Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hello, Friends

Well, I still have nothing to say about Mordheim, however, I realized that I still have lots to say about Gaming and Life in general. So Cobblestone Chaos is going to go into general 'game' blog. Or perhaps table top games, or something along those lines.

To be honest, Mordheim will always be an important game to me, but I have a ton of trouble with GW's business practices nowadays. Mordheim kept me going for a bit longer after I basically gave up on GW. So kudos to that.

However, I have been playing a decent amount of D&D, which you've been seeing rage comics and session updates for. I've been rather lackasdasical about those. I hope to improve that, going forward. Especially since I am turning this blog into a more general direction. If you drop me, I completely understand, after all it ain't what you signed up for in the first place. So no offense taken if you bail.

However, my D&D campaign is very different from most of the others that I've run. The campaign is actually the 6th I've run in the same homebrew setting, some of which failed, but I've gotten people from all across my experiences of RPGs.

Doug; Doug was my first PC, ever. And my first DM. We kinda learned a lot about role-playing together. About one quarter of the important stuff in my campaign setting is actually due to his direct influence.
Po: Holy fuck, Po. He's a beast. He tends to play Monks (which annoys the piss outta me, but whatcha going to do?). He's one of the biggest min/maxers I've ever met, and that's saying something. His participating in a campaign makes it deadilier. He tends to be more RP mechanical in nature rather then strict just fluff.
Consadine: As he's known in internet circles, is rather newish to me in the terms of role-playing. However, I've known him for a number of years from the astro GW forum we were both part of. He likes playing more interesting characters.
Daniel: Daniel (not Dan) is actually Consadine's main DM IRL, but he brought him along for poops and laughs. I'm still learning his play style, but he's often the first to come up with innovative solutions for problems that are presented to the group- which is something that I love.
Eldest Child: My oldest son (all of 13) is playing in this group. They say if you want to have a player who plays the way you like to DM, you have to teach them yourself. That is very true. Even better to breed 'em.

The group started off fairly standard, go to ruined city and plunder. However, they've gotten the bright idea to unite the disparate groups in the city, and rebuild. It is proving...difficult.

However, what they tend to forget is that I like plot armor. A lot. None of them have yet to give me a reason to give them plot armor, but I'm waiting for ideas from them. That's the way things go. I have wheels that could potentially go, if they survive long enough. As of right now, its a good thing they all have back up characters and we've even created a splinter group for them to play when we get tired of the main group. However, I think that the Splinter Group is about to get a TPK this week, so we'll see. Until next time!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Crap...

Hello, and welcome back to Monday Night Mordheim. This week, I'm going to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I think that after over a year of weekly (or nearly weekly) posts, I can't think of a thing that I have not previously talked about. I got half way through a post about how to build mercenary warbands, and I realized that everything that I wrote was already things that I had already documented in the past. So right now, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I really don't want to end this, as everything else Mordheim keeps ending, but with a game that is dead, you really can cover everything. So for right now, I'm going to take a bit of a break, recollect my thoughts and come back next week.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim; Numbers Games

Welcome back to Monday Night Mordheim, the one and only outlet for my Mordheim thoughts. The thing is that I really don't get to think about Mordheim as much as I would really like. I would love to be able to do nothing but talk about Mordheim because I've been playing it. However, in reality, I do more thinking about it then I do playing it or even doing anything with it.

Conversely, I play a lot more other games then I talk about here. These games effect my thinking about Mordheim. The things that those games force me to think about are strange. For instance, I've been playing around with the Dungeons & Dragons Next playtest. Which is fun, and great. However, it is limiting. There's quite a bit missing that I'm used to having. I've been trying to monkey around with it to try to make a workable game, since it is missing the things that I want to have (such as levels higher then 5). So I've been doing quite a bit of strange maths to try to do that. Now, unlike Mordheim, the maths are archaic and not easy to crack, and if I wasn't completely sure that there was some sort of plan behind it, I would swear that some of it had been made up on the spot. With these strange geometries I've been working with, my mind falls back to the good old standby of Mordheim.

In Mordheim, the maths are simple, and easy to pick apart. However, what makes them so dastardly is that you can throw some philosophy behind them. The best example of this that I can think of is the whole 'well-equipped warband' vs. 'poorly equipped  but lots of members' theories. To be honest, I think this comes down to the type of warband that you are playing. Those with a small maximum warband members, should equip to the max, every thing to provide the best chance of survival. Those with high maximum amounts should just go for the pure numbers game. Some people argue this with me, and insist that pure numbers of warbands are the important thing. That is vaguely true. In early games, the one with the numbers will probably win. However, equipping the crap out of everyone but one guy to die to give you the option to take a rout is horribly beneficial in early games. If your only concern is winning the game that you are playing, then yes, take numbers. If you are trying for better long term survival, loosing the first few matches can be beneficial.

Hmm, it seems that I've talked about stuff I've talked about in the past, its funny how that happens some times. I'll really have to dig deeper for next week. Perhaps a warband work over...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim; Friends, Enemies, and Acquaintances

Well, here it is time for another Monday Night Mordheim, and I bet that you guys are wondering how I am going to do another post about this grand old dame of a game, since I've covered just about anything and everything that can be talked about. So for awhile I'm going to spend some time on some of my favorite subjects, those that have little to do with Mordheim, but everything to do with the hobby of wargaming in general (I seriously detest when it is refered to as just 'The Hobby', it doesn't deserve the caps.).

The heart of the matter is that wargaming is not a hobby you can do alone, at its very heart it is a social game. There are few games as intentionally social as wargames. You can make an argument for role-playing games, sports, and maybe even board games. However, only sports has the really unique factor in common with war games. In both sports and wargames it is not only the norm, but expected to play people you don't know. Most RPG groups are fairly insular (not forbidding, but it takes a while before a new person gets invited to a group), and board games are played almost exclusively by families or very close friends (even that guy who flips the board when loosing at Risk).

Wargames are social, you need an opponent, and it is expected for you to play someone that you are not familiar with. Playing with friends is great, and playing with a stranger is better. Now Mordheim is not the game that you would turn to for a one off battle. The rules support campaign play much more then single battles. However, starting a campaign is a good way to connect with people. There are lots of people who play Mordheim, and even quite a few who don't but could be easily swayed.

That's what I like. You take an Acquaintance, and you turn them into an Enemy, and then inexplicably they become a Friend.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Allies, Partnerships, Betrayal, and Tactics

Hello, and welcome back to Monday Night Mordheim, your semi-regular dosage of all things Mordheim. While I realize that I'm talking about Mordheim, there's quite a few things in 40K right now that apply as well. Which makes it difficult, since I've basically given up on GW's big box games as far too expensive to be worth the effort. So I'm probably getting some hits here from people clicking thinking I'm giving some nice crunchy advise for the 6th Edition 40K allies, but too bad. I haven't even read the rules yet. Maybe around January I'll have enough cash for it.

So in the meantime, you and I will just have to content ourselves with talking about allies as it applies to Mordheim, which is the real reason most of you are here anyway. That and the occasional rant about something I don't like in the game industry (which for right now is doing everything in a manner inconsistent to how I would do things, but that's neither here nor there). Last week I talked a bit about the Chaos on the Streets matches in Mordheim. I really love these matches, they're great for ending a round of a league, or even wrapping up a league. They bring a bunch of people together in a single game, and it plays out with allies and betrayals, and everything in between.

So I thought I'd take some time and do a bit of tactica on the different types of  Chaos on the Streets matchs. So here's a numbered list! (WOOT!)

