Sunday, January 3, 2021

Rakehell - A Review of Exiles and Petty Brigandage

Rakehell is damnably good. It's been circling in my mind since I found it earlier this year, worming its way into my other games and infecting my own ideas of play and creation. I could attempt to dive into the miserable little slice of the world that Brian has presented here which is full of toil, suffering, and fragile hope... but I'm afraid I'm quite ill-equipped to do it justice. 

But I'll try anyway. So think of this as more of a semi-coherent ramble (which I hope you can understand) trying to get across why this zine has been occupying my thoughts even still.

Getting the "overview" out of the way, Rakehell is a full toolkit for KNAVE outlining just about everything you'd need to adventure in a sad little region called the Rift. From adventurer generators, content randomizer for exploration, villains and fiends with plenty of variation, and brilliant factions that ooze atmosphere and spur on faction play. Oh and two thematic adventures, a base town, a reactive black market for PCs to influence. 

There's a lot here. It's $3. Go get it.

So Why the Obsession?

I must confess, I am a huge Warhammer Fantasy fan. The aesthetic and world of WFRP (both 1st and 2nd editions), were right up my alley. It was grim, perilous, dirty, and violent. It immediately captured me and changed the type of stories and settings I would create with my players at the table, even when we weren't playing it. All that mud and blood made the real heroics or victories (when they did occur), all the sweeter.

Something similar happened when I cracked open Rakehell and began pouring over the truly immense amount of content packed into its 90+ pages. Where Warhammer reveled in the darkness of the world (I mean come on, just look at the Chaos Warriors or Beastmen), Rakehell is ultimately about people and their imperfect nature. It's about bad choices, mistakes, desperately clutching to what you once knew in the face of the unknown, petty justification, and the pain you cause others to shield yourself. It's comparatively a very human and personal affair next to the "eternal chaos threat from hell dimension" shenanigans I know from WFRP, but it retains that great dirty and pathetic aesthetic with Brian's own evocative and eloquent twists added throughout.

I mean, it touches on the ugly bits we should be scared of in *this* dimension: empire, institutional failure, the corruption of the spirit and of "noble" causes, the abuse of power, kicking down, and more.

"No Man is an Island"

This evocative flavoring is present everywhere in Rakehell. From the various tables for customizing foes like sinful wyrms or pitiful bandits, to the very weapons and kits PCs start their exile with. But nowhere does this truly shine like the factions presented. There are 10 in all, and each one is just asking for conflict, intrigue, sacrifice, and ruination in equal measure.

See, PCs can start and join a faction throughout the course of a game in the Rift. In fact, it's quite likely they'll do so. Loners and untrustworthy sorts who nobody likes don't last long. It's a land of exiles and folk aching for an opportunity, and nothing screams you're an easy mark like flying solo.

The factions that the characters join can help illuminate what's happening in your world and really make the Rift your own. It organically sets up scheming guilds, pompous institutions, belligerent nations, and zealous religions in one powder keg of a border region. This is ripe for everything from folks getting a second chance to heralding the drums of war whose threat is ever-present.

I also quite like how it hits home the fact that everything you do for the faction, ultimately eats you up in a way. You become less of your own boss (and maybe less than human in one way or another) and more of their instrument, doing their dirty work, trying to move up in the chain in this region that eats people alive. There are no illusions of ever leading a faction or having a say in its goals. Very much sets the tone of faction play here.

Other Random Things I Like

I really like how the factions have unique initiations and shape how characters can earn XP. For example, upon joining the dog-soldiers of the Barghestknecht characters are rewarded for conquering, military, a military junta, or taking a goblin spouse. You also get their nasty tools and grinning helms at a discount.

I like the tables for customizing threats. No two brigand groups are the same and not all of them are generic baddies. For some, their brigandage is quite understandable. A pitiful lot really. The less human threats, like the specters of the First Men or the wicked Fiends, also get quite a bit of nuance from their random tables, full of rich fodder at the table.

It has an Appendix N! I wish more content did this. Brian suggests several other zines, products, and toolkits that would be right at home in Rakehell. Not only does this grant some much-needed attention to great content, but it's a rich way to look at the ways a work can be twisted or tailored for your own table. "Hey, here's some cool stuff to bolt onto this and what you might do with it" is always great.

The weather is... strange in these parts. It is truly bizarre. 12 entries to really get across that the Rift is just not a good place. One moment you're setting up camp, the next thing you know a creeping cold fog filled with predatory things spreads down from the mountains or whaling some clouds for sustenance. Keep that almanac close at hand!

I could go on and on.

Final Words

Like I said when I started this whole thing, it's good and I'm quite fond of it (if you couldn't tell). I've run several escapades with it using KNAVE, Into the Odd, and Whitehack. I've used it for several other campaigns entirely removed from the Rift as well. It's $3. An expanded sequel work is on the way. What more excuse do you need to pick it up?

Friday, December 25, 2020

Outlaw Merchant 2nd Edition

John Blanche

OUTLAW MERCHANT is my attempt to use the framework of Electric Bastionland and Into the Odd to tell stories of grimdark heresy in the universe of Warhammer 40k. These stories are more subtle, where the focus is shifted back to more of a relatable, human perspective.

Characters are usually navigating their way through a maze of covert operations, sinister alien threats, and murderous intrigue, thankful for the rusted autopistol that is their only protection.

Your investigations and missions will change you.

UPDATE: Grab it in pdf form here.

Use the Free Edition of ELECTRIC BASTIONLAND as the base with the following changes, additions, and considerations.


  • One Player acts as REMEMBRANCER in place of having their own character.
  • Their job is to describe the world, adjudicate on rulings, and keep things moving forward.


  • As a group, you are a newly activated band of acolytes to an INQUISITOR.
  • The youngest player rolls to determine the INQUISITOR that you serve. This should color the nature of your missions and assignments.
  • The INQUISITOR expects results and loyalty during execution of your duties.


  1. QUIXOS, FORMERLY ORDO MALLEUS. Obsessed with witchcraft, forbidden arts, and the the Warp. You probably don't know he's gone rogue.
  2. LORD SHARPE, ORODO HERETICUS. Noted radical. Ruthlessly suppresses the very same intel and data they collect for their own ambiguous use.
  3. VILS ANDARION, ORDO XENOS. Currently pursing a fringe theory regarding strange Warp interactions with older xenos sites in the sub-sector.
  4. KHARKIV, ORDO HERETICUS. Paranoid militant who sees enemies and traitors everywhere mankind lives and breathes.
  5. BRAND, ORDO MALLEUS. Zealous fanatic. Believes daemons are lies given form. Currently untangling a massive conspiracy that spans the sector.
  6. SARROW GORN, ORDO XENOS. Cold bastard. Expert hunter and scholar of xeno-biology. Interested in live capture and bio-samples.

