Friday, 19 February 2010

Wargames and RPGs in context

Sometime before 1984--I remember this in context of where we lived and when we moved to the "country"--my father brought home two books from the Ft. McPherson library. I don't recall the title of one, but the contents I recall detailed weapon systems, past, present and future (there was a chapter on the theoretical effectiveness and application of the "neutron bomb"). The second however was James F. Dunnigan's The Complete Wargames Handbook. The book has since been in reprinted in three editions as it is still used as a reference in military schools.

The Complete Wargames Handbook was a big influence on me. I read and reread the book. Printed the game Drive on Metz, made counters, and even designed an amateur game based on the principles Dunnigan set forth in his book of a North African battle between the German Afrika Corps and the British.

The Complete Wargames Handbook, 2nd Edition, is available online at, where Dunnigan is an editor and podcast host. Chapter 5, The History of Wargames details the humble, and influential, beginnings of companies we are likely very familiar: Avalon Hill, SPI and SDC. Dunnigan writes:

Some of these smaller publishers developed highly innovative ideas and have themselves contributed to profound changes in the hobby.
The most innovative and influential of these new game systems was the role-playing game (Dungeons & Dragons) developed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1973. The closest SPI ever came to this was a game we published in 1973 called Sniper, which involved man-to-man combat in an urban area. Players had a tendency to individualize their playing pieces in Sniper. But I, as the designer, did not bother to take it as far as Dungeons and Dragons, which was also the first, or at least the most widely successful, of the fantasy games.

Emphasis above is mine. Dunnigan praises and acknowledges Gygax and Arneson, their history of wargame design in Chainmail and play in the International Federation of Wargamers, and naturally, as well as correctly, he ties the origins of our favorite hobby back.

As a reader of blogs dedicated to grognard play styles of RPGs or
wargames, I remembered my early days in gaming, my father's influence and my play today. Chapter 5 goes into great detail; anything more here is unjust. Go forth and learn.
Posted by caffeinated at 10:28 PM in d10

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Updated Warp Hound

Be sure to check out the update to the Monday's Warp Hound entry. If you didn't take a look at the campaign wiki, the details are copied here for convenience.

In the last session, the Sigmar priest and Dwarf got bit suffering a permanent would loss. A character detail that might play as a lingering pain for years to come... not to mention the corrupting fluid coursing through the veins of the characters. What trouble is that going to get the characters into down the road.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:16 AM in d10

Monday, 15 February 2010

The Warp Hound

As promised, my new creature for WFRP, the Warp Hound. Borrowing from the Old World Bestiary, I've formatted the creature in the Common and Scholar views, and added a GM's Monograph detailing the game play. I think that more dangerous Warp Hounds could add Test Difficulty to the Toughness test for "Chiefs" (per the Core Rulebook).

Enjoy. And as always, comments are welcome.

Warp Hound

Common View

"When I heard the dogs for the first time in 10 years, I wasn't sure I was hearing them. I had lived in utter silence on the isle with my brothers. No sound was ever heard on the island. The barking was a premonition of dire events. The kennels were filled with our friends barking to the east. Then a flash and earthquake. The thunderous roar of wind and noise could not be natural. Fires burned over the hills toward the northern shore and barely safe harbor. The earthquake released our dogs and they all ran. I did not see my Clem for two days until I spotted his collar on the hairless beast dragging Brother Rogerx in to the treeline."

Scholar's View

GM's Monograph

Warp Hounds are the aberration of common canine breeds exposed to intense, raw Chaos energies. First encountered by the heroes on the Silent Isle, a rocky, semi-temperate, island off the coast of Bordeleaux, Bretonnia, the warp hounds were once the companions of monks of Mannan residing on the isle observing a vow of silence.

The warp hound appears as a hairless, muscular dog. Its lower jaw jutts forward, crowded with oversized teeth and dripping with a foul, stinking saliva. The skin of the warp hound is tough and resists damage, but not like leather.

