Saturday, 6 August 2022

Claymore 2022, or Why I Don't Do Conventions


Well we trundled down to Edinburgh today for Claymore 2022 and I had pennies in my pocket to spend and was quite excited to visit my first wargaming show in a few years.

Sadly following spending a fiver to get in and walking around confused for a while as the show seems to have been split into three different halls with little direction as to what was where, I ended up leaving having bought 2 packs of MDF bases which cost about £3.00.

Coupled with just how packed it was, I ended up leaving after about half an hour incredibly disappointed. I'd made three attempts at reaching the bring and buy but having to fight through a scrum of largely potato shaped men (of which I hasten to add, am one) to reach the stand, I gave up entirely and left. I made three tours of the halls and still didn't find some of the stalls I'd been looking for. 

My wife suggested we vacate Edinburgh and head back north by way of Culross Palace. We left the capitol in heavy traffic and were soon north of the Firth of Forth and cruising into Culross, and I'm really glad that we did.

The palace itself is a National Trust for Scotland property and it was just the balm I needed as it felt like we stepped back in time and ended up spending about two hours peeping through rooms and wandering the gardens.

It's absolutely chock full of inspiring stuff, be it beautifully painted ceilings, carved details or possibly the best garden I've been in ever but after all the stress and disappointment of the convention, the Palace was the perfect way to unwind and relax and was far more conducive to my hobby than being elbowed in a crowded hall or trying to find some reason to pick up some random figures. 

We ended up taking the scenic route home through several glens, a smattering of tiny villages and got home in time for tea.

I used to really enjoy wargames shows and have been to quite a few over the years but I think this will be my last as I found absolutely no enjoyment in visiting this one and would far rather sculpt my own stuff or order the odds and ends I want online. I know that for the vast majority of folks visiting a convention is a highlight of the year, for me it turned into if not quite a nightmare, then at least troublingly stressful and unrewarding.

But enough of my gurning! I got home and retreated to my man cave and pootled around with both Brutal Quest and Colostle, wrote new entries, drew new illustrations and played a couple of quick encounters and even got a bit of sculpting done so it all ended up well, despite the start to the day!

I'll be updating some more Colostle whatnots tomorrow but until then, All the best!

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Vor the Maelstrom Interlude


Last year I set up a bit of a plan to paint my way through the Vor the Maelstrom using the old starter set to get the ball rolling but discovered to my disappointment that Ral Partha Europe had run out of stock and couldn't get any more.

Skip forward to 2022 and I found a mint condition starter set on Ebay for £10!

I'm waiting for its arrival but as is always the case it is due on Saturday, when we're off out for the day so no doubt I'll need to wait until some point next week to actually get my hands on it.

This will actually be the third box starter for Vor I'll have owned in the last 20 or so years and while I've managed to previously paint up the complete Growler portion of the set, I've never managed more than one or two of the troopers before selling the whole lot off or trading them for something else.

Growler Bull and Onehorns

This time I plan on approaching it like my Havok or Deadloque sets where I slowly worked my way through the set until it is all completed and using it as is without any additions, at least for the foreseeable as I plan on using the setting and background material as well as the rather brilliant charts and tables which will come in very handy for adding all manner of unexpected encounters and environmental effects into my games.

Rules wise, I do want to play some more Vor as it is actually a really good system and the core rule book gives you everything you need to play including a custom force generator so you can introduce all manner of interesting units and armies into the pocket dimension but primarily I think I'll be using it as an opportunity to play more Planet 28 as a solo RPG with my intrepid, and quite possibly hapless team exploring strange new worlds and getting eaten by alien monstrocities.

Union Troopers and Growler Pups

I will have two extra rulebooks in my collection and will be offering them up as a prize to folks who want to investigate the frankly fascinating setting and try out the game but more on that later!

Now I doubt I'll be buying a ton more stuff for Vor miniatures wise as while some figures in the range are really nice, quite a lot of them are frankly pretty poor, either wonkily sculpted or just not fitting the aesthetic of the game and quite a few of the forces in the book don't even have more than a handful of figures actually available. With that said, I do want to create a bit of a dark sci-fi sort of adventure game where small teams are exploring new worlds, nebulae or asteroids and figure it would be fun to try and create some really interesting encounters for my adventurers to deal with.

I'll be having a bit of a rummage through my rulebook and forcebook collection to re-familiarise myself with the setting but think it could make for a really interesting figure light sort of game that I'm becoming increasingly fond of, especially when I add in lots of RPG elements to create a real narrative for a campaign.

