Hello! I’m Jakub Wisz, the author of “Stars In Our Sails” and Project Aphelion, and in this first blog, I’m going to explain what the hell even is that I’m writing. This post is an introduction to the world of Project Aphelion and the setting, so I’ll keep it short – I’ll write about the details later.

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Chicago, 2053, March. A group of fresh-from-the-oven shadowrunners just tries to make a living.

Chicago, 2053, October. Fought the dragons, sold 700 orcs to Dunkelzahn, pissed off Señor Oscuro, Chicago now under martial law, let’s just go to Amazonia to steal some rare flower and give Ehran the Scribe the middle finger – again.

Oh, I love Shadowrun.

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I love it when the project is done and the NDA no longer applies, as far as showing off is concerned. Since March, I was quietly working on Starport RPG: a tabletop roleplaying game for kids, annoying my friends with incessant oh, I’m working on such a cool thing now – can’t tell you, though, NDA. Well, no longer. The project is live and I’m delighted at how it turned up.

The details about my co-operation with Starport‘s author, Kevin Ferrone from Wider Path Gaming, are already a part of my portfolio, but I really feel like this project deserves more from me than just that.

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Yesterday the RPG world has been stunned into silence (for like a second, before the cheering started) by the announcement that on 26/06 20:00GMT launches the Kickstarter for Critical Role Miniatures. And so it did.

There was a fair amount of speculation whether this will happen ever since in January 2018 Russ Charles, an incredibly talented miniatures sculptor (well know known for his previous work for Privateer Press, Warlord Games and other wargaming companies) started posting on Twitter 3D renders of his renditions of the Mighty Nine, player characters from the Critical Role’s second campaign. As everybody might have guessed, that was met with applause and ‘Shut up and take my money’ gifs.

So, when yesterday folks at Critical Role have announced that they will launch a Kickstarter with the minis (produced by UK-based Steamforged Games), I wasn’t particularly surprised but ecstatic nonetheless.

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In my usual RPG group sometimes we can’t all make it to the game, as I’m sure it happens to each party. Normally we play Earthdawn (3E), and due to the storyline it’s rather hard to come up with reasons why one character or other disappeared. So, instead of making us all stop when we can’t have a full party, we’ve come up with Wraith Recon.

Well, obviously, we didn’t come up with Wraith Recon itself. It’s moderately known setting for Mongoose’s RuneQuest II – or rather, for D&D 4E, which was reworked for MRQII, and which we’re currently playing on house-ruled D&D 5E. Why the roundabout way? Because RuneQuest edition is what I have on a shelf, that’s why.

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So, I haven’t really posted anything in a while. A long while, if you don’t count an odd Instagram pic of the minis I’m painting, or an occasional tweet a out random rpg-related stuff.

However, there have been things happening. My collection of RPG book grew considerably in size, my collection of minis even more so (I got into Age of Sigmar, and it’s fun!). I’m playing Earthawn (3E), DMing D&D (5E) as a kind of fantasy spec ops (Wraith Recon, anyone?), reading through incredible 800-pages Glorantha setting for Runequest, making sample characters (D&D 5E, 3rd level, complete with backstories), painting terrain pieces, writing adventures, working full-time (plus some more) on cool stuff for Warlord Games, and finishing off my home office/paint station.

So, I’ve been busy. Add to that the impostor syndrome and you get a clear answer why I haven’t been posting much. I’m trying to do better though, and hopefully stuff will actually appear here soon. For the time being, please accept this random shot of the minis I’ve finally got to base properly this week – made by Midlam Miniatures, Reaper and a whomever made a game called Drakerys and put the elves in there.

I got my latest Kickstarter package delivered – a pack of Common (or Garden) Gnomes from Midlam Miniatures. Why did I need them? No reason whatsoever. But I am a big fan of this tiny UK-based company and their metal minis, and I make it a point to support all their Kickstarter campaigns. They keep creating original, less “popular” designs, filling several niches: beastfolk, halflings, civilians, Lovecraftian cultists, female characters in sensible clothing.

The minis are standard 28mm scale, but being gnomes they’re only 28mm when you measure them up to the top of the pointy hat. Here’s the size comparison of the male and female gnomes with a human woman (from Midlam’s Winter Adventurers set):

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I got absolutely zero need for those gnomes. Even if I get to play a gnome one day, they won’t be wearing pointy hats (unless they’re a wizard, I guess). But the minis are so sweet, well cast (little to no lines, no flashes, no rips, no miscasts) and detailed that they’re already on my painting short list.

As for gnomes they’re quite diverse – just another nice thing about Midlam’s minis. Out of 14 models in a set, there are four women (a mage, shown above, a flower girl, an unarmoured woman with an axe, and a leather-clad one with a sword), all of them in practical dresses (as far as practical dresses go). The other ten are male – or at least bearded, part of them armoured, part of them unarmoured, some with swords, some with axes, and some with wheelbarrows or angry gestures. The wizard has an owl familiar, so everything is good in the universe.

Anyway, guys from Midlam have just put a new Kickstarter campaign out there, with the Ghosts of Midlam Manor. If you ever need a dwarven or a halfling ghost, check them out.

Tiny Dungeon

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With only three days to the end of of it’s campaign, Tiny Dungeon 2nd edition definitely deserves a mention. This amazingly easy to play game allows you to turn an RPG session into a party game. Little to no rules, only D6s needed, and all the happiness of a dungeon crawl in a small package of a micro-setting.

 

Forbidden Lands

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After Mutant: Year Zero, Coriolis and Tales from the Loop, Swedish Free League team brings to the RPG table another visually stunning piece. Again, they can and will take our money. Forbidden Lands has an amazing feel of the 70s/80s fantasy land, based on modern mechanics, and paired with incredible art. With only 350 SEK  ($44 / €37 / £32) for a physical copy of the boxes set (including a large map, PDF version of the set available as early-access , and PDF versions of all stretch goals), it’s a bargain. Stretch goals look promising, the quality seems great as usual, and there’s little reason to skip this one of you have some gold pieces to spare.

 

Numenera 2: Discover and Destiny

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Just to clarify: it’s not a second edition. It’s a set of two new corebooks that will replace the current rulebook as it goes out of print. Discover is a straight-up replacement of the core book, covering the rules (not much changed), and still mostly compatible with existing books. Destiny, on the other hand, is supposed to enable the characters to play a part in actually shaping the world around them and influence its future. Sadly, it’s a bit pricy, with $120 for both books in print (includes PDFs, slipcase and some extras).

 

Starfinder Masterclass Miniatures

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Not an RPG in itself, this Kickstarter brings us a much needed set of miniatures for the brand-new Starfinder RPG. If you prefer playing outside the theatre of the mind, as I do, the availability of high quality and affordable minis is always an important factor. While Starfinder can be played without them, using some tokens, drawings, Paizo’s pawns, or just scrapping the map altogether, I wouldn’t say no to some Space Goblins.

So, as the Warlord Games announced today the release of The Battle for Xilos, I can finally share with you what I was working on for the last couple of months. And boy, what fun it was!

I don’t know if you’re familiar with Beyond the Gates of Antares or with wargaming in general. I happen to work as a graphic designer for Warlord Games, one of the biggest companies in historical and science-fiction wargaming. The miniatures range from Ancient Greece, through Thirty Years War, Napoleonic Wars, and World War II – up to s-f world of Antares. You’ll find it all here: http://www.warlordgames.com.

And now the new stuff: in June Warlord Games releases The Battle for Xilos, a campaign supplement about the discovery, exploration and conquest of Xilos, the mysterious planet that defies all former knowledge of all factions. I had a pleasure of creating the layout for the book, editing it, proofreading, and even creating maps, planet views, and other illustrations. You cannot probably fathom how proud I am seeing it finally out for publishing.

As it’s still at printers I cannot tell you much except of informing you of it being an absolutely cool thing; you may as well check it out and then join me (and lots of other people) at the gaming table.