How to stand out in a crowded marketplace?

Steam search results below. These are searching descriptions or keywords, not titles.

32,301 RPG (oof)
10,059 choice
9,207 visual novel
73,222 indie
9,275 early access
13,291 management
13,404 sim

A lot of overlap, but to be honest those numbers are discouraging. As a gamer and consumer it is great to have a lot of choices, as a developer I need to get real about the competition.

I need to come up with some marketing plan and community around this, because counting on search results is not nearly enough to sell a game.

Getting more specific:

562 alchemy
1,572 dimension
267 dystopia
2,949 surreal
1,831  addiction
4,968  romance

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Mortals at war with half dead gods

Who says religion has to be boring? I’ve been musing about game design and characters but need to remember what an awesome premise I have. However so much of it needs to be kept secret for now but I just wanted to drop in a provocative teaser.

No game I am aware of explores the psychological and social consequences of crime and aggression in as much detail as I am planning.

Gameplay will still be fairly fluid and comprehensible, the complexity will mostly be in the content of the writing and plot choices. Bookkeeping can be done by the computer of course, but the player will not have the tools of an all-knowing birds-eye view. Maps and asking other characters can be unreliable and influenced by their own perceptions and agendas. The player can explore on their own to get closer to the truth, but even then… many denizens have had their minds broken by cataclysm, war, predation… they may lie just for fun, or truthfully report their insane false memories. The character might have some abilities to see through deception and madness, but a lot will be left up to the player’s interpretation.

Magic comes in three main flavors: Elemental affinity and channeling natural forces; spirit manipulation; and breaking reality. Because there are dimensional breaches and overlaps in Nykara, crazy and nonsensical things can happen. However, the intention is to use this sparingly and purposefully, because it is VITAL that the player trusts the game itself is not cheating them, nor am I as an author and designer playing dirty tricks. The player has plenty to worry about from a challenging and harsh world.

Breaking reality magic is the most flexible and “magiclike” however it usually drives users, recipients and observers insane when used for more than a tickle. This works to the advantage of the more powerful entities who have such abilities, and mortals fear to cross them. Too much raw “magic” in a given location in space time and a dimensional breach or reality fracture is inevitable. Legions of disembodied beings are trying to gain entry in Nykara at any given time, being the rich feeding ground that it is. Neither the Nykaran controllers nor the mortal victims welcome such intrusions from extra dimensional predators, parasites, and anomalies. Breaches are one of the only times the Nykarans themselves will take direct action.

What is a Nykaran? What is a Yitzari Ambassador? You will have to play the game to find out.

But… there are less risky, but more grindy ways to play some elements of the game. Having solid businesses in town and contacts could give opportunities for hiring bodyguards, getting reliable information, or proper equipment before traveling. The game should also be playable as a management sim with plenty of dialogue and stuff to do around town. Adventuring and exploring will have an increasing risk / reward element. But if you want to play it safe in town I still want you as a player.

More thoughts about format: Some maps will be handcrafted and pre-determined like for famous locations. (This works for a secondary reason, in the lore, if core location has enough belief in by sentient minds, for its existence pattern to be more solidified and hard to change.)

For the bulk of exploring locations and traveling, I plan to make the map itself semi-randomized and procedural, not just the encounters at those locations. This will mean I can make more content in a somewhat automated way and it will keep the replayability much higher. Then I can add in solid locations and also a slow trickle of content to the libraries of possibilities.

If an area, a set of locations is called for, the system will check the basic biome first. Starting from the city / core location, the system will then check for adjacent terrain to make the map somewhat realistic.

For a large scale territory I could generate elevations first and then that will determine the flow of water. From there that gives areas of likely forest, swamp, and desert depending on how water carrying wind will flow from the ocean and being stopped by mountains.

But the area maps I am thinking of are generally more on the scale of traveling on foot or horseback a few hours at a time before possible events. Or dungeons and towns, etc. I need a simple system to start with that is functional. I can have clusters of similar or matching terrain just matching like neighbor with like neighbor. Rivers would have to continue for multiple locations in a row with a small chance to branch or terminate or become swamp. Tiles next to a river would have high chances of forest, jungle, or grass. A village tile would be likely to spawn other tiles next to it, and enough cluster could spawn a more developed town / city tile. An enclosed area like a dungeon might place special door areas and build a layout of a building or underground area set of linked rooms. Not every door needs it’s own location of course, but main entrances will always involve an encounter related to entry to it makes sense to plan them out as getting their own tile.

Once the basic layout is generated, the kind of tile it is determines the basic percentages for what kinds of encounters will be on that tile. This will be both as a chance at an immediate scene (depending on entering cautiously, rushing, etc. as well as other stats) and as more static options on cards.

For example, a sparse forest might launch a sentient fungus encounter, but also be there as a place with a description, tile inventory, and maybe a few options like chopping wood a certain amount of times. Some static resources will cost extra time to take advantage of, time and yields will depend on tool used as well as a challenge roll. Most resources will have a hard cap on how much you can get. Others will have diminishing returns or external threats to discourage continued grinding in the same spot. There’s a reason why no “solo lumberjacks” live very long in Nykara.

But hey, that dense forest tile that is too dangerous or time-consuming to lonely-chop? I want an expansion feature for hiring crews to work for you, and all the storylines that could generate.

Each encounter should have impact or entertainment value. Each tile should be a chance at a resource now or in the future.

Once the system builds out the location with areas, paths between them, and time / resource costs for each path, we need graphics too. The biome can provide a basic textured dirt to use as the base layer. Then graphic assets representing each kind of area will go on each tile. The player will not see all of this right away, nor the kinds of encounters waiting. The assets will have transparency on the edges so they can just be placed on the base layer in their spot.

At some point, I want maps that were made by people in the game world, that can be bought or found. These need to be generated in a different art style than the representational location tile graphics. They would not be a 1 to 1 match, and will have quirks or errors depending on what kind of person made the map. The player should have the option to draw accurate maps if they have supplies and skill for it, and the system should automate… but that’s an expanded feature.

Since the player is already looking at kind of an overhead terrain view a lot, maps aren’t required for version 1.0 of the gameplay. But they can add a lot both thematically and as a strategic option. Ideally information should be powerful in this game and require the player to actually understand the situation to make a wise choice.

Side note to be thoughtful about the warnings I want to use as a storyteller, and also not to overdo it describing every last thing as dark and creepy. Some hints need to stand out from colorful descriptions of locations and irrelevant objects. If every floorboard creaks like a dying solider and every signpost looms ominously like a bird of prey, they lose their uniqueness, mystery, and horror factor. Uncertainty and deciphering clues is part of the core gameplay which is why it has to be handled carefully. My guideline is that actual danger has to announce itself ahead of time, somehow. This will build suspense and increase player agency if done correctly. Surprise ambush after surprise ambush is just like the purple prose floorboards and signposts. Yet that’s how most games conduct themselves.

I have asked myself for a giant list of assets, features, and writing content. It’s daunting honestly. I don’t want to over-promise as the concept takes better shape. I think next post will be focuse don organized the project. I need to list out features that are necessary, versus nice to have or secondary priorities. I have already pushed back any concept of live combat / running around platforms as way, way off. It’s been done to death 1,000 times already and is very time consuming to make an action RPG properly.

Yet very few are asking the kinds of questions or designing the kind of gameplay experience I am. So that merits focusing on what the project actually is instead of trying to beat the AAA boys and girls at their own game. You don’t get more indie than a solo project.

The downside is the timeline will be longer and my workload will be high. But as the one person in charge of the IP, mechanics, ‘company,’ everything – I can limit the amount of bullshit that goes on. I know anyone reading this has little reason to trust me cold – but I trust me, to be honest direct and reasonable when it comes to the business side of things. And I have high standards for many aspects of my work, an editorial strictness which can actually interfere with the creation side. It won’t be a perfect product whether made by just me or a team. I just know that the kind of slop and lies that a lot of indie or crowdfunding projects are responsible for have hurt a lot of people, and I think I can avoid that.


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Influences on Nykaran Tales and gameplay outline

I’m still refining the elevator pitches to persuade people I have a good product and describe it in familiar terms. Thinking about how to tell someone else about it can sharpen focus and help me decide what formats to use. There’s not a 1:1 match with all my favorites or a complete list but it’s close enough.

Fiction: Wolfe, Brust, Lovecraft, Harrison, Heinlein, King, Aspirin, many others.

