Thoughts on (and a preview of!) The Worlds of Android

It’s time for a particularly exciting blog post—a discussion of my first major foray into pure fiction, without game rules, which happened to be one of my most exciting projects yet. The work in question was just recently announced—Fantasy Flight Games’ The Worlds of Android, a setting book chock full of fiction and art detailing their Android IP (used in Android: Netrunner, among other sources).



There were a lot of reasons this project was cool, but the big one for me was getting in on the ground floor of the setting. FFG had, of course, previously detailed stuff from the setting in novels and games, but this was the first really comprehensive piece on the setting itself—and I was getting to create all sorts of cool details for it. I’m used to working on heavily established IPs like Star Wars or Warhammer, so the level of freedom I was able to exercise was breathtaking, especially given how big a deal this was going to be for such a cool IP. If I’m gushing a little bit right now, it’s because I still haven’t gotten over how much it meant to me to be able to do this.

As a bit of a primer on the Android setting for the unfamiliar, it’s a near-future, cyberpunk-ish setting that focuses on introspective themes. Stuff like how technology doesn’t solve problems where people are unwilling to do so. I like lasers, swords, and the various intersections thereof as much as the next guy (which you can probably tell from my previous output), but people are always going to be the key to driving a setting or a story forward.

Android is a setting with a bunch of cool tech, from braintapes and AI to the Beanstalk, a commercial space elevator, but it never loses focus on the human element. In fact, that’s one of the key struggles of the setting—as the name suggests, androids are kind of a big part of the landscape, and their status and people’s perspectives on their personhood can get pretty complicated—but also compelling, especially when you consider that the real world may be approaching very similar issues soon enough. The applicability and thought-provoking detail doesn’t stop at artificial intelligence, either. The questions of how information technology, media and the Net change the world are big topics as well, and I’ve been consistently impressed with the thought put into addressing them by the writers who have worked on those areas of the setting.

But that’s enough of my promises about how cool the book is. Thanks to the wonderful folks at FFG, especially Katrina Ostrander, the Fiction Editor and one of the key people on this whole thing, I’ve been given permission to straight-up preview some of The Worlds of Android! First off, I’d like to talk about what I worked on within the book. There were a few different topics involved, but they were all heavily linked together by means of one of the major recent events of the Android setting’s internal history—the Worlds War. This topic (and yes, that’s an extra “s” there—this wasn’t a World War, but a conflict between Mars, Luna, and Earth) has been a part of the setting since the original Android board game, and major figures in the setting from the novels and other sources are linked by how it shaped them, but The Worlds of Android is the first time it has been discussed at length

My focus was on some of the elements of the War that occurred on Luna and Earth—battles now infamous across the Net and meatspace alike, such as assaults on the Beanstalk (mentioned above) and Starport Kaguya (the moon’s primary point of contact with Mars and Earth).In addition, I got to detail the Lunar colony of Heinlein, which was a site of great import throughout the War, including hosting the peace talks that ended it. There’s a few other bits and pieces of my work elsewhere, but mostly I worked on Luna and the War. The elements match up quite nicely, as the War shaped the modern face of Lunar colonization. One of the earliest such events was a precursor to the struggles of the War proper, a series of populist uprisings and protests transformed by an unexpected assault. The following text is an excerpt from the book, detailing some of the events that led to the Lunar Insurrection, and by extension, the Worlds War:


“At the height of the helium-3 boom on the Moon, almost all of the major world powers had their own mining concern operating on the Lunar surface. Crescent Co., Héliobras, Melange Mining, Pestroka Technika, Rajanipati Limited, and Xiangong Inc. all maintained significant mining facilities and colonies to support them. Each company was driven by its bottom line; the corps took every shortcut and seized every available advantage. They were determined to wring every last credit they could from the regolith, the machines, and their employees.

Competition between the corps was fierce, and eventually they turned their sights on each other. In the months preceding the War, industrial sabotage was nearly as common as actual mining, and it wasn’t always equipment that was targeted. Many workers were injured in the destruction, and the death toll began to mount. Private security forces were stationed to protect corp facilities, but this only seemed to increase the bloodshed. Certain Lunar mining facilities developed reputations so bloody that no one would work for them, leading to the importation of some proto-android labor forces that relied on weak AI.

An Alliance between workers from numerous corporations petitioned the Earth countries to reign in their corps. They wanted reparation for the lives and livelihoods lost and the immediate apprehension and trial of the corporate executives and mining overseers responsible for the whole situation.

The rival powers of Earth began negotiating a solution through backdoor diplomatic channels, but in the meantime, the corporations on the Moon continued to escalate the number and intensity of attacks on one another. Not long after the miners first broadcast their grievances, Prosperity Mining Depot, the primary dock belonging to Melange Mining was bombed by unmarked prisec forces. Life support failed, suffocating hundreds of innocent miners.

