Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Some help needed writing an RPG adventure for 3 kids

cookie island

I'm on a small island in the Aegean sea. It's a volcano and looks like this cookie. We are here for three weeks because of my wife's work. She is teaching screenwriters how to pitch their scripts.

Between 1 PM and 5 PM it's so hot, you shouldn't go outside. After that I go to a pool with the kids. It's next to a cliff, ten meters above the sea. There's not much there to protect you from falling down, besides a cable and a rusty shower. On the other side: a wall, a fence, some beautiful flowers, red and pink. Behind that: the noisy street and a hotel.

The water is heated by the volcano and leaves thick orange stains on clothes and googles. The music is loud and cheap, but somehow relaxing. While my children are swimming in the pool or floating around in safety buoys, I'm drinking some kind of mocha - έναν ελληνικό γλυκό παρακαλώ - which the waiter prepares with great care, and look at another island which is slowly but entirely being removed with excavators, trucks and ships. This fills me with melancholy because I’m conservative at heart.

I'm sitting next to the pool and read Principia Apocrypha and Gurps Light. (I forgot how complicated role playing games are, if you are out of practice.) I want to write a simple cavern adventure, taking place in ancient Greece, so we have something to do while we hide from the sun.

Maybe you have some ideas?

(For encounters, treasures, traps, etc.)

I will post the adventure later on this blog.

I can also send a bottle of Soumada or a little minotaur from the tourist shop to the first person who figures out which island we are on.


To make it easier for you: Here is a model of the island which I found on a cupboard in the local primary school.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The Village / Dragon Rampant Battle Report

The topics I mostly write about on my blog are "Krüger", "Beyond the Pillars of Heracles" and "battle reports".

Krüger is one of my best friends who lived in Berlin for a long time, studying philosophy. We have played many tabletop games and we also played Badminton regularly, talking incessantly about strategy games during the breaks.

chicken truck

Unfortunately, Krüger moved to Dortmund at the end of March. A few weeks before he left we wrote a scenario for Dragon Rampant, D3+2 Objectives, which we also tested several times.

This blog post is about the last game we played when Krüger still lived in Berlin. It was the 16th game of our campaign "Beyond the Pillars of Heracles", taking place on the imaginary island Waltrop. As objective markers we used some mud huts, I recently finished.

The Greeks, who had landed on the northwestern coast of Waltrop some time ago, had put the orc tribes, living there, under a lot of pressure and now made a move to attack one of their villages (hexagon 20 on the campaign map). Heracleides the Great commanded the Greek army himself.

Krüger played the orcs defending the village with this army list:

Elite Foot (Leader) / 2 Bellicose Foot / Light Foot / Heavy Riders / Light Riders (Short Range Missiles)

I played the Greek attackers:

Elite Foot (Leader + Enchanted Weapon) / 2 Heavy Foot / Light Missiles / Light Riders (Short Range Missiles) / Scouts

Both generals got the trait Boneshaker as the result of a roll on the leader traits table.

initial deployment

This map shows the initial deployment of both armies. Krüger wrote the following battle report which I translated from German to English. (Orcs speak German, of course.) I took the pictures and drew the maps.


My goblins (light foot) were supposed to protect my right flank and the objective on my right side, a mud hut. I placed a unit of boar riders (heavy riders) on the other side of the mud hut and close to the second mud hut on my side of the table. This way they could secure one of these objectives later or just go forward to attack.

It was my intention to attack mainly from the centre and from my left flank, so I placed two large orc warbands (bellicose foot) and the orc boss (elite foot) in the centre. On my left, a unit of goblin wolf riders (light riders) was ready to threaten the objective on my opponent’s side.

The Greek used their light riders in a similar way, to threaten the objective on my right side. Both objectives on their side of the table were protected by units of hoplites (heavy foot).

ancient greeks vs orcs

Their centre was rather weak. It had scouts and light missiles. Heracleides, the general, (elite foot) stood in the back to protect it.

The First Turns

During the first turns not much happened. The orc boss and the boar riders moved forward. The goblin spears formed a shieldwall in front of the mud hut, while the Greek light riders moved towards them. On my left flank the two orc warbands moved forward very slowly, so the goblin wolf riders rode towards the Hoplites alone.

greek hoplites

During their first turns, the Greek Hoplites formed shieldwalls next to the mud huts on their side. Their scouts and light shooters sent arrows in the direction of the advancing orcs which made me loose two boar riders.

The orc boss got close enough to attack the scouts and destroyed them in two turns.

