Thursday 30 July 2020

Nominated – Frostgrave: Perilous Dark

Osprey have just informed me that Frostgrave: Perilous Dark has been nominated for ‘Best Miniature Rules’ at this year’s UK Games Expo (being held online this year). This is an award that Frostgrave (the rulebook) won in 2015, and that Ghost Archipelago lost when it was nominated in 2018.

I honestly believe that Perilous Dark is one of my best pieces of wargame writing, so it is really nice for it to get this recognition.

That said, I’m up against some good competition. I actually read Last Days: Seasons in manuscript form. Ash Baker sent it to me to get my opinion, and, in truth, I thought it was great and basically had nothing to add. Meanwhile, I was actually at Adepticon when Ragnarok was first pitched to Osprey. It’s a cool idea for a game, with some interesting mechanics.

Everyone who attends the convention gets to vote for the winner. I obviously have my favourite, but whatever way it comes out, it’s always nice to get some recognition.

Monday 27 July 2020

Frostgrave: Second Edition – It Exists!

On Saturday, I received an exciting package. It contained my advance author copy of Frostgrave: Second Edition!

It looks amazing.

A huge thanks to the team at Osprey Games for the editing and design. To aRu-Mor for the amazing artwork. To North Star for the photographs.

I think everyone is going to be really pleased with the new book!

If I’ve got a copy, that means it is now in the warehouse in the UK, which means it should be heading out to North Star and other dealers in the coming weeks. 

So close!

Thursday 23 July 2020

In Good Company

I was checking something on DriveThruRPG the other day, and I noticed this. Savage Worlds: Adventure Edition and Rangers of Shadow Deep sit right next to one another in the Adamantine Best-Seller List! For those that don’t know, Savage Worlds is the creation of one of my favourite game designers, Shane Lacey Hensley -  who has also written the foreword to Frostgrave: Second Edition!

Now, in truth, this comparison isn’t really accurate. For most of its existence, Rangers of Shadow Deep has mainly been available on DriveThruRPG, whereas Savage Worlds has probably sold just as much, or more, through traditional print. Still, it’s good company to be in, and it made me smile!

Also, for those who might be interested - there is now a Deluxe Edition of Rangers of Shadow Deep that can be ordered in either Print or Ebook. It makes much more sense to by the Deluxe edition than the original, that is shown here.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Frostgrave: Second Edition, Pre-order Time!

North Star has opened their pre-order for Frostgrave: Second Edition, and when you order from them they'll throw in a new apprentice figure sculpted especially for the occasion!

This is also the first chance to order the new plastic Frostgrave Knights plastic set.

Nervous and Exciting Times!

Monday 20 July 2020

Designers & Dragons by Shannon Appelcline

Although I’m only halfway through reading it, I have been totally blow-away by Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry by Shannon Appelcline. If you have any interest in this industry, or the companies within it, then I heartily recommend checking it out. 

I first came across Designers & Dragons while looking for something else on DriveThruRPG. I had never previously heard of the author or the work. Intrigued, I went ahead and ordered Volume 2. I’ll explain why I started with that volume in a second. In truth, I didn’t expect too much from the book, maybe a few good facts or anecdotes. Instead, what I got was an impressively researched, incredibly comprehensive, and very well-written history of all of the major (and many of the minor) companies that have published role-playing games in the first forty years of the industry.

The work is broken into four volumes, each one covering the companies that began publishing RPGs in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s. Each entry tells the complete story of that company from their founding to (in most cases) their folding. Generally, Shannon sticks to the facts, only occasionally offering any personal commentary, which is probably wise considering just how many contentious issues arise in the history.  

I actually started with Volume 2 because it included several of the companies I was most interested in: Steve Jackson Games, FASA, and Iron Crown Enterprises, for example. In each case, I got something different. For Steve Jackson Games, I had just never read a history of the company, despite it being one of my earliest gaming loves. For FASA I got a very straight account of a company that often has a confusing history. For Iron Crown Enterprises, I finally got the answer to a question I had wondered about for thirty-years. (How did the company get into such dire financial straights right around the time they were supposed to pay me and my mother for our work on MERP: The Grey Mountains?)

I enjoyed Volume 2 so much, that even before I was finished with it, I ordered the other 3 (in hardback no less!). I’ve nearly finished Volume 1 now and found it just as good. In fact, I wish I had read this more straight-forward account of the history of TSR before I read Empires of Imagination (though I think that book is worth reading as well).

The roleplaying game industry is just packed with interesting characters and fascinating stories, and this book has them all. For me though, it has been even more than a great read - it’s been an encouragement. Although I mainly write ‘wargames’, they tend to have a heavy RPG influence, and I very much consider myself a part of this tradition. It’s incredible to see how others have done it, and ponder how I can incorporate those lessons into my own life, work, and creativity.