The brutal events at the Prosperity Mining Depot outraged the Lunar population. They demanded an immediate apology from Earth and swift action to sanction the corps and prevent any further casualties. But the political situation on Earth remained delicate, and the negotiation tables had many complex issues to discuss, which would take more time than the miners would tolerate. To the Loonies, as they were derisively called by Netcasters on Earth, the message from the United States and China and other countries seemed clear: Luna’s concerns—and lives—were not as important as Earth’s appetite for He-3.”

The outrage of the Lunar population might have hit its peak after the events at Prosperity Mining Depot, but they eventually found they had plenty of other troubles. These concerns, the losses they brought with them, and the resolutions that were reached over and even after the Worlds War, played a big part in shaping Lunar culture and geography, from the gardens now planted in Prosperity Memorial Park, to the rough-and-tumble culture pervading the Docklands where He-3 is processed and shipped to Earth. As my second preview, I have a spread from the book that details some of that very Lunar geography, and some of the secrets buried beneath the surface.

Android Lunar Map.png

If you guys are as excited about this book as I am, you should be aware that it is set to release before the end of 2015. For the official rundown on the book, including details beyond my sections, visit the product page at the Fantasy Flight Games website.


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GenCon 2015

I’m home from yet another fantastic GenCon, and thoroughly exhausted after tons of gaming, shopping, and talking with fantastic people–industry professionals and fans alike. I was glad to see a ton of familiar faces, and to get to know many more. I’ve got a write-up of some of the coolest things to come out of the show that I encountered below.

Purchases of note: Iron Kingdoms Unleashed by Privateer Press, the Dragon Age core rulebook by Green Ronin, and Force & Destiny by Fantasy Flight Games were the biggest RPG items I grabbed, but the biggest item in general was undoubtedly my Imperial Raider for X-Wing. That thing is enormous, and basically filled my suitcase by itself. Also very pleased to have a few other X-Wing items and the new expansion for Warhammer 40,000: Conquest. There were a few other more minor items, but those were what I would consider my top acquisitions.

New Games to Keep an Eye On: I read a very cool brochure for Onyx Path’s upcoming game Pugmire (by Eddy Webb, who I chatted with at the show and found to be very friendly and helpful), and will need to keep a closer eye on the open development process for that one. Also from Onyx Path, I’ve heard a bunch of fun stuff about games that were already on my radar, but that had new facets to look at, like a supplement for the new Changeling: the Lost edition focusing on my very favorite aspect of the setting. A friend introduced me to a small, two-player boardgame called Titans Tactics I really liked, and would have purchased had I had any room in my luggage. I’ll probably look it up and order it online. I’m excited to see where Green Ronin goes with Fantasy AGE from the base I’ve seen in the Dragon Age RPG, but they were sold out before I thought of picking up a copy. Pumped for the upcoming waves of expansions for Star Wars Armada and X-Wing (they’re adding the Ghost from Rebels to X-Wing, which I am delighted about). Fantasy Flight is also putting out a card game based on the old Warhammer Quest board game–it’s a high bar to live up to in terms of crazy fun, but if anyone can pull it off, it’d be them. I also saw a ton of other games I did not have time to try, as usual.

Other Highlights: I attended the Gamers Live, a sort of comedy improv sketch by Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, the folks behind the Gamers series of films, as well as a number of other cool projects. I’ve been to a Gamers Live performance before, and had a great time then, but I think this year’s was even better, so props to everyone involved. I also chatted a bit with some authors of webcomics I read, and acquired a really cool piece of art from Randy Milholland that I just love–a very cartoon-y rendition of the Conan story “The Tower of the Elephant.”

Overall, I just had a fantastic time. If anyone I met at GenCon reads this, thanks so much for being a part of that great experience!

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Bonus Content: Guardian Constructs of the Lost Ones

Well, it has been a little while, hasn’t it? Well, no matter. Time for another installment of the Bonus Content series, where I put up material from my own campaign notes for others to use and peruse. The usual disclaimer about polish applies.

This article is focused on the monstrous constructs I had guarding an alien tomb world in an old Deathwatch game–the same game that featured Gervhardt Ironmaster, from a previous article. Ultimately, the game came down to the Kill-Team seeking out this tomb world in order to stop its secrets and technology from being claimed by a Chaos Warsmith of the Iron Warriors Legion, Tereus the Soulsmith, who served as the campaign’s ultimate adversary. However, the servants of Chaos were not the only threat on the tomb world, as the ancient alien race had left their own guardians to protect their secrets while they pulled a classic “that is not dead which can eternal lie” routine slumbering in another dimension. I went with a techno-organic approach for many of their creations, to differentiate them from Warhammer 40,000’s classic slumbering alien killing machines, the Necrons. Judge for yourself how well they worked.

