November 26

You Might Be a Gamer If…

A little gaming related humour from a long time ago.

This list was passed on to me from someone else and the origins of it are lost in the mists of the pre-history of the WWW.

  • losing your dice bag would be a serious financial blow.
  • you could paper your bathroom in character sheets.
  • you could paper your bathroom in different versions of just one character.
  • you are unable to walk past the latest TSR supplement without leafing through it, even though you know it’s going to be bad.
  • you have more entertaining “No-shit,-there-I-was-in-a-game” stories than you do anecdotes about your family.
  • you talk about your characters as if they are real people.
  • you alternate between referring to your characters in the first and the third person.
  • and none of your friends gets confused.
  • you’ve ever spent a significant fraction of your life modifying game rules that you didn’t like… and, as soon as the system worked to your satisfaction, discarded it.
  • when someone says “The blue books,” you don’t automatically picture the kind that they give you during a college final exam.
  • you worship idols of Gary Gygax in your basement.
  • you burn Gary Gygax in effigy in your back yard.
  • you will not buy comic books with the Dragon Strike ™ logo on the back.
  • you’ve ever seen the old AD&D tv series.
  • you’re still reading this list.
  • you hang out with people you actively dislike because they give good role-play.
  • you’ve ever gotten into a screaming match over something that happened in a game… (“You are so dead!” “I am not dead!”)
  • you’ve ever neglected to buy the new edition of your favourite game because you already have three.
  • you have more than one photocopied bootleg of a gaming text.
  • you keep old characters around just in case someone might run that system again. (Never mind that its TS: SI)
  • You knew what I meant when I said TS:SI.
  • you have a PhD in manipulating point systems to the best effect, even though you failed high school geometry.
  • you can consume your body weight in junk food in one gaming session.
  • you consider Altoids, Salt-&-Vinegar chips, and blue Teeni Hugs a balanced diet. (or even an acceptable combination.)
  • you have been known to drive to far away places where you paid enormous amounts of money for the privilege of sleeping on floors, eating crap, buying little pewter statues of Gandalf, and meeting dozens of psychopathic members of the alternate (or similar) sex who will follow you around for months, merely for the pleasure of playing with gamers you don’t know.
  • and then signed up en masse with all of you friends to play in games with game masters who you’ve known since high school.
  • you own your own weight in gaming books.
  • the owners of local hobby stores take your checks without ID because they know where you live.
  • you can do AD&D money conversions in your head.
  • you could wallpaper you bedroom in Dragon Mirths ™.
  • you consider the demise of What’s New With Phil & Dixie a blow to great literature.
  • you consider the resurrection of What’s New With Phil & Dixie the redeeming feature of Magic: The Gathering.
  • you consider the 20th century a state of mind.
  • you have a random NPC generator, written in BASIC, designed to run on the Trash-80 or the Commodore 64.
  • you’ve ever designed your own character sheets.
  • you have ever written software to assist in character creation
  • you have designed spreadsheet models with macros to help manipulate point based systems and Shadowrun.
  • they work!
  • you can be more that three NPCs at the same time without generating more than reasonable confusion in your players.
  • you have ever played a Dwarven character who did not have “axe” or “beard” anywhere in his or her name.
  • you know how to sex dwarves. (chromosome typing- required a blood sample. I’M not getting it…)
  • you’ve ever tried to explain gaming to a school counsellor, parent, or other PW/OC (Person With/Out Clue).
  • you’ve succeeded.
  • you bought Talisman
  • you bought one or more Talisman expansion sets
  • you’ve played Talisman more than once.
  • you’ve finished a game of Talisman.
  • more than once.
  • you’re still reading this list.
  • you can quote extensively from the Wandering Damage Tables.
  • you’ve mistaken a d12 or a double d10 for a d20 while playing AD&D and had a THAC0 low enough to hit the 8HD monster, anyway…
  • you understood that.
  • you carry AD&D insurance.
  • your AC is so low that even you can’t hit yourself.
  • an 87 point Balrog is no big thrill anymore.
  • you bring your dicebag even to diceless roleplaying events.
  • you’ve ever discovered, after gaming with your significant other, that you like their character better than you do them.
  • you have friends or acquaintances who regularly refer to you as “Og.” (Or something similar.)
  • you’ve ceased responding to your birth name.
  • you spend more money on dice than on food.
  • you sometimes forget what century this is.
  • your first response to any frustrating situation is, “I bash it with my axe.”
  • you know a lot of gaming jokes that used to be funny once.
  • your friend(s) who does not game feels very left out of all of your conversations.
  • you have more gaming books than the local hobby store.
  • you’ve discovered that spare dice make good beanbag filler.
  • you knew that that last question was a ringer: who has more dice than they can use?
  • you have a copy of Dark Dungeons kicking around somewhere because a: you thought it was funny b: your parents got concerned that you were living in a fantasy realm.
  • you’re sort of dissapointed that you haven’t reached the level where they start teaching you the real spells (as described in the above “Dark Dungeons” pamphlet) yet: You’re sure you must be a high enough level.
  • you’ve been gaming for more than half of your life.
  • you still laugh when someone says “Hey, Dave, I think the barbarian in the corner wants another beer.”
  • the phrase “Collect Call of Cthulhu” brings back fond memories.
  • you can quote the whole “Trolls! Mutants! Trolls! Mutants!” strip from What’s New With Phil & Dixie.
  • you knew a female gamer once.
  • you were a female gamer once.
  • you tend to play characters as different from you in race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and what have you as possible, just to confuse your friends.
  • (For New Englanders only) You were able to find stuff at “Flock, Stock, and Barrel.”
  • you’ve been known to have in-depth conversations about the relative merits of Champions, V&V, Marvel, Golden Heroes and DC heroes… ignoring the fact that all superhero systems are intrinsically sucky.
  • you like one of the above systems enough that you yelped when I called them all, “sucky.”
  • you’ve thought of four or five additions to this list.
  • you actually bought TSR’s Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide when it first came out.
  • you’ve ever tried to discover the strengths and weaknesses of a haemophiliac werewolf.
  • someone is attempting to explain the floorplan of a building to you and you immediately start thinking in terms of 10X10 squares.
  • or 6’x6′ hexes.
  • your first though upon walking into a friend’s domicile is to reflect on where you’d put the machine-gun nest.
November 24

