• Category Archives Modiphius
  • The Weird War Continues…

    Alternate historical settings are my jam. Okay, High and Low Fantasy, Steampunk and Deiselpunk are also my jam, but they’re not pertinent to today’s bloggery. I received a little heads up from the powers that be, and had a giddy thrill to learn that there’s some new reading for Achtung! Cthulhu – the roleplaying game set during World War II, but blended with H P Lovecraft’s mythos. Imagine if the Third Reich’s occultists went fishing at Innsmouth…

    There’s been a few fictional properties that take the Weird War II concept and run with it – Mike Mignola used it for Hellboy’s origins, and Dust USA has unleashed elder things for miniature tabletop gaming – but when it comes to roleplaying games, Modiphius has the setting dialed in.

    The new Quickstart rules have just been released on DriveThruRPG, and provide an introduction to the 2d20 system and an adventure set in rural France, where Master Hans Stöller of the Black Sun has uncovered an ancient tome and is set to summon an avatar of Nyarlathotep into the sleepy little village of Saint Sulac.

    I’ve relied on a number of dice systems in the past – from D&D’s roll- a-d20-beat-a-target-number to Shadowrun’s throw-enough-d6-to-bludgeon-a-goat-into-unconsciousness – but the 2d20 system took me a few minutes to wrap my head around.

    You add your stat and skill to give you a target number – the higher your stat and skill, the higher that number. You roll 2d20 as a base, and each dice that rolls under your target number is a success. 1’s translate as crits, 20’s as crit fails. There’s a number of things you can do to roll extra dice, from trading in previous extra successes to bribing the GM for extra dice now, at the price of additional challenges later on.

    The particular mechanic that caught my eye most though, was Truths. Each character, be they pc or npc, each item or encounter or effect, has some codified truths about themselves. These truths can make a roll easier or harder. For example:

    • A room is on fire. A truth about this could be Smoke – it’s harder to see, your eyes sting, it’s harder to focus as your throat seizes. Accordingly, it’s more difficult to see your target across the room, and the difficulty goes up.
    • Our hero’s truth is that he was a sailor before joining the effort. While it may not be codified on their character sheet,  they picked up some basic navigation or ropework skills, which could make their lives a little easier as they try to find their way on a cloudless night, or need to secure a prisoner.

    The thing I like about this idea is the freedom it allows for roleplaying opportunities. Our hero doesn’t have a defined statistic for animal husbandry, but a rural background could mean that it’s reasonable that they have some familiarity with livestock, and could lean on that to make things a little easier for the team as they tried to sneak through a paddock avoiding riling up the cattle. It could also mean a potential familiarity with tractors, so while operating the rusty old beat-up machinery they found in the shed may still require everyone teaming up and combining their efforts to get the number of successes needed, our hero’s ability to interpret some of the controls may lower the difficulty just a little.

    There’s a little more math involved and the whole “It’s better to roll lower” concept always throws my dinosaur math brain for a loop, but I’d be selling the system short if I didn’t note that the potential for roleplaying based on concepts rather than stats is pretty bloody huge.

    The scenario that comes with the Quickstart rules – A Quick Trip to France– is neatly laid out so as to be easily accessible to the nascent GM running their first game. The story is broken down into a series of named Scenes, and each scene has its own objectives clearly stated.

    For example, the first scene is the group jumping out of their plane into rural France after HQ received a garbled message from the Resistance. The scene’s objectives:

    • Parachute into France
    • Locate the village of Saint Sulac

    The players will have an opportunity to mess up their jump, finding themselves tangled in a tree or worse, and will then have to figure out how to find (and get to) the village. It’s a nice introduction to the 2d20 mechanics, gives the players the opportunity to bank some Momentum (if you do really good at X, you can use that to help you succeed at Y)  or the GM the chance to bank some Threat (players trading future challenges for extra dice) or Complications (players mess up their rolls, GM gets to make life more difficult).

