I shared this video a short while ago, when I first mentioned the kickstarter game Fallen, from Watchtower Games, but since the announcement that the game is now in full production, I’ve been almost-obsessing over it once again!

It’s not Tuesday, but I want to talk about games anyway. Maybe I’ll stop being so prescriptive with my blog, not sure yet. Anyway!

Fallen was the first kickstarter game that I got incredibly over-excited about. A rough count has my total games backed at just five, including the exceptionally exciting Shadows of Brimstone of course, but Fallen really deserves the credit for being the game that started me off in all this. The game looks ridiculously beautiful. I mean, if you haven’t watched the video all the way through – go back and do so, now!

The game will be quite unique in my collection, I feel. It’s a dungeon-crawler game, but it’s a card game, not a miniatures/board game. Out of the box it’s playable by two people, where one person takes the role of the hero, and the other that of the Dungeon Lord. Rather than physically moving a miniature figure through a series of dungeon tiles in the manner of, say, Descent, the game is played through a series of Story Cards which describe the rooms and challenges. The hero must fight his way through the creatures and spells of the Dungeon Lord until the two face off in a final battle.

The game also utilises a Shadow Track that provides some flux to the game, giving bonuses to the hero or the Dungeon Lord depending on how light and dark it is, respectively.

The more successful a hero is, the more stuff you “unlock” for that hero. There is a slight RPG feel to the game in this respect – along with magical items and power cards, experience points can give your hero new skills to help in the final battle. In a similar manner, the more successful the Dungeon Lord is against the hero, the more he can summon against that hero. The Dungeon Lord can also acquire Omen Cards that are particularly powerful. If the hero survives four Story Cards, that final battle begins and all craziness breaks loose in the showdown!

I backed at Hero level

I’ve been following the progress since it was funded last July, and the demos at last year’s GenCon in particular showed the game to be extremely strong and fantastically-designed. It’s a bit of a shame that it has taken so long to come to full production, but at least we’re there now. I feel that I was a bit too harsh on the company when I first mentioned it, as I was feeling a bit frustrated that I don’t have the game already! But it looks like it’ll be a really solid game when it arrives, so I truly can’t wait to get it and start delving in the dungeon!

In addition to some awesome gameplay, the artwork is just gorgeous!

Chains of Ilthor Demon Lord Orc Shaman Sythean the Devourer

As usual for kickstarter games, there are a whole host of Stretch Goals and Add-Ons that came out of the campaign, which make me even more excited for it! The base game has a choice of three Dungeon Lords and three Heroes, but the ks extras add three more heroes and three more Dungeon Lords! Additionally, there are five new Adventure Packs, which include new Story Cards as well as cards for the hero and the Dungeon Lord, and an additional Final Battle Pack with new options for the endgame.

One of the biggest incentives I’ve noticed that people enjoy about kickstarter projects are the “exclusives” that make backing the game the more desirable option than simply waiting for it to hit retail, and Fallen delivered wonderfully in this respect with four additional Adventure Packs, so that’s even more Story Cards etc! Given the fact that the game is played primarily through the medium of these cards, that’s an unbelievable amount of content right out of the gate!

So roll on September, when I hope I will finally have this game in my hands, and maybe if I’m lucky, there will have been a couple of games played, as well! Can’t wait!

Fallen box cover

Lots of Games!

Hey everybody!
I realise that my Saturday blogs have become such an institution now that you’d all be just completely lost without them, so I hope you enjoy this little missive! Some very exciting news needs to be shared, of course, but with being back in work this week, it hasn’t exactly been the most exciting of weeks, I’m afraid to say!

I want to start with this recipe, though, as it was so delightfully simple, it’s almost inspired! Just pasta with tomato passata and a teaspoonful of pesto, served with a drizzle of garlic oil. Wonderful!

I do enjoy pasta, as it’s so wonderfully versatile. Always on the lookout for more recipes, so I’m sure as the summer marches on there will be more and more coming at you!

I’ve been really enjoying The Diamond Throne, the first book in David Eddings’ Elenium trilogy, this week. A fantasy tale that I would call more low fantasy than anything, it’s actually really awesome and I can highly recommend it to anyone who might happen to be reading my blog! It’s written in quite a direct style, with a whole host of compelling characters and situations, and reminds me very strongly of the fantasy stories I read as a lad. If I were to make any criticism, it would be that it unfortunately jumps around a bit – for instance, chapter 8 ends with the characters poised to rush headlong into battle, and chapter 9 begins immediately once the battle is over. Now, I’m not that big a fan of battle scenes and often find them discombobulating, but I felt almost cheated by having no fight whatsoever! But that’s the best criticism I can level at it so far (I’m just over halfway through, so far). It’s generally an awesome read!

Also this week, I reached my 1000th tweet. That was pretty exciting for me!

1000 tweets!

On Friday I felt as if I was under some sort of avalanche of games, as a multitude of pre-orders finally came my way!


Yes, very exciting times!

I mentioned Pathfinder recently, of course, but I’ve been feeling more and more in the mood for the RPG. Fantastical times are afoot, hopefully! So in addition to the Beginner Box and The Worldwound Campaign Setting, I had the Free RPG Day supplement Risen from the Sands, which looks like a really intriguing little bit of stuff! Free RPG Day happens in June every year, and Pathfinder has long been a supporter. Last year I got a free adventure for the FFG Star Wars RPG, Shadows of a Black Sun. That was really nice, and hopefully some day I can play that one, too!

The Pathfinder RPG is just glorious, though. Proper fantasy stuff, perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek at times, it’s really very me, I must say! I initially bought some stuff for it last year, including the very meaty Core Rulebook, but have recently begun to rediscover it in part because of my desire to do something about the fantasy stories I want to write (I’ll give you a clue as to what it’s about: Tuesday was International Fairy Day). However, in getting the books out for inspiration, I have in turn been inspired to play a game again! ARGH! It’s been about five years since I last played a RPG, and I really have the itch now!