Video game themes and style: Fallout series, Elder scrolls series (Skyrim), Gothic Series, Wasteland 2

What this game will most be like for gameplay: Sunless Sea, Oregon Trail, Hand of Fate, management sims.

Gameplay components for version 1.0 before feature expansion:

ENCOUNTERS: Dice, attribute, and skill mechanic based on player choices in a turn based narrative structure. Text descriptions and static art images, to be expanded into simple animations where possible.

NAVIGATION: A detailed map (in-game objects that can be acquired) shows costs in time and resources to enter each area. You can move one space at a time to an adjacent area. You can choose to alter your approach to be hasty, cautious, etc. which can change the resource and time cost. Type of terrain and character abilities to compensate will also change both travel costs and influence encounters there. You may have a choice to investigate (usually costing a unit of time) or mind your own business to just pass through. Passing through will usually skip Encounters there but not always. Cautious Approach (stance when entering) and Passing Through (choice at location) will both give bonuses to escape choices, generally.

DIALOGUE: Similar level of detail to visual novel, eventually. All characters will have names, goals, stats, etc. but will not always reveal that to the player nor even talk to them. As players progress with storyline events and choices they may earn trust enough to speak to them in increasing levels of detail.

FACTION and PREJUDICE SYSTEM: How much characters like and trust your character and allies may be influenced by race / gene-caste, gender, clothing, cleanliness, faction loyalties, and so on. Navigating a world of suspicious and bigoted individuals is a core part of the theme and gameplay. But most characters will perceive a lecture on their shortcomings or wrong opinions as social combat and respond accordingly.

COMBAT: For now all combat whether physical, social, magical, or psychic it will be resolved with the same challenge / encounter dice roll system as a base. Resources can be spent to perform special maneuvers that the character has learned. Usually you can choose anything from your deck you can afford but some cards only work on opportunities granted by opponent actions or environment conditions. There will be handful of meters of different kinds of energy. It might cost one Breath of physical energy for a basic attack but two for a high powered move. Depending on the opponent’s stance (everyone defaults to unready stance) determines resolution along with the die rolls based on attributes and skills. As the game expands, more experienced characters can play more cards per turn.

To be continued…

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Tinkering with attributes

Many aspects of he game design can proceed on their own tracks. But I would like to have the mechanics worked out before the programming. I want to have something that works as well on the table as in the video game presentation of it.

Last post I ended up with:












Size (Roughly equal to 1 per foot of height)

Derived Health = size + endurance x2 + strength + lifeforce

I want to keep everything however it is possible that Lifeforce, and Willpower could be combined as well as Reason + Awareness. Lifeforce was going to help with things like animal connections, healing, and so on, but it should maybe be more in the elemental affinity side. Channeling elements can boost standard actions if appropriate or do basically magic. If each possibly redundant attribute had a robust set of different actions then a case could be made that they stay. But since I have the elemental affinity system and skills as well I can get more granular with slightly different kinds of abilities. Looking back at the list I also had Aim in some versions of the rules, which would basically be the same as ranged skill. I can capture the differences as raw ability + training + specialization + etc. but since everything is ultimately being reduced to numbers we’re mostly just worried about a character’s chances for success and not existential questions about talent vs. training.

Since the combat basics need to be expressed as stats distinct from the attributes, it is more of an argument to condense in other places.

Is someone being strong (able to lift and move heavy weights) the same as swinging a broadsword accurately? No. Does it help? You bet. So I can justify a Melee ability separate from the strength attribute. And I think I will include specializations for preferred weapons, although instead of more dice or bonuses it might take the form of re-rolls or other options.

Endurance could be rolled in with strength / size, if you are swole you are probably durable.

The focus of the game is story, choice, consequences, and realistic detail. So it is okay for this game to be more complex than others I might make. But like I talked about in the last post, complexity and innovation for their own sake do not translate to fun experiences for most people, even smart gamers, artists, and readers who are my target audience. But anyone mature enough for the content is welcome to play, and accessibility can go hand in hand with elegant design. The idea is to do more with less, but not be reductionist or just provide copycat material. Innovations and refinements take time and care. but endless pondering and going back and forth is not a healthy design flow.

Many games only have 5 or 6 “attributes” but then endless other statistics and details that really add up to more. So I am not super worried if these attributes cross over into categories or aren’t precise about the difference between natural ability, background, and training. Any statistic is a measure of ability, nature or nuture is not relevant. Some will pair up all the time, others not so much. That’s okay. History of weightlifting might be a Reason + Strength subject for challenges, or it might work as an add in bonus for using a lever. Otherwise, Strength will more likely combine with something like Agility for challenges such as climbing.

Attribute Dice: 2 = D4 , 3 = D6, 4 = D8, etc. After 6 / D12 it becomes extra bonuses, so a 7 is D12 + 1.

A little more math is a little more clunky but it’s a tradeoff for a representational, granular system aiming towards simulation and realism. Adding just two attribute dice together produces two inconsistent a range. We want unpredictability for story purposes, and to represent risk, but not clownish levels of chaos which make the stats meaningless compared to luck. The narrative boxes that explain results of actions (more complex than pass / fail usually) might mention odd or random factors that come into play and help explain the result, but the mechanics will always work fairly and the same way behind the scenes.

To that end, I do want to add in the primary attribute for a challenge roll. It weakens the need for a diverse set of skills but rewards a focus on a strong attribute. For a classless (but able to represent class) system that is important for the difference to be felt. I have had a primary / secondary system worked out before and just going to go with it.

An example of how this would play out is Charm is used whenever the conversation is weaponized into social combat and you are trying to get a result from another character. NPCs should also be able to use this on PCs with effects from time to time unless they can defend themselves properly. You should be able to feel it, the kind of different abilities and choices that will help a character survive out on the streets vs. The Great Library. Some of that will be handled when building out areas and encounters, but for Charm as an example:

Persuade: Charm primary, Reason secondary.

Roll would be score in charm added to an attribute die roll for Charm and Reason. Let’s Say Charm 4, Reason 3, would be 4 + (D8 + D6). Averages out to a 12. Range 6-18 without a fumble or critical system added. I think that works beautifully and is compatible with many other difficulty check systems around the same range, but the bell curve or probability is where I want it. It makes sense, so it stays.

Modifiers for clever dialogue choices, use of leverage, specific skills or specialties, can add in. The roll will be what is modified, the difficulty number will be static based on the challenge itself. Technically a debuff would lower a resistance number in most systems, but that could still be expressed as a bonus to hit that target.

More examples, with a new notation for Primary / (Secondary):

Intimidate: Charm / (Strength)

Entertain: Charm / (Craft)

Manipulate: Charm / (Stealth)

By contrast, it would be Stealth / (Charm) to avoid notice in a crowded room.

Might be tough for a GM to figure out on the fly, but there doesn’t always have to be a perfect answer. And for the video game version in progress I can show a lot of examples that make sense to me how best to capture the storytelling moment mechanically.

So I will probably end up with a lot of attributes and stats because they make up almost the entire system by themselves. Magic, crafting, combat, and perhaps other areas will have expanded rules and options that still use these as a base mechanic. Action cards can draw upon different stats as needed. The more different stats I can bring in, the more variety I can bring to combat and magic maneuvers at a base level.

Revised list, if I need to check speed I can do it by using a relevant attribute:

1. Strength (includes running speed, labor speed)

2. Agility (includes most other physical speed

3. Charm (includes social speed)

4. Craft (includes tinkering and lockpicking speed)

5. Stealth (speed when sneaking)

6. Awareness (includes Reason, Wit, Perception, Intelligence)

Size (affects pace / stride but could slow down other movements)

Physical Health = Size + Strength

Certain matters of willpower, wisdom, and intelligence / decision making are really for the player to determine, as decisions whether acting in character. But Willpower was also going to be used in psychic combat like when trying to bind spirits so I might still want to use it.

Cutting down gives me freedom to add more direct combat and magic attributes. Having a realistic, comprehensive classless system that is flexible without being cumbersome is the goal.

That’s all for now, thanks.

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More concepts for Nykaran Tales and the Adventure RPG system

There’s really a lot of material I have developed over the years tinkering with different systems and world-building ideas. I’m continuing a daily project log to sharpen my focus.