As a minor note, some of these creatures may have abilities pulled from Deathwatch supplements, such as the Spawn trait on the Discarded Ones, which comes from Mark of the Xenos. This is not core-only material.

Discarded Ones (Troops)

Discarded Ones are twisted conglomerations of desiccated flesh left over from the corpses of the Lost Ones who were unable to retreat with the rest of their race. They have no uniform appearance, being little more than lumps of waxy meat.

WS BS S T Ag Int Per WP Fel
33 43 55 21 03 21 50

Movement: 4/8/–/–   Magnitude: Typically 40

Armour: Unyielding flesh (All 4)



Traits: Dark Sight, Fear (1), From Beyond, Natural Armor (4), Relentless (Horde), Spawn (Horde), Unnatural Speed (x2)

Weapons: Erupting Spines (1d10+9 R; Pen 5; Sacrificial*, Tearing)


*For each attack made with a Sacrificial weapon, the Horde loses 1 Magnitude. This loss may be regained through the Spawn trait.


Faceless Hunters (Elites)

These constructs are a little over four feet high at the shoulder, and resemble the skeleton of a hound made of glossy black metal, extended and many-legged like a centipede and without a head or neck.

WS BS S T Ag Int Per WP Fel
45 44 (8) 44 (8) 49 10 56 40

Movement: 12/24/36/72           Wounds: 21

Armour: Constructed Body (All 7)

Skills: Awareness +10, Dodge, Scrutiny, Tracking +20

Talents: Assassin Strike, Berserk Charge, Crushing Blow, Leap Up, Sure Strike, Swift Attack

Traits: Brutal Charge, Fear (1) From Beyond, Machine (5), Quadruped (x3), Strange Physiology, Unnatural Strength (x2), Unnatural Toughness (x2)

Weapons: Metallic Claws (1d10+13 R; Pen 3; Razor Sharp)

Warden Spheres (Elites)

These are polished globes of dimly glowing silvery crystals. Looking again shows that they are not actually spheres, but covered in a strange spiraling faceted pattern that is impossible to focus one’s eyes upon.

WS BS S T Ag Int Per WP Fel
48 48 20 40 40 10 41 30

Movement: 8/16/24/48           Wounds: 8

Armour: Crystalline Faces (All 4)

Skills: Dodge +20

Talents: Deadeye Shot, Sharpshooter

Traits: From Beyond, Flyer (8), Patterned on Infinity*, Size (Puny), Strange Physiology, Suicide Programming**

Weapons: Touch of the Dead Sun (Basic; 30m; S/–/–; 1d10+10 E; Pen 5; Clip –; Rld –; Razor Sharp; Volatile, Does Not Jam)

*Attacks against Warden Spheres suffer a -10 to hit on top of the modifier from their size, due to the difficulty in keeping one’s gaze focused on them.

**If a Warden Sphere begins its turn in melee with an enemy, it detonates. Everyone within three meters who is not protected by Lost One technology (which all Lost One constructs are) must make a Difficult (-10) Dodge test or suffer 2d10+2 Energy damage with a penetration of 9.

Custodians (Elites)

Statues of silver crystal and black metal, standing as tall as a Space Marine in his armor, but with no head atop the rounded stump of their neck. They have six arms, and the hands at the ends of each are fused with the handle of an oddly curved blade that seems to shimmer in and out of sight.

WS BS S T Ag Int Per WP Fel
65 65 (12) 55 (10) 41 21 42 50

Movement: 5/10/15/30              Wounds: 36

Armour: Heavy Constructed Frame (All 10)

Skills: Awareness, Dodge

Talents: Lightning Attack, Preternatural Speed, Swift Attack, Whirlwind of Death, Wall of Steel

Traits: Fear (2), From Beyond, Machine (5), Multiple Arms, Size (Hulking), Strange Physiology

Weapons: Phase Scimitars (1d10+16, Pen 7, Power Field, -10 to be Parried)

Watcher Thrones (Master)

The mind of an unlucky Lost One is bound within this device, with a single Throne overseeing any given tomb complex. They are only woken from their mad slumber by the direst catastrophes, but the touch of another lifeform, being directly scanned by an auspex, or the destruction of enough of the tomb’s guardians might suffice.

The form of a Watcher Throne is that of an empty chair just barely large enough for an armoured Space Marine to squeeze onto, but assembled of strange, eerie angles, and mounted on a slightly hovering pedestal resembling a tiered ziggurat.

