Saturday, 28 June 2008

Thoughts on the Warhammer world

My take on the Warhammer world has been weak.

One PC in my campaign just made his third career. The others are on their second. And all of the players have grand plans for the characters.

In reading The Thousand Thrones, it has dawned on me that the Empire is a dangerous place. Very dangerous. Nurgle cultists alone are dangerous sonuvbitches. Death lies around every corner in TTT. Yet, none of my players have felt in peril. And the one that was pulled a lucky charm. At least I know buying those is going to set the player back quite a bit, keeping him in the poor house; and then I'm not even sure that I played the rule for lucky charms correctly anyway. Reading some house rules on the internets, it looks like I'll be adopting the "maybe it wasn't lucky after all" approach with a die roll when he pulls it out.

Adventures in the Old World don't last long. But at the same time a GM needs to carefully balance the danger with playability, lest the game become a "one-shot."

PC longevity is important, but the world should feel "grim and perilous." Every die roll behind the screen should strike worry in the eyes of the players. For instance... and a game story follows, so tread carefully:

The Sigmar priest is earning money by taking offerings for prayers and purity seals. In his travels during the current campaign, he has been hearing of an outbreak of the Weevil Cough in the garrison of Helmgart. Random peasants are approaching him with fears of contracting the disease, or beseeching prayers for loved ones with the disease. I rolled his Toughness during the course of one of these random pleas to see if he contracted the cough. Sigmar shined upon him and he skirted the contagion. By the way, play like this is an opportunity for older GMs to share classic literature with younger players. This behavior by the priest player is almost straight out of history and literature, recall The Canterbury Tales anyone?

To my cyberstalker... beware... your PC might be next. Tread carefully in the OCIC waters. You have been forewarned. Maybe it is time to investigate spiking the mortality rates of PCs me thinks. What say you? ~o)

Posted by caffeinated at 10:25 PM in d10

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

The BeerTender is bunk

The subject of this post is intentional.

It is designed to spike Google searches on the BeerTender by Krups and Heineken. It is designed to inform consumers and to lead to better purchasing decisions.

Buy the BeerTender only, and only, if you like Heineken.

Do not buy the BeerTender if you are beer advocate. If you enjoy variety from the tap, then the BeerTender is not for you. Period. Consider other options immediately.

We are returning the BeerTender I got for Father's Day.

To Krups and Heineken:

The BeerTender: great idea, poor execution.

Heineken would do well to begin aggressive licensing of the "draught keg technology" and Krups would do well by aggressively encouraging Heineken to license. Around the world, beer enjoys a renaissance that is not about brand loyalty, but broad palates. And my wife and I are not going to dedicate counter space to a product that only pours one beer. In Europe the offerings might be more, but in the USA, only Heineken is available. And then the outlook is that only Heineken brands will be available.

Krups, Heineken and retailers lose in this current game of "monopoly." Consumers lose too. Sad really.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:42 AM in kaffehaus

WFRP fanboy

If you have not gathered, I'm a Warhammer Fantasy Role Play fanboy.

Certainly in the last few posts I have not been shy about it. From confessing my one-sourcer position regarding most other games, to pictures of life-size Space Marines outside GW retail stores.

The latter is a bit misleading. Because, generally speaking, the W40K RPG does not remotely interest me.


W40K as a table-top miniature wargame. Yes. As a RPG. No.

I will admit that in college I ran a WFRP 1st ed. campaign where the PC's patron was a retired Judicial Champion, secretly a Space Marine that befell a space warp. I don't recall the thread that had me create this patron, but I believe it stemmed from a White Dwarf introduction to Space Marines, c. 1990. Eh. I doesn't matter, suffice to know that Dark Heresy has not captured my imagination.

And yet I'm not without my criticisms of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play 2nd. ed. As a game, it is A+. True to the 1st ed., the long suffering fanbase, and everything I loved about 1st. ed. Kudos to Chris Pramas and Green Ronin for the great job. As for the current canon, Storm of Chaos and all that, I could do without it. In fact, I do.

My current campaign is set in the year following the SoC. Intentionally. It allowed me to push aside must of the fluff, getting the world and its machinations solidly past the events and cut all of the old and new together very smoothly.

So if you want to ask me anything about another system, I'll entertain a grognard outlook and conversation with you. I may even play, as a player. But I'm not likely to invest time or money in another system. I'm very happy with Warhammer Fantasy Role Play.

And all the baggage being a fanboy brings.

Posted by caffeinated at 7:43 AM in d10

Monday, 23 June 2008

Old school flavors

Free RPG Day was Saturday.