For the uninitiated, Role Playing Games are actually really awesome. You need a good Games Master who is more concerned with storytelling and ensuring everyone has a good time than with the rules being correct, and you need a group of people who are somewhat invested in the story and their characters than they are in just goofing around, but all the same, when you get the right mix of folks around the table, it can be really magic. Prepare for a couple of hours of being lost in your imaginations! Ah!

Doing a quick count, I have three RPG systems right now. Well, three RPG worlds – Pathfinder, Warhammer Fantasy, and Star Wars. I actually have every RPG incarnation of Star Wars, so that’s like, six distinctive systems (WEG, WEG 2nd ed, WotC, WotC 2nd ed, WotC Saga ed, and FFG). But still, I have nobody to play with! Eurgh. It’s enough to actually volunteer to start GMing again, but I feel like I’d much rather just have my own character and play in someone else’s story for once!!

I finally got the courage to visit my local games store this week, 4th Planet Games in Wrexham. I’ve always been a bit hesitant to go in there because I feel like I’m “not geek enough” or something, but he put an ad up on facebook saying he had the latest X-Wing stuff in, and my preorder went a bit awry so I was missing out on one ship. In the event, I spent 45 minutes in there on Friday having a really good chat with the guy about gaming in general – he tried to convince me to buy Star Trek Attack Wing as it’s a very similar but apparently better game than X-Wing. Well, I’ve only very recently begun to discover Star Trek (discover anew, I should say, as I did, years ago, watch TNG when it was first on, as a child), so remain unconvinced for now. Plus I’m extremely hesitant to buy into a game that I might not actually be able to play with anyone! But the tournament structure is so much better than anything I’ve seen before, though the fact that it’s published by WizKids, a subsidiary of Wizards of the Coast (Magic: the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons), who are themselves a subsidiary of Hasbro, it’s easy to see how they could afford that.

Anyway, I’m tangenting.

The other big news this week, as I briefly mentioned, is wave four of X-Wing has been released. FFG, you might remember, has already announced wave five, so while I had originally been under the impression four was due in September, it all seems to have been somewhat rushed!

View this post on Instagram

#XWing wave 4

A post shared by Mark (@marrrkusss) on

The ships do look really nice. The E-Wing was a nice addition, but the TIE Defender is perhaps my absolute favourite, just because it’s such a ridiculously fun design! I mean, look at it! The bold transition to waves of EU ships has me wondering just what on earth will come next in this game. Maybe we’ll finally see the Black Fleet Crisis’ K-Wing? Hm.

The only other game news that has got me excited this week is that finally the latest expansion for Lord of the Rings LCG, The Dunland Trap, has been released. Though it’ll be sometime next week when it arrives this side of the pond, apparently.

That leads me on to something that has me almost swooning with delight, I’ve been asked to be a playtester for the next cycle! Don’t expect any spoilers, of course, but I’m really excited about this opportunity!

1914 Live

Morning all!

As you no doubt know, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One. The conflict officially began next month, when Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the power blocs fell as allies of each declared war on each other, but today marks the ‘cassus belli’ of World War One: the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austro-Hungary.

The assassination happened in just over half an hour’s time, around 10:45am, on 28 June 1914, and precipitated what wikipedia states is the seventh most-costly war, in terms of human life lost, in the history of the world.

The BBC have set up an excellent blog ‘1914 Live‘ where you can follow the events as they happened. Definitely worth investigating on this very significant day!

The Phantom Menace – my way

It’s a double feature! Well, I did find a lot of stuff on my harddrive! Years ago (2004, according to the properties tab), I wrote this synopsis of how I thought The Phantom Menace would have worked out as being much better. I think my intention at the time was to “re-write” all three of the prequels, but anyway. It’s kinda funny now, so I thought I’d post it up here for you all to enjoy, or whatever. Don’t forget, I do enjoy a comment or two!

E P I S O D E  I



The Trade Federation has blockaded the world of Naboo in protest over the taxation of the former Free Trade Zones. Supreme Chancellor Valorum has dispatched the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn to Naboo to resolve the conflict. As he arrives with his padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, however, Jinn is attacked by the Federation’s droid armies. The Jedi manage to survive the attack, and discover the Federation is amassing a landing party to invade the Naboo. They stow aboard the landing crafts to get to the surface of the planet.

The Viceroy of the Trade Federation, Nute Gunray, has entered into a pact with the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. Sidious orders Gunray to destroy the Jedi, but the Federation has lost them. Sidious, in exasperation, sends his apprentice Darth Maul to track the Jedi. Maul, brought up by Sidious to be the ultimate weapon, leaves at once for Naboo.


On the planet’s surface, Jinn and Kenobi rendezvous with the Queen, Amidala, and her advisors. Amidala is worried for her people, but the Jedi manage to persuade her to come with them to Coruscant and resolve the dispute in the senate. Accompanying the party is the head of security, Captain Panaka, and the cynical Gungan Liasion, Jar Jar Binks. Jar Jar is sceptical that the Jedi will be able to get them past the 2000-strong blockade fleet, but the Jedis’ piloting skills leave him grudgingly impressed.


The Queen’s starship, which they have escaped the planet on, is in need of refuelling to make the six-day trip to Coruscant. They land at the nearest planet, Tatooine, to refuel. While doing so, they come across a surprising ten-year old slave, Anakin Skywalker, who Jinn discovers to have amazing Force power. Jinn uses the influence of the Force to get the boy freed, and they head off to Coruscant.

On the capitol world, Amidala finds out for herself that the senate is too corrupt to work properly. Naboo’s Senator, Palpatine, suggests she push for the election of a new Supreme Chancellor, and he is nominated along with Bail Organa from Alderaan and Orn Free Taa of Ryloth. Palpatine is duly elected but there is no answer to the Naboo problem forthcoming, so Amidala decides to head back to Naboo to resolve it herself.

Anakin Jedi Council

Qui-Gon brings Anakin in front of the Council, and the Jedi Masters there, including Yoda and Mace Windu, agree Anakin’s Force-potential is surprising. They are hesitant, however, to name him the Chosen One, who, it is forseen, will bring balance to the Force. Anakin, being past the normal age of training, is immediately given a Master, Qui-Gon’s former Master, Dooku. With the alarming chain of events surrounding the Naboo incident, both Qui-Gon and Dooku are dispatched to protect the Queen on her return home.

