RPG – Sword Noir

I like Sword Noir – it is a combination of sword and sorcery and film noir (hence the name).  It is a system
where characters are good at what they do, but they cannot do everything and they do not become super human like high level DnD characters.  Characters have attributes and the game makes tests against them.  A character’s background, faculties and flaws gives bonuses and penalties to those tests.  All characters must have a background, some faculties and a flaw.  They can choose what these are and call them what they like, allowing some extra individuality to to characters.

Magic is present, but it carries a huge cost and will almost lead to madness and demonic possession (PCs might end up being NPCs).  This all fits in with the setting creed, which is broken down and explained in detail to show how Sword Noir adventures should work.  It shows that the system and setting of an adventure can be entwined to enhance the whole experience.  Magic is not just a set of tools, but something dangerous and corrupting, in keeping with the nihilistic nature of this world.  Characters are not ultra competent at everything, increasing the sense of danger.

  • Characters can be made up of more than just attributes 
  • It is better when the system and the setting are entwined.

Tunnels and Trolls RPG

What’s not to love about Tunnels and Trolls?

The game does not ignore this thing called balance.  Instead, it cheerfully pushes balance to the floor then kicks it in the nuts while it is down.  There is the DARO and TARO rules – if you roll a double with 2d6 or a triple with 3d6, you roll again and add them to the original roll.  Unless you roll a double or triple again, in which case you roll again and add both values to them and so on, leading to obscene values for stats.  On top of that non-human races can double certain stats.  And what’s more, it’s all dandy with Trollgod (Ken St Andre, the creator of Tunnels and Trolls).

Yes, it’s the game that spits in the face of logic in the name of enjoyment.  Who cares why there are dungeons full of gold and monsters scattered all over the place and that some people are mighty warrior, powerful wizard or all rounders who are quite good at both, or, if your stats are high enough, get to be the paragon class where you enjoy about 3/4 the benefits of warriors and 3/4 the benefits of wizards?  It’s fun!

And what adds to the fun is that the rules are not overly complex.  D6s only are needed (although you might need a few of them!), monsters generally do not need a ton of stats, but a single value called a monster rating which determines how much damage they deal and their hit points.  Stalls in combat are broken by a rule called spite damage.

In combat, you roll a certain number of d6s depending on your weapon, and add a number to that value.  The monster does the same.  The one who rolls the highest deals the difference in damage – any armour that the defender is wearing.  However, for every 6 anyone rolls, they also deal 1 point of damage ‘in spite of’ (hence the name spite damage) armour or who won, and this can really add up when you are rolling 10d6 for a weapon (which you might – I told you about lots of d6s).

Magic is pretty useful, using a points system to cast spells (in 7.5, you use WIZ points to cast spells) and the
spells are useful, despite having ‘comedy’ names.

And then there are the solos.  Tunnels and Trolls has tons of solos as it’s been doing them pretty much since it started.  I’ve written a few myself , so has Scott Malthouse and you can try some quick ones out here.  A lot of the older ones are quite deadly (Ed Jolley has put a lot of TnT posts in his blog and you can find them in the index here. Only one is highlighted yellow, meaning he beat it), but they are quite fun to read.    

And finally, another thing I love about Tunnels and Trolls is the aesthetic.  It hasn’t lost its old school charm.  I don’t know what it is, but I find the whole old school feel comforting.

Want to delve deeper into Tunnels and Trolls?

You can visit Trollhalla.

You can read the Zine for free.

There will be a new edition of Tunnels and Trolls out soon (it is probably out when you rad this).  Take a look!

Computer Games – Colossal Cave Adventure

Colossal Cave Adventure (shortened to Adventure on my Atari ST) was the first interactive fiction computer game I played.  According to Wikipedia, it was also the first adventure game to be written.

The premise was simple enough – you had to enter a colossal cave (based on the real life Mammoth Cave in Kentucky) and bring all of the treasure you find back to a small building outside.  You controlled your character by moving the around with the compass points and other commands such as ‘kill’, ‘feed’, ‘drop’, ‘get’  and ‘look’ amongst others.

I always enjoyed wandering around the Colossal cave and enjoying the strange and funny encounters.  It had everything – a pirate, a troll, a dragon, dwarves, a bear and much more.  I never won this game.  My highest score was something rubbish like 76/350.  The decisions were a little arbitrary and required trial and error and I never had the patience to try everything.  There were some good tricks that you needed to learn such as learning how to kill the dragon, transporting the vase back to your house safely and getting that elusive final point.  I didn’t find most of these things out until I read a walkththrough but the things I did find out I felt very smug about.

Colossal Cave has been an inspiration to other interactive fiction in various ways, not least the use of the phrase ‘Xyzzy‘.  There are even Xyzzy awards for interactive fiction.