I stopped into my FLGS, Days of Knights in Newark, DE, USA. Perused the table of free items. A brief conversation was started about various things and an offer to join a Paranoia game was made.

Unfortunately, I could not join the game, but I did chat for a bit. I admitted to being a hardcore one-sourcer for Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. No shame in that. And picked up The Pig, the Witch and her Lover being offered, as well as a Paizo Gamemastery module (for the flavor and ideas, not so much for the play).

The conversation wandered here and there, and at some point the topic of 4E and Paizo's Pathfinder choices came up. I choose the side of Paizo, because I understood Paizo's end game, having listened to Eric Mona on the topic.

Pointing to two other free items on the table, Tunnels and Trolls and Castles and Crusades, I argued that T&T and C&C try to capture the old school flavors many a grognard misses in 2E, 3/3.5E and certainly in 4E.

This is where the conversation turned bizarre and I'm not sure if the counter arguments to my position were being made for argument sake, for ignorance, for personal prejudice, or because I stepped into a nerd dick measuring contest.

Two of them dismissed out of hand my argument that T&T and C&C were solid attempts to capture old school goodness. I almost wanted too ask them if they had cracked the covers of those titles. Now, I do know one of the gentleman is a Hackmaster advocate, registered and everything. So his argument is bunk. The other, I'd never seen before.

Then there was the guy that said, "4E would be difficult to code." (This had something to do with the conventional wisdom that 4E attempts to be WOW, the pen and paper game.) As if 1E would be any easier! My head was about to explode; not having a ruler, I decided this game/geek cred and dick waving was dumb and dismissed myself from the store.

I get into these things because I have a baby face. I routinely pass for 20-something, and in college towns get carded. It's easy for those not so blessed to see a "noob." And noobs can't know what the past was like, so noobs need to be told.

Well, this 40-something grognard will stick to his Warhammer Fantasy Role Play, knowing it is a better game than anything they are playing.

Posted by caffeinated at 7:18 AM in kaffehaus

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Shown actual size!


Posted at 4:48 PM in bad cell

Inns of the Empire update

For everyone “kicking the tires”: Danke! Thanks! &tc.

The report of the tool is not functioning in Firefox 3 is a caching problem.

The remedy is to directly clear your cache and reload, or super refresh (usually a metakey plus R or Shift + F5). Try holding Shift and selecting Reload from the View menu.

I hope to get to the IE 6 problems tonight or in the next 24 hours.

Posted by caffeinated at 4:38 PM in d10

Friday, 20 June 2008

Inns of the Empire reviewed

Chuck at Winds of Chaos gave the GM tool Inns of the Empire a very favorable review!

In case you don't know about Winds of Chaos, you should, as a GM or player, drop by. He is a "top listed" Warhammer site with tremendous resources in maps, tables, and award winning scenarios. Thanks, Chuck!

If you're "kicking the tires," I'm working on some defects in IE6, just need the cycles to do it. Family and work got in the way in the last three days. Not a bad thing understand, but I don't want to let the tool stagnate!

Posted by caffeinated at 9:50 AM in d10

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

On blogging success and failure

I was just perusing a Warhammer author's blog, looking for something specific, found it, and then considered posting a trackback, more preferably a pingback, to find that his track- and ping-backs were flooded with spam. My legitimate sourcing would have been lost in the noise.

Part of this was clearly a poor choice for a blogging engine. Another part his lack of attention to the blog. Now, I've been guilty of the latter (but getting better). In the former, I have decided opinions about blogging tools... I'm a committer to the $blojsom$ project, albeit mostly patches nothing functional. None the less, I'm committed to understanding and making blogging better. I sensed from reading some of his posts, the author was frustrated, but lacked motivation to switch, or technical cahones to switch to something hosted or better than ASP-dot-whatever.

So success is commitment. Failure is not engaging the audience. The author in question clearly has fans that want to know more about what he is writing. There were significant comments, when he posted. If he was not failing, he tempts failure every month.

Sadly, without a way to know that a trackback would not be lost, I can't cite his work or the information. Other than to say, a sequel to Defenders of Ulthuan has a completed outline and looks to be in queue for late 2008. In the interim, I'll be getting Guardians of the Forest to build my elven repertoire at the gaming table.

Yes, the “author” is Graham McNeill. He is also just the resource to settle the “debate:” is High Elven chain mail canon or just a wishful “Tolkein-ization” of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play? Graham McNeill, are you reading? ~o)

Posted by caffeinated at 10:12 PM in d10

Monday, 16 June 2008

Inns of the Empire update

A couple of “bugs” for IE 6 have been fixed... well, one bug and one enhancement.

