Sunday, 31 December 2017

End of the year then?

We're pretty much at the end of this 2017 business so maybe this is a good time to look back and reflect a little bit.

How did things sell?
The following products sold over 100 copies:

Blast system bundle
Dungeon scum
FiveCore 3rd edition
Scifi generator for almost any system
Five Parsecs From Home
Squad Hammer
Unity field agent (when the beta is included)

The following sold over 200 copies:

Scum of the earth (almost 300 in fact)
Starport Scum and several of the supplements for it.

Most other things sat around 50-70 copies.
Five Parsecs Gang Warfare for example is at 70 copies already, despite being on the market for only a very short time.

What were the big successes?

Starport Scum continues to be a huge deal, which I am rather pleased with. 

The revamp of Five Parsecs has also done extremely well.

What didn't go so well?

Much as I hate to say it, Unity Field Agent just hasn't caught on much. 
It burns me a bit because it's a fantastic game I think, but I think the "man to man" scifi market is already pretty saturated and I think people may have had a hard time distinguishing between the roles of that and Starport Scum.

I also think that "army list driven" games is a much harder sell in the indie market, but I may be 100% wrong there.
The problem arises that Unity material is time-consuming to write and test and I can't justify that if a given supplement only moves 20 copies.

We have some things planned for the new year though, so don't write it off just yet.

What is on the schedule for the new year?

I am always hesitant to say specifics, because things change and things don't work out.

The plan is:

Continue expanding Five Parsecs with new ways to play. 

An updated Starport Scum to bring some of the supplemental stuff into the main book.

FiveCore battalion commander (title may vary).

Squad Hammer based titles for early WW2. I am not sure whether there's actually an audience for this, but we'll test the waters.

As always, any and all of these are subject to change.

Are you going to revise any old games?

Yes. Laserstorm and No Stars in Sight are both on the writing list for revisions. 
Laserstorm mostly needs tweaking with the points and build systems, while NSIS needs to be cleaned up a bit and brought in line with No End in Sight.

Do you have any pipe dreams?

The wish list: 

No Tigers in Sight. 
Five Miles from the Castle.
An un-titled WW2 RPG/Wargame crossover that I have been pondering for a while.

Would it be cool to have historical versions of Five Parsecs

Will there be more RPG product?

There will be expansions and pooooooooooossibly a scifi version of Blade&Lockpick.

Other than that and the odd small thing for fun, probably not.
I am rapidly losing interest in the OSR field and selling original systems is a bit of a dead end unless you're a big name (which in RPG sales, I am certainly not).

There may be some expanded role play options for Starport Scum though, stay tuned.

What personal wargaming project are you working on?

Right now? 3mm tank skirmishing using Firefly or Panzer War. A bit retro!

What other projects would you like to do this year?

I'd love to branch into talking about war gaming and the hobby in more general terms.
We'll see how that goes. You can find many wonderful blogs that talk about 

Are you still reviewing Black Library novels?

Yup, but I have to take a break from that stuff once in a while. The blog will return in January most likely.

What is the status of the Blast Pistol systems?

The goal is to create a generic, universal system based off those mechanics. However, I've had interest expressed in purchasing the system and engine, so things have been on hiatus. Hence why it is not mentioned above.

There is a small chance of a Powder&Bayonet stand alone re-release. We'll see.

Any hope of a new FAD?

Yes, but not from me. The rights were sold to a UK outfit that have been tinkering away at an updated version.

What is the status of An Orc Too Far?

Basically the people who liked the beta version REALLY liked it, but it didn't seem to catch on that widely. So I am uncertain whether it'll be financially viable. 
Maybe trying to compete with "Hordes of the Things" was a bit too ambitious.

I'd really like to finish it and release it "for real" this year, but it may have to be a vanity project alongside a more confident selling product.

How long does it take to write a game?

The actual writing process? As in sitting at the computer and banging on the keyboard until Suppression Fire rules come out? 

About a week, give and take. Maybe two weeks for the big 100-140 page books.
A lot of the steps, I've mostly automated in my work flow.

If you factor design, planning and testing? Hard to say. 
If it's an adaptation of an existing game engine, you can usually test it pretty well in a few months because you already have done most of the leg-work the first time around. 
For a brand new system, it could go on for a very long time.

For what its worth, I rate one playtest by people who have to rely 100% on what I wrote without me being there to explain it as worth three-four playtests where I am present.

Why do you put music notes in your games?

Mostly it's for fun. Music is inspirational to me and each game has a distinct "feel".
I try to pick albums to listen to that reinforce the game's mood.

That being said, sometimes it's just coincidence. Don't put too much into it. 

Do you have an evil agenda that you are secretly adding to all your games?


How do I find play testers for my game?

Ask on a forum or social media site. 100 people will say they are interested. 
Of those, 8 will actually provide feedback.
Of those, 2 will be bonkers.

Take the remaining 6 and lock them up in your basement. Now you have a core play test group.

What software do you use?

Games prior to Unity Field Agent were done on a Linux system using Libre Office and GIMP.
From Unity onwards, everything is done on a Mac using the included software (Pages, Photos, Keynote)

What are your favourite armies in historical war games?

Napoleonics I have no favourite, I'll roll with anybody. Soft spot for Austrians and Prussians though.

American civil war. Live in Michigan, married a Vermonter ;)

WW1. Commonwealth or Germans, though I'll try anybody. 
For Eastern front, possibly Russians though I'd love to do an Austro-Hungarian army eventually.

WW2. It changes but Soviet or Brit/Commonwealth is highest on the list.

Your question here:
I hope that sheds a little light into the NWG operations and if you have more questions, please feel free to bring them up in the comments :)

Saturday, 30 December 2017

October Hammer is here

Thought we were going to stop at WW1 ?

October Hammer bursts into action with quick-play, easy rules for the Russian revolution.

Cossacks? Partisans? Red Guard? We got it all and more and in an easy 40 page game to boot.

No need to blow 30 dollars on an expensive game you aren't sure if you'll like, no need to buy 500 miniatures just to try out the period, no need to read 200 pages of rules so you can figure out who moves first.

Grab October Hammer. Grab a couple bags of your favourite miniatures and blow up some Bolsheviks/Imperialists.

Oh, you can play campaign games and generate 15 different armies too. 

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

[non NWG] Matilda tanks in WW2 rules.

Thought I'd do something a bit off the beaten path today and look at something fun:

In various game rules how does the Matilda II tank hold up to German 37mm gun fire?

Any book on the topic will tell us that the Panzer III had to be very close to penetrate (though I also wager that the fact many German tanks were Panzer II adds to this in general story telling) so we're going to examine how that plays out in a handful of miniatures rules all of which are not made by me :-)

We're going to assume a shot at 100, 500 and 800 meters (point blank, "average" distance in Normandy and "long" range in Normandy) respectively and for games with split hit/penetration rolls, we're only looking at the penetration chance.
All shots are frontal.

If more than zero people read this, I may do it again using Sherman 76 vs Tigers later in the week. We'll see, I'm just in an Early War mood right now.

Fistful of TOWs 3
Models are platoons. (There are 1-to-1 options but I never found the game "felt" right that way)

Panzer IIIe gets 3 shots at 8" range and has 2 Penetration.
Matilda II has 5 armor on the front.

The scale is 1" = 100 meters, meaning our shots are taken at 1", 5" and 8" range.
The 1" shot is within half range, so it counts as Penetration 4 instead.

100 meter test: Panzer III hit rolls 1D6. On a 5 or 6, the Matilda crew must take a Morale check or bail out.

500 meter test: Panzer III has no effect.

800 meter test: Panzer III has less than no effect.

Conclusion: Not good news for our Panzer crew though with multiple shots per turn and the relatively low chances of passing Morale checks, they have an okay chance within 4".

Command Decision (1st)
Models are platoons but act more like individual tanks.

Scale is 1" equal 50 yards, so we'll be shooting at 2", 10" and 16" range.

Penetration is -1 at 2" and -2 at the other ranges (with accuracy dropping off massively for the 16" shot).

The Queen of the Desert sports 8 frontal armor.

100 meter test: A D10 roll of a 9 will Force the Matilda Back. A roll of a 10 will Damage it.

