May 31

May 2014 Blog Carnival: Star Wars – That’s a wrap!


May 2014 Blog Carnival: Star Wars – That’s a wrap!

I can’t believe that the month is almost over and the blog carnival I volunteered to host has drawn such a diverse selection of entries.  I asked the question “What does Star Wars mean to you” and received a totally unexpected response.

My contribution was a somewhat rambling post mainly based upon the d6 edition of the system and a very brief look at the D20 versions.

Bill Heron of wrote quite a detailed look at the d6 edition of Star Wars, the first of the licensed games and its very apparent the love he has for that system in that attention to detail in that post.

While Bob of Ancient Faith in the Far Future wrote about using Traveller to create an Empire for him to play in.  I also agree with him about the prequel films being a bit uncalled for and he gets some extra Kudos for mentioning Blakes 7 🙂

The final entry came from James Introcaso and his worldbuilding blog I take my hat off to him for doing something unexpected by taking an interesting concept and reworking it for his own world.  I will never look at a pit trap in the same light.

In conclusion

Just because someone says Star Wars, it may not mean the same thing to you that it does to them.  Some people cling to the film and abhor anything that isn’t their definition of canon while others enjoy the grand toolbox that the universe of Star Wars has to offer.

Whatever it is, I think its fair to say that despite its supposed flaws the films do offer a shared canvas upon which to paint your own stories and while they may not be tales of destroying the Death Star, just being able to rub shoulders with some of the wretched scum and villainy can lead to some fun times in a collaborative story.

May 24

Bundle of Holding

After Kickstarter my current gaming addiction is the excellent Bundle of holding.  For a relatively small amount of money you can get a collection of games and supplements with proceeds going to charity; if you pay the level up price you can get additional books as well.

There have been numerous bundles so far covering all sorts of gaming worlds including; Traveller, Unknown Armies, Spirit of the Century, Stars Without Number, Feng Shui, plus old school gaming material as well.

The current bundle is Classic Deadlands the roleplaying game of the weird west, this is the pre Savage Worlds edition and if nothing else you can use the books with minor modifications to the new edition.



May 16

Star Wars – Blog carnival May 2014

Blog carnival May 2014 – Star Wars

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away Star Wars was released to an unsuspecting public, while there had been coverage in magazines before the premier nobody could have predicted the effect this single movie would have upon the genre.  It spawned six films, numerous books and plenty of merchandise, including a licensed role-playing game or three.
In 1977 I was a very impressionable six years old and I loved going to see the film.  There was so much going on, good versus evil, sword fights, space battles and the huge explosion as the Death Star was destroyed.  I enjoyed seeing the film a couple more times and watched it when it was shown on television at Christmas time.
This may seem strange now, but this was all done before the days of home video recorders and the concept of a direct market release of a film was a number of years away.
So imagine my surprise when I heard about a licensed Star Wars roleplaying game and I could be the big hero that Luke was.  This was to be for me the star of many disappointments with the game.  Over the course of trying to play it I had several character concepts one or two of which were deemed unacceptable and if the games master had explained why he had placed a ban on them I would have understood.

The book.

The first edition of the game was a smart perfect bound hardback with some very evocative cover art.  Art also played a big part throughout the rest of the book as well; some of the mock adverts did an amazing job of setting the tone of the game.  There was also the advert in the back that enabled those in the USA to send off for a Franklin Mint plate of Han Solo.


Stats were based upon the number of dice you would roll, so Strength may have been listed as 2D6 or perhaps even 2D6+1 .
The game was also one of the first to use a dice pool mechanic, where you rolled a number of six-sided dice, added them together and tried to beat a target number set by the gamesmaster.  Later revisions to this broke the difficulty down into granular increments so you could say “beat 26” rather than say “it’s a moderate difficulty”
West End Games did a fine job of creating a quick system to resolve things, although in places it was a little too free and easy for its own good.  Where the system seemed to be broken was the multiple actions rule which seemed to confuse the heck out of all concerned and each group seemed to have their own take on this rather strange mechanic.

Character Creation.

The neat thing was that West End enabled you to get straight into the action with a series of character templates that could be customized to meet the needs of the player.  You could also create your own character by spending a number of dice for each stat.  You could break whole dice down into three pips, each one adding +1 to the respective attribute.


