Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A Dungeon Crawl with a difference

Roleplaying night last night came round again. As previously mentioned we're taking a break from the Warhammer Fantasy 1st Ed for a while, leaving it open for other players to step into the GM's shoes and for us all to try something new.

Last night saw Azhdeen start a Xcrawl game (for 2 or 3 sessions). XCrawl is a dungeon crawl based rpg, but with a difference - there's a TV audience. That's right, the adventurers are adventuring for cash, fame, fortune and possibly a lurative sponsorship deal to carry into the next dungeon level. The first session was good fun, with the challenges for the initial training section to the hushed silence of the crowd during the first real dungeon room all being mentioned by the GM to create an exciting atmosphere. The engine is based on the D&D 3.5 ruleset, so a couple of the players were familiar enough with the rules to help out us more novice crawlers. Looking forward to the next session. I'll let you "watch" the highlights show now (thanks to Azhdeen), which gives a good idea of the play and the theme:


Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, to the XCrawl highlights show. This evening, we will look at the new and improved Division 4 Crawl in Brooklyn. The team chosen for this first lethal crawl, were a real mixed bunch - Half-Orc Barbarian, Elven Rogue, Dwarven Cleric, Human Envoker and Human Fighter.

The prelimanary warm up for the team, was an obstacle course; laid out in the Gymnasium. Most of the team got across the first mud pit ok, but as you will see from this clip; the fighter didn't fair so well.

Fighter grabs the rope, pushing off; but suddenly losing his grip on the slick rope to come crashing down in the waist high mud beneath.

Mind you folks, the rest of the team didn't fair well on the next one; with most of them tripping over the own feet in the tire obstacle. Cuts to a montage of the half-orc, mage and cleric, tripping or falling face first into the tyres.
Failing to Enfeeble the Giant cardboard cut out, the team had to face the awesome Mechanical Ogre. It's 10' arms giving several of the team, painful bruises; they will remember in the morning. With the final cage trap passed, the team faced the Goblin Tennis Ball Gunners. The two man team opening fire first on the mage, as he exited the cage at full speed towards the tower.

In a moment of insipred genius (for a half-orc that is), the Barbarian started to hack the legs of the tower. This must have thrown the gunners off their aim, I know it would have thrown mine off; as they missed hitting any of the team racing to the bottom of the tower. While the rest were busy figuring out how to get to the top, the fighter was already taking care of the Goblins. With some spectacular marksmanship, he managed to take both of the Goblins out.

Cuts to a scene of both javalins, streaking through the air; to take first one then the other Goblin between the eyes.

With the roar of the crowd in their ears, the team claimed their rewards from Commissioner Leibrock. After the break, we will see how the team got on; later in the Crawl. What you will see, is something truly awesome.
Welcome back, XCrawl fans. Before the break, we saw our intrepid team battling their way through the first part of the crawl. Despite this first part being non-lethal, they didn't come through it unscathed. A few cuts and bruises, not all of them to the ego.

Coming up, we have the Prisoner Room. 3 unfortunate cheerleaders imprisoned in a room with 5 Orcs, luckily for our team though; the Orcs didn't know they were being set up. As you will see from this AVS clip, the Orcs being their natural dumb selves; weren't even aware the team were behind them. We in the studio, thought the hulking half orc would have given the game away; but he seemed to take the agility of a cat. Climbing out of the tunnel, the team had a great plan; sadly the elf blew it by tripping at the wrong moment.

It was a hard fought battle, that ensued; with both the Rogue and Fighter going down to the baseball bat of the Orc. Meanwhile the Mage was going great guns, knocking two of the Orcs unconscious; with a dazzling display of colour and light. It seemed to be all over then, as the Half Orc, just barrelled through the remaining Orcs. Finishing the last one, it looked like the Half-Orc could well have been perfecting his Signature moves.

As our fans will know, Signature Moves go a long way; to distiguish a Great XCrawler from the wannabe's. Maybe next week, we will see; if the Half-Orc has worked out the kinks in his Signature Move.

