Monday, January 31, 2011

Resolute, Adventurer and Genius

This weekend I have learned that Resolute, Adventurer and Genius has been released earlier this month. This free RPG is focused on pulp-era adventures, and it uses the excellent Wyrm System from Warrior, Rogue and Mage (WRM).
The book is well-edited and looks really nice, with good illustrations that match the game theme. From a quick read (including the forewords by the authors), it feels like improved WRM, including ranked skills (instead of just trained/untrained) and an abstract "range band" system (which slightly reminds me of the positioning system from Ancient Odysseys). Combat seems to remain as deadly, although the moments of real tension will be against the big villains and their deathtraps (as it should be, in a pulp adventure), given the addition of rules for henchmen. The talent list seems to fit very well with the pulp style, and I particularly like the open, narrative-oriented nature of the Mystic talents. The book also brings stat blocks for villains, henchmen and other creatures. Lastly, there is a discussion on the style and themes of pulp adventures in the decades of 1910-1940 which is enough to inspire players and GMs.

Conclusion: a solid book that shows how much goodness you can put in just 36 pages (still maintaining a clear layout and with good visual appeal), made by dedicated people and released for free. One more game system in my ever-growing "must try" list...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The necromancer's tower

After spending hours this weekend making 15mm minis and terrain, it was time to put them to use. The custom scenario was inspired by the "Burn them out" campaign scenario found in Song of Deeds and Glory. A cleric leads a group of adventurers and militiamen to burn down the tower of an evil necromancer. The tower is on an island and there is only one bridge that can be crossed to get there. Using scrying spells, the necromancer finds out about the impending attack and prepares to defend his tower.

A bridge over the river

Having finished the river modules, I had to make a bridge. To be fair, there are several papercraft bridges that can be bought on the Internet, printed and built, but I was interested in crafting one from scratch.
I used a sheet of light gray paper, drawing the stones with a darker gray color pencil. The bridge was made of three pieces (sides and floor), all of them glued to 2mm cardboard. To finish, I glued some modeling grass to simulate moss.

Modular river terrain

I've finished my first attempt at making a set of river pieces for 15mm miniatures, using paper and EVA foam.
This set consists of six pieces including two river bends, which can be arranged in a few configurations over the board. The result was far from perfect, but it is still useable. Here are the details of building a single module:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lightning strikes

Here's a house rule I've been fiddling with to add the risk of lightning strikes to the weather effects present in Song of Wind and Water.
After each player's turnover, before the next player starts attempting activations, roll one die. If the result is a 6, lightning strikes somewhere. Divide the battlefield into four sectors around the center, as shown below:

Printing some 15mm fantasy miniatures

After reading this thread on the OneMonk forums, I decided to try and print some 15mm scale miniatures. I've been interested about 15mm minis since that is the original scale for Song of Blades and Heroes, and also popular for Hordes of the Things (which I intend to try soon). The picture below shows the result, with a 28mm version for reference.
As I had expected, the minis become a little darker at this reduced scale (due to all of the contour lines) but even printing on cardstock with normal quality, the details are preserved.
I followed the advice on gluing them with double-sided tape, which results in a very sturdy feel, almost that of a thin plastic chip. I tried a mock-up with slotted bases but since the slots become less than 2mm deep, they do not hold the minis very well. So I resorted to the flat-basing technique shown in this other thread. Note that, at this reduced scale, cutting with a white border becomes pretty much mandatory -- at least, I cannot manage to cut that little wand, for instance, which is less than 1mm thick, without ruining the mini -- but I don't find the result bad.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Using RPTools to play Song of Blades and Heroes

RPTools is a suite of programs made for playing tabletop-RPGs on a computer, even over the Internet. The main module is MapTool, which allows players to draw maps, roll dice and place tokens of various sizes and with different properties. If you aren't used to the program, it's probably a good idea to check the tutorials to learn how to use the map, dice roller and tokens.

With little effort, MapTool can be configured to play Song of Blades and Heroes (SBH) and similar procedures might be used for other skirmish games. There are three basic steps to do this:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Terrain Types

After reading the section on terrain types from Song of Wind and Water, I decided to build a few scenic items to represent them in games. First in the list were some bushes to represent broken terrain, bladegrass etc. A  set of 2-4 bushes can also be used as a small obstacle independently of terrain patches.
The thick bushes have a "spine" of brown cardboard, while the bladegrass uses a piece of suede paper.  In both cases, pieces of thin "silk paper" cut in proper shapes are glued to both sides.

While I was making my first tree models, I noticed that glue interacts badly with crépon paper, causing it to loose some of its color. This gave me the idea to build a simple terrain patch to represent radiation-contaminated terrain.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Treasure Hunting

Today I ran another game of Song of Blades and Heroes, using One Monk miniatures from the "Dungeon Adventurers" and "Reptilian Monsters" sets. The stats were taken from the basic book and Song of Gold and Darkness with a few modifications.
The scenario was a variation of the Treasure Hunt. A group of evil reptilians is searching for an ancient artifact that is supposed to be in the wilderness. A group of brave adventurers learns of this and moves to stop them. Nobody knows for sure where the artifact is, but there are clues leading to its location.

Mythic GM Emulator

Last week I came to know about a product called "Mythic GM Emulator" which is a system meant to allow a game master to run RPG sessions without preparation, or even to allow GM-less play. My first reaction was disbelief, but after reading several favorable reviews, I decided to check it out, buying the PDF version.
It turns out to be a very simple but effective system, involving essentially three tables and a lot of common sense. And it works. It balances the use of logic with random events, so that the game story can flow without being completely predictable.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another combat in the woods

To try out the terrain pieces and the new figures, I ran another game of Mutants and Death Ray Guns. This time, two mixed warbands faced off with two humans, two mutants and either a robot or an android.
Once more, I rolled the warbands' equipment, skills and mutations according to the rules on the book but with one change: each warband was allowed one reroll per two figures. The rerolls could be used after the warband had been completely generated, for equipment, skills or mutations. They could not be used to change the number or type of mutations, nor to reroll robotic features. Furthermore, the new results were final.

A new terrain piece

Here's the new paper terrain piece I made: it's a small obstacle, the ruins of a burned house or something like that.

More paper figures

Following up on the production of MDRG paper figures, I created a new batch of five figures, this time with a couple of them using 30mm bases. I'm particularly satisfied with the shading on the robot.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My first terrain pieces

I was never too much into miniature wargaming, so I had never tried to make any kind of terrain piece (I also play tabletop RPGs but in that case I avoid miniatures as much as possible). This has been changing since I came to know games such as Song of Blades and Heroes and Forge of War. As I play mostly with paper miniatures, I decided to build some simple terrain pieces that would suit them, using different paper types and, eventually, a few other materials.

New MDRG paper figures

After the first solo playtest of Mutants and Death Ray Guns, I decided to try and make better versions of the figures. Sure, I could have used some of the excellent paper miniatures from OneMonk but I wanted to keep to the idea of having minis that match that warband. So I bought a box of color pencils and another thin marker pen to do the drawings. These are the results, and now the minis have front and back. First we have the mutant warband, and now the huge mutated plant has a proper-sized model.

Mutants and Death Ray Guns - First Game

I've recently bought two great games: Song of Blades and Heroes and Mutants and Death Ray Guns, in PDF format. While I still haven't played against other people, I've spent some time trying some solo "simulations" to try the rules.

For Mutants and Death Ray Guns, I've tried the scenario that involves two groups fighting for a source of water (a river, lake or well). Using the rules from the book, I rolled two warbands, one of them with humans and machines, and the other one with all kinds of mutants. I ended up with the humans having some guns and the mutants having none, but with good close combat and ambush capabilities.

I drew some paper figures based on the rolled characters. First we have the mutant team, with two mutated humans, a mutated dog and two mutated plants.