Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Duelling Paintbrushes 2

Duelling Paintbrushes 2 starts tomorrow, so I'm going to be busy painting skaven for a month. Probably too busy to be working on any of my own rules projects, so Top Dog Gaming is not likely to see many updates for November.
Terrain For Hippos on the other hand...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I've been working on some new figures to go with Perilous Quest. The plan is to provide figures for all three races, in both genders, and in three different designs (lightly armed, medium armed, heavily armed). I already have human males in all three levels, along with a few female figures I designed long ago for the Fantasy Figures range I did. I've been working on more female figures this evening, two dwarf and one human. I've also modified one of the old female figures to make her elven.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

PERILOUS QUEST: Warrior's Quest

I've decided to split Perilous Quest up into a series of starter packs, each based around a single class. This way I can concentrate all my powers upon a single class at a time, and I don't have to complete all of them before releasing the game. It also means that each starter pack can contain an adventure specifically tailored to each class. Once all the starter packs are out I plan to do some generic adventures which can be played by any class, and possibly some expansions which allow things like multi-classing, and creating your own quests.

Currently I am working on the first starter pack: Warrior's Quest which handles (surprisingly!) the warrior class. I've been coming up with skills which suit fighter-type characters, and I've got a fair list, but I'd like to add more so some really unique warriors can be created. I also have to create the weapons list and do some more art.

Things are starting to move a bit quicker now that I've divided the project up into starter packs, so watch this space like the proverbial hawk. I suspect the play testing rules will be ready fairly soon...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Adventure Hooks: Orc Slave Mine

I've decided to publish an intermittent series of adventure hooks and adventure ideas. I'll be keeping things as generic as possible so that you can use them in any system you want. I do have a fair few ideas for adventures floating around (mostly fantasy), but some of them are being kept under wraps incase I want to run them myself!
Anyway, here's the first - the Orc Slave Mines. This formed the basis of a play-by-forum RPG I ran with the kids from my school wargames club for a few months. This one is a good starting adventure for a new party because it helps to explain how all the characters met up, but you can run it just as well with an established party. Anyways, on to the adventure!

The players have been captured by Orcs and thrown into the Slave Mines. I started it off with everyone regaining consciousness and finding out they were in the dungeons, but you can have some of the characters already there when the others turn up. Anyway, they start locked into a dungeon cave, deep under ground. They have had their equipment taken away, and each of them is wearing shackles. These shackles contain Null Stones - strange black stones which drain magical energy, thus preventing mages from casting while wearing them. Also in the dungeon with them is a wizzened and ancient kobold. Outside the dungeon they can hear what seems to be a battle going on between Orcs, and some other species with higher pitched voices.

Obviously the first order of business is to break out. Depending on your party there are a number of approaches - they can try to smash the door down, but without axes that'll be pretty hard. If they talk to the kobold, they'll find out something rather interesting and useful. The Kobold is Krt'K, leader of the Kobold Revolutionary Army. The noise they can hear outside is the Kobold slaves in open revolt against the orcs, and coming to bust him out.

That green stuff is luminous fungi. Not orc flatulence.
The KRA team are armed and armoured, but the slaves are just using what they can find - shovels and picks mostly. Their attack has caught the Orcs by surprise, and given time they will be able to get to the dungeon and bust out Krt'K. They'll probably be pretty happy to see a bunch of sturdy heroes with a grudge against Orcs locked in with him and bust them out as well.

So now it's a matter of escaping the maze-like mine itself. Do the players go it alone, or do they decide to side with the KRA? Do they try to use the KRA to their own ends in a bid to cause even greater havoc upon the Orcs? Do they try to stir up a revolt amongst the other races which the Orcs are lording it over? How do they find their weapons and gear (when I ran this, one of the players had a pet Dragon which the Orcs were keeping in a cage above ground - finding the dragon was one of his primary motivations)?

Of course, the Orcs will regroup soon enough and come back into the slave mines in force, so time is limited and the party will need to think fast.

