As I have said before I started Rollaone.com as a thank you for all the contents that is being provided by so many people out there that has helped me over the years in getting inspired, learning techniques, finding out more about various periods and frankly getting a little bit of an escape from it all. I also did it to record the works I was doing for my 6mm in Saga project five years ago.
I mentioned in a previous blog that the good people at Little Wars TV had nominated this blog for their Caesar Awards 2021 as Wargame Blog of the year (see more details here).
Having spent a long Friday evening (and early Saturday morning) with mates online drinking and remembering the brilliant Mike Hobbs (more here), I was not sure whether I should watch the ceremony or not. However I did fall asleep during the evening and woke up an hour before the start of the award show, being broadcast on Sunday morning at 01.00 due to the time difference between the UK and the States. You can watch the show by using the link below. I really enjoyed the intro and the special song (a proper Broadway number) and of course the show itself. Then the first award given was the blog award and he did say Roll a One, didn’t he?.
Friends of the blog Too Fat Lardies got the award for best Podcast (in hard competition with other friends of the blog Gods own Scale and Battlegames) with their Oddcast, Alex at Storm of Steel Wargaming won the painting video awards and Sonic Sledgehammer Studios for his fantastic how I paint Republican Romans. Well done tot the Lardies, Alex, Sonic and all the other winners.
There was a lots of entries and I was chuffed not pull the shortest straw, or if you wish roll a one, this time.
Thanks to the Judges and the Little Wars TV Patreons!, and to Little Wars for all the good stuff they do for the hobby.
There is a lot of stuff produced for the historical wargaming hobbyist and this kind of acknowledgement is really important and encouraging, I hope not just for myself, but for others to perhaps consider starting a blog, recording a video and sharing it with others, or otherwise getting engaged in creating some content be it serious analytical stuff or light entertainment.
In addition, and whilst I have your attention there is an important thing you can do even if you do not want to produce content yourself, that actually plays in your favour, and that is to let the people who are behind wargaming video channels, blogs, Facebook accounts, etc know that you appreciate what they do – perhaps leave a comment, send them a like, or share the link to others, or follow the blog/channel or whatever it is called.
I have to admit that the small occasional comment from one of the Roll a One regulars or someone just passing by really cheers me up and keeps me and the blog going.
If you do not like what they do and you honestly think that you ought to tell them perhaps you could do it in a nice and constructive way or perhaps move on to something else. I very rarely feel upset having to read a short text or watched a video even if I did not like it, especially if it was free.
The passing of Mike Hobbs last week have really made me appreciate the positivism that someone like Mike spread and how he built bridges between different hobby islands and made it a better place. So whilst we can never be Mike, we can try to be like him – making it more inclusive and fun!
Anyway really humbled by this award, and I am more than sure Mike would have been proud of us too,
It was with great sadness I received news from Neil Shuck late on the 20th April 2021 that Mike Hobbs, the Welsh Wizard or the Gamer, had suddenly passed. The many beautiful messages on Twitter about Mike and what impact he had on so many aspects of our hobby of gaming, from writing rules, presenting games, talking about games, reviewing games, playing games, painting, etc. Not just wargames but all kind of games – a true table top wizard, be it wargames, board games or roleplaying games. But the best things with Mike was that he was a good mate to me and many others – to me the tweet by Marshal Luigi, kind of summed it up!
Here are just a selection of some of the many impressions Mike made on me and for which I will remember him.
Mike instigated a virtual painting club during lockdown where a bunch of us have been meeting up on a regular basis getting that needed social interaction and escape from it all. It has really been a morale boost during the hard times we all have had during this period. Mike always would lend you an ear not just for the banter but for some harder more serious issues too.
He also did the Hoblund’s Dragoons as part of the 6mm charity project we did last year, that I hope to be able to take somewhere soon. In our first battle his Dragoons played an important role in stressing the Siarus left that eventually led to the overall victory.
When I was planning on doing the Saga in 6mm project a few years ago I had extensive discussions with Mike on how to base the figures and deal with what in essence became a totally different looking and feeling game. He really gave me a lot of time explaining not just the basic rules but how the various battle boards worked, etc.
I also remember that big order we did from Eureka when they came over to Salute to get the full discount – well believe it or not but there was no need to go together to achieve the required amount for the discount when we had finished our shopping carts. Mike ordered Hawkmoon miniatures from their 28mm range – and we recently discussed them and that perhaps he would put some paint on them – I wish I could have seen those.
