Tuesday, 24 April 2012

SquadronUK Defeated!

Some sad news from Simon Burley, co-creator of 80's Brit favourite Golden Heroes - GW's legal department have cracked down upon SquadronUK, Simon's modern-rerelease-with-the-name-filed-off version despite having been told about the launch of the game years ago.

Simon's post on RPG.net about the bad news is here - http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?619361-Squadron-UK&p=15248391#post15248391.

I've never owned Golden Heroes but it was being pushed heavily in the first few White Dwarfs that I bought so it always looked intriguing especially with the excellent comic book art that GW used on the rules and various supplements. Did you know that it was picked up by Workshop as part of a masterplan to get the Marvel license?

I have SquadonUK in PDF having bought it recently but haven't had chance to sit down and have a serious look at it. Might be a collectors item now! :(

Monday, 23 April 2012

Happy Thirtieth Birthday!

Happy Birthday Sinclair ZX Spectrum. The Greatest Microcomputer Ever Built is 30 years old today having been launched on St. Georges Day, 1982.

I blame you along with blaming Jackson and Livingstone for it all. I might be doing something different with my life if it wasn't for you. Happy Birthday you old bastard. X

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Geek Upswing

Once upon a time we at the Stourbridge club used to agonize about whether the modest subs fee would have to creep up from £2 a night to ensure that the takings at least broke even and covered the cost of hall hire. We also used to be aware that the larger attendances in Winter tended to fund the smaller attendances in Summer when the weather was good(ish).

These days, in the same church hall, the club is running at about full capacity and if you don't get there early you may end up with your tabletop squeezed into an unergonomic space and find that there are no chairs left.

Three miles down the road is the Kingswinford club, Dudley Darklords, that meet in a village hall-style building and that club routinely bursts its breeches and has to overspill into the adjacent rooms. It's 90% a different crowd to the Stourbridge club as well so it's not simply a case of the same people attending one club on a Tuesday and the other on a Friday, effectively a a small suburban middle class catchment area is straining to contain it's gamer population in two big clubs.

Yesterday Alex at the October club in Birmingham told me that they'd housed 60 attendees in one night and now the club can't accept any more members as there is physically no more room.

In theory this is a dying and greying hobby that can't compete with computer gaming and out of step with a modern society that wants instant gratification and doesn't want to have to put any effort into it's leisure pursuits.

No, me neither.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Jewelled Diadem of Akat-Anrak

"What's that Skippy? The One Page Dungeon contest for 2012 has a deadline of the end of the month? And we haven't even thought about what to enter? Strewth mate, you're right!"

What to do? Errrr....

(Sees iPhone next to keyboard with some holiday photos on...)

Zak-style photo montage to the rescue!!

A microdungeon knocked up in ten minutes while waiting for a database to restore from backup.

This is the rough JPG version. I'll probably tart the layout up before submitting the final PDF. And correct that typo - "within" not "with". Arse.

FYI - It's the Malyavanta Raghunatha Temple in Hampi.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Your Blog Is Your Eighties Fanzine

Lets try and force a meme.

Your last 5 blogposts are the contents of a gaming zine you wrote single-handedly in the 1980s, photocopied on the local library photocopier or via indulgence of an office-working parent and sold on to around a dozen people at a loss. This zine has the same title as your blog. Invent an issue number and cover price.

From somewhere rip off a suitable black and white illo (you want colour? print the cover on coloured paper you damned show-off) and fake up a cover page for this zine referring to contents inside. Bonus points for using period typewriter fonts and artistic filters to degrade the quality. Obviously if you have access to a photocopier and scanner you can start playing with distressing the paper and doing a proper illegible photocopy reproduction rather than faking it as I did. Then post on your blog for all to see.

Here's mine, issue one of FIGHTING FANTASIST from about 1985.


Fake, never-existed 'zines (as well as Dak Ultimak's one that now does exist on the grounds that he created the whole fake 'zine not just the cover and Graham "AFF" Bottley's 'zine that he wrote along with a certain young Daniel Davey who went on to be somewhat rude about Jesus.) are rolling in.

















