Nordic Weasel Games

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Upgrade your design: Cross referencing rules

Just a quick post today since I am pretty busy. 

Cross referencing rules throughout the rulebook: Yay or nay?

By cross referencing I mean that each rule will list any applicable conditions and modifiers found elsewhere in the system. For example if you have a rule for smoke grenades that adds a -2 hit penalty, then you might add a note of that in your chapter on ranged combat or in the table of hit modifiers. 

As another example if you have a rule that figures that get hit might be pinned down, but androids and zombies are immune to this, you might add that to the section on pinning.

The advantage of doing this is that each rule becomes effectively standalone and comprehensive. If I check the rules for pinning, I can see all possible conditions and effects. This reduces the chance of me forgetting about it during the game, especially in cases where I might not otherwise be aware the secondary rule exists at all.

As such cross referencing can be tremendously helpful and is likely to improve the usability of your game rules (and remember game rules are utilitarian: They are intended to be used actively at a table). 

There are a couple of drawbacks however:

If your game has a lot of special rules and exceptions (such as is the case for many sci-fi and fantasy games) things can get out of hand pretty quickly. If your book has 20 different functions that can all modify the hit roll due to particular bits of equipment, rules, conditions or abilities, do you really want to list everyone? A common answer here is to limit yourself to either certain categories (so tabletop conditions and status effects might be in, equipment modifiers are out) or try to only pick out the most common occurrences (fog and night time modifiers are in, left-handed shooting of a medium sized firearm while balancing on a hoverboard is out)

There is also a significant amount of upkeep involved in establishing cross referencing and maintaining it afterwards, because the same rule is now referenced in multiple locations. I recently flipped through a rulebook that gave retreat distances as one distance in the main rules for morale, but in the movement phase summary of how units move when they have failed morale, the distance was different. The more items you try to cross reference the more you will run into this problem. 

You can alleviate this somewhat by using consistent terminology, so you can use cmd+f / ctrl+f to find all instances where a particular rule or term is mentioned.

A final concern happens when material is across multiple books such as expansions or army books. It can be helpful to have these elements referenced, but for players who are not using that expansion it can add to the clutter (not to mention irritating people who are not ready to purchase more content yet)

The upshot of it all is that at least some cross referencing is helpful to make your rulebook more accessible in play, but it does bear some thinking about how to do it.

That is all for today folks. If you like these types of posts, please consider supporting my Patreon at 

Upgrade your design: Separate flavour and rules text

Let me present you with two presentations of the same rule:

The Spell of Extreme Death is an ancient ritual that conjures up the shadows of the netherworld on a casting roll of 7+. Tendrils of evil shadow reach out to a range of 9" and the target must make a saving throw as the choking vapours of Blitterbops assails them. Due to the nature of shadow magickz they do not affect cybernetic units. Consuming a healthy breakfast of oatmeal will also provide protection from the dire perils conjured up by this forbidden arcanery.


The Spell of Extreme Death is an ancient ritual that conjures up the shadows of the netherworld as tendrils of shadow assailt the target with the choking vapours of Blitterbops.

Casting roll 7+, Range 9". Saving Throw required by target. 

Does not affect Cybernetic units or units who had oatmeal for breakfast (only)

Now imagine that the page has 9 more spells crammed in on it and you are trying to find the information quickly, because you are gaming with Bob and Bob never writes down the details for his spells.

I am also generally a proponent of reducing "colourful" commentary ("If they fail a saving throw, the target is vapourised in a shower of hot metal fragments") in games text, though this is strictly a personal taste. I just prefer keeping things tight and tidy. To me, the rules section should be clearly available on its own, because it is going to be referenced during game play and you want the player to be able to do soat a glance. 

Remember that a game rulebook is a functional text first and a book to be read for entertainment second. 

Common Questions (Update)

An update to an older post, covering some common questions that get asked once in a while. 

Who are you exactly?

My name is Ivan, I am in my early 40s, I was born and grew up in Denmark and live in the United States currently. At this point I have spent about half my life in each place and depending on which day of the week I feel like one, both or neither.