Catalogue update #4

I think I’m on the verge of a breakthrough.

This morning I was relaxing in my bath, when I had that Eureka!  moment.  What if it was possible to scan a directory of pdf files looking for the word ISBN and then extract the 13 character string that followed it?  I could then export all the results to a file and import it into my Collectorz database.

I guess the next step is to try and find out how to accomplish this task.

November 23

RPG Blog Carnival November 2014 – Races


This month the Blog Carnival has a new home over at Johnn Four’s site  and he has the honour of hosting this months topic : Races.

I’ve got quite a few systems sitting on my shelves and for the most part all the pseudo-European Medieval fantasy worlds have the same sorts of non-humans inhabiting them; this I can sort of tolerate but they also appear to have the same racist outlooks on life.

Take for example Elves, Dwarves, Orcs and Goblins.  In many of these books these three races all hate each other but no reason or explanation is even given;  I would hazard a guess that  the popularity of Tolkien’s works may be the core influence here.   This gives a rather similar feel to each world where no thought is given to why they may hate each other.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay does give an explanation as to the rhyme and reason of the hatred.  I can see Dwarves and Goblins hating each other as they exist in a similar niche, just like the Elves and Orcs.  Why then do Dwarves and Elves hate each other since in the cookie cutter fantasy realms they don’t occupy the same regions; Elves like the surface and the forest, while the dour Dwarves toil away deep in the bowels of the Earth.

Adding racial hatred doesn’t mechanically unbalance the races but gives you a wealth of roleplaying opportunities to embrace.

In a recent game I played a Half-Elf who was raised by the Elves and so he had a hatred of them as they treated him as a second class citizen and he had a hard time being accepted as he was caught between two racial divides.  It was tricky to pull off but I found it very satisfying to be able to rail against the expected norms of a Half-Elf.

I would suppose that Half-Orcs have it worst of all, being a creature born of two normally warring sides, trying to fit in would be a real challenge to play.

While we’re at it, why stop with pairing similar bipedal creatures, why not have two different races and mix them together?  You may baulk at this idea but is this any stupider than a creature that is half-owl and half-bear?  You could always use the excuse of a  magical experiment gone wrong or what about a Frankenstein’s monster composed of bits and pieces stitched together and animated by a magical ritual?

If you wanted to do a similar thing in a sci-fi game, depending on what technologies are used you could easily do it, accidents with matter transporters seem to be fairly common in one TV show so why not use that as an excuse?


