Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Character Advancement

Roger the GS is discussing how to handle prestige classes.  A while back I had a post about dealing with prestige classes at 4th level, and sketched out a visual representation of that progression with its branches.  Basically there are four classes at level 1, and at level 4 there can be up to 10.

Here is the current version in my Player's Guide. Each "step" has the title of the level, the XP, the HP, and any special skills or spells gained.  Druids are a separate DM approval required class, and any 4th level player can decide to become a Bard (provided they can find a teacher, and have enough XP to enter the class etc).  Dual classing can happen after 4th, and requires an equalization of XP once the new class "catches up" to the old one.

Click to Enbiggen

Monday, February 25, 2013

Nurgle Plague Drones

Like most GW watchers, I saw the tiny scanned pictures from the latest White Dwarf, and scoffed at most of the forthcoming Daemon figures.  They seemed uniformly terrible, and certainly overpriced.  What a difference a clear picture makes:

Instead of this:
Now with mangy elephant trunks!
Now I must have them.  I fancy mounting chaos knights on them, or making them scary alien mega-bugs or something.  I do not even know, but I know I love them, and loath only that they cost so very much ($60 for the box, which has WHFB options as well)

And with an ogre head, and some ork arms in the front, they could be some sort of horrid creature to fight in Inq28 too...

Brigade Models 25th anniversary

Brigade Models just celebrated their 25th anniversary in a proper way, by having a 25% off sale.  Unfortunately, I was not able to take advantage of the sale, which is a real pity since Brigade is also VAT listed, meaning that the discount on listed prices would have been substantial for overseas buyers.  And the British Pound is down to ~$1.52 as well, so I could have picked up some battalions on the cheap. (and space ships, and a Great War Belgium taster, and Celtos...)

In any case, the sale was missed, but they do have some great figures, which I highly recommend.  So go take a look, and throw a bit of money their way.

Here are some (old) pictures of an artillery battery made from Brigade castings.  More located here

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Random Inqusitor Warband Generation

You may have noticed that an "Oldhammer" day is forthcoming at Wargames Foundry (31st August of 2013), and that one of the events at the same is a Realm of Chaos Warband bash, the rules of which are located here.  Based on the bonkers early Chaos rules as presented in Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness, players create a "hero" and then make their retinue to form a warband.

So what about random inquisitor warband generation?  To be sure, most options are constrained by available bitz and base figures, but leaving that aside, there is something to be said for random generation of characters.  Random generation often leads to different ideas than you might have if you were planning things out more rationally, giving a different set of strengths and weaknesses, and for role playing games, can create emergent role play just from stats alone.

Example Process for generating a random Inquisitor and Warband:

Roll for Starting Profile: 3d6

3 to 4 Level 4 Psyker
5 to 6 Level 3 Psyker
7 to 8 Level 2 Psyker
9 Level 1 Psyker
10 to 11 Level 1 Blunt
12 to 13 Level 2 Blunt
14 to 15 Level 3 Blunt
16 to 18 Level 4 Blunt
[4 is better than 1, Level 1 rolls 5 times on the retinue chart, level 2 4 times, level 3 3 times, and level 4 twice, Psykers level 2 and higher roll one fewer times on retinue list]

Retinue List
3d6 Name #  Included Concepts
3 Alien, Other 1 Ork, Tau, jokaero, Necron, Human Null, Vespid, Hrud, Zoat, etc.
4 Alien, common 1 Craftworld Eldar, Kroot, Harlequin, Squat
5 Creature d2 wardog, grinx, servo skull, cyberhound, watcher in the dark, psyber eagle
6 Mutant d3 twist, scaly, Ogryn, Ratling
7 Investigator(s) d3 Enforcer, arbite, police officer, detective
8 Assassin(s) d2 Death cultists, blades for hire, bounty hunters
9 Adept(s) d3 Scribe, savant, researcher, dialogous
10 Guardsmen d4 Veteran, recruit, mine wiped, retired, skitarii
11 Acolyte(s) d2 Acolyte, interrogator, Explicator
12 Scum d6 Thug, muscle, gun slinger, servitors, body guards
13 Cleric(s) d3 Preacher, abbot, missionary, confessor, Commissar
14 Techpriest 1 Priest, enginseer, electro priest, magos
15 Psyker 1 navigator, astropath, battle psyker, witch, telekine, mystic, sage
16 Sister(s) of Battle d3 SoB, Crusaders, repentia
17 Space Marine 1 Deathwatch, seconded marines, Grey Knight
18 Daemon host 1 Bound, unbound, daemon weapon

Fluff rolls:
d6 Ordos: Malleus/Hereticus/Xenos/Other
d10 Philosophy: Thorian, Amalathian, Monodominant, Istvaanist, Recongregationist, Xanthist, Antiquarist, Casophilist, Horusian, Other
d6 Sex: M/F/Unknown
d8 Home World Type: Feral, Hive, Imperial, Void, Schola Progenium, Noble, Forge World, out of sector (names if you have them)
Thoughts?  Obviously the infamous d1000 personal attributes table is missing, but I am sure we can fudge something together...

