Blog

Hello everyone, and welcome to what I'm calling my blog. Now, it might not conform to many people's idea of what a blog is, in that it could be more accurately called a journal, or a diary. Maybe it's a Bloj, or a Blournal. Whatever it's called it will cover a range of subjects related to writing, RPGing, video games and other related stuff. It will include my thoughts and musings, lists, opinions and general wanderings around my mental landscape. At this point, I'm not sure how regular it's going to be, but we shall see.

Top Ten Comic Book Facts

Hello and welcome to another Top Ten. This time, here's a mix of fun facts related to the once humble comic book, as it struggled against all odds to survive in a hostile world. Although the comic book as a physical thing might now be in trouble, I think it will embrace the digital, evolve into the PDF and flourish once more. Shhhhinggg! (More...)

Ten Game-Related Items That Are Older Than You Think.

Hello Again. Something a bit different for all my followers and fans out there. Here’s a list of things that were invented a surprisingly long time ago, before I was even born for most of them. Yes, that old!
These facts were all sourced from Wikipedia. Huzzah for Wikipedia and let’s all make sure it stays free and independent. (More...)

RPG Versus TRPG - Which One is Best?

As a gamer, I, like many of you out there, play both Table Top RPGs with real people, and online RPG video games, with real people who aren't in the same room as me. But which is better, and why? Let's look at the facts.
First we must define the parameters of our discussion. By TRPG I mean any RPG where the players all sit in a room around a table and roll dice, move their beautifully painted figures around and get distracted far too easily by subjects other than the present game session. There are no computers of any kind involved, unless you're playing a SF setting and they're entirely imaginary.
By RPG I mean a video game, played either online or off, single or multi-player, where every part of the game is virtual (except the merchandising, obviously.) If you're sitting around a table with your friends playing WoW on your laptops, this is you. To avoid me having to continually type all these initials, we'll call them TT and VG, I'm sure you can work out why, and be mature enough not to giggle every time I mention them. (More...)

Dice Versus Cards – Which is Best?

Hello, and welcome to another in-depth and incisive article that will attempt to answer one of life's major questions. The majority of TRPGs these days seem to use a dice system of one kind or another. But a few use playing cards to resolve conflicts, raising the question, which is best? (More...)

Fluff Versus Crunch - Which One is Best?

Hello everyone. This time around I would like to talk about fluff and crunch. To quickly clarify before people get the wrong idea; by fluff I mean the parts of TRPGing that aren’t rules, like story, characterisation, world building, etc. While crunch is the rules, whether meta or otherwise. Whichever setting you prefer, all TRPGs have both of these things, but in different quantities. Some are fluff heavy with a surrounding wall of crunch to stop it running everywhere, some have a lot of crunch with fluff sprinkles to create some illusion of role playing. But which is best, and why? I will attempt to answer this important question with a point by point examination of the cogent facts. I’ll also be abbreviating them to F and C, to save me typing, and because it’s raining here. I’m sure you can work out what each letter means. (More...)

Top Ten Things I’d do if I Ruled The World

Hello and welcome all you top-tenophiles. Do you ever wish you could rule the world/galaxy/universe/multiverse? Do you ever find yourself watching the news and thinking, “well, I’d change that if I was in charge”? Do you ever think you could do a much better job of running the place than those argumentative, short-sighted, power hungry politicians? Do you ever find yourself designing and assembling super weapons and robot armies in your cellar/attic/billionaire’s mansion so you can take over the world? Me too! (Except the last one of course, forget I even mentioned it.)
If you were, by some accident of fate/a career in politics/a surprise robot uprising, to be put in charge, what things would you change, and why? Here’s my list. It might be different to your list, but I don’t care about your list, because I’m in charge! (More...)

Top Ten News Items From The Future

Hello everyone, hope you’re all ok. Welcome to another in my phenomenally popular Top Tens. This week, I was able to get access to a top secret government time machine, I could tell you how, but then I'd have to go back in time and kill your parents. (see what I did there?) While I was surfing the time waves I was able to read some gaming press articles from the future. Here’s my top ten favourites. (More...)