Using roleplaying like this though should be handled carefully and thoughtfully before you decide to embark on a character like this as there is always the temptation to push the envelope, you don’t want to have your PC swear and curse just because you say its “in character” as I find this is a poor excuse.  Treat it like a seasoning, you don’t want to over salt something as you can ruin it.  Going back to the Half-Elf, he never directly attacked other Elves, he just acted superior to them and made a few cutting remarks in their presence.

Until next month.




November 22

Gaming the Wild West

In all my years of gaming the one genre that I have played the least is the Wild West. Sure we’ve done games that are like the Wild West in space but never really the western proper.  Well apart from the odd session of Boot Hill and those were very odd indeed, somewhat cinematic scenes punctuated with extreme violence; something like a Wild West version of Bottom.

A little while ago I asked the players what they would like to play and after much debating we sort of settled on doing a game in the west.

I recently asked on to recommend me a western RPG and I received a number of suggestions for suitable replacements; from the simple to the more complicated games.  I pared the list down removing those games I didn’t care for; like Western Hero and Gurps.  I have nothing against either game and I found Gurps to be an excellent source volume but the system never excited me the way that some games do.

Of the suggestions two stood out; Aces & Eights and Deadlands.

I had prior knowledge of Deadlands and had loved the system but it wasn’t a popular choice with the gaming group so I decided to investigate Aces & Eights. My trouble started when I tried to find out which book I needed to get hold of and the main book appears to be out of print; which is a real shame.  I know its available as a pdf or three but one of the players wanted the physical dead tree edition in his hands to pore through.

So I’m going to pitch Aces & Eights and see what happens.

Category: RPG, western | LEAVE A COMMENT
November 17

Catalogue update #3

So I asked and people have been suggesting all sorts of different ways to handle my collection.

A very good friend outlined a method by creating a new folder structure on my drive and then creating symbolic links to point to the files.

Over on rpgnet  there were some very creative solutions from; a reference management package like Mendeley, LibraryThing, Goodreads, using ISBNs from Zotero and creating a recipe using Calibre to scrape the data I need.

I currently use Collectorz Book Collector program to handle my needs and now I think I’ve managed to wrangle it to do what I want, I should be able to look after the vast majority of my eBooks.  I also managed to read the manual for the new version of the program and it will scan folders and add books to the database but you still need to update all the data manually to cover genre, author and the other really useful fields that would enable me to quickly scan my collection or allow one of my players to see what books I have.

The other useful thing with Collectorz is the fact that there are apps available for it on both iOs and Android as well as being able to access your stored collection via their website.

November 16

Catalogue update #2

So at digging through my collection or appears that some of the pdf have ISBN and barcodes on then. These appear to be the ones that are used to create print versions of the documents so kudos to you Eden Studios for including both the covers in your pdf which include the barcode.

I wonder if it is possible to scan that directly from the screen?

Posted from WordPress for Android

November 15

Catalogue update #1

I also posed this question over at rpgnet and have had a couple of suggestions but nothing to take the drudgery out of adding the details automatically.

What I have at the moment is a directory listing of the folders but that is less than ideal as some of the pdf have cryptic filenames.

I’d love to be able to point a program at the directory and have it recognise the contents and identify the documents.

I wish there was some embedded metadata it could extract.

Posted from WordPress for Android

November 14

Cataloging a collection

After trying to work out if I had a particular book in my collection I was wondering if there was a software package for my PC that would allow me to track my pdf game collection.

I have am excellent program for my printed books but it doesn’t appear to handle electronic editions as they don’t have the barcodes or ISBN references.

I can’t be the only one in this situation so can anybody suggest anything?

November 7

Top 10 rpg list: Number 1 – Over the Edge

Mandatory Disclaimer

The GM should read the following statement before and after every session of Over the Edge.

“All references to vices and to the supernatural contained in this game are for entertainment purposes only. Over the Edge™ does not promote satanism, belief in magic, drug use, violence, sexual deviation, body piercing, cynical attitudes toward the government, freedom of expression, or any other action or belief not condoned by the authorities.”

Over the Edge is probably one of the most unusual in my collection and unlike some of the other top ten entries I can’t place where I first heard about it, which is unusual for me.  I do know exactly where I bought it from; the Virgin games store in Central London, I’m not saying I have a photographic memory but I left the price tag on it.  Since it was a game I did try to play with some of the members of the Critical Miss gaming society when I bought it I can hazard a guess that it was about 1992 when I purchased it.