1. Treasure Hunt, Street Brawl, The Pool, and Ambush!- these are the most basic of all the Chaos on the Streets scenarios. They are basically multiplayer versions of the standard scenarios. I really think that they were included in the list to work as training wheels to get everyone used to the rule changes before getting into the more involved scenarios.
2. The Lost Prince- This is one of my favorite scenarios, even though I've rarely ever had a chance to play it. The key to this scenario is speed and toughness. You need both. Speed to get to the Prince first, and toughness to hold him. The key to winning this scenario is to team up with someone who can give you what you lack, and then reinforce them. People who are good at ranged combat should pair up with someone fast, then defend the dude who gets to the Lost Prince first from your mutual opponents. Speed people should pair up with tough people to soak up damage. This is one of the scenarios where betrayal can lose everything.
3. The Wizard's Mansion- The obvious thing here is for everyone outside the mansion to gang up on the guy on the inside, but nothing could be further from the truth. Assuming you are one of the people on the outside, ally yourself with the person on the inside. The point is to agree for the wealth to be split, equally. You might get routed early, but those other people you take out increase the ability of the person on the inside to survive and thus grab the treasure. Now, if you just happen to be the last two standing, then you might want to consider stabbing the dude in the back, to try to take all the treasure for yourself. However, only do this if you are absolutely certain that you can win, because half the take is better then none of the take.
4. Monster Hunt- This is the only scenario where you practically never want to betray anyone. Being on the same side is very beneficial to everyone. Everyone sends in one bruiser, and nothing else. This is a calculated risk. By only sending one (or two depending) of your best fighters, you are putting the rest of your warband at less risk. This allows everyone to reap the benefits of defeating the monster, and everyone's leader gets the pip for winning the battle. Now since everyone is sending people against the monster, it decreases the chance that it will kill your character, and you still have a good chance of wounding it, and if you are lucky you might fell the killing blow.

Well, I've written for a bit, so I'm off for another fun filled week of technical support, scouts, and gaming. I'll see you next time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Co-Operation & Betrayal

Welcome back to Monday Night Mordheim.

One of my favorite things about Mordheim isn't even in the core book. Chaos on the Streets matches. You can find these rules in different places, I believe they are most notable in the 2002 Annual, which really was the last thing of importance to be added to the game.

Chaos in the Streets are big multiplayer games, and they work considerably better then most other game's multiplayer games. While it is added after the initial creation, it doesn't feel that way. The rules are very clear cut and handled in a way that makes sense. While seeming to be Byzantine in the beginning, after a bit of thought and a trial run or two, they become intuitive and natural. While that is well and good, the real strength of the Chaos in the Streets match is the interaction between players.

 The interaction is the key, alliances and betrayals. Everyone is in it for themselves first and foremost, but in the Chaos on the Streets matches, its all about making the best deal in the short term before slaughtering your foe. To be really successful in a Chaos on the Streets match, you have to co-operate. You have to join forces to accomplish anything worth while. If you try to stick it out on your own, others will gang up on you and gank you before you have a chance to do anything. Odd numbers in this type of match will make for some strange alliances, and it stays surprisingly even above 3 man matches. That being said, you have to get together with someone, at the very least to increase your survivability. Without some sort of co-operation, there are several different Chaos on the Streets matches that you can't win until extremely late in a campaign.

While Co-operation is important in the beginning of the match, the key thing to learn is when to turn on your allies. While it is technically possible to share a win with someone, it really isn't that much fun. The important thing is to know when you can turn the tables. It is a fine balancing act. You have to know when to strike. Too early and your former friend is too powerful, too late and they strike first. Striking that balance is a hard skill to learn, and even harder to master.

There's a few key things to keep in mind before you turn.
1. Is the alliance still beneficial to you? Is there some thing that you are getting that you wouldn't otherwise? This might be as simple as keeping your friends Rat Ogre occupied with other people, to them providing covering fire.
2. Will your soon to be former mate benefit more from turning on you in the next round? This is important. If they stand to gain quite a bit, you might want to turn on them before they get a chance to.
3. Is your business with the other players that you aren't allied with done? If the other others are still up and running, and still strongly allied, it might not be the best time to turncoat.
4. Will this piss the other guy off? Probably the stupidest and best reason to do it. Sometimes when you play a wargame, you get the chance to be a dick. Take advantage of it when it will be appreciated, not when it isn't.  You won't get many chances to be a total douche and your friends congratulate you for it.

Well, that's all I got for this week. Next week I think I'll talk about the different types of Chaos on the Streets and some of the additional tactics you can use with them. Unless I forget and write about something else entirely. Which is always possible.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Extra Rules

Hello, and welcome back to Monday Night Mordheim. Things are turning over nicely around here, got the schedules all settled, and everything is going well with everything getting back in the groove. It's all about the planning. I get the stuff done. School is easy, its the other stuff that's hard.

See, that's the thing I like, the other stuff. Scouts, and that sort of thing. That's why one of my absolutly favorite things about Mordheim is the optional critical hit table. The thing is that a lot of people choose not to use it. There's two main reasons for that. The first is that it is optional, which means a lot of people skip over it. The second reason is that some people feel that some of the optional critical hit table is not as powerful as the regular one.

The thing is that the second group is right. I've always been in the mind that the optional critical hit table is what was really intended to be in the main game, not tacked on at the end. The main critical hit table is deadly. Overly so. Like 1st Edition D&D 'Tomb of Horrors' deadly. The main critical hit table has caused games to flip over on me on a number of times. Both for the better and for the worse.

On the other hand is the optional critical hit table. I personally find it much more useful. Like above, I have two reasons for it, (parity HAHA!). The first is the crunch is much less likely to crush you. The optional critical hit table is a bit more forgiving. I find this important since there are so few models in Mordheim, each one is as important as a rook or a bishop in chess. You can't afford things to get taken off the table from what basically equates to really good luck. While luck will always have a part to play in any game where the main mechanic is dice based, the main critical hit table really really over emphasizes it. Too many games have swung drasitically from one way to the other because of a couple of rolls on the critical hit tables. The other thing that I really like from the optional critical hit table is that the optional rules are more favorful. There's slight changes to the rules depending on the type of weapon that you are using. I especially like one of the spear rolls, where you skewer someone and can potentially drive them off a ledge or something. That's the kind of thing I want to see in a critical hit table, interesting things that don't necessarily change the whole game, but make the particular combat that they are happening in more memorable. Seriously, no one remembers doing extra wounds with no armor save and bonus to the damage result table. Everyone remembers when a goblin pushes some dude off a bridge down three stories.

That's the thing, Mordheim is a wargame, but it has an element of style harkening towards a more RPG center. I can go on about that for days, but I'm not going to. The thing is that Mordheim more then most wargames is a shared story experience. When you can, why would you choose boring mechanics that are potent over mechanics that make the play experience so much richer. If you've been playing, and you haven't been using the optional critical hit charts in the back of the book, stop right now. Go play a game with them, you'll find yourself immensely pleased. Especially if you use a variety of weapons when playing.

That's about all I got in the tank for tonight. I'll see you fools next week!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim; A Return to Normalcy

We're pleased to return you to your regularly scheduled blog!

Well, its been awhile, and I'm a bit rusty here. After much craziness and other things, now things have gotten back on track. It's been a heck of a couple of weeks. Been busy at work, school started back up, and tonight was the first Cub Scout meeting. 

See, there's the thing of it. All summer long I was late for work, I missed blog posts, and generally screwed around. I was missing the structure in my life that comes from my being Daddy. Kids didn't have to get ready in the morning, and they didn't have anything to do after I got home from work. For them it was heaven, nothing but X-box, Doctor Who, and going to the water park. For me, it was hell. I don't do well when there's no plan. I like having my days planned, my weeks mapped out, and my months booked months in advance. 

That's me, but to be honest, its one of the reasons that I do so well in maintaining games. I get into grooves. I shuck and jive. I think that scheduling is one of the most important thing for proper hobbying. Hobby-ing? Hobbieing? Hobbing? Whatever. I do what hobby when I can. Granted, lately that's not much. Got a bunch of other things going on. However, I now have that mind space available to me. It's important to me to keep that bit separate. 

The thing is people complain about not having time to hobby. Yes, we would all love an extra day of the week devoted to nothing but hobby. No school, no work, no social obligations, no anything but painting, terrain buildings, and gaming. That's not possible for most of us. Most of have those other things going on. 

So its important to grab hobby time any time you can. I know that a couple of my PCs in my Friday Night Skype D&D game are painting while we game. I would totally do that, if I weren't the DM and busier then a one legged tyranid in a jumping contest. I can grab a few hours to blog about the game I love on Monday Nights. I don't have anything else cluttering up the schedule. That's one of the reasons that I love Mordheim so much, it doesn't take much to hobby up. 

You can speed an hour or so knocking up stuff to play, and then like an hour and a half to play a single game. If you can arrange that about once a week or so, you will get more hobby done, and more time to play. It doesn't take the huge amount of time that WHFB or 40K does. Just a bit. Then if you get bored of what you are doing, you can easily switch. 

