Thursday, September 21, 2023

Another Oldhammery Traitor Knight conversion

 My tiny Traitor Knight retinue continues to grow! 

These are, for now, intended for use with old 3e Warhammer Epic: 40,000 rules. As with recently featured mini conversions, I am using current Battletech mech minis as a basis for (sometimes extensive) kitbashing and conversion. The Battletech minis are MUCH cheaper than GW's actual Knight/Titan minis. 

I'm very pleased with this one. I'm starting to wonder why I ever wanted to buy GW knights - kitbashing these things is both cheaper and CRAZY fun. 

Here's how he started the day! Almost unrecognizable?!

For those interested in ideas for such tomfoolery, here is a general 'recipe' -

+ I slightly trimmed down the head, and then glued around a bit of flexible plastic (formerly part of a cottage cheese tub) to give the top a bit of that "curved armor plating" look that many Helverin and War Dog knights have. That's the white stuff you can see on one of the photos above.

+ The arm weapons are an Ork sword (right arm) and the business end of a Chaos Marine chainsword (left arm). I cut down the forearms on the mech to make a decent fit. 

+ The "big autocannon" on the right shoulder is an old Ork bolta pistol, sans its magazine and grip. The ammo-feed belt supplying rounds from the rear is a bit of a 30+-year-old 1:72 WW2 plastic tank tread. 

+ The ammo-supply pack and associated weird tech accessory (so fashionable!) on the back is a Chaos Marine power armor backpack, but turned upside down, with the stabilizer jets cut off, and with the now-upside-down skull filed off. The ammo feed belt connect to the back side of the pack. 

+ The head is a trimmed-down Chaos Marine head, with some extra cuts so that it fits flush where I mount it. 

+ Chaos Marine Shoulderpads, because in the grim darkness of the far future, there are only hyperprotected shoulder joints. I normally like to mount these sideways/reversed on my kitbashed knights - they look more 40k knight-ish that way - but mounting them the normal way was a much better fit on this particular model. I think they still look cool. 

Happy gaming!

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Domain-Play Lessons from ... Shadow of War?

Now that my offspring are of that age when gruesome video games feel like "questionable parenting" instead of "atrocious parenting," I let them borrow the Middle Earth-themed Shadows of War on Xbox from the local library (at our library, you can even check out things like chainsaws and snowshoes - hopefully not for use at the same time, and especially not for LARPing something like Shadows of War). 


Anyway, I expected a pretty mediocre game (and we almost abandoned it after about 20 minutes). But as more of the game unfolded, I started noticing some positive aspects! I won't have much to say here about the game's alt-canon storyline, in which a good guy does emo-grimdark good guy stuff by acting like a bad guy by beating the snot out of orcs so he can mentally dominate them in order to build up an army worthy of challenging Mordor, because ends and means or something like that... 

So, not much to say about all that. (I also have never played the earlier Shadow of Mordor, so I can't say anything meaningful to compare the games). Rather, as I chewed on Shadow of War's design, I noticed three features that made the gameplay loop more appealing - and I realized that these could make a tabletop RPG's domain play more efficient and fun.

To wit:

+ NPCs as proxies for warbands. 

D&D (and adjacent) rules for domain play usually include a way to recruit and maintain army units, warbands, etc. In some cases, this gets pretty technical and economiwhatsit. At the other extreme, Into the Odd and related games instead provide a refreshingly light and abstract system for hiring "detachments," paying their upkeep, and fending off narrative problems that can afflict any would-be tyrant. But even at that rules-light end of the scale, the "detachment" is still a faceless entity, an asset, and recruiting one basically comes down to one factor - have you got enough gold on hand to pay them? 

In Shadows of War, you don't recruit a new warband; you recruit a Captain, who is in command of a warband. And each Captain has their own personality, their own motives, their own story and grudges and desires, and their own in-play/in-combat distinctions. This means that gaining more followers feels really personal. You don't just think of that block of spearmen who will be useful to lengthen your battle-line; you think about how annoying or funny or suspicious or brutal the new guy feels while he's extending your battle-line. 

Especially in the kind of domain game that I find most appealing - relatively low in scale/scope, where the number of troops and units stays manageable - it would be pretty easy to add a lot of color and fun by associating a new NPC commanding officer with every single detachment/warband. Have you had that experience where a random retainer/hired follower gains a name, personality, and a beloved place in your party's story? Now multiply that times every warband the party will deal with. You can still keep using whatever rules you're using for armies/detachments, but add a face and contact person who feels different, and who speaks for that unit. 

Another nice thing about this approach is that recruiting or maintaining a warband might be about money, but it doesn't have to be. Maybe Xantharikos the Red and his Crimson Lancers just want to get paid by Tuesday; but Larry and the Lizardmen are in it because of their fierce vendetta against the hobgoblins, so they'll fight for you for nothing but hobgoblin meat - but WATCH OUT if you ever make peace with the enemy ... or if you show weakness. (Insert myriad other possible Captain/unit motivations and intrigues). 

+ A finite number of warbands in the setting. 

But how long can you go on recruiting new regiments to replace the ones you just fed to the meat-grinder? 

As ye classic guide to the demographics of a fantasy setting recognizes, the number of fighting troops in an agrarian society should be pretty low, at least as a percentage of the overall population: being a skilled combatant is a kind of highly specialized labor supported by far more numerous food-producers. At some point, then, there should be a ceiling on available troops. And in a particularly war-torn, volatile setting, it's not implausible that all the available fighting power has already been identified and mobilized, at least in the form of reserves (village militias, etc.). Having a master list of available units - with a hard cap - can, and maybe should, be part of a small setting. 

Whether consciously or not, Shadows of War reflects this. So far as I can tell from watching the game, the total number of recruitable Captains is finite. Especially if you enjoy sparsely inhabited "points of light" settings (as do I), you can really get away with having not that many warbands even available to recruit across the entire setting! In such a context, destroying an enemy warband in battle might work (along with the usual risks), but maybe enemy fighters are too precious to put to the sword - so, back to the previous point, above: what would it take to make that specific warband switch sides and stick with the party? By making recruitable units a limited resource, you accentuate the stakes of the choices involved in dealing with them. 

And, of course, this makes losing an allied detachment in battle a much bigger deal. Unless you are planning to run a campaign that lasts for the next 35 years, providing a small campaign with 20-30 total detachments to engage -- each one led by a defined, named personality -- has much to offer. 

+ PC-level actions as domain play. 

