Friday, 31 December 2010

Star Trek RPG

I was always really pleased with my quick 'n dirty D6 System conversion of Task Force Games' 'Prime Directive' core rulebook, that even used the book's own system and character sheet. It can be found in the free section of my website http://www.farsightgames.com/. It was simple and yet effective and, even though you'll need to locate extra rulebooks that are very old and out of print, it worked well.
This brings me to the original FASA game from waaaaaaay back in the midst of time, when hairspray was abundant and 18th century clothing and a white stripe across the nosebridge was the 'in' thing. Of course, I'm talking about the early 1980s.

The copy I have is the Games Workshop Second Edition printing. It was a great little system, percentile based, and the characters you could create were given depth by having them develop through applying to Star Fleet, going through Academy training and then active service. The final character was fleshed out and easy to play, and whilst the damage of weapons of the era (the Original Series) was slightly over the top (one hit disintegrations!) the system was pretty fluid and fun.
I created a character for this back in 1989 but never played him. I might give this game a stab at some point.

Friday, 17 December 2010

I now have the time to design again!

I’ve designed a few RPG systems in my time. Some worked well, some crashed in a spectacular fashion. I’ve always enjoyed designing and writing them, though.

I’ve had a mind to design yet another system but, to be honest, I didn’t want to create a whole new dice mechanic for people to (yet again) learn. This time I’m thinking of creating a system that doesn’t require a whole load of new rules and yet has much in common with existing games systems.

My first thought was a variation of the D6 system, which I love, and then maybe a version of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay rules, as used in WFRP 1st and 2nd Edition and the 40K games. I do like the percentile system, but at the same time I wanted to go even further back, to a system that held some nostalgie for me.

I’ve gone right back to the old D&D system and I’m looking at the old ways of doing things; 3D6 for stats, a D20 for task resolution, that kind of thing. The stats really are that – STATS. Strength, Toughness, Agility, Teaching and Social. It’s a cheap gimmick but, hey, it’s all embryonic at the moment. I’m looking to do a generic sci-fi game, a kind of D&D in space, but we’ll see. Early days yet.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Why I'm shying away from complicated RPG systems

I began to hate complicated systems years ago when I had to spend six hours creating a character for Rolemaster under the watchful eye of the GM. When the game started I was killed in the first twenty minutes - I was backstabbed by the GMs fucking NPC assassin! All that time in character creation, wading through books and choices and complicated crap that would make no difference to the character anyway and I don't even get to experience the very reason why I'm in the hobby; playing an RPG.

After that I was loathe to spend any longer than half an hour in character creation. That spread on to the rules themselves. Now I just want simplicity. I want to be able to sit at the table for a four hour session and be able to have the characters ready in the first 30 minutes, spend the next 30 minutes making sure everyone is up to speed on the basics of the mechanics and then the next three hours playing an actual game. Then we're sorted for the campaign.

I don't want complicated character advancement, either. Got points to spend? Levelled up? Right, end of session, ten minutes to spend/choose. That's that, ready for the next game.

I'm over rules - I just want to play and be played!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

BRAGGART review

BRAGGART – A game of heroes, lies and unfortunate fish.
So, the other day , While wearing nothing more than my boots and a smile... I got into a bar fight with... a party of drunken dwarves... and now barmaids all over town are unable to resist me!

What? Are you calling me a liar?

And so it goes with BRAGGART. A simple, fun and funny card game designed by Kyle Daniel and released through Spiral Galaxy Games. Imagine that your roleplaying characters have had a hard day’s adventuring and they all retire to the local tavern for a drink. As the beer flows their tales of derring-do get even more wild and outlandish, until they’re competing with each other for best boast. The more outlandish the boast the bigger the score but beware – being called out as a liar will not only reduce your points but also make you look foolish!

So how does this work? Well, before we get into that lets have a look at what you get in the game – a nice box with some excellent artwork which contains 120 full colour illustrated cards and a fold-out instruction manual. It’s very small, small enough to go in a coat pocket or in your bag with your gaming manuals. The artwork and the quality of the cards is great and it’s all done in the style of an old tavern with foaming tankards and wooden boards. It’s a lovely looking game, simple but well presented.

To play the game you’ll need 2-6 players (and it is one of those games where more players is better) and about half an hour to an hour. The manual suggests that the person who starts the game is decided in this way – ‘Argue amongst yourselves to determine who has performed the most impressive feat during their life. That player will start the game...’ After this real-life moment of bragging the game mechanics begin. The player starting the game is given a ‘My Round’ card. Each player is dealt four random cards. Each round consists of two phases: Draft and Boast. The Draft phase consists of placing as many cards as there are players on the table face up. The player with the ‘My Round’ card chooses what card they want first, followed by the other players going clockwise. The Boast Phase starts again with the starting player either going to the Bar or making a Boast (as you can see, the entire game is fashioned after drinking in a tavern – everything a player does is based around what people get up to in pubs). Going to the bar means you can draw another three cards, or you can make a Boast.

Ah , yes, the Boast. This is where the name of the game comes into play. You have four cards to play; 1 Scene, 1 Deed, 1 Foe and 1 Result. You can just play the Deed and Foe cards, if you want, but Scene and Result cards get you even more points. So, using the example at the beginning of the review, I played 1 Scene card (‘While wearing nothing more than my boots and a smile...’), followed by 1 Deed card (‘I got into a bar fight with...’), followed by 1 Foe card (‘a party of drunken dwarves...’), and topped off with 1 Result card (‘...and now barmaids all over town are unable to resist me!’). The cards total points, and the bigger the points the bigger the boast. There are 92 cards in total that are designed to follow on from each other; this enables players to string together all kinds of tall tales. Other players can play ‘Liar!’ cards and accuse you of making stuff up, enabling them to exchange one of your cards for something worth less and ruin your story. So, if another player had played a ‘Liar!’ card, they could have changed ‘...and now barmaids all over town are unable to resist me!’ to ‘...and then I hid in my house crying!’, losing me points and making me look foolish. There’s also Ploy cards to be played that enable players to take cards from other player’s hands.

So, during one game I’ve had such boasts as ‘In the Queen’s bedchamber... I was forced to pose for a portrait with... the foulest of all dragons... and now I’ve been offered the post of King’s champion!’, and ‘While using forbidden sorcery... I was captured and left at the mercy of... a tribe of peaceful fairies... and then I hid in my house crying!’. The first boast got me some points. The second one, not so much.

Players are encouraged to ‘roleplay’ their boaster and speak out their deeds as they are written on the cards, call out their played ‘Liar!’ cards and generally get into character. I’m a roleplayer and I’d love to do an evening’s gaming and round it off with a game of BRAGGART, and have our characters sat in the tavern swapping stories. After a day’s adventuring what better way to celebrate it than to go down the pub and boast about your exploits.

This is an excellent, fun little game that is great at helping to kill time before or after a session. It’s a great pick-up-and-play game that’s easy to get the hang of and is definitely better served by multiple players. Waiting for the night’s gaming session to start? Whack out BRAGGART and have a blast. On a long train journey? BRAGGART! Waiting in the airport? BRAGGART! At the convention, between games or having a break? BRAGGART! It’s great because it’s involving, enjoyable and incredibly portable. It’s great for roleplayers but is just as good for someone looking for a fun, quick game of something different. The boast combinations are genuinely funny and there are plenty of cards to make sure that they stay original and fresh, even if the same cards come up every few games. A downside may be similar combinations cropping up if the game is played regularly, with exploits becoming too much like a previous game and losing that original humourous punch. An expansion would be more than welcome, some kind of pack of extra cards to add more possibilities and wild boasts to the mix. There’s plenty of fun to be had with this game, mind you.

BRAGGART is well designed and well presented and fun to play, with excellent and atmospheric artwork that suits the game perfectly. Highly recommended.

You can find out more at www.spiralgalaxygames.co.uk

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

HARD SIXES CLOSING DOWN

It’s sad, but after an extremely short sortie into the gaming retail world we’ve decided to let the physical shop go and concentrate on a part-time online store.

We’ll really miss the place. We’ve met new people and made new friends and broadened our gaming horizons and social circle. There’s more gamers out there than you realise, and there’s plenty of younger people wanting to get in on the action. Honestly, it’s been real fun and we don’t regret giving it a go for a second.

So – as we’ll be gone in the next couple of weeks we’re having a sale, lots of money off most things, and we’ve got plenty of stuff here. RPGs, boardgames, cardgames, classic M:TG cards, some old Warhammer stuff, figures, collectibles, all kinds of stuff.

