December 31

Happy New Year 2015

Add the year draws to a close on the first year of my blog I resolve to post more and try my best to entertain you my readers.

So I wish you all a Happy New Year and that 2015 is a good one for gaming.

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December 27

DM Minion

In my last post I talked about gaming with an iPad and those astute readers will have noticed that I failed to mention anything about combat management.  I used to use an app made by a company that no longer appears to exist and while functional it was a bit buggy and prone to crashing at the most inappropriate moments. So I decided to see what was available since I downloaded it about 18 months ago.

My interest was piqued by a paid for app called DM Minion Pathfinder by Goathead Software, it looked like it did everything I wanted and a bit more to boot.  Where the product shines is the integration with Hero Lab, the ability to upload portfolio files from Dropbox is amazing.


This is the first screen you have to work with, here you define the name of the adventure.

Adventure creation screen
Adventure creation screen

Then with that defined you can import characters from Dropbox.  Any of the pcs here can be imported without needing you to do anything special with the stat blocks.

Player character selection
Player character selection

Then you can add monsters to the adventure either by manually creating them, importing a Hero Lab character or by using the PFSRD monsters already in the software.

Monster picker
Monster picker

Here is an example of what is displayed on the monster list; you will add these adversaries later on when you build an encounter.

Monster options
Monster options

Now we move onto creating an encounter.  You will still need to refer to the guidelines for the XP budget for the encounter.

Encounter creator
Encounter creator

The final step, an enc0unter all built and ready to run using the intuitive combat manager.  Running the combat is painless, you can roll the players initiatives if you want or use the slider bars to select their infinitive scores and the app will roll all the monsters initiatives as well as their hit points.  If you really want to be hands on with it then you can roll the monsters hit and damage rolls yourself; something you may have to do as there appears to be a bug in rolling to hit when the weapon being used has a different critical threshold.

Combat manager
Combat manager



Is the program worth less than £3?  I would have to say yes as there is a lot of options packed in under the hood to make it worth buying.  It would be good to have the attack bug resolved but it is a highly usable combat manager and a useful tool.

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December 27

RPG Blog Carnival December 2014 – With A Twist


This month the Campaign Mastery blog plays host With A Twist .

Sometimes you need to do something with the characters to keep the players on their toes and throw them an unexpected surprise or two.  I may have perpetrated a bait and switch in my time and this is by far one of my favourite techniques to challenge both the players and myself as I have to be prepared for the results of my actions.  I don’t do this all the time otherwise it would lose its impact and the players would come to expect it so it would no longer be With A Twist but rather mundane and the norm.

Take the classic damsel in distress, what if the damsel is really an evil character who has charmed or cajoled a dragon into taking her hostage and what if she wants to inveigle herself into a position of power?  By having a group of misguided adventurers rescue her she can achieve these goals or some other nefarious plot?

How about an adventure in the fabulous Dream Park or some other similar reality where holographic recreation is an accepted pastime.  Having the characters enter a scenario before having it glitch and replaced with an entirely different adventure can cause some people to relish the challenge but you may have a player cry foul and yell for the exit so that they can play something they want to.

I have mentioned before about doing a similar thing with Twilight 2000 and All Flesh Must Be Eaten and this is still an idea I would like to explore with the right group of people.  Until then I shall keep working away at my current ideas until something comes of it.



December 18

Designers & Dragons

Last August I backed a successful Kickstarter for a series of books called  Designers & Dragons, a four volume set detailing the history of the tabletop gaming industry.  So why am I bothering to mention a four month old completed Kicstarter?

Because I was able to furnish the author with scans of books he was after and when I got to the ’90s book I saw my name listed among the people who scanned their books for him to use.  So if you have a copy of the book, find page 381 and you can see my name in Appendix II.

Besides blowing my own trumpet for a few moments, the books are very well written and take a different approach than say the academic route taken by Playing at the World, another excellent read but it can be heavy going in places.

