Grim has been roleplaying since the age of nine, prior if you count Fighting Fantasy and Choose Your Own Adventure books.
He’s written for Steve Jackson Games, Wizards of the Coast, Mongoose Publishing Limited and Cubicle 7 Entertainment – amongst others – as well as publishing in PDF and POD under his own imprint, Postmortem Studios. He currently lives in the wilds of Hampshire in the UK with his lovely missus and an animal-rending tabby cat. Grim’s interests include comics (Ellis, Ennis, Moore, 2000AD), films, television, art, writing and basically any form of media you can get stuck into and extract some sort of meaning out of. Horror is a particular favourite because it plays on such primal emotions, paranoia, envy, guilt, disgust, fear and anger, all of which are far easier to write about than higher things – so basically, laziness.
Posted on May 2, 2012 by GRIM
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, the main books that describe Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’ have been the subject or inspiration of a great many games down the years. Computer games, RPGs and others have all fed on his rich world-building and sense of epic adventure which, itself, comes inspired by Celtic and Nordic myths such as The Ring Cycle.
ICE defined the Lord of the Rings in roleplaying terms for many, many years and to many their work is still the defining work on The Lord of the Rings in the RPG hobby, though as a ‘slimmed down’ version of RoleMaster it wasn’t the most accessible and the rules sometimes didn’t make absolute sense.
Posted on April 25, 2012 by GRIM
Do is a simple story-telling game for 3-5 players where you take on the part of a gang of Pilgrims. The Flying Temple lies at the centre of a massive universe of floating planets, each different, each special and all contained within a great sphere of air and light. Pilgrims fly from world to world solving problems for people and getting into terrible scrapes along the way.
As a Pilgrim you’re one part Santa Claus, one part Buddhist monk and one part natural disaster, all rolled into one.
Characters are defined by their names, which form two traits one of which describes how you (usually) get into trouble and one describing how you (usually) help people.
Posted on April 23, 2012 by GRIM
Cadwallon: City of Thieves is a board game by Fantasy Flight Games set in the independent city of Cadwallon in the world of Aarkalash, made famous by the now defunct Rackham. FFG, apparently, still has access to a lot of old Rackham IP and in partnership with Dust Games is leveraging some of that into game properties, such as this.
The basic premise of the game is that each player takes the role of a small gang of thieves (each gang is made up of four individuals) and these gangs invade a district wholesale on a variety of missions to steal as much as possible and then have it away on their toes.
Posted on April 18, 2012 by GRIM
Airship Pirates is either a work of genius or a foolhardy and doomed endeavour. Steampunk is big, yes, but it’s still a subculture and this isn’t just a Steampunk RPG its an RPG tied to a particular Steampunk band – Abney Park. There’s a risk, then, that this game could be passed over by people who aren’t simultaneously RPG fans, Steampunk fans and Abney Park fans. That’s a bit of a tall order. That said, subcultural ties worked out great for Vampire.
Posted on April 12, 2012 by GRIM
RAGE kind of came out of nowhere for me. I wasn’t keeping up with it in the release schedules and didn’t know what to expect from it particularly. I don’t think we’d have picked it up if my wife hadn’t played a little at a trade show. Generally speaking FPS shooters aren’t our cup of tea on consoles since we came up playing them on the PC and console controls just don’t feel as accurate or useful.
RAGE is a weird sort of game, it’s sort of on the opposite end of the FPS/RPG scale from Fallout. Where Fallout is an RPG with some FPS elements tacked on, RAGE is more of an FPS with a few RPG elements tacked on. It’s not as RPG oriented as – say – borderlands but that’s probably the game to which it bears the closest comparison.
Posted on May 24, 2011 by GRIM
The ‘Old School Renaissance’ movement is something that has largely passed me by. As I’ve mentioned before I didn’t start with D&D and by the time I did get to play D&D it had been spoiled for me by a bunch of other games with more progressive, fun or ‘realistic’ mechanics. Since D&D largely passed me by until late 2nd Edition and 3rd Edition, so the OSR hasn’t really drawn my attention before.
Legends of the Flame Princess changes that a little. Here’s a game that combines ‘old school gaming’ sensibilities without the ‘giving a fuck’ that has neutered so much of what the modern incarnations of many of these games have become in futile pursuit of becoming a family pastime. To me, at least, LofP doesn’t really feel like a D&D clone, despite its mechanics, in sensibility it’s much more like Howard than Vance and if anything is a ‘grown up version’ of Dragon Warriors with more blood, tits and death. That can’t be all bad now can it?
Posted on March 16, 2011 by GRIM
This was a bit of a disappointing book. It may be my mind playing tricks on me but I seem to remember Dark Sun having a lot more naturaHaving not so long ago having gotten through praising Monster Manual 2 for making all the monsters at least look scary I’m afraid to report that some of the ones in this book end up looking either ‘meh’, or ‘ridiculous’. Not flumph-scale ridiculous, but really not great. This is a shame as the wildlife of Athas is meant to be some scary-ass stuff, terrifying and dangerous. Not silly. Somehow that isn’t conveyed by this book and topping out at 150 pages, somehow it feels a lot thinner.