Combat was a task and generally involved rolling dice to hit and damage, armour added additional dice to the roll made to soak the damage and here was another of the games quirks which was later “fixed”.  Stormtrooper armour added extra dice to soak but at the cost of Dexterity dice, so a 2D Stromtrooper suddenly had a whole 1D to strike with, which nicely emulated the supposed inaccurate Stromtrooper of the movie but did make the Stormtrooper a laughing-stock as he couldn’t hit the side of a sandcrawler at fifty paces.


With such a successful game under their belts West End produced some incredible books, some of which are better than others.

Cracken’s rebel field guide.

This supplement suddenly became a hot item at the gaming table when it introduced the concept of jury rigging things and giving them non-standard upgrades.  So you could amplify the damage done by a blaster but the rules were never that clear as to whether it was a sidearm or all blaster class weapons; some of which are fitted to capital ships.

Galaxy Guide 6:Tramp Freighters

A great sourcebook which expanded upon the ship and what customisations you could give it; from escape pods to concealed smuggling compartments, it’s all there.


These always started in Media Res, putting the players into the heart of the action with a little script for the players to read and get into the scene; while well written they had a problem in the fact that they were written for groups of six players, so the gamemaster had to try and split the lines between the number of players to hand.  This lead to some rebels appearing to be stupid as they said things that they contradicted a paragraph later.

Second Edition (Revised)

Despite all this faults the game was a lot of fun to play, a revised second edition was eventually released which fixed all the errors of the previous second edition and added even more high quality colour artwork to the package.  It was at heart the same core game except with an annoying wild die mechanic which just annoyed all the people I played with.   It also improved the concept of scale so while it was easier to hit a landspeeder with a blaster pistol it did proportionally less damage.

D20 editions.

All things come to an end and the licence for Star Wars expired and Wizards of the Coat picked it up, took all the good stuff and welded it to the D20 modern system.  I thought the new mechanics were a poor fit and that it sucked harder than a mynock, although it did cover other settings beyond the default Rebellion era.
I understand that there is a new version out; I don’t think I will bother getting it as it seems to need special dice to play.


What made it special?

The many hours of fun I had playing it, from running around trying to avoid Imperial entanglements to the odd home made adventure where one group of players were Imperial agents trying to sabotage the rebel base.  I was not a fan of that one since the group of Imperial agents were acting upon player information and not things that their characters would have known.

Perhaps another time I’ll recount a war story or two 😀

May 15

May 2014 Blog Carnival: Star Wars


May 2014 Blog Carnival: Star Wars

Welcome to my first hosted blog carnival and its about a subject dear to my heart; Star Wars.

I could rattle on about the whole background but I’ll save that for my post, suffice to say I want to hear what Star Wars means to you; whether it is a particular rules set or maybe even something funny that happened at the table.

So please feel free to contribute to this months carnival in the usual way by writing a blog post, link back to this page before dropping a note in the comments below.

At the end of the month I’ll do a final wrap-up post.

So, without further ado “May the force be with you” 🙂

May 15

Blogger commenting

Since joining the RPGBA I’ve seen some really good blogs but I have been stymied when I try to comment on them, like this one entitled “Five Ways Roll20 Is a PITA” .

The stumbling block appears to be the Blogger platform and the fact I can’t create a Google+ profile with my email address; the issue appears to stem from the fact it starts with General which appears to be against Google’s naming convention.

So I implore those good bloggers using Blogger please check your comments settings so we can use Open Id for example as another method of signing in to leave our thoughts on your blog.


May 14

Top 10 RPG list – number 6

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition

I first encountered WHFRP not long after its release and sort of fell in love with the peculiar background; The Old World with its very different fantasy tropes and unusual humour.  White Dwarf carried a number of pre-release adverts before the games release and had a teaser pull-out an issue or two before it was finally available from Games Workshop.  The book was originally published as a hard-cover with colour plates inside and contained all the rules required to play; with the exception of the upcoming magic book Realms Of Sorcery as it took several years before this book was finally  published by Hogshead Publishing.  To round things off there was even a short and very deadly adventure in the back of the book.

The game is known for the dark brooding setting, the use of humour especially puns and wordplay throughout the books; some of which are blatantly obvious if you happen to speak German.  It was also popular because of the critical hit charts which enabled you to describe the gory demise of your adversary.

Character creation.

One of the best parts of the game is the character creation system which had a myriad of character careers rolled from a collection of tables and this determined what your current career is, an advance scheme, initial skills and  some meagre equipment.  Some careers were better than others; for example the Wizard’s apprentice and some were a little underwhelming; for example the jailer.  By and large they were all were fun to play and really gave you an idea of why you decided to take up adventuring.

