Monthly Archives: June 2012

Empire Helper Cards

How is it that I haven’t posted these here yet? Anyway:

I keep forgetting I have various innate bound spells (Battle Prayers, wizard wagon weapons) until I’ve blown all of my power dice (if I’m lucky; I normally remember them several phases after that).

So, knocked together a couple of cards to print out and put with my various spell cards to keep track of them. There’s one for Battle Prayers, the Luminark, and the Hurricanum.  They should print out to be the same size as the spell cards (3″ x 4 5/16″).

If you’ve got a copy of the Empire book, grab ’em here.  (If you don’t have the Empire book, you probably shouldn’t.)


Seriously, I freaking hate G+.  I got in to it pretty early, stuck around for a bit, then bailed because it wasn’t doing anything new and it was a dang desert.

Worse, Google decided to castrate the social features of its most useful of applications, Google Reader, in an effort to drive traffic to their mediocre, desolate social network.  This was, quite literally, the end of the honeymoon between Mountain View and me.  Google, who could do no wrong, really fucking had.

So, I killed my G+ account quite some time shortly soon after.

Anyway, it sounds like G+ is still a desolate inbred wasteland, but it also sounds like there are some interesting RPG-related things happening there.  So… I’m probably going to reactivate my account to see what’s up.  I’m definitely going to hate myself for it.

Positivity vs. Negativity

Go to Faeit 212 and read this article about how unhelpful negativity is in our hobby.

This is great stuff.

Our hobby is a big tent, and sometimes, it feels like there an entire sub-hobby dedicated to bitching about Games Workshop.  The negativity accomplishes so little, and gets exhausting quickly.


Zak S‘s image dump posts always look like fun to make.  Since I’ve got some inspiration for the game I’m eyeballing at running next, I feel like doing one of my own:

Books feeding in to what I’m thinking of doing (at the moment):

Reavers of Harkenwold

As the sidebar indicates, I’m currently in the process of running Reavers of Harkenwold (from the 4E Essentials Dungeons Master’s Kit) for a group of six (that hovers around four to five per session due to real life).

I’m running it because 1) I wanted to play some 4E and nobody else was running it and 2) I wanted to see how running a game based on a module would work.  My previous 4E effort felt like it required more active preparation than I really have bandwidth to perform said active preparation, and module does all the work, right?

Also, I’m functionally a new GM.  I’ve stabbed at running games infrequently over the years, but nothing truly extended.  It’s something I want to do, partly because it’s something I want to do and partly because there are games I want to play and if I don’t run ’em nobody will.  The only way to go from being an inexperienced, poor GM is practice.  (Well, maybe not the only way, but you take my meaning.)

Reavers is wrapping up, approaching its climax.  I have some thoughts on the game.

People who think 4E is not deadly are NUTS.  I’m running a published scenario, one that is judged to be “good.”  Without ever intending to, I kill a player almost every game.

I don’t go out of my way to make fights difficult. Encounters always have “Tactics” sections; I never get to them. I fumble around, pushing NPCs across the grid and rolling dice for them and making quiet “derp” noises.  And, in doing so, I’m butchering PCs left and right like I hate my goddamn players, heaping their mangled corpses like firewood by the dungeon entrance.

That “Death Saving Throw” thing neckbeards like to complain about?  :shudder: According to Untimately (though I don’t think he realizes it), that sucker makes 4E more deadly than AD&D, 3E, and a heap of retroclones. In most of these games, you have a range between -X and 0 in which you’re down but not dead.  4E has the the same… but with a timer: fail three Death Saving Throws and you’re gone. On average, it should take 7 DSTs (I think?) to kill a character.  At my table, with my players and with their dice, it runs more towards the 4-5.

Heck, I even had one character go from “standing” to “greasy, scorched stain on the cavern wall” in a single hit, with damage that blew past zero and then moved on to negative bloodied.

Worse: because encounters in 4E are intended to be difficult, having a PC drop at the wrong moment makes everything harder for everyone still standing… and makes it that much more likely that someone is about to go down.

Of six starting characters (and a dog) , two of them might see the end of the module.  (Not the dog.)

We decided, from the beginning, that we were going to let the dice do their thing, but I don’t actually want my games to be quite as deadly as this 4E game has been.  I’d like the threat of character death to be real and present, but I’d like to have players have the chance to get a little invested in their characters before their ripped apart by bullywugs.

Fights, fights, fights. Nobody will argue that 4E module design leaves something to be desired.  They focus on encounters and not much else (which, frankly, isn’t terribly different from the OSR modules I’ve read, but still).  Since I’m approaching the module from a “save me time” perspective, this inevitably meant that the game was about getting from Fight 1 to Fight 2 to Fight 3… lamentable.

This is as much my fault as the module’s though.  I’m confident that, if I were running something where I had more room to improvise, less direction about fight this then that then this other thing, and room for my players to become attached to their characters, I’d have been more satisfied with the game.

The Module saved me time? I’m not sure it did.  Yes, it saved me from having to plan out encounters (:cough:), but I had to review half the dang module before every session to make sure I (relatively unsuccessfully) kept the details and facts about what was going down straight.