500 and 800 meter test: A D10 roll of a 10 will Force Back the Matilda.

Conclusion: Give it up Krauts. Closing to within 2" range and volley firing 37mm's will result in a lot of burned out Panzers en route.

Models are single tanks.

All distances are given in meters to begin with.

Penetration is 8 at 100 meters, 7 at 500 meters and 6 at 800 meters.

Matilda gets 6 frontal armor.

100 meter test: A D10 roll of 1 or 2 knocks out the Matilda. A roll of 3 Neutralizes it (unable to act this turn, suppressed the next) while a 4 or higher simply Suppresses it.

500 meter test: A D10 roll of 1 knocks out while a 2 Neutralizes.

800 meter test: A D10 roll of 9 or 10 Neutralizes.

Conclusion: Not great odds but they CAN kill it at 500 meters if you are feeling quite lucky.

Panzer War
Models are single tanks.

Distances are given in GSU which are half a meter each.

Penetration is 5 at 50 GSU, 4 at 250 GSU and 3 at 400 GSU when firing AP.
This is increased to 7, 4 and 2.5 when firing APCR.

Panzer War is fairly detailed in that shots can both experience substantial variation, often penetrating less than expected. Additionally different hit locations have rather different armor values.

100 meter test: Both ammo types will penetrate the tracks, even on a weak hit.
Critical hits (D6 roll of a 6 followed by at least a 4+) are needed to penetrate other locations in most cases.
APCR can penetrate parts of the turret if it does not suffer any deflection.

A Turret penetration will then need a 7+ (on a D10) to kill the tank and a 7+ (on a second D10) to knock out the tank commander).

500 meter test: Even with critical hits, it's unlikely to do any damage beyond tracking the tank.

800 meter test: As above.

Conclusion: Panzer crew is probably doomed, but the chance of knocking out a track does give some more options to the German player.
Also Panzer War has the penetration drop off much faster at range compared to Firefly.

Tank Charts
Models are single tanks.

Distances are given in meters.

100 meter penetration is 48, 500 meters is 39, 800 meters is 28.

Optionally, these can be varied up and down 10%.

100 meter test: From the front, the weakest hit location has 79 mm armor. Even with variation, there is zero chance whatsoever.

No need to conduct further tests.

Conclusion: Fritz go home.

So there you have it: Information that is of absolutely no value to anybody :-)

I didn't check Chain of Command, Crossfire or Troops, Weapons & Tactics since I don't really consider them tank games and I don't have a copy of Spearhead lying around any more.

Which result seemed to fit the best? Discuss as you see fit.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Trench Hammer. Solo RPG'ing and WINTER OFFENSIVE

First, Trench Hammer is available.
A collaboration with Patrick Smyrl, this uses the Squad Hammer engine to allow fast, easy and fun WW1 infantry war fare.

You can run a platoon to a company with no trouble and of course we include a few nods to campaign gaming.

The package includes details on organizing German and British platoons plus 3 scenarios.

Trench Hammer is what I've termed a "mini mini's game": A game that has a lot of finesse and chrome but in a small page count and a small price tag.
Grab a copy, buy a few bags of 15mm figures and you can have a fully playable game on the cheap.

Heck, do it for Christmas. We both know you're going to want to escape your drunk grandma complaining that the people in TV are hiding her socks, and where better to do so than with a new wargame, some unpainted miniatures and a few Ospreys books for a new war gaming period ?
Rules are available here for 4.99.
You do NOT need a copy of Squad Hammer to use this.

Second, based on feedback, the price for the solo Blade&Lockpick game system is reduced to 2.99.
If you were hesitant because you like the idea of a group/solo oriented task system but don't want to pay for an oracle you won't use...well, now you can get the whole thing for half the price.
Fair, no ?

Finally, we're participating in the Winter Offensive.
If you've held off on grabbed NWG titles such as LaserStorm, Clash on the Fringe, Starport Scum, No End in Sight or...well, any of them, now you can do so at a nice discount.

You deserve some gaming don't you?

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Wargaming the Russian Civil War - Rules agnostic

The Russian Civil War and the various sub-conflicts (such as the Soviet-Polish war and Finnish Civil Wars) make for excellent gaming material but there are relatively few rule sets dealing with it specifically.

Luckily, any set of WW1 rules (such as 1916, Great War Spearhead, Over the Top, Contemptible Little Armies etc.) can be pressed into service with a few tweaks.
And if that fails you, grab some WW2 rules that you like.

I am going to make some suggestions below, mainly for larger scaled battles:

1: A bit less trenchy.

Troops certainly dug in during the RCW, however, it was not nearly as common to find the extensive trench networks of the Western front.
Part of this is the nature of the fighting: A lot of the "meeting engagements" that players tend to enjoy would be alongside rail or river supply lines, where there's not much to be gained from holding a given spot.
Additionally, given the size of the territories in question, a heavy position could usually always be outflanked.

As such, if your game system gives an increased defensive benefit to trenches (compared to other forms of "hard cover" such as a stone wall or barricade), don't allow that bonus unless defending a real fortification network (such as Petrograd or Tsaritsyn).

Trenches are simply rated the same as any other physical obstacle.

2: Crap troops can still win.

While many units fought fiercely and resolutely, civil wars tend to give us an excuse for all manner of dubious troops.
What will occasionally surprise WW1 (and even WW2) players is that these troops often did just fine storming an enemy position.

To some extent this can be answered by the equally dismal state of the opposing forces, however I think a significant factor is that there's not much to be gained from defending a particular spot to the death.
Whether you defend this particular spot of dirt or another equivalent spot 10 miles to your rear will make little difference on the steppes.

As such, if your rules offer a Morale bonus for occupying defensive positions, do not apply the bonus unless it is a vital position or your troops are Loyal.
Alternatively, lower all "in cover" Morale boosts by one step.

3: Horsies!

One of the more fun aspects is that cavalry is a vital battle field tool in the RCW.
They can even do quite well on the actual battle field, to the delight of many a frustrated WW1 horse-miniature painter.

My personal theory as to the relative battle field success of cavalry in the east is that firepower was comparatively low: A mixture of rifle types, limited ammunition as well as modest degrees of training  (to be optimistic) meant that troops just couldn't put out the sorts of concentrated firepower that would doom any cavalry attack in the West.

If your rules provide a firing bonus against mounted troops, drop this bonus UNLESS the troops in question are Allied Intervention Forces.
Yes, this will apply even for machine guns.

I'd also suggest applying a morale effect for enemy cavalry near your position.
A simple penalty (or even forcing a morale check when enemy horse approach within "close" range) will work fine.

4: Who you gonna call? 

Indirect artillery fire should probably be non-existent unless you're attacking a known, fortified position.
Most artillery support would be over open sights at spotted targets, even for mortars.

This incidentally allows you to ignore the most complicated part of many rule sets.

5: Desertion

There's plenty of recorded instances of troops melting away at the first sign of trouble or even switching sides.

Unless a unit is Loyal, if you roll the worst possible score for a Morale check, the unit is removed from play.
If they are within "close" range of the enemy, give a 25% chance of changing sides (in which case they are assumed to have passed the morale check).

I hope these tricks help or maybe even get you interested in this wonderful period for gaming purposes.
Let me know your own ideas below.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

A gaming confession

A confession to make before Christmas:

I hate spotting rules.

Any rules that have visibility/spotting rules, we always throw that part out unless we're specifically playing a scenario where one side is concealed in their starting positions.

Striker ? Threw it out.

Command decision ? Thrown out.

Firefly ? Nope. Out.

This morning messing with Panzer War ? Get out of here.

Just about the sole exception is old school 40K with the "Hidden" rule, probably because its deterministic (Within your Initiative in inches, you see them).

To some extent, I agree with Ed's words in the original edition of "Nuts": If the player can see the models, then the player is going to react to them regardless of whether they are "spotted". 
If you want hidden models, remove them from the board.

That's paraphrased but I am inclined to generally agree.

Additionally, I've found that a lot of players will laugh at missing multiple shots in a row, but missing a spotting check and being unable to shoot at all makes them rather grouchy. 

What's your gaming confession? 

