I have Warhammer 40,000 miniatures, so I’m going to play a Warhammer 40,000 game.
Necrons awaken to find their tomb ship amalgamated into a Space Hulk, now adrift in the warp. The Sons of Horus have been fighting aboard this ship for weeks, months, years and millennia, all at the same time. The two groups are jockeying for control of a safe haven within the hulk.
I set up a spaceship board with a room in the centre. I had objectives in each corner and one in the middle. The game would end when one side controlled the central objective and two other objectives for two turns in a row, or one side was wiped out.
I needed a few additional house rules for this scenario to work:
Opening or closing a hatch door costs one Order Dice. If the OV of the Order Dice is 4+ you can also move 3” before or after opening or closing the hatch.
Claiming an objective costs one Order Dice. Objectives remain under a warband’s controls until claimed by the other warband.
Here are some highlights from the game:
On the first turn I rolled that no additional Terminators would fill up the 2-man Terminator squad, while one of the Tactical Marines squad had all its units arrive as reinforcements.
On the Necrons turn I rolled a 1 again for reinforcements: the Overlord would be alone the entire game.
On one side of the board a Sergeant and his Tactical Marines were in a firefight with a Royal Warden and their Necron Warriors. The game is quite deadly: if someone shoots at you it’s hard to avoid losing a unit. With reaction dice letting you fire overwatch as a unit moves out to shoot at you, there was a lot of picking off each sides squads. In the end, over a couple turns, the marines came out on top.
In the middle of the board, the Prateor and Terminator were up against a Necron Overlord. The Overlord used a reaction dice to take out the Terminator moving up to try and engage him. The Royal Warden moved up and opened a hatch, shooting and killing the Praetor. He was then killed by the Tactical Squad.
The marines had the central objective and the two on their side of the board. There was on another squad of Necrons, untouched this battle, but they couldn’t get into the fray fast enough. The Space Marines won the game.
The active player has 4 order dice they can spend to perform actions with a squad, the other player gets 2 they can use to react to the active players moves. I would usually focus most of my orders on a single unit, as you can’t move that far if you’re only moving d6 inches. You also need to manage the negative status effects you collect as you move and shoot, which also takes an order. In practice the game felt like it was using alternating activations. The pace and flow of the game is quick. The action moves between the players at a real clip.
It’s very easy to kill units: perhaps too easy. I probably need a board with more cover. Though, perhaps all the death better simulates the closer quarter combat of my Kill Team Space Hulk board.
This is a very early draft of the game. I am curious where it will end up. I’m not even sure Chris will pick this game up again any time soon, he has so many other games on the go. Till then, we have a fun skeleton of a game to play.
I was looking for minis at the Sword and Board when I spotted a copy of CY_BORG sitting on a shelf. I’ve been waiting for this book to show up locally since it was first announced: I hate paying for shipping. I’m honestly not that interested in Cyberpunk as a genre, but I am very interested in most everything Johan Nohr is involved in. Mork Borg has some of the best art and graphic design you’ll see in an RPG book. Paired up with Christian Sahlén, the duo have created quite the book.
Like Mork Borg the world of CY_BORG is shared as short vignettes. There is detail and flavour to jump off from, but it’s far from overwhelming and very open ended. You can take the world in your own direction.
Borrowing from Mork Borg there is also a campaign calamity mechanic where things progressively get worse as the game moves along, ending with a world ending event. In CY_BORG we have news headlines instead of omens.
Like Mork Borg the default is simple characters who will mostly be defined by their gear. You also have optional classes if you want more specificity (and mechanics). I like this approach. I also like all the pink.
A good bestiary will double as world building. The creatures shared in this book tell a story about the world. Most creatures note how much it costs to bribe them, for example.
Adventures are a great thing to include in your game: they help tell the reader what the game is all about in a way that’s useful and practical. You can read about the sorts of games one might play with these rules. The included adventure has the players helping an indebted neighbourhood. They must break into a casino and destroy the records of their debt, stored in an “offline database”. Like Mork Borg, the layout of the adventures shifts to something far more utilitarian and practical, while still having some style.
My friend Emmy wrote a much longer, better, review of this book, if you want to read something with some more substance. I found the Ben Milton looked at the book as well: you can watch him flip through the whole book. I had similar feelings to the two of them when reading this game’s rule 0: “Player Characters cannot be loyal to or have sympathy for the corps, the cops, or the capitalist system. They might find themselves reluctantly forced to do missions for them or their minions. But make no mistake—they are the enemy.” There’s nothing to disagree with here, but these sorts of declarations always feel a bit dorky. If you as a player aren’t making this choice, it’s kind of a meaingless action on everyone’s part. More so, you could probably play an interesting game, one where you learn something about the world and the dark nature of capitalism, playing dirtbag cops, corporate goons, etc. All of that said, the sorts of people that will get overly upset about this rule are probably the sorts of people you want keep out of a healthy gaming community, and in that way this rule is doing the work it needs to.
