JP On Gaming

Monday, December 27, 2010

More Thoughts on Fantasy Warfare

I recently red a post by the GM Oracle ( In his post, he comments how mass combat is unrealistic a fantasy setting. His point is "proven" by an example of a single wizard with a wand of fireball. In many ways, he is right. A single fireball (or 50 in a wand) will decimate a unit of simple commoner.

In a med-fan setting, adventurers rarely tend to stick around one place for very long. After a battle or two, they drift off seeking treasure and - as their name implies - adventure.

Instead of thinking in terms of a human army (with clerics and wizards), first, let's think of an orc horde. The vast majority of its numbers is composed of disorganized individually dangerous creatures.

Why do I disagree?

1- Communications

Communication is key to any battle plan. When running small-scale action, it is easy to use magical means to coordinate. However, when the numbers grow, such cohesion and means of communications become confusing at best. Imagine 10, 20 or more people each talking, or relaying information at the same time.

Communication is not just knowing how engaged troops fare, but also where the reserve are, when and where to commit them, knowing about the enemy's movements. If a general cannot see where his troops are, it is impossible to provide support when and where needed.

Good examples of this includes Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz where he maneuvered his army while his Russian opponent was hampered by the fog, and assumed Napoleon would not risk battle because of it.

2- Limited Magical Means

It is false or simplistic to assume that only one side has access to magical means. Both sides would be likely to have destructive, scrying and dispelling magics. The rules in D&D and Pathfinder make such means of roughly equal level. Requiring a minimum of 5th level for the most common large-scale destructive magics (fireball), thus making it uncommon.

Next, people with limited, valuable resources (such as spell casting) rarely seek to expend those frivolously (like PCs do). Wasting fireballs on a mob of commoners is not something I would generally wish to do.

3- Target Priority

Same as modern artillery firing blindly at an enemy is not ideal. WWI showed us, massive barrage achieve only limited success unless backed up with an infantry assault (read about the creeping barrage tactics and the fall offensive of 1918).

YES, as a wizard, I can just throw my fireballs at whatever moves, leaving me with much less to fight against real tougher opponent (remember that wizard on the other side I mentioned earlier?).

4- Modern Military Tactics

GM Oracle's post mentions that fantasy warfare would be very similar to modern warfare. Good quality modern armies (such as the US) have one thing in common: they are a volunteer, professional military force. This means they are highly-trained, well-equipped and well-disciplined. Very similar to adventurers.

When gathering his military forces, a fantasy lord would call upon a few groups of well-trained warriors (such adventurers, knight-retainers and religious orders), but most of his forces would consist of local militia and commoner with little to no training, equipment and discipline.Thus the "mob" or "big block" formation makes the most sense.

Those elite groups would use tactics that would be more in line with modern warfare, yes, absolutely. But the poor little farm boy who leaves his farm to serve his lord with his club or pitchfork...

5- Intelligence

Knowing the enemy and his resources is crucial, even in fantasy warfare. The presence of high level spell casters in a city is something that is known. The presence of someone who can drop a mountain from the sky rarely goes unnoticed. People talk. Casters scry. Spies listen and observe.

Anyone quickly notices adventurers coming to town and selling for 1,000s of gp's worth of gear and loot. Merchants and people talk. They do so without malice, its just common sense. Since those merchants would have an influx of magic items for sale, they would spread tales designed to attract customers.

This forces an attacking commander to do something about those very dangerous individuals: assassins, distractions, bribery or even plain old magic. Nothing prevents an attacker from using many of those methods. PCs and high-level adventurers form wild cards that must be dealt with.

It also assumes that those around the PCs and other important NPCs haven't fallen prey to the means mentioned above. While it is often true that a PC could take command of the army, morale is likely to drop cohesion may not be the same. Why take out the impossible god-like adventurer when you can take down his few aides.

PCs can rarely be everywhere at once and an attacker would try to take advantage of that. Feints, counter-feints and all kinds of stratagems would still be used. Opponents would know that. Add to that illusion magic that would enhance those stratagems.

6- Castles and fortifications

Castles and fortifications protect little from a flying wizard/dragon, it does protect one from bandit and more "conventional" attackers. Adding machicolations and other defenses would help. At least delay such an attacker.

Elements that would change would include more elaborate underground structures to protect from airborne attackers and those underground structures would need additional defenses to keep enemies away. Do I hear "dungeon"?

Castles also make a great statement to the local populace that you are here to stay and defend against invaders (as they did in England after the Normand Conquest).

Plus... if we're very honest... They are really cool to think, design and research...

What we agree on

I think the biggest point we both agree on is that fantasy warfare cannot be modeled exclusively on medieval warfare, even though it takes a lot from it. Camps and bases would be more spread-out to avoid decimation by fireballs.

Personally, I see med-fan battlefields as blocks of lowly troops in the centers with elite forces and splinter "modern" groups fighting on the wings, seeking to gain an advantage. The result is a hybrid of both methods. Thus the basic elements of medieval warfare such as supplies, communications, logistics, organizations and the stratagems are all there, but use of magic makes such stratagems more complex, and in the end interesting.

In the end, I guess that it is simplistic to merely assume that common medieval tactics should be discarded simply because of the presence of magic. As usual, the answer is more complex.


Friday, December 17, 2010

NeoExodus Adventure First Draft

For the past few posts, I have been telling you about my involvement on a writing project for LPJ Design. Well, finally, my first draft is complete! I worked like a mad man to complete the “manuscript” and now it is done. From here on, it’s editing, cleaning up, strengthening, tightening and making better.

For those who plan on writing and publishing material, the most important and hardest part is completing this first draft. After that you can change, tweak and re-arrange to your heart’s content. Unfortunately too many would-be authors get so focused on minutiae and pre-editing work that they never finish anything. Sit, write and get that first draft completed. Moving text around is easier than coming up with it in the first place.

Now you ask: what have I been working on? An adventure, of course! I hope that it will be the first of many adventures that will be part of the NeoExodus line.

Sneak peeks and details you ask? The current working title is “Origin of Man”. But that may change - it has already changed once since I started working on it last month. It targets a solid group of 4 or 5th level characters using the Pathfinder RPG.

When I started talking with Louis about NeoExodus, I was telling him that NeoExodus is an awesome line. Great, flavorful races; a unique history; many, many great groups and secret societies, the thing it lacks is adventures that showcased them. It’s one thing to come up with a creature. I find that creatures presented to me in the course of an encounter then the reason for the creature’s existence provide meaning. It’s no long just a series of stats and a monster. It’s something for my PC to defeat. A way to be a hero!

As I was writing the adventure, I pointed out to Louis a number of points that concerned me as a writer. Thing I understood as a concept, but that I did not really know how to present to the GM/ players. I guess that’s one of the big differences between a setting writer (Louis) and an adventure writer (me) that we approach certain ideas and concepts differently.

If you didn’t know, Louis and his team are working hard to update the setting from 3.5 to Pathfinder. He posted his release schedule on his blog. A lot of things in there and an exciting time really. I hope he enjoys what I do and gives me more work. I think he already assigned more things for me to do… I just need to know what!

That’s it for me!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Major Updates and News

This blog entry is a major update about what I have been doing these past weeks. So much is going on that my head is spinning. I’ll not give the detail of my job, where I have a lot to do (also). Let me focus on Gaming.

The Holidays
Let me start by wishing all of you a Merry Xmas and my best seasons wishes!

For my Holidays, I plan on spending time with my daughters and hopefully get them involved in a game or two. Don’t tell my wife, but I would sure love to have two beautiful gamer girls tagging along with me. I am lucky enough to have 2 weeks off this year (again). Good times. I’ll need to play a game of 40k at least… Plus I will be running two game days during that time (see later). Should be a lot of fun!

This coming Sunday (the 19th) will be our Not-Quite-Living Arcanis game day. I plan to run a VERY old (read: 3.0) adventure for the party. The adventure, Blood Reign of Nishanpur was written prior to the start of the Living Arcanis campaign. It’s a great story but one that is antiquated for our party (as we have already played a lot of later adventures in Nishanpur).

I am not sure what is happening with the new Arcanis campaign. As far as public events goes, it’s dead – at least here in Denver. I’m not in the know about what is happening so it is very possible that private games are still happening, but from the outside looking in… Doesn’t seem much is happening. What I find most sad is that I doubt I will get the chance to play any at Genghis Con Denver in February as I expect to be extremely busy with Pathfinder Society (More on Genghis Later).

I don’t want to say anything bad as the game itself is still in flux. That’s why I never posted my review of the game system, because it’s not final and reviewing a play-test document… It might be unfair, so I’ll wait for the final product before really saying anything. In short there is one element that drives me ABSOLUTELY nuts about it. But the storyline… well, it’s from PCI, so it’s top-notch!

Pathfinder Society Day: Dec 27th
I have been working with the folks at Enchanted Grounds in Highlands Ranch (Shout-out to Dave & Jeff) to organize two events during the holidays. The first is a Pathfinder Society Day on the 27th (still a few seats left). During the day, we will be running the new Pathfinder Module The Godsmouth Heresy and parts 1 and 2 of the Echoes of the Everwar and during the evening, Dave runs his usual stuff. So potentially 3 slots in one day! Good times to be had by all!

I am taking the "floating" position in this in that I do not assign myself to any table until the day of the event itself. That way I can jump in and help wherever I am needed. That is the position I like to have as it gives me a lot of freedom and I don’t have to worry about incomplete tables or a missing DM. Plus being the holidays and December in Colorado, the weather can come into play.