WS BS S T Ag Int Per WP Fel
75 80 80 20 70 (12) 50 60 (12)

Movement: 4/8/–/–   Wounds: 111

Armour: Machine framework (All 12), Nonspace Field (Protection Rating 40%, does not Overload)

Skills: Awareness

Talents: Independent Targeting

Traits: Armour Plating, Dead and Sleeping*, Fear (3), From Beyond, Hoverer (4), Machine (10), Master of the Tombs**, Size (Enormous), Strange Physiology, Unnatural Intelligence (x2), Unnatural Willpower (x2)

Weapons: Spatial Disruption Array*** (Heavy; Infinite Range; S/–/–; 2d10+4 I, Pen 5; Clip –; Rld–; Felling (2), Tearing)

*A Watcher Throne has a chance of waking up based on the nature of the stimulus that draws its attention. Touching, shooting, or striking the Throne automatically wakes it up. Approaching within one meter has a 60% chance of waking it up, as does a direct scan from an auspex or a similar device. Each Custodian killed within the complex has a 10% chance of waking up the Throne (non-cumulative, roll separately each time).

**A Watcher Throne may teleport itself or any nearby allies to any location within the Tomb Complex as a Full Action, and will generally retreat this way when reduced to below 10 Wounds. At the central station of the tomb, it can teleport any force in the tomb, and it can repair itself to full integrity if left alone within the central station for five minutes.

The Throne will then re-engage, teleporting in additional forces alongside it. If convinced a foe is deadly enough before it is destroyed, it will teleport several high Magnitude Hordes of Discarded Ones after the enemy rather than engage personally.

***The Spatial Disruption Array may fire at 1d5 targets each round. It may fire while the Throne is in melee, and may target those in melee with it or with others at no penalty and no chance to hit the wrong target. It always counts as Braced.

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Bonus Content: Mister Shadow’s Phantasmagorian Emporium

Time for another installment of the Bonus Content series, where I post material I wrote for my own games for the benefit of anyone else who might want to take a look and borrow characters, stories, or mechanics. My usual disclaimer applies–this stuff is not polished to professional standards, and was never meant to be looked at by anyone but me in its original form. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be posting it if I didn’t think it had value, so keep reading and judge for yourself!

This installment comes from a campaign I wanted to run for Changeling: the Lost, from White Wolf (and now Onyx Path). For those of you not familiar with the game, your PCs in Changeling are humans who have been abducted by the True Fae, inhuman faerie nobility, and warped into a fae beings themselves, before escaping and making their way back to the normal world. My campaign idea was that the PCs would start just as they had broken free, and have them hitch a ride aboard a traveling Goblin Market, serving the lesser fae who run the market as payment for their transport home. There’s a lot of places to look for an idea of what a Goblin Market is like, but my absolute favorite is in Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic. Read through the relevant sections of that, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of my goals in creating this stuff. What I’ve got here is character and story material only, with no additional rules, because the campaign planning never got that far. It’s still fairly hefty, so without further delay, here we go:


Mister Shadow

No one knows what Mister Shadow looks like. No one has seen him in person. Some claim he can’t be seen at all. But Mister Shadow is the unquestioned master of the Emporium. He claims a cut of all the other merchants’ profits, although some claim he has a shop of his own, known only to the most cunning…or, as some tales tell, the most desperate. Few gossip on these tales in the open, as Mister Shadow does not like being talked about.

Kindly Tom

The grizzled, leering hob known as Kindly Tom is the chief of the Emporium’s security, although he keeps a small wagon-shop of his own (mostly consisting of items confiscated from transgressors). He is never without a pair of vicious Blunderbores flanking him, and he loves to watch his guards at work—the more vicious, the better.

His face is lopsided, and tends to be twisted up in an unpleasantly smug grin. He wears an open vest with no shirt over his greenish-brown hide, but a thin tunic of invisibly woven spider’s silk protects him from attack by unruly customers.

Jack Shackle

A suave, always smiling hob, Jack Shackle seems to be the friendliest of the Emporium’s merchants. His looks are almost human, but for rows of glistening sharklike teeth and claw-like nails on his hands. Always dressed in the fine clothes from some past era or another, he cuts a smooth and dashing figure—all the better to lull his customers into a false sense of security.

Jack Shackle is the Emporium’s chief dealer in slaves, thralls, hedge beasts, and other captured beings. He has no empathy for his victims whatsoever, but he readily cries crocodile tears if he thinks it will earn him a better price—or trick the victim into showing up for a “special deal” outside the market’s protection.

The Brobdingnagian

A squat, sour-faced goblin standing about four feet high, the Brobdingnagian constantly claims that in any meaningful sense, he is actually enormous—enormously wealthy, enormously generous, enormously successful, and enormously handsome. And while he is far from handsome, and generous only relative to someone like Jack Shackle, he is one of the Emporium’s most successful merchants. His own shop is aboard the market’s largest wagon, a vehicle so big it has to be pulled by a team of smaller wagons (the smaller wagons aren’t pulled by anything—they’re there to do the pulling!) and he has hidden deals with a number of the Emporium’s lesser proprietors.