Melee Versus Ranged - Which One is Best?

Hello everyone! Welcome to another of my amazing Versus challenges. This time around I've set my mighty gaze upon the often tricky question of melee versus ranged. Should you be looking into the eyes of your opponent, or shooting them in the back from a great distance? We’ll be finding out the rights and lefts of the whole situation, applying wit, intelligence and not a small amount of glamour to the question. As usual, I’ll be abbreviating the two sides, so we’ll have M v R. M is for melee, I’m sure you can work out the rest for yourself.
Cry haddock! And slip some cods under the door! (More...)

Top Ten TRPG Scenarios

Welcome to another in my series of Top Ten something or others! This time around, I’m going to count down the top ten RPG scenarios, judging on fun, originality, playability, player and GM expectations, and something I like to call the S factor, which is almost the same as the X factor, but slightly different. It’s an undefinable and often arbitrary quality, reflecting my random and often nonsensical thought processes. Most of these scenarios cover a wide range of genres, the items and themes are all interchangeable with a bit of thought. (More...)

The Shannara Chronicles - Review

Some of you might have been lucky enough to have caught this adaptation of Terry BrooksElfstones of Shannara novel. I say that because here in the UK they sneaked it on to our screens with an almost embarrassed silence. I saw, almost accidently, a single trailer for it, late one night. You couldn’t open a magazine/surf the internet/go to the toilet without falling over a Game of Thrones promotion, but of Shannara, there was little sign. But I found it and watched it, and below is my review, which of necessity has a few spoilers, which I’ll try to keep to a minimum.
If you’re thinking of reading the novel, you can safely continue, the two are only vaguely similar. If you want to choose one or the other, go for the novel, it’s vastly superior. (More...)


Top Ten Fantasy Rides

Hello! Welcome to our countdown of the top ten fantasy rides, where we list our favourite creatures to convey us into battle, or away from battle, according to our current needs. If you were expecting a different type of fantasy ride, possibly with videos, you’ve come to the wrong place. There are plenty of other sites to provide you with such material, at some very reasonable rates, so I’m told. Anyway, let’s get started before we go too far off course. (More...)

Top Ten GM Blunders

Hello all, and welcome to another top ten! This time I’ll be listing the top ten mistakes made by GMs, and the possible effects of such blunders on the game, the players and the future of the galaxy as we know it. Hopefully new and future GMs will look upon this article as something of a turning point in the quality of GMing and gaming in general, and that it should, at the very least, win a Nobel Prize for Gaming. (If such a thing exists, and if not, why not?) Feel free to contact me with additions of you’re own. If you spot any errors with this article, keep them to yourself. (More...)

Top Ten Personal Transportation Devices From Science Fiction

Hello again and welcome to another sparkling top ten! This time I’ll be enumerating the top ten best personal transportation devices from the science fiction genre. By personal I mean small vehicles usually carrying one or two people, perhaps room for some luggage and a cool box, maybe a small child or elderly relative, family pet, or irregular impulse purchase. We will be comparing speed, agility, coolness and practicality, such as ease of parking and availability of spares. (More...)

Top Ten NPCs in RPGs

Hello everyone and welcome to another quality top ten! This time I’ll be listing the ten best, or worst, depending on your outlook, NPCs encountered in RPGs of various kinds, including around the table, on the screen and in source books. Some of these people you love to love, some are tired old cliches, again, depending on your outlook. So here we go, in no particular order, except the top ten order, obviously, with my personal list. Your’s might be quite different, but we’ll get to that at the end. (More...)

Magic Combat Versus Weapons Combat - Which One is Best?

Hello everyone and welcome! Today I’ll be comparing magic combat with weapons combat, including ranged and melee. I’ll be taking an in-depth look at such things as style, damage, cost, and practicality. As usual I’ll be abbreviating the two opponents for your convenience, in this case to M for Magic of all flavours, and W for all the various weapons, including ranged, exotic and improvised. (More...)