The boar riders moved to the right to defend the goblin spears against the Greek light riders and to protect the objective on my right flank.

On my left flank the goblin wolf riders broke under the arrows of the Greek bows.

Now most units were close enough to move into close combat and the eventful middle phase of our game began.

The middle Phase of our Game

Turn 6

The Greeks prepared themselves for the onslaught of the orcs and fired a last volley of arrows at them, but in vain.

ancient greeks vs orcs

On my right flank the boar riders attacked the Greek light riders. Although the orcs slew two Greeks and only suffered one loss themselves, they broke and fled towards the woods. Then the goblin spears attacked the Greek riders. Both units suffered one loss. To my great disappointment the cowardly goblins broke.

greek archers

Meanwhile the orc boss attacked the Greek light shooters, three archers lost their life, but my general also suffered a wound. The retreating archers were attacked by one of my orc warbands and broke.

ancient greeks vs orcs

Turn 7

Heracleides seized his chance and attacked the orc boss. The orc was wounded twice and Heracleides lost a man. This loss broke Heracleides’ moral and made him flee in the direction of the attacker’s table edge.

All the orc units rallied. The orc warband on my left angrily assaulted the Greek Hoplites who received them in a "Wall of Spears" formation. One Hoplite and two orcs died, but the orcs broke again.

Meanwhile the goblin wolf riders rode back to protect the mud hut in the centre on my side and the boar riders rode towards my general in order to help him.

Turn 8

Heracleides and his men rallied. The Greek light horse rode towards the objective in my centre, to attack the goblin riders I had just moved there.

My second orc warband also had to make a wild charge towards the hoplites on my left side. Their fate was even worse. They suffered three losses and were destroyed immediately.

orc boss

Now the orc boss attacked Heracleides, but wasn’t lucky. He lost another strength point.

The End

Heracleides seized his chance, attacked the orc boss and killed him. What followed was a streak of bad luck. Each of my units had to test courage because I had lost my general. The result was that all my mounted units - the wolf riders and the boar riders - were removed from the table.

Until this happened the orcs had a real chance to win the game, but now their losses were too big. The Greeks won the game and now occupy the village in hexagon 20 on the campaign map.

campaign map


Until turn 6 it looked very well for my orcs. I couldn’t wrap things up though, as I failed so many courage tests. Even then I had a chance to win. I had troops, able to occupy the objectives on my side and troops going for the objectives on the opponent’s side, while the Greek light cavalry was no real threat, being too far away from my objectives. The end came a bit sudden. The last two turns I lost too many troops.

The game was exciting and full of action until the end. It was lots of fun. I think our scenario works well and lets you play games that are undecided and exciting until the end.

Friday, 17 May 2019

D3+2 Objectives / a scenario for Dragon Rampant


I made a lot of mud huts this year to use them as objectives in our games of Dragon Rampant. I think tabletop games which are about taking objectives are fun because they are often undecided until the end.

mud hut village

Krüger and I wrote this scenario for Dragon Rampant. (It's an adaptation of a scenario from a popular Science Fiction wargame which we have played a lot.) Please try it and let us know if it works and how it could be improved ...


Before choosing Attackers and Defenders, starting with the winner of a roll-off, the players alternately place D3+2 objectives on the tabletop. These objectives may not be in impassable terrain, nor within 12" of a table edge or another objective.

The Defender chooses one of the long table edges and deploys up to a 12" depth from that table's edge. The Attacker deploys in a similar way on the opposite site. The Attacker goes first.




Play until one player has had half or more army points of units removed from play. From then on, at the beginning of each turn roll a dice. On a 1-2 the game ends immediately, on a 3+ the game continues.


Both Attacker and Defender add up the point value of enemy units routed or wiped out before the game ended; damaged units still in play are not counted. The player with the higher score wins 1 Glory.

At the end of the game you control an objective if there is at least one of your units and no enemy unit within 3" of it. Battered units cannot control or contest objectives.

Each objective controlled earns the player 1 Glory.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Pentomino Dungeon / One Page Dungeon Contest

Last year my daughter participated in a math competition at school, the Kangaroo Contest, and brought home a colorful Pentomino game and a book with math problems for children.

When I asked Lina (10), Hendrik (8) and Joaquín (6) to draw a dungeon for the One Page Dungeon Contest this year, they made a dungeon out of 12 Pentomino shapes instead, which I turned into a map.

Hendrik had the idea that adventurers entering the dungeon should have to solve math problems, but are distracted all the time. (Maybe he came up with this, because he has a little brother who is full of energy and always wants his attention to play with him.)

