Friday, November 17, 2006

How to get our greasy cash

The folk in our office are raising money today for Children in Need. (A UK charity that helps deprived or disadvantaged kids)

The fund raisers seem to know what motivates us all too well.

We've ended up donating cash to a chap who has grown comedy Muttonchop whiskers. We've put in some money so we'll be in with a chance of winning a bottle of Champagne, and of course, we ran into the cake sale and couldn't pass up the chance to buy a pie.

Beards, booze and bread. The staple elements of the Empire... and BI

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Why you should be part of the Games Industry

Making games is great.

It may come across as a bit smug for us to be posting this fact on our blog, but it’s true.

In fact, you already know we’re right.

If you’ve ever run a Game where the planets just aligned right and the session went better that you could have ever imagined- then you know what we mean.

If you’ve ever spent a summer playing in a campaign where you got to know your character so well you practically lived a double life- well then, you also know exactly what we’re on about.

If you’ve ever snorted beer/milk/Mountain Dew/drink of choice out of your nose because you were laughing so hard at what happened in your Game Session, then you’ve been there.

If you’ve ever looked up from a tense session to realise that three hours have passed in the blink of an eye and you feel like you’ve lived a lifetime- then you also know what we mean.

At the end of the day, making Roleplaying games is about creating those moments for people. What a job to have.

It’s easy to get weighed down by the annoying minutiae of this Industry- snarky reviews, printing errors, containers of your books being washed off a ship mid Atlantic (don’t ask), forum flame wars, missed deadlines, weekend convention work, oh… and all the other stuff.

On the other hand, when you log onto a forum like RPGnet and see posts from complete strangers saying ‘I just got this game and it’s the best thing ever’-it’s great.

When folk come up to you at a convention and tell you how they’ve started up their RPG group again, just because of your game- you do get a little glow.

When you meet folk at parties and you discover they’re an accountant*, whilst you make Goblins for a living- well, that’s kind of cool.

When you talk to a writer or artist about some work they’re doing and they say how excited they are about what they’re creating- you do end up smiling.

We had a great example yesterday. A playtest report for a certain dark science fantasy game we’re developing turned up. The team- KIA Special Ops as they’re known- were just starting a new session with the latest rules. They’d gone to a spooky lunar mining complex and opened the door leading down into the earth. Shadows crowd the corridor and an unnatural wind sighs up out of the darkness. The Pskyer decides to use her powers to light the way. She promptly botches the roll, gets a really horrid result on a table and explodes into a ball of fire. And this is the first roll of the first game session. Talk about gaming moment.

Ok, so we’re probably going to adjust that rule, but it was amusing.

And of course, at the end of the day, what is roleplaying about if not fun?

What a field to work in…

*Black Industries recognises that accountants perform a valuable service in our society, and no accountants were harmed in the making of this post. We didn't really point and laugh at a party saying 'ha! adding things up and writing numbers in tiny boxes is for loosers, us roleplay types are way cooler!'**

**This of course, is irony. Just in case you were wondering.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Shootout at Silo 61

Well, we have been hard at work here at BI fine tuning the Dark Heresy game, throwing countless screaming acolytes into the horror of the 41st Millennium and seeing just how long they can maintain their sanity, avoid the taint of Chaos and generally stay alive. Presented here is a bit of a narrative of one such playtest game, which will hopefully give you some hints as to what to expect in the rules. Of course as you might guess we have been mainly testing the combat system, hence the extreme violence of this particular session. Anyway on with the carnage…

For this playtest we had three starting characters:

Mordechai – A hard as nails Arbiter, equally skilled in melee and ranged combat, armed with a sword, a bolt pistol and wearing a mix of carapace and flak armour.

Hybris – A Tech-Adept with some basic bionics, skilled more in the ways of machines that combat, armed with a stub gun, a glaive and wearing a flak cloak.

Vos – A feral world guardsmen of massive size and strength, excelling in close combat, armed with a chain axe, a sawn-off shotgun and wearing heavy animal hides of dubious protective qualities.

The session began with the three acolytes being dispatched into the hinterlands of Rybros III by their inquisitor to investigate cult activity in an old processing plant. Having left their transport hidden nearby they snuck up toward the run down and over grown building using their varying levels of stealth skills.

Taking the lead, and moving surprising silently for such a big man, Vos moved up to the low broken wall surrounding one of the outlying storage sheds. From his hidden vantage point he spied three human sentries, dressed in tattered clothes and toting battered autoguns, quite obviously in the eyes of the players as group of no good cultists.

Unfortunately for the feral worlder he had little time to formulate a plan of attack as his companions blundered up to join him, alerting the cultists, who immediately went for cover and starting firing at the acolytes.