Still I expect that day to be full of excitement. Good ol’fashion holiday gaming!

Non Organized Play Day: Dec 29th
Back when I started looking at my Xmas Holidays, a thought came to me. There are many games I like to play, such as Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu, GDW’s Space 1889, and more recently Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. After my recent Doctor Who gorge-o-thon (all the 9th through 11th Doctors in one weekend plus a few week nights), I felt inspired. Very much so. It was awesome. Actually ever since, I have been trying to get my son to play the Dalek and walk around going EX TER MI NATE!. But he doesn’t get it. Not yet.

So back to the topic at hand, I thought that it would be fun to have a day where we would play something that would NOT be Organized Play. Where I could pull out my CoC and my Doctor Who and even play something else also. It would be very cool to see something of the sorts. So I offered to coordinate a non-OP day. I am still working on what I want to run. I think I’ll put together a Doctor Who: AiTaS adventure and maybe dust off an old CoC module. Just for good measure.

Hummm… Call of Cthulhu…

Micro con
Shannon is taking over the running of Microcon again this year (thank you Shannon). Good thing, since I don’t think I would’ve had the time to really commit to it. So on Jan 29th, there will be more of the madness that is Microcon. For those who don’t know, Microcon offers 2h adventures. Microcon gives just enough to whet your appetite, and hopefully join a campaign or join an existing group. \

The first year, I ran a Basic Zombie Apocalypse adventure. Last year I have a Cthulhu/Pirates crossover. This year, I decided to offer some Dr Who. My idea is wacky and interesting all at once. I call it The Doctor Who Marathon. Every slot I run a new episode. So I need to come up with more interesting premises. I have two good ones already (I think) AND I have Pre-generated PCs that each have something interesting. I may post them here or on my website before or after the event. Those pre-gens would be the same as those I would run on December 29th’s non-OP Day.

Speaking of the Doctor Who RPG, I have been looking at the game, but am still undecided on whether I should fork over the 60$ for it (likely I won’t, not with so many Pathfinder Goodies coming out). It’s a game I wouldn’t mind snatching at an auction.

More than a few have been asking me about Akos, and whether I would run some of it at one of the above-mentioned event. Well, I’m not. I am currently waiting on my publisher for news on a number of announcements. I expect great things, but I am waiting right now. I have the setting, the mods, and a basic rulebook ready to out. After the feedback from Neoncon, I literally cannot wait to move forward with this product.

LPJ Design
As many of you know, Louis and I have been talking a lot recently about a number of things. I am working on a writing project with him. That’s another thing I am extremely excited about. It’s something that to me is both very different and very familiar. He and I have a definite synergy and I hope to announce good stuff coming down the pipe. Ever since I started to talk to him, I mean I like his style and his approach to the business. Yes, he is a curmudgeon and somewhat of a sourpuss. But HEY! If you are reading thing blog on even a marginally regular basis, you would know that I too am one of THOSE people.

Someone initially pointed me to his blog as a great source of material. I have to say… Louis puts out a lot of good stuff. Some I doubt or could argue about, mostly having to deal with game balance, but most of it is fun and could easily be added to an existing campaign, more on that in a later post.

Genghis Con
The biggest gaming of the year in the Denver CO area, Genghis Con Denver returns this year. Once more, I will be marshalling the PFS troops and events. We have a sweet program with a lot of good and interesting events to play. As I stated early, I would like to play some Shattered Empires, Doctor Who, Cthulhu, but I doubt that will happen. I will be doing Pathfinder most of the weekend and running the Venture Captain special. (Most slots would be my guess). Oh well, I volunteered for it.

I am very happy that once again Enchanted Grounds will be sponsoring the Pathfinder Society events. That does help a lot. Because of all the other projects I’m working on right now, I will begin to ask GMs only following the Holidays, setup Slot-Zeroes and fill out my schedule. I am looking forward to that event also.

RPG Superstar
This year I WILL take part in Paizo’s annual contest. I thought of a magic item that I think many of my characters would like to get. It’s something that is low-level, simple, small and most of all usable by almost every character. Now I need to actually GO and finish writing it.

Good luck to all participants!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Becoming Venture-Captain

Although a few days old already (okay, I'm delinquent), I have made a guest blog post on Louis Porter's Blog. The article can be found here:

Becoming a Venture Captain for Pathfinder Society by JP Chapleau



Thursday, November 18, 2010


Over the past two months, I have been doing a number of commission work for friends.

October Works

This was made for Sarah who gave me the miniature as a challenge.

November Works

This was made for Collin to use as his shadow companion.

This was made for Kenton to use as his sorceress cohort.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Blood Bowl on the PC

It was early in the 90s when I bought a second hand copy of Blood Bowl from Le Valet d’Coeur in Montreal. I paid 5 or 10$ for it, but the box had everything I needed, including additional minis. It’s been more than 15 years and I still love the game. I was very excited when I hear there was a European company that created an on-line version of the game. My major concern was that, like many of Games Workshop’s computer version of their game was that they would be similar to the game, but still very different, much like the previous Blood Bowl game (which I still own).

So I spent some time wondering about whether I should get it. And I finally did.

The reason I wrote this post is because I saw the game for sale at my local Walmart. I felt all giddy just seeing it there. It is a GREAT game. Though I am not familiar with the latest version of the game (but I was proficient enough to catch on), it’s still the Blood Bowl I fell in love. You can easily play against the computer just like you would on a table-top, which was my main concern. The graphics are fine, the game is fast enough. Some teams are very challenging to defend against.

I won’t go over all the features of the game (I haven’t tried the Real-Time Version). But it’s really great. I have been playing my Orkland Rayderz in a number of competitions and my Passing offense is still ranked at the top. I love playing Orks in Blood bowl. You can really build a team the way you like.

I have been thinking about painting up my Blood Bowl minis just because of that game.

If you don’t have it, RUN to get it! Seriously! There are Elves, Goblins, Humans and Dwarves waiting for you to maim them!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Warhammer Historical is no more

Yep, you heard me right. WH has been dissolved by Games Workshop as an entity. Late in 2009, they announced that the product line was going to be absorbed by Forgeworld. They got rid of all of WH’s personnel: Rob Broom in 2009 and his assistant earlier this year. This in itself was cause of concern, but at the time, WAB 2.0 was being promised "soon" so I assumed Forgeworld would take it over and make it great. However, having my WAB 1.0 books already, most of the supplements I wanted and few people to play with, I felt the impact of such news to be limited.

This leaves me with three questions. Does this mean the game stops producing content? Does this mean the end of Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB), my personal favorite ancient rules set? Is there a future for WAB at Forgeworld?

New Content

Seeing the silence of Forgeworld on any new WAB product, the lack of effort they put in to the brand or any products, the endless delays in releasing products. They seem to have alienated some of their top writers in Allen Curtis and Jeff Jonas by either not responding to them or simply delaying everything through slow response time.

Good thing is that the WAB online community is filled with the authors of the WAB supplements and a lot of good people. Shout out to the WABList Yahoogroup.

End of WAB?

I think GW (Forgeworld and GW are interchangeable term IMO) is killing the brand as a whole. It is stupid and makes very little sense to me, but then again who can really claim to understand GW’s reasoning? I tried and after a short trip at the asylum, I gave up and just went with the flow. Stupid is as stupid does, which pains me greatly to say because I have enjoyed GW products and games for over fifteen year by now.

They have a brand that is seen by many as quality and community-friendly, and they cut it out. Perhaps it is not making the same amount of money as their 40k or Fantasy lines, but I know of few people who hate the line. Many prefer other games, and that’s fine.

Future with Forgeworld?

Seeing how Forgeworld won’t sell through my local story (thus giving me easy access to the product), I see little future for the brand. It will die out. It may hold itself in the UK for a while, but I see its US market dying.

This one is short. Forgeworld taking over anything is like executing a death sentence. We won’t see anything new. We won’t see much support. The game is dead as far as GW is concerned.

Really the End???

If you were expecting anything new for WAB, then yes.

Oddly enough, this move comes at a time where WAB is more attractive than ever, with hard plastics are both plentiful AND affordable. Players who balked at the idea of spending hundreds to build an army may now do so at very low prices. 40$ gets you 60 hoplites! That’s like the core of a Greek Army!

What about Imperial Romans? 30$ gets you 50 of them! Call it 120$ and you have a highly versatile army. The versatility increases a thousand folds if you are willing to do a little conversion work. For the Classical period, call it 500BC to 500AD, one can model so many armies: from the legions of Rome, to Alexander’s phalanxes, to some strange hybrids like the Carthaginians, the Mithridatic war, the Jewish rebellion, the conquest of Gaul. So many choices!

Stupid is as stupid does, sir.


Thursday, November 11, 2010


Last night, I sat at my computer, watching Criminal Minds and Billy the Exterminator (waiting to re-watch Star Trek: TNG), expecting to do nothing useful. So I opened my email and there it was. An email from Adam Daigle with the stats of the monster we designed in his workshop at Neoncon (see my previous article on Neoncon here). I hastily opened it and scanned through the stats looking for changes (he did a few I really liked), read through the prose, ecology and all of the good stuff.

Okay. I DID NOT LIKE THEM. I hate them! They creep me out! Totally! I mean, I wasn't able to sleep without seeing the horror in mind nightmares. I just lurks there beyond the scope of my active perception... It waits for me to make a mistake before it grabs me. Am I wishing a duck on Adam's head for that? No.

What he did is WAY worse than that.

It was a comment so innocent yet so insidious, that only slowly and too late, does one grasp the horror of it all.

