Thursday, December 13, 2018

Push Off

I've been thinking about push mechanics in role-playing games, and I'm a bit baffled by the concept. Maybe someone out there can explain what I'm missing.

I have encountered push mechanics in Call of Cthulhu 7 and Mutant Year Zero, and I wasn't convinced either time.

The basic idea is that if you fail a roll, you can try again and if that roll is also a failure then something interesting -- and probably bad -- happens.

My question is: why doesn't something interesting happen with the first failure? What's the benefit to putting the interesting stuff behind a second roll? It seems to me to be inefficient design, rolling for rolling's sake. It reminds me of those versions of D&D in which you score a critical hit, but then have to roll again to see if the critical hit was an actual critical hit, or who knows what.

It seems to me that this sort of mechanic is hiding the fun -- that's not to say dice rolling isn't fun, but it's a different sort of fun -- behind a superfluous dice roll, but perhaps I'm just not getting it.

The other possible issue is that every time I've seen a GM ask "Do you want to try again, bearing in mind that if you fail a second time, something bad will happen?" no player has ever gone for it, but maybe they weren't getting it either.

(Shrug emoji.)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Three Towers

The planets have aligned once more, the stars are right, and Stuart and I have played another game in our glacial -- ho ho -- Mordheim Frostgrave campaign, this time within the not at all frosty environs of the Dice Saloon. You can read Stuart's summary of the battle here; it ended 3-2 to Stuart, a well-deserved victory that reflects his aggressive strategy. It could have been an even bigger thumping, so I think I did well to pull it back.

Here are some pictures!

The initial setup. Dice Saloon has some excellent terrain available for your wargaming needs.

Boom! My witch casts a grenade spell on one of Stuart's warband.

There seemed to be a lot of critical hits flying around in this battle.

At one point, it seemed as if Stuart's warband was swarming all over the board and I was running out of ideas.

Careful now.

My apprentice attempts to drag a treasure chest back to base, with a squig providing cover from a pesky crossbowmandwarf.

Another grenade.

And another!

And another! At least I got some experience points from spellcasting.

My apprentice is all alone, out in the open, slowed down by a chest full of treasure. I'm sure he'll be fine.


Stuart has three chests -- including an extra special one from the central tower -- and is making a run for it. All I can do is fling arrows at them as they run off into the distance.

Stuart now leads the campaign two games to one and I'm pondering what I can do to claw back a victory. Our next battle should take place in the cramped corridors of a forgotten library and I don't think that will favour my archer-heavy warband!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Getting Hench

Ye gods, the drama. It's been a bit of a mad summer, but things are calming down, so that's good. He says, typing this in his pants.

Among other life events I am writing A Thing and this is a little bit that has fallen out of the Thing as the Thing has developed; it may end up going back in as an appendix or something.

It's aimed at D&D type games but you could probably bodge something similar for the game of your choice. It's more a matter of philosophy than game mechanics, I think.

The basic idea is that in combat situations, instead of tracking multiple companions, henchmen, pets, servants, and so on, you give the controlling character a bonus. Outside combat, the henchmen act as normal.

Humphrey Henchman by Sir Peter LelyWhat kind of bonus? I suggest giving the character an extra attack per henchman and add the henchman's hit dice to the character; the latter will probably be more useful for a wizard than a fighter, but I think that's okay.

Let's say you're playing Lamentations of the Flame Princess -- because why wouldn't you be? -- and you've got a third level fighter with three basic mercenaries as henchmen. Under normal circumstances, you'd have one attack and three hit dice and you'd be tracking four characters. Perhaps it's easier to just give the fighter four attacks and give them three extra hit dice.

What happens if the boosted character takes enough damage to kill off a henchman? I think the player is offered a choice of taking the damage to the main character, or removing the henchman and reducing their bonus as appropriate.

I think saving throws stay as is, but I could be convinced otherwise. I don't think you would want to increase a character's attack bonus as I think the extra attacks are enough of a boost. I also don't think bolting a bunch of soldiers on to a wizard is going to make his spellcasting better.

(Although I can see a sort of special wizard class that works that way, but that's not on the agenda today.)

I would still allow the henchmen to cast spells or use special abilities where appropriate, but some are not going to work if you're bodging everyone together, and that may be the big stumbling block for this idea. I don't know, it hasn't received rigourous playtesting. Any, in fact.