Success has made him somewhat more lenient than most goblins—though he values his strange wealth as much as any of the merchants, he is willing to take greater risks to achieve the highest rewards, which may include selling low early on to cement a long term client’s patronage.

Big Tom Guzzlegore

An ugly brute of a Gristlegrinder, the Changeling known alternately as “Big Tom” and “Guzzlegore” is not an actual member of the Emporium, but he travels with them nonetheless. He does odd jobs for various merchants, occasionally works security, and brings in the occasional treasure from the Hedge in exchange for transportation and boarding. He doesn’t divulge why he does this to anyone, but there are a great many rumors about it. Some say he works for Mister Shadow, spying on those who are convinced he has no subtlety in his Ogrish nature. Others claim he is trying to hide behind whatever Contracts protect the Emporium, as a refugee from some nameless horror.

The truth is much simpler and plainer than most would have it. Big Tom is lost. He can’t remember where he comes from, and he hopes the Emporium’s travels will eventually take him there. He will eagerly and desperately follow up on any information that might get him home—and wreak a terrible revenge on any who play him false.

Old Granny Wisdom

Old Granny Wisdom doesn’t have a stall, and she doesn’t sell merchandise. She travels on a rocking chair pulled by tomcats, and dispenses advice for hefty fees. No one has any idea where she keeps her proceeds, but some whisper her voluminous black cloak could hide more in it than any number of wagons.

Granny Wisdom’s advice is highly sought after by any who have heard her reputation, and it tends to be well-worth the seeking. It usually (but not always) lacks the double-edged nature of words from a Hob, but the prices she charges make many regret dealing with her, whatever the profits that may come of it.

Quaking Archibald

A tiny merchant, even smaller than the Brobdingnagian, the little gnome going by Archibald seems to live in perpetual fear. Barely over a foot and a half tall, most of which is his knobbly head, Archibald is perpetually towered over by everything in the market, and it scares him…which is why his stall is guarded by the two fiercest, most belligerent Blunderbores he could find. The towering brutes don’t make him any more comfortable, given their size, but they remove any particularly troublesome or frightening customers with relieving alacrity.

The key to dealing with Quaking Archibald is not to unsettle him any more than possible. The moment he gets too worked up, he squeaks to his guards, and the offender is hurled halfway across the Market, probably into something expensive.

Lon and Dron

Lon and Dron profess to be brothers, if such a term can be applied to Hobs, but they could not look or act more different. Lon is fat, short, and jowly, with a jovial manner and a thick, bushy mustache of fair golden hair, but a shiningly bald crown. Dron, on the other hand, is tall and lean, with angular, stark features, and long hair of drab black. His demeanor is melancholy in the extreme.

The brothers operate their wagon-stalls across from each other, with Long’s being a massive affair pulled by a team of winged horses, painted in garishly bright colors, and ornamented with all manner of jewels. A huge banner of cloth of gold advertises his wares as “Lies,” and these are kept in all manner of pots, bowls, jars and boxes of elaborate construction and make. Dron’s stall is a simple hand-drawn cart with the word “Truth” painted on its side in faded off-white letters. He has a few small boxes and bags in which to store his wares.

The Whisperer

A tall, whipcord-thin goblin hidden under a heavy cloak, the Whisperer prefers to deal in naught but abstractions and information. His beady red eyes peer out from under the hood of his cloak to appraise passerby, and any he judges as having an enticing air about them are invited over in a whisper. Those who do not hear his low call, he ignores, but some approach him to deal in his favored goods.

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My Current Gaming Slate

I don’t have anything newsworthy in my writing slate to report just now (at least, not anything I can talk about, as much as I would like to do so–keep checking back!), but I’ve been taking a look at a number of new games recently. This includes both new and new-ish releases I’ve gotten a chance to play, and future games which I’m anticipating playing. These games cover a pretty wide array of types, and I’ll be dividing them up into like categories–feel free to skip to one in particular if you want a particular kind of recommendation. I’m leaving out recommendations for older stuff that people are probably already familiar with, but I do have quite a few games of that sort on my radar as well.