In his email, Adam challenged me (and Mike who also attended) to produce a 4e version of the monster! Yes! Me creating a 4e monster. I felt challenged! I had to respond! Honor demanded I try my hand at it! For the first time in some eleven months, I open my 4e books and rose to the challenge. My intimate knowledge of 4e is blissfully going away, but I think I came up with a creature that can be of interest to 4e players and DMs.

Thus I curse you with a chicken upon your head, Adam! Because of you I opened book I did not look at in 10 months.

Come to think of it... I could have merely said “no” and be done with it...

Come to think of it some more... Adam helped me remember why I disliked 4e so much: the mindless stats, the powers, the lack of damage, the situations that make little sense, the monsters that do not scare anyone, the conditions that suddenly stop without reason.

Thanks Adam! The exercise helped me remember why I love Pathfinder so much. Hmmm, Pathfinder...


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Neoncon 2010

Where I come from

Those who know me know that I attend cons for one reason: play or run. But at this year’s Neoncon, I decided to do it differently. Instead of wall-to-wall playing/running, I would try to breathe between slots and attend a number of lecture/ seminars/ workshops with some of the gaming industry’s biggest names. People whose work I like (and sometimes dislike). People I respect. From whose experience my projects could benefit.

I will admit that though excited I did not really know what I was getting into. How would it be? Fun or boring, active or passive (on my part), did the speakers really want to impart any of that wisdom and experience I sought? From the huge lineup of names, I expected a lot.

Neoncon: Thursday

After walking around the con, I was told about Stan! Owen KC Stephens and Ed Stark’s workshop about world building. Having learned that, I quickly made my way there and took a seat. The guys proposed a framework for world creation. With each participant throwing ideas for a world they were thinking about. We worked on two different settings participants were thinking about.

What I got out of that workshop was the format of the idea pitching. Though the why was not new to me, it gave me a different perspective from some of the guys who had already done this. Frankly, if I had done this workshop before we started working on Akos, a lot of time would’ve been spent. Thanks guys!

After that, I gathered a few stragglers who trickled in and ran a play test of Opening Moves, my second Akos adventure. The feedback was positive. Although there were a number of items I have to change, some great feedback and notes came out of the play test (some flow element, some boxed text, some GM text, a few corrections on the character sheet, etc).

Neoncon: Friday

Today started with an early breakfast at the Excalibur’s buffet with fellow Venture Captain, Issak, Robyn any Jeremy. Good to put actual faces to names I’ve only seen in e-format.

With that done, I joined a table of PFS-03 Murder on the Silk Caravan where I had a lot of fun playing with my Opera Singer. After like 6 tries to play the adventure, I finally got it done.

After that, I joined a seminar by John Wick called “Hating with the haters”. Yes. It was exactly what it said on the tin. Almost every sentence or comment started with “you know what I hate?” Awesome! We discussed important topics from Tom Cruise in a L5R movie to bad games to house rules to hating on the haters themselves. While not very serious, this was extremely funny and a nice change of pace.

Then I took part in Adam Daigle “create a monster” workshop. The three participants included someone who was only conversant in 4e, someone who was very much into more freeform games (such as Gurps) and me (another aging curmudgeon gamer). You would think that such an eclectic group would have difficulty coming up a coherent monster for the Pathfinder system. However, what happened was an odd synergy of influences that created a very dynamic discussion (meaning we spent more time pitching ideas than we did on the number-crunching). The resulting monster just SCARES THE PANTS OFF ME. All of us pitched some ideas that made this monster very nasty. The monster will be featured in an upcoming post on Kobold Quarterly. I’m sure you will also get to see it as part of CreativeU’s web casts.

The one-hour discussion could very well have continued on for more, with such a dynamic team. I’m almost sad that we only designed one monster.

Adam presented the technique he uses when he designs monsters, which is both simple and very useful. He takes a sheet of paper, physically folds it in two along the short edge, creating two columns. On the right side, he brainstorms his ideas, nothing specifically system related. Things he wants to see on the monster, things that would be cool, etc. The left side, he keeps to stat-out the creature. I really like his technique, and will VERY likely steal it away.

After a quick dinner with Issak and Robyn it was more PFS. This time I played in the "Classic" (what we call Fiesta in Denver) PFS-34 Encounter at Drowning Stone. Very interesting party! We hated on each other… Actually, I hated on them through the game calling them minions and thugs.

Neoncon: Saturday

First order of the day (after shower, getting dressed, coffee, and food) was to attend Jason Buhlman’s workshops. I got to sit and chat with him a little before the seminar. While with Jason, I got to meet SRM whom I met back in ’04 or ’05 and Sean (and now, Mrs.) Reynolds and chat with them briefly.

The first seminar was about game design. A few good ideas came out as we talked about one guy’s idea. I’m curious to see if he will go forward with his idea and publish the game.

Next came the big one. Jason, Stephen and Sean offered a workshop where those present became his design team for the upcoming Ultimate Combat (Gencon-ish 2011). We worked on the ninja and samurai for Pathfinder. I can’t say much other than I now have to save up for another awesome book. Keep an eye out for it.

Next slot, I sat with Issak, Mike-A and Robyn (and Cheri) to play PFS 02-08 The Sarkorian Prophecy. It was one of those times where there really was not need for a mod. We just all had great time. Oh! And we kicked ass too!

For the evening slot, I offered to help in running Year of the Shadow Lodge. My services were immediately picked up as I managed to tag out other VCs suffering from various ailments. Since my voice projects, I also read the boxed text. I had a blast beating up on my players and giving them a hard time. Since none of them hit me over the head, I think they enjoyed their experience. It has left me with a number of ideas for running it again.

Dark points

Everything can’t be rosy and perfect… It just can’t… Two issues arose. First, the lack of fast food joints to run to when you had only 15 minutes between slots. Okay it’s not like my own fat butt will lose much by skipping a meal. Second, I could not be there for more Sunday goodness.

In the end

Wow what an awesome con. Doug Daulton and his staff run a top-notch event. If you haven’t been, you are missing out. Plain and simple. I was very lucky to attend and have really like Doug’s events (went in ’08 to a similar high-quality experience).

The seminars/ talks all added to my weekend in some way. I did receive some of the wisdom that I looked for. I returned home to a whole series of new ideas and plans to make things work.

I want to give a big thanks to Doug Daulton, the mastermind behind Neoncon and his staff. It was a tight ship they ran and something I was partially privy to (I helped here and there with errands and odds and ends). I am very glad to call Doug my friend. Thanks to Steve, Rene and all the GMs who stepped up. And of course, thanks to those who ran workshops.

Next year, I have to go back!


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Delights

Two weeks ago, I went to Gamers' Haven here in Colorado Springs with my eldest daughter. During that time, she found a pumpkin monster in the Reaper Miniatures rack. Like most fathers, I'm a sucker for little girls' blue eyes. (I'm whipped)

Here is the monster, once painted.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I have the power!!!

Back in July, Josh Frost, head honcho for the Pathfinder Society campaign posted a call for volunteers. The task: serving the campaign as a Regional Coordinator for various regions (one of which was Denver, Co). There was never any doubt in my mind that I would apply for the position, even though there were many qualified locals who could easily have served as regional coordinator.

I want to thank the many people who sent Paizo emails in support of my application (there are a few of you).

I have a number of ideas I would like to see in Pathfinder Society adventures (the application form asked for 2, I provided 5).

What will happen next? I am as anxious to know as you are!

Now, enough of this talk stuff... Let's get back to gaming.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Mindless Undead

As you enter the crypt’s main chamber, the ghoul you followed stands in front of a makeshift altar. The thing turns to you, its raspy voice echoing the following command. “Kill them.” All around you, skeletons emerge from their coffins, ready to fight.

The scene above happened to all of us. An intelligent undead creature commanding a horde of mindless ones makes for a fun and typical encounter. Undead make great opponents, PCs generally don’t have to think too closely about what they do with them, and only rarely does their destruction cause consternation in the party.

Still, something gnawed at me regarding that encounter. How can a normal, basic ghast (or ghoul or wight) command skeletons/zombies that surround it? Why does the zombie obey the undead? Why would it not obey a living creature that does not control then through magic such as a necromancer would use spells like command undead or control undead ? As a computer engineer my natural instinct is to devise a finite state machine to determine the undead’s behavior. But I can see where that could confuse some people, and really… to account for everything… well that could be problematic.

How can I simplify the model to make it easy and universal? Let’s set some basis.

1. Intelligent undead should have some measure of power over the mindless ones.

2. A mindless undead’s natural instinct is to kill and destroy the living.

3. The changes must not impact the CR of the intelligent undead

4. The changes must not impact the CR of the mindless undead

5. The changes must not change existing spells or abilities (such as channel energy, the Command Undead feat, the command undead spell).

Putting a little thought into it, I would propose the following.

The necromantic energies found in all undead creatures are more powerful in intelligent undead. When a mindless undead comes into close proximity with one such creature, their necromantic energy align. This alignment makes the mindless undead extremely suggestible to the intelligent undead’s wishes.

This alignment only works on mindless undead who are not commanded or controlled through other means. Thus a skeleton commanded to attack an intelligent undead would do so without hesitation. A commanded mindless undead who orders could be open to interpretations or vague such as patrol the walls, could influenced by an intelligent undead. In the example, a zombie could be suggested by the intelligent undead to focus its patrol the west wall.

While not perfect, this mini-rule can explain and justify the scene above, without changing the creature, without changing any spells of magic usage. Thus accomplishing the 5 goals mentioned above.