I was amazed by how free form character creation was, no fixed attributes rather you defined your own traits; this caused a little difficultly among the group as this was a radical idea and we didn’t know how to proceed.  Not so much a radical idea these days as other indie games have taken to going down the route of allowing you to define your own traits.

The System.

You need nothing more than a few d6 to accomplish your task, either against a fixed difficulty or in the case of an opposed roll the highest number wins.

The Background.

This was the main draw for me, the wonderfully detailed island setting of Al Amarja, a place of cults, cultists, conspiracies, fringe powers, magic, the post office and other things man was not meant to know or understand.  I’d love to write about the rich tapestry to play with but I don’t want to spoil it for any potential players that have yet to explore the vivid game world or experience the weird and unusual.  I know you can certainly search for other pages relating to the background but you’re not going to find anything here.

One idea I am still toying with is to get a game up and going but have the island adopt the swinging 60s setting of British culture; with all the classic tropes thrown in for good measure.  Maybe some sort of Avengers style vibe mixed with Prisoner, Danger Man and Smiley’s people?

In Play.

In the end I got one or two evenings play out of the book.  The party had gathered at the Al Amarja airport and was walking through the depature lounge when I was just describing the general goings on including an announcement over the tannoy for Mr. Jones to pick up the white courtesy phone; I was unprepared for what happened when one of the group picked up the white phone and introduced himself as Mr. Jones.  If at that time I had been more of an experienced GM I could have certainly run with it and perhaps sent the players off into the seedier side of the island but I panicked and the outcome was a little predictable and the party went back to leaving the airport.


I’d certainly recommend going and finding a copy of this almost forgotten gem just for the weirdness of it, the aforementioned background and the vast open ended sandbox nature.


Over The Edge can be found here at the home page of Atlas Games

November 1

Nuclear War Players Guide

Another guest post here from Steven who has taken some time to expand upon it to cover the new material.
This guide is copyright 2014 Steven Ward. Nuclear War is a trademark of, and produced by Flying Buffalo Inc.


Nuclear War is a non-collectable card game that has been around since 1965; Doug Malewicki created it and it was first released in 1965. In 1983 Flying Buffalo released Nuclear Escalation, a standalone set that introduced more weapons of mass destruction. In 1992 Nuclear Proliferation followed, another standalone game with more weapons and players controlled countries with special abilities.   During the collectable card game craze of the 90s Flying Buffalo released booster packs containing eight randomly assorted cards including the very deadly 200-megaton warhead.  The third expansion Weapons of Mass Destruction expands upon the game with more secrets and warheads.

I have been playing Nuclear War and its associated companion games since 1988. During that time I have come up with many different playing strategies, most of which failed. My current playing strategy is simple and I will get to that later.

Why a player guide? There is three Nuclear War sites on the WWW, none of which give advice on how to play the game. Hence, I thought I would impart my words of wisdom.

The guide.

The guide covers all the sets coupled into one supergame.  If you do not have all the sets together, don’t worry this is a general guide at best and it will still help you.

Part one: the basics:

Read and re-read the rules. Simple? I learnt Nuclear War from someone, it was not until I bought my own sets and read the rules properly did I realise they had been doing things wrong. I have since taught my friends to play and passed on my expanded knowledge to them. So, you do not own the sets? Flying Buffalo will sell you the rules for $3 and I suggest you check out their website for further information.

A brief word on population.

This is your playing token, while you have people you are still in the game. See “Population Preservation” below for more advice.

The opening hand.

When you collect your initial hand, whether it is through the standard nine-card deal or picking two and then discarding, the opening hand is important. If you only play the standard method, save yourself some time and then skip on to the next step. The booster packs introduced the variant method for dealing.

What to keep and discard.

I generally only keep two propaganda cards as thermonuclear war starts by turn three; after that, propaganda becomes useless.
Warheads are always worth keeping and the same goes for missiles. When retaining missiles, the Saturn is by far the best, not only has it the biggest carrying capacity, it is hard to shoot down, and second best is the MX.
Most special cards are worth hanging onto, with a particular preference to the anti-missiles.
Now you have your nine cards. Place two face down cards and then place a missile for the third. My reason is simple, the cold war strategy in the rules may work, but I have never seen it, I think this may be down to the weighting of the game to missiles and warheads.