I like a little more grit, complexity, and crunch to a rules system but not to the point of being cumbersome. At one point in system design I had 12 primary attributes + plenty of derived stats. That doesn’t include skills or elemental affinity or anything else. It’s always been a big question, the tradeoff between being comprehensive and simplified. An accessible and fun game needs to lean in the streamlined direction at least as far as the interface goes, and presenting the right information in a digestible way so the player is clear about what’s going on.

I have tried very hard to be original at times and make revolutionary concepts happen. Then I realized creativity for its own sake does not translate automatically to the best player experience. Just like a bizarre avant garde novel would be hard to understand and not fun to read for the average person. Just because it’s unique or new or different, it doesn’t make it better. I found out that another video game used the title Godfall and so that messed me up since that was part of the original novel title I was writing. Then I found out another tabletop system uses a similar core dice rolling mechanic to what I was working on. These things throw me for a loop but sometimes creativity just runs in parallel. I have to put aside fears of being called a copycat or hack because all commercial art is derivative, it has to be, otherwise there would be no sales. A completely new thing is a hobby, not a product. If I buy a novel I have a certain expectation of characters, plot, and dialogue happening. A customer purchasing an RPG game from me will have expectations that will fall within a predictable range, notwithstanding. At the end of the day it will still be a new system, one I made, and using standard conventions is not a crime.

It’s easier for me to brainstorm and ramble than come to decision points sometimes, or trim away what seems awesome. but even with a computer to keep track, 12 attributes is maybe a bit much. The tradeoff with my system is it’s designed to use the same kinds of mechanics and stats for everything without resorting to a huge tome of special rules and exceptions. Violent combat, magic, and social combat would have more elaborate options for those that learned them, I figured the more complex moves could be unlocked after the player had a chance to master the basics.

Every attribute I choose has to show up as a relevant attribute in a decent percentage of options. Skills need to show up now and then. This will force me to code more options but I also don’t want to overwhelm the player or myself with too many choices to worry about on screen all at once. There is workaround here of a sub-menu for more specific type of action, like you pick social and then it asks what kind of social. But I should have little icons for one click choices too for people are familiar and don’t need to see the details / roll preview.

One tradeoff is that the system relies on a fair and reasonable GM to handle any situation that might come up by assigning relevant attributes and skills when in question. I wanted to have enough to choose from to cover every contingency, But too many possible combinations makes the GM’s job harder with more cognitive load. It makes programming meaningful choices more difficult than it has to be. I makes game balance potentially out of whack if there is more chance of a useless attribute or ‘dump stat.’ I still want the granular level of detail to cover nuances of ability but there may be ways to do that with special ability cards or other special bonuses.

Some people really like tinkering with character upgrade ability trees and trying to game the system. I think a fair and balanced system should have safeguards against Munchkin number crunchers while still allowing freedom to make a strong character. One built-in protection is that the higher the skill or attribute goes, the more it costs. Basically going from a 4 to a 5 would cost 5 development points. Skills will probably use the same pool of points and the same rates to keep things simple. But you have to find a trainer for skills to start out with and every two levels. Tabletop can be less lenient with bookkeeping but you also have to use the attribute / skill in question at least as many times as the rank you are going to. And no jumping up 2 levels at once, you can increase multiple things at camp but only by one level each. These kinds of rules should make character progression more natural and realistic than a lot of games. Development points are basically earned from experience points, XP, and also be used to unlock special maneuvers and quasi-magical abilities. Development points might become progressively more expensive as well to slow down rollercoaster min / max characters. I do not believe in artificially adjusting either the abilities or tangible rewards of anything in the game based on what character is nearby. Their power level might influence what shows up and what kind of levels of encounter they deal with, but their will not be any yo-yoing hit point bars or anything. It’s simpler to program as well that creatures just have the stats they do. Of course there will be some variations, stronger and weaker versions often of different sizes.

As for stats, I have made many lists, but I’m going to go off memory to just write the most vital ones.












Size (Roughly equal to 1 per foot of height)

Derived Health = size + endurance x2 + strength + lifeforce

That’s 12 if you count size, which is a stat not an attribute. I will have some other derived stats as well. Anyways, that’s one working model, more depth than some RPGs at the cost of complexity. The depth of writing, choices, world, etc. is a separate topic from the depth covered by an attribute system. but having 10 / 12 attributes also ties into something else about the world that’s hidden for now. So I may just keep what I have here and go with it.

Two relevant attributes per action makes sense still. However I’m thinking each attribute should have a default action associated with it that also adds the amount in that attribute as a bonus, in addition to being one of the attribute dice. There should be some consistency for simple actions.

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Player strategy options for challenges / Monetization

I will mix in some miniatures content at some point, but for now this is my Nykaran Tales project log.

In addition to bonuses from equipment and consumables, players will have inner resources to use up in the process of executing actions. Some actions are free, some have a cost in endurance or other health bar type resource. Actions can be enhanced from these pools, I think I will make bonuses before the roll cheaper than bonuses after. Then maybe re-rolls from consumables since this is a single player experience for now, I’m not worried about optional re-rolls slowing down turns.

I have decided that for reactive / hidden rolls that the system makes, the player will not have options to influence or change the rolls. This preserves that some of these rolls need to be made discretely, and also makes the flow of actions easier to manage. There’s a difference mechanically between a passive Awareness check and an active search that takes an action. Also this reinforces the theme that you will have more choices and abilities when acting as opposed to being acted upon. If you want to build up defenses like a dodge, it will be baked into your previous action choices. (such as a stance with bonuses against attacks that can be dodged.) Magic the Gathering has a whole complicated stack of resolving layered actions in sequence. It works for that game but not here. That would be a gigantic pain to program without bugs, for one. It’s not the best flow for tabletop RPG groups.

If you want to burn endurance on a special dodge action or anything else, you have to decide that when it’s your turn that it’s worth the resources and opportunity cost for that action card slot. It’s a locked in choice and a risk with a cost which is what this game is all about. Some information is revealed and some is hidden deliberately in a combat or any encounter situation. You will be trying to predict the opponent’s moves while being unpredictable yourself, to get bonuses in a slightly more complex rock-paper-scissors type system of resolution. Closer to rock-paper-scissor-lizard-spock with five options. These aren’t auto-wins or even auto-hits but could determine significant bonuses. Stats, gear, consumables, magic bonuses will always factor in as well as this mechanic for combat. The computer tracking makes it even easier to keep track of the extra bonuses but the base system should be adaptable to tabletop play when it’s done.

Right now the idea is to have an active stance that determines (amongst other things) your baseline defenses, and therefore target numbers for various kinds of attacks. The stances will potentially give bonuses and penalties to a whole range of actions and defenses and special moves. I feel like in a tabletop game “someone shoots an arrow at you, what do you do?” is too much checking in, takes up too much time. Ultimately the character either dodges, blocks, or gets missed, it does not need to rely on a complex back and forth Q&A to get to that point. One roll can resolve it all, and the chance to be strategic comes on your turn, not the opponents.

Right now I’m thinking for an uninjured, basic starting character, they get one stance and two active actions. Or, the stance could simply occupy an action slot and becomes a strategic choice. With that second option, the stances need to be worth it to give up an action.

This game is going to try to replicate an old fashioned tabletop experience in some ways. I am not planning on using a line up of characters staring at each other waiting to swing, like Final Fantasy, nor a battle grid or hex placement tactics. There are plenty of those tactics game and JRPGs that master that experience but that’s not what I am trying to replicate. Likewise I am not trying to give the exact experience of Skyrim or Assassin’s Creed games as much as I personally enjoy that combat and exploration. This will be a more narrative story and choice driven experience but still more of a playable video game than a pure visual novel.

There’s also the running a business and caravan system, because running one dramatic encounter after another would burn through the novelty and impact way too quickly. I simply won’t have enough content with all the options intact to make the game nothing but encounters. That would be a more flat experience as well and the idea is to give players options as well. I suppose someone that wanted as little to do with any storekeeper / merchant / base building mechanics would go through the encounter cards and locations at a quicker rate, which is their right to do. So I need to make all systems as fun as possible and not force them upon players at rates they don’t want.

There is something to be said for mobile games called “time-wasters” where you slowly build up resource producing bases. Sim City clones, Farmville, even Pawn Stars can be enjoyable and have been hugely successful. Since there are a million action RPG clones out there replicating blasting lightning and swinging swords, I’m actually not trying to start out competing with those head on. Those are elements for version 2.0 or something. I’m starting with all the missing pieces from “Role-Playing Games” like actually playing a role. I’m trying to fill in the more human side and bring in elements of literature, poetry, and conceptual art into the experience in subtle ways.