Domain and mass battle rules often gravitate toward either moving units and assets around like a wargame, into which the PCs' actions sort of fade into the background, or like a set of military-themed skill challenges that emphasize PC choices and efforts, but which may not feel like an actual war/battle. 

Shadow of War definitely emphasizes PC actions, but it manages to make the domain game -- conquering and keeping a territory -- feel pretty central. It does this by emphasizing cool bits - winning new recruits, maintaining their loyalty (sometimes by side-quests), and storming fortresses - while allowing lots of room for individual-level stealth and combat missions (you know...your normal D&D stuff). But then it basically ignores (unless I'm not looking closely enough) the boring bean-counting. Raising food and taxes, etc., fades into the background. 

If you want to run a mostly military campaign, this is not a bad way to handle things. I think it was in comments around my domain/mass battle posts some years ago that someone suggested using "Influence" instead of "gold" for maintaining detachments. I am intrigued by the idea of a campaign in which you run dungeons, etc. to gain social influence in the setting, and then spend that social capital to help recruit followers. Beyond that, if you want to run a domain game as a list of military targets or fantasy adventure quests, why not just limit it to that?

More detailed simulations aren't wrong, of course, but Shadows illustrates that you can still have some fun without as many variables. Adding regular D&D play on top of that would make things richer still. 

Closing observations

I suspect that having a small campaign setting with a few dungeons and a pre-defined list of politically active NPCs and detachments could enable a pretty fun campaign, one focused just as much on personal intrigue and unit battles as on picking the lock down on level 4 of the nearest dungeon. I also suspect that once an initial setting was built, you might be able to run a very low-prep campaign, just making "moves" to respond to whatever happens in session. 

I have been tweaking just such a session in the background as a personal project. It may never see the light of day, but I'm hoping it might ground my next campaign, or maybe even be worth sharing with Ye Gaming Publick. 

What do you think? Does the idea of a faction-focused sandbox with finite, limited military units, each led by a known NPC, sound fun? 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Itinerant Circuit Dungeoncrawlers?

 There are wandering monsters, of course, and many old wandering encounter tables add rival adventuring parties to the menu. Not all those who wander are lost (the good Professor reminds us), but where are they going? 

Well, why don't we have itinerant circuit adventurers

In U.S. history, circuit preachers were clergy who rode around from congregation to congregation, preaching at various stops, because there weren't enough clergy for each community to host one permanently. Similarly, circuit courts and circuit judges' titles evoke (in part) times when the voice of the law made its rounds from place to place. 

I've recently been tinkering with some sandbox setting construction that would emphasize faction situations over unknown locations (as hinted at here), with ample room for interesting little warbands (detachments, if you favor EB/Into the Odd-speak). But I'd also like to include a few small dungeons - while keeping things easy to prep. 

So then I started thinking about restocking dungeons after they've been explored...and I started thinking about plausible and enjoyable reasons for itinerant circuit adventurers to want to visit the same few dungeons, over and over again. 

For this to make sense, I really think you'd need to integrate it into the setting's logic. I'm thinking about a culture with several ancestral sacred sites - dungeons - but there is a strong taboo (or maybe even an actual geas) that prevents most of the People from visiting these sacred sites. A minority are born/come of age/etc. with a special mark or vocation to tend these sites - which means that you have a small class of ready-made adventurers, whose society supports what they're doing. And the PCs' job is to travel from shrine to shrine, clearing out all the nasty sacrilegious things that don't give a rip about taboos, like monsters, brigands, etc. (You can't just let the goblins defile Balin's tomb!). And because it's a good ol' points-of-light setting, there are many more nasty things than heroes in the wilds between settlements. 

A recurring game-play might look something like this:

+ leave base

+ travel overland to the next shrine - the route would be known, so the challenge isn't exploration of an unknown as much as facing the challenges of getting there (think of Aragorn leading the Hobbits from Bree to Rivendell - that sort of challenge)

+ reach a shrine and deal with whatever is the latest challenge there - this might require combat, diplomacy, or - sometimes! - nothing at all.

+ continue the cycle and repeat, but increasingly have to deal with factions that complicate travel, block/permit access to select routes, or get entangled in broader "domain" play issues. 

I haven't tried this, but I'm intrigued by the concept. It would make the dungeons not a "dark mythic underworld that hates you," but rather "something precious and beautiful but quite dangerous, a place that constantly must be returned to order." It would enable dungeoneers who are less "rapacious freebooters on society's outskirts" and more "essential specialists who help preserve their People's cultural identity." 

Sort of like an anti-Symbaroum premise, maybe? 

You could even hack Into the Odd's dirt-simple leveling-up scheme, but change "expeditions completed" either to "shrines cleared" or "full shrine circuits completed." 

As I keep tweaking sandbox ideas (mainly for fun in the background while I work on a real-life big writing project), this is one of the ideas I keep coming back to. We'll see whether it sticks. 

Any analogous systems or games that have taken this approach, that I've overlooked? 

Happy gaming - G

Saturday, September 9, 2023

My Craziest Kitbash Yet?

 As some recent posts have shown, I'm working on armies for 3rd edition Warhammer "Epic" - Epic 40,000. I am building a large detachment of Knights for my Chaos force - they're fallen Mechanicum/traitor Knights. Not having a spare $80,402,314.52 on hand to make eleven GW Titanicus knights, I have been using Battletech minis for the knights and small/scout titans (see an earlier example that I'm pleased with here). 

At any rate, I spent some time this weekend making some of these guys look less Battletech and more In the Grim Darkness of the Far Future, There Is Only War... these are meant to be like "War Dog" smaller traitor knights.

I'm quite pleased with this fella. Here's how he looked at first:

But now...erm...things have changed...

He's got a genestealer skull cut to shape as a cockpit-helmet, a genestealer miner tool weapon refitted for his right hand (some kind of hulking Epic-scale lightning claw, we'll say), and a terminator lightning claw for his left hand. And a sideways-mounted chaos marine shoulder pad on the right shoulder to give him a bit more of a "40k knight" profile. 

I like him. His room-mate, however, is probably my sickest and weirdest kitbash to date. I wanted to get a nice picture of him, but I accidentally left him in the Warp for 10,000 years, and now - well...

There he is on the right. He's got a terminator claw-arm too, and a chaos bolter pistol refitted as an antipersonnel weapon for the left arm. The cockpit helm, in this case, is an aggressively trimmed old chaos marine backpack with some dwarf bits added! But see the weird spider pincers coming off his face? That's because, if you look behind him...