    The story continues with the party trying to find their contact, sneaking into the Black Sun base, and – with any luck – thwarting Stöller’s plan. There are opportunities to roleplay, opportunities to shoot Black Sun operatives, opportunities to gaze upon things-wot-man-t’weren’t-meant-to-see, and the creeping shadow of doom. You do know that Servitors of Nyarlathotep look like giant tongues, right? (*shudders*)

    The Quickstart rules are available to download free – Are you ready to stare into the abyss while your GM, who was never any good at languages, tries to pronounce Maschinengewehr? Swing by DriveThruRPG and take a peek beyond the veil.

     


  • What’s on your wishlist?

    Most think it can be hard to shop for gamer pals, but in truth, it’s not as difficult as it seems. Worried about gifting a model for the wrong faction? Congratulations, you’ve just provided inspiration to for a whole new army! Worried about gifting a duplicate? Truth be told, the percentage of models that can’t be used in multiples is very low, and there’s always the chance to convert a model. What about roleplaying resources? Sure, no-one needs two Dungeon Masters Guides, but there’s always something missing from their library that can be identified with very minimal research. Worst comes to worst, have you -ever- heard a roleplayer say they have too many dice? Today I thought we’d drop some hints for shoppers, or last minute additions to your wishlists

    Miniature Games

    Everyone’s well aware of Games Workshop’s Start Collecting boxes. Almost every faction in Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40K has a Start Collecting box available. They’re all excellent value, and they pretty much all have kids that can be built with multiple options, so there’s very little fear of duplication.

    If you’re looking for something a little more affordable though, that can welcome a new player to miniature gaming? Privateer has you covered.

    G.U.A.R.D. for Monsterpocalypse

    Warmachine/Hordes starters provide everything you need to gets started, except a table and an opponent. Each has a complete rulebook and a selection of curated models that are suitable for learners, but that will still provide fun play for veterans. Suitable for the Fantasy/Steampunk fan.

    Monsterpocalypse starters follow the same philosophy but aimed at those who really enjoyed Godzilla or Pacific Rim. Will you level the city and crush the puny humans, or will you save mankind from monstrous invaders? Either way, you get to slam your opponents into building and stomp their puny tanks. Good times.

    If you’re a sci-fi junkie, Warcaster starters are the newest kids on the block but still pack a punch with plenty of pew-pew in a distant galaxy. Player communities are developing and the feedback on this game is positive and an exciting opportunity for someone looking for a dynamic new venture.

    Roleplaying Games

    Tales From The Loop

    Dungeons & Dragons is the biggest name in town, and there’s a world of supplements and resources available. From the Starter Set for someone who’s never played before, to the Players Handbook for someone keen to take their first steps into a campaign, to Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything – the very newest resource for players and DM’s alike.

    If you’re looking for a different roleplaying experience, the options are all out there – you could pre-order the Dune RPG for hardcore sci-fi fans, combat nazis and elder things with Achtung! Cthulhu, or sink your teeth into the award-winning Tales From The Loop for fans of Stranger Things.

    Amethyst d20 from Norse Foundry

    Not looking to commit to a whole new campaign, but think a one-off would be good times? Steamforged’s Epic Encounters are self-contained adventures that can also be worked into an existing campaign.

    If you’re not looking for a new game, dice are absolutely a thing. Stunning dice in wood, stone and metal are available from Dogmight, Elderwood Academy, Dice Envy and Norse Foundry. If you’re looking for dice for an LGBTQ+ gamer, Heartbeat has you covered.

    Adventurers & Adversaries offers modular miniatures, and both Heroforge and Eldritch Foundry allow for customizable model designs that you can then have printed or print yourself.

    Subscriptions

    Brush Wielders Union

    Subscription boxes are all the rage nowadays for a variety of industries, and gaming hasn’t been overlooked. Privateer Press offers two different monthly subscription lines – one for Warmachine/Hordes and the other for Legend of the Five Rings – over at Mini-Crate. Dungeon In A Box, RPG Crate and Dungeon Crate all cater to Dungeons & Dragons fans, and there’s even dice subscription services like Libris Arcana.