Maul, having landed on Naboo, is angered to find his quarry gone. He informs his Master of the situation, and Sidious is reproving but gives him a second chance. The Jedi are back on their way to Naboo, so Maul waits for them to return to the Mid Rim.

Darth Maul

Dooku and Qui-Gon arrive with the Queen on Naboo and are immediately called upon to lead the Security Force and a rag-tag assembly of local volunteers to fight the Trade Federation forces. Jar Jar is again sceptical of the Jedis’ abilities to do this, so Dooku gives him a demonstration of the power of the Force.

Having trained the locals as best they can, the Jedi lead their army on a march on Theed, the capital city. Intending to force a peaceful settlement, they are forced to open fire when the Viceroy orders them to be shot at. The Federation Droid Army then arrives, with Maul at its head. Anakin, too young to fight (he hasn’t even yet made a lightsaber), is forced to sit it out with an injured Kenobi. The two get to know each other a bit during the fighting.

The Queen assembles a small unit to infiltrate the Royal Palace and capture the Viceroy, hoping to bring about a speedy resolution. Halfway through their attack, they are themselves attacked by droidekas. Kenobi, sensing their trouble, goes off to help, despite  his injuries.

Dooku and Qui-Gon engage this mysterious warrior wielding a double bladed lightsaber. Dooku almost defeats him, but Maul manages to impale Qui-Gon. The Jedi Master gone, Dooku is both angered and saddened. He finds within him the power to defeat Maul, and the Naboo Army, with the help of Kenobi, successfully captures the Viceroy and forces him to call the Droids off.

Dooku is both intrigued and shamed by the power he used to defeat Maul – it was most certainly the Dark Side he used. Shortly after the Jedi Council arrives with the Supreme Chancellor, Dooku flees the planet to his homeworld of Serenno, to meditate upon what has happened. The loss of his former padawan has hit him hard, and he is unsure whether the Republic is worth fighting for anymore.


With both their Jedi Masters gone, Kenobi is appointed a Jedi Knight for his actions in helping the Queen. He volunteers to train Anakin, and the Council agrees.

The Jedi are more worried about the mysterious Sith warrior, and the disappearance of one of their best Masters, Count Dooku. They receive a message from him later telling them he has had enough of the Republic, and does not intend to rejoin the Jedi Order. Ever.

The Queen is reinstalled at the Palace, and all ends happily enough.


Star Wars Prequels!

Hey everybody!
So I’ve been looking through my harddrive for that missing Word document I mentioned a couple of posts ago, and came across some stuff I completely forgot I’d written! Basically, I get a lot of people asking if I can explain Star Wars to them, mostly the prequels, because people know I’m a massive Star Wars fan, and I also kinda like the prequel films, but everybody is all confused or whatever. So I wrote a couple of things back in 2005 to explain just what the hell is going on throughout episodes one, two and three, in perhaps a more consistent manner, linking it to all the novels as well so that you get the full picture. While, of course, a lot of this stuff is now most likely going to be negated, I thought I’d share it anyway so that you can have a read, and see if it makes you change your mind about the prequels at all! Leave a comment, because I love comments!


Palpatine’s Plan

“I will be Supreme Chancellor”

Palpatine is nothing but ambitious. The only man to dream of conquering the entire galaxy in modern times, Palpatine has brought down the destruction of much, not least of which being the planet Alderaan and the Jedi Order.

But how did he do it?


Having been nominated Senator for Naboo and 63 other worlds, Palpatine accrued many contacts in the Senate, and built for himself a reputation as impartial and good-natured. When Finis Valorum was elected Supreme Chancellor for a second term, Palpatine was regarded by him as a faithful adviser. As Darth Sidious, a master of the dark side of the Force, he trained the Iridonian Zabrak Darth Maul to be the instrument of his will. Maul became so consumed by his hatred of the Jedi that, at times, even Sidious thought he had overdone it a bit.

Labyrinth of Evil

Sidious set up a lair in the Works area of Coruscant, in the old LiMergePower building. LiMerge power was involved in the manufacture of illegal armaments that were finding their way to pirates on the Outer Rim – pirates who were attacking the Trade Federation. In response to this, the Senate agreed to allow the Federation to amass a modest droid army.

Cloak of Deception

The Trade Federation was growing greedy. As they took more and more from the Outlier Worlds for their services, more and more terrorist groups were formed against them. One such organisation struck at Dorvalla. The Nebula Front hired Mirilian mercenary Captain Cohl to infiltrate the Federation freighter Revenue and steal a cache of aurodium ingots. Cohl was successful, and delivered them to Havac, the leader of the militant faction of the Front. As a result of the attack, the Federation petitioned the Senate to increase their droid defenses.

Havac was being guided by Palpatine. He handed the senator the ingots to use as bribes in the senate to garner support for the Front. Palpatine set up a blind bank account, into which he deposited the ingots, then drew the bribes against the ingots.


Palpatine persuaded Supreme Chancellor Valorum to hold a trade summit on Eriadu to try and solve the issues surrounding the Federation’s request.

Darth Sidious contacted the Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray and, using blackmail, forced the Neimoidians into an alliance with him. As his first act, Sidious gave the Federation a droid army and the weapons of war.

The Trade Federation wasn’t just Neimoidians, however – delegates from Sullust, Kuat and Balmorra, among other worlds, sat on the directorate. At the Eriadu summit, however, tha changed.

Palpatine had Havac deliver a modified battle droid to the Federation, which sat in the Federation’s shield-generator-protected box at the summit hall. When the shield was activated, and the droid started to fire, all the blast bolts ricoched around the enclosed box, killing all the non-Neimoidian members of the directorate.

The summit was a disaster, but the Senate still passed the bill in favour of taxing the Free Trade Routes. However, Palpatine’s use of the aurodium then came out. Valorum Shipping of Eriadu, run by cousins of the Supreme Chancellor, had received a large influx of capital following the first announcement of the taxation bill. All evidence pointed to the Supreme Chancellor having proposed the bill simply in order to profit. With Valorum thus weakened, a cabal of senators began to turn their thoughts to who could replace him, and Orn Free Taa proposed they back Palpatine.

