Posts Tagged ‘white dwarf’

My Complete and Utter D&D/AD&D/d20 Bibliography

August 11, 2015 14 comments


For me, as for most people, Dungeons & Dragons was the first roleplaying game. I started playing around 1977 and I started writing articles and adventures while I was in college. My first article was published in 1982, and my most recent adventure was published in 2010. Along the way I also wrote a D&D novel and worked on an unsuccessful pitch for a Greyhawk MMO game. Here they all are:


Pathfinder Adventure Path #41: The Thousand Fangs Below, Paizo Publishing 2010 – adventure author Buy it here
Pathfinder GameMastery Guide, Paizo Publishing 2010 – contributing author Buy it here
Pathfinder Bestiary 2, Paizo Publishing 2010 – contributing author Buy it here
Moons of Arksyra, Hypernova Games 2005 – co-author/developer Buy it here
Mythic Vistas: Eternal Rome, Green Ronin Publishing 2005 – author Buy it here
Creatures of Freeport, Green Ronin Publishing 2004 – co-author Buy it here
Tales of Freeport, Green Ronin Publishing 2003 – author
Slaine: Teeth of the Moon Sow, Mongoose Publishing 2002 – author Buy it here
AD&D Celts Campaign Sourcebook, TSR, Inc. 1992 – author Buy it here
The Goblins’ Lair, TSR, Inc. 1992 – author Buy it here

Blood and Honor, Wizards of the Coast 2006 Buy the audio book here

“The Tathlum,” (AD&D Celts Campaign Sourcebook outtake), personal blog, December 2015 Download free here
“The Ecology of the Wight,” Dragon #348, October 2006 Buy it here
“The Soul Yard,” No Quarter #8, September 2006 Buy it here
“Dead Man’s Quest,” Dungeon #107, February 2004 Buy it here
“The Rapax,” Tales of Freeport web promo, 2003 Download free here
“Lady Mijiko’s Holiday,” Pyramid #14, Jul/Aug 1995 – available free online: click here
“The King Beneath the Hill,” White Wolf Magazine #26, Apr/May 1991 Buy it here
“Race Relations,” GameMaster Publications #4, June 1986
“Nightmare in Green,” White Dwarf #75, Apr 1986
“Defenders of the Faith,” GameMaster Publications #3, March 1986
“Find the Lady,” GameMaster Publications #2, Dec 1985 Download free here
“Tongue Tied,” White Dwarf #70, Nov 1985
“Poison,” White Dwarf #69, Oct 1985
“Magic & Mayhem: Viking!” Imagine #30, Sep 1985
“Pentjak Silat: Indonesian Martial Arts,” Imagine #25, Apr 1985
“Japanese Bujutsu,” Imagine #25, Apr 1985
“Monsters from the Folklore of the Philippines,” Imagine #25, Apr 1985 Download free here
“Eye of Newt and Wing of Bat,” White Dwarf #59-63, Dec 1984-April 1985
“New Flail Types,” Imagine #20, Nov 1984 Download free here
“Magic & Mayhem: Celts,” Imagine #17, Aug 1984 Download free here
“Sethotep,” Imagine #16, Jul 1984 Download free here
“Sobek, God of Marshes and Crocodiles,” Imagine #16, Jul 1984 Download free here
“Drowning Rules,” White Dwarf #51, Apr 1984
“Seeing the Light,” White Dwarf #44, Sep 1983
“The Taking of Siandabhair,” Imagine #5, Aug 1983 Download free here
“Bujutsu,” White Dwarf #43, Aug 1983
“Extracts from the Uruk-Hai Battle Manual,” White Dwarf #38, Mar 1983
“The Tower of Babel,” Pegasus #12, Feb-Mar 1983 Buy it here
“The City in the Swamp,” White Dwarf #37, Feb 1983
“More Necromantic Abilities,” White Dwarf #36, Jan 1983
“Drug Use and Abuse,” White Dwarf #32, Aug 1982

Other Bibliography Posts

My Complete and Utter Warhammer Bibliography (Warhammer, WFRP, HeroQuest, AHQ)

My Complete and Utter Warhammer 40,000 Bibliography (WH40K, Adeptus Titanicus/Epic Scale)

My Complete and Utter Cthulhu Bibliography

My Complete and Utter GURPS Bibliography

My Complete and Utter Vampire: the Masquerade and World of Darkness Bibliography

My Complete and Utter Fighting Fantasy and Gamebook Bibliography

My Complete and Utter Colonial Gothic Bibliography

My Complete and Utter Dark Future Bibliography

My Complete and Utter Video Gameography

My Complete and Utter Bibliography: The Rest of the RPGs

My Complete and Utter Bibliography: Odds and Ends


Terror in the Darkness

December 11, 2014 9 comments


There was a miniature painting contest at Oldhammer 2014, and one of the winners was a beautifully painted Ambull miniature. That brought back some memories, and a recent Facebook post in the Oldhammer Community finally stirred me to action.

