Happy Birthday Howard

August 20th is the the birthday of Howard Phillips Lovecraft without whom there would clearly be no miskatonic.co.uk so every year we, along with millions of others mark the date.  This year we still find ourselves in the throes of preparing for and helping to organise the ReuniCon 2015 RPG Day – Brighton’s premier RPG event on September 5th (full details here).  So we haven’t really had a chance to put the balloons out or to bake a cake – however for those of you looking for a good way to celebrate Howard we have a few suggestions here.

Where have we been?

Its’ a good question, and it has certainly been a while since the last update or post here at miskatonic.co.uk.  What’s worse is it has been a really busy time in the games world and there are a host of things I’d like to have been writing about; my copy of “Horror on the Orient Express” finally arrived, and other Kickstarters have delivered as well, including the “Cthulhu Britannica London Box Set” which is a thing of extreme beauty. The Ennie nominations came and went, GenCon is upon us, and yet I have not managed to find time for reviews, moans, groans or eulogising about any of these things.

So why?

Well the answer is I’m helping to organise an RPG Games Day in Brighton, East Sussex, on the 5th September and I’ll be honest and say that it is pretty much all I think about when it comes to games at the minute.  This will be the eighth such games day that we have organised, badged as ReuniCon, it has until now been a great excuse to get as many previous members of Brighton University’s Roleplaying Society (BURPS) together as we can, to play games and generally catch up.  Now given that the society got going in 1987 and as the strapline says “we are still slaying dragons”, there have been a lot of changes over the years, we have had people from every incarnation of the society take part, some of us have brought friends along, some of us have taken our kids, the thing has grown, evolved, matured.  Then this year a big change – we needed a new venue – we weren’t able to use the Student Union premises that we had been fortunate enough to enjoy for the last seven years of hosting the event, and we needed to find somewhere else.

So what?

Well what this has done for us is two things; one ithas made us go and find a venue we could afford but wasn’t someones kitchen, it has made us charge admission from people who had enjoyed the day for free for many years.  Secondly it also gave us an opportunity to open our doors to the wider public, to do what we started out doing twenty eight years ago, it gave us the chance to share our hobby with complete strangers.  This in turn has meant that we need to be a little bit better organised that perhaps we might have been…  It has meant organising tickets (which you can get here), getting the venue, having a schedule, ensuring we have enough GM’s for any eventuality, competitions, t-shirts and so much more.

Its keeping me busy, but its going to be great fun. We know we will probably not get the hundreds and hundreds that will turn up at say Dragonmeet, and we don’t have a trade hall (yet!), but we do have some awesome GM’s, some fantastic games and a growing list of attendees all of whom I’m looking forward to meeting.  I also know that there is nothing else really like it on the South coast so we are here to stay and whilst we might start modestly, in this our eighth year, we already have amazing plans for next year!

Sun, Sea & Roleplaying – sounds perfect?

Sure it does  – and there are only 38 days left to get a ticket (from here), and we will start sharing details of the organised games over the next few weeks and allow people to start pre-booking places on their favourites.  We have plenty of space if you want to come and run your own game, we will even promote it if you get in touch (enquiries@reunicon.uk).

You can find all the details you need, including help on where to find us, where to stay and what to expect on our website at www.reunicon.uk as well as on twitter @ReuniCon #reunicon2015 and on facebook.

Come down to Brighton, play some fantastic games and meet some great people.  We would love to see you at our games day by the seaside.




YOLO – The Last Bullet Edition


Back in 2013, in preparation for that years ReuniCon RPG Day event – “The Zombiethon ReuniCon”– we pulled together a small RPG which we called YOLO.

YOLO, or more precisely “YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE”, is a highly cinematic and easy to play RPG of Everyday People surviving in a post zombie-apocalypse future.  I think at the time we had ambitions to flesh it out more (pardon the pun) and turn it into a saleable product.  There was certainly lots of notes and potential material dreamt up at the time.  But as it happens, we kept it short and light and it is really just a bit of RPG fun.  It might be that at some point in the future the “Survivors Edition” might make an appearance, but in truth there are no shortage of Zombie Horror survival RPGs out there.  We do think that YOLO – The Last Bullet Edition does however fill a gap in the market, for a highly cinematic, rules lite, pick up and play game of Zombie mashing mayhem.

