As alegrias do papel

Jogos com miniaturas são caros.

Não importa o que você vai jogar, a não ser que parta para o modo “100% papel”, adquirir (ou imprimir!) as miniaturas, pintar, e depois armazená-las é algo que vai custar.

Mas jogar com miniaturas maneiras num lençol preto com livros e latinhas de refrigerante como terreno não é tão legal.

Pensando que os insumos básicos já são caros, partir para o modelismo com papel (ou “papercraft”) para deixar a mesa mais legal.

Com exceção de dois tanques e das miniaturas, tudo nas fotos abaixo foi feito com papel comum, uma impressora jato de tinta, cartolina e restos de papelão.

Plague Marines avançam sobre o setor industrial do planeta, mas logo encontram seus oponentes
Black Templars se adiantam para encontrar os hereges no combate corpo-a-corpo
Quem sairá vencedor?

Os modelos em 3d foram obtidos gratuitamente neste site:

E o “chão” foi obtido no site abaixo. Essas lajotas tem a vantagem de serem um padrão “infinito”, você pode imprimir quantos quiser que ao final é possível encaixar de várias formas.

Grande abraço,


The Pimp and the Mule – Iceberg Slim vs. Hari Seldon

This year I made some reading parkour and jumped from “Pimp” to Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy.

In both books the subject of domination makes and appearance: Asimov’s “Mule”, a mind controlling mutant that dresses like a jester, and Iceberg Slim himself, a pimp that manipulates and beats prostitutes into submission.

Asimov was born around 1920’s, and Robert Beck was born on 1918, both living in the USA, albeit in different parts of it: Robert mostly in Chicago, and Isaac Asimov in New York and Boston – all major cities.

But their lives obviously created different writers, who tackled the issue of mental domination from two very different perspectives.

Asimov thought of mutants with wondrous powers, the only thing that might throw-off a plan based upon a science so complex that few could understand, the so-called psychohistory which could predict the movements of whole populations with mathematical precision.

Robert Beck didn’t think about how to control people, he was an active pratictioner. He beat prostitutes with a wire hanger, drugged them, and applied basic psychology to fuel their deepest fears, and thus convince them to keep seeing men for his profit.

While I’m not here to discuss the ethical implications of these acts, reading “Pimp” helped me to put how I write in perspective, after consuming so much Fantasy and SciFi literature over the years.

Most of the time, when I’m writing an adventure or a piece of fiction, it’s easy to explain stuff with magic or technology. Mental controlling rays, friendship spells, fungal brain infections – these are all plausible explanations within the context of a RPG. Asimov and other taught us well, and we continue to apply these lessons, striving to reach a sliver of the great masters of SciFi writing.

But Robert Beck shows us that, in any context, people can be beaten into submission and still love their captors. No special powers are needed, just hate and ruthlessness.

Whitout becoming a pimp myself, that’s the closest I’m gonna get to this kind of behaviour, but next time I write or game, the reminder that mankind is frail and can be broken, will linger on. Maybe the wizard didn’t use his magical scepter on the faithful servant – perhaps it’s something much more mundane.

Pagando para fugir da masmorra

No ano passado eu li “O preço da desonra“, um mangá de estilo histórico de autoria de Hiroshi Hirata e editado no Brasil pela “Pipoca e Nanquim”.

Trata-se de uma série de histórias protagonizadas pelo ronin Hanshiro, um espadachim especializado em cobrar notas promissórias.

No entanto, essas notas são emitidas em situações bem particulares: quando um samurai se vê derrotado e à mercê de seus inimigos, ele pode emitir um documento pelo qual se compromete a pagar um prêmio ao inimigo, se esse poupar a sua vida. Tais documentos – as notas promissórias – são firmadas com sangue, sua negociação quase sempre resulta em grande prejuízo ao emissor, que não se encontra em condições de negociar valores mais baixos.

Aí entra o Hanshiro, que anos depois dessas batalhas vai cobrar as dívidas dos samurais que foram poupados, e que não ficam nada felizes de ver uma dívida tão desonrosa voltando para lhes atormentar.

Com isso eu fiquei pensando: e se os inimigos de uma masmorra aceitassem que aventureiros vencidos pudessem emitir uma promissória dessas para saírem vivos?

Isso implicaria em várias situações interessantes:
a) times de monstros e/ou aventureiros especialistas em cobrar a dívida de aventureiros fujões;

b) um mercado paralelo de notas, que poderiam até figurar em tesouros escondidos na masmorra – a nota emitida por Sir Randolf, que dá ao portador um terço de seu reinado, é um tesouro deveras interessante, e a cobrança é uma aventura por si só;

c) a possibilidade de jogadores não perderem personagens por azar nos dados, porque eles podem emitir a nota e vão para outras aventuras tentar ganhar o dinheiro que algum dia poderá ser cobrado;

d) masmorras com monstros riquíssimos, que além das forças comuns, contratam mercenários para capturar e extorquir os incautos.

Por qualquer um dos motivos acima, a cultura das notas de vida é algo que pretendo incluir nas minhas aventuras.

d6 Duels – a dice game for the discerning gamer

There I was, paying a visit to my friends who were DM’ing in a games day at our FLGS.

I hadn’t signed myself as a DM that day, but I noticed that there were some players stranded around the shop. They had a DM “no show” but there was a couple of hours left before the end of the event.

I hate to see new players go to a gamesday and leave with gaming, and I want to play something too. There was not enough time to play a one-shot dungeon, and I hadn’t my Horde of the Things armies to play a quick and dirty wargame.

However, I had been toying with a PvP combat system for narrative games for a while, inspired by HotT and Warhammer 40k – Kill Team, but geared for swordplay duelling.

I set up a small championship between 7 duellists, and began rolling dice, abritrating where doubts would come up.

All in all, the players were engaged, and even came up with funny names for their duellists, some of them gaining epithets before being slain with a sword thrust to the brain.

This idea, later fleshed out in the game we’re talking about, came after playing Zombie Dice with my fiancée: she’s not a gamer at all, but is always up for a quick dice game.

Pudding hat vs. Skeleton – the fight of the century!

I figured that even people who are a little bit shy and/or not used to RPGs would like to build a persona/duellist and impersonate his motives for duelling, according to some helpful pointers.

Because of that, I built the game from the end – the duellist generation tables, and then the combat mechanic. I feel that setting boundaries for character generation is helpful for people not used to tabletop RPGs, and sets the tone using somewhat common tropes – musketeers, Renaissance and chivalric love stories.

Also, I left out any characteristics that indicate the duellist’s gender – from the experience at the game store, I saw many girls that otherwise would feel alienated if I had tables geared for male duellists.

The combat system is simple, uses only six-sided dice and usually ends in 10 minutes or so. Duellists who are injured usually end up in a death spiral (as in T&T), and are ultimately killed. However, the dice are fickle, and even duellists who have the upper hand can be instantly killed if rolling snake eyes (almost 3% chance).

The bonuses are not decisive, unless a duellist survives many encounters – there’s a progression every two duels survived.

Finally, I wanted to put this out before Christmas. Not because I hope to get rich with sales, but because I think that people oughtta have something to gift each other in these trying times.

However, if you’re feeling particularly generous, toss a coin to your game maker, and be assured that I’ll only use that to buy other games – fuel my addiction!

d6 Duels can be found here, at DriveThru RPG.

Excalibur (1981) – the best D&D movie ever made

When the Dungeons and Dragons 2000’s movie was launched I had been playing RPGs for some 5 years, and already had my share of dragon slaying and dungeon delving, although we played more point-crawl scenarios.

Frankly, apart from the scene were a wizard casts Wall of Ice on a balcony to twart a dragon’s breath weapon, the movie sucked. It sucked even worse when we compared against our “Holy Grail” of fantasy movies – Excalibur.

There are professional gaming books with less evocative covers than this!

Since it was the 80’s, we only had the opportunity to see that movie years later, as things moved a little slower back then. It was divisive, and two groups formed: the Conan crew, and the Excalibur gang.

Conan is a really great movie when you’re a teenager – there’s Arnold in his prime, campy acting and a clear enemy. The cimmerian, despite all his flaws, is the good guy, and he kicks the bad guys’ ass.

But Excalibur had better cast, more nuance, and great actors like Liam Neeson, Patrick Stuart and Nicol Williamson, who played the best godamn wizard there is, and forever nuked the image of the old-long-bearded-man-in-a-pointy-hat from my mind. The only exception to that is the recent purple-flake disco wizard I painted this year.

Differently from the glistening muscles in Conan, the fight scenes in Excalibur are ponderous, bloody and caked in mud. The spiked armors worn by the combatants defined how fighters should look like for years to come, with the haphazard, scavenged look so popular nowadays never really catching on.

Sir Patrick Stewart kicking ass in full plate

All in all, Excalibur is my to go Christmas movie, in the same way people rewatch Die Hard every year. To Camelot!!!

Raven Guard and Papercraft

It all started with “I could build a Warhammer 40k Killteam for cheap on Ebay”.

A few auctions later and I have 1,500 points of Raven Guard to paint.

The Raven Guard were chosen for two reasons: a) on one of the auctions there were a couple of Intercessors with the Raven Guard upgrade sprue bits; b) their rules work well with a footslogging force, and with the price of Primaris’ vehicles, that’s what they’re gonna be. The fact that I managed to buy a well painted Kayvaan Shrike for 1/3 of the price of a new mini was just the cherry on top.

I still really like White Scars, but the Outriders are very expensive and don’t have the myriad of melee weapons necessary for a biker melee force. The old bikes are cool, and I even bought some, but making an army out of them is kinda hard on the hobby side.

Another option would be going Blood Angels, but without a Golden Host and a sizeable Death Company, I feel they end up as “red Ultramarines”. This, coupled with my limited budget, would make for a poor Blood Angel army.

In the end, I grew fond of the sons of Corax, and also with the paint scheme. The Intercessor I painted is looking decent, and the army will look good on the table.

Finally, I set to build some cheap terrain. I’m using mostly papercraft terrain, because it’s free and fast to put together.

I got the best molds from here, with pleasing results.

To complement that, I cut some cardboard ruins, and glued some brick textures over it.

All in all, I hope to have everything painted by May 2021, with a Killteam and a 500 pt. Patrol as milestones.

See you!

Viagem ao Volga – o mundo real é mais estranho que a fantasia

Quando comecei a jogar RPG, eu tinha dois livros: o Aventuras Fantásticas e a Enciclopédia Barsa.

Numa era pré-internet, não havia toda essa série de livros importados, e os que chegavam em inglês estavam muito além da minha grana.

Então as primeiras aventuras eram uma mistura de Camelot com Normandos, magos egípcios e He-Man.

Talvez por isso que textos históricos sejam uma fonte de inspiração tão grande para mim. E dos textos que li recentemente, Viagem ao Volga é um dos mais interessantes

A história se passa no ano 921 d.C., quando o rei dos Eslavos pede ao califa abássida em Bagdá uma quantia em dinheiro, para construir um forte e uma mesquita em suas terras – este líder do norte havia se convertido ao Islã, e precisava de ajuda contra seus inimigos, os khazares, recém convertidos ao judaísmo.

Nesse panorama temos três povos, duas religiões, uma caravana carregada e milhares de quilômetros a serem percorridos no lombo de um camelo.

Para quem está buscando inspiração, só essa introdução é um prato cheio. Mas o Ahmad Ibn Fadlan entrega muito mais.

No começo da viagem ele descreve as diferenças entre as moedas cunhadas pelas regiões ao redor de Bagdá. Dirrãs feitos de metais coloridos como bronze, cobre e latão. Outras moedas são adulteradas com chumbo, e são trocadas em cambistas que vendem peões e dados – um joguinho nunca fez mal à ninguém.

Ahmad também destaca o frio na terra dos turcos. Os rios ficavam duros como estradas, e a sua barba congelava. Nessa terra, todo mendigo pode entrar numa casa para se esquentar e pedir “pakand”, o pão. Para dormir, uma tenda de feltro era armada dentro da casa, e mesmo assim seu rosto colava no travesseiro.

Os povos “turcos” encontrados no caminho tem costumes que escandalizam o escriba. Os turcos “oguzes” não tomam banho! Além disso, durante uma reunião Ahmad diz que “enquanto conversávamos, ela descobriu sua vulva e começou a coçá-la!“. Aposto que você nunca viu uma obscenidade tão humana e crua num livro de RPG.

A despeito das barbaridades dos oguzes, depois que um muçulmano faz um amigo local e traz alguns presentes (roupas, véus, pimentas, painço, passas ou nozes), ele pode se hospedar na casa desse amigo, e até sacrificar uma ovelha conforme os costumes islâmicos. Claro que um turco visitando as terras islâmicas espera o mesmo tipo de auxílio. Mais ai se um turco morre nessa visita por qualquer motivo: na próxima caravana, o muçulmano que o abrigou será morto.

Mendigos malucos fazem parte do cenário. Ele escreve: “No dia seguinte encontramos um turco feiíssimo, esfarrapado, atacarrado e ignóbil. Tínhamos acabado de ser pegos por uma tempestade violenta. Ele disse: ‘Alto!’, e então a caravana inteira parou – quase 3 mil cavalos e 5 mil homens – e ele continuou: ‘Nenhum de vocês passará’. Detivemo-nos, obedecemos à sua ordem, e dissemos: ‘Somos amigos do kudarkin’. Ele riu e disse: ‘Quem é kudarkin? Eu cago na barba do kudarkin!’ e então disse ‘pakand’, que significa ‘pão’ na língua de Huwarizm. Dei-lhe, então, folhas de pão. Ele as pegou e disse: ‘Passem. Eu me compadeci de vocês'”.

No caminho eles encontram casas cobertas de argila – estas servem de túmulos para seus donos. Outra aventura é cruzar um rio. Botes de couro de camelo são desdobrados, e depois da travessia, os animais são chamados com um grito. Claro que para que todos pudessem passar, uma cabeça de ponte de homens armados teve de ser formada.

A próxima tribo encontrada foi dos basgrid, que coletam a cabeça de seus inimigos, comem piolhos e não acreditam em Alá. Ao invés disso, esculpe toco em forma de falo e o carregam pendurado. Quando querem alguma coisa, se ajoelham e beijam o ídolo. Por quê(?), pergunta Ahmad. Seu intérprete lhe explica: “Porque saí de um igual a esse e reconheço somente a ele como meu criador”.

Após esta tribo, o escriba chega na terra do Rei dos Eslavos, quem havia solicitado o dinheiro. Nessa terra ao longo do Volga ele faz questão de descrever as várias maravilhas encontradas, na jornada que durou setenta dias.

Os eslavos não tem azeite ou outros óleos sem ser óleo de peixe, e desfrutam de maçãs verdes bem azedas e bebidas alcoólicas de mel.

O rei dos eslavos pede para ser batizado com um nome árabe, escolhendo Jafar, o mesmo do líder dos muçulmanos em Bagdá.

Apesar da caravana não ter conseguido coletar o dinheiro prometido nas cidades muçulmanas ao longo do caminho, o Rei poupou Ahmad, que trouxe vários presentes e algo mais importante: cartas. Na falta de um correio regular, as caravanas levavam informações de um lado ao outro.

Outras maravilhas que Ahmad viu no país dos eslavos: nuvens dançantes que pareciam grandes exércitos de gênios cavalgando uns contra os outros; as noites curtas que permanecem iluminadas; grandes bosques de árvores de avelãs; seivas que são coletadas em potes e de tão doces embebedam quem beber; pratos elaborados com painço e carne de cavalo; amplos bosques repletos de colmeias de mel; e, até mesmo os chifres de rinocerontes locais, que são temidos pelos cavaleiros.

A tenda do rei, capaz de abrigar mais de mil pessoas, é a maior de todo o povo. Se um raio atinge uma tenda, ela é abandonada pelo mau augouro.

O homicídio é punido com a morte, e se for involuntário, a pessoa é presa numa caixa suspensa por hastes de madeira, deixada com pão em água. Estando entre o céu e a terra, fica à mercê dos deuses. Pessoas “de mente agitada e que sabe muitas coisas”, ele é enforcado como oferenda aos deuses.

As mulheres e os.homens se banham juntos no rio, e nunca cometem adultério: a pena é ser partido com um machado, que é a mesma pena aplicada aos ladrões.

Um dos pontos mais incríveis é a descrição de um gigante feita pelo rei. Esse gigante vem de uma terra de homens e mulheres monstruosos, que são alimentados pelos deuses com um enorme peixe todos os dias. Aqueles que comem mais que o seu quinhão sofrem de dor de barriga.

O gigante foi acolhido pelo rei, mas toda criança que o via morria, e as mulheres abortavam. Por conta disso, o rei o enforcou. Para comprovar sua história, Ahmad é levado para ver a ossada do gigante e fica espantado com seu tamanho.

Um dos pontos altos do relato é o encontro com os Rus, que são a denominação local do que conhecemos com vikings.

Eles chegam para negociar no Rio, em grandes bancos, e montam suas tendas na margem. Homens e mulheres enormes e belos, porém imundos e que andam sempre armados. Eles fazem sexo com as escravas que comercializam, e quem vai comprar tem que esperar o vendedor se satisfazer.

Ahmad tem a oportunidade de ver o único funeral viking jamais relatado por escrito.

É processo longo, e envolve velar o morto por vários dias, muito sexo e sacrifícios. No final, ele é cremado.

Os últimos relatos da viagem descrevem o Rei dos Khazares, que tem amplas riquezas, um exército gigante e o hábito de executar os guerreiros que fogem do combate.

No geral, é um relato riquíssimo, que serve de inspiração para todo tipo de escrita.

Vou me furtar de fazer apontamentos sobre o que serve para um jogo de RPG, ou para a escrita criativa. O livro vale a pena ser lido por qualquer motivo que possa interessar o leitor, e é uma janela para tempos imemoriais.

No mais, agradeço ao canal do discord Rizoma Cultura pela oportunidade de contar as histórias desse livro para quem compareceu na nossa conversa, e também à loja Game of Boards, que ajudou na organização.

The Vomit Vault of Vechuga

When it comes to spooky, I like my spookcream to be covered with gore, and sprinkled with puke and other non-savory bodily fluids.

I’ve used Cannibal Corpse covers as dungeon dressing, and Tetsuo transformation scenes in Akira has always been a source of inspiration.

As we’re in the spookiest month of all, I gave myself a gift and published a one page dungeon themed around bile, vomit, sauna rooms and respawning monsters straight from Doom.

Behold “The Vomit Vault of Vechuga“, a short dungeon that can be tacked on to any setting were there are undead skeletons that emerge from cesspits to claw the bowels of kings and queens.

Very Classy

Our main guest, Vechuga, doesn’t really want to fight: hang around his deadly sauna long enough and he might give a gift.

As an ancient demon, he’s able to offer advice on a myriad of topics, just as long as you don’t mess with his pets hidden in cyclopean urns full of poison.

If the party is of bellicose nature, killing Vechuga will trigger the spawning of a host of Vomit Elementals, making sure that leaving the vault is much harder than getting in.

The dungeon is statted for Swords & Wizardry and Maze Rats, which helps further adaptation to most other games oldschool or not.

As always, it’s PWYW. However, DTRPG only ranks sales that are at least 0.20 cents.

If you happen to like this offering, consider making a purchase, as it’ll help with the exposure that comes with reaching Copper and Silver status.

Moreover, all the money I make on DTRPG goes straight into gaming – this way, every bit goes back into the indie game community.

My Campaign – I have no mouth yet I must DM.

In the last game, the players exploded a snail riding Witch, and the survivor made some pretty good coin.

The group descending is:

  • Root: level 2, bald tattooed wide-eyed survivor, and expert in navigating the dungeon under the tavern
  • Mario: leve 1, arcanist and mustachioed baddass. Older brother to Lucas.
  • Lucas: level 1 gladiator, bronze beefcake. Mario’s younger brother.

The group were introduced to each other during a birthday party at the tavern. Scantily clad male pirates served drinks and assorted finger food, including cokatrice fingers.

They descended to the dungeon after the party, but Roots could not keep himself from suggesting his new companions to be at the front.

A little argument ensued, but the group moved on, and went down to the second floor.

They had no encounters until reaching the second room on a long hallway, and behind an old wooden door, some muffled screams could be heard.

Lucas knocked gently on the door, and the muffled sounds became louder. Mario kicked down the door, SWAT style, and found a cow-sized creature attached to the floor, and the whole room had a foul, rotten smell.

Pretty pathetic

While Mario tried to communicate, Root circled the room and found a black tome atop a marble pedestal.

The deformed monster was in a sorry state. It seemed to be attached to the floor, and some dust had gathered upon him. Close to base, translucent spheres had something wriggling inside.

Root skimmed through the old tome, and the words started to burrow into his brain. Tales of how the air was full of Phlogiston, the element the caused slow death, and that a true magic-user should not breathe at all.

Every smell seemed more pungent to him, and foul face-covered monster that spread his pestilence had to die.

Root urged his colleagues to murder the creature, as the odour was probably deadly, but they hesitated.