Where I improvised and inserted details that worked well (“The Iron Circle are a bunch of anti-demihuman racists!”) were, inevitably, contradicted by the module (“Except for all the Tieflings and Dragonborn running around the final fortress!”), which made (at least a bit) more work for me.

I like 4E.  A lot.  I don’t think there’s any game out there that does combat as tactical and interesting as it does.  (That I like it is a good thing; the shelf full of 4E books proves I’m invested in the system.)  As I spent the bulk of my free time fiddling with miniatures, I very much value systems that use them.  I don’t think the problems I’ve had with this game are endemic to 4E, either.

I do think that the module experiment has run its course, though.  Hopefully we’ll wrap things up with the next session (and, the way things are going, it likely will, with a TPK :/ ) so I can move on to the next thing.

On Battlefoam’s Customer Service

Battlefoam has excellent customer service.

My first order with them went something along the lines of, “I’m boarding a plane to California in X weeks, and I’d like to take my Skaven with me.  Can you have Y at my door by at least the day before?” and, of course, they were able to manage it.

Although my most recent order with them was a little rocky, every other order’s gone smoothly and has seen great customer service.

Because the custom trays are Not Cheap… and because I keep running into a need for custom trays, I tend to overthink their composition.  For example, the Handgunner tray from my last order:

Those shapes have worked out fabulously for Handgunners, FYI.  The layout, on the other hand was close but not exactly viable (despite what I thought were careful measurements), so they had to make some changes. The final product has totally worked out, but deviates a smidge from the above.

This time, I had a bunch of stuff that needed to go into 2.5″ trays.  Rather than overthink the layout (because it didn’t really pay off last time, and because all that careful fiddling just delays my ordering), I said, “Screw it,” traced my shapes, typed up some notes, and e-mailed them away.

Those notes got longer, and longer, though, until I decided that I just had to share them here.

Where I’m going with all of this is 1) I’m aware that I can be a pain in the ass and 2) Battlefoam has excellent customer service.  If they didn’t, I wouldn’t have placed this order;  I have a pretty reasonable expectation that they’ll pull this thing together.  That’s significant, and merits noting.

Anyway, here’s the order:

Re: Order #XXXXXXX

First off, I need to apologize: I can’t help but overthink these orders, and this isn’t an exception. Sorry.

Overview of the shapes:

Shape Description Flippable? Quantity Depth Tray? Notes
A Warrior Priest FALSE 1 1.25″(1.5″) 1
B Standard Bearer FALSE 1 1.25″(1.5″) 1
C Outrider(A) FALSE 7 1.25″(1.5″) 1
D Outrider(B) FALSE 3 1.25″(1.5″) 1
E Hurricanum Top N/A 1 2.5″ 2 Reusable.4″ diameter Circle. Ignore the trace.
F Hurricanum Cart TRUE 1 2.5″ 2 Reusable?
G Luminark Cart TRUE 1 2.5″ 2 Reusable?
H Luminark Top TRUE 1 2.5″ 2 Reusable?
I TRUE 1 2.5″ ? Complication #1
J Helblaster TRUE 1-2 2.5″ ? Resuable.  Complication #1
K Helstorm TRUE 1-2 2.5″ ? Resuable.  Complication #1
L Demigryph1 FALSE 1 2.5″ 3 Complication #2
M Demigryph2 FALSE 1 2.5″ 3 Complication #2
N Demigryph3 FALSE 1 2.5″ 3 Complication #2
O Demigryph4 FALSE 1 2.5″ 3 Complication #2
P Cannon N/A 1-2 2.5″ ? Resuable.Complication #1
Q Mortar N/A 1-2 2.5″ ? Resuable.  Complication #1

Tray 1 – 1.25″ deep. Since I think that’s not an option (‘sokay), 1.5″ deep.
– A x1
– B x1
– C x7
– D x3

Fill the rest of the space with 1″ x 2 3/4″ shapes. Heck, if you can make ~half the tray look like your BF-BF-DHE tray, that’d be fabulous.

Tray 2 – 2.5″ deep
– E x1 – (I don’t know why I traced this. Just use a 4″ diameter circle, please.)
– F x1
– G x1
– H x1

Tray 3 – 2.5″ deep
– L x1
– M x1
– N x1
– O x1

Some of these shapes (F, G, H, I, J, K) are flippable. If flipping them makes things fit better: great.

Complication #1
Please add Shapes I, J, K, P, and Q to either Tray 2 or Tray 3 as possible. I’m not picky.

On the off chance there’s not enough room for everything across the two trays, that’s okay. The order in which I’d like these added, just in case: I, J, P, P, K, J, K, Q, Q

In the unlikely chance there’s room left on Tray 2 or Tray 3, just fill any remaining space with rectangles. I’m sure I can find something to use them for.

Finally, if for some extremely unlikely case you’d be able to fit E, F, G, H, I, L, M, N, O onto a single tray (which I doubt, but just in case), forget J, K, P, Q: I’ll just take the two trays (Tray 1 & the hypothetical Uber Tray 2/3).