Darth Sidious proposed to Nute Gunray that the Federation blockade Naboo, the homeworld of Senator Palpatine, who had whipped up so much support for the taxation bill.


Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter

Nute Gunray was de facto head of the Federation. However, his Deputy, Hath Monchar, thought he could make some fast credits by selling the information of the impending blockade and the re-emergence of the Sith. Sidious sent his apprentice Darth Maul to Coruscant to dispose of the traitorous Neimoidian.


The Phantom Menace

The blockade then went ahead, and the Supreme Chancellor dispatched Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi to mediate. This caused the need to accelerate Sidious’ plan, and the Federation, at his behest, invaded the planet with their droid armies. Queen Amidala of Naboo managed to escape to Coruscant, where she met with the Senate to try and force the Federation to end their occupation. When she saw how ineffectual the Senate had become, she called for a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum. Palpatine, along with Ainlee Teem and Bail Antilles, was nominated to succeed Valorum.

The Queen and her Jedi guardians returned to Naboo to wrest control of the planet from the Federation, and Sidious sent Darth Maul to deal with the Jedi. Then the plan went awry – although Maul killed Qui-Gon, he was himself killed by Obi-Wan, and the Queen, with the help of the native Gungans, managed to overcome the droid armies and liberate the planet.

Palpatine was then elected Supreme Chancellor of the Republic.


With the loss of his apprentice, Sidious needed another to keep his plans in motion. Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos, investigating an illegal spice racket in the outer rim, proved to be a possiblity. Being overdosed with the synthesised glitteryll, Quinlan lost his memory and came extremely close to turning to the Dark Side.


(no source as yet)

However, it was the aristocratic Count Dooku who became Sidious’ second apprentice. Dooku was Qui-Gon’s former Master and close friend, and had been steadily becoming disillusioned with the corrupt Republic. The loss of his former padawan was too much, and he left the Jedi Order. Almost immediately he was approached by Nute Gunray, who told him of the alliance he had entered into with Sidious. Dooku, intrigued, sought out the Sith Master and gave himself to the Dark Side. Sidious gave him the Sith name Darth Tyranus.


Jango Fett: Open Seasons

Darth Tyranus was given the task of assembling an army with which to challenge the Republic. Remembering a formidable enemy he had encountered years previously, Tyranus sought out the Mandalorian warrior Jango Fett and offered him a deal, in which Fett would become the template of a clone army. Fett, in exchange for an unaltered clone of his own, agreed.

The Approaching Storm

Dooku then began to court the commercial interests throughout the galaxy – the Commerce Guild and the Techno Union, among others. Dooku, with the support of these big businesses, implemented a most dangerous plan: secession from the Republic. The Confederacy of Independent Systems, as they became known, turned their attention to Ansion. This world seemed blissfully unimportant, but was at the heart of dozens of treaties with both neighbouring and far-flung worlds so that, if that planet were to leave the Republic, all the others would and, in the end, over half the planets of the Republic would be independent.


The Jedi were dispatched to keep Ansion from seceeding. Obi-Wan and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, along with Luminara Unduli and her padawan Barriss Offee, managed to keep the planet in the Rpublic, but other worlds were swayed by Dooku’s seductive promises of free trade and began to seceede. Soon, thousands and thousands of systems were part of the Confederacy.

Attack of the Clones

The Separatist crisis had now escalated so much so that the Senate was debating whether or not to form a Grand Army of the Republic. Padme Amidala, now Senator for Naboo, was the leader of the opposition to this Military Creation Act. However, an attempt on her life proved the danger of the crisis they were entering, and several senators were completely behind creating an army.

The Jedi were called in to investigate the attempts on Padme’s life, and on the suggestion of Palpatine, Obi-Wan and Anakin were given the assignment. Obi-Wan, following a lead to the water planet Kamino, left Anakin in charge of protecting Padme. Anakin had, however, an emotional attachment to Padme, and the two fell in love.

Obi-Wan discovered the Jango Fett-based clone army on Kamino, and was startled to learn that the Kaminoans believed they were working for the Republic. Obi-Wan tracked the bounty hunter Jango Fett to Geonosis, where he was imprisoned by Dooku. Anakin and Padme went to Obi-Wan’s aid, having first sent a message to the Jedi on Coruscant. Mace Windu led a 200-strong Jedi task force to Geonosis while Yoda went to Kamino to claim the clone army for the Republic.


On Geonosis, the Clone Wars erupted. Dooku succeeded in escaping from Yoda, and rejoined Darth Sidious on Coruscant with the plans for a huge armoured battle station that the Geonosians had been working on.

Anakin and Padme then married.

Jedi: Mace Windu

Several illustrious Jedi died at Geonosis, but far worse, many left the Jedi Order. Sora Bulq was one such Jedi, who abandoned himself to the Dark Side, and Count Dooku. Dooku, however, had taken the acolyte Asajj Ventress and trained her in the use of paired lightsabers as he had his apprentice Komari Vosa. Ventress became a nemesis of many of the Jedi, least of all Obi-Wan Kenobi.


Clone Wars: Light and Dark

In a desperate bid to stop the Clone Wars, Jedi Master Tholme brought a potentially disastrous plan before the Jedi Council. His former padawan, Quinlan Vos, had already skirted the Dark Side. Tholme proposed that Quinlan “defect” to Dooku and bring about the destruction of the Confederacy from the inside. Masters Windu and Yoda approved the plan, and Quinlan surrendered himself to Dooku. However, he was soon in way over his head, and the Jedi weren’t sure whether or not Quinlan was just acting when he was carrying out Dooku’s directives.


The Dreadnaughts of Rendili

The Jedi managed to capture Quinlan and learn of a terrible new threat in the Outer Rim. Dooku was having vampiric Anzati train Nikto Morgukai warriors to fight on the side of the Confederacy.

(no source as yet)

The Clone Wars brought about a terrible destruction across the galaxy. The Jedi Order slowly dwindled as their numbers were thinned, not least by the inexorable General Grievous. Trained in lightsaber combat by Dooku himself, the half droid, half unknown General became the most prolific Jedi killer the galaxy had seen.


Revenge of the Sith

The Clone Wars, however, were engineered by Palpatine in order for him to be given emergency powers. With the authority to act independent of the Senate, Palpatine slowly became a dictator and, despite promises to lay aside these powers when the war was over, after the death of Dooku by Anakin’s hand, Palpatine retained his authority. A small group of senators, including Padme, Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, began to form a rebellion when it became apparent that Palpatine wasn’t going to lay them down at all, even when Obi-Wan had eliminated the threat of General Grievous.

Palpatine declared the Jedi traitors to the Republic and they should be hunted down. Taking overall control of the clone army, he had them turn on their Jedi generals.

Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One, who had such potential in the Force it was unbelievable. Palpatine, determined to have him as his apprentice (more so when Dooku was killed), had become more of a mentor-figure to the young Jedi than Obi-Wan was. Palpatine was always ready to listen to him, and, when the Jedi Council refused to acknowledge his part in the demise of Dooku, Palpatine had him made his personal bodyguard.

When the Jedi finally realised Palpatine was Darth Sidious, Mace Windu went to confront the Supreme Chancellor. However, Palpatine used the confrontation to turn Anakin to the Dark Side. Anakin killed Mace and was given the Sith name Darth Vader. Palpatine sent him to Mustafar to eliminate the remaining Separatist leaders, where he was followed by his old master Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan had learnt of Padme’s marriage and pregnancy, and was determined to bring Anakin back. However, Anakin and Obi-Wan did battle, with the Jedi overcoming the Sith. Anakin was, to all intents and purposes, dead.


Palpatine had his own troubles with Yoda, the most revered and experienced Jedi Master. Yoda, although he gave Palpatine a hard time, was forced to flee the Sith Master. He set up on Dagobah to await the day when Anakin’s child could redeem his father.

Palpatine recovered Anakin’s body and encased him in a cybernetic suit. Anakin Skywalker ceased to exist. The Jedi Order was eliminated, Palpatine had the most powerful Jedi now as his apprentice, and a galaxy in his thrall.

Mission Accomplished.



Face the Dragon!


Yes folks, it’s Tuesday! That can mean only one thing, right? That’s right: #GamingTuesday! That hashtag is gonna damn well trend even if it takes me my entire life…

For today’s installment in this popular series, I’m getting out an old favourite: DungeonQuest! Yes folks, third edition DungeonQuest! I’ve had this game for years, and it’s one of the greats – and also, one of those games that takes more time to set up than it often does to play. Let me explain…

DungeonQuest is a push-your-luck, dungeon-crawling, tile-laying game for one to four players, originally a product of 1985 but released in its third edition by Fantasy Flight Games in 2010, where they placed it in the Runebound universe of Terrinoth. Each player controls a hero who is trying to raid the dungeon of the Dragon Lord Kalladra, and escape with enough loot before sunset. Along the way they must build the dungeon by placing tiles of dungeon rooms, which they can encounter with varying degrees of dread. If the heroes survive to Kalladra’s treasure room, they try to raid the room without waking the sleeping dragon, then they must make their way back through the dungeon with their loot. Given the amount of traps and monsters riddling the dungeon caverns, however, this isn’t half as easy as it sounds!


I initially bought this game because each of the six heroes included in the game had cards and miniature figures that could be used in Runebound (as well as Runewars and Descent 1st edition), so I eagerly tore open the wrapping for these features, then packed this game away for months. Probably three months, actually. Then, one day, I decided to see if it was any good, so took Brother Gherinn for a spin through Dragonfire Dungeon, and I was enraptured! This game is hilarious! One of the early preview articles on the website was entitled “A hundred ways to die“, and they weren’t wrong! (As an aside, I permanently store the DungeonQuest minis with my Runebound game, and use the ‘travel markers’ for the heroes in this game. Hence, no minis in these pictures. But the minis are great!)


The game is very different to pretty much any other boardgame I play, and a couple of points are just so weird that I have to really sit down with the rules and check I’m doing it right for a few turns. Firstly, the game is an example of the diceless combat genre. Instead of rolling off and adding stats, a large element of complete randomness is the order of the day, as heroes and monsters both draw from a common Combat deck of cards. Once you get used to the combat system, it is pretty easy to get through, but I’m one of these people so used to roll-offs that it completely throws me if I haven’t played this game for a while.


Something else where DungeonQuest does its own thing is skill checks. I feel like it’s pretty ingrained into me that a high roll on dice is preferable to a low roll, but here, you want to roll under your hero’s stat in any particular skill. If your dice roll exceeds the stat value, you fail, and bad things happen. And boy, can bad things happen in this game! Between the monsters and the traps, you’re lucky to make it to the treasure chamber!


There are five main monsters in the game – demon, sorcerer, skeleton, troll and golem – and they can attack you in any manner of ways. But there are also other monsters roaming the dungeon, such as bane spiders, razorwings and ferrox. As you explore the dungeon by placing a tile, you draw dungeon cards to determine what surprises the room holds. These cards either tell you the room is empty, that you are attacked, that you find a secret door (allowing you to place and explore another tile), that you can explore a crypt or the catacombs, or that you find loot! Loot is the name of the game, of course, as you’re trying to get as much of it as you can.


The catacombs, originally released as a separate expansion to the game in 1988, are a bit more dangerous than the main dungeon,  but therein you’ll also discover one of the most valuable bits of loot in the game, so potentially worth it! In fact, it’s probably entirely possible to skip raiding Kalladra’s chamber entirely, and rather just scour the dungeon along the edge of the board for loot so that you’re never too far from an exit! However, the treasure chamber is really where the fun begins.


If you’re luck enough to make it to the centre of the board, you must first check if you wake the dragon by drawing cards:


If he sleeps, then all is well. If he wakes up, then all is decidedly not well!