Useful links:
Dice Roller:
Inqusitor stat roller:
Name Generator:
Dark Heresy character generator

Friday, February 15, 2013

Rumors by bonus

I was thinking today about rumors and folk knowledge, particularly as how they would apply to mystical beasts and abandoned places in games where all bits of knowledge are not immediately available to PCs.  It seems that given enough time and experience, a certain number of "facts" might be collected about an object.  You could of course role play this out, by having the players interrogate inn keepers or whatever, but possibly you want them to just have a certain amount of knowledge (hopefully limited, deadly, and wrong) about a particular subject, including one that they did not know that they wanted to know about beforehand, but would have reasonably learned just from being in town or life experience.  

How to handle that?

With a sufficiently large rumor table, you could just have the player roll their Wisdom or Intelligence bonus number of times on the target specific rumor table, and thereby learn something about the monster/location/ruin/villain.  This preserves the mystery about the target item, but still provides some (possibly true) information about the target.  (could also work with Charisma, if it is knowledge gained from being around town)

Rangers get +1 roll on the table for monsters, wizards +1 for magical items, clerics +1 for gods, and so on.  Bards (if they exist in your game) get to know if one rumor is true or false (being that they collect knowledge).

Could also be used for generic rumors for town without having to have the players say "are there any rumors?" or some such cliche.

Here is an example, using some information from Hack & Slash about the Cockatrice.

Rolf, the 3rd level Cleric of St. Cuthburt has a +2 Wisdom bonus.  When presented with the question "what is a cockatrice", he, like everyone of his culture, knows the following: it is a monster, like a bird, can turn you to stone.  However, what else does he know?  Since he has a +2 Wisdom bonus, he may roll twice on the d20 cockatrice rumor chart below.
  1. They can fly short distances
  2. Their gaze or touch can petrify people, even after death
  3. They lay eggs
  4. The weasel is immune to their petrifaction
  5. It doesn't actually petrify, but withers plants, scotches grass, and bursts stone from heat and its deadly breath
  6. The beak and claws of a cockatrice are made of iron
  7. The feathers are quite magical, and useful for arrows, quills, etc., but they must be used quickly
  8. A cockatrice grinds the stone it eats using hard diamonds stored in its stomach.
  9. Cockatrices are actually very wise and know many profound and secret thoughts of the origin of things, learned from the earth itself 
  10. They are not natural creatures, they are created from a rooster of superior chickens and a still living snake plucked from the head of a medusa 
  11. They are used to herd stone giant children and keep them safe 
  12. They were designed by the wizard Vora Elgath, a wizard and friend of the stone giants who found them peaceful company 
  13. The flesh of a cockatrice is quite delicious 
  14. They love to line their nests with shiny sparkly items. The more shiny their nest, the higher the status among cockatrices 
  15. They grow a crowstone inside their vestigial gizzards ranging in size from a grain of sand to marble size. This cloudy colorless gem is a potent cure for poisons and venom Swallowing the rank tasting stone is the most effective application. The larger the crowstone the more effective it will be 
  16. Cockatrice feathers are useful as magical quills because of their durability against caustic substances 
  17. The saliva of a cockatrice can turn stone back to flesh 
  18. It is about the size of a goose
  19. They are impossible to kill by stabbing. Perhaps this is due to poison or perhaps their skin is resistance to piercing weapons
  20. The cockatrice is actually a passive grazing animal and not a predator at all. Their deadly gaze is for insects, not man
Rolf rolls 19 and 13 on the chart above, so the party proceeds to arm themselves with clubs, the better to damage the beast resistant to piercing weapons, and not to damage the valuable meat.  Hilarity ensues.


Hope for the future

I was looking at the local library website, getting ready to search for a couple of books, when I noticed that the upcoming events list said "Dungeons and Dragons".  The listing is for a starting game for teens, meeting this afternoon, and running 4e.  It should not be surprising to see games played at the library, and indeed certainly not in the whole of the library system, but it was, and a pleasant one at that.  Maybe there will be those who play in the future who are not just our kids.  Maybe the tribe will expand a bit.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ser Mormont

I wish this was my work, but check out this amazing Mormont army (for Impetus) at HVM.