Upon hearing such a threat, the monster moved vigorously. Its skin stretched and cracked, and even the flab over the mouth parted a bit. It tried to say something about the book, but Root used a magical dart spell that nocked it unconscious.

However, the threat was not the beast, but the flesh eating worms that were nesting under it.

Gimme a kiss

They had no time to argue, and fought with blade, bolts and spells.

After vanquishing the monsters, Mario noticed that under the captive monster body a glowing rune pulsed with yellow light. The rune of pain. Being attached over such symbol was worse than a death sentence.

They explored some more, but decided to track back to the surface. Just as the party climbed back to the first level, they heard the rattlesnake like sounds of Abraxas, the snakemen champion (a 1 in 8 chance!)

Root had already met Abraxas, and had promised to bring sacrifices. Abraxas demanded that one of the humans had to stay with him, but was offered the magical tome instead.

I rolled to see if the giant snakemen could read, and he could. Thus, he was delighted with the gift, and agreed to let them go.

The rest of the group was highly annoyed and suspicious of Root, and an argument erupted. (Unfortunately, Luca’s player chose to leave the game, so I took control of the character).

Lucas darted in the darkness, trying to leave his brother and fellow adventurer to the serpentine monstrosity.

Root and Mario caught up with him, but the was very aggressive and had to be knocked out. Mario tried to carry him, but Abraxas could be heard just around the corner.

Both surviving adventurers had to run for their lives, and the fate of Lucas became unknown.

Commentary: the monster attached to the ground was taken from the “I have no mouth and I must scream” game based upon the novel of the same name by Harlan Ellison. A review of the game can be found here.

This creature was tied in with the environment as the victim of a curse from the tome placed in the same room. The contents of the tome were also randomly rolled on a table by Jeff Rients, that can be found in the book “Broodmother Skyfortress”.

How big is your dragon?

I don’t like big dragons.

They are a staple of many covers, the gigantic head reaching for a diminutive foe, or atop a suitably large structure.

I hate this

Colossal dragons have a place – they’re the closest thing to a living-breathing deity in the mortal realms. A sentient H-Bomb that can explode how many times it sees fit.

They should be challenged only with powerful artifacts – preferably long ranged weapons, for the reasons below.

In gaming terms, if played wisely by the DM, big dragons can’t be killed by melee characters. First of all, think how they got where they are, physically speaking. It makes no sense to place a dragon in the end of a dungeon, where it can’t fly away.

If it can fly away, why fight against any serious opposition? You can strike back anytime for the next 1,000 years.

Secondly, to me, fighting really big dragons somewhat breaks the immersion if not done right.

Is this dragon going to wait to be smacked in the head?

The game above, although a great side scrolling beat ’em up, solves the problem of fighting a really big dragon in a way that makes no sense in an actual tabletop session: it conveniently places the heroes on a plataform and makes the red dragon stick his face over it.

Great in an arcade, dumb in a gaming table

Apart from positioning and tactics, where human sized opponents must be able to fly and deliver powerful ranged attacks if they are to pose a serious threat to a dragon, there’s the issue with weapon sizes and penetration.

Even if the hero is wielding a blade that cuts through dragons like they’re made of wet cardboard, they shouldn’t be able to strike any vital organs. Even the sharpest blade is not really an issue if it isn’t several feet long.

Cavalry lances, although long, are weapons that demand a mount, which should be able to fly in order to engage a smart dragon – albeit the dragon can just target the mount and be done with it (unless it’s another dragon, but then we’re getting close to artifact level badassery, like I said above).

Whenever I think about the durability of dragons, elephants, rhinos and cape buffalo come to mind.

These are very real large animals, that demand very large guns to be taken down.

An elephant round is a cartridge designed to take out an elephant with a single hit, needing special guns that hold one or two rounds. An adventurer with a .416 Rigby rifle would be something to be feared.

Prior to the invention of these guns, elephants were very hard to kill, demanding very clever tactics by Alexander and the Romans.

But large dragons are not elephants. They should be tough as one, but quick as a lion and ferocious as a Nile Alligator. All of this while breathing fire and flying.

Of course that someone might point out that the dragon idea might come from fossils belonging to dinossaurs or other extinct megafauna, but I also like to think that people back then knew how hard it was to bring down animals using the weapons they had.