I've given him a rather notable mutation - a bloated arachnid abdomen hanging off his back end. The spidey-bits are from a hard rubber Halloween toy my kids were done with. :-) 

I have a feeling that the human pilot inside that thing hasn't been answering emails in a looooooong time.

As always, I really enjoy kitbashing. I don't have any "green stuff" on hand, which may account for whatever roughness you can spot here, but I'm trying to fit things pretty well. So far, this army only has scratchbuilt or converted/kitbashed vehicles. What they all lack in standardization and official detail, they make up for in the inventive, creative pursuit of my own bespoke force. Very fun. 

Happy gaming! 

And if you've made it this far and you're really wanting some more RPG musings, don't worry...there's more of that in my thought-pipeline, too. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

On "Shadow of the Weird Wizard," now on Kickstarter

 This week, I did something quite out of character: pledged for a gaming Kickstarter, and not at the "here's a dollar" level... This is unusual, and marks only the third time in the past decade of gaming that I've jumped in to fund one of these things. But which product has sucked me in, and why?

Well, it's very-veteran-game-designer Rob Schwalb's Shadow of the Weird Wizard, an "evolution" and seriously tone-shifted successor to the Shadow of the Demon Lord RPG (SotDL). When SotDL released years ago, and since then, I liked much of what I heard about its design and experience in play: a d20 system, but streamlined and lighter than 5e, while still offering a fairly tactical experience in combat (some have said a more tactical experience than 5e). It is often described as filling that middle ground between games like 5e/Pathfinder and OSR games or Dungeon World

However ... SotDL also released, judging by things I've read, with an almost puerile insistence on being ludicrously grimdark, in which grimdark isn't grimdark without enough potty humor, so that the whole thing might seem a bit like a parody of a black metal album as recorded in a junior-high bathroom. Hmm. Well, I wasn't really interested in inhabiting that space at the table, or in sifting through everything to weed that tone out.  

But Schwalb eventually announced that he was working on a more 'family friendly' edition that would apply some lessons-learned while making the game feel a bit more like a 'normal' fantasy RPG. That sounded better - and after several multi-year delays, the thing is finally coming together!

There is a "quick play" document available for free on DTRPG that offers a taste of things. Note, however, that a few things here don't seem too clearly explained (I'm hoping that the final edits in the actual game book make this much simpler). Veterans of the 1st game consistently describe the game's ease of use and play, however. And the sample scenario already shows that when Schwalb says "family friendly," he does NOT mean "sucking all the maturity and gritty violence out of fantasy." Oh, no. Nope. Nay. Just ... no need for genitalia falling off mid-spell, and so forth. 

Why am I excited about this new game, and about the Kickstarter options? 

+ that middle ground between OSR and 5e-level games, as noted, is an important one; I've never really landed solidly with the available options, even though it sounds great for my normal gaming group. 

+ SotDL - and now SotWW - offer wild character customization. Not via PF2e's myriad of feat choices as you level up, but through a more streamlined system of choosing Novice, Expert, and eventually Master 'paths' that are a bit like sub-classes. This lets you deeply specialize or go broad with various character styles to suit your tastes and the story that develops across campaigns. I can imagine telling those players who've enjoyed Pathfinder 2e that "this game can create literally millions of possible character configurations." 

+ I am optimistic enough about this game's potential that the Kickstarter offerings really proved tempting. SotDL (in)famously was supported with a plethora of little .pdf supplements - to the extent that many people felt it was costly and scattered to keep up with over time for those who didn't fund the original KS. The Weird Wizard Kickstarter is going very well - it's currently at about 1,000% funded - and they just yesterday unlocked a key stretch goal that will include print-on-demand AT COST codes to make most of the initially planned supplements available in print, "for the cost of glue and paper" - plus shipping (tho you have to back at least at the $99 USD level to benefit from those). There are so many cool supplements already unlocked, from a major bestiary expansion to 30 pre-written mini-adventures as well as campaigns, class options, etc., etc. 

Anyway - I still love me some gnarly OSR gaming, still love the dynamism of PbtA gaming, and still feel that Pathfinder 2e offers the best tactical combat RPG system I've ever run - but ... dang, I'm tired of feeling like prepping the world around the next set-piece PF2e fight is an engineering schematic problem! I am hopeful for exciting things with SotWW. 

Passing these thoughts along for any not already aware of this option. Happy gaming! 

Friday, August 4, 2023

Game ideas inspired by the Yukon's forest of signs

 While driving north to Alaska, we passed through Watson Lake in the Yukon. That hamlet hosts a great "forest of signs" - somewhere now between 90-100,000 signs nailed, screwed, strapped, etc. to trees and posts in a massive collection that has been growing since the mid-20th-century. I expected a rather small affair, and was blown away by wandering the aisles and lanes (!) of this small 'forest.' 

It got me thinking about why a similar collection might grace a fantasy gaming universe. Here are some ideas. 

+ Like Borges' infinite library, the forest of signs is a legendary mystical archive recording the location of every discrete place that exists in the world -- even places utterly lost and forgotten. Not sure whether the tomb of the Fourteenth Emperor was ever constructed, or how to find it? You'll know if you find it's placard in the Forest of Signs, though the three billion other signs might slow you down a bit...good luck with the random encounter rolls while you search.

+ By official decree, all communities that yield to the Glorious Benevolence of Empire mark their submission by sending delegates to post, and later maintain, their community signpost in the Forest of Signs just outside the great capital. Of course, the Empire's rival districts measure their dignity by the lavishness of their respective signs, and harried imperial administrators have been known (or so it's said) to base regional appropriations not on the mountains of paper notes sent to the capital but simply upon the size and appearance of various signs. This makes having a better sign than rival cities of great importance. The place is well-guarded during visiting hours, but after dark, the Forest of Signs becomes a hotbed of gold-leaf-thieves, vandals, would-be-repair workers, and other adventurers paid well to boost one or another city's status. 

+ Or no, perhaps we're taking all this too literally. The Forest of Signs isn't about signposts to places; it's about Semiotics. In fact, the "Forest" lies at the world's edge, and the 'signs' posted here are guides to the mystic resonances between things, ideas, and the word-not-word signs/signifiers/etc. used to (try to) communicate with reality through the Language of Magic. As all wizards and magic-users know, graduation to the next degree of mystic mastery ('leveling up' cough cough) always requires a fresh venture into the Forest, to learn and master a new set of potentially meaningful correspondences. But the Forest can be deadly, so maybe bring some friends? 