Or make up your own.

THE RIVAL (Optional)

  • The REMEMBRANCER rolls up a character that is somehow pursuing or foiling the same objective as the Players.
  • These might be rival agents of another INQUISITOR or some other disruptive third party.
  • The Rival gets an extra d6hp after receiving their starting equipment. They may have Lackeys and Servants.
  • If you delay, your Rival might compromise your mission.

LACKEYS (Optional)

Small groups may create one or more Lackeys for each player. Roll 2d6 for each Ability Score, give the 1hp and roll 1d6 for their weapon. Lackeys may be acolyte hopefuls, servitors, bodyguards, hired muscle, or some other type of indentured and destitute servant.


  1. Rusted autopistol (d6).
  2. Antique powder-rifle (d6, Bulky).
  3. Battered rod (d6).
  4. Rusted staff (d6, Bulky).
  5. Old blade (d6).
  6. Metal flail (d6, Bulky).


As characters become more grizzled and SCARRED, they become harder and the darkness of the galaxy starts to rub off on them.

John Blanche


Roll 3d6 for each ABILITY SCORE.

  • STRENGTH (STR) — Power and Toughness.
  • DEXTERITY (DEX) — Quickness and Precision.
  • WILLPOWER (WIL) — Discipline and Presence.

Characters start with d6 HIT PROTECTION (HP). They gain more HP as they become more grizzled and SCARRED.

As a group, the characters also have:

  • Vox-beads, with an encrypted channel.
  • Vat-grown foodstuff.
  • Glow-globes and stab lights.

Choose a NAME and three DESCRIPTORS. Pick or make up some of your own.

  • Pale, Cursed, Regal, Sickly, Frail, Educated, Sardonic, Laconic, Sensitive
  • Gilded, Baroque, Prescient, Hardy, Cunning, Melancholy, Stolid, Brooding
  • Troubled, Ebullient, Acerbic, Pragmatic, Honorable, Stern. Tired

Record any other personal details you wish (pronouns, homeworld, etc.).

Roll 1d8 to determine your BACKGROUND. Each background comes with some trappings.


"Knowledge is power. Do not waste it on the masses."

  • Stub gun (d6).
  • Imperial robes.
  • Auto-quill.
  • A collection of rare records.


"No shield may stay the blade of justice."

  • Shotgun (d6, BLAST, BULKY).
  • Metal truncheon (d6).
  • Enforcer carapace (Armour 1, Bulky).
  • Manacles.


“The Emperor wills all things, even death. Some deaths He wills swifter than others…”

  • Scoped rifle (d6, PERK - long-range, Bulky).
  • Sword (d6).
  • Armoured body glove (Armour 1 against attacks causing d6 or lower).
  • Throwing knives (d6).


"One who is without faith is without a soul. Suffer not the soulless in thy ministry, for they make doors for dangerous forces."

  • Warhammer (d8, BULKY).
  • Stub revolver (d6).
  • Aquila necklace.
  • Ministry robes.


"Life is war. And I'm gonna win!

  • Lasgun (d6, BONUS DAMAGE, BULKY).
  • Knife (d6).
  • Flak armour (Armour 1 against explosions only).
  • The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer.


"I have stood within the palace of the Throne of Holy Terra itself. There my soul was shattered and re-formed, a living weapon forged on the Emperor's will."

  • Staff (d6, BULKY).
  • A sanctioning brand somewhere on your body.
  • Psykana mercy blade (d4).


  • You possess Witch-Sight and can sense the currents and eddies of the Warp in real-space.
  • You belong to a PSYCHIC DISCIPLINE and have mastered a simple PSYCHIC POWER (d5):
    1. Biomancy: "Bio-lightning".
    2. Divination: "Warp Perception".
    3. Pyromancy: "Manipulate Flames".
    4. Telekinesis: "Telekinetic Control".
    5. Telepathy: "Telepathic Link".

[7] SCUM

“Yeah, crime pays. Why else do you think I do it?”

  • Autogun (d6, BONUS DAMAGE, BULKY).
  • Brass knuckles (d6 each).
  • Colorful streetwear.
  • Ganger regalia.


"I am a child of the Omnissiah, cultist of the Machine God. The rites of manifold applications, the liturgies and the songs of Engine-seeing are mine own to know. I speak to the spirits of ancient tech machines, from the warrior heart of a battle tank to the secret wisdom of a cogitator."

  • Laspistol (d6).
  • Metal staff (d6, BULKY).
  • Red robes and cult vestments.
  • Vials of sacred Machine Oil.


  • You have begun extensively replacing your weak flesh. You have Mechanicus Implants (You always have at least Armour 1).
John Blanche


The player says what they want the power to do based on the character's Disciplines and the specific Power's wording. They then make a ruling if that is possible and how much power it would take, and comes to an agreement with the player.


  • PSYCHIC POWERS are categorized into DISCIPLINES.
  • Most Psykers specialize in one DISCIPLINE.
  • Mentors, cults, and strange artefacts may grant access to more POWERS or even new DISCIPLINES.


  • Psykers may harness the Warp to bend reality with PSYCHIC POWERS.
  • PSYCHIC POWERS are written as a few evocative words.
  • It is usable on a per situation agreement between the REMEMBRANCER and player, based on the power wording and the psyker's DISCIPLINES.
  • Each power use deals d4, d6, d8, d10, or d12 damage.
  • A lower cost may be negotiated by introducing drawbacks or complications.
  • Very powerful or reckless powers require a WIL save to avoid a perilous Warp catastrophe of the REMEMBRANCER's choosing.

Some powers may be expensive because they alter reality a lot, have long durations, large areas of effect, targets get no save, instant casting time, or similar. Some powers are cheap because the location is right, they have short effects, small scope, allow the target to save, take a long time, or similar.

