RPGs.  I played a ton of MERP as a kid, and while I have very fond memories of it (and the Angus MacBride plates, good grief!), and we certainly had some great times, but it never quite felt like Middle-earth when we were playing.  TOR delivers on that.

I did some work on Pugmire for Onyx Path, and I’m really looking forward to reading that. It all really works somehow as a setting. And I’d like to pick apart how.

Shout out to Morgan Davie’s recent “Holding On” short rpg.  It’s an amazing piece of work.  I really liked Meguey Baker’s A thousand and One Nights, too.  Clever games.

You might notice I’m rubbish at playing tribalism in my choices here. I like DnD, I like indie games.  Being able to enjoy two things seems to be a dying art, somehow.

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

I don’t get much time for rpgs - I don’t have a group locally, and they can be so time consuming. Once my kids are a bit older we’ll start a campaign in this house.

I do play a lot of boardgames at the weekends currently - Treasure Hunter, Takenoko, King of Tokyo, and Love Letter are probably my current favourites.  I had an awesome afternoon this weekend playing a card game we’ll be publishing later in the year with my son.  Can’t tell you anything about it though.

Sporadically I take part in our globe-trotting The One Ring staff campaign.  We’ve played sessions in Oxford, Las Vegas, Holborn Naish (on the south coast of England), so it’s a fun one.  We’re not all in the same place very often, and while we usually have our character sheets, events where we’re all there, like GenCon, on top of transatlantic flights are pretty exhausting.  Which is a shame as it’s a really good campaign, and I really want to know what happens next!

Dave Morris described you as 'The Dragon Warriors artist'. Your illustrations for the new edition of the game pretty much defined the feel and atmosphere of the entire game and setting. How did you approach that job, and what inspired/influenced your pieces?

Dave is very kind. Since I played DW as my first “proper” rpg, it’s amazingly gratifying that I didn't stuff it up.

I could give you the really long and painful version of this, but it boils down to painting what you believe, what you really truly feel, and believing in that process.

I tried really hard to think what I loved about the setting when I was a kid. I looked at the pieces of art and writing from the original books that fired me up.  I can almost taste how awesome that all felt when I was 11.

There are some simple things too - Dragon Warriors is very British in it’s feel.  So there’s a lot of rain and fog in the images.  There’s heathland, and moorland.  Specifically British landscapes that hopefully complement and reinforce the words.

I almost didn’t get the gig.  James Wallis had paid another artist to do a ton of work for the reboot, but that artist flaked, never delivering.  I was asked to fill in, and we got on really well.  I don’t flake.  And try to really believe in what I deliver.

Dragon Warriors and it’s setting Legend hold a very special place in my heart, which sounds sappy, but the fans will know what I mean.  It’s a very special game.  In some senses it’s all about just believing enough to let it out.

I used to shy away from words like “love” and “heart”, but I see a lot of my contemporaries churning out work to order that lacks any trace of real love.  And it’s why they’re treading water creatively.  You have to commit, and accept where this stuff comes from.  Make it like you mean it, you know?

Your work on Cubicle 7's Middle-Earth RPG, The One Ring Roleplaying Game, is also giving that setting a whole new look and feel. How do you prepare going into projects such as these, especially with the Middle-Earth setting which has already had such a huge variety of illustrators before? Do you find such things daunting, or another challenge to delve into? 

Oh goodness me, daunting, yes. I nearly turned down the Middle-earth gig.  It was too big, too scary.  But then what can you do? Just let an opportunity like that pass you by from fear that you’ll fail? When you adore Middle-earth?  You have to somehow find the courage to step up to it.  Just like with Dragon Warriors I was amazingly grateful that people in general seem to have liked the direction we took.

I’m also very glad I did take on the work, and tried my best, as it opened a lot of doors for me.

I had enjoyed the LOTR movies, but I felt there was a big gap left between the direction they went and Tolkien’s work. And understandably so for the movie-going audience. Tolkien to me is all about Beowulf, and William Morris, and Old English.  It’s about Saxons.  It’s not “cool”. It’s archaic, ancient, atmospheric, odd, a story from another place. Movies have to be cool. Happily, rpgs don’t.

Just like with Dragon Warriors it was about choosing a direction that your heart truly believes, putting your head down, and sprinting towards it while trying not to think too hard about what people will say.