I really enjoyed reading CY_BORG. I am keen to get this to the table. The art and writing really pull you in. It feels like an easy game to get into: the rules will be familiar, and there is a lot in the book to help get you going with your game.
This was originally a series of tweets, but Twitter isn’t long for this world. I thought it best to post something more permanent over here.
A million years ago Rey started talking about a game he was working on called Break!!, I suppose building on top of the ideas began in his OSR setting Baroviania. Back in 2017 Grey or Rey sent me an early draft of the game, but it was so full of stuff I honestly thought the games release was imminent. Honestly i’m sure they did too. But no! The years ticked by and I was worried this game would never happen, as Rey improved the rules or Grey improved the layout and art. This game is such a creative vision of what an RPG can be. Everything i’ve seen over the years is so beautiful and feels so fully realized. I’ve been hyped for this game for years now. Many of us have. Now they are ready to take your fucking money. The game’s already funded. It happened in minutes, apparently. And why not? This game is going to be amazing.
I picked up Luke Gearing’s adventure for the Best Left Burried system, Behind Closed Doors. It was also waiting for me in my brother’s flat in London. If you were looking for something with some strong old-school Warhammer Fantasy RPG vibes look no futher. The players are given license to hunt down witches, and are set off into the world to do just that. There are some witchy things going on, but no overarching plot to this sandbox adventure. There its lots of love in this book. There is a creepy castle that feels straight out of a good LotFP adventure. There is a powder keg of a town that ends the book that would likely be a lot of fun to play through. The book looks like it’d be a bit challenging to use: I felt the urge to take notes as I was reading. There is lots going on: places to go, people to see. I’d be interested to run this with a system like Dogs in the Vineyard. This feels like it should be a more notable adventure than it seems to be. It feels like some very good OSR nonsense. I would check it out.
I had shipped several books to my brother in UK, one of those was Gangs of Titan City. I don’t think it’s unfair to say this is a Necromunda RPG with all the serial numbers filed off. The RPG is what I’d describe as OSR, but you can see the influence of games like Apocalypse World and Blades in the Dark. The game has a clear structure to play, starting with an escalation phase where you figure out what’s going on and prepare for your operation, an operation phase where you’ll play out the action of your chose mission, and finally a fallout phase where you see how your actions have changed the larger world, tally XP, etc. There its lots of support in the book itself to help you start your campaign and keep it going. The mechanics of the game are quite simple, familiar to people who have played any PbtA game: you roll 2d6 and add an attribute modifier to see if you succeed. There are no predefined moves, you’ll pick the modifier you use based on the action you’re trying to accomplish. The game looks interesting. I’d be keen to try and work in using minis as part of play.
I was in England over the last couple weeks to visit my brother. As has become somewhat of a tradition, I met up with Patrick at Warhammer World in Notthingham. This time we were also joined by Chris. He drove down from Manchester, so was able to cart us off to Bryan Ansell’s retirement project, The Foundry. Ansell turned part of his home (I think) into this storefront and museum for OldHammer style miniatures. I picked up some pirates I may try and use in the next Mordheim league. The minuatures they had on display were really quite amazing. The store is small, but very dense. There are so many metal minis, it’s kind of overwhelming.
We also did the tour of Warhammer World exhibition space. There are lots of dioramas on display that are really quite incredible. It’s well worth checking out if you’re in the UK and love Warhammer. I hadn’t been since 2017, and there were lots of new minis and dioramas for me to enjoy, and even the old ones continue to impress.
They announced the latest edition of Warhammer 40,000 last night at AdeptiCon. I never even managed to play a game of 9th edition, the pace of their releases feels a bit ridiculous. I had told friends I was going to ignore whatever comes next in protest. Except, in a real plot twist, everything they’ve announced sounds weirdly amazing. The rules are going to be free. The army rules, normally sold as (expensive) Codex books are also going to be free. The rules are going to be simplified. (No more lists and lists of strategems!) I am curious if they can pull this all off—and fight the urge to sell you 50 new strategems in a few months.
I have described the hex descriptions of Carcosa as tweet sized bites of information, descriptions you can quickly read in the midst of a game. They are both flavourful and useful. Well, sometimes. Sometimes they are too terse. Terse descriptions and bullet points can become too utilitarian, too boring. I often find it hard to read adventures written in this style because they are so dull. Silent Titans and Luke’s own Gradient Descent are both good examples of marrying beautiful writing written out in bullet points. I found both easy to run and read. (Patrick’s module is still quite wordy as that style goes, mind you.)
Of course, a lot of D&D books will never be run, simply read. I suspect this is actually the more common use case. DMs may harvest your book for ideas, a room or NPC, or simply something that will live in their brain. It’s perfectly reasonable to optimize for reading over play: sacraligous, I know.