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And lo with a splat Aido lands back in the internet like a vengeful birdshit from on high.

I’m not going to wax rhetoric on why I disappeared, let’s just call it a study gap and leave the leaky details of my personal life in the less than secure box out in the unsupervised alleyway.

The title of this post pretty much says it all, (but it needs more punch, maybe a flash video or something. Oh I know!!!) I kinda got fixated on Castle Drachenfels a while ago and thought how much fun it would be to send my poor bastard players from my ongoing game, (which is pretty much no longer ongoing, alas) trudging through the nightmarish hell of the place, one crazy room at a time. But then I sort of looked at it, having finally bought my first actual campaign set for wfrp3, (sorry Dan, it was witch’s song) and realised I could do a bit more with this. How much more? I’m still finding out.

 

Witch’s Song finally enamored me back to one of those elements about wfrp3 that most people aren’t prepared to give the time of day to: Tracking tokens. 

Tracking tokens are kind of the final nail in the coffin for a lot of people that have taken the plunge and shelled out for the initially expensive core box for WFRP3. Visualise someone opening said box after purchase:

Ok, all the actions are on cards now? Alright, alright, I dig that. Ok, and…and everything is on cards. I’m sure that makes sense… Somehow… Could have put a bit more into the aul’ rulebooks there lads but…

Ah here…

What’s with all the feckin’ fiddly bits, I thought I bought an RPG not a bleedin’ jigsaw.

SKIT ENDS

The point is that we’re all very mature and we don’t like someone saying “just in case you forget where you are along the plot this handy tracker will help you.” Except that’s not the point at all, because if we were all very mature we wouldn’t be playing RPG’s, we’d be attending to our appalling personal hygiene and blaming back-of-the-alleyway conceptions on booze. More importantly, as my lovely wonderful S.O. is reminded every single day,

 

The Olde World League

Well well well, look who came crawling back to the internet…

If your wondering where I’ve been for the past month and a half, the answer is “working”, this is a major development for me. Unfortunately, the reason I am here posting is because I am now “not working”. This has caused me significant consternation over the past short while, but I’m going to just plow on ahead and start giving various down-lows and up-highs. (Mostly the former I fear.)

Firstly I’m still playing whfrp3 in whatever avenues I can. I have to pull together my old group after disappearing off the face of the planet for a month and a half and I hope to be able to start up where I left off, namely murdering them in whatever means I can, mostly the slow and horrible ones. I still take part in my bi-weekly online whfrp3 campaign, which has reached the interesting crossroads that one us will most likely get murdered next session. Everyone’s been pulling random careers, I strangely managed to pull the combat tank one again. Hilarious fun, by which I mean I’m shit scared and don’t want Annierra to die. *shrug* If that’s the way it’s gonna go, then that’s way it’s gonna go. But I am to make my next character decidedly un-murderable.

whfrp3 has provided very little new content over the past few months aside from Print-on-demand stuff, which is great and all but I think we all want a nice meaty supplement box to get our teeth into. The next one on the agenda is the eagerly awaited “The Enemy Within” campaign, for a number of reasons. I think myself and the other whfrp3 junkies will be waiting by our postboxes to see what the latest renditions of it will provide.

On the subject of online gaming, my elusive aussie compatriot Daniel Wise is endeavouring to set up an online, easy opt-in campaign system for whfrp3, which allows players to drop in with a character for a few sessions and make little commitment beyond that. I think this entire system is brilliant and I’m wont to write further on this, most importantly, you can find out more about it at http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/the-old-world-league. You’ll also need to sign up for the Google group, which you can the right information for on the above page. Feel free to sign on and make a character, I hope to be running a few sessions and we’ll hopefully be able to set up a nice online community through it.