Ambull mini

The Ambull miniature is pretty rare. The beast was created by Rick Priestley and can be found in the 1st edition Warhammer 40K rulebook along with quite a few other critters that were never used in WH40K army lists. As far as I can remember, it was the only one of these unaffiliated monsters to be made into a miniature. Since it didn’t have a home in any army list, I’m sure it didn’t sell well.

But that’s not the story I wanted to tell. I want to tell you about Compleat Encounters, and how an Ambull came to be featured in a WFRP adventure.

It was 1988, just over a year since WFRP and WH40K had been released. TSR UK’s Imagine magazine was gone by this time, but its former editor Paul Cockburn was now editing White Dwarf. One of Imagine’s many good points had been “Brief Encounters” – short, 1-2-page adventures showcasing a particular monster or situation – and Paul (or someone else in GW management) had the perfectly sensible idea of doing the same thing with short WFRP encounters in White Dwarf. They were called “Compleat Encounters.”

I loved the idea, all except for one thing. I wasn’t allowed to write any. Nor was anyone in the GW Design Studio. In a move that foreshadowed one of my greatest frustrations at GW, it was decided that all the work would be farmed out to external writers. We were to write briefs, but not encounters.

It’s already on record that I wanted every miniature in the Citadel catalogue to find a place in WFRP. As I set about churning out briefs (which, to be honest, took just as much time as if I’d written the encounters myself), I turned to the miniatures catalogue for inspiration. One of my early efforts featured a renowned sculptor who cheated using a cockatrice; it was written (by whom, I no longer remember) but as far as I know it was never published. I used another encounter brief to import the Ambull into the Warhammer Fantasy setting.

Tony Ackland's Ambull illo from the WH40K rulebook. You can see how closely the miniature followed it.

Tony Ackland’s Ambull illo from the WH40K rulebook. You can see how closely the miniature followed it.

At the time, there was a lot of discussion within the Studio about the relationship between the Warhammer world and the WH40K universe. The Ruinous Powers of Chaos were active in both settings, so there had to be a link – but what was it? Was the Terra of WH40K actually a future version of the Warhammer world? Was the Warhammer world a remote feral world in some backwater of the WH40K universe, where degenerate members of the various WH40K races lived in ignorance of the galaxy and its greater conflicts? The question was never definitively answered, and in time it was forgotten altogether – but not before several photographs had been published showing a mix of Warhammer and WH40K miniatures on the same table.

Historically, I think this was probably a stopgap measure allowing players to bulk out WH40K forces with “feral world” Warhammer miniatures until the WH40K miniatures line could be expanded. Once that happened, the whole matter was quietly dropped. I don’t know. Still, it was against that background that I started combing through the bestiary section of the WH40K rulebook for more monsters to bring across to the Warhammer world and WFRP.

Of all the WH40K creatures I looked at, the Ambull struck me as being best suited to a fantasy world. I converted the stats for WFRP, came up with an idea for an adventure to showcase it, and wrote the brief.


The result can be seen in White Dwarf 108, written by Carl Sargent and titled “Terror in the Darkness”. I haven’t been able to find a scan of the original, but here’s a link to a fan-converted WFRP2 version. When I talked about this adventure at Oldhammer 2014, I wrongly said that I’d written it myself. I had completely forgotten about the Compleat Encounters and the time when WFRP staff writers weren’t allowed to write anything except briefs for freelancers.

Before Bogenhafen: My First WFRP Article

November 15, 2014 11 comments


There was a time, when I first arrived at Games Workshop, when WFRP was still trying to find its own personality. The “Chaos spiky death” GW ethos had not yet been strongly established, even in the miniatures game. “Grimdark,” if we’d coined the word back then, would probably have been the name of an Orc warlord and not an approach to fantasy. Coop over at the Fighting Fantasist blog wrote a great article on this period of WFRP’s history a while ago, and you’ll find comments from me, Phil, and several fans. I tell you what, go and give it a read (or a re-read) right now. It’s worth getting your head around how things were back then. I’ll wait till you get back.