I hope you have enjoyed this first foray in to lethal Division 4, catch us next week for more coverage of this excting change to your favourite sport. Till next time, goodnight.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

RPG in SoBH test - part 2

Well, it hardly seems like only, ehem, 7 months ago we played the first half of introductory D&D adventure "The Eye of the Wyvern" using the "Songs Of Blades and Heroes" ruleset, but here we are. It's been so long, actually that we couldn't find the original warband sheet so we had to guess the warband and miniatures used. And no, it didn't even occur to me to look back to the earlier post on this blog - stupid I know!

Anyway the names and faces may have changed, but the adventure goes on. The party now consisted of a warrior (not paladin), mage, thief, barbarian and Elite Dwarf. So not too far off the original.

The party had left the town to travel further into the hills to find to origin of the attacking wyvernling beasts. Night fell and noises were heard from up ahead. Inside an old ruin the party came across a band of goblins, lead by a goblin mage with a large pet wyvernling. At the edge of the goblin camp was a cage with another of the creatures that the party had battled in the barn. The party decided to attack from different side of the camp. The Thief and Dwarf from one side and the others from the opposite entrance. The dwarf and thief were having a hard time making any impression in the eastern side, but the warrior raced in and jumped onto the alter to engage the goblin mage and prevent him from using his magic. The barbarian managed toknock down and  gruesomely kill one of the goblins, causing all but one goblin and the mage's large pet to flee from the battle scene. They were swiftly dispatched, and the caged wyvernlings were put out of their misery whilst still in captivity.

The party, unscathed from the goblin battle continued up into the mountains, until the discovered the source of the wyvernlings - a portal. There was a shining stone in the wall of the portal - the key to it's power. As another creature started to slowly materialise all the party had to do was remove the stone to deactivate the portal. Unfortunately, round the corner, came the portal defender - an Adult Dragon. The party would be up against it!

The adventurers moved up the slope before the rashly dwarf charged the dragon on his own. The result was he was knocked down and killed on the Dragon's activation. A stark warning to the rest of them as them saw their best warrior go down in seconds. The thief flanked round the side of the dragon as the rest of the party took on the dragon in numbers. The warrior went down, out of the fight,  before the dragon was knocked down and the thief nipped in and dispatched the dragon. Unfortunately a wyvernling had already emerged from the portal, and took on the thief, who had sneaked in and taken the power stone. The thief went down, followed by the barbarian and finally the mage. The party had failed and the portal was re-opened.

The adventurers weren't actually killed, as we rolled their fates as per the SoBH campaign expansion rules. Two (the thief and barbarian) fully recovered, the warrior lost a quality point, the dwarf hurt his leg so "gained" the slow rule whereas the mage became so hideous scarred that he actually gained the Terror special rule. Whether we continue with the same group or create a new campaign warband ArabianSquire can decide another time.

One thing is for sure.I'll definitely be looking out those old RPG modules to create another narrative adventure. The variety of battle and of level, in this adventure at least, was very interesting. Going from battling a superior numbered gang to a more powerful single creature requires a quick change of tactical thinking (which, to be fair, may have been a bit of a stretch for an 8 year old, although he did get the idea quickly once his best fighter "died"). And as it was all contained within the story line there wasn't any artificial "lets try something different" feel to it.

As mentioned before, the crux is finding a narrative that can be easily span the battles without too much roleplaying. I'm sure that'll all come in later years!! But I'm pretty sure that the encounters could be extracted and a simple storyline inserted instead, even with a couple of options to make the experience less railroaded.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


The local schools have been off the last couple of days, so the battlefield was left assembled from the last post for Arabiansquire to play on. Despite that fact I tell him "less is more" when it comes to numbers of troops and getting the game played, he obviously decided that "more is more, or at least cool". Thought I'd post a couple pictures of his game, as it made me laugh. I'm sure theres a mock motivational poster in there somewhere. Note these were taken AFTER several hours play...