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Next revision: No Stars in Sight

The next big update will likely be to No Stars in Sight.
In the event this changes, consider this a "speculating about the future" blog post.

"Hard scifi" rules have always been a bit of a side-show in the scifi skirmish communities. Stargrunt 2 paved the way and currently All Tomorrow's War holds the throne.

Upon its original release, No Stars was pretty well received for feeling "realistic", having innovative ideas and being easy to play.
Conversely, it was also felt to be "busy" with a lot of things to keep track of and with too many special cases and exceptions, particularly as regards equipment.

The first step is obviously the improvements that was brought along in NEIS 2nd edition, such as getting rid of permanent stress and simplifying some of the mechanics.

However, one of the things I would also like to do is try to push up the scale a little bit: From the reinforced platoon to a half company or even a full, light company of troops.
I am not completely certain this will work, but I think if the design can be made to work at that larger scale, it'd be very attractive to a lot of people.
"Mass Skirmish" is popular with a lot of 15mm players who want to be able to field several vehicles along with a handful of infantry squads.

There were a lot of added systems in NSIS (hacking, the various alien critters etc.) that need to be carefully evaluated for simplifying or rebuilding.

The biggest worry is that compatibility between NEIS and NSIS may end up being broken a little bit.
I don't know if that's a disaster in itself, as long as the core mechanics are similar, but it does bear thinking about.

Stay tuned.
If you are experienced with the existing NSIS or NEIS rules and are curious about this new version, let me know and you might be able to help test things out.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Five Parsecs: Adjustments and difficulty

With a lot of games of Five Parsecs being played right now, I thought it'd be worth adding:

If you have any thoughts at all on how to tweak and improve the balance of the campaign game, let me know.

Whether it's characters advancing too slowly, too quickly, getting injured too often (or not enough), too many or too few enemies, cash problems, not enough to spend credits on, etc. etc. etc. I am all ears to all of that.

Procedural campaigns can be incredibly challenging to balance because the number of possible outcomes is astronomically high (there are events that never was rolled even once during testing).

So the intent is to rely on player feedback to adjust things as we go along.

So don't be shy, get in touch!
I like to pride myself on NWG always being fairly responsive to customers and the benefit of PDF publishing is that we can make changes rather quickly, instead of waiting a year or three for the 2nd edition.

In short: Love the game but this one thing is bugging you?
Write me :)

(also, leave some reviews on the site where you purchased please. Don't fluff it up, be honest with the ups and downs)

Saturday, 9 December 2017

I should add..

..the two Five Parsecs games were intended to have released closer to each other, but that didn't end up working out, so here they are :-)

Balancing the economy of a game like this is tricky: You can roll the dice twenty times and still not get a clear representation of every possibility.

If you run into elements that "break" the campaign, either by being far too stringent or far too rewarding, don't hesitate to email me.
The intention is that, as with all NWG games, things can and will be adjusted over time as more and more players get their claws into the campaigns.

There are more Five Parsecs material planned, though I am hesitant to talk too much about it in advance, since you never know when plans change and what product catches the publics attention.

The dream is to have a whole universe you can adventure in, moving from campaign to campaign as you wish, all powered by the same mechanics.
In some ways, rather inspired by 5150 from Two hour wargames.

We will see where things go, but stay tuned.

Five Parsecs Gang Warfare

The adventure continues!

The Five Parsecs solo-gaming adventure is about to get bigger and better with the release of Five Parsecs : Gang Warfare.

Focused on leading a gang of futuristic criminals, outcasts and miscreants, the new rules follow the same structure of simple mechanics (designed for solo gamers from the bottom up), intriguing and fun character creation and a fully featured campaign game.

Can you take your gang from scraping by in the gutter to ruling the city?

The new rules include more detailed encounters, rewritten campaign tables and actions and more space-criminal carnage than you can shake a laser pistol at!

All you need is 6-8 miniatures in any scale you like, along with suitable figures for their opposition and you are ready to play.

This is a complete stand-alone game, you do not need a copy of Five Parsecs From Home to play.
However, if you own both games, you will be delighted at the most exciting part:

The rules are completely compatible, letting you transfer characters between campaigns.
If your adventuring party is down on their luck, maybe it’s time to go slum it with the gangs and psychos for a while.
Maybe your gang leader can finally realize their dream of escaping to the stars.

The adventure just got a lot bigger and there’s more to come.

  • * * * *
The core philosophy of the Five Parsecs game engine is that solo players deserve rules written with them in mind: 
That means easy rules that still offer some tactical finesse.
It means avoiding a host of special rules and exceptions to track.
It means campaign rules and randomized opposition.

Five Parsecs : Gang Warfare is available now at 

And the Five Parsecs From Home rules are available at 

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Rolling up a Five Parsecs character...but wait?

Grab the dice, we're going to just roll a quick Five Parsecs character.

Motivation: Nihilism.

Raised by: Smugglers

Knack: Bruiser.

Reactions 1
Speed 4
Combat Skill 0
Toughness 4

Wait... those aren't entries from the Five Parsecs rulebook.

What kind of low life scum is this?

I wonder..

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Squad Hammer Space Elves are here

Complete with hard-hitting arrogant space ritualistics, a bit of wizardry and some very VERY mean ghost-walkers.

Go get it at the usual location:

Players should note that some revisions are coming to the SquadHammer points system. As such, this army list is based on estimation rather than exact calculation. Values will be subject to change and any player feedback will certainly be considered.

Blade&Lockpick update

Blade&Lockpick has been updated:

At the back of the booklet you will find a 3 character adventuring party (both to serve as examples and to serve as a ready-to-play adventuring party) plus an example of the Path character creation system.

A few more game examples will also be added in the near future so stay tuned.

Download your file again from the website. You only need to print the two final pages.

Squad-Hammer: Space Orc army list adjustments

A few points values have been adjusted downwards by a point or two to make them a tiny bit more competitive.

Brawler mobs got a pretty substantial discount, as their previous cost had a straight up error in it.

Download your army list again from the Wargame Vault and you should be all set.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Scifi discount week

Greetings gamers.
For this weekend, you can pick up not just one or two but three hard-hitting sci-fi games.

If you are in the market for a modern recreation of Rogue Trader: Complete with random scenarios, multiple races and all manner of player-devised machinery, you can get Clash on the Fringe for only 9 dollars. 

The rules include a pile of alien races, a full points system and of course campaign rules.

If something a bit harder is more your flavour, our hard scifi rules, based off No End in Sight are available. No Stars in Sight generates a tense, brutal scifi battle where you will be constantly wondering how far you can push your troops. Points values and multiple alien races are of course included.

You can pick it up for only 7 dollars

And lastly, if your tastes go a little bit bigger, how about Laserstorm: NWG's 6mm scifi battle game, permitting enormous armies to slug it out with simple, straight-forward mechanics?

A worthy successor to the bygone Space Marine rules, it is yours for only 6 dollars.

To get the discounted cost, make sure you are using the codes above. 

Happy gaming ladies and gentlemen and may your blaster pistols always shoot straight.

Slight space elf delay

Due to some conundrums of testing, Squad-Hammer Space Elves are taking a little bit longer than I had first anticipated.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

RPG vs Wargame community qualities

Roleplayers and wargamers share a lot of the same qualities, both being engaged in creative dice-related pursuits.
And of course, without wargaming, there'd be no RPG's, a fact that is still visible in many RPG combat systems.

As someone who grew up playing literally everything (RPG's, miniatures, board games, card games, the odd LARP etc.), it was always a bit of a shock when I got older and realized there were D&D players who had never touched a miniature or board gamers who refused to try a card game.

As someone with a leg in both camps, I also have had the general joy of engaging with both communities and observe how they compare and differ from each other.

So I thought I'd take a few moments to give my own thoughts on what I think each side could learn from the other.

Note that all of this is of course gross generalization and occasional exaggeration, so if you get really mad about something I say here, just pretend I am dumb (which is probably true).

Roleplayers are better at:

Discussing and understanding play styles -

RPG communities in general are much better at articulating, understanding, analyzing and accepting different styles of play:
The idea that each player may have different objectives at the table and how that influences game writing and adventure design.