John Blanche



  • CLASS D WEAPONS: d4 Damage. Anything crude, improvised, or unarmed.
  • CLASS C WEAPONS: d6 Damage. Laspistols, lasguns, stub guns, swords, bayonets, etc.
  • CLASS B WEAPONS: d8 Damage. Boltguns, power swords, chainswords, heavy stubbers, etc.
  • CLASS A WEAPONS: d10 Damage. Powerfists, melta guns, assault cannons, thunder hammers, etc.
  • CLASS S WEAPONS: d12 Damage. Earthshaker cannons, mega-bolters, being stepped on by a titan, etc.


  • Weapons start at d6, one-handed as a base.
  • Add [KEYWORDS] to customize weapons.
  • Every positive [KEYWORD] requires a negative [KEYWORD].
  • Multiples of the same [KEYWORD] stack.

+ BLAST: Affect all targets in an appropriate area.
+ DIE INCREASE: Step up the damage die.
+ BONUS DAMAGE: Deals an extra die of damage, taking the highest.
+ PERK: Has some beneficial quality.
- BULKY: Needs two hands to wield.
- DIE DECREASE: Step down the damage die.
- QUIRK: Has some negative quality or tradeoff.

    • LASPISTOL d6.
    • SWORD d6.
    • SHODDY CHAINSWORD d6, BONUS DAMAGE, QUIRK - On a 1, impaired until you take a round to loudly fire it up.


  • CLASS D ARMOUR: Purely cosmetic. Grants no Armour.
  • CLASS C ARMOUR: Conditionally grants Armour 1.
  • CLASS B ARMOUR: Grants Armour 1.
  • CLASS A ARMOUR: Grants Armour 2.
  • CLASS S ARMOUR: Grants Armour 3.


  • All armour starts at CLASS C as a base.
  • Add [KEYWORDS] to customize armour.
  • Every positive [KEYWORD] requires a negative [KEYWORD].
  • Multiples of the same [KEYWORD] stack.

+ PERK: Has some beneficial quality.
- BULKY: Notably heavy or burdensome.
- QUIRK: Has some tradeoff or negative quality.

    • FLAK ARMOUR Armour 1 against explosions.
    • ARMOURED BODY GLOVE Armour 1 against attacks causing d6 or lower.
    • MESH ARMOUR Armour 1, RARE.
    • MAKESHIFT INDUSTRIAL ARMOUR Armour 2, BULKY, QURIK: Can't move and act.
    • LIGHT POWER ARMOUR Armour 1, PERK: Enhanced strength, EXOTIC.
    • POWER ARMOUR Armour 2, PERK: Enhanced strength, LEGENDARY.
    • TERMINATOR ARMOUR Armour 3, PERK: Enhanced strength, UNIQUE.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

City of the Damned - Electric Bastionland Meets Mordheim

Art from the Mordheim rulebook

In which I continue to use the excellent artbook/specialist games that Games Workshop killed as FKR sourcebooks for Electric Bastionland. I mean look at the illustrators on this one: John Blanche, Alex Boyd, David Gallagher, Nual Kennedy, Karl Kopinski, Paul Smith, and John Wigley. Good lord.

Mordheim and Inquisitor are such rich fonts of inspiration. We won't see their kind from GW again.

City of the Damned

Whatever you were, cruel fate and dire circumstances have forced you to become a wyrdstone hunting mercenary in a dreadful city destroyed by a meteorite.

The horrors of this DAMNED CITY will ruin you.

The base of the rules is Electric Bastionland. Slick and easy to use.

Roll 3d6 for your ABILITY SCORES and a d6 for HIT PROTECTION as you would in Electric Bastionland.

You start with d6 Brass Pennies (p).

240 Brass Pennies (p) = 20 Silver Shillings (s) = 1 Gold Crown (gc).

Your mercenary company has a crushing debt of 50gc. More money than you've ever seen in your rotten life. 

The CONDUCTOR should make a rival just as they would in EB.

Any Lackeys start with one of the following (d6):

  1. Hammer (d6, Bulky)
  2. Dagger (d6)
  3. Sword (d6)
  4. Mace (d6)
  5. Axe (d6. Bulky)
  6. Crossbow (d6, Bulky)
Art from the Mordheim rulebook


This is a time of remitting war, civil strife, violence, and famine. A time of orphan children and wanton slaughter. For warrior these are good times! Since the discovery of the wyrdstone, Mordheim has become a magnet for fighting folk from all over the Empire. Nobles, merchants, and the Temple itself offer rich rewards for shards of the precious stone. Foremost among the patrons of these mercenary warriors are the three powerful contenders for the Emperor's throne. - Mordheim Rulebook, p. 63

Give your company a suitable fitting name such as the Wolfheads or the Bloody Dozen.

If you are the youngest player, you're the CAPTAIN. Roll a d3 to determine your PATRON

  • The Grand Prince of Reikland
  • The Count of Middenheim
  • Lady Magritta of Mairienburg

Everyone else is a mercenary, either a hopeful Youngblood or a bitter Veteran.

Your Patron may give you some insight into your characters:
  • REIKLAND. The heart of the Empire and seat of the Temple of Sigmar.
    • Devout and proud | Close-minded and haughty
    • Strong tradition of martial training | Overeager for conflict
    • Brave and disciplined | Distant and cold
  • MIDDENHEIM. City of the White Wolf and bitter rivals to Reikland.
    • Large and strongly built | Brutish and slow
    • Reputation of ferocity | Savage and backward
    • Contemptuous of danger | Wild and uncontrolled
  • MARIENBURG. The City of Gold and the most prosperous trading city in the Old World.
    • Sumptuously dressed and armed | Foppish and effete
    • Skilled at arms | Cut-throat and ruthless
    • Roguish and clandestine | Criminal and underhanded
Art from the Mordheim rulebook


As a Company, your Expedition has:

  • Torches and tinderboxes.
  • Shoddy climbing and camping equipment.
  • Foul food and dirty water.

Each character starts with the following:


  • 1-2: No armour. Good luck.
  • 3-4: Light armour (Armour 1 against attacks causing d6 or lower). Everything from hardened leather tunics to chain shirts forged from steel with the occasional helmet. Not much but better than nothing.
  • 5-6: Heavy armour (Armour 1, Bulky). Typically chain mail or steel breastplates and greaves, this armour offers excellent protection at a cost.


  • 1-4: No shield. Stay towards the back.
  • 5: Buckler (Armour 1 against melee attacks causing d6 or lower). Small, round shields made for parrying or deflecting.
  • 6: Shield (+1 Armour, Bulky). Either wood, occasionally reinforced with some metal, or metal.


