Friday 1 December 2023

RPG Blog Carnival: Endings

Apologies for my lack of involvement over the last few months, real life gets in the way sometimes. I do have a post still in draft for the September Carnival theme, then Orktober took over, and had I previously posted something on the theme for November and was struggling for ideas...

But on to this Carnival! To bookend Scot's January topic of "Beginnings", for December 2023 I've chosen an intentionally broad theme of "Endings" to close the year. 

Image credit: NataliaDrepina

Some suggestions:

Campaign finales and closing plot arcs

(I'm particularly interested in this; as much a fan of shorter campaigns that I am, I still struggle with endings - it's easier to just keep the story rolling on!)

Character death, retirement, and TPKs

(I've talked briefly about the latter before, but I still think it's an interesting topic)

2023 in review / retrospective

(I don't usually do this, but I like reading them; and I think I will this year as I started the year off with hopes and dreams - if you are too then please share here!)

But anything goes that fits the theme!

Drop a link to your themed post in the comments on this post, all welcome, and I'll post a wrap-up at the end of the month when the Carnival moves on.

After this month the 2023 RPG Blog Carnival is ending - signups to host in 2024 are open at the hub on OfDiceAndDragons, along with general info about getting involved (and why you should) and links to all the past Carnivals too.

Monday 16 October 2023

Gorkamorka mob building and loadouts

I've had a couple more games of GorkaMorka and started building my own minis to represent my mob (as I borrowed them last time). Rules-as-written there are a few things to consider when choosing gear for my Boyz

  • Everyone gets knives/knuckles free, meaning there's no reason any boy can't have multiple melee weapons
  • The +1 Attacks bonus for having multiple melee weapons only applies to Boyz who don't have any two handed weapons
  • The Big Shoota is hands down the best weapon, no reason not to take one on each vehicle apart from cost!
There's no advantage to having a pair of Choppas or a pair of Sluggas (apart from if one of them runs out of ammo) or a 'Uge Choppa and another melee weapon, so I've been reviewing my mob's loadouts.

Gorkamorka actual play - gw orks
The boyz grabbing some loot

My Nob's switched out his Slugga for a Shoota as they cost the same and the Shoota is better at range at the cost of being two-handed - so he got no benefit from using the Slugga with his 'Uge Choppa. Not that that would have stopped him being taken out by one of Jim's grots (above, left) - oh the shame!

Oddly, Slugga + Choppa is probably the best loadout for a Nob, despite the urge to beef them up. The game is definitely designed for boyz to go ranged OR melee, and I'm trying to make them all unique:

Melee/CQ 3-teef loadouts:
  • Slugga + Choppa/Chain/Spear
  • 6 Shoota + Choppa/Chain/Spear
I might play around with them but the other melee weapons (spears etc.) just don't feel like they have as much utility as a good ol' Choppa. Happy to take advice!

Ranged 3-teef loadouts:
  • Kannon (worth trying out)
  • Shoota + Choppa (for the strength bonus?)
  • Shoota + Shield (cause I think it would look cool and might work?)
Stuff I'm toying with:
  • 2x 6 Shootas (two rounds of firing before needing to reload) - 4 teef
  • Shoota + 'Uge Choppa - 4 teef
  • Frag stikkbombs (only? Nothing really adds much and they're already fairly expensive - but presumably fun) - 3 teef
  • Just a Slugga - for the drivers - 2 teef
Going to try a few of these out. Thankfully I won a few bags of teef so I've put a Big Shoots on my second trukk too.

Suggestions for fun loadouts accepted in the comments!

Saturday 7 October 2023

Orktober GorkaMorka shenanigans

It seems I've been drawn into a GorkaMorka campaign at my FLGS; I'd forgotten how much silly fun that game is. It was pretty cool that about half the players at the table had their original rulebooks however, and spirits were high.

With 100 teef in the budget and only five spare boys available to borrow for my mob I went for a couple of trukks (which were thankfully plentiful) to spend up:

  • Trukk (20)
  • Trukk (20)
  • Nob - six shoota + uge choppa (15)
  • Spanner - slugga + choppa (9)
  • Spanner - slugga + choppa (9)
  • Boy - 2x slugga (9)
  • Boy - 2x choppa (7)
With a few teef left over I splashed out on a spear gun for one of the trukks and called it done.

Gorkamorka Ork trukk race
My borrowed mob, centre, ready to race...

We started with a race to help learn the vehicle rules, which I think was a good idea. Space on the starting grid was tight so it was perhaps inevitable that we weren't going to get very far... things soon degenerated into enjoyable chaos as trukks collided and span out, becoming obstacles.