The war-gaming communities "simulation vs beer&pretzel" debates often feel like the "roll vs role" debates that RPG'ers mostly got out of their systems in the 80's.

Discussing game design in general - 

I think RPG communities across the internet are often better at discussing game design in general.
There's a wealth of valuable discussion out there about how to create interesting scenarios, GM'ing techniques, how a particular mechanic contributes to the theme of a game and so forth.

War-gamers don't lack these entirely but they're much less common and it often feels like the wheel is being reinvented each time, due to lacking a shared vocabulary, especially once you step outside the strictly simulation-oriented.

Wider range of skills - 

When looking at wargaming blogs, it seems there's a greater degree of specialization.
The guy who enjoys building model terrain probably isn't reading a lot of history and the history nerd may not know anything about how to actually write a fun scenario.

It seems to me that roleplayers are much more diverse in their skill sets:
Whether the main pursuit is map making, adventure writing, GM'ing advice or something else entirely, roleplayers often seem better equipped at the other disciplines of their hobby.

Wargamers are better at:

Sticking to gaming - 

Now, this may differ for the odd website that rhymes with "the piniatures mage" but by and large, wargamers seem better able to distinguish their politics from their gaming.

The RPG communities online seem to disintegrate into flame wars that everyone must opine on every 2-3 weeks.

Worse, there seems to be far more people who view gaming purely through their super-liberal or super-conservative political lens, consequently becoming very bothered by "the wrong people" hence the outcry about games like Blue Rose or campaigns that assume orcs are evil.

Writing game rules - 

Hate to say it but it's true: Wargamers write much better mechanics than roleplayers do, even if roleplayers are better at talking about said rules.

This sounds like waxing my own carrot, so you can feel free to consider me the hack exception to the rule, but in my experience, wargame rules are (generally) clearer, less vague and much more likely to account for typical situations that 5 minutes of thinking could predict would come up.

It isn't even a question of "light" vs "heavy". A complex game can be poorly explained and a light game can be clear and concise.

In big part, this may be due to wargamers interacting with the rules to a greater extent, while roleplayers can often hide behind "just house rule it".
Now I'm not bagging on the group having the freedom to modify a rule, but that doesn't mean you can't write a clear rule to begin with.

Understanding the rules - 

If you watch two guys playing a wargame, it's generally assumed they both know the rules they are playing.
In an RPG campaign, its not at all unusual to have a player or two who don't know the game and never intend to.

Ever been in a group with the guy who after a year of weekly D&D games still asks what die he rolls to hit? That guy wouldn't last in a lot of wargaming clubs.

What both groups need to improve on:

Stop being butt-hurt that popular games being popular- 

Whether its a new edition of D&D or Flames of War, people need to stop moaning about it.

Popular games are popular because they appeal very widely sure.. but nobody is going to pick up Fistful of TOW's or The Black Hack as their first games  (yeah yeah, feel free to correct me with the one dude you know in Wisconsin).

If you're an indie developer in particular, the big corporate guys are your recruiters.
A guy who is wondering about miniatures gaming isn't going to buy FiveCore from me, but the dude who've played 40K and is wondering if there's anything else he could do with his miniatures just might.

So in conclusion:

Now that I've made everybody mad, I am going to go hide in my corner :-)

Agree? Disagree? Want me hanged? Leave a comment.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Five Parsecs - Character creation (and a correction)

First, a quick correction: You are supposed to begin the campaign with 1 credit per crew member, which got left out.
The PDF has been updated now, so if you already purchased, go out and download again.

Let's whip up 3 characters real quick, just to see how it goes.

A normal starting crew is 5 or 6, but we don't have all day to read blogs, do we? :)

So I grab my trusty percentile dice and roll.
Each character will have a background, motivation and character class which will affect their stats a little bit.

Our first character grew up in a War Torn Hell Hole, they are motivated by Order and their class is Starship Crew.
A grim survivor who wishes to avoid the horrors that befell his homeworld, he became a navigator on  merchant cruisers before striking out on his own.
Dodging land mines has boosted his Reactions a bit and he brings a random military weapon to the party, in this case a Rattle Gun (a primitive LMG)

Reactions 2 - Speed 4 - Combat Skill 0 - Toughness 3

For our second character, she grew up in an Isolationist Enclave, she is motivated by a sense of Discovery (makes sense since she'd have been pretty sheltered as a youth) and when she left the enclave, she found work as an artist.
No stat boosts, but her art-money lets us begin with 5 additional Credits.

Reactions 1 - Speed 4 - Combat Skill 0 - Toughness 3

For the last character, they grew up in a Tech-Guild (which brings 2 credits to the crew and a Blast Rifle). Apparently the guild was quite stifling because he is motivated to Escape (which also raises his movement speed).
Along the way, he became a Special Agent for this or that government entity (raising his Reactions and beginning the game with a gun Stabilizer)

Reactions 2 - Speed 5 - Combat Skill 0 - Toughness 3

* * * * *

Moving to the Flavor details, we learn that our ship is a Battered old mining ship, the characters are together because it's safer to be in a crew than alone.
They are best characterized as being "Somewhat forgettable".

Well, that suits our purposes fine, but surely we can find money and fame out among the planets.

Time to queue up the Slough Feg Traveller album on Itunes and get to it.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Five Parsecs From Home is back! It's new! It's...different?

So Five Parsecs From Home is basically the single best-selling thing I ever did.
A solo-oriented campaign game, aimed at providing the sort of Traveller meets Trigun meets Borderlands game play style that a lot of games grasp at.

However, it's definitely gotten pretty long in the tooth and needed a serious update, both to fix some design issues and to generally reflect the improvements in product from NWG.

Particularly, it had the following issues:

1: It was spread across two booklets (the FiveCore rulebook and the Five Parsecs book) and not organized that great.

2: A lot of the random tables ended up rarely used.

3: There were a LOT of special rules, cases and exceptions to keep track.

4: A lot of things generated on the tables ended up with things like "has a 1 in 6 chance of being interesting".

So a revised, stand-alone edition has been a wishlist item for a lot of people.

I'd maintained for a while that it would be a FiveCore system, however, the more I worked on it, the more I came to realize that a change was needed and I started tinkering with different solutions and options, including basing it off Clash on the Fringe.

Several trashed and discarded versions later, I took a long step back and looking at the project with new eyes:
The biggest problem for a solo gamer (in my own experience) is that you only have one person to do EVERYTHING.
As such, I find that when playing solo, the absolute easier and simpler the rules are, the better it flows for me.

With that in mind, I set about creating a set of rules that were as simple as I could, without being completely lacking in flair.
The campaign adds all the complexity and detail needed, there's no need to have the complexity also resident in the rules system itself.

The end result is what I feel is ultimately a much stronger, more capable game.
More importantly, it's one I feel is far more likely to get on the table and get campaigns played.

And that's the entire point right? Taking your crew of misfits and sending them out to get shot to bits on some back-water planet.

War gamer metal

There's a lot of gamers who like a bit of metal.
There's a lot of gamers who like a LOT of metal.

So I wanted to throw out a few albums and songs that make perfect gaming material for the historical gamer.

Feel free to add more.
I am going to be lazy and not add links to everything. If someone strikes your fancy, just check it out on youtube or itunes.

For this, I am specifically looking at songs about historical military battles, not generic "war metal" or fantasy stuff. So I won't list my beloved Bolt Thrower.

Song Stalingrad off the Stalingrad album.

Classic metal bordering on butt-rock.

Well recommended (and even features a short rendition of the Soviet anthem)

Entire Hundred Days album and entire Hattin album.

Euro-power metal.

The former is about Napoleon's 100 days campaign, while the latter should be self-explanatory.

Running Wild
Battle of Waterloo off the Death or glory album.

Classic metal.

Even begins with a sample from the Waterloo film.

God Dethroned

Their last three albums Passiondale, Under the sign of the iron cross and The world ablaze.

Death metal.

A trilogy of albums around the first world war. If you're going to pick just one, do World Ablaze.

Hail of bullets

All three of their albums Of frost and war, On divine winds and III the Rommel chronicles.

Death metal.

All three albums are themed around the second world war. Of Frost and War is the best of the bunch.

