All posts by Mark

Dragons Rising – Progress Update

I am going to post regular updates on how work is progressing on my new novel Dragons Rising. Partly to give you, dear reader, an update, but also partly to keep myself motivated to progress the project.

So far I have written about 8,000 words and moved onto the fourth chapter. Currently I have paused in actual writing to double back and do some more planning. This is something that I have found is a good way of making sure I’m on track and integrating what I have learnt from writing the first few chapters.

I have been tracking how much I am writing each day, with the intention of trying to stay on a target of words written per week – with the idea that I should then be able to finish it before the end of the year. I have been doing that – slightly behind at the moment, but I’m not stressed about that. One extra thing I decided to do was to also track how much time I was spending on writing each time – it tends to be about half an hour a day – not much, but it tends to be the only time I have available for writing each day, but I can still get in 500-800 words in that time, which is quite good I think. So by tracking time I can also see how much time in total I have spent on the book – including planning time now! So this week I haven’t added any new words to the draft, but I have done two hours of solid planning.

Until next time!

Dragons Rising – a New Novel Project

I have started writing a new novel – Dragons Rising. It’s a fantasy novel set in my Neriador/Ladmas setting – the same place where Return of the Free is set. It involves suprisingly and wizards, and plots! The idea is that it’s a bit of a thriller/fantasy book.

I thought I would make some regular blog posts to track progress, motivate myself and keep you all informed about how I am getting on.

The plan at the moment is to do about 4,000 words a week and finish a first draft before the end of the year. So far over the last couple of weeks I have done 6,500 words – so a bit behind schedule already! I’m not going to worry too much about that, but will still aim to do 800 words a day Monday to Friday if I can – maybe if I go over a bit each day I will catch-up a bit. But the main thing is to keep writing.

I might mention some of the characters and themes as I go along as well. Also I’ll aim to start proper blogging soon as well – with a specific subject once a week – probably writing or history related.

More updates soon!

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) 4e Character Sheet Template for RPGGeek

This is a pretty niche post – so apologies to the rest of the world – but if the two Venn diagrams of WFRP and RPGGeek align for you then this might be of interest!

I’ve played a number of games on RPGGeek – basically its a way of playing tabletop RPGs but by posting on a forum – great if you don’t have the regular time to commit to a face to face session or an online Roll20/Fantasy Grounds/Skype session etc. I’ve had a lot of fun with it and have started GMing a few games as well.

The last one I did was for WFRP 1e, but I realised that not having a character sheet online for everyone made it a lot more difficult to manage – it involved me having to dig out the PDFs people had sent me and then asking them to update them etc. So now I’m running a game for WFRP 4e I decided it was essential to have the character sheets online – and that meant creating a template! That was hard work as formatting stuff for a forum post is not the easiest thing to do, but I had a look at other templates and managed it in the end.

So it’s done – it’s not perfect. But it can be accessed here: WFRP 4e Character Template for RPGGeek

To see some in action check out these real life ones from my current campaign: Starter Set Character sheets

English Civil War and Thirty Years War in 6mm Project – Prologue

A Bit of History

In the late 80s, as a teenager, I was heavily into Warhammer but also started reading Wargames Illustrated and Miniature Wargames and decided it might be cool to play some historical wargames. I settled on the idea of 6mm as being a cheap way to build a big enough army to play with. I collected some WW2 tanks and infantry – which I did finish painting and played a few games with using the old Firefly rules. But I also bought quite a few Heroics & Ros ECW and Irregular Miniatures TYW figures as well. I started painting and basing these, but never really finished enough to have a proper game. At the time the only ruleset I had was the WRG Renaissance one, which required casualty removal of single figures. Needless to way working out a way of doing that with 6mm drove me to distraction and I never really carried it through.

Now thirty years later, I’m back into Wargames again, and looking again at all those historical figures I had. I kept hold of the 6mm stuff and realised that with new rulesets the problem of casualty removal was no longer going to be there. Also a lot of rules nowadays seem a lot less complicated than the old WRG ones. Perhaps I could try this again – refight Naseby (which I did a school project), other ECW battles and the Thirty Years War?!

So I’m back at the start of the process now, thinking about how this project is going to pan out. I thought it would be cool to have a kind of project diary on this blog. I’ll be covering some areas thematically about what I have decided to do, such as which figures I’m going to use (there are some gaps to fill in my old collection), rules, basing, battles to play etc. I’d also like to play a campaign as well.

