Monday, 30 September 2013

12 questions from the Octopi Lord: Q2.

Q2. What is your favourite organisation behind wrong-doing in your setting?

I'm always attracted to the villains when I war-game or role-play. I struggle to care about lawful-good types, to me they are more damaging to the world they live in than evil-doers. I see 'baddies' as selfish but ultimately a part of the world whereas overly-principled and fanatic do-gooders have no niche in a humanoid world.

This is why my favourite villains are usually organised criminal syndicates, they are a natural part of their world instead of an anomaly. The name I always fall back on is 'the Red Hand'. It's not that original (it has cropped up in D&D, computer games, old movies etc. not to mention numerous real-life political organisations use it as a symbol) but over the years the Hand has been a great go-to organisation for countless adventures and scenarios.

They are useful because they can turn their 'hand' (pun-fu is weeeak...) to anything in an instant: drug-smuggling, body-snatching, financial destabilisation, espionage, assassination, theft... the list is endless. They can easily be the main protagonist but they work better as the ultimate middle-men, becoming a facilitator for that isolated sorcerer in a plausible way. If the good guys manage the story-arc well and are rewarded with a satisfying showdown with their tormentor then he can be eviscerated without any fear on your part that a continuation of a rivalry can still be renewed. The Hand can be defeated but then crop up in the next location, one cell can be crushed or an assassin stopped but their manpower resources are obviously limitless.

The Hand can be slick, powerful and deadly when it sends the right agents but if necessary it can be thuggish, stupid and lumpen if the need arises by sending lowlifes. It can be a razor-sharp and deeply intelligent challenge for the hero's wits or it can be brutal physical challenge or a magic-based threat.

When I'm running an enemy that is a many headed and tentacled hydra with resources to meet any need, I have enough of a comfort zone and the spare grey matter to concentrate on the dramatic narrative. This is why I love the Red Hand!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

12 questions from the Octopi Lord. Q1.

Sometimes a blog questionnaire or challenge goes round that you just can't resist. Have a look at the original premise and maybe have a go yourself. As stated, the questions are very system neutral but fit particularly well with old school RPGs and wargames. I am going to have a crack at the questions one at a time which will hopefully give me a chance to elaborate on them and indulge in the occasional nostalgic journey.

Q1. What is my favourite villain I have ever challenged players with?

This has to be the Riddling Reaver, no doubt about it. Way back when, in 1990 if memory serves, a group of friends and I got together to do some no-frills RPG'ing. The Fighting Fantasy system was expanding beyond gamebooks at that time and was perfect for our needs so after a couple of simple dungeon crawls to get into the swing of things I (as GM) decided to unleash a proper FF adventure on them.

Despite being a tailor-made adventure that required little effort on our parts the eponymous protagonist took on a life of his own as I found myself using the spare grey cells to improvise some extra bedevilment for the adventurers to contend with. The Reaver is already a total butthole, written to be both a challenge and an annoying frustration to the players, but once you get into character with him and start to bring him alive he can really get under the PCs skin.

Before FF and the RR came along I had previously only run WHFRP adventures with all the grim perils and hidden threats I associate with that system. RR taught me to run a different kind of villain entirely, one that not only enjoys his work enormously but who also goes some way to ruining things for the poor PCs by spoiling those little checkpoint moments along the path that let you know you're on the right track. You're not allowed the satisfaction of tracking him down, he defeats you and then tells you where to go to get defeated next.

I got four more years out of the Reaver as I wrote sequel after sequel, leading the players around by the nose before finally allowing them the satisfaction of killing him off. It was a sad necessity that saw the Reaver finally run out of steam really, we reached the end of our GCSEs and moved on. Some went to sixth form or college, some got an apprenticeship and others joined the armed forces. We all split up and lost contact pretty irrevocably, though I occasionally sit back and recall those days when that group of young men were all that stood between the Riddling Reaver and a vulnerable Titan!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 20 September 2013

More blogs for the Blog God.

