One of the first posts I wrote for this blog was a reminiscence on the early days of Vampire: the Masquerade, prompted by the release of a 20th Anniversary Edition. Well, now I feel even older. I just saw that someone is bringing back the Games Workshop – Milton Bradley fantasy boardgame HeroQuest in time for its 25th.
Jervis Johnson – he of Blood Bowl and Adeptus Titanicus/Space Marine fame – was the designer, but I sat in with him on meetings and contributed some early writing and background. I remember that the man from MB liked the fact that I’d named the Barbarian character Rogar, because his boss was named Roger and he thought that would go down especially well.
As part of the agreement, Milton Bradley developed all the HeroQuest expansions themselves but Games Workshop had the right to develop and sell Advanced HeroQuest, which was a lot deeper and more Warhammer-ish. It’s also where the Fimir found a home after failing as a new Warhammer race. I had a little more to do with AHQ, writing a few expansion articles for White Dwarf and – one of my first freelance contracts after I left the Games Workshop staff in 1990 – an undead-themed supplement called Terror in the Dark.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this new incarnation of HeroQuest. Who knows – maybe I’ll even get the opportunity to write something for it.
The Colonial Gothic Bestiary was released today. You can read the first review here – it’s a very welcome 5 stars from RPGnow.com.
I’ve been pushing for this book ever since I first got involved with Colonial Gothic three years ago. This year, following the release of the second edition Rulebook, the time is finally right. Colonial Gothic’s range of adventures and sourcebooks has always been well received – almost none has averaged lower than a 4-star rating from the industry’s most influential review sites – and now we can release core books to support and grow the system itself. Richard and I decided that the first new core book should be a bestiary, and we plan to follow that up with a Players’ Guide and a GM’s Guide over the next couple of years. Watch this space. In addition, we will continue to support the acclaimed Flames of Freedom campaign and we will keep on producing ground-breaking adventures and supplements like Jennifer Brozek’s time-bending adventure The Lost Colony.
To some, a bestiary may seem a strange choice for the first core supplement. Colonial Gothic is a horror game, after all, and the Rulebook includes a good selection of creatures for horror adventures. Even so, some important creatures were missing: local legends like the Jersey Devil, creatures from Native American tradition like the wampus cat, and local wildlife like the alligator. The book also includes summoned and enchanted creatures like the homunculus, two kinds of golem, and – of course – demons, devils, and undead aplenty.
There are more than 50 creatures in all, but Colonial Gothic fans need not fear that we are turning the game into Colonial D&D. We’re not. Each creature has been chosen with a careful eye to how, why, and where it fits into the Thirteen Colonies and what it can bring to Colonial Gothic adventures. Each creature description includes notes on what it offers the GM, and more extensive notes are given for each creature class. Finally, there are two indices – one alphabetical and one by class – listing the creatures in the Rulebook as well as in the Bestiary, to make it easy for the GM to find exactly the right creature for a particular adventure or encounter.
As I’ve said before, I have a long-standing love of historical fantasy and horror. I thought Colonial Gothic was a good idea the first time I heard of it, and it’s good to know that Richard and I are not alone. There are active groups on both Facebook and Google+ providing us with feedback and discussing everything from real-but-suspicious historical events to TV shows like Sleepy Hollow to the best miniatures and scenery for 18th-century games. You can also find Colonial Gothic news on Twitter (#ColonialGothic).
I think 2014 is going to be a good year for Colonial Gothic. Richard and I have a number of ideas in the works. If you know Cotton Mather isn’t a personal hygiene product and Salem isn’t just a brand of cigarettes, if you ever wanted to save Joseph Curwen and the Whateleys of Dunwich from their own folly, if you want to know how Washington used Masonic secrets to win American independence – and what the Templars thought about his doing so – we think you will enjoy Colonial Gothic.
You can find the Bestiary - and the rest of the Colonial Gothic range – on sale at the Rogue Games online store in PDF, ePub, Kindle, and dead-tree format. The various ebook versions are also available from your favorite download store. If you shop at, or run, a Friendly Local Game Store, please get in touch. Rogue Games is committed to supporting brick-and-mortar game retailers.