Otherwise, most of my activity has involved my other major love in life, tanks. I’ve been painting a lot of Flames of War miniatures and hope to have a playable 1750 point army quite soon. I’m enjoying being really anal about having the right camouflage pattern for my SS panzerkompanie, which proving challenging and rewarding in equal measure. I’ve also been playing a lot of World of Tanks, which, as you can imagine, is right up my street. Enthusiastic efforts on my part have finally earned me a Tiger tank, which I am eagerly running about the place and shooting at people with it’s 88mm gun.

Finally, I have been watching a lot of cartoons, which I think is forming into an idea for a post in the near future, if I don’t have either a painting blog, an after action report from some online wfrp3 or a review up soon, I’ll try have an angry yet hilarious rant about why we need to go and bludgeon some anime producers to death with a box of h-games.

 

So for the moment it’s adieu, but I’d like to have something more meaty for ya’ll soon.

 

P.S. Does anyone know if I can get purple drank in Ireland?

My dear old aussie chum Daniel Wise’ character get killed a few sessions ago. He was nice enough, between mourning, to fill out another “quite the character” for me.

First Question, what’s your character’s name?

Glade.  (He really doesn’t have a name, the humans around him in the bandit camp where he joined the party called him Glade.  One party member calls him Elf, and the other calls him Mr Tall)

In one sentence please, what’s their race, class, career, gender and any other statistical muck we need to get an “on paper” definition for them?

A male wood elf waywatcher who shoots bows and throws knives

What was your idea of the character when you first created it?

A character who could not speak

How did that work out for you?

Hilariously well.

GM: “You feel like your party is being followed”.  Me: “I say nothing”

PC: “Ok Mr Tall what did you see?” Me: “I draw a picture on the ground”

Me: OOC – “I’ll intimidate him”. IC: “I look at him with my elf eyes”.  GM villager: “Oh god don’t hurt me you monster!!  Don’t take my children!!!”

My character can speak and understand several human nation’s languages.  He just chooses not to sully his tongue with their foul words.

What do you think of your relationship with your GM?

Good.  Now we get in hilariously bad situations because I’m not taking lead all the time

What do you think of your relationship with the other players?

In game one of them is afraid of me, the other one keeps their distance or gets frustrated when I don’t rise to his taunts or even when he tries to talk to me at all.

Has your character had a defining moment that made you rethink how you played them?

Yes actually, in the past I’d try and help my fellow Pc’s out and I was going to be the same, then I realised I don’t care about ugly humans and ditched my party in the middle of a burglary when it was going sour (our grey wizard miscast an invisibility spell and the entire place started to rain frogs and attracted everyone in the house hold, the wizard then tried climb out of a 2nd story window, fell down from it and was chased by the guards).

Right, before I start here, I’d like to thank everyone for reading my blog over the past few days. I’m not saying I’m internet famous, but there does appear to be slightly more interest than there was the week before, I’ve got you guys to thank for that, cheers. Nice to get some acknowledgement.

I decided I’d write something on internet gaming since, if you’ve perused the glorious links above my page, you’ll see at least one of them is an internet campaign. There might even be another one after the weekend is out, I’m just that busy soulcrushingly bored.

I’ll be speaking mostly for real-time gaming because unfortunately, I have yet to get into a solid play-by-post game, I’m certainly not saying those are bad, but when I do sign up for one they tend to fall on their face a bit quickly, which brings me to the first, most important point about internet RPG’s.

1. PREPARE FOR DISAPPOINTMENT.

Did that sound a bit harsh? I didn’t really mean it, honest. However, if you are trawling the 1nt4rtub35 for games, then, yes, be prepared for disappointment. The reason for this being that nine out of ten games are going to fall flat on their faces. Some are going to die in the looking for players phase, some are going to get strangled by international timelines others are going to get tantalisingly close to actually running and then the GM or half the players are going to fall off this plane of existence. (I like to play games with myself at this stage and imagine what horrible crime they have commited that has forced them to flee into dark corners of the world.) But to put it plainly, don’t get excited until your actually sitting in front of the computer, playing the game. Even then, see above, prepare for disappointment, because a lot of games tend to go screaming in flames into the deck after only the first session. The best way to prevent this is:

2. Communicate with EVERYONE.

The more you get along with everyone, the better the game will run. Endeavour to communicate with your GM at least once via voice chat before the game itself runs. Get his e-mail address so you can harass his ass when he doesn’t show up. If you are the GM, harass everyone else in return. Leaving everything on a forum seems have a horrible death knell of “Oh we were about to run the game then I disappeared off the face of the planet for six weeks, LAAAAAWL.” See about setting up some communication for the sake of character gen and JUST GET TALKING. This is easy enough for someone like me, because as everyone who knows me knows: I am an incurable loudmouth. I know some other people might not like the idea of shouting at others, but it’s what a  lot of other people go on to the internet specifically to do, so you will have to overcome your inhibitions somehow. Neither am I saying you will be shouting, but talking is going to take up a huge amount of this game, so get into it. Also, if, like me, your too cheap to pay for video feed on multiple channel conversations on Skype, then you’ll find yourself talking over other people a lot so getting over your first game nerves will be interesting. Speaking of Skype…

3. Use ALL the tools!

You’ll obviously need some kind of chat… thingy to make this thing work, but don’t stop with just that, because there is potential for you all to get a lot more out of your games by using the various tools that are out there and some of them are really great. You can see our group has an Obsidian Portal page, those are great for doing after game shenanigans and write ups and fluff for your character. If everyone has maptools then you can run a game that’s heavy on the gridboxes like D&D or pathfinder. There are loads of other tools that you can use as well, the most immediate that comes to mind is Fantasy grounds, but bear in mind you and the other players will have to pay for it, I’ve put the stuff I know about down below.

Obsidian Portal.

Maptools

Fantasy Grounds.

Added to this are the rake of online dice pool rollers, character sheet files and rolling verification sites, basically, if you want to run a game and you’re thinking, maybe I don’t have the facilities, or certain parts of this game will be more difficult to run over the web, chances are someone out there with infinitely more skill with computers has created a program to do it and is probably offering it on the web for free, or at least for half nothing. What are you doing, not supporting indie computer development? Get out there and buy some of their stuff before Bill Gates and Steve Job’s ghost take over their brains…

In conclusion…

Internet gaming like this and play by post games are likely to really develop in relation to their face to face version since getting groups together can sometimes be difficult, especially with the wide variety of systems out there, how do you know your system will be the one that anyone nearby will have. I responded to the initial advertisement for a game because I couldn’t find anyone to play wfrp3 with, anywhere throughout Ireland. Now there is a slowly growing community, (which I like to think I played a part in encouraging, checks made out to cash please FFG) but I still love my online campaign. I think most RPG developers are going to have move into future with the idea that a lot of the players playing their games will be doing so over the internet featuring strongly in their planning. I don’t like to boast* but our current game has players from three continents. So, take heed of the above, stay the course and you’ll finally get that game you were looking for…

I’d like to ask anyone that read this if you know any helpful applications or websites that can be used for online RPG’s, if you’d like to stick a link in the comments, that would be great. Cheers.

Aido.

**Edit: I haven’t done this page justice without mentioning the ocean of forums that support pen and paper gaming and huge LFP and LFG functions, get your lazy butt out there and check them out, they are leading the charge with these things.

The tangled web. (Personal favourite, spiders, yadayadayada)

Pen and paper games.

RPG.net

That’s a brief smattering if you want more, post me some suggestions!

For those of you that know me in person you will have experienced the constant, high pitched whining as I griped and complained about the fact that Hero’s Call, the most recent boxed supplement to be released by Fantasy Flight Games, (owners of my kidney and liver in perpetuity) was still not in my greasy mitts yet.

 

Well the waiting is over but the pitch still won’t drop because I finally managed to get my hands on it yesterday and seeing as I had the blog already, I have no reason not to write a quick review of the latest addition to the game.