I used this adventure as the starter for a whole campaign, so I also had some adventure hooks set up in the slave mines themselves. There was a second dungeon cave, which contained some NPC adventurers who had also been captured. They were on a quest of their own and would try to recruit the heroes. There was also a Dwarf cleric in a cage in the torture chamber (it's just not an Orc dungeon without one!) who was seeking a powerful artefact when he was captured and his companions slain. He was near death, but if the heroes healed him he would try to recruit them to his quest (of course, they didn't know he was actually a villain seeking to use the artefact against his people).

Okay, so that's the first instalment of Adventure Hooks. I have intentionally not gone into great detail about the quest since you'll probably want to change it around a bit to fit in your setting. I've used Orcs and Kobolds (with the odd Goblin and Troll thrown in) but you can use anything you like. You can make the slave mines as large or as small as you like to make the adventure last longer, and you can make it as easy or hard as you like for the heroes to find their stolen equipment (in my version they had to actually get out of the mines to find it - it was in a store hut above ground).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Perilous Quest cards

Here's a look at the prototype Perilous Quest card designs.
There are four card types - Monsters, Rooms, Events and Treassures. Since the rules are not really complete as yet, the designs will end up changing, but I wanted to get some sort of idea of how much information would fit on a card, and how clearly it could be read.
The first card there is a Monster Card. Like all monster cards, it's name bar is red. The icon next to this shows it's an Orc card. Some times you need to remove cards or only use certain cards, so the icon up at the top of each card is important. Down the left hand side the monster's stats are listed. At present, all of them are there, but I might change it so that only the important stats which will be involved in quests are listed. From top to bottom we have Strength, Toughness, Dexterity, Intelligence, Perception, Courage, Movement, Defence and hit Points. There are a lot of stats so the vertical layout seems the best way to cram them all in.
The main box lists the monster's behaviours.
The box below this has the monster's weapons or attacks. There are two spaces here, the top is always melee, the second is a ranged attack if available.

The Blue card is a room card. Again,it would have an icon indicating which set it belongs to, but this is just a test card so it's blank. The image shows what the room looks like, and how it faces. The four icons around it (Red for Monsters, Green for Events, Blue for Doors, Yellow for Treasures) match the card colours, and tell you how many of any given thing is present. There's an icon on the picture of the room tile which shows you where the monsters and treassures go, as well as arrows for the doors. The arrow pointing up is the entrance, The arrow at the top, pointing away from the tile is the exit. The blue door icon says there are two doors - this number always includes the way in! Both door and Treasure icons have little locks over them meaning the door and the treassure chest are both locked. There's also a space for rules, but this room doesn't do anything fancy.

The Event card has a green name bar to match the event icon. Event cards basically just have a  big space for the rules. The treassure card is basically the same, but yellow. Both card types will need a bit of tweaking - events will need a space for XP earned by over coming the event (if appropriate - disarming a trap for example) and treasure cards need a sale value so you can sell them for filthy lucre.

I have been playing with a set of Orc monster cards, and a set of Forest room cards to go with the starter adventure I am planning, but the game still needs a lot of work - skill lists mostly.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Top Dog Reviews: Eat Poop You Cat

I've decided to do some game reviews on this blog, but I want my first to be something a bit... different.
I could just rush out and buy the shiniest, newest board game everyone is raving about and join in, but then, everyone else is doing that. So my first review is a game I stumbled on over on Board Game Geek, which doesn't even come in a box.
It's called 'Eat Poop You Cat' but when I use it in my class room, it's called 'Paper Telephone'.
And it's a real game.
Despite the name.

What's in the box?

Nothing. It doesn't come in a box. Actually there's a form which you can buy, but who wants to spend money?

How do you play?

Okay, you get a group of friends and you each take a piece of paper and a pencil. Everyone writes a sentence at the top of their page, and passes the sheet to the player on their right. That player then tries to draw a picture of what is happening in the sentence. They fold the paper so only the picture is visible, and pass it along. The next player writes down what they think the picture shows, and folds the paper so only their sentence is visible. This keeps going until you run out of paper, and unfold it to see what happened. Hilarity ensues.
I play this regularly at family gatherings, and it's never fallen short of abject laughter. Particularly famous examples include 'The Lion suffers from premature ejaculation by a water hole' and 'The sheep perform a dance expressing their joy at their regularity' (These started as 'Down by the river, a Lion attacks a Zebra' and 'The Dark Dog Does a Diabolical Doo-Doo in the Doorway' respectively)

How hard is it?

