Thursday, 25 April 2013

Celts vs Chaos vs Orcs

Greg (Celts), Lewis (Chaos), and I (Orcs) in a race to find a lost relic hidden amongst the ruins known as the Altar of Skulls. Legend has it that the fabled giant Turog fought his fomorian brothers while playing the ancient game of Monopoly here and a great doom was brought upon the world. Although wounded, he went on to slaughter many Lords of Law and of Chaos later that day, in a rage of pain and grief. For it is told in the Book of Fleet that the mighty Turog lost his brothers in this epic battle. He also lost his left eye. This orb he left amongst the corpses in honour of his kin, a fist sized ruby of evil sorcery.

To try and take the unholy relic by stealth or force, three mortal enemies have come this night; Durgan the Bald and his tribe of wildlings, Kwegj the Claw (a Champion of Chaos) and his dark reavers (including the fearsome minotaur, Moo the Mighty), Cyr'uoc Mancleaver and his bloody-thirsty band of orcs.

There is a doom placed upon any who dare remove the orb from it's resting place. To avoid the curse, the Orb of Turog has to be collected from one of the giant skulls and then hallowed by harvest moonlight within the engraved Eye Socket of Turog, upon the altar proper. Tonight is such a night. A night for reaping a harvest of red ruin!

 Cyr'uoc Mancleaver finds the Orb of Turog but is challenged by the Mighty Moo!

Hakblood joins the fray. Moo is slain. "Mooooooooooooooooo!"

Wildlings wail, wave their willy's and gnash their teeth against the armoured warriors of Chaos!

Ratmen! The Claw! Cyr'uoc Mancleaver fights for his life as the creatures of chaos scream for blood and vengeance.

Archers and slicers, bashers and stabbers...

Upon the Altar of Skulls, the Orb of Turog is afire! "Ok lads, lets go home..."

"Look at me, I have sickles. Blood and souls for the Horned God!"

"Flee!" Is that the short stick?

Well, a win for Cyr'uoc Mancleaver and his bloody-thirsty band of orcs. The Orb of Turog is going straight to the pool room. I recall Chaos had the worst of it in the end. The Celts were unpredictable but deadly. Another fantastic game using Song of Blades and Heroes.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Happy Birthday Alex

Elven archer for my good friend Alex. In memory of his half-elven ranger, Martin Longbow. Famous for breaking five bows in a night with a run of critical misses (1's on a d20). A multi-part and pleasure to paint, this is a Reaper Miniature:

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Save or Die

Welcome to my blog… it’s Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day!

Thirty years ago, I moved from Fighting Fantasy solo gameplay books to playing Dungeons and Dragons. A Fighting Fantasy character had three main statistics; Skill, Stamina and Luck (which is also a prime attribute in Tunnels & Trolls but I’ll save that for another post). Dungeons and Dragons had a few more, though the thing that always struck me was the Saving Throws; Spell or Magic Staff, Magic Wand, Death Ray or Poison, Turned To Stone, and finally, Dragon Breath (ouch). Classes had their own set of saving throw numbers and as the character advanced in levels of experience, the saving throws became easier to make. Not only that, equipment is assumed to survive if the character survives. In the case of death by fire ball, normal equipment was destroyed and magical equipment was permitted a saving throw.

If you were asked to make a saving throw versus something for your character, odds are you’d just overlooked the obvious, failed dismally at some risky task or were relying on dumb luck to save your ass. Or another way to look at it, totally succeeded at being in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time. Save or Die!

So what has all this got to do with Swords & Wizardry? The rules give each class a saving throw. Just one. It’s called Saving Throw. You make a saving throw when a spell or some other kind of hazard threatens your character. Well, that’s just like Luck from Fighting Fantasy ain’t it? I suspect there may have been a legal reason for this adaption judging by the note in the side-bar that shows the original (Dungeons & Dragons) saving throw categories and numbers with the following in small print.
Legal Note: The information in this sidebar is provided for purposes of comparison, and is not to be construed as an indication respecting compatibility with any trademark.
Well done! I appreciate the effort made to keep that in the book. You see, I like the original saving throws. They’re cool. Having them on a character sheet lets you know that exploring the dungeons (and wilderness) is dangerous. Saving throws are an indication of how deadly the world is and what you will come up against. A save versus Death Ray is just what your character needs to avoid instant disintegration (or large hole in the chest area) from a Black Ray Pistol, Ring of Red Ruin or Balor’s Evil Eye spell. In Dragon Warriors or GURPS your character would make Dodge roll. Boring. When the evil sorcerer points his bejewelled finger at the party, you know it’s time to duck for cover! Save vs. Death Ray! Save or Die!