Without hesitation Vos returned fire with his sawn-off, missing, mainly due to the appalling accuracy of his weapon at long range. Meanwhile Hybris snapped off three rounds from his automatic stub gun, one of which would have struck a sentry had it not been for the cover that stopped the round in its tracks.

Cover was also working to the advantage of the acolytes as autogun rounds spanged and sparked off the low wall. During the tumult of the firefight the Arbiter took the initiative to break the deadlock and worked his way from wall to wall coming around the cultists’ flank, before popping up a unloading at close range with his bolt pistol. Several of his shots hit the poor guy’s feeble cover (part of a collapsed wooden fence) but the powerful bolt rounds smashed straight through the wood blowing him into bloody gobbets.

Vos took this as his cue to charge the remaining guards vaulting the fence and running screaming at them. Perhaps out of fear both sentries missed the charging feral worlder, much to their lament. With one mighty hack of his devastating weapon Vos took one of the sentries legs off, sending him screaming to the ground where he promptly passed out and died from shock. Vos decapitated the other with a vicious follow up attack, showering gore in a wide radius.

Having dealt with the sentries (in a less than subtle fashion) the acolytes then moved up to investigate the nearest processing silo, pausing only to reload weapons and for Vos to shake the blood from his axe.

The interior of the silo was dark and dingy and filled with the rusted remains of machinery and rubbish. Heedless of the fact that they had probably alerted whoever else might be about, the acolytes started searching the silo and making a further racket. It was only as a result of the keen senses of Hybris that they were able to react as stealthy shapes suddenly materialised from the gloom.

Three more filthy cultists and two large misshapen mutants lumbered forward to attack the interlopers. As they closed all three acolytes discharged their weapons. Hybris firing a three round burst at the lead mutant, his round smacking into its thick flesh with little effect, while Mordechai fired a single bolt shell at the other mutant, unfortunately missing and blowing a sizable hold in the wall. Meanwhile Vos waited until one of the cultists was almost upon him before emptying both barrels of his sawn-off into the hapless fellows chest, painting a good proportion of the floor and walls with his innards.

In retaliation one cultist charged Vos with a knife, only for the big man to display surprising agility and dodge out of the way of the attack. The other remaining cultist sprayed Mordechai with an autopistol, and though several rounds sparked off his carapace chest plate one pierced his leg, wounding him. The mutants both descended on Hybris the first smashing him across the face with twisted length of pipe and the other using the butt of its ancient lasgun to knock the tech-priest to the ground gasping in pain.

By this time Vos had hacked down the cultist opposing him and was closing on the second. The Arbiter changed his focus to the mutants looming over Hybris and flicked the fire-selector on his bolt pistol to semi in a hope to hit them both with a spray of bolt shells. Unfortunately he only managed to hit one, the potent bolt shell blowing a large bloody chunk from its hide and causing it to howl in pain.

From his position lying dazed on the ground Hybris tried to rapid fire his pistol into the nearest mutant, only to have his weapon jam, forcing him to discard the now useless gun and scramble for his glaive. The wounded mutant then charged at Mordechai landing a crushing blow on him with its bit of pipe almost knocking the Arbiter to the ground. Mordechai then squared off against the beast drawing his sword in his free hand, before throwing himself into the melee, blade flashing and bolt pistol thundering.

Vos leaped over the recently disembowelled remains of the last cultist to come to Mordechai’s aid (the feral worder was rapidly proving to be a real horror in close combat). With a few sweeps of his axe he opened up long furrows in the mutants back but to his surprise failed to kill it. In retaliation the creature turned around and landed a terrifying blow on Vos’ arm (which was unfortunately unprotected) pulping flesh and fracturing the bone. While this caused him to stagger back it did give the Arbiter the chance to empty the rest of his clip and point blank range into the mutant, leaving its ragged remains to flop to the floor.

During all this the arbiter and the feral worlder had forgotten about the tech-adept who had by now been beaten into unconsciousness by the lasgun wielding mutant (the twisted beast had yet to actually fire the weapon but had nether the less used its blunt end to great effect). As the final mutant turned its attention to them Mordechai fumbled for another precious bolt clip and Vos tried to load his shotgun with one hand. With a crash it barrelled into Vos knocking him to the ground and sending his sawn-off skittering across the floor. Deciding to risk shooting at the wrestling figures the arbiter, fresh clip in place, opened up on the mutant. Fortunately, luck was with him and one of his rounds hit the beast in the head spraying Vos with a vile mixture of blood and brains and killing it stone dead.

At this point the acolytes (Hybris unconscious, Vos wounded and nursing a fractured arm and Mordechai wounded and down to his last few bolt shells) decided that they had seen enough and skulked back to their transport, before any more foes turned up.

After all, the Emperor will not judge you by your medals, but by your scars – and Saints knew, they’d earned a few…