Secret Project X: Quick Reveal

Louis Porter mentions Secret Project X and shows you the outline mentioned in the Secret Project X: Now an outline article. It's quick so you have to watch attentively.

Funny story is, from seeing the pile, I think I must have called Louis literally a minute after he recording this (see his blog entry).


Friday, October 15, 2010

Secret Project X: Now an outline

Secret Project X finally has a basic story outline, something to launch it! I finalized my proposal into something I liked. Based on a basic idea by Louis, the style is a marked departure from my own usual style. I found writing with a twist to be very exciting. In this case, the adventures have a common theme and story elements I tried to capture. What is it? I’m waiting on feedback before any announcements are made.

I initially started working on another storyline but I scrapped it because it didn’t fit the setting. I could not find myself excited about it. It did not bring the flavor of the setting right. So practicing my own methods, I threw the idea into an idea for the future document and went back to the writing board. I did some research and came up with something I felt was more fitting.

On the first try, I came up with an adventure idea first. What will the PCs do? approach. As a change, I looked through the campaign book to see what would inspire me, if anything stuck. There was one element that did and this time I tried a different approach. Instead of designing an adventure, I worked on the adventure site, my point of light. As I jotted down small ideas here and there: a tavern, the market, a few individuals with interesting stories, things took shape on their own.

I now had a focal location, a cast of characters and a rough idea of the types of stories I would like to write. The merging process began and after some three days of brainstorming, formatting and reformatting ideas until they took the shape I wanted, I had a proposal. I had something tangible I could submit.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween Season Woes!

Am I the only one who, comes Halloween finds himself staring at a blank page, or a page the fills up with material that is either bland, without relevance or just terrible? The time of year that should be most inspiring to a big horror and fear-fan like me. Yet, that is not the case. While I thoroughly enjoy the event and the celebration - I don’t consider it a holiday; I’m not druid or ancient celt-revivalist. I mean TV movies become interesting or at least worth looking over. Horror and scary things are all around us, the getting’s good.

Yet I am faced with a serious lack of good ideas for Halloween. Could it be a case of too much of a good thing?

Well not really since the movies on Syfy, AMC and even TCM are not as awesome as I’d like them to be. I mean, the most interesting movie I saw thus far this October was Meet the Spartans which was funny… but nothing to put me into the Halloween spirit OR help me coming up with an Halloween-theme or good horror-themed offering. No sudden spark.

Perhaps it is the Big-Guy-Upstairs’ way of telling me that I should come up with something different, if only for one month out of the year.

So what is a guy to do in that case? I have obligations and deadlines I need to meet.



Monday, October 4, 2010

The cat is out

Last week a number of announcements were made, and I spent a lazy weekend doing very little. Okay, I ran a Pathfinder Society adventure on-line, took my daughter to her a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese’s, watched my fantasy football team get crushed, took my Orkland Rayderz to the championship game in Blood Bowl and I made level 13 in D&D Online.

So, I’ve been talking to Louis Porter Jr of LPJ Design about something publicly dubbed Secret Project X. Okay, okay, the title isn’t great but, trust me, the real one is better. This adds a lot of work to my plate, which I always like…

What can I say about Secret Project X ? I will be writing adventures for it and the project is very exciting.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Akos: The Pre-gens

The Imperial Arms of Amoran
So finally, Neoncon is coming and it will be my first chance to publicly display my work on the Organized Play campaign set in the world of Akos. There is so much work to be done. Today, I am tackling one of the most complex aspects of starting a campaign like this: Pre-generated characters.

Why is it complex, you ask? First off, the characters must showcase and give some of the flavor of the world and its particularities. Second when presented with a character, everyone has their own view on how such a class should be put together. Third, you want to create characters that are relevant to the adventure but not necessarily focused to it. That last point is, I think the trickiest of all. If my adventures are all about traps, and half the party are designed to blow through them, then the challenge in the adventure become insignificant, similar if none of the pre-gens can deal with traps, then I simply cheat the players.

This is not the same as creating one-shot characters where I can think up of a scene or encounter where each of the PCs can shine or has the potential of shining. Those pre-gens will be thrown at any one of the many adventures currently in development. So my thought process is different. I can’t design a character just for one adventure, knowing he’ll be completely useless in the next.

Okay, okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. The Pathfinder rule set has come a long way from having those adventures that completely negated a character’s usefulness (such as the all-undead adventure vs. the rogue heavy party, or the elemental adventure vs. high-crit party).

I wanted to add a little meat to those characters, so someone sitting at the table is immediately gets some element of flavor with the character: where they come from, who their deity is, do they have any special contacts of ability. I like it when I play one-shot adventures that I receive some piece of information that is unique to me, something that sets me apart from the rest of the group OR that justifies my ties to it.

So what I did was to create characters that had flavor and uniqueness. So far, I have built five, but am trying to come up with a total of pre-gens. Each of them has a unique class, a unique feat, or a unique ability to found in our Player’s Guide. The goal is to present the new material we have while keeping the characters someone familiar to the players.

Now that I established what I wanted to accomplish, “what classes to do?” was my next question. In D&D, I always think there are four basic roles that need to be filled: the melee guy, the healer, the arcanist and the skill monkey (roughly, the fighter, the cleric, the wizard and the rogue). Looking at my list of races, classes and abilities, I came up with the following combination:

  • An Amazon Cleric
  • A barbaric Holy Warrior
  • A Greater Halfling Rogue
  • A human sorcerer
  • A human noble
  • On the sixth, I still waffle and am open to suggestions..

  • Thought creating pre-generated characters was easy? Trust, it’s a lot more complex that it seems at first glance!


    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Home Front News

    This entry includes a number of random shots about gaming.

    First, my idea of Pathfinder Society was rejected. It was judged too open AND too limited at the same time! The adventure was clearly non-traditional when compared to other PFS adventures, so while disappointed I can see Josh’s position about it. Having rejected ideas and submissions myself, I take it in stride. What will I do next about it? Come up with something new of course! What about the idea I submitted? Well that one goes into my work bucket, the idea is good, the story in interesting. Chances are it will be given new life at a later date outside the Society! Good ideas never go to waste…

    This Friday, Mario restarts a new Warhammer campaign. I still have not decided on a character concept I like. I thought of a few: an outlaw falsely accused of a crime, a hunter/poacher or a Kislevite bounty hunter. I’m still undecided and may just decide when I roll dice and the character starts to take shape or as we talk about what we want to do.

    A few people know that I have been talking to a publisher regarding a writing project, I’m very excited about this and will hold off on making any announcement (any announcement will be posted here for sure).


    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Bargain bin treasures

    Whenever I go to a hobby shop, I always look for the bargain bin. Many treasures lurk therein. Things I would not be willing to pay full price for, but also things I do not always look at on my regular peregrination through local (and not-so local) hobby shops.

    Yesterday, I looked at the bargain bin at Bonnie Brae Hobbies in Englewood (south Denver). To my very pleasant surprise, I found a box of Zvevda’s Cursed Legion (Roman Skeletons). HALF-PRICE! I grabbed the box and did not let it go until it was purchased and out of sight of everyone!

    A few years ago, I happened on a website that had them. The idea of sending any money to Russia was not very appealing and after looking for local sources, I gave up and the undead Romans were relegated to the back of my mind.

    Now I have them… My legions will never be TRULY defeated!


    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    The end of a campaign

    I’m depressed and morose.

    Why you ask? Because Mario’s Awesome Warhammer campaign is over! My character somehow managed to live through it all from the start. He got pretty beefy at the end, despite a few niggling injuries and a few insanities, such as zealotry and an alignment change. Fought off gods, orcs, dark elves, giants, dragons, chaos-infested things and on a weekly basis, each other (okay I usually got beat up by the others).

    The Cast: Ragni the dwarf who became a slayer after a close encounter of facial-genital kind. Val, a young half-elven knave who crossed our path and stuck around with us. Eva a chaos-infested witch ready to sell her soul to the dark powers. Father Werner von Breslow-Giersbergen (me) a righteous zealot carrying a burden only I can bear… Guided only by my blinding and complete faith in Sigmar and his patron, Ulrik.

    The finale was truly epic. Couldn’t ask for much more! We headed into the Mountains with the soul of a dark chaos god stop him from tricking the orcs into granting him more power. I bore the container that leaked its essence like a burden. One I accepted because I could not allow Ragni or that evil witch Eva to hold it. The witch appeared shortly after the untimely demise of Sister Lady Violet.

    Once the battle was in full swing, Ragni my dwarven slayer friend met his doom at the hand of the god-like Nagaash. As it pulled his still beating heart out of his chest, I howled madly from the grief of losing my last true friend and swung my hammer into it as it focused on the witch. The beast finally fell to my blows. Leaving me standing, full of grief and anger that the witch had survived but that my friend Ragni had passed away.

    There you have it, in a few words… How Father Werner prevented the end of the world…

    Now that the campaign is over, I’m depressed and wondering what to character to do next. We’re going to start a new campaign (still using Warhammer 1st Ed) but I’m in a rut. I really liked my character and do not want to make the same character but I’m oddly lacking ideas this time around. Playing something different is a must. So the question remains… What?

    So there you have it… the source of my depression. Nothing that can't be cured with... MORE GAMING!


    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Fairs and Festivals: Part 2

    To my previous post about Fairs, my good buddy Van, posted the following as a comment on Facebook.

    You may want to consider including an auction for livestock. Seems like farmers would want to take the chance to buy/sell animals when gathered together as a matter of convenience.

