Monday 30 June 2014

Tooth & Sword

One of a new range of Chibi styled  Anthromorphic Adventurers from the talented and industrious hand of Andrew May.

Sculpted by Andrew May / Painted by Elizabeth Beckley

Because Medieval Fantasy Kawaii Antho Chibi is what the game was made for, here he is, all statted up and ready to run in your games of Warhammer Warhamster.

Name Class M WS BS S T W I A Ld Int Cl Wp Armour
Aslan Paladin 4 6 6 4 4 3 6 3 9 9 9 9 Full Plate
+ Shield

Oathkeeper - Aslan's Sword,  may cast Zone of Sanctuary every 4 turns, and Cure Light Injury once per turn (but may not move or fight in the same turn).

Aslan "The Iron Lyon" - is a fearless and powerful Lyon sworn to bring the Rule of Law to the Outlands. It is rumoured amongst the folk of the lands that he is in fact the True King of the Greatwood, who has taken to the road to rid the world of the forces of Chaos. There are some learned scholars that say Aslans real dominion lays far beyond the Veil of the World in another realm, and that both his power and destiny comes from far beyond this reality. Aslan himself would laugh at such nonsense, and offer the teller of such tall tales a pint of Nutbrown Beer so that ale may quell such foolish words. Loyal to his comrades, feared by his enemies, and always ready to lend a helping paw or raise a glass.

Battlecry: "Iron! Lyon! Zy-On!"

Point Value: 103

Darth Vargr and Varlock Von Gefängnis (as I call them)

Concept Art by Honoel A. Ibardolaza

The Lion figure the wolf the bat and a bunch of others are available as part of the   Sword & Tooth Kickstarter - just under 1 day to go - do it now! Anthro Chibi Warriors Go!

Monday 23 June 2014

Heroes & Otherworlds Character Sheet

C R Brandon of  got in touch a while back regarding designing some character sheets for his Heroes & Otherworlds RPG,  Here's some photographs of the original art (pen and ink on bristol board)

Wizard Character Sheet

Adventurer Character Sheet

See I photographed them at wonky angles so you can see they are photos-of-objects rather than actual images and if you zoom in you can see the pencil marks left as sizing / crop marks. Ha!

The typographically aware old-schooler will recognise Stonehenge / Satans Minions typeface which I hand lettered on there for true old-school charm (the character sheet stat boxes were added and integrated digitally, with lots of overlapping elements and all that)

The game itself is a classic rules light fantasy RPG - Brandon cites Metagamings Melee & Wizard, which would become The Fantasy Trip (which I'm not all that familiar with) and Moldvay D&D Basic (which I am!). To me it feels a a bit like a slightly more D&D-ish Fighting Fantasy Introductory RPG, and as such contains all those essential late 1970s / early 80s fantasy motifs. The book contains a lot of black and white 'classic' fantasy art, and it would be amiss if I didn't mention much of it comes from the bold and adventurous pen of my good internet buddy Luigi Castellani.

Thank you to C R Brandon for the opportunity to illuminate part of his world of imagination and adventure! The final character sheets are currently being given away (for free!) as PDF dowloads at  Heroes & Other Worlds

Tuesday 17 June 2014

[RFM] Lone Wolf: Eclipse of the Kai [3/4]

Welcome to Radio Free Magamund, wherein I listen to stuff whilst doing other things, then write about it. Here we are listening to the third part of the audiobook of the novel of the gamebook adaptation of Lone Wolf Legends: Eclipse of the Kai, by Joe Dever and John Grant, read by Edward DeSouza.

Part 3: The Gathering Storm

Vonotar control of a gang of Giaks, and into the Dungeons of Kaarg.  Meeting the dark lord Zargana and blinded so he doesn't go mad looking at him. Zarganna has a kind of  Dalek voice modulator, which kinds of work. Vonotar and creates a hallucination of Zargana as a genial old man, offering tea  DeSouza voices him as a creakily well. Vonotar initiates himself into the evil Nadziranim magic through a weird psychosexual vampiric oedipal ritual with an old lady vampire. Freud and Crowley would approve.

Banedon stops for the night in a village, where his membership of the Brotherhood of the Crystal Star ensures him food and lodgings for the night. DeSouza does a fine west-country accent, for the peasantry (sterotyping of westcountry folk as kindly cider drinking yokels is ever apparant) and his female impersonation (of an old dear) is no where near as jarring as that of the youthful Alyss. It is the music, however that bears most notice - a medieval feel strongly reminicent of  Saltarello by Dead Can Dance from their 1990 album Aion (Aion/Aon - a coincidence surely?) Perhaps it's the specific medieval bagpipe instrument - undobtedly synthesised in the Lone Wolf soundtrack - this is a 'digital music sound track' after all and the jaunty rythem bubbles along nicely in the background and effectively conjours green fields and sackcloth...

Banedon leaves the village in the company of two children, in the direction of the Kai Monastry.

