Friday 30 December 2016

The Troll Job - Episode #2

The terrifying bulette!
This is the cheap plastic toy the original bulette was based on.

Lots of travel, an unsuccessful encounter (though not as disastrous as it could have been) with an ox-stealing bulette, and far fewer grimlocks than I originally intended.

I had forgotten just how fragile AD&D-ish characters could be, after years and years of playing WotC superhero games, so I had to make some quick decisions about encounter numbers for my team to have any hope at all of surviving to get to the main job. Which, in itself, may be a larger bite than they can reasonably chew.... we shall have to see.

Friday 16 December 2016

New Campaign(ish): Working for Eyeless

Eyeless the Wizard.
I've started up a new AD&D/OSRIC campaign. The basic information is on my website, along with game journals as and when I get around to writing them.

I don't foresee any grand overarching world-shaking plots transpiring out of this game, but you can never quite tell what will happen in a roleplaying game.

Thursday 15 December 2016

Invisible Magic Sky-Friends and You

Just another Monster Manual, really
The treatment of gods and religions in my D&D campaigns has always been based on this supposition:

The world (including all associated planes) is a created artifact, made and maintained for the pleasure and entertainment of entities who, to the created inhabitants of that universe, are, to all intents and purposes, gods.

The situation is very similar to that shown in the recent series, Westworld, though on a larger scale. Very similar indeed. Or perhaps it would be closer to the "Hells" in Iain M. Banks' Surface Detail.

Some of these entities, who for the sake of convenience I will just refer to as gods, get their jollies by physically interacting with the created universe and its inhabitants. Some restrict their interference to working from outside, operate via proxy creations, and manipulate the conditions of the world to create circumstances beneficial to their agendas.

The key thing to note about both of these groups is that they are playing a game. They are playing for points. Some play very seriously, some just dabble for a bit of fun. They get more points for actions where they are physically present, because when they are physically present, they are in physical danger. Still other of the "gods" are simply observers, watching purely for entertainment but having no stake in the game, nor any way of influencing events in it.

But regardless of the stakes of the game, it's still a game, and the created beings who scurry around the world are just playing pieces.

So basically, all the actions, purposes, plans, schemes, loves, hates and so forth of all the created inhabitants of the world are futile and meaningless, existing only to win or lose some entity a few game points or to provide an evening's passive entertainment. Bummer.

The thing is, that's irrelevant to them. Even if they know the true state of affairs (and some of the more potent characters in the farce have at least an inkling that it might be so) they still have to live their lives. They may be playthings of the gods, but that doesn't mean they don't have to eat and shit and make a living.

So, there it is.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last.....

NOTE: This is NOT the actual OSRIC cover.
Which is a pity.
Things have been slowly digesting and percolating in my tiny brain, and I've come to a realization which is long overdue.

Pretty much all my tinkering and messing around with fantasy roleplaying game systems over the years has been, essentially, an attempt to recapture the joy I had in playing AD&D, while trying to avoid the things about AD&D that irked me. Of which there were quite a few, but not so many as to be insurmountable I think. The rules are now easily available again, both as reprints of the original books (expensive) and via the OSRIC project (cheap). I have a nostalgic fondness for the old books, but I think OSRIC is a more useable and accessible resource.

This full-page illustration, in fact.
OSRIC is available as a very convenient A5 paperback for $13.50 or as a full size hardback including a full-page illustration by Your's Truly for $26.00.

So anyway, I've decided to dip my toe back into the murky waters of DMing, and return to my first love..... mostly.

These are the modifications I intend to make to the rules:

  1. I discard dual-classing; everyone can multi-class, as long as they have the minimum requirements. You can start a new class when training to go up a level, but from then on all XP (and hit-points) is split between all your classes — there'll be none of this taking one level in a class to get its benefits and then ignoring it forevermore.
  2. I am keeping the demi-human level limits, so only human characters will be unlimited in all classes.
  3. I will adopt the Character Background idea from 5e to determine the sort of basic range of knowledge the character has, along with the "Good At" skill system at the rate of one slot per 5 whole points of INT and WIS. The idea that a character can only perform a certain skill (like picking locks, or tracking) if they have a certain character class is stupid and dumb, and I'm doing away with it.
  4. All characters start with the standard range of Thief Skills at 50% of the ability of a 1st level Thief. Only Thief characters can improve from this level though (though if one or more of the character's "Good At" slots is applied to one of those skills, I guess it could be improved by level gain... we'll see).
  5. I will replace AD&D's Descending Armour Class and attack tables with the d20 model Attack Bonus and Ascending Armour Class. They're easily calculated: 20 – THAC0 = Attack Bonus, and 20 – AC = AAC.
  6. I intend to adopt the Advantage/Disadvantage system from D&D5e, because it is elegant and works very well indeed.

I've made a new dust-jacket for my A5 copy
of OSRIC so that I can give it the
cover I prefer as well as hopefully making it
a bit sturdier and durable.
There may be some other bits and pieces I've forgotten or haven't determined. For example, I haven't yet decided whether to stick with AD&D's slightly baroque saving throw system (easier to use 3rd-party stuff), or go with a much simpler single save with CHAR-based bonuses/penalties (easier to use in play). Probably the latter.... but maybe not.

The campaign will begin with the party operating as a "snatch" team, working for a Big Fucking Wizard to find and retrieve things the BFW wants or needs. I'm thinking of starting the campaign on about 10,000 XP, but if anyone desperately wants to start at first level, far be it from me to say nay.

Character creation will be by my Character Generation Wheel, using 3d6. For a change, I'm not placing any restrictions on character species.

I'm not averse to trying out Crabaugh's Custom Character Class Creator, though I have a suspicion it could be used for Evil. I'll be keeping a very, VERY close eye on anything created by that means.

Thursday 8 December 2016

Latest from Shapeways

20mm plastic figures by HaT
Another couple of models arrived on my doorstep from Shapeways today.

3d printing is just like magic to me (because it's mysterious and I don't know how to do it myself).

First up is my VSF Steampunk Battle-Tricycle, which is in an indeterminate scale. I show it here next to a couple of HäT 20mm British Zulu Wars figures; it would probably work with figures up to 28mm if you could find one to fit in the cockpit.

This one is printed in WSF nylon. It's also available in FUD resin at higher resolution.

Next is the German WW1 "K-Wagen" in 1:100 (15mm) scale, also in WSF. It never made it into battle; the war ended just before it could get into production, and the two functional prototypes were dismantled and scrapped under the watchful eyes of the Occupying Powers.

15mm PzKfw IV by PSC.
It was a real monster, with a crew of 26. Here it is alongside a WW2 PzKfw IV in the same scale.

It's also available in FUD resin, but the price is eye-watering. It's expensive enough in WSF.

Thursday 1 December 2016

AutoMitrailleuse White

The White Armoured Car (Mitrailleuse White in French service) was the French equivalent of Britain's Rolls Royce armoured car, inasmuch as it was a World War One design that was continually upgraded and in service until World War Two. It was based on an American White chassis, and mounted a Hotchkiss machine gun and a 37mm gun opposite each other in the turret.

This is my 1:100 (15mm) 3d printed model in WSF nylon, available for sale in this material or in high-resolution FUD resin at

I'm not sure exactly what tactical markings they would have worn, but I think some French roundels would probably be a reasonably safe bet.


Somebody suggested the playing-card symbols as used on interwar/WWII French tanks as platoon identifiers. I don't know if they were actually used for armoured cars, but I liked the idea so I tried it out.

The French roundel on the doors makes a nice aiming bullseye.