 

Obviously, FFG has done their usual stand-up job of releasing good quality, fairly resilient cards and components. (In my most recent game, one of my players up-ended a glass of lemonade all over the the table. I was predictably less than impressed, but the cards all dried off quickly and didn’t soak anything up, so I’m happy now.) There are the typical few extra components, tokens and tracking pieces, which I actually appreciate since Fiachra seems to make a habit of chewing on them before game.

The box can be split into two parts from there. There is the half that can be used by players, which contains extra careers, the new races and a good few new actions that allow you to unleash all the epic, all the time. Then there is the half that can be used by the GM, allowing you to chew down your laughs behind the GM screen as your players vainly assume they have some daft hope of success now they have reached the epic tier.

The player stuff is good. My big disappointment is the careers. I wanted more. Maybe four or five more, also, there are only two rank six careers in the box, which doesn’t really feel like enough. But this runs down to an overall, underlying discontent with careers in general, since a lot of players would like to stick around in their careers for a good deal longer. I’d more than likely like to proxy in some rules to do that. At some stage. Soon. Which I will post here. Don’t I do nice things for you?  Wizard and priest get six of the new careers in the box, which cheeses me off something rotten. It works if your playing FFG’s ideal scenario of three to four players to a group where one or two are either or both of those careers. But I have a five/six player group with only the one full time wizard. So if your not running this ideal scenario, which a lot of people are not, you get kinda jipped. Hopefully this gets fixed by a print of demand release, or some such. The other careers are general enough that they can serve almost any career advancement scheme. I noticed a lack of a woodsman/marksman archetype, but you can’t keep everyone happy, especially if you don’t put more careers in the box, wink wink, nudge nudge.

Moving on, actions are a little thin on the ground. I say a little, but I don’t really look at this as all that bad. There are three spells/blessings per school and they are all suitably epic. I even get something like conflageration of doom back, glee! The spells and blessings take a back seat to the other actions though, despite there being more of the former. There are a grand total of twelve actions for the plebs to take, which isn’t especially grand. But they are almost universally useful for all parties concerned and probably the most functional are the three enhances that are available, I’m particularly happy a social advance has been included. Giving me that little bit more to do in social combat. Another suitably epic action is Not Done Yet. Which allows you to keep fighting until the end of the encounter, at which point you die. Suitably epic and interesting.

 

What we lose out on actions, we more than make up for in a series of absolutely glorious talents. Which will have you salivating with glee. Talents get a lot of stick in wfrp3, so I’m really glad that these have come out because they are enough to make everyone start spending their advances on them again. Ouch, I say, good sir, ouch. Also, some of the talents aren’t listed as epic, so you can start using them almost right away. BRILLIANT. Anierra just got more bent.

 

Finally, something that needs to be discussed is:What about skill training? Well, the skill mastery rules have been chucked in for good measure as well. Definitely something that makes skill tests a more interesting enterprise. Buy the book and read about it, but it makes the thing worth doing and, importantly, alot of the epic talents/actions/career checks require skill mastery.

 

Is there anything else worth mentioning for our beleaguered players? Of course! What we have been waiting on for so long! Halflings* have finally been introduced as a playable race! Which we have been waiting for for donkey’s ages. I don’t know anyone that wasn’t raging about the failure to include these lovable midgets* as a playable race. I think we all feel the game is a bit more complete now they’re back.

 

*and ogres, don’t forget ogres, they’re here too.

*I’m not sure how people felt about these gigantic, flesh consuming giants, but they’re here as well.

 

