Painted Traveller Miniatures Revisited

Following on from my Ships Crew article not so long ago, I managed to dig out a box containing a number of Traveller miniatures from the various boxed sets that were available. In addition, there are a few that were added on to the Traveller line after the boxed sets were pulled from Games Workshop’s range in late 1983.

I’d like to present these paint jobs after they last saw light around thirty years ago; thankfully they’ve managed to survive until today and I’m fairly sure I have got some more lurking in my garage somewhere.

Image #1 – Ships Crew Marines

Marines2

 

 

 

 

Featuring Star Wars-style Imperial Stormtrooper white paint job and flourescent detailing, these marines will have absolutely no chance in being able to hide aboard a starship. The chap on the right is probably my favourite.

Image #2 – Ships Crew Marines

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I think the red markings on the marine on the right have stood up well after thirty years, a good action pose featuring a rifle of some sort. The bases are one pence pieces with milliput modelling putty to fix the figure to the base.

Image #3 – Ships Crew Wearing Vacc Suits

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A deviation from my usual paint jobs that ended up on these particular figures, having a mainly white main colour with some red and black detailling. I decided to go for something more colourful, here orange forms the main base colour but with black under the markings, which I think enhances the stripes.

Image #4 – Ships Crew Wearing Vacc Suits

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Nice bright colours which I think would lend themselves to a real zero-g environment, easily spotted when working outside a starship. Unfortunately the chap on the right never got his base painted properly.

Image #5 – Mad Gav and the Breakdancer

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A tribute to the comic character ‘Mad Gav’ from the White Dwarf series ‘The Travellers‘ which was one of my favourite sections of the magazine. One of the miniatures from the ‘Military’ boxed set I think, repurposed. The chap on the right is another tribute to another eighties phenomenon ‘breakdancing’, hence the word ‘break’ painted onto his cap. Not something I ever tried I must say.

Image #6 – Ships Crew Pilot and Vagrant

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Ok, I know that isn’t the proper title for the figure on the right, but I always envisioned him to be some sort of scruffy adventurer that whips out his rifle from under his grey mac. The pilot on the left obviously taking inspiration from Star Wars rebel pilots garb again.

Image #7 – Adventurer and Vargr

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The female adventurer is another figure of mine that never got finished, evidenced by the lack of colour for her hair and the plain white base. If I remember, I don’t think I was completely happy with the camouflage colour scheme and I halted finishing the paint job. The Vargr was a favourite from the ‘Aliens’ boxed set I bought.

Image #8 – Ships Crew Officers

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Two differing colour schemes here; the officer on the left is one of the later schemes I’d tried out whereas the figure on the right dates from 1983 and must be one of my original paint jobs. Unfortunately he has an unpainted milliput base.

Image #9 – Dreadnought Armour

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These two have always been a bit of an ‘oddity’ for me, in that they were never part of the original boxed sets. I remember first seeing them in the ‘Citadel Compendium’ as hand-drawn figures (rather than bare metal photographs) and I think I picked these up in some multi-pack blister packs.

Image #10 – More Military

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The final image, this one having another Dreadnought-armoured character and the figure on the right being a member of the boxed set ‘The Military’. This particular figure (on the right) I know I have several of as they were sold off in blister packs when GW decided they wanted rid of their remaining Traveller miniatures stock.

So there we go! I’m pleased the figures have stood the test of time and the paint jobs have remained, if I find any more whilst digging in the nether recesses of my home I’ll get some more images posted on here. I hope you’ve enjoyed this feature on some of my Traveller miniatures!

 

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My FourRPGs – Part Three

In this final part of reflecting back at the RPG systems I’ve tried over the years, I’m going to look at the four RPGs that never really made it for me, for the various reasons explained below.

The Palladium RPG (PRPG)

Palladium RPG

I was always interested in different game systems and my thinking at the time was that more always equals better. More rules, more background, a thicker book would result in a better gaming experience. One of the systems that offered this gaming nirvana was the Palladium RPG – a huge big thick soft cover black book with simple red and white graphics. Having flicked through the book at GW Birmingham, I saved some pennies and decided to pick up a copy when my gaming oppo Carl and I decided to travel via National Express coaches to Games Day ’86, in London. Having procured a copy from a trader there, it seemed to offer hours of reading when I flicked through the pages whilst sat at one of the table seats on the coach on the way back home.