I'll post a bit of a review of the boxed set when it arrives and my initial thoughts on the contents and hope to post fairly regular updates when I can of the work in progress until I have the full set painted and play out the Rygis Encounter, the introductory mini campaign included in the box.

I'm also off to Claymore on Saturday so we shall see if I can find anything interesting at the assorted booths and bring and buy stands to add to my random assortment of projects but until then, All the best!

Monday, 1 August 2022

Further Travels With Colostle


I've been continuing my solo rpg using Colostle with my character Edmond having set off to find the cause of the increase in Rook activity that is threatening the village of Brokhill. 

The first session saw him leaving Brokhill and meeting Gaspode the hunter who led him into an ambush in an abandoned bandit camp which saw Edmond wounded and left for dead by the dastardly villain. Edmond has recovered his senses, bound his wounds and tried to find out why Gaspode tried to kill him here and track down the cad whilst continuing his mission.

First he explores the abandoned camp and finds a massive stone door set into the side of a hill. It is covered in pictographs of an unknown but obviously ancient language and may lead to another roomland but it is securely locked with mighty cog locks and several of the pieces of the mechanism to open it are missing. 

Nearby he finds the slumped figure of a dead man, a crossbow bolt stuck out of his back. Examining the corpse, Edmond discovers that the bolt matches the one that Gaspode struck him with and clutched in the mans hand is a piece of parchment with what appears to be a partial translation of some of the pictographs. Nearby in the grass is a copper token bearing a mans face and unknown text.

This search saw Edmond find a clue that will aid him in his quest and the disturbance of the ancient doorway by persons unknown must have something to do with the Rooks becoming restless and attacking his home village.

Edmond finds a trail that appears to have been used recently and sets off intent on tracking down Gaspode and dealing with the murderer and hoping to find out more of the mans motives for drawing him to the site, only to try and kill him.

The trail leads Edmond further into Rook Country and eventually it enters a narrow gully between two hills. The gully is dark and cluttered with rubble, rusted junk and is quite possibly the perfect place to lay an ambush. Drawing his sword Edmond cautiously enters the gully, ears straining for any hint of an enemy and eyes scanning the gloomy passage. 

As Edmond nears the end of the gully, something gives under his foot and he dives forward just in time to avoid losing his head as a massive cog flies out of the wall and smashes into the other side of the passage, narrowly missing Edmond but showering him with pieces of stone and metal. Pulling himself to his feet he carefully examines the trap and finds it is intended to bring down a Rook rather than a human but who made it? Was it Gaspode and did he lead Edmond into a trap knowingly or is this the work of an unknown party? Edmond presses on out into Rook Country proper.

The trail he is following continues East and Edmond sees ruins cropping up amid the grass and scrubby trees that line the path and scattered here and there lie the unmoving forms of wrecked Rooks slowly being reclaimed by nature. Is this where Rooks come from or merely the site of some ancient battle?

Edmond presses on until he approaches a large archway that spans the road. The archway is obviously ancient and is slowly crumbling but it makes a suitable campsite as Edmond can see in the distance the ruins of some large and now forgotten city. Maybe in the morning he can explore it to see if he can find either Gaspode or some further clue to who lived here and an answer to the Rook assault.

The next morning Edmond approaches the city, its once great buildings largely tumbled and decaying but still oddly beautiful. There are no sign of its inhabitants who must have abandoned it aeons ago judging by the state of the structures but Edmond presses on until he reaches the cities centre. 

Here he finds a great marble temple in the shape of a great cog, its columns and facades decorated with countless pictographs which resemble those on the door he found at the site of the ambush.

Cautiously Edmond enters the temple and at its centre he finds a room bathed in sunlight and oddly untouched by the passing of untold centuries. Here he finds a small statue of a Rook. It is made from some sort of turquoise stone that he doesn't recognise but he decides to take it with him as The Order of the White Tower may be able to decipher the pictographs on it and he suspects that an expedition to the city will be made by the Order once he brings news of its discovery back to them.

As he leaves the temple, he freezes as in the distance he hears thunderous steps heading in his direction, the ruins surrounding him shake and the white birds which seem the cities only inhabitants rise shrieking from their perches to fly to safety above the city. 

What has Edmond done by removing the statue from the temple? Find out next week!

I must admit that following my initial post on Colostle I wasn't too enthused as it felt like it didn't have the sort of gaming experience that I was looking for but I've persevered and am starting to get into the swing of things and am really enjoying the experience.