Ork trukks gorka morka
Narrowly failing to slip through a gap

This is a game where vehicles can move and then boost forwards (risking rolling on a failure table for extra fun) so from the offset we were ramming each other with glee. Two turns in, the track was pretty much gridlocked - but that was a fine opportunity for a good ol' orky fight. Four turns in only one player had made it more than halfway round the track and some of us had to call it a night, but we'd all had fun.

Definitely a game that's better if you embrace your inner Ork, and despite not placing in the race my mob ended up with some xp and a bag of teef to spend. Looking forward to next time.

Happy Orktober, progress on my fledgeling Genestealer cult is on hold now as I've just bought a box of Boyz and a trukk!

Thursday 17 August 2023

Four arms good, two arms bad

With the release of a new edition of 40k I've been tempted away from my usual love of skirmish games* and see what all the fuss is about - so I've picked up the Genestealer Cult combat patrol.

First thoughts looking at the sprues were that with the number of extra arms and heads it seemed like a great opportunity to do some kitbashing (I've always preferred building minis to painting minis)!

Kitbashing genestealer cults with anvil industry legs and torsos
GW Genestealer Cult + Anvil Industry bits

I'd wanted a rag-tag mix and match look but my second thought was how badly the GSC torsos and legs fit to these Anvil legs and torsos due to the angling of the joins - and in fact, the GW legs and torsos don't mix and match well with each other! Reading the assembly instructions it's clear that the torsos and legs are designed to be paired up exclusively which is disappointing.

Reading the instructions it also became clear that although "each mini" has two intended builds (very much like the monopose Warcry minis that are my only other recent GW experience) and that many have a shared component in both, often a left arm, which I guess is going to be a factor in any potential kitbashes using the spare arms.

All that said, I'm excited for the possibilities. Playing around some more:

Genestealer cult kitbash with anvil industries torsos and legs
Those same Anvil and GW bodies, now unmixed

Genestealer cult heads on stargrave and frostgrave bodies
Trying GSC heads on Stargrave and Frostgrave bodies

Of all these I really like the Frostgrave soldier body with the GSC head, ridiculous as it looks here, it's just a shame that they're so small in comparison to the GW bodies. If I could build up the torso/shoulder area it could work, as the head is actually about the right height, so I'm definitely filing that away for future consideration!  Not sure about the fit of the others with the aesthetic however, but food for thought all the same.

Any suggestions for potential kitbashes, and your good or bad experiences, welcome in the comments!

* OK I'll admit the main reason I went for GSC was because I could use them in Necromunda and Kill Team too!

Thursday 10 August 2023

Mining the D&D Anti-Canon

This month the RPG Blog Carnival is all about Cabals and Congregations - which got me thinking about the organisations and factions we use (or rather don't use) in our games.

When I play D&D particularly, I get the feeling there's a whole load of built-in backstory that often gets ignored because it's not used going forward, especially in published adventures. I'm fully in agreement with Luka Rejec on canon and anti-canon and that I'd rather do this stuff at the table to make our own world than spend days reading and remembering details of someone else's world.

None of our PCs exist in a vacuum; explicitly Bards have Colleges, Druids have Circles, Rangers have favoured enemies, Sorcerers have Bloodlines - these are all potential factions to draw into our stories, and more are implied for all classes.

Since Dungeon World and Stars Without Number* helped change my DM worldview I've been keen to try to build the story round the PCs, not push the PCs into the story. 

Here's some session zero thoughts to bring these background factions to the foreground, e.g:

  • Barbarian - who are your tribe? Who are their enemies and allies? Who else roams your lands?
  • Bard - where did you train? Are/were you part of a troupe? Who have you worked for?
  • Cleric (also Druid) - do you belong to an order? Who are the enemies of your god/religion? What are your holy gathering places?
  • Fighter - where did you train / who did you train under? Is there a local fighter's or mercenary's guild (and what's your relationship with them)?
  • Monk - where is your monastery and what are its rites and rituals? Who threatens or empowers your way of life?
  • Paladin - draw from Fighter and/or Cleric, but also: what organisations are aligned with / opposed to your Oath?
  • Ranger - who else lives outside of the points of light (and what is your relationship with them)? Who of your favoured enemy do you have history with / are currently active locally?
  • Sorcerer - who shares your bloodline and how do they live among other people? What organisations seek to regulate or exploit your magic?
  • Warlock - are you part of a cult to your patron? Who are the enemies (or allies) of your patron?
  • Wizard - where did you train/learn? Who is/are the largest/wisest holder(s) of arcane knowledge in the region?

I've talked before about how I like to use factions to help generate plot threads and story arcs and (I think) making the movers and shakers relevant to the PCs helps to tie the characters to the world.

The above are version-independent ideas, but if 5e is your D&D flavour  there's also backgrounds to mine (as well as them being bags of proficiencies)! 

