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Grasping at the Peak

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

 

This is the first in a new series of regular(?) posts that will be going up over the course of the next few weeks, dealing with the Band of Blades campaign one of our groups recently concluded. These posts will provide the Mission Sheets written and designed for that campaign, and any additional notes or thoughts about each.

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Respecting Time

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

 

GMs, particularly for long-term campaigns, usually put a lot of time and effort into prep-work for their games. Players, particularly players who have never tried to run a long-term campaign, often lack this perspective, treating the weekly game as a casual, drop-in event, able to be canceled at the last minute without it being rude. “Just a game.” Right?

This is a problematic perception. It disrespects the GM’s time and effort, and it disrespects the time set-aside by the other players at the table.

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Myth of Blades

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

 

One of the inspirations oddly missing from Band of Blades is acclaimed 1990’s computer game Myth: the Fallen Lords, a real-time strategy game by Bungie. The game tells the story of a continent over-run by armies of the undead, led by powerful (bickering) sorcerer-generals, who are themselves enslaved and corrupted by an ancient sorcerer-king; against them is arrayed the Legion, an army of men and their allies led by nine powerful sorcerers, who are desperately fighting to hold the line and protect the last bastions of humanity from being overwhelmed.

Sound familiar? Yes, that’s pretty much Band of Blades. Almost certainly because, just like Band of Blades, Myth: The Fallen Lords is also an homage to Glen Cook’s Black Company series of novels, and therefore borrows a number of similar elements. Now I enjoyed the Black Company, a lot, but I love Myth: TFL. Myth is my single favorite game ever of any genre or type of video game. It has been almost thirty years, and I still fire it up on occasion to throw exploding bottles at the shuffling hordes of thrall and hack down myrmidons.

After playing (and re-playing) the video game, I’ve always wanted more, and to be able to experience it at the tabletop. Since Band is so closely intertwined with Myth on a conceptual level, this is my chance to make it happen as a role-playing game using a system supportive of the nature of the fiction.[1]

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Goblin Babies and Wasp Nests: Too Close to Home?

Friday, September 25th, 2020

 

Dungeons & Dragons is getting rid of inherently evil humanoids, maybe even race-based ability scores, and so on. I’ve personally always disliked alignment for various reasons, the old “slaughtering goblin babies” problem being one of those, and I also don’t put humanoid women-and-children in the path of adventurers, so the problem hasn’t come up in my games.

But I do want a way to have “these are probably not things you want around” to be a thing with monster-types because…well…such things do exist in the real world, even if they aren’t rampaging barbaric hordes wielding steel and magic. I like monsters for heroes to overcome.

For example, in the real world, we Raid-bomb wasp hives that are built on our houses, and you would probably stomp a nest of black widow spider eggs into goo if you found one, and cockroaches that have set up shop in our walls are going to a roach motel. And we feel–and probably are–justified in doing so. But there’s a lot to explore and unpack here.

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Cut it Like a Pie

Friday, August 21st, 2020

 

Forged in the Dark games tend to have a multi-part meta-structure to play that I am finding very enjoyable. The types of actions and play that take place in each phase of that structure are differentiated from one another and simply utilize variations on the core mechanic.

This started me thinking about how OSR-type games could benefit from this meta-structure, and how I already use a pseudo-structure like this in play: for example, how downtime and travel are separated into mechanically-discrete phases of play when I run a game. I started wondering what this BitD meta-structure would look like for an OSR game, and a quick sketch emerged with around eight phases of varying complexity and length…but that’s a lot of phases, so I went back to ruminating on the issue.

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