Monday, July 19, 2010

Castles & Crusades Demo in Chicago

I will be running a demo of Castles & Crusades at Galactic Force in Chicago on this Wednesday, July 21st.  The fun starts at 6 PM and one lucky participant will walk away with a copy of the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook.

If you are in the area, please drop by and join in.  I will give a quick introduction to the rules system, followed by character creation and a short dungeon delve.  If you have never played Castles & Crusades, I think you will find it to be a fast playing fantasy RPG with none of the fussiness of some other systems.  See you there!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fantasy Flight Games Gets It

I have been watching Fantasy Flight Games with much interest over the past couple of years.  Their recent announcement of the Deathwatch role-playing game and the promotion surrounding it made me realize - they actually get it.

What do I mean?  First of all, take a look at the introductory adventure for Deathwatch that FFG released for Free RPG Day.  Unlike those released by some other companies (which I won't name), you can actually play this one with no other materials.  Dice, pen and paper are all you need!  And it looks great!  You didn't manage to get a physical copy from your FLGS?  No problem.  You can download the PDF right HERE.  What?  You just want a web version to read on  your laptop or fancy new iPad?  Try the version HERE.  Fantasy Flight Games gets it.

Let's say that you are interested in Deathwatch but want more information.  That's fine.  FFG has posted a short, professionally produced video HERE that gives you an overview of the game from the designers and some glimpses of what's in the book.  Filled with previews of the book's great art it looks like it would also be a great (and free) promotional tool for a game store as well.  Just set it up on a loop and let it run.  Fantasy Flight Games gets it.

Is all this not enough for you?  Do you want a FAQ for the game?  Extra pregenerated characters for the free introductory adventure?  Previews of the rulebook?  Try the game's website HERE.  I know I might be coming off sounding like an FFG fanboy, but I can't stress enough how much this impresses me.  Why don't other game companies spend this much effort promoting and raising their customers' awareness of their new games?  I have no clue.  I'm just glad that FFG does.  They get it.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Hexographer is Cool

I recently purchased a license for the Hexographer program and it is pretty darn cool.  I have zero artistic talent and I have still been able to create some quick maps that while they aren't exactly cartographic masterpieces, don't look too terrible.  While the user interface isn't completely intuitive, I still find it much easier to use than any other mapper that I have tried.

The advantages to Hexographer are many.  The basic version is free to use online and the pro version costs less than ten bucks right now for a year's license.  The program is also written in Java and so it should run happily on almost any platform.  I have successfully used it myself on both PC and Mac machines.

You can use the program to generate maps that are reminiscent of the old D&D 'gazetteer' series of modules, but that's not all.  You can also generate maps of cities and even star maps for sci-fi games.  If you are particularly adventurous, you can even import your own symbols (at least in the pro version).

Also exciting is that the author is planning to release another program called Dungeonographer that promises to do for dungeon maps what Hexographer has done for overland maps.  I can't wait!

Below is an example map that I literally banged out in five minutes.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another Kind of WhiteBox

I got sick of waiting for my copy of the Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox to be delivered so I picked up a copy of the Castles & Crusades:Collectors Edition boxed set from Troll Lord Games.  So far I like it - a lot.  I will reserve final judgement on the rules until I get to conduct an actual playtest, but at first glance they are a masterful example of concise writing.  You get a rules set that looks and feels like old school D&D, but is much more unified with the addition of the SIEGE system.  I can't believe I hadn't picked this set up until now!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Rynn's World Review

Review of Rynn’s World

Let me preface my review of Rynn’s World by saying a little bit about my background with 40K and my motivations for picking this book up.  First is the fact that I am only casually familiar with the background ‘fluff’ of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.  Second is the fact that I picked up the book as much to enhance my knowledge of Space Marines in preparation for possibly running games of Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader (and now Deathwatch) as I did for just the pleasure of reading the book.  Last is the fact that this is only the third Black Library book that I have read.

Before I get into the actual contents, I want to comment on the format of Rynn’s World.  I assume this is something of a new direction for Black Library and I like it.  The book is an oversized paperback with large font and two pages of color maps in the center.  The large font is especially easy on my aging eyes.  Its size makes the book easy to keep open and read, while still making it small enough to stow in my backpack for the train ride to and from work.

If you are like me and are unfamiliar with the history of the Crimson Fists chapter of the Space Marines, they apparently have a long association with the Warhammer 40,000 game and its fictional universe.  Crimson Fists are even pictured on the cover of the game’s very first edition.  Unfortunately, assuming the reader is intimately familiar with this history did spoil one of the book’s pivotal events for me by revealing it in the overview blurb on the book's very first page!