Iced Earth

The entire The Glorious Burden album.

Power metal.

Covers the Red Baron, Waterloo, Valley Forge, Attila and a three song epic about the battle of Gettysburg.

Iron Maiden

Really more than you can shake a fist at, so I'll pick out The Longest Day from the Matter of life and death album as a stand-out.


Longest Day should be self-explanatory.


Entire King of Rome album.

Power metal.

A bit home-brew quality but about Napoleon and the 100 days specifically.


Everything they've done ever.

Power metal.

Needs no explanation. If you're a gamer and don't know Sabaton, you're doing it wrong :)
Standouts include the Carolus Rex album and Heroes.


Latvian Riflemen album.

Black metal'ish.

About the Latvian rifles in the Russian army in the first world war.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Writing games. The Suck (tm)

Everyone has ideas.

Many people are hard workers.

A good chunk of people are clever about a topic they are interested in.

A small number of people can write well.

So by my back-of-the-envelope math, we should have millions of games about any given subject.
Why don't we?

Well, for one, writing a game takes time, testing it takes time and not all ideas turn out to work on paper (let alone on the table).

But there's a much greater reason a game never takes shape, I think.

The Suck.

What is The Suck?

The Suck is every single page you don't want to write.
Doesn't matter if it's miniatures, role playing, board games, cards or interpretive dance.

Every word you don't WANT to write contributes to The Suck.

What kind of stuff contributes to The Suck?

That depends on who you are.
What do you NOT want to write? Game examples? Designer notes? In-depth explanations of the artillery rule? Optional rules? A chapter explaining the philosophy of the rules so people will play it "right" ?

For me, it's always terrain rules. Anything that involves counting out different types of table top scenery and how each unit type interacts with it.
Oh, and don't forget jump pack troops and what if you teleport INTO the feature and does it count if only half the model is within the area and....

I hate it.

And every time I work on something, I dread writing the terrain section.
Every time I pick up a new game, I skip that part, read everything else, then realize at some point, some goon is going to wander into the woods and I'm going to need know what happens.

The Suck lurks?

So you have a clever idea. Maybe it's a dice mechanic (FAD began literally from the idea of rolling two dice and picking the highest) or a concept (NEIS began with the idea of permanent overwatch).
Maybe you read a lot about a particular battle and you're stoked to make rules for it.
Maybe you are just writing up the homebrew you play at the club.

You write an introduction and some notes. You begin fleshing out the rules and fixing up a few bugs and special cases.
You come up with a clever mechanic for morale that builds off the main dice system and you feel great.

And then it jumps at you.
The Suck.

It laughs in your face, taunting you.
"Nobody is going to take your game seriously without me, and unless you include detailed terrain rules, you will get 8 emails a day asking how to handle a slightly grassy boulder"

How you react at that stage is what determines if your game is ever going to be finished and seen by anyone but yourself.

Do you give up? I have. Many times. Sometimes the combined weight of things that contribute to The Suck just makes you realize you didn't care enough for the idea.

Do you power through it? When you've done it enough, you learn to churn out 5 pages of Suck and have it read pretty decently. After all, if it's a part you don't care about, it just has to function okay. Games are full of bits that are "okay".
As long as the rest is cool and this part isn't broken, it can be "okay" and nobody will notice.

Do you ignore it completely? "Fuck it, who actually reads the designer notes?"
You can always insist your game is "avant garde" experimental design (alternatively, say its "not for rules lawyers" and you can get away with basically selling people a to-hit table with the text "rolling well is probably better")

* * * * *

So there you have it.
The secret to being a designer. The Suck.

It has its claws in all of us and it takes a different shape for every person.

What is The Suck to you ?

Blade&Lockpick. Characters.

As requested, here's a few examples of characters built using the book.

Let's say I want to build a noble knight type for a fantasy game.

Characters consist of building-blocks: Abilities, Skills and Traits (plus a few other bits) each of which has a specific function in the game rules.

You could simply tally down a couple of things on the fly, but we do include a "choice" system based on power levels.
So we're going to make a Veteran character, which means they'll get 1 Ability, 3 Skills and 1 Talent.

Abilities are basically what would be "stats" in other games, so we'll give him Endurance as his Ability.

Skills are pretty self-explanatory. I like to use fairly wide skills but you could make them much more narrow if desired.

I'll give him a Knight skill which covers...well..knightly business like fighting, etiquette and horsemanship.
Second, we're going to give him Religion. He might be a knights templar or similar, so we'd expect him to be well educated in matters of the faith.
Finally, I'll add Hunting reflecting an upbringing as petty nobility, preoccupied with the finer things in life like shooting pigs with arrows.

Talents are particular knacks, unusual traits or mystical characteristics. It could be almost anything, but we're going to go with a Blessed Sword.
That way, we can justify a bonus die in combat situations.

If we're building a full character, we'd proceed to add some flair and connections but those are mainly role playing aspects, so we can stop here.

So our final character looks like:
Abilities: Endurance.
Skills: Knight. Religion. Hunting.
Traits: Blessed Sword.

This is the most straight-forward method, we actually offer a small lifepath system as well, but I'll give an example of that later on.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Blade & Lockpick. How an encounter works

So with Blade&Lockpick meeting with pretty brisk sales (I hope because it's rad but the killer artwork by Luigi no doubt helped), I thought I'd delve into how the encounters work, in case you are wondering:

So let's say we have a party of 4 adventurers . One is a big burly barbarian who has the Strong ability and Fighting as a skill.
One is a knight who also has a Fighting skill.
The other two are a scholar and a thief, neither of which have any traits relevant to combat.

They run into a band of rowdy goblinoids, consisting of 3 orcs and 3 goblins (minions).
None of those have any particular skills.

So let's see how that plays out, purely from a mechanical perspective. I am not going to go into heavy narration for this example, just to keep it clear and without clutter.

Round 1:
The heroes get 4 dice (one per hero) rolling 1, 2, 3, 5.

Due to the Strong character they can re-roll the 1 and get a 4, for a final score of 2, 3, 4, 5.

Since they have a character with Fighting skill, add +1 to the highest die (just +1 even if they have two such characters) for a total of 6.

The orcs roll 4, 5 and 5 on their three dice. The goblin minions automatically roll 3's, so the orc dice pool is 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5 for a 5 as their highest die.

Result: One goblin is eliminated.

Round 2: 
Heroes roll 1, 2, 3, 6.
Even before re-rolls, I know the orcs can't score a 7, so the heroes win this one and knock off another goblin.

Round 3:
Heroes roll 1, 2, 3, 4.
Re-rolling the 1 (for another 1) and adding skill, we get a 5 as our highest die.

The orc dice are 3, 4, 5 with a single goblin left adding another 3.

The highest dice are equal, so both teams must drop a character.
The last goblin bites it and I decide to roll randomly for what player character is knocked off. It ends up being the Barbarian. Oof.

Round 4:
The heroes now have 3 dice and no re-roll, but they still get the bonus for the Knights skill.

Dice are 3, 3, 4 so their total is 5.

Orcs roll 1, 4, 5, another draw.

An orc tumbles to the ground as does the scholar.

Round 5:
We're down to two characters facing two orcs.
At this point, we'd probably want to decide if the orcs run away or the heroes might decide to withdraw, but for this example, we'll proceed to the bitter end.

The heroes roll a 3 and a 4 (for a final score of 5) while the orcs roll a pair of 3's, resulting in another orc biting the dust.

Round 6:
Hero dice are 1 and 3 (final score 4).
A bit risky, but the last orc rolls....a 2 and is defeated.

We win:
This was a straight up "knock down, drag out" fight with no fancy stuff, no magic, no situational modifiers or anything else. Just two groups smashing into each other and hitting each other, until only one was standing.

What happened to the two characters that were removed? We might narrate that, we might roll on the Consequence table in the rules or we might use the in-game Oracle to figure it out.
For our purposes, we'll say the scholar actually just ran and hid, while the barbarian got dramatically roughed up but wasn't really seriously hurt.

Tomorrow, we'll look at a more complex example, as well as a non-combat one or two.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Solo/1on1 RPG engine "Blade and LockPick" is available

Blade & Lockpick is a role playing engine written with the following goals:

To present a group-oriented resolution system where the party act as a group, not a collection of individuals.