So it seems in my first week back, I wrote a wall of text about nothing in particular, but like I said, I'm getting back in the swing of things. Soon I'll be doing stuff more directly related to Mordheim, but I gotta get back in the groove. So I'll leave it at that, until next week!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Metagaming the Metagame.

As is well documented across the blog, I have a tendency to metagame. I like the metagame when it comes to RPGs. It's pitting the player against the DM, in a battle of wits. There's nothing quite like it. I've mentioned that if a DM gives me something that I'm going to use it, and well, I've taken that around the other side.
I love a feint within a feint, inside a trick. A few weeks ago, I told my current PCs in my Skype game that my friend Megan was designing a bad guy for the sandbox game of D&D we were running. That way they would run into it whenever they wandered into the wrong area. Those who know her are rather wondering what she's stated up.
However, Po started sending her emails just to be an annoyance today. So I thought that a bit of turnabout is fair play. I quicked up some stats for a 10th level thrikreen psion vampire. Then I 'accidentally' hit reply all to the wrong email thread. The email was something along the lines of; 'I fixed the formatting, please send me the psionic powers please, I need it for next week'.
So right now, I'm waiting to see if they take the bait and start stocking up on holy symbols, holy water, garlic, and other anti-vampire things. So during the middle of the game tonight, I'm going to post this blog post. So then they'll know kinda what's really going on. If they bother to check my blog. Evil? Maybe. Did I tell them that there was game info on the blog that they should use? Definitely. Will Megan and I laugh if they go in to face her baddy armed for vampires and encounter something else entirely, yes, yes we will.
A feint within a feint, within a dirty trick, and a tell that they have to pick up on. I'm not a nice DM, but I TOLD them what was going on.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim- Scheduling

This week and next week I'll not have a real post. This week, because it is the final week of the really busy at work. Next week because it will be labor day. Then I should be able to return to regular postings.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

RPG Thoughts- Game Building 2

This is the second in my series about creating a modern campaign. It started as a series of emails to Eldest Child, who has started running an Alternity Game with his buds (Check out his blog here). 

Since it was written as emails, there are random starts and stops and with how busy I've been elsewhere, it is a bit of a keep you interested thing. However, I like to think the information is still good.

Building a Game 2: Campaign Arc

A good campaign is like a good tv show. Allow me to elaborate on that for a moment. TV shows that last a long time come in two varieties; serial and episodic. A serial television show is where there is an ongoing continuity, and if you miss an episode you miss major changes that happen. Episodic television is the opposite of that though, every episode follows the same format, but nothing really changes episode to episode, so it doesn't matter if you miss an episode since major changes only happen at the season level.

A great campaign works along the same lines as both. Typically, you have each adventure or session that have nothing to do with each other, but every couple sessions you have one that ties into the overall story arc of the campaign. This way you can provide variety and different types of challenges to your PCs each session, but there is a continuity that you can follow and will eventually drive the campaign.
The campaign story arc is a hard thing to define. You almost have to sit down at the beginning and decide how it is going to work out. That's what separates veteran DMs from novices. A veteran DM can roll with what his PCs do to create a good story line out of thin air, whereas a novice has to have it all prepared before hand. I'm not going to talk about creating a campaign story arc on the fly, since that is not something that is helpful to people who already know how to do it. This is a series for beginners, any way.

Now, the first thing to keep in mind is the length of a campaign. We would all love it if our campaigns lasted forever, but in truth that's a lofty goal. Campaigns fall apart for a number of reasons; real world commitments, game burn out, and even falling out amongst players. So it is best if you plan a campaign to last a certain number of sessions. If you plan forward, you decide how much you need to do for your campaign arc.

This is where things get tricky. You have to decide how many sessions that your campaign will last. This is probably the hardest thing that a new DM can do, and to be honest its one that even veterans have trouble with. I've had a lot of campaigns end out from under me for no apparent reason, and you will too. It happens. That's why pre-planning can be infuriating. However, you have to be realistic with yourself. If you are planning to play 'whenever we can all get together', you are better off with a very short campaign maybe four sessions, if that. On the flip side, those of us blessed with nothing but time can take a completely different scale and plan for hundreds of sessions. Now, most people I know play in a regularly scheduled manner. Use that schedule as a basis for what you are planning.

Now, most games I've ever played have lasted a year, (possibly two) typically playing once a week. However, a year long plan is a good benchmark no matter what game you are playing. Things will stay relatively stable across the course of a single year. Others disagree and think that a six month ideal is better, and in a way it is, since you can have a bit more flexibility should real world issues come up. The end of the day, your schedule and how long you are willing to run it is what will decide the number of sessions.

If you are playing a weekly game, a campaign will typically last 52 sessions. Bi-weekly games will last typically last 26 sessions. Poor monthly games will last a scant 12 sessions. However, knowing how many sessions a game will last will allow you to make a better plan.
Going back to the television analogy, you want to build your campaign like a TV season. Let the first season be short. Very short, almost like a mini-campaign, that way if your PCs decide they don't like the game, you will get a nice little self-contained game that you can look back at fondly that you can end easily.
The first season should be about four sessions. The first session where everyone learns the rules and creates characters doesn't count. That's like getting the pilot picked up. Season one should be about the variety of things that can be done in the system. Go out and have fun with it. The first three sessions of the season can be about anything (or nothing at all), however the fourth episode should be your first story arc episode. That gives you everything being neatly cleaned up at the end, but a nicely dangling piece of bait should the PCs want to continue.

That's the good thing. If they PCs decide that they want to continue, then go ahead and 'pick up the back 9'. Expand the campaign to a further 9 sessions. Roughly 25% of all sessions should be campaign story arc. They should not be 1,2,3, arc. Mix it up, throw them around, make your PCs guess what is going on. The final session of the first season should be where the PCs finally discover what the 'Big Bad' is. That's when things really start to take off.

Plan out the rest of the seasons, even before you get to the end of the first season. Since you already know how long your campaign is supposed to last, you can build it up differently. A full year of weekly play will allow for 4 total seasons (that includes the four plus nine first season). A biweekly game will get two, but the poor monthly will barely get one.

This allows you to plan out exactly how you will dole out the story arc. Now, the good part of this type of set up, where you are leaking information about the overall story arc is that you don't have to have each story arc session actually directly do with the story arc. That seems like an oxymoron, but keep with me here. The thing is that it can have to do with the story arc in a very ancillary way. For instance, if the session has to do with a genetically altered animal, it could be that the big bad of the story arc is actually the person/group who paid for the project, even if they had nothing directly to do with it. Or one of the scientists works for the big bad, or something like that.

It has gotten too busy to continue...more later.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RPG Thoughts: Building a Modern RPG 1

This is the first in a series of Emails that I sent to my Eldest Child about how to run a modern RPG setting. While the information in here is more specific for modern games, it may be useful for other games as well.

How to build an RPG game for fun and a lack of profit.
The creation of an RPG is not that hard. Running games is easy, though DMs tend to make it look much harder then it actually is. With pages and pages of stuff written down, maps everywhere, and checking the balance of items, it seems like a lot of work. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In truth, running a RPG is a bit like a research project from school. It's a bit of thinking, a bit of writing, and a whole lot of reading what other people did and then stealing it.
Since you expressed interest in a conspiracy theory type game, or paranormal investigation (if you prefer), I will start my thoughts there. These are actually much easier to run then other types of games. Actually any modern setting is particularly easy. You don't have to do any conversions, you don't have to worry about creating strange names, and you don't have to worry about your PCs not understanding the local laws.
What makes it so easy to run a modern game is the shear abundance of material available on the internet, compared to the bad old days. Wikipedia is your friend. You can find a lot about anything there. With wikipedia and a rule book for a modern setting, you can run tons of stuff. It makes it so easy to note things down, to get a few ideas, and start right off.

Here's a brief outline of how to do it;
1. Choose a major city, US or foreign. It really doesn't matter which one. I strongly suggest choosing a city that you and your players have never been to, that way you aren't going to get 'Hey! That's not right, broad street never connects with 2nd ave!' which while lessens the verisimilitude of the place, it absolutely kills game flow. Look that  city up on wikipedia. Looking over the basics of a city will give you a great overview of that city. You know the basic neighborhoods, the layout, and some major land marks.  Especially pay attention to libraries, museums, and monuments- as well as large buildings (like sky scrappers).