It’s also not a stretch of the imagination to come up with more saving throws. Save versus Lycanthropy. Save versus Mummy Rot. Save versus Cthulhu (sanity check).

I encourage you to buy the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook. It’s a finely wrought tome of wonders and a superb tribute to the original role-playing game by Gary Gygax (1938-2008) and Dave Arneson (1947-2009). I also encourage you to write the original saving throws down on your character sheet and come up with at least one new one for your game.

Also, what’s good for the players is good for the monsters. I’m thinking my arch villain Vampire Lord needs a saving throw versus holy symbol…

FrogGod Games has discounted their entire line of Swords & Wizardry products for 1 day only in celebration of Swords & Wizardry appreciation day (April 17th 2013). The discount is good for 25% off S&W Products but you must use coupon* code SWApprDay on April 17th 2013 at check out.

*The coupon excludes items less than $1, S&W Cards, Pre-Orders, and Subscriptions.

D20PFSRD store is also running a sale on Swords& Wizardry PDFs. Use the provided link and use coupon code: SWAD252013

(feel free to make sure your fellow gamers know about these sales and the codes)

These blogs can also be found on the blogroll over at

Friday, 5 April 2013

Artwork for Petty Gods

I have taken on an art project and will be submitting a couple of pieces for Petty Gods, a project originally conceived by Blair of Planet Algol and James Maliszewski of Grognardia. Greg Gorgonmilk has taken the reins of editor/layout chap and he's looking for new deity submissions to add to those being reassembled. Here's what James had to say when he announced the idea for the book:
...The working title is Petty Gods and it's intended as an homage to Judges Guild's awesome Unknown Gods, which presented 83 minor gods -- complete with stats -- for use in your D&D adventures and campaigns. 

And when I say "minor gods," I mean it: we're talking deities like the goddess of dancing girls, the god of summer storms, and the goddess of deep water fish, among others. That's the vibe I'm aiming for with this project too. If anything, I'd prefer that the divinities in Petty Gods be even more minor, esoteric, and obscure than those in Unknown Gods -- the kinds of beings worshiped only by a handful of devoted (and probably crazed) followers and whose power is limited enough that they could conceivably be offed by a party of appropriately bloody-minded PCs. In short, this is a "Monster Manual" for swords-and-sorcery in the manner of Elric.

I've just been informed that it made the MTV Geek website! My first few sketches are going well... I will post the finished art here when I am done.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Swords and Wizardry

I backed this Kickstarter project last year.

Be a part of the old school renaissance! Back the award-winning roleplaying game. Original edition rules. Original edition feel.

Well... finally, it arrived!

Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules is a simulacrum of the original edition of the 1974 fantasy roleplaying game written by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Now everyone can play this ENnie award-winning re-creation of the original rules without paying hundreds of dollars for the original books.
Of course I already have enough original books but hey, I was impressed with the work of these fine folks at Frog God Games. Are they the only ones out there doing this? No. Are they creating products of the highest standard? Yes. Am I happy with the newest edition to my D&D book collection? Yes. Is it fair for me to call it D&D? Totally. They can't of course, because I expect that would get them in a legal battle with Hasbro (the latest owners of the D&D brand). As they state on the Kickstarter page:

  • Is this is exact text of the 1974 rules?
    The Swords & Wizardry Rules are a restatement of those rules, but with newly-written text, and better organization (where the rules were spread across seven booklets).
Which pretty much sums it up, without mentioning the superb art and obvious attention to detail both in the design layout and content. Most excellent!