…and that was part of the problem I found with the system – there was simply too much to absorb. There were rules for this, rules for that and I felt overwhelmed by trying to get my head around it. Carl read it and came to the same conclusion. Aside from providing a little inspiration for a few monsters, the book remained on my bookshelf until I bought my own house several years later, I think its now ended up in the garage stored in a box somewhere.

On reflection, with more life-experience and maturity, I’ve found that such systems are fine if you have the time and commitment, but there is a saying; less can sometimes be more. I think this is why I’ve been able to pick up TnT and CT after periods of inactivity and get straight back into the system – they’re simple and the mechanics are easy to understand. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to get into a complicated gaming system and due to work commitments and ‘real life’. I can have periods of not being able to even write for this blog, let alone have a work through a gaming book. At least for now, ‘simple’ gaming systems are the way forward for me.

Runequest (Games Workshop Edition – RQ)

Runequest GW

Though I’d purchased a number of the Runequest miniatures that tied in with the 2nd edition ruleset back in 1983, the rules never interested me. GW doing one of their re-issue / under license publications, launched their edition of Runequest in hard back form in 1989 (I think). The production was of a very high quality, with loads of pencil artwork. Again, this was another system that my initial enthusiasm fell down after rolling up the initial characters and thought ‘what do I do next’. I introduced the book to my gaming group and we bought a few of the supplements, including ‘Griffin Island’, ‘Land of Ninja’, ‘Advanced Runequest’ and ‘Runequest Monsters’ but they ended up being used as source material for WFRP.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness (TMNT)

TMNT

I’d come across this advertised no doubt, in White Dwarf magazine, where it received quite a reasonable review if I recall correctly. In the interests of trying a system that was a ‘bit out there’, I thought I would pick up a copy of the rule book from GW Birmingham. Perhaps I should have learnt my lesson from the Palladium RPG… Unfortunately I found the rules laid out in an illogical way for me and I had to keep flipping back and forth to try and make sense of the system.

That was as far as I got with TMNT and to be honest it put me off venturing any further with ‘superheroes’ RPGs. Not a natural format for me so this was quickly abandoned and consigned to the bookshelf.

CyberSpace (Iron Crown Enterprises – CS)

Cyberspace

At the height of everything ‘cyber’ in the late eighties and early nineties, I picked up a copy of this as one of my gaming group (Matt) had also bought a copy and was interested in setting up a game as a diversion from WFRP. It was an ok system, to be honest I found reading the background and future timeline more interesting than anything else. Matt ran a short game where we had to extract some information from somewhere for a patron but the diversion was too far out of our comfort zone, so we never played it again and reverted back to WFRP at the next meet-up.

Conclusions from looking back at these game systems

I am very much a person (and to some degree the people who I have gamed with) who once I find a system that suits me, I stick to it for some considerable time. Tunnels and Trolls and Classic Traveller are evidence of my current systems that I started playing a number of years ago and through various means, continue to have involvement with. Warhammer FRP I played and developed scenarios for at the height of my gaming in the early nineties but aside from the occasional product read, that’s as much as I’m involved with the system now.

It’s been interesting reflecting back on my gaming history and expanding on the original Twitter hashtag, I hope you have also found these musings enjoyable as well! I really must clear that garage out one day and find those books…

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Quick Worlds 27 – Shingal Review

This is the latest release from Gypsy Knights Games having being released in the past week or so at Drivethru RPG. QW27: Shingal follows the same format as previous Quick Worlds releases in detailing the background of a single world within a planetary system. You can pick it up from Drivethru RPG for the same price as the last release (QW26: Winston) – $3.99.

Quick Worlds 27 Shingal

The background presented is heavily orientated towards the GKG Mongoose Traveller compatible ATU ‘Clement Sector’ but the book is perfectly usable in any other setting. The world was settled by the Yazidi’s in 2326 and currently there are over 35,000 people located in the single inhabited city, located not far from the original landing zone. The book described why the Yazidi’s left Earth search of a new world with quite a bit of cultural detail, describing the structure of the calendar and their religion. Access to Shingal is pretty restricted; you’ll need good reason to gain access to this world.

Shingal is largely unexplored, the inhabitants have largely spent most of their time building and establishing their colony. The world itself is pretty temperate and there is the now-familiar hydrographic, geographic and atmospheric background listed. The last page contains referee’s only notes; there are some tantalising things about Shingal which I’m not going to reveal, but would form the basis of a few interesting adventures.

I’m going to make a direct comparison against QW26: Winston as this is the most recent from the Quick Worlds series, I think Shingal offers an interesting and colourful diversion as it is based on the Yazidi people. The text flows nicely and aside from the cover and a few of system and planetary maps, there is no other artwork. However I felt it could have done with just one more page to flesh out the adventure ideas a bit more; the book is nicely balanced but I felt it was perhaps almost ‘cut short’ and just needed one more page to finish it off nicely – especially with the ‘hint’ of something special about Shingal. As it stands, it will need a bit more work from the referee to get the most out of the book for the basis of an adventure. I’d like to send my thanks to John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for sending me a copy to review.

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Quick Worlds 26 – Winston Review

Before I start with the review, I’d better mention that mongoose have released their second edition of the Mongoose Traveller rules set earlier this week. They’ve been in playtest for a while and a PDF copy can be picked up for $29.99 from our favourite RPG vendor.

Mongoose Traveller

A print version will be available later this year. Will I be getting a copy? Not sure, the price is a special offer at the moment, normally $49.99; I have the print version of the first edition, I think I will see what the rules changes are like before I commit to what is a hefty purchase.

Right, let’s move onto the review – Quick Worlds 26: Winston. This is a supplement that was released some time ago by Gypsy Knights Games (two years ago if I’m correct) but for some reason it slipped me by and whilst organising my RPG stuff on my laptop and I happened upon it earlier this week.

It is one of GKG’s popular ‘Quick Worlds’ series which they started publishing around five years ago. Originally they were generic supplements designed to be a referee’s game aid. However since the release of GKG’s Mongoose Traveller-compatible ATU ‘Clement Sector’, the books have become a little more based in that ATU, but this does not stop them being used in any other Mongoose Traveller game.

The book is available from Drivethru RPG for $3.99, for which you get 13 pages in PDF format, including cover, open game license and credits page. The first thing that caught my eye was the cover – a simple scene of a craggy mountain range covered in snow is quite eye catching and sets the basis for the world of Winston.

Quick Worlds 26 Winston

In case you aren’t familiar with the Quick Worlds series, these describe a planetary system which can be quickly adapted by the referee to provide the basis for an adventure or an encounter. The books are typically broken down into the following sections: ‘System Details’ which includes a graphic of the major worlds that can be found elsewhere in the system. Traveller world stats are also described, along with physical characteristics. Typically, the main world also gives the system its name, hence the planet Winston is also the system Winston.

Following this, there is a Traveller format isodecahedron world map which illustrates the planets major features. On the same page, physical, hydrographic and atmospheric details are provided. Winston is an ice world with several mountain ranges where most of the large settlements are located. Geographic details round this section off before the next four pages cover the background to the inhabitants of Winston. The populace of Winston have suffered a number of changes in government in a very short space of time and though things have settled down recently, life is still pretty restricted unless you are part of the government in some way. Another one and a half pages detail some adventure ideas before the final two pages describe the sub sector that Winston is located in along with world UPP’s for the rest of the sub sector.

I find ice worlds and the arctic environment one of my favourites (I don’t know why, it just always has) and along with the harsh living conditions for the inhabitants of Winston, there is plenty of scope for the referee to set up some adventures on this world. The government can’t be described as exactly ‘stable’ so the players can get involved with mercenary tickets, smuggling or escort work on behalf of the government.

Whilst reading through Winston, I came up with an adventure seed which I’d like to present here:

The players are contracted to supply some mining boring equipment from off-world and land on Winston with all the correct paperwork etc. They’re asked to help get the equipment unloaded and whilst there, they are asked to act as bodyguards whilst digging new tunnels using the equipment they have just delivered. Its quite lucrative for basically keeping an eye on things. However, part way through the mine dig, the miners turn on the players and reveal themselves as rebels, fighting against the current government. With the players several hundred metres under the surface, they have little choice in helping the rebels to plant explosives and disrupt the power supplies of the planets capital of Winston Station. This would have the added effect of the natural cold and ice accelerating the effects of the loss of power, with the rebels hoping that this will force the government to capitulate and submit to the rebels demands.