The main inspiration for this idea comes from certain editions of Warhammer 40,000 in which you can stick a character on a motorbike or some kind of space horse and instead of tracking the statistics of the character and the mount, the character just gets bonuses to their profile. As with most things inspired by 40K, it's probably a stupid idea.

Have a try and see how it goes!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

State of the Onion

Fifteenth Anniversary eggOh dear, I've done it again. It's been a while.

It's perhaps time for an update on what I've been doing the past few months and what better occasion than the fifteenth anniversary of the blog? That first post is not exactly premium, top-quality content -- I'm not sure anything on here is, to be fair -- but still, fifteen years!

My life has seen many, many changes over that time. I was living in the US when I started the blog, in part as a way to keep busy and sane while I was unemployed.

As of January this year, I was unemployed again. Sort of. After ten years of working in post-sixteen education, I was made redundant because of restructuring and, although I was given opportunities to stay on in a different role, I decided it was time to move on. I took the not unreasonable redundancy payment and for the past six months I have been trying to set myself up as self-employed, drawing and writing for a living.

It's a little mad and scary, but it's something I've wanted to do since I was a teenager, it's something other people have told me I could and should do, and I would never have had the courage to try if I hadn't been kicked out of my job. In a way, the redundancy was a good thing. Probably.

How's it going? Well, my second book for Lamentation of the Flame Princess did well and I am working on the next one, a project which would be challenging enough without Zak Sabbathmith popping up on social media previewing his next LotFP book and making mine look like Baby's First D&D Adventure. Damn you, Zak.

(I jest.)

(Do I though?)


I've also got a few projects on the go for Mike Evans' DIY RPG Productions. I say "few" because Mike produces an insane amount of content and I lose track of where my stuff will turn up. The big project is the Forever Dungeon -- preview to the right -- which we both hope will be something new and exciting for virtual spelunkers. If all goes well it should be quite a swanky release, and I'll be able to buy a yacht pay the rent.

There's a small project on the go at Necrotic Gnome, and I have a few ideas of my own; what I've shown of Upon Deadly Sands has had a positive response so I'm going to see if that has legs, and I have what seems like a good idea for a D&D5 supplement, which will probably be finished just in time for D&D6.

I also have a couple of ideas for t-shirts and perhaps other bits of merchandise, but more on that when I've worked out the details.

On top of all that, I stumbled into a relationship, I now have a sort-of-stepdaughter, and we're all moving in together. I'll probably keep most of that side of things off the blog, but it's happening in the background so if -- when -- there's further blog disruption, that's probably why.

That's what's going on with me. I do have more time now and I suppose I have a brand -- eurgh -- to establish, so you should see more from the blog in future. Thanks for sticking around.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

No Hablo Español

Here's a review of my recent Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventure; I can't tell if it's a positive review or not, because it's in Spanish and I'm an idiot:

I should point out that the title of the book is mentioned a few times, so the video isn't safe for work.

The book has also been featured at Reviews From R'lyeh. This one I can tell is more or less positive.

Both reviews are a bit redundant as the book isn't on sale from the LotFP website at this time. Copies will be on sale at conventions until stock runs out.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Something Fishy (and NSFW) This Way Comes

It is with the usual great guilt and self-loathing that I once again advertise a product that I have created and that you can own by spending actual cash.

Today sees the release of my Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventure Fish Fuckers. You can buy it here, and you can only buy it for the remainder of today, because it goes off sale at 23:59 Finnish time. Digital versions may be available after this time, but I'm honestly not sure.

(Update (21/03/2019): it is now only available in digital form, from Drive Thru.)

As the title may suggest, it's a homage to HP Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth and I hope I've given the story enough of a LotFPy spin to make it worth your money and time.

If you do purchase a copy, then I thank you. The next adventure should be a great deal less obscene. I hope.

Friday, March 23, 2018

I Punch You, Oi

This is Jonats the Enforcer, from my current Mutant: Year Zero game. He punches things. The player-characters hate him.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Happy Day, Yes?

Apparently it's #DrawDeathsHeadDay today, something which passed me by -- hence the quick sketch -- but will be an annual event from now on.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


I found an old sketchbook the other day, one I started but abandoned for some reason. In it was this piece; it's over ten years old but I still like it.

Monday, February 26, 2018

It's the Pits

Slap some red text in a dodgy font across the top of this and you've almost got yourself an 80's horror VHS cover.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Going Medieval

The cover to Death Is the New Pink: Going Medieval On Yo' Ass, coming soon -- I think! -- from DIY RPG Productions.