So, yeah. Designers & Dragons – Highly Recommended.

Friday 17 July 2020


This figure is actually one of the latest offerings for Rangers of Shadow Deep line, but I painted him up as a member of my Ghost Archipelago crew. Maybe it’s the feather and the hat or the cloak and the stance, but it just screams ‘swashbuckling duellist’ to me.

Another lovely sculpt. I must admit, the beard actually proved just slightly too much for my eyes and my brush, this time around. Still, it came out well enough, and overall I’m very happy with him.

That leaves my Ghost Archipelago crew just two figures from completion.

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Have Bow, Will Travel

Here is my latest recruit into the ranks of the Rangers!

This figure is actually ‘Orla’, one of the auxiliary companions from the Rangers of Shadow Deep: Blood Moon expansion. Interestingly, when this figure was revealed, many commentators compared her to Princess Merida, the main character in the Pixar movie, Brave. I suppose this is aided by me describing Orla as having red hair. I see where they are coming from, but when I got this figure under my paint brush, I saw a completely different character.

Maybe I will use her for Orla, or maybe I will use her for an archer companion, but either way, it’s a lovely figure, and I’m sure it’s going to get some ‘table time’ in my games.

Like pretty much all of the figures in the range, this one was a joy to paint. It’s not overly detailed, but the detail it has is deep. By this, I mean that there is good three-dimensional separation of the detail from the surrounding sculpt, which makes it easier to catch with the brush. It’s one of the things that often separates metal figures from plastic ones. A great example of this is on the bands around the quiver, which were much easier to target than similar detail I’ve faced on other figures.

Anyway, I’m closing in on finishing my ranger warband. I just have one more miniature and maybe some clue/treasure markers to go.

Monday 13 July 2020

Vapour Snakes / Water Weirds

I’ve done a little more painting for my Ghost Archipelago underwater adventures. These twisty guys are ‘Vapour Snakes’ for use with Frostgrave: Perilous Dark, but I’m also planning to use them as water weirds, basically little water elements. These guys will be especially dangerous underwater where they are functionally invisible.

These were just a quick blue-highlighted-up-to-white paint job, but I think it works perfectly for them.

Friday 10 July 2020

Frostgrave: Second Edition – The Appendix

Ever since the announcement of Frostgrave: Second Edition, people have been asking if the supplements for the first edition will still be valid. Well, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Yes!

With the exception of The Grimorie (the spellcards), all seven supplement books and the Ulterior Motives cards are still usable with the new edition.

In fact, I have included an appendix in the Second Edition book specifically to address this question.

Well, today, Osprey Games have decided to make that Appendix freely available. Now you can see for yourself, exactly what affect the new rules have had on those old books. (See the Appendix Here)

Also, there is a really cool piece of aRu-Mor artwork in there – so take a look!

Thursday 9 July 2020

LARPing in the 90’s!

Okay, the truth is, I’ve only every participated in one LARP (Live-Action Role-Playing). It was a Shadowrun LARP, and I think it took place in 1996. The above photograph is the only one I have from the event, and one of only two I have of me gaming in college (I showed the other last week). I’m the guy in black with his back to the camera.

Chimera, the science-fiction & fantasy club of the University of North Carolina at the time, arranged the game as part of their little convention: Chimera-fest. The game completely took over one of the campus buildings, with the different floors representing different areas of a city. All of the wealthy people lived on the top floor, all the gang-members and such on the bottom floor, with everyone mixing in the middle, as befits a cyberpunk setting!

I played a street-mage, and was one of the few people to actually come in costume – although, I admit, that apart from the hat, that’s kind of how I dressed during college anyway. Actually, in retrospect, this was a bad character to play in my first LARP. My character didn’t come with any plot, instead, since he had magic that could compel people to tell the truth, he was essentially a device for moving the plot along. At the time, though, I didn’t really understand that. So, since I was a mage, and everyone thought I was really scary (despite having no real offensive magic) I spent most of the game as a high-end bodyguard, who relied on bluff to keep people safe!

Anyway, I had a good time. I think most people did. I do remember my friend Matt, playing a rich businessman, descending to the lower floor for reasons unknown. When the denizens of the bottom floor got a look at him, they immediately drew their guns. Matt pulled an equipment card out of his pocket, shouted ‘Armoured Limo’, which was printed on the card, and ran off at full speed. 

I think I would probably enjoy LARPing, but for whatever reason, I was never interested enough to actually seek it out.

Tuesday 7 July 2020

You Are the Brute Squad!