Faction-centered, location-decentered play: some murky musings from the road

 We've been on the road for some time, having driven faaaaar to visit friends and family in Alaska. The regular RPG-ing and wargaming have ground to a halt during the trip, of course, but the scenery is certainly conducive to musings about potential fantasy stories and adventures...

Here's a campaign concept I've been mulling (and not too revolutionary of an idea, though I am unsure whether I've really seen something like this fleshed out for play): a kind of weird cross between the faction play typical of Blades in the Dark or Urban Shadows and the normie fantasy D&D sandbox so celebrated in OSR and NSR niche circles. Oh, and I'd probably run using a version of Into the Odd or Cairn (including Detachments and Establishments) and for magic, I'd use Wonders & Wickedness or the various spin-offs inspired by that title. 

Other points: 

+ play centers around factions and their goals

+ characters are not just free agents among the factions, but the party is its own faction with its own stakes and interests in the setting

+ I envision a moderate-prep campaign with most of the prep up front. Prepping the campaign would require fully fleshing out, in advance, the major factions - their key NPCs, at least an outline of their assets and order-of-battle, their known goals and needs, and at least a thumbnail description of their hangouts, lairs, HQs, and clubhouses. And maybe the map for the campaign would be a pointcrawl that is almost entirely known to the players. 

+ Executing play would involve finding out what the party wants to do, and then -- if a location map is needed -- grabbing a suitable Dyson map or the 'generic' locations in the Monster Overhaul bestiary, etc. - and kind of winging it. 

A lot of OSR-style campaigns I've pondered or even started have bogged down in the cycle of prepping dungeons and the quests that point parties into those dungeons. I guess I'm wondering whether just having a few (published) dungeons in the entire setting could work, if I assumed that most of the action would happen in alleys, country lanes, ruined wilderland watchtowers, etc. - driven not by clearing rooms but by navigating factional politics until tensions break? 

Again, this is hardly revolutionary, but I'm mulling it over and wanted to get some juices flowing here despite being on the road. Cheers and happy gaming!

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Good grief, Gundobad is STILL scratch-building Epic 40,000 vehicles!

 Wow - I'm on a binge/roll for Epic 40k posts. Fitting, in light of today's big announcement that Epic is officially coming back. (But fear not, role-players, I've got more to say on that front too!).

This is a work-in-progress shot, but I wanted to share a picture of a detachment that I'm really enjoying building entirely from scratch. This is for a fast attack group of Dark Eldar skimmers to support my Iron Warriors Chaos host (in 3rd edition Epic 40,000). 

Everything you see here either came from the dollar store for a few bucks total or was trash already lying around the house. These are Ravager Barges (the big one, not yet painted, is the detachment's command barge with a Psyker in it). I still need to add little 'hovering' stands -- and I would really like to test my hand at adding some "Dark Eldarish" designs, either painted or printed, to apply to the red sail-banner thingies (technical term, that). 

Although these absolutely are crummy in terms of detail and precision compared to actual official minis (or 3D-printed proxies), it is really fun to personalize everything, be creative, and see what I can come up with. 

I've been building various things for my kids to wield against me, is a VERY stylized Griffon Mortar Carrier vehicle WIP (its features deliberately exaggerated and abstract for ease of construction and so I can tell it from Chimeras, Rhinos, at a glance):

And one of my recent favorite scratchbuilds ... a Valkyrie air assault vehicle. 

Friday, June 2, 2023

40k's new 10e rules now available, for free (with some comments on tactical stratagems)

 GW have just posted a .pdf of the rules for their new, upcoming 10th edition of Warhammer: 40,000. They can be downloaded for FREE at the bottom of this page

The tagline for the new edition is "simplified, not simple" - on the heels of a 9th edition that earned a reputation as a bloated, stultifying mass of excess complexity. In recent years I haven't bothered playing the official rules at all - not when there were much simpler but still satisfying rules-systems out there. Xenos Rampant, Rogue Hammer, and Grimdark Future caught my eye instead. 

Having a flip through the new free rules this morning, I'm pleasantly surprised and optimistic at first blush. The certainly offer a more robust experience than, say, Grimdark Future, but they look like they might be a fair bit of fun to play. 

I'm especially intrigued by the new approach to stratagems - key tactical practices you can activate by paying Command Points. Each faction will have its own short list (I believe they'll be capped at 6 faction/detachment-specific stratagems) that look like they'll make each type of army play very differently from the others. The core rules, however, include a list of 11 stratagems that any army can use. If my understanding of the 9th edition stratagems is accurate, this is much simpler but also feels like it covers a lot of no-nonsense practical stuff that ought to be normal in small-unit tactical firefights: snap-firing at moving enemies, popping smoke or dropping to ground for cover, stirring up the troops to stand resolute just a bit longer, etc. - but all handled in a rather straightforward mechanical way. I particularly like the really dirt-simple but effective way to model troops' use of frag and smoke grenades via the short list of core stratagems. 

To be honest, reading that section made me think of Space Weirdos' use of command points - something I've praised elsewhere in these terms: 

In other words, every one of your figures is ALWAYS potentially on overwatch, as long as you've got command points left to spend that turn. This keeps an important tactical element in play, without any need to sit around thinking, umm, should I put this guy on overwatch, or that guy? But it's a tradeoff, because those command points are good for lots of other things, too. Dodging into cover; pushing to move just a little bit faster; shooting a little straighter; etc. Or, if you've finished the turn and never found the right way to spend 'em, you can cash in any remaining command points to better your chances at seizing the initiative on the next turn. Your pool of command points is quite small, making each use a deliberate and precious statement about your tactical priorities. All this means a really simple, one-brain-cell command and control system that nonetheless keeps the player engaged in meaningful decision-making throughout every part of the turn.

Perhaps a deeper look into the new rules will disabuse me of the comparison -- but, for now, if the new 40k is going to remind me mechanically of Space Weirdos, then the circle is complete! [Of course, I'm not sure how long 40k has used stratagems, or how much they might have influenced Garske's Weirdos design. But I'm liking what I see here]. 


Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Epic-scale Chaos scout Titan (Battletech kitbash) - painted proof-of-concept figure

 The Epic-scale Chaos Scout Titan introduced in my previous post - kitbashed from a Battletech mini and various GW pieces from the bits box - is now painted! (Well, at least to 'tabletop standard'). I also added a few extra doo-dads, including some big spikes welded to the looted shield and a one-shoulder shoulderpad that I think both reinforces the 40kish look and adds a certain gladiatorial vibe. I'm happy with how this proof-of-concept turned out: for smaller, scout titans, I think the Battletech minis make a fine proxy. For 3rd ed. Epic 40,000, I'll likely run this fella as a Subjugator Chaos scout Titan. Time to pick some close-range fights with Warhounds. 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Kitbashing Battlemech-Titans for Epic 40k

 Man, I love it when a kitbash comes together well! 

As I mentioned last time, I've been tinkering with Epic 40,000 (the old 3rd edition of GW's tinier space battles game) after many years. I noted that 'proper' GW titans (for Adeptus Titanicus) cost a pretty penny, but one can offer a nice and much cheaper proxy - at least for the smaller range of titans. A box of Battletech plastic mechs comes already built and costs far less per mini. Having said that, some Battletech mechs look more suited than others to 40k, and many really call for judicious application of Ye Olde Bits Box. 

But I think it is really paying off! Today, I spent some time kitbashing the most visually boring 'mech in the box I got. Here he is when all I'd done was add a more 40k-suitable head: 

The head is from a 40k Chaos Marines sprue; I trimmed it down and affixed it to a flat spot on the 'mech's chest, giving the 'titan' the requisite 40k hunchbacked look...

And then I got really busy, sawing off a hand for replacement with a chainsword, adding various spiky bits, and giving "him" an assault Terminator shield (maybe it's plunder?). I think the end result looks pretty legit!

Here he is with some buddies from Team Tiny Iron Warriors (scratch-built Land Raiders and another converted battlemech). Look at that, he's making friends already!

We did get the wee legions on the table for a test battle last weekend, even though almost everything needs (re-)painted. Here's a shot of my Chaos tanks advancing gloriously toward a devastating firing position overlooking my kids' Ultramarines. 

I don't think I'll talk about what happened when their fast attack assault troops swept the ridge, though... :-) 

Monday, May 8, 2023

EPIC scratchbuilt 40k tanks (Land Raiders, Rhinos)

What is Gundobad scratch-building? Something tiny? Or something EPIC?!

Four Land Raiders and two Rhino transports. The back pair are still WIP.
I am going for several different Marks/styles of Land Raider, rather than insisting on uniformity. 

Like many, I was very excited about the recent hint-hint-hint that Games Workshop may be re-releasing a version of Epic 40k, the (formerly) 6mm large-battle ruleset for really big 40k conflicts. A good friend picked up Space Marine (that's Epic's 2nd edition) back when we were teens, and I've spent much of my life wishing I was a proper Epic player, too. So the recent maybe-announcement had me excited.

There previously have been four separate editions of Epic. The first two were relatively crunchy; the third (Epic 40,000) was much more streamlined - far too streamlined for the tastes of many fans -  but the designers considered it their best ruleset ever. 4th edition, Epic Armageddon, was sort of a hybrid combining some of 3rd's streamlining with some of 2nd's detail. As it happens, I think I'm most interested in the streamlined but tactical 3rd edition. FWIW, the rumor mill suggests that GW's pending re-release will follow the mold of 4th edition, Epic: Armageddon. 

But I've already got rules I can play with now! They were allowed on the interwebs for a long time (there are, also, fairly active online communities that still tweak and provide rules based on 2nd and 4th editions in particular). So, rules - check; but what about an army? 

The next event in my wee epic saga: I checked in at the friendly local game store, and discovered a stash of Epic minis in the used-minis consignment cabinet. So I cashed in some store credit and came home with a ridiculously stuffed bag of Space Marines, all in 6mm. Lots of Space Marines. So many Space Marines! No, really: I think it's about 174 bases. 

But nobody wants to play Epic with only infantry. And I didn't have the budget to just buy everything right now! So I got busy scratchbuilding, and I have to say I'm pretty pleased overall with the results so far. 

These are made primarily out of EVA foam - the jigsaw-puzzle, interlocking foam floor mats you find in toddler playrooms or gyms. It's the same stuff I used in my recent terrain-making posts; in fact, these tanks are made out of the 'puzzle piece' border edging that would otherwise mostly just become scrap. 

Just a bit larger than the originals, but I think they should be fine.

That's a Rhino at top left, and a Land raider on the right. These vehicles are just a bit larger than they should be - a byproduct of the dimensions of the formed EVA I'm working with (I can shape it, but I'm not going out of my to pursue exactitude). I'm looking forward to painting these up (and making more) - they've really been relatively quick to build, after some trial and error with the initial prototype for each type of vehicle. 

Of course, an Epic battle really calls for TITANS. Except, err, umm, I'd have to pay $90 Canadian for a pair of roughly two-inch-tall Warhounds that I've have to put together myself. Ugh. 

Or just buy pre-assembled Battletech minis for much less money!!! Try telling me this doesn't look at least passable as a Warhound titan (I believe it's no more than a cm at most shorter than it 'should' be). 

I got five relatively-suitably-sized 'mechs for less than half the cost of two GW Adeptus Titanicus Warhounds. I think that if I paint these little guys up in the garish style of old-school Epic titans, and give them some heraldic banners and spiky bits, they should look great. 

Friday, April 28, 2023

Post 4 (of 4) Let's Read: Knave 2e Kickstarter Preview

 This has been a long and tiring week (I just finished grading exams and papers) but I'll leave you for now with just a few more thoughts about the Knave 2e Kickstarter preview document. I don't have too much more to say, so I'll list some bullets with brief thoughts and then point you to a source for even more information if you're still keen on all this. 

+ TRAVELING and WEATHER - the travel rules rely on what is essentially an Overloaded Encounter Die. That's a popular and good system. I like the way information and secrecy are handled -- in general. However, I think that mixing 6-mile hexes with 4-hour watches, and allowing a party to "search" a hex in a single watch, is wildly unrealistic. This is a common issue in similar games. What I might prefer is to say that for every 4-hour watch spent searching inside a 6-mile hex, the GM reveals ONE area of interest within the hex - rather than all of them. 

The weather system looks fun and will add plentiful texture to overland travels. The level of mechanical heft given to different kinds of inclement weather is a bit uneven, but some good ol' "rulings not rules" should work here. 