    Additionally you could look into a subscription to D&D Beyond, perhaps a membership in a subscription-based community like the Brush Wielders Union, or even hook them up with a link to a favored author’s Patreon so that they can get sneak peeks at upcoming works.

    The worlds inhabited by tabletop gamers can be dizzying and confusing for those on the outside, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be navigated with a little assistance. I wish everyone the best in navigating the coming weeks as we close out 2020. We may be isolating for the good of the community, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to get our hobby on, or to help end encourage the gamers in our lives to do the same.

     


  • SDE: The Pauper Prince & Modiphius’ The Art of Conan

    Welcome to the end of the week! Today we’re taking a quick look at two different treats that were announced this week. From our friends at Ninja Division, the latest addition to the Masterclass line of resin chibi models is the Pauper Price and his guild of goblin urchins, and from Modiphius, the latest book for the Conan RPG – The Art of Conan!

    The Pauper Prince

    Ninja Division has been releasing some wonderful resin chibi models for their Masterclass line, proceeds of which are going to fund their larger projects including Super Dungeon Legends and Relic Knights 2.0. We’ve seen some great new heroes like the Easter-themed Springtime Druid and the star-spanning Chuy, playable in both Super Dungeon and Rail Raiders, but the Pauper Prince is the first Masterclass entry that provides not just a a model or two, but a brand new Dungeon Boss and spawn point. These new models also add some more life to Clockwork Cove, expanding the lore of the region.

    Clockwork Cove is the most “Steampunk” area of Crystalia, home to inventors and industry, setting itself apart from more traditional Fantasy regions, the gothic shadows of Glauerdoom Moor, or the savage peaks of Frostbyte Reach. The Pauper Prince holds power in the Undercove, the seedier underbelly of Clockwork Cove, backed by the goblins of the Prince’s Guild. This is immediately reminiscent of Oliver Twist’s Fagin and his orphans.

    A troll in a top hat, the Pauper Prince is a radical change from the trolls we’ve previously seen in Super Dungeon, the shamans of the Mistmourn Coast. We don’t have any information about his rules yet, but one can only assume he’s traded his people’s spiritual abilities for the ability to command an army of rats. Given my fondness of rats, I won’t lie, the rats alone are almost enough to garner my investment.

    The Prince’s Guild are those who serve the prince. Undercove Goblins, the spawn point comes with a small horde of little greenskins with impressive probosci. Moffet leads the bunch, with her repeating pistol, and she’s backed by four dagger-wielding Guttersnipes and a pair of Fetchers with weighted nets.

    Hopefully we’ll see rules soon, but for now you can click the pictures to put in a pre-order, with shipping expected to begin near the end of July. It occurs that the two combined – the Prince and the Guild – will make for an awesome chibi diorama, let alone the centerpiece for a whole new campaign of Super Dungeon Explore.

    The Art of Conan

    We’ve had a look at a few of the sourcebooks for Conan: Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of in the past. Modiphius has consistently been releasing excellent sourcebooks for the RPG, expanding on Robert E Howard’s world with more and more resources. Any storyteller, dungeon master, overseer or Friend Computer will tell you how art can make a huge impact on your gaming experiences, from setting the tone to providing reference visuals for NPCs and monsters –  both of which can make the gaming experience come alive for your players.

    The Art of Conan is a compilation volume of art from seventeen (17!) sourcebooks, ranging from the Player’s Guide to Conan The Thief to Horrors of the Hyborian Age to Conan The Exiles, bringing the world and beasties of the Conan Exiles video game into the RPG.

    Each chapter introduces art from a new sourcebook, with a special spotlight on the cover artist. The covers include fantasy art luminaries such as Brom, Paolo Parente, Simon Bisley, Alex Horley, Darren Bader, and more.