2. Review the history of the city specifically. Where there any major disasters? How about battles? Scandals are always fun as well. This stuff is a great base for creating adventures. Haunted battlefields, psychic depressions in areas of great suffering, and even strange groups pulling the strings behind the scenes for scandals. This is also why it is a good idea to pick a city that you nor your PCs are emotionally attached to. If you pick your hometown there's always a chance that your PCs will go 'My great-great-grandmother died in the Great Fire of '27, that's not right that you made it a plot by the Evil Organization'.

3. Do a quick search on the internet for things like '[City Name] Haunted sites', or '[City Name] UFO sightings'. That sort of thing. That will give you a great start for figuring out some more adventures.

4. Extra leg work. This is entirely optional, but it can be fun and entertaining. Look at some places in the city with google street view and maybe do some searches on youtube for things in the city. Another fun thing is to find the local news stations and watch some local news, get a real feel for the real things that are happening there. If during a session, your PCs have to take a detour because of construction that is happening.
So this can all be done in as little as a half hour or so. If you want a more mobile campaign, you can keep doing this over and over again with a different city each time.

Geez, guys, you can't tell me when the formatting is all messed up? Come ON!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Delay

er. Sorry. WotC just sent the new D&D Next playtest packet. I'm going to have get back another day. I'll hopefully get back to everything next week. However, in the meantime, I have a series of RPG posts that I did for my Eldest kid, to help him start a game. I'll post those tomorrow or later.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Exceptions

I've been thinking very little about Mordheim lately. There are times I feel bad about that, but other times when I realize that there are a lot of things that I can still talk about. One thing I love to talk about is the rules. 

I love the rules of Mordheim, and for a bunch of reasons, but in the end it comes down to a very simple thing. It is a very simple rule system with quite a few exceptions. 

The simple rules system with exceptions is what makes the game great. Most of these exceptions come from the skills that can be had by various hero characters. Others come from special rules for particular models. The wonderful thing about these rules and skills is that they provide some sort of exception to a rule. Now, sometimes it is as simple as a bonus to a particular roll, or sometimes as powerful as a total rule exception (like ignoring set up rules like 'Infiltrator'). 

The particular advantage of these exceptions is two-fold. First it allows you to customize your force depending on your opponents, and secondly that it makes it far easier to homebrew things. The knowledge of what exceptions are already allowed, makes creating new exceptions that much easier.

Next week, I want to really delve into those exceptions, and talk about which ones are game makers, which are game breakers, and do a bit of tactica on them.

However, I do want to talk about something else before I sign off. I realize that most of the blogs I follow update in the morning, and I enjoy having some stuff to read first thing. I also realize that many people who read my blog are Brits and thus aren't going to be looking at this until Tuesday morning anyway. I was wondering if I should change format to a Monday Morning Mordheim, and post stuff before I go to work (which given time differences would barely qualify as morning for Brits), or have it auto post sometime in the night. Is MNM a good thing, or should it switch to MMM?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim; KISS Keep It Simple, Stupid

Welcome to Monday Night Mordheim, finally. It seems to have calmed down a bit at work, so I'm able to do a bit more creative non-work. Going to gab a bit to set things up and then get into the topic at hand, which is sorta typical of me.

Thing is that we have a new person in our pod at work, not in our department, but short on chairs. She's kinda fun. Reads some fantasy, wants to be an Astro-physics person. Now, me being me, and she being bored, I gave her the Prism Pentad novels from Dark Sun setting. Then she started reading the D&D 3.0 rulebooks we have lying around. In turn she lent me the first two Dresden Files books, which I was totally unimpressed by, I told her that it was like reading someone's solo Mage; The Ascension campaign. Then she started reading the World of Darkness books we have sitting around. So she has read a bunch of rulebooks (which in my mind is boring as shit).

I sat there and looked at the volumes of rules she's read through, and I'm sitting there thinking, this is such a huge amount of random crap. I love those games, but damn, I've been playing them for decades and I am still learning new rules. I think that is one of the reasons I love Mordheim so much. Mordheim plays by the greatest rule of them all 'KISS- Keep It Simple, Stupid'.

I could teach someone to play Mordheim in two settings, maybe four hours total. I really thing that the best rule to illustrate this is the Hiding Rule. Hide is not something in most other wargames, but it is executed so easily.

If no one can draw Line of Sight to a model after it moves, you can declare it hidden, and then you have to be within Iniative inches to see them. There's more to it then that, but it in essence, that's it. Nice, simple, clean. There's nothing to it.

That's the beauty of Mordheim, a game changing rule described in a sentence. The entirety of rules is in one book, and most of that book is options. Not hundreds of rules, not thousands of variations. Mordheim is a simple system, and yes, it does have its cracks and loopholes. In the grand scheme of things its a gem of simplicity, and a nice break from those other rules heavy games.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Unspeakable

It's that time of year again folks, got mucho mas busy at work. No time for gaming or game thoughts. I'll try to keep you updated soon.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim; Old Vs New

I want to write something poetic about the new addition of 40K. I really do, but the truth is that it doesn't matter to me. The most common thing I say to my wife or kids is 'Leave Well Enough Alone', no generally this means 'Stop messing with your hair and get in the car, we're running late', or 'Don't bitch that your brother got a bow and arrow for his birthday, you still get to use it'.

See, I look at things and I like how they work, in many cases. The thing is that 40K is poisoned by its own success. This is starting to look like something I should put on my angry blog, but its not. The problem with success is that something becomes popular, but even if everyone has a copy, no more copies sell. So things get updated, and changed. 

The thing is that Mordheim is the opposite. There are very few games that reach the small gem that Mordheim exists as. It's basically an old school parasite of a game. Which is what I want to talk about. Mordheim is a bit of a throw back to the oldest days of WHFB and 40K, where the game was much more like 'D&D encounters' then it was a massive army battle game. 

The thing is that old games and new games both have a place at the table. The old stuff tends to get pushed to the side though for the new shinyness. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that, new stuff keeps publishers in business. 

Mordheim, though is a game in stasis. It was based on (I believe) WHFB 5th/6th edition. There haven't been any major revisions since the 2002 Annual, which if my calender is correct, was almost a decade ago. That's not 'old school' its more 'out of date' school. There's a beauty in a game that isn't getting support, its up to the fans, but the core of it is unchanging. I can walk with Mordheim anywhere that anyone plays it, and it is still good to go. 

Trying to stay up to date with other games is tiring. Old games are awesome, and should still be played. It doesn't matter if its Mordheim, or D&D B/X, or Star Wars d6, or even Original World of Darkness. The games themselves haven't changed. They are still playable as the day they were released. Think about those old games you have on your self that you haven't played in awhile. Take them down, blow the dust off, and get to playing.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Session Update; July 5- The Podcast!

Got 4 and a half hours to spare? Listen to our podcast version of the D&D session!


Session Update; July 5th Rage Comic

So had another D&D session, and there's another rage comic session update. I also realize that I am not a very nice DM, since I keep putting my players in situations where they can get quickly over their heads. RIP Lucca!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim; Loremasters of Hoeth PDF

At long last the Great Work is completed! The full pdf of the Loremasters of Hoeth warband is complete. I'm going to miss this project, I've invested a lot of time and effort into it. I hope you all like it. Next week will be an all new exciting Mordheim idea or talk or something. You'd think I'd run out of stuff to talk about, but nope! It's a never ending well. Without further ado;


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Session Update; Rage Comic 6/27/12

This is an adequate and unique session update. I hope the PC that did this more, or at least tells me if he wants attribution. Love the memes, ah, Rage Comics make everything funnier.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Loremasters of Hoeth Skills

Monday Night Mordheim: Loremasters of Hoeth Skills.


So this is going to be my final installment for the Loremasters of Hoeth. I've been banging on this project for a long, looong, time. I think that It's gotten to the point where the only thing that I really need is to do some fluff and toss it into a .pdf. I've been experimenting with creating .pdf's using Open Office's draw program (for another project naturally). I just need to figure out a place to put those .pdf's for y'all to download from.

Now, back on topic. So the last thing I need to bang on about is Skills. Now, I already had the idea that the Loremasters' warband would require a unique set of skills. Skills are what separates warbands from each other. There are really two different types of skills that are required. First off is the universal skills, those which apply to all members of the warband. The other ones are skills that heroes get.

