Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Fighting Fantasy 40: Dead of Night

This is the tale of a Demon-stalker, a kind of templar-knight investigating an incursion of demonic forces into a rustic valley in the Old World, whose family have been kidnapped and homeland ravaged.

By book 40 of the Fighting Fantasy series adding a special attribute in order to make the game unique has become the expected norm, and here is no different.  Dead of Night uses an "Evil" score to measure the morality of your actions (aka "alignment graphing" for all you old school D&Ders!). The prose, plot and this mechanic work really well in combination - often you can be forced into doing Evil actions by well-meaning intentions and otherwise logical acts - hanging around peasants too long will incurr their wrath as they see demons and their hunters as two sides of the same conflict they'd be better of without. We're in slightly murky moral waters here. There are also a selection of talents - like D&D clerical spells, or Lone Wolf's Kai abilities - the selection of the 'right' ones will make the game easier or harder and give clearer routes to victory (spoiler: go for the defensive).
There are grim echoes of the Enemy Within Campaign from Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (which the authors: Jim Bambra was on the design team of, and Stephen Hand was working at GW during the time of WFRP development)  and indeed with a little reworking would make a fine WFRP mini-campaign. Even touches like the use of river-transport echoes the Empire campaign setting, the 'taint' of evil running though and the peculiar naturalism all add to the effect. Dead of Night or "Nachtmord" as a WFRP nick-name... is very much a low-fantasy setting, quite different from the usual ecclectic high fantasy of Titan. Whilst in interview Hand has claimed a "Hammer Horror" influence, any direct comparison with English Gothic Cinema (with it's busty wenches and gore) pales with the similarity to WFRP's chaos tinged, Call of Cthulhu influenced fantasy setting.

One nice scene is a zombie-attack minigame that utilises a floor-plan of a cottage for you to strategically place the defendants and a dice-mechanic for which door/window the undead attack through echoing George A Romeros Night of the Living Dead and something of Stephen Hands Chainsaw Warrior solo board game perhaps? Would have made an excellent centre-fold boardgame for Warlock Magazine if it was continuing at this time.

All in all this is, dare I say it, incredibly good for a Fighting Fantasy book, whilst I can get all misty-eyed and nostalgic for the very early Steve Jackson and Ian Lvingstone dungeons, citadels and forests, with their randomly stocked layouts and fiendish traps, Dead of Night is good on many levels, from it's brave use of morality as a theme and it's dark foreboding atmosphere to the challenging puzzles.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Let's Waaagh! like it's 1990-something

Servants of the Imperium - Rejoyce! Our brave and loyal forces have recovered an Standard Template Construct containing an ancient Unit Record Sheet from the depths of the Dvorak Nebula.

I remember using these to keeping track of Space Marine, Eldar and Ork units during the Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trade skirmish / RPG games we used to play across the kitchen table back in the day. So I thought I'd scan it and put it on the intertubes for all to share - with that in mind I also diligently put the disclaimer from GW on the bottom, so it's street-legal in the underhives, if not fully sanctioned by the Emperor.

I have no recollection of drawing this up, or what I used or how I did it, probably some craptacular DOS page layout software, fortunately both my skillz and the toolz have moved on since then!

The background texture (caused by the malefic influence of sitting in the bottom of a dilapidated cardboard box in the grim darkness of my loft for 20 years) is bumping up the file-size to around 5MB. Well worth the long download and the printer ink for the pure archival aesthetics if you ask me!

Download Rogue Trader Squad Record Sheet


Sunday, 12 September 2010

Otherworld Summer Sale / Giant Unboxing Video

20% off everything over at everyones favourite old-school D&D style miniatures company  Otherworld Miniatures until the end of September. Let's celebrate with video!

Unfortunately I need to flog my 80's citadel wood elves currently languishing in paint-stripper to raise hobby-cash so I can't be flinging my ill gotten gains at Richard and adding to my lead pile this time round. However I'll can send some PR love through the bloggo-sphere as I stumbled across this Youtube video of the boys at The Beasts Of War doing an un-boxing of the awesome Otherworld Giant:

Of course the highlight is their mini-review of the instruction sheet I drew up which begins at 0:57 including such insightful comment as:  'Is that a birth certificate for the model?  no. Some simple instructions. A nice detailed bit of paper. Just some 2d drawings, nothing too fancy there. Nicely set laid out though. And the back has a big diagram on it'. Yeah!?! No, really, thanks guys! If they'd had started to wax lyrical about the typography (referencing both  1e AD&D manuals and Citadel) or the hand-drawn borders reminiscent of 80's game book adventure sheets, then maybe they'd have lost focus a teensy bit from the titanic amount of well shaped white metal they'd just got their hands on and about to froth all over.

The big guy is currently a snip at £52 (plus postage) until the end of September and of course there are savings on all the old-school Pig Faced Orcs, Hobgoblins, Kobolds, Ropers, Troglodytes, Rats, Award Winning Skeletons, Purple Worms, Centaurs, Dire Wolves and pre-orders on the forthcoming Wraiths by Paul Muller, that, frankly I find very impressive...

that armour design has a really nice high fantasy feel, somewhere between Conan movie bad guys, Elmore inlaid armour (shot is a WIP - more detail to come) and pre-slotta Citadel Chaos, and the fact that it's a wacked-out deadite just dovetails perfectly with my recent Trevor Hammond obsession. It's like an awesome Grimdark zombie Elric. OW will be releasing 2 figures - hope the other isn't a million miles away in terms of design.

Otherworld Miniatures