Friday, 28 November 2014

How to Build a Medieval Castle

My favourite living history team are back on TV again and this time they're belping to build a 13th Century Castle from scratch.

Secrets of the Castle is a new 5 part show in which Historian Ruth Goodman, and Archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold, learn the skills needed to build a castle and get a taste of life in the 13th Century.

(L to R) Peter Ginn, Tom Pinfold and Ruth Goodman
Not sure if this series is available to international viewers but it's on BBC iPlayer right now.

You can learn more about this ambitious 25 year long, Guedelon Castle project from wikipedia or at its own website.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Dark Valley - An Austrian Cowboy Movie, WTF?

Well that's what I thought initially but being the self confessed fan of European cinema (and my missus being a cowboy movie fan) I thought "What the heck, I'll give this a go".

Dark Valley (2014)
Directed by Andreas Prochaska (Dead in 3 Days), "Das Finstere Tal" is set towards the end of the 19th century in a village in the Austrian Alps.  Sam Riley (Maleficent, Byzantium) is Greider, a lone rider, who enters the eponymous valley in search of shelter from the approaching winter.

The villagers are a bedraggled bunch of peasants who are kept firmly at heel by their self appointed leader and protector Brenner (Hans Michael Rehberg) and his six sons.  Nothing happens in the valley without their approval and Brenner makes all the laws, including reviving the barbaric feudal custom of Droit du Seigneur.

Greider tells the Brenner boys that he's a photographer recently returned from America keen to document the valley, so they let him stay.  It's not long before the first of them meets a grisly end and Greider's real motive for entering the valley is revealed... Revenge!

Whilst the acting is convincing enough, the real star of the movie is of course the scenery and the cinematography of Thomas Kienast, ably assisted by Mathhias Weber's cold and haunting soundtrack.  Filmed in Val Senales, Italy during heavy snow, they manage to paint a beautiful yet sinister backdrop against which Greidel and the Brenner family's stories unfold.  It's so chilling it makes the nine walkers trip through Redhorn Pass look a Snow Day. 

Well worth a look if you fancy something a bit different. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Let's Blow this Kid and Go Home!!

Wow, the Dungeonmorphs 2 kickstarter has unlocked THE CITY STRETCH GOAL and with a little bit more we could have, wait for it....



Let's be like Luke and hit that £19K Stretch goal.  I've already upped my pledge level to 3 sets of dice, and if we shoot through £16K everyone gets a...


so if you're a 3 set backer you'll get 6, yes count them, 6 bonus dice.  That's an extra set of dice right there and it will cost you nowt, nish, nada, zero, zilch, nothing.

Come on guys and girls this is just too good an opportunity to pass up.

I want my Ruins!! 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Almost There... Almost There... Red Leader would say. 

Over the weekend the Dungeonmorphs 2 kickstarter funded and it's almost unlocked it's second dice set stretch goal, only $1000 bucks to go!

There's still time to jump on board this project and push forward to hit that stretch goal.

If you back at the 2 dice set pledge level you'll have 10 dice (+ 2 bonus dice) to create your villages and cities.  All for a measly $40 ($3 a dice). 

If there are any FLGS stores reading this, you can still grab a retailer bundle on your customers behalf and save even more money.

Dungeonmorphs 2: Cities and Villages
Click the picture to become a backer
Joe will be releasing some proofs of the city dice designs later today, so come on guys, share this with your friends, get them to pledge and we can unlock some AWESOME.

Friday, 14 November 2014

5 Boardgames Still Crying out for an App

1.  Car Wars

Original Car Wars "Pocket Game" Box Art
Published way back in 1981
There are a few noteable real time car combat games out there such as Death Rally, Auto Mangle, Indestructible, and Horror Racing.  I've had fun playing them all, but there's but nothing that's turn based.  A while ago I went through a period of playing Dark Wind which is a 3D turn based combat game, it was fun for a while but the interface was a bit clunky on my old mac.  there's a massive gap in the market here for a top down, turn based car combat game with an RPG/Tournament community angle.  Come on SJG this needs to happen alongside the re-launch of the Car Wars boardgame you promised during the OGRE kickstarter.

2.  Citadels

There's an iOS version of San Juan which sports a similar theme and variable abilities mechanic, so I don't see why there's not been a Citadels app.  I don't know how difficult it would be to program the  AI element but surely it's not be too tough a nut to crack.  If you solve that problem I think you're half way towards a version of the other Bruno Faidutti classic Mission Red Planet.