Joaquín made several drawings of the big monster in room 4 and described it vividly.

The riddles are from the book Lina got at the Kangaroo Contest. I changed them a bit to avoid copyright issues and to adapt them to the stories, the children came up with.

For a year, Joaquín has been carrying little pieces of paper with German words in his school bag to learn the letters ä, ö and ü. Those are the items in room 5.

Now my introduction to our entry is already as long as the entry itself ...

pentomino dungeon

1 In the first room there is a wizard. He is wearing a colourful crown, blue gloves and only has one tooth. He says: 

"This is what we are going to do. If you make it out of my dungeon, I will grant you a wish. Each room has a riddle written on the floor. You need the solution to unlock the doors. The riddles are not too difficult, but don’t be fooled. There are things in the rooms to distract you from thinking. I will stay here and also start sending things after you. The first problem is easy. I am 80 years old. My brother is 20 years younger than me. My sister, the witch, is 20 years older than me. How old are we all together? Good luck."

random monsters, summoned by the wizard in room 1:

  1. a funny man with an axe and a shield
  2. a very sharp triangle ruler
  3. a man made of fire
  4. a man who looks at you so sweet, it is hypnotizing
  5. a ball with arms and legs that explodes when it gets too loud
2 Five Goblins, three with knives, two with spears.

There is a riddle written on the floor: The goblin king has 5 sons, every son has two sisters. How many children does the goblin king have?

3 A man who says blablabla.

The riddle is: How many numbers, bigger than 10 and smaller than 60, can be built, combining two different digits, using 0, 1, 2, 5 and 7?

4 A naked giant with green skin, wearing a baseball cap, a bow in one hand, an arrow in the other hand. The monster has spiky feet and leaves violet marks on the floor when moving. It can spit poison. Flames come out of his eyes and little creatures crawl out of his hair. It makes a noise like hhhhh …

The riddle is: Which is the biggest?

2+0+1+3 or 2×0×1×3 or 2×0+1×3 or 20+13 or 20×13? 

5 A goose, four hats, nine glasses, sixteen cooks. How many books?

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Hamburg Tactica 2019 / more pictures

Herr Zinnling

I like to go around the Bürgerhaus Wilhelmsburg during the weekend of the Tactica and take pictures of things that interest me. I like to do this with a Leica R4 my father left me, when he died, but last year my father’s camera failed me and I haven’t found the time to repair it yet. So this year I borrowed a tablet from my children to take the pictures. It worked fine. That’s technical progress, I guess.

Castle Grayskull

Castle Grayskull

Najewitz Modellbau

Najewitz Modellbau


Shifting Lands by GeBoom

Somewhere in Tennessee 1862

The Attack on Fort Henry

Somewhere in Tennessee 1862
The Attack on Fort Henry

Peter Dennis

paper soldiers

paper soldiers by Peter Dennis

tin soldiers

tin soldiers by Aly Morrison

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Hamburg Tactica 2019 / Sunday

The last couple of years I stayed at the hotel Superbude during the weekend of the Tactica, Germany’s largest wargaming convention.


I like to have enough time to try several participation games without worrying about catching the train at night and the Superbude has very good waffles at the breakfast buffet.

The problem is that there is always a long line in front of the waffle machine and when I’m finally there I usually get scolded for pouring too much dough into the machine. "That’s too much. There are three signs explaining how this works. Here. Here and here." "I’m sorry." This makes me feel like a little schoolboy again. But in a bad way. Not like when you are playing with toy soldiers …

The Naval Battle of St. Lucia, 1778

On Sunday we played two games. The first game was a naval game, taking place in 1778 in front of St. Lucia, a Caribbean island. It was presented by two members of the tabletop clubs Dresden and Sachsen. Jörg played the British and had to take three cargo ships to the harbour. They were accompanied by several war ships. The other half of his fleet was coming out of the harbour to meet the French.

I was Admiral d’Estaing, the commander of the French fleet. I had to sink the cargo ships and had to board the British admiral’s ship. One part of my fleet was moving towards the British ships coming out of the harbour, the other part of my fleet was going towards the cargo ships.

The Naval Battle of St. Lucia, 1778

The table looked fantastic and the scenario was lots of fun. The only little problem the scenario had in our case was that the starting point of the French ships, moving towards the cargo ships, was a bit too far away, so that they couldn’t possibly reach them.

The game masters had decided to give the French this disadvantage because the French had won all the games before we played. This reminded me how complex scenarios for war games are. Changing a little thing might change the outcome of the game completely. Anyways. I had a lot of fun.

same game, different Instagram filter

Jörg won. He managed to manoeuvre the cargo ships into the harbour and even defeated the French crew that tried to board the British admiral’s ship.