What is your day job?

Nordic Weasel Games is my day job and pays for my rent, car and other things. It has been so for quite a few years. 

Are you / do you believe in / do you support X ?

These days I do not tend to discuss politics with people I am not friends with. 

If you understand Danish politics, I voted SF before I moved. 

What is your opinion on X hobby/industry topic?

I do not generally comment on hobby drama or personality clashes. 

Do you do x social media platform?

Probably not. I try out things now and again but I tend to find the experience aggravating and unpleasant.  

I do post on the Five Parsecs and Five Leagues Facebook groups since that is where the majority of fans seem to contribute these days and even I must go with the flow of progress. 

What do you play personally?

A bit of everything when I get the chance. I often play games made by other people when playing recreationally, since it helps me to not be in "work brain" mode all the time. I also like to try different games. 

With a couple of exceptions I tend not to like games that require purchasing a specific range of figures so I prefer more generic science fiction games. 

These days most of my miniatures gaming is historical with WW1 and WW2 being the primary topics. I also enjoy hex-and-counter wargames and do a lot of roleplaying. I don't really play CCG's any longer though I do enjoy the format.

Are you part of OSR/Oldhammer/some other movement?

Not generally though I have dabbled in all kinds of things over the years.  

What scales of miniatures do you collect? 

15mm and 1/72 are the primary ranges.

I have some smaller piles of other stuff but I try to avoid accumulating too much stuff.

Is it true you write for 15mm first? 

I usually test games in 15mm or 1/72 scale first. It happens that the distances I like in those scales also tend to match up with common ranges and movement rates for 28mm games, so it works out just fine. 

What happened to X product?

Some game lines just don't catch on and I can't justify spending time on them. Other games I did everything I wanted to and the game is finished as far as I figure it. Sometimes I just simply don't have the time to do more with it. 

Specifically regarding Trench Storm and FAD the rights were sold off.

Why do some betas not get a full release?

This usually happens if there wasn't enough interest or because in hindsight the system was too fiddly or not very fun to play. Some games saw a hundred or more downloads during the beta and not a single comment on them, which is a good sign that the idea needs more work. 

Why aren't you doing X obvious thing?

It may be because I am not super interested in the topic (superheroes), I need to do more research first (naval combat) or it is a really good idea but I haven't had the time for it yet.

If the idea is one that requires significant upfront money or a high chance of getting stock with unsold items, I am 1000% less likely to be interested. 

Is there some secret logic behind what projects you do?

It has to be something I am interested in personally. It needs to not be overdone in the market (usually) and I need to have an idea of how to put my own spin on it. It also needs to be something that I think somebody will pay money for. 

Is it FiveCore or 5Core?

Both get used online. I prefer FiveCore. 

I want to write games, what advice do you have? 

Write a lot. Build up a back catalogue. Every project will encounter "The Suck": Learn to power through it. Stay out of internet drama. Treat every person with kindness. Don't pursue internet trends. 

What things will you never do, so we should stop asking?

Anything to do with the OSR or D&D stuff in general. 

Any edgelord stuff. 

What are your favorite bands of all time?

Bolt Thrower and Blind Guardian.

What are your favorite movies of all time?

Aliens, Shawshank Redemption, Pretty Woman.

What are your favorite authors of all time?

Michael Moorcock, Mercedes Lackey, Jack Vance.

Musing: Collecting for games

The topic of today is collecting for games, which in our case usually means miniatures. 

I think it's safe to say that nerds generally like to collect stuff. We all end up with extra stuff we don't quite end up doing anything with, whether its half an army for a game that didn't take off, a few packs we got for cheap at a convention but never opened or a couple of characters in a scale we don't collect and for a conflict we don't game. 

It's common enough that people coin the term Pile of Shame to describe their unused stuff. Board gamers and RPG'ers have a similar thing regarding unplayed games (usually called the Shelf of Shame). Curiously while a lot of miniatures gamers do buy a lot of rules they don't get around to playing, I rarely see people fretting over the number of unplayed game rules in the miniatures hobby. Maybe a reflection that the miniatures are the primary investment? 