    Whether you’re interested in a coffee table book, a resource to add a visual element to your games, or you’re just a fan of fantasy art of shirtless swordsmen fighting an array of giant apes, reptiles and gibbering monstrosities, The Art of Conan is worth a peek. You can get the PDF directly from Modiphius or via DriveThruRPG.


  • Rorschach’s RPG Review: Vampire the Masquerade – Fall of London

    The Fall of London
    A Vampire the Masquerade (VtM) Adventure and Campaign setting

    rorschach80Greetings Losties,

    It’s been a while since I contributed to this august site, but I had to jump at the chance to discuss a product of one of my top 3 RPGs ever. In this case, I think of VtM as one long system with many revisions, having played since that first book and setting back in 1991. Back then, pre-Vampire Glut, the game hit like a thunderbolt. There was so little quality vampire material in pop culture. SALEM’S LOT was 12 years gone, THE LOST BOYS was 6 years past, and Anne Rice’s THE VAMPIRE LESTAT novel much the same. Beyond those, Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula treatments, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Count St. Germain, we had very little inspiring vampire material. What was most commonly available for Vampire fiction was extremely disappointing (find the Buck Rogers episode The Space Vampire to see what I mean).

    Into this void strode a wild new RPG, which uniquely took Storytelling as its basis; and gave us a whole new Vampire mythology that has become one of THE vampire mythologies. My nightclubbing social excursions had shifted from the punk clubs of college to a remarkably vibrant Goth scene in Colorado Springs. So this RPG actually fit in with my non-gamer friends, not just the D&D and GURPS nerds of the time. In fact, the non gamers were actually MORE comfortable with it than the gamer types. For me personally, it could not of come at a better time.

    Within a year, there was so much more synergy for VtM in pop culture. A fantastic cult show called FOREVER KNIGHT hit late night CBS, and more than borrowed from VtM stereotypes and the quest to keep humanity. A fun little movie called INNOCENT BLOOD pulled me in and had its way with me. Thanks to video, I rediscovered NEAR DARK. And of course, the beautifully flawed BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA slithered into our lives. What sweet music they make, indeed.

    All this goes by way of saying, when it comes to Vampires and RPGs, I know whereof I speak. Even if I have never yet actually played the new system.

    For the new Modiphius product, THE FALL OF LONDON, system is the least important thing (though it remains amply covered, including a well-statted 4th Gen). The book is MASSIVE for starters … the main reason its taken me over 2 months to produce this little essay is the sheer amount to read. It also serves many masters and well.

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  • Fallout: Wasteland Warfare – The Raiders Wave

    In Wednesday’s post we looked at the two player starter for Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, complete with Survivors and Mutants (these ain’t yer daddy’s X-Men). Two factions alone do not a game make, however, and more will be added time passes. Today we’re taking a look at the Raiders, predatory enclaves of survivors led by the strongest among their number.

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  • Unboxing Fallout: Wasteland Warfare

    Arguably one of the most popular video game franchises out there, with over two decades of pew-pew in a post-apocalyptic world with bottlecaps as currency, it was only a matter of time before the game that helped boys appreciate the versatility of bobby pins crossed over to the tabletop. Our friends at Modiphius debuted Fallout: Wasteland Warfare last year, and this year’s GenCon had the game on full display using a bunker terrain set from Black Site.

    Today we take you on a tour of the two-player starter set.

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  • Rorschach’s RPG Review – Fallout: Wasteland Warfare

    rorschach80

    I have to caveat this right up-front before we go into the Wasteland Warfare RPG – I’ve never played the Fallout video game in any format. I know the general gist of it and the Vault Boy character, since it hit some cultural ubiquity and unavoidability a while back. But I’ve never played that, nor the miniatures wargame this RPG is based on. So if you’re a big fan of either of those, or the franchise, you may react a bit more favorably to it than me  – keep that in mind as you read. This review is from an RPG mechanics perspective, rather than looking at it as an expansion to Modiphius’ Fallout: Wasteland Warfare catalog and your tabletop Fallout experience.