Inns of the Empire

The bug fixed was the PNG alpha transparency that was not transparent in IE6. This was addressed with the proprietary IE6 PNG alpha filter hack.

The enhancement was to add a tooltip for the "large, bold number" displayed next to the Number and Sizes of Rooms. This number is the vacancy multiplier. Grönberg defines this as:

“Results of 100+ indicate that the establishment is completely empty, which may serve as inspiration for an encounter (‘why is it empty?’). Conversely, results of less than 1 indicate a busy evening or even that the inn is ‘overbooked’ with guest being asked—even urged—to share rooms or sleep on the floor (or in the stable).”

A number of factors adjust this multiplier, from a base d100 “roll” performed on the backend, during inn creation.

I also styled the info icons with a help cursor to better callout that there was more information behind them.

There is still some work to be done with correcting the IE z-index positioning problem... knowing the problem is half the battle with IE.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:02 PM in d10

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Today was a good day.

I exercised my “handiness,” wiring a ceiling fan in my daughter's bedroom (and learned that a switch in the “middle-of-the-run” should not make the neutral (white) wire hot. Ouch. Spent most of the day up and down a ladder in the attic, sweating.

The smile of my daughter in awe of her new fan was payoff.

But getting a BeerTender was cool.

Happy Father's Day all! Hope your's was good too. Even if you didn't get a BeerTender.

Posted by caffeinated at 9:56 PM in kaffehaus

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Inns of the Empire tool online

I just uploaded my Inns of the Empire tool for general use.

Inns of the Empire

The tool can be used to quickly generate names and characteristics for all kinds of hostels, coaching inns, taverns, clubs, and brothels in Warhammer Fantasy Role Play.

Inns of the Empire is dually inspired. First, by the Random Fantasy Business Names generator by Mike Hensley at The tool's functionality is based wholly on the work of Henrik Grönberg in Liber Fanatica, Vol. III. Credit is due to both individuals for the inspiration.

Additional credits go to the developers of the YUI. Inns of the Empire leverages the YUI library pretty heavily. And to Fonthead Design for the Black Beard font.

I tested the tool in the A Grade suite of browsers and did not find any major bugs, but do not hesitate to email me, or post a comment, with a defect that needs to be fixed. Be sure to tell me the browser and major version. The code is in my svn repos, so I can update and release fixes pretty quickly!

Again, major thanks to Henrik Grönberg for the imagination and completeness of his work for Liber Fanatica.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:10 PM in d10

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Elves don't wear chain mail?

Lacking source books for races central to the Warhammer world, Warhammer Fantasy Role Play players many times turn to the Warhammer Fantasy Battle army books for background material.

Some see this as a ploy by Games Workshop, some see it as a lack of focus on the consumer of WFRP... whatever the reason, GW does have some good material for players that turn to the army books.

One of my players, whose PC has a background as an orphaned Shadow Elf, picked up the High Elf Army Book. Being a "min/max'r," "rules advocate," &tc. he gleaned the following sentence, immediately arguing that a gross contradiction existed in the Old World Armoury where a description, or discussion, of Elven chain mail was made.

I don't have my OWA handy, but I did borrow his Elven army book to see just what he was trying to say:

“The armour worn by High Elves is beautifully fashioned from tiny metal scales making it lightweight and flexible, allowing the wearer to maintain their natural swiftness and agility.”

This single sentence has led to the interpretation by my player that elves shun, to the exclusion of all other technology, any armor not “fashioned from tiny metal scales. ” He further cited the artistic renderings and models of all High Elf depictions by Games Workshop. “Never are elves shown in chain mail!,” he says.

I argue it is a untenable position to take that elves in the Warhammer canon shun chain mail. Instead take the position that High Elves fashion the most exquisite chain mail available. In game terms, of "best quality" and "very rare."

Besides the beautiful mind of a player that can cross reference books to make the mental jumps/connections/assumptions, what say you?

Posted by caffeinated at 8:31 AM in d10

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Contacting DSG at TEoC

Anyone in the WFRP circles know how to contact DSG at The Encroachment of Chaos? Seems his mail server is bouncing all mail with a 553 relay error.

Tried multiple SMTP boxes on different networks even... no luck.

Don't comment with email addresses of course, just email me; or let him know I wanted to thank him for his NPC records, ask him a question or two, provide some feedback and suggestions.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:18 PM in d10

Friday, 6 June 2008

Game prep

I'll be running a session of WFRP tomorrow and I'm up prepping while Dr. Who and BSG play.