We hope to see you, so that you can say goodbye and get a bargain to boot!

Cheers!

Jonathan and Richard

Monday, 22 November 2010

A short story about RPG characters

This is a blast from the past. I originally wrote this in 1996 as I tried to decide what kind of character I wanted to play in a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay game. It took the form of a meeting between my favourite characters and myself. It's a bit weird but I always felt that writing helped to order my thoughts.

I was tired of waiting.
Most of them had come as I had asked. Tere Swordsong was there, as was Mornard Winter, both from MERP and Warhammer. Matthew Hasken from Mechwarrior had arrived early to show off his amazing punctuality. Zeke Greyfellow of Shadowrun fame sat nervously on one side of the table, facing Goah Galletti, whose stern visage was close to annoying me. At this moment I was waiting for Tere and Mornard to stop comparing notes on how was best to kill an Orc. I decided to interrupt. After all, all these men were my creations and I was not about to let my meeting go to waste because two fantasy heroes wanted to brag about technique.
"Gentlemen, thanks for coming," I said loudly, talking over Tere who was starting a speech on blade swinging capability, something of which I always thought he lacked in. "I know this is only a daydream, but I wanted a few words. Quite frankly, I'm worried."
"About what?" Tere asked, his perfect English rolling from his lips. He adjusted his eye patch nervously and stared at me with his good eye.
"I'm a bit concerned about you gentlemen, actually. You all sprang from my mind and my feelings, and although you are all individual with different agendas and goals, I can't get the feeling out of my gut that you are all quite superficial in element and are otherwise an extension of my own ego. I mean, what makes you what you are when you are all spawned from the same subconscious?"
Silence spread over the table as my guests mulled over the answer. Surprisingly, it was Zeke who spoke first.
"I only lasted for just under a dozen adventures and yet you have invited me here. I don't talk for the others, but I think of myself as an individual. In that brief moment of time I appreciated the Cyberpunk genre because you separated me from it. I was not cyber-enhanced or anything remotely similar, which gave me an abstract feel and an almost original view of the game..."
"Original view does not mean original character," Goah cut in. His deep voice resonated across the table at Zeke. "You could have been a cross dressing parrot assassin and still been played the same way as any other character, with only the peculiar twist on your appearance as a form of individuality."
"Too true," Zeke replied, frowning at Goah's choice of words. "But even so, you can't get away from the fact that we all spring from him, and that we are all bound to share the same..."
"I don't want to go back to my original question," I said, levelling my hand to cut Zeke off. "Maybe the similarities cannot be avoided, but what I'm looking for here is for each of you to compare your actions and goals, and try to come up with your own sense on being."
"You want us to justify ourselves," Tere said evenly at the end of a deep sigh.
"Right."
"I can." We all looked at Matthew Haskenn, who had been silent since his arrival. "I was created for one purpose - combat. When I was first played, I was an investigator, and lets face it, I was crap. When I was put with a special ops unit and had to fight my way through every minute of every scenario, my true being came out. I was a fighter."
"So your saying that being a two dimensional killing machine makes you original?" Mornard asked.
"Not exactly. Although I was firing of several rounds in every scene, I still held on to one belief. What I was doing was right for the game and for me. I knew my purpose, and that was to kill the enemy. I was not so blind as to involve innocents and civilians, but my purpose was clear."
"That's a goal, not a justification of being," I said.
"Let me finish. Even though many died at my hand, it was the last game I did that defined my character. I had to kill civilians as part of a terror campaign against the enemy. When I arrived behind enemy lines, I couldn't do it. It was not right. When I was responsible for the detonation of a nuclear device, and a city was wiped out, I was so overcome by remorse I refused a commendation, a commission and personal recognition from the house lord I was serving. I retired from active service and became an instructor. To make up for it, I ended up joining a group of mercenaries who were fighting to defeat pirates who were terrorising the people. That is where I am now."
"Being filled with remorse does not make you individual. It's just a feeling which, no doubt, we have all shared." Mornard reached over and grabbed a handful of snacks.
"I understand that, but that feeling is what made my sense of individuality. All my games I had been fighting for peace, to save the people, and when I was responsible for the death of the same sort of civilians I was trying to protect, it dawned on me that what I was doing was wrong, and I rebelled against the very masters who had put that power in my hands."
I nodded. Matthew had a good argument. His sense of being was justified by his sense of morality, by his acceptance of his one true skill, which was to kill the enemy with no quarter given and no surrender. He had realised his existence and used it for what he thought to be the best. Ironically, he had discovered his personality just when his games came to an end.
"So there we have an individual born from the situation he was put in," said Tere. "Surely role-playing is more rewarding when the character is fleshed out before the game begins?"
"So says you," Matthew retorted. "You were but a few stats on a MERP character sheet when you first wandered into your first adventure."
I could see the tension rising and decided to put the spotlight on Tere to focus everyone's attention. "What about it, Tere? Are you a piece of A4 with pencilled numbers or are you 'real'?"
Tere thought long and hard about his answer. I fumbled nervously as I watched Goah start to get restless.
"My sense of being was only slightly defined when I first started, I agree. I think I went into adventuring knowing what it was I wanted to do, but not knowing what path to take to accomplish that."
"What was your goal?" Goah asked.
"To be good." That remark raised a few sniggers from around the table, including from myself. That sense of heroic idiocy seemed rather childish to me, now, but Tere was one of my original characters. Only Mornard looked at the others wondering what the joke was.
"No, it's true," Tere continued. "I knew that most Middle-Earth heroes made sacrifices and did things for the greater good, and I wanted to be that way. It was only when an evil warlord rose to crush the innocent did I find my true purpose."
"What did you do?" Mornard inquired, pushing to know more when Tere hesitated a moment.
"I proved to all around me that I was a capable fighter and leader, and I raised an army and defeated him in battle. That to me was my purpose. I never backed away from a fight that I thought was just, I always did what I could to save the innocent and I never lost sight at the end of my tunnel. That light led to peaceful days and a sense of accomplishment."
Another good story, I thought. Tere's character had been fleshed out by his sense of honour. He would willingly do anything in the cause of Good, and in doing so got himself into more predicaments and danger than was healthy. He was justified by his actions.
"Bantha crap," Goah said. All eyes turned on him with amazement, and Tere's jaw clenched in anger. "You sit there preaching goodness and justice, but how many people died for that perfect world? How many cities were destroyed for your Utopia? Was it worth the blood spilled? If you wanted to stop this warlord, you should have just walked up to him and capped him off - or paid someone to do it for you."
I interceded before Tere could reply. "What's your justification, Goah?"
"I don't need to justify myself to any of you." He fell silent.
Typical. Goah was a Star Wars character that had changed from your usual happy-go-lucky space smuggler into a hardened cynical assassin. I thought it would take a bit of coaxing to get anything from him, but suprisingly he opened up.
"I learned two things from my experience - you don't get anything unless you rely on you own merits and fight for it. I don't raise armies to fight my battles for me, I load up and send the enemy to merry hell my own way."
"Sure," Matthew said, "You shoot the poor sods from a mile away and then skulk off into the night."
"If thats what it takes to get the job done, so be it. I don't fight for one side in a war, and I don't fight for my sense of honour to the people. I fight because I know that every son of a womp rat I'm shooting deserves what he gets, and that I'm going to get a fat payout from their demise."
I knew that wasn't strictly true. If Goah could help out someone he would, but he would do it in secret and could not bear any thanks.
"I am the way I am because every time I tried I failed. Every time I played by the rules, and the bad guys broke them, I lost every time. So I started breaking rules of my own. And I won."
A strange tale, but true. Goah defined himself by his own particular sense of justice, and as twisted and as back to front as that justice seemed he was right. He got the job done.
"Well, Mornard," I said, leaning back in my chair and crossing my arms. "You are the newest of my characters. What have you learned from what you've heard?"
Mornard frowned. "I thought I was supposed to justify myself, not sit in judgement of the others."
A few of the others nodded and mumbled their agreement, and pointedly stared at me. I just smiled.
"Then justify yourself. But remember this. You are the latest creation, and through playing the others the way I have, do you think you share any of their traits?"
"My entire character and history was created before play began. I had a past, an agenda... yes, in a way I suppose there's a little of them all in me. Goah's anger, Tere's honour, Matthew's heart and Zeke's wonder. I was a kind of amalgamation of them all."
"So what's your justification?" Tere was obviously eager to know.
"That I am an interesting character to play. I am not defined by goals or a twisted sense of melodrama. I am defined by my character, and the fact that when a role-playing situation arises, the player knows how to have me react. I am the product of testing the water with several types of character, and then taking the best trait of each and combining them."
"But isn't that cheating a little? After all, the name of the game is diversity, and if you play a character that is similar to the last then isn't that a little boring?" Zeke looked directly at me as he finished the sentence.
"No. After all, if a character was played to the numbers, then most games would be filled with untrodden paths and avenues untaken because it was in the nature of that character to do so! How boring would the game be if the player said 'I'm not sneaking into that castle because it is not in my character's nature to do so'. I think that personality should be on the surface as a role-playing aid, and the rest for the game itself. After all, it is much more effective, and rewarding, to play a simple character well. Messing around during a game with a complicated character can slow, and even stunt, a game. Sure, have your singular emotions to help portray yourself, but at the end of the day it's going to be the player who has the final say on the feelings and actions, and not the sheet of paper and dice set before him."
The others fell silent. I looked at each one of them in turn and realised that I could hear a beeping in the background. It was my alarm clock.
"Well, that's my daydream over," I said. "And I would like to thank you all for helping me with this. I'll try to remember what I can and get it written down."
"When can we meet again?" Matthew asked.
"Never," I said with a laugh. "People are going to think I'm nutty enough for writing this the way I have without leaving room open for a sequel. I guess it's my own fault for trying to be clever. No, you can all go back to your little corners and maybe I'll play one of you again soon."
Each of them faded in turn, and my last view was of Mornard nodding at me with a smile.
Then I got up, and went to get a cup of tea.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Dark Roguewatch

