Dicing with Dragons – “Long before Peter Jackson made it respectable, teenage boys fought imaginary orcs and dragons”.
Writer and Presenter Kim Newman celebrates Dungeons and Dragons’ early days through interviews with Gary Gygax and others of the Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone era failing to get a bank loan for setting up Games Workshop. It mentions needing to buy the original Chainmail ancient Wargames rules as well as the early D and D books.
Repeat of a Documentary originally made in August 2004 – Radio 4 Extra Debut / repeat, find this at:
Made in 2004 it speculates about when RPG gamers give up, along with the lack of women RPG players at the time. They do find and interview one female “Dungeon Master”. I imagine this aspect may have changed since 2004, as the few female gamers whose blogs I have come across tend towards Sci-Fi and Fantasy rather than Historical Wargaming.
Available online on BBC Radio Iplayer for about thirty days till late July /early August 2017, it may well be around in the BBC Radio Iplayer documentary section afterwards. This may not be available to some overseas readers.
I stayed in the shade of the trees surrounding our garden during the very hot and sunny Father’s Day weekend. We raided several starter Heroscape packs for hex tile and figures for a knockabout duelling game in the garden using versions of the Lunge, Cut and Stop Thrust duelling rules.
Even the garden table cloth or white spotty oilcloth wanted to join in as a sort of hex sea between the hex islands.
I’m not what many would call a fantasy gamer, despite my historical Imagi-Nations and the occasional 54mm Space based garden game. These Heroscape figures came prepainted with the very useful Heroscape plastic Hex tile ‘make your own 3D gameboard’ terrain system. So it seemed a shame not to use them occasionally.
Heroscape games system
If you’re not familiar with the Heroscape game and figures by MB / Hasbro, available secondhand online, visit the following sites
The starter or master sets I had bought second-hand provided several interesting warrior groups:
Mech type robots – Zettian Guards (not shown in photographs)
Samurai type figures – Izumi Samurai
Elite Airborne figures
Government type agents – Krav Maga agents
Viking type fantasy Ancient warriors
Marro scary aliens
Very soon as I and other family members chose Heroscape warrior squads to take each other on in individual duelling or melee bouts, we switched from the slower cards (Parry and Lunge, Stop-Thrust and Cut system) to the quicker d6 version suggested by Kaptain Kobold.
The games proved short and brutal, mostly involving fast melee, using the Kaptain Kobold modification or d6 dice version of Gerard De Gre’s Lunge Cut and Stop Thrust rules for melee or duelling.
1-2 Hit on Attacker (lose one point)
3 – Both Hit (lose one point each)
4 – Both Miss
5-6 Hit on Defender (lose one point)
To simplify the rules, speed and even things up between the different Heroscape tribes or clans, we declared all figures or weapons equal in melee and no ranged weapons. In that way a Mech Robot could be defeated by a Samurai or Viking.
Each character had 5 life or combat points (recorded on a dice next to them during combat) and could also only move 2 hexes, halved if moving uphill or through water.
The surviving or winning duellist gained an extra life or combat point when the other rival character was killed off. It quickly got fast, fatal and furious!
My FBI X-Files team didn’t last long against the grim-faced Alien Marro figures. Warrior Mech Zettian Guards fought Izumi Samurai and fantasy Vikings, then Elite Airborne figures.
This was also the first outing for some new aquarium ornament resin scenery picked up in a handy 3 for 2 ornaments sale at Pets at Home. A battered rope bridge, a jungle temple, two Ewok style tree houses with lush jungle foliage, a Greek or Roman ruined temple and a Chinese or Japanese fishing boat. All variously suitable for 15 to 40mm size figures.
I didn’t tell the checkout lady the truth when she asked about my non-existent fish and tank, that these weren’t destined or bought for underwater fish usage but for the gaming table or out in the garden / yarden for gaming! More on these in a future post.
This proved a short fast knockabout game of the islands suitable for both young and old in the family.