And all those episodes of the Meeples and Miniatures podcast – what a backlog of great listening Mike, Neil and the other hosts built up over the years. It still my favourite podcast – you should check it out.
But finally my favourite memory was when he, Neil and a few others came up to see me at Joy of Six in 2019. Mike gave me the nickname “the Godfather of Six” and he told me I more than deserved it for the Poltava battle – I am really happy you liked it mate and would have liked to share more stuff with you.
When I asked Mike, at Joy of Six, what I else he had been checking out, he said “I just came to support you Per”. That was Mike in a nutshell! He made you feel special and always included.
Mike, as you pass over the rainbow bridge to Valhalla (your Glorantha may vary!), I hope you get to see at least a glimpse of all the love that has been pouring out for you over the last 24 hours and I am sure will continue. You did not deserve to go now, but wherever you go you deserve the best.
Hope to see you again one day, I will raise my horn for you! Thanks for all your support to me and the blog over the years! You were brilliant!
Your mate, Per
I extend my most sincere condolences to Mandy, Mike’s family and all his friends, especially to his best mate Neil Shuck (who wrote a really nice blog post about Mike here.).
As you may be aware the Swedish 1984 version of Mutant was my first Roleplaying (Rpg) experience and it was love at first play. I was cajoled into buying it by my cousin who was visiting us when I was 12. We spent about a year with Mutant being the main game we played in our little group, but then moved on and played a wide range of games throughout the teenage years – it was a bloody good time and apart from grinding a bass guitar in a death metal band formed the most important part of my teenage years. I was invited to the Grognard files to give my First, Last and Everything last year where I go into more depth about this, should you be interested (link here). It is with fondness I think back to those times and the adventures our group of friends shared. This post is really about a few reflections and thoughts on me running my first convention scenario for some 28 years.
Rpgs became something I used to do for a long time and when I started to get back into the wider tabletop gaming hobby I felt more drawn to wargaming – perhaps because it is a more solitary activity in that a lot of progress can be made without having to align your life to someone else’s diary. It is also about the stigma of asking your neighbour at the annual barbeque session whether she or he fancies rolling some dice and fight a bunch of mutated land sharks in Post-apocalyptic Scandinavia.
I wrote a summary in an earlier blog about the Grognard Files – it is a podcast, that does conventions and other stuff -actually what is really is, is a great community.
“I really enjoy the Grognard files podcast and the throwback to the good old days of 1980s roleplaying. If you have any interest in roleplaying games (rpgs), whether you were around then or not, this is a fantastic show and you should try it out (here is a link to get you started). Being of the somewhat mature nature (not old! – I still bloody play with toy soldiers, so I go for mature or perhaps in need of some maintenance, but never old!) for me this is a proper non-imaginary deja vu experience – I do not just feel like I did it, but I really did this before. I have played many of the games, back in the day, covered so far (often in multiple podcasts, and in addition podcasts have covered rpg magazines and fanzines):
Runequest, Call of Cthulhu, Traveller, Stormbringer, AD&D, Tunnels and Trolls, Top Secret, Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes, James Bond Rpg and Judge Dredd
Each game is thoroughly discussed, analyzed and reflected upon. Being a guest on the British Isles since the mid 90ies it is at a level of eccentricity that I recognise well and that is hard to find anywhere else. It is similar to the exploits of those Victorian chaps who invented industrial breakthroughs in their back garden sheds. I absolutely love the concept. Bravo to Dirk, Blythy, Ed and the rest of the crew (not forgetting the eminent Daily Dwarf, link here). I suggest you brew yourself a cup of tea and get a pack of hobnobs and sit down in your favourite chair and listen to the first episode on Runequest. The only thing that may prevent you from having a fantastic time is your ability in making a decent cup of tea!“
The Grognard files have been a nice gateway drug back into the hobby, initially focusing mainly on nostalgic cheap tricks, luring you in with old solid showstoppers like Runequest and Call of Cthulhu, but then expanding to more modern games and concepts, provoking not just the re-purchasing of all the old stuff our parents had slowly binned whilst we were chasing the dream but also buying new and very often shinier things. Almost like a conversion kit really, like my friend’s old Ford Escort from the 80ies that he proudly keeps in pristine condition, not like a museum curator, because there is constantly new gadgets and gizmos being added. “It is still a Ford Escort mate!”, but as he perhaps correctly says, “you do not get it!”. Anyway, enough cars, if I was making a living selling games I would try to find a way to follow in the wake of the Grognard files, like a seagull and take advantage of what it throws up! Well maybe not just games, what about Runequest socks with the Death and Air rune on?.
Sorry think I drifted away again, stay focused …
So in this newfound nostalgia of the old days I got out my old Mutant rulebooks from 1984 (with the Purple Covers) a few years ago and so my wargame/miniatures project #Mutant1984 was born. I have had some great fun with this pressing the world and the miniatures into service to enjoy a wide variety of miniature wargaming rule sets, including Sharp Practice, Infamy, Infamy!, The Men who would be Kings, Mutants and Death Ray Guns, to name a few. Most of the miniatures are conversions from other ranges with headswaps, etc, but there are a fair few things out there that fits in really well with minor modification – well perhaps not anything, but most things, goes in #Mutant1984.
It is a clear contrast to my more “serious” wargaming, where I anal-retentively worry what uniform colour the Queens Life Regiment had in the Summer 1702 following some notes on a large purchase, in the regimental records, of cloth in a different colour than previous uniforms, in early May the same year – did they have time to make new uniforms or not for this particular battle? Joke aside, I am as serious about all my pursuits just in a different way.
As part of Lockdown I have, when possible, attended a Virtual Painting session on Saturdays and as part of that I ended up playing in a Runequest group every 2 weeks herded by Jeremy Short. It has been an absolute blast and we have had some great fun exploring Sartar and getting involved in some excellent adventures. I ran a Call of Cthulhu for this group over Christmas based on a convention Scenario I wrote 30 years ago and really enjoyed GM:ing again.
I attended the 2020 Grogmeet as a player (being virtual due to the pandemic), and had planned to attend in 2019 but some work issues got in the way. Grogmeet is the annual event organised by Dirk and his merry people where people gather to play old and new games. I had an excellent time and played in some amazing games.
I decided to do something for Virtual Grogmeet 2021, that is also an annual event but intentionally virtual. I had to figure out what to run and sat down and reflected for a second on what the whole Grognard thing meant for me. I could have run one of the two Cthulhu scenario that still exist from way back, but thought that there would be a fair share of those offerings. I actually ended up playing James Holloway’s Call of Cthulhu Dark Ages scenario at Virtual Grogmeet this year, this was a fantastic immersion into the Crusader states era with a small scenario but well thought out and presented. This was a story about a delegation arriving from the archbishop looking to buy a relic and with the inhabitants (the players) of a small fief in Crusade-era Lebanon must try to protect the sacred remains without making a powerful enemy.
I was thinking about what I could offer that was a little bit unique and from back in the day, so I flipped through the introductory scenario for the 1984 Mutant book – Uppdrag i Mos Mosel (Mission in Mos Mosel) and realised that it is actually a workable scenario divided into two parts – an initial detective type of situation where the characters are trying to find out what is going on in the village and a second part where they find their way to the lair of the beast – so to speak (that contains it own little quirks with the possibility of forming an unexpected alliance and enough potential radiation damage to allow the characters to survive the scenario but still die after it – life is not fair, not even if you are a hero).
The scenario can perhaps be seen as the love child resulting from the union of Gamma world, D&D and Call of Cthulhu. It offers opportunities for both roleplaying and action (as if they were any different! but I hope you know what I mean). I do not want to go into the detail of the scenario itself as perhaps one day you may find yourself with Nicholas von Rijn in his Palace. The scenario is said to be heavily influenced by the AD&D Adventure Against the Cult of the Reptile God from 1982 (issued two years before Mos Mosel).
The old Swedish 1984 version of Mutant was based on the Basic Roleplaying System, with the typical stats from 3 to 18 with some exceptions and skills being percentage based. I found our house rules from 1985 or 1986 and included these because it felt right and charming – this was mainly a revision of the set of skills rationalising some skills and including some communication skills (there is a summary of this later on in the handouts presented). The rules are simple and will not get in the way to get started immediately with a group of new players. I feel that too clever rules sometimes fails to shine in one offs, the key is not in how ingenious they are but how easy they are to quickly pick up and use efficiently in a short amount of time.
Mutant 1984 is of course the game that started the whole Swedish Post-Apocalyptic RPG era that is still going strong in the excellent Mutant Year 0 game by Free League (more here).
The first thing to decided was how to run it and luckily the group I have been playing in has successfully used Roll20 for the visuals and rolling dice and Google Meet for video and audio. Google Meet is basically a virtual meeting platform that allows you to do an online meeting with multiple individuals and allows sharing voice and video. Roll20 also allows video and audio sharing but is on occasion a little bit wanting (well at least from my experience), but what it does allow though is the ability to manage visuals, as well as combat using maps and tokens for where characters are, and rolling for skills etc in an open way. There is a little bit of a learning curve and I tried but failed to align the character sheet with the ability to press on a skill and roll for it automatically. I run the session rolling in the app and then “manually” checking the character sheet – this works fine.
In addition I fleshed out the scenario a bit by adding some play aids that I have included here (in addition to the few presented in the actual scenario, I have just shown a fragment of one of them here, if you are interested in getting these to run this scenario, let me know).
I also realized that all the main characters were men in the scenario, so I played around with this a little bit. One of the key characters in the Scenario is Wolf, the person that has disappeared, I made him a her called Wolf Babs (I took a picture of the Swedish singer Lill Babs 1960ies single Karl XII and mixed it with a picture of some American Civil war soldiers).
Similar adjustment was done to the actual town of Mos Mosel where I swapped the roles of the Mayoral couple with Mariana being the actual Mayor instead of her husband Gottfred. They were small changes that did not change the overall story but I felt made it more inclusive and modern than the 1984 version. I thank my two girls who has and are showing me that it is not always the big gestures that matter, but also that the small ones does too and as they are easier to achieve and it all adds up, they might be more powerful in the long run.
As for the characters I needed to create some kind of balanced group and decided to base the characters on some of the pictures in the original rulebook – now there is one character in the rulebook who we may assume is a woman and that is a picture of a Bear with a pram and some cuddly baby bears, but I could not find a picture of a second female in the basic rule book and had to go to another Swedish RPG supplement of the era (the City Book Kandra for the Drakar och Demoner RPG). The second female character was a PSI mutant and I felt that the power in the drawing was telling the right story and in terms of style aligned to the others (The drawings are all by Nils Gullikson who was a great inspiration with his drawings in the early Swedish RPGs and also in the Swedish RPG magazine Sinkadus).
I basically designed the Group in a two-role typical fantasy group with a Magician-Thief, the Barbarian-Hunter, Paladin-Bard and Warrior-Rogue. I find this blend works well and gives the characters some room for getting involved when the going gets tough as well as being the lead in some situations – in the rough part of town, in the forest, social interfaces, stealth operations, etc.
I issued each player with a character sheet, with an example below.
…and also a little summary what they know about each other (this to allow some familiarity but not knowing exact details about each other).
I also included a little note on the rules (high level)
finally I did a few slides about the setting (art from the original rulebook and two of the early scenarios).
In doing the first play test I realised that it would be difficult to play the scenario in the 3 hour session without making it a very stressful and possibly too linear experience. It took the play test group two sessions. So I decided to run the scenario in two sessions – then with what I call a forced fast forward if they characters had not figured out what was going on at the end of the first session, this would allow some start-up and investigation in the first evening and then the final showdown in the second session.
How did it go?
I did a play test of the scenario and the team managed to figure out what was going on indirectly and manage to find their way to the lair of the beast and successfully defeated her (They met with a caterpillar snake who was looking for a mate, the friendliest monster in the rulebook who you do not want to mess with, luckily they did not and carried on their own business).
Thanks to Max, Jeremy, Neil and Simon for helping me out testing the game.
For the team playing it on Grogmeet they also managed to get to the end and remove the problem to fon Rijn’s profits. I felt bad for Tom who tried to communicate in a friendly way in most of the encounters without success but the one time it did matter it solved the problem. Keep optimistic. The team had some unlucky rolls but so did the opposition, they players were relatively less unlucky which is all that matters in the long run.
Thanks Ian, Chris, Tom and Jim for spending two evenings with me!, hope you had a good time, I did.
I may do another scenario using the same characters again, at some future Grogmeet.
As a general comment with regards to the virtual tools available it is really easy to set up and although it is not as a real face to face experience these tools allow you to meet up with mates not just during forces isolation but perhaps also reconnect with that old scattered all over the place gaming group and run some games, both Roll20 and Google Meet are free.
I was a little bit nervous in getting back to running games but with a little bit of help from my friends and perhaps over preparing the scenario I got over it – overall a fantastic experience. All the old confidence is slowly coming back and the realisation is that it is all about trying to have fun and that people that are in this hobby, mostly, is in it for exactly this reason too. Things has not become more cerebral just because the hairline has receded and the waistline has become more generous – things are still ok! So whilst I may not understand the gloriousness of the Ford Escort 4th Generation, I do get this!
I also learned from Neil Benson (https://oldscouserroleplaying.com/), the importance and power of testing tech etc, in advance and also to get things rolling a little bit before, setting up characters, sharing rules information, links, etc. It really makes things easier and on the day and is worth considering if you have time. My best online experience to date was playing a Vikingr scenario with him where we were up and running immediately on the day of the scenario.
…and a Land shark did showed up…
/ Hope that was of some interest!
NOTE: I also managed to get Grandad into the scenario. He was a funny guy!
I entered Fenris Games #Paintalloween in September last year. This is an annual thing that Ian runs with a few categories painting Fenris Games stuff, with the winners of each getting a £50 to spend on his products. I entered with my Death Dealer that in essence was a black painted model with some grey and Silver detailing, and some generous helpings of red and mainly yellow wash, I wanted to create the effect of a demonic knight riding on his supernatural stead through this lava landscape with the reflections from the lava on the horse. It was, like a lot of my stuff, a little bit of a trial and error and in the end it kind of worked from a distance, so take a step back and have another look at the picture below. The model is depicting the Death Dealer and is based on the famous 1973 paiting by Frazetta with the same name – more here. You make also recall it from the cover of the excellent album by Molly Hatchet in 1978.
I was lucky and landed a £50 gift card that I put to good use and bought a few things (with a little bit of a top up, they have a lot of really beautiful stuff) – by the way here is the link to the Shop. Go and have a look at what they have – there is so much to explore.
The key miniature I got was a model of the the Cthulhu monster Atlach-Nacha, described by Clark Ashton Smith in his Bood, The Seven Geases in 1934
“The dark form ran toward him with incredible swiftness. When it came near he saw that there was a kind of face on the squat ebon body, low down amid the several-jointed legs. The face peered up with a weird expression of doubt and inquiry; and terror crawled through the veins of the bold huntsman as he met the small, crafty eyes that were circled about with hair“
Then I just filled in the details gave it a few washes and became really happy with the results, it is a fantastic model. I would love to see what a more accomplished painter would do with it.
In other news, I recently found a sprue I must have got for free in a magazine with six Landsknechts, that I thought I could something fun with for the Mutant 1984 project.
I believe they were from this set (from Warlord Games)
So in usual style we need to do some headswaps with the fantastic critter heads from Sally 4th (link here) – there is fair amount of different heads for all your headswapping needs!
This will be a an elite body guard unit to one of the big trading house – the rainbow team.
Star Grave and 5 Parsecs from Home
There is a Nick Starter currently running for the new Frost Grave variant in Space – Star Grave, there is about 2 week left when I am issuing this blog.
For me I just needed to see these two pictures (the first from the Mercenary Set and the Second from the Crew set) and I am in at least buying the figures, because these are perfect for the Mutant 1984 project. (look at those heads). You can check out the Nick Starter here. I just got all the plastic models without the rulebook which still comes with the bonus items.
In addition you should really check out another pre-order set and this is the new edition of Five Parsecs from Home that you can pre-order now (with immediate downloadable PDF copy) for delivery in May this year, same time as Star Grave. Well you will need the same miniatures for both so why not get both sets. I have bought the Five Parsecs book and will only get the Star Grave miniatures (You can check out his game and pre-order the book here).
I have played the earlier edition of FPFH and really enjoyed it. I have got the Little One reasonably interested so we may take this for a spin at some point in the future.
Anyway, always a good Mutant 1984 angle to be found.
The link takes you to some STL files with a fantastic team of Fantasy Ice Hockey Skeletons. As you may be aware I did a little project last year (see link here), building an ice rink and painted up some amazing models (Orcs, Rats and Dwarfs) and with a resin 3D printer here on the hobby bench and $11 to spend I downloaded the files. Here are the teams I already have, Bromm’s Icers, Uruk-Hockey and Rats on thin ice (or something like that).
The Set comes with a bone goal, a Keeper, three types of winters/attack and 1 defender (I just mirror imaged this one and printed two, to give me the required 5 players and a goalie) and a referee.
Printing wise, I used base settings and let the CHITUBOX software add the light support and hoped for the best. With a total print cost of less than £1 it is not really worth overanalysing the supports. They printed well and in cleaning I broke one of the models but just superglued it back.
I gave them a quick paintjob and I am yet to finalise the basing, but I hope you agree these are great little models and good complements to the sets I already have.
Here are the models (apart from the Goal and the Referee)…
I hope more teams will be made available… really good value and fun to work with!