Huh?

Look, I'm a busy man but I'm never to busy to bring life to my ideas. Something I've not done in a loooooong time is design a campaign. I've usually just designed a situation and then let the story grow organically by reacting to what the players are doing, kind of a sandbox setting but with a definite goal. Yes, I set the goal, I just don't define the path.

Right now I'm designing a massive Warhammer 40K Roleplaying campaign. Now that I have Deathwatch (*giggles uncontrollably*) I have the whole set. I was wondering what to run, but then hit on an idea; why not just run a campaign incorporating the whole three books? Start with Dark Heresy, where they uncover the threat. Then move on to Rogue Trader, where they seek the threat out. Then finish with Deathwatch, in which they deal with the threat. Three massive campaigns combined into one huge epic campaign. Of course, I've had make it about something pretty huge, and I've shied away from the 'Chaos/heretics/xenos are going to attack us en masse! As was prophesised! Or something!' I'm making it much more huge, Imperium-shattering as a whole. I'm not turning the setting up on it's head... that's up to the players to stop from happening.

Should be fun. I'm truly looking forward to running it. Now to start work on the Rogue Trader section...

Saturday, 23 October 2010

*Phew*

That was a tough month. Due to job situations I had to bring my three-year old son into the shop with me for four weeks. Now that his care has been sorted out I can get back to normal, with one major drawback. I really miss him. I've not been without Bruce for a month and now the shop is empty and quiet. What am I gonna do?

*sniff*

Anyway, apologies to all those (insane) people who follow my blog for not posting in a long while. I'm still here, Farsight Games and Hard Sixes is still going and things are pretty good. The shop is still establishing itself but I've come to realise something in the two-and-a-half months we've been open - it's insanely difficult to get new blood into the hobby.

I've run some demos for the yonger generation (10-14 years old) with the intention of getting them hooked but the attention span is not there. They simply do not want to invest the time into playing a game where there's a learning curve involved when they can simply turn on a computer or slap a disc into a console and get into the action straight away. How do you compete with that?

Well, I'm relying on the schools and colleges. There's a local college which does not have an established club, so I've given the players who attend the place some discount cards and told them if they create one and get new or exisiting players in I'll help support it. Last week I had a visit from a primary school teacher and her son and he's interested in the games, so I said that if they want to sort out an after-school trip to the shop I'll run some games for them for a couple of hours. There's also a local Comprehensive School (oh, sorry - we call them High Schools now, don't we?) but I'm finding that a lot more difficult to convince that tabletop gaming is a good idea, most likely because they're a bit older and a bit more established in the computer/console genre. I'm hoping to be surprised.

There's not a lot else I can do. I've had an advertisement go out in the local papers regarding the shop and the hobby, so I'm still waiting for feedback on that. I really want to get new players in to keep the hobby going. Don't get me wrong, my reasons aren't completely altruistic; I also need the customer base!

ADDITIONAL

Lichfield's ORC is being ressurected and we're looking to recruit. Games will take place at a yet to be determined location in Lichfield, Staffs on Thursday nights from 7:00 to 10:00. Any game accepted, but primarily our focus will be on tabeltop RPGs. Initial costs are looking at around £1.50 to £2.00 for members, +£1.00 for non-members. It will be a non-profit organisation, of course, and any monies left over will be spent on games decided on by club member vote.

We're also looking at a possible one-day convention next year at the Guild Hall in Lichfield, but these details are yet to be finalised.

Members of any clubs are be entitled to 10% discounts instore at Hard Sixes in Sutton Coldfield - www.hardsixes.moonfruit.com - with extra discounts and offers for members of LORC.

If you're interested then please register at our forum by going through the gateway site www.lorc.moonfruit.com. The more people who can make it the more chance I have of getting this club off the gorund.

Cheers!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Actual conversation with 3-year old

What follows is a conversation I had with my 3 year old son when I put him to bed the other night. He wanted to talk, and when I asked about what he said 'ask me a question'. So I did.

Q: So, what do you do in the Imperium?
A: I'm a pilot.
Q: Really? Do you fly the Black Ships and take psykers to the Emperor?
A: Yeah. It's a big spaceship.
Q: What do the psykers say to you?
A: They say. 'what you doing, bumhead?'
Q: They call you bumhead?
A: Yeah, like this (squeaky voice) 'what you doing, you bumhead?'
Q: That's not nice. What do you say?
A: I say, 'be quiet! I'm trying to fly the spaceship!'
Q: How do you feel about delivering the psykers to the Emperor?
A: (pause) Erm... it's okay.
Q: Don't you like it?
A: No. I fly in the spaceship to the planet and I land and I have to fly away again because all the people are saying, 'go away, you bumhead'. And I fly away and they say, 'come back!' and I just fly and I go home.
Q: Is that because they call you a bumhead?
A: Yeah.
Q: It's not nice being called a bumhead, is it?
A: No.
Q: Do they always say it?
A: No, because I crash the spaceships on their heads and say, 'you bumheads!'
Q: Nice. But then you can't take them to the Emperor. Does he mind?
A: No, he laughs because I crash on them.
Q: The God Emperor laughs? He likes you?
A: Yeah. We play Postman Pat game.
Q: You play Postman Pat with the God Emperor of the Imperium, the protector of all mankind for ten thousand years?
A: Yeah. He cheats.
Q: Goodnight, Bruce.
A: Goodnight, dad. I love you.
Q: I love you. Sleep well, and dream of spaceships.
A: I will.

So there you have it. The God Emperor of mankind likes the Postman Pat game and cheats when he plays. You heard it here first.

Bruce is helping me out in the shop for the next four weeks so come and experience the wonders of the RPG toddler. Conversations never get boring.

Friday, 24 September 2010

My new project

After creating and reading some of the replys in this RPG.net thread, I've decided that a post-apocalyptic science fiction campaign should be my next setting. I won't just use a single world, though - I'm spreading it out across the entire galaxy.

Here's an intro taken from my book 'ALL FALL DOWN' - I'm basing it all on my setting for the story I wrote called 'VITALS'.

