Fantasy Wargaming, cover to cover (XXVII)

The final section of the FW rules cover monsters, magical beings, and general fauna.  (This is the only section whose authorship I have been able to confirm — Nick Lowe –, although I have not been pursuing the other copyright holders so far, as Nick Lowe has provided so much information.)   About sixty types of creature are detailed, including several specific giants such as Giolla Dacker (and his horse!).  The monsters here have frequently been criticized as ridiculous*, silly**, even racist***.  But all derive from period literature, legends, and heraldry.

The monsters are described pretty briefly, with several general items in every “stat block.” Size ranges from tiny to bloody huge.  Speed is given qualitatively, in comparison to a human.  So “very fast” means “a lot faster than you can run.”  Society is a descriptive term for number appearing, from unique/solitary (1), to lairs/nests (1-6), to flocks/herds (10-50) and swarms (50-200).  Finally source gives the specific literature or tradition the beast appears in, to help the GM determine whether they are suitable for his milieu.  Monsters also get their physical attributes, and some mental attributes listed, as well as combat levels, armor, methods of attack, and magic levels.

No rules specify how much damage a horn or bite attack does, although I’d think one could fairly easily improvise these.  The effects of some poisons are given but you need to read between the lines to determine if there is any saving throw (the chapter on GMing seems to recommend allowing saves when asked).

Finally the book has a very good index, and the fact that pagination in the regular and book club editions are different, I’m again surprised to find that so much effort went into something most game books lack.

And with that, this cover to cover series is over.  I hope to return to FW in the future, of course, but I’m pretty exhausted by it and will concentrate on minis for a while!

In the meantime I just discovered as I write this (August 17) that a similar project has been carried out at a RPG forum, about two years ago! Doh!  I’m off to read that now.

*The Bonnacon, for example.  Which is pretty odd (a cow-like animal firing flaming excrement as a defense).

**Venomous sheep, for example.  But if you read the description, these are seriously creepy.  Their venom drains your strength, and they are said to feed on carrion.  They appear in flocks, so it is not hard to imagine a flock of 50 or so of the bastards slowly sweeping across a plain, into a village, paralyzing, trampling, and finally consuming the inhabitants.  A sheep’s foot in very small and they exert a fairly crushing pressure.

***Specifically the “Black Men” which are explicitly explained as a jet-black giant race, not Moors or Africans, as detractors imagine.

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Published in: on August 22, 2010 at 10:00 am  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for all the great work! I really enjoyed this series!

  2. Great series! I really enjoyed reading it; FW has fascinated me for about 12 years (especially the magic system), but I’ve never really had the time to sit down and figure out how all the rule bits work together.

  3. Cheers to you for the ton of time and research on this well executed series!

  4. now that it’s over i’m going to paste it into textedit and have that fucker read it to me

  5. @Zak S: I have to know…

    …which voice?

  6. Aw shucks, my pleasure. I hope you all get a copy and read FW for yourselves.

    I’m still hoping I can a hold of Mike Hodson-Smith & Paul Sturman, if either is still alive. I’d love to know more about the writing and actual play of these rules. Nick Lowe thinks Sturman may have been Bruce’s main collaborator on the rules, although Hodson-Smith pops up here & there in general war gaming stuff. It’s just fascinating to me.

  7. Mike Hodson-Smith was a teacher at a secondary school i attended, i was part of his after school fantasy wargaming group during the late eighties, he passed away in 1992. Hope this is of any help.

    • Yes, Luke, that is helpful to know. I feared he may be gone since all the articles I’ve found by him in gaming magazines were confined to the 1980s, and because one of my informants remembered him being rather ill.


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