I was recently at an SCA event, where I heard the medieval term “gong farmer” used to describe those valiant and unsung heroes who empty and maintain the Portajohns (known within the SCA as “Portacastles”). Through some wierd mental process, this got me thinking about gong farmer as a WFRP career. In many ways it’s tailor-made for the grubby and malodorous Old World setting.
What follows is a mental doodle as much as anything, but I also wanted to see how easy it would be to create a career for all three editions of WFRP: from the ground up, rather than simply adapting from one edition to another. I wrote it for my own amusement and not for GW or Fantasy Flight, so it’s not to be regarded as in any way official. Even so, I hope WFRP fans out there find it useful, or at least interesting.
The Gong Farmer
A New Career for WFRP
By Graeme Davis
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and WFRP are trademarks owned by Games Workshop Ltd. WFRP 3rd edition is published under license by Fantasy Flight Games. This article is a fan work and is not intended to be official or to challenge any trademark or copyright of Games Workshop or Fantasy Flight Games.
The gong farmer has the least enviable job in the Old World. In towns and other settlements without a sewer system, the gong farmer gathers up all human waste and deposits it in a communal dump or cesspool outside the walls. Often permitted to work only at night, gong farmers are also known as nightsoil men.
Owing to the nature of their profession, gong farmers are able to remain calm in the face of things that would disgust and even nauseate ordinary folk. They are also well able to resist disease and poison through long exposure to the most noxious of substances.
The job is not without its compensations, but they are few and unreliable. Gong farmers have access – albeit at night and well supervised – to the houses of the great and good and can find themselves privy (pun intended) to household secrets as well as having a unique insight into their state of health. In addition, the by-laws of many communities allow gong farmers to keep any coins, small pieces of jewellery, or other items of value that they may find in the course of their work.
No Sense of Smell (Optional Rule)
A character with this skill or talent literally has no sense of smell. Their olfactory sense has been completely destroyed by long exposure to foul-smelling substances or through some other circumstance. They automatically fail any dice roll that depends upon smell.
First Edition Profile
M WS BS S T W I A Dex
Ld Int Cl WP Fel
Immunity to Disease
Immunity to Poison
No Sense of Smell (see above)
Second Edition Profile
WS BS S T Ag Int WP Fel
– – – +10% – – +10% –
A W SB TB M Mag IP FP
– +2 – – – – – –
Skills: Common Knowledge (local community), Perception
Talents: Night Vision, No Sense of Smell (see above), Resistance to Disease, Resistance to Poison, Strong-Minded
Trappings: Ragged clothing, Shovel, Wheelbarrow, Lantern
Career Entries: Bone Picker, Peasant
Career Exits: Agitator, Bone Picker, Grave Robber, Rat Catcher, Rogue, Sewer Jack (Ashes of Middenheim), Vagabond
Third Edition Profile
Basic Career: Human
Basic, Menial, Social, Urban
Primary Characteristics: Toughness, Willpower
Career Skills: Discipline, Folklore (local area), No Sense of Smell (see above), Observation, Resilience
Action 2 Talent1
Skill 2 Fortune 1
Conservative 2 Reckless 1
Typical Trappings: Ragged clothing, Shovel, Wheelbarrow, Lantern
2nd edition version by Colin Chapman: http://www.scribd.com/doc/156852704/Warhammer-Fantasy-2nd-Edition-Gong-Farmer
As you may know, for the last few years I’ve been working with Richard Iorio II of Rogue Games to help develop and promote their Colonial Gothic tabletop RPG. Historical games and horror games are two of my real passions, and Colonial Gothic combines the two beautifully.
Boiling it down to an elevator pitch, it’s the early history of America through the eyes of H. P. Lovecraft and Dan Brown. Your Heroes can encounter Salem witches, Native American spirits, scheming Freemasons, sorcerous Templars, voodoo, gris-gris, Bigfoot, the Jersey Devil, and much more. I keep teasing Richard that one day I’ll have Ben Franklin construct a lightning-powered mech and go mano a mano with Cthulhu – but perhaps that may be going a little too far. But if you liked The Crucible, Sleepy Hollow, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Last of the Mohicans, The Brotherhood of the Wolf, and the National Treasure movies, chances are you’ll like Colonial Gothic.