To provide a universal resolution system that could handle combat, mountaineering and research projects equally well.

To allow an interesting game where one player can easily handle a group of characters.

* * * * *

The dice-pool based system allows a group of characters to pool their skills, abilities and talents against an obstacle or foe and accounts for things like:

*Large monsters

*Deception and situational advantages


*Character skills, raw abilities, masteries and unusual talents and much more.

* * * * *


A complex battle with 4-6 characters on each side can be resolved in minutes instead of an hour, and without being a simple all-or-nothing outcome either.

* * * * *

No game engine would be complete without a character creation system.

In fact, we offer three ways to build interesting, fun characters, neither of which will take more than 5 minutes per character.

* * * * *

Several systems for improving characters over time, including by experience points, narratively or through a Milestone system, ideally suited for story-driven campaigns.

* * * * *

What if you can't decide what to play? We offer a tool to roll up a random campaign pitch.

Ever thought about doing a Low Fantasy light-hearted Heist adventure?

* * * * *

Lastly, you get a collection of solo-gaming tools, including an "Oracle" to answer game questions, random event systems, a table for determining the actions of your rivals and enemies and a "Between scenes" system for foiling your best laid plans.

* * * * *

Rather than being a game that can also be used for solo adventures, Blade & Lockpick was written specifically with the needs, concerns and difficulties of the solo gamer in mind.

It is also perfectly suited for those who like to play with a single player and a GM, but who would like to control a group of characters.

Lastly, you can use the system with a conventional gaming group interested in a more group-driven, narrative approach to gaming.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Something a bit different. A solo/single player RPG resolution engine

If you play RPG's "one on one" (one player plus GM) or even solo, you have probably run into the challenge of trying to manage 4-6 characters in a battle, even when using simple rules.

With that in mind, and the fact that I've been wanting to try and write a "group oriented" resolution system for RPG's since forever, go give this a look:

Tentatively titled "Blade and lockpick" it's a fast system for resolving more or less any conflict in an RPG using simple dice pools (and a few dice tricks).

There's a very simple base system, then a ton of suggestions, clarifications and options for you.

Tear it to pieces and let me know what you think.
If there's enough interest, I'll do up a full character creation system for it.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Since this seems to be a hot-button issue

Since there seems to be a lot of hot air about the new Wolfenstein video game, I've been thinking:

Nordic Weasel Games produces a few WW2 games.
Those games can feature Nazi's.
This may be shocking for a game set in a war that was started by the Nazi's but hey, here we are.

In fact, "Where Sten Guns Dare" explicitly and unapologetically is about fighting Nazi's.
You can grab that here: 

A game featuring Nazi's is apparently a political statement nowadays and the internet is abuzz with people complaining that a game about killing Nazi's is liberal propaganda or some such.

So I thought it'd be pertinent to establish a few guidelines as to how this controversy might affect our hobby:

Toy Soldiers aren't actually real people, so you should probably just relax.

In the world of the game, the guys you are fighting (if you play the allies) are Nazis or soldiers fighting for the Nazis.
They're not "alt" anything and they are most certainly not an allegory for this or that modern political frame work.

Playing the Feldgrau dudes in a toy soldier game doesn't mean you're a Nazi.

If you genuinely feel that killing imaginary Nazi soldiers in a toy soldier game is an affront to your political views, then please stop being a terrible person.

If you feel motivated to write a long drawn-out piece about how the average Landser was actually an apolitical draftee who warglegarblebarble, then rest assured I don't care.

With these guide-lines firmly in mind, go forth and play toy-soldiers.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The Swift - Enigmatic lizard men for Unity Field Agent

The army list for Unified Space's answer to the Droyne is here:

The Swift are enigmatic lizard people that seem to transition through a series of castes as they mature.
Now you can field this strange little creatures in your games of Unity Field Agent.

If you didn't pick up UFA yet, it's our card-drive skirmish game, featuring points-driven army lists, random scenario generation (using a simple card deck) AND Necromunda-style experience rules, letting your figures level up in our "Squad-Mode".

You can find the rules and all supporting material, including the new army list here: 

This week is army list week

"The Swift" will show up for Unity Field Agent, letting you get some "Not-Droyne" into the action, while the Space Elf army list will be along very shortly for Squad-Hammer players.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Space Orc army list available for Squad Hammer

Your Storm Troopers need somebody to fight of course, so what better than space orcs?
Especially nowadays when we have pretty good orc mini's in 15mm and 6mm scales.

Go forth and grab it at

It contains 15 ready-to-play orc units for Squad-Hammer, all inspired by the original Rogue Trader.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

SquadHammer Storm Trooper Q&A

A few questions for the Storm-Trooper army list:

Points values in general:
I am aware that the current points system over-rates movement speed a little bit.
If this bothers you, reduce the cost of each unit by half its Movement speed.

This negates a +1 Hit bonus from a rule, situational advantage or ability.
As such, if a Storm Trooper Combat squad shoots at another Combat squad, they wouldn't get their +1 Hit bonus.
If Assaulting a Storm Trooper squad, you'd roll at +1 instead of +2 and so forth.

It does NOT get factored into the general target number. In other words, do not raise target numbers by 1 when attacking Storm troopers.

Assault squad deployment:
In most editions of 40K, assault troops can deploy from orbit.
If you want to allow that option, keep the cost of Assault Squads the same and replace Jump with the Descend deployment method (The jump packs burn out their engines on entry).

Ignoring terrain penalties is different from ignoring terrain altogether (hover units).
Recon troops cannot enter impassable features.

The Command ability is slightly different from the rulebook in that the commanded unit can still activate this turn.

An "unmodified attack roll" of 2, 3 or 4 is a roll where the sum of the two attack dice is 2, 3 or 4.
Note that if such a roll still manages to hit the target, the player doesn't have to re-roll.

Transports and squad sizes:
Transports refer to the number of squads, regardless of the number of figures you use.

Note that a character IS a squad, hence a Trooper APC could carry 2 squads, 1 squad and a character or two characters.
We explain this by assuming that vehicles attached to characters are command variants, with less cargo space.

Trooper APC:
The APC does not have the Armored trait. This is intentional. As we factor low anti-vehicle damage into several unit profiles, not all "tank" vehicles need Armored.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

New releases: Squad Hammer army list and Tech Horror scenario generator

Zombies, giant monsters and the occasional demon from hell.

Horrors have been unleashed in suburbia and it's time to go in, guns blazing and get things sorted out.

"Tech Horror" is a genre rooted in B-movie science fiction and video games, popularized by games such as Resident Evil, Doom and Dead Space. It tends to feature elite soldiers, high-tech gear and monsters intent on ripping them to threads.

With this scenario generator and a pair of percentile dice, you can set up a scenario very quickly.

We provide random tables to establish the location, mission, what the threat is and how far along the outbreak we are, where it came from, what organization the players will be working for, their support,
equipment and even paranormal abilities.

Don't forget to throw in a plot twist, we have that covered too.

Notes are included for adapting to 1920's scenarios as well.

What's more: The generator can be used for both roleplaying games AND miniature war games.

Get your halloween gaming on in style.
Remember: Short controlled bursts!

* * * * *
The first army list for Squad-Hammer, offering rules and pre-made units for the Storm Troopers: Shock forces clad in brightly colored power armor.

Inspired by the original Rogue Trader style army lists, you will also be able to adapt this army list to popular space-fantasy movies or a more gritty futuristic warfare style.

Usable with any miniatures you have available, from 6mm to 28mm and beyond.

You get 15 units, all configured and with points values calculated in advance. All you need to do is grab models off the shelf and sit down to play.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Scummer. Issue 2.

A second volume of "The Scummer" is available, offering new gaming ideas for your Dungeon Scum and Starport Scum games.

Within this volume, you will find:

*3 new magical treasures for Dungeon Scum.

*3 new technological gadgets for Starport Scum.

*Rules for Elf and Wulfor (wolf-men) characters usable in both systems.

*3 new monsters usable in either game.

*Starport rules for cybernetic body parts ..and Metal Madness.

*An essay for GM's on when (and how) to say yes and no to your players.