The last game we played at the Tactica this year had attracted me because of its unusually beautiful terrain. Evi from Team Würfelkrieg had made the colourful landscape of a planet in the Star Trek universe with airbrushed teddy bear fur as base. 

Star Trek – Distress call from Camus II

We were four players together in a team. One player controlled a group of scientists in a base that was attacked by Klingons. The other players, including Jörg and myself, played various Star Trek characters, who had landed in the jungle outside the base and were supposed to secure an object in the laboratory.

The rules had many role playing elements. What I enjoyed most about the game were the various ingenious attempts of the player controlling the science lab to get rid of the Klingons. He was playing around with the gravity and air pressure in the section where the Klingons attacked, making them crawl on the floor one turn and fly to the ceiling the other turn, grasping for air.

In the end we beamed the device we were supposed to secure to the Enterprise.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Hamburg Tactica 2019 / Saturday

When Jörg and I arrived at the Bürgerhaus Wilhelmsburg on Saturday morning, there was a long line of people waiting in front of the doors to get a ticket for the Tactica, Germany’s biggest wargaming convention with about 2500 visitors this year.

To my surprise, Jörg ignored all those waiting and somehow entered without lining up.

I walked towards the parking lot, trying to find the end of the line, and met Alex and Michael, two wargamers from around Wesel, with whom I had played a couple of games last year. They told me about their latest project of building a western town and two gangs for "Dead Man’s Hand".

Inside the Bürgerhaus Wilhelmsburg I met Jörg again and we went around looking for participation games to play. The friends from Wesel had sparked my interest in the Wild West, so the first game Jörg and I played on Saturday was "Shootout in Dingstown".

Shootout in Dingstown

It’s a skirmish game written by Axel Jansen, available in German through the website: www.dingstown.de

The author presented the game himself. 
We were four players. Axel Jansen had prepared several scenarios and about ten gangs with six figures each, including Daleks and gunslinger women. 

We chose a scenario where two rivaling groups of bandits had to rob a bank and the representatives of the law - Jörg and another gentleman - had to stop them.

I played a gang of Mexicans which gave me the chance to practice swearing in Spanish. Chinga tu madre. Puto. Pendejo.

Initiative was going from figure to figure until every figure had moved and was managed using a set of playing cards.

The Mexicans were entering the town through a cemetery close to the bank. My first move was stupid. I only had one bandit with a gun, able to shoot well enough at long distance. After he missed his first shot, I became nervous and moved him out on the street, where he was shot down immediately.

I needed some kind of plan and asked Axel Jansen if I had access to dynamite. He allowed me to equip the youngest member of my gang with dynamite.

I moved the bandits to the back of the bank, using a water mill as cover. Señor Rodríguez, the boss, even managed to shoot a guard inside the bank through a window. Then I blew away the back wall, which also opened the safe and killed the bank director, and I could get away with the gold through the graveyard.

"Shootout in Dingstown" has a focus on simple rules and doesn’t need many figures to play. Axel Jansen had prepared a beautiful Wild West town and gave us many choices. I was lucky to play the game with a fun group of people, so it was a good start to my weekend at the Tactica.

I looked around and about half the visitors of the Tactica had already left. Maybe a lot of people only come to the Tactica to buy things at the flea market?

The mountain fortress of Karak Varn

The second game we played was a dungeon crawler run by a member of the club Kurpfalz Feldherren, using the ruleset Frostgrave. Each year this club presents one or two fantastic tables at the Tactica. I’m always amazed how they do it …

We were four players, playing in teams of two. Each team had a wizard, his apprentice and a couple of henchmen. The two wizards and their followers entered the dungeon from different sides and had the same objectives: take out some treasure chests, kill big monsters and the overlord of the dungeon. There were traps, random monsters and secret passages …

Although the other team was very competitive and had a strong barbarian, Jörg and I won in the end. I guess we were just lucky.

After eating some potato salad with sausages in the main hall, we played a third game in the afternoon, "Ghostbusters", presented by the club Asgard Aschaffenburg.


Their table was impressive. It had large buildings and a part of the New York canalization hidden in a drawer, with ghost crocodiles and a giant worm.

I was very curious about 7TV, the ruleset they used, which I had wanted to try for a long time. Our game masters didn’t have so much experience with the rules though. Nevertheless, the game was fascinating.