The game Rimworld can be played as a base builder, but is called a story generator by its creator Tynan Sylvester. He presumably also wanted to add a human element and touch of realism to the genre of resource gathering and base building. Normally both player characters (PCs) and NPCs are all men and women of iron, like in a lot of blockbuster tent pole movies, either reacting stoicly flat or cracking jokes. Once in a while they will code in civilians running and crying or something. But there’s rarely any depth explored on say, how the trauma of crash landing on a planet then being attacked by savages would affect people.

I’m trying to go even further into the storytelling and imagine a whole economy based on trauma, and the cultures that exist around it. But I’m not just going for the shock value straight away on everything as dark and tragic as the world contains. I’ve decided to leave a lot as secrets that only stubborn investigation will reveal the truth of. That way people less interested in horror or social commentary can still enjoy the game for other features, and stick to safer, less creepy areas for their business.

This game is designed to launch on consoles, phones, and PC. It’s part of the reason I am keeping the programming and graphics to a manageable level for now, and using an engine that can export to all formats.

Multi-player is a 2.0 or 3.0 or 4.0 kind of feature, however I would like to integrate some sort of message system or player economy. For full transparency there will be a cash item shop for those that want it, but it will never be required to continue playing the game. This will help keep the base cost of the game low, I am looking at a price point eventually near $30, but with a steep discount for low content early access. A moderate price also gives me the flexibility to do sales and discounts. I do reserve the right to paywall premium or expansion content. Rather than releasing DLC levels, upgrade packs, cosmetics, etc. as separate products on all the various digital storefronts, it seems to make much more sense to keep all that in one place. I’m not looking to get outrageous prices for a re-colored jacket or something, but there will be a tongue-in-cheek “whales only” section of cosmetics and upgrades. I’ve been struggling financially for a long time to be honest and not going to turn down support from those who can afford it. Whether crowdfunding, Patreon, or cash shop, I could use the dough. However I would not want to put anyone in a bad spot financially because they overspent. Hopefully setting up more payment options is worth the trouble and I need some safeguards around it. Like a “no refunds” policy sounds callous but protects my time to live my life or make content rather than arguing with customers and doing a bunch of transactions. But if someone’s kid gets a hold of the credit card and blows the grocery bill on a “whales only” virtual comedy hat I need to be a human being about it. This game is designed to be accessible within reason and keeping core elements affordable is important to me. I think it’s only fair that for every item released in the cash shop I add an equal amount or more content available for the base game.

If all goes well, I can just make this my primary career to keep adding content and updating the game. With enough success and financial resources I can look into recruiting talent to keep the content coming faster and branch off into areas I have less experience in. Based on player feedback and reviews I can steer the ship where most of the fans want it to go. If that means expanding into a Skyrim clone that still works with the other mechanics and characters of the game that can be explored as a spinoff or added features. I wonder if it is feasible to have two games share variables so that coins, items, reputation, events, etc. can swap between them. If they both reported in through a blockchain it could be done, but that’s beyond my level of ability to set up. From a design standpoint it’s asking for trouble. Live combat could end up as a free expansion, paid content, or I’m just brainstorming now, but also considering directions to leave the game open to expanded mechanics and options to grow in the future.

Multi-player could also take the form of players writing custom actions or coming up with encounters. Technically any suggestion as to game content, posted here or emailed to me, etc., without prior agreement, become my property to use or not use as I see fit in my commercial work. I would still believe in giving credit in some Hall of Fame website or other place to acknowledge the contributions. I’m trying to think longterm here and just forestall possible problems since I really would like to dedicate the rest of my career to making this happen. I have other big goals like the recreational therapy camp, but they require revenue that day jobs just aren’t bringing in. To help people and myself and anyone counting on me I have to monetize the shit out of this thing but only where it makes sense to do so. This isn’t designed to be a grift but a living work of art. If this gets big, or whales come through in a big way I can even look at dropping the base price or doing more sales and giveaways. But I have played a lot of ‘freemium’ games and know what can be really unfair and grifty about them. I pledge to always remember the fellow broke ass gamers and penny pinchers like myself. At the same time, not gonna turn down sweet, sweet, whale money from those with cash to burn, in exchange for my lifetime effort of preparing and delivering this product to a high standard. There’s a balance to be found. Really the content comes first, and then the money can follow it when it’s deserved.

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Outline of RPG in development: Nykaran Tales

It felt good to vent and clear the air about why my blog went missing for a decade. Losing momentum and enthusiasm can in many cases be the same as the end of a project. I’m in a place in my life where by circumstance as much as anything I have to rely on my own inner motivation to keep going or start anything new. I’ve learned for better or worse that self-reliance is up to you as a person, but other people’s actions are not up to you.

While I will still get personal and talk about real-life problems, advice, etc. I did promise hobby /gaming content and will deliver. I’m trying to combine many of the ideas I have had over the years into a project I can make money with, and have decided on a video game with the Unreal 5 engine. As a solo project I plan to finish a small area to a high level of detail with functional gameplay, rather than try to build out every character and stray thought I have ever had at once. With a proof of concept I can then add content to the stable platform slowly and tweak values /debug as I go, rather than try to make the next Skyrim all at once. I may or may not include a real time combat feature, it would be nice but those are a dime-a-dozen now and I am trying to make something a little more special and hard to find– an actual role-playing choice based experience.

I also like building sims with economies and want to include those elements, then expand into a caravan system with risks and costs. So far this is shaping up to be Hand of Fate meets Oregon Trail. That’s not a bad thing. I thought about doing this as more of a visual novel to “save time” but really I need core gameplay loops to be repeatable and not just a straight through experience. Multiple endings? There will be multiple resolutions all the time, but I don’t want this game to hard-stop “end” or “game over” until the player chooses to set it down. There should always be something to do even if it starts getting repetitive. More details and choices can be added later to every encounter. So while action reflex based combat would be nice to have it’s not the core focus. I don’t have the time to 3D model everything with a hundred options, and am reluctant to spam other people’s assets.

When the proof of concept is fun, playable, and beautiful, I can go to Kickstarter or GoFundMe, or a studio, perhaps with your help. I plan to set up a Patreon as a way to start funding this project (and others) as well as another way to get feedback and commentary on my work. On fact, this is your chance to influence what you want from an RPG right now with your comments.

The basic gameplay will involve a good amount of reading descriptions and dialogue, however it will be designed to be skippable while still giving context for a choice. The details may matter very much though as some of the risks and rewards will be hinted at rather than explicit. This is not a game about killing everything you come across or doing endless favors for NPCs. I want to bring back SUSPENSE and CONSEQUENCES for choices in game. To that end, you will see what you are choosing to do and the dice mechanics that will be used, but you will not as a player see the difficulties as a number, nor the potential results. There are heavy bonuses and penalties for how well a type of approach matches a challenge. Rolling raw strength to lift an object might give a higher number chance for a swole character, but rolling engineering to use a lever would give a significant hidden bonus. However, then the material used as a lever would be tested (behind the scenes) to see if it was damaged or broken, which would affect both the inventory object used and the resolution of the challenge. By getting granular into realistic results it will take time to make each new encounter, but give the depth I am looking for. Some choices won’t even involve rolls but will still have massive consequences on player relationships or events in town.

I have come to a few decision points, should I use exactly a system I was developing for tabletop or just focus on what is good for this game? For a video game using higher numbers, lots of modifiers, etc. is not a problem but for real life tabletop it can become a hassle. I have various ways to set up the die rolls that are all based on a combination of TWO relevant attributes, as well as skill level. Some ways involve no addition at all, but a more realistic system would give more consistent results than standard RPG tropes. Right now I am going with what works best for this game as far as the actual math and results work out, and then I can have an alternate version for tabletop. But that is not ideal, and I will continue to tinker around with versions of the system. The more you want to flatten the curve of probability into predictable results, the more common ways are to introduce higher numbers or more addition. I’m going to go back to the drawing board and then just decide on the dice formula once and for all so I can just start making encounters with it built in.

A clever choice should usually have a decent result even without great stats. However this isn’t going to be an easy game or always present you with a winning outcome. Although the look and feel is fantasy based for the most part, it’s built upon a foundation of cosmic horror, survival, and cyberpunk. There’s a lot more to say on the setting but today’s post is just focusing on outlining the concept and “thinking out loud” about the mechanics of it. I can’t fence-sit any longer on this because I have been thinking about this world and these dice mechanics for about 20 years now.