  • "Guild" backgrounds aside - Acolytes, Entertainers, Gladiators, Sages, Soldiers all probably belong to some sort of professional organisation
  • Charlatans, Criminals and Urchins surely must have had run-ins with (or been members of) underworld organisations
  • Folk Heros need a folk to be the hero of!
  • Sailors have crews, Knights have orders, Nobles have houses... Outlanders have people back home
  • Even Hermits have people, even if it's just the ones they are pointedly avoiding!
These low hanging fruit are often overlooked, but I'll be making a point to try to remember them in my future games. How do you go about creating and using factions?

For more information on the RPG Blog Carnival, or to check out the archive (going back more than a decade) make sure to check out the link - you can sign up to host here too.  Thanks to Gonz for hosting this month!

* I'd forgotten, but I started working on something similar for SWN a few years back too!

Sunday 6 August 2023

July 2023 RPG Blog Carnival wrap-up

 Apologies for the lateness of this post, I've been AFK for the last week or so.  Also Blogger seems to be marking comments as spam a few days after I approve them, which makes them disappear, so I had to work that out and bring them back...

Thanks for the contributions to the July 2023 RPG Blog Carnival topic of Terrain, Seasons, Weather:

Image credit: skyscapeparadise

Sea of Stars RPG writes about unusual weathers and their use in our games:

"Like all things, weather should be used to make the world more interesting.  Bring it in when it heightens a scene or mood, and minimize it when it is not important to the action."

Seed of Worlds gives us a d8+d20 weird weather generator for weird terrains:

"For this post we are looking at this from a 'wind off the plane of horrors' angle; roll this to see what kind of weird weather-related effect you are getting and then snap that together with known local weird locations in your campaign or go to the bottom table for some ideas of what those strange locations could be." 

Beneath Foreign Planets gives us a system for random weather and some seasonal examples:

"I've wanted a weather system that possesses the following qualities: is simple enough to be memorable, allows for the weather to be naturally and randomly changeable AND stay the same for long stretches, to show weather patterns/trends within a season and most importantly allow for the weather to become 'weird' so that the players can experience wild or dramatic weather phenomena (but not too often) and to try to do all this with as little die rolling as possible."

And my own submission reviewing A Visitor's Guide to the Rainy City, here.

The Carnival has moved on to Codex Anathema for August, where the theme is "Cabals and Congregations" - I hope to see you there.

For more information on the Carnival, or to check out the 15 year archive of Carnival posts, or if you want to host on your blog, then check out the hub at Of Dice And Dragons.

Thursday 20 July 2023

RPG book review: A Visitor's Guide To The Rainy City

As this month's RPG Blog Carnival topic relates to weather and seasons, what better time to get round to reviewing one of my favourite setting books?

A Visitor's Guide to the Rainy City by Beauregard Hardebard
Photo ironically taken on the only non-rainy day this week...

Who are the players and what do they do?

PCs are denizens of, or visitors to, the Rainy City - an island city at the end of the world and enduring constant rain.

Piracy, exploring, smuggling, protecting/exploiting the weak, guild work, diving (to explore the flooded ruins of a magical academy), starting a cult or a will-o-wisp business, founding parliaments, flaunting their riches, salvaging shipwrecks, serving wizards... There are no set adventures, but a huge number of seeds, ideas, and potential hooks here.

What's the core mechanic?

None - the book's all fluff and no crunch. What's great is that it's all written as prose, from the pen of Beauregard Hardebard of the Master and Four Wardens of the Fraternity of the Art and Mystery of Haberdashery and Millinery. The core mechanic I guess is settling down to read it.

What's good?

Each area of the city is sketched out over a couple of double-page spreads, each has its own feel, goings on, denizens, and weather.

So much varied rain. The rain varies by location, be it stormy, misty, or - on the Headlands:

A Visitor's Guide to the Rainy City, page 50

The rain varies by season (Quiet, Firelight, Rainy, and Windy seasons) and creates interesting challenges (and solutions) for lighting, heating, and cooking. Hats are important.

Every location is crammed with rich nuggets of interesting prose, characters, things, events ... Honestly there's so much going on you could run whole sandbox in each district. Nothing is wasted and all of it is enjoyable.

If I ever run Blades in the Dark again, I want to run it in the Rainy City.

Honestly the best thing about this book is just how much fun it is to read. Close second best is how many ideas it conjures in your head; it's an OSR DM's dream!

What's bad?

I guess some people would want some of the named locations to be mapped out, or more explicit adventures, or explicit "quest givers". I think it's a breath of fresh air and I love it.

Bottom line?

It's great. If you want somewhere to game that's more Ankh Morpork than Saltmarsh then this is the place.

Even if you never play it, you'll enjoy reading it!

Please drop your thoughts in the comments if you've used this book - how was it for you?

Please consider indie and small press RPGs, and support the blogosphere.

Image content used that is not original was sourced via creative commons or similar and is used in good faith - and because I love it - however please contact me if there are any issues.