How do I prep? This is going to be more cathartic for me, than a suggestion for you. But I'm getting better at this. Especially, since I had to abandon a campaign I was really enjoying. That now abandoned campaign called Waaagh! was great because I was using the Evil Overlord method of environment motivation. It was abandoned because, at the time, our gaming was sporadic, I didn't want to drag the EOs along, so character pasts were developed in solo sessions.

The solo sessions seeded a new campaign and a sort of prequel was crafted. I have been half-heartedly pushing it along with a lot of winging. A general story line has always been in mind, but now, with threads in play, PC backgrounds understood, I'm beginning to see an arch for a bigger campaign.

I generally prep by making notes on key NPCs and real general encounter outlines that drive the established threads. For example, several sessions ago, the PCs arrived in Altdorf, crowds pushing, and being rushed through "customs" for the Grand Conclave. The elf, a background established as an orphaned Shadow elf, raised in the Wood elf traditions, is pushed into an old hag. The hag, in a moment of clarity, or delusion, backs away in horror, then says "A great shadow follows you elf!" Being a superstitious lot, many of the faithful crowding the dock around the party, back away and the party, noting the eagerness of the custom agents to clear the dock and taking advantage of the distance afforded them by "vision," jumped to the head of the line.

I'm bringing the elf full circle soon, developing the threads to give something for each player background... cultists for the priest, runes for running by the dwarf, and a lot of greenskins for them all. And there is the merchant and his caravan...

It's all still loose. But there is conflict, challenge, and role-playing.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:41 PM in d10

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Douche Bag of the Week is Named, Me

The Brilliant Gameologist's named their DBotW in Episode 14, one-sourcers.

I'm not bashful about this... I'm a one-sourcer. I'm pretty much not interested in anything else other than Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. Now, hear me out, because I'm not without experience with a lot of different genres and games.

The list of games I have owned is decent (I'm pretty sure I owned and played more than this list, this is what I remember owning):

  1. Basic D&D (Moldvay/Mentzer)
  2. Twilight 2000 (1st ed.)
  3. MegaTraveller
  4. Paranoia (1st ed.)
  5. Price of Freedom
  6. GURPS
  7. AD&D (1st ed.)
  8. Shadowrun (1st and 2nd ed.)
  9. Warhammer 40K, Rogue Trader
  10. Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (1st and 2nd ed)
  11. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness
  12. Recon (another Palladium game)
  13. Car Wars

Some readers might say, "Only 13 games? And I'm not even sure you can count Car Wars! I own ... 1,2,3 ... 36 games! You are weak Mr. Caffeinated."

Hey, I was picky back in my day, and my geek cred is not about RPGA cards, but it does have some highlights, including playing GURPS with Steve Jackson (and being amazed at his consumption of soda), managing a FLGS in Conyers, GA for 3 years (from open to near its close), manning the table of said FLGS at the Atlanta Fantasy Fair (how many remember that con?), running Shadowrun at AFF, ... &tc. Not too shabby. I love this hobby.

And yet up until about 3 years ago I owned most of this collection... then I dumped it all on eBay. The Shadowrun stuff alone fetched me over 400 bucks.

I kept one game... Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. Why? It still captured my imagination. The setting. The rules. The play. It was (and is) a very tight game. Sure, 1st ed. was not without some issues, like the "naked dwarf," but it remained a great game.

The announcement of the 2nd edition give gave me warm fuzzies. The 2nd edition really cleaned up the rules, and now I'm into a lot of dough for the GW/Green Ronin work and looking forward to the FFG releases.

GW's on again, off again schizo management of the game burns me, but I'm not abandoning WFRP, and nor will the fans (sorry, Mike).

And I'm not interested in D&D, or Cthulu, or Savage Worlds, or even your favorite. Sure, 4e is a curiosity, but won't have me reaching in my wallet (and the grognards I pay attention I think feel the same way).

I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a one-sourcer.

Nothing else has outlasted the quality of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. That's my humble opinion. What's yours? ~o)

Posted by caffeinated at 10:10 PM in d10

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Warhammer font

Busy with different things in my gaming “happy place.” I have some different things going on, like an epic campaign plan.

In sidebar, I went a surfing for information on the headline font that is used in the printed material for Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. I found it, with a very high probability, Black Beard by Fonthead Design. How did I get to Fonthead Design? Identifont is how.

Posted by caffeinated at 9:40 PM in d10