It's a very easy game. I play with my family, and they have no problems. I also use it for my yr.7 English class on occasion.

What's the replay value like?

Very high. It's a simple game, it's a hilarious game, and no two sessions are ever the same. We've played it for over a year, and my sister-in-law still insists we play it at family gatherings ahead of all the shiny, fancy board games we have accumulated as a family.

The Verdict:

Eat Poop You Cat scores:

Clarity of rules:

Depends on how well I explain them... they're not written down anywhere since it's just a game I found on the internet. It's not hard to explain, and not hard to grasp.

Learning curve:

Once you figure out which way to fold things, and which way to pass, there's nothing much to learn.


Ludicrously high fun levels for such a simple idea.

Replay value:

It's very VERY replayable. 


Er... it doesn't have any. Like I said, it's an idea I found on Board Game Geek.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

WIP Haunted Mansion

The first set of fantasy tiles I made were all Orc themed, so recently I decided to have a go at something a little different - a Haunted Mansion set. Here's a little preview of some of the figures and furniture...
Olivia, the creepy little girl with plush golem (also available as a seperate figure), her puppy 'Patches,' a Zombie, and Ludmilla, the Hag. Also Olivia's haunted doll's house.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Perilous Quest is my current project. It's a solo play dungeon crawl RPG.
It occurred to me that a lot of mythological heroes did their questing alone, not in groups like most RPGs support. So I took a leaf from Castle Ravenloft's book and started playing with the idea of a sort of 'artificial intelligence' system to run the bad guys. It's pretty easy to run the dungeon itself using cards to determine the rooms encountered (much as Warhammer Quest did back in the day) treassures accumulated and the enemies met.

I have been tinkering with the rule system for a while. Basically the core mechanic is this: each skill is associated with one of the character's stats. When you use the skill, you roll a number of D6s equal to the stat and try to roll over a particular score. You can earn bonuses to this roll by taking more ranks in a skill.

I plan to use my existing series of Fantasy Tiles to play the game - obviously I'll need to develop cards for the rooms. I'm also going to use the existing paper craft figures I've been designing for a few years for the various heroes and villains. I'll be doing up some new rooms and new figures as well. The intention is to get the system working and release a 'core game' which will then be supplemented by a range of adventure packs. The Core Game will include a starting adventure - The Underpants of the Orc Lord (no really) and it's easy to randomly create adventures as well.

I'm pretty excited about this one, but there's a lot of work involved so it'll be a while before you see much of it.


Grolg's Feast started life as Phoofbum's Feast, a card game about Halfling chefs trying to out cook one another. Then I realised this was boring and that Goblin chefs would cook MUCH more interesting things!

Light from guttering elf-fat lanterns cast a weak and flickering light within the banqueting hall of Grolg the Unspeakably Smelly, high Orc King of Scrundor. It cast weird and fantastic shadows, which danced over the debris scattered over the high table and the army of apprehensive Goblin slaves who scurried to and fro with great steaming dishes piled high with the most revolting delicacies.
         “FOOD!” Bellowed Grolg, “Bring me the next course!”
         A small goblin in an enormous white chef’s hat and huge, waxed moustache dashed up bearing an mighty platter, the lid of which was a Dwarvish shield. With a flourish, the chef whipped off the lid revealing a whole roasted pig on a bed of potatoes, carrots, turnips and hedgehogs, with an apple in it’s mouth. Grolg rammed his fork into the pig, lifted it with one hand and took a huge bite. He spat the steaming flesh out and roared, “It’s undercooked! Take this worthless turnip-head away and roast him! I’ll have him for supper!”
         Two huge orc warriors grabbed the startled chef and dragged him away.
         “MORE FOOD!” bellowed Grolg. The assembled Goblins shuffled nervously, trying not to catch his eye.

