Black Fire by Hernan Rodriguez – a fantasy Napoleonic comic story

It was my great fortune to be recommended a graphic novel by a customer of Alternative Armies who is a big fan of Flintloque and especially the Escape the Dark Czar setting.  Black Fire by Hernan Rodriguez which was not easy to get but I did find a hard back copy of it second hand and when it arrived from the states I had intended just to flick through it…an hour later I had stood and finished it…wow.

Two soldiers in Napoleon’s army retreating from his disastrous campaigns in Russia are separated from their unit by a Cossack attack and stumble across an isolated Slavic town  where strange and bizarre doings are afoot! Linking up with another unit of lost French soldiers, they try to figure out where they are, only to discover that the ancient, abandoned town is deep, forbidden territory  the prison of a dark monster-god out of Slavic legend and nightmare, which seeks to use the newcomers to escape!

Black Fire is an original graphic novel by Hernan Rodriguez and published by Archaia. It is full of Lovecraftian horror. This is a story set during the French retreat from Russia during the Napoleonic War. It is about starvation and frostbite. It is about an abandoned snowbound village. It is about evil. It is about a Russian god of death, fire and darkness. It is about creating a mood of dread, fear, and paranoia (if paranoia is, in fact, a mood). It is about the nightmare that occurs with the juxtaposition of human failures and the malevolent forces of the universe. It is a great story.

Hernan Rodriguez has cobbled together an epic dark fantasy of large proportions. His expressionist style artwork marries muted colours with blasts of reds and oranges tightly contained in thick black ink, all of which propels the mood deeper and deeper into the horror that the plot unravels. His line work is perfect for the tone of this story.

This is a book well worth seeking out if you like Flintloque or indeed the work of Lovecraft too.  No Orcs or Elves or Zombies really in this one but the same feel as the Death in the Snow setting.  How differently things could be done.  I got mine at Alibris but copies can be found on Amazon and Ebay too but watch out for the prices…I paid 12GBP and it was worth that, but some people want three times that.

There is no creeping horror in Flintloque like this but if you change the Humans to Elves the tone is spot on.  Above Undead Toadmen seek out mortal Elves!

GBS

Humans in 3rd Edition Flintloque – Advent 2018!

A broken tusk jutted from its lower jaw and pierced through its upper lip drawing blood. The arrow had grazed the mouth. With its free hand the Orc tore two more arrows from its chest breaking the wooden shafts with apparent ease. It awaited the order. Blood trickled down its face staining the rough white fabric and leather around its neck. Blood flowed out of injuries and mixed dark with the red of its crudely stitched coat before dripping onto its course black leather boots. It awaited the order. Ahead the Hoomans rode horses their armour sparking brilliant in the sun; lances shining as they began to charge. Arrows rained down from the Men further back behind the riders and struck the Orcs along the thin two deep line drawing grunts but no movement; a couple of Orcs toppled forward onto the grass. It awaited the order. The spear had been lighter, the spear has been faster but the spear was gone and now he had Bessie. The order was shouted gruffly. Bessie moved from resting on the shoulder into both hands and up until it pointed at the Hoomans. The plains had been his hunting ground and the spear had thrown far and silent. Now the ranks and the lash for speaking out of turn. Bessie spoke with fire and anger but there was no fear. No fear now of the Hoomans. The lances came down to level and then gouts of grey smoke and fire stabbed out and the Men died. Dresda was theirs and his Lordship would give sips of Ladye Juniper to all who served in the ranks. Blood mingled with bitter powder as the unbroken tusk bit into a new cartridge and then he spat the lead ball into Bessie’s smoking maw.

It was my great pleasure to make my entry into the 2017 Advent Calendar over at Orcs in the Webbe and article at the request of the site’s owner Craig Andrews.  I write an article each year for his birthday on or around the 18th of December.  This time it was a play tested article for using the now vanquished Human race on the battlefields of Valon in the time of Flintloque the Skirmish.  You can read it HERE and download a formatted PDF of the article on that page too.

I do not play Dresda but others do, the game first made for Alternative Armies range of High Fantasy miniature.  I wrote DarkeStorme to replace it and Flintloque does not really use Humans.  Such as those above in the Knights and Footsoldiers part of the range.  Orcs have wiped out Mankind and taken their cities including Dresda and now call it Londinium.  The article was fun to write and play out the scenario included in it.  Humans are like Elves but slower and being afraid of black powder makes playing them in Flintloque tough at anything but close range.  It does bring up some nice ideas though.

In 2018 I will be working with other authors and creators to expand Valon even further with titles set in the twilight of the Crystal Empire of the Elves.  Revisiting a classic title and also a brand new one too.  There will be more on this at the time but for now I just wanted to say it is coming.  Stay up to speed by following the Alternative Armies blog or facebook group.

I leave you to enjoy the Advent Calendar and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018 now just under two weeks away.  Time flies.