I cannot tell you what year it is, and that is the honest truth. We do not know for sure, but some people believe it to be the year nine thousand, two hundred and ten. How they came to that figure we do not know, but they seem comfortable with it. So we accept it.
I wish I could tell you what has happened to the human race over the last few thousand years. That is, accurately tell you. But we don’t fully know that, either. What I can tell you, and this is as concise as I can be so you will have to read the many datasheets we have on the subject, is this. And please know that even this is based upon data scattered across the Settled Systems.
About three or four hundred years after the Seedships left the Home System, which we believe was the year twenty-nine ninety-eight, yes? After they left, the whole Solar System was working towards a new goal. They apparently were satisfied that the Seedships would do their work and the future of the human race was secure, so they concentrated on creating a better life for themselves. This is conjecture, as we know that there was a long period of prosperity after the Seedship departure. The ability to travel the stars with new drives had become the reality, and instead of years the journeys were reduced to months. Mankind was outward bound.
In about a thousand years mankind had spread to the nearest stars, and had even come across the descendants of the Seedships on some worlds. These Seedships had had a long time to create their own civilizations and they were welcomed into the spread of the human race like lost children. From what we know, the first Earth Empire (as the scholars call it – if that was it’s real name we’ll probably never know) ruled many worlds in many systems.
The Empire lasted for nearly another thousand years. But then other colonies of the Seedships were found, and these people were… not so friendly. The aim of the Empire was to find the Seedship crews and bring them back into the human race, so to speak, but some of these colonies did not want to be ruled by an Earth they considered two thousand years dead. Words turned into arguments. Arguments turned into conflict. Wars started.
The Empire fractured as worlds realised that they did not need the support of the old Home System. Civil war began in many places as planets fought for independence. The Earth Empire, desperately trying to hold itself together, fought on a dozen different fronts. Then, the Great Crime occurred.
We’re not sure what the Great Crime was, but it appears that something happened to Earth’s sun. It erupted. Whether through some kind of intentional interference, a natural occurrence or even technology gone wrong, the sun exploded. We’ll never know why, truth be told. The home of the human race was wiped out, and everything we had ever learned and built on that long dead world was destroyed.
The wars continued as every system blamed the other for the destruction of the Home System. Hundreds of years passed. With the old drive technology it took a long time for fighting ships to find and reach each other, and even with reduced time dilation in effect it sometimes took years of real time for battles to finally occur, which was most likely why the war lasted so long. It wasn’t until the invention of the magdrive and the Hypercom Network that people realised that the war was futile. They were fighting the battles of their dead great-grandfathers.
The Hypercom was a massive network of data that linked all the settled worlds together, a huge datanet that penetrated small artificial wormholes for instant communication to distant stars. It transformed the colonies, now that mankind could actually talk to each other directly. It was all under the control of the first true Artificial Intelligence. Not an AI like a Seedship’s AI ball, which is a downloaded personality from a human being’s brain, but a true AI, born from an electronic network and, basically, kept alive by the Hypercom. It was as if the Hypercom Network was the brain of the thing. It was, apparently, the thing that saved mankind from total destruction.
I wish I could give you more details as to why that was, and on how it truly worked, but we don’t know that.
The AI was so successful that any information on anything at all could be downloaded as fast as thought. Technological advances increased in leaps. The future of the human race was secure. There was nothing the AI could not do. It became so successful that the human race depended on it for everything. I mean everything. Even the basics of life, such as schooling and working for a living, became obsolete. What was the point of schools if the knowledge you needed could be downloaded in seconds? There was literally nothing for the human race to do – the AI controlled it all, did it all, worked it all out. In short, the human race became complacent, lazy. The AI was the New God of the Settled Systems. This went on for hundreds of years.
So, it must have come as a huge shock when it all collapsed. We do not know why that happened. The AI shut down, was destroyed, malfunctioned, sabotaged… it just stopped. There was no communication. No knowledge. No advances in technical science that the human race had come to depend on. Without the AI, everything collapsed. Can you imagine it? Human beings staggering around as if their brains had been cut out, not knowing what to do without the AI’s guidance, not knowing where to go, how to live. The whole of mankind was virtually wiped out because they were almost too stupid to do things for themselves. Complete dependence on an information network had reduced them to virtual simpletons.
Billions died. Cut off from their sources of food and aid from other worlds that had always been shipped to them by automated starships controlled by the AI, not knowing how to treat medical emergencies, technical breakdowns and mass suicides. Wars. Famines. Pestilence. Basically, it was almost the end of the human race.
The Collapse, as we call it now, was almost a thousand years ago from what we can gather. In that time a lot of things have happened.
Of course, there were many humans who still filled their lives with knowledge and some kind of work, and these people led the remnants of the human race into the future, as best they could. They relearned how to fly starships, how to fend for themselves. A lot of the know-how was lost, however. Ships and communities rotted as things broke down. The part of the human race that you see around you now pretty much depends on old tech and scavenging to keep going. Everything around us is decaying and collapsing. Some bore the brunt of the Collapse and others… well, they were forced to change to adapt. The human race splintered, some kept themselves away from the resurgence of technology, afraid to become dependant on it again. Others did what they could to regain the lost days of old. Others tried… new ways. None of us have been completely successful. Under it all there’s a sense of rot, a sense of another impending implosion, and it’s all we can do to keep going. A lot of this tech you see about you… well, if it broke down now there’s not one of us on this ship that could fix it. We’d have to jump from star to star to find someone who might be able to help us. The three ships you saw in the docking bay are old Grim Strike Gunboats. We took them from the warship that attacked your Seedship. We’re trying to fix them up as best we can so that we can use them ourselves, scrapping what can’t be used on the Gunboats and later we’ll see if we can integrate the scrap into our ship. If we’re lucky we’ll have two of those ships operational. And we’re supposed to be the peak of current technological achievement out of the whole of the human race!
Where was I? Oh, yes, the splintering of the human race. Well, everyone reacted to the Collapse in different ways.
We’re the Aspirationists. We believe that we can regain what we lost, get past this rot and once again look to the future. It’s hard – we’ve only just begun to properly turn ore into usable tools and parts for ships. That’s what’s down on the surface of Perrox, the world we’re over, why there’s so much activity here. On the surface is our first fully working mine. We want the human race to be as it was during the rule of the AI but without the dependence on a single entity. That’s where we feel the human race went wrong. We were at peace, we were moving amongst the stars, but we were lazy and weak. It almost killed us.
The Grims are just that; they’re grim. They come from worlds where the population fell on each other to survive and out of that was born a savage civilization dependant on death and theft. That’s their future – violence and hate, even for themselves, like they know they are lost but lack the willpower to do anything about it. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not stupid, but they have different morals to the rest of us.
The Peacefuls are those who have shunned tech and live on worlds where they can use the natural order of things to survive. They’re quiet and hard working and they don’t bother anyone. They’re not happy when a starship lands on their worlds but they are good traders. They’re where we get a lot of our supplies.
The Roamers… well, they roam. They pretty much stay in space for the entirety of their lives, moving from place to place in great starships and trading what they can to stay afloat in this galaxy. They’re a great source of supplies but they will do what they can to get the better deal and they spend a lot of time scavenging dead ships and settlements.
There are a lot of different groups but these are the larger ones, and then… well, then there is the New Church of the Dead Gods.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

DEATHWATCH review

DEATHWATCH is the newest Warhammer 40K Roleplaying game from Fantasy Flight Games, taking players into a whole new realm in the ‘Grim Darkness of the 41st Millenium’. Following on from their succesful DARK HERESY and ROGUE TRADER titles, DEATHWATCH now gives players the chance to play the super-soldiers of the Imperium: the Space Marines.

The premise is at once simple and clever. Instead of having the players sitting about the table discussing which one of their favourite Adeptus Astartes chapters they should be fighting in (and you are given six to choose from in the rulebook, but there’s nothing stopping you from adding others, or even your own), DEATHWATCH allows for them to choose their chapter. You see, each of the Space Marines has been hand picked to serve in ‘Kill-teams’, special squads of marines that are sent on small and difficult missions for the Imperium. So, instead of playing one of many marines in a chapter, you get to play a unique marine in a squad of many. Good start, and a great premise for a game.

So, I’ll give you a brief overview of the book. The system is the one you know from playing DARK HERESY and ROGUE TRADER so there is very little change in how the game work, except that these characters will be far more powerful than the PCs from the previous two games. It’s simple enough - a percentage-based system (roll less than your percentage in the skill to succeed) and it uses only two D10s for the roll. Specialities and Talents decide the abilities and skills of the marine you play and helps define your role in the Kill-team. There’s a long section on armour and weapons (including Terminator armour! Yay!) which gives you plenty of toys to play with, followed by a Psychic Powers section so you can play a Librarian and get busy with the mind tricks. And melting.. The Playing The Game section lays out the rules, whilst the Combat chapter gets to the nitty gritty of the game and gives you plenty of options to play with, including plenty of tactical options and critical tables. Following the Game Master section, which has plenty of good advice on how to run a DEATHWATCH game, is a chapter about the Imperium that goes into a lot of detail (including a lovely full-colour map of the galaxy). The book is rounded out by a chapter about the Deathwatch and it’s beginnings and credo, a description of the area of space the players will be thrust into, The Jericho Reach, a decent Adverseries section detailing the foes of the Imperium (including a section about playing ‘hordes’, in which GMs can create great groups of creatures/enemies and roll them as a single group, so the PCs can cut a swathe through dozens of enemies without having to roll for every single one of them) and an adventure, Extraction.