In Grolg's Feast, each player is a Goblin Chef trying to impress Grolg the Unfeasibly Smelly, king of Scrundor. To do this you need to produce a three course meal, and score more points than the other chefs. You get Recipe, Ingredient and Special cards to achieve this. Each recipe is worth a certain number of points, and needs certain ingredients. You need to trade with the other chefs to get these ingredients, while all the time playing dirty tricks on them to stop them scoring the big points! The game is very simple (I have taught both my Mother and Sister-in-Law to play - actually it's one of her favourite games!) and pretty quick. The rules are basically done... now it's a matter of art.

Don't hold your breath about this coming out any time soon, there's more than 60 pieces of art required for the cards. I've been using cards without for playtests, but the flavour of the game comes from the disgusting ingredients and recipes so art is essential! Oh well, it'll eventually get done...

Grolg's Feast is also the first appearance of Scrundor, the foul Orcish kingdom which has now ended up being used as an RPG setting and is gradually getting more and more detailed...

Well, here are some cards to keep you entertained until I finish the game...


Captain Hank Space guy and the crew of the Space Patrol ship Atom Eagle are in serious trouble – while on a routine patrol near Mars they have picked up a sinister Martian virus which is turning the crew into blood-crazed, purple-haired mindless zombies! Can the surviving crewmen make it to their escape pods in time to warn the Space Patrol on Earth, or will they, too be turned to zombies?

Martian Zombies is the first game I have published. It pits the plucky crew of the Space Patrol ship 'Atom Eagle' against a shambling horde of the undead and can be played either solo or as a two player game. The game uses a hex tile based map which is built up as you play, so no two games are ever exactly alike. The aim for the Survivor player is to get as many of the crew to the escape pods as possible. The zombie player obviously tries to stop him!

The survivor player needs to make use of the various special rooms to get equipment or block the shambling hordes. It takes about twenty minutes or so for a game, and, apart from the game components, all you need is a D6, a D8 and some paper clips.

The rules of the game are simple and quick to learn. Survivors move two hex tiles at a time, zombies move one. When you end up on the same tile both players roll a die - survivors roll a D8, zombies roll a D6. Highest score wins, and you remove the difference in the scores as casualties. Survivors can be turned to zombies if they die! Scattered throughout the ship are various special rooms like the Armoury, Med Bay, Life Support room etc. Each of these will either provide a piece of useful equipment (which will usually give a bonus in combats) or allows you to do something cool like open a hex to vacuum, sucking the undead out! During playtesting we found that imaginative use of the special hexes was especially rewarding and entertaining.

Making the art work for Martian Zombies was really good fun. There's a lot of components in the game - the various different room tiles, four different kinds of survivor figure, the zombie figures, and the various counters. I decided the game needed to use stand-up figures rather than just simple tokens, but, since facing is unimportant to the game, they have the same art on both sides. Obviously, if you don't fancy folding and pasting all those figures, you can just cut them up and use them as flat tokens.
I do have plans for an expansion to Martian Zombies! which will add some radioactive slime beasts to make further use of the radiation rules, along with various new rooms and abilities. 

You can purchase a copy of Martian Zombies from RPGNow.

Welcome to Top Dog Gaming!

I figured it was about time I set up a blog about my games designing endeavours, so here it is.
For me, the creative side of gaming is always the important part - to the extent that I prefer building and painting armies to actually playing wargames! I've always dickered around with my own rules, originally because I was young and had no money to buy all the shiny games in every issue of White Dwarf. These days I enjoy the creative process of making my own games and really love the way the internet has made the whole print-and-play concept so viable.
Anyway, this blog is here to keep you posted on what I am working on, and for me to rant and ramble about what I am working on...
I'll be announcing new things on here, and muttering about things which are in development. Hopefully this'll help me to actually complete a few more of the games I come up with (so far I have one game on sale on RPGNow/Drive Thru RPG, and a whole bunch of games in development...)
I will also be discussing various aspects of the gaming hobby including DMing and games I enjoy. Maybe the odd review etc. We shall see...