Tabletop Role-playing Games

  • Let’s start with the elephant in the room in any discussion of recent RPG releases right now: Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. I have the Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual, and have played a couple sessions from both the DM and player perspective. My verdict? It’s good. It’s really good! It feels like it draws most heavily on AD&D 2nd edition and D&D 3rd edition/3.5, but does better than either of them at achieving their goals. It offers better mechanical depth and consistency than 2nd ed while being much more flexible and user-friendly than 3rd. It also pulls in some of the best innovations from the controversial 4th edition (which I liked a lot, to be honest–I’ve enjoyed elements of every edition thus far), but doesn’t draw especially deeply from that well. Overall, it has rapidly moved into the position of my favorite edition of D&D.
  • I’m finally going to get the chance to run a holiday-themed game this Halloween, which has been an ambition of mine for several years now. I’m not a huge horror fan, so my plan is to use the Atomic Robo system by Evil Hat to do something sort of Ghostbusters-esque. The system is great for scientifically-themed games that don’t take themselves too seriously, which should be perfect for these sorts of antics. Atomic Robo is also very easy to work with on the fly or with minimal preparation, which makes it ideal for a one-shot session. It’s not something I’d use for every genre (although it can handle a surprisingly large swathe of topics with a little tweaking), but for wacky super-science and/or monster fighting, there’s very little that can compete.
  • The Dragon Age RPG by Green Ronin has gotten a little attention from me previously, and as I mentioned before, I’m very much looking forward to the release of their Set 3 box, which shouldn’t be a very long wait at this point, from the news I’m hearing. My anticipation is all the higher because of Dragon Age: Inquisition (see the video games section, below).
  • I’ve been really enjoying keeping up with the beta changes for Star Wars: Force and Destiny. It was already a great game when I was working on it in the earlier stages (in my admittedly biased opinion), and I think it’s only been getting better as people really get to tinker with the guts of the system. I can’t wait for the full release. As a minor side note, if anyone has played through the “Lost Knowledge” adventure in the back of the beta rulebook and wants to share their stories with me, I’m all ears! Getting a chance to post about someone playing through an adventure I wrote would be super-cool, if anyone wants to take me up on the offer.
  • There’s a few other games I’ve been meaning to pick up releases for, but which have been stymied by a lack of money or time. Onyx Path’s Demon: the Descent sounds incredible, and I’ve already put together a campaign idea based on what I’ve heard from others with copies, for example. I also hope to get Privateer Press’s new Monsternomicon, and am looking forward to Iron Kingdoms Unleashed.

Other Tabletop Games

  • Most of my current miniature, card, and board game fixations are not particularly new releases, but I got a demo game of Warhammer 40,000: Conquest at GenCon which convinced me the game had some serious potential. Unfortunately, they were sold out well before I had thought to look into it. Now that the actual release has hit, I’ve been playing a lot, and I am incredibly impressed. This is now a major go-to game for me at the local hobby store. The gameplay is solid, the decision points and meaningful, and the pacing is tight. Matches don’t usually take long, but they feel more weighty than you’d expect from the amount of time you put into them. And speaking as a huge fan of Warhammer 40k, I love how each of the different factions manages to encapsulate their themes in the mechanics of their cards. It’s a really beautiful piece of evidence that good game rules are not actually opposed to good game lore or story, but that they can back up and reinforce one another.

Video Games

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition. Other than GenCon, this is what I have been most excited about all year. I was afraid to hope it would be good for a while, as I am one of those fans who felt the Mass Effect series ended…poorly, to say the least. However, I’ve seen nothing but evidence of good things for this, and they’ve previewed a whole hell of a lot. It’s getting really tough to wait for November 18th, but at least that’s not too far away right now. If you haven’t gotten a chance to try the Dragon Age series, I highly recommend it–you might actually be able to get through both previous games (Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2) before Inquisition hits. They’re great RPGs with a wonderful cast of characters, and some potential for quite strong emotional investment.
  • Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell looks absolutely preposterous and dumb in the best way possible. Saints Row IV was a game that was primarily about making the player grin and laugh and just have a ridiculously great time, and Gat Out of Hell looks to be continuing that trend. I got into the series with Saints Row the Third, so I’m not hugely invested in the character of Johnny Gat (and while Saints Row has surprisingly good characterization, the emphasis there is on “surprisingly” to some extent), but I don’t think I need to be. I just need to be invested in piloting around an armchair equipped with miniguns.
  • I’ve been an off-and-on-again player of Star Wars: the Old Republic almost since its release, and there’s a new expansion coming out that should be pretty good. I’ve got a few concerns about the focus of the story, but they look to largely be doing good things with it. And if I must admit, anything that gives me more of an excuse to mess with my fancy virtual Star Wars house is welcome in my book.
  • Pillars of Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera are old-school RPGs funded by Kickstarter that should both be coming out soon, and which have definitely earned some interest from me. I backed both of them, and am hoping to see my investment pay off. But even if they turn out to be not to my taste, I’m just glad to see more diversity in the games industry succeed, as that can only go good places overall.