Here we go, more blogs for you to sift through. Some are well and truly up and running, some are very close to me in terms of followers and you may already know them, some need a little bit of encouragement to keep going through those difficult early days when it seems as though nobody is out there.

Last but certainly not least, please go and check out this excellent new blog...

Here is a snap of the author Bert...

Please do pop along and welcome him to the blogosphere, tell him I sent you.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Where does all the time go?

The hobby has had to take a back seat recently because I've been more than a little bit busy what with one thing and another. Not only has the torturously protracted house purchase/sale taken lots of attention but the BOJ has also had his first cold with an attendant string of sleepless nights. Nevertheless, there is still a tiny portion of energy left to spend on a quick post!

With the Oldhammer Weekend done and dusted it was time to reassess some goals and objectives.

To do list.

Play Wolf Time (from RT's Chapter Approved supplement) with my mate.

Finish and publish tutorials on the Wolf Time rockpile terrain and post-apoc car.

Finish and publish the Rogue Trader games from my club.

Continue the story of my Warhammer 3rd edition adventuring party.

That all seemed far too conservative so I have added a few items!

Run a Warhammer 3rd game at Blog-Con in November and blog the results.

Play/blog another Warhammer 3rd game against Thantsants at the end of September.

Organise a YOBBOS meeting (Yorkshire's local Oldhammer society).

That's more like it. Now I have a shed-load to do and some tight deadlines, much more ambitious.

So watch out for all that (and some stuff I've forgotten in my sleep-deprived state), in the meantime you may enjoy a look through some of these links. The top one links to the finale of one of my battle reports that suffered in views because I published it too close to the Oldhammer Weekend while the rest link to excellent blogs that have less members than I do (so I may be able to help them out in my own small way). There are quite a few so I will publish the second half of the list in my next post, but please take the time to have a glance through them, it is so encouraging to get new followers and extra views.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Trolltooth Wars progress.

I have been digging out some suitable models for the Trolltooth Wars project this week, take a look.

An 'Ushtug' model which will double up very nicely as Chief Stoneback of the fat Hill Goblin Tribe.

I have dug out over 20 classic Orc models which will fill in as some of the Hill Goblin troops, here are a couple of recent finds that will be joining the comrades on the painting table shortly.

I have begun a collection of suitable Elf, Norse and Dwarf miniatures to stand in as Dire's 'Drone' Units. These irregular regiments are made up of the assorted Black Elves, Barbarians and wandering renegades that populate Dire's domain.

There is an Oldhammer forum thread about the subject now and many of the sites members have made some astoundingly kind and generous offers. I am sure the project will be a great success thanks to the community and I look forward to getting the battles played and photographed before eventually taking the show out on the show circuit next year.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Oldhammer Weekend review. Part five.

Part one of the review.

Part two of the review.

Part three of the review.

Part four of the review.

And so to the conclusion. It's like the weekend is finally over, *sniff*. My photography is horrible and picks up all the glare from the glass and this is by no means a complete tour of the wonderful Foundry cabinets (because that has been done better elsewhere: Eldritch Epistles.) rather it's more of a personal view on the experience of being face to face with some classic childhood memories.

The first picture blows it straight away, this is neither a cabinet nor a childhood memory. It is, however, the Harry the Hammer artwork from the 1st edition front cover of our beloved Warhammer and so deserves a mention. It just hangs above the bar and is pretty damn cool.

You can't see a darn thing from here but the point of this picture is to emphasise the sheer wonder of getting close to one of the two Foundry cabinets. There is so much Oldhammer history collected in one place, it's overwhelming. Looking through the cabinets takes ages and once you're done you're left with the impression that the hobby really means something to so many people that it's hard not to feel a connection with their passion.

This one makes it into this post because I got that very feeling of connectivity, like when you read a line in a book and it's as if the author has read your mind. This is how I always pictured a Beastman unit should look. It's completely chaotic, with a small c as well as a large C. I'm not sure whether everyone remembers the Konrad books as fondly as I do, the bigger kids back then were rather disparaging of them in my local shop, but the representation of Beastmen in those pages stuck with me to this day. I am currently building a unit like this for the very first time.

