IHMN 2nd Edition Design Notes 2

So, it has nearly been two weeks since our first Design Notes, and where have we got to?

Charles has been running through 3.0 Playing the Game for the umpteenth time, with me trying to break everything with daft suggestions. The core of T&B has now been effectively welded to the colour and strangeness of IHMN, and we feel we are in sight of our goal with this section. Playability is our main aim, but we also want to include all the cool rules on waterborne and airborne combat that have evolved since 2013. Additional rules for mechanized walkers shall get added to the mix once we have finished that section of the Armoury.

The holy veto word KISS has been wielded dozens of times and we review and rewrite everything. This ship is not going to sail until we are absolutely sure it is right.

Work upon 5.0 The Armoury continues unabated. As well as including the best of the original books, new weapons are coming on board, and some of them are being fired in from comments on the blog and Facebook page. For example, considerable debate was had in the Ministry over the existence and power of sub-machine guns. Also which companies could wield them.

Armour is pretty much settled, but the various land, maritime and aerial transport types, and mechanized walkers, are still on the design bench.

We are looking to expand the weird science and are open to suggestions.The Prince of Wales Extraordinary Company

7.0 Talents is still being rewritten, especially as we are making sure we keep these in step with 8.0 Mystical Powers.

We have increased the number of powers, and divided them into minor and major categories. We are thinking that dabblers in the occult can use minor ones, and more dedicated occultists will be able to draw upon both. So there will be two talents to allow you access to these two levels. Debate continues over what to include and exclude.

As for 9.0 the Companies, there has been an overhaul of the points system to improve the balance of things (for those that like balance).

Companies that are close to final draft stage are:

  • the Black Dragon Tong,
  • the Crescent Moon (formerly the Ottoman Counter-intelligence Service),
  • Lady Helen Quatermain’s Airship Privateers, and
  • Lord Curr’s Incorrigibles.

Most have additional troop types and options, and their equipment, talents and powers have been brought in line with the updated rules.
Asiatic Confrontation

It should be noted that many more companies shall be able to take a suitable mechanized walker or two.

One company that shall not be making an appearance in this book is the British Army. We felt that for the purpose of this game that the Prince of Wales Extraordinary Company represented them well enough. This does not mean that you cannot field your own British Army companies, and there shall be all the materials you could want to devise them. This includes a chapter containing guidance on how to create your own company from scratch.

After some discussion, we have decided to not include a lot of the material from IHMN Gothic. This is because IHMN2 will be focused primarily upon VSF not Gothic Horror. With some free addenda, we believe that people shall still be able to enjoy Gothic alongside IHMN2, just as they have with IHMN1.

So there you have it. Comments here, or on the Facebook page, are always welcomed.

Posted in In Her Majesty's Name | Leave a comment

Vapnartak 2020

I thought it might be interesting to discuss our experiences of Vapnartak this year, especially as it is the first big show of the year.

The venue
For those who have not been, Vapnartak is held in the York Racecourse building. Like Colours – which uses the Newbury racecourse building, this means that the show is spread across multiple floors. The venue is modern, has good multi-floor access through stairs and lifts, is well lit and has plenty of catering and toilet facilities.
It also means that the higher you ascend the narrower the floors get, more on which below.
The show is well-staffed, there are maps everywhere and parking is plentiful.

Traders
All the people you might expect were there, some with quite large stands. The unusual shape of the venue’s floors and the amount of traders that were packed in meant there was the congestion in the aisle-ways that we have come to expect. This started out as being jolly with lots of “excuse me” and “after you” – “no, after you”, but as feet became sore, old knees ached and the swag bags became laden with loot, it soon moved to jostling and grumbling.
I was almost knocked off my feet by one young fellow striding through regardless of the havoc he was leaving in his wake.
All my favourites were there, including Annie (in fine fettle), the Ainsty boys, Dead Hand Games etc. I did note that a lot more of the stands were of the strict historical nature, which attracted mobs of grognards. When you have enough chaps of my size and rotundity there is a danger of a critical mass occurring and stall have been known to implode.
On the very top floor, near the tables set aside for private trading (i.e. gamers selling off their own stuff) were a number of very interesting little companies. Producers of resin and 3D printed models amongst them.
The 3D model stands really interested me. The variety and quality of what was on offer was rather good. One producer packed up their products with all the support struts still in place, the other had actually removed them. I suppose the former saved a lot of time for themselves, and it is not really any different to buying models on sprues.
One resin company – Iron Gate Scenery – had a really good range of scenic items, including excellent doors and windows, the bane of all gamers who make their own buildings.