Oh yeah, ogres. Ogres are bent broken and everyone is goin…wait a second, let me put down the rant-o-phone and actually read their rules… Oooooooooooh, that’s not so bad at all really. This….This is not something to complain about. Ogres have lower mental stats and high starting physical stats, they also have a  lot of wounds. But as I look at it… This isn’t bad. I can see people salivating at the chops to get their game-breaking min-maxing teeth into these guys, but wfrp3 was never about min-maxing anyway, since the only stat you ever really dare to dump is fellowship. Also, the cheeky cheese-swine have to deal with one of the most interesting game mechanics I’ve seen in some time: Ogres must consume one pound of meat every hour, or suffer a penalty to ALL actions. This… This is really good stuff. Ogres have loads of solid background anyway, a reason to be wandering around the Empire,(Which has been supported by the fluff for some time) and they are, all in all, characters. If I want to play a combat killing machine I’ll play a troll slayer, maybe an shieldbreaker. I’ll have two rolls to play in a party, killing stuff and getting drunk, the two dimensions of the cardboard cutout that is the dwarf slayer cult. But this? Ogres are giant hairy cannibalistic versions of Santa Clause. They might be as dumb as mud but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun to play. After all, you have to do something social every day as you desperately hunt down more meat. I think we have something here folks. Yes we do.

 

So that’s the player’s half of the box, tune in again when I tear apart the GM’s stuff.

Another Quite the Character, I’m afraid there was no weekend post as I was a bit busy.
Fiachra is a long running player(read:victim) in my currently running WFRP3 campaign. We’ve been playing in various games for several years now, he recently got behind the screen to run some sessions of his own, including several excellent deathwatch games.
 
First Question, what’s your character’s name?
Uladin Rogunson.

In one sentence please, what’s their race, class, career, gender and any other statistical muck we need to get an “on paper” definition for them?
A male Dwarven Watchman.

What was your idea of the character when you first created it?
Originally he was a Dwarven lawman who had tracked a criminal into the Empire but had subsequently lost his trail. He would lend his skills as an investigator and warrior to the party as a way of searching the empire for his quarry.

How did that work out for you?
Most of that concept is still there although their have been some additions. For example it turned out that Uladin was the only real fighting type in the original group that wasn’t also a frothing berserker so he sort of took on a very defensive role. Unfortunately that meant dropping developing his investigation skills in favour of defensive abilities but that in itself has been interesting. Uladin sees himself a a protector, standing between his allies and the many nasty things they encounter even if it does lead to him taking bad beatings. His original background is still their as well, he has had a few runs in with his Nemesis but he is also interacting with the wider world a bit more, swearing vengeance for the death of his allies and gaining a sidekick.

What do you think of your relationship with your GM?
Nice try Aido .

Honestly I think we are getting on fairly well. He plays memorable NPC’s, gets the tone of the Old World right and explains the initially fairly intimidating mechanics of WFRP 3rd ed well. He also incorporates the character’s own background and private plotting into the game which is much appreciated.

What do you think of your relationship with the other players?
Pretty good I think. We all seem to be having fun which is the main thing.

Uladin hasn’t made too many enemies either, although there may be some tension with some of the less scrupulous PC’s upcoming.

Has your character had a defining moment that made you rethink how you played them?
His reaction to Dubrovich’s death may count. Before this he had been a little lax about always doing the right thing, but after one of the allies he was supposed to protect was abducted and murdered he rethought his outlook. Dubrovich had actually been quite a dubious character but guilt led to him being mythologised and Uladin being much more careful in his conduct.

Adopting Klaus, the afore mentioned sidekick, might also qualify. Klaus is an (apparently) fearsome mercenary who Uladin took pity on after he constituently failed to hit him for an entire fight. Now Uladin has a henchmen to help with carrying things and manual labour. I think it was a fairly good idea as it gave Uladin some more character and allowed for some (hopefully) entertaining interactions.

This whole blog post does a lot to quell my fears of the upcoming “The Enemy Within” campaign. Glad to see that someone who’s had such a decisive influence in the game I love so much is back writing material for it. I will have to wait for the product to come out, but for the moment, OPTIMISM!

Graeme Davis

In 1986 I was hired by Games Workshop to help develop a tabletop roleplaying game based on their Warhammer fantasy miniatures game. I had done some freelancing before then, but this was my first job in the games industry. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was released in time for Christmas that year, and one of the first priorities was to produce an adventure campaign for the new game that would allow players to explore the Empire and other parts of the Warhammer world. The campaign was called The Enemy Within, and it dealt with the less obvious face of Chaos: secret cults and corruption in high places that threatened the Empire’s very existence.