So first off, referring to the HE book, there are two universal skills that should be applied, however, I did have to subtly modify them to make them work with Mordheim.

Universal Skills:
Speed of Asurman- A member of a Loremasters warband will always go first in the event of an iniative tie. I kinda toned this down from the 'elves always go first' in the HE army book. Given the high iniative value in the LMoH warband, it seems rather redundant. However, I there are still times when there MAY be opponents who are just as quick.
Valour of Ages- Members of LMoH warband re-roll all failed psychology rolls against Dark Elves. This one will come up so rarely that I've left it basically intact. I would like to monkey around with it a bit more, but other then applying it more to other warbands, I don't see the point.

Hero Skills:
First off, I'm going to wholesale steal those from the Elf Ranger list and some other lists, which I find appropriate. Then I'm going to add a bit of fun.
From Ranger/Stolen:
Excellent Sight
My New Skills:
Animal Empathy- Opponent with the 'animal' descriptor (such as wardogs or giant rats) will not attack this model, if the model passes a Leadership test. 
Apprentice Assistant- This model will give a friendly spell caster a re-roll on a failed magic roll, if within 6". This is to represent the apprentice helping with the spell casting. (As a side note, this might be a bit powerful given this warband's focus on magic. I would like a bit of feedback on this one).
Rare Lore- Roll on a different warband's magic list. You can cast the spell rolled at a +1 difficulty.

Well, that's all I got for now. Let me know if there's a glaring omission. Next week, the complete .pdf!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Baatezu's Advocate: GW and 6th Ed.

New post over at Baatezu's Advocate, where I generally get angry at the way that GW is handling the rumors of 6th edition, and their general communication issues. I realize that most of you read that by following the link, just as a reminder, BA is NSFW, well, actually not safe for anywhere really...


Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Homebrew Magic

Well, still working on stuff for the High Elf Warband. It seems to be going slowly, and by god, it is. That's because I spend a lot more time thinking about it (for the most part) then writing stuff down. At least not on a format that I can easily upload. Just my chicken scratch on scrape paper. Which is great for me, bad for you.   Though, I have to admit that I am bolstered in this project by my constant readers, especially those of you who have deemed me worthy of comments, like Von and Mark Beardmore. I might not always respond (cause I'm a bit of a dumbass like that), but I do see them and fold them into my thinking.

What  I spent time on this week was working on the spell list. Most of that involved trying to adapt the High Magic list to the lower expectations of Mordheim. This is what I've come up with.

High Magic List.
1. Shield of Saphery- Difficulty 7, give target friendly model within 10" a 5+ armor save until your next recovery phase.
2. Curse of Arrow Attraction- Difficulty 9, target enemy model within 24" gets all unsuccessful ranged attacks re-rolled until your next recovery phase. NB: This only effects non-magical ranged attacks, not magical ones.
3. Courage of Aenarion- Difficulty 8, target friendly model within 6" is immune to psychology until your next recovery phase.
4. Flames of the Phoenix- Difficulty 7, target enemy model within 12" takes an automatic strength 2 hit. If in the next round, the spell difficulty goes up to 8, and if the spell is successfully cast in the next round, the target enemy model takes an automatic strength 3 hit. This continues to rise in both difficulty and strength damage until either the spell is unsuccessful or the enemy model is taken out of action.
5. Fury of Khaine- as per the Silver Arrows of Arrah.
6. Winds of Magic- Difficulty 8, target enemy spell caster within 24" is unable to cast spells on their next turn.

So this is what I have so far, but I'm pretty satisfied. I particularly think that the Flames of the Phoenix and Winds of Magic are very evocative of a High Elf magic heavy army.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: A Day Late, A Dollar Short, and a Forgotten Email

So like I said, I did a bunch of work at work. Then I forgot to email it to myself. Talk about stupid. Right now I'm realizing that I'm actually about 50% done. I still have some more skills and magic to get to, however, the basics are all done.

Loremasters of Hoeth Warband

Choice of Warriors:
The Loremasters of Hoethe warband must include a minimum of three models. You have 500 gold crowns to recruit your warband. The maximum amount of warriors in the warband may not exceed 12.

Loremaster: Each Loremasters of Hoethe warband must start with one loremaster, no more no less.

Apprentice: You may include a single apprentice.

Journeymen of Hoeth: You may include up to two Journeymen of Hoeth.

Archers: You may include any number of Elven Archers.

Elven Youth: You may include any number of Elven Youth.

Starting Experience:

The Loremaster starts with 20 experience.

The Apprentice starts with 0 experience.

The Journeymen of Hoeth start with 8 experience.

Elven Skill Tables:

Loremaster: Academic, Speed, Elf
Apprentice: Academic, Speed, Elf
Journeymen: Combat, Speed, Elf.

Equipment Lists:

Elven Equipment List:

Hand-to-Hand Combat Weapons:
Dagger: 1st free/2gc
Sword: 10 gc.
Spear: 10 gc.
Ithlimar Weapons: x2*

Missile Weapons:
Bow 10
Long Bow 15
Elf Bow 30*

Light 20
Heavy 50
Shield 5
Buckler 5
Helmet 10
Ithilmar Armor 60*

Journeymen of Hoeth Equipment List:

Hand-to-Hand Combat Weapons
Two Handed Weapon 15
Ithlimar Great Sword 30*

Light 20
Heavy 50
Shield 5
Buckler 5
Helmet 10
Ithilmar Armor 60*

*This cost represents the cost of intial purchase from before leaving Ulthan. Once gameplay has started, regular costs and rarity apply.


Loremaster of Hoeth: 90gc
5 4 4 3 3 1 5 1 8
Weapons/Armor: Can choose from the Elven Equipment List
Special Rules: Leader, Wizard (can CHOOSE one spell from both the High Magic lists, this is unique, this character does not roll to determine spell.), Arcane Lore (Can choose to roll on either the High Magic or Hedge Magic spell lists when determining new spells).

Apprentice of Hoeth: 40Gc
5 3 3 3 3 1 5 1 8
Weapons/Armor: Can choose from the Elven Equipment List
Special Rules: Wizard (Can roll for spell from the Hedge Magic List)

Journeymen of Hoeth: 50GC
5 4 4 3 3 1 5 1 8
Weapons/Armor: Can Choose from the Journeymen Equipment List
Special Rules: Strongman


Archers: 50 gc
5 4 4 3 3 1 5 1 8
Weapons/Armor: Can choose from the Elven Equipment List
Special Rules: None

Elven Youth: 25gc
5 2 2 3 3 1 4 1 8
Special Rules:

Giant Eagle: 210GC

Special Rules: Flying (Move 20 ignoring terrain, counts as charge), Awkward (cannot enter buildings), Animal (does not gain experience)

Elf Skills:
Excellent Sight

Friday, June 8, 2012

RPG Thoughts: On Line Play

Well, I took the jump. Went into online play. It was an interesting experience. I dug out my old homebrew D&D campaign, and we had a blast.

First a bit of background. Due to half my work group getting new jobs, I was at a loss. While I can still play stuff with the remaining, I was at a loss. So while talking to my buddy Consadine, who lives several hundred miles away, we hit on the idea of playing an RPG by Skype.

So I also decided to get a few more people involved. I invited Jim and Po, who had left work. Then I invited Consadine, since it was in part his idea. Finally, I invited Doug, who is probably one of my oldest friends, we've  been playing D&D and other games together since 6th grade- he was especially important since he played in Campaigns II, III, and IV of the homebrew campaign.

Now, Jim didn't have a microphone to join via skype. And for the first session Po was having trouble with Skype (which was his own damn fault). So it was just Doug and Consadine for the first session. As first sessions go, it was pretty typical as RPGs go (I'll do up a quick write up, if readers and players want it). What made it unique was the stuff I learned.