The basic formula I have works just fine for both tabletop and this game actually:

Attribute die + Attribute die + Skill level

But some people don’t want to add, and it just takes longer. So I came up with another system, best single result on a roll instead of adding. Skill level would act as a substitute minimum roll and / or determine how many dice you could roll, (or re-roll, or add, depending on version).

The thing is rolls on the tabletop don’t have to happen all the time so a little basic addition should be okay. The exception is combat and certain versions of magic systems so I was trying to work out elegant fast solutions there, that still allow for flexibility and are realistic and fair compared to character abilities. Realism is not considered important for all fiction, but here it is. I need a solid grounding both emotionally for the characters and practically for the results of their choices and actions. The world itself is grossly unfair, monstrous, bizarre and twisted under a veneer. So the results of fate and physics and common sense don’t need to also be stacked against the player. The characters attempting to survive and better themselves in this world have it hard enough already without rigged math and implausible plot twists. But from another angle, it’s terrifying. Facing an equally skilled warrior means an equal chance of being defeated. That’s why the player is called upon to be clever and used up scare resources in a risk / reward calculation.

So if the world is cruel the game system must be fair. The player should have some trust that they won’t get screwed over by the programming. But they are almost guaranteed to be swindled, betrayed, or manipulated by the CHARACTERS of the game world.

Is this all a tall order to program in and allow for lots of choices? Yes. But as it’s part of the core of the gameplay loop it’s a priority. Rather than just writing this all out as a visual novel of grand scope with predetermined endings, I want each scenario to have some impact. I can find ways to add filler or padding for those that want longer playthroughs without fully developed content to explore. My time will be better spent making that content and also coming up with procedural (randomized) ways to make each encounter a little different. It should just be basic scripting (using Unreal 5 engine blueprints) but it will take some time figuring out how to assemble semi-randomized elements into coherent encounters.

Part of the concept of this game is introducing elements of realism in unexpected ways that go against video game tropes. For example, in most games there is no consequence for buying out all the healing herbs in a shop. Here, you might eventually hear from an upset townie in need of that item, or see a price spike, or perhaps hear a rumor about a source of the herbs… for a price of course. I love the concept but there is no doubt it will take time to actually give this much level of detail and realism. But since I don’t have to do it all at once nor make an entire world at once, it’s feasible.

Imagine a world with NO filler NPCs or grunts to dispose of, everyone has a name and a past and a family. And they are all armed, desperate, and your health doesn’t magically regenerate.

You want to see how good of a fighter they are? Make the choice to size them up and analyze their equipment and stance… it’s a Hidden roll. Here’s your (accuracy based on roll) estimate of their abilities. Did they see you looking too closely? Another hidden roll. How do they react? Hidden roll. Generally predictable consequences, but with chances of crazy results.

Hopefully this sounds like someone’s dream system and now I just have to build it all out piece by piece.

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I’m back! …no more twisted friendships…

This is still a hobby and project blog, however… I’m a pretty upfront and direct person sometimes. I have a lot going on.

I started another blog to cover political propaganda and the world going mad, and it still has zero views. There’s little interest perhaps. Instead I am trying to follow a more practical path and actively use my talents to deliver content that people have proven they want to see. I’m going to use my authentic voice and not make everything nice and clean necessarily. There will be plenty of art and miniatures to post, but also some deeper and more controversial content. I’ve been trying to figure out how to combine all my creative endeavors into one project and have decided on a choice driven RPG video game. The setting is fantastical and a slow labor of love for decades, bnut also a venue to tell stories about the people alive now and the times we are in. I think that merits more than the usual flimsy and polite comments about what’s being made. This will be made more clear once I post about the game.

While covering a lot of topics now as notes on what happened and what is to come, most future posts will be sticking to more of a focus and will be tagged for easy access.

But there’s a little house cleaning and then some old related drama to address.

So what happened? This blog has been dormant for a decade. And yet it has over 100.000 lifetime views. Way more attention than any other platform I have been on. I’m coming back to share wargaming and modeling projects, but also as a home for content and notes about my upcoming game Nykaran Tales.

Drama? Yes. But not amusing fireworks, instead a slow ugly burn. Someone raised to be loving and forgiving can be a slow learner. When you love someone as a friend and they are the most fun person to be around you have ever met, it’s tempting to overlook certain things. I overlooked a lot, and from a lot of people too. That doesn’t happen any more, but at what cost?

I lost friends from needing help, from making mistakes while incapacitated, and from drawing firm boundaries. Some didn’t like me at my weakest, and some didn’t like me getting stronger and standing up to them. I lost dozens of friends in another situation to badmouthing and coordinated shunning. I am not innocent in all those situations but expecting basic respect is something I will always insist on. And while I miss people dearly they aren’t always who I thought they were or wanted them to be.

How it relates to this blog: Long story shorter, a former friend invited me to transfer this blog over to his site, which he promised would give me way more traffic. After considerable hassle I was able to do so and began posting there. Over time my content was hidden away and then eventually deleted. No explanation was ever given after initial excuses and that damaged my trust with this person even further. I then realized that one of my best friends who had lied, stolen from, and abused me from time to time over the years had always showed this pattern of mixing kindness with cruelty. I find it heartbreaking to lose close friends that I loved like brothers and now they are gone, by my choice or theirs. But not everyone wanted me to hold them to any standards.

Maybe this is a poor intro for pitching any products or sharing what I have been up to. But like I said at the top, I’m not one to just play pretend when we’re not actually playing a game. Nowadays in my life I look at things directly and call them what they are– not always out loud, courtesy still matters– but I have made a firm resolution not to live in delusion as I see so many other people doing. If me getting real is off putting to some, so be it. I’m not an edgelord out to offend on purpose nor totally careless, on the contrary: I seek to engage with the world as I find it to be and report back as accurately as I can, exactly because I care. It’s easy to lie, reality takes work.

I am going to be great at being me and lousy at imitating others.

You know, if some of these jokers had ever once given me or anyone else real apology, I might be a little more willing and ready to let things go. But no remorse = no honor, and I cannot associate with such a person. No remorse means there’s nothing stopping them from hurting you again except whatever consequences you might come up with. I live with a borderline neurotic and pathological sense of guilt that visits from time to time. I should send him over to the narcissists for a little chat.

Posts going forward will generally have a more fun and positive note. But you the audience should know that I am intense as an author and artist and human. The only way forward is through and I’m going to lean into it instead of hiding who I am, what I think, and what I can do. Everyone is free to agree or disagree as they see fit, but any comments here must be baseline respectful for all the reasons I have outlined above.

Bear with me and it will be worth it. I have an alternative to the shallow retreads and copy-pastes of today’s fiction.

Oh yeah… I also have one of the best and biggest terrain and converted miniatures collection, worldwide, ready to be photographed. But the lads are camera shy and demanding touchups. We’ll see….

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Chaosgerbil’s TSHFT report, and “Counts As” philosophy rant

What follows are battle reports so thrilling, so action-packed, you will be on the edge of your seat. Only one molecule will separate you from your seat!

Later on, the “Counts As” method gets a slightly bitchy and hopefully humorous analysis / defense.

TSHFT is a Warhammer 40k event held several times a year in Seattle. It rewards a combination of competition and hobby quite elegantly. 2000 pts., play to win good times.

Good reasoning prevails! is the new official home of TSHFT. The Seattle Heart of Fire Tournament has a real web presence once again. On Zen‘s Bloghammer you can find the final standings and the T.O.’s notes here and here.

Pictures should follow shortly.

Extra official note: The Blood of Kittens version of my blog is the one I will be using from now on. I’m bringing this blog back to life on BOK turf so I can get some comments flowing. I updated the BOK version with my posts from the last year, sorry for the long delay.

Day 1

(Originally Posted on September 3, 2011 by ChaosGerbil)

I’m back from day one of TSHFT. Overall it was a really fun day.  It was great to see so many TSHFT vets and new faces alike. I was fortunate enough to meet Purgatus of internetz fame, who was super nice in person, and brought his kick ass 13th company Space Wolves Loganwing. I gotta say, the models are much more impressive in person. Very spiky and well painted, without being overdone like many other 13th company modeling projects. Purg and I were almost matched up round 2 due to great first round scores, but it was not to be.

My insomnia and sleep schedule damaged my tactical abilities and attention span, but the event was still a blast.


