Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Rolling up a warband in Five Leagues 2

Let's work through the process of creating a new war band to play with.

The broad strokes should be mostly the same as in the first game, but a few things have been tweaked.

We're going with the default Challenge Level for this one, so we'll have 4 Heroes and 4 Followers.

Hero 1:
The base profile is:
Agility 1
Speed 4
Combat 0
Toughness 3

Four D20 rolls later and we have:

+1 to Speed, 2 Gold Coins in the pocket and the Foraging and Thick Headed skills.

Seems like some sort of ranger type. We'll call him Ragnar.

Hero 2:

+1 Toughness, has a Quick Sword (reroll 1's in melee).

I am imagining a duellist. We'll call him Sturgin.

Hero 3:

+1 Speed, +1 Agility, 3 Gold Coins, Leadership Skill.
Has 1 point each of Will and Luck.
Obviously the leader of the war band. She'll be Aray.

Hero 4:
+1 Agility. 3 Gold Coins. Teaching Skill.
Seems like a monk type might work here, so how about Tuck ?

Hero gear
We can stash all the coins together in a single pool of 9. That should keep us going for a little bit.

We can give two of our heroes a Quality weapon so I give Ragnar a Longbow and Aray gets a Bastard Sword.

The other two will have Basic weapons so Tuck picks up a Standard weapon (staff) and Sturgin gets a Self bow to give us some more missile fire.

We can give one hero Full Armor (Aray), one hero Partial (Sturgin) and the rest get Light Armor.
In addition we get one helmet and one shield.
I'll give both the Sturgin and make him a bit of a tank.

These always get the base profile.
The flavor table gives us:
A wily rogue, two angry villagers and a militia man.

With the equipment selections available, we give the rogue a self bow and militia armor.
The militia man gets a standard weapon and light armor.
The villagers get standard weapons and no armor.

Unusual backgrounds
Though we could just choose, I make a random roll instead and get one of the villagers to get an unusual background roll.
Turns out he's a Big Guy: He gets +1 Toughness, any armor worn must be purchased specifically for him and he can't Dash.

Final steps:
I roll for gold and get 5 more coins for a total of 14.
To this, I add the number of Heroes giving me a final of 18.

We get two doses of Healing Herbs in our backpack.

I pick Aray as my Avatar figure adding 1 more Will and Luck to her.
I pick Sturgin to be the Retainer: Basically a loyal henchman who won't bail on us.

Rolling for Story Points gives me....1. Ouch.

And with that, we're ready to go adventuring!

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Five Leagues 2 is coming

I've mentioned it on the Discord and in passing elsewhere, but I thought it was time to make an official announcement now that we're close enough it's nearly done.

Five Leagues From the Borderlands is getting an absolutely massive update.
In fact, it's big enough that it's going to be it's own edition.

Since you'll have a ton of questions, I thought I'd address them here:

How did this come about?

In addition to reading emails I received since the game was released, I recently asked for (and received) a ton of feedback on what people liked, didn't like etc. in the rules.
While much of it was all over the place (for every person who liked weapon styles, someone else didn't) there were also several topics most people agreed on.

While working on Squad Hammer stuff, I sat down to do a series of small updates to the rules to fix some of the problems most people had agreed upon.
But as I worked on it, it kept expanding until finally it was clear that this was going to be a tremendous overhaul.

Why a new edition instead of a free update?

Simply because there's enough new content here to basically be a brand new game.

What if I just bought the old one?

If you picked up Five Leagues during the sale, you'll get a discount code to buy the new game cheaper.
That way nobody should feel cheated.

What has improved?

The list of changes has something like 70 entries on it, so I won't go over them line by line here.
A few that stands out:

* A ton of the fiddly extra die rolls have been reworked, so they are now handled more elegantly or as part of another, existing roll.

* Progressing in the campaign is faster now, so actually finishing campaigns should be a little less brutal. Conversely, character progression has been slowed a little bit, so you won't max out quite so fast.

* Several skills have been reworked to be more useful.

* New town options like asking for blessings or crafting weapons.

* Small tweaks to combat, making it a bit easier to deal with high Toughness opponents and making outnumbering a more useful tactic.

* Missile troops can run out of ammo, preventing them from dominating the battle as much.

* You have more options to avoid encounters, if you run into something you can't handle.

* More options for enemy leadership, including Sergeants and Lieutenants.

* Story Points have more explicit uses and there's a few more ways to regain them, in order to encourage their use.

* A ton of tweaks everywhere. Almost every aspect of the game has been touched up in some way, whether its fixing a quirky rule, improving wording and readability etc.

Any huge changes then ?

The biggest one:
Weapon styles are gone. Now you just pick specific weapon types.
I went back and forth on this, but ultimately I felt that while weapon styles had been a cool idea, the execution never quite worked out and I think people felt uncertain about how it really worked.