1. Skype is excellent for decreasing the amount of tangents. Back in the day, I actually had a 'S.T.A.N.' jar. S.T.A.N. stood for 'Stupid Tangents a Nickel'. We would charge people who broke game flow a nickel. The clink of the nickel dropping into the glass jar was a nice sharp focus (and we occasionally cashed it out for pizza). With Skype though it, there were no tangents. Multiple people talking at once made for mass confusion, every one took turns talking. Even getting up to take the kids to bed or switching laundry didn't cause a big disruption.
2. is an amazing gadget. First off it allowed us to all join a room where we could see each other's rolls, but also had neat scripts for the weird unique type of die rolls I like. You could do roll-over (roll the highest on the die, add in and reroll), or drop the lowest result on a number of die. It was a great tool, and one that I think that everyone would want to use if they are playing online.
3. No more lost character sheets. Since everyone had to send me a copy of the Character Sheet, that means that I will always have one. Especially since they will remain forever inside my gmail, there's little to no danger of losing something.
4. Easy reference. While I didn't use it myself this session, I do plan on using links much more in the future. However, it was great that when I was talking about a primitive trombone, called a sackbut, Consadine was able to get into here. However, given that my PCs are going to be going to going into a territory that is thematically based on The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, I'll have lots of chances to use those awesome Seirra Club pics of the southwest that are everywhere on the internet.
5. More importantly then with live gaming, it is important that everyone has a chance to catch up with everyone. This kinda harkens back to the first point, since there is really no chance for some talking when someone else is the primary player. This will also teach me to really spread around the love, there's nothing worse then sitting while someone is the center of attention, except perhaps not even being able to talk to your buddy while it is happening.

In all it went really well, but I can't wait until next week to pick up a new PC or two. It went so well that I think that I might expand the invite to a few others. However, that may prove difficult depending on the number of players. We'll see.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: An Understandable Delay

Well, I've spent the last week and a half playing around with DDN. Seriously, when you are homebrewing, there's nothing like sitting back and testing someone else's game. It gives you an excellent ideas of what you are trying to do.

So back to work.

So last time, Mark Beardmore (SHOUT OUT!) pointed out that the other GW elf bands had a base cost of around 35 gold crowns. This is probably why I think that they are overpowered. They are much better then the standard warrior, but only costing 10 GC more. I think that's really where I am running into the sticky point.

Right now, the costs I am looking at seriously considering are as follows;

Loremaster of Hoeth: 90 GC
Apprentice of Hoeth: 40 GC
Journeymen of Hoeth: 50 GC

Elven Spearmen: 40 GC
Elven Archers: 40 GC
Great Eagle: 210 GC

Now, this is more along what I was thinking of. Granted, I've spent only a little time on this, BUT next week, I should have a big update, since my other stuff has basically resolved itself, and I should be able to put in some mad time on Sunday, and then possibly make it into a .pdf for people to download.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Baatezu's Advocate: Problem with Forums and D&D Next

Ah, well, this particular post isn't too bad. I would like people to actually see it though, so a bit of cross promotion is in order.

Problem with Forums and D&D Next

Saturday, May 26, 2012

RPG Thoughts: D&D Next Playtest Stuff

RPG Thoughts; D&D Next Playtest Stuff

As I have mentioned, I got the D&D Next Playtest stuff. Took me awhile to look through and figure out what I needed to so here's what I wanted;

  "Notwithstanding the foregoing, you may publicly discuss your thoughts regarding the D&D Next Playtest Materials and your playtesting experience." 
-From the Playtest Agreement

That's what I needed to hear. That means I get to talk to all of you fine readers about my thoughts on it. Now, make no mistake, I can't stand 4th Edition. I hate it, and I make no bones about it. As I've said, its a fine RPG, but it ain't D&D. D&D Next seems at first glance exactly what they were looking to do, mesh all of the editions into a game that appeals to the majority of players. However, over at the WotC forums, all the 4th Ed players hate it-so I'm liking it for no other reason so far. So let me get a bit more indepth, and these are just my first impressions after reading the materials and just slaughtering my kids in two encounters. I am going to talk about this in depth in a couple different categories.

The Playtest Materials.
1. First off, they were hard to get to. While they were released on Thursday, due to bad servers and demand, I got 404 errors until Friday morning. This seems to have resolved itself, mainly due to demand dying down, but it was a raw deal. When doing an open play test like this, you should expect TONS of demand.
2. The set up. The packet itself was a .zip with a bunch of files in it. Overall it was around 125 pages of material. Me, being, me, I had them printed at Fedex office (AKA Kinkos), though it seems they raised their prices, and it cost me nearly 15 bucks to print it all. I can read rules off the computer screen, but actually running an adventure, I need to have something tangible in front of me. 
3. While it was bare bones, it was neatly presented, and the info was relatively easy to find with a little flipping. While I am not too enthused over the way that some of the info was presented, it wasn't a deal breaker. 
4. B-2! While it is missing the 'Keep' part of 'The Keep on the Borderlands' it is an old school adventure. That's some classic game there. It makes me happy that it came back. It is just the 'Caves of Chaos' it was a nice nod to those of us who have been playing forever. 

The Characters.
1.  The playtest packet only contained the four basic classes (Fighter, Wizard, Rogue, and Cleric). However, they did have two different character builds for clerics. Now, there were NO character creation rules, and all the characters were pre-generated. I suspect that there will be a character creation play test at some later point.
2. The character sheets were good...sort of. There were a lot of places that are still behind the curtain, so to speak, so there were things that weren't properly explained. Just going off what is on the sheet, there were some things (like damage modifiers) that I couldn't fathom how they got to. There seems to be a Base Attack Bonus or To Hit Armor Class Zero in there somewhere, but it wasn't specifically called out, or explained. 
3. While each sheet described how to level each character, there was no choice in the matter. I think this goes back to this is the 'combat' or 'monster' playtest, not the character one.
4. Hit Points are set instead of random. However, you can take a ten minute break and use your hit dice to regain some hit points. Its a nice change, it rather splits the difference between the no self healing of previous editions and the 'healing surges' of 4th.
5. Cantrips and Orisons (Sp?) are now at will spells. That's awesome, except for the fact that magic missile like it existed in 1-3.X is at will. WTF? Seriously a group that spammed wizards would be nigh-unstoppable. Seriously, if you have four wizards, that's 8 damage minimum guaranteed to hit every round with a max of 20. That's hardcore. 

The Rules.
Before Listing things, I want to talk a bit about the rules. There weren't very many of them, and many of them are basically slight variations of the same things that are in every edition. So I wanted to mainly talk about those things that are either A) Entirely New or B) New to Me.
1. Advantage/Disadvantage. This is one of the simplest yet most effective game mechanics I've ever come across. Basically, you roll 2d20, and if you are at an advantage, you take the higher, and if you are at disadvantage, you take the lower. It's simple, its clean, and its easy for everyone to get after about two tries. 
2. Long Rest. If you take a long rest of 8 hours (IE go to sleep), you regain all of your hit points and magic back. Now, this upset some people, but I disagree. While I have not house ruled this, my PCs basically have always practiced this. Go fight, get hurt, return to base, heal. Get up, heal again if necessary, if not at full compliment of spells, take the day off. Get up, go back to fighting with full HP and full magic. This basically takes that extra day or two out of the equation. I have a feeling that many people probably already house-ruled this, OR their PCs were doing the same things mine were. In this edition whenever a PC goes to sleep I'm going to do the Do-do-duedue-DUE from Final Fantasy. There's fluff that basically states that your HP is not actual wounds, but your exhaustion from battle or whatnot, but really it doesn't need to be justified. 
3. Themes and Backgrounds. These I believe are being brought from 4th ed, and I actually kind of like it. Background is nice, its basically an in-game back story that gives you an actually crunch thing. Themes though, I'm slightly wary of. Right now, it seems like a nod to 4th where everyone has a set party role (Defender, Striker, er, other stuff). I'm not a fan of the set party role. Without more character stuff, I'm not sure what this is really going to be like.
4. Simplify by diversification. Ability modifiers are MUCH more important in this game. There's no specific saving throws, its all by ability modifier. Then there is no scaling in the Difficulty Class for saves dependent on level. Then skills are all set at a certain rank. Skill rank+ability modifer+d20 is what you roll, that being said, I don't think that the DCs of skill tests are going to get ridiculously high.
5. No More Hand Holding. There's no sliding scale of appropriate encounters like there was in 3.X and 4. There are monsters, and you will not be able to beat them all. Run away. This is very old school. Each Monster has XP, no indication of what threat level they are. Learn quick.
6. Death Threshold. I really like this change. It went from -10 to Con+level. The stabilization rules are also more streamlined, and include a penalty for not succeeding. The flip side of that is that healing magic ignores those negative hit points, which is kinda dumb given how easy it is to get back up to full HP.

