Geekery Squared

This what happens when you read The Deathly Hallows in one sitting…

As I was lying awake last night – trying to sleep despite the cold virus doing it’s best to kill me or at least make me severely miserable – a fairly crazy idea entered my head. And, being me, I decided to pick it up and run with it, just to see where it would lead me. Where it led me was to a fairly insane combination of Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings Strategy Game (yes, we’re back to that again!) and Harry Potter (I said it was crazy didn’t I? :).

You see, a lot of people quite like the rules system used by the LOTR game, and several adaptions for different settings have been made. There’s one for the Old West (produced by Games Workshop themselves), a Napoleonic Wars version (which in a nice touch provides stats for Sean ‘Boromir’ Bean’s Sharpe), and WWII and Vietnam versions. So why not a Wizarding version too?

No sooner had this thought entered my addled brain than rules and ideas started to pop up. So I thought I’d better get them out of my head as soon as possible πŸ™‚

OK, to start with all Wizards are Heroes, and all should start with at least 2 points of Will. Every Wizard also needs a wand – without a wand, a model can’t cast spells of any kind. In addition a wand gives the bearer 1 free point of Will per turn, pretty much in the same way as a Wizard’s Staff in the standard rules.

Now, casting. As far as these rules are concerned there are two types of spells – Charms and Curses. Charms are non-offensive spells cast on or around oneself, or on one’s allies. Examples include Lumos, Accio or Episkey. Curses are offensive spells cast against an enemy, such as Expelliarmus, Tarantallegra or Avada Kedavra. Curses and Charms are handled in different ways under the rules.

Charms are cast as normal magic spells using the standard rules. The one major change however is that each Wizard weilding a wand gets 1 dice free per turn (that is without spending Will) to spend on a Charm. Will can of course be spent to add extra dice to this Charm, or to cast additional Charms (there is no limit on how many Charms can be cast per turn).

Curses are treated as missile attacks, and take place in the Shoot Phase. It costs 1 Will to cast a Curse, and additional will can be expended to strengthen it (as described below). Whether the attack hits or not is calculated as normal, using the model’s Shooting value. The range for Curses is 12″/28cm, each model may only cast one Curse per turn, and no movement limits apply for models intending to Curse.

If the curse hits, then consult the Wounds Chart. The Strength of the Curse is the Courage of the caster, plus any additional Will they expended to strengthen it. The Wound Roll is then made, and if it succeeds the target suffers the effects of the Curse.

A model targeted by a Curse may attempt to cast a Counter Curse – that is throw a Curse of their own at their attacker. To do this costs 1 point of Will. Both players roll against their Shooting value. If one succeeds and one fails, then only the successful player rolls on the Wounds Chart. If both succeeded, then only the player that rolled the higher number rolls on the Wounds Chart. If both succeeded and both rolled the same number, the Curses collide in mid air and cancel each other out. A model may cast as many Counter Curses as they have will points to spend on them.

So that’s the basics of the system. Of course it needs playtesting, and the various spells need writing up, but I think it should work fairly well. An example is probably in order, so let’s look at the example of an Auror facing off against a Death Eater – probably at some point during The Half Blood Prince.

The evil player has the initiative, and at the start of the Shoot phase the Death Eater casts Stupefy at the Auror. His Shooting value is 3+ and his Courage is 4. He elects to throw the extra point of will from his wand into the Curse. The Auror spends a point of Will to cast a Counter Curse – Petrificus Totalus. His Shooting value is 3+ and his Courage is 5. Both players roll the dice. The evil player rolls 4, sucessfully casting the Curse, and the good player rolls 2, failing to produce the Counter Curse.

Consulting the Wound Chart shows that the evil player must roll 4 or more for the Curse to take effect (Courage of 4 plus 1 point of Will versus the Auror’s Defence of 5). He rolls a 3, and the Curse fails.

The good player elects not to cast a Curse, and the round ends.