Who hasn't got a memory of seeing a Genestealer Cult for the first time? I will wager for a lot of us it was this very one too. There are two exquisite limos, dozens of classic 'stealers and Brood Brothers and of course the sinister, cult hierarchy. The cult concept represents everything the 40K universe had to offer in those crazy days of the 80s and early 90s. There was corruption and seduction, the lust for power and glory, freedom of expression and inspiration, there was the marveling at the transformation of materials into models and most of all there was the joyful daydream of a stark raving mad vanity project of 70s prog-rock-esque proportions. That, is a 'stealer cult, that, is 40K.

Look at the picture for the count of three then come back to the text. Can you tell me what the models are? Probably not, because of that gorgeous, whacking great red banner! A well painted regiment is a joy to behold on the field of battle but a freehand banner of this quality is a thing of legend. Keep your Napoleonic colours and your medieval heraldry, give me a leering face or an incongruous, photo-real tiger any day!

This photo is all about the disgusting, glossy 'Thing-creature' crawling about at the back. It's conversions like this that elevate modelling into the same artistic sphere as painting or movie-making. It's pure, gruesome imagination pulsing insanely to life.

The Tzeentch warband. The Tzeentch warband. Dale Hurst's legendary warband is a touchstone for many a Chaos-worshipping Oldhammerer, and Gods I know I'm one. The attention to detail and the level of imagination involved is mind-boggling even to this day. Many an unwary soul first trod the dark path as a result of Dale's pernicious article in WD 135.

The second cabinet is all Foundry and though it's wonderful in it's own right and bridges the gap between the lost GW of our youth and modern times it would be better served if you viewed it in person the next time life sends you to Nottingham.

So that about wraps it up! No more Oldhammer Weekend for another year (*delerium tremens*). I hope you enjoyed the story as told through the eyes of an irrepressible gaming addict and nostalgia-addled lead-head.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Oldhammer Weekend review. Part four.

Part one.

Part two

Part three.

Here is a bonus for you, the cabinet tour is still to come (I know, those of you who couldn't make it are getting fed up now, sorry). The bonus is the Golden Gobbo contest! Small, but perfectly formed.

A classic Slambo, looking very good indeed. I just love the intricate extra detail painted on the model and the lavish base too.

This beautiful Wardancer in subtle tones is from the skilled hand of Blue in VT. This entry was posted all the way from the U.S. which is something we will be looking to encourage in the future. Of course, you may be holding your own Oldhammer Weekend and inviting us to enter your competitions if Blue has his way! 

A stunning Chaos Champion conversion. This one was a cracking entry and it was a privilege to see up close, it's attributed to Fimm McCool I believe so thanks Fimm!

And the winner is! Nico's Gargant. Nico has a sumptuous style that won over the whole crowd, but more importantly it won over the Judge; artist Tony Hough.

Nico is on the left with the Mighty Dark-Winged Avenging Lord of Chaos himself and the no less reknowned Golgfag.

Hightail it over to part five immediately!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Oldhammer Weekend review. Part three.

Part one of the review.

Part two of the review.

Welcome to the table tour! Wargames Foundry welcomes people who want to drop in and have games so if you are able to visit Nottingham easily get in touch with them via their website which has a telephone number displayed on it. It's also a great place to hold a get-together. Those of you going to Blog-Con may be interested to see a few new tables the guys have put together since your recce mission.

Several blogging legends in this snap, I dare not unmask them just in case! This is a row of newly constructed tables built especially for the busy, upcoming period of scheduled events at Foundry. Right at the opposite end of the tables is a rack of Oldhammer minis cast up especially for the day! The table closest is the one we used for Orc's Drift (with Thantsants' excellent terrain), see part two for more details on that one.

This is Harry's amazing Blood Bowl stadium which saw plenty of action over the weekend.

This is the big table used for the 'Rumble in the Jungle' game organised by Padre. This game was huge (and impressive) and took up nearly the entire weekend!

There were several exotic units included in Padre's game, as well as the usual Lustrian suspects. I absolutely loved this armoured War-Gorilla unit!