The campaign was largely planned by Jim Bambra and Phil Gallagher, two recent recruits from TSR UK’s roleplaying games design team. Together with Graeme Morris, for whom I am sometimes mistaken, they had been responsible for a number…

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I pestered my fellow blogger and long time gaming buddy about one of his old characters from days of yore…
*Does a tearful sniffle while looking into the horizon while singing “memoriiiiiies…”*
First Question, what’s your character’s name?

Johann Smit

In one sentence please, what’s their race, class, career, gender and any other statistical muck we need to get an “on paper” definition for them?

Johann is a male human rogue/charlatan type, nominally heavy on the charisma and social skills.

What was your idea of the character when you first created it?

Basically, a sort of less bad-ass version of Han Solo, more cowardly and devious while retaining the snark. He was going to be the words-heavy guy, because tanks bore me and the other slots in the party were taken. Johann was meant to be a trickster and a con man.

How did that work out for you?

He changed a lot after a while. Playing the anti-hero can be fun, and I found myself drifting from the original concept a lot. Johann is a guy who will never admit it, but deep down he loves to be seen as the hero, provided he can do as little work as possible. That ended up being a lot more fun to play then the original idea, because I could retain the “cowardly” thing while also getting away with brief moment of “do-goodery”.

What do you think of your relationship with your GM?

I hate the bastard. Seriously though, it’s great. Aido encourages role-playing and evolving characters and doesn’t get too bogged down in a railway plot.

What do you think of your relationship with the other players?

Personally, fine. They were all, nearly anyway, good friends of mine before hand or became so after.

In game terms, Johann and myself rapidly became the most experienced members of that game (which lasted years and had lots of player turnover). To that end, I found myself taking the lead in a lot of ventures, with mixed results.

This wasn’t my intention to begin with, but so many players were new to the system, with new characters, that it sometimes seemed like I was in charge of the party (at least so far in that I suggested plans and got things moving sometimes).

In role-play terms, Johann often became something of a comic foil for other characters to berate or try and screw over in small ways, which kinda worked. Anto’ wizard and Bernard’s hobbit medic had that good kind of relationship with Johann.

Aido’s NPC of Anya Von Reuiter became the character Johann was almost centred around, an intentionally doomed romantic angle that I pushed from the outset because I thought it would be funny to try. I think it worked out really great, because it added to Johann’s more negative characteristics (lechery, obsession and thinking he’s a ladies man when he isn’t)

Has your character had a defining moment that made you rethink how you played them?

Pretty early on, with the “Dangy” thing as Johann and another player rescued this Imperial street urchin from fire-happy Witchhunters. I’m not really sure why I did that at the time, but it worked into how Johann switched from “con-man asshole” to “somewhat likable charlatan” very quickly. From then on, Johann was a much nicer (and somewhat more reliable) guy then he was originally intended to be.

Dave Costelloe has his own blog neverfeltbetter.wordpress.com where you can read about stuff like football and stuff that makes me come out in a rash. He also has some really excellent historical insight.

Hopefully the vast majority of you(I can speak like there’s more than one of you since I got more than fifty visits in the last few days.) weren’t freaked out when I started talking about European air mobility issues. Hell, maybe one or two of you gave a flying toss.

We’re going back to talking about plain boring old RPG’s again, hope that’s alright with ya’ll.

I play a decent amount of female characters. There’s a reason for that. The most major is the horrifying soulless badass I made out of one my long running NPC’s. She’s been a constant influence for a lot of my major female NPC’s especially the evil, manipulative ones, you can also bet your bottom dollar that if I’m making a female character, I’m at least tipping my hat towards her, the psychotic bitch.

So this post is twofold, discussing creating and motivation for characters and discussing “evil” within the context of an RPG.