  • 1: Zweihander, great axe, or great hammer (d8, Bulky).
  • 2: Flail, halberd, or spear (d8, Bulky).
  • 3: Axe or club (d6, Bulky).
  • 4-6: Dagger, sword, or mace (d6).
  • 7-9: Crossbow or bow (d6, Bulky).
  • 10: Pistol (d6, misfires on a 1, requiring a Rest to fix).
  • 11: Handgun (d8, Bulky, misfires on a 1, requiring a Rest to fix).
  • 12: Blunderbuss (d6 Blast, Bulky, requires a Rest to clean and reload).


  1. Case of poison (d3). Universally abhorred but a common last resort for the desperate.
    1. Vial of Deathtouch. Lose d20 STR if consumed.
    2. Black Lotus coating. d12 STR loss on Critical Damage.
    3. Dark Venom coating. d12 DEX loss on Critical Damage.
  2. Ether leaves. Smoked. STR save or pass out for an hour.
  3. Lucky charm. Just a piece of junk, whatever it is. Or is it?
  4. Vial of blessed water. Good for warding off the unholy (d6 damage each round until washed off).
  5. Elven cloak. Made from maiden's hair and interwoven with living tree leaves. Blends into the shadows. 1 Armour against ranged weapons only.
  6. Hunting arrows. Barbed and nasty. Arrows do d6 DEX loss on Critical Damage.
  7. Garlic. Said to ward off vampires and other denizens of the dark.
  8. Net. Man-sized.
  9. Keg of Bugman's ale. Extremely potent. Helps cope with the horrors of this place.
  10. Tome of magic. Full of strange symbols and forbidden lore. Only useful for wizards.
  11. Holy tome. Book of prayer and descriptions of the holy deeds of religious heroes.
  12. Pouch of healing herbs. Restore STR and DEX with overnight treatment.
  13. Holy relic. Supposedly. Good for encouragement in this age of superstition.
  14. Halfling cookbook. Full of delicious, secret recipes fit for a feast.
  15. An animal (d4). The filth kills most animals quickly and many are butchered for food. This is an exception.
    1. Mutt (2 HP, d4 bite).
    2. Hound (5 HP, d6 bite).
    3. Mule (3 HP).
    4. Horse (6 HP).
  16. Lantern. Can be closed to dim the light.
  17. Superior black powder. High quality. Enough for one fire-fight. +d6 bonus damage.
  18. Map of the City (d6). Some survivors nearby make a living by preparing maps of the City from memory.
    1. Fake. Completely worthless and likely leads you on a fool's errand.
    2. Vague. Generally accurate (well... parts of it are... perhaps).
    3. Catacomb map. Shows a way through the catacombs into the city.
    4. Accurate. Recently made and very detailed.
    5. Master map. One of the twelve master maps made for the Count von Steinhardt of Ostermark. Don't lose it.
  19. Cathayan silk cloak. For flaunting your wealth. A good way to attract thieves and assassins.
  20. Tears of Shallaya. Neutralizes any poison or toxin. One dose only.
Art from the Mordheim rulebook

Here are some sample mercenaries who can die in die in a damned city.

Sander van Okker, Reikland Mercenary

STR 8, DEX 15, CHA 8, HP 6

  • Soldier's pack (1p).
  • Father's chainmail (1 Armour, Bulky).
  • Ancestral sword (d6).
  • Lantern.

Lord Tobias Marquandt, Marienburg Mercenary

STR 12, DEX 12, CHA 12, HP 4

  • Velvet coin pouch (3p).
  • Shiny breastplate (1 Armour, Bulky).
  • Ornate blunderbuss (d6 Blast, Bulky, requires a Rest to clean and reload).
  • Fancy Cathayan silk cloak

Werner "the Howler", Middenheim Mercenary

STR 15, DEX 13, CHA 11, HP 6

  • Fur pouch (4p).
  • Wolf pelt adorned chain mail (1 Armour, Bulky).
  • Spiked mace (d6).
  • Keg of Bugman's ale.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Outlaw Merchant - Grim Tools of a Grim Age

John Blanche

I'm continuing my work on my Electric Bastionland hack with some weapons! Oh what would a Warhammer game be without dreadful tools of destruction? Here's my attempt to simplify things into a 'fiction first' armoury. Between these and the slick rules in Electric Bastionland, I should be good for most anything that pops up in the dark alleys and underbelly of a Hive City.

Yes, I'm using Throne Gelt, and yes I know it's silly. Silly, tongue-in-cheek, black humor 40k is best 40k.

Something to note is that Electric Bastionland has a very small spectrum when it comes to armour. Armour 1-2 is about as best as you can hope for and even then it's probably quite Bulky. To add some variety, I'm using an additional type of armour suggested by EB's very own Chris McDowall:

If you wanted you could add in another level of armour specifically for use in Deep Country:

Weak Armour (£250): Armour 1 against attacks causing d6 or lower.

Or could have it only protect against "non-modern" weapons, but that gets a bit more fuzzy

It's not perfect, as plenty of guns cause d6 damage, but I don't think you're ever going to get a perfect simulation of armour in ITO!

This could be simplified out to Weak Armour ( £250): Armour 1 against [CONDITION]. Whether it's padded armour only good against explosives or a shiv protection vest, this lets you safely increase the variety of armour without overdoing it on the Armour. Too much Armour can really cause things to drag and I really want a noticeable difference with the higher levels of armour. Strapping on your flak vest and suiting up in your power armour should feel different even if it's 'just 1 Armour vs 2 Armour'.