Now, as this is a capsule review I have primarily read the background and roleplaying possibilities that this book offers. To be fair, I had my doubts about the game as a whole. You see, to me the best of the WH40K Roleplaying games up to yet was ROGUE TRADER. I was concerned that a game where you spend your time purging and cleansing for the Emperor would get old and leave little space for roleplaying. While I did feel a little restricted by DARK HERESY (and was kind of upset that I felt I was playing second fiddle to an NPC Inquisitor in the original game), ROGUE TRADER changed my view somewhat. Shady deals outside the Imperium? Characters with depth, history, family bloodlines and mostly personal reasons why they were travelling the stars? Give me some of that! Now, with DEATHWATCH, the same doubts returned. Space Marines are about as two dimensional as you can get – WAR FOR THE EMPEROR! and all that entails. How could you possibly make a playable character out of that? I already had images in my head of running a game:

What do you want to do?’
KILL FOR THE EMPEROR!
‘Okay, so you head into the town. You see a man standing...’
KILL HIM IN THE NAME OF THE EMPEROR!
‘There’s a small starship sat on the landing pad. You see people inside.’
Okay, I’ll approach the vessel and introduce myself.
‘What do you say?’
DIE IN THE NAME OF THE EMPEROR!

Ad nauseum.

The DEATHWATCH rulebook handles this very well. There are entire sections on how to define your marine’s personality. It gives you options as to your heritage, allows you to choose what kind of world you heralded from and what kind of background/upbringing you had that lead you to becoming a Space Marine, to be surgically and genetically altered and enhanced to become one of the Emperor’s finest. You could have been a hiver or a noble, a savage or a religious knight... there was a reason you were selected for the Space Marines. Of course, your indocrination and training will make you think the Space Marine way but these details about your past help to define the small things about your character. The ideas don’t stop there – why were you selected for Deathwatch? What does such a posting mean to you? What do you desire, what do you hate? These questions help define each Space Marine as a singular character instead of being a cardbord cutout, a production line soldier who cares very little about anything other than purging and cleansing for the Emperor. These questions do make you think about your marine and why he does the things he does. In some ways it even makes you question if they actually want to do this! That way of thinking could lead to traitorous thoughts, but what a game that would make!

DEATHWATCH has done something very clever, something I’ve not seen done with Space Marines (and I’ve not read any of the novelisations so I don’t know how they handled it). They lifted the Space Marines out of their chapters, where they would be expected to act in a certain way and think as their battle-brothers do, and put them in a slightly fish-out-of-water scenario. They’ve been teamed up with marines of other chapters, marines who may do things differently, have different levels of piety or have traditions totally different to them. This could cause animosity, distrust, competition, even outright hate. As the game progresses these relationships either simmer, improve or deteriorate. Either way, that could make for some great roleplaying and that’s what I want out of a game.

All in all it’s a very impressive book. Weighing in at more than 400 pages, the hardcover book is filled with the usual high-quality full-colour artwork and beautifully laid-out glossy pages. It’s an impressive book and looks wonderful on the shelf next to DARK HERESY and ROGUE TRADER.

What didn’t I like about the book? Well, there’s plenty of material in here to keep you in games for a long time but expansions will no doubt be needed if you don’t want to create your own material. You can easily use DARK HERESY and ROGUE TRADER material to fill out your games, that’s the plus of the whole product line, but you will find that they are underpowered against the Space Marines and they’ll need tweaking. The Adversaries section could have been longer, with a few more baddies to mow down, but it works just fine. But, come on, no Orks? No Eldar? You get Chaos, Tau and Tyranids, and a few non-player characters I suppose you could use as bad guys. If you don’t have the previous RPGs and their supplements and DEATHWATCH is your first buy you might feel a little let down, as the amount of weapons you get to use is slightly ruined by the lack of bad guys to use them on.

As a fan of the Warhammer Roleplay worlds and a player of the ROGUE TRADER RPG this book mightily impressed me, even if I felt that the book could have done with more material regarding the things the Space Marines go up against. But, not only does it open a whole new area of the WH40K game world to roleplay in, I've also got the perfect material to make my ROGUE TRADER players nervous when they're instructed to transport DEATHWATCH Space Marines across the Imperium! An excellent addition to the WH40K Roleplay range.

Monday, 20 September 2010

A podcast? Is it worth it?

I've recently come into the possession of some software to record and edit some short MP3 tracks, but I'm not sure what to do with it. I've considered doing my own podcast with my wife who also has a passion for all things nerdy. We disagree on many things sci-fi and fantasy and I thought it'd be funny to hear a husband and wife having a heated debate on geek stuff. I was going to call it 'DOMESTIC!' and make it a bi-weekly thing.

But is it worth it? There are plenty of other and more worthy podcasts out there so will another one really add anything to the mix, other than the gimmick of it being a married couple at loggerheads?

I'm not sure. I might just give it a go to see if it'd be any fun.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

How can I be taken seriously ever again? *weeps*

The thing with running my own games shop is the fact that I've restricted myself as regards to what I can and cannot say about games that I like or dislike.

If sit here and write a thousand word essay on why I think the new game 'The Fantasy Adventurer Player's Guide To The World Of Pibblypong' utterly sucks then I can pretty much forget about selling it - gamers will read it, see the link and then say 'hold on... he owns a games shop and even he says it sucks like a turbo Hoover... I ain't getting that!'

Alternatively, if I say the new game 'Dead Horrible Misunderstood Bad Guys: The Fleecing Second Edition' is probably the best game on the shelves and that every discerning gamer should own a copy, readers will read it and say, 'Hold on... this guy runs his own gaming shop... of course he's going to say how great it is so that we buy it! Well, I'm not falling for it!'

Rock and a hard place, I reckon. Have I, in my new capacity as a gaming store owner, managed to muzzle myself on my gaming opinions? I love talking about what games I like and dislike, about what games excite me and what I find wrong with them. Now, it appears, that might not be the best thing to do on a public forum, unless I create a whole new blog under a new identity but that kind of defeats the purpose; I want people to know it was me who voiced those opinions otherwise it's not really worth it.

Most of the blog posts I've made since July have been in reference to the Hard Sixes shop so it's already obvious that I'm mostly using this blog as a forum for advertising my store and my wares. That in itself reduces my credibility as far as balanced and fair views of the games I like. Of course, I'm going to be reluctant to bash a game that I'm stocking because I want people to buy it. It appears my critical days are over. *sniff* I'll have to stick to opinions on the gaming hobby, I suppose.

Saying that, Deathwatch is fricking awesome!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Ooooh, where have I been? Reading Deathwatch and D&D Essentials, that's where!

The Hard Sixes website has been given a facelift and looks super duper. Click on the big link to the right to get there. Props goes to my wonderful wife Lisa who designed and created the website, so well done to you, wifey. What a perfect life I have in which I have a wife who plays MMOs with me, is gearing up for a Dragon Age RPG game and designs nerd websites. Love ya lots.

I've finally got my hands on two things - firstly, I've been reading through D&D Essentials Starter Set. Now, if you want to introduce someone to the hobby then get them a copy of this. It's excellent, and has everything they need to play D&D 4th. It'll only take them up to level 3, sure, but the low price and all the dice, cards and info you get is more than worth it. I'm very impressed.

I also got my hands on the Deathwatch RPG. I'll sum it up in one simple sentence: I get to play a Terminator Marine.

That's all you need to know. Beautiful book.

I'm hoping to start running a Dragon Age RPG game for my Dragon Age CRPG loving wife very soon, so looking forward to that. Our GM is finally starting his Pathfinder game and I'm excited about playing my new Ranger, and I've had some wonderful ideas for a Warhammer FRPG 1st Edition game thanks to the art book of the Warhammer Online Collector's Edition. And I have my own shop! It's a great time to be a roleplayer!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Hard Sixes Saturday Madness Update

Just a quick note on the Fighting Fantasy competition game for Hard Sixes Saturday Madness on Saturday 4th September:

Rules will be as per the standard Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, with players creating standard adventurers. Players will roll randomly for their scores, but if they do not like their first character’s scores they may roll again, but they must keep their second character. The whole character must be rolled, not individual scores.