    That is very true. While at the fair, I saw a number of animals for sale: cows, horses, goats, sheep, pigs and house pets. I must admit I did not pay close attention – allergies you see. I’m certain that many of them found new homes.

    In a medieval/fantasy-style fair (or even in sci-fi locations), animal and livestock sales and auctions are a prominent feature of the fair, something that draws a lot of people to the event. Prized and sturdy animals are highly-sought and their sale value subject to much debate and tension. In addition to cows and goats, a fantasy fair could offer sales of high-quality riding dogs, trained baby wyverns, a pet lizard and a number of other creatures.

    Dare I say that some competition could result in rivalries, potentially leading to sabotage, conflict or even murder? Aren’t those the basis of good adventures? A simple emotion sparks a story that writes itself. Often, the world does not need to end for adventure to creep in.

    Thanks Van! Great comment.


    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Tacticon: Post Mortem

    All of the tables have been reported. I know there are a few table trackers still floating out there (for which the DMs will have to report themselves). I ran out of PFS numbers almost 3 times, not counting those numbers that DMs handed out without my involvement. I went through over 60 pregens during the weekend.

    We ran a total of 30 tables (plus one that was not reported due to TPK, plus the slot zeroes, plus the missing ones)

    17 different adventures were run (including the Fiesta, and on-the-spot fiesta)

    A total of 165 players played in individual events. The Prestige Distribution was as follows:

    • Total for Andoran 76

    • Total for Cheliax 7

    • Total for Osirion 59

    • Total for Qadira 26

    • Total for Taldor 48

    A big thank you goes out to the DMs: Derek, James, Todd, Homer, Ryan, Jeff, Dave, Chris, Ken, Kerney, Collin, Josh and Bill and anyone I forget in my half-awake "monday" haze...

    A particular thanks to Jeff & Dave from Enchanted Grounds who sponsored the fiesta as well as running some great tables. They printed out all the mods for the fiesta and did a super job making sure I had enough paper support (character sheet, pfs numbers, pregens).

    Finally, a thank you to Lenny Logan for making the table assignment be extremely easy. Throughout the con, Lenny was very responsive and helpful in assigning us some tables and giving us extra when we needed them.

    A few things to work on for Genghis, although most table went very well, there were a few dark spots. Mostly having to do with dynamism and preparation. I know we can work on those and simply outshine all competition. A few players really scored DMs extremely low without a note or explanation. In a few cases, I personally believe those scores were undeserved (as I listened in), but others were fully deserved (from talks I had with the DMs afterwards). The DM rating sheet is a way for a DM to learn and better himself through play (you can never improve if you don't practice). Putting a "3" or "4" (out of 10) without comment serves little purpose in helping the DM better himself, it makes the DM feel miserable without necessarily knowing what irked you or why the game sucked, don't assume the DM can divine such things. And the next time around, that DM is not interested in running.

    Please use that tool to make the DM and the game experience better, it works! I do not know of a single DM who ran at the con that I would not want to play with (if only to make sure they improve). If something annoys you, take the coordinator or the even the DM aside and tell them in a constructive manner, which many of you did and the feedback was passed along to the DM all of whom were very responsive to criticism. They recognized or admitted faults and seemed very eager to correct their ways for the next go-around.

    Great DMs are trained, not born.

    All that said. Great time at Tacticon overall. I have already volunteered to Linda Weygant (Genghis RPG coordinator) to run the Pathfinder Society again.


    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Fairs and Festivals

    Every year, year, I take my family to two big events here in Colorado: the Renaissance Festival (in Larkspur, Co) and the Colorado State Fair (in Pueblo, Co). I enjoy both those events (even if my wallet does not). It’s a time to spend with my wife and the kids (and the occasional family and friends). Do something that's different than our everyday routine

    Driving back from the state fair, I began to think how I could use what I saw/did to help make my adventure better, to breathe life into it. You see I am currently writing an adventure that uses a major fair/festival as its background. I wanted to see if I could "medievalize" my day's visit. Without any books or actual references, I tried to break down the fair into a number of elements (everyone else was sleeping in the car so using that time for gaming allowed me to stay awake).

    How different were medieval fairs to the one I just attended? What elements of the fair were the same? Which ones were different? How did they differ? How could my experience add details in my adventure? Assuming I were a "typical" inhabitant (which I am), how would I react to impromptu events?

    So I tried the following break-up.

    1. Performers This group includes acrobats, jugglers, dancers, even painters. Entertainers perform a variety of stunts and acts of daring that amazes and fascinates the common man. I am a sucker for jugglers myself because I have tried a number of times and… well I write RPGs.

    2. Tasty/Unique Foods Nothing to say about how good there are for us. Corn dogs, funnel cakes, turkey legs and the other dishes make those events stand out. Every year, I keep my stomach open for a turkey leg and a corndog.

    3. Vendors Another staple includes vendors. Many offer items one does not find in their usual stores. While many vendors are just outlets for the local big-wigs (like the phones or cable companies), many are quite unique, and are what I seek out most at the fair.

    4. Animals While some animals fall in the category of Performers, animals also include those involved in competitions, and the every-popular petting zoo. My kids LOVE the petting zoo and seeing the little piglets, horses/ponies, goats and bunnies. I will admit there is something about watching or petting animals that call to the kid in all of us. I personally find the horses to be quite nice.

    5. Musicians Concerts and music are an intrinsic part of those events. I will sit and listen to a few tunes from a country music band, then walk up to a Latin band and then to a rock band. Music is everywhere and to me, it helps create the event. Many of the tunes there are not my usual bands, and that makes it special.

    6. Competitions/Contests From lumberjack contests, to animal rustling, to sandcastle building, to animal judging to the local radio station madness, contests involve people or animals performing and winning prizes. I would generally not travel to witness a number of competitions that take place at the fair, I stop and watch kids run after a sheep or lumberjacks speed cutting a log.

    7. Games The Simpsons gave us The Carny Code which was a great episode. Those are games that involve throwing a basketball or a baseball or placing rings on coke bottles. I was never very good at those so I do not participate (one of the few things I can save money on).

    8. People The biggest reason to attend local fairs? People. Lots and lots of people. The crowd is what makes everything come alive and binds all of the above together. A group of people watching something will draw you in to see what is going on. Walking around the fairground makes me feel as though I was part of something big. I also like the mix of people, races, influences all coming together without conflict. Everyone gets together at the fair, no matter their size, race, color, affiliation, or style. All are part of the event and I like that.

    With some of those elements in mind, I drifted off to fantasy aspects of fair. How different would the fair be if magic and other fantasy races were present? However, I found that fantasy really added nothing to those basic elements of the fair. Sure, it added some unique extras, but nothing to add really. I could replace the horses with a pegasus, turkey legs with dire chicken (hummmm dire chicken drumstick...), or the acrobats with flying wizards, but the elements of the fair remained the same. The people of different color/background would become elves and dwarves and halflings and gnomes.

    Looking back on the article, this will really add to my adventure. Not so much in the form of encounters or challenges, but in the form of flavor, minor elements and potential subplots.

    Oh! And it made the drive home go really fast...


    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    New Wargaming Blog

    My name is JP Chapleau. I was born & raised in Montreal, Quebec (that's in Canada). In 1993, I entered Sherbrooke University ( where I graduated in Computer Engineering in 1998.

    After that I began work and I have lived and worked in Japan (2 months), Paris France (1 year), Dublin Ireland (2.5 years), Quebec City (2 years) and now I have been in Colorado Springs, Colorado since 2005.

    I live with my lovely wife, Julie, two daughters Josiane & Marie-Katherine ("Kitty") and son Jean-Patrick.

    I am most known for my involvement in Role-Playing and Miniature gaming. My miniature gaming love affair really started in the mid-nineties when the Donjon Maisonneuve opened in Montreal. That game store was the first one to include gaming table and to host games there. For the first time I saw and admired painted armies, terrain and different games. I was hooked (but broke). Around 1996-97, I took the plunge and finally bought Warhammer 40,000. It’s a love affair that’s been going on since. In the years since I took part in a number of tournaments and competitions from Paris, France to Dublin, Ireland to Ft Morgan Colorado. I generally do okay.
    These days, though I still enjoy the occasional 40k game, I much prefer playing ancients (with Warhammer Ancient Battles being my favorite ruleset).

    This blog will include entries and rants about things I like, things I dislike and what I'm doing these days, but also the occasional historical article and reference to support my war gaming addiction.

    I admit that this blog was started to allow me to focus on war gaming only and have my other blog JP on Gaming focus on my other love, table-top RPGs. Thus separating the two will allow you, the readers to focus on those articles you want to read.



    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Tacticon approaches and gaming life

    For those who do not know, I volunteered to serve as the Pathfinder Coordinator (no, I don’t have any news or official Paizo title) for Tacticon, a games convention in Denver, CO. You can find a link to the con website here. This year marks the first time that Tacticon offers PFS. At last year’s Tacticon, I was running some LFR (for the last time) and playing Living Arcanis. Pathfinder was just an upcoming game day in mid-September I hoped I would not be the only one showing up for.

    This year, I’m completely out of LFR (not running, not playing). Living Arcanis is gone (though it is replaced by the Chronicles of the Shattered Empires).

    What’s my plan for this year? As coordinator, any gaming I get will heavily depend on attendance. With any luck, I might be able to slip into a game or two of CSE, and perhaps play the one Pathfinder adventure I haven’t played yet.