  • Flak. Layers of padded and reinforced material designed to protect against shrapnel and ricochets. Minimal use against a direct hit.
    • Flak coat or flak armour (Armour 1 against explosions only). 250 Thrones.
  • Carapace. Made up from a solid outer layer on top a flexible under-skin. These plates are constructed from plasteelt metal, high density plastics, or more exotic material.
    • Carpace armour (1 Armour, Bulky). 500 Thrones.
    • Reflec armour (1 Armour, Bulky, 2 Armour against las only). 1000 Thrones.
  • Mesh. Uncommon within the Imperium, this light armour is made up of lots of small rings or scales, each interconnected so that impacts are spread over a wider are to absorb and dissipate damage.
    • Mesh armour (1 Armour). 1,000 Thrones.
  • Bodyglove. Woven from impact-resistant micro-fibres, armoured bodygloves offer discreet protection that can easily be concealed under clothing or other armour.
    • Armoured bodyglove (1 Armour, Concealable). 1,000 Thrones.
  • Power armour. Has an endo-skeletal array of actuators and muscle fibre bundles. Power armour not only enables the protection of heavy armour plating, but actually boosts the wearer's strength to inhuman levels. They need recharing or refueling.
    • Power armour (2 Armour, Bulky. Cannot move without power). Priceless.
  • Force fields. These wonders of archeotech envelop their users in a protective barrier of energy. Since the field is at some distance from the wearer, it does not protect from melee attacks.
    • Refactor field (2 Armour against ranged attacks, glows brightly). Priceless.
    • Conversion field (3 Armour against ranged attacks, if max damage is rolled the reaction is equivalent to a Flashbomb). Priceless.
    • Power field (Grants 3 Armour over a large area. Stationary. Quickly eats through power). Priceless.
John Blanche

Ranged Weapons

  • Las weapons. The most common type of weapon as they are cheap to manufacture and easy to maintain. They are also very easy to recharge, and ammo shortages are rarely a problem.
    • Laspistol (d6). 200 Thrones.
    • Lasgun (d8, Bulky). 500 Thrones.
  • Projective weapons. Bullet or shell-firing weapons are extremely popular among Imperial servants and outlaws alike. Some put up with the higher cost of ammo and maintenance difficulties for the psychological effect caused by the roar of battle they make when fired!
    • Blackpowder gun (d6, Bulky). 50 Thrones.
    • Autopistol, stubber, or hand cannon (d6). 200 Thrones.
    • Autogun (d8, Bulky). 500 Thrones.
    • Heavy Stubber (d8 Blast, Bulky). 5,000 Thrones.
    • Shotgun (d6, +d6 at point blank range). 250 Thrones.
    • Auto Shotgun (d6 Blast, Bulky). 1,000 Thrones.
  • Bolt weapons. Launch mass-reactive warheads that explodes inside the target with a distinctive cracking detonation. Bolt ammo is fairly rare and only those with good connections, criminal or otherwise, would be able to maintain a bolter or bolt pistol.
    • Bolt Pistol (d8). 1,000 Thrones.
    • Bolter (d10, Bulky). 2,000 Thrones.
    • Storm Bolter (d10 +d10, Bulky). 4,000 Thrones.
  • Melta weapons. Use a magnetic containment beam to create microwave agitation to vapourise targets in a blast of intense heat.
    • Inferno pistol (d8, ignores Armour, close range only). 2,000 Thrones.
    • Meltagun (d10, Bulky, ignores Armour, close range only). 3,000 Thrones.
    • Multi-melta (d10, +d10, Bulky, ignores Armour, close range). 6,000 Thrones.
  • Plasma weapons. Store highly unstable energised photohydrogen, which is unleashed with a devastating blast of energy. Difficult to manufacture, arduous to maintain, and prone to frequent malfunction. Even if it doesn't explode, cooling vents can cause considerable damage to unarmored users.
    • Plasma pistol (d8, +d8 on full-power setting. On a roll of 8 it's a 50% chance to explode (d8, Blast) or 50% chance to overheat (1 damage to wielder). 2,000 Thrones.
    • Plasma gun (d10, +d10 on full-power setting, Bulky. On a roll of 10, it's a 50% chance to explode (d10, Blast) or 50% chance to overheat (2 damage to wielder). 4,000 Thrones.
  • Flamer weapons. Gout burning incendiary fuel, dousing their targets in white-hot flame. The liquid chemical they fire can adhere to the target, setting it alight.
    • Hand flamer (d6). 200 Thrones.
    • Flamer (d6, Bulky, Blast). 1,000 Thrones.
    • Heavy Flamer (d8, Bulky, Blast). 5,000 Thrones.

John Blanche

Melee Weapons

  • Standard Weapons. Blades and bludgeoning weapons are common all across the Imperium, and many conflicts are settled with three feet of well-placed steel.
    • Crude weapons (d6, Bulky). Includes hatchets, ragged blades, makeshift clubs, hammers, or some improvised attack. 10 Thrones.
    • Hand weapons (d6). Axes, swords, flairs, and maces. These are weapons made for combat. 50 Thrones.
    • Heavy weapons (d8, Bulky). Glaives, greatswords, massive hammers, and other weapons that require two hands. 100 Thrones.
  • Chain weapons. Have a set of motorized biting teeth that saw and slash, causing terrible wounds.
    • Chainsword or chain-axe (d8). 500 Thrones.
    • Eviscerator (d8, Bulky, ignores 1 Armour but misses on damage rolls of 1). 200 Thrones.
  • Power weapons. Surrounded by a disruptive force field that allows the user to slice through the thicket armour and lop of limbs with a single blow. They are highly prized and are often a badge of office.
    • Power sword or power axe (d6, ignores Armour when activated). 1000 Thrones.
    • Power hammer (d8, Bulky, ignores Armour when activated). 2000 Thrones.
    • Power fist (d8, ignores Armour when activated, unsuitable for delicate tasks). 4000 Thrones.
    • Chain fist (d8, ignores Armour when activated. Can saw through walls and bulkheads). 6000 Thrones.
  • Shock weapons. Charged with electrical energy, these cause severe burns on impact and can disrupt the nervous system.
    • Shock maul (d6, non-lethal). 50 Thrones.
John Blanche

I'll save Force Weapons, Daemon Weapons, and other exotic weirdness for later. The above suits my needs well enough for now. The tools and equipment info in EB can cover most anything else. My first playtest is underway and I'll be eager to see how things go by time we wrap up our small investigation. I'll leave off with two adversaries that my agents are about to face from an old Dark Heresy adventure:

The Homunculites*

Gholem-biological constructs built using forbidden science from vatgrown flesh and stolen human organs. Horrifically distorted, they have cancerous weeping flesh, cataract white eyes, and emaciated bodies studded with gurgling pipes and chem implants.

CHA 3, 4HP, Chain-cutter (d6)

  • Follow orders in the most direct way.
  • Show unnecessary cruelty and viciousness.
  • When hurt, cry out with a horrifically distorted voice.