The book's plot is a classic battle against hopeless odds.  The shattered remnants of the Crimson Fists chapter of the Space Marines attempts to hold out against an overwhelming invasion force of Orks until help can arrive.  One group defends the planet's fortified capital city.  The other group, led by Chapter Master Kantor and feisty, independent Captain Cortez,  attempt to make their way across hundreds of miles of ork-infested terrain and link up with their comrades.

I didn’t go into Rynn’s World with the expectation that I would be reading great literature, but I was still pleasantly surprised with the overall quality of the writing and story.  This is a fairly clich├ęd pulpy, action story with lots of big guns and explosions, but it is a darn enjoyable and well-written one.  The author does an outstanding job of both humanizing the Space Marines and providing them with individual personalities and motivations.  I actually cared about Captain Cortez and Chapter Master Kantor.  The interplay between the two was believable and they both came across as for more than cardboard cutouts.

I enjoyed Rynn's World quite a bit.  I also feel like I learned a lot about how to portray Space Marines if I get a chance to run a 40K RPG campaign where they play a part.  If I had one complaint it would be that the final climatic battle between the Space Marines and invading Orks takes place entirely 'off camera'.  I was really anticipating the battle between Titans and Gargants and I was disappointed that it was not included.  If you are looking for a solid Space Marine action book, definitely give Rynn's World a look.

WhiteBox Delayed...

It looks like a snafu with the box supplier has delayed the shipping of my copy of Swords & Wizardy WhiteBox - ARRGH!!  On the other hand, Brave Halfling is including a limited run module as their way of apologizing for the delay.  This softens the blow somewhat.

On the other hand, the delay gives me time to flesh out my starting village and campaign area a little more.  I still hope to run a Play by Post campaign too, but I haven't gotten much response over at GeekDo.  I might try RPGnet and Dragonsfoot and see if I can find any additional interest.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Play by Post Swords & Wizardy WhiteBox

I haven't gotten my physical copy of Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox  yet, but I do have the PDF.  I also just picked up Chgowiz's Swords & Wizards Whitebox Reference Sheets from RPGnow today and they are pretty keen.

While I am waiting for my boxed set to be delivered, I would like to go ahead and kick off a Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox play by post game over at GeekDo. The game will be wide open, with what I hope is a good mix of monster bashing, action and adventure. You can find out more about it HERE.

Join my for some old-school goodness!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

First NPC for my Swords & Wizardry Project

I am working on a project for Swords & Wizardry.  It's my own little mini-campaign setting entitled the Hamlet of Hagreth.  I have been knocking out some NPCs pretty quickly.  Here is a sample:

Nick Hacken is a woodcutter that lives on the very edge of the hamlet. He appears to be in his forties. A life of hard labor has left him balding and weathered, but still strong and lean. His wife died in childbirth and now his only companion is his young daughter. Nick is handy with an axe and he knows every nook and cranny of the forest for miles around.
Nick Hacken: HD 1; hp 5; AC 9[10]; Atk 1 hand axe (1d6); Save 18; Special: +1 hit/dam.

It has actually been a joy to create NPCs for S&W.  Maybe it's just my old age, but creating ones for more 'modern' RPGs just makes my head hurt...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I Blame Dan Abnett

I place the blame squarely on Dan Abnett’s head. I really do. As a grown-up geek, with a life filled with work, family and God knows what else, I had made up my mind to quit running roleplaying games cold turkey. I told myself that I could still dabble in the odd miniatures or board game, but roleplaying games were out. Why? In my experience, running roleplaying games requires just too much of a continuing time commitment.

While other games require a similar amount of ‘front loaded’ time getting prepared to play (I am looking at you Flames of War) nothing else besides running a roleplaying campaign requires such a continuing commitment of time and energy. In my experience, preparing for and running an exciting and interesting campaign on a regular basis too often turns into a grind. On top of that, you have to actually find a group, travel to wherever you are going to play, deal with no-shows, etc. It’s just generally a pain in the butt. I love RPGs, but my mind was made up. I was going to put away the dice bag for good.

And then I picked up Dan Abnett’s Eisenhorn omnibus on a whim. It was innocent enough. I was cruising Borders looking for something to read on my commute. The cover painting of inquisitor Eisenhorn caught my eye and I bought the book. Half way into Xenos, the first book of the trilogy, and I was hooked. Now I am not very familiar with the Warhammer 40,000 universe but Abnett’s vivid prose and pulpy action really sucked me in. Not even a week later, I was in possession of Dark Heresy and Rogue Traderebook

Back down the rabbit hole I go…