Complication #2
I don’t even know if this is possible, but it can’t hurt to ask, right?

You’ll note that Shapes L, M, N, O are drawn in both red and blue. In a perfect world, the red shapes are 2.25″ deep, and the blue shapes 2.5″ deep. Since I’m quite confident that’s not an option, I’d love to get the material that fills those red shapes (or, failing that, the material that fills the entire shape) and I can saw away to make it work. I know I’ve gotten filler material for shapes before (in the BF-BF-1SB1PF tray) so I don’t think I’m taking crazy pills.

These Demigryphs come on an annoyingly wide base for the model.

Finally: several of these shapes are, I think, generic enough to be reusable by other folks and aren’t currently in your Custom Tray Generator. I know I’d have loved for them to be there, and if they make your lives easier and make up for the hassle that is this order: great! Shapes J, K, P, and Q are all Empire War Machine shapes; totally usable. Shapes E, F, G, H are all Empire Hurricanum and Luminark parts. They should be reusable by anyone, assuming they’re smart and magnetize the weapon components instead of fixing them in place. So, maybe reusable, maybe not.

Again, big apologies for the fussiness of this order! Let me know if you have any questions or need any clarification!



See what I mean?

Like I said: this was involved enough that I felt I needed to share it… and point out how it’s a testament to Battlefoam that I actually expect them to make it work.


As I might’ve mentioned, I’ve been ramping up on the OSR thing.  There’s some interesting stuff going on there, and I’m a sucker for random tables (and, now, drop tables).

That means that my Google Reader account’s bloated the heck up with a ton of OSR blogs (looks like my RPG folder’s got 60+ feeds in it at the moment).  That’s where the thinking’s going on, right?  And, unlike any other RPG phenomena, it really seems to be driven by individuals rocking out on blogs.

Related: I suggest that @SlyFlourish’s definition of “Grognard” is off; there’s nothing wrong with liking old stuff. The transition from “fan of something old” to “grognard” happens when someone hates something new, because it is new and they like something old.

Nobody has to like 4E. As with “Tastes great!” vs. “Less filling!” or Breaking Bad vs. Mad Men: different strokes for different folks.  It’s cool; whatevs!

What drives me up a dang wall, though, is uninformed bitching about it. You don’t have to like it, but if you’re going to complain about it… please don’t be talking out of your ass when you do it. Comparing 4E to an MMO, for example, flags you as someone who just doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

And that’s the problem I’m running into with OSR blogs: these are folks who keep getting derailed from talking about things they love by a need to complain about things they believe they hate. (I say “believe they hate” because, if they’re demonstrably ignorant about something, can they really hate it? Or just their imperfect understanding of it?)

I want to read these folks because, when they’re talking about something they love: they’re interesting and informative.  I come away with new ideas and perspectives; at the very least about what the game was like. When they sidetrack themselves, not only does it sidetrack me (because someone’s wrong on the internet), but their peevish ignorance undercuts their authority.

On Warpstone Pile, I try very hard to be positive. There’s a lot of miniature hobby stuff out there that I don’t like / kinda hate (Warmachine, the current state of 40K, comp systems for Fantasy), but bitching about it isn’t going to change anything except possibly alienate a reader. Going off about how little I care for Colossals isn’t going to motivate anyone to look at my painted toy soldiers. (I don’t always succeed, but I very much actively avoid negativity there.)

I probably shouldn’t let it bug me that much… it’s hardly a new phenomena, and there are better places to vent about it. But, as my RSS reader’s filling up with this stuff (particularly with the D&D 5E stuff rattling around lately), it’s starting to get unbearable.

tl;dr – Positivity good! Negativity (particularly uninformed negativity) bad!

Zweihänder Update Feed

I’m super-excited about Zweihänder the Warhammerless revision/rewrite of the WFRP system. It’s been on my radar for a bit, but because I’m terrible about checking in on Strike-to-Stun… it’s not easy for me to keep up with it.  And I’d like to keep up with it, ’cause I want to be able to order it when it drops.

So, I set up an RSS Pipe that reports whenever Moniker (the developer) posts to the Zweihänder subforum. It catches every post, not just “Order Zweihänder now!”, but it’s in my (RSS reader’s) face without drowning me in notices every time anyone posts there.

If this is something you’d find useful: here’s the feed. (And, if the pipe itself is useful to you, here’s the pipe.)

Moving from Tumblr

This blog was originally started as a Tumblr; a place to dump interesting tidbits I stumbled on.  Since then, as OneNote’s stepped up as a much better tool for that sort of thing, and I’d like to support more of a conversation than I’m able to get Tumblr to support.

Rather than manually moving posts from the Tumblr to here, I’m just going to link to it.  It’s just as well; do I really need to repost that a Masters of the Universe 4E game “It’s gonna happen” at Madicon 21 (~3 months ago)?  ‘Cause it didn’t.

I’ll repost significant, useful posts, but that’s about it.

Anyway, if you’re curious, the Tumblr can be found here: