Happy 40th D&D!

Ye old blue book....
Ye old blue book….

Wow.  If I was to point to one single thing that influenced me more than anything else, it would be D&D, both playing it as a kid, trying not to play it as a teenager (to be cool) and then moving on to better games as an adult (better being Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay for the most part) and just all around gaming– D&D was the gateway drug!  I’ve spent some of my tiny amount of leisure time this week going through some of my old RPG shit and trying to ID the path I took through the hobby.  I think it’s this (bold means I feel it was a huge influence):

D&D Basic (blue book) > Moldvay Basic (boxed sets) > AD&D (sort of, since it really fucking sucked and we just used the Basic rules with the AD&D monsters) > Gamma World (ahem…shoplifted copy I shamefully admit..)> Champions > Star Frontiers > Paranoia > Call of Cthulhu > Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles > Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay  (this lasted all through college and beyond) > Werewolf  > Feng Shui > Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition > Exalted (this got me back into RPG’s seriously around 2006) > Dresden Files/FATE > Marvel Heroic Roleplaying > Carolina Death Crawl > ???

Now, of course, it’s all about the narrative style games and I haven’t played a D20 in years.  13th Age will be the first delve into a modern D20 since a single session of Pathfinder about 4 years ago.  Of course, 13th Age IS a mash up of narrative and D20 crunch, so we’ll see how it plays  vs FATE and vs 3.5.

That said, there have been many awesome RPG’s that came out in the last couple years and even just last year besides 13th Age:  Fate Core, Numenera, Fiasco, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Carolina Death Crawl are all huge additions to the genre that are moving the ball forward– it’s really tough to pick what to even run!

Looking forward to 2014, we’ll have D&D Next, Exalted 3 and what looks like a crazy interactive game by Robin D. Laws: HillFolk.  While I feel the new version of D&D is already out and it’s called 13th Age, I’m interested to see what D&D Next is able to do.  Let’s face it, Pathfinder has the ‘miniature heavy’ version of the game locked so Next will either bring it back towards the OD&D versions already handled by Labyrinth Lord and Lamentations of the Flame Princess or try to take Pathfinder head on (which is sort of 4th edition after all).

I know some of you have already been roped into many of my experimental games (playtest of fate core, carolina death crawl for example) and it will continue…

Bestigor, the line in the sand this week

Looking at my Warhammer Fantasy Battle miniature backlog is a truly daunting thing.  I have a 4000 point chaos army, a 3000 point beastman army and a small Dark Elf army sitting on shelves with, for the most part, no paint on them.  I have been pushing through painting a 30+ bestigor horde for the last—YEAR.  This week that’s got to end.  I sat down yesterday and cranked on four of them and when I finish those off I will be down to five to finish off the unit.

With painting, it’s one of those things that’s not hard– I don’t set a super high standard for my core units (though they do look really good on the table) so there’s no nervousness around painting that you would have with say, anything CONFRONTATION or 28mm skirmish anything (including Blood Bowl) where it really has to look good when close viewed.  It’s more of a motivation thing– my painting table is filled with miniatures and when I finish them, they go away in a box so ALL I see is the unpainted stuff and a mass of metal and grey and black staring back at you with their dead, unpainted eyes can be intimidating to the extreme.   I’ve been painting beastmen on and off since 2005 or so when we thought we’d start playing 6th edition (we didn’t). With the bestigor unit done, I will have 100+ painted models for the beasts– really a small amount for a horde army but  the bestigor unit completion the rest of the army is all downhill.  Next up are 25 Ungor– not a joy to paint but easy and then about 15 more Gor, which I can probably paint in my sleep.  After that, Nine minotaurs …at that point I could slap together another chariot, paint the Giant or get the obligatory swarm of level 1 bray shaman to huddle around the Herdstone Shard done.  With the exception of the minotaurs, all pretty easy stuff considering.  So this week the Bestigor get done…

I just have to keep chanting:

Their walls will fall.
Their faith will fail.
Their flesh will tear.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd edition acquired after much internal debate

probably no dwarf wizards

I’ve been looking at this version of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay from afar for a few years now and had a gift certificate that just had to be used. Holy fuck is it a huge box filled with goodies.  I’m about halfway through the rules and it reminds me a bit of Cortex (Marvel Super Heroes base engine) with it’s dice pools but still absolutely has the feel of Warhammer up inside.  While I have played the game before, I haven’t had a chance to really go through the components much and I tell you, this shit is IMPRESSIVE.  Fantasy Flight is boss at using little counters and chits for stuff, sometimes a bit overboard, but all of the components make sense and from what I’ve played and read, make the game flow really well.

What I’m looking to solve with this version is the common problem with First and Second edition: whiffing.  The last time I ran 2nd edition (back in 2006) combat was fun but very long– very long with three players against a small group of skaven….and that ain’t right.  Let’s look at an example from Second edition.  Human has an axe vs a Human with a sword and shield.  Axman has a WS of 35% (pretty good) and the Sword and Shield guy has a WS of 30%.   2/3rds of the time, these guys are going to miss when they attack.  In the case of the Axman, not only does he miss 2/3rds of the time, but the sword and shield guy can parry 1/3rd of the time giving him about 11% chance of hitting every swing.  That’s bad.  That’s very, very boring.  As much as we loved the critical hit charts and all that, it’s tough to get through a large combat in WRFP 1st and 2nd edition, not because there is so much going on (ala Exalted or Champions) but because it’s a WHIFF FEST.  No one is hitting anyone.  Is that realistic?  Maybe.  Is it interesting and make for fun combat?  No.  Unlike Exalted, where ALL hits except the killing blow miss, there is not interesting powers or economy of motes in Warhammer 1st and 2nd edition– it’s just a percentile roll followed possibly by a parry or block roll mostly leading to whiffing.

Third edition completely solves this both by giving players choices of improving their own chances at a cost (like Exalted) and making sure SOMETHING happens whenever there is an exchange of blows, whether it’s pants falling down, weapons breaking or just something happening that effects the fight.  While each attack is appreciably slower to determine action and dicepool in third edition, each attack MATTERS, so if you have to spend a few minutes determining your pool, that’s OK.

Character creation looks like a bitch, but if I remember from last year, it was fairly straightforward overall.   Career advancement, at least from reading, gets rid of the Career exit paths that we knew and loved from first and second edition– you can go to any career after your initial one (or even during) but it costs a lot more to go to once that is dissimilar.  The determination of similarity is sort of odd and I’ll likely have to re read it.

One point of confusion about the system is what to get OTHER than the giant box set.  You need pieces for another player if you want to play with 4+, but where do you get them?  What’s the best module?  How do you get access to more careers to choose from?   Since everything is very component driven, there are some limits as to how much stuff will be out for the game.  A career isn’t just something on a sheet of paper photocopied from White Dwarf circa 1990, it’s a set of cards and chits as well. This makes it tough to JUST own the base set.  Some of the modules have more careers (ouch), and since they came out with books by themselves, FF released component sets that can be purchased without getting the base set…

Otherwise, I’m looking forward to digging into this.  A buddy of mine has had a campaign going for almost a year now and they play every week so here goes!

WFB 8 Battle Report: Beastmen vs Goblins (or– Thank you Anvil of Vaul!)

Cain indulged the current obsession for the fourth time this weekend hauling his Night Goblin swarm over to pit them against the primal fury of the beastmen in Warhammer Fantasy Battle.   We rolled ‘battle for the pass’ for the scenario,  which means the armies fight it out starting on the short ends of the 6′ X 4′ table rather than the long ones as normal.  This gave a very compact center with little room on the flanks for maneuver or trickery.   At 1500 points per side, that made for quite the crowded table with few places to escape the big blocks of rank n file.  A tough fight for the goblins to start with as the table set up neutralized the Gobbo advantages on the flanks (there weren’t any!) was exacerbated by a bit of terrain that worked just a wee too well in the beastmen’s favor: the Anvil of Vaul (oh and his fanatics).

The fanatic didn’t go exactly the right way shortly after this shot

Under normal circumstances, the Anvil of Vaul, which gives Flaming and Magical attack augmentation to all units within 6″, would be a pretty even bonus for both sides in a fight, but I just happened to choose Blackened Plate as my only magic item for the army (man was 1500 points a squeeze).  Blackened Plate gives a 2 up ward save to the wearer against flaming attacks AND a 4 up ward save for any unit he is with.  In the clutch block on block fights during the battle, all within 6″ of the Anvil of Vaul, this gave my main Gor unit, who usually go skin with no save at all, a horrific advantage over the Goblins leading to their decimation, flight and subsequently ending up inside a stomach for their pains.  Still it was a great game and we’re finally getting down the rules.  It’s been tough to remember the fiddly bits here and there and to remember that Charges are resolved before compulsory movement (a big change from almost every Warhammer ruleset I’ve ever played) but we’re getting closer.  One makes a big investment getting into a game like Warhammer, and committing to an edition and so far I couldn’t be more pleased with the games played– all just a total blast that makes 4 hours go by in a wink.

My list was finally legal after struggling to reconcile the 7th edition book with the 8th edition rules (sorry Cain) but was not fully painted, which is my personal shame as I really dislike hitting the table with unpainted stuff:

Gorbull (General)
Blackened Plate*

Wargor (Battle Standard Bearer)

Bray Shaman Level 1 (Lore of Beasts)


38 Gor with additional hand weapons, standard, musician and champion (both the Gorebull and Wargor joined this unit)

10 Gor with additional hand weapons, musician (in ambush)

29 Ungor with spears and shields, standard, musician (the Bray Shaman joined the ungor)

2 Tuskagor Chariots

5 Chaos Hounds


Razorgor (played by a Hound of Scathach from Confrontation)


A big fat Giant!