The new weapon system is easier to work with and should help capture the strengths of the old system.

So what is new then?

* There's now three separate encounter lists for each Threat type. This also means there's a bunch of new enemies to fight and many have received unique characteristics.

* Terrain setup is now discussed explicitly. (Sorry, I don't know what I was thinking)

* Your avatar can now have a loyal retainer.

* A "Village event" table has been added, similar to the random events in Five Parsecs.

* Players who like randomness can now roll up random variations to the enemies (fancy fighting a sneaky zombie or a wimp barbarian?) and random battle conditions like fighting in a haunted forest or walking into an on-going battle between rival forces.

* A ton of new loot including enchanted items, spell scrolls etc.

* Am optional section with monsters you can fight, from ogres to dragons, suitable for scenario-oriented players. It also includes a random-monster generation system.

* Challenge levels allowing you to play easier or harder campaigns.

* Characters can start with an unusual background which can influence their progress.

* If pushed to the brink, the enemy might mount a last stand where you get to fight their Boss.

* Probably a bunch more stuff I forget. Seriously, it's huge.

Do I have to learn everything all over?

No. While I've touched up pretty much everything, the core mechanics still work the same.
If you already know how to move and fight in the rules, that's all largely the same.

Will all this new stuff make the game super complicated?

A lot of it is integrated into the game flow pretty well.
The more detail-oriented new things (like enemy variations) are optional so players can choose how much they want to keep track of.

Can I carry over my current campaign?

You should be able to, but you'll need to translate your old weapons into equivalents under the new system.
My recommendation is that you take the opportunity to create a fresh war band.

Will the old expansions still work?

Most should work fine. Anything related to encounters should have no problem at all.

The main thing that will require tweaking is any weapons you can find, but most should be fine if you just apply the rules as is.
I'll evaluate them one at a time and post any updates needed.

Will you update the new version after it comes out?

With so many new things, it's inevitable that post-release tweaks become needed.
We will update the new rules to address bugs, balancing tweaks etc. just like we always do.

Will the old game receive any more updates?

Unlikely except for bug fixes.

What do you expect it will cost?

At the moment, I am expecting 15 dollars. It will depend on final page count.

So what is the page count then?

Not certain yet. Probably around 130 pages or so.

What popular fan requests did not make it in?

Mostly things that I felt either couldn't be done without dramatically overhauling the game assumptions or stuff that I'd love to do, but which really requires its own full expansion.

* Dungeon crawling (too much page count for what is basically a completely different game mode. We'll tackle it later)

* Spell caster characters (you can learn spells from finding rare scrolls now. Having player spell casters may happen in an expansion but it needs to be handled very carefully to avoid them becoming a mandatory inclusion in the war band)

* City adventures (Probably needs its own expansion to do justice)

* Animals (I really wanted to do this one, but if the players get horses so do the bad guys and that increases the barrier to entry for players without existing miniatures collections. It'll happen eventually)

* Big battles (again, needs its own supplement)

Thursday, 13 June 2019

So you want to be a designer?

You want to write games? Gaming stuff? Scenarios? Army lists?

Cool. You can.
You can literally sit down right now and do it.

It's like anything else in life: Maybe you'll have a knack for it and it just comes naturally. Maybe it turns out you don't quite have the mindset and you gotta work harder.
Ultimately, it's usually a question of hours put in. Work more at it, the results will improve.
Try to do new things. Challenge yourself. Do things you're told are impossible.

Here's the thing though:

Along the way, you may find all manner of short-cuts to success (here defined as "making some sales).
They're appealing exactly because they're easy.

You can hitch yourself to a marketing fad.
"Old school dungeon crawling fantasy RPG" will earn you 50 sales even if you have literally nothing new to say on the topic.
Solo miniatures gaming seems to be blowing up right now and there's room for plenty more there.
Just make sure you're on the train when it's going up hill, not when it's coming back down.

You can tie yourself to a brand or product identity.
Plenty of companies have options out there to make stuff with their name on it.
If what you burn for is [system X] then that's an easy path.
They'll ultimately control your fate of course. What's the thing Darth Vader said about deals changing?

You can cash in on internet culture wars.
Find something that you know will make someone somewhere mad. Write that.
Wait for someone to write a blog post saying your game is garbage.
Rally the people who dislike that person and you can roll in protest-purchases.
"Pay me 9.99 to fight SJW's" is a deal you can easily make a car payment or two on.

* * * * *

Ultimately though there's another solution:

Write stuff you actually care about and feel strongly about.

I strongly believe that good design and passion will always be recognizable.
More importantly, it'll give you an identity as a creator that people can connect to.

More importantly while you may get a few less sales, you'll be getting sales from people who are interested in what you have to say.

And that's why you're here right?
Because you have something to say about gaming?