All the exploring armies had to loot the many temples dotted about (note the siege equipment the Elves are carrying) in order to achieve their objectives.

Random encounters and refereed madness was the order of the day in this fine example of the almost lost art of GM'd Warhammer.

One of the stand alone tables available. Beware the temptation of playing wargames so close to racks of lovely minis! That's the board used for the Realm of Chaos games behind it, see part one for more detail on that.

There was a lot of LASER-cut MDF scenery available for use and you can see some of it here. I'm not sure who brought it to be honest but I know the Foundry has some terrain available. This battlefield is one of the big, connected row of tables depicted in the first photo.

This is one of the tables built for the British TV program 'Midsomer Murders'. Two of them stand on enclosed boxes and are tricky to lean over because you can't get your toes under them, but this one is worth the effort, it's quite lovely.

This is the second table on an enclosed box, the problems are exacerbated by the unusable nature of the first foot of board all the way around and it's not quite as attractive as the other one. It would be OK for a game of Saga in one of the corners though.

This one you can get your feet under and is also my favourite of the three. Hoping to get a game in on this one next time I'm down!

There was one more table in use, quite a large one too. There were reputedly 18000 points (3rd edition Warhammer) of troops in this game alone. Most people agreed that Nico, one of the participants, had the most drool-worthy army of the weekend. Golgfag's army was a stunning sight too though and full of classic lead.

I love this action shot of Golgfag's Orc General exhorting his rock lobber to fire faster while simultaneously goading the Trolls forward!

One more to go, the cabinet tour.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Oldhammer Weekend: Bring Out Your Lead review. Part two.

Part one of the review.

The review continues in a safe and sound chronological manner. As I said previously the Realm of Chaos game completely dominated the Saturday but I did find time that evening to take part in the second scenario of Thantsants' 'Bloodbath at Orc's Drift' participation game (all in glorious 2nd edition) before we got stuck into curry and beer (that is to say even more beer, if I'm honest).

There's me! On the Wyvern! I'm swooping in to scoff some escaping Dwarfs and mules.

The initial three scenarios inform what Orc forces are available for the fourth and final battle and also what turn they arrive on. Although the first scenario involved the bloody massacre (the clue is in the name of this campaign) of some badly outnumbered Elves and their allies they performed well enough to score a lot of victory points thereby causing a problem for the Orc army in game four. In one of the three build-up scenarios the Orcish Monarch, King F'yar, is allowed to make a personal appearance. His presence makes a very big difference to the outcome in one game, but once that resource is spent that's it until game four. The GM randomised which game would have King F'yar available and it just so happened to be scenario two. I got control of King F'yar and his five loyal F'yar Guard while Gaj took control of the bulk of the Orc army.

King F'yar is swooping off on his Wyvern behind the trees living the easy life while his F'yar Guard contemplate how best to cross the fast-flowing river in full plate and the rest of the Orcs fight for control of the only bridge crossing.

Scenario one is about some good guys being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting casually smooshed by a passing Orc Waagh. Scenario two is about some Dwarfs who are trying to get their freshly mined gold to safety before the pillaging Orcs roll over them. This is a risky choice for the little fellows but we all know Dwarfs really love gold. Sadly for the stunties King F'yar and his Wyvern made all the difference, the self-proclaimed royal Orc was able to head the sluggish Dwarf miners off at the pass and make 'short' work of all of them. The only casualty taken was a F'yar Guard that drowned while fording the river.

The last of the defenders make their stand as best they can. Inevitably, they end up as wyrm food.

The regular Orc troops blew the bridge crossing with their reckless full frontal assault tactics but King F'yar saved the day and also avenged the pyrrhic victory of the first game almost single-handed (almost single-handed; there was the whole Wyvern thing of course). BaOD is an outstanding campaign and one any Warhammer gamer should have a go at. I'm sure it could even be converted to any edition you like. I have an e-copy I can email you if necessary, just PM me on the BLOOD forum.

This brought Saturday's proceedings to a close!

The set-up for scenario three, Linden Way.