The Body Snatchers*

Failed experiments made from hive workers stolen in the night. Clad in tattered clothing, their waxy flesh writhes and pulses unnaturally beneath almost translucent skin. Their joints and fingers have been reinforced with metal bracings to stop their overpowered flesh from tearing itself apart and their heads have been encased in taunt, stitched shut masks through which implanted augmetic eyes glow a dull red.

STR 14, CHA 3, 5HP, overpowered flesh (Armour 1), augmetic fists (d6)

  • Lurk with deathly silence.
  • Pursue without sense of self-preservation.
  • Follow instructions until new orders come through.

*Ignore anything that would target their CHA.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Outlaw Merchant - Quick Loadouts and Psykers

John Blanche
Following in the footsteps of Jim's Bastionland loadouts for Dolmenwood, I ended up on the lighter end of things for Outlaw Merchant. Perhaps I can do a deeper dive of each as playtesting goes on and add some creative flair based on HP and Thrones? We shall see, but these will do for now.

When it comes to fluffy loadouts, Jim puts it best with this:

Given that Bastionland is essentially a classless family of games, the "classes" below are not hard and fast. I like to look at them and their related style of play as "class = background + items," that is, what you're holding and why you're holding it informs me as a referee to understand how you can reasonably interact with the world. "Oh, you're a hunter so you would be able to track this"/"You want to talk to the priest? Well, you're a friar so you should have no problem getting a word" etc. 

So here are some past lives for new agents of the Inquisition. Pick one or roll 1d8 to see who you were and what gear you have. Use these as a basis to tweak and tinker for your own dreadful hive cities.

(1) Adept

"Knowledge is power. Do not waste it on the masses."

  • Stub automatic (d6)
  • Imperial robes
  • Auto-quill
  • Data slate

(2) Arbitrator

"No shield may stay the blade of justice."

  • Shotgun (d6, +d6 at point-blank range)
  • Truncheon (d6)
  • Enforcer carapace (Armour 1, Bulky)
  • Manacles

(3) Assassin

“The Emperor wills all things, even death. Some deaths He wills swifter than others…”

  • Scoped rifle (d8, Bulky)
  • Sword (d6)
  • Black bodyglove (Armour 1)
  • Throwing knives (d6)

(4) Cleric

"One who is without faith is without a soul. Suffer not the soulless in thy ministry, for they make doors for dangerous forces."

  • Warhammer (d8, bulky)
  • Stub revolver (d6)
  • Aquila necklace
  • Ministry robes.

(5) Guardsman

"Life is war. And I'm gonna win!

  • Lasgun (d8, Bulky)
  • Great Knife (d6)
  • Guard flak armour (Armour 1 against explosions only)
  • The Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer

(6) Psyker

"I have stood within the palace of the Throne of Holy Terra itself. There my soul was shattered and re-formed, a living weapon forged on the Emperor's will."

  • Staff (d6, Bulky)
  • Cloak
  • A sanctioning brand somewhere on your body
  • Psykana Mercy Blade (d4)
  • You possess Witch-Sight and can sense the currents and eddies of the Warp in real-space.
  • You belong to a Psychic Discipline and have mastered a simple Psychic Power (d6):
    1. Biomancy: Smite. You can shoot arcs of bio-lightning (d6, ignores Armour).
    2. Divination: Warp Perception. Perceive the world with unnaturally heightened senses.
    3. Pyromancy: Manipulate Flames. You can control, move, or extinguish open flames.
    4. Telekinesis: Telekinetic Control. You can grasp distant objects with invisible eldritch hands.
    5. Telepathy: Telepathic Link. Allows "reading" or "sending" of surface-level thoughts.

(7) Scum

“Yeah, crime pays. Why else do you think I do it?”

  • Autogun (d8, Bulky)
  • Brass knuckles (d6 each)
  • Colorful streetwear
  • Ganger regalia

(8) Tech-Priest

"I am a child of the Omnissiah, cultist of the Machine God. The rites of manifold applications, the liturgies and the songs of Engine-seeing are mine own to know. I speak to the spirits of ancient tech machines, from the warrior heart of a battle tank to the secret wisdom of a cogitator."

  • Laspistol (d6)
  • Metal staff (d6, Bulky)
  • Red robes and cult vestments
  • Vials of sacred Machine Oil
  • You have begun replacing your weak flesh. You have Mechanicus Implants (You always have at least Armour 1)
I believe this piece is by Paul Dainton

Psychic Powers

As delightful as it is, the common ItO/EB approach of "spells as items" isn't exactly appropriate for psykers and their powers. I'm going to use Cosmic's Exhausting Magic for this and heavily utilize EB's take on Unions when it comes to furthering your psychic mastery (or your descent into damnation).

In short:

  • Sacrifice all HP to use a Psychic Power.
  • Cannot (safely) use powers again until HP is recovered.
  • Unlimited powers per day.
  • As long as you have HP to sacrifice you can use powers.

Powers Without HP

  • Possible but dangerous and costly.
  • For each power used while not having HP, do one die of CHA damage.
  • Increase the die size for each spell cast without HP; d4 → d6 → d8 → and so on.
  • If this reduced you to 0 CHA, really bad things happen (possession, explosions, reality breaking, etc.). Beware the Perils of the Warp!
Next time, I'm going to be looking at coming up with some weird and macabre Inquisitors to serve as Patrons for the group of agents, letting the youngest player determine what weirdo controls your life now. Perhaps I'll post some of the adversaries and NPCs from my first playtest as well!

Monday, November 9, 2020

Outlaw Merchant - Turning Electric Bastionland into Grimdark Hive World

John Blanche
It's been too long since I've updated my blog here. I have not been idle in my absence though! A new job and plenty of great games have made the past few months eventful enough. One of the games that I was finally able to try was the wonderful Electric Bastionland by Chris McDowall (check out the Free Edition).

I've long enjoyed Chris' ideas and insights and seeing them condensed into EB at the table really lit a fire of possible game ideas for me. Diving into Chris' development of GRIMLITE was the final straw. The implied setting of GRIMLITE was tempting, but I wanted to tackle 40k à la the flavor found in Dark Heresy. Treachery and investigation in the depths of a dark universe. Yum.

Now Dark Heresy is one of the games I love the idea of but the actual execution leaves so so so much to be desired. I really want satirical black comedy and morbid sci-fi silliness without the overload of modifiers and rules, the overload of gear, and overload of combat stuff. Reading and playing EB, my mind immediately went to investigations in the depths of a sprawling hive city and dealing with all the poor, wretched inhabitants of a grim world. Just as EB has Bastion, the Underground, and the Deep Country you could easily have the Hive, the Spires, the Underhive, and the Toxic Wastes beyond. I want to leave the thousands of warzones, wild planets, and stuff to focus on one hive city and really capitalize on the sheer scale of such a place.