All clear? Good.

It was against this setting that I wrote my first article for WFRP. Orlygg over at the Realm of Chaos 80s blog just posted a copy of it, along with a very nice review and commentary.

At this point, all we really knew was that WFRP was going to be a British competitor for D&D. We knew what we didn’t like about D&D, but WFRP hadn’t really settled on the direction it would take with the Enemy Within campaign. So not surprisingly, On the Road wasn’t a prototype for Shadows Over Bogenhafen, or even for The Oldenhaller Contract.

It also wasn’t the first adventure published for WFRP. That distinction goes to Rick Priestley’s “The Web of Eldaw”, which was published in The Good Games Guide in the winter of 1985.

Good Games Guide Cover

The Good Games Guide was a one-off GW magazine/catalogue which clearly aimed to drum up trade in the run-up to Christmas. These days it’s something of a rarity. And as far as I know, it’s the first published mention anywhere of the game that would become WFRP. It’s certainly the first mention I ever saw. At the time I was struggling with a Ph.D. project (which I would later abandon) and writing a series of gamebooks along with articles for White Dwarf, Warlock, and the about-to-fold Imagine magazine. It would be another six months before GW invited me down to Nottingham for the first meeting that would lead to me working there.

“The Web of Eldaw” was a straightforward dungeon adventure using 2nd edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle. You can find a copy here, but it’s almost unknown today.

Equally obscure is “The Black Knight”, a Pendragon/D&D/WFRP adventure that appeared in WD83. Honestly, I have no memory of this one at all. The author’s name, Bryan Sturdy, looks suspiciously like a pseudonym. If Bryan Sturdy is a real person, though, it’s probable that someone in the Studio (most likely Jim or Phil, but possibly WD editor Mike Brunton) took a submission for Pendragon and D&D and bolted WFRP stats onto it.


On the Road was published in WD85. I wrote it alone, outside of work time. If memory serves, we knew we needed magazine material for WFRP but there was no planned, co-ordinated effort to produce it, and during work hours all our time was spent racing the deadline for getting the rulebook ready for the printers. We had until the end of September, allowing a month for printing and getting the book into stores in November in time for Christmas.

I chose to write a couple of road encounters for three reasons. The first was that they are always a useful way to enliven a journey within a larger adventure. Secondly, I knew they would be fairly quick to write. And finally, I already had the ideas. In fact I’d had them for some time, although up to that point I hadn’t decided on a particular game for them. And this is where you get a slightly embarrassing insight into the workings of my mind back in the 80s.

I was listening to a lot of music back then, especially the prog-rock behemoths like Pink Floyd and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, but also the Dio-era Rainbow who made extensive use of sword-and-sorcery imagery in their songs. One of my first dungeons, back when DM-created dungeons were huge and ever-growing things with an infinite number of levels, was inspired by Pink Floyd songs (I cringe when I think of it now), and I had started to create another inspired by Rainbow and its predecessor Deep Purple Mk II-III. And yes, the Black Knight was a long way from home….

“Emmaretta” was inspired by a Deep Purple single I had picked up along the way. YouTube has copies of Emmaretta, and if you listen to the lyrics I think you can see how the storyline took shape in my mind. You can find printed lyrics here if you’re not fond of either Deep Purple or YouTube.

I honestly can’t remember what inspired “A Friend in Need.” It could very well have been an idea that I didn’t use in my Call of Cthulhu article on ghosts, “Haunters of the Dark,” which appeared the previous year in WD67. I never threw an idea away back then, and had pocket files bulging with scribbled notes and out-takes torn from various typescripts. It’s quite possible that I had started to write some adventure seeds to accompany the ghosts article, decided against it, and saved the ideas in case they came in useful for something else.

As you can see, then, On the Road was based on recycled ideas and written in a hurry to fill a need for magazine fodder, at a time when WFRP still didn’t really know what it was going to be when it grew up and there was no formal plan in place for developing magazine support. Because of that, I guess it says less about WFRP than it does about my thinking and methods at that time. I found inspiration all over the place, I never threw an idea away, and I was already showing a preference for story over hack-and-slash.

Orlygg is not blind to its faults, but he still manages to say some nice things about this throwaway little article. I’ll call that a win.