Loot
I rarely get the opportunity to be a punter because if I am at a show I am usually putting on a game. I was hoping that I could spend the day browsing wares at a range of stands, that I usually only see online.
My target was to obtains scenic items for a IHMN2 game I am putting on later in the season, and this was mostly accomplished. Stacks of crates and sacks, and a couple of porters’ trolleys were obtained.
I also got some doors and windows to try out the concept of using pre-made ones for my buildings.
And finally, I got the raging Annie figure from Bad Squiddo. I intend to convert it from SciFi to fantasy for one of my Thud & Blunder warbands.

Demo games
There were a couple of larger demo games, but most were fairly small and none seemed to have the wow factor. It did not help that quite a few of them were indifferently hosted, which is a problem I have seen at many shows. There was a distinct lack of punter engagement.
Now this annoys me. If you are going to put on a demo game then, in addition to the people pushing the figures around, you need at least one person who goes out of their way to engage with the public, explain what is going on and who can field questions. Scattering a couple of A4 sheets around and expecting people to read them is, in my arrogant opinion, a dereliction of duty.
Honestly I had thought the age of clubs turning up to just abuse the venue so they could play a large club game, backs to the punters, was waning. Some used to do it just to get free entry.
Perhaps the show organizers should ask people to actively engage with the public, as this benefits everyone. This seems to be the case with the Partizans, where they have a designated Demo game zone and the game providers are encouraged to engage through awards.
Another issue was that many of the large demo games were packed in between trade stands, and if people did gather to watch or just to take a photo this blocked the flow of trade.

Participation games
A lot of these were exiled to the upper levels of the racecourse building and into space not much wider than a decent corridor. I have put on a game there myself and it can prove challenging.
That said some of the games providers were cheerful and proactive in engaging the public. The RAF boys were there and entertaining all who passed them.
I must admit that I did not spend too much time up there, but there was a decent range of games, some of which seemed busy, but others that were moribund. Now that always puzzles me. You go to a show to put on a participation games, prepare the game, the scenario and all the supporting materials, carry in a tonne of scenery and figures, set-up the table then either sit there looking at your feet or abandon the table altogether and go a wandering.

Conclusion
Although it met all my shopping needs I was somewhat disappointed with the demo and participation games. Having many of them scattered through out a multi floor venue meant that many of them did not get seen by the majority of attendees.
The main trading floor suffered due to the aisle-way congestion that I have gone into above. The only major trader not on the ground floor was Sarissa and they were stuck in a cul-de-sac which meant browsing their wares was almost impossible.
Compared to other shows I find Vapnartak and Colours claustrophobic, which is entirely down to their venue, not the professionalism of their staff. I think that they need to spread out the major stands across the floors and widen their aisles.
I doubt that I shall attend again next year, but overall it was worth the trip as my wife and I had a lovely weekend in York.

Posted in Hobby | 4 Comments

Report of Constable Arthur Stokes, F Division, March 21st 1895

[I wrote this quite a while ago, but with so many new followers I thought you might like it]

It being about half-past ten of the evening I was proceeding along the Lambeth Road towards the river. I was some four hundred yards from the bridge when I espied a steam truck driving towards me somewhat erratically.

Ensuring I was well-illuminated by a nearby lamp post, I held up one hand and indicated to the driver that he should come to a halt at my position. As the truck slowed down, and eventually stopped, I noted that there were at least a dozen men and women standing in the back brandishing placards, a large red flag, several shotguns and a couple of rifles.