Saturday, 14 April 2012

Prescience in IMAGINE

This quote is from IMAGINE 22 (January 1985) in an article called 'Solo Voyages' by Graeme Davis & Colin Greenland.

(Click to embiggen)

I'd say that was pretty damn prescient for something written in late 1984 even though it probably appeared fanciful for a long time. For the record on my pocket computer I downloaded the new, revised Keep of the Lich Lord yesterday ready for play on the train.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Balthus Dire's Lovely Curtains

Balthus Dire, head honcho of the Citadel of Chaos is fatally allergic to sunlight and the player can off him, Cushing-on-Lee style, by simply opening his curtains. This is because the fatally-allergic-to-sunlight Balthus Dire has large windows in his lair and has decided that just leaving the curtains drawn is an adequate defense. He is therefore just one unfortunate "curtain rail falls off wall" or "clumsy domestic decides to Windowlene the panes" incident from a toasty death.

What Dire could do would be to have the windows in the Citadel bricked up (except for the one the player can fall out of) and probably save a gold piece or two on the property tax due on the Citadel.

Likewise similar things crop up in a couple of magazine gamebooks I've printed out and played recently.

Kruglach (of PROTEUS 6 - The Fortress of Kruglach) can only be defeated by a spell comprised of three hairs from a Werewolves tail, two teeth from a Cyclops, something called The Sorcerers Eye, a Pegasus feather and a Unicorn horn. Obligingly, Kruglach keeps all these things in his tiny fortress, and it is a tiny fortress because TFoK is only a 200 paragraph adventure. Oh, and the beast that Kruglach presumably hand-picked to the final beastie before his lair? Yeah, Cyclops. With a good mouth of teeth.

In The Floating City (WARLOCK 8), evil Sorcerer Angekok is especially prone to a magical spear which he obligingly leaves propped up outside the very hut in which he is to be found, although curiously (and somewhat nonsensically) the player can only take the spear if he has already lost his sword - the spear just "knows" if you have another weapon and gets jealous or something. Why does Angekok not get the saw out and do something about this ludicrous weak spot in his defenses?

Can we justify this nonsense for the purpose of D&D scenario construction?

Yes we can. All three examples above are clearly to create a structure for a gamebook with replay value.

But we can justify it in-universe so to speak. Here's the deal.

You, Evil Sorcerer or Warlord or Chaotic Hierophant or similar, do a deal with various extra-dimensional demonic entities. Depending upon their demonic strength and power they can grant you various boons, such as being immune to normal weapons, immortality or ascent to Lichedom but keeping your boyish good looks into the bargain.

But there's a catch. No demon wants to create an immortal rival who may challenge him in the future. So there has to a Kryptonite to your Sun-given superpowers. Each deal with the devil has to come with it's deliberate, in-built weakness. Them's the rules.

So you get immortality and the ability to laugh in the face of the weak efforts of the PCs to do you in by swinging pieces of sharp metal or their pathetic attempts at magic. But if they turn up with the requisite arrow dipped in black henna, fletched with the tail-feathers of The Albino Phoenix of Squart while sporting the protective Tau-cross tattoos on their foreheads then you are just one arrow scratch from melting into a small puddle on the floor and causing a Turn to 400 moment.

This is the deal, the bargain you accept. There is the fatal weakness and this is made clear to you when you sign the paperwork. Presumably then you would ensure that your personal Evil Guy headquarters are devoid of black henna, arrows, The Albino Phoenix of Squart and tattoo parlours.

But the deal doesn't allow for that. Not only do you have the Kryptonite weakness you have to keep that selfsame Kryptonite within your Evil Fortress at all times. Should Balthus Dire get the glaziers in to sort out the windows or Kruglach have his pet Cyclops' teeth pulled then they have broken their pact with the demonic powers that put them there in the first place and none of them want the consequences of that happening.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Been Away Sahib

Been quiet for a bit because I've been sitting on trains in India, travelling around and looking at things such as this carving of a demonic figure having a wank in Hampi, Karnataka.

While I was away Stuart Lloyd ran a short interview with yours truly as part of his April A-Z feature. I'd have flagged this up early but obviously I was busy with demonic masturbators.