3. Formula D / Formula De

When Asmodee re-launched Formula De as Formula D an inbox flyer promised "raceronline", an online version of the game with tournaments and the usual multiplay options.  Well that never really happened (unless you spoke french) and the online site has since gone belly up.  Before anyone calls foul, yes I am aware of Racer Feud, which whilst a pretty good version is not officially licensed and personally I've found a bit buggy on my iPad2.

4.  Robo Rally

This is one of my favourite and a classic of the "programming" style games.  Once again a talented developer has released their own unlicensed version in the guise of Parcours.Robo, sadly it's a one player puzzle game and not the multiplayer anarchic deathmatch so typical of every game I've ever hand the pleasure to play.  I don't know who holds the licencse for this one as it's been through the hands of several different publishers since it was originally printed in 1994.  It's last reprint was in 2006 and it's high time that this got some appification.

5.  Thebes

Thebes by Queen Games
Whenever I feel the itch to be Indiana Jones, I dig out Thebes (no pun intended).  There's just so much variety in it but the game itself is quite simple to play, you either travel, research or dig.  I'd love to play it more often but the pre-game set-up takes a while to resolve in exactly the same way as Settlers of Catan.  It's probably not on any developers wishlist, but it's a game I love and I'd relish the opportunity to buy it in app form.

Honourable Mentions

I was going to add Battlelore to this list, but it appears that Fantasy Flight are in the process of releasing an iOS/Android/PC version, (albeit single player) of the game in time for Christmas.  I'll also be checking out the Bloodbowl app, maybe do a video review in the not too distant future.  

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Another Post Apocalypse thing I want

You know those post apocalyptic motorcycle chariots I blogged about, they need to be ridden by these guys.

The Humans #1 by Keenan Marshall Keller & Tom Neely
* Out Now *
Also I wanted to ask if anyone could track down any of the alternate history photos which I think were released around the time of Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  I seem to remember there being some black and white photos of Gorillas in vietnam style jungle uniforms or similar.  If you know where these might be located, please drop thim in the comments below.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

RPG Mapping in Sketchup Part 5 - Building your City from a 2D image

In my previous videos I shared all the sketchup techniques I use to create 3D buildings in my games.  Now it's time to start building a city from the ground up using a 2D image as a reference. 
This is the image I used in the video

I'm using one of my citymorph sketches but you can use any image which will import into sketchup, just make sure that you have some sort of scale in mind.  If you've not seen the amazing Dungeonmorphs 2 kickstarter which inspired this tutorial check out the link on the right side of the page.

In the next video I'll be finishing off the roofs and showing you how you can turn your models into "components" which allow you to duplicate your buildings or citymorph tiles and expand it even faster.

Related Posts:

Monday, 10 November 2014

I'll show you mine if you show me yours

So last week I asked readers to help me out by completing a little survey (a big thank you to all those who responded) and although I'm not yet ready to reveal what the results were, I can tease you with this emerging trend:

UK roleplayers like to do it in a club
US roleplayers like to do it in their own home (or at a friends house)

It's still very early days at the moment, so I've put a permalink to the survey on the right hand side of the site for those who haven't left a response.  As they say in Paranoia, it's just a bit of fun really.... mandatory fun!!

And for all those of you who game in a club anywhere in the world, I'd like to share this with you in the hope that you will also share in return.  Perhaps we can get an internet thing going, share an image of your own club on your blog and put a link in the comments section below.

The Roleplayers Creed

This is my roleplay club. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My club is my best friend. It is my life.
I must games master in it as I must games master my life.
My club, without me, is useless.  Without my club, I am useless. 

I must roll my dice true.
I must roll them better than the Games Master who is trying to kill me. 
I must kill him before he kills me.

Anyone in the South East London area interested in joining my club, please visit our website:

Saturday, 8 November 2014

RPG Mapping in Sketchup Part 4 - Adding features and Sketchy Styles

In part 4 of my RPG Mapping in Sketchup series I show you how to add smaller features such as chimneys, towers and dormers to existing models. 

I also show you how to make your models look hand drawn using the styles pallette.  This is particularly useful if you are going to use the model in your own player handouts either as maps of the city or as first person point of view scenes.

Sketchup lets you to export your model as a 2D image so you can do further editing in a bitmap editor if you want to add in characters or other elements.