My Issues.
Again, I want to stress this is a playtest, and there's a bunch I'm missing, but I still think I need to talk about this stuff.
1. Armor As Treasure. There's a ton of armor as treasure in this adventure. Especially like platemail (Room 27, 16). In previous editions it was handled one of two ways. In 1st and 2nd it was clearly spelled out that to use heavy armor like that, it had to be made to order. In third edition it was good for a particular body shape (elf, or dwarf). In this case, which is it? The availability of those heavy armors could be a huge difference in the game, especially since it is better armor then what the PCs have to start with.
2. Where's pick pocket? The Rogue has a 'stealth' skill, but that seems more like being sneaky rather then dipping your hand into someone else's coin purse.
3. The kobolds in the module do 1d4+2 damage with a dagger, but in the bestiary they do 1d4-2 damage with a dagger. Which one is the typo?  An argument could be made for either type.
4. Light. The rules for light were simplified down to bright light, shadowy, and dark, the game really does not go into how much of a difference that makes. Shadowy seems to exist as a way to allow Rogues to hide in shadows, but there really aren't any more penalties for it. It says that it makes everything 'lightly obscured' but there is no real definition for what 'lightly obscured' means. Does it mean I can't target something in shadows with magic missile or what? I like only having three light levels, it makes it simpler, but there needs to be some clearer rules for what those light levels mean.
5. Technically, to play this, you MUST sign up for the playtest. This is a pain in my ass. I tried to get my eldest kid signed up to make it all kosher, but to sign up, I would have needed to send in a parental approval thing by snall mail or fax. What? C'mon! Let me sign the damn thing online, especially since I am a member myself! Stupid.

Well, that's all I got so far. I'll probably have more as I go along.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Delayed Gratification.

At long last, I am back. Yet again, real life intervened and I was unable to work on the blog last night. To be honest, though, I've hit a major stumbling block in my work.

The baseline stat block.

Now, the baseline stat block is easy to see here. I'm not sure what the exact GW policy is on posting their stat lines is. I'm going to err on the side of caution for this. However, it does mean that the BASE elf is +1 M, +1 WS, +1 BS, +2 I, and +1 Ld. That's a huge upswing from the human baseline in Mordheim. Going by the upgrade chart for one off games, each High Elf would be a 105 crown model. That's stupid, crazy stupid.

However, I did figure something of a cheat out. I took the 'baseline' of three different henchmen to figure out a easy solution. The three I used were the 'mercenary warrior', 'dwarf clansman', and 'orc boy'. Taking their base  cost from WHFB and compared it to the cost of each henchmen in Mordheim. I figured out a handy dandy little cheat. Its roughly x5 the points cost in WHFB to the cost in Gold Crowns for Mordheim. Which means the standard High Elf model is 55 points, which is a tad more reasonable.

However, that still a huge amount either way, 105 or 55. That's an issue. A huge issue. Even a small warband would be prohibitively expensive. That's before adding costs for things like special skills or enhanced stats for heroes.

There's two solutions to this problem.
1. Reduce the cost, but keep the stat line the same. This could be potentially game breaking. It would make High Elves possibly an over effective warband.
2. Reduce the cost, but reduce some or all of the baseline stats. This is problematic since you might as well play a human or other warband with HE models.

So right now, I'm wrestling on trying to have it both ways. I'm trying to figure it out. Right now, I'm leaning towards giving them the improved iniative and the higher movement, but leaving the rest at comparable to the rest of the warbands. It still bears thinking about. By next week, I should have a probationary view of the stats that I want to use.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Delay: Again

This has not been my month, has it? I'll have something more up tomorrow.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

RPG Thoughts: Online Gaming

RPG Thoughts; Online Gaming

So my work game group has fallen apart. Jim and Po are moving on, and I for one cannot congratulate them enough. I'll miss them, and to be honest, losing my last two vets is a blow. Being left with just Tom and Megan does not make for great gaming. Two people is a very small group, and we don't have anymore days where we are all together, but the bosses aren't. So no more big games like Mordheim (the boss would frown on us putting up a table when the big bosses could see).

I don't really want to lose this group of gamers. I've lost a lot of groups over the years, and I really don't want to lose this one. So I am going to try and start an online D&D game via Skype. It seems like an easy fit. I can sit there and DM, and they can listen and respond. I've done quite a few things with group chat in Skype, and it will be an interesting thing to run a D&D game. It has a built in file send so that I can send quick maps to people for combat.

Ah, combat, that's the interesting thing. I've found lots of online dice rollers, but none that allow others to see your roll. I know that it is possible, since the old WoD chat games had one. That's a minor concern though. If it comes down to it, we can find other ways of doing rolls.

I am looking forward to returning back to my homebrew campaign. I always found it rewarding. I can't wait to introduce some new players to it. This will be an interesting experiment. Have any of you my faithful readers done anything similar?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Homebrew High Elves III

Monday Night Mordheim: Homebrew III- More Pointy Eared Wrong Headedness

So this week I actually got a chance to sit down and read the High Elf Army Book. That was an enlightening read. I've played against HE on several occasions, and I've got some HE models, but I've never actually looked over their fluff or crunch. I learned several things about elves, which I will elaborate on after the page break.

I mainly learned two things reading the HE rulebook. The first and the most important is exactly what Von had said in the comments of last week's MNM blog post. HE fluff does not make working them into Mordheim seem feasible. I found a way, but it will require me to go back and re-work from the ground up my views on how a HE warband (or army for that matter) should work. Not a big deal, and I'll get to that after I address the second thing that I learned.

The second thing I learned is that I HATE ELVES. I actually want to start a blog for all that controversial crap that I really don't want to spew all over this fine blog publication. I want this to be a postive place, even though I've not done that in the past. Oh, wait, I've so done that.

Now, getting to the meat of the matter. I looked at HE as the way that I always pictured them being played against me, a bunch of archers, bolt throwers, and a few wizards. That's the feel I wanted to capture with a HE warband. I realize now reading their army book, that's the wrong way to go about it. The thing is that there are already some nice distance warbands in the game (Reikland and Dwarves spring to mind). So to focus exclusively on the ability of the Elves as archers does a diservice to both the HE and the other ranged warbands already in the game.

So the main issue I ran into is that the main idea of HE is that they are a group of homeland militia fighters, and not very expansionist. So a group of them hanging out in Mordheim trying to deal with other warbands is not a very likely. However, there was a piece of fluff that I am absolutely amazed that no one else has hit on before. Especially since it has to do with the name of one of the most important special units in the HE range. So let me work this out while I talk at you.

The Loremasters of Hoeth Warband.

The Loremasters are elven wizards who are in search of knowledge to combat chaos. That's promising, and it is a great combination with the Swordmasters of Hoeth as a unit. It ties together nicely. Instead of focusing on Archery, the warband will focus on Magic. So it is going to be a bit different then I intended it, but it will allow for a different type of play style then I had originally thought about, while still being very thematic for HE. This will require a different type of warband then I had originally envisioned, but having read the book, I think I am in a better position to go forward.

There are a number of things that having read the rule book that I realize that I will need, and as always, I have a numbered list of stuff to do.
1. Re-do the Heroes and Henchmen, they are now not what I think a Loremaster warband should be.
2. Elven Universal Rules. This is should be a pretty easy one, since it is what all elves should have.
3. Campaign Skills. While just choosing from the skills available is a good start, I think that adding a possible Elven skill list will help define the warband from others. This would also include the High Magic list as well.
4. Write some Fluff. Er. I'm not a fan of doing that sort of thing, but I can do it. I have done it in the past, and I can do it again in the future. I'll do it for this project.

So let's get to work. I'm thinking that I'm going to do a bit of preliminary work first, and then work out the fine details next time.

1. Heroes and Henchmen
Now the first thing is to re-do the heroes and henchmen. Now what I wanted is not really working out, but I think that I have a better idea. However, I am going to keep the maximum warband size at 12.
1;Loremaster of Hoeth; a captain with access to hedge magic and the soon to be written High Magic list.
0-1; Apprentice of Hoeth: Like a youngblood, but access to EITHER hedge magic or high magic list.
0-2: Journeymen of Hoeth: Like the actual Swordmaster of Hoeth, but slightly brought down, and give them strongman skill.
Elven Archers: No brainer. Elf=Bow. Done.
Elven Youth: I'm sorry, but reading the fluff, the stupid spearmen are expensive as heck, and surprisingily, the BETTER more experienced dudes then the archers. WTF? It's a bit like the 40K tactical marines, they are supposed to be the vets, whereas every other unit is newbs. I don't like that.
Great Eagle: I love warbands with a great big thing that is tough. I think that it makes for a characterful unit and a great warband center-piece. I also like including one since it will behave so differently from anything else on the table top.