The warp hound will travel in packs with one or more dominate members, and will attack without provocation, its mind ravaged by the warp poisons coursing though its veins. The saliva is a minor mutagen and very dangerous to the touch, more so when bitten. Each bite inflicts a single permanent wound plus normal damage when a Toughness test is failed after each bite. This permanent loss is reflected in the Starting profile of the character.

The Advanced Profile shown is for a "Brute". Consider the Starting Profile a "common" Warp Hound.

Warp Hound

Race: Mutant

Career: unknown (unknown)

Main Profile
Secondary Profile

Skills: Follow Trail, Perception, Swim

Talents: Keen Senses, Natural Weapons, Night Vision

Armor: None

Weapons: Toothy Bite, Warp Spit

Trappings: none

Special Rules:

Thick Skin
reduce Critical Values of Critical Hits by 1 (shift left).
Warp Spit:
The spit of a warp hound contains mutagens capable of inflicting permanent wounds. Each bite causes a Toughness Test, failure results in the loss of a wound point from the starting profile of the victim.
Toothy Bite:
counts as having Impact Quality
Posted by caffeinated at 10:32 PM in d10

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Game tomorrow

Tomorrow is Washington's Birthday, a Federal holiday honoring the first U.S. President under the U.S. Constitution--seven presidents served before George Washington under the Articles of Confederation. Commonly known as, though incorrectly albeit some local municipalities make it official, President's Day, it is a that allows the grognards to gather round a kitchen or basement table for some WFRP.

The Silent Isle awaits.
Posted by caffeinated at 10:46 PM in d10

A Reading From CAS

It might seem that I'm reposting a lot from James Maliszewski over at Grognadia, I'm not, but he recently shared a mere 150 words penned by Clark Ashton Smith. 150 words that simply conjures phantasmagoric worlds I hope, as a GM, my players desire to explore:

The nostalgia of things unknown, of lands forgotten or unfound, is upon me at times. Often I long for the gleam of yellow suns upon terraces of translucent azure marble, mocking the windless waters of lakes unfathomably calm; for lost, legendary palaces of serpentine, silver and ebony, whose columns are green stalactites; for the pillars of fallen temples, standing in the vast purpureal sunset of a land of lost and marvellous romance. I sigh for the dark-green depths of cedar forests, through whose fantastically woven boughs, one sees at intervals an unknown tropic ocean, like gleams of blue diamond; for isles of palm and coral, that fret an amber morning, somewhere beyond Cathay or Taprobane; for the strange and hidden cities of the desert, with burning brazen domes and slender pinnacles of gold and copper, that pierce a heaven of heated lazuli.

--Clark Ashton Smith
Posted by caffeinated at 5:30 PM in d10

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Retrospective on Twilight:2000

Twilight:2000 by GDW is a RPG I've written about a few times in reflection on my affection for the setting, even the system.

James Maliszewski, the diabolical leader of the Old School Taliban, has written a retrospective about Twilight:2000 only as he can. A great read, and some great comments by those that have the growing up Cold War context necessary to appreciate the game setting.
Posted by caffeinated at 9:25 PM in d10

Saturday, 6 February 2010

ACD maintenance

I'm probably going to bring down ACD for some maintenance. Mainly, gutting the server and upgrading a bunch of stuff in preparation for some new hosting on the horizon.

Right now I run about 4 blogs on the server. ACD is the only one that has any sense of modern. The others are spec or personal (family). There is the wiki too. And there is the open source repository that I run here too. It's all very tight and has crashed the server a couple of times.

I have to upgrade the other blogs, migrate them to the database platform before I do any of the work. The work is invasive enough that I have been building out the platform on a VM and running load tests against it to see how stable it will be.

By the way, if you are saying to yourself, "Damn, this guy knows his shit about web hosting, development platforms, and e-community software. I should engage him for work to build my site." You should. I work cheap and under the radar.
Posted by caffeinated at 10:31 PM in kaffehaus