    As always with a new RPG, there’s a period where you flip through the book, skim a bit, and get a general impression of what it reminds you of. Perhaps I was expecting a little Gamma World or Mad Max: Fury Road vibe, but instead I got Champions by way of custom dice mechanics. And a dash of Paranoia.

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  • RPG: City of Mist

    rorschach80

    I jump at the chance to see any new superhero RPGs. If you count GAMMA WORLD as a superhero game (which being an early X-Men fan, I did and still do), then I’ve been playing supers RPGs only a few months less than D&D (Blue Box). I don’t play them nearly as much as I’d like; and every new one I look for the chance to recapture that original CHAMPIONS rpg feel (from the “typewriter” print days). After CHAMPIONS, I tried MARVEL SUPER HEROES (staring now at the A-Z Gamers Handbooks, plus updates); then VILLAINS AND VIGILANTES; then DC HEROES; then JUSTICE INC; then the original TMNT game; then GURPS SUPERS/WILD CARDS; followed in recent decades by BRAVE NEW WORLD, GODLIKE, MUTANTS & MASTERMINDS, White Wolf’s SCION and EXALTED, and last year a bargain buy of SILVER AGE SENTINELS.

    This isn’t just to brag on my supers bona fides … more to say that CITY OF MISTS is unlike any of those things.

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  • John Carter of Mars

    Want an underrated movie that was completely mismarketed but just plain fun? John Carter should be on your radar. Want a series of classic man-out-of-his-element science fiction tales? John Carter should be on your radar. Interested in an RPG set on a distant world full of savage beasts and brutal culture while at the same time graced with alien beauty and grace? John Carter should be on your radar. But what do I know… let’s ask Lostie Rorschach.

    rorschach80

    Why John Carter?

    Why would Modiphius – or anyone – make an RPG about John Carter, Warlord of Mars in 2019? Someone who’d never read the books might think of him as the “Martian Tarzan”. And possibly have images in their heads from the Frazetta pulp art of a half-clad, Conan-looking dude, holding a sword with a bikini’d Princess swooning at his feet. Or maybe they saw the ill-fated Disney film, but were mystified or lost interest when it “flopped” (a whole article in itself, with wide-ranging effects).

    Whatever the source of their impression, chances are non-book readers have a negative view of the material as non-scientific kid’s stuff, juvenile, derivative, and sexist. One young viewer I know even accused it of “ripping off AVATAR”.

    I corrected him sternly, and for all the others, they are terribly WRONG.

    • For the science of the day, Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB) got Gravity pretty right, having John make fantastical leaps and demonstrate great strength from being used to only Earth gravity. That same concept would get re-used decades later for a guy named Kal-El
    • There are moral themes that John grapples with that any parent should be proud to have their kid reading about. Just his internal debates about the brutal Thark culture versus our own absolutely resonate with today’s world … or even with John’s own Civil War origins.
    • If someone can legit say John Carter is derivative, please make the argument. It’s inspired a ridiculous amount of follow on material, but aside from Verne and Wells, it was there first.
    • As for the gender politics, *as written*, Dejah Thoris is probably the most empowered female character of early 1900s fiction. She has agency, intelligence, courage, leadership, and loyalty…all without the Earth-born superpowers that put John Carter closer to being an actual “Mary Sue”. There’s a reason the first book is named for her, and not John Carter.

    The eleven John Carter novels and many associated stories represent fiction decades ahead of its time, forming a baseline of the pulp genre and all that followed. It’s hard to say we’d even have comics and science fiction and then gaming the same way we do, if not for the John Carter series. As far as influences, the John Carter series inspired the likes of Carl Sagan, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein. I could go on, but I’ll urge those who’d argue to find and listen to the excellent audiobook introduction by Finn JD John to “A Princess of Mars”.