In practical terms I read a vast amount of books prior to starting work.  Naturally LOTR and the Hobbit - there’s a lot in those books that still surprises me.  I also gathered a stupidly large collection of reference material about the Early Medieval period, and Tolkien’s own influences. I read the Kalevala for example.  And know more about the Staffordshire Hoard than is probably healthy.

You know, I honestly expected a lot more hate mail for what we did. We really took it back to basics, with everything being rooted in early medieval sources. We’ve had quite the opposite reaction.  You can never really tell though, when you’re working on something. And in some ways the reaction always feels a bit like luck.

There’s some really cool stuff hidden in the One Ring art.  I worked very closely with the game’s designer Francesco Nepitello, who is now a great friend.  He shares a keen interest in delving into things to an obsessive degree.  If you have the supplement Tales from Wilderland, there’s a painting of Beorn’s Hall.  The gate has a bee symbol on it.  That’s taken from a Frankish king’s burial shroud.

Beorn’s name, and his character, and his bee keeping, are all tied up in the language - across Europe, in what’s commonly called “the dark ages”, bees were associated with warriors, due to the antiseptic properties of honey.  And because bears like honey, and there are cross overs between the words for bear and warrior and honey-eater in various languages of the time.  That’s the level Tolkien, as a philologist, was working. We try to at least attempt to do something similar with the visuals.

We won a bunch of medals for the art on The One Ring, and I have some of them hung up near my desk. Especially the Golden Geek - you could kill a burglar with a swing of that medal! But in all honestly they don’t really… I dunno. They don’t compare to the fire that drove the direction we went in.

I’m proud that we stuck to our guns and found an audience for what seemed like an approach that wouldn’t necessarily be popular, after the movies stamped high fantasy all over Middle-earth.  But make no mistake, I see other artists working on Middle-earth imagery and simply feel completely unworthy.

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?

RPGs have survived a lot of existential threats. I think at a very basic level people are tired of looking at screens all day.  The rise of boardgames really demonstrates that - people want to get together with friends and family in real life and play games together.

RPGs do have the challenge that they can be so involved to learn, and I think they can struggle to compete with activities that deliver more immediate fun right away.  But then I think there’ll always be people who want more.  We’re working on a few things that might help with that, building on the success of the Lone Wolf Adventure Game, which teaches you to play without help.  And I’m sure other companies are working on some similar things too. Stuff that’s uber accessible and starts delivering fun with friends right away.  I have a ton of ideas for our next thing along those lines.

I think there’s a lot to learn from Minecraft, and how people like building and sharing and exploring. We saw that with the OSR and indie/story games communities, and I hope the Dungeon Master’s Guild from Wizards captures some of that.  I honestly don’t know if a more commercial operation can harness that kind of energy.

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

That’s a very tough question.  Is it really boring to say The One Ring?

There are some moments I’ve had in art directing that probably make me more proud than painting.  For me painting is something I’ve always done, and simultaneously it’s all busking and blagging and faking it, and not knowing whether what you’ve done is any good. (I should probably seek professional help…)

The Doctor Who Card Game was pretty awesome.  I made some ADing moves which felt very bold at the time, and we pulled it off.

Actually, getting some art in all 3 DnD corebooks recently was pretty rad.

What are you working on at the moment?

Right at this instant I’m ducking between painting a cover for a Glorantha supplement and pondering these answers.  At the Cubicle 7 day job, I spent the day getting some games into approvals and off to print. It was pretty satisfying.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Hints & Tips - ROAD TO RUIN

On the first Monday of every month, read a new hint or tip from Jonathan Hicks, as featured on www.rpg.net and available on Kindle as 'The Book of Roleplaying Hints, Tips and Ideas'.

Sarcasm mode on

How to be an annoying player.

Every game has them, and you don't want to be the exception. Take a few tips from these ten easy to learn steps on how to ruin the game your GM has so carefully designed.

Number One: Make sure that you never talk in character. Its much more effective to say 'My character tells the Navy officer to surrender or die' instead of just giving the GM a scowl and saying 'Surrender or die, Captain Vud!' in the most convincing Royal Shakespeare voice you can manage. Keeping the gulf between your characters personality and your own roleplaying talents as wide as possible is an absolute must for all players.

Number Two: Always express your own opinions and ideas, especially when someone else is talking, preferably the GM. Interrupting an explanation or a piece of dialogue with brash statements will win the respect of other players. All gamers are well known for their tolerance for people butting in on their repartee. If you make sure your speech is loud and overbearing, you may even succeed in drowning out the other people at the table.