I just finished painting this guy, the ogre guard model for the Rangers of Shadow Deep line of miniatures from North Star. I liked the figure so much, I decided I would use him as a member of my ranger warband, possibly representing the ogre, Gorbin, who can be found/rescued/recruited in Incinerator. That’s why I painted him in my ranger green and browns.

I know I harp on about the amazing sculpts that Bobby Jackson has been creating for this line, but seriously, this miniature is something else. For one, it is cast in resin, so the detail is extra sharp, but there is something about it that seems to actually improve my painting. I mean, look at the definition on the hands. I painted his fingernails!

This time I remembered to take a size-comparison photo!

Monday 6 July 2020

Frostgrave: Second Edition - The Scenarios

It’s July and that means that Frostgrave: Second Edition comes out next month! Under normal circumstances, I would have a copy of the book by now, as advances would have been air-freighted to the Osprey office. However, at the moment, there is no one at home at the Osprey office, and no central location where such advances can be sent, so I have to wait for the ship to arrive and the books to get into the warehouse. I’ll keep you updated.

Another bit of news, I know a lot of people have asked about a Nickstarter. Unfortunately, there will not be a Nickstarter this time around. Believe me, North Star would love to do one, but with their reduced staff and the reduced reliability at every step in the supply chain, it just isn’t feasible at the moment. On the other hand, the plan is to have a new plastic box set available at the same time as book – Specialist Soldiers! This will look a bit like the original Soldiers box set, except it features soldiers in heavier armour. I’ve seen the previews, it’s gonna be good!

So, back to the book. When I first started work on Frostgrave 2, my plan was to create ten new scenarios to replace the ones in the original. However, as I was working on it, I started to see how good those original scenarios were for introducing the game to new players. Some of them have been played so many times, they have become classics. So instead, I decided I would update them slightly for the new edition, but otherwise leave all ten in there. However, that didn’t feel quite right either, as I didn’t feel like I was providing enough for players who have already supported the game. So, in the end, I wrote ten new scenarios as well.

Since those first ten scenarios are mainly there to introduce the game, I felt freer to make the new ten more complex and to really show off some of the weird, wonderful, and wild things you can do with the game. So, now your wizards and their warbands can test their mettle in: The Orb, The Summoning Bell, The Right Hand the Left Hand, The Ice Storm, The Treasure Phantasmal, The Mine Cart, The Lock Box, The Steam Vents, The Swirling Mist, and The Mine Field…

Hopefully these will provide hours of gaming fun for new players and veterans alike!

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Shrapnel: The Official Battletech Magazine #1

A new quarterly Battletech magazine, print-on-demand, in perfect-bound book format, available on Amazon, even in the UK? I was in!

I may not play Battletech very much these days, and I’m mainly waiting for the new batch of plastic figures to be released before I get serious about painting it again, but gosh, I love the setting and the fiction. And really, that is what this magazine seems to be about.

Coming in at 160 pages (5.5” x 8.25” pages), the first issue presents an editorial, 6 short stories, part 1 of a serialized novel, 4 ‘articles’, and 3 game features.

The short stories mainly come from the familiar names of Battletech fiction. Of the six, I would rate five of them as good or better. My favourite was Tales from the Cracked Canopy: Blind Arrogance by Crag A. Reed, Jr.. While the plot was pretty straightforward, the framing story really gave it extra interest and meaning. Pretty much all of the stories involve the Clans in some way, which isn’t my favourite part of the universe, but I still enjoyed them.

The serialized novel is from ‘big-namer’, Michael A. Stackpole. While I enjoyed this piece well enough, it also left me scratching my head a bit. First because it seems like I had come into the middle of a story – I’m guessing there is a novel that directly proceeds it – but also, I’m just not sure of the point of serializing a novel in today’s market place. Perhaps it is just to have Stackpole’s name on as many issues as possible, but personally, I would have been happier with another short story in its place.

The articles are uniformly short pieces - they are basically news accounts from the universe. I liked them. They served as a nice break between the large pieces of fiction. I especially liked Michael Ciaravella’s Secrets of the Sphere: The Cameron Question. This little piece could be either the basis for a huge narrative or just a footnote if some one wanted to work the idea into a game.

The game features are again short pieces and includes rules for different sniper rifles in the RPG, a unit history, and an intriguing three-way scenario.

The layout is simple, but nice. Personally, I wish they had left out the texture behind the text. Not a major issue, but I think plain white would have been more enjoyable to read. There are a few black and white pieces of artwork scattered throughout, which I think are mostly reuse. Nothing to compare with that great cover though!

It is perhaps odd that an official magazine for a game includes so little game content, but personally, I’m good with that. At any rate, I am already looking forward to the release of Issue 2! A big thumb-up to all involved!