Advance scheme.

The career also gave you an advance scheme which allowed you to improve your character by giving you the ability to incrementally increase your stats in either +10 or +1 steps depending on whether the attributes were a percentage number or just a plain 0-9 value.  Once you had purchased a single +10 advance, if you wanted to get better you had to locate a career with a +20 advance and so forth until you had managed to get the full +40 allowed.  Upon completion of the advance scheme you would then move on to a new career either by picking a career exit or spending more experience points to select a new career.


The game also had a very broad, diverse and somewhat unusual skill list.  Unlike most fantasy worlds of that era in WHFRP most of the Old World is illiterate, so if you were very lucky your character could posses Read / Write and be slightly ahead of the rest of the world.


The final piece of the equation was your starting gear, some careers gave you access to exotic weapons and armour or if you were unlucky a flask of herbal tea or a bunch of keys.  A quirk of the game was that you had to obtain the trappings of the next career you wanted to advance into once you had finished with your current career, this was great if all you needed was a collection of hats and bottles of coloured sand; not so good if you had to acquire a ship or a mercenary band.


The game also had the usual bunch of stereotypical races to play; Human, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling and an issue of White Dwarf introduced the Gnome as am additional playable race, if you didn’t have that issue of White Dwarf it was later reprinted in a collection of WHFRP material.   The bestiary had the standard monsters as well as a few creatures unique to the game as adversaries.


The setting is the Old World, a place where magic is a strange force be wielded by trained wizards and the forces of chaos run wild around the forests of the Empire; the Empire is very much like an early renaissance Germany with primitive black powder weapons which certain careers require before you could advance into it.   There is quite a detailed gazetteer and history of the planet in the book mostly using material found in Warhammer Fantasy Battles 3rd edition.


There were a few supplements released for the game including the long-awaited Realms of Sorcery but Games Workshop also released a few adventures for it.  There were a couple of geographical source books, and a compilation of articles that had appeared in White Dwarf, including the aforementioned Gnome.

Honourable mention.

Runequest third edition.

Runequest was the other fantasy game I got hold of another fantasy world with its own unique world: Glorantha. At the time Games Workshop had managed to secure the rights to print licensed editions of other companies games and it was the Games Workshop version I had.  The version that Games Workshop published under license was the third edition which spanned  three separate slim hardcover editions unlike the single volume of WHFRP.

I was also a little disappointed that Runequest third edition used a fantasy Europe as a setting rather than Glorantha which was prevalent in the first and second editions.  Many of the printed adventures and source-books still out there used Glorantha and not the new default world and not having access to the earlier editions I was a little confused.  I later found out that this may have been that Avalon Hill had purchased the rights to use Runequest and the name but not the world of Glorantha.

Runequest used percentile dice to resolve actions and could be just as bloody as WHFRP since each limb had separate hit point totals and your arms or legs could be hacked off in battle or if you were unfortunate you could hack your own legs off if you fumbled.


May 11

EXTREME EARTH: A dystopian superhero setting – update

There are only five days left to go to this rather interesting Kickstarter, so if you want to seen a multi-system campaign world appear for your favourite system pop over to the project page and pledge.

I’m passing the word on as the project does look very interesting and I would to see it happen.

Category: RPG, supers | LEAVE A COMMENT
May 9



Not long after starting this blog I joined the RPGBA; a collective of other RPG writer’s and commentators with a common theme. I did this as a way of promoting my writing and  trying to share my wit and wisdom of 20 years of games mastery.

The moderators of the forum also encourage further collaboration in the form of the Blog Carnival,  I participated in last months carnival which was the Game Masters Binder.


Since I joining I have noticed an increase of traffic and comments being left, the downside is that many of the comments are spam and mainly for  weight loss products; whether this is common spam or trying to perpetuate the myth that gamers are overweight I leave that as an exercise for you the reader to determine 🙂

If you want to know more about the alliance then either click on the link to the right or you can view the live RSS feed at the bottom of the links page.

Have fun and may your dice roll true.

May 5

Top 10 RPG list – number 7



Torg was the first game I encountered that allowed the party to play a mixed group of characters from a list of genres; so you could have a lost world hero rubbing shoulders with a cybernetically enhanced ninja. It was through a series of teaser adverts in Dragon that piqued my interest and it soon became a hot topic when I talked to other gamers at the local games shop.