There were one or two sore heads on the Sunday morning and the Foundry felt a little like a Zombie movie gone very bad but fueled by sheer enthusiasm Thantsants and I played out Scenario three. This time the good guys are humans who have to shepherd off some refugees while delaying the Orc hordes. I played as the bedraggled Linden Way militia and although I got all the refugees off safe and sound I couldn't kill enough Orcs on my way to defeat to score enough victory points and the pendulum swung firmly in favour of the Orcs for the finale. It would be remiss of me not to give an honourable mention at this point to the senile old wizard Barrachus, who managed to muster just enough clarity of mind to shroud the Orc Shaman in mist long enough for the refugees to get out of Dodge!

With time running low and not enough players available four part four we chose to postpone the last game so that we can do it proper justice another time. We are planning to play it at the first YOBBOS (the Yorkshire Oldhammer group) meeting so watch out for the conclusion this November!

Still to come, the cabinet tour and the table tour.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Oldhammer Weekend: Bring Out Your Lead review. Part one.

Well then. That was a good weekend! I've been deliberately putting off posting about the Oldhammer event, Bring Out Your Lead, until now because I have been very busy riding a wave of hobby enthusiasm! I've been organising new units, new paint schemes and the inevitable new eBay purchases! Finally I have calmed down enough to start expressing how the whole event panned out in words, I will begin at the beginning by talking about the Realm of Chaos multiplayer game that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Slaves to Darkness book (well done to Orlygg because this was his brainchild).

The Realm of Chaos! Looks a lot like middle England, I know. I always suspected as much! 

The tower in the above picture is one of many historic gaming aids that are available to use at Wargames Foundry, this one was apparently made way back in 'the day' by none other than Nigel Stillman.

Lord Savage shepherds the Beastmen into battle while the swift Ogres go off on a flanking manouevre and the Dark Elven crossbows pepper the Khornate lackeys from afar.

I played Lord Savage as I envisaged him, he makes up for what he lacks in killing power by being cunning and biding his time. He continually used the tough, survivable Ogres (and his foolish allies of course) to hold up units while he encircled them. This plan helped the Slaaneshi faction knock out three enemy warbands in quick succession. It was fun to witness the typical Chaos God's intervention as one Khorne champion rolled up six summoned Chaos Warriors (*gasp!*) for a meagre one turn, (*sigh*). The battle eventually split into two smaller conflicts separated by about three feet of empty table and when the dust settled a large Slaanesh force was facing a small but elite Khorne force. There will be many tales told elsewhere of the legendary number of foes reaped by Jeff's Chaos Dwarf champion with the 'singing axe' but ultimately Lord Savage's patience won the day. Having stood off to allow all his Slaanesh rivals to die horribly while weakening the two remaining Khorne champions he was finally goaded into battle; only for his fear-causing Chaos Steed to tip the balance and bring about the ultimate defeat of the Khornate faction!

As I'm sure some of you recall this wasn't in the script! Lord Savage is only a level 10 hero and the idea was to evolve him into my Undead army's general in the form of a Liche. As it turned out he was the last remaining champion on the battle field at the end of play! The job of Liche will have to go to Mausolus. Savage was suitably rewarded with increased strength and the ability to teleport by a grateful Slaanesh, while 9 Giant Wolves joined his warband. The Beastmen were awarded with growth (x2) and mutated to twice their original size while the Dark Elf crossbow unit can now breathe fire! Lord Savage will be strutting over the tables of Yorkshire for the next 12 months having proclaimed himself 'Champion of Champions' and will return next year to face his challengers once more.

The RoC game was repeated on the Sunday but because the Saturday game took a whopping seven hours to play many of the original champions were busy elsewhere trying to absorb everything else BOYL had to offer (thus rendering it a lesser affair than Lord Savage's triumph of course). ;)

*UPDATE* Special mention must go to Martin's Slaaneshi warband which fought the two most powerful Khorne warbands to a standstill before finally succumbing. I hope to see the return of Kashawa the Bringer of Unknown Pleasures next time!

Thanks for stopping by!