December 17

Gaming with an iPad

Way back in April I mentioned about using my iPad as my Game Masters Binder, since I wrote that post I’ve had more of a chance to explore the capability of the tablet and explored some of the apps available for it.

The Good.

When it comes to reading pdfs I use Goodreader as it is a reasonably priced app and handles most documents I have thrown at it with one or two hiccups along the way; although to be fair this was mainly down to the way the iPad handled the image format embedded in the file rather than the file.

Trunk Notes is another useful tool as it is a personal Wiki notebook and it has a bit of a learning curve you can do some pretty amazing things with it.

Hero Lab started off as an interactive character sheet viewer for their desktop application but with a license the latest version enables you to create Pathfinder characters right there on the tablet and performs all the hard work for you.  Since the team give you two licences when you register the package it is even more of a bonus.

The Bad.

The iPad doesn’t support multi-tasking so when I have to change apps there is a delay while you do so, so I may have to compile all the encounters notes into a separate document and use the iPad for other tasks; like keeping track of initiative.

The Ugly

The price of the iPad was quite a bit when I got it and so I only have one, which can be a pain in the neck when you have various books only as a pdf and the players want to consult them.


Having a tablet has helped things a lot, there was one more item for inclusion but that deserves its own separate post on the blog.


December 7

Dragonmeet 2014 – That’s a wrap

This year I had an excellent day at Dragonmeet, I got to catch up with some old friends, meet some new ones and did a little shopping.

I did wonder if the change of venue may have caused the number of people attending to drop but I was surprised at how bust the ILEC convention centre was. It was certainly much easier for me to get to than the old venue and my vegan friends were happy with the close proximity of 222 Veggie Vegan to the venue.

I got to talk to Matt Machell author of the ’60s themed RPG The Agency, plus David F Chapman of the #rpgaday challenge, BITS where in attendance and I had a good talk to them as well as Arion Games and their new Kickstarter Sorcerers of Ur-Turuk.

I only got to attend a couple of panels as I overslept so I missed out on the ones I wanted to attend.  I had to attend the Jamie Anderson panel where he talked about growing up with Thuderbirds and he played a preview of the new Terrahawks Big Finish Audio production for us.

I stayed on for the charity auction which was hosted by the inimitable Brian Nisbet and he did a good job of running things; even if he did relinquish the hosting at one point so James Wallis could sell his t-shirt.  I got a package of Savage Worlds books and won a set at the gaming table to playtest the new Thunderbirds board game with Jamie Anderson.

I can’t say much about the board game except that it was a lot of fun, tense, full of action and has all the favourite characters from the TV series as characters.  I can’t wait to see this game in the shops and I shall certainly by purchasing it when it comes out.

December 5

Dragonmeet 2014

Tomorrow I’m heading off to Central London to my local games convention; Dragonmeet.  I’ve been going on and off for a number of years and its a good chance for me to catch up with some people I haven’t seen for a while and rub shoulders with some game designers.  One year I was convinced to gopher which meant I spent most of the day selling tickets to all those coming through the doors and I knew how many people had come through the door that day.  The only downside was that I was still selling tickets in my sleep 🙂

I’ve had some good times there and attended some really worthwhile panels plus I’ve snagged myself some swag over the years.  There are more talks going on than ever this time and I’m torn about which ones to attend; do I go to the ones I like the sound of or do I attend the ones where my friends are speaking to show moral support?

Then there’s the games, I had a chance to play Frankenstien’s Bodies while it was being play tested around the country and the fantastic game of Dog Town run by the designer himself.

Whatever happens I’m going to enjoy myself and wander around the trade hall a few dozen times looking at all the interesting products while trying not to buy anymore dice from Chessex; although who am I kidding, I expect I’ll have two or three new sets without even realising it 🙂

So if you see me tomorrow come up and say “Hi” which should scare me no end as there isn’t a photo of me on this site 🙂