I brought my entire terrain collection, which managed to be TOO MUCH for the entire tournament. Now all I need is a venue and I could host my own event…. We had extra tables and players could choose to use a spare table. It was nice to have so much elbow room since we got the nice looking hanger location this time around.

I tried to talk Zen into reasonable, AbusePuppy approved, balanced terrain, with mixed types on each table and a decent amount of LOS blockers, around 25%-30% of the table. The balanced layout was the case with some tables, but Zen is his own man and master of his own destiny, and some terrain layouts were a bit startling… Very mono in some cases. However, I was proud to see my collection in action once again.

My List:

2000 Pts – The Elect of Tzeentch, Chosen of Magnus “Space Wolves”

This is a counts as army, representing the last Thousand Sons warband unaffected by
the Rubric of Ahriman. Their vessel was in the warp at the time of the ritual and they escaped, only to mutate further. A magical pact with Pink Horrors and Discs of Tzeencth allows their most mutated warriors to be controlled by Daemons and fight on.

1 Rune Priest in Power Armour @ 110 pts (Chooser of the Slain; Jaws of the World Wolf; Murderous Hurricane) I used a pug model for chooser, just like my dog Panda.

1 Rune Priest in Power Armour @ 100 pts (Living Lightning; Murderous Hurricane)

Wolf Guard Pack @ 236 pts

Armour; Wolf Guard in Terminator Armour)
3 Wolf Guard in Power Armour (Combi-Meltagun x1; Power Fist x1) Joins Grey hunters
3 Wolf Guard in Power Armour (Bolt Pistol; Bolter x1) Joins Long Fangs
1 Wolf Guard in Terminator Armour (Combi-Meltagun; Chain Fist) Joins Bloodclaws

15 Blood Claws Pack @ 225 pts (Flamer; Meltagun)

8 Grey Hunters Pack @ 190 pts (Wolf Standard; Meltagun; Power Weapon; Rhino)
1 Rhino (Dozer Blade)

8 Grey Hunters Pack @ 190 pts (Wolf Standard; Meltagun; Power Weapon; Rhino)
1 Rhino (Dozer Blade)

8 Grey Hunters Pack @ 190 pts (Wolf Standard; Meltagun; Power Weapon; Rhino)
1 Rhino (Dozer Blade)

8 Fenrisian Wolf Pack @ 64 pts

1 Land Speeder Squadron @ 70 pts (Multi-melta x1; Heavy Flamer x1)

1 Thunderwolf Cavalry @ 175 pts
1 Thunderwolf Cavalry (Power Fist)
2 regular Thunderwolf Cavalry

5 Long Fangs Pack @ 140 pts (Missile Launcher x5)
1 Squad Leader (Bolt Pistol; Close Combat Weapon)

5 Long Fangs Pack @ 155 pts (Lascannon x1; Missile Launcher x4)
1 Squad Leader (Bolt Pistol; Close Combat Weapon)

5 Long Fangs Pack @ 155 pts (Lascannon x1; Missile Launcher x4)
1 Squad Leader (Bolt Pistol; Close Combat Weapon)

Game One vs. Torg’s Retinue of the Frozen Queen

The mission was to catch 4 objectives in table quarters that scattered D6 each round. A unit could pin itself to stop the objective from jumping. I can see some people hating this mission but I liked it.

Truly a fun game. Torg’s army was mostly wraithguard, wraithlords, and harlequins, led by Eldrad and that big-hair Banshee Queen. Eldrad managed to kill one Runepriest and wound the second thanks to my stubborn casting attempts.  I managed to capture the left side of the board while fighting a losing battle on the right. My Long fangs were the perfect antidote to the T6, 3+ bodies of the expensive Wraithguard. Torg quite skillfully kept them in cover and / or out of LOS, and made liberal use of Eldar witchery to protect them. Those fuckers sent my Havocs (Long fangs) back to the warp with D Cannon mojo.

On the last turn I desperately tank shocked to contest the last objective ju before we ran out of time. The troupe leader’s fusion pistol failed to stop the rhino. Or did it? Once again, to my horror forgotten rules changed the outcome of a game. My opponent was very gracious and generous after the fact and did not wish to change the score, but his characteristic error turned a draw into a loss for him. I feel uncomfortable about it but the show must go on. A mistake last TSHFT also swayed results significantly, I will just have to learn to spot things better. Playing when not sleep deprived would help too. If I would have remembered to roll for my runic weapons’ anti-psychic power during the first three or so turns than that could have swayed the outcome considerably, in my favor. The fuckup did send Torg to face theoretically weaker opponents which was one reason he was chill.

The secondary BPs was to have more fast attack. This was an easy 6 points for me, as I started the game with 3 fast attack choices to Torg’s zero. I stuck them all over in my left to be safe and mop up the incoming war walkers. I have to admit that one contributing reason I have 3 FA choices is just for this particular secondary mission. This is a problem, since vets have an edge on newcomers when they know these kinds of details in advance.  In my opinion the TSHFT scenario system should either be published for all to see and study, or kept so mixed up as to keep everyone guessing.

Game Two vs. Gerry Sunada’s Blood Angels

My 20 points propelled me a little too high… I ended up against the formidable Gerry Sunada, a best general title holder. His list was brutal and efficient, (6 multi-melta bikes for example). His army was professionally painted to a very high standard, and the crisp clean style was an awesome contrast to the chaotic, colorful, and dirty style I used on my Thousand Sons. I see nothing wrong with people using pro painting services, it enhances the experience. Our game was a very tight ship of no rules errors and reasonable cooperation. I was impressed with the smoothness of the game, I could tell I was playing an old pro.

There was a ridiculous amount of terrain on the board, all big TSHFT hills and felt forests.

There were three objectives symmetrically spaced along a 24″ no man’s land, basically my favorite mission. Every turn, one of the  three “spires” would radiate a 12″ no psychic power zone. Ok, this part fucked me over but I had to take it in stride.

Gerry won the roll and graciously let me go first (sarcasm). Zen’s point was made about how effective an all reserve force can be combined with second player privileges.

I deployed my Long Fangs too far apart. This helped me to secure one corner of the board through threat, but ultimately the farthest squad killed nothing. I was too tempted by the double size hill!
I claimed the center and left, and harassed the right flank. Gerry reserved all, but could reroll reserve rolls, so it turned out quite reliable for him. He hung back taking potshots at me with lots of TL Lascannon fire and multimelta / heavy bolter bikes, Which took a toll but left my troops mostly unscathed. His random rolling seemed poor for shooting but deadly for assaults and armor saves, but this was reinforced by the basic nature of the blood angels dex.

I’m not sure what all of Gerry’s plans were but I could tell my army’s claim on territory had him challenged, even temporarily stumped. Flooding the board with efficient MEQs will challenge most lists, they won’t fall over in a stiff breeze like guardsmen or most low model count armies will.

My T-CAV chaos spawn disc riders played cat and mouse with Gerry’s hero led assault marines, as he tried to bait me with a bike unit. The give and take of unit movements and attacks reminded me of a chess match or the baiting and pouncing one sees in a great game of League of Legends.Ultimately I gambled and lost. Once turn 4 crept around I had two objectives with swarms of troops, and by 5 I was contesting a third with an empty rhino and the lurking TCAV spawn. The game was drawing to a close and Gerry could hold back no longer. He advanced his 11 man buffed up jump-pack assault squad (led by Astoroth the Grim) to challenge the center. The bait attack bikes were nearby over clear ground. The spawn surged forward from hiding to charge the very threatening assault squad, but the shortest distance to nearest model was through woods. I rolled snake eyes for move distance. Whee, the 1″ doubled to 2″ through the magic of cavalry, not nearly enough. And, as if in a slapstick film, the no longer stunned vindicator comes around the corner and cleans them out. I should have charged the bikes at that point.

I had underestimated the speed and hitting power of his army. Furious charge was thrown around quite liberally on vampiric marines, to demolish my center grey hunters and sacrificial fenrisian wolves. The melee dragged on and I threw my blood claws into the fray, hoping to outlast Gerry and live to at least contest the center. After the debacle with the TCAV spawn, the rhino was easy prey for the razorback assault squads, although it stood up to a surprising number of shots and punching before exploding. Gerry contested all three objectives at once, claiming the one on my right.