*Rules for magic mushrooms.

If you're looking for a few new ideas to put on your gaming table, run over and grab this and the previous issue for the cost of a modestly decent cup of coffee.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Quick update

The Investigator class for OSR games has been tweaked slightly, changing the Determine Motive ability to an ability oriented towards finding clues instead.
A bit more classic and should be applicable to a much wider range of adventures.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Unity Field Agent - Rules clarification

Unity Field Agent


When you are hit by Suppressing Fire you take a Shock marker and Take Cover. This produces a single Shock marker overall, not one for being hit and one for Taking Cover.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

OSR gaming: the Investigator class

Another old classic, this class is suitable to adding a bit of spice into a more role-play oriented or intrigue-driven classic D&D campaign.
Sniff out secret motives, snoop on people and interrogate suspects. All in a days work as an Investigator.

As always, suited for Labyrinth Lord, BX D&D, S&W and (with a bit of tweaking) an AD&D campaign.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

OSR Gaming: The Tinkerer Class

The second of a short series of character classes, some old and polished off.

The Tinkerer is a device-oriented thief with a knack for all things interesting, mechanical and occasionally magical.

Suitable for S&W, Labyrinth Lord or just about anything else based off "ye olde D&D".

Squad Hammer - Turn example

This is just an ultra simpler overview of how the basic mechanics of Squad Hammer works.

Your turn
When it's your turn to play, roll two dice (D6) and pick the higher:
This is the number of units that can act this turn. The rest are assumed to be busy keeping their heads down, firing ineffectively at enemies in cover or eating their packed lunches.

This means you will usually be acting with 3-5 units each turn. This can be scaled up for mega-games (f.x. by doubling the roll).

This also means you have to prioritize a bit:
If you want to bring up reinforcements or flank the enemy, your fire at the main engagement is going to slacken off, unless you hope for hot dice.
Guess sarge can't both shout obscenities into the radio AND direct his grunts at the same time.

Each unit has 4 basic options open to it:
You can engage the enemy, moving and firing as normal (or using non-combat abilities).
You can regroup, attempting to restore morale (and remove "damage" tokens).
You can withdraw, recovering a bit of damage in the process.
You can redeploy, allowing you to move further than normal, if you aren't too banged up already.

I get 4 actions, so I'll have one unit fire at the enemy, while a second unit withdraws to get back into cover after a failed assault on a previous turn.

I'll use a third action to redeploy a tank around my flank and the last action to move up some infantry to support it, while firing at a distant enemy.

Combat is simplicity itself:
Set a target number and beat it on 2D6.
The norm is that players decide the target numbers. Want to account for the smoke from that burning tank in the streets? All up to you.
If that sounds a little too hand-wavy, we of course provide some "canned" target numbers for typical degrees of cover.

If you hit, roll the damage die for the unit: Usually a D3, D6 or 2D6 pick best.
Units track damage taken with a small die next to them, this can represent suppression, morale loss, injuries, equipment malfunction etc.

When a unit exceeds 6 damage, its curtains and they're removed. Until then, they can withdraw or regroup to "heal" a bit.

Close range combat will have the enemy fire back and assaults get a substantial hit bonus, but for the most part, we've tried to keep combat as fast, simple and uncluttered as possible. Neil Thomas' "One Hour Wargames" was a huge inspiration here.

So what can my units be?
Pretty much anything you can think of.
By default, units are groups of 5-7 infantry, a weapons team or a single vehicle but there's no reason they could not be platoons or even companies.
For that matter, a unit could be a single soldier or hero if you like. It all just depends on how you like to play.

I'll post up some unit building examples in the coming week, as well as discuss things like Support options.

Five Men in Normandy. 30 cal edition

Five Men in Normandy is back.
With a completely updated layout, tweaks, corrections and simplifications, WW2 character driven campaigning has never been more fun.

Five Men plays quickly, has absolutely no long lists of modifiers to memorize and supports character-focused campaign games right out of the box.

All you need to play is a handful of figures, a 2x2 foot table and an hour of your time.

Make the game as chaotic and unpredictable as you want with random in-game events, play solo, follow your characters from battle to battle in a system where their motivations and dreams just might make a difference. 
* * * * *
This is an updated and improved version of the original Five Men in Normandy rules. 
The focus of this edition has been to improve the presentation, make the game clearer and more accessible and tweak a few rules that could use a touch.
The contents are intentionally the same as the original version.

Should you buy this or Five Men at KurskKursk is a much more detailed game, the "chrome" version if you will.
If you prefer detailed games with troop ratings, tank combat and multiple units, get that game.
If you prefer a blazing fast infantry patrol that is razor focused on doing one thing well, get this game.
* * * * *

Thursday, 5 October 2017

OSR gaming: The Yeoman class

Here at NWG, we do dabble in roleplaying, occasionally even a bit of the "OSR" flavor (retro D&D as it were).

With that in mind and to raise money for things my kid needs, we're happy to present a new touch on an old classic: A Yeoman class for OSR games.

Compatible with the red/blue Basic/Expert box sets, as well as games derived from them such as Labyrinth Lord, you should be able to fit this class into almost any TSR-era D&D rules (or any OSR game derived from such).

Monday, 2 October 2017

Some additional news

This is as good a time as any to mention that this will likely be the last original rules set from NWG in a reasonably long time.

Going forward, the goal is going to be to focus on updating and revising older games, creating adaptations and conversions for new settings and creating more expansion and support material.

That doesn't mean that a new game won't show up eventually, but it will mean a bit of a change in focus.

Part of it is that there's only so many areas I am both interested in and have the knowledge base for.
I know a lot of people want an air or naval game, but I don't have the materials needed to research them, and they aren't periods I am particularly knowledgeable in.

The other part is that I've come to realize I was misreading the market.
My initial assumption has always been that it's better to do a longer, more complete core book, then do very few supplements.
However, my experiences over the past couple of years has suggested that I may have been mistaken.

A big, 100+ page monster of a game (for PDF releases) can seem overwhelming and if there's no follow-up material, the game will disappear from view and seem unsupported.
It's better to parcel things out a bit. The feeling I get is that a lot of people prefer a slimmer rule book, then as they are ready they can go and add more clutter to the game down the road.

It's been a bonkers ride, and I hope people are ready for the next leg.

Squad-Hammer. Any army any where.

At any given time, I have a large number of "secret projects": Things I tinker with, half-written drafts, games at 85% completion, ideas that could become product at some point.

Some never work out, I doubt the marketability or I find that something in the design just doesn't work proper.
Others work fine but I hold off for this or that reason. Maybe it's too similar to something I already have done, maybe it's too similar to something else on the market. Maybe I'm just being insecure.

Today's announcement is something from the "secret project" drawer: Something that has sat around in near-completed forms for a very long time. Something I've kept taking out, tinkering with, then put back on the digital shelf.
Something that I kept wondering if people would be interested in.

Finally, I showed it to people and they were clear that they would be interested. So it's time to show it off for the world:

I am proud to announce the release of Squad-Hammer.

What on earth is Squad-Hammer you ask?

Well, the cover probably tells you more than I could:

I imagine by now, I have lost half the readers and the other half is very very curious.

Squad-Hammer is NWG's take on the "ultra simple" style of games like "One Hour Wargames" and "FUBAR", two of the most influential games in a very long time, in my opinion.
Simple, straight forward rules that probably fit on an index card if you have small hand-writing.

What Squad-Hammer adds to the formula is the stuff that I always try to do with my games: Expand the scope: You can build your own units here and I give you lots of tools to get started. Anything from tanks to winged demons is possible and if we can build all those units, we can have them fight each other.

Whether you want to play a strictly historical game, a fantastical scifi game or you want to run your Vietnam era Americans against an alien invasion (and some mercenary Star Wars mini's on the side) is up to you. The rules won't tell you not to have fun.

The third game that acted as inspiration was "I ain't been shot mum", specifically with its player defined target numbers.
We provide guide lines but ultimately, players will sit the hit numbers for any given shot themselves.
Keep it as basic as you want or factor in everything from smoke in the streets to the fact the gunner just got a "Dear John" letter from home. Your call.
Of course, there's some pre-set target numbers as well, if you just want to use the rules and not fiddle with figuring this out yourself.

