Kickstarter Alert: Critical Role Miniatures!

News

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.

The Kickstarter was fully funded in about 4 minutes. True, the goal wasn’t too high (only £20.000), but nobody can say that it didn’t deserve the attention. The minis are beautifully rendered, detailed, characterful, with believable proportions and great design. And they’re dirt cheap.

This Kickstarter is rather unique: there is only one pledge level (take all), no stretch goals, and the set of 22 minis costs only £45. They’re plastic, which vastly reduces the price when the production reaches a certain scale, and come pre-assembled and ready to be painted or just played with. As six of the minis are marked ‘Kickstarter exclusive’, I suppose the rest will be available later via Critical Role / Steamforged Games website.

Even if you’re not a fan of the series (after all, it is a considerable time commitment to watch it all), the models are still worth buying: scaled for standard RPG purposes (28mm), with a good mix of genders, races and classes, and with an armoured bear. And for £2 per mini, so no reason not to get those.

The Kickstarter only lasts until 6 July, though, so get them ASAP!

What’s the use of the garden gnomes?

News, Reviews

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.

Kickstarter Alert #1

News

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.

First Look: Zweihänder RPG

Reviews

The Zweihänder RPG is finally here. After a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign (fully funded within 6 hours! Guess people really did miss Warhammer Fantasy RPG) and slightly delayed dispatch (a year or so – but for a good reason), the parcel was delivered and unceremoniously opened by a committee.

PDF, which was provided to the Kickstarter backers some time ago, looked promising – astonishingly detailed, with a clean, easily understood mechanic, and good artwork. Not Degenesis level, but pleasantly befitting the stylistic choices of the grim and perilous RPG. In print, I must admit, it looks even better.

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Interior artwork was all made by one person, Dejan Mandic, and if I’m not mistaken, he has made a staggering 500 illustrations for this book, ranging from tiny symbols of the gods to double-paged artworks. And here’s that good reason for a year of delay.

Let’s get started then, shall we?

The cover has a very distinct feel, with matt finishing, muted colours, scarred folks (including, at a first glance, a Landsknecht, Sam Vimes, murderous chick, and Emhyr var Emreis), eyepatch with a skull, and a burning village in the background. Classy, with a touch of “We’ve all been there”. “Grim and Perilous RPG” tagline tells us “Yep, we’ve been there”. And well, I actually did miss that. Good job, Jussi Alarauhio.

The book was also available with an alternative cover, featuring another artwork of Mandic, but I think it’s low on the “grim factor” – I’d say it’s to pulpy and Warhammer-inspired.

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The book is heavy. At 688 pages and just a tad bit smaller than A4, it can be safely used as a weight for flower-pressing. Thankfully, it seems reasonably well bound: sewn together in 32-page sections, and then glued. And they even added a ribbon as a bookmark. Paper is of a good quality and with a satin finish – no annoying glares af a gloss varnish, and readable even at an angle.

Thirteen chapters cover everything from the rules, through character creation, professions, skills, talents, equipment, combat, magic rules and spells, game master’s basement, bestiary and a intruductory scenario, “A Bitter Harvest”. It’s a standalone book: there’s no need to buy any expansions. There will be a Game Master screen released later this year, but the book itself should be more than enough to play many campaigns (I’m looking at you, Star Wars Roleplaying Game).

The book is well laid out, with legilible fonts, good font size (important when reading by the candlelight!), and an abundance of appendixes. It features a thorough content list at the begining, well-constructed index at the end, and several useful tables: damage condition tracker, chase scene tracker and a list of complications (where was this thing when I had to describe chase scenes in Wolsung campaign?), wilderness travel tracker and encounters, social intrigue tracker, cheat sheet of actions in combat, and the description of taints of chaos. There’s also the character sheer, 4 pages total, also available for download on the publisher’s website.

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Introduction covers the standard disclaimer about using the book to make your own world however you want it to be, and changing the rules if they happen to take away the fun. There’s also a gender neutrality note, which is a nice gesture.

Rules section is plainly written and enriched by lots of examples. Everything seems to be based on D100, with classic Warhammer idea of “the lower roll, the better”. Doubles (11, 22, 33 etc.) generate critical successes or failures. What appears to be changed, is the Fortune Pool – a pool of tokens that can be used by the players to give themselves a bit of a smile from Lady Luck. Any tokens spent that way go to the Game Master who can then use them for his NPCs and monsters. Well, it worked in Deadlands, why shouldn’t it work here?

Character creation seems very enjoyable. It’s highly randomized, including a 50/50 roll for gender. And another disclaimer: Zweihänder makes no basic intellectual, physical or spiritual distinctions between females and males of any race. The same goes for transgender Characters, regardless of their gender identification. Any social inequalities in the campaign world should be adressed directly with your GM. It’s cute that after such a paragraph in chapter 3, they proceed to include a scenario about women abused, sold, enslaved, treated like tools to be used and discarded (p. 632), to provide a memorable playing experience by presenting players with a complex moral situation which cannot be divided into a ‘good versus evil’ or ‘chaos versus order’ (…) (ibid.). But, as I haven’t read the scenario in it’s entirety, I reserve my judgement – just pointing out the discrepancy.

We’ll look closer at the character creation, skills, talents and equipment later, when I actually get to finish the process instead of reading up on the professions.

Combat is quite straightforward – and deadly. I don’t think there’s a point in starting a campaign without a spare character in a tow, just in case. Introduction of Action Points allows for more flexibility in player’s turn, instead of bounding them with “action, bonus action and move”. There are called shots, chokeholds, counterspells and intimidation tactics – plenty to bring out the tactitian to the table.

Diseases, intoxication, sleep deprivation, injuries and infections (whole chapter 9) will make sure your character lives a grim and perilous life. And a short one.

Magic looks familiar, up to the chaos dice. At a first glance, it has the potential to be deadly for both the target and the caster. So, fun. I’ll be happy to share a more informed opinion as soon as I have it.

Game Master’s section offers the wide repertoire of tips and tricks, including the tables with ready descriptions of killing blows made with different types of weapons. Like that, for example: Your missile strikes the area between the shoulder and the chest, burying itself down to the fletching and protruding between the ribs of your foe’s back. Their knees buckle and they fall to the ground. A soft, sucking noise emanates from the wound in conjunction with a few brief, ragged, respirations. Then, all is still. Also, rules for chases, wilderness travel, social interactions, traps, madness and corruption.

The Bestiary is quite impressive: 163 pages of monsters, each of them with a corresponding portrait. I’ve seen whole books smaller than that. Covering everything from bandits, through chaos spawns, to vampires, it makes a good read.

The campaign, “A Bitter Harvest” looks suspiciously full of gender inequalities. However, I’m giving it the benefit of doubt, and will be reading it later, maybe even GMing. After all, rest of the book is so worth of praise, that I’m convinced the campaign will be a good read as well.

Overall:

A quality piece of RPG rulebook. Not only aesthetically pleasing, but brimming full of grimdark fantasy with a couple of interesting tweaks and twists here and there. I can’t wait to read it properly (well, maybe not cover to cover, because of the page count). I wonder how it will look against 4th edition of Warhammer – but it definitely looks pretty good compared to the previous three.