In the last few years I have rooted out a lot of old stuff and ended up getting rid of a lot that I had bought and never gotten around to using (and more importantly knew I wouldn't get around to using). I weeded out my board game and RPG collections along similar lines: If I was going to keep a physical copy, it had to be something I actively wanted to play again. 

A lot of this was miniatures stuff that didn't add up to anything playable: A handful of 2mm ACW blocks, some 6mm scifi that I had no terrain for, a couple of true 25mm scifi figures that match up with nothing else I own at all. You can probably look at your own shelves and find a lot of similar remnants. Worse was that I realised none of these were projects I wanted to finish. 

The whole thing gave me plenty of time to sit and think about the hobby in general and formulate a few thoughts:

* If you are going to start a project, consider starting with a pretty decent chunk. If you are collecting for a specific game, buy enough that it will add up to at least a small army for that game. Having figures you cannot play games with can be really demoralising. 

* However don't over do it up front either. Yes I know "Do this but not too much". Some people will realise that they will just shut down if they are looking at painting 300 infantry figures, so if that is you, take the "small army" part seriously.

* Be sceptical if you are considering buying something in a scale you do not normally collect. Are you going to build potentially a couple of full armies and the terrain to go with them?

* Consider whether you actually want to have a playable army or if you are just after painting a few figures or a couple of units for the shelf. Deciding this up front can relieve a lot of stress. 

* Don't underestimate the need for terrain. Some things are universal of course (rocks!) some things are usable in a pretty wide range of settings (old fashioned European farm house) but your sci-fi landing pad probably won't see a lot of use outside of science fiction games. If you do not own any suitable terrain, it makes an additional hurdle to get over.

* Are you going to provide both armies or only one? If you are getting into a project with someone else, coordinate with them so it does not turn out you both decided to do 1940 French. If you are doing a project for solo gaming, then you are of course free to do anything you like, but you also need to double the amount of work. 

* Consider setting some time frames. Remember things take longer than you think they do and they often take longer if you are not pushing yourself. Can you paint a squad per week? How long will a tank platoon actually take? Routines work well and having a regular painting night is also a great way to de-stress. 

* Be suspicious of the human urge to "buy it now because then one day I might want to use it". You probably won't. 

Happy painting.

Parsecs house rule: Scatter terrain as cover

If you saw the Tactics playtests you are already familiar with this. The rule will also be in Planetfall and is easily adaptable to Five Parsecs From Home.

Scatter Terrain

Scatter is terrain that is small and individual such as a tree, boulder, crate or barrel. A typical piece of scatter is about big enough that a single figure can take cover behind it, but no larger. It is called this because it can be "scattered" around the gaming table. Usually at the end of setting up your terrain, you might do that to just add a little more visual flair. If you have a few wide areas with no terrain, a couple of trees or rocks can break it up visually and make things look nicer. 

The Scatter Terrain rule is a way to take that process and make it actually a part of the game mechanics.

A figure immediately behind (and touching) a piece of scatter terrain is in cover if they are being fired on from the opposing side.

Additionally if the firer rolls a natural 6, the shot blows apart or collapses the cover. The target avoids harm but the scatter terrain is removed from play. 


The rule is as it is because it is quick and easy: No additional roll is required and you just have to check for a natural 6. 

If you feel it is a bit weird to penalise a 6, you can change it so it occurs if you roll exactly the target number (or even if you roll 1 below the target number or a natural 1). 

You could also make it a saving throw instead if you prefer to go that route. 

Game update: Rogue Hammer 1.08

Rogue Hammer v 1.08 is now live on Wargame Vault. Patrons at 10+ dollars have also received a copy.

This clarifies how anti vehicle assaults work and updates all the unit profiles to have a distinct anti tank value when assaulting. The game should be a lot clearer to understand now.