    When I came up with the schedule for Pathfinder, I took a page out of my good friend Lenny playbook. Instead of coming up with random story elements, I chose 6 adventures. Four of which were parts 1 & 2 of a series (#7 Among the Living & #49 Among the Dead, #51 The Shadow Gambit & #52 The Twofold Demise). The other two being independent, one-shot adventures. Part 1s would run every morning with part 2 in the afternoons. Evening would have a Fiesta where tables would form based around what they wanted. At this time, I ran four slot-zeroes and have decent DM coverage for all the slots. We will have 4-6 DMs for the Fiesta slots. Morale is high in my camp and the DMs also seem in good spirit. A rare luxury I find…

    I remember the old and blessed days of LG when we would run slot zeroes until the very last moment to make sure we had enough DMs for the con. The mad scrambles to finish the interactive. Making sure everything was printed and ready to go.
    So at this time, some two weeks before the con, I’m confident and looking forward to the con.

    As I write this, I am currently waiting on a number of things: the announcement of the Regional Coordinators for PFS, word on an adventure I submitted to Paizo, same but from Chaosium… So many things going on at once… Plus I have friends wanting to give another go at “The Masks of Nyarlathotep” so they can finish the campaign… Good times indeed.


    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Thoughts about Cohorts

    Recently, my (not-Living-Anymore) Arcanis character, Prima Gallia Tiberiana, leveled up to sixth level and I chose the Leadership feat. She is now accompanied by her handmaiden wherever she goes (being a noblewoman really helps). Oddly enough in my seven years of playing 3rd edition, this was the first time I took that feat. Though I thought about it in Living Greyhawk, I was too lazy (and generally too busy writing or editing) to take the time to maintain a cohort. Though I almost took one (I had access to an eladrin) for Corfell Treeshadow, my cleric of Corellon, the poor guys got removed from the campaign almost immediately after that.

    However, I played with a few people (in and out of LG) who had cohorts some good, some bad, some memorable, some not-so-memorable.

    The other day, my buddy Kenton (in the same Arcanis campaign) came up with a basic concept for a cohort and asked me for advice on cohorts. Yes, our party would be composed of 3-5 PCs with 1 or 2 cohorts (as we share DM duties, we always hit the 5-6 player mark).

    So I began to think… What makes a great cohort? Is there a formula to come up with a great cohort? Which were the ones that left a lasting impression on me? How were they built? What role did they play in the game? Many questions filled my mind. I wanted to be sure that I would allow him to choose and build the character he wanted, by trying to provide options.

    The Cohort’s background

    This article targets mostly organized play campaigns so I like to keep the background light. I’ve seen spouses, lovers, slaves, squires, and planar allies as cohorts. All of which are fine. The goal is to find a reason the character would stick around you. A secondary goal is to find a way for the cohort to mesh with the rest of the party. After all, the cohort will be privy to many PCs’ secrets, abilities and even share the loot. This does not mean the cohort has to be lovey-dovey with everyone in the party, or an LFR character (oops, I meant a bland, flavorless series of dice rolls).

    For my cohort, Drusilla, she used to be a poor legionnaire I recruited to be my personal assistant and handmaiden. Things I wanted her to have were Profession (handmaiden) and rogue skills (trap finding and open locks mostly), because the party needed those.

    The Cohort’s basic personality

    Like every good character, a cohort must have its own personality. I think that something contrasting especially in the social department is important. If your main character is talkative, the cohort should tend to be quieter. If you are rather quiet, your cohort should be talkative. Avoid the dual talkative or dual quiet characters. Makes them redundant plus it’s often difficult for the rest of the players to know who you are playing at that time. If you can work with completely different accent, this difficulty is not there. But you have to juggle the accents and that gets a little complicated.

    Give a cohort a little spark by giving a single trait, what GURPS calls quirks to the character. Maybe the cohort speaks with a lisp, giggles when nervous, has a slight accent or has a short catchphrase. Nothing major just enough to give a short taste of the character.

    The Cohort’s abilities

    There are many types of cohorts one can build: the crafter, the healer/buffer, the talker the blaster… What is important to keep in mind is that the cohort is a second fiddle to the main characters (the actual Player Characters). The cohort will generally be weaker than the players and should not try to compete with the player directly.

    If you already have a blasting Wizard, don’t make a cohort who is a blaster. It takes away the fun for the main character and usually makes your cohort look extremely weak. If your party has a great healer, make the cohort a buffer. If you have great melee, go for an archer.

    The Cohort’s advancement

    When people design their characters, they often imagine the PC at a very high level. So that at level 10-12, they will become gods among men, lording over all they survey. While a cohort often has a similar advancement scheme, I personally prefer to keep cohorts as simple as can be. This makes playing the cohort quick.

    Cohorts should be designed to be effective NOW. Not in four or five levels when they gain a level of Awesome. Because they are often weaker than the PCs, they have to live and survive until then. Having a PC that is not fully effective for a level or two is one thing. Having a cohort that is not effective for the same duration often means a dead cohort.


    A cohort’s role should be secondary. She supports the party and brings with it some abilities the party needs and can use. But should not be the main character at the table.

    In organized play, where the party make-up is always in flux, the role of a cohort cannot be tailored to a party, but should be designed in such a way that she supports a party. A healer/buffer or an archer is a good choice as their options are limited and their turn goes quickly. Remember that guy who plays a druid with his animal companion, then his 20 summoned monkeys and his super-complex wizard cohort whose turn takes an hour? Yeah… avoid that. It’s just annoying and while fun for you, everyone else hates it.

    Don’t be that guy.


    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Campaign Seeding

    For a while now, I have been trying to make sense of a problem. How can I write a mystery that spans many game sessions and keep the interest and relevancy of each part? How can I break down a plot into pieces that when all the pieces are put together they form a coherent whole?

    As an example, my story focuses on the murder of the king by his top adviser. The adviser has been encouraging rebellion in the kingdom for years and he plans to marry the queen and seizes the throne.

    Start with thinking about each of the clues or leads individually, like Lego blocks. Sort them in order of relevance and importance to the whole. Group those that go together or that are closely linked together. I want the PCs to gradually discover the story and reveal the villain at the end.

    My clues include a number of letters from the adviser under a false name or pseudonym, a foreign assassin, the rebel groups, the rebel leader and the queen herself. In order of direct incrimination the clues would be: the letters, the rebel groups, the assassin, the queen and the rebel leaders. The letters, the rebel groups and the rebel leader group together nicely. The assassin and the queen are more stand alone clues. The rebel leaders and the queen should be my top two clues. Thus they should be placed towards the end. This gives me a quick overview of my story arc.

    The Seeds method

    Note that I use “event” instead of “encounter” or “adventure”. At this point I do not know how long I want this story arc to go, I do not know how I will implement. Those are just the seeds of my story. Those seeds identified, you can either write adventures for it or incorporate them into others.

    One to three events where the PCs face off against the rebels, but do not confront the leaders (either they are away or escape before the PCs get to them). Having more than one event makes the problem seem bigger and gives the players a bigger sense of achievement by completing small tasks.

    One event focusing on the foreign assassin; it could be the PCs confront him, have to track him down or some other clue.

    One event focusing on the queen; this seems like a great opportunity to run a change-of-pace, perhaps a ball or another courtly function where the PCs meet with the NPCs. I like that. The queen may or may not know of the plot. If you are very devious, she might even be a prime suspect.

    One event focusing on the rebel leader; here the PCs capture him and get some crucial information that explains a lot. The table is set for the climax.


    1- Insignificant Parts the clues/seeds are so insignificant that players keep missing them. The PCs might miss the first clue or mark it as “unimportant”. If after two or three such events they have not yet figured out that something is afoot… Rethink about your method…

    2- Overly significant clues this is the other side of the spectrum where every clue the PCs find is highlighted in red with a big neon arrow saying “IMPORTANT CLUE”. Don’t make it too easy on them.

    3- Overly rigid structure the unfortunate downside of this method is that you can get very attached to a specific structure, the PCs must find clue 1 and realize its importance to continue or they fail everything. The reason I used the “seeds” instead of “adventures” or “encounters” is to remind myself that the story can go one without the PCs figuring out everything right off the bat. If the seed I wanted to put in does not work in the adventure I thought it would fit in, I simply relocate the seed later down the road, giving the players freedom to act and interact with the world.

    4- Narrow focus everything in your campaign revolves around a single plotline. It often feels like nothing is going on around the PCs but what they are doing. To avoid them running straight to the king and spilling everything they know on day one, keep them busy with other problems. In our previous plotline, what if all that happened during a border war with another kingdom? Maybe the PCs have a treasure map and they discover that the old pirate who sold it to them made copies and sold those too. As the end draws to a close, the focus should naturally come on the storyline. But early on, keep the PCs busy.

    5- Lose sight of the goal the corollary of the narrow focus… here by trying to keep things open, the story gets lost in a sea of other hooks.

    In the end, experiment. Try things and see how they go. Writing a plot arc set in-between other adventures is a difficult balancing act, but one that players look back on and realize how obvious it was from the start… Like a good mystery, or one of my favorite movies, The Usual Suspects, after the first view, everything is so obvious, but that only makes the story that much better. Hummm Usual Suspects.


    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Not another Moonshae mod by me

    I surprised myself earlier today. I was asked whether I was interested in writing the final Moonshae adventure for LFR and said no. There were a number of reasons I was tempted to do it: closing the “story arc” I promoted over the last few years, bringing a final adventure and an end to a quest whose story I enjoyed designing and thinking about.

    Then, I went back and thought to myself what I would have to do: think and expand on a story, design combats, design encounter location, come up with magic items no one care about and spend hours working with a game system I dislike. I could’ve lived with all that and written an interesting adventure (I still think the storyline of the Giants is a good one that deserves a strong finish). But without the monetary compensation to go with it, I felt like I had other, better things to do. Some of my other writing projects are ramping up and I would definitely prefer to give those my time.

