30 November 2012

Game design advice needed

Righto, gaming parents (and any other readers, of course), I need a spot of advice.

In the game I'm writing and probably known as Goblinquest, characters start with a d20 as their combat dice and then, as they lose combats, this is reduced through d12, d10, d8, d6 and then d4 before ultimate glorious and heroic death (or victory, of course).

Now, the question is this. Should I keep my original plan and allow heroes to increase their Combat Dice by one (eg d8 to d10) if they kill a foe, or should I go for a more traditional RPG approach and have each foe worth a certain number of points which can then be traded for the equivalent poly-dice (eg collect eight points and you can buy back your d8 if you're down to a d6)?

As I see it, the advantage of 'original' is that it is simple enough for the introductory, parent and child game I intend it to be. The advantage of 'traditional' is that it gives more weight to slaying a dragon than a goblin, and it would allow the finding of treasure to have an in-game effect.


26 November 2012


Woohoo! My little Geekly Digest is now an award winning blog, thanks to Tenz over at Basement Motive nominating me for this Liebster Award for "creative gaming from a geek Dad's point of view".

The rules of the Liebster Award are:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog
2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you
3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog
4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or fewer who you feel deserve to be noticed
5. Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog

So, points 1-3 completed, here are my five nominations (once I'd culled the blogs with over 200 followers already), in no particular order:

Phreedh's Miniature Stuff - a little quieter than usual at the moment, but an absolute goldmine of old-school fantasy miniatures with a highly enjoyable ongoing campaign, "Songs of Stillburg"

Drums in the Deep - a great new blog which is the home of Cavern Crawl and now sports some witchfinders as a new project

Somewhere the Tea's getting cold... - he spent two and a half years collecting, painting, and then refighting "Blood Bath at Orc's Drift" but didn't burn out and still is churning out mountains of cool stuff

Realms of Miniatures - excellent modular game boards and an enthusiastic participant in the online revival of WFB 3rd Edition

Extraordinary Gentlemens Journal - loads of wonderful VSF stuff on here, a treasure trove of found items and rivets

Thanks again, Tenz, for the awards and happy geeking to you all,

16 November 2012

Doorway to adventure

I made stuff!

Irritated by having to put open doors to one side of the playing board when they were opened, I made two sets of opening doors. A quick scan of the interweb shows I can't claim this approach is new, but I was quite pleased with myself for coming up with it. With easy access to a laser cutting printer thingamabob I knocked these up while the class I was expecting to be teaching were all in a mock exam.

 The one on the left is obviously what they look like closed, with the one on the right with it in 'fully open' and 'diving under the blast doors' modes! A bit of Billiam Babble's old skool art stuck on to them and they'd look just the ticket, I reckon :)

Happy geeking,

10 November 2012

Goblinquest continues

No sooner do I think I've settled on a name, when eldest son comes up with his own name for our rapidly evolving game - "Knights and Dice". Well, whatever it ends up being called, the action was about to start again. When we left our heroes last time they had split into two groups, one having had a nasty scare fro a skeleton almost literally in a closet and the other facing down a gang of sneaky goblins. Lumbering in between them was a particularly disgruntled troll. What would happen next.....

First off, Sir E's crossbowman stuck a bolt straight into the lead goblin, wounding him slightly and making him easy meat for Sir E himself. A good job too because the troll was soon upon them, trapping the valiant band.

Sir E swung his trusty blade left and right, while his spearman rushed to the aid of the rather outmatched crossbow chappy. Meanwhile, supremely confident in the ability of Sir E to look after both himself and his retainers, Sir C and his merry band had opened another door to reveal another skeleton warrior.

They had learned from their previous encounter, however, and withdrew to allow the crossbowman to shoot his bolt; an incredible shot that shattered the skull of the foul revenant and returned him to the sleep of the grave.

Free to come to the aid of their fellows, they'd left it almost too late.

The troll had slain Sir E's crossbowman and the spearman was hard pressed, all the while Sir E's arm was aching from cutting down the horde of gobbos from whom he could not disengage.

Sir C's arbalist tried to even the odds by shooting bolt after bolt into the back of the creature but to no avail - Sir E's spearman was crushed before Sir C could smite the brute.

All that remained was for Sir E to finally eradicate the goblin menace and all was still.

Actually, Sir E's mourning his loyal fellows rather disrupted the board (clumsy child!), but the survivors withdrew, honour intact and the kingdom safer than before. Time for tea and cake....

[This was a really successful playtest of the almost-ready-for-sharing rules, confirming the missile rules nicely and the change in Combat dice reclamation that I've instituted. I'll post more thoughts on that early in the week, but suffice to say Playtesters Wanted Soon!]

Geek well,

8 November 2012

Charitable adventuring

I popped into a hospice charity shop last Friday with a couple of bags of clothes my mother-in-law wanted to donate. My instant reward for such helpful behaviour was to find a mildly foxed box...

 ... and inside, some pristine goodies...

... the Moldvay Basic and Expert rules, plus B2 Keep on the Borderlands, and even...

... the catalogue and registration documents absolutely printer-fresh. Now, I'm not the sort of person who gets excited by an unpunched registration card, but it does show how untouched it all is. All for the princely sum of £2.50! Woohoo! Seriously, not a bent corner or pencil mark to be seen anywhere.

May your charity shop exploits be as fruitful,


6 November 2012

Decisions, decisions

With some helpful feedback from fellow blogger Thatsants (find him over at Somewhere the Tea's getting cold), I've tweaked the character cards. Minor stuff, but I think it's an improvement. I now need to decide whether to have the white or parchment background. Any thoughts?