    So the real question to me is, “Why did such an RPG take so long to happen?”

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  • Horrors of the Hyborian Age

    When it comes to fantastic settings full of magic, gribblies, swords and derring-do, Middle Earth and Narnia are right up there in the minds of the general public, along with the various Game Of Thrones kingdoms. Those who dig a little deeper might mention Xanth, Discworld, Shanarra… those who’ve fallen right down the rabbit hole might also reference Lankhmar, but while the name of Conan The Barbarian may be familiar to most, who among us can truly comprehend the madness that occurs when the setting from Robert E Howard’s Conan saga – The Hyborian Age – and toss it in a blender with Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos? Well, thanks to the new supplement for the Conan RPG, you can. Lovecraftian horror is not alien (hah!) to Howard’s setting, but we’re taking it a step further.

    Modiphius’ Horrors of the Hyborian Age is a supplement for the Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of RPG, and if we shorten that to an acronym it’s CAAUORPG, which really does sound like something that belongs in the eldritch, otherworldly tales of the Elder Gods. You could think of it as a simple bestiary of gribblies if you like, but you’d be doing it a disservice. This is a tome 120 pages deep bringing betentacled nightmares into a savage and brutal world, merging the two and bringing a swath of new material along with rules for more familiar, classic monsters. More than that though, Horrors of the Hyborian Age steps beyond just proving stat blocks and a quick description, with a chapter dedicated to the How rather than just the What.

    Horrors of the Hyborian Age is broken up into several chapters, each dealing with its own subcategory of antagonists, but the authors open the gate and set the tone with Chapter 1: The Way of the Beast. The entire chapter is dedicated to the use of different types of creatures, from the natural to the surreal, in your games and how to craft their presentation to evoke a different ambiance, elicit a different response, from your players. As someone who’s been running an RPG for some time now, it can be a challenge to keep the… challenges, I guess, engaging. It isn’t enough to just escalate the threat level. In the right hands even the most stereotypical bad guy can become a monolithic menace, depending on how it’s presented, and Crom knows we DM’s get a real kick out of watching our players’ jaws hit the floor.

    Continuing through we have chapters dividing up the beasties into categories that would allow any games master to build an entire campaign around a single type of nemesis. Otherworldly denizens, the living dead, threats from before the dawn of man, creatures of the natural world, and more. I got a personal kick out of seeing an entire chapter dedicated to lethal flora. A much neglected part of the fantastic worlds, largely because of the perception that they’re inanimate, plotting a campaign around deadly plant life can completely overturn the players’ preconceptions as they storm across a field in search of a dreadful beastie, all the while being subtly poisoned by the narcotic pollen-laden mists released by Ghost Flowers…

    Recognizing that not every Curse Witch is the same, there’s also a chapter dedicated to Mutations – Taking the entries in the book and twisting them into unique antagonists, each with its own strengths and weaknesses beyond the template. Why sure, your players know from previous experience the ins and outs of taking on a Mi-Go, but what about one with a dessicating touch? Surprise! One swing and you’ve got super-dandruff as your entire epidermis flakes off! Hang on, may actually be useful in the tattoo-removal industry…

    Finally, Horrors of the Hyborian Ageprovides two new player archetypes, the Beast and the Beast Master. Were you raised by wolves? Or perhaps you lead a pack of your own. Maybe you’re the last survivor of an attack by netherworldy nasties that wiped out the rest of your family and almost all of your herd… but you and your three remaining oxen are out for revenge.

    However you choose to steer your adventures, either as the gamesmaster laying out the fates of the players, or as one of those very players, carving your way through the labyrinthine machinations set before you, the old adage that any hero is only as good as their villains stands true. Horrors of the Hyborian Ageis an excellent addition to the any roleplaying library as a resource tome and source of inspiration. For those specifically enjoying the Conan RPG, it’s damn near indispensible.03