In the next round the evil player retains initiative. At the start of the Move phase the Death Eater uses his free Charm dice to cast Engorgio on himself, which will increase his Strength and Movement. The standard magic rules are used, and he fails to cast. He immediately uses his wand’s free point of Will to attempt the Charm again. This time he succeeds, and gains 2 points of Strength, and an extra 4″/10cm of movement – however his Defence against missile attacks and Curses drops by 1 because he’s a much larger target. The evil player uses the Death Eater’s full movement to move him into partial cover behind some bushes, out of range of the Auror’s Curses.

At the start of the good Move Phase the Auror uses his free Charm dice to cast Wingardium Leviosa on himself, succeeding and flying 5″/12cm across the battlefield towards the Death Eater. He then uses his full move to get within Curse range, taking partial cover behind a tree.

At the start of the evil Shoot Phase the Death Eater uses one point of his personal Will to cast Crucio at the Auror. The Auror elects not to cast a Counter Curse, trusting in the tree to provide protection. As the Auror is behind cover, an “in the way” roll must be made, which the evil player fails – the curse explodes harmlessly on the tree.

At the start of the good Shoot Phase the Auror casts Petrificus Totalus at the Death Eater. The Death Eater uses his last point of personal Will to cast a Counter Curse, the shield charm Protego (which has a number of special rules). The Auror makes an “in the way” roll for the Death Eater’s cover and succeeds, his curse speeding through the bushes unhindered (Protego doesn’t require an “in the way” roll). Both players roll against their Shooting value of 3+, the Auror rolls 6, the Death Eater 4.

Normally this would mean the Auror’s Curse hits, while the Death Eater’s doesn’t, however Protego‘s special rules state that as long as the spell is cast, it gives +2 Defence to the caster, even if it would normally be beaten by another Curse. The Wound  Chart is consulted – for the Curse to have an effect the good player must roll 5 or higher (Auror’s Courage of 5 verses the Death Eater’s Defence of 5, minus 1 for Engorgio, plus 2 for Protego). The good player rolls a 6, and the Death Eater is frozen in place, unable to move or take action for two rounds.

So yeah, that’s how it works. If that can be said to work at all. Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Horcruxes and Hallows

The end of the line for Harry

It’s 3:15 in the afternoon, and after six and a half solid hours of reading I’ve just finished The Deathly Hallows. Now, call me a pathetic fanboy, but


An absolutely perfect ending to the series πŸ™‚

I’m not going to post any spoilers, there’ll be plenty of sites doing that already (the main reason I traipsed into the city and bought a copy at 7:30am despite having an appalling head cold was to avoid spoilers). I must raise a small note of protest however and complain that J.K. killed my favourite character! How dare she! How very dare she! πŸ™‚

(That may seem like a spoiler, but since I don’t think anyone knows who my favourite character is, it’s not, see?)

OK, I’m going to go have a lie down now. This cold is killing me, and after hours of staring at paper my eyes have gone all funny.

PS: Oh, I got a free beanie baby owl along with the book because I pre-ordered. Bonus! πŸ™‚

PPS: Oh, and said owl was handed to me by a really cute girl dressed as a Quiddich player (you wouldn’t think goggles could suit someone, but strangely they did…). Double bonus! πŸ™‚

What music they make!

A suitable topic for Friday the 13th

I was watching Time Team the other day (the one where they were trying to find a Roman villa and decided that Brunel had destroyed it by running a railway over the top) when they started talking about Neolithic burial practices – specifically the disarticulation (that’s dismembering to you and me πŸ™‚ of dead bodies. You see for reasons unknown (but usually put into that too-hard basket of archeology known as “ritual” πŸ˜‰ ancient peoples often disassembled the bodies of their dead relatives, putting the skulls and long bones of the arms and legs into barrows and such, and discarding the rest.