YOLO – The Last Bullet Edition, was written using the brilliant Wushu ruleset.  You can find out all about Wushu here.  It is worth looking at I’ve played many games using Wushu and it is a an excellent rules-lite system for highly cinematic, kick-ass roleplaying.

Anyway, YOLO has never previously been made available on the web, but as we are approaching this years ReuniCon event we thought it might be nice to share it.  You can download the PDF here, or by clicking the image above, or by visiting our Download Stacks.

Hope you enjoy,


WWII Weapon Cards for Savage Worlds

Savage Worlds FanThis is me finally delivering on a very old promise.  Some time ago we published a set of Modern Weapon Cards for use with Savage worlds (see here).  They were generally well received and we immediately set about producing additional sets, however, I got distracted by Zombies…  Instead of making a World War II deck to go with the modern weapons I ended up making a deck of “improvised” weapons (see here) for use in a game of “War of the Dead” that I was running at the time.  Then for one reason and another I simply never got around to thinking about weapon cards again for quite a while.  Anyway nearly two years later here is the first of the WWII card decks, Germany and Great Britain, (I say first because there are plans afoot to produce a USA and Japan Deck – but on past history it might take a while).

So, if like me you find that you are constantly updating your weapons list on your character sheet to reflect that latest cool equipment that you have been able to wrest from the hands of a fallen enemy, or have been provided with by His Majesty’s quartermaster then our WWII weapon cards might be just what you need.

Using the Weapon Decks means no more crossing out old weapons on your character sheet. They allow you to easily and visually trade your weapons with other players and the cards are quick and easy to reference during combat.  Each card records the vital statistics for a specific weapon; Range, Damage, Rate Of Fire, Minimum Strength, Weight, Shot Capacity, AP and other notes.

wwii-card-spread_smlThe statistics are my interpretations, so they may in some instances vary (ever so slightly) from the core rulebook(s) – this is because there are plenty of other references out there and I’ve chosen the ones that I like best, I’ve drawn upon the Savage Worlds Deluxe rules, Achtung Cthulhu, Realms of Cthulhu, Weird Wars – Weird War II for inspiration, as well as other real world historical resources to hopefully provide the best statistics for each weapon.

This pack provides a combination of classic British and German weapons of the Second World War (sixteen from each country). Including handguns, sub-machine guns, machine guns, rifles, shotguns, mortars, fighting knives grenades and other surprises. In addition you will find a page of blank cards to record your own stats, a page of card backs and a print and fold tuck box in which to keep your cards.

You can download the WWII Weapons Deck here, by clicking on the card image or by visiting our download stacks.

We hope you enjoy them,

Ia! F’tagn!


Crestfallen RPG – Bronze Age Fantasy RPG

This week has been very busy for me for all sorts of reasons which I won’t go into here, but during the course of this week I have made time to read a detailed playtest copy of “Crestfallen”, a bronze age fantasy RPG which will launch itself on Kickstarter today.

It is fair to say that I get to see a lot of playtest documents; either through Kickstarter’s that I back, or through people looking for reviews on miskatonic.co.uk, or more commonly from people simply looking for some experienced feedback and an impartial, critical eye.  Crestfallen came to me in a slightly different way. This time it came about through social media, and I actually asked to have a look by signing up on the games website and dropping the games author a note.  I don’t do this often so I think it is important to say why I did.

Crestfallen grabbed my attention for a few reasons, the first of which is the setting itself.  I haven’t come across anything with which to make a direct comparison in terms of story, and genre.  Clearly its a fantasy game, but its roots are firmly placed in the deep soil of Bronze age history and what is known of the people of that period, their beliefs, lives and deaths, their challenging and brutal existence in a world of real awe and wonder.  To use the authors own words Crestfallen is; “a game about man’s relationship to the natural world”.

The World Tree has been murdered, and Sky Father is dying. The natural world is unravelling and clashing against itself – natural and supernatural disasters are everywhere.