There will be no magic users (yet!) and there will be a slight tweak to the combat system – instead of both combatants rolling 2D6 and the highest one wins, one player rolls first and the other has to beat their SKILL+2D6 score with their own SKILL+2D6 roll. Initiative will be determined by highest SKILL+2D6 roll.

Depending on how many take part , I will be running small 4-player games in up to two dungeon encounters that will last about 30 minutes. The winners will be:

- Those who survive
- If all players die/more than one player survives, the winner is who scored the most amount of hit points on enemies

If any players tie, then they have to duel. If there is more than one group to game, the winners of each group play in a final encounter.

Standard SKILL, STAMINA and LUCK rules apply, but if a winning player goes on to the next round/final they can reset their SKILL and STAMINA scores but not their LUCK.

For more info on the Fighting Fantasy rules, click here. There’s more than one page and all the rules are there (ignore the FEAR and MAGIC rules).

Games begin at 12:30pm. The winner gets a copy of the FREELOADER game from Cheapass Games and a spiffing trophy!*

Any questions, email: hardsixes (at) gmail.com

Happy adventuring, and may your stamina never fail!

*Possibly not as spiffing as I'm making it out to be

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Hard Sixes Saturday Madness - save up to 20%!

SATURDAY MADNESS

Got a gaming club membership card? Got a Hard Sixes Club Discount membership card? Even if you haven’t we can sort you out on the day - get down to Hard Sixes in Sutton Coldfield and claim up to 20% discount on selected goods in the shop for one day only: Saturday 4th September.

We’ve got a gaming table so come on down and bring your decks, boardgames, sit in on a classic Fighting Fantasy competition game (simple rules rule!) to win a copy of the game Freeloader, and take part in the raffle to win a copy of Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition. There’s cafes aplenty around here so there’s plenty of places to get something to eat and drink.

If you know someone who’s interested in getting into roleplaying games then bring them along – we do RPG workshops where new gamers can learn, experience and enjoy the magic of tabletop roleplaying games.

There’s plenty of bargains to be had so make a note – Saturday 4th September. Hard Sixes, 10:00am to 5:00pm.

HARD SIXES - The Gaming Store
Units 42-43 Inshops (Sutton Market)
65 South Parade
Sutton Coldfield
Staffs
B72 1QU
0121 354 8600
hardsixes@gmail.com

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

My new favourite thing

A Judge Minty fan film -

And check out the drokkin' trailer:


Stomm!!!!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Hard Sixes - Advertising and club discount scheme

This is something I've been pushing today, getting in touch with local clubs. To be honest, it's not just for local clubs - anyone who is even just visiting the area and has their membership card with them is entitled. Good for sales, good for the RPG community. Below is the blurb I'm using:

'As we’ve just opened and we’re looking to support local gaming clubs as best we can, we'd like to extend an offer to clubs and it's members - buy anything in the shop and get a 10% discount as long as you have your club membership card with you. This offer extends to all members of all clubs and covers all the products in the shop. It does not apply to purchases on the website or Ebay.

We're at HARD SIXES, Units 42-43 Inshops, 65 South Parade, Sutton Coldfield, Staffordshire, B72 1QU, Tel. 0121 354 8600 for more information. Where we are is also known as Sutton Market, and when you walk in through the main doors, go on until the first 'crossroads' and turn right - we're just down there.'

I'm also advertising in the local rags the benefits of RPGs, and the fact that I'm putting on game demonstrations for people who are interested in getting in to the hobby. I'm hoping it'll attract some if not a lot of attention. Below is the mock-up for the advert:

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

HARD SIXES - The shop is now open and doing business

Well, it's all go now. There's no more planning or building to do. The shop is open and running smoothly, and we're doing business.

Here's the shop as it looks at the moment - we're hoping to be putting more on the outside in the form of posters and advertising.


The interior is now packed with stuff old and new, and we've even managed to get a gaming table and chairs in there with plenty of room to spare!


And here's a picture of our first customer Jason, who bought the Pathfinder core rulebook from us. He kindly agreed to strike a silly pose for a picture.

Yesterday I did my first RPG demo with new players who were very interested in bringing their friends down to have a go, and as such I've got more booked for next week. They're just simple half-hour to and hpur long sessions to show the basics and it really works. Here's to some more in the future.

We've got a dedicated website at www.hardsixes.co.uk and an Ebay shop slowly building.

Man. This feels good.

Monday, 2 August 2010

HARD SIXES - New Gaming Shop Opening

Make a note in your diaries. Tattoo it on your body. Scream it from the rooftops.

Hard Sixes is open for business.

Our official opening date is Saturday 7th August, but we're open now. Boardgames, Wargames, Roleplaying games... if the game needs your imagination, we'll be doing it. It's our goal to not only cater for the exisiting gamer but to actively try and bring fresh blood into the hobby. We want more people sitting around more tables playing more games. We'll be planning events, attending shows and promoting the social, educational, creative and entertaining nature of the products we'll be selling.

So, if you're in the area (being overseas is no excuse!) get yourself down to:

HARD SIXES
Units 42-43 Inshops
65 South Parade
Sutton Coldfield
B72 1QU
United Kingdom


Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell them to tell their friends. Hell, tell them to tell people they don't even know. Even people they don't like. Tell everyone.

I'll be there. Waiting. Don't let me down. I'm lonely.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Gaming shop tournament ideas

So here's an idea I've had.

As my shop is very small there's not a lot of room for massive tournaments, but I want to attract some gaming attention and have put in a small round gaming table, like this:

As you can see there's not a heck of a lot of space.

So here's my idea. Every local gaming club selects a player. That player comes to the shop and matches his wits in a small three-room dungeon with other selected players from other clubs, all with pregenerated character so that they balance. The character surviving the dungeon wins. If more than one survives, the one with the most XP wins. If it's a tie - they duel! This is also the case if they all die. The winner gets a free game for their club and a little plastic trophy with 'woohoo!' inscribed on it, and a picture on the shop wall. The games are bi-monthly.

It's small and needs some little house rules, and I have no idea what system to use, but it would be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Construction of a gaming shop - Part 5

So, there I was, sitting in the empty shop waiting on deliveries. I even got there early in case the delivery guys came, and waited and waited and waited... I was so bored.

I even started to draw up some new 'Hard Sixes' logos, just for the hell of it.

And then it all came! All at once! The games and books and counter and wall hooks and book stands... it was like Christmas, except that none of it belonged to me. Straight away I Put the stuff up on the shelves and checked it all off.

So, now my shelves look like this:

And this:

And after acquiring an old magazine display unit that a fellow shop owner was throwing out, I've even got a place for a lot of the free RPG games and other stuff.

Tomorrow, my till arrives. I've also got my pricing gun so I can price up my stock tomorrow. All things being well, I might even be able to start trading next Monday.

Bloody hell. It's really happening!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Construction of a gaming shop - Part 4

Monday, and I've managed to get some insanely cheap shelves into the shop. At £9.99 each and standing tall and proud, they've filled the gap under the windows really nicely.

There was one catch, however - I had to transport them from the store where I purchased them to my unit... by train. That's 20 plus kilos of kit carried by hand to the station, then from the station to the shop. Yes, it was heavy. Yes, I did have to stop every hundred feet or so. Yes, I am in a lot of pain right now. But it was neccessary, and I managed to do it.

Following my amazing feat of strength and endurance I then put up the first of many posters, kindly donated by my good friend Mark Newbold of www.lightsabre.org.uk. It now sits proudly on the main wall.

After all that I managed to verify the delivery of my counter and my first stock order (all to be here by Wednesday) then I got on the train and headed home.

The rest of the afternoon was taken up by emailing all the primary gaming clubs in the UK, follow-up calls for orders and deliveries, and to complain to the telecommunications people that not only did they get the installation date of the line wrong they have also got the company name wrong. Apparently we're called 'Hard Fixes'.

Idiots.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Construction of a gaming shop - Part 3

It's the little things in life that slow you down. You think you've planned for everything but nothing ever goes to plan, and almost 100% of the time it's the fault of other people.

I've sorted out everything the shop needs - counter, shelves, till, even a phone/broadband line - and in almost every case there is a delay in delivering. The counter will hopefully be here by the end of next week, and the telecommuniocations providers have shafted me by putting back my connection by one whole week. Some rather loud and annoyed ranting ensued.

With all this in mind the official opening date of Hard Sixes is now:

SATURDAY AUGUST 7TH
10:00am to 5:00pm

It would have been next Saturday - should have been next Saturday - but events out of my control have forced me back. We'll probably be trading before then, but officially this is out opening date.