(Helen may want to correct/criticise that summary, she’s the archaeologist after all πŸ™‚

Anyway a sudden rather entertaining thought entered my head. What if the Neolithic period was plagued by zombies!? πŸ˜€

Think about it – if you knew that poor, deceased Uncle Zog was likely to spring to life and start shambling around moaning “brains! brains!” (or the Neolithic equivalent thereof), chopping him to pieces would be downright respectful. And then you could take all the important, big bones and put them somewhere safe from the other zombies – like the local barrow for instance. Barrows (the West Kennet style ones with nice roomy passages at any rate) could even be the equivalent of civil defence shelters – when the zombies turn up, everyone runs for the barrow and drags a boulder over the door!

But wait, there’s more! What about all those ‘ritual’ sites deep in caves, where you find piles of human bones at the bottom of inaccessible shafts? Zombie prisons! Drop the zombies down the shaft, they can’t climb out, and eventually rot away! It all makes sense!

There has to be a book deal in this! ;D

Now of course it’s all a load of nonsense. I mean if you were worried about bodies rising up and attacking people then the last thing you’d do is expose them in open air mortuary sites, which is what the Neolithic people in Britain seem to have been doing. But it’s an entertaining thought.

On the subject of British undead however Triple J have been running a competition (which closes today as a matter of fact) titled “The J Odyssey”, which is where people can put forward a proposal for an “adventure of a lifetime”, and they’ll give the winner money and a camera to go off and do it. I’ve been idly wondering what kind of proposal I’d put in, were I inclined or eligible to enter (most of their contests are only open to 25 year olds or younger). The conclusion that I reached would be Hunting Vampires in the UK!

OK, that’s a bit of a dramatic way to put it (“Investigating Vampire Beliefs and Folklore” doesn’t quite have the same ring :). But it’s something I’d actually really enjoy. Traveling around the UK doing a series of 15 minute mini-documentaries about vampire cases, and the places and people involved.

Not that for a second I actually believe in vampires, but a lot of people through history have done, and some even continue to to this day – and I find that interesting. So it would follow that it might be interesting to go and talk to some of them.

I already know of the top of my head several people and places to look up. Highgate Cemetery for starters (although you need to be careful there, because if you even mention the word ‘vampire’ they throw you out the gates :). Robin Hood’s Grave at Kirklees would be a must, and I’d drop in to Whitby for the atmosphere. I’d try and get an interview with Lord Bishop (is he still calling himself “Lord Bishop”?) Sean Manchester, and if he wouldn’t talk maybe David Farrant. The current head of the British Dracula Society could be entertaining. A quick Google search could no doubt turn up plenty more, let alone a trawl through my extensive collection of books on the weird and paranormal.

So that’s what I’d do – if I had the opportunity, the money and an audience. But I doubt I’d even be able to get the time off work πŸ™‚

I will combine the Allspark with the spark here in my chest (that you should all know about so why am I showing it to you?) which (as you should already know) will kill me…

Random ramblings about nothing much

You know over the last few years there’ve been a whole load of ‘best of’ albums released for classic artists. There was that Beatles one that seems to have started the whole trend, the Elvis one, possibly (if my mind isn’t tricking me) a Michael Jackson one, and recently they’ve put together a Clash one. This is all well and good, it allows lazy/cheap folk such as myself to get all the really good songs without having to shell out for every single album. But there’s one musical act that is sadly missing from the range, something that must be corrected as soon as possible! So, I humbly submit the following album design to the record companies, in the hopes that they’ll come to their senses…

OK, that’s that silliness out of the way πŸ™‚

Well, it appears that 50 years after tearing up the network the Government is seriously considering re-introducing trams to Perth. I applaud this strongly. We seriously need to do something about the appalling lack of public transport away from the railway lines – let’s face it the bus network can’t cut it. Some dedicated tram lines would be the next best thing to a massive expansion of the rail network (and a whole lot cheaper). Hopefully they’ll decide to go ahead with it, although their first proposed line is from East Perth to Subiaco which seems a bit odd because you can already do that by train. But hey, it’ll be a start.

Funnily enough I spent a few hours last weekend playing around with routes for some extra rail lines (this is because I’m a massive nerd and I find such speculation entertaining :). I think we would be well served by a tram line running from the Perth rail station, up through Northbridge (passing by Russell Square), clipping the corner of Hyde Park, running up to Edith Cowan university, through Dianella Plaza and the Mirrabooka shopping centre, and ending up in Landsdale.