The gameplay of 7TV is structured by the metaphor of a film set. You imagine two things at the same time: the action itself and a film crew making a movie. This creates a certain distance and adds a layer of irony to the game.


I wonder how entertaining this game can be, if you are more familiar with the rules. And I would like to know if playing something like "Clash of the Titans" or "Pirates of the Carribean" could be fun.

While I enjoyed the two layers of imagination the game creates, Jörg found it overly complicated. I want to try the game again. Is anybody in Berlin playing this?

At night we went to our favourite Turkish restaurant in St. Pauli and had a glass of wine in the hotel bar. Around 11 PM I was so tired, I fell asleep playing Hearthstone on the iPad, a card game I have been playing too much last year. (If you want to add me as a friend, my BattleTag is: zinnling #2975.)

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Goodbye Google+

I spent a few sleepless nights last week, staring at the computer screen until my back hurt, looking through my Google+ contacts before they vanish.  

It reminded me why I liked the gaming communities on Google+ so much. Fortunately most people have blogs or Instagram accounts where they publish their thoughts and pictures now.

I started to use Google+ in 2015, a bit reluctant at first, basically because it was pushed on you by Google if you had a blogger account.

The first thing I did in Google+ was post links to all my blog posts, a rather technical process.

I slowly started to find people on Google+ who posted interesting things about games.

Then I read in a forum how you should give your images meaningful names, instead of naming them bild1, bild2, bild3, etc.

The forum doesn't exist any more and I forgot its name.

I renamed all the images on my blog and - this was probably my biggest social media fail so far - deleted all my Google+ posts, because the images on my timeline had disappeared after I had renamed them, and then I posted the links to my blog posts on Google+ again.

At the same time I was discovering the rich OSR scene and various fantasy illustrators, miniature painters, sculptors and old school gamers. And I learned how most people involved in these communities don’t like spam on social media platforms and ads on blogs. (Playing around with AdSense was my second mistake, I guess. I’m sorry.)

Although I participated in the One Page Dungeon Contest, the Thought Eater Essay Contest and the Monster Man Contest, and even opened a Dragon Rampant community, which had seven members when I last counted, I stayed at the fringe of most gaming communities on Google+.

I like to be at the fringe of society, I guess, even at the fringe of fringe communities.

ginger bread space marine 1

ginger bread space marine 2

My most popular post on Google+ were two ginger bread space marines which I posted in the Warhammer 40k community in December 2015. It received 35 likes and a few kind comments:

"Merry emperor's day!"
"Nice chapter colors! 😀"
"Really nice!!"
"10/10 would devour."
"biscuits good enough for the emperor himself"

Thanks again.

Apart from sharing links to my blog posts, which I regularly did, and some recommendations of other people’s posts, I wrote a few genuine posts for Google+.

Here they are. All ten of them.


I just broke one of my favourite coffee mugs, washing the dishes.


I found a replica of a Greek or Roman bust in my aunt's house. Anybody know what it is?


Krüger, a friend of mine, made a power klaw out of green stuff. It's his first go at green stuff. I quite like it.


my daughter Lina writes a text for the One Page Dungeon Contest


Drinking a Capp Dop America Latina and reading a Greek grammar book on the ferry from Naxos to Athens.


drawing a map for the one page dungeon contest


Some nights ago, a black cat crossed my way, right in front of my legs. It ran from left to right or right to left. I don’t remember. This morning, I had to stop my bike because of two men carrying a coffin. They had transported the coffin in a shabby car which was parked on my right side and walked to the cemetery on my left side. According to traditional superstitious beliefs, is this good luck or bad luck?

Evan Hughes: I'm very sceptical of superstitions, like most Sagittarians.


"Alle, die böse sind, haben eine leuchtende Hose und können fliegen."

Evil people, according to my son.





Wednesday, 27 March 2019

One Page Dungeon Contest

three endless quest books

A few weeks ago a parcel arrived from Waynes's Books with three D&D Endless Quest books:

#1 Dungeon of Dread
#5 Revolt of the Dwarves
#6 Revenge of the Rainbow Dragons

My kids got these books because they wrote a dungeon for the One Page Dungeon Contest last year and received an honorable mention.

dungeon of dread

I found a translation of Dungeon of Dread on Ebay which my daughter is currently reading. Die Höhle des Ungeheuers.

This year, the deadline for the One Page Dungeon Contest is on May 1st.

Lina, Hendrik and Joaquín are already excited, thinking about another dungeon ...

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Three Mud Huts

3 mud huts

Over the holidays I made three more mud huts.

And my daughter made a house for a goblin sorcerer.

Happy New Year!

paper mache house