The normal opening times are Mon-Fri 10:00am to 4:30pm, Saturdays 9:30am to 5:00pm, Sundays Closed.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Construction of a gaming shop - Part 2

The first display items for the shop arrived today. A pair of fluffy dice air fresheners graciously donated by my lovely wife:

And then the three shelving units we'll be using for the RPGs and Boardgames arrived. Took me a couple of hours but they all went up really well.

Looking good. I also cheekily cut out some of the more generic artwork from this month's issue of 'White Dwarf' magazine and stuck them up on the windows to help generate interest.

Tonight I've been going over my order for the first lot of stock and it's not looking great, to be honest. I've quashed my bias towards certain games and made sure I'm ordering stock that will attract an eclectic mix of customers. I'm taking care of the RPGs and Richard the board and wargames. We'll also be looking into CCGs but we can top up the budget with them if neccesary. I've also got a few items in my personal collection I'm willing to donate to help fill out the shelves. Add to that items from other collectors I know and I'm looking to get in some great stock that'll appeal to everyone.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The construction of a gaming shop - Part 1

Painting. Painting. And... more painting.

The initial project, after sorting out suppliers and display units, was painting the shop to a desired colour. I wasn't sure the off-pink salmoncolour the shop was currently coloured was going to go down well with consumers. My wife, bless her heart, chose a nice bright yet unobtrusive colour that would blend well into the background after posters, art and shelving were put up.
It went well. We got it done in about four hours, although when I go back in today there'll no doubt be more touching up to be done. As it stands at the moment, though, the painting is done and finished.
Just to make sure people knew what we were doing, I put little signs up in the windows:

Saturday, 17 July 2010

New Shop Venture Continues!!!

'Hard Sixes', the hobby gaming shop I'm opening with my friend Richard, is going full guns. The shop itself has now been secured and I have the keys - the rather simple job of redecorating begins today. The shop is in good condition so I think the painting will only take a day or so. Then it's bringing in the shelves, counter, tables, till and then finally stock.

I want to make sure that the shop itself does not only cater to the existing hobby crowd. It will be primarily for them - they'll be my bread and butter after all - but I need to make sure that I'm bringing new blood into the hobby. Those times I've walked into shops and seen an assistant sitting bored behind the counter... they could be using that time to organise events, get kids interested, think about ways to bring new and old gamers together. Contacting colleges, universities, gaming groups, all kinds of things.

This is going to be a job for me, first and foremost. The contents of the shop will not be my own private collection. It's also not a hangout for my gaming friends. I want them there, that's for sure, but it has to be for the right reasons. The last thing I want is for someone interested in the hobby to walk into the shop and then walk right out again when they see everyone in there staring at them with suspicion, like they just walkd into a private club.

These are my plans, my dreams. I'm going to be there six days a week every week for the foreseeable future. I want to make sure I don't waste any of that time.

Friday, 9 July 2010

'HARD SIXES' - A new hobby gaming shop

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to my new business -

HARD SIXES

In partnership with my good friend Richard Williams, I will soon be opening a small retail shop and online store to sell boardgames, wargames, roleplaying games and card games. Our driving business ethic is to not only serve the existing customer base but to draw new blood into the hobby with convention appearances, gaming days, workshops and our own expo event days.

We should be open for business by the 30th of this month, so I'll be sure to let you all know when it happens.

How exciting!!!!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

If I was in charge...

... these films would be in production RIGHT NOW!

A new Mad Max movie with the same production team (or as close as dammit) but starring Sam Worthington. Yeah? can you see it? Can you see Sam in the cop leathers nailing bikers in his 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon Coupe? Sorry - his V8 Interceptor?



I know I can. Sam would be the perfect for the restart of the Mad Max movies, though Tom Hardy, the guy they have in mind according to http://www.imdb.com/, will no doubt do an excellent job as he's a great actor. But Sam Worthington, man! I don't care how much Clash of the Titans sucked, he'd be perfect for it.

Then, I'd give Clint Eastwood a call for him to direct a new 'Man With No Name' spaghetti western, with Hugh Jackman playing the dude himself.


Oh, come on - don't tell me you don't see it. Watch 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' and don't try and tell me the scene where Blondie's hair is all stuck up when he rolls down the sand dune after being dragged along by Tuco doesn't make him look like Wolverine.

You know I'm right, Hollywood. You bloody well do.

Have a look at the video below (not for kids, I have to warn you!). This is how the new Mad Max movie should be made: hands-on with no CGI or dodgy computer effects. Real. Solid. Oh, and the moment at 4:25 in is possibly the greatest 'F*** you!' cinema moment ever, without the need for words. Just look at the carnage that one shot causes!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Conan Kicks Kaboose!

I first read Conan waaaay back when I was a wee nipper. I read a few of the short stories in between reading the 'Lord of the Rings' books and I remember really enjoying them. I don't really remember what happened in the stories - it was so long ago - and my image of Conan ended up being defined by the Arnold movies and the Marvel comics, both of which didn't bowl me over (though I do like the original Conan movie for what it is).

As I was having trouble appreciating fantasy works other than 'The Lord of the Rings' (as I mentioned in a previous post) I decided to pick up Conan again in the form of the Chronicles book, which I purchased last year but never got around to properly reading. I did say in my previous post that even Howard couldn't satiate my need for good fantasy fiction, but since I read him a long time ago as a teenager and didn't really immerse myself in his world I decided to have another stab.

Why the flagnar didn't I read this before?

It's bloody brilliant. The mood, the atmosphere, the sheer visceral in-your-face-ness of it all. All these ridiculous notions of a bare-chested furry-pants wearing bodybuilder have been struck from my mind. The world is so evocative and involving I want to run a roleplaying game there right now! The sheer size of the background of it all shocked me and it gives you all the info you need to travel the world that Howard envisioned. Brilliant, brilliant stuff. Could this be the setting that saves me from total LotR domination? That is yet to be seen, but at the moment I've not compared Howard to Tolkien in any way. That's a good sign.

I also read the life history of Howard in the back of the book, from his beginnings to his tragic end. Man, it is a real sad story and kind of made me down, but reading the work he produced... God, the man was good.

Nice one, Bob.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

EVE Online

Ah, crap.

Now don't get me wrong - EVE Online is a beautiful game. In fact, it's probably the perfect game for MMO players who want to zip around the cosmos doing things with a spaceship that geeks can only dream about.

The thing is, that's pretty much all you can do. I'm sure there's more to it than the few things I did in the short time I spent on the trial I downloaded, it's just that I want to play a game that draws me in with stuff to do. I never got that from EVE Online. You see, I want the same kind of experience I got from World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online - I want to be able to run around as a character and be able to relate to my avatar in some small way. I also want to be able to travel to other places in my own starship, actually climb into my vessel and take off and land and dock and leave planets under my own steam and not have to watch loading screens do it for me...

Yeah, this has turned into more of a wish list of what I want to see in a science fiction MMO rather than a critique of EVE. Honestly, EVE looks like a good game. For those of you who want something different from an MMO I'd recommend you check it out. It just wasn't for me and my rather definitive requirements.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Great MMO Search

With Warhammer Online 'in server transition' (and bugging me no end because there still been no answer from anyone regarding the problems I talked about in my last post) I decided to have a search around the internet to see if there are any other MMOs worth checking out.


First of all me and the wife had a look at 'Guild wars' and downloaded the free trial.

Considering that you pay for the game and that's it - there's no monthly fee - it's a pretty good deal. It's pretty to look at, easy to play and quite well made. The thing is... there's just no atmosphere. Nothing to draw you in to the game. It's all a bit of a fireworks display, with pretty colours and noises, but ultimately it's a bit hollow. The price is excellent, I just don't see the longevity in it. Also, there's this Manga-esque feel to it, and I'm sick to the back teeth of a parrot with Manga-influenced designs.


From there I moved on to the 'Star Wars Galaxies' free trial.

The graphics suck. The control and combat interface is pretty rubbish. The handling of starships and speeders blows and the character models are a little dicey. Still... it is Star Wars, and I've been playing this for the last three hours. Although it's a bit ropey it's atmospheric and fun. I'm limited as to what I can do with my trial account but if I'm still having fun with it after the fourteen days, and if Warhammer Online doesn't sort their shit out, I might consider playing it on a regular basis.

Warhammer Offline

I've only been playing Warhammer Online for a month and already it appears things are going to poop.