Posted on March 8, 2011 by GRIM
I didn’t buy Heavy Rain when it came out, largely because it was described by many as, essentially, being one huge eight-hour long quicktime event. Me and quicktime events have never gotten on since I first played Dragon’s Lair, on one of those huge, laserdisc arcade machines and died, horribly, many times. I have serious issues with authority and when there’s ‘one right way’ to do something, whether it be in a game or in real life, I rail against it and get bloody annoyed. Heavy Rain, then, seemed to me to be a nightmarish game which would be the total opposite of anything I might ever want to play, however innovative, however artistic and hower stylishly French it might be.
I was wrong.
Not completely wrong, but I was wrong.
Posted on February 28, 2011 by GRIM
I previously reviewed Barbarians of Lemuria for which this is supplemental/replacement material. BoL is an excellent product with a strong focus and some innovative ideas. Barbarians of the Aftermath isn’t quite so great and doesn’t add a fantastic amount to BoL but what it is, is a good source of inspiration and ideas. It doesn’t present an ‘after the apocalypse’ world but, rather, provides a toolkit for you to create your own. I’ll include some examples of what I came up with using the tables in the book, after the review proper…
Posted on February 24, 2011 by GRIM
I remain largely unconvinced of 4e’s worth for playing your more usual fantasy settings. It seems too high powered and kitchen-sink to me. When it comes to certain, specific settings however I can see it working much better, though for a couple of different reasons. 4e works better with Eberron and – in theory – Planescape because of the inherent gonzo and high-power qualities of those settings. It, theoretically, works for Dark Sun because 4e’s emphasis on personal training and powers suits a material-scarce setting where the individual and their ability has more importance. To that extent, the sheer appeal of Dark Sun has ‘turned me on’ to 4e in a way the previously existing material hasn’t.
Of course, that may just be nostalgia speaking.
The book feels more like a primer than a full setting guide. It just doesn’t feel like it goes into remotely the amount of depth – overall – that a setting book necessarily should. I feel it could have done with being about fifty to a hundred pages longer or could have left out some of the mechanics (epic destinies and alternate class fittings) to make more room for going into the background.
Posted on February 16, 2011 by GRIM
There’s a lot I don’t like about the 40k RPGs. The fact that they’re split across several books, classes and levels instead of the career approach of WFRP, the extremely tight and constricting focus/construction of the games. That said, there’s a lot to like as well. Having waited for a 40K RPG since the original Rogue Trader hardback wargame came out and being steeped in the influences that lead to its creation (primarily British fantasy/SF art, Moorcock and 2000AD) I love the 40k universe like no other and, despite not having been involved in the wargame hobby for some years, I seem to have assimilated the newer stuff (Dark Eldar, Tau, Necrons) by sheer gaming osmosis.
Deathwatch ‘completes’ the series of three books and three settings for the 40k RPG, each in ascending order of sheer munchkinism being Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader and Deathwatch.
Posted on January 28, 2011 by GRIM
Demon’s Souls is a western-looking but Japanese made ‘RPG’ – in the loosest sense of the word – which has become somewhat notorious, even legendary, for its ‘challenging’ difficulty and it’s old-school ‘hardcore’ sensibilities. Something which has made it a bit of a hit with ‘hardcore’ gamers.
This view of the game is horseshit, based on false nostalgia and a failure to recognize that things are a damn sight better these days and that technology has taken us beyond the conditions that made old-school games, necessarily, difficult.
A mysterious fog has enveloped a kingdom and all word from within has been cut off. The greatest heroes and adventurers from beyond this land have ventured into this fog and none have returned. Being a masochistic dipshit who can’t take a hint like any reasonable person, you’ve followed them into the fog only to be annihilated in turn by a giant demon and waking up, a lost soul, in a weird cathedral like space called The Nexus where, it turns out, you have to venture forth as a sort of ghost in order to collect enough demon souls to reincarnate and take on the forces of evil lurking in the fog.
Posted on January 18, 2011 by GRIM
Another ‘core’ rulebook but unlike PHB2 there’s really nothing in here save the monk character class that can really be called core. The races have gotten increasingly bizarre and obscure to the point where unless you’re playing a fantasy version of RIFTs or a kitchen-sink setting like Planescape, things aren’t going to make much sense. That said, this book does give you the psychic rules that people have been waiting for and addresses a huge flaw in 4e up to this point – shitty multiclassing rules.
Yet again this is a fairly background-free book though, given the exotic peculiarities of the new races it can’t really be called generic. This is at the far-exotic end of crazytown in the D&D mythos and describing monks and monk powers as ‘psychic’ really grates on my nerves and – to my mind – cheapens the monk role in the same way midichlorians cheapen Jedi.