Monday, 20 September 2010

Lord of the Ring-scape

This weekend Arabiansquire and I pulled out the boxes of Heroscape terrain and, using my collection of Lord Of The Rings Hex battle figures, played out a battle. I have a load of Heroscape cards for this line of figures that someone had made up and I bought on ebay, but these are available for free download on Boardgamegeek now-a-days.


The battle ground was one downloaded from the many at, this particular one requiring 2 "Rise of..." base sets and a single Forgotten Forest set. We both picked out forces with totalled around 550pts (the unit points are slightly higher on these home-brew cards than the usual official heroscape cards). Arabiansquire chose to play the dark forces of Mordor, with some Nazgul, Lurtz, Grima Wormtongue, Grishnakh, and a unit of Moria Goblins. I had an Aragon and Arwen lead force with Elven Spearmen, Rangers of The North and Oathbreakers. The scenario was meant to be a battle for the central bridge, but as there wasn't any time/turn limit put on the game it just ended up as a square battle.

The first couple of rounds saw forces head towards the bridge, with the oathbreakers flanking round the side and Arwen taking up position next to the body of water, hoping to use her water wave special ability to pick off any foe attempting to cut accorss the water.

The Rangers took up position above the water to cut off any flanking forces and also get shots at any enemy crossing the bridge. The flat formation was so that they could use their special volley attack if required. Early action saw Grishnakh charge across the bridge whilst the goblins flanked round, but Aragon intercepted the Orc hero, allowing the Rangers to cut down the goblins from their superior postion.

The Elven spearmen came up to support Aragon, who dropped back to boost the Rangers attack, and between them and the Rangers Grishnakh was killed. Wormtongue came up to the other side of the river to convince one of the rangers to attack Aragon, but the attack failed and Grima was cut down for his efforts. The flanking Oathbreaker numbers were however being gradually whittled down by Lurtz's bow.

The elven spearmen charged across the bridge to stop the approaching Nazgul.

The Nazgul proved too strong for them though and charged over the bridge, but wounded from their battle with the spearmen (and a couple of Ranger volleys) they were stopped at the other side by Aragon and Arwen, leaving only the unhurt Lurtz to contest the good foothold on the bridge.

However Aragon's battles had only left him with a couple of wounds left, so Arwen took to the bridge to do battle, but before Aragon could support her with healing the elf was cut down, with Aragon quickly following. The arrow attacks from the rangers proved ineffective against the powerful Uruk-Hai and after a few rounds of cat-and-mouse manouvering Lurtz proved victorious with a mighty roar.

Lurtz cleans up.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Boxfile Spaceship Module 1 complete

Completed the first module of the box file spaceship project. I've not made any bulkhead doors yet, but as these will be move-able it can wait.

The rooms are all in the middle of section for flexibility of bulkhead doors. I see this as a central section to the ship, so I have left plenty of room for the connecting sections.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

All Things Zombie - lesson 2

With Halo*Star visiting last weekend I took the opportunity to continue the All Things Zombie learning.

Setup after players first move. Viewing from the south-western corner.

Similar to last session, all 3 players (Arabiansquire was also playing) had a group of 3 figures - a Rep5 star and 2 rep 4 grunts armed with guns .I won't bother with exact details - suffice to say they were all target 3 impact 1 apart from one cop who had a bolt action rifle (target 1, impact 3). Again we set up an urban encounter to maximise zombie encounters and building searching - the only way to learn after all. The progress was pretty slow, as there were quite a few occassions for looking up rules again, although it was faster towards the end.

The civilians head into the office (right)
to escape the zombie crush, whilst zombies
gather to block off the cops.
A tense standoff with another
armed group of civilians.

This session ran with a better mix of action. Halo*star's civilian's entered from the east and managed to evade a group of zombies early on through a building before dashing across the road to a block of flats where they encountered no-one (ground floor) humans who didn't join them (1st floor) and humans who did join them, but only for that session (2nd Floor).