GBS

Asked for a new way into Flintloque…delivered!

This week my latest project was breathed to life and appeared on the Alternative Armies website.  A new beginners entry into Flintloque the Skirmish 3rd edition.  I had been asked many times across last year by wargamers ‘how do I get into this excellent setting!’.  After a long bit of thinking and an idea to try out some new concepts I came up with 5024 Escape from the Dark Czar.  A complete beginners set with booklet, miniatures, bases and dice.  You can see it on the website from Friday 27th January.

The booklet itself is twenty pages and builds upon the Witchlands campaign setting begun by Mike Roberts and the core engine of 3rd edition worked up by Mike White. An introduction to the campaign followed by character profiles and then the core rules of play after which are three small scenarios for use with the miniatures and then two pre-filled rosters; one for each side.  It is an excellent looking tightly packed booklet featuring the artwork of my good friend Edward Jackson on its cover and in its inner pages.

Sam Croes the lead designer at Alternative Armies came up with the ideas for the miniatures in the set.  We decided to produce the ten miniatures in resin and importantly in bulk allowing us to keep the price down on this introduction for wargamers.  However it is not likely I will commission more resin infantry for Flintloque as it is a white metal range, which I love, and this was an experiment after all.  We will stick to using resin to keep the weight down and price of things like Trolka and Cavalry Mounts.  That said they are fantastic figures indeed.  Full of character touches.  The Ogre is my favourite.

I also took this chance to collate the massive folder of free files which exist for Flintloque and Slaughterloo and in the process create a mighty stack now online for download for free.  See the same page on the website for the download link.  It is some 95mb in size and represents some four years work on my own and others part.

I hope that you enjoy this new beginners set.  I had a lot of fun writing it and playtesting it last autumn.

On other topics.  I do not update this blog all that often.  I just do not have the time down to my work, my family and so on. There are only so many hours in the day. So I have a plan for this year…it will come in stages and start soon.

GBS

Orcs in the Webbe Advent 2016 – Sharkes Wyvern!

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Now online at Orcs in the Webbe as part of the 2016 Advent Calendar a free Flintloque scenario written by myself as my own personal entry on the calendar for Day 10. Sharke’s Wyvern! The scenario sees Captain Rekhardt Sharke along with his Chosen Orcs taken on a giant monster after being tricked by a Dark Elf noble into a spot of ‘bird hunting’. It includes the scenario but also the rules for including this monster in your games of Flintloque.

You can see it on Orcs on the Webbe and you can see it on Alternative Armies blog as a download PDF too.

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I had great fun writing and playing this scenario with new rules and getting the miniatures for Sharke out of the box again for the fight.  I am currently working on something major for Flintloque that will be out and about in January 2017 but there will be more on this during December.

I hope you enjoy the read and the photos which were taken too.

GBS

Flintloque, USEME and I go digital download!

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Last week the four books that currently make up Flintloque 3rd edition not only went back into printed stock but also, for the first time, they became digital paid downloads.  Otherwise known as purchasable PDF books. While other companies have been trading in downloads for several years successfully now it has only been in the last month or so that Alternative Armies and by extension 15mm.co.uk and my baby The Ion Age did the same.  When the decision was taken it was set to me to task out a platform from which to make the digital publications available.  After running tests on several installs I settled on one that seamlessly integrates with the physical products on the websites and is very easy for customers to use and also to return to for their purchases.  We began with DarkeStorme my high fantasy skirmish system for 28mm and 15mm miniatures and then moved across to HOF Fire Team and Age of Might and Steel before turning my other loved system books Patrol Angis and Callsign Taranis into paid downloads.  Then it was onto the main event…Flintloque!

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A busy few weeks and then the time arrived this week and with my usual flourish I presented the books plus a mega bundle to the world.  Early notice went to the Notables who were quick to get involved.  The reception has been very positive across the board and especially from the regular wargamers who play Flintloque who in some cases purchased the books as digital to go with existing print or both at the same time to expand their collection.   What has surprised me is actually the uptake on the printed books in conjunction with the same digital title as well as miniatures (above are the Pudigroan Dogmen and our funky three barrelled cannon).  I have asked and been told that the desire was to read the books while waiting for a package to arrive with paper being very much preferred at the gaming table.  This makes sense to me actually as I read books virtually but often purchase in print those I enjoy and tend to always buy wargaming books and RPG books in print only.  It seems that digital downloads are here to stay at Alternative Armies.

As always if you are a customer who continues to allow me to make my living in this wonderful manner I thank you and hope you enjoy what I do.

When the time comes that I have finished the next Flintloque book which is titled ‘Retreat to Kooruna’ it will be a print and digital download title and as such it will be the first Flintloque book to debut as both mediums.  I look forward to seeing how this is greeted by the fan base of the World of Valon.  While the first ever campaign book for Flintloque will get more, much more, coverage as it nears release you can see the cover art by Edward Jackson below.  Back in December 2015 one of the full scenarios from the forthcoming book was published in the Advent Calendar on Orcs in the Webbe.  Click on the link and you can read it or on this LINK you can have it as a PDF to your device direct.  It is one of a dozen to be in the book.