Preview: Planetfall

Please note that Planetfall is not finalised as the title.

I thought I would share a little bit about how characters will work in Five Parsecs: Planetfall. Broadly your professional crew consists of three classes:

Scientists, Explorers and Troopers. 

Each has their own starting profile, capabilities and special type of armour. 

Scientists are your go-to when it comes to a lot of the mission tasks such as scientific curiosities. In particular they will help you improve the odds of gaining rewards and completing certain objectives. They are of course the least capable when it comes to combat. They also feature advanced environmental protection suits. 

Explorers grant bonuses to avoid being ambushed and can help get better results out of unexplored segments of the battlefield. They are also highly mobile both featuring short range jump jets and being able to choose if they move before or after firing.

Lastly the Trooper is there to kill things. They were armour and can lay down rapid fire (if they act in the Quick Phase and dont move they can fire in both player phases). They also have access to the heavier firepower. 

Your campaign roster will have 4 of each and hyou are free to pick the composition of a squad you send into the field. Note that unlike other games you can have more than one battle per campaign turn. Sending out all your Troopers for example might mean you are short of bodies if you get attacked elsewhere.

There is a bonus class known as Specialists. By default these can consist of things like operational staff, medics or unity agents and offer their own benefits. If you import characters from another game they also act as specialists allowing you to bring your favourite characters along for the adventure on a new world.

Design diary: Laserstorm

One of the games that I always felt a very deep fondness for was Games Workshop's "Epic" line of games. I had started with Epic 40.000 and got into NetEpic (based off the 2nd edition Space Marine/Titan Legions games) later on. I had also helped playtest Peter Ramos' Heresy rules for Epic scale combat. 

For a while it seemed that as Epic receded, other rules would take over the mantle but none seemed to establish themselves as a premier option and I eventually decided to throw my hat into the ring. I had taken inspiration from Space Marine 2e in particular before, with my Trench Storm rules, but this was the first time I would do so more directly.

As such I knew that I wanted the basic mechanics to be similar: Roll to hit for each major weapon system and saving throws to determine survival. This would allow combat between units of tanks to be resolved quite quickly and still allow a fair amount of detail with weapons having different hit rolls, save modifiers and potentially other traits. This was expanded by letting weapons be designated as Anti-Infantry, Anti-Tank or General Purpose. 

An additional tweak to the Space Marine formula is that infantry take their saving throws on 1D6,  tanks on 2D6, Super heavy tanks on 3D6 and so forth. This works pretty well to make those units quite resilient and also helps open up the range of numbers. A weapon with a -2 save modifier is concerning to a tank but a desperate measure against a super heavy tank for example. 

Early in the design process I decided that there should be no tracking of any kind: No markers, status effects or tokens. For the largest units this ended up being a bit wonky. While a "behemoth" (giant robots etc.) has a rather respectable saving throw on 4D6, they do go down from one failed save. In hindsight that was probably taking the idea too far. 

Morale works very well however. Units that fail a morale test are removed from the table but can be regrouped and brought back near a commander later on, making for an extremely smooth experience where units are fought off and then brought back to launch new assaults or reinforce a different area. Its a very cool effect that feels more clever in play than it was perhaps ever intended to be. 

For the turn sequence I went with a card system which I was into at the time, but I wanted to avoid huge decks of cards. As such each army is assigned to only 3 cards making for a very compact deck. This also results in a decent amount of combined arms feeling as units on the same card can move and support each other. A few extra cards thrown into the deck allow some reaction fire to occur to make things a little less predictable.

The package is rounded out by a bunch of unit builders and, unusually for a Weasel game, a full map driven campaign with unit rosters and everything. This was inspired by the "mega wars" campaign system for Epic and 40K, published in the Citadel Journal. 

All in all Laserstorm was a clear attempt to take an existing idea and advance the mechanics to new goals. It was also one of the first cases where I was explicitly targeting a particular figure scale. I am pretty pleased with it as a design though there were some shortcomings to be fixed in a future new edition.

You can purchase Laserstorm here