+ ENCOUNTERS - there is a really fun d100 chart here with activities the monsters are engaged in when the party meets them. This is kind of like a universal d100 version of the similar charts that the d4 Caltrops blog has been making thematically tuned for different encounter types. This is nice to have handy. 


I'm sorry I haven't got much brain-goo left for in-depth comments beyond that, folks - at least for now! 

Thanks for checking out my impressions of Ben's new Knave 2e. As I go, let me signal that "Professor Dungeon Master" on YouTube has got a Knave 2e preview video of his own - but he got access to a much more complete preview document! If you check out his video, you can already see a number of additional sections of the rulebook that I didn't comment on in this little series.

Thanks for reading, and happy gaming. Have a great weekend, folks...

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Let's Read: Knave 2e Kickstarter Preview (Post #3: Inventory, Wounds, Advancement, Rolling Checks)

 Ok, let's keep going with this Let's Read for the new Kickstarter Preview of Knave's forthcoming 2nd edition. There are several subtle but consequential changes to the core Knave 'engine' to note here. 


These two are in the same category now, by design. We'll see why shortly. 

I've noticed that the "new Knave" contains some small but helpful quality-of-life/"user interface" improvements. These are just little tweaks to the way some rules are worded that should only save you half a second of time, but will save that half-second over and over again. We hit one immediately in the inventory section. Whereas 1e says PCs have inventory slots equal to their "Constitution Defense" (which = 10 + CON modifier), 2e just says "PCs have 10 + CON item slots" - Boom. Done. You may skip the half-second to try to remember what the Defense means. 

In other ways, more than the phrasing has changed. I am pedantically glad to see that 1e's "100 coins fill an inventory slot" policy has now made way to "500 coins fill a slot." I believe I've ranted about this issue before, probably on Reddit somewhere. For one thing, OSR modules end up throwing a LOAD of coins at parties, so a more liberal allowance for hauling off treasure is just helpful. Secondly, in many historical periods, the more common precious-metal coins were so small that treating 100 of them as an inventory slot just seems ridiculous (if I remember correctly, I think I ran games for a while where 1,000 coins would fill an inventory slot. Most late Roman/early medieval western coins are lightweight, yo!). So. Dr. Nerdbrain is happy about this tiny change. 

DAMAGE - here comes a really interesting change from 1e to 2e. In Knave 1e, you fall unconscious at 0 hp and then die at -1 hp. In 2e, characters will be sticking around longer, but players will have to make more interesting and meaningful choices to deal with harm. 2e now says that once damage drops your hp to 0, each additional point of damage beyond 0 instead "fills an item slot with an appropriate wound (stabbed, frozen, burned, etc.) from the highest slot to the lowest. Items in a wounded slot must be dropped, or the PC will be immobilized." PCs die not at -1 hp, now, but once their inventory slots have ALL been filled up with Wounds. Because monsters don't track initiative, they just die at 0 hp the good ol' fashioned way. The rules also allow for "Direct Damage" - which bypasses HP and just adds Wound tags directly. As the rules note, a GM might apply Direct Damage in cases like a bad fall, a sneak attack, etc. (Direct Damage can target monsters, too, but the Direct Damage deals 3x the usual HP damage instead of inventory slot effects). Oh, and PCs can recover all their hp whenever they get a solid, single night's rest; you also heal 1 Wound if your good night's rest was in a Safe Haven (like back in town). 

I will have to see this in play, but on first glance I really dig this new approach! 

Presumably, the inspiration here is from Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland, which makes damage past 0 hp apply directly to character Stats. ItO tends to produce a play arc with characters getting in scrapes that they can bounce back from quickly - but as they start to take more serious damage, it snowballs, so that characters get a little more desperate as each session progresses. Even so, however, ItO PCs can still do their normal damage and can still fight if they need to risk it, even when wounded. 

I think the new Knave damage rules allow for something very similar, albeit fine-tuned more towards the 'OSR resource management game' and less toward 'desperate survival horror now.' Knave really puts ability score modifiers front and center - you depend on them as your bonuses to every kind of check - so damaging ability scores (as ItO does) would nerf knaves too quickly. By adopting a similar dynamic to ItO, but relocating the damage on the inventory table, these rules should allow characters to stay fit and able to keep fighting if they really need to - but they'll get less and less able to perform with the peak gear they like using the most. Characters will ablate gradually in their ability to toss off that extra spell, wear that heavy armor (oooh! it presses on the wound...take it off!). 

I'm looking forward to trying the new version of these rules. 


By default, 1e used accomplishment-/milestone-based advancment. 2e defaults to gp-for-xp (you gain experience by returning treasure from dungeons to settlements). Notably, the xp costs for advancement have changed - for the better. 1e granted a new level every time any PC gained 1000 xp. This can lead to a problem in campaign play - since the cost to advance is flat, if a PC dies and is replaced by a starting character during a campaign, the new character will never, ever catch up to the rest of the party. In 2e - as in B/X and most OG old school campaign systems - there is now a progressive/graduated scale of xp needed to advance to each level. There's one scale for all characters, who will need (e.g.) 2000 xp to reach level 2, but a fresh 8,000 to move from level 4 up to 5. 


These were 'Saving Throws' but have been renamed. By my read, the rules haven't really changed, but we do get one of those little quality-of-life improvements I mentioned. In 1e, you generate a target number for a saving throw, and then the player has to roll ABOVE the target number. Target numbers (or Defenses) were 10 plus an opponent's relevant modifier, or 15 for default situations. Now, in 2e, the rules haven't changed but they are presented in a way that looks different - and simpler. Instead of adding 10 to a modifer and then rolling over the result, you now add 11 - and roll EQUAL TO OR ABOVE the target number. The math hasn't changed, but the new rules save you that constant half-second (this happened sooooo often when I ran a Knave campaign) of saying, "ok, you need a 15. No, wait, I mean you need to roll over a 15, so I guess you really need a 16." By moving up the baseline from 10 to 11, that's done away with. Nice. 

Advantage and Disadvantage is a thing, but instead of rolling more dice, you add +5 or -5 for each relevant Adv/Disadv (which of course means that pairs of contrary factors cancel each other out). 

This page closes with a few "how to handle ____" paragraphs that offer simple and helpful advice. The game clarifies that a Lore check should never, ever be necessary; PCs should know lots and have ready access to common information - or they should have to dig around in the setting to find someone/thing with the knowledge they need. A similar philosophy, it seems, will inform the game's approach to searching in dungeons, though I don't think we have those rules yet in this preview. 