Back to Vonotar convinces to Zargana to  attack on the Eve of Midsummer, as all the Kai lords will be in one place, and so can be wiped out all at once and so unable to rally he armies of Sommerland against the Dark Lords. We arrive at the Kai Monastry - accompanied by a bombastic synth fanfare to find preperations for the Feast under way, and Silent Wolf on kitchen duties.

Struck by the theme of  hospitality which seems to run through this episode -
  • Banedons warm reception by peasants: one of rural, impoverished, domestic, familial,
  • Vonotars other strange, hallucinatory,  dungeonesque, manipulative and exotic, vampiric. power, 
  • Silent Wolf clumsy and inept preparations for the reception of guests at midsummer. 
It's perhaps interesting that the PC-character Silent Wolf takes the part of the host, albeit a minor role,  wheras both Banedon and Vonotar are guests. But it is the differences between these two magicians experiences that are the are the most striking, and the flipping between them seems to invite we consider the juxtaposition. The moral universe unfolds itself, and the kinds of experiences by the right (Vonotar) and left hand (Banedon) magicians paths manifest - domesticity being un-rewarded, but ultimately positive, ambition leading to debasement, but the inevitable attainment of power. There's also an underlying current of labour and hospitality given freely in Sommerlund, vs. enforced servitude in the Darklands.  The grandiose and the rustic, on the one hand slavery and lack of identity contrasted with the Dark Lords, and on the other poor Tradesmen Blacksmiths and Journeymen Wizards clearly individuated with familial ties and an economy of reciprocation to bind them.

Meanwhile Silent Wolf, ever the underachiever, accidentally cuts himself with a knife - which excuses hm from his work, and he takes to slacking off in the woods, which he identifies with in a familial sense, his excessive, almost obsessive compulsive firewood picking interrupted by circling of the great, dark Zlaan beasts in the sky above.  Fade to part four....

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Laser Squad

The year 1987 saw the release of a new breed of science fiction skirmish game, where big shoulderpadded future space warriors squared off against an angry, uncaring universe. No! not that one, this one:

Not Steve " Zenith" Yeovil's finest.

Laser Squad, for the ZX Spectrum (and later converted to a bunch of other stuff, including DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad) by Julian Gollop (probably most famous for the XCOM game series) & Ian Terry.

It's reasonably common knowledge in geekdom that Laser Squad is an implementation of Bryan Ansells 1980 tabletop skirmish game Laserburn, published by TTG.

Laserburn is a small-scale skirmish game, which in turn Bryan had based on western gunfighting rules. Ruleswise it contributes nothing to Games Workshops 1987 Warhammer 40k, published under the management of Bryan, which in background and equipment borrows concepts like the Red Redemption and The Imperium, power armour, dreadnaughts etc. Laserburn did however, go on to be briefly resurrected, edited, redressed and republished in GWs house organ White Dwarf as Confrontation.

Many of Julians early games owe the tabletop scene a great deal,  Rebel Star is basically an implementation of Mark Millars Snapshot (itself a development of Traveller) and Chaos (recently kickstarted as  Chaos Reborn) very loosely based on the Games Workshop board game Warlock, which also published it. When looking for a publisher for X-COM, Julian takes it to Micropose UK, where it is comissioned by none other than Stephen "Chainsaw Warrior / Chaos Marauders" Hand and Mike "Imagine /White Dwarf / Realm of Chaos Editor" Brunton.

But that's all in the future. Back to the 8bit, let's compare and contrast some character data between Laserburn and Laser Squad:
Laserburn Character Sheet

Laser Squad Character Info Screen
The basic 3-stat WS / CC / I (or AG). The Action Point system, armour locations,

The Instruction Manual reads like a rules-light wargame from the 1970s, all the data seems to be there, but somehow actually making a game out of it seems an impossible task. Fortunately you don't have to work it out,  because you can play Laser Squad online here. or watch someone else laying it to get gist of it  (hint: save your APs for overwatch / opportunity fire or whatever it is called):

It's actually a lot of fun for a turn based strategy game, the action flows really nicely and the UI is quite easy to get the hang of.

By the 1990s Atari ST / Amiga version, everything started to look a bit Rogue Trader, which is quite funny, considering.

Not-Beakie Marines attack Not-Daleks
while some aged copyright cyber-lawyer pulls his base face.

Laser Squad seems to have built a dedicated following, and garners much positive nostlagia, there's Russian game editors, people reverse engineering it, mobile versions, a long faded MMOSCG (Massive Multiplayer Online Skirmish Combat Game) and various android, remakes and the such ( being the best palce for updates and whatnot) which is cool, because it basically is Jullians house-ruled version of Laserburn being kept alive on digital platforms.

Haven't looked at Jullians XCOM series  just yet (time), but it is widely recognised to have been based on Laser Squad (and indeed was pitched as Laser Squad II), and could well retain some of its Laserburn  heritage, but unfortunately not 16-bit Rogue Trader Space Marines, nor Confrontation style new-romantic punk gangers... now wouldn't that be a thing...