    I hope the Moonshae guys find a dedicated fan to complete the adventure and the series. I know they will. I cannot be me.


    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    I applied for PFS Position

    It should come as no surprise to anyone that from the moment I chanced upon Joshua Frost’s post on the Paizo web site, (see the post here) there was no doubt in my mind that I would send my name as a volunteer.

    From the start, I have believed that such a “widening” of the campaign structure was inevitable and have been urging people to play (and report their events) so the campaign could reach that point sooner rather than later. Once again, my words proved to be prophetic (and for once, it was not a prophecy of doom that I was speaking!) So I read over the requirements, weighed my “achievements” and wrote down a word document. It quickly became clear that the region does not hinge on any one person, but on the back of the many volunteers who make it come alive.

    I really hope I get the position but I wish good luck to any who apply.


    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    I love Chaosium

    It’s never been a secret that I love Chaosium and their flagship product, Call of Cthulhu.

    This love affair started around 1995 or 1996 when I walked into Le Valet d’Coeur in Montreal on an ordinary day. As usual, I headed for their used-product section. There it was. Call of Cthulhu 4th edition. Beat up ol’ 4e (and not like the crappy 4e we talk about these days). For four dollars, it was a steal and the book immediately flew of the shelf and into my hands, never to leave them again. I then began to voraciously read any Lovecraftian literature I could get my hands on. And thus the love affair began.

    Over the years, I increased my collection of Chaosium products to the point where it is now the largest, most looked at, most prominently display and best-liked collection of books I own. I still own and use that ol’4e, but now have added to this a 5.5 and a 25th anniversary edition (what would become 6e).

    I want to say how responsive and open the people at Chaosium are with their fans. Every year, they put out adventure-writing contests for amateurs (like myself) to submit ideas in a contest. The winners of these contests are then placed into a monograph they then publish. Even the idea of the monograph, small-number publications available through them only is great. Thus anyone could write something of interest: adventures, collection of Mythos tomes, define one area, or even add new rules to the game. I personally possess a number of monographs: from the original version of Cthulhu Invictus to a Cthulhu-Viking campaign to the Mysteries of Hungary to the BRP 2008 Adventure Contest. While the quality varies greatly, I have really enjoyed them as they have provided me with many adventure ideas in the past, especially Cthulhu Invictus and Mysteries of Hungary.

    Dustin Wright with whom I had a lot of exchanges is a top-notch guy. Every time I sent him an email, he has taken the time to reply to me in a timely fashion AND has answered my (many) questions in a way that did not make me feel like an idiot. A personalized response is something that I always try to give to people. Makes them feel special and fosters good will. Thumbs up, Dustin! Thumbs up!

    As many of you know (due to my Facebook post), Chaosium have posted another contest, this time for Cthulhu Invictus. I have written an adventure which I call Lights on the Vesuvius for the contest. This adventure used to be the introductory part of my Invictus campaign. However, after play-testing the campaign, I came to the realization that though what I wanted was ambitious, there was no way I could write everything and get another Keeper (GM) to understand what was going on without writing a 200+ page book. The campaign was already 150 pages long and I still needed to write AT LEAST three chapters. Too long I thought. However, many of the adventures within were quite interesting. So I stripped out everything campaign-specific and there was my submission.

    So why am I writing thing entry? Why now?

    Tuesday (May 25th), I submitted my proposal to Dustin, along with a few questions regarding timeline and process. His response on Wednesday included answers and a few extra jests only old friends can share. It made me feel special. And I like that.

    That’s why, I can say that I love Chaosium.


    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Last Minute Revisions

    So it’s all done, you’ve fixed the immediate problems with your adventures, your tweaked a few things, added some extra details and completed that player handout you promised yourself you would be doing. Finally your adventure is done.

    Really, it is.

    You’ve done all you can for the adventure.

    Seriously, you’re done.

    Then why do you have a nagging feeling something is missing, that you missed a flagrant flaw, that the adventure is missing some added combat capability, that a new monster you just read/thought about would suit your adventure, or that you could fit that cool NPC you just made up watching TV?

    That feeling is the revisionist in you trying to get out. It’s not a bad one to have, but one you must keep in check. The problem with over-revising is that you may invalidate your play-test! Yes. The last-minute addition you are thinking about may completely change your adventure, its flow, its own "thing". So you have to be careful.

    So the question becomes… What do I revise?


    The Encounter Flow

    What you want to avoid is anything that could significantly alter the adventure or one of the existing encounters. Sometimes the alteration is in-game while other times it is a meta-gaming. As an author, you must seek to keep that flow.

    Example One changing an encounter from a bear to a small dragon significantly alters the encounters and leads to a number of collateral damage. Dragons, even small ones, have hoards and thus players want to get their hands on them. Dragons often have servants. But the most important thing is… small dragons usually have a mother. So an encounter where the PCs walk through the forest, fight a bear and keep going turns into a risky and scary affair where they look over their shoulder all the time for Mama-dragon to show up or where they begin searching for a treasure hoard instead of being on their way through the forest... That does alter the flow and the adventure itself.

    Example Two we replace the bear with an owlbear. Similar monster and its base purpose (a goon) is unchanged. No one thinks much of an owlbear in a forest. They don’t really have major treasure (except maybe in their stomachs). So we can change the bear to an owlbear without serious alteration.

    Sometimes you may alter the flow so that the simplification completely alters the encounter. Reverse example 1. You have a small dragon, making the crossing of the forest fraught with peril and worry about the mother showing up. Instead, with the bear’s appearance the forest trek because rather mundane and not so worrisome. That can also alter the flow.

    The story flow

    This one is harder to spot and remedy. Here, through the addition or modification of a non-combat encounter – usually a non-combat encounter – the story changes significantly. Many of those are linked to in or out of character knowledge about an NPC or NPC groups.

    Example One in the original document, the PCs met with a generic merchant who told them about the king’s evil plot. But you decide that this information should come from the local crime lord whose minions the PCs have been fighting for the last while. His inclusion into the adventure may lead to all kinds of unique tie-ins. Why is he suddenly helping us? Is the information reliable? Should we trust him?

    Example Two instead of some existing NPC, replacing the generic merchant with someone you thought of and plan on using later on. Many players will catch on that "NPC joe" has a name and is not portrayed like everyone else. While the players may notice the man, they may simply note him down and continue. This does not alter the flow too much.

    What to do?

    Well, if your revision caused something you believe might alter the adventure in a significant way, the best thing is to run another play-test. I cannot emphasize this enough.

    But if you do not have the luxury of doing that – and let’s face it running two play-tests of an adventure is a luxury, then you must sit back and play the adventure through your head, using the "QA Method". Be VERY thorough and exhaustive when doing that. If you can find a potential flaw, the best thing is to remove your fix. If you think fixing something will make it worse, then it’s not worth doing.

    Why drop it? Your text is written taking into account what you had originally, not what you changed and creeps and other mistakes may appear because of the change. Many adventures in LG were branded as poorly edited or written when they were the result of last-minute edits or revisions.


    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Play-testing: What to evaluate?

    During my latest trip to Montreal - in the grips of Hockey fever - I play-tested this setting I’ve been posting about for the last few months. I was very excited about finally bringing my creation to the game table. There was a lot to prepare: writing up the pre-gens, sending a short background to each character, giving some details about the gods to the players, finish the adventure, pack everything up and then set up the game itself. All the players were on time and ready to go.

    In short, things went well or as good as could be. The PCs "got" what I was trying to do, and did the kinds of things I wanted them to do. Their evolution through the adventure was as expected.

    I could simply pat myself on the back and say how awesome I really am. But that would not be who I am. No, I have to dig to find some dirt, something to improve. So by trying to find out what was wrong, let’s see what went right with the adventure.

    The timing is good since I was aiming for an adventure that would run around four hours. Including a lunch break, giving a description the world and its particularities, and the chit chat of a bunch of gamers who hadn’t seen each other in months, the whole thing took about five hours. By focusing on the game, the timing is fine.

    The plot hook works finding a plot hook that works, that is original and that is engaging for players with different motivations. That is one thing I reproach to the Pathfinder Society, its plot hooks are terrible! I’ll let you in on a secret: they’re all the same. You have to do that because I tell you to.

    The players’ flow make sense this is always one of those points that I personally find to be the most important. The "flow" is the player’s thought process and discovery of the adventure. Do they go from conclusion to conclusion based on the clues / discoveries logically? Do they have to reach very far to come to a discover something that’s in the adventure.

    For example, that the PCs deduce that their employer is evil when they see a letter with his name on it is a natural deduction. That they come to the same conclusion because a painting on the wall shows him being dressed in black and sporting a goatee is not.

    The fights are interesting This one is particular. LFR (the wrong-standard) defines an interesting fight by having something cool and unique in the encounter, over story reason. While that is a part of it, coolness and uniqueness are not the only factor in creating fun fights. Why are the villains there? Why do they fight the PCs? Is there a good reason for them to be there? Would other monsters be more likely? Should they be toughened up? Wussified? Diversified? Those questions all go through my head as I try to review a combat encounter. Do the players have fun with the encounter?


    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Playtest Jitters

    Saturday the 24th, I ran a trial, “alpha” version, of the adventure and setting I have been blogging about for the last few months. The game was an opportunity to sit down and play with my buddies in Montreal: Steve, Alex, Yves, Dan, and ET. Such a “reveal”, I always found nerve wracking as so many things can (and usually do) go wrong. Such things like impossibilities in the system, aspects or perspectives that were missed or overlooked in previous phases of development.