Will the players help the rebels or will they try and find an opportunity whilst working underground to disrupt the rebels plans?

I enjoyed reading QW26: Winston, it’s a pretty detailed book, though there isn’t much to speak of regarding artwork to bolster the book, what you do get is good value – recommended. I’d like to send my thanks to John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for sending me a copy to review.

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My FourRPGs – Part Two

In this part of my ‘FourRPGs’, I’m looking at the four systems that didn’t quite make it into the top grade for me for whatever reason but were still significant in some form or another.

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D)

My cousin Carl announced one day that he was getting the AD&D books (we’re talking 1st edition here) back in October 1983. That filled me with a little trepidation, as I was heavily invested in TnT. However, it did have the side benefit that I bought all of Carl’s TnT books for a nominal fee! Whilst he picked up the players handbook (blue background, white wizard), the dungeon masters guide (green cloaked DM opening big doors) and the monster manual (gold dragon and white pegasus) I got hold of just the players guide to try and make sense of it all. Oddly enough though, it was me that ended up buying all the scenarios – we played the classic I6 Ravenloft, but that’s as far as we got with AD&D.

ADandD

I continued to pick up the odd supplement into the early nineties and to help fill in the WFRP material shortfall. My gaming group then discovered ‘Forgotten Realms’ so we invested in the source material which in turn influenced our WFRP games. Out of all the game systems I have been involved with, AD&D I’ve probably bought the most of, spanning modules from the first I bought ‘I5 Lost Tomb of Martek’ to the last ‘Feast of Goblyns’.

MERP (Middle Earth Roleplaying)

I never really took any notice of the original Iron Crown Enterprises edition of MERP when it was available in my local Games Workshop, but it piqued my interest when GW started advertising their reprint in 1985. With a distinctive purple box, it opened up the possibility of adventuring in the source-material-rich background of Middle Earth. I bought Southern Mirkwood just before Christmas 1985 and enjoyed reading it that much I then went back the next day to buy the rules set. It took a while to get to grips with the system, but once I managed it I ran Southern Mirkwood as a solo adventure to get used to things. There seemed to be some glaring omissions for someone that had been used to TnT’s TTYF (Take That You Fiend aka a fireball spell) as pointed out on Twitter by @Hyper_lexic, so I added my own fireball spell to fill the gap.

Merp

By the time I was attempting to create conversions of favourite adventures, there were rumours of the GW WFRP system and my interest turned to that as a potential long term gaming system. I think another flaw for me is that MERP was too good a representation of role-playing in Middle Earth and there wasn’t enough familiarity of adventuring like TnT for me to completely make the leap between systems. It all seemed a bit too ‘serious’ a background as I do like a lot of humour in my games and this contributed to its downfall for long-term use. If I’ve got to be honest once I set up my characters and understood the game system, it was very much a case of ‘ok, so what do I do now’. I found myself ‘wandering’ Middle Earth looking for something to do which in turn led me to abandon the system.

Warhammer First Edition / Fantasy Battle (WHFB)

Whfb

Warhammer looked like the ideal system in marrying the miniatures series by Citadel (of which I had loads) and a new system to role-play in. My cousin Carl bought it originally when it was launched in 1984 but didn’t like it, so he sold it to me. When I started reading through it, I can’t help feeling a little disappointed with the role-playing side as there was too much emphasis on the miniatures gaming side, the ‘balance’ was wrong for me. So, I changed my expectations and used it for miniatures gaming and set up a few games between Carl and my brother, which were very enjoyable. I also picked up a copy of the ‘Forces of Fantasy’ boxed supplement which added to the miniatures gaming side and filled in a lot of the gaps (and some system bugs I seem to recall) by making it a bit more complete.

Not the system I originally thought it would be back in 1983-4, but expectations eventually realised by WFRP a few years later.