HVM's Mormont
Fantastic brushwork and conversions on the Perry figures, and the bases are amazing.  (and very much like what I have been considering for my NeoSoviet near future figures)

More here.  Makes me really want to revisit my ideas for Song of Ice and Fire Skirmish, particularly as the Pound is relatively down lately ($1.544 as of this writing).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

On sculpting

I have been working a bit on the various Inquisitor figures I have going, and have been thinking about how much I need to work on my sculpting skills.  Most of the figures need at least filling before they are ready to be "finished", but some really need replaced hands, or resculpted pants, or similar, which currently exceeds my skill level. Fortunately I have been pretty satisfied with the various heads I have in my bitzbox, so no need to sculpt one yet, but I am sure it is coming some time.

So, I need to practice more, and here are some tips and tutorials that I have been collecting in support of this.  [and do not take these as any indication as to where my figures are going, they are just useful links!]

Tentacle/cable making with a comb: http://40kaddict.blogspot.com/2012/12/impromptu-tentacle-maker.html
Octopus style suckered tentacles: http://eyeoferror.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/sculpting-octopus-like-tentacles.html
Quick hands: http://commissar.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=conversion&action=display&thread=10322
Hand holding a spear or banner: http://xenite.wordpress.com/modeling-painting-and-hobby-articles/sculpting-hands-with-greenstuff/
Five minute hands: http://www.sciborminiatures.com/en_,sculpting.php?id=508#i/kwadrat/big/hand_tutorial_01.jpg
Sculpting Chain: http://www.underthecouch.net/tutorials/sculpting-chain/
Foil straps: http://maquette-garden.forumactif.com/t16914-tuto-fabrication-de-bretelles-d-armes-a-feu
Wreaths: http://www.underthecouch.net/tutorials/sculpting-wreath-badges/
Peaked Cap: http://colgravis.blogspot.com/2009/05/tutorial-sculpting-mordian-style-caps.html
Hood/Robes: http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/topic/68547-modelling-green-stuff-templar-style-robe/
lettering: http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/507091.page
Head sculpting (larger scale) http://z11.invisionfree.com/Work_In_Progress/index.php?showtopic=15700
Hex headed bolts http://z11.invisionfree.com/Work_In_Progress/index.php?showtopic=16689
Power clamp arm http://z11.invisionfree.com/Work_In_Progress/index.php?showtopic=8086

In a related vein, I have been collecting a few images of useful conversions in my Pinterest. [which surprisingly has 13 followers now]

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Warmaster Empire

If you have not noticed yet, Ebay has a redesigned front page for logged in members.  Previously this page was a bit spare, and had the last few items you looked at, and a few "deals" and other advertisements.  Now, it has that, and it also has a Pinterest style "feed" which has pictures of items for you to scroll through.  These items are based on interests that you enter, and have a certain level of sorting and filtering built in, so that you see them as you would like.  It is an interesting way to explore Ebay, and could lead you to see something that you really must have, although it is still new and a little buggy.

Which leads me to Warmaster.  One of the interests suggested by Ebay based on past searches and purchases was Warmaster, and in refining that interest to exclude satanic black metal bands, I began looking at auctions for Warmaster miniatures, when then led me to conduct a survey of my existing blisters and boxes.

Currently I have about 1200 points without any heroes, upgrades, or magic. [Naturally all unpainted]  Adding in the heroes and magic brings me to around 1600, at which point I now need a compulsory pair of crossbow regiments.  I also apparently lack a Helblaster, and could probably do with another flagellant regiment and 1-2 more pistolier regiments.  Adding those things brings me nicely to around 2000 points, and seems as if it would give a rather nice game as well.

Here are a few useful Warmaster links:
Games Workshop page
Rules part 1
Rules part 2
Warmaster Armies (rule book for 15 armies)
Rick's Warmaster (being the author)
Brumbaer's Warmaster (many useful articles, and figure comparisons)
Living Rules

Friday, February 8, 2013

Collected John Carter of Mars

No, not this guy.
Rather more like this
I just finished reading Volume One of the Collected John Carter of Mars, which contains: A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, and the Warlord of Mars all by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Now you hardly need me to "review" a 100 year old serial for you, but suffice it to say that the action is rollicking, and cliffhangers appear on every cliff.  There is plenty of sword fighting, manly admiration for an other's fighting worth causing reluctant allies to switch sides, and so on.  Naval battles last hours, and are often decided by boarding actions. Women are always the most beautiful ever, and serve as pawns in battles between John Carter and his dastardly enemies.   Great fun, and if you have not read them, you should.

