Saturday, 4 August 2012

Browsing, Wanting, Owning

MegaDungeon Level 1 Modular Trench System E-Z Exp 10 Rapscallion
Retro Space Set Four Space Hero Squad

Xiarn Dynasty
I desperately need to babble at you about a collection of low priced products.  Not surprisingly my beady clockwork eyes -click-clack-whirrr- have been caught again by the mainly papercrafting side of role-playing (plus a T&T solo).

Little Books of Dungeons : MegaDungeon Level 1 (Kristian Richards / CSP) is a product which covers all bases.  I adore the greyscale style of CSP's maps.  In this pack the DM is treated to printable PDFs and jpg sections of a truly massive area.  Note sheets and maps with numbered labels are provided for the DM's own notes.  I haven't used any Virtual TableTop programs myself but I've experimented with using map jpgs on an iPad with figures (allbeit a tiny area) - so I now truly appreciate the power of zoomable jpgs.   It's hard to see what Kristian has left out of 'Level 1.  All a DM would have to do is "populate" the dungeon - or perhaps just play using random tables.  Usuable for any fantasy roleplaying game and adaptable to a variety of technologies (beyond just printing the PDFs) the $5 price tag is a very reasonable price.  This is a truly wonderful product.  Congratulations again to Crooked Staff Publishing.

Talking about cut-out figures ... The work of David Kiladecus Wears becomes yet more and more impressive as he solidifies his status as a professional figure artist.  Era of War: Xiarn Dynasty brings us original models of quality - which, although intended for his Era of War tabletop battle game,  would adapt well as NPCs and unique monsters in RPG settings.  Don't be put off by the instructions to trim such detailed work so closely - the figures work just as well with square or oval trimming.

Squid aliens, bubble helmeted spacesuits, shoulder fins, goggles, rayguns -  I would readily use Retro Space Set Four Hero Squad with Tales of a Space Princess and Cosmic Patrol, or any retro- Flash Gordon sci-fi space opera you can mention - ideal for characters.  This a layers based product which, again, like other Okumarts sets, maxes out out on colour choice, plus a bonus level with some weird robots and aliens.  At $2.50 - this is stupidly cheap and David Okum clearly plans to die penniless.

I briefly mentioned the, then forthcoming, Lord Zsezse's Works Modular Trench System in a post about his square tiles  because I like to compare square tiles to irregular shaped systems (it's an odd hobby, I know).  The solution here is the use of a terrain background poster over which are arranged the abundantly detailed trench segments.  Suitable for contemporary and post-apocalyptic play.  The versatility of these tiles means that they have a high reusuability value - and are ideal for wargamers and RPGers alike, which makes the current price of $5.50 good value - especially when compared to preprint floor plan products.

I haven't seen inside the unimaginatively entitled  E-Z DUNGEONS: Expansion Set 10 and if did I not already have my own rudimentary 3D card furniture I would snap this up pretty quick - definitely ideal for taverns and feast halls.  What I like about "props" sets is that whether or not you use battlemaps, floor plans,  paper walls or moulded dungeon scenery, the paper chairs, barrels and tables always complement your fantasy minis, and at a low cost.  Most of the pieces look box-shaped so I'm assuming that even the most clumsy of modellers would be able to cope with this set.  At $5 it's definitely one of there cheaper and more portable packs.  Sometimes I hate to praise Fat Dragon, because they make paper scenery look effortless. *Jealous*

Rapscallion is a solitaire adventure by veteran T&T writer Sid Orpin, designed specifically for Rogues (self-taught magic-using warriors)  using the 7/7.5 Tunnels & Trolls rules.  It has 142 sections which appear to cater for a wide selection of spells (no mean feat in solo-texts) - nice black and white art - amazing value at $2 for the PDF.

Okay, that out of the way.  I have some cool news - well, at least from a personal perspective.  Apparently I've been super supportive of my partner and as a result she's been treated me to a whole load of goodies.  Every man has a price and mine are RPG hardbacks.  So it really has been Christmas in July!

Firstly, to accompany my Pathfinder Core rulebook (which I've come to years later than everyone else because I was insisting to myself that my D&D3.5 rules were doing an "okay" job) - she's bought me a copy of the Pathfinder Bestiary, and I must say that the artwork and background layouts are absolutely gorgeous.   Since many of my RPG rulebooks end up being shelf-eye-candy (as opposed to becoming battered on an actual gaming table) I am happy very with this.  Also, I was desperate to know what I've been missing with regards to comparisons between Pathfinder and D&D3.5.  Rules-wise, not a great deal, but aesthetically speaking the Pathfinder products clearly have their own style and identity.
...[Deleted: dull digression about D&D Edition Wars and PF being some sort of counter-culture...]...
 I love the Bestiary - it looks mighty fine!