I’m very happy at the reception the game has received so far. Most of the supplements have garnered 4- and 5-star reviews on Roleplayers’ Chronicle, DriveThruRPG, and the other major review sites. The release of the Second Edition Rulebook last December was an important step, and we have many plans for the future. Among these is a new campaign, to be created under license by Mystical Throne Entertainment, publishers of Roleplayers’ Chronicle.
Rogue Games’ house campaign, Flames of Freedom, focuses on the shadowy side of the American Revolution. The Mystical Throne campaign (working title New World) is set a generation earlier, in the middle of the 18th century. Rogue Games has touched upon this period in its French and Indian War sourcebook, and it’s very good to see others inspired by the game and the setting to create fresh adventures. The Flames of Freedom campaign will continue, co-written by Richard and me. We have plans for at least two more instalments, possibly more, and the next one, Shadows Upon the Hudson, is scheduled for release later this year.
I’m looking forward to the New World campaign very much. Aaron Huss is a talented writer with a number of impressive credits under his belt, and I can’t wait to see what adventures he has in store for us.
I don’t reblog a lot, and perhaps I should. There are certainly a lot of good ideas out there.
For those who haven’t heard of him, James Wallis is a Man Who Knows What He’s At. I first met him almost 20 years ago when his company Hogshead Publishing licensed first edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay from Games Workshop. We’ve been in touch, off and on, ever since, and I’ve found he’s one of those people who is worth watching. His ideas are never less than interesting and constantly challenge the boundaries of what roleplaying is, what a game is – frankly, what anything is. Take a look at Once Upon a Time or The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen and you’ll see what I mean. Really, do – even (especially!) if you are not usually interested in card games or roleplaying games. I’m waiting for his latest game, Alas Vegas, with bated breath.
But that’s enough blathering for now. I’ll leave you to read and be inspired.
I was actually told that by Bryan Ansell, then head of Games Workshop. Well, I was working on Realm of Chaos at the time.
For this and more memories of Games Workshop in the late 80s, check out this interview at the RealmofChaos80s blog. And take a look around while you’re there: Orlygg has landed some fascinating interviews with the likes of Rick Priestley, Tony Ackland, and Bryan Ansell among others.
Oh, the memories. Anyway, if you’re at all interested in the period of Games Workshop’s history that produced WFRP, Warhammer 40K, Adeptus Titanicus, Dark Future, Space Hulk, and Advanced Heroquest, you will find this blog absolutely fascinating.
The next entry was going to be about my father, who died April 1st, and the influence he had on my life. But that will have to wait for next time, because there is something far more urgent.
If you have any Games Workshop orc or goblin miniatures from the late 80s, or almost anyone else’s orcs or goblins from any time since, then whether you know it or not, you’ll be familiar with the work of Kevin “Goblinmaster” Adams. He wasn’t quite the first guy to paint them green, but his goblin and orc faces have influenced just about everything since, and not only in the Warhammer family. Since leaving GW he has worked for almost all the UK’s most important miniatures companies. He is also one of the sweetest guys you could ever wish to meet, despite his slightly intimidating appearance. Check out this site to see some of his work.
A few weeks ago, three masked youths broke into Kev’s home in Nottingham. Before robbing him they beat him to a pulp with brass knuckles and stabbed him just for good measure. Kev survived, but if and when the police ever catch up with the culprits they’ll be facing attempted murder charges. There is talk of putting metal plates in his face and reconstructing a crushed eye socket. No one deserves to have something like this happen to them, least of all Kev.
Kev’s friends in the industry – which means just about everyone who ever met or worked with him – have banded together to found Goblinaid. A PayPal account has been set up for donations (goblinaidATfenrisgamesDOTcom), and there will be raffles and other events. A lot of Britain’s best designers are creating custom goblin figures for the cause. I don’t have the talent to do that myself, but I’m contributing some of my own Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay books (The Hogshead editions of the 1st edition rulebook and all the Enemy Within adventures), which I’ve signed with a message of thanks for supporting Goblinaid.
Keep an eye on the Goblinaid Facebook page for the latest news, and details of how you can help. Below are links to some other pages with more information.