Still more to come. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Let's Read Knave 2e Kickstarter Preview - Post #2: new features in 2e, Stats, Character Generation

 Ok, let's dive into this "Let's Read" for Knave 2e's Kickstarter Preview document! See my wordy series intro here, and the actual preview document here or here


This page lists some of the things to be added in the full - over 90-pages long - 2e document (the preview document only shows 17 of those pages). Described:

+ "75+ random tables (d100) for generating any feature of a fantasy world, including NPCs, regions, dungeons, monsters, spells, cities, and items." Knave's author, Ben Milton, earlier wrote Maze Rats - a 2d6-based game, not as short as Knave, and not as OSR-compatible as Knave - but distinguished by the many useful random tables crammed into its short space. It sounds like Knave 2e is taking the random-table-heavy approach of Maze Rats, super-sizing it, and then cramming that into the much more OSR-compatible chassis of Knave. That's a very cool thing. We'll need to wait to see just how useful the various tables are, but the few that are included in this Preview will allow some comment on their apparent utility. 

+ Dungeon-Crawling and wilderness procedures. The preview includes the Wilderness travel rules, which we can comment on below. 

+ Principles for GM and Players. Hopefully this will offer helpful articulation for newer groups, at least. This dovetails (for game-hackers, too!) with:

+ Designer's commentary explaining the rules. I enjoyed these in 1e. 

+ "Dozens of illustrations by legendary OSR artist Peter Mullen." I have to say, the art included so far in the preview document is really nice; evocative, fun, and resonant with OSR traditions. 

+ "Rules for constructing your own buildings, resolving mass battles, carousing, recruiting followers, gambling, training, and much more." None of that stuff is here in the preview document (at least in detail, yet), but this is getting interesting

Despite its simplicity, Knave offers certain advantages compared to many other OSR rulesets. On the one hand - let's be honest - Knave is a bit generic. Therein lies its utility; it is genuinely easy to run with almost any mainstream OSR product, like an old TSR module or a modern 3rd-party OSR adventure. On the other hand, Knave borrows from more modern game design, offering a unified core roll-high mechanic that scales well as PCs advance. This is much cleaner - in my opinion - than the mish-mash of rules you get in most of the genuine OSR 'retroclones.'  I can't remember where online I read the opinion that Old School Essentials offers "incredibly well-laid-out rules that are really unappealing." Without intending any disrespect to Necrotic Gnome's great achievement with OSE, I really have a hard time getting into the actual B/X rules framework!!! Knave feels much cleaner and simpler to run. 

But...there remains that generic feeling - even more generic than B/X (Knave, for example, is classless). I quite like having some decent classes (actually, the rather dull baseline classes in OSE - especially the Fighter - are part of my antipathy to it and other retroclones). By omitting classes, Knave offloads most of the construction of interesting characters into diegetic achievements during play: what gear do you carry? what magic spells did you learn out in the world? what crazy things happened to you after Level 1? what crap did you drink in the dungeon? what title did the Duke of Fourth Everskull grant you last week? 

The generic framework, by remaining highly compatible, also allows you to bolt on your own preferred retroclone or homebrew content. That's really good - class-free but not OSR-compatible is asking for trouble, but Knave allows as much tweaking as you'd like. Too much tweaking, however, and you might as well write your own retroclone heartbreaker. What did that solve?

That's where the many pages of new content coming in Knave 2e MIGHT prove really cool. Ben has described this content as 'modular.' It should all work with the game's core mechanic, but you can also sample to taste; don't like whatever his mass battle rules turn out to be? Then scrap 'em. 

When I was running a bunch of Knave for a campaign rather than just a one-shot, I did start tiring of constantly tweaking and fiddling with my preferred houserules. The way Ben has described what's coming in 2e makes me hope that we're looking at something like the "Advanced OSE" version of Knave - not in terms of classes, of course, but in terms of rules for a lot of other common D&D-ish situations. Having rules ready to hand for most of those things should make an already powerful simple toolkit - at least potentially - a really powerful alternative to some of the larger retroclones. 

That's my hope, at least. Of course, most of that content isn't visible yet, so we'll see. 

PAGE TWO-THREE/Ability Scores and Character Creation

Right off the start-line, there are a few interesting tweaks to the core rules since 1e. The game still has the famous 6 Stats but - as in 1e - each of them is still important, warding off 'dump stat' syndrome. Roll +Strength for melee attacks, for example, but +Wisdom for missile attacks (it's like Perception). Everything is useful for something; your highest scores, the rules note, can determine what kind of character you are (a slight nod to Class, here). 

How you get your ability scores is now different. In 1e, you roll 3d6 for each ability score, and take the LOWEST rolled result as your ability score modifier. As 1e noted, this means most scores will have a +1 modifier; it is possible - though very unlikely - to luck out massively, and get a quite high starting modifier (in the Knave campaign that I ran, we had a character who did, in fact, start out with a very high combat modifier - Strength, IIRC - which always made the rest of the party jealous from the get-go). In 2e, however, the method has changed. A brand-new PC has 3 points - just 3! - to allocate to ability scores. There's a fun method presented for randomly allocating them, if you wish, but the game also blesses letting players assign the points as they wish. 

I really like this. It's point-buy, sure, but it's ONLY 3 POINTS! You're probably not going to spend too many hours agonizing over that allocation. This sweeps detailed 3.0+ min-maxing off the table, but still gives players agency to prioritize what they want to be good at. Feel like dumping all three points into melee-heavy Strength? No problem. You'll shine in a scrum, but not enough to break the game, and you'll feel the pinch everywhere else, but not so much that you should have stayed home from adventuring. 

New PCs also "roll or pick" two careers from a list of 100 (!) background occupations. The game will later make allowance for granting advantage on Checks due to a relevant career background, so these are more than window-dressing. They also grant some starting equipment (for example, career #91 is: "Spy - caltrops, poison, forged papers"). Each character then has access to a small list of universal starting equipment which is, essentially, adventuring gear plus armor and weapon of your choice - if you can carry it. Recall that in Knave, your Constitution modifies how much you can carry. As we'll see in due course, tracking inventory is still simple, but has become even more central to the core rules in Knave 2e. 