Posted on January 13, 2011 by GRIM
I reviewed Qin already and thought very highly of it indeed. Qin Legends is a supplement for Qin consisting of the high level masteries and skills as well as a few scattered bits of new material and an adventure.
Qin Legends doesn’t add to much to the background of the game, in fact the only additions to the background material are really to be found in the ‘styles’ and their history.
Posted on January 10, 2011 by GRIM
OK, so, given that I gave 4e D&D what’s widely considered to be a ‘bad review’ why am I reviewing this and a bunch of other 4e D&D stuff? Several reasons. 1 – 4e is still semi-open and so things can be written for it, as indeed I have written a couple of things for it. 2 – I’m trying to see if there’s anything I’ve missed. 3 – It’s not irredeemably awful. 4 – I’ll forgive a hell of a lot for the sake of Dark Sun. 5 – I’ve figured a few ways around the whole needing a map thing and besides, there’s some jolly nice map things around now and, what the hell, I like playing Descent. Same thing, right? *Grin*
This is a review of Adventurer’s Vault, which is a big shiny catalogue of ‘stuff’ for adventurers to use to hit things, protect themselves from being hit, run away from things, zap things and so forth.
Posted on January 3, 2011 by GRIM
Charles Stross is an excellent SF author whom you should all read the work of, perhaps his best known work is Accelerando but of late his ‘Laundry’ series, starring Bob Howard, have been attracting a lot of attention with their mix of Lovecraftian horror, office politics, bureaucracy, civil-service mickey-taking and existential terror. They’re sort of like ‘The IT Crowd’ meets ‘The Shadow over Innsmouth’. The series is marked by a modern, ‘geeky’ sensibility, the mixing of themes between red tape, horror, cynical comedy and espionage action.
That sounds like a hell of a mess, but it works and you should read them. The Laundry is Cubicle 7′s RPG ‘omage to the series, nearly 300 pages of hardback, tentacular goodness with a distinctly modern twist.
Posted on December 28, 2010 by GRIM
The old UK comic Starblazer wasn’t only a Science Fiction comic, it also incorporated some fantasy stories. Like Starblazer Cubicle 7 have decided to cover both genres, unlike Starblazer they decided to split it out into a separate book. I wish my local book shops would follow the same cue and take all the damn fantasy books out of the science fiction section and put them somewhere separate.
Legends of Anglerre is, then, the fantasy version of Starblazer’s iteration of the FATE system. It’s an improvement over Starblazer, a complete fantasy game that doesn’t have the same crazed excess of Starblazer, slimmer, neater and better organised, even if it lacks – just a little – of the manic enthusiasm that Starblazer has.
Posted on December 22, 2010 by GRIM
Red Dead Redemption could easily also be called ‘Grand Theft Horse’, it’s a freeroaming sandbox game in the style of the GTA series and by the same company with much of the same humour, cynicism and cinematic eye that those games have. The game is set at the very end of the ‘Old West’ in one of the last remaining frontiers, just as the government and other forces are making a concerted effort to finally civilise the area and bring it under the heel of proper governance. Meanwhile, in the south, Mexico is thrown into the chaos of a revolution…
You are John Marston, a former outlaw who has been trying to make a new life for himself as a chicken-scratch farmer, though he has no talent for it. With a wife and son to be used as leverage against him, Marston is manipulated into tracking down his old gang, members of which can still be found in the area that the government is trying to control.
Posted on December 14, 2010 by GRIM
Enslaved is a post-apocalyptic re-telling of the classic Chinese tale ‘Journey to the West’. It spins off from the original tale significantly but still retains a great deal of the character and themes of the original, even though the main theme – redeeming a chaotic land by finding missing enlightenment – is one of the casualties (or at least ends up transmuted into something else). It’s a gorgeous game, with very few niggles, which seems to have – unfortunately – gone relatively unnoticed around a lot of higher profile releases.
The game opens with you, Monkey, trapped inside a prison cell by slavers. Your prison is an egg-shaped metal orb – a nod to the origins of monkey – and as you languish helplessly in your prison, things start to go wrong all around you. The slaver prison – which turns out to be a flying ship – starts to explode and fall apart and its a race against time to get to the rapidly depleting number of escape pods.
Posted on December 3, 2010 by GRIM
Rogue Trader is the second RPG in the Warhammer 40k RPG line and, thankfully, it hasn’t followed the development of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd edition. This is definitely a book-based RPG rather than one of many components that can be lost, misplaced or damaged. This is the ‘middle’ book of the three 40k RPGs and the most loose-reined. Rather than being agents of the Inquisition or Space Marines, both of which are heavily constricted, players in this game take on the role of Rogue Trader, relatively free agents who trade at the fringes and even beyond the Imperium of man.
The characters are the command crew of a Rogue Trader vessel, the Rogue Trader himself – typically – and his entourage. You are amongst a body of Rogue Traders who are heading out into the Koronus Expanse, a dangerous, frontier area of space in which the Imperium is trying to increase its influence.