Once you’ve decided you’ve pushed your luck far enough, or if you incur Dragon Rage and manage to survive, you can begin to make your way back out of the dungeon. More traps, more monsters and more mayhem awaits! If you’re lucky, you’ll get out before sunset, whereupon the person with the most loot wins! I’ve been playing this for probably three and a half years now (though, obviously, not continuously!), and have only actually made it out of the dungeon once!


But, as usual for me, winning is never the issue. This game is just awesome fun, and I can’t help but enjoy it whenever I play, no matter how arbitrarily my hero’s death may occur! There is lots of fun to be had in Dragonfire Dungeon!

Something I particularly like about this game, however, is the amount of thought that has gone into making the experience really, really great. The rulebook has a whole swath of alternative rules and optional extras, and a couple of months after the game was released, FFG published even more official variants for it. Marvellous! However, the game was either phenomenally popular or else had a very short print run, because it very quickly became nigh-on impossible to get a copy of!


Then, in April this year, Fantasy Flight announced a revised third edition that is set for release sometime next month, I believe. Officially, the differences are outlined as thus:

  • Combat has been simplified: Combat has been redesigned to feature a streamlined combat system that harkens back to the classic editions of the game. DungeonQuest Revised Edition features a card version of the combat chart found in a previous edition. The new combat system delivers the same tension thatDungeonQuest players love, but allows combat to be played out much more quickly. For more detailed information on combat, please see the “Combating the Dungeon’s Monsters” section above.
  • Search once per room: In DungeonQuest Revised Edition, rooms in the dungeon can now be searched only once per game. This encourages brave dungeon-delvers to venture deeper into Dragonfire dungeon, and is easy to track by placing a search token on the board.
  • Move between towers: When a hero enters a tower room, he can now optionally move to any other tower room and continue his turn. This change allows you to shadow other players who have created successful paths through the dungeon, adding a new layer of strategy. This also prevents you from being stuck in the opening turns of the game.
  • Escape using Agility: This streamlined escape mechanic allows players to test Agility in order to successfully escape from a combat.
  • New rulebook format: DungeonQuest Revised Edition takes advantage of our new rulebook format. The rules are split into two separate, streamlined documents–a Learn-to-Play guide, and a Rules Reference book. This means that you’ll be able to begin exploring the dungeon as soon as you open the box with the help of the handy Learn-to-Play guide. The Rules Reference guide will answer any questions that you may have as you play the game.
  • A deadlier dungeon: Dragonfire Dungeon is deadlier than ever before, adding new challenges for seasoned dungeon explorers! Surviving the dungeon is a heroic feat, and only the bravest of the brave will make it out alive.
  • Torchilight Variant: When using the Torchlight Variant, when a player moves into an unexplored room, his torch casts enough light to make out what lies ahead. As a result, he also draws and places adjacent rooms that he has line-of-sight to. This variant adds an element of strategy to the game, as well as creates a much fuller and more complex dungeon throughout the game.

Now, I already have DungeonQuest, of course, but I love the artwork on that new box! I’m going to be hard-pressed not to splurge when it comes out, I’m sure! Though – a ‘deadlier dungeon’, seriously?! Hm! For people who can resist, however, Fantasy Flight have already released a ‘conversion guide‘ for owners of third edition, so you can have the new experience without spending the money on the game again. The most exciting thing about this new edition, though, is that it will give people who haven’t been able to get their hands on the game the opportunity to get to play – and love – it! Definitely worth the time in checking out, and it’s very much worthwhile going through the set up, even if you are killed by a Swinging Blade on your second turn! Check it out today!


Buy it from amazon:
DungeonQuest (third edition)
DungeonQuest (revised edition)

Fantastical musings (for a Monday)

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New deliveries today #StarWars #Pathfinder

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So this pair turned up on my doorstep today (not like this, of course – packaging was involved). But it’s very exciting, all the same – the first Star Wars novel to be published with the ‘Legends’ banner, and the final adventure deck in the Rise of the Runelords adventure path for Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.

And it’s the Pathfinder thing that’s been on my mind a lot lately. You may recall my somewhat lukewarm opinion of it from back in the day? Well that has been changing quite dramatically of late. While it’s still no Lord of the Rings, I’m finding myself drawn into the whole Pathfinder universe much more than I ever have been previously. Last night I spent some time with the core rulebook, though it’s such a massive tome that I didn’t get very far.

That said, I am definitely feeling in a RPG mood nowadays. On Saturday I found myself looking over some of the old d20 Star Wars web supplements I have, and felt a huge rush of excitement at seeing all the tools we have with which to make our own heroes, our own adventures, and our own worlds. That’s something that I hope to delve into again soon, as it’s been far too long since I’ve run a RPG campaign.

I also seem to be in something of a fantasy mood lately. I have, very excitingly, recently been loaned The Diamond Throne, the first book in the Elenium series by David Eddings, which will no doubt be featured here at some point in the coming days/weeks! To say nothing of the recent Warhammer acquisitions…

All of this has got me thinking about some ideas I had for a fantasy story back in 2006/7, when I spent some idle summer afternoons in work jotting down ideas as they came to me for interesting names and situations. I tried to thread them into a story back then, but short of about a hundred words in a now-lost Word document, I haven’t really done anything with them. Fortunately, however, I never throw anything like that away, and when I recently moved house I found a lot of my notes that I made.

While it’s not going to impact on my Star Wars writing (hopefully!), I am now intending to make something of all these odd jumbled notes, and once something has been finalised, it will pop up here for you to enjoy (or not, as the case may be!).

Until that time, however, here’s a picture of the Chinese I had for dinner:

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Crimson Empire

Hey folks! After what has been a very exciting week for the heritage hunter within me, I’m reverting to type now for the more geeky side of life – now that I’m not spending most of my time behind the wheel of my car! As I’ve mentioned numerous times since I started doing these blogs, I’ve been re-reading the Star Wars fiction from the time of the classic trilogy onwards, and have now gotten to eleven years after A New Hope, and one of my all-time favourite graphic novels: Crimson Empire!