This sort of book always makes me think about gaming the battles presented, and if you wanted to go close up and personal, like John Carter and his buddies against the world, then a swashbuckling sort of rule set would be the way to go.  Anything that suitably handles the Three Musketeers or pirates would probably be great, and you would only have to account for the greater strength of JC/Tharks and the various monsters employed by the bad guys.

Barsoom styled miniatures are made by Bronze Age, Paroom Station, and Tin Man miniatures, although you could probably use figures from a number of lines, provide the figures are well built, clean limbed, and nearly naked.  (She could, for example, make a very splendid Phaidor, or even Deja Thoris with some conversion).  Tharks can come from the lines mentioned above, or converted from Kroot.

Not mine, and lacking tusks
If you would rather fight out the battles of the rainbow of nations present on Barsoom, then a smaller scale is probably in order, and Black Hat Miniatures has a sizable range of 18mm figures to use.  Given how often battles seem to devolve into melee, it seems that a mass battle rule set that is set in the Renaissance would make the most sense for bigger games, particularly if it can handle highly influential heroes. (Fantasy Warmaster?)

As an aside, it occurred to me that perhaps the "cult of the offensive" which pervaded European armies of the pre-Great War era also can be seen in this sort of book, since battles always end up as sword fights, and impetuous charges always carry the day.  No inglorious machine gun massacres here (or indeed machine guns or artillery).

I have the next volume in the collection on order from the library, and sooner or later I will watch the movie as well, so expect more Barsoom in the future!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Roman Resources

Yesterday I submitted my entry in to the Roman adventure contest being run by Ramblings of  Great Khan, even though the deadline was extended to cover the weekend.  My entry ended up being six pages in length, and had four maps, a number of random tables, and a bit of information about the Roman world.  Indeed, one of the nice things about writing an adventure for the Roman world is how much we know about it.  There are a large number of writings from the period which have survived, and combined with archaeological research, we have a general picture of life in the Empire (although there are still plenty of knowledge gaps and new things to discover). 

Here are some resources to help a Roman campaign:

Sea Power:
Although Rome was never a "naval nation" in the sense of Athens, Carthage, or England, the Roman navy was important to the Republic and Empire, as it prevented piracy, and was used to move the army around Mare Nostrum.  Like most navies, figuring out the exact composition of forces is difficult, as they used the names of specific ship types for entirely different later classes of ships.  (Much like the destroyer or frigate in a modern navy).  Ship types changed little from hellenistic era ships, but they did mount more and heavier artillery.  Happily there is also a game for fighting out naval combat.

Land Power:
Everyone is familiar with the Roman Legion, an unstoppable force of red shielded jack-sandled thugs fighting barbarians all over the frontier.  Who would not want to play them?  Possibly someone familiar with the 25 year enlistment period!  Aside from the familiar legions, Rome also had auxiliaries to supply cavalry, archers, slingers, and extra infantry.

Maps and Travel:
Due to the hard work of some folks at Stanford, we have a handy travel calculator called Orbis, which allows for calculating the cost, duration, and route between two points in the Empire.  So if one wanted a party to travel from Londinium to Rome itself, in January, you can do that, with a variety of options to prioritize land vs sea travel etc.  (and we find it takes 30.8 days and would cost over 1600 denarii).  There is a similar program called Omnes Viae that includes destinations outside of the Roman world, such as India. And if you like Google maps (and who does not?) there is a similar program for the ancient world called Pelagios, and another called Vici that shows all the known Roman artifacts and influences in an area (and you can even overlay it on the Pelagios map).

People who fought beasts and each other to the death for the amusement of crowds... what is not to like? (in a fictional D&D setting)  Different types of traditional gear were used, and gladiators were assigned roles based on the gear they used.

Cults/secret societies:
Rome was awash in weird cults in the Imperial period, like the cults of Dionysus, Isis, Mithrandis, Jesus, and more.  The authorities would periodically crack down on them, and religious fervor was the cause of plenty of revolts and revolutions.  Lots of scope here for eastern magi cults, spy intrigue and other actions between minor groups.

Rome has long been popular with wargamers, and as such there are miniatures for Rome and its primary enemies in every scale, from 2mm-54mm, so if you want to do big battles or detailed skirmishes, you can.  Wargames Foundry has figures for Punic war republic, Late republic, Early, and Late empire, as well as a horde of useful greek figures, and various barbarian types.  Wargames Factory makes plastic figures for a Caesarian period, and Warlord Games makes plastic figures for early Imperial battles, and also publishes Hail Caesar!  There are lots of options for Gladiator miniatures, in pretty much all of the larger scales.

The Romans even had a mechanical calculator, and could have had steam engines.

There are plenty of resources for Roman play and campaigns.  So get out there!