Or, and did I say, this is intended to be a solo wargames project – I have friends into gaming, but more on the Age of Sigmar and RPG end, so this is my own obsession for the most part!

What I will Cover in the Project

These are the areas that I intend to write about first just to get me up and running again gaming in this area. I think it’s likely I will blog on the following (in no particular order):

  • Basing
  • Figures
  • Rules
  • Armies
  • Scenery
  • First battles to play

For a Heart Made of Stone – now available for Pre-Order

If you have read the three previous volumes of Stonehearted you are sure to want to pick up the concluding part! And it’s only 99c or 99p!

For a Heart Made of Stone Cover“Rich characters and an engaging story”

When the cut from the blade runs deep – You need a heart of Stone

The quest across France comes to a thrilling end for both Richard Stone and Eolande d’Aubray. Will Eolande find her father? Will Richard and his companion Wulf find the resolution they seek? And what Marie, the secret heiress of St. Pol? What scheme is she plotting? All will be revealed in this final concluding volume of Stonehearted.

Set in 1370 during the Hundred Years War with France, For a Heart Made of Stone is the fourth and final volume of the Stonehearted serialised novel.
Readers who like action and adventure in the Middle Ages will enjoy this book.

You can Pre-Order as an eBook at the following sites:

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk – also available at other Amazon sites

Smashwords | iBooks | Barnes & Noble

Rothgogen’s Tower – Blanca Rothgogen and Franke Kauffman

This post adds some more background depth to my post about the NPC Victor von Ferlangen, and his interest in Rothgogen’s Tower.

Blanca Rothgogen

Blanca Rothgogen is a demonologist and previous owner of the tower. Rothgogen’s Tower.  

Blanca was born over a hundred years ago. She was a wealthy heiress who murdered all of the suitors her father selected for, and eventually killed him, so inheriting a fortune. As she kept trying to run away from her family, she was imprisoned in a tower on a remote family estate. Suitors visited her there. But none ever returned. The father lost contact with the estate – no one came back so visited himself. Blanca had discovered a small warpstone jewel and the tower’s library contained tomes on how to use it. The servants and guards had been mutated by her and turned to her will. Her father was appalled, but did not have time to do anything about it. 

A few weeks later, Blanca made her last trip down from the Howling Hills, visiting Delberz to claim her father’s fortune. With his wealth safely secured, she and her strange adherents retreated to the Tower.  

Rothgogen is a merchant family with the main house in Delberz. It was sold by Blanca as were all of the family’s assets.  

The story got around to avoid the Tower and Blanca Rothgogen in general. Suitors lost interest, but it is said that some bounty hunters and witch hunters ventured into the hills to investigate. None ever returned.  

Blanca continued her studies uninterrupted. She had her freedom at last, but did not know what to do with it. She was perhaps insane—abuse from her father and the proximity to Warpstone had driven her to seek revenge over mankind—men in particular being anathema to her. One of her first acts was to kill all the male servants. She made it seem like an accident—a Beastman and Mutant Gang were invited by her to the estate and did the deed, sparing the women. She recruited them to be her new guards secretly. They and their descendants prowl the hills nearby and intercept any who come near the Tower. Blanca promised the women who remained a sanctuary from men, and when required sent trusted agents to recruit new servants from villages and towns – tempting away women who were downtrodden and abused by their menfolk. In return her favoured agents became initiated into her chaos cults. Those who followed her, treated her almost like a demi-god. All her servants were treated fairly under her rule, and were free from the abuses of men. Those who missed male company were allowed to take men prisoner for a short term to satisfy their lusts in Slaanesh-inspired orgies, or to take pleasure from each other. Blanca had no such yearnings herself, but tolerated those who did.  

But things could not last. Blanca was getting older, and even her pacts with demons could not sustain her. In her dying wish she passed rulership of the Tower and her secrets to a young apprentice, Franke Kauffman. Franke had arrived ten years ago, fleeing an unhappy marriage to a noble from Ostland (Victor von Ferlangen).  Franke knew what she wanted to do—she didn’t want to wait around in the Tower for ever. She had business to attend to in the outside world—a score to settle with her husband.  

Franke fell in love with the handsome Victor when she first met him, but his pleasant and dashing personality was all an illusion to win a pretty bride, and her fat dowry from her merchant father. Through further tricks, Victor conned her family out of all their wealth in order to sustain his own extravagant and curiously expensive lifestyle. This drove Franke’s father to drink and early grave. When she took issue with Victor, he verbally abused her and told her to be quiet. Eventually she had enough and fled. Her only regret being that she could not take her sons with her.  