Feel no pain made me feel pain. Furious charge kicked my ass up and down the block. When all was said and done I had one model remaining, my lone terminator (wolf guard) with chainfist. Awesome. The same “wolf guard” killed Astorath single-handedly. He clung to life for Tzeentch, and I got a draw! Saved by that single 2+!  15 blood claws may not be efficient but they are annoying and fun. My possessed models needed a chance to be in some games.

DAY 2 (Sept. 4 2011)

I managed to claim Best Appearance, an award that I have been striving for. I deployed my over-large, heavy-ass display board which helped clinch the win. My other version of Tzeentch “Space Wolves” technically won Best Appearance one year ago, but it wasn’t real. I was actually the runner-up in votes to the excellent CSM Steampunk “counts as” force of a player from Oregon. He also got best overall in class, but the T.O. Zen wisely doesn’t give out more than one prize package to a person. I love that TSHFT rewards hobby and competitive play together, and spreads out the wealth with lots of prize categories.

This time around it was a clean win and I’m happy to finally accomplish my goal. It was a smaller field of competition this time around unfortunately with only 22 dudes. I’ll keep trying to win Best Appearance with as many different armies as I can and see larger turnouts eventually.

I placed 4th, the best I have done in a tournament. My record was 2-1-1.  Considering the mistake in Game 1 and my absence Game 4 this seems a bit high. It’s still great and an improvement over my 7th place finish with Orks last time. To celebrate, I had a few drinks, and painting more of the Changeling model for Tasty Taste.

Purgatus was apparently attacked IRL by Nurgle, but still managed to win 2nd place with his Loganwing. I found a green pen next to his list, abandoned after the event. Perhaps it was left as some sort of offering to ease his cold.

I’m trying to be an idiot savant without the idiot part. Let me know how I’m doing in the comments section. Lol.


Game 3 Versus Chaos Space Marines (Day 1 of TSHFT)

Also on the menu in this section, a (hopefully thoughtful) “Counts As” exploratory rant…

By game 3 I was exhausted and feeling sleep deprived. This game started out fun and jovial, but turned sour. At this point I was befuddled thanks to my sleep deprivation, the rigors of terrain transport, and the mental challenge of the two previous games. I was facing off against a proud wielder of the Chaos Codex.

My opponent took it personally that I had a “counts as” space wolves force that was actually chaos,  and that I strongly disliked the current chaos marine codex. It seems I was mentally labeled as Sir Douchington for my choice of army book, and disrespect to Gav and Alessio’s magnum opus. No offense was intended, really. I happen to like the choices and creativity the Space Wolf book offers, and it works well for my theme and modeling projects. The book has fun units and some room to experiment, with way more viable choices.

Yes, the Space Wolf book is strong. That’s a major reason I brought one of its lists to an event where the idea is to win games. I built my army to place well at TSHFT, which it did. I have played and learned, and come back a better player with a better list. My opponent ended up winning a ton of games, so the concept of taking a strong list should not be unfamiliar. Codex SW is a much more forgiving book than Codex CSM. It doesn’t punish you as harshly for dicking around. You still need redundancy and efficient units as a core, true for any competitive army. I brought a grab-bag Space Wolf list to TSHFT a year ago which seemed solid, but I got my ass kicked. Like everyone that plays 40k I would prefer to win. I spent part of a year making the coolest possessed havocs I could, and used them at a bargain points level As Long Fangs. So sue me. This lets me buy a silly fenrisian wolves that mostly just look cool, and dick around, and still win some games.

I will model what I want, pour my heart and soul into it, but when I put on the ass kicking pants I will try to kick ass.

“Counts as” book swapping is important to the hobby because it expands the horizon for inclusion of concepts and thematic units into the game. Nyhil’s Dark Eldar Skaven is a great example of why “counts as” should be encouraged. Why get on the back of the ambitious hobbyist that lets freedom to choose inspire their projects? If I could I would be taking cultist squads, mutants, daemons, etc.  My true love is the Lost and the Damned army concept, and so  LATD “Grey Knights” are a strong possibility for a future TSHFT. Incidentally I am have been fiddling with the assembly of some Dark Eldar wyches, which could easily be recruited as Death Cult Assassins. This event, I only noticed 2 out of 22 Grey Knight players. Stalwart Steffan the Grey Knight patriot brought his re-blackened o.g. color scheme Ordo Malleus. Tenacious Todd brought a new “counts as” Admech army featuring 3 scratchbuilt Knight titans and tons of cool cybernetic conversions. (Gawd, if only GW would release some plastic cyborg sprues… I know, keep dreaming.)

This raises a curious point. No one found fault with the cool “counts as” Grey Knights Admech army, who are loyalist. In my case I fielded a traitor force of Thousand Sons, using a loyalist book. Apparently this is an outrage to some generals. Do I have to run my army book choice before the inquisition to see if my models are loyal? I just don’t get it. Grey Knights are currently flavor of the month, like every strong new codex has been picked up. The obvious time, money, and skill Todd put into converting and adapting his army shows dedication, not some kind of loathsome WAAC behavior. Our projects are not slapdash proxy experiments that change every two months. Even if they were, innocent models and army lists don’t deserve attack.

Back to the game…

My opponent’s army was designed around the now classic lash of submission / obliterator plasma cannon combo. (3 units of 2 each) This was backed up with 3 man small autocannon combi-melta He also had a warptime Prince. I have used both warptime and lash princes, and I gotta say taking one of each is really smart. They combo well together since the warptime prince can cleanup squad remnants really well.

Objective: Kill points. I’m not a fan of the mission, and also my army’s scoring unit durability means nothing. The mission deployment was short table edges with a 24″ no man’s land, which upset my opponent. I  felt guilty about taking advantage of the mission, and deployed my long fangs in cover away from the board edge, about 8 or 10 inches in. This was a huge mistake. I was already letting emotions dictate my decisions, not a good idea. Also, trying to get cover from 6 plasma cannons is meaningless when faced with a Lash Prince that kites the army consistently striking from 23″ away and in inconvenient LOS spots. Experience using an army trumps inexperience facing that army.

I normally only reserve my FA choices, but for some reason I reserved everything but the Long Fangs. This was really dumb as the poor Havocs had no protection, and the rival chaos marines just stayed away from my reserves long board edge.

My opponent was skilled with his list and capitalized on all of my mistakes. Unchecked from turn 2 onwards his army kills at least one unit a turn, even kitted out 9 or 10 man MEQ squads. I was unprepared for Lash, it is the first time I have ever faced it in a game. I should have known better since I have studied about the lash / plasma combo. I even brought a dual lash list to a 4th edition event long ago. Losing prized units quickly is a harsh but quick teacher. We were neck and neck for most of the game as we raced for KPs and to eliminate big threats.

Eventually we both got crabby and my actual morale was damaged. Basically I failed my IRL leadership check. Combined with my tiredness, this led to me playing poorly and eventually losing. Fatigue equals sloppy judgment. I was forgetting things like which wolf standards and combi-meltas had gone off, which I am sure was annoying. The blood claws sat around uselessly protecting a Sorceror “Rune Priest” that only managed to stun the same rhino three times. I lost the will to play. I don’t think it is appropriate to detail all my frustrations with my opponent so that’s enough. Drama is amusing to watch from afar but quite unpleasant to be involved with. One should watch their tone and practice decency. I don’t always succeed in being a gentleman but I gotta keep trying for it.

Game 4 versus myself

Despite my extreme fatigue, I didn’t sleep properly. My residual nerdrage and a noisy but forbidden slumber party downstairs killed my chances of restful sleep. I slept through my alarm, and Game 4. Fuck. To my surprise, Zen generously gives out 10 points out of 20 for an absentee game, 1 point less than a draw but with no chance of secondary or tertiary points. You also lose out on 2 points from wow factor.  This is more than fair, and it kept me in the standings for best overall. I was expecting 0 points.

I really slept in so that Judge Awesome (otherwise known as Bentley) could sneak in a game as ringer. By the way Bentley, if you can hear this through the inter-tubes, I apologize for wasting your time being corrected twice in a row (or is it three?) on the same multiple assaults question. Keep at it, your rulings are quick, clear, and accurate.

Game 5 versus Dan Root’s Orks

Killpoints, secondary was to get your heavy support into enemy deploym,ent zone (yeah, like that’s going to happen for my mutant “Long Fangs”… oh well.