Rather than being a more hack and slash affair that my Brutal Quest inspired RPG is, Colostle is turning into a slower moving exploration of the world by my adventurer who is trying to solve a mystery so there's not as much fighting going on but its still a really rewarding game to play once you get the hang of how it works and the process of putting together the journal with the little illustrations has been thoroughly enjoyable.

I'm now five encounters into the campaign and the next one will be interesting as I'm going to be meeting someone who will help me with my quest and have to deal with a colossal Rook to boot. Do I decide to fight it or hide?

Either which way, I'm looking forward to the next session and will post an update in a week or so once the journal entries have been completed and we shall see what Edmond gets up to. In the meantime, All the best!

Friday, 29 July 2022

Brutal Quest Solo Rpg Using Rory's Story Cubes


During my last post I mentioned that I would post up a run-though of how I'm using Brutal Quest in combination with Rory's Story Cubes to create my adventure for my solo rpg campaign so without further ado, here we go:

First up, here's the playing area and the assorted supplies I'm using:

I've got a cheap cork pinboard with some sticky backed plastic sheet stuck over the surface. I usually use this in small Planet 28 skirmishes but it does just as well as a gaming surface for a pen and paper rpg session! 

I also have the Brutal Quest rulebook, some pens and a notebook as well as lots of dice including the polyhedral D4, D6, D8, D10, D12 and D20. I also have some of the old Epic 40k dice which I've been using to represent characters and enemies in game. I also have some Havok dice which help decide whether or nor my adventurers encounter any unexpected foes!

Next up here's the campaign map as it stands:

This campaign is taking place to the north and east of the Axeblade mountains and initially started with just the Whispering Arch, my exiled barbarian spellcasting hunter, Fael and her goat companion Modwen's new home but has expanded as they explore the surroundings and set off on quests. They are currently at the Ancient Portal as they are trying to track down their newest companion, Arud the Golem's lost mistress. 

I've found this random map generation really great at developing the details of a setting I know some elements of but have never really got into the nitty gritty of!

Next up, I have a representation of the adventurers surroundings:

The battleground board is actually a piece of EVA foam painted with a kind of grass pattern and has 30mm squares marked on it to fit my 20-30mm bases if I get around to actually getting the miniatures for the session finished! 

I hadn't bothered with the mini battle phase in an earlier attempt, simply rolling out the combat but I prefer this approach as it's a bit more tactical and actually allows for ranged combat rather than just a melee.

Next up, there's the rules!

The more I play Brutal Quest, the more I appreciate it as it's a really great system but as with all my rules I do tend to tweak it quite a bit to get it to fit what I'm using it for.

2nd edition of Planet 28 is out this weekend as a pdf so I'll be delving into that and trying out this sort of game for my Inquisitor Fisher mini campaign but I especially like the Brutality Points that Brutal Quest has as it allows you to develop your character or do some really handy stuff throughout the course of a game!

Next up, there's my character cards:

I picked up some revision cards from the Works for £1.00 for a pack of 50 and they're perfect for keeping a record of all my characters gear. I stuck a bit of sellotape along their stat lines so I could use a dry erase marker to record advances, wounds and whatnot.

The characters have at this stage fought about half a dozen encounters and been rather beaten up, especially Arud who is down to four points of damage following an unfortunate encounter with a Goblin shaman who kept setting him on fire. Fael has medical skills which allows her to heal wounds but Arud is mechanical so they need to source some tech soon so he can repair himself.

The revision cards are dead handy as I've also used them to put together a random encounter sheet for some of the hazards they are liable to stumble across in the Ancient Forest that is their current location.

I plan on putting together some random encounter cards for each of the locations of Aeroth to allow for some interesting scenarios going forward but thats for another day!

Next up Rory's Story Cubes:

For this session, I'm only using the basic set of nine dice but it should still allow me to run a mini encounter as the trio investigate the ancient portal that the Goblin shaman has emerged from.

With that in mind, I pick three random dice and roll them and get the following:

The Foot, Masks and a Bee. 

The best thing about Rory's Story Cubes is that you can literally interpret them any way you like, it could be that they discover footprints leading to shamanic masks or a trail leading to a hive of some sort or any number of different interpretations.

In this instance, the trio stealthily enter the portal where they can see the footprints of many creatures and hear a distant buzzing or humming noise.

I then roll a Havok Dice to see if they encounter anything (which I forgot to photograph!) and got a skull which means I roll on the random encounter table:

Looking at the chart, this results in an abandoned camp. 

Already there's a narrative starting to form but I roll another three dice to see what I find in the camp:

I get a Sleeping Figure,  a Dice and a Question. 

