Monday, 10 December 2018

Spellcaster: The Frostgrave Magazine, Issue 4 (Now Available!)

Need a little more Frostgrave fun in the run up to Christmas? Well, here you go. Issue 4 of Spellcaster Magazine is now available!

This issue includes:
* 7 new 'Legendary Soldiers' that wizards can hire for their warbands
* A new solo scenario for Rangifer Warbands
* Rules for Critical Failures and Critical Success on Casting Rolls in Frostgrave
* A solo or co-operative scenario for Ghost Archipelago.
* 8 New Ulterior Motive cards for Ghost Archipelago.
* A 'Big-Game' Frostgrave scenario featuring frost giants.

Issue 4 can be purchased now on DriveThruRPGIt can be pre-ordered on Kindle, where it will be released on Friday.

We are working on the print-on-demand version, but this likely won’t be ready until the new year.

All back issue are still currently available.

On DriveThruRPG

And Kindle

Thursday, 6 December 2018

The Dulwich Horror & Other Stories by David Hambling

I must admit, when I first came across The Dulwich Horror, I was wary. The title, being such an obvious play on H.P. Lovecraft’s famous ‘The Dunwich Horror’, put me in mind of the worst Lovecraft pastiches, and I’ve read enough of those in my life.

That said, the reviews were good, it had a forward by S.T. Joshi, who is no slouch when it comes to identifying good weird fiction, and the publisher PS Publishing tends to put out good stuff, so I decided to give it a go. I’m really glad I did.

As it turns out, ‘The Dulwich Horror’, which leads off the anthology is one of the best pieces of weird fiction I’ve read in a long time. It is Lovecraftian, but Hambling puts enough of his own spin on it to keep it from being pastiche. Partly this is achieved by the setting, 1927 London, and the characters, a bunch of newly-graduated Oxford intellectuals, and partly through his particular way of describing Cthulhu and other Great/Old/Ancient/Alien entities. He really managed to convince me that these creatures could be living just outside our reality, almost hiding in the cracks of our mathematics and science. Hambling is a skilful writer.

While it is true that none of the rest of the stories can quite live up to that first one, there is not a bad story in the lot. All of the stories are vaguely connected, but the book is at its best in the three stories that are connected by the central character of The Dulwich Horror. It is unusual to see reoccurring characters in true Mythos fiction (or obvious reasons), but again, Hambling pulls it off, and even provides a believable and unusual ending. In fact, I think the book could have just included those three tales, and I would have been just as happy.

It’s a good anthology and would stand proudly on any weird fiction collector’s shelf.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The Frostgrave Tour of Tallinn, Estonia!

Have you ever wanted to play Frostgrave in an actual frozen medieval city? Well, now is your chance. I have teamed up with Geek Nation Tours for the first ever, Frostgrave Tour of Tallinn, Estonia! For those brave enough come along, we’ll be going to Estonia in the dead of winter to explore the frozen city of Tallinn, to walk through creepy forests at night, and to take part in a Viking re-enactment. We will also be eating some great food, visiting a spa, getting personal tours, and, of course – playing a LOT of Frostgrave!
            Now, if this seems a surprising turn of events – just imagine how I feel! About six years ago, I surprised my wife with tickets to Estonia, not realizing that Baltic States in the month of February are a little bit cold. As it turned out, it was an amazing trip, and incredibly inspiring. In fact, that trip went a long way to creating the Frozen City of Frostgrave in mind. I wrote about all of this in the introduction to the first Frostgrave fiction collection, Frostgrave: Tales of the Frozen City, and then didn’t give it a lot of thought.
            Then one day I got an email from Teras, owner and head-geek of Geek Nation Tours. Teras is a Frostgrave fan and a friend of Osprey Publishing, and we’ve had a chance to talk occasionally at shows. We even once got to play Frostgrave together in the epic Fury of the Frost Giants game at Adepticon! It turns out Teras had read the Tales of the Frozen City introduction, and it got a plan formulating in his mind. What if a group of people got together for a week of touring Tallinn and playing Frostgrave
            Well, in 2020, we are going to find out. Teras did a huge amount of research about the opportunities for fun and adventure in and around Tallinn, and, of course, he quizzed me about what I had done during my own exploration. He’s found a nice hotel, some great restaurants, and numerous cool experiences. He hasn’t skimped on the wargaming side either. He’s got mats and terrain to set-up in the hotel. He’s convinced me to write some new, specially-themed scenarios, and he’s even commissioned a unique miniature for tour participants based on a famous medieval Estonian alchemist!
            It’s going to be cold, so bring your boots and cold weather gear, but it is also going to be a unique adventure. I’m seriously looking forward to it, and hope some other people might join us! The trip is limited to just 15 places, though, so if you want in, book soon.
            You can find complete detail on the Geek Nation Tours website.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Writing a Wargame: Idea to Publication