I recently started playing Rogue Trader, a rather fantastic RPG based in the 41st millenium that manages to insert just enough GRIMDARK(tm) to give you the necessary flavour but also adds the much more enjoyable element that you’re a space pirate with a giant ship that can carbonize cities.

I realised after a little while that Ayasharee Van Reuteur is more accurately based on Admiral Kane(sp) from Battlestar Galactica. Yes, I’m fully aware that Admiral Kane, from Battlestar Galactica, was a complete bitch. Are you seeing a pattern here?

It’s a retroactive realisation and more guilt by associationrather than blatantly copying every aspect of the character, but there are still plenty of strong links.

I guess I realised it after I made Ayasharee, in her first act upon assuming the role of Lord Captain, weld her own father to the outside of the ship. Why? Because I don’t want them to just call me Crazy Aido for the sake of it, but also since, hey, that’s what I see this character as being like, so, hey, that’s what she’s like. But it also brings up this whole amusing moral swamp that some systems deal with and some don’t. The character of Admiral Kane in BSG doesn’t give a flying hoot when she leaves an awfully large quantity of people to die in space and on at least one occasion goes through the more direct approach to corporal punishment.  Where precisely am I going with this? Well, who’s to say Admiral Kane is, necessarily, evil to her rotten little core? She certainly has a fairly skewed set of morals, but that doesn’t mean she sits on top of a throne of skulls and calls for virgin sacrifices.*Personal note: Do both of the above.* I imagine for any of her subordinates, life isn’t all that bad a ride. True, the end of year assessment is a bit of pain in the ass, but so long as you knuckle down, she’ll go the whole hog for you. So, if I were, for example, a junior officer on board said ship, I’d feel I had a supporting, nurturing command system and be more inclined to ignore the haunting screams of the innocents we’d murdered.

So my character is inwardly focused and believes in rewarding her own troops before say, considering anyone elses’ basic human rights. Did I say that was right? No. Did I say that armed forces or navies throughout the world should take that approach? Hell no. But it’s certainly amusing to see what happens when we apply it to an already GRIMDARK(tm) universe and see what colour the printout comes out. Let’s call it a social experiment.

But more importantly, I don’t think my character is typically evil and that’s where the real fun lies. Too many RPG’s have some kind of inbuilt moral code. If you want to be able to do “x” then don’t for god’s sake do “y”, or some such. I suppose it’s ok when you play some games. But when something makes it so cut and dried, then you are always either twiddling your moustache with maniacal glee or radiating on the top of your pyramid of self funded orphanages. What do we learn? It’s good to go your own way sometimes. That, and I shouldn’t play a paladin, ever.

Of course, in my own strange way, I’m not saying a stratified system of good and evil is bad either. If we take pathfinder for example, and even playing a paladin, that can be a very serious challange, especially if your GM is a complete dick.

So what are we left with? Evil, pure unadulterated evil, and easy rationalisation for piss poor roleplaying? I hope not, but I can see it happening. Alternatively, we raise the standard of gaming when someone decides to play the decisive dickhead with will of iron. Hopefully what happens here is someone reads this and goes out to play their respective badass to the best of their ability.

 

On one final note: My other female character, Anierra Ierionessa, turned out almost completely opposite from how I thought she would, namely in terms of her having a very strong moral code, as well being inclined to stand up for it. This for me is a bit of a triumph since I hadn’t really decided on how to play her when the campaign started, so it’s nice to get little surprises like this.

 

Next: Slash Fiction

Since my head is almost universally stuck firmly between my buttcrack, I tend not to notice important things like Barack Obama pledging to pull troops out of Afghanistan by 2014. I also tend to ignore the far reaching effects that such a withdrawal is going to have, or indeed, lack thereof. But there’s one thing that does strike a note with me, and that’s the development of the A400M, Airbus military’s much vaunted long range combat capable airlifter.