I decide that the dice means I am rolling to see how many sleeping creatures there are and get a six but the question mark then makes me wonder if the trio have entered some sort of guardroom that usually contains a number of Goblins but appears to be abandoned and leaving the question, where are the Goblins?

I then roll another Havok Dice to see what happens next and unsurprisingly for this party, roll another skull requiring me to roll again on the random encounter table!

This time, I get a five which reveals a shrine.

The adventurers push further into the gloom of the abandoned guard room and discover another doorway at the rear and peer through.

This requires another three dice to be rolled to see what they encounter and what the shrine looks like:

And I roll a Walking Stick, Letter and Smily Face.

The shrine appears to be dedicated to the Goblins ancestors, the walls covered with carved likenesses of long dead. Small parchments hang from each, scribed with crude characters which the Goblin Shaman that the trio have defeated had obviously used to pacify the spirits of his ancestors.

This requires another Havok dice to see if anything exciting happens and once again I get a skull (my characters very rarely if ever seem to get a break!)

This requires another roll on the random encounter chart and I get a six, a Wild Animal Encounter!

I then roll a two which results in them encountering an insect of some sort. 

This could be a swarm of small insects or something larger so I decide to roll a havok dice to see what I get. A blank results in a weaker foe, a skull one as powerful as the characters and an explosion one more impressive. 

Unsurprisingly I get an explosion resulting in me having to fight another giant insect, something that nearly killed my entire party earlier in the campaign.

Before I stat up my giant insect, I decide how many wounds it has by rolling a number of D6, for this instant I decided six of them would represent a big and nasty bug of some sort. 

Game wise, the dice are kept like this to represent the beasts wound track with it using any earned Brutality points each time a dice is removed. I then set about statting up the insect, giving it decent melee and heavy armour as well as a poisoned weapon just to make things unpleasant for my adventurers.

Next I give my characters the chance to get the drop on the big bug by rolling under my hero Fael's Awareness to see if she spots the bug before it gets the chance to attack. Unfortunately she doesn't as she flubs her roll.

The successful awareness roll would have meant that her trio got to activate first in a combat which would have allowed them to get the jump on the bug and possibly do some serious damage with either Aruk's Handgunne or Fael's Shortbow.

With this done, we're ready for the combat and we have Fael flanked on the left by Arud and on the right by Modwen. The big bug is on the other side of the board.

As Fael's party enters the shrine to the Goblin ancestors, a ferocious buzzing begins and a great striped chitinous monstrosity drops from above to confront the interlopers and murderers of its master!

At this point I'm ready to play out the encounter. I suspect it's going to be a difficult one as the bug is going to be hard to damage and the groups firepower is limited to a single shot from a handgunne wielded by the badly damaged Arud and a shortbow held by Fael so it's probably going to come down to a bloody melee which Fael and Modwen are going to have to protect Arud from getting smashed. 

Handily Fael was forced to use a lot of the items she had collected to defeat the last bug they fought and it took out her two companions during the struggle and she was down to her last two hit points so this is going to be interesting.

Whee! It took about an hour to type up a process which took minutes but I hope it shows how easy it is to use some Story Cubes to add flavour to a solo RPG, especially as I had no idea what my characters would face until they bumbled into it! 
I hope my ramblings encourage folks to give the dice a bit of a try as they're really handy for introducing random elements to wargames as well as RPG's and they're great fun to play around with, as its possible to run an entire RPG using just them by turning it into a story.

I'll post another update in the next week or so to show how I use Rory's Story Cubes to create NPCs and character backgrounds as well as describing settlements and the surroundings my adventurers encounter, if they survive this!

In the meantime, All the best!

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Colostle Solo RPG


I've been pootling around with my Brutal Quest RPG sessions and have been really enjoying the process of constant bodges and improvising a story as I go and have picked up Colostle, the solo storytelling RPG game to see how it works and have a try at playing an adventure.

The premise of Colostle is that you inhabit a castle that is so vast that each room appears to be a country or even continent. The main antagonists in the game are called Rooks, strange stone tower like automatons who attack the inhabitants of the world and also provide them with much of their tech, be it grafting arms, rookling companions, transport or even magic.

I've read some really positive reviews of the game so was quite keen to take a look at it and the artwork throughout, along with the setting is really evocative and thoroughly enjoyable too. 

 The rules themselves are pretty straight forward as your travels and encounters are all based on drawing from a deck of cards and looking up a table. This also gets used for creating cities, finding treasure and even combat but instead of doing the whole leading you through the adventure, the results give you prompts to create your story and adventure journal.

