May 4

May the 4th be with you 2016

With the release of the new film once again it looks like the Star Wars star is in the ascendency and the resultant buzz has certainly sent ripples through the industry.

This new set of films gives yet another timeline to play around in and I’m sure that once the fiction books start to emerge then there will be plenty of material that people will start to adapt to their favourite edition of Star Wars.

For me though, I always loved the Rebellion era; as this is the one I grew up with and spent many hours watching the movies and pouring over the details of each world, life form or ship.  Some of these ended up in the various RPG books of the time and some even in the Star Wars CCG which Decipher published.

I was a little disappointed as the whole expanded universe I grew up with was put to one side and no longer regarded as canon.

Anyway back in the May 2014 blog carnival post I promised a war story from my past.

In the beginning…….

There was a comic shop near me that had just opened up and I soon became a regular there, not like the owner had a choice though 🙂 And one day a notice appeared advertising for players for an upcoming RPG.  So out of idle curiosity one night I popped along to the inaugural meeting and that was the night I really got to play Star Wars in anger.

The scenario.

Was some odd home-brew which the two GM’s worked between them, there was so many people there that two people had to administer it.  I believe the crux of the scenario was to try to find a group of Imperial spies who had infiltrated the alliance; rather than use bog standard NPCs the spies were some of the other players.

So things went a bit awry and ended up with the Imperial spies stealing the smugglers stock light freighter and tried to do a runner.  That night I was feeling pretty heroic so I decided to attempt to leap aboard the ramp as they lifted off.  Just to seal the deal I spent the one force point I had and rolled really well.

It all comes apart here as one of the other players spends a force point to shoot me; they succeeded and blast me off the entry ramp. With my character bleeding to death they proceed to fire the starships weapons into the hanger bay, causing an almighty chain reaction that with one exception kills all the remaining party.  The one survivor was the smugglers co-pilot, a wookie; who used a force point to augment their damage soak roll and ends up being blown out the hanger bay and into a nearby pond with nary a scratch on him.

Category: RPG, sf | LEAVE A COMMENT
October 2

#RPGaDAY2015 – Day 18: Favourite SF RPG

I’m using the same sort of criteria I did yesterday for my Favourite SF RPG, but I have fewer sf games that I like to mention.  I must have bought lots of sf games trying to find one to equal or better than my current favourite.

In the end it just boils down to one sf RPG, Traveller.  The background that eventually became  the Traveller milieu is sprawling and took inspiration from a great number of sf works, including Isaac Asmiov’s Foundation series and if you don’t believe me consult the library data and look up “psychohistory” 🙂  The game has had several editions and it was mentioned in my top ten rpg list such was the drawing power of this game.

Now I see Mongoose is working on another version of Traveller, I hope they are able to present something refreshing but still somewhat familiar to the classic game.

Runner up:

Star Wars.  Still for me a classic game of good vs evil and being able to watch the film to get an insight into what the game is all about is still a big draw for me.




Category: RPG, sf | LEAVE A COMMENT
March 23

One year on

So it’s been a year since I started this blog and I’m pleased with how it’s turned out so far.

Once I started I realised how much I missed writing for pleasure; most of my penmanship has been dull technical stuff that while serviceable isn’t something that I can point to and say “I did this”.  Which is  very unlike this blog my main outlet for my creative urges although  my muse seems to be driven by my sickness, something that I find very amusing.

I thought it was also time to expand upon my origin story that I first mentioned here, while searching through a box of books it turns out that I had accidentally deceived you all and my first purchased RPG turns out to be the basic edition Marvel Superheroes RPG.  I purchased in 1986 while on holiday after being driven to find it by the amazing adverts in the back of the Marvel comics I was reading.

I think I forgot about buying it as I never seemed to know what to do with it or how to get other people interested.  Bear in mind this was before the days of the internet and gaming magazines in the UK were had to get hold of from the local newsagent.

What really grabbed my interest in gaming was a programme I saw on LWT back in the early 80s called “South of Watford” and presented by Ben Elton.  I remember watching him go to the Games Workshop store in Hammersmith and talk to the store manager before later on playing some D&D.  Five years later I would be in that very store and buying my first games.

Games Workshop then was a different store, one that sold other peoples material and long before the advent of the Games Workshop hobby which is what they’re best known for these days.  In those days you could pick up a licensed copy of Runequest, Traveller or even Call of Cthulhu.

Moving behind the screen.

After being a player for a short period of time I decided to try being a gamesmaster and looking back on those days I think it was my sheer enthusiasm that kept me going.  I was at one point gaming five nights a week running a different game each night with a different system.  It was during this time that I started to understand what I liked to run; science fiction piqued my interest more than fantasy did and I loved the four colour superhero genre.  Much Traveller and Marvel Superheroes was played along with a side dish of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The Critical Miss years.

It all started simply enough with an open call for players at a local comic shop; the owner knew me and the people organising the event and  I decided to turn up and try to play with a different group of people.  Let me tell you those first few weeks were a great time, we all brought games down to play and since we never really that organised you could never count on the same group of players for each game.  I took my chances and dusted out Paranoia second edition and over the course of several weeks I ran through the published adventures I had bought.  The players had fun trying to kill each other and deal with the game forms a friend had photocopied.

Slowly the group started to crystallise from the raw elements we threw at it, after a few months we lost a player and the venue; we found a new home in a building owned by the father of another player and we played in that cold cramped warehouse amongst the boxes of paper.  Summer came around and then we started to lose players until by the following October we were d0wn to a handful and we moved once again to my place.

I found myself running more games and with a stable group we could try to play campaigns together.  I was now playing twice a week with two different groups and this became once a week when the two groups melded together.   We lost more players as well; one went off to university, one moved away and one left for personal reasons I won’t go into here.

It was during this period I broke out Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and embarked upon the Enemy Within Campaign.

The present.

I’ve been playing with another group of friends online using Roll20 and that’s what caused the genesis of this blog back with this first post . 




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 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.




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 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” 🙂