Number Three: Don't be concerned about turning up for the game on time. Arriving about twenty minutes to half an hour after the agreed meeting time is suggested, although three quarters of an hour would be a fine example. Keeping other players waiting is a good test of their patience, of which they'll need a lot with you around. It's good to keep them on their toes.

Number Four: Wait until a moment of high drama has arrived and then talk about something that has absolutely nothing to do with the game. Football or last night's television programmes are always good subjects to throw in. It makes the game unpredictable and sometimes quite surrealistic. So next time the GM gets to the part of the game where the final confrontation with the corrupt syndicate boss is just about to happen, make sure you come out with something like 'I saw this great program last night on telly, listen to this...'

Number Five: The game will progress much better if you don't actually take much notice of what is going on. Sitting in your chair and reading a book or a magazine while the game is in progress is a definite sign of good roleplaying. Every now and then nudge another player and show them what interesting things you've just read about, and when the GM looks upon you and asks what it is you want to do, just give him a blank look and say 'huh?'

Number Six: Every time the GM has to make a ruling, make sure you disagree with it, or at least question it before grudgingly giving in. Plenty of games have been filled with hilariously enjoyable hours of players and GM's conversing over their interpretation of the rulebook. And remember - if the GM succeeds in having his ruling accepted make sure you're miserable and surly for the rest of the session. In fact, moan about it for the next few days. After all, the game is being played for your enjoyment so why should the GM ruin your fun?

Number Seven: Wit and humour are what makes a roleplayer, so why not treat the whole game like a joke? This works most effectively when the GM has designed a game that's dark and sombre. Why play along with that, when cracks such as 'So that's an octopus’s great wobbly tentacle! Fnarr, Fnarr!' and 'I'll jump in front of the female guard and shout "Get back or I'll whip out my baton!" Ho, Ho!' will carry the atmosphere effectively.

Number Eight: Cheat at your dice rolls. You may think this is dishonest, but look at it this way; won't your fun be heightened if your character succeeds at most of her rolls? Of course! Forget about chance and tension, just roll those dice, scoop them up before anyone else sees them and say you've succeeded. The game is supposed to be fun, so you want to milk that fun for all it's worth, even at the expense of effectively roleplaying a character that is on the front line of danger.

Number Nine: Take lots and lots of food with you. This may be the normal thing to do for most players, but make sure you take plenty of chewy sweets. Having your mouth full with thick toffee and trying to explain your actions to a GM makes the game just ooze with realism. So when the GM next asks you what course of action you wish to take against the soldier who is about to attack you, you can reply with 'Gile thwig ag im wig my shord’.

Number Ten: Have you recently had a slight disagreement with another player over something trivial, out of the game? Do you want to know how you get back at that player? Well, the answer is simple. Use your character to spite him. Make the odd sarcastic comment to his character through yours, with the obvious reference to what you disagreed about, and then afterward say 'I was only roleplaying'. Better still, have your character try to bump off the offending player's character in some way. Using PC's to settle petty differences are a great way to improve the session and strengthens the relationship between players.


Using one or two of these steps will make you an annoying player. Using several in conjunction, or better still the whole repertoire, will let others know that you are definitely on the road to complete roleplaying player mastery.

Sarcasm mode off

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Writer's Sketchbook - more random writings

This gets annoying - I've found more little untitled snippets for old writing projects, and I have no idea why I wrote them, or where I was going with them. I think I have a whole collection of written notes, like a writing sketchpad, and I just allow streams of thought to go onto the page.

I think this is for a novel/RPG project I was working on called The Last Island, but I can't remember how it fit into the theme of my original idea.

You think you are dreaming.

You think you are dreaming but you know you are not. Your last thought, before the darkness took you and your eyes closed for what you feared was the last time, was that you were going to die. And I know that you were on a boat. You were on a boat or a ship, and you were lost, sinking or being tossed about in a storm like so much sundered wood upon a violent ocean.

I know this, for this is how all of you lost souls come to the island.

Sometimes you come here one at a time, wandering in the woods or staggering confused along the coastline, afraid to enter the strange, unknown forest. Some of you come here in groups, regaining your wits on the beaches and finding yourself washed ashore with other people, all of you staring at the other’s outlandish clothing, strangely coloured skin or wild body paintings. 

The first thing I always see, however, is the fear in the eyes. 

It does not matter how large, strong or loud and threatening the person is, there is always that look of fear, of trepidation of the unknown, and mostly of confused, childlike timidity.

You will never stop being afraid. 

This is The Last Island.

There is much to be afraid of.