This is a completely different approach from what I usually do when playing games as I do tend to take notes when putting together battle reports or background but actually crafting a complete story around a few prompts that essentially give you the result of whatever you're doing but leaving how you did it, what you see and what your foe is like is completely new to me.

I'd initially tried playing it straight from the book using the cards and journalling as suggested but I kept on finding myself stumped as it felt a little too simple so I incorporated my Rory's Story Cubes which added to the experience by giving me more to work with than just the suggestions in the book and after a few false starts, I settled on putting together a more visual journal to cover the adventures of my character, Edmond of Brokhill:

Everyone knows that all good stories start with a map so I drew up the Roomland of the Rock Garden, an out of the way place which has two exits into other areas (I rolled a D4 to see how many). Thus far I only have the area surrounding Brokhill sketched in as Edmond hasn't done much adventuring yet (more on that later!).

Next I spent a bit of time writing a bit of background on the village of Brokhill and Edmond my adventurer. I actually used a book called The Amazing Story Generator that belongs to my wife to give him a background so it turns out he works for a secret agency called the Order of the White Tower and is seeking a large armed woman who may hold the key to the Order's goals of finding a way to live in peace with the Rooks (something Edmond struggles with due to having to fight them on a regular basis to protect the locals from being crushed by the great constructs).

I also decided to put together lots of little sketches to help bring the game to life a bit as I found just writing in the journal a bit of a struggle whereas having some visuals really helped give a sense of reality to the adventure.

Next up, I set off on my first adventure and Edmond who is one of The Armed, a class which is good at combat but not brilliant at exploration got three cards and I ended up with an encounter in an abandoned bandit camp involving a shady character who wished to rob me of something.

Thus Gaspode was created and he dutifully tried to dry gulch our hero who lost the fight and ended up unconscious whilst the dastardly Gaspode made off with an item that had been hidden in the camp.

So we now have our first encounter out of the way and Edmond has been shot with a crossbow and left to die in an abandoned bandit camp somewhere in the borders of Rook Country. Not an auspicious start to an adventure but we shall see how he gets on in the next session.

I must admit that I prefer my own solo RPG bodge to this approach as I like being able to roll dice and fight more interesting combats which your characters fate is down to the luck of the dice as well as your decisions, especially as most times in Colostle if you come up against a human opponent, you're going to crush them pretty easily, I gave Gaspode the same stats as Edmond and the cards resulted in Edmond striking once, a draw and Gaspode striking twice so Edmond lost the combat. 

I'll persevere with the adventure to see how it goes but if nothing else, I suspect that I'll be creating lots more small art pieces for an adventure journal for my Brutal Quest rpg sessions to help me flesh out the setting, characters and so on!

Speaking of which, the PDF of Planet 28 2nd edition will be released this Sunday so I suspect I'll be delving into it in the not too distant future so in the meantime, All the best!

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Grune Warthide: Cursed Dwarf


I've been beavering away with some RPG stuff and trying to make sense of the assorted ideas I've got floating around but I've managed to get another figure sculpted and painted up in the form of Grune Warthide!

Following one of my previous posts about randomly creating a character for a solo RPG, I ended up with Grune Warthide, previously Grune the Handsome who hails from a northern hold where he was a tunnel fighter, tasked with keeping the Dwarven Labyrinth, a vast network of subterranean tunnels, caverns and halls free from the taint of the upper world of Aeroth.

Sadly he seems to have been mutated and has been exiled from his hold as he searches for a cure.

Armed with a hand axe and equipped with chainmail and a shield, Grune is pretty decent in close combat but not the sharpest tool in the shed, possibly due to his shock at being mutated.

He's made from fimo for the most part with greenstuff details and plasticard shield and axe and was great fun to build as he's going to make for a great addition to my Somewhere on the Border campaign once I get it up and running!

Here's the original artwork:

He's a bit different from the original art as I gave him a leather jerkin and slightly slicked back hair rather than the wild tufts he originally sported but still hopefully recognisable as the same character.

I've been working on quite a few ideas for a solo mini campaign and have actually played out several quests with another character I've rolled up called Fael who is a female barbarian and her goat companion Modwen and its really helping me develop both the setting and getting into the swing of a solo RPG and using both Brutal Quest and Rory's Story Cubes to develop a game that is fun to play and a narrative that is proving to be oddly compelling, despite being created using random dice!

Hopefully I'll get some artwork up for Fael, Modwen and their new companion Arad the Golem in the not too distant future along with a bit of a breakdown of how a session runs but for now, All the best!