I approached the driver’s door and engaged him in conversation.

“Where are you going in such high spirits this evening sir?” I said.

“I’m not a ‘sir’ and you is a running dog of the bourgeoisie” he replied, or words to that effect as some that he actually used were not worth recording.

“Don’t get chippy with me sir or I shall have to caution you” I said.

Realizing, at last, that he was dealing with a member of Her Majesty’s Metropolitan Constabulary he then sat up straight and tried to give me an ingratiating grin.

“Whereabouts are you and your friends proceeding to at this hour?” I inquired.

One of his companions in the back of the truck interjected shouting “None of your damn business, you class traitor!”. I gave him a stern look and he fell silent. I then looked back at the driver.

“We was just going to a party constable” he slurred.

Having now experienced enough of his foul breath to determine his state of sobriety I continued my interrogation.

“It looks to me sir like you have already been to a party and are not in the best condition to be driving an eight-ton truck upon the public highway. So, I shall ask again, where were you intending to go?” I asked.

“I don’t have to tell you nuffin’ constable, I’m perfectly at liberty to proceed wherever I likes” he stated.

“On foot perhaps sir. Unfortunately, driving a steam conveyance upon the public highway while under the influence of strong spirits is an offence under the Highway Safety Act 1888 sir, and I must ask you to step down for further examination” I said.

“Look out Sid, ‘e wants to check you over, maybe ‘e’s a molly-boy” shouted one of the women who seemed to be having some considerable difficulty in loading a shotgun.

The driver looked suspicious but, under my continued stare, chose to swing the door open and descend to the pavement in a sort of half-controlled collapse. Within the cab I could see some crates of milk bottles with rags tied around their necks.

Once he had clawed his way upright, using the lamp post more for support than illumination, he straightened his jacket and put his cap back on his head.

“Hello constable, what’s seems to be the trouble then?” he said, as if he had only now noticed I was there.

“It is my opinion sir, that you are steaming drunk” I said. This brought forth gales of laughter from the assembled throng in the truck. One of the women fell off the back of the truck and had to be helped back on by some of her companions.

“So, what is your full name sir?” I asked.

“Don’t tell ‘im your name Jonesy” said the woman with the shotgun, who had now dropped several cartridges at her feet. I looked at her, she looked at me and her mouth opened wide. I turned back to the driver.

“Sidney Jones I am arresting you on suspicion of driving a steam conveyance whilst under the influence of alcohol, as proscribed by the Highway Safety Act 1888. Are you going to come quietly or flopping like a fish?” I stated loudly and clearly so that the throng could also hear me.

“You can’t do that constable” he said ” I’s got places I ‘as to be” he said, looking somewhat agitated.

“And where might that be Mr Jones?” I asked.

“Well we ‘ad this caucus see and decided it was time to overthrow the corrupt masters of the Empire and we was going to burn down the ‘ouses of Parliament.” he said. The silence from the back of truck was deafening.

“Would this be because you are the ‘downtrodden masses’ sir?” I asked, having heard this tripe at the Dog & Duck many a long evening.

“Yes, that’s it son, we shall rise up we shall” and as he said this his legs gave way and he ended up sitting in the gutter.

It was then I noticed that he was fumbling for a service revolver that was pushed through his waistband. I applied the All-Electric English Truncheon to his head as a discouragement and he did indeed flop about a bit.

I then addressed the throng while cranking the charge box for my truncheon.

“Can anyone else drive this conveyance?” I asked.

“I can” said one of the men, and he made his way to the front of the truck.

“Are you also drunk?” I asked.

“Probably” he said, so I charged him with intent and left him flopping in the gutter next to his erstwhile comrade.

“Anyone else?” I said.

There was considerable muttering and shuffling of feet.

“Right then” I said “I suggest you all dismount and proceed to the number seven omnibus stop by the bridge. There should be a late Bus along in a few minutes that can get you back to Brick Lane. No madam you can’t take your shotgun with you. Carrying one of them, and those rifles lads – put them back please, while intoxicated is also an offence. So be off with you before I consider charging you with Riotous Assembly”.