This morning I received my author’s copy of Fantasy Flight’s The Enemy Within campaign for 3rd edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I have to say they’ve done their usual great production job.
I knew the book would be thick, but it surprised me just how thick it was. If you’d like a look at what’s in the box, I found this unboxing video.
It’s been 26 years since the first Enemy Within campaign was launched for 1st edition WFRP. It’s a bold move by Fantasy Flight to use the same name for these all-new adventures, but their reasoning is sound. The new campaign explores the same themes through new adventures, and I was very happy they asked me to contribute to it.
I know that for some people nothing will ever live up to the original: for them, Fantasy Flight’s re-use of the name is akin to blasphemy. All I can say in response is that I wrote the best adventures I possibly could in both campaigns, and I hope you like the result.
It’s also true that the WFRP community is going through its own edition wars right now, and some diehard 1st or 2nd edition fans might regard a 3rd edition campaign called The Enemy Within as adding insult to injury. Having read 3rd edition – indeed, all three editions – in depth, I must respectfully disagree. While the mass of components that accompany 3rd edition products may be unfamiliar and even intimidating to 1st or 2nd edition grognards, the rules themselves work pretty well. The components, for the most part, are there to help make things run more smoothly: in a lot of cases, they hold text that would otherwise have been in the rulebook, so players and GMs can have it close to hand during a game.
I made a conscious effort, when writing my two chapters, to write a good WFRP adventure rather than a WFRP 3rd edition adventure. Very little of my design depends heavily on mechanics, and I hope that GMs will be able to adapt the campaign for use with earlier rules editions if they wish. It is even possible to add adventures from the original campaign and produce a grand “Total Enemy Within” mash-up that would work fairly well.
Anyway, it’s here, and I hope people like it.
December has been a busy month, but I can’t talk about any of that. Not yet.
Here’s what I can talk about, though: a lot of things are finally seeing the light of day this month, and that’s very exciting.
I’ve already posted about the Aesop-inspired anthology The Lion and the Aardvark, which includes stories from 70 – count ‘em, 70 – of the best writers out there. I have a short-short tale in there called “The Lemmings and the Sea,” and I can’t wait to see what my 69 co-writers have come up with.
The Hobbit Social Games
I should have posted before about The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth and The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age. I’m very proud to have worked on these two social strategy games tied into Peter Jackson’s new movie. By the bye, Apple has just named Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North as the top-grossing free iOS app of 2012. That was my first project for Kabam, and it’s great to see it doing so well.
I’ve also been involved with two tabletop RPG products that are out just in time for Christmas. Although I don’t work much in that medium these days, I’m proud of both of these new releases, for different reasons.
The Colonial Gothic 2nd Edition Rulebook was released on 12/12/12 at 12:12:12, in reference to the 12 Degrees roleplaying system that powers it. It has been a long, hard labor of love for Colonial Gothic creator Richard Iorio. I’ve offered support and feedback, but the work is all his.
You may not have heard of Colonial Gothic, or of Rogue Games. I first met Richard at GenCon more than a decade ago when we were both working the Hogshead Publishing booth, and we kind of stayed in touch. When I first heard about Colonial Gothic in 2009, I was so impressed by the idea that I offered my services. Since then the Colonial Gothic line has swelled to eight books and a number of e-books, and the game has gathered a small but passionate following.
According to Richard, the Colonial Gothic concept started out as “Cthulhu 1776,” but it has come a long way since then. It now covers the whole history of Colonial America and the War of Independence. The work of H. P. Lovecraft still inspires the growing Colonial Gothic mythology (and I wish I could talk about a new development in that direction), but there’s more: scheming Dan-Brown-style Freemasons, Bigfoot and other cryptids, local legends like the Jersey Devil, Native spirits, and much, much more. If you liked Sleepy Hollow (the story or any of its movie versions), National Treasure, The Last of the Mohicans, The Patriot, or The Brotherhood of the Wolf, you’ll enjoy Colonial Gothic.
The second edition rulebook will be vital to the line’s future growth: previous editions were plagued by typos and minor inconsistencies, and Richard has taken the time to go through and fix everything. The rules have been reorganized so that information is easier to find; typos and inconsistencies have been fixed; and Richard has done wonders with the layout. It’s also 100% backward-compatible with the entire Colonial Gothic line. Richard has worked incredibly hard on this and the hard work shows.