4 November 2012

Goblinquest character card, take 1

A bad back (something went when I was leaning into the hen hutch to retrieve the mortal remains of Henrietta this morning, poor hen) meant I had plenty of time just sitting still today, floating nicely on ibuprofen, diclofenac cream and a strategically placed hot water bottle. I could have done some prep for school which starts again tomorrow, but came up with this instead. It's a first attempt at a character card for Gobinquest, with all artwork shamelessly stolen from the interweb and put together in Photoshop by me.

What do you think? I'd rather have a less cartoony image of the knight, but an artist I am not :)

NaGa DeMon

No, not a D&D monster from the Outer Planes or anything of the sort, National Games Design Month is a blatant rip-off inspired by the success of NaNoWriMo except (as the name rather suggests) you create a game, rather than write a novel. I've decided to jump on the bandwagon and finish off the Goblinquest game this month (The Averaigne setting is going to be too looooong a haul for this, I think).


Apparently, the organised sort of people who succeed at this kind of venture tend to have clearly defined goals and targets. Things like 'finish the game, make it good' tend to be scoffed at as being too nebulous and imprecise. Tightening up The Plan (TM) a bit while my tea brewed, I came up with these:

  • refine movement rules and decide whether they should be fixed per character, or given by dice rolling each turn
  • test shooting rules more - different shooting dice for different weapons, or shift top dice up by one?
  • Instant kill - yes or no
  • Produce character cards to allow for different dice 'routes' for monsters
  • flesh out monster list to at least twelve
  • Magic items (dead easy, just +/- to dice rolls)
  • Magic spells - got a couple of ideas here but basically a very strong ranged attack which reduces the top dice of the caster as if they had been wounded, because my physics teacher brain says that conservation of energy means magic should take something out of the wielder ("A balrog... What an evil fortune! And I am already weary"). Yup, that's right, I'm worrying about the science of magic for a game for schoolkids - my Geek is always set to eleven!
Is there anything I've missed off? I have some grandiose plans for a modular game board, but even I recognise that they're not a priority or even necessary for the NaGa DeMon project.

Get designing, you lot! Oh, and any feedback or suggestions on the above would be very welcome indeed.

Happy geeking,

1 November 2012

Down, down, deeper 'n down

In his 1892 novel, "Lady Windermere's Fan", Oscar Wilde wrote the line "I can resist anything but temptation." I'm sure this is a sentiment many of you fellow gamers out there can identify with! I'm no different, so I was more than happy to comply when C asked if he could take his knight back into the castle they explored last time and "see if we can find some stairs to go to different floors - there might be even more treasure to find, and I think we got rid of the goblins so it should be easier." Ah, the innocence of youth; doesn't he know how many painted and part-painted (ok, and unpainted) fantasy figures I have? Mwahahaha....

Partly to see if I could gently extend the simple rules I used with them last time, but also so that I could increase the level of adversity (and, to be frank, friendly body count), I gave each knight one retainer with a crossbow and one with a spear and shield.

This way, men!

To simplify matters for a first run through, I allowed the retainers to move at the same rate as their knight so there was only one d4 roll per player for movement. As they were mere retainers (i.e. medieval redshirsts!), I gave them d8 (spearmen) and d6 (crossbow) as their Maximum dice. If you have crossbows, though, you have to have some rules for missile weapons. Sticking to the principle that has seemed to have taken root in these rules [note to self - must choose a name for this game] that picking the right polydice is the answer, I came up with something that will help with a kid's numeracy (counting down):

Crossbow [missile weapon]: d12 - range

So, you pick your target, roll a dice (different dice for different weapons?) and subtract the number of squares that is the shortest route to your target. If it gets to zero or below, the crossbow bolt shatters harmlessly on a wall, doorframe, whatever. Otherwise, the resulting value is your attack as normal (target rolls their current Max dice for defence, dropping by one dice if the missile beats the defence).

So, freshly equipped, Sir C and Sir E returned to the abandoned castle from which they had retrieved the king's treasure from those pesky goblins. At first it was quiet; too quiet. The knights led their followers cautiously into the echoing tunnels, when they were jumped by a gang of four goblins who were soon wilting under the onslaught from Sir C and his spearman, one of them already slain by a well-placed bolt from a crossbow. The last one fled - but it was trap! Sir E was caught in a tight crossroads frantically fending off the attacks of three monsters at once.

Elsewhere, and unaware of the trap that Sir E was about to fall into, Sir C and his team had entered a long hall lined with doors. Opening the first door to reveal a small cubbyhole, Sir C got a nasty (if seasonal) shock as he was immediately attacked by an animated skeleton with glowing blue eyes. "Oh no, Daddy, I should have opened the door and stepped out of the way so my crossbow man could shoot any monster behind the door!" I was impressed - SWAT team house-raiding tactics from a not-quite-5 year old? Good lad!

Sir C (bottom left), Troll in the middle, Sir E and co. (red and white room), goblins at the top

Right prevailed eventually - Sir E extricated himself from the trap (by bravely running away), and the skeleton was dispatched. At this point we must leave our heroes (who need to have their teeth brushed and go to bed); but wait, can you hear that bellowing? Could it be a troll about to come between our foolishly separated men at arms? You betcha :)

Suggestions for a name would be appreciated. Goblinquest? Goblins and Jewels?

Happy geeking,