Crimson Empire

You may recall, of course, that Crimson Empire was the first graphic novel I read? Well, if you don’t, shame on you! Go back and read my blogs! Ahem. Anyway, back in the good old, pre-prequel days, I came across this book and it really just blew me away. It tells the tale of two former guardsmen from the Imperial Royal Guard, Kir Kanos and Carnor Jax.

Crimson Empire

The initial story arc of Crimson Empire was published between December 1997 and May 1998, and has been widely praised for the massive fight scene at the end between Jax and Kanos (it takes up over eighty panels across twelve pages). For me, I think it is most memorable because of the story itself. Traditionally, the Empire have been the baddies, and yet here we have a tale where the protagonist is a Royal Guard. By making Kanos honourable to his duty, he becomes a good Imperial, which is something that has been taken up a few times in comics since, but never quite as breathtaking as it is here.

The whole Crimson Empire saga was written by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley, the president and vice-president of Dark Horse Comics, respectively, so you don’t get much more impressive than that! The original story idea came from Stradley while he worked on the Marvel Star Wars run in 1984, of having an Imperial Guard out for revenge following the Emperor’s death. The story was not allowed, proving that you just have to start your own company if you want to produce your own stuff! The art of Paul Gulacy and P Craig Russell really helped to define what Star Wars comics were for me in these early forays. Much like that of Christian Gossett as I discovered Tales of the Jedi. There is an almost cinematic feel to the artwork, particularly in scene transitions and the like, but perhaps the single most amazing comic art I have ever seen is the reveal of Kir Kanos in the squall on Yinchorr, just before the climactic duel. That is just fantastic! It is, as always, the story that I’m so engrossed with, however, and the Crimson Empire story is just incredible.


As mentioned already, it takes place in 11ABY, where the New Republic is established but still struggling to make headway in the outer systems. The Empire is crumbling, but is now headed by one of the Emperor’s Royal Guard, Carnor Jax. It soon becomes apparent that Jax is in this position through subversion, and Kir Kanos is out for revenge. There is a major plot point that depends on readers being at least familiar with the events of Dark Empire, as Kanos’ flashbacks tell us how Jax came to rule the Imperial Remnant.

There is a wonderful feel of the fringe within this story. Jax knows Kanos is aware of his treachery, and his bounty has made Kanos a fugitive of the Empire. As such, Kanos is hiding out in the Outer Rim, where he attracts the attention of some New Republic envoys for killing a group of Imperials. As we learn more of Kanos’ story, Jax moves in to capture him, leading to a final confrontation on the training world Yinchorr, and that climactic duel between the two.

Crimson Empire

The issue of just how cool is Carnor Jax’ armour?! aside, the story is intense, a bit moody, but doesn’t forget that this is a Star Wars story, as many similar tales are wont to do. The Imperials lead a raid on the New Republic base on Phaeda, where we first see Kir Kanos in his full guard regalia. There is a massive pitched battle, during which Kanos shoots a TIE fighter out of the sky in what has become true over-the-top Star Wars style.

Aside from two panels in which Luke Skywalker appears in Kanos’ memories, the only movie character to appear in this story is Wedge Antilles, now a general in the New Republic. This made such a massive impression on me as a lad, showing that there could be really compelling stories in this universe that do not rely on the Big Three. It’s something that I wish we could see a lot more of, rather than the odd tale here and there.

Something else that I wish for, the characters of the Crimson Empire series are largely confined to this series alone. While Carnor Jax is later said to have apprenticed under Lumiya as a Dark Jedi, the rest of the cast appears to exist in its own little vacuum. I would have liked to have seen Mirith Sinn referenced by someone in the New Republic, for instance, but never mind. Even Kir Kanos himself, while making an appearance in the Star Wars Miniatures Game in 2010’s The Dark Times set, only exists within the Crimson Empire world. Unless you want to count the RPG module Nightsaber, where Kanos appears on Dathomir under the alias of Burr Danid. Interestingly, however, the planet Yinchorr was revisited in 2000’s Jedi Council: Acts of War, where we see the place before the Imperial Training Center was established.

But that’s all a very minor point, and in no way detracts from the story! There is so much to enjoy here. First and foremost, as with a lot of the earlier Dark Horse stuff (ie, before the prequels came out), there is a lot of text, which is great for someone like me as I come to comics primarily for the story. But there are so many little things, like the Shadow Stormtroopers under Carnor Jax’ command, that can make fans like myself swoon in delight! (Incidentally, Shadow Stormtroopers and Agent Blackhole will most likely appear in a later blog, as that whole aspect of the Star Wars universe has always intrigued me).

Shadow Stormtroopers

Kir Kanos himself is a really compelling character, as I’ve already alluded to. Being an Imperial Royal Guard, he is one of the elite troopers serving the Emperor, whose loyalty is unwavering. To make him the protagonist of a comic book, let alone an entire series of comic books, was fairly new back in 1997, but it seems now that the concept has been over-done. The only other convincing tale that I have read in this vein is also by Randy Stradley – that of Janek “Tank” Sunber (the subject of yet another upcoming blog!), with Stradley writing under the pseudonym of Welles Hartley. Kanos is not a sympathetic character, as he is out simply for revenge on those he deems responsible for the Emperor’s death. Despite throwing in his lot with the New Republic, he does so only to further his own ends, and refuses to co-operate [SPOILER!] when he kills Carnor Jax [/SPOILER!]. There is, however, that honour and nobility about him, as he refuses to sway from his duty to avenge the Emperor and yet does not attack the New Republic folks he meets, which I suppose is crucial for his appeal to the readership. His vigilante-like activity, coupled with the artwork, actually reminded me almost of some sort of Clint Eastwood storyline!

Kir Kanos

Crimson Empire itself spawned two sequels. Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood came out from November ’98 to April ’99 and was notable, among other reasons, for introducing the character of Nom Anor, who would be taken over for an entirely different purpose by Del Rey’s New Jedi Order later in 1999. The third book, Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost was shelved for years before finally being released between October 2011 and April 2012. The stories follow Kir Kanos as he continues his revenge against those responsible for the Emperor’s death, first with the Ruling Council, then Luke Skywalker.