They looked at Sidney and his comrade who were, by now, in the drooling and shaking stage, then quietly got down off the truck.

Most staggered away towards the omnibus stop, but one younger man lingered a few moments.

“You’ll be first against the wall when the revolution comes copper” he said.

So, I charged him with threatening an officer of the law and laid him down in the gutter with the others.

This is why, Sergeant, I have three unconscious men, a steam truck previously owned by Abel Caine Imports & Exports Ltd., eight Lee-Metford Rifles, six shotguns various, two-hundred assorted rounds of ammunition, a Webley service revolver, two crates of a dozen Brick Lane bottle grenades each, two pairs of ladies unmentionables, a 12lb carton of blasting dynamite (no fuses), a nun’s habit, sixteen shillings and sixpence, one wrapped fish supper, a red flag, nine placards, two policemen’s helmets and, forty copies of a revolutionary manifesto in the station yard.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The end times are nigh – or are they?

A few days ago, a friend of ours (Nick of Meeples fame) wrote the article below regarding the sad news that Fenris Games was closing, and the general state of the gaming hobby for small producers.

Please read it before continuing with this article:
https://meeples.wordpress.com/2020/01/16/small-producers-use-them-or-lose-them/

As a small producer ourselves, and being friends with many more across the hobby, we understand the financial pressures that such people are under.

Having to do most things yourself takes time and energy, and the financial rewards are very slim. A 5% dip in sales one month can mean not paying your bills, having to put products on sale because cash flow is king in small business, which in turn wrecks your margins for that short term boost. We know producers who have sales simply to meet the gas bill. These producers are one bad month away from having to chuck it in and get a ‘proper job’.

In the short term all we can do is appeal to all you hobbyists to put some cash across the trade stands of the small producers at shows. To order from them online and not get in a tiz if they don’t have the delivery times of Amazon. I once waited nine months for three gorgeous trolls from Fenris and it was worth every single minute. Support their kickstarters – a marvellous, yet dangerous tool for small businesses to create new ranges and realise fantastic projects.

In the longer term though we small producers have to re-examine our business models. Casting in our sheds, writing in our attics, hoping friendly local games shops will stock our stuff, and relying on shows to sell physical product is a model is that we cannot expect to compete with the big boys.

We have to consider how we can leverage all the new technology out there. Most of us have websites and some of us have webshops – the latter of which eats up far too much time for a one-man band – which is a start. However, we now live in a world where 3D printing is coming into its own, and print on demand is reaching decent quality levels.

So should all those really talented sculptors, who spend two thirds of their time coaxing recalcitrant casting machines to produce product, re-skill and go digital?

Should authors like us dump our printers, stop packing and sending out physical products, and instead do a deal with one of the big POD companies, or just go entirely digital?

So what do you hobbyists think?

Posted in Hobby | Tagged | 6 Comments

IHMN 2nd Edition Design Notes 1

January is nearly over, so how far have we got?

The first major task has been to ‘de-fantasize‘ the Core Rules of Thud & Blunder and use these as the foundation for those of IHMN2. T&B is the result of seven years of play-testing the core rules by thousands of players. Every after action report by a player, every forum post, and every review was scoured to ensure the core rules were as good as they could be.

Then these core rules have been compared to the unique IHMN setting, and the original game and its supplements, to ensure it actually works.

Of particular importance has been the points system as IHMN2 has a much broader range of weapons, armour, equipment, weird science and transport than the first edition, or T&B. Getting this right is of paramount importance.

If you include the Armoury, we are going to hit over 20,000 words in this section. It is going to be thorough, and it has to be if it is going to stand the test of time. It’s worth noting that the original IHMN rulebook ran to only 25,000 words, and it’s brevity left a lot of holes that you have asked us to fill.

DSCN3930

The game shall have a completely new section on Mechanized Walkers. Previously you had a couple of paragraphs and a table, hardly what you needed to design and field these essential pieces of VSF/Steampunk hardware. Now you shall be able to design them from the ground up, and many of the companies in the book shall have access to their own versions. As before, there shall also be a list of ‘standard’ types. We are really looking forwards to seeing what you all do with these.