Other games I have been playing recently include, but are not limited to: Relic (board game), X-Wing (miniatures game), Android: Netrunner (card game), Star Wars: Edge of the Empire (tabletop RPG), Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Second Edition (tabletop RPG), Shadowrun Fifth Edition (tabletop RPG), Diablo III (video game), and Hearthstone (videogame). I like all of these, and would be willing to recommend each and every one. I would provide the caveat that everything I like about AD&D is something I feel the new edition of D&D does better.

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Bonus Content: Abominations in Dragon Age

Here’s something for a game I’ve enjoyed playing, but haven’t discussed as much as the 40k or Star Wars RPGs by Fantasy Flight: the Dragon Age RPG produced by Green Ronin. Given how excited I am for the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition in just over a month, it seemed appropriate to share some of that enthusiasm for the excellent setting the RPG uses.

Back when Set 1 was the only available non-adventure product for the game, I made a ton of additional NPCs and monsters for use in the campaign I was running, and my favorite of the write-ups I did were the Abominations (for those of you not familiar with the Dragon Age setting, Abominations are the result of a demon possessing a mage. I’m not entirely sold on when settings use a fairly generic word to refer to a very specific thing, but I suppose it’s better than calling them Farthnarbles or something). These write-ups have been modified slightly since then, but not a whole lot. I haven’t been following Set 3 previews terribly closely, so for all I know they could be stepping on the toes of material from there, but I don’t think more options are bad anyways.

So, without further ado, here are profiles and unique abilities for Abominations of Rage, Hunger, Sloth, Desire, and Pride demons, included variants of the Sloth and Desire Abominations that reflect more powerful possessing entities. The usual disclaimer about lack of polish applies.

Rage Abomination

Com -2

Con 5 (Stamina)

Cun 0

Dex 4

Mag 3

Per 2

Str 5 (Claws)

WP 2

Health: 30

Mana: 7

Speed: 14

Defense: 14

Talents: Abomination Traits*

Armor: 3

Claws (1d6+2 base damage)

Hunger Abomination

Com 0

Con 5 (Stamina)

Cun 1

Dex 4

Mag 4

Per 2

Str 5 (Claws)

WP 3

Health: 35

Mana: 13

Speed: 14

Defense: 14

Talents: Abomination Traits*

Armor: 4

Claws: (1d6+3 base damage)

Sloth Abomination

Com 2

Con 6 (Stamina)

Cun 2

Dex 4

Mag 5

Per 2

Str 6 (Claws)

WP 4

Health: 40

Mana: 21

Speed: 14

Defense: 14

Talents: Abomination Traits*

Armor: 4

Claws (2d6 base damage)

Desire Abomination

Com 4

Con 6 (Stamina)

Cun 3

Dex 5

Mag 7

Per 3

Str 6 (Claws)

WP 5

Health: 45

Mana: 30

Speed: 15

Defense: 15

Talents: Abomination Traits*

Armor: 5

Claws (2d6+1 base damage)

Abomination Caster (Sloth)

Com 4

Con 6 (Stamina)

Cun 3

Dex 5

Mag 6 (Entropy)

Per 3

Str 6 (Claws)

WP 4

Health: 50

Mana: 30

Speed: 15

Defense: 15

Talents: Abomination Traits*, Mage

Armor: 5

Spellpower: 16 (Entropy Spells 18)

Claws (2d6+1 base damage)

Knows up to three spells

Abomination Caster (Desire)

Com 4

Con 6 (Stamina)

Cun 3

Dex 5

Mag 8 (Entropy, Spirit)

Per 3

Str 6 (Claws)

WP 5

Health: 60

Mana: 50

Speed: 15

Defense: 15

Talents: Abomination Traits*, Mage

Armor: 7

Spellpower 18 (Entropy and Spirit Spells 20)

Claws (2d6+3 base damage)

Knows up to five spells.

Pride Abomination/Pride Demon

Com 6

Con 8

Cun 6

Dex 3

Mag 9 (Creation, Primal, Spirit, Entropy)

Per 4

Str 9

WP 7

Health: 100

Mana: 75

Speed: 20

Defense: 13

Talents: Abomination Traits*, Mage

Armor: 9

Spellpower: 21

–Claws (3d6 base damage)

–Knows up to seven spells.

–The arrogance of a Pride Demon is so heady and powerful it alters the fabric of our world to make it conform to the Demon’s assumptions. A Pride Demon receives one free stunt point whenever it spends mana to make use of its Abomination Traits ability. It still may not exceed its Willpower in stunt points generated.

–Pride Abominations do not normally take the hideous, ruined flesh of the possessed mage as their form, as such grotesquerie does not befit their magnificence. They have the power to restore the semblance of a whole mage and wear it when they wish to converse—indeed, it is difficult to tell that one is not simply talking to a human or elf in this event. However, when their ire is roused, they take on their full form, uninhibited by the constraints of our realm. This is the form that is outlined above.


