Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Bring Out Your Lead warband

I seem to have been bitten by the bug in a big way. I'm not sure if I'll be able to attend Bring Out Your Lead, but if I do then a warband seems to be the way forward.

I thought I'd roll up a couple from Orlygg's guidance, one based around a level 15 hero and one on a level 10. I'm pretty sure the whole thing will be a fairly brutal affair, I'm curious whether a bigger warband or a tougher leader are a better bet. Although being Oldhammer it's probably more down to how the dice land...

Chaos Undivided Champion

In my young day Chaos wasn't all this Khorne vs Slaanesh stuff. It was big lads with ridiculous armour and crazy stats, laying waste to all before them. So I reckon an Undivided warband is a good plan, and I'll see which side is short-handed on the day.

Human level 10 hero (picked)Random reward (I assume)
Chaos weapon
Attributes to be picked (need to work out which are positive and negative, and take one of each)

Retinue: 2, 48, 54
2d6 beastmen: 2, 2
1d6 chaos goblins: 6
2d6 humans: 2, 4

Champion of Khorne

But in the spirit of the occasion, it seems like I should pick a side as well. Slaanesh never really appealed to me, so Blood God it is.

Dwarf level 15 hero (picked - I always hankered after these minatures back in the day, I used this as an excuse to head to eBay last weekend)
Chaos armour
Chaos weapon
Attributes to be picked

Retinue: 41, 10
2d6 beastmen: 1, 1 (ouch)
1 chaos warrior: 5 = Marauder

Once the chaos dwarf arrives later this week I just need to check out what I do for the humans. I have probably around 20 in my collection, but most of them aren't warband material. I'll probably have a couple of my mercenaries make an appearance though.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Middle Earth campaign - when and where and why

Probably the most far-reaching decision to be made when starting a campaign in Middle Earth is the date. You want the familiar aspects of the setting without having the characters playing second fiddle to the Ring quest.

I.C.E. addressed this by setting their modules mainly in early part of the Third Age, most often around 1640. At this point the Shire barely exists, so your chances of bumping into (or bumping off) Frodo and Samwise are limited.

Cubicle 7 seem to have gone for the aftermath of the Battle of the Five Armies - upheaval, and familiar names in the background, but still 70+ years clear of the Ring quest.

I thought I'd go back to first principles and see what starting date would suit my purposes best. My guidelines are these -
  1. Some time in the Third Age. Second Age (and earlier) is very different - more high fantasy than gritty
  2. Set principally in Eriador*
  3. During or after a significant event, so that Middle Earth's history is very present rather than just a backdrop. Also, as Noisms explained, times of societal change are good settings.
My short list becomes somewhat familiar to someone with a MERP background -

1409: Invasion of Arnor
1432 - 1448: Kin-strife (but see (2) above)
1636: Fall of Cardolan
1974: End of the North-kingdom
2510: Rohirrim settle in Calenardhon
2770: Erebor destroyed by Smaug
2941: Battle of the Five Armies

Of these, the fall of Cardolan strikes me as the most interesting, hopefully not because of the deep roots I.C.E. placed in my gaming conscience. The North-kingdom is still in existance, but on the wane, so you have interesting bits of Middle Earth's history that are still current (e.g. Fornost and the Seeing Stones) while retaining that sense of the Elves and Dunedain being in decline. You have an obvious source of conflict (and adventure) between Arthedain and Angmar and more of the sort of support structure that adventurers expect in terms of safe areas and friendly forces than is the case after 1974. Speaking of which post-1974 is probably my second favourite in terms of settings, with a bit of a post-apocalyptic struggle for the remaining settlements not destroyed by the fall of the North-kingdom. I'm not sure though that it's the sort of campaign I'm particularly good at running.

* Why Eriador?
This is clearly a key question, as this preference knocks out over half of my short list. Without meaning any disrespect to the professor, the Lord of the Rings strikes me as a deeply parochial tale. In fact, I even have a feeling that this was the intent. The Shire is "home" and everything that Frodo and company do is in defense of home, rather than being about adventurers setting off with whatever (often selfish) motivation that drives your typical RPG character. Hence the view of Gondor (or Rhovanion) should be much the same as that which a British package holiday tourist had of France or Spain a generation ago - somewhere you visit, before going home again. So it's not really appropriate to have the campaign set outside of Eriador, or more precisely for the characters to originate there.

Saturday, 11 May 2013


It was inevitable I'd be drawn into Oldhammer.

My route into the whole OSR / G+ thing was from stumbling across Coopdevil's WFRP - Not Syphilitic, Not Knee-Deep In Shit post one bored evening. My Warhammer Fantasy Battle history stretches back nearly as far as my gaming history, but I burned out on Warhammer long before I burned out on RPGs, and was correspondingly reluctant to dive back in.

But the Oldhammer community seems precisely the antidote to what burned me out in the first place, namely the gimmicky, "this brand new expensive model will win games for you", business-driven approach that I finally sussed out in the early nineties. And the Showroom on the Oldhammer forum is seriously inspirational.

Hand in hand with Oldhammer I've also signed up to eBay (which is probably a very slippery slope) and today "won"* my first auction. So now my dilemma is working out what I actually should buy, compared with what I could buy...
  1. Re-building my orcs and goblins army, concentrating on figures I like (and which show up in auctions!)
  2. Re-buying figures I used to own, never liked, but which now have a distinct old-school cachet
  3. Buying figures I hankered after as a teenager but couldn't afford

And yes, today's "win" was in category 3.

* I hate the term "win" when used by / about eBay. It smacks more of marketing than reality. However when you don't win you definitely feel that you lost...