Related Posts:

Thursday, 6 November 2014

RPG Mapping in Sketchup Part 3 - The Cross-Gable, Gambrel and Mansard Roof.

The next installment of my short video series on RPG Mapping in Sketchup covers the three other simple roof shapes found in most top down RPG maps.

The Cross-Gable roof is essentially just two gable roofs which intersect, commonly found in "T" "X" and "H" shaped buildings.  The Gambrel (or Dutch style) roof is a common double height roof shape popular for larger buildings like barns and is found all over Europe and the USA.  The Mansard roof is another common double height roof style, the second roof section can be gabled or hipped.

Related Posts:

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Using Node Maps to Figure out your Criminal Network

Yesterday caught me reading Reality Refracted, and thinking about his observation that games which focus on the criminal underground always rely on the interconnectedness of people and locations.

I'd also come to this conclusion from watching movies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and TV shows like Sons of Anarchy.

If you're going to run a crime/cyberpunk style scenarioyou might like to try mapping these relationships out as a node network to help you visualise where your plot might end up.  Fans of the indie RPG FIASCO will be familiar with this concept as the basis for character generation albeit on a much simpler level.  Taking my favourite crime TV show "Sons of Anarchy" as my inspiration I made this relationship map to illustrate my point.
Sons of Anarchy Relationships Map
(Click to embiggen)

Whilst far from accurate, it demonstrates that often overlooked minor characters can have unexpected or glossed over connections with otherwise unconnected groups.

For example in the Sons of Anarchy universe:

Chuckie Marstein is an often overlooked minor character often seen hanging around TM, working behind the scenes at TM, in the bar at the clubhouse, serving at the ice-cream parlor or running errands for Gemma.  However, his backstory also reveals he was Otto's cellmate and friend in Stockton County Jail, and that he was the Bookkeeper for the Lin Triad who'd stolen two of their counterfeit money printing plates.  He's also done his fair share of work for SAMCRO such as wanting to be an amputee porn star so the gang could gain access to Georgie Caruso's porn studio when he was working for Otto's wife Duanne Laney as the Cara Cara bookkeeper. There's also the unrequited love angle, as he holds a torch for Gemma after she bought him new prostethic hands.

Brooke Putner is another minor character who joined the show as a crazy teenager who blamed SAMCRO for her mother's death.  In fact it was Jax's father John Teller who collided with their car killing both himself and Brooke's mother Emily, although the show hints heavily that her mother is in fact alive and living on the streets as we see her picking through dumpsters every now and then.  Brooke has since fallen in love with Ratboy, helped out at the clubhouse and now works for Gemma as Abel and Thomas' nanny.  This close proximity to the centre of the SAMCRO empire means that it's only a matter of time before she gets hit by some of the club crossfire.

Visualising your crime network in this way makes it easier for you to write convincing plots.  You can see what the effect of an NPC death might be.  If Gemma were to be killed would Chuckie take out his own type of vengence on her killer or if Ratboy were killed in some accident would Brooke hire Happy to hunt them down?  The consequences for larger characters tend to be more obvious, say if August Marks is taken out of the game someone will fill the vacuum, but who?

One of the things I love about the show is that when SAMCRO try to get themselves out of a bad situation, their actions always have unforseen consequences which almost end up burying them.  Your game should be no different the PCs should always be making a hobson's choice with the information they have at their disposal, it's not their fault that the guy they killed in revenge is actually a key player in an even bigger, more powerful crime syndicate.  It doesn't rain.... it pours!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

10 Things I Don't Know About You

Wil Weaton asked his fans to respond to a survey, on Google+ today, for an upcoming article in the Washington Post and it's something I've been meaning to do for a long time. 

So after 4 years of shouting blindly into the blogosphere, I'd like to know a little bit about you, my readers.

Take part in my 10 Things I don't know about You survey


RPG Mapping in Sketchup Part 2 - Simple Buildings Walls and Roofs

In this second part of the series I show a quick and easy technique to draw simple buildings with the 3 most common type of roof shapes; the Gable, the Hip and the Double Hip Roof.  Using this technique you can use sketchup to quickly construct models of buildings for use in your own RPG campaigns maps or as scene setting handouts for your players.

In the next part I'll demonstrate techniques to create the Cross Gable, Gambrel and Mansard roof shapes. 

Related Posts:

Part 1 - Unhiding the 3rd Dimension