Top Ten Gaming Things I’m Going To Buy When I Win The Lottery

Hello everybody, welcome to a scorching top ten. If I was lucky enough to win the lottery, invent an app everyone wanted, or inherit huge sums of money, I’d be off down the shops as quick as you like with the following shopping list. (Well, more likely sit in my office and get them online, but you know what I mean.)
As usual, this is my own list, and is also subject to change, if I see something on the interweb and go “ooh want one!” Feel free to tell me what your top ten would be, and if you do get rich, maybe think about me when you’re spending your money! (More...)

Top Ten Game Master Skills

Hello there! Welcome to another scintillating top ten! This time around I’ll be the listing the top ten skills and qualities needed to be a GM. (Or DM, if you prefer.) I’ll assume you write, or at least partially write, your own adventures, or customise existing ones. You don’t have to be good at all ten to be a great GM, but being at least competent in them all does help.
If you disagree, or have suggestions of your own, feel free to send me your comments. (More...)

Top Ten Things To Do When The GM Has An Oops Moment

Hello and welcome to another Top Ten! This time, I’ll be listing a few solutions to those oops moments, when the GM accidently kills the entire party due to underestimating the strength of a monster, overestimating the skills of the party, or by pure bad luck. (and never because the GM didn’t read something properly or wasn’t paying full attention.) Don’t worry, this can happen to even the most experienced GMs, which is why there should always be a contingency plan for such occasions. Of course, these things can also be used in a planned way, having the characters beaten unconscious and waking up somewhere strange as part of the campaign.
Feel free to use any and all of these in your sessions, but I get to chose the name of your first child if you do. If you need to use all of them in a short space of time, you might want to pass the GM batten to someone else. (More...)

Miniatures Versus Standies - Which One is Best?

Hello again and welcome to another face to face contest between two heavy weights of the TRPG world. This time they’re very small and quite light heavyweights, but that doesn’t diminish the scale of this epic battle! (Well, maybe a little bit.) In the mauve corner we have miniatures, the current champions in the representing-your-character contest. In the sienna corner we have standees, standies, stand-ups, flats, call them what you will. They’re the young pretenders to the top spot. But which is best? Only an in-depth analysis by one of the sharpest minds in the gaming world will reveal the truth. But they’re busy, so you got me!
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Top Ten Sidekicks

Companions, friends, sidekicks, call them what you will, these guys and gals stand beside their heroes with almost, and in some cases, actual, fanaticism. Their reasons for doing so aren’t always clear, sometimes it’s love, sometimes habit, sometimes cheesecake, but you can bet your life they’ll be there through thick and thin. (Except when the plot needs them to be somewhere else, of course.) (More...)

Books Versus Screens - Which One is Best?

Hello there! Welcome to another Versus challenge. Today we will be attempting to answer the age-old question, are books better than screens? By books I mean pieces of paper/vellum/peeled open beer mats on which are printed words and pictures, which could be bound together with a hard or soft cover, arranged neatly in a ring binder, or loosely held together by the power of gravity alone. When I refer to a screen, I’m talking about an electronic device that displays information, which could be part of a smartphone, a laptop, a separate PC display, or indeed projected on to the side of a patient and willing elephant.
All things being equal, we will assume the data being displayed is the same, we aren’t questioning the material, but the practicality and usability of each. This could be a novel, a game manual, a map, an illustration of a particular beast, etc. with particular focus on TRPG material.
As always, I will be abbreviating each category to save me some typing, giving us a B v S competition of epic proportions! Let battle commence! (More...)

Top Ten Player Types in RPGing

Whether you're gaming online, with your friends around a table, LARPing, or with strangers at a convention, there are certain types of players you'll meet. First off, I'd like to say I'm not judging anyone here. The world would be a boring place if we were all the same. It's just a bit of fun amid the doom and gloom of reality. See if you can spot yourself, be honest, and if I missed any, feel free to let me know. I'm not going to number them this time, each is a winner in their own crazy way.
So, I'll go first. Jack of all trades, every time, with some Librarian thrown in. (More...)