Abominations have Mana, but do not usually cast spells (although certain exceptionally powerful exceptions exist). Instead, they may spend their mana to generate stunt points, at a 1 to 1 ratio. Mana may only be spent in this way before seeing the result of a given roll. They may receive a maximum number of stunt points in this manner equal to their Willpower.

Abomination Casters never suffer Magical Mishaps.

Abomination Stunts

Favored Stunts: Lighting Attack, (Demon Stunt)

Demon Stunts (only available to Abominations of the relevant demon type)

Cost                 Stunt

1+                    Unleashed Rage: The Abomination unleashes the fury of a Rage Demon, dealing 2 additional damage for each SP spent. However, it also suffers a penalty to Defense equal to the SP spent until the start of its next turn.

2                      Blood Hunger: The Abomination feeds on the energy in the blood it spills, healing 1d6 health if it deals damage.

2                      Lull: The Abomination’s strike saps energy from its target, requiring a Constitution (Stamina) test against the attack result to not lose the next Major Action the target would take.

5                      Cursed Dance: The Abomination’s graceful, sinuous movements entrance onlookers, requiring a Willpower (Self-Discipline) against the attack result test not to lose their next turn. Those who fail suffer -2 Defense while affected.

5                      Disdainful sweep: Compare the attack result to the Defense of all targets in front of the Abomination and within three yards. Those struck are knocked prone as well as suffering normal damage for the attack.

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Bonus Content: The Lives of Gervhardt Ironmaster

One of my players from an old Deathwatch campaign has requested that I post this particular piece: An article on a villain who the group managed to kill not once, but twice. Gervhardt Ironmaster was the lieutenant of the campaign’s ultimate villain, Tereus the Soulsmith (who I will probably post at some point later). When he first confronted the Kill-Team, he didn’t even survive long enough to reach his place in the initiative order between some lucky rolls and the PCs pulling out all the stops in their attack. However, I’d imported the Infamy mechanic from Black Crusade for him, and allowed Gervhardt to escape death through burning Infamy–explained as a heretek Warp-shunt device that hurled him out of the line of fire through the Sea of Souls before he was slain.

Eventually, Gervhardt returned as a reconstructed monstrosity, more than half-bionics, with much of the rest of him barely recognizable as having ever been a Space Marine, much less human. I made sure in this version of his statblock to improve his defensive characterstics (using his reconstruction to justify the change), hoping to provide a worthwhile “mid-boss” for the last mission. It…didn’t help as much as I had hoped, and Gervhardt suffered a second death with almost as great rapidity as the first, thanks to the PCs’ greater experience and new wargear.

So, now that you know how I used Gervhardt, here are his stats for you to use however you like. They aren’t refined to the degree that my normal work receives such attention, as they have simply been taken from my notes for the old campaign. Also, please remember both profiles do include mechanics borrowed from Black Crusade, so they are not purely Deathwatch content. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy them:


WS BS S T Ag Int Per WP Fel Inf
55 66 55 (12) 65 (12) 40 56 45 55 35 33

Movement: 5/10/15/30                       Wounds: 40

Relevant Skills: Dodge +10, Tactics (All) +10, Tech Use +20, Various Lore +20

Talents: Legion Weapon Training, Bolter Drill, Die Hard, Fearless, Hatred (Loyalists), Heightened Senses (Sight, Hearing, Smell), Jaded, Killing Strike, Swift Attack, True Grit, Mighty Shot

Armor: Ironmaster Power Armor (All 12)

Weapons: Master-Crafted Legion Combi-Bolter (80m; S/4/–; 1d10+13 X; Pen 4; Clip 32; Rld Full; Tearing, Twin-Linked), Master-Crafted Chain Bayonet (1d10+17, Pen 3, Tearing)


WS BS S T Ag Int Per WP Fel Inf
55 66 50 (12) 54 (10) 35 56 45 55 35 15

Movement: 4/8/12/24                       Wounds: 48

Relevant Skills: Dodge +10, Tactics (All) +10, Tech Use +20, Various Lore +20

Talents: Legion Weapon Training, Bolter Drill, Die Hard, Fearless, Hatred (Loyalists), Heightened Senses (Sight, Hearing, Smell), Jaded, Killing Strike, Swift Attack, True Grit, Mighty Shot

Traits: Dark Sight, Unnatural Strength (x2), Unnatural Toughness (x2), Machine (4)

Armor: Ironmaster Power Armor (All 12), Bionic Reconstruction (All 4)

Total: All 16


Vilemaw (Basic; 100m; S/3/–; 1d10+13 X; Pen 6; Clip –; Reload –; Razor

Sharp, Tearing; Willpower 28, Binding Strength 2)

Bionic Claw (Melee; 1d10+15 R; Pen 5; Tearing, Razor Sharp, Power Field,


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