Monday, September 25, 2006


As ever, no prizes to regular readers who know where I've been the past couple of weeks. Bitter and twisted as I am upon emerging from yet another slough of despond- and this one without any gaming at all to raise my spirits- I feel the need to vent my spleen in a pointless rant or two at some hapless non-moving targets. So I'll start with...

The turning of the season...
Autumn's definitely upon us here in Glasgow: the nights are drawing in (as we say), with darkness now descending by 7pm. The clocks will go back to gorram GMT before we know it and we'll have to endure those long months of mid-afternoon dusks. Gah, but I hate those long dark nights! Seasonal Affective tendencies aside, it's a bit of an age thing I think: when I was a youngster I used to find delights in autumn and winter; then, about 10 years ago, I realised I just hated the long months with too little daylight. I realised I was getting old.

Spires of Altdorf? Gah!
Since the diversion that was The Madness of Father Ranulf, and after the Serenity interlude, I've been thinking about how to get my PC's back onto the Paths of the Damned. Spires of Altdorf looks like a worthy sequel to Ashes of Middenheim, and I'm looking forward to getting it rolling.

But SoA is a very different adventure from AoM. In particular, it features a large cast of NPC's with whom the PC's must interact. These are fully detailed as you'd expect from BI's WFRP scenarios, with the key NPC's including lots of information that should prove very useful to the would-be GM. All well and good then. So what's my beef?

It's simply that those key NPC's are so well detailed that the information as presented in the book strikes me as being too cumbersome for easy use during play. What a GM (this one at least!) really needs with NPC's like these is to have each one available on handy reference sheets; large postcards would be ideal, but A5 at a pinch. Unfortunately, not content with the NPC's as laid out in the book requiring irritating page-flipping to get at; with the information often split across different pages, the layout is also such that you couldn't even photocopy the relevant pages to construct your NPC reference sheets.

In this ICT day-and-age, it would've been the easiest thing in the world for BI to have produced PDF's alongside their print books. With a bit of copying and pasting to a handy WP package it would then've been the easiest thing in the world to compile the much-needed references. But BI, in their infinite wisdom, have so far declined to join the rest of the rpg industry in producing PDF's of their line.

So there's nothing for it to resort to a serious session at the scanner before I can get to work on compiling those references without which I won't feel comfortable trying to deal with the complexities of SoA's interesting looking plot. Gah! And again- gah!


Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with it being dark at 4pm; it's the getting up at 6.45 in the dark that's the hard part.

As for complicated NPCs, Do you always need every bit of info about them? if it's all non-combat interaction, you could just list their personal skills and relevant stats, miss out all the trappings, physical stats (unless Grundi does something unutterably stupid again), etc.

In fact, if you simply work out their total bonus for each skill (stat plus skill 'ranks', all you need is their name and a dozen words and numbers. Easily fits onto a 63x88mm card.

I'd imagine the reason BI don't do PDFs is the fact that they'd be all over BitTorrent and Limewire by now. PDF security is, AFAIK, fairly weak. Some companies are willing to accept the invevitable losses; GW (and WotC, by the way) are not. It's also more trouble than you think to create a decent PDF; it's not just a matter of 'printing' the file; if you're gonna do it properly, you need to sort out indexing, contents lists, etc.

Anyway, it'll be good to get back to the WFRP (and with a bit less in the way of violence, Bert might not be so useless this time around).

gnome said...

Great post... Time running out...


Anonymous said...

Less violence? How will old Seigfired survive? How will we persuade him to rise up in the (dark) mornings? Why, he'll have no excuse to spend wads of cash replacing outfits ruined by trips down various sewers, or splattered with vermillion (or black, or green) lifesblood?
No fighting.....?
GAH! ;)

Anonymous said...

Hold on! Social Interaction?
We have two DWARVES (DWARFS, whatever, dont get me started on that whole grammar thing). They'll get bored and start hacking hapless merchants and courtiers!
Quick! Lock up your daughters, (well, you never know with Mordrin), lock up your courtiers, for GODS SAKE HIDE YOUR LIBRARIANS!!!!!


Brian again