There is a note that "If the GM permits you to play a non-human character, they may grant you a special ability in place of one of your careers (e.g., Elves only have to sleep one watch per night)." Hmmm. That certainly makes sense. I can get behind the underlying assumption about human-only or human-centric settings. However, given the ubiquity of at least being able to play an elf, dwarf, or halfling/gnome in OSR circles, I'd appreciate seeing more explicit mechanical guidelines for the standard kinfolk types (no doubt someone will be along shortly to provide them once the game takes off). This is one area where a 'super-sized Knave" feels like, maybe, it should offer juuuuust that little bit more. 

Having said that, the game notes that a player stuck for character inspiration might want to consult the various NPC-building random tables. We can't see these yet, but if they are expanded versions of the stuff that we had in Maze Rats, they should be very useful. 

Let's Read: KNAVE 2nd edition Kickstarter Preview Document (Post #1)

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
    Are full of passionate intensity." 

So wrote Yeats, famously, in his "The Second Coming." Pardon my cheek in invoking such imagery as I turn your attention to ... the ever-expanding field of OSR(-adjacent) heartbreaker rulesets. Are we in an age of renaissance, with better and better options proliferating each season? Adding to an existing tradition of rules-multiplication, the WotC OGL fiasco has spawned a New Wave of creative projects. Time will tell which new rule-systems really shine (though I wish all the creators involved well!). But more does not innately mean better. Might Yeats' critique of human beings also apply to our rule-set creations? Do even the best lack conviction, and are the worst yet full of passionate (and niche) intensity? 

Well. Ahem. Not even a full glass of wine was needed for that intro, so I'm blaming this one on the season: I've been neck-deep in paper- and exam-grading. Caveat lector.

Further complicating the spread of rules on the market is the 2nd edition phenomenon. Yeats, of course, described this aspect of modern rules design, too: 

    "Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
    Is moving its slow thighs ...  

    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

In recent years, we've seen a number of systems that originally stood out for their brevity and elegant simplicity - games which then returned in a much-expanded format. Black Hack 1e was lean and mean. I'm sorry to say it, but I actually like 1e over the expanded BH2e. Over in PbtA-world, (or should that be PbtA World?) we have Freebooters on the Frontier, a very nice OSR-emulating Dungeon World-esque game. A Freebooters 2e is in the works - and has been for quite a while; I will admit that I lost interest in it after seeing just how much was being added to its bones. In each of these cases, I'm sorry to say, I felt that the proposed expansions weakened the strong appeal of the very product itself (Others may feel differently. YMMV. Past results do not guarantee future performance. Void where prohibited). 

And then, along comes ... a much-expanded Knave, 2nd edition. 

! That's a nave, not Knave,_Nave,_Paris_20140515_1.jpg

For all the reasons stated and implied above, I was skeptical ... at first. Is beefing up something made explicitly as a light, flexible, cross-OSR-compatible template ruleset really a good idea? Or is it as silly and presumptious as starting a discussion of Knave with extended reference to Yeats' poetry? (Umm...). But the Kickstarter draws nigh, and author Ben Milton has offered a glimpse of the forthcoming K2e in a free, 17-page preview document on Having read over the content there, and after watching Ben's video about the upcoming release, I am ... feeling pleasantly optimistic!

In fact, what we can see so far suggests that the new edition might be very appealing. Ben is adding lots and lots and lots and lots of random-roll tables that look - so far - mostly genuinely useful for play. He's made some subtle changes to the lean rules engine of Knave 1e, too, and I (mostly) like what I can see so far of those changes.

Now, I ran Knave 1e for a while -- we used it through Black Wyrm of Brandonsford and about half of The Evils of Illmire, along with some one-shot action. So I've got some street cred with the original system. After looking over the 2e preview document today, I decided that I'd like to do a little "let's read" commenting on this early glimpse at the revised game. 

So I will. And rather than dawdling and poking at this forever, I'll plan to release this as a series of little mini-posts over the coming day or so, as time permits (and grading. O tempora!). And, in case it's not clear, this post's melodrama notwithstanding - I am excited to dig into Knave 2e. :-) 

Thursday, April 13, 2023

[No Spoilers] So I watched that new Dungeon World movie (ahem)

Nope, that blog title isn't a typo. ;-) 

I got to go see Dungeons & Dragons: Honor among Thieves in the local movie house today. One of my kids had been sick for a while recently, which delayed our viewing until now. It was lots of fun, and we all liked it. If you enjoy the Guardians of the Galaxy films, you'll like Honor among Thieves; if you don't, you won't (but if you don't like the Guardians movies...what the hey!?!?). 

At this point there are already loads of posts, videos, reviews, etc., all clamoring to offer their two cents on the film. I thought I'd mainly point out one reflection. As others have noted over the past few weeks, the movie does a good job evoking that feeling of a bunch of goofy player-characters who keep bumbling their way forward, not always un-heroically, pulling off wild shenanigans and rolling with the punches and the plans that don't work. All good. However, despite the general community consensus that the film captures the D&D experience, while watching and enjoying the movie, I kept thinking: this doesn't feel like D&D to me. 

It feels like Dungeon World! 

The movie's fight and action scenes are big, flashy, exciting, and often staged in interesting, interactive, and dynamic environments (duh, it's a movie). It's that cinematic dynamism that caught my eye. Something about seeing explicitly D&D characters having such fluid and dynamic encounters on screen really clashed with, say, the recent PF2e hyper-tactical battles I've been running this year. :-) [Yeah, sure, PF2e ain't D&D, but bear with me here]. The old take-turns-rolling-your-d20-and-missing-each-other fests ... certainly have their moments of tension and drama, but the overall pace and flow isn't what I'd routinely call dynamic or cinematic -- certainly not in comparison with times I've run PbtA combat. 

Of course, a big part of the reason I've been running Pathfinder this year is because I wanted more granular and tactical combat as a change from PbtA stuff. So the grass is always greener, etc. But today's viewing did make me think again about PbtA combat; running that has its own problems, but it's certainly produced the most dynamic fights I've ever GM'd. 

Anyway. I think the new movie should be very successful as PR outreach for WotC to new players, and it's a very fun movie for old players too. But I found it ironic, as someone familiar with a fair number of different games and playstyles, that when 'they finally made a GOOD D&D movie' - the game it made me itch to play wasn't, in fact, D&D. 


Saturday, April 1, 2023

Imperial Fist

 Fear not - I haven't decided to convert this to an art blog or anything - but I am mid-storm of trying out a repeating series of similar drawings to try to develop my drawing skills (hey, at least it's still gaming stuff). I am a little painfully aware of some issues with this one, but I also think I'm making progress as I work on these.