    Again, many things can go wrong.

    For one reason, play-testing always bring image of my good friend David (Bibi)’s vampire game for Helios 2000 where the adventure came to a screeching before we (the players) followed a path that was sensible but that he did not expect. Btw, this says nothing about the adventure, it was very good, but we put ourselves into a corner.

    As I said, nerve-wracking.

    So I was thinking. What are the best ways to avoid such pitfalls? This article aims to work on “convention” or “tournament”-style play, those games where the DM is not necessarily the author. A regular DM often gets the option to “explain things later” (and I do that a lot myself).

    Use the QA approach

    I am a computer engineer by trade. And thus, I often approach problems (and solutions) in gaming in software development terms. As a developer (author), I try to come up with code that work the way I want and I strive to make things work according to my vision. The QA guy’s role is to find ways to break my code. So he throws all kinds of weird things at it. As an author, the QA guy’s role is to try and solve problems by sending unique or strange case at it. “What if the PCs have a protection from evil spell up?” or “What if the party has a character with a ridiculous score in [Perception/Sense Motive/Diplomacy]?” See how the adventure reacts to it. Be realistic in your evaluation here.

    Of course you cannot catch every single possibility, but try to catch most of it. The goal is to figure out how to break the story. Again, I say story because the artifices you can use are many to reach your goal.

    Here is one example. The PCs are invited to a feast as guests of honor where a noble NPC will be poisoned by the villain. Sounds familiar? Yes. It’s a simple premise.

    What if, one of the PCs, ignoring the laws of etiquette stands up and casts a detect poison spell? What happens to the adventure then? Here, using a simple spell, your premise may be broken. When thinking in D&D terms, I try to think of low-level spells and powers as those the PCs are most likely to throw around without any reason. Perhaps the villain uses a poison that is in two parts. Say something that reacts to wine?

    At some point, however, the game must be allowed to go on. The rules for etiquette must apply and a certain measure of common sense and consequences must be applied. PCs that constantly break the rules of etiquette should be thrown out of the hall. They may also become suspect, “how did they know the food was poisoned?”

    No substitute for experience

    I said it a million times, nothing beat playing the game. Someone I strongly dislike comes to mind (Greg-I) immediately comes to mind as a good example (don’t worry the dislike is shared). The guy knows what every DM & author should and should not do. I played one game under him and it was as tedious as most of the lectures I had to endure while in college. He would read two lines, then whine about bad adventure design, then explain what is wrong and why he wouldn’t have done thing one way. Reading the adventure after playing it under him, I found that it really wasn’t half as bad as he said and in fact, enjoyed running it.

    He knows everything. But he doesn’t DM for a million bogus reasons (truth is: he may find out he’s not as right as he thinks he is).

    Be flexible in the design

    Many adventures are made so inflexible that it’s like watching a movie. The players have no real say or impact on what is happening. You keep thinking “you know, I would do something different.” Slasher movies… WHY oh WHY does the hot girl run up the stairs instead of running for the back door? Dramatic effect, yes, but in an RPG, many will go to the door OR through a window if need be.

    Now, certain types of adventure (such as dungeon crawls) are by nature linear, but putting some thought into the design and rooms is a big one. I generally prefer to write “point A” and “point B” and assume the DM/party will make their way through.

    Come up with options/alternatives

    Your ideas and writing are not sacrosanct and a holy gift from God (you) to the world! No. They are not. Really. Most of what I write end up in a “see you later” bin. Play-tests are an opportunity to expand and flesh out what is happening, with the benefit of having 4-6 heads and ideas flowing through into your adventure. Use the input they give you to make your writing better (and without necessarily telling them…).

    Again the goal is to have a product that is very fun, interesting and that almost any DM can take and use in their game world. The more alternatives you have, the better the result.


    I’ll detail how the play-test went next time.


    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Farewell Brian

    Today I learned of the passing away of my good friend Brian Glose.

    I remember the first time I met Brian. It was during Weekend in Dyvers ’05 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I had a car full of stuff and was moving to Colorado. Brian’s smile and friendly attitude really made me feel welcome in this new place. Ever before settle in to my appt, I knew I had a friend in the area.

    Over the years he and I worked closely together, particularly during the days of Living Greyhawk when Brian would organize the “Big Two”: Weekend in the County in April-May and Brookfest in December. His tireless work allowed me to focus on other things and make the campaign what it was.

    With the coming of LFR, we drifted somewhat apart (the fact that I live in Colorado Springs and he in Denver helped) but kept in contact on an irregular basis, thanks to modern technology. We’d talk through Yahoo messenger, through Facebook and even griped about a few things when we’d cross paths at one of the larger cons.

    Today, I can truly say that the world is a sadder place than yesterday.

    Thank you for being my friend. See you on the other side.

    Farewell Brian.

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010


    There! I’ve done it! After procrastinating for quite a bit, doing other things, painting models, playing D&D Online, watching whole seasons of the Real Housewhores of […], I finally have written the first adventure in this world I’ve been blogging about! It feels real good. With an adventure behind my belt, the project begins to feel more concrete to me. I mean just talking and talking is fine… but getting something you can look and read is real.

    Real is good.

    Now that the first round of writing is over, begins the second phase, the editing and tweaking. Sure writing an adventure is fun and joy, but the second phase, which is often more tedious and annoying begins. Although it’s not as enjoyable, the editing phase is when an adventure really becomes alive. I’m not talking about self-edits or style changes. I mean when ideas are merged, reformed and tweaked. That is when good adventures are made GREAT.

    Those who worked as authors for me know my near-tyrannical tendencies during that phase. I am merciless (and I expect my editors to be as merciless with me as I am with them). The proof of this is, I believe, in the pudding. Great adventures were born of the synergy of both the mind of the author and the direction of the editor.

    So that’s the news right now. And with one adventure… this means the next one is just around the corner! So now I must start on a sequel. Something to make into a memorable campaign…

    What is the adventure about you ask? Well that’s pretty simple… It’s a dungeon crawl with some RP elements to introduce the particularities. What!? You expected a deep and intertwined storyline from the get-go? That would be foolish of me. Don’t worry I must set a few strands before starting to work on a full-on web! Baby steps. Remember. Baby steps…

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Late Ptolemaic List for WAB

    WAB is Warhammer Ancient Battles, a set of wargaming rules that is close to my own heart. It uses the same mechanics as the popular Warhammer Fantasy Battles, but strips out all of the magic and monsters, leaving only human soldiers and cavalry. I have found that it represents battles of the period well enough and that it is fast-paced.

    A little History

    The Ptolemaic Dynasty was the last dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs. After Alexander the Great liberated Egypt from Persian control, Egypt became part of the Macedonian Empire. With Alexander’s death, one of his top generals (Ptolemy) took control of Egypt and became embroiled in the many wars of successions that followed the breaking up of the Macedonian Empire. Ptolemy and his successor (also named Ptolemy) were foreign rulers in a conquered land. During its three century existence (323-30BC), the dynasty’s fortunes waxed and waned.

    When Cleopatra was crowned in 51BC, Egypt extended south to Nubia (mod Northern Sudan), west into the Libyan desert (the exact location of the frontier is about where it is today), into the Sinai Peninsula and a few sea-side colonies. The Ptolemaic empire had diminished significantly since its heydays, but it was still a powerful state. It was a state where the leaders were Greek and the population was Egyptian, Libyan, Nubian and Jewish. The Greeks distrusted the local populace and kept separate from them.

    The armies of Egypt were drawn from this group of Greek descendants and mercenary units the state was able to pay. Thus we have reports that the Egyptian army included: Gallatians, Gauls, Germans, Syrians, Nubians, Libyans and Cilicians.

    Writing the list

    I first came up with the idea of building an army centered the conflicts of Cleopatra VI's reign. She ruled over a period of history I really like and for which I own numerous armies for (Romans, Gauls, Illyrian/Thracians, Parthians). I had a few packs of Macedonian / Successor infantry and some Nubian archers. I began thinking about a way to use those minis. Then the idea dawned on me. So I decided to see what an army of Ptolemaic would look like.

    I went to look for WAB resources: no army published. I looked through some on-line site, WRG's (Wargames Research Group) and DBM (De Bellis Multitudinis) books to see what those games had as far as resources. There were some useful tidbits. From those sources I was able to gather that the Egyptian Army was centered on a core of phalanxes and “imitation legionnaires”. Phalanxes were pike-armed units that fought in dense formation using 18-20 feet long pikes. Imitation legionnaires were a different best. Most sources agreed that they were most likely equipped as Roman legionnaires: pilum or throwing spear, sword and an oblong shield with a Roman-style helm, they were a number of divergences on their quality, training and distribution of chainmail or padded amongst the troops.

    I contacted Jeff Jonas, the author of Alexander the Great for WAB and web master for He pointed me to an army list he published for his yet-unreleased Successor supplement (which has been on my must-buy list since AtG came out). As luck would have it, he was willing to share! I sat down and devoured the list. Immediately I saw a few tweaks to make to it. But I had a basic framework to work up from. So I did research aimed at learning about those mercenary troops in Egyptian service. How should they be classified in the game? Here, a little intuition and game experience can go a long way.

    The list

    So finally, I completed the army list and posted it to my website WAB page I completed the exercise by building a few sample armies to try out the rules. I like the mixture of pike and other units. If you have comments or thoughts, do not hesitate to contact me!