In the beginning:

The story was that Earth had been invaded by High Lords from different realms and realities  who wish to strip the Earth of the living energy of the planet.  Each High Lord brings with them a chunk of their own reality and converts their conquered region to their reality.

Inside the box.

The core game came in a boxed set containing three books, an Infiniverse campaign newsletter, a 156 card drama deck and a possibility shard or 1d20 if you prefer 🙂

Storm Knights

In the game the player characters are Storm Knights and they have the ability to control their fates by expending possibility energy which enabled the character to do extraordainary things including re-reolling the die if the result was unfavourable. Posibilites are a great idea and its good to see that the core of this mechanic has been carried onto other games but are called Fate Points or Bennies or something of that ilk.  As the line expanded so did the meta-plot and things like a guild of Storm Knights appeared.


The game also had a meta-plot running through it and by sending the results back of how your group handled certain adventures you could influence how the overall War for Reality would play out.  This was a great idea and I had never seen such a thing ever proposed, the idea that thousands of gamers worldwide had the chance to shape the overall plot arc was just mind blowing.  West End Games did publish three campaign updates based upon the results of the global Infiniverse campaign and the idea seemed to work.  It would be a very different thing to do today as the internet could make submission and compilation of campaign data much easier.

Drama Deck.

This was something else I loved the idea of using the special Drama Deck to govern initiative and also to define that if certain combat manoeuvres were used the player could be rewarded with additional cards from the Drama Deck; it would also set various combat conditions that could hinder or provide you with  bonuses depending on the cards.  Plus there were the “special cards” that players could use in any situation, cards that would allow you to define an ally or contact that you knew in the area and could call upon for help or advice when you needed it.  Apart from West End Games other system Masterbook I have yet to see anything similar to this.


Cosms is how the invading realities were referred to in the book. Each Cosm had their own world laws and different axiom levels.   If your character found themselves outside of their own Cosm and you failed a roll then you could find yourself disconnected from your home reality and instead become part of the invaders reality.

  • The invading Cosms were initailly the following realms:
  • Core Earth — “our” Earth, the base reality.
  • Living Land—a primitive, Lost World-style jungle.
  • Aysle—a magical, low-technology realm.
  • The Cyberpapacy—this realm which was initially a repressive, medieval theocracy.
  • Nippon Tech—an ultracapitalist nightmare society.
  • The New Nile Empire — this realm combined a restored Ancient Egypt with pulp trappings.
  • Orrorsh—a Gothic horror realm.

As the game supplements kept being released new Cosms were added to the list:

  • Land Below—not a realm but a pocket dimension involving the mixture of Living Lands and the Nile Empire.
  • Space Gods—a high-technology, space faring society very much in the style of Chariots of the Gods
  • Tharkold—home of a race of magic and technology-using demons.
  • Terra—not an invading realm but the home Cosm of the invaders from the Nile Empire.

As the game line progressed it started to become somewhat unwieldy to play as a visiting games master unless you could drive, each book added extra weight to the bags.


The game also enabled you to get the game going with templated characters and by adding a few skill packages to the template you could be up and running in no time.  I always got the suspicion that templates found in later books  appeared to much cooler than the ones in the boxed set and each exotic template could only be found in that specific book.

There was a lot to make the game interesting and special but I think the growing number of books required to play coupled with the somewhat bizarre characters that appeared in the books; for example Skippy  , did make me wonder what was going on at West End Games HQ.

How do I do?

The game also used a universal chart for doing things which allegedly enabled you to convert from time to weight just by reading a different line.  I say allegedly as  I could never really figure it out and tended to fudge it when rolls had to be made.

When you came to take an action that required a success roll; you would roll the d2o and consult the success table on the bottom of the character sheet, then you add that bonus value to your skill roll for the action total and this is the final number that had to beat the target number of the gamesmaster.


The good news is that there is a revised and expanded version of Torg available if you want to play in the wars once more. and there is still a lot of good stuff to be had in the book.

If I was to play Torg these days I would use the background provided but use a different system like Savage Worlds as the two games do share several common features.

Honourable mention:


The other game dealing with multiple genre action Rifts takes a different slant on things and I had many fun hours playing this game.  It has been criticised by several parties about power creep and I agree the game does have some issues when playing with some of the later books but I have always said you can use the main rulebook and the books for the region we’re going to be playing in.