On Saturday, I'll be in London for Dragonmeet. If you have never been, this is a great little convention. It is mostly centred around role-playing, but has slowly expanded to cover some wargaming and board gaming as well. I have been for the past 7 or 8 years and it has been great to watch it grow.

This year, though, is going to be a first for me. For the first time, I will be running a seminar under the title ‘Writing a Wargame: Idea to Publication’. I’ll be drawing on my own experience from writing several wargames, including Frostgrave, Rangers of Shadow Deep, and Oathmark, but also from being closely involved in the publication process of numerous wargames from Osprey.

So, if you are attending Dragonmeet this week, please come and join me at noon in the seminar room!

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Founder, Fighter, Saxon Queen: Aethelflaed

Books about figures from the Early Medieval or Dark Age periods of English history usually fall into one of two categories – a summary of the period in question with a specific name highlighted, or pure speculation. Interestingly, Founder, Fighter, Saxon Queen: Aethelflaed by Margaret C. Jones doesn’t really fall into either of these categories.

The first thing a reader is likely to notice about this book is that the main text is only 150 pages long. While this is pretty short for a book of this type, it is sort of a tacit acknowledgement that there is only so much that can be said about Aethelflaed, and I suspect, a stronger book for its short length.

For those not in the know, Aethelflaed was the daughter of Alfred the Great, and eventually became the de facto queen of Mercia (her exact position is complicated). In this position, she carried on her father’s work of fortifying towns, founding new towns, and slowly reclaiming the lands lost to the Danes. Despite her modern obscurity, the reconquest of England owes as much to her as it does to her more famous brother, Edward the Elder, and nephew, Aethelstan. I suspect this obscurity owes most to the fact that she doesn’t fit neatly into any line of succession.

Margaret C. Jones’ book covers all of the important facts about Aethelflaed’s life, such as can be gleaned from Anglo-Saxon and Irish sources, and covers her military, town-building, and diplomatic successes. More interestingly, it takes a solid look at what it meant to be a royal woman in this time period and how Aethelflaed broke all of those traditions. While there is plenty of speculation and guess-work as to the details, some of the key points are inescapable. Having never read a book that took this perspective, I must say I found it a delightfully refreshing take on the period.

The book also covers all of the monuments to Aethelflaed, all of the commemorative celebrations that have been held in her honour, and even all of her appearances in popular culture. That all of this can fit into just one chapter shows just how obscure Aethelflaed has become.

All-and-all, a short, interesting, and delightful read that offers a really refreshing view on a time period that is completely dominated by Alfred the Great.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Rangers of Shadow Deep – Print on Demand is Live!

For those of you who have been waiting for a print copy of Rangers of Shadow Deep to be available – the wait is over!

You can now buy a copy of the print on demand addition at RPGNow!

For those of you who have already bought the PDF, I have emailed a discount code, so you can get it at a reduced price. If you have opted out of RPGNow emails, then get in touch and we will sort out the discount.

I admit it, it is pretty special to hold Rangers of Shadow Deep in my hands as a proper, on-paper, book!

[We are working on a hardback version of the book as well, but this is proving somewhat trickier. Watch this space.]

Note, this is also a good chance to pick up the print editions of Spellcaster Magazine 1, 2 and 3!