The mafia search a warehouse.
Arabiansquire's mafia types entered from the north and searched through a couple of warehouses before blasting some zombies in the street and then dashing into a garage to hide and search.

The cops bolt out the back door to
hide from the horde out front
My cops came in from the south-west corner and spent most the time trying to blast and run themselves clear of the hordes of zombies generated at the start - coming in at a corner and rolling for 17 zombies tends to group them together!! Everything was running pretty smoothly, with the odd compliction of zombies not going down, but the main talking/fun point was one that definately only happens in a TwoHour Wargame game.

The cops quietly hide round the
corner...until the mafia appear at
the other end of the street.

My cops had just managed to clear a corridor and away from the edges of the board before a zombie horde came round the corner. The zombies were travelling to the last guns shots fired, crucially close to but away from the cops, so staying quite was the order of the day. Next Arabiansquires mafia appear out of a building at the other end of the street, causing a grunt cop to open fire with his bolt action rifle after a reaction test. The mafia leader was hit- Out Of Fight whilst the rest ducked back under the received fire reactions.

The cops get swapped as the
zombie tide turns.

The brief firefight alert the passing zombies to the cops presence and two of them went down with bites in the melee.
So much for staying quiet! The irony of this all happening because the cops PASSED his reaction rolls wasn't lost!
Next time we'll try a more focused scenario and add in some character attributes.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Clothes maketh the man (or woman!)

As previously posted my RPG group have finished a significant episode in their campaign. They have also reached the stage where their career options are more varied (ironically due to the restrictions in career advancement on their current paths) and a couple of them are changing direction slightly. Geddi the dwarf, currently a Judicial Champion, has decided to become a witch hunter - a decision which is story based so is perfectly natural. Grendel, the thief/cleric has decided to become an assassin, which quite frankly is no surprise at all! Heinrich is becoming a more experienced mercenary, going down the sergeant and captain line and Max, well, has his life in front of him, having only just recently joined the party.

As we are having a break for Warhammer this also gives me time to consider changing the miniatures the players are using for ones more akin with their development. This is all of course just a thought at the moment. If the players identify with their figure as their character and don't want to change that is fine (& cheaper!) for me. But as a "good" gamer, it never does any harm to look, does it???

As a quick and easy starter I've just gone to the Reaper website and used their useful "Figure Finder" app to pull up some ideas:

Dwarven Witchfinder:
Human Female Assassin:
Mercenary Sergeant/Captain:
Human Ranger:

All pictures are from the Reaper Mini site (used without permission but with due acknowledgement and admiration)

The End of Death On The Reik

Battling the Skaven
This week the RPG crew came round and to see out the final points of "Death On The Reik". This whole published adventure has been good fun, but I've enjoyed this final assault on the Castle especially. No one encounter really tests the characters to the edge of death, but there are so many of them, all in one long night, there is no chance of stopping and resting up for a day. This relentless pace meant that by the time the band were confronted by only 4 skaven some were almost reluctantly engaging them in battle. Geddi the Dwarf (currently a Judicial Champion) has had a more healing potion than ale; Kronenburg the mage is all but out of magic points and having to resort to throwing an enchanted rope at the enemy; Kislev and Heindrich (the two human fighters-ish) are just swinging wearily away; Grendel the thief/cleric is having to wade into the fight; and Max the Ranger type is at the back holding the coats, having lost the use of an arm, limping badly, and low on health (and fate points) from fights in the last two sessions. To cut a long story short - all's well that ends well, which in the Warhammer world translates to they escaped with there lives and little else. Scant reward for their all efforts - at least they've finally got a chance to spend some XP!