2. Elven Universal Rules
Now, according to the HE book, the Elves have two general special rules and I think that both of them will do with a tiny bit of modification.

Speed Of Asurman; Normally it means that Elves ALWAYS go first. To be honest, this is a bit over the top for Mordheim. With their high iniative, elves will almost always go first regardless. However, I think that a good modification to this is that elves always go first in the event of a tie of iniative, otherwise they behave normally in all respects to turn order. I'll think about it and come up with a good fluffy reason for this, but so far so good on the crunch side of it.

Valour of Ages: This normally gives a HE army a re-roll for any type of psychology roll against Dark Elves. However, there are not really a Dark Elf warband in Mordheim (there is one, but I personally find it broken), so this rule is rarely if ever going to come into play. I'm thinking of modifying it to be that any HE model can re-roll 'all alone' tests, but the second result still stands. Yes, it does mean that they will rarely run away from being alone, but to be honest, I rarely see 'all alone' tests being made anyway.

I was thinking of some other additional rules. I probably won't use all of them, or perhaps any of them, but I would like to hear some thoughts on them.
Cut Off From Civilization: During exploration and purchases, the Loremasters of Hoeth warband is considered one category larger then they normally would be to represent the difficulty that they have getting supplies that would they would deem suitable.
Sharp Eyes: They can always re-roll one die during the exploration phase.
We want the Crown!: Cannot hire dwarven hired swords or ally with dwarven warbands during Chaos on the Streets matches.

3. Campaign Skills.
This is a bit difficult, since I've been thinking about it the least. So this is the most bare bones thing that I have.
Loremaster of Hoeth: All skill Lists.
Aprentice of Hoeth: Academic, Speed.
Journeymen of Hoeth: Combat, Academic, Speed.

High Elf Magic: Still working, though I know that one of the spells will be a 'anti-magic' spell. I am also trying to work out some more stuff for this. I am basically going to re-work those that are appclible from the HE army book and perhaps the 40K lores to work appropriately.

4. Write Fluff.
Blah, Elf-shite, elf-shite, elf-shite. What's this fish? Mordheim, eh? Blah, blah, elf-shite. I stepped on an apple.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Delayed With Cause- Homebrew II

Welcome back to my series on homebrew. I got delayed a day, Eldest Child had a paper due for school, so the internet ready computer was being used to email homework to avoid missing deadlines. So my deadline gets pushed back. So here's part two, with some more thinking.

As I had stated earlier, I really wanted to make a High Elf warband that was really characterful. Now, I was unable to obtain a copy of the HE army book. Which is unfortunate, since I wanted to do some really characterful special rules, much like the Dwarf Treasure Hunters warband. The first thing I did was some research on the relative different stat lines of all the warbands. 

Now, I would love to put my research on my blog, however, I'm not to sure what the exact GW rules on it would be. All it is each warrior's stat line and cost in gold crowns. It's information that is freely available for download from their website, so you can do the research yourself. I found some interesting things about the stat lines from that I would not have noticed. One thing that was almost near univerisal is that the 'leaders' of the warbands were not exactly created equal. Sure, the Vampire is a god-awful killing machine, but it was more surprising to me that the Skaven Assassin Adept was as cheap as the Mercanary Captain, or the Witch Hunter Captain, but with MUCH better stats and special abilities. This research has made me realize that I'm going to have to do some heavy lifting when it comes to figuring out what the cost of each model will be.

The easier part was deciding what to have as the Heroes and Henchmen. I did some preliminary work on the Heroes, and now I've thought about the Henchmen as well. 


1. High Elf Captain
2. High Elf Mage: Now, I'm going to cheat a bit with this one. It's basically going to be the hired sword with the same spell list (since HE get the same lores), but with the stat line of the elf.
3. Sword Master of Hoeth; Now, this will be the standard stat line from the regular elf, but with the Strong Man skill. Normally a Sword Master has two attacks, but it is a bit over the top for a starter in Mordheim.
4. Shadow Warrior: Again, quick cheat, the same hired sword

1. Elf Warrior: Standard Stat line for Elf, and basically acting like the warrior, zealot, or brethren from other warbands. Cheaper and plentiful compared to the rest. 
2. Elf Archer: Standard Elf statline, but really replacing the marksmen of other warbands.
3. Great Eagle: Yeah, I went there. I love the idea of monsters in warbands. I think this is a good fit, because most other warbands have a rare choice from the army book as a henchmen. Skaven have Rat Ogres, Orcs and Goblins have the Troll, Witchhunters have Flagellants (er, special, but STILL). The Great Eagle is on pair to Ogres, Rat Ogres, Vampire, and Trolls. I'll have a few rules about flying, not entering buildings, and not gaining experience. 

That's all I got so far. Next week, I'll be posting a bit more. Hopefully, I'll get my hands on the HE armybook so that I can work on more special rules along with the base experience and skill sets. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Thinking About Home Brew

Well, good evening, and welcome to the latest installment of Monday Night Mordheim. Before we get started, I want to thank the over one hundred people that viewed this blog in the last week. Now, chances are that I didn't get real traffic, just some odd overflow since one of the labels I used last week was 'whipping'. I always try to put something silly in my labels, because that's the type of thing that makes me laugh. Lesson learned, more humor, less potentially misleading labels.

Now, as I mentioned last week, this weekend was Cub Scout weekend. Me and the kids went to the local state park where we did some cabin camping. So lights, but no heat. It rained and was freezing. However, the mess hall had a full kitchen and a fire place, so in between snipe hunting, fishing, and helping the rangers stock the creek with rainbow trout, we had a lot of time that we normally would have been running around in the woods spent inside.

So what did we do? We play board games. Lots of board games. The nice thing about our troop is that I am not the only geek. So there were games of Rio Grande's Masons, Munchkin, and of course the old standby Scramble. Now, me being me, I brought my terrain box, some models, and my paint (the idea of painting in an idyllic forest setting in natural light appealed to me, but I neglected to check the weather forecast).

Naturally Eldest Child wanted to play Mordheim, as did some of his buddies. Yet again, we had a bunch of lookie-lous. The guy who played Chaos last time wanted to play something different. He knew since I had Isle of Blood that I had plenty of Elves. However, I have no rules for Elves. He was disappointed and decided to play Undead instead.

So that got me to thinking again. There's a Shadow Elf list online, and some Dark Elf list. Neither one appeals to me, they come across a bit like the Elf Blood Bowl team. Over powered and way too killy. Now, the thing is that I rather like the IoB High Elf models. I think they're keen. So over the next few weeks, I'm going to be working on creating a warband wholesale from nothing but the other things that around. I'm going to refer back to the Mordheim rule book, the High Elf Rule Book, and possibly the good intentions of others (that means you my constant readers!)...not to mention lots of numbered lists.

The first thing that I want to do is set down my goals. I think that's very important for homebrew to set out some goals before getting to work. If you know what you are setting out for, its easier to keep your eyes on the prize.

My Goals for A High Elf Warband:
1. Balanced. I do not want something horribly powerful. I want something that will play out well against everything else.
2. Thematically relevant. I want the HE warband to feel like High Elves. If they play like Mercanaries or worse, skaven, then I missed the point.
3. Using only the models from IoB. Granted a bit of a stretch, but I do not plan on buying a bunch of new models for this.
4. Use as much already published material as possible. Why re-work the wheel?

Now to get a good start, I think the first thing that I am thinking of is what heroes will be. That's a good starting point. Most warbands have 4-5 starting heroes. Given the more elite status of HE, I think that four is better, especially since that is what Dwarves (also special rules heavy) have.
1. High Elf Captain
2. High Elf Mage
3. Sword Master of Hoeth.
4. Sword Master of Hoeth OR Shadow Warrior.
Right now, I'm not sure which to include. I think that having three options from the 'Special' section of the Force Organization chart is a bit over the top. So I want to limit to one or the other. However, I have a fun option for troops broiling in my head. However, that will have to wait until next week.