When I say vaunted, I generally imply by Airbus themselves and very few others, since, in case you haven’t been paying attention, the project is massively overdue, overcost and generally a giant sticking sore on Airbus’ record. The aircraft ran almost immediately into problems, mostly due to the decision to make it a collaborative project between several countries. The overly heavy impetus on having a a combined European effort with very little input from outside sources, a glaring example being the refusal to use American made Pratt and Whitney engines, very quickly turned into a quagmire of inter-state bungles where each nation’s piece of the A400M puzzle simply wouldn’t fit any of the others.

The A400M, now being referred to as the Atlas, is currently three years and counting behind schedule and is need of constant bailouts from it’s major investors in order to keep the project running. The plane is built and almost complete in terms of flight-testing and meeting all it’s safety standards, but that still leaves till at least the end of 2012 before the first orders start being met.

The irony for the Atlas is that it was saved rather than crippled by the European economic crisis, since the vast amounts of money that had been injected into the project compelled European leaders to actively improve their cooperation to the point that the project was put back on track, of course, that still required a massive cash influx as well as putting the project back by three years so they could iron out it’s respective kinks.

The real test for Airbus will now be delivering the aircraft in time to make a meaningful input into what has, for Germany, been a logistically testing time. Germany had initially made the number of orders it did in order to support it’s deployment to Afghanistan. While the Bundeswehr has been waiting for it’s new aircraft to arrive, it has been reliant on three air platforms for all of it’s air transport.

The only asset belonging directly to the Bundeswehr and therefore flyable by pilots trained and more importantly, contractually able to fly for anything close to combat conditions is their aging fleet of c-160 Transaals, if you’re not familiar with the transaal, prepare to be underwhelmed, it’s a two engine tactical airlifter in the strictest sense, with limited range and even more limited lift capability, these aircraft are relegated to the “battle-taxi” roles that require fixed wing aircraft, important jobs, not least of which is casualty evacuation. Saying that Germany “relies” on these aircraft is risky to say the least, as they are decades old, in need of constant maintainance and worse yet, spare parts are becoming increasingly hard to come by.

The other asset is chartered aircraft, which are essentially a “delivery only” service, used to bring heavy equipment too sensitive to be delivered overland or needed for a more immediate project. The draught horse for this kind of work is the likes of  the Anatov 124, which is used by just about every armed force in the world, including both Ireland and America, for heavy strategic lift. The aircraft remains strongly in the hands of chartered lift companies and is therefore unavailable for combat operations and regardless of which, the Anatov is not fully pressurised. While providing for a very major need by many armies, it could never be called upon for frontline support.

Finally, filling in a tiny gap within air lift requirements is the leased squadron of C-17’s available to Europe. What these really serve to do is provide a glimpse of what a country like Germany could do if it had access to a medium range strategic lifter like the new Atlas aircraft.

To really understand the role that the new Atlas aircraft could serve for the Bundeswehr, we should probably look at the work of the C-150 Hercules, currently being used by the Royal Air Force in it’s own combat support operations. Why? Because it’s playing a much more active role than the Transaals ever could. The Transaal is relegated to second line combat duty. The British planes are employed in a variety of much more frontline work, essentially giving the British army the ability to support it’s troops in the frontline from the air if needs be. This at the least allows them the ability to take at least a slightly greater risk in terms of deployment and operations, which they need to do, faced as they are with more aggressive Taliban units coming over the Pakistani border.

So what will the A400M do if it reaches the scene on time? Probably save money for the German army by finally allowing them to scrap their aging fleet of Transaals and beyond that, not much. By the time the aircraft finally comes onto the scene in enough numbers, Germany will likely have shipped the last of their troops home. The entire debacle’s long reaching effects might also scare Germany off any further long range deployment for many years to come as well, especially given the negative press received due to perceived timidity on the part of the Bundeswehr. Could the new aircraft have corrected this problem? It could certainly have helped, giving German operations a decidedly more aggressive edge.

We now know that the A400M is quite an impressive aircraft and would be a capable successor for the likes of the C-150 Hercules, but that doesn’t mean it can simply step in and take that role. Airbus will dearly miss that opportunity to prove it’s new aircraft’s strengths.