The Talents section has been overhauled, some entries simplified and the best of the skills and traits from Daisho, Blood Eagle and T&B ported over and converted to match the IHMN setting. Of particular note is the decision to bring the Hero talent into IHMN. This has proved very popular in the other games, so we are including it here.

The next section to get a good going over shall be Mystical Powers. Here we have to be careful because it would be so easy to just drop in every power from previous games, but this does not really fit the VSF/Steampunk setting. A Mystical Power needs to be appropriate, so expect Charles and I to be talking long into the nights on this one.

C12 Currs Company

A few Companies have already been redrafted, though they cannot be completed until we have the core rules, armoury, talents and mystical powers completed. These include the Brick Lane Commune and Lord Curr’s Incorrigibles.

Northstar BLC

One of the real problems with the original Osprey format, with its 25,000 word limit, was that we could not explore these companies to their full potential. Lists like the two mentioned above suffered as a result.

So here we are, getting on with business, but there is so much more to do. Completing the rules, redrafting another eighteen (?) companies, getting photos and artwork, proofing, editing, proofing again, play-testing, layout, editing, re-layout, print proofs, printing, marketing and distribution. It is going to be long but exciting year.

Each month we shall update you with progress and give you little peeks behind the curtain. We shall look forward to all your feedback on the process.

Posted in Announcement, In Her Majesty's Name | 5 Comments

Thud & Blunder on YouTube

Here are some videos about Thud & Blunder that you might like to view.

A very good introductory video to Thud & Blunder from Wargames Illustrated:

And their interview at Salute:

Then there is this from Beasts of War/On Table Top:

And finally a review by someone’s Nan:

 

Posted in Thud & Blunder | Leave a comment

Middle Earth and all that

For some time now I have been pondering using our rules for playing scenarios in Middle Earth, before and during the War of the Ring.

Initially I had considered doing this with Blood Eagle, but since Thud & Blunder was published I have been looking at these rules instead.

Now to do this one has to consider a number of factors:

1. These rules are unable to cover any of the battles of the books.
2. Instead they would have to focus on all the small, heroic actions carried out across Middle Earth.
3. Although Middle Earth is, in itself, magical, very few characters actually use overt magic. So there would need to be restrictions there.
4. Magical items are very limited, and few of their powers described.
5. The forces of Good are often outnumbered and out-gunned which, if we are to stick with the ‘history’ as described by Tolkien, could make competitive play difficult.
6. Thus it might be better to have most players fielding good forces against a GM fielding the evil (see our article on GM’ing battles on the blog).
7. The Tolkien copyright is fiercely defended, so we could publish no ‘official’ lists on the blog. However, if people put lists of their own devising in the files section of the T&B Facebook page, then that should be OK. After all, I know of people who are using Saga: Age of Magic and Dragon Rampant for the same ‘period’.

So what forces could be devised for a narrative skirmish game like ours?

The Forces of Good
– The Dunedain Rangers
– Ithilien Rangers
– Rivendell Elves
– Lothlorien Elves
– Mirkwood Elves
– Esgaroth/Dale Dwarves & Men
– The Rohirrim
– Gondor
– The Shire
– The Fellowship [Bree to Rivendell]
– The Fellowship [Moria]
– The Fellowship [Moria to the breaking]
– Thorin’s Company
– The Woses

The Forces of Evil
– The Nazgul
– Angmar Orcs & Trolls
– Moria Goblins
– Isengard Uruk-hai
– Mirkwood Spiders
– Mordor Orcs
– Corsairs of Umbar
– Haradrim
– Easterlings & Dunlendings

I have a fair few GW and Mithril Miniatures figures (200+) and will be talking to my regular gaming companions about starting this in 2020. Once we have had a battle or three I shall post up some AARs.

So, over to you on the Facebook page.

Posted in Thud & Blunder | 2 Comments