The characters that you will play in Crestfallen, cover a wide range of bronze age society, skills and outlooks. The possibilities range from Politicians, to Seducers, from Scholars to Death Dealers, the social spectrum is broad and makes for colourful, descriptive story led characters.  These characters live in a world that they can’t fully understand, interaction with the supernatural are an everyday occurrence, magic is real, necessary and frightening.  The magic of Crestfallen is based upon real research and interpretation of real world shamanism and druidism, it is not full of spell lists and quick fireballs.  In Crestfallen the magic is largely ritualistic, it takes time and effort, can involve the participation of many characters, and it may not always work. Magic is part of the adventure not just a tool or weapon.  Like many other other things in the game it is a challenge for your characters to overcome.

crestfallenSpeaking of magic leads nicely into one of the other key concepts of Crestfallen that I like a great deal.  That  is the carefully crafted “twin world” setting.  (This is a concept that I have enjoyed in other games; for example Call of Cthulhu and Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, or the excellent reworking of the same for Terror Australis to give characters a chance to play in Alcheringa). Crestfallen takes this concept and uses it not as an alternative to “normal” play but as an integral part of the setting.  Characters will experience the ethereal Otherlands first hand, piercing the veil themselves, or may be visited by spirits from beyond.  You might even choose to have characters that are killed live on in the Otherlands as ancestor spirits, especially if they have unfinished business to complete before they can “move on” and be reincarnated into the world.  The playtest document contained enough information for me to really get a feel for the Otherlands, its races, its flora and fauna, and I can see how future supplements or materials could really build upon this aspect of the game.  Interestingly, I can see many areas of future development for Crestfallen, not to suggest that anything is lacking, in fact quite the contrary, there is  so much in the concept that people will want to know more about it.  Crestfallen and the land of Kerun has the potential to keep growing as your characters explore and survive and I think the authors have a really exciting opportunity.

Finally Crestfallen piqued my interest with its underlying story construct, a long term plot line that will influence your own story arcs, subtly controlling and influencing the characters lives and actions;

Kerun, the mortal world, is in the grip of a supernatural Ice Age brought about by the creator goddess – Earth Mother. Inside a sentient glacier simply called “The Ice” is a prisoner – the insane goddess Annwn. Like an animal chewing off it’s own limb to escape a snare, she is doing everything in her power to break free. When she does, she will break the world in half. She MUST be stopped.

I like this premise a great deal, it serves to emphasise that the characters are not fully in control, that there are events way beyond their direct influence but upon which their individual actions may have a bearing.  I like to think that in a game of Crestfallen the characters relationship with Annwn would play out on many levels, with the characters largely unaware of their importance in her story.

It came as no surprise once I had read the playtest that Crestfallen has been in the works for a number of years, in fact as many as fifteen years ago it made its first real appearance.  There is on the web already a good following for Crestfallen and in the playtest document this maturity is evident.

With that in mind I think it is worth taking a a moment to describe the book that I reviewed. It was an official playtest copy of a very advanced game development.  It is already in a state that is both readable and playable and indeed I took the time to generate a couple of characters as a way to better get to understand the game – an approach I like to take – and in general the layout of the book made this very easy. The playtest copy was a pdf of just over 240 pages and is, as you would expect in a draft layout, missing some art items and with others clearly used as placeholders.  It had comprehensive contents pages which made finding my way around very easy, there are also a lot of call outs/sidebar boxes which explain key concepts or provide expanded detail. It is also clear that this is a work of passion, a labour of love, and as such there are a few areas where it will benefit from that final editorial review as part of its publication. Sometimes its hard to see the whole picture when you are that close to the detail.  Despite these pre-production  foibles, the structure of the book was there to be seen and the integration with the Fate core rules is also apparent.  That integration in itself is nicely done, this isn’t a couple of hundred pages of Fate core with forty pages of background layered on top, no – this is a complete game setting making the most of a solid creative commons based ruleset.

I admire the fact that the author has chosen to use Fate core. With such a “different” setting the temptation to try and create a specific set of mechanics must have been there, and like many projects it may well have got lost on the way.  Recognising that Fate copes well with the challenges posed by the Crestfallen setting; the ritual magic, the spiritual world, the seemingly malevolent and intelligent weather, and the dangers of travel as things which need to be fought and beaten, the need to deal with whole communities or armies – all of these things can be managed within the constructs of Fate, with all but the addition of some specific guidelines or rulings which Crestfallen does in a well considered and practical way.

Crestfallen deserves to be a successful Kickstarter, to see publication and to reach a wider audience of gamers who I have no doubt will enjoy it immensely.  As noted before the Kickstarter launched today (and you can find details here), you can also keep up-to-date with the game on the website www.whiterosegames.com, through Facebook and on Twitter.

We look forward to backing the project and more importantly to playing the game properly at some point in the near future, we wish the authors much success and hope that after reading this you feel like taking a look at the Kickstarter for yourself.

Ia! F’tagn!