At the same time it would make sense to run a line from the Airport (both terminals), over the river at Redcliffe to Bayswater (with a connection to the railway near Bayswater station), across to the Morley Galleria, then west to Stirling rail station. I mean at the moment the only way to get into the city from the airport is by taxi, which is just plain crazy. The fact that such a line would also let me get the tram to the galleria from right outside my door is surely just a co-incidence :).

So, once again I prove myself to be least a week ahead of the best Government thinking πŸ™‚

Not a huge lot else has been going on in my life. Went out to dinner with the family the Saturday before last, to Romany’s Italian restaurant in Northbridge. It was insanely noisy and I ended up stuck at the end of the table, so conversation wasn’t exactly an option. But it didn’t matter because the food was awesome. I had the tortellini which was served in a really rich cream cheese sauce. It almost put me to sleep (what with the hypoglycemia and all) but I’d happily eat it all again πŸ™‚

I also went and saw the Transformers movie on Friday night with Ryan. Justin was meant to come along as well, but I totally forgot to phone him and let him know the session time we were going to, so he missed out πŸ™ But he’s OK with it – or at least pretending to be OK with it – so that’s cool. The movie was actually a lot better that I expected, there’s some – if not great script writing and performances – very competent script writing and performances. The comedy aspects aren’t too jarring, and the plot is fairly comprehensible, which is a lot more than you can usually expect from these kinds of exercises. Some of the exposition was a bit clumsy (Optimus Prime explaining things to the other Autobots that they actually should have already known and so on) but overall it was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours.

(Oh, one criticism though, the combat sequences could have been massively improved by keeping the camera still for more than two seconds at a time. All those shots of rapidly moving metal look really cool, but it would have been nice to see who was actually winning the fights.)

Ummm, that’s pretty much all I’ve got to write about at the moment I think. I’ve got to do the washing up anyway, so I’d better get on with it I suppose.

Over and Out.

Geekery III – This Time It’s Personal

The Geekery continues…

Well I’m going for the trilogy here, with another extremely geeky post concerning Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings battle game. Thinking about various conversions got me thinking about the rules you’d need to use the converted models, and that got me thinking about one character in particular, Purple WyrmPosted on Categories Old and UncategorisedLeave a comment on Geekery III – This Time It’s Personal

That’s what I call Service

Some good news for once

Recently I’ve been indulging my geek side (well, my more geeky side I suppose, since I don’t really have a non-geek side) and getting back into some modeling work, specifically some conversions to Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings range.

(warning, severe geekery ahead – in case you hadn’t figured that out already πŸ™‚

For various reasons too legally tedious to mention Games Workshop can’t produce figures of characters from the Silmarillion, so if you want models from the first age of Middle Earth you’ve got to knock them up yourself from the existing range. I realised last week – while looking at all the models I’ve got sitting around from the Battle Games in Middle Earth magazine series that I’ve been buying – that with a few simple modifications Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth would make a very nice Tuor of Gondolin. So I got to work with my Dremel, ground off all his swan imagery, swapped his sword for an axe from a Khazad Royal Guard and bingo! Instant Tuor!

This naturally got me thinking about other Gondolin themed conversions, and I quickly realised that I couldn’t really have Tuor without his father-in-law Turgon. A glance through my models convinced me that a very nice Turgon could be thrown together by chopping the head off Isildur, and sticking on a suitable Elf head. A search through the photos in the various rule books in my posession suggested that the mounted Elrohir would be a good choice. So off I went to the Games Workshop online store and put through an order for a brand new Isildur and Elrohir (I do actually intent to get my Isildur model painted up at some point, so chopping him to pieces wasn’t an option).