That’s why I like images of St. George and other medieval imagery of dragons. They are seldom larger than horses, a mighty animal in it’s own right.

If it’s bigger than that, you might need an anti-tank gun

Boar hunting was a very dangerous business, and anything much bigger than a boar and clad in thick scales is just nuts – it might be Satan himself, for all it cared.

Because of that, whenever I use dragons, I prefer actual medieval and Renaissance art as a reference – these people knew what it meant to try and hunt a vicious creature, and didn’t need to paint a titanic lizard to instill fear.

Big enough to kick your spiky ass


Ian Borchardt made a great comment on MeWe:

I generally follow the medieval model where an adult dragon is actually a lot smaller than a medieval destrier, although given it’s wings and tail and generally wiry serpentine build, does tend to take up a lot more space and appear much bigger than they are (especially when angry and alive). But most attacks from atop one tend to strike down.

In my game they have to rear up and take a deep breath breath before they can flame in the next round. This tends to give a limited window of opportunity for a knight to make a charge at the soft(er) underbelly (although this often turned into a race between flame and horse).

If you look at the watercolour by JRR Tolkein called “A conversation with Smaug” (the one with Smaug on a pile of gold facing an invisible Bilbo), you will note that it is not really all that big. Remember that the “human” figure in the illustration is a hobbit, and the scale changes.

But remember that as small as it is, most medieval construction was actually quite small (whereas we are used to quite large things every day, so a dragon that small would be ridiculed compared to a Boeing 747 (until it breathed fire). Which I think we have the preoccupation that dragons have to be that big to be impressive. Our modern perceptions are wrong.

I actually really like the dragon counters from the old Melee/Wizard game for both the illustration of the dragon and their size, which come in 4 hex (3 metre long) and 7 hex (5 metre long) varieties (although the wings are furled and tail wrapped in on itself (each of these limbs are about the length of the body when extended, so a 4 hex dragon has about an 8 metre wingspan. The new version includes 10 and 14 hex dragons which are, too my mind, both too large and useless in the tactical skirmish game that is The Fantasy Trip.

In that spirit if you do want to have a colossal dragon, then make it the battleground itself, because it is too large to battle as a single thing. Have the players engage closely with the individual parts of the dragon, climb on it, and seek to drive their weapons into the vulnerable parts. The best system I have seen for doing this is the excellent Barony/Rogue Swords of the Empire, which has recently be reprinted as Conrad’s Fantasy (Better Games). In this system the would be dragonslayers have to enter the Zone of Terror (the region around the dragon), and then move to engage a specific body part (starting with the bits they can reach). The fun thing about this system is that you don’t actually make a decision about what the dragon does – it is completely automated by players rolling dice (or drawing cards) and consulting a table for their current location. This will indicate a test the character will have to make to either proceed or avoid being hurt.

For example (it is a trait based system btw):

I enter the Zone of Terror and draw a 4 of clubs: Ignoring the fear and tingling of a near dragonbreath, you rush forward to grab the dragon’s neck. You have the option to test Battle Hard (difficult) or decline and go to result #14 (dodging dragonbreath). If you are Durable you may roll twice and take the best result. Succeed and the character is now grappling the dragon’s Lower Neck, fail and suffer a Vicious wound. If it is a 4 of spades difficulty increases to tasking.

Having the trait Battle Hard it is hard but doable test and I succeed and move to the dragon’s Lower Neck. Next round I draw a 9 of hearts: Holding on to the dragon’s neck with both hands you get the opportunity to try and swing around it and kick it in it’s vulnerable lower jaw and gullet. Option to test Animal Reflexes or Acrobat (tasking) or decline and treat as result #7. Succeed and the dragon is wounded (+4 to all skill tests next round) and character is grappled with the dragon’s Chin Hair. Fail and continue with result #14.

Since I don’t have either listed trait I am likely to fail a tasking test, but I do have the traits associated with #14 so I choose to make the attempt and fail (but hopefully not fumble which would be really bad). Besides I might succeed. I don’t, so: the dragon arches and snaps it’s neck sending you hurtling to the side. Attempt difficult roll. If the character has Durable degree becomes simple. If the character has Battle Hard roll twice and take the best result. Fail and be knocked unconscious until revived by another character in the Zone of Terror. Otherwise restart the battle from there.

So much for the first two rounds of my battling the dragon.