Laserburn (LB)

Looking for some sort of miniatures gaming system for my 15mm Traveller miniatures, I picked up a copy of Laserburn by Tabletop Games (TTG) from Virgin Megastore (VMS) in Birmingham. VMS could be a treasure trove of gaming goodies as they tended to stock the gaming rarities that GW didn’t, or refused as they became more house-orientated. Some of the appeal wasn’t the glossy cover or high production values, but the rough edges – its simple single colour card cover and simple layout was very much in the style of the TnT solo dungeons. I found the system reasonably easy to get into and an added advantage was that it could be used straight away with 25mm miniatures.

Laserburn

I quickly picked up copies of the remaining three supplements (Forces of the Imperium, Robot and Imperial Commander) just as they were being sold off (Virgin were changing their stock and layout) and played a number of games using some 25mm troopers with my brother. I’ve still got all the books and card cutouts of the hand-flamer and weapon effectiveness range guides, safely tucked away with my TnT books. It should be noted that the Laserburn books formed the basis of the Warhammer gaming series and eventually Warhammer 40,000.

In my final part of My FourRPGs, I’ll be looking at the four game systems that I bought but never made any use of, for various reasons!

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The Experiments Review

I picked up a copy of ‘The Experiments’ written by Felbrigg Herriot over Christmas after noticing it being advertised on Drivethru RPG. Its pitched as a ‘one-shot’ scenario designed for an evening’s play, available as a PDF for $1.99. The book is designed for Mongoose Traveller containing a total of 19 pages and starts with the referee’s introduction to the scenario.

The scene presented is that the players have signed up for setting up terraforming machinery on a six month contract. The rewards are pretty high, however there is a clause that the characters agree to submit to minor physical ‘enhancements’ to help maximise their ability in being productive.

Trent-Class Destroyer

I’m not going to spoil the plot, all that I will say is that something goes catastrophically wrong for the players and they are put into a time-limited escape scenario. There are a couple of pages describing some of the hazards that can be pitched against the players and the remainder of the book is broken down into a number of sections with a monochrome floor plan of the environment. The floor plans however can’t be used with miniatures and only show what the immediate environment is like, as a point of reference.

There are very few statistics used throughout the scenario except for the creatures and example PCs. This lends itself well to be adapted to your preferred SFRPG; on the downside, this means there is more work for the referee to do in setting up the scenario and judging the difficulty of challenges that the players will encounter.

The author has a particular style of writing that takes a bit of getting used to and unfortunately some of the sentences don’t flow as well as they could do. I also spotted a few typo’s that could do with tidying up.

Overall, a reasonable scenario; a bit of editing and some more statistics would complete the book and make it a more polished product. Alternatively with a bit of extra work the referee will have a decent evenings play for a group – but I should note you won’t want your normal long-term characters to be in this scenario… not if you want them to gave a reasonable chance of surviving!

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My FourRPGs – Part One

Just before Christmas there was a twitter hashtag doing the rounds where people would post the four most influential RPGs that they have or continue to play. This gave me a bit of inspiration to extend the idea into three parts, the first of which is presented here. I’m going to look at:-

Part One – the four RPGs that inspired me, got started, played to death or still have an interest in now or use in some form or another.

Part Two – the four RPGs that didn’t quite make it to the upper grade, but I invested a lot of time / funds or used the source materials for the other RPGs.

Part Three – the four RPGs that I bought but I never played / really took off / abandoned for various reasons.

Part One – My Top Four RPGs

Tunnels and Trolls

Aka ‘TnT’ and the one that got me started in RPGs; my cousin Carl had bought a number of the Dungeon Master and solo dungeons and introduced me to RPGs early in the summer holidays of 1983. I can still remember that first trip into ‘Dungeon of the Bear’, dodging traps, fighting high MR (monster rating) creatures with bucket loads of dice and playing through the night. This was enough for me to buy my own copy of the TnT fifth edition rules and start building my own dungeon, named ‘Darkfire’ in an old exercise book. I bought many of the solo dungeons and introduced friends at school to TnT, right the way through to when I left school in 1985. I kept all the books safe and used many of the ideas after a lull in gaming in the late eighties, when I joined a new gaming group in 1990-92. I still occasionally roll up a character or two, usually starting with the solo dungeon ‘Naked Doom’; the reasoning is if your character can survive that it can survive anything…

For me TnT will always be the orange covered 5th edition rule book with the Liz Danforth artwork of three delvers about to step inside a dungeon, published under license by Chris Harvey in Walsall, West Midlands. What also really helped were the examples explaining how combat worked, in an almost storyteller-style and the example character creation of ‘Fang the Delectable’. The books humour and unsurpassed-even-now weapons charts (yes, I do need fourteen types of dagger to choose from!) make this a classic RPG for me.