Who is the target audience for Squad-Hammer?
People who like simple, fun games. People who enjoy getting mini's on the table. People who like a bit of madness.

If you want to calculate points values for your creations, there's tools for that (even if they are a bit open-ended this time).
If you want to set up random missions on the fly or play a campaign, you get tools for that.
Need to teleport your elf assault jedi into position, while calling in an orbital bombardment? Yeah, I got you.

Did I mention the core rules probably fit on an index card?

By now, you already know if this is the game for you so go grab it. I look forward to hearing about the mad things you come up with. 

Friday, 29 September 2017

City Generator - Work example

Let’s roll up a city and see what stories we can get out of this.

While you should never be afraid to roll again, if you get a result you don’t like, for the purpose of this exercise, all rolls will be kept as it.

Step 1 is to roll up some Factions. 
We’ll go with 3 for a modest sized city that has to entertain a short campaign.

We get: 
  • Merchant or Craft Guild
  • Secret society
  • Merchant or Craft Guild.

An extra roll tells us that the two guilds are not splinter groups of each other.

Okay, so for the guilds, we’ll go with the gem cutters guild and the gold smiths guild. 
That lets me run a game with a lot of money on the line (and suggests that the city is obviously located somewhere with a lot of valuables to be mined).

The secret society, I want something a bit more magical, so we’ll say they are up to some sort of lengthy magical research. Maybe something about opening up dimensions ?
We’ll cross that bridge along the way, but I want to have a way for the players to be hired to find strange substances.

Faction capabilities:
For each Faction, I’ll roll 3D10+20 to find each of their capabilities.

The gem cutters get 41 Influence, 35 Resilience, 37 Support and 38 Covert. 
Applying the modifiers for a guild brings these to 51 Influence, 40 Resilience, 47 Support and 38 Covert.

The guild is obviously quite wealthy, giving them extensive ability to simply buy anything they need (high Support and Influence scores).

The gold smiths guild get final scores of 45 Influence, 40 Resilience, 40 Support and 33 Covert.
Why are they more resilient and influential? I decide that their guild is a bit older, meaning they hold more prestige in the city, though it’s also beginning to wane a bit (lower support).
This also means they can’t quite get away with playing as dirty (lower Covert score).

With a bit of thought, even though these are just simple percentile scores to roll for behind the scenes, we’re already establishing a picture.

Our secret society, after modifiers, sits at 33 Influence, 39 Resilience, 48 Support and 50 Covert.
I suppose we’d expect a secret society to be good at sneaking about.

Faction characteristics:
We’re going to add one characteristic to each of the factions.

The Gem guild is Struggling (which reduces all their capabilities by 5).
Okay, so how does that work if we already decided they are rich? Well, the easiest answer is that things have taken a turn for the worse in the past couple of years.
That also gives our players some obvious reasons to be hired on to do jobs.
(adjusted capabilities then are 36 Influence, 30 Resilience, 32 Support and 33 Covert).

The Gold guild is Meritocratic. Despite being an older organization, they promote and advance members based on their skill and talent, not just who’s who. 
Is that a recent development? I decide that it is, because that gives me a chance to add a young, energetic “reformer” to their organization later.
This ups their Influence to a healthy 50.

The secret society is Populous. I’m going to interpret that as “populous for a secret society” so instead of consisting of 20-30 people, they have a few hundred at their disposal with many operating outside the city itself.
It does raise their Resilience to 44.

This is basically the entire reason for the factions to exist.

We’ll generate two.

First, we determine that two factions are long-time rivals.
Well, this one is obviously the two guilds, this just cements that it’s been that day since day 1.

This does raise the Covert score of both factions by 5, bringing them both to 38 Covert.

For our second conflict, we learn that the leader of the Secret society is insane.
Oh dear. 
What does that mean for their extra-dimensional plan? Probably nothing good at all!

I’ll have to think about it. A tempting option is to have the plan involve something pretty benign (get the addition of the god of harvests to solve hunger forever) and the leader is subtly twisting the rituals (summon the god of artistry to turn the fields to glass).
We reduce their Covert rating by 5 and their Stability by 10.

I’ll add 4 personalities for the players to run into. 
Personalities have a 30% chance of being affiliated with a faction and with my dice being weird today, I get 3 faction characters. Fair enough, one each then.

For the names, I used a random name generator online.

Richard Grinda
The first character is an unaffiliated Scholar of the regions primary species (human for my campaign).
His motivation is an admiration for worldly pleasures. 
I decide he’s an old sage that happens to take a philosophical approach to his over-eating and boozing. 
This should be a fun enough character to roleplay if the players go hunting for information. He may even pay them to find particularly rare or ancient wines for him, which sounds like a fun side quest.
His Quirk is a secret motivation. I decide to play ahead a bit: If the players establish a personal enemy in the city, this NPC will turn out to secretly hate that character as well, giving the players a convenient ally.

Lambert Carbonneua
This is the character that will be associated with the Gem guild. 
He’s a priest, so I take it he’s actually a sympathizer rather than actually working for them.
He’s of an uncommon species, so how does a French Elf sound? 

His motivation is a yearning for romance. Oh boy.
I sense a potential comic relief character here, especially if the players end up having to bail him out of trouble.
Now it makes sense why he likes the Gem guild. What better way to win a lady’s heart than some rocks?

Unfortunately, he also has a Dark Secret. What is that? I decide he has family that he betrayed. 
That may come back to haunt him. Maybe literally.

Violette Bittencourt
Our Gold guild character is a crafts man (or in this case craftslady) so that fits just fine.
Another human, Violette’s motivation is that she is ambivalent about knowledge. Huh?
I’m going to spin that off into a bit of fluff for the guild: They have an on-going debate about whether theory or practice is the more valuable.

Violette is undecided on the matter. For that to actually ever come up, she’ll need to be someone rather high up in the guild.
As a quirk, she’s truthful. 
That could make her a reliable employer at least.

Lucille Lagarde
Our secret society character appropriately turns out to be an Agent of an uncommon species. We’ll say a halfling. 

Since it’s a secret society with a scholarly bent, I’ll assume their agents are used to acquire and retrieve items (and persons) of interest, so this is someone the players will almost certainly run into.
She has a love for reputation and glory, which must rankle someone that works mostly from the shadows. Probably an easily exploitable weakness down the line.
She also has an odd personality. I decide that she tends to monologue her actions, even when others are around. 

Okay, we have factions that aren’t getting along and we have characters to interact with.

I’ll roll up a few quick contacts but I opt not to detail them any further.

If any player character is street-wise, I’ll give them the list and let them go from there.

We get contacts for:

Mystical or magical aid (small-time wizard no doubt) - Affiliated with the Gem Cutters guild but secretly working for the Gold guild. 

A guide to the area - Independent.

A friendly inn-keep - Affiliated with the Gem Cutters guild.

I’m not going to generate relationships between Lucille and the other characters, since they wouldn’t really know about her.

Richard and Lambert are Neutral towards each other. Makes sense, they don’t have a lot of reason to mingle.

Richard and Violette have an ambivalent relationship. I imagine their personalties don’t quite mesh.

Violette and Lambert have a severe dislike for each other, no doubt due to their factional disagreements.

I’ll add two opportunities to the city.

The first is Strong social division and the second is a Gang Feud.

Okay, so in my mind’s eye, the city was quite wealthy, this suggests that the wealth really isn’t benefiting many outside of the guilds themselves.
Gangs suggests to me that there’s large-scale criminal activity going on, likely smuggling.

That’s obvious plot fodder for a number of potential adventures.

Finally, two mysteries that I’ll keep hidden but I can use them later on if we need a distraction.
There’s been a recent influx of cloaked travellers (possible rival of the secret society?).
And a mysterious stranger has been seen around the city (I’d like to work that into one of the NPC back stories we have).

This got a bit longer because we used everything but I can already see 7 or 8 different plot threads that could come out of this. 
That’s before we factor in whatever the players happen to get their eyes on too.

I hope this helps you with how to use the City Generator to set up story lines for your games.

If this got your attention, you can of course grab it right here: