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2/17/2018

My musings on various stuff: Civilized Edition

There's a lot going on in the fandom right now. Awesome fan-made materials, official releases and news of upcoming projects - there's something for everyone, so let's go and take a look, shall we?

1. The Northmen Rules v2.0 by Jackdays from Kalevala Hammer

Let the quality content flow!
Always awesome Jackdays from the legendary Kalevala Hammer, returns once again with a content of topmost quality. His Northmen sourcebooks for WFRP are some of the best fan-made materials out there, and for a good reason. Being fascinating, extensive reads on the topic of the fearsome northern tribes of the Warhammer Fantasy world, they're a true boon to Gamemasters and players alike. A few weeks ago Jack has released a new version of this great add-on for WFRP 1, 2 and 3, and I can't stress enough how good they are. You can check them out yourselves, by visiting his website and downloading them from his rich repository of goodies. They're worth your time, trust me on that.

2. Dawn of War III bites the dust (finally)

Oh, how the might have fallen...
Wow, what a sad, sad ending DoW III has recieved. The third part in a legendary series of RTS games, set in the grim&dark future of Warhammer 40,000, this title had problems from the very beginning of its existence. From the visual spectrum to Gabriel Angelos jumping around in a terminator plate, to gameplay issues themselves - Dawn of War III was just one, big mess. Now the developers officially announced that they're canceling any work on the future DoW III releases. On one hand it's sad to see such a venerable series go out with a wet fart, but on the other... fuck this game. Seriously, after two previous titles, which were extremely good and helped in bringing a lot of new people into the hobby, this one was just... shit. Boring, inconsequential and badly made pieces of crap, deserve to be flushed down the toilet. And Dawn of War III should be definitely flushed at least twice. Good riddance.

I actually wanted to include a link to DoW III Steam page, where you can buy the game with a 66% discount, but honestly, it's not worth even a single penny, so I'm not going to advertise a stinking corpse. Sorry.

3. Cubicle 7 continues to release more classic WFRP modules!

There are no brakes on the hype train!
Why is Cubicle 7 so based? I don't know, but they're certainly making their way to the top of my "Favorite RPG companies" list. Not only is the 4th edition of WFRP shaping up to be a very good title, they've also decided to re-release some old classics, from the time of the 1st edition. This time we have the legendary "Power behind the Throne" module, set in the grim, northern city of Middenheim, the holy place of all followers of Ulric. You can grab the high quality PDF from DriveThruRPG.com, for a very reasonable price. It's worth it for the fantastic quality of this book alone.

4. News about the upcoming Necromunda game

Dat skull...
Necromunda: Underhive Wars is a title that quite a lot of people are waiting for. Not only is the Necromunda franchise taking the tabletop community by storm, with GW resurrecting this venerable franchise (and FW making a whole bunch of goodies for it!), but Rogue Factor, the developers behind the fantastic Mordheim: City of the Damned title, are working on a video game adaptation as well! In fact a few days ago we've been shown a bunch of very cool, in-game materials, and they look lovely. I personally can't wait for this title to hit the shelves. Not only am I a huge Necromunda fan (I have two, old-school gangs), but I also love the Mordheim PC game to death. I've actually bought it in early access and... it was probably a mistake, since my ancient PC had real trouble running it. That said, after the official release, there are no problems at all, and I'm fully positive that Necromunda will be made just as well. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

I think that 2018 is going to be a very interesting year, when it comes to RPG and tabletop games. WFRP 4th edition is coming, as well as the Age of Sigmar role-playing game. Vermintide 2 is on the horizon and there will be more stuff for Total War: Warhammer 2. On the other hand there are more, fascinating news about the upcoming Werewolf: The Apocalypse video game, something that I'm really waiting for. I will most certainly write all about these things, and more! Stay tuned people.

"When will you rage?"
Until next time!

Xathrodox86

1/29/2018

Sharing is caring! On the topic of my Classic World of Darkness collection

I'm a huge fan of the White Wolf's Classic World of Darkness. I love the lore, I love the characters and I love the overgrown metaplot. Since I have a few fan-made addons for CWoD laying on my HD, I've decided to share them with a wider world.

Of all my RPG collections, this one is certainly the smallest of all. It's hard to find any, remaining old World of Darkness fansites, those from the really old day. Many of them Geocities-based and many other were closed, due to legal reasons, even if not all of the materials that were available on them, were illegal. I guess it's not completely true what people say about the internet - things tend to disappear from it. I, however, intend to save as many of them, as possible. Well... at least those, related to the hobby, anyway.

This girl is having as much fun, as I am, every time I'm reading a CWoD book
Anyway, with some help from the people on Old (Classic) World of Darkness fanpage on Facebook (which I thoroughly recommend, by the way) and after some intense searching by yours truly, I've came up with a small collection of fan-made Classic World of Darkness material. I hope that you'll find them to your liking.


As usual, none of this stuff has been made by me and credits go to all of the respective authors. Once again, I'm only posting 100% FAN-MADE goodies, no official White Wolf stuff. If, by some chance, any author of said addons would find this collection and decide that he or she doesn't want to see their work, being included in such a way in it, please contact me and I will immediately take it down.

As I've said before - the Classic World of Darkness may very well be my favorite RPG of all time. I love that it takes place in our world, and yet is full of supernatural mysteries, secret cults, monsters being present within our societies and horrors, that are lurking in every shadow and, sometimes, almost in plain sight of the ignorant masses. There is no other game that tends to work on my imagination in a way that the World of Darkness does. As I've mentioned in one of my earlier posts: I will never be able to run out of ideas for CWoD chronicles. Never. All it takes is a simple walk in the city and voila! - 10, maybe 20 new ideas for my games, based on the locations that I've passed by or went into.

That's why this game is so good. It mixes the known with the fantastic, the ordinary with the uncanny, the everyday, boring life-stuff with supernatural horror. It does all of those things and it does them better than any, other role-playing system. It is truly, a marvel amongst RPG's and I will never stop loving it for its fantastic and unique style.

If a bit creepy, sometimes... Still, that's the point of this whole setting!
Until next time!

Xathrodox86

1/13/2018

Xathrodox86 reviews: "The Harrowing" by Rob Sanders

A new year is upon us and with new opprotunities and challenges. Let's kick it off with a review of a short, but very enjoyable tale, set in the Age of Darkness, during the Horus Heresy.

I'm a huge Heresy buff. While the classic 40K holds less and less interest for me, at least lore wise, the Horus Heresy is a prime example of a fascinating setting, done right. Or at least mostly right, since they've could really ended this series by now. When something takes too long, it can become tiresome and loose track of what it originally was. Still, Games Workshop puts so many resources into 30K, that even with occasional slip or two, it's still vastly superior to its older brother, both rules and lore-wise. Naturally that is only my opinion, but there you have it. Heresy rocks.

It's time to initiate... The Harrowing!
Even tough I originally decided not to spend too much of a time on 30K/40K in 2018, I've played a couple of HH games last weekend, all with a bunch of really cool people. Needless to say, it was awesome. Not only the WH30K is an excellently balanced game, at least much more than the 7th edition of 40K was (it uses the 7th ruleset, but none of its bad parts), it was also incredibly fun to discover all of the wonderful and unique rules and toys, that the Imperium had in store, 10,000 years before Guilliman decided that he was fine all along and decided to start running things for a while.

Anyway, these two games (one against the Death Guard, the other against the IXth Legion - Blood Angels), left me craving for more. I've begun to piece together the rest of my army and I've also returned to listening to 30K audiobooks, something I haven't been doing for the last half a year, at least. Since I collect the Alpha Legion, it was only logical for me to return to Rob Sanders' excellent stories, detailing the modus operandi of the Sons of Alpharius. Among these is "The Harrowing", a short story that is both fantastically written and an excellent insight into the mentality of the XXth Legion.

The Mechanicum freighter Omnissiax carries a lethal cargo of Ordo Reductor's war machines, as well as 500 suits of MKIV power armor, intended for the Sons of Dorn, who are fortifying Terra, awaiting the arrival of the Arch-Traitor Horus. However the Alpha Legion has infiltrated the Ark ship and are sowing discord and chaos, as only they can. On a nearby world of Callistra Mundi in rebellion, time is of the essence. If the XXth Legion forces won't act soon, then the forces loyal to Horus will face defeat. The Mechanicum constructs and weapons must be secured and then the Harrowing will commence, bringing another victory to the Warmaster and another planet into his iron grasp.

This is a classic spec-ops tale of deceit and infiltration. The Alpha Legion is known for using many non-Space Marine operatives. These include Mechanicum's thralls, Titan Princeps and even ordinary lexmechanics. These men and women help the Legionaries secure the victory and make sure that the Serpents will emerge victorious and manage to support Armillus Dynat on Callistra Mundi in his efforts to initiate the Harrowing, a simultaneous assault from every, possible angle on the enemy's positions, a true hallmark of the Alpha Legion.

The Legionaries themselves are shown as professional, efficient assassins, men of few words who get the job done. They are utterly merciless and committed to their cause. Too many people forget that the XXth are still Legiones Astartes, living weapons before whom nothing and no one can stand for long. Coupled with their highly unorthodox penchant for waging war, sowing deception and exploiting their enemy's every, single weakness, it truly makes them formidable and deadly foes. Sanders really puts emphasis on these traits of theirs and it works wonders, showing a force of Space Marines so distant and alien in their ways, to their more conservative and ramrod-like cousins.

"The Harrowing" is a perfect example of a short story done right. It's fast paced, dynamic and fully engages the reader (or listener, since it's also available in the audio format). You can find it in the Horus Heresy anthologies "Sedition's Gate" and "War Without End", and I seriously advice you to give this lovely piece a try.

I've decided to ditch the pros/cons summary, as I felt it to be unneeded and unnecessary. From the tone of my reviews and my praising/bashing of the given book, game or whatever, you'll be able to determine whether it is worth picking up or not.

In the coming posts I will delve more into the grim darkness of the far future, just as I promised that I would, last year. There will be also a lot more stuff about the Great Heresy and maybe even a showcase of my (still largely unpainted) XXth Legio army. Of course this does not mean that I'm abandoning Warhammer Fantasy, far from it. There's a review of a computer game, one set in the Old World, coming very soon. 2018 also means that there will be more interviews, as I have planned a couple of them, but we will see how well this will work out in the end. Anyway, I'm very optimistic about 2018 and I hope that it will be a great year for you folks as well.

Happy infiltrating!
Until next time!

Xathrodox86

12/28/2017

It's the end of the year! Let's sum up the 2017. What lies ahead?

Right before the end of December, I look back on the whole year and sum up my entire hobby endeavors.

It was a crazy year. Some personal stuff aside, I can easily call it a success, when it comes to hobby related stuff. Let's take a closer look on some of the more important points of 2017.

1. Starting a new RPG group.

Time to step back into that familiar tavern...
One year ago I've returned to running WFRP live. Until then, for a year I only GM'ed it on Roll20 (and I still do!), but I wanted to return to "real life" experience. Needless to say, it went well. I've gathered a fantastic group of fellow hobby enthusiasts and we're playing once a week for a year now. There were a few changes in the group's composition at the very beginning, but right now it's all stable. During that single year we've managed to complete two classic 1st edition campaigns - "Lichemaster" and the entire "The Enemy Within"! Not only that but we've also managed to start "The Thousand Thrones", which is going better than great. The boys are already on chapter three and they've also finished a timeless classic - "The Lord of Lost Heart". We've even managed to play a couple games of 6th edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle (we're playing the classic campaign "Dark Shadows"), something that I'm very happy about!
Finding a group of passionate, friendly and enthusiastic people has been a real boon to my hobby life. From here I would like to thank Kuba, Czarek, Paweł and Andrzej for a fantastic year and, potentialy, many more to come. Thank you guys. For everything.

2. Successfully continuing my Roll20 experience.

A good advice, if I ever saw one
When I've started my online WFRP group on the Roll20, more than two years ago now, I did not expect it to last more than a couple of months. Well, whaddya know, it's still going strong! There were a few player swaps here and there, but for a long time now, the crew is tight and works together really well. Not only do I love to play with those guys, but I also love the fact that we're RP'ing in English, since all of them are from the USA. It gives me a great opportunity to work on my language and improvisation skills, since GM'ing through a microphone is a completely different thing, than doing that live (FYI we are not using webcams). This year we've played many, classic WFRP titles. There was the legendary "A rough night at the Three Feathers", "The Haunting Horror" and a one-shot in Araby of my own devising. Finally they've reached Talabheim for a grand-scale campaign, which slowly comes to an end.
As for what will come next, who knows? We shall see. Again, a huge thanks to my fantastic players - Andy, Bryan, Jason and Sean. You rock!

3. Expanding my RPG collection.

One day I will have a similar number of RPG books
This year I've managed to greatly improve the amount of my role-playing books and gadgets. Right now I only have 3 books left to finish my 2nd edition WFRP collection. This summer a very special package came to me from Finland. Inside was a bunch of OOP books, including "Lure of the Liche Lord", "The WFRP Companion" and "The Career Compendium" among others. From here I would very much like to thank Konrad from Warhammer-Empire for a chance to purchase these beauties. I'm still hoping that you'll find "Night's Dark Masters" and "Tome of Salvation", as they're amongst the few left, that I don't have in my possession.

Aside from some WFRP titles, I've also managed to grab a bunch of Neuroshima books from a pal, which I'm very happy about. Neuroshima is a polish post-apocalyptic RPG, with a theme similar to "Fallout" and "Mad Max" series. It has some of the most well-written gaming books, ever released and the atmosphere is just awesome. I will surely buy more sourcebooks for Neuroshima, as I intend to have the whole collection, one day.

Finally there are gadgets... lots and lots of new gadgets to include in my games. I've found out that at least a quarter of satisfaction and atmosphere-building, can be achieved by using props and cool, climactic gadgets. There will be a whole article about this soon, but for now let me just say that printing a bunch of maps and laminating them, was one of my best, hobby ideas that I ever had. Then there is also "THE CHEST", a very nicely crafted, custom wooden box, for storing my whole GM paraphernalia, including dice, paper coins, leather pouches and other stuff. My players absolutely love these additional props and they really do add a lot to the game itself.

4. Continuing work on my 30K Alpha Legion army.

None more loyal!
I wasn't much of a modeler or painter this year, since I've decided to concentrate on my RPG passion. That said. I did managed to assemble and paint to a certain level, nearly all of my XXth Legion force, which consists of over a hundred Marines, two Contemptor Dreadnoughts, three Scimitar Jetbikes and a Mastodon. Oh and there's a Rhino and a Whirlwind as well, almost forgot about these. That said, only my infantry received the basic colors and the vehicles are next in line. I would very much like to thank Michał for letting me use his painting gear, without which I wouldn't be able to achieve this goal. Next year, if everything goes well, I plan to finish this army and move on to my remaining two - my mixed Imperial Guard and my Empire, with some classic Dogs of War support. Yeah, I already regret buying so many models, but at least I'm playing with them, so that's a plus. You know, as opposed to my normal Space Marine army, which I'm trying to sell for quite some time now. Never buy too many armies, folks. It's not worth it, seriously.

5. Contributing to the Warhammer Fantasy community in one way or another.

I've been very active on a couple of fan sites, dedicated to Warhammer Fantasy, both the RPG and the tabletop strategy game. For me interacting with fellow 'Hammer enthusiasts is a great thing, really positive and it brings me a lot of joy to see so many passionate people, continuing to write, argue about and contribute to this wonderful and fascinating, fantasy world. It was thanks to them, that I've managed to shake off my aversion for WFB/WFRP, which came upon me around the middle of 2014. While I still think that these games have a lot of flaws and are not that unique or original, I'm fine with that. For me Warhammer Fantasy is like a comfort food. I know it really well, I can cook it fast and easy, it's not something special or unique, but I enjoy it nonetheless. I'm cool with that.
Sites and blogs like Kalevala HammerStrike to Stun, Warhammer-Empire, AWESOME LIES and The Daily Empire, are all doing a great job of keeping the flame alive. Now, with just a few months before the release o WFRP 4th edition, these communities received even more attention from gamers, both old and new, who wish to learn more about Warhammer Fantasy. I can't stress how great and important, this kind of attention is, to the hobby. I'm trying to do my part, answering questions, taking part in discussions and even working on a few, fan-made supplements, which I hope to finish next year, around spring. Warhammer Fantasy is alive and kicking. Let's make sure that it stays that way.

So there you have it, a summary of my hobby-related activities in 2017. I hope that 2018 will be just as interesting and busy, when it comes to RPGs and tabletop games. That said, there are major life changes heading my way and I may have to slow down on a couple of things, including my hobbies. After all, they're just that - hobbies, but worry I shall not. For even if there will be some downtime, there is always a chance for a comeback. I'm quite optimistic about that and, of course, I will inform you about any, major changes on the pages of this fine blog, my very own slice of internet that I'm lucky to share with all you, fine, fine people.

I wanted to thank all of you, my readers, for coming back to this blog, reading my crazy, sometimes downright incoherent, ramblings and returning for more. I'm writing for you and for you alone and I intend to do it, for many more years to come. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

All of you
Until next time... in 2018! Stay safe, people and take care.

Xathrodox86

12/15/2017

Role-playing Rants: My honest thoughts on the 4th edition of WFRP

A few weeks ago Cubicle 7 have released the covers for the 4th edition of WFRP, along with some news, regarding the first campaign, that they'll be releasing. Let's take a closer look at what we've been told.

Right at the start I want to make one thing abundantly clear - I'm very happy for the release of next edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I think that the 3rd one was a mediocre effort and a new edition will have a chance to wash that stain away. If it will be done right, of course.

So first of all we have the covers. One for the starter set, one for the rulebook itself. They compliment each other nicely and I definitely like the shout-out to the first edition of the game. From the covers alone a lot can be told and I think that Cubicle 7 gives us subtle hints about the tone of the game. On one hand we have a bunch of classic Warhammer heroes, doing ordinary Warhammer stuff, which is always nice and gives this setting a feel of normality, of everyday social struggles. Then again we have an action packed cover, where the heroes are fighting off a bunch of vile ratmen! This certainly shows that the 4th edition won't stray from everyone's favorite combat-heavy aspect of the game.

When nostalgia kicks in hard!
The color palette is interesting as well. Cubicle 7 clearly intends this game to be more "child friendly" than "grim-dark" and it shows. Yeah, we have the usual Old World squalor and gloom, presented on both covers, but on the other hand the whole thing is pretty colorful and heroic. I get a strong comic book vibes, just from looking at these covers. Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. As long as they won't take it too far, I'm all cool with that style.

4th edition's mechanics will be a mix of rules from the 1st and 2nd editions, with a bit of the 3rd, thrown for good measure, apparently. It clearly shows one thing - Cubicle 7 aims this game not to new players, but to the "Old Guard". They know how nostalgic their target fanbase really is and, in a very well thought-out move, decide not to make a complete makeover, like FFG did with the 3rd edition. I honestly think that this is a... very risky move. Sure, on one hand they will get massive interest from the older players, the veterans of Warhammer Fantasy. On the other, however, not focusing on gaining the attention of new players is a dangerous thing to do. After all, focusing your product on a sake of nostalgia alone, does not equal success, or at least doesn't have to. I hope that the guys and gals at Cubicle 7 know what they're doing.

Another thing that I'm not 100% ok with, is the choice of the first campaign for the 4th edition. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to "The Enemy Within"! For the third, fucking time. My god, how much can you milk a single module? Why Cubicle 7, for the love of Sigmar, why? You had a clean start, a clean slate and you had to choose the most obvious and boring way imaginable. Don't get me wrong, I love "The Enemy Within", I really do. I GM'ed it this year and it was a blast. But this campaign is more than 30 years old, it's been known to every player out there, including those, playing other systems. FFG did their own version of it, it's been fan-remade (well, at least some parts of it were), there is nothing new or original about "TEW". Ok, so Cubicle 7 got Graeme Davis on board and that's a great thing, as he's the perfect man for this job, but that's still not enough for me, to justify resurrecting a fossil of that magnitude. I'm sorry, but a "director's cut" of "TEW" is a wasted opportunity, in my opinion. You could've given Mr. Davis a task to write something new and original, and MAYBE give us a refreshed version of some old campaigns later in the run. But no, you had to try and score a couple more "nostalgia" points from the old school players. I'm disappointed. Not pissed, or anything, just... disappointed.

Hopefully their next modules will give us something new and fresh. I understand that Cubicle 7 wants to reach mainly to us, old timers, but even so, they will need to present some fresh and unique content. Something never seen before. They've promised elven and Lustria supplements and that makes me very happy, but then again, I still remember the page from the 2nd editions rulebook, on which it was written that the elves will get their own book, one day. This never happened, as I'm sure many people know. Sure, there are a few great fan-made supplements about the High and Wood Elves, like the "Defenders of the Forest" and "The Book of the Asur", but nothing official. I hope that Cubicle 7 will change that. I also hope that we'll see sourcebooks for lands beyond the Old World. Lustria is a start, but I want to see more details about Albion, Cathay, Ind and Nippon. I want a whole, huge book about the fascinating Southlands and the myriad wonders and dangers, that can be found on this mysterious continent.

Hey, Cubicle 7, please make it happen!
I want something else than the usual Old World stew with Beastmen hiding in the woods, grim Witch Hunters and tired, moustached innkeepers. I want to see a lot of originality, even if "real" WFRP players and gamemasters will grimace with distaste, at the sight of a Cathay supplement. The thing that drove me away from Warhammer Fantasy, a few years back, was the lack of originality and the endless, boring cycle of "same old same old" attitude from the fanbase. Cubicle 7 has a chance to change that, nay they need to change that. Even if the 4th edition will be marketed mainly to the "old guard", it needs to show something new, something that has never been seen before. If it won't then... Well, then it will suffer the fate of the previous edition, as a interesting, but ultimately pointless game. At least that's my opinion on this subject.

I have a lot of hopes when it comes to the 4th edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, but also a lot of doubts. I seriously hope that the developers won't fuck this up and they will treat us, their consumers, with dignity and respect and not like a bunch of tools, who will buy anything with a Warhammer logo printed on the cover. You know, like FFG did. I will have to wait a couple months more to see if I'm right, or that my initial enthusiasm was a mistake. Only time will tell.

Oh, one more thing. I've updated both my WFRP and 40K RPG collections. You can download a bunch of new, free and 100% legal stuff from here and here. As usual, all the credit goes to the fantastic community members, who spent their time, working on these supplements. Thank you.

You're awesome!
Until next time!

Xathrodox86