Crimson Empire

I’ve only read CE2 once, and have not actually read CE3, so will provide updates as and when I get to them. Crimson Empire itself, however, is such a huge part of my Star Wars life that it really deserves its own blog!

In addition to the three story arcs, three shorter comics have also been published, more like tie-ins to the main storyline. First of all, The Bounty Hunters: Kenix Kil came in October 1999 and explained why Kir Kanos is masquerading as a bounty hunter at the beginning of Council of Blood. Hard Currency came out in March 2000 when CE3 didn’t look too far off, then Third Time Pays for All came out in April 2011 as more of an official prequel to the third installment. All of these tales have been collected together into the beautiful hardback edition of The Crimson Empire Saga, which I can definitely recommend to folks who would like to see what all this fuss is about!

Crimson Empire

For people who have never picked up a Star Wars comic before, I cannot recommend Crimson Empire enough.

Buy it from amazon:
Crimson Empire
Crimson Empire II: Council of Blood
Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost

The Crimson Empire Saga

(As always, the artwork used in this blog is not my personal property, but is used for illustrative purposes. Please let me know if you own it and do not wish it used in this manner)

Gaming in the Weird West

Hey everybody! Welcome back to my blog! It’s been an exciting, history-filled week for me, but I thought I’d end on more of a gaming-geek note, following a very exciting email I had yesterday! For the 4000-odd of you who know – eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!! For the rest, well, sit back and let me explain!

Shadows of Brimstone

Back in October 2013, Flying Frog Productions launched their first ever kickstarter project for a new game, Shadows of Brimstone. A massive dungeon-crawl game set in the Old West but with eldritch elements, the idea of the kickstarter was to launch an entire game line in one fell swoop, rather than bring out a base game with a series of expansions following for years after the fact. Anybody who understands dungeon-crawl games will appreciate having a mass of gaming components from the get-go is a huge deal!

Despite some controversy over the levels people could pledge at, not to mention a delayed start, the project was wildly successful, being fully-funded within 80 minutes of go-live. Stretch goals were no sooner added than they were reached, and the team blew through their projected goals for the project within the first week. But perhaps a lack of preparation from what is a really established company led to a lot of negativity, and indeed in the final minutes funding dropped as backers pulled out, making the project re-lock one of the stretch goals. But all that was back in November, so let’s not dwell on it!

From the word go, I was a huge fan of this idea. In the months leading up to the campaign I was admittedly dubious, largely because I didn’t really know what it was all about, but once I saw the kickstarter page I was completely sold, and backed it like I was a millionaire. Indeed, I’ve thrown thousands of pounds at this project, over-pledging ridiculously just to show my support for it! The upside, of course, is that I’ll have masses and masses of stuff to play with when the game arrives, so it’s a win-win for me!

Shadows of Brimstone

The rulebook is going to be posted soon, but back on TableTop Day the company gave demos and it looks insanely good. However, it’s Flying Frog, so was it ever not going to be? I never understood the amount of backers during the campaign who professed to play Last Night on Earth, or Fortune and Glory, and yet held some scepticism for this game. The lack of a gameplay video seemed to put many off, but I just didn’t get it. Some vindication has appeared in recent months, however, by people asking around online whether there’ll be any way they can get in on the game before it goes to retail. Muwahahaha!

Shadows of Brimstone

As a FFP game, it will play largely like A Touch of Evil. Rather than photographic card art, they are using a team of artists to produce art for the game, and it looks absolutely amazing! I’ve never had a problem with the photo art – heck, I’ve never had a problem with FFP! I just love their stuff, but this game is perhaps going to be the crowning achievement!

Shadows of Brimstone

The game’s premise is that you control a hero delving in the mines of the Old West in search of darkstone. However, other beings are also interested in darkstone, and are crossing the portals between worlds to find it! The game is being released in two core boxes, each with mine tiles, but with different heroes, enemies and Other Worlds to adventure in. I have two of each coming, because I pledged with two separate accounts to get the game twice. Ye-haw!

Shadows of Brimstone

The Other Worlds are simply amazing! From the swamps of Jargono to the icy Targa Plateau, the team have brought several others in stretch goals and add-ons such as the lava Caverns of Cynder, the war-torn land of Trederra, the Derelict Ship, and the Blasted Wastes. I think it’s these Other Worlds more than anything else that make this game so amazing to me, as I love the idea of exploring these places. However, there are also somewhat more generic mission packs that you can buy to give a different flavour to the base game of choice. As well as more monsters that can be slipped into any campaign, including the Ancient One!

Shadows of Brimstone

Once heroes have completed a mission, they can then level-up in the manner of a RPG, which is just far too cool for me to cope with right now! But as the mines are explored, you can get the opportunity to draw loot from the encounters you have that can potentially help you further down the line, but also XP, which allow you to level your character along one of your chosen talent trees in true RPG style! Fantastic stuff!

Shadows of Brimstone

I am basically really excited for this game – while A Touch of Evil is currently my favourite boardgame, I have the distinct impression that Shadows of Brimstone might in fact overtake this once it’s out. There is just so much that I’m looking forward to about this game, but I want to share some of the things that really tipped me over the edge during the campaign:

Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone Shadows of Brimstone

So, yeah! It’s looking pretty amazing! I just cannot wait to have it all in my little hands!

I’ll let you into a little secret, too. I’m going to be in the game! Well, not massively. There’s a map, apparently, that will bear a feature with my name. And my likeness will be used for a background character, apparently, too! Magnificent times! Maybe not as awesome as, say, having a hero personal to you, but I couldn’t afford that pledge level 😉

When August strikes (at least, I think it’s still on for August release), I’m going to do an immense blog on this game (mark your diaries, folks!). Well, I will once I pick myself up off the floor, because I’m going to be a gelatinous lump of excitement when it arrives, I just know it!

Shadows of Brimstone


I think it’s fairly obvious, but none of this material is my own property – I have shared it simply for illustrative purposes, for my adoration of the game, and for the fact it’s just so dang awesome! It’s definitely not my intent to breach any copyright, which remains with Flying Frog Productions.