The good thing about Colossal Cave now is that you can get it and play it for free in various ways and if you get stuck, you could find a walkthrough.  If you have an Android phone, you can get a Colossal Cave app for free.

You can play the Colossal Cave Adventure here

You can download Colossal Cave Adventure here.

You can buy a book about interactive fiction here.  The title, Twisty Little Passages, is another nod to a phrase from Colossal cave.

Twelve forces of destruction inspired by Magic the Gathering

Here re twelve absolutely unstoppable monsters (around Tarrasque level) that would cause worldwide devastation if a band of valiant heroes do not stop them in time.  Usually, these forces of nature are locked away and the heroes may be able to keep the door of their prison closed or sometimes, they may have to come up with another way of stopping the creature (like there are ways of stopping the Tarrasque).  However, as H.P. Lovecraft, Peter Davill-Evans and Dave Morris has shown us, entities this powerful cannot be destroyed for good.

Hellkite Overlord

Even smaller dragons cause havoc in the lands of humans, but this one really takes the biscuit.  It fits the criteria of dragons – flying and firebreathing but it is also larger than most dragons and it can attack as soon as it is summoned, trampling anything in its path.  If by some miracle, it is dealt lethal damage, if it has access to some green mana, the mana of nature, it can regenerate itself so it will start the whole cycle of destruction again.

Hydra Omnivore

Just as big as the Hellkite Overlord and capable of damaging any number of opponents with its multitude of heads.  This monster not only causes massive damage.  It causes massive damage to everyone at once so even ganging up on it isn’t that effective.  Good luck.

Stormtide Leviathan

This creature is so big that it displaces enough water to flood the rest of the lands.  It also surrounds you with plenty of water so that creatures who cannot traverse it or fly over it cannot attack you.  what is more, it is impossible to defend against it if you are on an island so it will be coming to swallow you up soon.


This is the beast of beasts.  It is huge and can attack and summon another beast just like it in the same turn.  You aren’t just dealing with one massive force of nature – you are dealing with a steady stream of monsters all just as hard to kill and there will be no end to the assault unless you kill the original Godsire.

Avatar of Slaughter

This is a huge nasty creature, but the death and destruction it will cause is nothing compared to the damage caused by the rage it incites. It makes everyone simultaneously bloodthirstry and deadly and they will not stop until they are dead or all of their enemies are.  This creature can start a huge world wide bloodbath.  Beware its release.


This creature is the physical manifestation of the darkest thoughts of twisted wizards. Its presence is enough to wipe your mind of all of its spells and more through the sheer terror of its appearance.  Left mentally defenceless, this nightmare will crush you like a bug.

Gaea’s Revenge

The world itself is angry and it is now fighting back.  Nature herself has assembled an elemental to destroy anything that is not like itself and it will not stop until the artifice and corruption that blights it has been layed low.  Cheap tricks and dark magic are not going to stop this elemental.

Demon of Death’s Gate

Mighty demons require mighty sacrifices.  You can summon this demon with mana or you can summon it with blood.  Wither way, it will crush your enemies.

Vengeful Archon

As well as being a powerful creature, this archon will definitely avenge you by reflecting any hostile magic against its perpetrator.

Blightsteel Colossus

It’s huge.  It can’t be destroyed and it will kill you with its corrupting disease.  Only a sick and twisted world could come up with such a sick and twisted artefact.

Dark Depths

Marit Lage is imprisoned under the ice.  If it is released, its 20/20 flying indestructable form will make short work of even the most powerful planeswalker.
Whatever you do, make sure that the ice stays thick.

Emrakul, The Aons Torn

Finally, we have a huge beast that goes further than the previous eleven.  They were only content to destroy a world.  This thing destroys worlds.  It is almost unstoppable.  It is huge.  It flies.  It can manipulate time so that it seems to move twice as fast and every time it attacks, it devours creatures or even lands.  Finally, it will never truly die.  If the Eldrazi come for your plane, you find a way to get off that plane.  Or you try to imprison them.  or you get devoured.

Only one of these creatures is enough to overturn the world, but they can do so in many different ways.

Until next week…

Magic the gathering auras I would really like to have cast upon me

It deosn’t help when
some of them are
just rubbish anyway.

Auras (formerly known as local enchantments) have lost out a bit in Magic.  The main reason is the rule that if you attach an aura to a permanent in order to make it stronger and that permanent leaves the battlefield for some reason, then you lose the aura.  If the permanent is put in the graveyard, you lose two cards.  For this reason, the only auras that are usually played are auras that overcome this card disadvantage or auras that can be used as removal.

Even the sets which focus on enchantments (the Urza Block where auras go back to your hand if they go to the graveyard), the enchantments were overshadowed by other spells which were broken such as Tolarian Academy and Memory Jar.  Unlucky.