Franke knew that Victor dabbled in magic and decided to use that as a way of tempting him to the Tower. He didn’t care anymore about getting her back, but when he received her letter he was interested. However, Franke did not reckon with her husband’s powers. He came and soon defeated her in a magical duel, leaving her suspended between death and life (her body is sustained only by a powerful warpstone force—Victor thinks she is dead). Victor left the area when he realised a chaos creature was in the tower –doubting even his own powers, which had been sapped by the duel. Instead, he decided to send a company of mercenaries back to the Tower to salvage what they could—hopefully avoiding the creature. However, if they can defeat it that would be even better as it means he could take ownership of the place.

Victor von Ferlangen – a Wizardly NPC for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

I have been working on an NPC for a homebrew WFRP adventure. He is a major patron for a party – especially if that party has a wizard’s apprentice or scholar in need of a tutor. I will provide some more details about the adventure on this site soon!

Background

Victor von Ferlangen originates from Ostland, a scion of a baronial family with holdings near the town of Ferlangen in Ostland. 

Victor is young for a Wizard. He learnt quickly from a powerful master when only a young teenager. He had an uncle, Berat von Ferlangen, who was an Illusionist of great power. This uncle took him under his wing after seeing Victor’s natural aptitude. Victor is grateful for what his uncle did for him and feels the same desire to take on his own pupils. 

Yet, his uncle also tried to teach him to use his gifts wisely and to hide his powers – that’s why his uncle chose to be an illusionist.  Victor resented this restriction as a boy – why should he not use his powers? To become rich for example? His family is poor by noble standards – their estate being inadequate to support them. 

He argued with his uncle and went his own way. His uncle retired – some think he is dead – but he’d had enough of his precocious student. He’s hidden away in the Middle Mountains. His older sister, Magritta, inherited the family’s holdings, but control of it went to her husband, Hermann von Blödhofen—an arrogant knight. Victor hated him and used magical powers to do away with him—his sister has never spoken of it but she knows that he did it for her. As a widow she runs the estate and looks after Victor’s sons. 

Victor’s wife, Franke Kauffmann—a fellow student (and Noble) he met in Altdorf—died of a chaos plague – her death lead Victor to have an interest in the forces of chaos and how they might be harnessed. He wishes he could have saved her–perhaps he can bring her back even? Does she still live in some afterlife? These mysteries interest him and he’s obsessed with finding out the workings of magic and the gods. So much so, that he’s willing to use any means to get to that knowledge and holds others’ lives in low regard. After all chaos will take us all eventually, so what does it matter? But some people (his close family for instance) are more important than that—they can transcend the forces of chaos. He knows that magic is a powerful thing and believes that the chosen can resist chaos—maybe even bend it to their will. 

But to do this he needs to get out of the mainstream of Empire life – somewhere like Rothgogen’s Tower could be an ideal place. He knows that it holds a repository of books and also, he hopes, magical items. It might be just a tad dangerous though, so if someone else can clear it out and do the dirty work, that would be ideal. If there are any scholars amongst the PCs he encounters, then he would consider taking them as pupils, if they seem pliable enough, and talented enough. His hunger for knowledge is so insatiable, he will take whatever scraps he can, however small.  

Personality 

Young and handsome, and appearing like a rich Imperial noble, at first glance Victor might appear to be a spoilt, vain young man. But there is a deeply serious side to him. He cultivates a flippant personality on purpose so that he’s not taken too seriously or perceived as a danger—his sister’s husband just thought he was a vain idiot, and look what happened to him!  

In reality he is very sharp-witted and focused on what he wants, and it excites him to come up with intricate plots to lure others in and to get his way.   

For WFRP 1st edition, Victor is a Level 3 Wizard and Level 4 Illusionist. I will add stats and spells at a later date – probably as a download, and also work out his stats for 4th edition as well!

What I’m Writing at the Moment – December 2018

For those of you who follow my writing and publishing, here’s what I am working on at the moment:

Just finished editing a short story called Helix Intercalculator. This short story is set on the planet Ladmas. It has a fantasy style setting, but in the strictest sense this is a science fiction story – the world was created by scientists as an experiment. I am currently sending this story out to magazines in the hope of it getting it published. If none of them take it up I will self-publish it. I wrote about fixing his story in a previous blog post. 

Also I am editing another short story – Broken Lance, which like The Dragon of Borvoli, is set in a Dark Ages setting. This one is inspired by Arthurian literature. Once finished, I will be sending this one out as well.