My recent delving into the whole FKR sphere of things has really got me thinking on "worlds not rules" in addition to "rulings not rules". So I decided to tackle a simple 40k hack of EB, OUTLAW MERCHANT, to let me have my fill of 40k without bloated rules or too much meta-currency (I love Wrath & Glory but it doesn't quite scratch my OSR itch).

John Blanche


Inspired by Warhammer 40k, Electric Bastionland, and GRIMLITE.

This is a hack about shadowy investigations in a sprawling hive city set in a grimdark far future. Whatever the characters were before, they have now become agents of Imperial justice, serving under a powerful and influential Inquisitor.

Acolyte creation is the same as character creation in Electric Bastionland with some changes.

Roll for your three Ability Scores, HP, and starting Thrones (Throne Gelts or whatever silly coinage you want).

The group doesn't have a shared Debt, they instead have to worry about the Inquisitor:

  • As a group, you are a newly activated Cell of Acolytes to an Inquisitor.
  • The youngest players Past Life specifies the Inquisitor that you serve.
  • The Inquisitor expects results and loyalty. Acolytes who fail to deliver don't last long.
The Conductor could generate a Rival and I'd suggest that they be agents of a rival Inquisitor, servants of haughty hive nobility, or really any outside party that otherwise mucks up the gears of the Acolyte's operations.

Small groups can still create some Lackeys. They can be Acolyte hopefuls, servitors, servo-skulls, bodyguards, hired scum, or some other type of indentured servant. Roll a d6 for their equipment, or feel free to make your own:

  1. Autopistol (d6)
  2. Shoddy Flintlock (d6, Bulky)
  3. Truncheon (d6)
  4. Pilgrim staff (d6, Bulky)
  5. Sword (d6)
  6. Industrial sledgehammer (d6, Bulky)

Acolytes don't have Failed Careers but instead, have a Past Life. This represents whatever you did before the Inquisitor swooped in and took the reigns of your life....for better or for worse.

As a group, the Cell also has:

  • Vox-beads, with an encrypted channel
  • Vat-grown foodstuff
  • Glow-globes and stab lights

As always, talk with the Conductor to clarify and hash out any questions about gear and their abilities/limitations.

John Blanche

Past Lives

I'll stick to the 'classic' Dark Heresy archetypes to start with and drill down based on HP and gear.

Roll a d8 to determine your Past Life. Your HP and Thrones will give you more things based on your Past Life.

(1) ADEPT You're a true master of lore, possessing a vast knowledge of many subjects.

(2) ARBITRATOR You're a stoic enforcer of the Imperium's justice, unshakable in your faith.

(3) ASSASSIN A trained death-dealer, relentlessly hunting down prey.

(4) CLERIC You're a charismatic orator and inspiring preacher, zealously spreading the Emperor’s word.

(5) GUARDSMAN You're a tough, hardened veteran trained in the use of inquisitor weapons and tactics.

(6) PSYKER You're an otherworldly individual, gifted with incredible powers but at a terrible price.

(7) SCUM - You're a criminal and an outcast, hailing from the lowest strata of Imperial society.

(8) TECH-PRIEST - A worshiper of the Machine God and seeker of wondrous, lost technologies.

In an attempt to post more regularly, I'll do the Past Lives and some wild Inquisitors that players could serve in another post. In the meantime, I think I'll see if my partner is interested in trying out a short game using this framework and see how these ideas jell together in play!

[UPDATE] - Check out backgrounds and psychic powers here!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Blood of Pangea: Hyperborea

Northern Lights over Iceland, by Harald Moltke, 1899.

I've recently fallen down the Free Kriegsspiel rabbit hole. It's all about "playing worlds, not rules" (check out this intro to this style of play and the leftist Discord full of amazing discussion about it). It's been quite a blast so far and the main game leading me merrily down that direction is the sword & sorcery system of Blood of Pangea by Olde House Rules.

The game's default setting is PANGEA, the ur-continent of our Earth, but it lists some fictional settings that would be quite fitting. As a huge Clark Ashton Smith fan, HYPERBOREA jumped out at me. I reread the whole Hyperborean cycle, went to the Hyperborean Glossary, and set down to make a campaign outline in the vein of the Pangea overview given in the book. Here I've tried to make Hyperborea my own and present my take on it.

HYPERBOREA was supposedly located at the top of the world, but was otherwise pleasant and warm. It was said to be ruled by giant kings, and at least one modern portrayal added prehistoric life and a mysterious technology, joining civilization with the primitive.  

— Blood of Pangea, p. 15


They had spent the night beneath its lowermost crags, keeping a ceaseless watch, piling dead branches on their fires, and hearing on the grisly heights above them the wild and dog-like ululations of those subhuman savages, the Voormis for which the mountain was named. Also, they heard the bellowing of an alpine catoblepas pursued by the Voormis, and the mad snarling of a saber-tooth tiger assailed and dragged down; and Ralibar Vooz had deemed that these noises boded well for the morrow's hunting.

— Clark Ashton Smith, "THE SEVEN GEASES" (1933)

HYPERBOREA was located at the top of the world. Before it was overwhelmed by the advancing sheets of the Pleistocene age, Hyperborea was a warm and fertile paradise.


COMMORIOM is the high built capital of Hyperborea. A white city of numberless spires of marble and granite. It is the most powerful city of its age gaining tributes from Atlantis, Mu, Tscho Vulpanomi, and Mhu Thulan.

  • UZULDAROUM lays a day's journey south of Commoriom, on the fertile plains and jungles of Hyperborea. The land around Uzuldaroum is an agreeable country, full of farms and orchards and running waters and green, flowery woods. Further south, swamps and plains give way to desert.

EIGLOPHIAN MOUNTAINS are a frightful central mountain range of black, glassy walled mountains, riddles with tunnels. The four-coned mountain Voormithadreth lies at the center of this range. One prong runs south, one prong east, dissecting the contenting.

  • MOUNT VOORITHADRETH is a volcanic, four peaked mountain. There is some suggestion that the peaks have extinct craters. It is riddled with volcanic tunnels in which the furtive Voormis dwell. Deeper caves lead to the dwellings of Haon-Dor and the serpent folk, while even deeper is the realm of gods.

