Sunday, May 30, 2010

The smell of Mirkwood in the morning

As long time readers might remember, I have been a fan of the Total War series of comp games since the release of 'Medieval' a few years ago. Since then, there has been Rome, Medieval II (using the new engine from 'Rome' on the medieval theme), Empire (18th cent?) and Napoleonic. I haven't played the last two, and most enjoyed the original 'medieval'. Although I put many hours into Rome, and some into Medieval II, that was mainly due the wow factor as the game evolved and the fact that the system itself is pretty good. But they lacked the magic of the 'medieval' experience, at least to me they did.

It's hard to pin down exactly what the 'magic' is, that thing that draws us back to our old favorites time and again. In the world of flight sims, there was an old Amiga game from twenty years ago called 'Wings', but you could 'smell the avgas', until 1942 Pacific War (mid nineties) there was nothing like it. Ilyushin filled the void, but not quite the same.

In WWII tactical games, the Talonsoft classic East Front seems to 'catch the essence' of this type of gaming, and has warranted various continuations of its existence from different 'publishers' in an almost unchanged format. Not bad for a game that itself seems to take off from where the orginal Avalon Hill boardgame Squad Leader left off. Not that surprising, perhaps, considering that several of the team from Avalon Hill were involved in the project.

Anyway, Medieval II didn't to me catch the edge of seat feel of its predecessor.

So, I was pretty pleased to find in one of my random surfs on the web this link to a series of mod's (modifications) to download and patch onto the original game program to make it a recreation of the War of the Ring. It looked pretty good. So I went out and got the necessary expansion to my copy of Medieval II ($7 for the upgrade, the game itself cost $12, both from the local second hand game trader) and then downloaded about 2GB of mods, spent an afternoon installing them (a couple hours) and was well surprised.

It's great. I'll write more of it later as this post is long enough, but suffice to say that Third Age: Total War has all the flash graphics and smart engine capacity of this leading edge game, and has managed through cunning use of graphic and audio reference to the shared reality we all share from book and film to create a 'believable' environment, and that the design of the game itself leaves a lot of excitement to be discovered. To me, the mix is right and one can smell mirkwood in the morning.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Renaissance Profile

Below is the profile of my character in Renaissance Kingdoms. You can read between the lines for getting onto three years of Role Play adventure. Just thought I'd record it here for posterity, and for your interest (as I haven't posted much in last few months)...

Born on 18 August, 2007

Last known address
Country : Kingdom of Scotland
County : County of Glasgow
Town : Ardencaple

Level : 2
Reputation Points : 250
Money : 6

Dracmuller is a blacksmith.
Dracmuller has one sheep field.

Last connection 27 May 2010 at 15h33

Role Play description

Chief of Clan MacTavish yet a humble soul, I am learning about the world of society. If I unintentionally offend thee, I beg thee thy forgiveness!


A foundling, with but the inherited rags of my father's loincloth to clothe me, a thistle, and an old parchment from my McTavish mother, I started out by showing myself to be a diligent worker and enterprising soul.

Reward came my way despite famine and fraud and I soon found myself spending much time on my farm, where I raise pigs. I joined the Galloway Regiment and swore my allegiance to our king, James II, my country, and its people.

I built MacTavish Hut in October 1455 and enjoyed spending time there with my kin. I was acclaimed Chieftain of Clan MacTavish, and had the honour of representing us when the status of 'Founding Clan of Scotland' was bestowed - November 1, 1455.

On my longer trips these days I am generally accompanied by, Arnawlf, the black pigdog who I found on the doorstep of my cottage on Christmas morn, 1455. She isn't fully grown yet, but already is large enough to cause worry in the eye if she snarls.


1 February , I first fire my forge.
6 February, I meet a witch and Arnawlf proves her worth. I take up reading.
27 March, I open the Guild of Scottish Blacksmiths.
9 April, I first enter the Privy Chamber of the Regent of Scotland.
4 May, I am struck down by a nasty virus. My paperwork is destroyed by flame.
30 May, while guarding Dumfries Castle I lead a tour of the catacombs beneath.
26 June, I try peacekeeping in Kirk. My blue bonnet takes on new meaning.
2 - 26 July, I enjoy a tour of Scotland with my clan.
9 August, I am given custody of Blackwind, ancestral sword.
10 August, I open the Council of Chiefs.
27 August, I take part in the Battle of Muirkirk.
11 September, I bump into robbers and vow revenge.
3-6 October, I enter retreat for the first time in a year, returning refreshed.
9 November, I am promoted to General of the Galloway Regiment. Jah be with me.
1-22 December, Participant in Kirk's chaos week, witness Battle of Three Armies at Dumfries.


2-3 Jan, Battle of Whithorn
9 Jan, Assassination attempt, Dumfries.
11-28 Jan,'The King James', Dumfries.
5 Feb, Elected Steward of Scotland. Wow!
6-28 Feb, Inaugurate the High Court.
1-26 Mar, Tour the three counties.
31 Mar, Retire to clan and army duties.
9-13 Apr, Easter in Drummore Mine
21 Apr, Return to Whithorn
2 May, Ambushed (Girvan).
3 May, Wigtown Veteran's Hospice
17 June, Return to duty
July, RSA Operations - W.Galloway
August, RSA Operations - E.Galloway
13 Sept, Deputised Field Marshall, RSA
18 Sept, Whithorn visit
19 - 25 Sept, Northern Campaign.
26 Sept - 3 Oct, Working Holiday,Glasgow
9 Oct, Wedded Arien von Mainz, Girvan
28 Oct, Commissioned RSA Field Marshall
6 - 17 Nov, Security Patrols, Drummore
25- 28 Nov, Security Patrols, Whithorn
1 - 16 Dec, Borderwatch, Dumfries
24 - 31 Dec, Kelburn Castle, Largs


1 - 18 Jan, Kelburn Castle, Largs
4 Jan, resign commission from RSA
21 Jan - 12 Feb, Dockwork, Ardencaple
14 Feb, Valentines in Ol' Glasgow Town
15 Feb - 15 Mar, Confined to Stirling
16 Mar, Angelic Intercession
17 Mar - 19 Apr, Largs Volunteers
20 Apr - 13 May, Dockwork, Whithorn
21 May, Move to Ardencaple on Clyde
27 May, Take up sheep farming

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Frank Frazetta (artist).
Ronnie James Dio (musician).

Frazetta helped frame the visual side of fantasy RP, Dio provided the soundtrack of many a game in the golden age. For this, they are part of our (or my, at least) history. Thanks to Big Lee and Grognardia for the links.