The terrain was heavy with LOS blocking buildings, but I was able to pick a corner (spearhead setup) for one of my Long Fangs squads to perch in. Combined with two squads on the ground each covering each major approach to my corner, this let me hit where I needed every turn. The rhinos and grey hunters formed a nice screen and deployed to shoot and receive assaults when needed. The rhinos absorbed a fair amount of shots and only lost storm bolters over the course of the game.

Dan had a great list, although I felt it suffered without Loota fire support. Then again, last TSHFT my Lootas ran off the board at ther first sign of trouble more than once.  Dan’s concept was centered around power klaws, fielding 9 killa kans which is a solid choice. He had tons of Meganobz and I was very impressed by his latest plasticard work. Like a dumbass I dropped a tape measure on a Kan, it slid off a box I was lifting. We glued him back together with my Gorilla Glue so he could die like a champ in battle. Sorry again Dan.

There was some great give and take, but ultimately my list and the terrain let me outscore Dan 8 to 6 KP. My shooting was much more effective and my squads can handle certain ork assaults quite well. The Rune Priests performed better than in the rest of my 3 games combined. The Blood Claws proved to be an awesome blocking/tarpit unit especially with the scenario giving them Stubborn. Their charge was lame since only half got into combat, and also I put way too many on a fast moving buggy squad. However, they did their job fighting meganobs and taking out two killa kans, while blocking off a major chokepoint between buildings. They died to a man but their role is to die, something I unfortunately ignored in Game 3. My Long Fangs took advantage and went to work, and the Kans were slowed by their own immobilized->wrecked casualties from the missile fire. I was able to split fire quite often to maximize damage potential. Once the army began to breakup formation from movement and the plentiful obstacles, the main battlewagon / KFF trukk combo protected less units and I hit hard at the fringes.

My giant Tzeentch Screamer “Land Speeder” scared the bejeezus out of Dan’s 3 small grot units, but he had time to disprese their formation. Instead the Screamer killed a trukk turn 4 and then harassed the last surviving Killa Kan. The now armless Kan then tried to kick the Screamer out of the air but fell over in defeat, as turn 5 ended the game. The remaining looming meganobs would never get that charge off. His Warboss had one wound left at end of game, and was locked in combat with some “Grey Hunters,” after the boss executed the living lightning “Rune Priest” and a couple of dudes. Great game, great opponent, and I love Dan’s conversion work.

Possible List fix:

This version isn’t going to look as flashy as the extra gribbly display army I actually brought to TSHFT, but it will probably win more games. It’s very spam, therefore a likely target of hatred and disgust. I would have to make up more “grey hunters” but I have some conversions already started for them involving horrors and possessed bits.

2000 Pts – Space Wolves Roster

1 Rune Priest in Power Armour @ 110 pts (Chooser of the Slain; Living Lightning; Murderous Hurricane)

1 Wolf Guard Pack @ 278 pts (Wolf Guard in Power Armour; Wolf Guard in Power Armour)
5 Wolf Guard in Power Armour (Combi-Meltagun x1; Power Fist x1)
3 Wolf Guard in Power Armour (Bolt Pistol; Storm Bolter x1)

8 Grey Hunters Pack @ 170 pts (Wolf Standard; Meltagun; Rhino)
1 Rhino

8 Grey Hunters Pack @ 170 pts (Wolf Standard; Meltagun; Rhino)
1 Rhino

8 Grey Hunters Pack @ 170 pts (Wolf Standard; Meltagun; Rhino)
1 Rhino

8 Grey Hunters Pack @ 170 pts (Wolf Standard; Meltagun; Rhino)
1 Rhino

8 Grey Hunters Pack @ 170 pts (Wolf Standard; Meltagun; Rhino)
1 Rhino

1 Land Speeder Squadron @ 70 pts (Multi-melta x1; Heavy Flamer x1)

5 Long Fangs Pack @ 150 pts (Missile Launcher x4; Plasma Cannon x1)
1 Squad Leader (Bolt Pistol; Close Combat Weapon)
5 Long Fangs Pack @ 155 pts (Lascannon x1; Missile Launcher x4)
1 Squad Leader (Bolt Pistol; Close Combat Weapon)
5 Long Fangs Pack @ 155 pts (Lascannon x1; Missile Launcher x4)
1 Squad Leader (Bolt Pistol; Close Combat Weapon)

1 Dreadnought @ 105 pts

1 Dreadnought @ 125 pts (Twin-Linked Autocannon; Twin-Linked Autocannon)

Which list do you guys think is better? Any other brainwaves? The comment box wants your mind thoughts!

That about wraps it up! Thanks for reading! In closing, I dare you to run the following “counts as” list using your favorite hero models from your collection. As a warning, you’ll probably lose to a real player, so this idea is just for fun.

2000 Pts – Space Wolves Roster

1 Logan Grimnar, The Great Wolf @ 275 pts

1 Njal Stormcaller, Lord of Tempests @ 270 pts (Runic Terminator Armour)

1 Ulrik the Slayer @ 180 pts

1 Wolf Lord Ragnar Blackmane @ 240 pts

1 Wolf Guard Pack @ 430 pts (Wolf Guard in Power Armour)
10 Wolf Guard in Power Armour (Combi-Meltagun x1; Power Fist x1)

1 Wolf Guard Pack @ 160 pts (Wolf Guard in Power Armour; Wolf Guard in Terminator Armour)
4 Wolf Guard in Power Armour (Bolt Pistol; Close Combat Weapon)
1 Wolf Guard in Terminator Armour (Power Fist; Chain Fist; Cyclone Missile Launcher)

1 Land Raider Crusader @ 275 pts (Extra Armor; Multi-melta)

1 Lone Wolf in Terminator Armour @ 85 pts (Storm Shield; Chain Fist)

1 Lone Wolf in Terminator Armour @ 85 pts (Storm Shield; Chain Fist)

LOL, run everything you can fit in the Land Raider… see if you can make a sillier deathstar unit. In reality, mixing in combi-flamers, power swords, wolf claws, and storm sheilds makes a bunch more sense than pure powerfist shenanigans.

Cheers and GG

– ChaosGerbil

Posted in "The Elect" Thousand Sons, Battle Reports, Space Wolves, TSHFT, Warhammer 40K | 8 Comments

Stay on target… stay on target…. PORKINS NOOOOO!!!!

Hi world, unfortunately I have no new pics ready for ya just yet. I want you guys to know that I have been steadily plugging away at my armies and terrain, and that more deliciousness is on its way. I am really happy with my modeling and painting, and not so pleased about my half-ass camera and so-so photography skills. As usual I bounce around ADD style between a dozen different projects during any given week.

I have been putting together tons more terrain for TSHFT.  It will stay my property of course, but as my own eyes noticed and AbusePuppy pointed out, there is just not enough to go around for 3 to 4 dozen players. The event has grown somewhat but the official tournament terrain collection has not. I am doing my best to fill in the gap without sacrificing quality. I am seriously planning to bring almost twice as many pieces as I brought last event. I have been taking pics of some of the WIP stages to put together a tutorial on my methods.  I have been finishing pieces started a few days ago, a year ago, or in the case of some sewer sections about FIFTEEN years ago. My collection is a mix of ork buildings, imperial ruins, jungles, craters, various area terrain, and scatter pieces. I am hoping to fill about 15 tables to 25% but it is hard to estimate at this point.

Part of this terrain project has been to upgrade and  finish my huge display board, 32″ x 38″. It was not started as a display board but I realized that that’s the best use for it. It has a river, a pumping station, a barbed wire/barricade wall, and lots of random rocks and vegetation. Pics to come.

As far as models go, my main focus has officially been my mutated Thousand Sons but I have dabbled in Orks and traitor guard quite a bit. I now have about twenty mutated Elect of Tzeentch “long fangs” ready for battle. My battlewagons and grots needed some love, and got some, and I am getting really close to an acceptable paint level on my massive stompa conversion. I painted up my FW mini squiggoth to a better level and just need to add some crew… following that I’ll finish my dewback squiggoth conversion at some point.

I have about 100 random 40k models ready for paint but since most are converted I want pictures first, especially for the LATD codex update.

Anyways, I am still alive, still procrastinating on pictures, and still planning to officially move to my BOK lair. I am closing in on 50,000 hits here on the original site and it is hard for my ego to give that up. What I really want though, is comments…. 🙂 I think BOK can help me get that.

Most of these pics are years old but the post felt naked with just words!

Cheers and stay tuned.

Posted in Orks, TSHFT, Warhammer 40K | Leave a comment