Build your own hero.

While auras that boost creatures can be risky for the planeswalker casting them, they are cool for the creature as it gets loads of cool new powers to use.  Here are ten auras that I would like to have cast on me if I were an adventurer.  I may be being vain, but I do not want any enchantments that change my appearance so I can’t pass unharmed in civilised lands.  Enchantments like Serpent Skin and Sleeper’s Guile would leave me looking like something a band of ignorant peasants would lynch.


Spending a whole card to give a creature flying is a pretty poor deal in Magic the Gathering, but in the real world, flying can get you out of all kinds of problems.  This first one is a bit of a no brainer.  Don’t have the winged helmet in Trial of the Champions?  Fall down the pit on Forest of Doom? Need to escape from Mampang in Crown of the Kings?  The ability to fly solves all of these problems and more.


It will be cool to have quick reflexes as I can easily chase down fleeing monsters or avoid traps.  In terms of Magic the Gathering, I would weaken creatures blocking me.  In gamebook terms, you no longer have to rely on your luck to avoid traps and projectiles, unless of course, you don’t want to such as in Black Vein Prophecy.

Giant Strength

Strength is another no brainer.  The good thing about this power is that it does not make you giant sized so if any passing giants would challenge you to a wrestling match or a shaman wants to test you before he helps you then you would have a nice surprise waiting for them.

Hero’s Resolve

Some powers aren’t bought on by magic but by a state of mind.  Gerrard has his back to the wall in this picture, but he’s still not going to give up.  That’s the kind of thinking a hero needs.  It would certainly be good when you’re exploring Neuberg Keep or the House of Hell.

Street Savvy

Most fantasy gamebook worlds contain cities which are inherantly lethal to naive visitors – Blacksand, Khare, Helgedad, Blackhaven, The City of the Runes of Doom.  This enchantment will bestow the knowledge to defend yourself in a city and to notice thieves and worse sneaking around in the shadows, ready to pounce.

Battle Mastery

Fighting is inevitable for an adventurer and I would not go on a great quest without thorough training and the best weaponry.  With these skills, I will make short work of bandits, goblins and crazed animals.


Battles with mooks will slow me down and weaken me eventually, so sometimes, it would be better to just intimidate them into submission so that I can move on to the real power.  An aura of fear around me would make those orcs cower before me as I walk past them.  The picture on the card reminds me of a jib-jib.

Power of Fire

If combat is not the answer, then I can turn to magic.  Nothing gets rid of a problem better than a blast of flame and you never know, you might cross paths magical serpent whose weakness is fire.  This power could also have mundane uses such as starting a fire on a cold desert night or lighting a lantern.

Instill Energy

Being an adventurer requires quick action so I cannot stand around taking stock of a situation.  I need to move now.  It is also exhausting what with all the fighting and running, so I am able to energise myself once in a while.  It is good if you have a time limit to your quest.


If I meet an opponent that is too much for my skills and magic, I have this power to run back on.  Forget just being invulnerable to sword strike, here I’m invulnerable to (almost) everything as if I’d received one of Leesha’s rings.  Acording to the Kamigawa story, being indestructable also means immortality, so it would also be like receiving the blessing from the giant in Necklace of Skulls.

Robe of Mirrors

Finally, I would don this robe so that I could not be targeted by any other spells or enchantments.  This covers targeted remove from the game effects and targeted effects that give me negative toughness.  I would have to don this last as I would not be able to receive any other enchantments as they are targeted.  Some aura enchantments are portrayed as clothes such as this one.  You can also get other objects such as veils or clasps.

So if you take me as a 0/1 creature, after receiving these enchantments, I would look like this:

I would be a 4/11 creature with flying, flanking, fear, haste, doublestrike, indestructibility and shroud.  I can block creatures with landwalk abilities as if they did not have them and untap once a turn.  I could also tap to deal 1 damage to a creature or player.

The only spells that can deal with me are non targeted effects that exile creatures (such as Apocalypse and Apocalypse Chime) and non targeted effects that will give me -11 toughness.  There is no one effect that can do that but it would require several.

What auras would you want on you?

from Lloyd of Gamebooks http://ift.tt/2cfEWSl

Doctor Who and the Fescan Threat

By Chris Stone

What is a Fescan? Is it like a fresco? Perhaps it’s like a fax machine? I have no idea. Not yet, in any case. But thankfully, we have a professional on hand who knows all about them. We can trust him, he’s a doctor.

Doctor Who and the Fescan Threat is a gamebook adventure by Chris Stone, and he’s asked me to give it a whirl and see if I enjoy it. It is available exclusively at http://ift.tt/2bXAglj for a limited time, and proceeds go towards mental health charities.