The third instalment of the acclaimed Flames of Freedom campaign is planned for 2013, along with a couple of other things that, frustratingly, I can’t talk about yet. Keep an eye on Rogue Dispatches for announcements.
The Enemy Within, Again
Many months ago, Fantasy Flight Games caused an enormous stir when they announced a new campaign for 3rd Edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. It was the title that got people excited: The Enemy Within. The new Enemy Within is not an adaptation or an updating of the original, but a whole new campaign that explores the same themes through new adventures. The entry I wrote about it back in March remains the most-viewed entry on this whole blog.
After the frenzy that greeted the announcement, there was a long, long silence. Based at least in part on my feedback when I saw the galleys, The Enemy Within went through a lot of editing and development. Now, at last, it has been released.
When I started writing my part of the campaign, I worried about how I would top the completely unforeseen success of the original Enemy Within. I came to the conclusion that nothing could ever top the fond memories that many people have for the original adventures, memories that are tied up with where they were in their lives when they first played them. It’s impossible to recreate that; I just took my two chapter briefs and wrote the best adventure I could.
Since the new Enemy Within was announced, a few people have asked me about running it with 1st or 2nd edition WFRP, and also about running a mash-up of the old and new campaigns. I think both are possible. Although the three editions of WFRP have different rules, the setting and the cast of monsters are the same: with a little work on the GM’s part, stats can be massaged into the preferred edition. When I was writing, I made a conscious effort to write a good WFRP adventure, rather than focusing on the 3rd edition rules.
A mash-up “Total Enemy Within” campaign is equally possible. The new campaign has a strong structure, and if I were running an Enemy Within mashup I would use that as the main plot. The original adventures, up to and including Power Behind the Throne, can be added as side-plots and complications: Death on the Reik, in particular, could flesh out some of the travel sections, which are somewhat abstract in the new campaign. I can even see ways to add Something Rotten in Kislev and Empire in Flames, but going into any detail would involve spoilers so I’ll refrain for now.
Reaction to WFRP 3rd edition has been mixed. In its own way, the WFRP community is riven by an edition war as savage as anything D&D/d20 has seen. I expect at least a few people will eviscerate me online because the new Enemy Within doesn’t live up to their long-held memories of the original, because it’s 3rd edition, because of any number of things. I hope that a lot of people will like it, or at least find something they like in it. I will say that it looks good, and I will be excited to hold it in my hands.
As regular readers (and tabletop game geeks) will know, Robin D. Laws is an industry luminary. He consistently comes up with challenging and innovative ideas that are also fun to play. He’s also an accomplished author and a newly-minted fiction publisher, which means he knows one end of a story from the other better than most.
So when he announced the Kickstarter campaign for his latest project, the DramaSystem roleplaying game, I was intrigued. I was even more intrigued when I learned that the system would launch with an Iron Age setting called Hillfolk.
But then, intriguing is what Robin does. When he announces a new project, everyone sits up and takes notice. The campaign has now reached its nineteeth – count ‘em, nineteenth – stretch goal and shows no sign of slowing down in its sixteen remaining days. Of course, Robin, being a man who Knows What He’s At, has offered some pretty spectacular stretch goals. Some of the greatest names in tabletop roleplaying are helping out: names like Michelle Nephew, Kenneth Hite, Matt Forbeck, Chris Pramas, James Wallis, and John Tynes – and, as they say, many more.
And then he asked me if I wanted to do something. Well, how could I spurn company like that?
So as of today, my Pyrates setting is officially the 20th stretch goal. I pitched it as “Firefly of the Caribbean” and that sums up what I’m thinking pretty well. When Robin first contacted me I sat down and came up with almost 20 ideas, but Pyrates was the first and we both agreed that it’s the best. I’m hoping you’ll like it too.
If you love the sound of shivered timbers and aim to misbehave – or if you just like innovative and thought-provoking roleplaying games – check out the Hillfolk Kickstarter page and marvel at the wealth of creativity on offer from a galaxy of top-flight writers. And me.