I was also immensely proud to be one of the Kickstarter backers for the Deluxe TnT publication and get my name in the back of the book, with which I’m rediscovering favourite dungeons of old and adventures of new.

Classic Traveller (CT)

My main RPG that I dabble in now, more so than back in the eighties. How I got started with Traveller is written elsewhere in my blog (ie. via the miniatures route) and didn’t actually buy a copy of the rules until around 1985 (Starter Traveller). I always wanted a copy of the Deluxe rules but at £14.99 they were a big investment for me and pocket money wouldn’t stretch that far. The LBBs (Little Black Books) always fascinated me and in 2002 I started to find bits and pieces of information about Traveller on the internet. Interest in Traveller waxed and waned for a few years whilst I built the background information for Digital Waterfalls on the Terran Trade Authority Handbooks. It wasn’t until 2009 however that I found farfuture.net and purchased a copy of the Classic Traveller rule books on CDROM – something that is incredibly good value and I recommend to anyone! I’ve since searched the internet and picked up physical copies of the books from a number of places including Striker from Canada, the Classic Traveller 1981 rulebooks from middle America, quite a few of the supplements and adventures from waynesbooks.net in the USA and my latest addition, the Classic rules (1977 edition) from the UK via eBay. Oh, and I did find that Deluxe boxed set supplied with the LBB rule books, a little battered but complete with all the extras, as I sought after nearly thirty years before. I always seek out the US printed versions though, they are a little larger than the UK Games Workshop printed versions, which are a more of an odd format to me.

Now Traveller for me is something to solo play (using CT) and write the occasional adventure for the 76 Patrons / Amber Zone contests or dip into Mongoose Traveller when reviewing some of the latest releases.

Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (WFRP)

When I got together with my gaming group in 1990-92, one of the rules sets I introduced them to was Warhammer FRP. It was a pretty new system at the time and there were a limited number of supplements available, the biggie being the first couple in the ‘Death on the Reik’ series, the ‘Enemy Within’ and ‘Shadows over Bogenhafen’. I ran the two parts of the campaign until the DotR came out and immediately ran that straight after. Though the products from Games Workshop were of a very high quality, releases were few and far between. Only other notable at the time was the ‘Lichemaster’ which I seem to remember had various flaws of some such – ‘Terror of the Glichemaster’ was a headline I recall. To get around the lack of official adventures, we made a huge number of adventures up ourselves which was no bad thing. Many books and supplements fed our own adventures in WFRP, to a certain degree which was largely based around the AD&D ‘Forgotten Realms’ world.

Out of all the RPGs I’ve played, this is the one I’ve written the most number of scenarios and had the most number of long-standing characters. I probably DM’ed and played adventures about 50/50 of the time spent in the WFRP ‘Old World’.

Call of Cthulhu (CoC)

I picked up a copy of CoC when GW released their hardback version in the UK in (year escapes me). Though at most I played about two scenarios with my gaming group in the early nineties, it has been the game that has found its tentacles reaching into (no pun intended) almost every other game that I have played. One particular aspect of the GW version that I liked was the pencil drawings of the creatures and monsters; I still use these for inspiration, adapted especially for Traveller. It also has one of my favourite scenarios published in White Dwarf, namely ‘The Last Log’ (no surprise it looks a bit like Traveller) and one of my favourite supplement covers, namely ‘The Asylum’ – the Shoggoth flailing its hapless victim looks truly terrifying.

I suppose one of the reasons it didn’t take off by being played in its ‘natural’ environment (ie. the 1920’s) is that it was a bit too close to the modern era. We wanted to play something that was so far disparate from the 20th century and the modern world, we didn’t take to CoC in the same way did with other RPGs.

In my next part, I’m going to look at the ‘nearlys’ – the RPGs that I invested a lot of time in, but they never became one of my main systems. I wonder if any other players have had similar results or experiences as me?

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