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Why do you charge for beta versions?

Over the years, I've tried more or less everything I can think of.
Sometimes it's just to see how something works, sometimes it's to satisfy my own curiosity.

We've done Pay What You Want products, given things away, charged up front, a few crowd-funds etc.

A potentially controversial stance is that I've increasingly opted to charge for beta versions of games: From a dollar or two to 5 bucks or so.

"What is this outrage? Why should I pay to test your broken-ass game?" I hear you say.

Sure. I hear you back.

I have mostly settled on this for a couple of reasons:

First, to me a beta version is something substantial enough that it could be a game.
If it's a full game with the sort of content you'd get from the competition but lacking testing, I don't feel bad charging a couple of bucks for it.

You know what you are getting (it says beta right there!) and you can decide based on previous products if it's worth the risk.

If the draft is so rough I am not sure it's even functional, it never sees the light of day outside my personal circle of critical eyes.

Second, I find that the level and quality of feedback is simply better if I charge.
Pay what you want or freebies are great but it seems people also don't feel invested in it.
If people had to put in their paypal account, there's more of a sense of investment (even if its just the price of a cup of coffee).

When I've charged more than "coffee money" for an early version, I try to do a discount code or something later on, so you can view the early version as a buy-in to the full one.
That also has the advantage that if something falls through, you still have the initial version.

I'm sure we'll continue different options and ideas in the future, but ultimately that's why I prefer charging for the beta version of a game.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Where all can I catch Nordic Weasel stuff?

The internet is a wild sprawling place and you can't just jump on ICQ and hope for the best any longer (or so I am told).

You can follow Nordic Weasel or get in touch in any of the following ways:

* The main blog at for news, updates, musings about game design etc.

* If you use MeWe, you can follow me at
I do respond to chat questions on there, though not always instantaneously.

* We have our own forum sub-section on the where you can post questions and share battle reports.
New releases are also usually posted to the news page there.

* If you use Discord, come check us out at where myself and other gamers hang out, chat about miniatures, share pictures of our projects, discuss rules and generally goof off.
Note this is strictly a politics and meme free zone but if you want to chat with myself or other gamers in real time, it's great fun.

* We also have a Facebook page at 
This is run by my wife who filters any questions through to me and posts up the responses.
At the moment, facebook chat is not an option to contact me.

* Of course you are always welcome to email me. If you have my old Gmail address, I still get email from there but to help make sure I don't miss your correspondence, please send it to and allow a day or two for a response.

If you have several questions (or very detailed ones) or in-depth feedback, I prefer to receive it through email since its both easier for me to respond to and easier to save for future reference.

I occasionally get suggestions from fans that it would help us to engage with this or that social media platform, website or online service.
I appreciate those suggestions and I do take them into account, but at the moment I am not looking to expand our internet footprint.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

So what is involved in changing a rule?

Since I've been tinkering with Five Leagues lately and running my mouth on social media about publishers not updating their games, I thought I'd be fair and give a run-down of what is actually involved in updating a game rule.

First, you gotta write and test the new rule of course.
If we're updating an existing game, that probably isn't too bad since you know what was wrong or missing and you may have already tried the new option.

Second, we gotta replace the old rule with the new one.
Copy paste right?

Third, we gotta check to see if the old rule is referenced anywhere else in the rules. If so, we gotta go back and fix those.

Fourth, we gotta check any game examples and update those.

Fifth, we gotta make sure we didn't break anything. After all, some game rules feed into each other. So back and check every related feature.

Sixth, does your game have points values? Purchase costs? Other balancing shenanigans? Did you just change the effectiveness of something in the game? Time to evaluate that again.
Don't forget that changing one thing can cause a cascade effect in the system.
Does the new rule make troop transports weaker? Well, now all transport vehicles AND the grunts they carry might be over-valued.

Seventh, is the new rule longer? If so, you might just have screwed up the page it's on.
Know how games always have like 2 lines of a paragraph awkwardly hanging off the next page?
Yeah, that looks wretched so let's avoid that.

Lastly... did you push every thing out one page? Your table of contents is now messed up and needs fixing.
Did you write one of the 3 games ever released in the history of nerds that has a table of contents? That's also broken now.

So yeah, updating or replacing a rule can be a ton of work.
But it's still better than keeping known errors around for years in my opinion.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

A few quick notes

A couple people emailed and were worried about the sale ending before they got paid.

I've opted to extend the sale until the 3rd of June, so if you want hot bundle deals, go get them.
Once this is over, it'll be a long time before we do another mega-sale.

Right now, almost everything we've done is on sale

A few of you leave comments on Blogger. For some reason, I have a bastard of a time actually responding to comments on here.
I do read your comments but if you need a reply from me, please email me instead.
Sorry about the trouble.

The best email for Nordic Weasel stuff is