MHU THULAN is the northern realm of Hyperborea, said to correspond with Greenland, that was one of man's first civilizations. It is composed of several provinces such as Zabdamar and Iqqua.

  • CERNGOTH is a northerly, flower-girdled sea-port, on the eastern shore of the Hyperborea Sea. It features shell-shaped domed buildings among which is the golden Temple of the Seven Gods, and griffon-carved wharves. North of Cerngoth lie the bleak mountains of Zabdamar leading to Polarion.
  • IQQUA is the most important city in the kingdom of Mhu Thulan. Princes and Kings rule the lands around Iqqua and the cult of Yhoundeh is centered here as well.
  • OGGON-ZHAI is a spired city with a black temple to Tsathoggua, north of Iqqua.
  • LEQQUAN is a city of thronged streets.

POLARION is an isle of snow inhabited by uncouth peoples. Its people are called Polarions. It appears to be very near the north pole. It is partly an ice desert as oncoming glaciers creep in valleys fertile with fern and cycad.

TCHO VULPANOMI is a semi-legendary volcanic region of the far south, probably corresponding with modern Iceland. Here a lake of boiling asphaltum beats forever at the sea. The dread volcanic mountain Achoravomas belches rivers of flame over the land. Crystals of tourmaline are found here, with diamond-sanded, ruby-graveled shores.

THULASK is a broad northern island of the Hyperborea archipelago. It's people are called Thulaskians. They have a great temple to Tsathoggua.

Dreamy Mountainscapes, by Chih-Hung Kuo

Hyperborean barbarians wander, and the characters may come from the above-listed regions if the judge permits. For ease of play in Blood of Pangea, each has a unique language that can be spoken (and learned) in the campaign.

Other lands are also mentioned above such as the empire of ATLANTIS, with its sorceries and living metal, and the ancient and barbaric sea nation of MU. As I have taken up Hyperborea, I leave this to be explored and expanded by other Judges!


Most of the monsters in Hyperborea will be nameless and forgotten abominations, unique in their form, and unknown in their terror. The following creatures are occasional threats that can be more readily introduced as characters range across Hyperborea.

NOTE: Many of the creatures in Blood of Pangea would be right at home in Hyperborea such as mastodons, pterodactyls, tyrannosaurs, snake people, and wizards.

FORMLESS SPAWN appear as formless monsters of black ichor so terrible to behold that characters seeing them have a 1 in 1d6 chance per round of fleeing in terror, although 1 MIGHT can be spent avoiding this. They often rest in basins in Tsathoggua's temples and keep the sanctuary from being defiled by nonbelievers.

Might: 5-10 Move: 30' Damage/Bonus: fear, tendrils (+3)

GREAT SLOTHS stand a massive 12' tall and posses strength beyond the mightiest human. They are rare, but sometimes seen in the jungles around of Zesh.

Might: 15 Move: 30' Damage/Bonus: 2 claws, trampling (+2)

SABRE-TOOTHED TIGERS are ferocious big cats with elongated bladelike canine teeth in their upper jaw. They stalk the Eiglophian Mountains and the northern regions.

Might: 10 Move: 50' Damage/Bonus: bite, 2 claws (+2)

VAMPIRE-BATS are common in the jungles of Zesh. These predators are dangerous and hunt in packs, attacking with great fangs. Optionally, larger ones may carry off smaller victims on a roll of 12 or more, attacking with both their fangs and razor-sharp talons.

Might: 1-4 Move: 40' Damage/Bonus: bite, fangs (+0)

VOORMIS are a degenerate semi-human race. They are umber-colored and shaggily furred, speaking with dog-like howls. Mount Voormithadreth is named after this race, who now dwell in its volcanic fissures. They fight with natural weaponry, but also employ clubs and stones, being physically quite powerful. They worship Tsathoggua.

Might: 1-10 Move: 40' Damage/Bonus: 2 claws, weaponry (+1)

Appendix II: GODS & DEMONS

You shall know Tsathoggua by his great girth and his batlike furriness and the look of a sleepy black toad which he has eternally. He will rise not from his place, even in the ravening of hunger, but will wait in divine slothfulness for the sacrifice.

— Clark Ashton Smith, "THE SEVEN GEASES" (1933)


Many gods are worshipped in Hyperborea (this list is just a start), and many sworn oaths have been made to the following deities:

  • Hagarg Ryonis (M): wrathful goddess of reptiles; one of the seven
  • Ixeera (M): cat-goddess; queen of all cats
  • Karakal (C/M): lady of dreams; one of the seven
  • Kathruale (M): forgotten animal god
  • Leniqua (C/M): moon-god(ess) of the sea
  • Lobon (M): god of warriors; one of the seven
  • Nath-Horthath (M): lion-god and lord of dreams; one of the seven
  • Qualk (M): kindly god of fishermen
  • Shimba (C): god of shepherds and keeper of the plains
  • Tamash (M): trickster god; one of the seven
  • Yhoundeh (M): elk-goddess; heretic burner
  • Zo-Kalar (M): god of birth and death; one of the seven
*Worshipped in Commoriom (C), Mhu Thulan (M)

In the true pulp tradition, monstrous and alien gods exist in Hyperborea, cosmic horrors pre-dating humanity's rise from the primordial stew.

  • Atlach-Nacha: spider-god of the deep caverns
  • Azathoth: swilring mass from deep space
  • Kthulhut: aquatic and rubbery high priest
  • Rlim Shaikorth: white worm and glacial travesty
  • Tsathoggua: bat-like toad from Saturn
  • Ubbo-Sathla: formless protoplasmic monster

These are the GREAT REPUGNANCES, although the Judge can include yet more horrors from beyond. Like ZARBANOTH, a star-demon of ice and greed. Simply looking upon these things risks madness as described in Blood of Pangea.


Here is a new character ready for their first adventure in the wilds of Hyperborea. Perhaps you recognize him?

NAME: Ralibar Vooz    GENDER: male (he/him)

CLASS: adventurer        MIGHT: 10

NARRATIVE: Ralibar is a skilled huntsman, trained in the arts of trapping, wayfinding, and stealth. He rarely gets lost in the wilds. He speaks Thulan and is extremely strong...

EQUIPMENT: bronze broadsword,bronze hunting dagger one week's rations, bedroll, climbing tools