Gone but not forgotten
Additionally at the end of this session everyone (or at least the two players in question) agreed that we should scale down the party. At the start of the whole "The Enemy Within campaign" we started off with 4 players (and 4 characters) but 2 players left after only a few sessions, leaving the other 2 to look after the characters as T.E.W. can't really be played with on 2 PCs. Gradually a couple of extra players have come in but opted to play their own characters, which is fine, but I've felt for a while that not only was party too powerful for most encounters, which is easily patched by adding a couple more enemies. More importantly it was taking away from the character roleplaying element of the game for the two incumbent players, as they had to deal with their extra hanger-on characters and couldn't fully get "into the zone" for either their original chosen character or their extra charge. So with this break in the adventure Kislev (the ex-footpad with mercantile ambitions) and Kronenburg (the mage) are taking their leave to follow their paths elsewhere. Who knows if and how they may meet their former colleagues again??

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Undead live - ATZ

The Two Hour Wargames ruleset adoption plan continues, as Arabiansquire and myself had a session running through the "All Things Zombie (Better Dead Than Zed)" rules. I have played the original ATZ rules a couple of times a few years ago, but changes have been made to some of the mechanics since then (and I can bearly remember what I did last week - let alone remember rules from 4 years ago!). No photos were taken I'm afraid, but this isn't a batrep so don't worry.

An urban encounter quite a time into the outbreak was decided upon to a) see how my card stock buildings covered the ground and b) to bring as many zombies onto the board as we could to get the hang of the encounter mechanics. We both had 3 man squads, myself with 3 surviving cops (which counted as military for reaction, etc) and Arabiansquire with 3 mafia types (counting as gangers for reaction, etc). The attribute rules were left out for simplicity as well.

Well aim b) was certainly fulfilled, as I only had 34 painted zombies (more than enough I thought) which wasn't enough for even the opening numbers at the start of the game! I'll have to get based some of those on the leadpile shelf! Also ArabianSquire found that blasting zombies with submachine guns was generating as many zombies as he was killing. Luckily for him in 4 turns we managed (it was pretty slow going and we were only playing for an hour) the zombies managed to 6s for every single activation, so never moved from their initial setup points. But crucially buildings were investigated with a variety of outcomes and zombies were fought, killed and generated so I feel most of the ground was covered with the exception of meeting other humans - which no doubt will happen next time - hopefully next weekend.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Nearly there

So close. Finally, on the 3rd attempt, everyone in my RPG group managed to get round the table at the same time this week. As the grand finale of Warhammer's "Death on The Reik" was looming we wanted everyone at the session to see the end out. So rather predictably we ran out of time and the final half sessions worth will have to played out next time. I suppose at least there will be time to spend all that XP before they go home.

Trying to get this adventure concluded is reminding me of the Sir Lancelot attack in The Holy Grail - it's taken an inordinate amount to time to get here and there is a rediculous amount of hacking and slashing once the moment comes.

The evening had 2 battles in it, which is where the time went. We have 4 players running 6 characters at the moment so when the opposition are added in they can take up some time, especially as a few of the PCs have multiple attacks. The final main battle was had (pictured top) in the lab. Which brings me onto my first topic - the use of themes in the gaming environment.

*****SPOILER ALERT******

All the way through the Inner Bailey area of the castle the players have been entertained, confused and intimidated by some of the bizarre and imaginative encounters set in the castle. The final main battle happens in a mock-up of Frankenstein’s lab complete with monster. Now while this is a cool setup and was capable of throwing some choices for the players, after all the off the wall encounters this was summed up by one of the gang mid description as "Oh, this is Frankenstein’s lab". A nice setting for a battle, with a certain amount of familiarity, but in this case I couldn't help but think that it was slightly out of kilter with the rest of the castle and perhaps an anticlimax.

Now I know some of you will just say, "You're the GM, if you weren't happy with it you should have changed it", but the thought hadn't occurred until the scene was being played out - so too late. Having not written the adventure myself the change in flavour at the end passed me by on reading.

The point of this is really just the thought - if you are designing a close series of encounters, be they chaos, forest, subterranean or urban try to keep the feel of the series throughout for a more satisfying experience. You can change it for the next set.