If you don’t know what Doctor Who is by now, I’d like to introduce you to the longest running sci-fi show in the world (beating out Star Trek), and also the show of the most variable and often dubious quality. Get your bubble-wrap ready if you want to cosplay as any of the alien monsters in this show, kids!

Our story begins with the doctor telling his trusty companion that the Fescans are alien fish people, and he has faced them multiple times – once for each of his incarnations. Now don’t worry, you’ll get a chance to see many of these, as his first ten incarnations are included in this book, each one with their own adventure against the fish folk. (translation – you get ten adventures to play through here, guys). So, I chose to decide by a completely random roll of a ten sided dice to let’s see which Doctor I will be…

The Sixth Doctor

As the Sixth Doctor, played by the iconoclastic Colin Baker, you have a strength of 40. You are armed with a coat that could make a blind man’s eyes bleed, and a badge in the shape of a cat. Your special skill is hypnotism and being fired by the BBC.

After rolling up a few stats, the TARDIS arrives in the Carollean system, and I have the choice of which planet to land on. I opt to check out the desert planet of Loxani, which I am reliably informed to be quite hot. Leaving the TARDIS, I wander northwards through the baking sun until I arrive at an oasis. Finding a few sprigs of orange berries growing on some oasis foliage, I chew on them until I realise that they’re poisonous and spit them out. Well, going good so far!

Taking some of the berries with me, I explore the oasis a little bit more and take note of just how verdant it is. Very peculiar… At this point, a small assault craft descends overhead. A Fescan battle craft, it quickly opens fire. I dive for cover, but not before taking a sharp burning hit from its laser beams. Watching from under some cover, the fighter craft jets off into the horizon. The doctor proceeds past the desert, over the sand dunes, until something truly unusual catches his eye – a city, floating over the desert on a huge disc.

Eager to go and be haughty and arrogant at them, the Sixth Doctor scurries his way to the city and clamber aboard. It’s an impressively futuristic city, kept cool by what I assume is either a geothermic dome overhead or by cunning air conditioners hidden where you least expect them. Wandering through the streets for a while, it isn’t long before I catch sight of something suspicious – a group of Fescans. I head off in their general direction, and soon find myself standing outside of a bar.

So, ahem, the Doctor walks into a bar. The bartender asks me “Why the long face?” I tell him that Jon Pertwee’s nose wasn’t that big. Boom boom. Ahem. Anyway. The Doctor sits down at the bar, and a drunk chap wanders over and says “Psst, hey buddy, you’re not a member of the secret underground looking to overthrow the Fescan invaders, are you?” The Doctor, naturally, steals the man’s glass and runs out of the bar instead. Can’t help but feeling that I missed a useful clue when I chose to indulge in my kleptomania…

Leaving the bar, I eventually find a large statue of a Fescan warrior. The locals seem to be avoiding it, and it’s pretty clear that there must be some real systemic hatred of their cruel overlords. Can’t imagine why. I manage to stumble onwards until I find myself in a rough part of town, full of people wearing hoodies. For a moment, I thought I was in London rather than Loxani.

I soon find my way into a park, which sets my mind to rest by reassuring me that I am indeed on a desert planet because most of the plants are cacti. Apart from some red flowers, one of which I take to wear on my gaudy coat. In a rather unusual twist of architecture, I soon stumble my way past a castle, portcullis and all. Evidently the inhabitants of the desert planet of Loxani are big fans of European castle designs. On my way through the castle, a Fescan guard asks for my ident card and, when I don’t have one, he shoots me. Say what you will about the criminal justice system…

I wake in a cell. And, being the Doctor, I immediately find a small electronic panel near the door. While fiddling around with it to try to unlock the door, I accidentally create a swirling wormhole in the fabric of space… as you do… And being a bit of a sucker for diving into swirling vortexes of chaos, I dive right in.

I promptly fall through space and time, tumbling through universes and witnessing abstract images and thoughts given form. Flames dance around me and meteors fly past, and before long I am absorbed by a sentient entity made of the colour purple. It devours me entirely, and my misadventure ends here. A tragic state of affairs, really.

Doctor Who and the Fescan Threat is a good, solid gamebook. It’s long at over 2000 segments, and captures the feel of the TV show very nicely. Right off the bat, you’re given a path that splits off if you play as the 1st or 2nd Doctor, and if you don’t then you are presented with four possible planets to select to explore, all of which means that there’s a lot of replayability here.

This book is a limited printing, and all proceeds go to mental health charities, so if this sounds like your kind of book or you would like to benefit a good cause, grab a copy fast before it’s too late. http://ift.tt/2bXAglj

(If you’ve enjoyed this article, be sure to check out Justin MacCormack’s bestselling collection of horror stories – “Darkness Bites”, and the young adult coming-of-age comedy “Diary of a gay teenage zombie”.)

from Lloyd of Gamebooks http://ift.tt/2bSAxT0