Side Note: OK, at this point some people may be thinking that Isildur isn’t suitable for an Elf conversion because he’s not armed with an Elven sword. Well I’m afraid I’m going to trump you with my obsessive knowledge of Tolkienana. Turgon’s sword was Glamdring – the very same sword used by Gandalf centuries later. And Glamdring – as depicted in the movies at least – ain’t no pseudo-samurai Elven sword. So there! *grin* Strictly speaking, I suppose, for a really accurate Turgon conversion you should clip Glamdring off a Gandalf model, but the only Gandalf model with Glamdring fully drawn is the Bridge of Khazad-dûm version which can’t be got for love nor money these days, so I’m going to pretend Isildur’s sword Narsil is Glamdring. Back to the narrative…

So, as I said, I sent my order off through the online store.

I get into work today (I used my work email address because I don’t like companies having my home one – paranoid? moi?) to discover an email from one Frank Taylor, Hobby Service Team Leader at Games Workshop’s Australian section, explaining that the Isildur model isn’t available any more and shouldn’t actually be on the website. The order had been sent – minus Isildur – and if I wanted to order another figure instead of Isildur they’d ship it free of charge.

I had another look at the site, and discovered that a blister pack of Isildur mounted and on foot was also listed. I emailed Frank back, asking if it was still available. He emailed back immediately confirming that they had some left. So, over the course of a few extremely prompt and informative emails I got him to put through an order for the blister pack instead, which he dispatched free of postage (after canceling the charge for the non-available Isildur model).

So, the moral of the story… Games Workshop Australia online store website maintenance – fairly crap. Games Workshop Australia online store customer service – beyond reproach πŸ™‚

Biker Elves and Pig Men

Bad Tolkien Art

I’ve just wasted the better part of an hour trawling through this thread on the One Ring forums discussing horrible Tolkien art. While the thread itself is well worth a read, I thought I’d share some of the highlights (although frankly they’re lowlights – in some cases so low they’re actually turned off).

The Death of Boromir – The picture that started it all. It’s quite clearly someone’s attempt to do a renaissance pieta, with Boromir as Jesus and Aragorn as the Virgin Mary (I’d call it a badly thought out attempt, except that that should really go without saying). It’s absolutely hideous on almost every level – Boromir looks seriously deformed, Aragorn has the mumps (not to mention his own personal windstorm), Legolas is wearing a grey union suit, and the artist seems to have misunderstood the context of the word ‘Dwarf’ as Gimli is clearly a little person. Some of the comments suggest that this image was done as a joke, which then accidently got published. I’ll cling to that explanation because the alternative – that someone actually thought this was worth publishing – is just too frightening.

Gandalf and Aragorn find the Sapling of the White Tree – Now I don’t know about you, but if I was going mountain climbing I wouldn’t wear silk pajamas and pointy slippers, even if I had a bright purple bathrobe to go over them. And lets not even mention that ‘crown’, or that rather than a great and mighty king, Aragorn looks like a droopy moustached accountant.

Elrond before the Council – Maria Ezpeleta is undoubtedly a gifted artist, however she has a habit of making Elves look like the love children of Cher and David Bowie. On heroin. Doing gay porn. This image is a typical example, but what really catches my eye is Elrond’s pet. Where exactly in the Lord of the Rings does it mention that the Lord of Rivendel is fond of wire haired dachsunds?

Finarfin and the Infant Galadriel – Another from Maria Ezpeleta. I had no idea that the Noldor included zippers and Doc Martins amongst their inventions. Or that moose were common in Valinor.

Faramir and Eowyn – This is actually a really nice watercolour, apart from the fact that the subjects have quite clearly just had a major argument. Eowyn’s pouting and sulking, and Faramir’s just about to blurt out something like “You know it’s really hard to love you when you get like this!”

Elrond and Gandalf – In this picture Gandalf is actually rather good. Elrond for some reason however has rhubarb stalks instead of ears. And Bilbo… Frankly Bilbo had me in hysterics for about five minutes. He doesn’t look like a hobbit, he looks like some kind of miniature, hump-backed pig-man, who’s considering stabbing Gandalf in the thigh. <Kramer>It’s a Pig-Man Jerry! A Pig-Man!</Kramer>

OK, that’s it for now


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