Whilst we're talking about good looking hardbacks, I now feel much more confident in my assertion that the AD&D Reprints are a luscious and worthy purchase even if you already own the original rulebooks.  For me the shiny bright white pages and darkest fresh new black ink make the rules easier to read.  The gold edging and metallic print on the padded embossed covers makes these books truly special.  (Check out The Other Side for comparative photos, also see my post regarding how to get them in the UK). It was nice to receive them as a gift from my partner, because this completely absolved me from the dilemma of buying something that I already own -she bought them at Leisure Games by the way.  So maybe do a deal with a gaming friend where you buy copies for each other.   My only confusion is that of "errata" - were the texts corrected or is it time for me to download errata texts? (see the Acaeum Library).  Rereading these rules in the new format is a divine pleasure.

AD&D Reprints?
with the gold edging ...?  and the special ribbon...?  and the shiny pages ...?
and the embossed metallic effect covers?

RPG book porn aside...


I watched Troll Hunter recently.  Darkly humorous - you'll either love it or you'll hate it.  Much of it's quirkiness may to come from the fact that it's a Norwegian film - but I am way out of my depth when it comes to citing contributions to world cinema by Norway. I bought it on budget in my local Tesco -  which gives you an idea of how sophisticated my film tastes are before I mention this next DVD - which was also a gift from my partner...

*Mexican whistle*

 Hawk the Slayer!

In terms of British cinema history, this film is a bit of a conundrum.  It's made by Hammer, those horror masters of cheap gore (years before Troma films were big on VHS) - but there's no blood on the sword blades - in fact it verges on being a family film.  There's also an assortment of comedy actors, including Bernard Breslaw and Roy Kinnear.  The hero and his nemesis are stalwart American actors, John Terry ("Hawk") and Jack Palance ("Voltan").  Even as a young chap, I could see that this was cynical casting where hero had to be American.  Even then it wasn't hard to see the costume likenesses of Hawk to Han Solo and Voltan to Darth Vader.  What had escaped me at the time was that the film's watchability stems from the fact that it's modelled on Westerns, with musical motives, fast draw duels and twitching eye shots.  It's the cliches being played straight which makes this film so special.  My parents were very aware age-related classifications on rented films and at the cinema (and my own thought-police morals perpetuated this) so when my friends were talking about Conan the Destroyer, Excalibur and Sword and the Sorcerer my main reference was this film, because it was a PG.  I think I may have seen it in a morning matinee at the cinema, but my memories are usually of watching tapes recorded from the TV.  The settings appealed to me, because the forests are English-looking and the main church looks like the sort of universal basilica church found in early medieval Europe - the kind which pre-date churches with steeples.  Hawk the Slayer ties closely to Basic/Expert D&D in my mind, where the some of more interesting low level encounters are often human (bandits, beserkers, pirates and so on).   The second half of the film essentially a stand-off by a D&D-ish party (human warrior, "giant", elf, dwarf, a magic-user, plus a wounded protagonist with a repeat-firing crossbow*) in a church surrounded by forest besieged by 0-level bandits.  If you think about it, most of the creatures - humanoid or not- in films at the time were fairly rubberised - so the lack of goblins or orcs or even muscley barbarians is perhaps to Hawk the Slayer's credit.  Just don't mention the scene with the glowing silly-string.  This film is a treasure.  Had it not been a gift it would have eventually have been a definite "guilty" purchase. ;)

*I was never very happy about the repeat crossbow with a loadable magazine - it just wasn't "low-tech" enough for me at the time.

I gave in, and bought Legend of Grimrock from Steam.  I regret nothing! 
(I also really hate giant squealing poisonous spiders, and trapdoors...)

A random book-"want" hereby follows:

I'm looking forward to browsing for this book in the shops,

"For Young Men and Literate Women..."

Dr Grodbort's TRIUMPH

Thrashingly good nonsense!  Tastes like Victory!  Not for the weak.  Steampunk for colonial fascists, better than all that foreign muck.

Happy gaming.
And if you're not actually gaming, don't do too much shopping. ;)

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