First and subsequent turns.

If someone has already stolen some of your population, target them with the propaganda and if not then target someone who already has. Once you have a target, do not stop attacking them, the only time you ignore this rule is when multiple people are attacking one person, then you target them!

Part two: Population Preservation.

By starting war quickly, you minimise the amount of your people you can lose. Propaganda always hits and denies your final retaliatory strike! Where possible cancel or redirect propaganda cards because once at war this stratagem does not work. When at war, change your large denomination cards as quickly as possible as this denies your opponent the chance of stealing a 25 million population card with exchange students. The flip side to this strategy is the card that enables you to double a single population card.

Part Three: Anti-Missile tips.

There are not many of these in the game and they will get you maybe a one-turn reprieve, but used properly people will I hope fear you. Once you intercept an attack, you draw an immediate replacement and you go again, this gives you enough time to deliver a surprise punch even if someone decoys or jams the anti-missile, it does not matter you go next.

Part Four: The Correct Use Of:

OK, so you pick the Supervirus card up from the stack or you stole it using a spy. Which player is the best to give it too? In my experience, give it to the player on your left, this way the virus will run uncontrolled on the beginning of each player’s turn, causing its lethal damage. Now you have given it to that player they cannot give it back to you without holding it for another turn and losing an additional 1-6 million people! Congratulations, you have caused 2-12 million deaths this way to this one player.

If you have a bomber, do not play it straight away, wait a turn or so to see if you can pick up any worthwhile warheads for it. Bombers are also worth keeping for final retaliation, as you can drop up to 100 megatons in one bombardment to your opponent. If you have the Delta Clipper, then I recommend dropping as much from it as possible before final retaliation, because you cannot drop more than 75 megatons from it.


Keep the 10-megaton warheads where possible for the small missiles. There are two very useful missiles in the sets, the Saturn and MX. The Saturn is the most useful missile since it can carry a single warhead up to 100 megatons unaided and with a little help a 200-megaton warhead. The other thing in the Saturn favour is that is hard to stop with anti-missiles. The MX is capable of delivering the most damage in the game and like the Saturn is hard to shoot down, unlike the Saturn, it can carry the 200-megaton warhead unaided.

This launch system is the most complicated to use correctly.
Firstly, when you turn this card face up, place it facedown and at sea, then write down on paper which country coastline it is sitting around. You write the country down rather than the player since there is a country that enables you to swap countries around. Now from your hand, place up to 20 megatons facedown beneath it. If you have UFO technology, you can place up to a 40-megaton warhead beneath it, since the submarine is not a bomber.

Atomic Cannon:

No trick to this one, just make sure that if you wish to use the cannon, the preceding card is not a missile, the only exception to this rule is the MX missile.

Cruise Missile:
If this in your opening hand, this becomes your number one card. This self-contained missile and warhead war starts when launched! This will protect you for a couple of turns while everyone’s propaganda cards become useless.

Space Platform:

I would not recommend loading this up to its full capacity, this delivery system is worth keeping loaded for final retaliation; then you can drop everything in one go rather than one warhead per turn.  It is now one of the only ways of dropping the 200 megaton warhead.

Space Shuttle:

Can be used as a bomber but I find it is best off to resupply the Space Platform.

Delta Clipper

Probably the best delivery system in the game and it was only available in the booster packs.  It may not be able to carry as many megatons  as some of the other bombers but you can discard other cards from your hands to reuse it.


While useful for seeing what’s in your opponents hand I tend to use them to steal secrets or foil the Saboteur.

Killer Satellite:

There is only one of these in the game and its only worth deploying if you have no usable warheads to pair with the bomber or use it as a discard with the Delta Clipper.


This special card can enable any missile to carry any warhead, even the fearsome 200-megaton device.  I feel that the best use for this card is on the Saturn as it is very tricky to shoot down and should have a greater chance of destroying all life on the planet.

Final Retaliation.

So you are out of the game, time to pick your targets and blow them to hell.
Match up each acceptable warhead and bomber combination, then discard the rest.
If you have a 100-megaton warhead, try to detonate it in your own country to blow up the universe, then nobody wins and the result is a stalemate. It has happened and I did once after being the first person killed.


I trust you find this player’s guide useful, if you have any questions, then please contact me and I will do my best to answer questions based on my years of play.