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Flintloque grows every month with new miniatures, new items and new material.  It has been a part of me for more than a decade and it will continue to be so long, long into the future.  In fact some wargamers would never forgive me if I stopped creating new content for the game!

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On Friday last week the whole USEME series of wargame books went digital download at 15mm.co.uk and while it is true that I nor any other author in the series such as Omer Golan Joel or Kurt Benson have added to its dozen titles in the last two years or so that will change.  We have six small books in various stages of development.  In the meantime I am really pleased to see people still remember my USEME and in honour of that the digital editions are cheaper than the print booklets.  A whole game system for three pounds.  Excellent!

USEME has half a dozen titles in the works by three authors including myself and these are at various stages of readiness.  I am looking at adding titles in the near future and these may well be digital download only.  This will be based upon consulting with several dozen customers at random to see what they prefer.

Thanks for your time.

GBS

The first digital download of my work….

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I began a test today with a wargame rule system I wrote back in 2005 and then re-issued in 2010 before now in September 2016 turning into a digital download.  The system is DarkeStorme and it is one of my earliest stand alone titles.  I am actually rather proud of it really since it has held up well.  Set on the fictional world of Valon where the mighty rule system Flintloque takes place but in an earlier age of sword and sorcery it was my idea to create a ‘third age’ to replace the lack lustre earlier system ‘Dresda’ which was in a world before Flintloque.  DarkeStorme focuses on warbands of a dozen or so miniatures of any fantasy race and has full rules for monsters, magic and more as well as progression and RPG elements.  A lot packed into sixty pages….mainly due to this being written before I had a lot of parenting responsibilities which makes working life a tad more complex. I am not joking!

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The test is to find out if the customer base of Alternative Armies wishes to purchase paid for PDF’s (digital books)  as well as print books.  DarkeStorme has sold over a thousand copies in its time thus far in print so it is an ideal place to try out this test.  The purchase is made straight from the website using the existing shopping cart and the links are delivered on screen to download from there.  Thus far we have sold a half dozen or so e-copies and it is a good start.  You can visit the page HERE and read the official blog post HERE.

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How do I feel about my work, often running to hundreds of hours per title, being distributed in this fashion?  If you had asked me a few years ago I would have refused straight off since I have watched people being ‘pirated’ our of existence by file sharing networks in the gaming industry.  That and the customers simply did not ask for PDF’s in anything but ‘bolt on’ small items and preferred printed books with their miniatures.  Now though the world has turned and customers are asking for both particularly with The Ion Age title Patrol Angis.  So I will wait and see what happens.  My feeling is that we will be putting out more titles as digital downloads including the big books such as War in Catalucia for Flintloque.  Heck, it may even result in me penning original works for digital download only.  The future will tell.

Thanks for your time as always on my little page.

GBS

DerMead is DerMighty!

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Today saw the start of the festive season for Alternative Armies (15mm.co.uk goes for it next week and The Ion Age on 1st December) and in the tradition that makes wargaming miniatures great we have a Christmas figure!  Yes these days its not as popular as it once was for a variety of reasons which is sad but the loyal audience for Flintloque that continues to walk the path with me year after year deserved something nice so something nice they got.  Follow this link for the full story but in short the image here shows you a Dwarf character in 28mm which while good for festive is also good all around too.  52014 Heinz DerMead the brewer!

It is a goal of mine to keep the fun in wargaming and the originality of it too.

GBS

Sam Croes brushes up on some excellent Dragoons!

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I normally post up across social media and industry websites about two dozen times a week reporting on all the excellent things that I get up to in this brilliant job.  But this time its a little bit more special so I decided to feature this news here too.  The big whoop at Alternative Armies just now is the offer on the awesome modular wargaming miniatures the Elf Dragoons.  Their creator Sam Croes, a fine friend of mine, took the time to write up and photograph an article on building and painting one of them.  Sam is a master figure painter and a damn good designer too so its well worth a read and a look too.  See it HERE.

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GBS

Parli italiano? Vuoi giocare?

Over on the Alternative Armies blog which is one of the onlines places which I organise and run there is a short but great posting about a brand new version of my Flintloque 3rd edition wargame rules.  What’s so different about it?  Well its been translated into Italian which is excellent as it means the community of wargamers in that lovely land can now play and read in their native tongue.  Go HERE to read more and to download it if you want to have a look.

Flintloque is adored by thousands of wargamers all over the world who enjoy something unique and with humour but without all the high prices and often soul lacking materials that some other wargame systems have.  I am seen as the father of the community and its a great place to be.  There is a lot happening for the game during the rest of this year and this version of the lite rules is just an awesome bonus.  Ciao!

Thanks Gianmatteo!

GBS