Top Ten Spells I’d Like To See In Spell Books

Greetings fellow gamers, welcome to another of our Top Ten Series. (One day I’ll do a top ten of all these top tens, and when I’ve done enough of those I’ll do a top ten of all the top ten top tens.) This time around I’ll be looking at those spells that probably won’t make it into the final edit, those spells which are too strange, too powerful or just make you go “wha..?” If I was able to cast spells I’d definitely use some of these, and why not? Making your life easier might be a frivolous thing to do, but who’s counting? (and I don’t mean the guy in the Tardis.)
This is my personal list, please feel free to make your own, and we might even be able to get some of them into print. (More...)

Top Ten Inventions Science Hasn’t Yet Made, But Probably Will

Hello and welcome one and all! In today’s top ten, we’ll be talking about scientific inventions which haven’t arrived yet, but probably will. As you might know, science fiction actually predicted, or even invented, every technological gadget we have, (except the fax machine, for some reason.) Some of these are far in the future, but all of them will, eventually, be real items. Some of them can’t come soon enough, others we can probably do without, but that’s never stopped people before. (More...)


Top Ten Things I Would Do In A TRPG But Wouldn't Do In Real Life.

Hello, and welcome to another snappily titled Top Ten. This list is, of necessity, more personal, and based on the possibly erroneous premise that I'm a normal individual living in a relatively wealthy and stable society. (Yes, I mean the UK.) To retain any meaningful comparison, all of these things are possible in both worlds, not things you wouldn't do because you can't, like barbecue a unicorn. Of course, you probably have your own list of personal morals and limitations, so feel free to create your own list. You have the option of going with more, or less, than ten, but the cosmic rules of editorials and mathematics conspire to force my hand to choose only these ten.
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Classes Versus Classless - Which One is Best?

Good morning all you game fans, how are you? Today’s versus challenge will see two giants of gaming face off against other in a battle that could change the very world we live in. We’ll settle once and for all the question on everyone’s lips, where do flies go in the winter? No, sorry, not that one, the other one; which is best, classes or classless? By that I mean those game systems which either force your character down a certain path, or allow them to do pretty much whatever they want. People often tell me I’m classless, which is nice of them, and I must admit to a preference for classless systems. But I will remain objective, and set out the arguments for both cases with equal vigour.
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Game World Versus Real World - Which One is Best?

Good afternoon everyone! Welcome to another in my series of Versus challenges. This time I thought I’d put those two states of reality against each other, the real world we live in, and the game world we imagine we live in. Now, I’m making two assumptions here, just to clarify and classify the two opponents in this epic struggle to the death. By real world, I of course mean this one, the one you and I and billions of other people share, and if this is real or a Matrix style plug-in-the-neck existence, we’ll just call it real, and leave the philosophising for another time. By game world, I mean the one your characters inhabit, whether that’s a SF, Horror, Steampunk or Barbie setting. For your comfort and convenience I’ll be abbreviating the two contestants to G and R, for Game and Real, obviously. (More...)

Science Fiction Versus Fantasy - Which One is Best?

Hello again everyone! Happy [insert closest holiday to when you’re reading this]! Welcome to the final of the Which One is Best play offs. If you remember, we’ve already had clashes between SF and Steampunk, in which SF took the win, and Fantasy v Horror, in which Fantasy emerged triumphant. Now in an epic battle for supremacy, the two major players in the genre wars will slug it out toe to toe, mano a mano, up close and...you get the idea. The winner takes away this magnificent tro…(No trophy? More budget cuts! I’ve already switched to non-chocolatey biscuits.) The winner takes away the warm and pleasant feeling of winning. The contestants will be judged across a wide range of media, video games, films, books, commercials, merchandise, contributions to medicine, and of course, TRPGs.
Let battle commence in the Which One is Best Versus Challenge S v F Showdown Spectacular! (More...)


Science Fiction Versus Steampunk - Which One is Best?

Hello, and welcome to another in our “Versus” series! This time, I will be wielding my scalpel-like intellect on an exhaustive comparison between SF and Steampunk. Although I’ll be referring to the two genres as a whole, I’ll be focusing mainly on the RPG aspects of each. This might also seem like a forgone conclusion, in that SF is far more popular than SP, which could give it an unfair advantage. But I’m not judging on numbers, just on their finer qualities.
And yes, I’m aware SP is considered a sub-genre of SF, but for the purposes of argument, I’m temporarily promoting SP to a genre of its own. (More...)

Fantasy Versus Horror - Which One is Best?

Hello all, and welcome to a sizzling Versus challenge. This time we’re putting that perennial favourite Fantasy up against its rival and sometime collaborator, Horror. For the purposes of this contest, we’re talking about fantasy in all its fiery dragon glory, while staying clear of the whole dark fantasy/fantasy horror zone. Same with horror, if it’s got elves, magic or a plot (joking!) it’s out. If it has blood, humour and breasts, it’s in. If it has all three at the same time, it’s definitely in. If it has elven breasts...you’ll have to make up your own mind.
Contributions to the genres will include films, books, video games and breakfast cereal as well as TRPGs. Quality will also play a part, as I have very high standards.
The two combatants will be abbreviated to save time, in this case to F and H. (For horror fans: F = fantasy and H = horror.) (More...)

Top Ten Things To Do At The Game Table With A Spoon That Doesn’t Include Eating

Today I’ll be listing my particular favourite things to do with a spoon during a game session. Why a spoon I hear you ask? Well, you can’t use a knife, (obviously!) and forks are also out due to the pointy tines, which leaves only spoons, unless you count some of the more exotic cutlery, like sporks and knoons, but that would just be silly.
What kind of spoon you choose from the many types available is down to personal choice. I usually go for a nice Bouillon spoon, I like the long handle and the round bowl. Let me know if you have your own uses for a spoon, or if this article saved your life. (More...)

Top Ten Things Missing From RPG Sessions

Hello again everyone! Welcome to another in our Top Ten series. Today I’m looking at the things I think are missing from TRPGs, some of which are major oversights on the part of game and hardware devs. Some of these might come in the future, particularly if this article is seen by the movers and shakers of the modern world. Incidentally, these are all my ideas and therefore copyrighted to me, if you use them I want 5% of any profits and at least three of the product for free, gift wrapped and with a little thank you card. (More...)

Top Ten Things Anti-gamers Say To Gamers That Wind Me Up!

Hello! This Top Ten might turn into a bit of a rant, so forgive me, but it's something I’m passionate about. I'm talking mostly about TRPGs, but some of the points are relevant to all games, from board games to eSports. I'm sure most people have encountered these common misconceptions at one time or another. I certainly know people even now who keep the fact they're a gamer secret, for fear of being discriminated against.
By the way, I'm not having a go at people who do these activities, just those who criticise gamers and think what they do is somehow more worthy. (More...)

Top 10 Best Dragons in Films

Welcome to another in a series of top 10s. This time we're talking about dragons in films, or movies as some people call them. We're not talking about the quality of the film here, but about the dragons. And there's none of your animated nonsense here, all live-action. (with CGI and puppets and special effects dragons, of course.) (More...)


Top Ten Fantasy Heroes

This time around I'm looking at fantasy heroes, and by that I mean those brave and resourceful beings who selflessly risk all to save the day, whichever gender and species they fit into. I'll do sci-fi heroes later. Horror doesn't really need a list as they're either dead at the end or all the same anyway. (joking! (but feel free to write your own list)). (More...)

Top Ten Fantasy Villains

What could follow on more naturally from Top Ten Fantasy Heroes than Top Ten Fantasy Villains? And so here they are. I suppose it should be bottom ten really, as they're the bad guys, but you get what I mean.This is just my list of course, feel free to create your own, if you have nothing better to do. (More...)