It was announced, quite suddenly, on the 24th June that GOA would no longer be hosting the servers that run the game and that all the server responsibilities would be handed over to Mythic. That's fine. They said:

'Over the next few weeks we will be working very closely with the Mythic Team to ensure you all get settled as smoothly as possible. We wish to assure you that all characters, guilds and account information will be migrated to Mythic servers and will be available to present and past players.'

So I ordered two prepaid 60-day gaming cards, one for me and one for my wife, so that we could carry on playing. Suddenly, on the 28th June, this announcement appears on the front page of the warhammer Europe website:

'Tomorrow morning, we will transfer player’s data to Mythic, which will require a short server maintenance.'

That was quick! So what happens to the prepaid time cards I just spent more than £30 on and haven't used yet?

Nobody can tell me! I contacted Billing Support and they told me to read the FAQs on the website, which tells me nothing. I've posted on the official forums (I'm 'Swordsong') and practically begged for an answer, or at least an indication, and as of yet have heard nothing. From what I can tell, GOA have suspended their prepaid system, but does that apply to the cards already out there? Nobody can tell me!

I love Warhammer. I like MMOs. I figured the combination of my favourite fantasy setting and an online game would be a marraige made in heaven.

Yeah, right.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Buck Rogers XXVc - Progress Report

The very first adventure... didn't go so well. The game was great, but the rogue and the engineer of the group were pretty much killed. As it was the first game I was lenient and gave them a second chance in the guise of the mad scientist they were trying to evict bringing them back from the dead so that he could use them for his experiments. Much escaping and running ensued.

The game was good, that much was certain. A few things will be introduced for the next game:

1 - An accounts book. The players have a ship, the 'Tommygun Nova', a 50-ton cruiser they bought for nearly 700,000 credits. With all the repayments, docking fees, fuel costs and other sundries they need to keep track of money coming in and going out. That is a game in itself.

2 - Nose art for the ship. As I'm giving it a slight 1930s/1940s feel, I felt it would be cool to have nose art on the rocketships as they had on the bombers and fighters of the 2nd World War.

There's a selection of nose art here - I figured if the vessels had these they'd be even more individual and give the vessel much more personality, and rocketships would look so cool with these painted on them.

3 - Power down the badguys. Yeah, I guess they died because I slightly over-powered the bad guys. I need to calm down before someone gets seriously hurt!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Roleplaying Games on Channel 4's 'The IT Crowd'

Last night the first episode of the new series of the popular sitcom 'The IT Crowd' was aired and it was, as expected, brilliant. What I didn't expect was for half the show to be taken up by the characters playing a tabletop roleplaying game!

You can watch the whole episode from Channel 4's website, so here's the link for the episode page below, just click the image:

It's just brilliant. Funny, geeky and just... brilliant.

Sorry, didn't realise - the episode is blocked in other countries so this is UK only. :(

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Nuclear Coleslaw - Fallout Web Series Continues

Bit of a heads up - this post apocalyptic series continues and here's the trailer:


Sunday, 20 June 2010

My first Buck Rogers XXVc game

Well, I've just got in from running my first Buck Rogers XXVc game and I think it went really well. My players seemed to enjoy it - I had them create random characters and design their own starship, so they have an investment in the game that goes beyond just adventuring for the sake of it.

I ran a very simple introductory game and got them to the first room of the dungeon/asteroid they have been asked to travel to. They have to evict a crazed genetic scientist who has been creating strange lizard/dog men as his slaves. This is mainly because the dungeon I'm running is 'The Transmuter's Last Touch', a dungeon crawl classic from Goodman Games. I'm just changing the descriptions and locations to give it that science fiction feel.

Not only is this the first of my Buck Rogers games, it's also the first published scenario I've ever run. In 26 years of gaming I have never, ever run a published adventure. It's all new to me!

Anyway, great first game. Looking forward to getting stuck into the campaign.

New Buck Rogers

I'm a bit of a Buck Rogers fan. Not the late/early eighties incarnation, I never cared much for that, but the original 1930s stuff, especially the 'Buster' Crabbe serials (along with Flash Gordon).

So, when I saw that Buck was going to be reborn in a web series I thought 'Okay, sounds interesting'. The clip below was good but didn't really tell me much. It was nice they were starting it in the early 20th century and not updating it like they did with the TV show.


Yeah, I wasn't overwhelmed.

But then I saw this and pretty much peed my pants.




Oh, yeah. That's Buck Rogers.

Please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please don't be shite.

A horse is a horse - unless it's a spaceship

I've been wondering about how to run my new Buck Rogers XXVc game, and I've come to a conclusion: if the system is based on Advanced Dungeon and Dragons Second Edition, then I'm going to play it as Advanced Dungeon and Dragons Second Edition.

This basically means that I'm going to treat spacestations as villages, spacebars as inns, and old abandoned starships, asteroids, moonbases and planetary locations as dungeons. Genetic creatures will take the place of monsters and I'll create a bad guy's palace for the final showdown. A palace with robots and lasergun emplacements.

I think that's why the original D6 Star Wars game did so well as it was basically treated as a dungeon bash in space when it first came out. That's how I used it, at any rate.

A horse is a spaceship and a sword is a lasergun. Shouldn't be too difficult.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Buck Rogers XXVc

I think I know what I want to do next as far as running an RPG is concerned. I want to take a trip back in time and run TSR's Buck Rogers in the 25th Century!

It's got everything I'm looking for in a science fiction RPG right now. Big pulp action heroes, rocket ships, laser ray guns, big bad cackling badguys and great battles against the odds. More than all that, it's fun!

My Traveller game has gotten off to a bit of a false start at the moment. I was going to run a dark, deep space adventure but a couple of cancelled games and some serious lack of forward momentum has kind of turned me off it. Now I'm thinking of doing something a bit more pulp, a bit more adventurous... mainly something a bit more old school, and it doesn't get more old school than science fiction AD&D. It even has THACO!

Oh, crap. THACO. I forgot. I frickin' hate THACO. I've declared my distaste for AD&D 2nd Edition (which is the system Buck Rogers XXVc is derived from) but there are some differences that make it more than playable. In fact, I reckon that if that if TSR had played their cards right - and if the lady in charge of TSR at the time hadn't been Lorraine Williams, a granddaughter of the family Dille who created and owned the Buck Rogers license - this system could have been a serious contender for the science fiction version of Dungeons and Dragons. It honestly could have worked, with campaigns and adventures set in existing and custom-built settings. In fact, there's nothing stopping me from creating a retroclone and doing all that myself! Imagine that!

Hold on a second...

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

What are the odds?!?

I've just spent a very productive morning in the company of my good gaming friend Jason Brown. We had a spare couple of hours so, at my insistence, Jason treated us to a movie. The movie in question was '2012'.

I think we both agreed that it was a massive pile of crap. Sorry, Jason, it was my choice and you paid for it. I owe you four quid. In fact, I'll give you eight to cushion the trauma of having watched such a bad film.

I honestly tried to find a better way to convey my feelings on the film, to try and write a fair and balanced review on the merits and faults of the movie. But I just couldn't. It was just very, very crap. There were lots (and I mean lots) of times during the film that me and Jason just looked at each other and cried, 'what the hell?!?' It was a typical Emmerich movie. The odds are that this character will meet that character who knows this other character who heard of such and such, and that they are all where they need to be to utilise a certain skill you never knew they had ('We need a pilot!' 'Hey! I had two flying lessons!' Thank God! There's a massive effects sequence coming up and we need to fly under collapsing buildings!') or help someone else out who needs it at that very moment. 'There's six billion people in the world! Thank God that this particular Tibetan and his truck turned up at this very moment!' Bloody awful!

In fact, that became our mantra as the film unfolded. 'What are the odds!?!' The odds that he knew how to fly. The odds that he was the limo driver of a man who knew about a way to survive. That they were at Yellowstone park where they met the scientist who had read his book that he had happened to write, when he was with his hot ex-wife who was with the guy who could sort-of fly... a constant stream of coincidences. I'd only known the character's for ten minutes, and I wanted them all to die.

Effects were good. Dropping an aircraft carrier on the Whitehouse was a stroke of over indulgent brilliance.

I have an idea for Emmerich's next movie:

'The Day After Godzilla's Fight for Independance in the Year 2012: What Are The Odds?'

All the way through the film all you'lll hear is the audience shouting, 'Just fly upwards, morons!' and 'Holy crap! What are the odds?'