Wednesday, 26 June 2019

A sample encounter in Five Leagues 2

Lets take a look at how we figure out our encounter in Five Leagues.

I am adventuring (i.e. looking for trouble, so I roll D100 and a 83 gives me a Roadside AND a Combat encounter.
(and since this is an example, if I hadn't rolled that, I would probably cheated to showcase both, but today the dice were with me).


This means we met someone interesting while traveling.
The D100 roll gives us a Pilgrim, headed to or from some holy place.

We could just ignore them, but let's chat them up.

Another roll suggests they are Polite. We talk for a few, but they don't end up contributing any benefits or hazards to our campaign.

We thank the nice gentleman/lady and move on.


We're facing off against the most serious Threat to the nearby village: In our case thats Outlaws.

A roll for the exact type gives us Looters. General hooligans out to steal stuff.
Well, thats just why we're here. Only authorized looting is permitted in this kingdom!

The die roll for the encounter situation says we've found their camp.
That means a bit of a tougher fight, so we have the option of sneaking away.
Doing so risks the Threat level increasing, as the bandits loot the locals, so we'll fight it out.

When rolling for the number, I get a 3. Looters always add +2 and we add +1 since its a camp, so 6 enemies in total. That's not too bad.
As its a camp, they will also have a Captain present, as their leader and we won't roll for any Personalities then.

We'll have a couple quick rolls for the setup, but since Im not taking pictures of anything, we'll skip that here.

I do get to roll to see if I can Seize the Initiative.
My 2D6 roll is an 11 and I get +1 since Im raiding them. Thats easily over the 9 required, so I get a bonus turn basically, since we take them by surprise.


I decide to roll for Variations. I roll 3D6 scoring a 1, 4 and 6.
Well, the dice are keen on showing off today, since this means I get to give the enemy both a Strength and a Flaw.
The Strength is that one of the enemies is a Heavy Hitter: He'll get a bonus to punch through armor. I'll need a suitably beefy model for that.

On the flipside, another enemy is a Wimp. If he takes a hit, he'll flee the battle.

I decide I want to go full hog on the random factors, so I am also going to roll up an Oddity.
An 18 on the D100 table gives me Gloom: The battle takes place in the dark, which drastically limits missile fire, prevents characters from Dashing and penalizes Seize the Initiative rolls (though i still made it).

Since Looters have no archers and the war band typically does, this works mostly to their advantage, but we should still have a decent chance against them.


This probably took about 5 minutes to do and we now have a nice little tabletop scenario to play through.


Well, let's say we win.

First, if we held the field we can roll for an Unusual Find.
We find a sack of interesting stuff, offering a bonus Loot roll later. Cool!

Second, we can roll to reduce the Threat level in the region. As we cleared a camp, we need to roll a 3 or better which we do, so we reduce the Threat from 4 to 3.
Since we killed a Captain, we get an extra chance to roll a 6 and it succeeds, so we drop Threat down to a 2.

Now... Loots!
A camp raid means we got 3 rolls and that sack gives us a fourth. Not bad.

The first roll is an enchanted item: A Thorn of Ice!
This is a handy one use item, which can turn a character immune to damage for 2 turns. Not bad if you have to hold up a troll or something.

The second roll is some silver jewelry.
The third is a talisman.

Finally, that sack turns out to hold 4 gold coins and a dose of energizing herbs.

Not a bad haul for wiping out a bunch of scoundrels I should think.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Five Leagues 2nd edition is here!

If you click back a few posts, you can see the FAQ but otherwise email me at if you have any questions at all. 

If you are ready to get your fantasy gaming on, how about 150 pages of jam-packed fantasy action?
The best thing is the core rules didn't get any longer, meaning all the extra page count is straight up gaming material: New loot, new enemies, new possibilities, new trouble to get in.
More ways for your campaign to unfold than ever before.

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.