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?

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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:

 

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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

Something splendid this way comes…

It is 1895 and the World is in turmoil…

With these words, back in 2012, Charles and I began the adventure of being games writers.

So, here we are eight years on and seven books later with an announcement to make.

Ladies, gentlemen and you at the back: we are returning to 1895. However, since Mr Wells chose not to lend us his time machine we will be doing it literally rather than actually!

The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare’s next release will be … (cue fanfare) … the Second Edition of In Her Majesty’s Name.

There are many reasons for this, the main ones being that:

  • working through seven books since 2012 has improved our writing skills;
  • the core rules engine has developed considerably in the last eight years;
  • we’ve received a lot of feedback from those of you playing the game about things that we might add or do differently, and;
  • Osprey have kindly signed over the publication rights to us.

The core rules will be overhauled to mostly match those in Thud & Blunder, our most advanced engine. This means that for existing players of IHMN the rules will still be familiar but there will be many improvements to enhance play.

The scope of the Second Edition will include the original IHMN rules plus the two supplements Heroes, Villains & Fiends and Sleeping Dragon, Rising Sun.  IHMN Gothic will remain separate; we plan to release free guidance on our blog about how to incorporate it into Second Edition games.

The new book will be a hardback with a similar format to that of Thud & Blunder.  A few things from the original books may not make it into the Second Edition but a great deal of new material will.  Just as a teaser, major changes will include:

  • a complete rewrite of the Mystical Powers;
  • flying rules;
  • much more on transport in general and Mechanized Walkers in particular.

As you can imagine, there is an enormous amount of work for us to do.  We are therefore currently aiming to publish IHMN Second Edition in early 2021. We will provide updates on our blog and Facebook page throughout 2020.  We may well seek your views on various points; we will probably also release some AARs and teasers …

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Running a Thud & Blunder Adventure with a GM

Some players of T&B will also be, or have been, roleplayers, and are used to playing games with a Games Master (GM). This worthy creates an adventure, and runs the player’s opponents during it.

There is no reason why you cannot also do this in Thud & Blunder, especially with a party of adventurers (see 9.4.1).

Two or three players could each generate a set number of points worth of figures. Then a GM would then set a mission or series of missions (see 11.0 Campaigns), and create a suitable range of opponents. The GM’s role is to run entertaining and challenging games.

Whether these missions take place in an urban, rural, wilderlands or dungeon setting is up to the GM.

An example

Brian, the GM, has an idea for three interlinked games in which his players must overcome a series of challenges in order to rescue a village elder from the clutches of an evil Noble.

He invites Sara, Mike and Alan to each create 100 points worth of figures, using the Inexperienced Adventurers warband (see 9.4.1.1), with the objective of forming a heroic adventuring party.

Sara chooses a brave human Knight  (Sir Thomas Balfour) and his Squire (Bob). Mike creates a pair of dwarves, one a priest of a Dwarven war god (Hama Geddon) and the other skilled in burglary (Uhazit Iwantzit). Alan already has an Elven Wizard (Master Pyro Meneac) and her Halfling apprentice (Nefille Shortbottom).

Brian intends that the players will have to face increasingly difficult enemies. Beginning with an encounter with some Brigands – The Bluenose Gang (see 9.4.4) in the wilderlands (10.3.3), then a trio of Ogres – Ted, Charlie & Elvis (see 6.2) in a cavern (10.3.4.3), and finally the evil Noble himself, Lord Tarquine d’Otteur, and his personal guards (see the Thud & Blunder page on this blog and the Files section) in the dungeon (10.3.4.4) below his ruined castle.
The Ogres’ cavern leads to the dungeon, and avoids the army the evil Noble is assembling in the castle above.

The GM then creates the three games using the campaign rules, defining the landscape, scenario and any complications that are suitable to his plot.

Each adventure, if they are successful, will provide the party with clues and possibly useful loot. In between games, the three players can divide up the RPs and loot between them to enhance various figures in a way that helps the party as a whole.

Some rules pointers

During a game, each player will roll individually for initiative, as will the GM, and play the games as if they were separate forces. That said, the players will be working together to achieve their common objectives (or will they?).

If a player’s figure is taken out of the game they are considered wounded. If they subsequently fail their post-game survival check they have died of their wounds, and the player can create a new figure as a replacement for the same points value of the original. Of course, if they were carrying useful kit, especially magic items, these can then be divided amongst the survivors or given to the new recruit.

Note that the GM does not have to use balanced forces, and may well field more or less points than the combined total of the adventurers in any part of their adventure.With some work the GM can create a series of short campaigns that will take the player’s figures from being greenhorns to becoming Legends.

As an example of a campaign area in which to adventure, see our post on the Bramlingshire setting I am using for my games. Sir Cedric Corbusio would be an excellent patron for a band of young adventurers.

For those interested in dungeon-crawling there is an environment section dedicated to it (see 10.3.4 and especially 10.3.4.4). Suitable scenarios include 10.1.13 The Tomb of the Dwarven King and 10.1.18 Bearding the Dragon.

It is most important to remember that we positively encourage you to develop your own scenarios, complications, landscapes and creatures.

So there you have it, a rough and ready guide to playing T&B with a Games Master. If you do have a go at this please let us know how it goes on our Facebook page.

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A Noble Lord’s Retinue

As we have done for each of our other games, we shall be creating and releasing new material for Thud & Blunder. This shall be hosted on the Thud & Blunder page of the Ministry blog.

Today we give you a Noble Lord’s Retinue. Originally this was going to be in the book, but space considerations meant we had to trim a few pieces out. We chose to leave in the Hedge Knight and keep the Noble Lord for later release.

So now you are able to build a noble, or perhaps cruel, Lord or Lady, with all their liege knights and retainers.

Lords and Ladies are wealthy and powerful, justly proud and protective of their family name and all its privileges. It is a brave or foolish warband who would wish to cross swords with the Kingdom’s best.

So give them a go and show us your aristocratic warbands on the Facebook page.

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