After that I will focus on finishing the editing of the fourth volume of Stonehearted. Would like to complete that before the end of the year, and publish it early 2019.

Not One but Two New Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) adventures!

And even better they are both free!!

The wonderful bods at Cubicle 7 have released two free adventures for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th edition – an effort to keep the baying masses at bay! Cubicle 7 have produced a wonderful new edition of the WFRP rules, which fans seem to like. The only problem is that we can’t get enough of it, and things have been a little slow getting the Starter Set out. The Starter Set we now hear has as many as 11 new adventures – that’s what the ad for it says in the back of “If Looks Could Kill”. The Starer Set starts PCs off in the city of Ubersreik, and its interesting to see that Cubicle 7 are branding their adventures with different settings – so for instance If Looks Could Kill is an Ubersreik Adventure, while Night of Blood (a classic from White Dwarf that I actually recently for WFRP 1e), is branded as an Old World Adventure. I assume that the forthcoming Rough Days from Graeme Davis will be branded the same as its a remix of old material? It looks like Cubicle 7 are pleasing us old grognards with updates of old material for WFRP 4e, but also producing new material. A great approach in my opinion.

Both of these are available for free via DriveThruRPG. Here’s more info about each one and links etc!

Night of Blood is one of the most played WFRP scenarios of all time. It was originally written over thirty years ago by Jim Bambra for WFRP 1stedition, and was published in White Dwarf 87 in March 1987. Later, it was republished in the WFRP 1st edition supplement, The Restless Dead, and has been a firm fan favourite ever since.

It’s a dark, stormy night, and the forest creaks as foul creatures howl through the undergrowth. As freezing rain slices from the roiling sky and attack threatens from all sides, the desperate adventurers stumble upon the warm glow of a fortified inn. But everything isn’t as it seems, and soon the unwitting heroes face deceit, betrayal, and horror as they strive to survive a terrifying Night of Blood.

 

 

Legends claim the Beast of Ortschlamm stalked the marshes near Ubersreik for centuries. But few believe it…

When the adventurers agree to help Rutger Reuter, a charismatic, young merchant from Ubersreik, little do they realise what’s in store. What starts as a simple job guarding building supplies, soon turns to tragedy, horror, and murder. The Characters will not only need their wits about them to negotiate the double-dealing camp of Reuter and his business partners, but also the Beast they have unwittingly stirred…

Ubersreik Adventures: If Looks Could Kill is an adventure for Warhamer Fantasy Roleplay Fourth Edition, written by WFRP veteran Dave Allen. It is designed with beginner Characters in mind, and concludes in the fortress-town Ubersreik, where the Characters’ adventures can continue with the WFRP Starter Set.

How to Paint Miniatures: Storing Miniatures During Painting

This post is part of a series of tips and tricks that I use when painting miniature figures. I don’t profess to be an expert, but I always find it useful to find out how other people do things, so I thought I would share what works for me as well.

What is this post about?

I’m not writing here about how to store your miniatures once you have painted them – that’s a whole different thing, but rather the best way to keep your miniatures dust free and safe between painting sessions. I usually paint a miniature over a period of several days – one day I will prime, the next basecoat, the next shade, then do layers or drybrushing and finally basing, which can take a few days in itself.

I don’t have a dedicated place where I can leave my miniatures and painting equipment in between sessions. And even if I did I don’t think I’d want to leave partly finished figures open to the elements – dust for instance, and even worse the ravages of small children and pets!

How I protect my miniatures in between sessions

After just leaving miniatures on a bookshelf, I soon decided I needed a better solution to storage between painting sessions. First off I put an upturned water pot over the figure I was painting. This was Ok but not great when painting more than one figure. The next solution I tried was very small cardboard boxes – some had previously held watches, iPhones, jewelry and other unimportant items. None of these really did the job – especially with regards to height when miniatures were mounted on wine bottle tops for painting (more of that another time!)

I released that I would a proper solution, and I came across the amazing Really Useful Storage Box company and their great range. They do secure and sturdy see-through plastic boxes in pretty much any size you want. They are also sold in several outlets now in the UK, such as WH Smiths, Rymans and others, so quite easy to get hold of.

I chose the 0.7 litre box for what I needed, but if you were painting smaller or bigger miniatures then you could probably find something suitable. So far it’s worked pretty well. The main issue I have though is stopping the miniatures bouncing around. At the moment I am using blocks of Lego to brace the figures in place. If you have other solutions then let me know!